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Children of a Singing God

Published by John Piper for reading on April 27th.

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. ( Mark 14:26 26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out unto the mount of Olives. )

Can you hear Jesus singing?

Was he a bass or a tenor? Was there a down-home twang to his voice? Or was there an unwavering crystal pitch?

Did he close his eyes and sing to his Father? Or did he look into his disciples’ eyes and smile at their deep camaraderie?

Did he usually start the song? Or did Peter or James, or maybe Matthew, do it?

Oh, I can hardly wait to hear Jesus sing! I think the planets would be jolted out of orbit if he lifted his native voice in our universe. But we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken; so, Lord, go ahead, do it! Sing!

It could not be otherwise but that Christianity be a singing faith. The founder sang. He learned to sing from his Father. Surely they have been singing together from all eternity. Don’t you think so? Would not infinite eternal happiness in the fellowship of the Trinity sing?

The Bible says the aim of our singing is “to raise sounds of joy” ( 1 Chronicles 15:16 16 And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren the singers, with instruments of music, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding aloud and lifting up the voice with joy. ). No one in the universe has more joy than God. He is infinitely joyful. He has rejoiced from eternity in the panorama of his own perfections reflected perfectly in the deity of his Son.

God’s joy is unimaginably powerful. He is God. When he speaks, galaxies come into being. And when he sings for joy, more energy is released than exists in all the matter and motion of the universe.

If he appointed song for us to release our heart’s delight in him, is this not because he also knows the joy of releasing his own heart’s delight in his own image in his Son by his Spirit in song? We are a singing people because we are the children of a singing God.



God’s Purpose for Intimacy

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on April 27th.

Psalms 103 Chapter 103 1 Bless Jehovah, O my soul; And all that is within me, `bless' his holy name. 2 Bless Jehovah, O my soul, And forget not all his benefits: 3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases; 4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5 Who satisfieth thy desire with good things, `So that' thy youth is renewed like the eagle. 6 Jehovah executeth righteous acts, And judgments for all that are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways unto Moses, His doings unto the children of Israel. 8 Jehovah is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness. 9 He will not always chide; Neither will he keep `his anger' for ever. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins, Nor rewarded us after our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is his lovingkindness toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pitieth his children, So Jehovah pitieth them that fear him. 14 For he knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are as grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; And the place thereof shall know it no more. 17 But the lovingkindness of Jehovah is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, And his righteousness unto children's children; 18 To such as keep his covenant, And to those that remember his precepts to do them. 19 Jehovah hath established his throne in the heavens; And his kingdom ruleth over all. 20 Bless Jehovah, ye his angels, That are mighty in strength, that fulfil his word, Hearkening unto the voice of his word. 21 Bless Jehovah, all ye his hosts, Ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. 22 Bless Jehovah, all ye his works, In all places of his dominion: Bless Jehovah, O my soul.

For most of my life, I believed that the heavenly Father and I shared a relationship for my benefit. However, His primary purpose for creating intimacy with believers is to reveal Himself.

In a truly loving relationship, each person wants to continually know more about the other. As believers, we are sometimes guilty of taking a more self-interested approach and forget that God is the rightful center of attention. When that is the case, we may head to church or into quiet time looking for something to inspire us, motivate us, or help us.

Part of the problem is that we would like to practice our faith in the safest way possible. Bible study, prayer, and church are relatively easy, compared to stepping out in faith or enduring persecution. But to know God intimately is not a purely intellectual pursuit. A truth about the Lord is not really ours until He works it into our daily experience.

Our Father wants His children to understand how He operates. The only way to gain such knowledge is by allowing God to unveil Himself in our life. This means we must be willing to go through difficulty and pain as well as happiness and peace. A man can read that the Holy Spirit is the believer’s Comforter, but he does not know this truth until he has need of solace.

The Christian life is not about feeling good and deriving the greatest personal benefit from our connection to God. Rather, the Lord builds an intimate relationship with each of His followers. In this way, He can reveal more about Himself—truth by truth—as a believer needs that knowledge. What a privilege!

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 16-17 Chapter 16 1 In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah Ahaz the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign. 2 Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign; and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: and he did not that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah his God, like David his father. 3 But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations, whom Jehovah cast out from before the children of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree. 5 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. 6 At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drove the Jews from Elath; and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there, unto this day. 7 So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, who rise up against me. 8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of Jehovah, and in the treasures of the king's house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria. 9 And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him; and the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried `the people of' it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin. 10 And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and saw the altar that was at Damascus; and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof. 11 And Urijah the priest built an altar: according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus, so did Urijah the priest make it against the coming of king Ahaz from Damascus. 12 And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king drew near unto the altar, and offered thereon. 13 And he burnt his burnt-offering and his meal-offering, and poured his drink-offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace-offerings, upon the altar. 14 And the brazen altar, which was before Jehovah, he brought from the forefront of the house, from between his altar and the house of Jehovah, and put it on the north side of his altar. 15 And king Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt-offering, and the evening meal-offering, and the king's burnt-offering, and his meal-offering, with the burnt-offering of all the people of the land, and their meal-offering, and their drink-offerings; and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt-offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice: but the brazen altar shall be for me to inquire by. 16 Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that king Ahaz commanded. 17 And king Ahaz cut off the panels of the bases, and removed the laver from off them, and took down the sea from off the brazen oxen that were under it, and put it upon a pavement of stone. 18 And the covered way for the sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king's entry without, turned he unto the house of Jehovah, because of the king of Assyria. 19 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 20 And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead. Chapter 17 1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel, `and reigned' nine years. 2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, yet not as the kings of Israel that were before him. 3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and brought him tribute. 4 And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. 5 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away unto Assyria, and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. 7 And it was so, because the children of Israel had sinned against Jehovah their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, 8 and walked in the statutes of the nations, whom Jehovah cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they made. 9 And the children of Israel did secretly things that were not right against Jehovah their God: and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fortified city; 10 and they set them up pillars and Asherim upon every high hill, and under every green tree; 11 and there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the nations whom Jehovah carried away before them; and they wrought wicked things to provoke Jehovah to anger; 12 and they served idols, whereof Jehovah had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing. 13 Yet Jehovah testified unto Israel, and unto Judah, by every prophet, and every seer, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. 14 Notwithstanding, they would not hear, but hardened their neck, like to the neck of their fathers, who believed not in Jehovah their God. 15 And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified unto them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and `went' after the nations that were round about them, concerning whom Jehovah had charged them that they should not do like them. 16 And they forsook all the commandments of Jehovah their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. 17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, to provoke him to anger. 18 Therefore Jehovah was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. 19 Also Judah kept not the commandments of Jehovah their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. 20 And Jehovah rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight. 21 For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drove Israel from following Jehovah, and made them sin a great sin. 22 And the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; 23 until Jehovah removed Israel out of his sight, as he spake by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. 24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Avva, and from Hamath and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. 25 And so it was, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not Jehovah: therefore Jehovah sent lions among them, which killed some of them. 26 Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast carried away, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the law of the god of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the law of the god of the land. 27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the law of the god of the land. 28 So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear Jehovah. 29 Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. 30 And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, 31 and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burnt their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 So they feared Jehovah, and made unto them from among themselves priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. 33 They feared Jehovah, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away. 34 Unto this day they do after the former manner: they fear not Jehovah, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law or after the commandment which Jehovah commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; 35 with whom Jehovah had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them: 36 but Jehovah, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm, him shall ye fear, and unto him shall ye bow yourselves, and to him shall ye sacrifice: 37 and the statutes and the ordinances, and the law and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods: 38 and the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods: 39 but Jehovah your God shall ye fear; and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies. 40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner. 41 So these nations feared Jehovah, and served their graven images; their children likewise, and their children's children, as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.




Daily Bible - April 27

Published by Grace To You for reading on April 27th.

Reading for Today:

  • Judges 20:1 Chapter 20 1 Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was assembled as one man, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, with the land of Gilead, unto Jehovah at Mizpah. –21:25
  • Psalms 51:12-19 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; And uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; And sinners shall be converted unto thee. 14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation; `And' my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. 15 O Lord, open thou my lips; And my mouth shall show forth thy praise. 16 For thou delightest not in sacrifice; else would I give it: Thou hast no pleasure in burnt-offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. 18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: Build thou the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then will thou delight in the sacrifices of righteousness, In burnt-offering and in whole burnt-offering: Then will they offer bullocks upon thine altar. Psalm 52 For the Chief Musician. Maschil of David; when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Abimelech.
  • Proverbs 15:1-3 Chapter 15 1 A soft answer turneth away wrath; But a grievous word stirreth up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise uttereth knowledge aright; But the mouth of fools poureth out folly. 3 The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, Keeping watch upon the evil and the good.
  • Luke 19:1-27 Chapter 19 1 And he entered and was passing through Jericho. 2 And behold, a man called by name Zacchaeus; and he was a chief publican, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the crowd, because he was little of stature. 4 And he ran on before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to-day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, He is gone in to lodge with a man that is a sinner. 8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wrongfully exacted aught of any man, I restore fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, To-day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost. 11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and `because' they supposed that the kingdom of God was immediately to appear. 12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. 13 And he called ten servants of his, and gave them ten pounds, and said unto them, Trade ye `herewith' till I come. 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent an ambassage after him, saying, We will not that this man reign over us. 15 And it came to pass, when he was come back again, having received the kingdom, that he commanded these servants, unto whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading. 16 And the first came before him, saying, Lord, thy pound hath made ten pounds more. 17 And he said unto him, Well done, thou good servant: because thou wast found faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. 18 And the second came, saying, Thy pound, Lord, hath made five pounds. 19 And he said unto him also, Be thou also over five cities. 20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, `here is' thy pound, which I kept laid up in a napkin: 21 for I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that which thou layedst not down, and reapest that which thou didst not sow. 22 He saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I am an austere man, taking up that which I laid not down, and reaping that which I did not sow; 23 then wherefore gavest thou not my money into the bank, and I at my coming should have required it with interest? 24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take away from him the pound, and give it unto him that hath the ten pounds. 25 And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds. 26 I say unto you, that unto every one that hath shall be given; but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away from him. 27 But these mine enemies, that would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

Notes:

Judges 20:18 to inquire of God. The Lord gave His counsel from the location of the ark at Shiloh, probably through the Urim and Thummim (vv. 27, 28). The tribe of Judah was responsible to lead in battle since God had chosen a leadership role for that tribe (Gen. 49:8–12; 1 Chr. 5:1, 2).

Judges 20:22–25 The Lord twice allowed great defeat and death to Israel to bring them to their spiritual senses regarding the cost of tolerating apostasy. Also, while they sought counsel, they placed too much reliance on their own prowess and on satisfying their own outrage. Finally, when desperate enough, they fasted and offered sacrifices (v. 26). The Lord then gave victory with strategy similar to that at Ai (Josh. 8).

Judges 21:25 Judges 17 Chapter 17 1 And there was a man of the hill-country of Ephraim, whose name was Micah. 2 And he said unto his mother, The eleven hundred `pieces' of silver that were taken from thee, about which thou didst utter a curse, and didst also speak it in mine ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it. And his mother said, Blessed be my son of Jehovah. 3 And he restored the eleven hundred `pieces' of silver to his mother; and his mother said, I verily dedicate the silver unto Jehovah from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee. 4 And when he restored the money unto his mother, his mother took two hundred `pieces' of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and it was in the house of Micah. 5 And the man Micah had a house of gods, and he made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest. 6 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. 7 And there was a young man out of Beth-lehem-judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite; and he sojourned there. 8 And the man departed out of the city, out of Beth-lehem-judah, to sojourn where he could find `a place', and he came to the hill-country of Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he journeyed. 9 And Micah said unto him, Whence comest thou? And he said unto him, I am a Levite of Beth-lehem-judah, and I go to sojourn where I may find `a place'. 10 And Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give thee ten `pieces' of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals. So the Levite went in. 11 And the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man was unto him as one of his sons. 12 And Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. 13 Then said Micah, Now know I that Jehovah will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest. –21 vividly demonstrates how bizarre and deep sin can become when people throw off the authority of God as mediated through the king (see 17:6). This was the appropriate but tragic conclusion to a bleak period of Israelite history (see Deut. 12:8).

Luke 19:17 faithful in a very little. Those with relatively small gifts and opportunities are just as responsible to use them faithfully as those who are given much more. over ten cities. The reward is incomparably greater than the 10 minas warranted. Note also that the rewards were apportioned according to the servants’ diligence: the one who gained 10 minas was given 10 cities, the one who gained 5 minas, 5 cities (v. 19), and so on.

DAY 27: How did Zacchaeus personify why Jesus came to this world?

Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, who probably oversaw a large tax district and had other tax collectors working for him ( Luke 19:2 2 And behold, a man called by name Zacchaeus; and he was a chief publican, and he was rich. ). Jericho alone was a prosperous trading center, so it is certain that Zacchaeus was a wealthy man. Zacchaeus was among “the crowd” in Jericho who lined the street to see Jesus pass through. They had undoubtedly heard about the recent raising of Lazarus in Bethany, less than 15 miles away ( John 11 Chapter 11 1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 And it was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 The sisters therefore sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4 But when Jesus heard it, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby. 5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When therefore he heard that he was sick, he abode at that time two days in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he saith to the disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. 8 The disciples say unto him, Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? 9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because the light is not in him. 11 These things spake he: and after this he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 The disciples therefore said unto him, Lord, if he is fallen asleep, he will recover. 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death: but they thought that he spake of taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus therefore said unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 16 Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said unto his fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. 17 So when Jesus came, he found that he had been in the tomb four days already. 18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off; 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary still sat in the house. 21 Martha therefore said unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 And even now I know that, whatsoever thou shalt ask of God, God will give thee. 23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; 26 and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I have believed that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, `even' he that cometh into the world. 28 And when she had said this, she went away, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Teacher is her, and calleth thee. 29 And she, when she heard it, arose quickly, and went unto him. 30 (Now Jesus was not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met him.) 31 The Jews then who were with her in the house, and were consoling her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up quickly and went out, followed her, supposing that she was going unto the tomb to weep there. 32 Mary therefore, when she came where Jesus was, and saw him, fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews `also' weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 and said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept. 36 The Jews therefore said, Behold how he loved him! 37 But some of them said, Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him that was blind, have caused that this man also should not die? 38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus saith, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time the body decayeth; for he hath been `dead' four days. 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the multitude that standeth around I said it, that they may believe that thou didst send me. 43 And when he had thus spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 He that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. 45 Many therefore of the Jews, who came to Mary and beheld that which he did, believed on him. 46 But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done. 47 The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many signs. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation. 49 But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 nor do ye take account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 Now this he said not of himself: but, being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; 52 and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God that are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day forth they took counsel that they might put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but departed thence into the country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there he tarried with the disciples. 55 Now the passover of the Jews was at hand: and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the passover, to purify themselves. 56 They sought therefore for Jesus, and spake one with another, as they stood in the temple, What think ye? That he will not come to the feast? 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given commandment, that, if any man knew where he was, he should show it, that they might take him. ). That, combined with His fame as a healer and teacher, stirred the entire city when word arrived that He was coming. Zacchaeus was so desperate to see Christ that he took an undignified position for someone of his rank (v. 4).

Both the religious elite and the common people hated Zacchaeus. They did not understand, and in their blind pride refused to see, what possible righteous purpose Jesus had in visiting such a notorious sinner (v. 7). But He had come to seek and to save the lost, which is exactly what happened here (v. 10).

Not only did Zacchaeus receive Jesus joyfully (v. 6), but his willingness to make restitution was proof that his conversion was genuine (v. 8). It was the fruit, not the condition, of his salvation. The law required a penalty of one-fifth as restitution for money acquired by fraud (Lev. 6:5; Num. 5:6, 7), so Zacchaeus was doing more than was required. Zacchaeus judged his own crime severely, acknowledging that he was as guilty as the lowest common robber. Since much of his wealth had probably been acquired fraudulently, this was a costly commitment. On top of that, he gave half his goods to the poor. But Zacchaeus had just found incomprehensible spiritual riches and did not mind the loss of material wealth.

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

April 27 - Jesus and Non-Retaliation: Security

Published by Grace To You for reading on April 27th.

“‘If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also’” ( Matthew 5:40 40 And if any man would go to law with thee, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. ).

Most people in New Testament times owned just one coat and likely just one or two shirts. Shirts were undergarments, and coats were outer garments that also served as blankets overnight. This kind of coat was important, what the Mosaic law required be returned to its owner “before the sun sets, for that is his only covering; it is his cloak for his body” (Ex. 22:26–27).

Jesus’ reference here is not to a theft, when someone wants to steal another’s garment, but to a legitimate lawsuit in a legal court. In those days the courts often mandated that fines or judgments be paid in clothing. The illustration is that a genuine follower of Christ will be willing to surrender even his most valuable coat to an adversary rather than cause offense or hard feelings. The judge could not require a specific coat in payment, but the person could voluntarily give it up.

Even if a settlement against us is fairly arrived at for a certain amount, we should be willing to pay more to demonstrate sincere regret for the wrong done and the pain inflicted on another. Most of us have probably never considered this option, but it shows the love of Christ and genuineness of our faith.

Ask Yourself

Notice again that this series of scenarios from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount consistently calls for more than the law demands. What does that tell you about the way we’re supposed to respond in situations in which our personal integrity or the cause of Christ is being challenged?

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

The Resurrection: Motive for Service

Published by Grace To You for reading on April 27th.

“If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” ( 1 Corinthians 15:32 32 If after the manner of men I fought with beasts at Ephesus, what doth it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. ).

The truth of the Resurrection is an incentive for believers to persevere in service for Jesus Christ.

Certainly Paul’s statement in today’s verse is an extraordinary one, but it reiterates that the truth of Christ’s resurrection and the hope of believers’ resurrection are definite incentives for Christian service. It allows us to look more closely at what motivated Christians like Paul, and how we also should be motivated for service.

The apostle may have fought with literal wild animals at Ephesus. Or he may be speaking figuratively of the wild Ephesian mob that opposed him in Acts 19 Chapter 19 1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples: 2 and he said unto them, Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? And they `said' unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was `given'. 3 And he said, Into what then were ye baptized? And they said, Into John's baptism. 4 And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus. 5 And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7 And they were in all about twelve men. 8 And he entered into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, reasoning and persuading `as to' the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9 But when some were hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10 And this continued for the space of two years; so that all they that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. 11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12 insomuch that unto the sick were carried away from his body handkerchiefs or aprons, and the evil spirits went out. 13 But certain also of the strolling Jews, exorcists, took upon them to name over them that had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, a chief priest, who did this. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said unto them, Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye? 16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and mastered both of them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, that dwelt at Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 Many also of them that had believed came, confessing, and declaring their deeds. 19 And not a few of them that practised magical arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of the Lord and prevailed. 21 Now after these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 22 And having sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. 23 And about that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no little business unto the craftsmen; 25 whom he gathered together, with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this business we have our wealth. 26 And ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they are no gods, that are made with hands: 27 and not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana be made of no account, and that she should even be deposed from her magnificence whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28 And when they heard this they were filled with wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesus. 29 And the city was filled with the confusion: and they rushed with one accord into the theatre, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel. 30 And when Paul was minded to enter in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. 31 And certain also of the Asiarchs, being his friends, sent unto him and besought him not to adventure himself into the theatre. 32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was in confusion; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. 33 And they brought Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made a defense unto the people. 34 But when they perceived that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 35 And when the townclerk had quieted the multitude, he saith, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there who knoweth not that the city of the Ephesians is temple-keeper of the great Diana, and of the `image' which fell down from Jupiter? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be gainsaid, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rash. 37 For ye have brought `hither' these men, who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38 If therefore Demetrius, and the craftsmen that are with him, have a matter against any man, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls: let them accuse one another. 39 But if ye seek anything about other matters, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. 40 For indeed we are in danger to be accused concerning this day's riot, there being no cause `for it': and as touching it we shall not be able to give account of this concourse. 41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly. . But whatever the case, Paul knows that no mere human motives were compelling him to engage in such battles or continually risk his safety in other ways. He would not have put up with so many difficulties had his purposes and objectives been only temporal and worldly.

Paul and all Christians throughout history have been willing to labor under adversity, suffer, be persecuted, and continue diligently in the Lord’s service because they were convinced God’s kingdom extends beyond the frailties and limits of this life (Rom. 8:18). If our ministry on earth were an end in itself, then it would make sense to “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

However, you can praise God today that your life does not have to end simply with sensual pleasures and comforts. The hope and motivation in all your service for Christ can be identical to faith’s giants in Hebrews 11 Chapter 11 1 Now faith is assurance of `things' hoped for, a conviction of things not seen. 2 For therein the elders had witness borne to them. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear. 4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of his gifts: and through it he being dead yet speaketh. 5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God translated him: for he hath had witness borne to him that before his translation he had been well-pleasing unto God: 6 And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing `unto him'; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and `that' he is a rewarder of them that seek after him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned `of God' concerning things not seen as yet, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; through which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise, as in a `land' not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 for he looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 By faith even Sarah herself received power to conceive seed when she was past age, since she counted him faithful who had promised: 12 wherefore also there sprang of one, and him as good as dead, `so many' as the stars of heaven in multitude, and as the sand, which is by the sea-shore, innumerable. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own. 15 And if indeed they had been mindful of that `country' from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better `country', that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city. 17 By faith Abraham, being tried, offered up Isaac: yea, he that had gladly received the promises was offering up his only begotten `son'; 18 even he to whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 accounting that God `is' able to raise up, even from the dead; from whence he did also in a figure receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even concerning things to come. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, `leaning' upon the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when his end was nigh, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. 23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months by his parents, because they saw he was a goodly child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; 25 choosing rather to share ill treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he looked unto the recompense of reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of the blood, that the destroyer of the firstborn should not touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were swallowed up. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been compassed about for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the harlot perished not with them that were disobedient, having received the spies with peace. 32 And what shall I more say? for the time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah; of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, waxed mighty in war, turned to flight armies of aliens. 35 Women received their dead by a resurrection: and others were tortured, not accepting their deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 and others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword: they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves, and the holes of the earth. 39 And these all, having had witness borne to them through their faith, received not the promise, 40 God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. who earnestly served, that they “might obtain a better resurrection” (v. 35).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would use the truth of the Resurrection to motivate you toward more faithful service in a difficult area of ministry or in a ministry in which you have been inconsistent.

For Further Study

Memorize 1 Corinthians 15:58 58 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord. . What does the “therefore” refer to? Make this verse a constant reminder of the incentive you should have for serving the Lord.

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

Are You Avoiding Persecution?

Published by Grace To You for reading on April 27th.

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness" (Matt. 5:10).

If you don’t experience persecution, people probably don’t know you’re a Christian.

I heard of a man who was fearful because he was starting a new job with a group of unbelievers whom he thought might give him a bad time if they found out he was a Christian. After his first day at work his wife asked him how he got along with them. "We got along just fine," he said. "They never found out I'm a Christian."

Silence is one way to avoid persecution. Some other ways are to approve of the world's standards, laugh at its jokes, enjoy its entertainment, and smile when it mocks God. If you never confront sin or tell people Jesus is the only way to heaven, or if your behavior is so worldly no one can distinguish you from unbelievers, you will probably be accepted and won't feel the heat of persecution. But beware!

Jesus said, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you. . . . Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory" ( Luke 6:26 26 Woe `unto you', when all men shall speak well of you! for in the same manner did their fathers to the false prophets. ; 9:26). The last thing anyone should want is for Christ to pronounce a curse on them or be ashamed of them. That's an enormous price to pay for popularity!

If you take a stand for Christ and manifest Beatitude attitudes, you will be in direct opposition to Satan and the evil world system. Eventually you will experience some form of persecution. That has been true from the very beginning of human history, when Abel was murdered by his brother Cain because Cain couldn't tolerate his righteousness.

You should never fear persecution. God will grant you grace and will never test you beyond what He enables you to endure (1 Cor. 10:13). Nor should you ever compromise biblical truth to avoid persecution. In Philippians 1:29 29 because to you it hath been granted in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer in his behalf: Paul says that persecution is as much a gift of God as salvation itself. Both identify you as a true believer!

Suggestions for Prayer

Memorize 1 Peter 2:20-21 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye sin, and are buffeted `for it', ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer `for it', ye shall take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps: . Ask God to continually grant you the grace to follow Christ's example when difficulties come your way.

For Further Study

Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I more; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty `stripes' save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; 26 `in' journeyings often, `in' perils of rivers, `in' perils of robbers, `in' perils from `my' countrymen, `in' perils from the Gentiles, `in' perils in the city, `in' perils in the wilderness, `in' perils in the sea, `in' perils among false brethren; 27 `in' labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Besides those things that are without, there is that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is caused to stumble, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed for evermore knoweth that I lie not. 32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king guarded the city of the Damascenes in order to take me: 33 and through a window was I let down in a basket by the wall, and escaped his hands. , noting the severe persecution Paul endured for Christ's sake.

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

Evening Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for April 27th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on April 27th.

Psalms 10:16 16 Jehovah is King for ever and ever: The nations are perished out of his land.

JESUS Christ is no despotic claimant of divine right, but He is really and truly the Lord's anointed! "It hath pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell." God hath given to Him all power and all authority. As the Son of man, He is now head over all things to His church, and He reigns over heaven, and earth, and hell, with the keys of life and death at His girdle. Certain princes have delighted to call themselves kings by the popular will, and certainly our Lord Jesus Christ is such in His church. If it could be put to the vote whether He should be King in the church, every believing heart would crown Him. O that we could crown Him more gloriously than we do! We would count no expense to be wasted that could glorify Christ. Suffering would be pleasure, and loss would be gain, if thereby we could surround His brow with brighter crowns, and make Him more glorious in the eyes of men and angels. Yes, He shall reign. Long live the King! All hail to Thee, King Jesus! Go forth, ye virgin souls who love your Lord, bow at His feet, strew His way with the lilies of your love, and the roses of your gratitude: "Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all." Moreover, our Lord Jesus is King in Zion by right of conquest: He has taken and carried by storm the hearts of His people, and has slain their enemies who held them in cruel bondage. In the Red Sea of His own blood, our Redeemer has drowned the Pharaoh of our sins: shall He not be King in Jeshurun? He has delivered us from the iron yoke and heavy curse of the law: shall not the Liberator be crowned? We are His portion, whom He has taken out of the hand of the Amorite with His sword and with His bow: who shall snatch His conquest from His hand? All hail, King Jesus! we gladly own Thy gentle sway! Rule in our hearts for ever, Thou lovely Prince of Peace.

Morning Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for April 27th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on April 27th.

Psalms 67:6 6 The earth hath yielded its increase: God, even our own God, will bless us.

IT is strange how little use we make of the spiritual blessings which God gives us, but it is stranger still how little use we make of God Himself. Though He is "our own God," we apply ourselves but little to Him, and ask but little of Him. How seldom do we ask counsel at the hands of the Lord! How often do we go about our business, without seeking His guidance! In our troubles how constantly do we strive to bear our burdens ourselves, instead of casting them upon the Lord, that He may sustain us! This is not because we may not, for the Lord seems to say, "I am thine, soul, come and make use of me as thou wilt; thou mayst freely come to my store, and the oftener the more welcome." It is our own fault if we make not free with the riches of our God. Then, since thou hast such a friend, and He invites thee, draw from Him daily. Never want whilst thou hast a God to go to; never fear or faint whilst thou hast God to help thee; go to thy treasure and take whatever thou needest—there is all that thou canst want. Learn the divine skill of making God all things to thee. He can supply thee with all, or, better still, He can be to thee instead of all. Let me urge thee, then, to make use of thy God. Make use of Him in prayer. Go to Him often, because He is thy God. O, wilt thou fail to use so great a privilege? Fly to Him, tell Him all thy wants. Use Him constantly by faith at all times. If some dark providence has beclouded thee, use thy God as a "sun;" if some strong enemy has beset thee, find in Jehovah a "shield," for He is a sun and shield to His people. If thou hast lost thy way in the mazes of life, use Him as a "guide," for He will direct thee. Whatever thou art, and wherever thou art, remember God is just what thou wantest, and just where thou wantest, and that He can do all thou wantest.

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