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God Is Present in Dark Times

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on June 23rd.

Genesis 39:1-23 Chapter 39 1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hand of the Ishmaelites, that had brought him down thither. 2 And Jehovah was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that Jehovah was with him, and that Jehovah made all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4 And Joseph found favor in his sight, and he ministered unto him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. 5 And it came to pass from the time that he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that Jehovah blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of Jehovah was upon all that he had, in the house and in the field. 6 And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not aught `that was' with him, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was comely, and well-favored. 7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 8 But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master knoweth not what is with me in the house, and he hath put all that he hath into my hand: 9 he is not greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? 10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, `or' to be with her. 11 And it came to pass about this time, that he went into the house to do his work; and there was none of the men of the house there within. 12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. 13 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, 14 that she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in a Hebrew unto us to mock us: he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: 15 and it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment by me, and fled, and got him out. 16 And she laid up his garment by her, until his master came home. 17 And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, whom thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: 18 and it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment by me, and fled out. 19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. 20 And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, the place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. 21 But Jehovah was with Joseph, and showed kindness unto him, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. 23 The keeper of the prison looked not to anything that was under his hand, because Jehovah was with him; and that which he did, Jehovah made it prosper.

In this day of instant news, we regularly see images of calamity in our world. And on a personal level, we experience seasons of hardship as well. The same is true of friends and family who encounter job layoffs, marital troubles, difficulties with children, and other challenges.

As Christians, we have a heavenly Father who has promised to be with us in our struggles. We can rely on Him—He knows what will happen before we do; nothing is hidden from His sight (Heb. 4:13). He sees in the darkness of troubled times as clearly as He does in the daylight ( Psalms 139:11-12 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall overwhelm me, And the light about me shall be night; 12 Even the darkness hideth not from thee, But the night shineth as the day: The darkness and the light are both alike `to thee'. ). Through His Spirit, He offers us the comfort, strength, and wisdom to persevere.

The story of Joseph illustrates this truth. After being rejected and sold into slavery by his brothers, he was falsely accused by his master’s wife and imprisoned. But in the midst of those terrible times, the young Hebrew man experienced God’s presence and favor.

I doubt Joseph comprehended the Lord’s intentions during his slavery and imprisonment. But later on, as second-in-command to Pharaoh, he understood God’s purpose in allowing those difficult years. In the end, Joseph testified to what he knew to be true. His brothers had meant to harm him, but God used all the hardship to accomplish His good plan (Gen. 45:4-8; Gen. 50:20).

When troubles hit, remember what is true and take heart. The indwelling Holy Spirit has the resources to provide what we need, equip us for the journey, and sustain us with His presence throughout the dark days. Nothing can stop the purposes of our Lord from being carried out (Isa. 14:27).

Bible in One Year: Psalms 67-70 Chapter 67 1 God be merciful unto us, and bless us, `And' cause his face to shine upon us; Selah 2 That thy way may be known upon earth, Thy salvation among all nations. 3 Let the peoples praise thee, O God; Let all the peoples praise thee. 4 Oh let the nations be glad and sing for joy; For thou wilt judge the peoples with equity, And govern the nations upon earth. Selah 5 Let the peoples praise thee, O God; Let all the peoples praise thee. 6 The earth hath yielded its increase: God, even our own God, will bless us. 7 God will bless us; And all the ends of the earth shall fear him. Psalm 68 For the Chief Musician; A Psalm of David, a song. Chapter 68 1 Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered; Let them also that hate him flee before him. 2 As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: As wax melteth before the fire, So let the wicked perish at the presence of God. 3 But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God: Yea, let them rejoice with gladness. 4 Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: Cast up a highway for him that rideth through the deserts; His name is Jehovah; and exult ye before him. 5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, Is God in his holy habitation. 6 God setteth the solitary in families: He bringeth out the prisoners into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a parched land. 7 O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, When thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah 8 The earth trembled, The heavens also dropped `rain' at the presence of God: Yon Sinai `trembled' at the presence of God, the God of Israel. 9 Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, Thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary. 10 Thy congregation dwelt therein: Thou, O God, didst prepare of thy goodness for the poor. 11 The Lord giveth the word: The women that publish the tidings are a great host. 12 Kings of armies flee, they flee; And she that tarrieth at home divideth the spoil. 13 When ye lie among the sheepfolds, `It is as' the wings of a dove covered with silver, And her pinions with yellow gold. 14 When the Almighty scattered kings therein, `It was as when' it snoweth in Zalmon. 15 A mountain of God is the mountain of Bashan; A high mountain is the mountain of Bashan. 16 Why look ye askance, ye high mountains, At the mountain which God hath desired for his abode? Yea, Jehovah will dwell `in it' for ever. 17 The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands upon thousands; The Lord is among them, `as in' Sinai, in the sanctuary. 18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led away captives; Thou hast received gifts among men, Yea, `among' the rebellious also, that Jehovah God might dwell `with them'. 19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily beareth our burden, Even the God who is our salvation. Selah 20 God is unto us a God of deliverances; And unto Jehovah the Lord belongeth escape from death. 21 But God will smite through the head of his enemies, The hairy scalp of such a one as goeth on still in his guiltiness. 22 The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring `them' again from the depths of the sea; 23 That thou mayest crush `them', `dipping' thy foot in blood, That the tongue of thy dogs may have its portion from `thine' enemies. 24 They have seen thy goings, O God, Even the goings of my God, my King, into the sanctuary. 25 The singers went before, the minstrels followed after, In the midst of the damsels playing with timbrels. 26 Bless ye God in the congregations, Even the Lord, `ye that are' of the fountain of Israel. 27 There is little Benjamin their ruler, The princes of Judah `and' their council, The princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali. 28 Thy God hath commanded thy strength: Strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us. 29 Because of thy temple at Jerusalem Kings shall bring presents unto thee. 30 Rebuke the wild beast of the reeds, The multitude of the bulls, with the calves of the peoples, Trampling under foot the pieces of silver: He hath scattered the peoples that delight in war. 31 Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall haste to stretch out her hands unto God. 32 Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; Oh sing praises unto the Lord; Selah 33 To him that rideth upon the heaven of heavens, which are of old; Lo, he uttereth his voice, a mighty voice. 34 Ascribe ye strength unto God: His excellency is over Israel, And his strength is in the skies. 35 O God, `thou art' terrible out of thy holy places: The God of Israel, he giveth strength and power unto `his' people. Blessed be God. Psalm 69 For the Chief Musician; set to Shoshanim. `A Psalm' of David. Chapter 69 1 Save me, O God; For the waters are come in unto my soul. 2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. 3 I am weary with my crying; my throat is dried: Mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. 4 They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head: They that would cut me off, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: That which I took not away I have to restore. 5 O God, thou knowest my foolishness; And my sins are not hid from thee. 6 Let not them that wait for thee be put to shame through me, O Lord Jehovah of hosts: Let not those that seek thee be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. 7 Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; Shame hath covered my face. 8 I am become a stranger unto my brethren, And an alien unto my mother's children. 9 For the zeal of thy house hath eaten me up; And the reproaches of them that reproach thee are fallen upon me. 10 When I wept, `and chastened' my soul with fasting, That was to my reproach. 11 When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword unto them. 12 They that sit in the gate talk of me; And `I am' the song of the drunkards. 13 But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Jehovah, in an acceptable time: O God, in the abundance of thy lovingkindness, Answer me in the truth of thy salvation. 14 Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: Let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters. 15 Let not the waterflood overwhelm me, Neither let the deep shallow me up; And let not the pit shut its mouth upon me. 16 Answer me, O Jehovah; for thy lovingkindness is good: According to the multitude of thy tender mercies turn thou unto me. 17 And hide not thy face from thy servant; For I am in distress; answer me speedily. 18 Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: Ransom me because of mine enemies. 19 Thou knowest my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonor: Mine adversaries are all before thee. 20 Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: And I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; And for comforters, but I found none. 21 They gave me also gall for my food; And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. 22 Let their table before them become a snare; And when they are in peace, `let it become' a trap. 23 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see; And make their loins continually to shake. 24 Pour out thine indignation upon them, And let the fierceness of thine anger overtake them. 25 Let their habitation be desolate; Let none dwell in their tents. 26 For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten; And they tell of the sorrow of those whom thou hast wounded. 27 Add iniquity unto their iniquity; And let them not come into thy righteousness. 28 Let them be blotted out of the book of life, And not be written with the righteous. 29 But I am poor and sorrowful: Let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high. 30 I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify him with thanksgiving. 31 And it will please Jehovah better than an ox, `Or' a bullock that hath horns and hoofs. 32 The meek have seen it, and are glad: Ye that seek after God, let your heart live. 33 For Jehovah heareth the needy, And despiseth not his prisoners. 34 Let heaven and earth praise him, The seas, and everything that moveth therein. 35 For God will save Zion, and build the cities of Judah; And they shall abide there, and have it in possession. 36 The seed also of his servants shall inherit it; And they that love his name shall dwell therein. Psalm 70 For the Chief Musician. `A Psalm' of David; to bring to remembrance. Chapter 70 1 `Make haste', O God, to deliver me; Make haste to help me, O Jehovah. 2 Let them be put to shame and confounded That seek after my soul: Let them be turned backward and brought to dishonor That delight in my hurt. 3 Let them be turned back by reason of their shame That say, Aha, aha. 4 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee; And let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. 5 But I am poor and needy; Make haste unto me, O God: Thou art my help and my deliverer; O Jehovah, make no tarrying.




Fulfilling the Royal Law

Published by Grace To You for reading on June 23rd.
"If . . . you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well" ( James 2:8 8 Howbeit if ye fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: ).

Love is the only antidote for partiality.

In Matthew 22:36 36 Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? a lawyer asked Jesus which commandment was the greatest. Jesus answered, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets" (vv. 37-40). Love for God and one's fellow man summarizes the intent of God's law, and is the measure of true faith.

Jesus wasn't calling for the shallow, emotional, self-oriented love that is so prevalent in our society, but for a sacrificial quality of love that places the needs of others on par with your own. That kind of love is utterly incompatible with partiality, which seeks only to further its own selfish goals.

Showing partiality breaks God's law because it violates God's attributes, misrepresents the Christian faith, ignores God's choice of the poor, and condones the blasphemous behavior of the rich ( James 2:1-7 Chapter 2 1 My brethren, hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, `the Lord' of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come into your synagogue a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, and there come in also a poor man in vile clothing; 3 and ye have regard to him that weareth the fine clothing, and say, Sit thou here in a good place; and ye say to the poor man, Stand thou there, or sit under my footstool; 4 Do ye not make distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren; did not God choose them that are poor as to the world `to be' rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you, and themselves drag you before the judgment-seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme the honorable name by which ye are called? ). But when you treat others impartially, you fulfill the royal law. "Royal" in James 2:8 8 Howbeit if ye fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: translates a Greek word that speaks of sovereignty. The law was given by God, who is the supreme authority in the universe, so it is authoritative and binding. Love fulfills God's law because if you love someone, you won't sin against him.

Apparently not all of James's readers were showing partiality, so he commended them, saying they were "doing well." The Greek word translated "well" speaks of that which is excellent. They were doing an excellent thing because they were acting in a manner consistent with God's impartial, loving nature. That's God's call to every believer: for "the one who says he abides in [Christ] ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" ( 1 John 2:6 6 he that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk even as he walked. ). As you do, you fulfill God's law and thereby prove that your faith and love are genuine.

Suggestions for Prayer

God's love is the only antidote for partiality, so pray each day that He will teach you how better to express His love to those around you.

For Further Study

Read the following verses, noting the characteristics of godly love: John 3:16 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. , Ephesians 5:25-29 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; 26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the church to himself a glorious `church', not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: 29 for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; , Philippians 1:9-11 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; 10 so that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offence unto the day of Christ; 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. , and 1 John 5:1-3 Chapter 5 1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God: and whosoever loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 Hereby we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. .

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

Additional Resources

Daily Bible - June 23

Published by Grace To You for reading on June 23rd.

Reading for Today:

  • 1 Chronicles 9:1 Chapter 9 1 So all Israel were reckoned by genealogies; and, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel: and Judah was carried away captive to Babylon for their transgression. –10:14
  • Psalms 77:10-15 10 And I said, This is my infirmity; `But I will remember' the years of the right hand of the Most High. 11 I will make mention of the deeds of Jehovah; For I will remember thy wonders of old. 12 I will meditate also upon all thy work, And muse on thy doings. 13 Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: Who is a great god like unto God? 14 Thou art the God that doest wonders: Thou hast made known thy strength among the peoples. 15 Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
  • Proverbs 19:15-16 15 Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; And the idle soul shall suffer hunger. 16 He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his soul; `But' he that is careless of his ways shall die.
  • Acts 6:1-15 Chapter 6 1 Now in these days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring of the Grecian Jews against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 And the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not fit that we should forsake the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Look ye out therefore, brethren, from among you seven men of good report, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will continue stedfastly in prayer, and in the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus a proselyte of Antioch; 6 whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands upon them. 7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. 8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, wrought great wonders and signs among the people. 9 But there arose certain of them that were of the synagogue called `the synagogue' of the Libertines, and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake. 11 Then they suborned men, who said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and `against' God. 12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and seized him, and brought him into the council, 13 and set up false witnesses, who said, This man ceaseth not to speak words against this holy place, and the law: 14 for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered unto us. 15 And all that sat in the council, fastening their eyes on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Notes:

Psalm 77:10 This psalm illustrates one cure for depression. The psalmist does not explain the cause of his despair, but he was definitely locked into gloom. When he thought about God, it only caused him to complain bitterly. But beginning in v. 10, the psalmist’s mood starts to change because he commits himself to focusing on God’s goodness and past acts of deliverance. His lament then changes into a hymn of praise. years of the right hand of the Most High. The psalmist began to remember the times when God used His right hand (power) to strengthen and protect him.

Proverbs 19:16 16 He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his soul; `But' he that is careless of his ways shall die. commandment. Wisdom is equated with God’s commandments. In a sense, Proverbs contain the applications and implications of all that is in God’s moral law.

Acts 6:7 7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. One of Luke’s periodic statements summarizing the growth of the church and the spread of the gospel (2:41, 47; 4:4; 5:14; 9:31; 12:24; 13:49; 16:5; 19:20). great many of the priests. The conversion of large numbers of priests may account for the vicious opposition that arose against Stephen.

Acts 6:8 8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, wrought great wonders and signs among the people. wonders and signs. Acts 4:30 30 while thy stretchest forth thy hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of thy holy Servant Jesus. ; 5:12; 14:3; 15:12. Wonders is the amazement people experience when witnessing supernatural works (miracles). Signs point to the power of God behind miracles—marvels have no value unless they point to God and His truth. Such works were often done by the Holy Spirit through the apostles (5:12–16) and their associates (6:8) to authenticate them as the messengers of God’s truth (2 Cor. 12:12;Heb. 2:3, 4).

Acts 6:15 15 And all that sat in the council, fastening their eyes on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. face of an angel. Pure, calm, unruffled composure, reflecting the presence of God (Ex. 34:29–35).

DAY 23: How did the apostles deal with the first major problem within the church?

By Acts 6:1 Chapter 6 1 Now in these days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring of the Grecian Jews against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. the church could have reached over 20,000 men and women. At that time “there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists.” Hebrews were the native Jewish population of Palestine; Hellenists were Jews from the Diaspora. The Hellenists’ absorption of aspects of Greek culture made them suspect to the Palestinian Jews. The Hellenists believed their widows were not receiving an adequate share of the food the church provided for their care (1 Tim. 5:3–16).

The apostles considered the problem and said they could not “leave the word of God and serve tables” (v. 2). The word translated “tables” can refer to tables used in monetary matters (Matt. 21:12; Mark 11:15 15 And they come to Jerusalem: and he entered into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and them that bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold the doves; ; John 2:15 15 and he made a scourge of cords, and cast all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers' money, and overthrew their tables; ), as well as those used for serving meals. To be involved either in financial matters or in serving meals would take the 12 away from their first priority. Prayer and the ministry of the word (v. 2) define the highest priorities of church leaders (v. 4).

Rather, they told the church to pick out “seven men” to take care of it (v. 3). These were not deacons in terms of the later church office (1 Tim. 3:8–13), although they performed some of the same duties. Stephen and Philip (the only ones of the 7 mentioned elsewhere in Scripture) clearly were evangelists, not deacons. Acts later mentions elders (14:23; 20:17), but not deacons.

The 7 men chosen by the church all had Greek names, implying they were all Hellenists. The church, in a display of love and unity, may have chosen them to rectify the apparent imbalance involving the Hellenistic widows. The apostles “prayed…laid hands on them” (v. 6). This expression was used of Jesus when He healed and sometimes indicated being taken prisoner. In the Old Testament, offerers of sacrifices laid their hands on the animal as an expression of identification (Lev. 8:14,18,22; Heb. 6:2). But in the symbolic sense, it signified the affirmation, support, and identification with someone and his ministry (see 1 Tim. 4:14; 5:22; 2 Tim. 1:6; Num. 27:23).

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

Additional Resources

June 23 - God’s Love Illustrated

Published by Grace To You for reading on June 23rd.

“‘What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!’” ( Matthew 7:9 9 Or what man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone; –11).

If we claim to be God’s children, we should be reflecting God’s character in our lives. Jesus here shows us something of what our heavenly Father’s love is like.

Jesus asks two rhetorical questions. The first asks what loving father would ever give his son a stone if he asked for a piece of bread. Leading up to the second question, Jesus gives an example of a son asking his father for a fish. The father wouldn’t give his son a snake, would he? The obvious answer to both is that no father would do that because it isn’t natural to ignore the physical or spiritual needs of his son.

In contrast to sinful, human fathers, our divine, loving, merciful, gracious Father has no limit on His treasure and no bounds to His goodness. Yet even the greatest human parental love cannot compare with God’s.

The truth Jesus proclaims here is that, if imperfect and sinful human fathers so willingly and freely give their children the basics of life, God will infinitely outdo them in measure and benefit. If we want God to treat us with loving generosity as His children, we should so treat others, because we are those who bear His likeness.

Ask Yourself

As always, our dealings with God are based on relationship—a relationship He has graciously established and continues to maintain. What threatens your own ability to view Him in this light, rather than primarily relating to Him only in religious terms—distant and detached?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.

Additional Resources

Integrity Promotes a Righteous Person

Published by Grace To You for reading on June 23rd.

“Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him. Then these men said, ‘We shall not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God’” ( Daniel 6:4-5 4 Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find occasion against Daniel as touching the kingdom; but they could find no occasion nor fault, forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. ).

Live so as to silence your critics.

Whenever God exalts a righteous person, there will be those who are jealous and who criticize. Sometimes, as in Daniel’s case, the jealousy turns to bitter opposition. But Daniel’s accusers had a problem: try as they may, they could find no ground of accusation against him. He was blameless and above reproach in his character and political dealings. Their only option was to somehow indict him for being totally committed to God. What a wonderful testimony to his faithfulness!

When an individual has served in office as long as Daniel had and his enemies can bring no charges of wrongdoing against him, he or she must be a person of great integrity and personal purity. That was the strength of Daniel’s character, and God wants you to have that kind of character as well.

There will always be those who want to discredit you. Even if they aren’t jealous of your position, they’ll resent your Christian faith and will scrutinize your attitudes and actions in an attempt to tarnish your reputation. How will your character hold up under that kind of scrutiny?

The apostle Peter wrote, “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” ( 1 Peter 2:12 12 having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. ). That means you must live the kind of life that silences your critics and refutes their accusations. When you do, some of them might even come to Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to guard your testimony and to minister saving grace to anyone who might seek to discredit you.

For Further Study

Read Philippians 1:12-18 12 Now I would have you know, brethren, that the things `which happened' unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the gospel; 13 so that my bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole praetorian guard, and to all the rest; 14 and that most of the brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 the one `do it' of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel; 17 but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds. 18 What then? only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. . What was the apostle Paul’s perspective on those who were envious of him? Do you share his perspective?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

Additional Resources

Faith Honors Him Whom It Trusts

Published by John Piper for reading on June 23rd.

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God. ( Romans 4:20 20 yet, looking unto the promise of God, he wavered not through unbelief, but waxed strong through faith, giving glory to God, )

I long for God to be glorified in our pursuit of holiness and love. But God is not glorified unless our pursuit is empowered by faith in his promises.

And the God who revealed himself most fully in Jesus Christ, who was crucified for our sins and raised for our justification ( Romans 4:25 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification. ), is most glorified when we embrace his promises with joyful firmness because they are bought by the blood of his Son.

God is honored when we are humbled for our feebleness and failure, and when he is trusted for future grace ( Romans 4:20 20 yet, looking unto the promise of God, he wavered not through unbelief, but waxed strong through faith, giving glory to God, ). So unless we learn how to live by faith in future grace, we may perform remarkable religious rigors, but not for God’s glory.

He is glorified when the power to be holy comes from humble faith in future grace.

Martin Luther said, “[Faith] honors him whom it trusts with the most reverent and highest regard, since it considers him truthful and trustworthy.” The trusted Giver gets the glory.

My great desire is that we learn how to live for God’s honor. And that means living by faith in future grace, which, in turn, means battling unbelief in all the ways it rears its head.



Morning Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for June 23rd

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on June 23rd.

Hosea 7:8 8 Ephraim, he mixeth himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake not turned.

A cake not turned is uncooked on one side; and so Ephraim was, in many respects, untouched by divine grace: though there was some partial obedience, there was very much rebellion left. My soul, I charge thee, see whether this be thy case. Art thou thorough in the things of God? Has grace gone through the very centre of thy being so as to be felt in its divine operations in all thy powers, thy actions, thy words, and thy thoughts? To be sanctified, spirit, soul, and body, should be thine aim and prayer; and although sanctification may not be perfect in thee anywhere in degree, yet it must be universal in its action; there must not be the appearance of holiness in one place and reigning sin in another, else thou, too, wilt be a cake not turned.

A cake not turned is soon burnt on the side nearest the fire, and although no man can have too much religion, there are some who seem burnt black with bigoted zeal for that part of truth which they have received, or are charred to a cinder with a vainglorious Pharisaic ostentation of those religious performances which suit their humour. The assumed appearance of superior sanctity frequently accompanies a total absence of all vital godliness. The saint in public is a devil in private. He deals in flour by day and in soot by night. The cake which is burned on one side, is dough on the other.

If it be so with me, O Lord, turn me! Turn my unsanctified nature to the fire of Thy love and let it feel the sacred glow, and let my burnt side cool a little while I learn my own weakness and want of heat when I am removed from Thy heavenly flame. Let me not be found a double-minded man, but one entirely under the powerful influence of reigning grace; for well I know if I am left like a cake unturned, and am not on both sides the subject of Thy grace, I must be consumed for ever amid everlasting burnings.

Evening Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for June 23rd

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on June 23rd.

Romans 8:23 23 And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for `our' adoption, `to wit', the redemption of our body.

EVEN in this world saints are God's children, but men cannot discover them to be so, except by certain moral characteristics. The adoption is not manifested, the children are not yet openly declared. Among the Romans a man might adopt a child, and keep it private for a long time: but there was a second adoption in public; when the child was brought before the constituted authorities its former garments were taken off, and the father who took it to be his child gave it raiment suitable to its new condition of life. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be." We are not yet arrayed in the apparel which befits the royal family of heaven; we are wearing in this flesh and blood just what we wore as the sons of Adam; but we know that "when He shall appear" who is the "first-born among many brethren," we shall be like Him, we shall see Him as He is. Cannot you imagine that a child taken from the lowest ranks of society, and adopted by a Roman senator, would say to himself, "I long for the day when I shall be publicly adopted. Then I shall leave off these plebeian garments, and be robed as becomes my senatorial rank"? Happy in what he has received, for that very reason he groans to get the fulness of what is promised him. So it is with us today. We are waiting till we shall put on our proper garments, and shall be manifested as the children of God. We are young nobles, and have not yet worn our coronets. We are young brides, and the marriage day is not yet come, and by the love our Spouse bears us, we are led to long and sigh for the bridal morning. Our very happiness makes us groan after more; our joy, like a swollen spring, longs to well up like an Iceland geyser, leaping to the skies, and it heaves and groans within our spirit for want of space and room by which to manifest itself to men.

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