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When Others Fail Us

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on December 15th.

2 Timothy 4:9-18 9 Give diligence to come shortly unto me: 10 for Demas forsook me, having loved this present world, and went to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is useful to me for ministering. 12 But Tychicus I sent to Ephesus. 13 The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest, and the books, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord will render to him according to his works: 15 of whom do thou also beware; for he greatly withstood our words. 16 At my first defence no one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their account. 17 But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me; that through me the message might me fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 The Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will save me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom `be' the glory forever and ever. Amen.

A disappointing friendship is one area of life that causes great distress. Companionship is one of our essential needs, and when friends fail us, we feel wounded, rejected, and alone. We’ve probably all experienced this to one degree or another, and the apostle Paul was no exception.

Although he’d surrounded himself with friends and had sacrificed greatly to take the gospel throughout the Roman world, when Paul neared the end of his life, he was basically alone. As he spent his last days in prison, only Luke was with him.

Some of the apostle’s friends were ministering in other parts of the world, but others, like Demas, had deserted him. When Paul stood at his preliminary trial, no one supported him. In fact, everyone had abandoned him. To associate with Paul at this point was risky.

It would have been understandable for Paul to complain about friends who’d let him down in his time of need. But instead, he displayed a forgiving spirit by saying, “May it not be counted against them” ( 2 Timothy 4:16 16 At my first defence no one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their account. ). Although betrayal or abandonment hurts, we will never heal if we yield to bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness is our only solution.

Like Paul, we need an eternal perspective when facing disappointment. Nothing comes into our life without first passing through the hands of our heavenly Father, and no experience of ours is wasted. His ways may not make sense to us, but He uses every painful situation to accomplish His will in our life—and He’ll walk through it with us.

Bible in One Year: 2 Timothy 1-4 Chapter 1 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, according to the promise of the life which is in Christ Jesus, 2 to Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers in a pure conscience, how unceasing is my remembrance of thee in my supplications, night and day 4 longing to see thee, remembering thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; 5 having been reminded of the unfeigned faith that is in thee; which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and, I am persuaded, in thee also. 6 For which cause I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline. 8 Be not ashamed therefore of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but suffer hardship with the gospel according to the power of God; 9 who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal, 10 but hath now been manifested by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 whereunto I was appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher. 12 For which cause I suffer also these things: yet I am not ashamed; for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day. 13 Hold the pattern of sound words which thou hast heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed unto `thee' guard through the Holy Spirit which dwelleth in us. 15 This thou knowest, that all that are in Asia turned away from me; of whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 The Lord grant mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus: for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; 17 but, when he was in Rome, he sought me diligently, and found me 18 (the Lord grant unto him to find mercy of the Lord in that day); and in how many things he ministered at Ephesus, thou knowest very well. Chapter 2 1 Thou therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3 Suffer hardship with `me', as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of `this' life; that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier. 5 And if also a man contend in the games, he is not crowded, except he have contended lawfully. 6 The husbandmen that laboreth must be the first to partake of the fruits. 7 Consider what I say; for the Lord shall give thee understanding in all things. 8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my gospel: 9 wherein I suffer hardship unto bonds, as a malefactor; but the word of God is not bound. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 Faithful is the saying: For if we died with him, we shall also live with him: 12 if we endure, we shall also reign with him: if we shall deny him, he also will deny us: 13 if we are faithless, he abideth faithful; for he cannot deny himself. 14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging `them' in the sight of the Lord, that they strive not about words, to no profit, to the subverting of them that hear. 15 Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth. 16 But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in ungodliness, 17 and their word will eat as doth a gangrene: or whom is Hymenaeus an Philetus; 18 men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some. 19 Howbeit the firm foundation of God standeth, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his: and, Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness. 20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some unto honor, and some unto dishonor. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the master's use, prepared unto every good work. 22 after righteousness, faith, love, pace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But foolish and ignorant questionings refuse, knowing that they gender strifes. 24 And the Lord's servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all, apt to teach, forbearing, 25 in meekness correcting them that oppose themselves; if peradventure God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him unto his will. Chapter 3 1 But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 5 holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power therefore. From these also turn away. 6 For of these are they that creep into houses, and take captive silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts, 7 ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 And even as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also withstand the truth. Men corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further. For their folly shall be evident unto all men, as theirs also came to be. 10 But thou didst follow my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, patience, 11 persecutions, sufferings. What things befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. 15 And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 Every scripture inspired of God `is' also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. 17 That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work. Chapter 4 1 I charge `thee' in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables. 5 But be thou sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. 6 For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: 8 henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing. 9 Give diligence to come shortly unto me: 10 for Demas forsook me, having loved this present world, and went to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is useful to me for ministering. 12 But Tychicus I sent to Ephesus. 13 The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest, and the books, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord will render to him according to his works: 15 of whom do thou also beware; for he greatly withstood our words. 16 At my first defence no one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their account. 17 But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me; that through me the message might me fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 The Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will save me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom `be' the glory forever and ever. Amen. 19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the house of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained at Corinth: but Trophimus I left at Miletus sick. 21 Give diligence to come before winter. Eubulus saluteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren. 22 The Lord be with thy spirit. Grace be with you.




Receiving Answers to Our Prayers

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on December 15th.

1 John 5:13-15 13 These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, `even' unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God. 14 And this is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: 15 and if we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him.

In response to our prayers, the Lord uses His power to penetrate closed minds and hard hearts. In that way, He brings people to salvation and transforms unrighteous lives.

We all want our petitions fulfilled, so it is important to understand God’s conditions for answered prayer. Besides having a relationship with Him ( John 3:3 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. ) and confessing all known sin, we must have faith that His Word is true and His promises reliable. The Bible, which was divinely written by God through man, is without error. In this amazing book, the Lord reveals His nature—holy, sovereign, and perfect—and presents His plan of salvation (Rom. 10:9). Because God’s promises are based on His perfect character, we can be certain He will do what He says; otherwise He would not be God. And Jesus’ promises can be trusted because He always spoke the Father’s words ( John 12:49 49 For I spake not from myself; but the Father that sent me, he hath given me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. ).

Another condition is that we ask according to the Lord’s purposes. We’re to pray for things that are in keeping with His divine plan and character. God wants us to discern His will, to pray for it to be carried out, and to do whatever our part might be in its fulfillment (Matt. 6:9-10). The Holy Spirit will help us know what to pray. And as we consider which petitions to make, we should ask ourselves, Is my request based on God’s Word? How will an answer to this prayer bring me or someone else closer to Him?

It takes an investment of time to meet God’s requirements for prayer. But in response, He will provide answers beyond anything we could ask or think (Eph. 3:20).

Bible in One Year: 2 Timothy 1-4 Chapter 1 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, according to the promise of the life which is in Christ Jesus, 2 to Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers in a pure conscience, how unceasing is my remembrance of thee in my supplications, night and day 4 longing to see thee, remembering thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; 5 having been reminded of the unfeigned faith that is in thee; which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and, I am persuaded, in thee also. 6 For which cause I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline. 8 Be not ashamed therefore of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but suffer hardship with the gospel according to the power of God; 9 who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal, 10 but hath now been manifested by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 whereunto I was appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher. 12 For which cause I suffer also these things: yet I am not ashamed; for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day. 13 Hold the pattern of sound words which thou hast heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed unto `thee' guard through the Holy Spirit which dwelleth in us. 15 This thou knowest, that all that are in Asia turned away from me; of whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 The Lord grant mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus: for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; 17 but, when he was in Rome, he sought me diligently, and found me 18 (the Lord grant unto him to find mercy of the Lord in that day); and in how many things he ministered at Ephesus, thou knowest very well. Chapter 2 1 Thou therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3 Suffer hardship with `me', as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of `this' life; that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier. 5 And if also a man contend in the games, he is not crowded, except he have contended lawfully. 6 The husbandmen that laboreth must be the first to partake of the fruits. 7 Consider what I say; for the Lord shall give thee understanding in all things. 8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my gospel: 9 wherein I suffer hardship unto bonds, as a malefactor; but the word of God is not bound. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 Faithful is the saying: For if we died with him, we shall also live with him: 12 if we endure, we shall also reign with him: if we shall deny him, he also will deny us: 13 if we are faithless, he abideth faithful; for he cannot deny himself. 14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging `them' in the sight of the Lord, that they strive not about words, to no profit, to the subverting of them that hear. 15 Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth. 16 But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in ungodliness, 17 and their word will eat as doth a gangrene: or whom is Hymenaeus an Philetus; 18 men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some. 19 Howbeit the firm foundation of God standeth, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his: and, Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness. 20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some unto honor, and some unto dishonor. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the master's use, prepared unto every good work. 22 after righteousness, faith, love, pace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But foolish and ignorant questionings refuse, knowing that they gender strifes. 24 And the Lord's servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all, apt to teach, forbearing, 25 in meekness correcting them that oppose themselves; if peradventure God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him unto his will. Chapter 3 1 But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 5 holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power therefore. From these also turn away. 6 For of these are they that creep into houses, and take captive silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts, 7 ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 And even as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also withstand the truth. Men corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further. For their folly shall be evident unto all men, as theirs also came to be. 10 But thou didst follow my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, patience, 11 persecutions, sufferings. What things befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. 15 And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 Every scripture inspired of God `is' also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. 17 That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work. Chapter 4 1 I charge `thee' in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables. 5 But be thou sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. 6 For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: 8 henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing. 9 Give diligence to come shortly unto me: 10 for Demas forsook me, having loved this present world, and went to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is useful to me for ministering. 12 But Tychicus I sent to Ephesus. 13 The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest, and the books, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord will render to him according to his works: 15 of whom do thou also beware; for he greatly withstood our words. 16 At my first defence no one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their account. 17 But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me; that through me the message might me fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 The Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will save me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom `be' the glory forever and ever. Amen. 19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the house of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained at Corinth: but Trophimus I left at Miletus sick. 21 Give diligence to come before winter. Eubulus saluteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren. 22 The Lord be with thy spirit. Grace be with you.




Life and Death at Christmas

Published by John Piper for reading on December 15th.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” ( John 10:10 10 The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have `it' abundantly. )

As I was about to begin this devotional, I received word that Marion Newstrum had just died. Marion and her husband Elmer had been part of Bethlehem longer than most of our members had been alive at the time. She was 87. They had been married 64 years.

When I spoke to Elmer and told him I wanted him to be strong in the Lord and not give up on life, he said, “He has been a true friend.” I pray that all Christians will be able to say at the end of life, “Christ has been a true friend.”

Each Advent I mark the anniversary of my mother’s death. She was cut off in her 56th year in a bus accident in Israel. It was December 16, 1974. Those events are incredibly real to me even today. If I allow myself, I can easily come to tears — for example, thinking that my sons never knew her. We buried her the day after Christmas. What a precious Christmas it was!

Many of you will feel your loss this Christmas more pointedly than before. Don’t block it out. Let it come. Feel it. What is love for, if not to intensify our affections — both in life and death? But oh, do not be bitter. It is tragically self-destructive to be bitter.

Jesus came at Christmas that we might have eternal life. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” ( John 10:10 10 The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have `it' abundantly. ). Elmer and Marion had discussed where they would spend their final years. Elmer said, “Marion and I agreed that our final home would be with the Lord.”

Do you feel restless for home? I have family coming home for the holidays. It feels good. I think the bottom line reason for why it feels good is that they and I are destined in the depths of our being for an ultimate Homecoming. All other homecomings are foretastes. And foretastes are good.

Unless they become substitutes. Oh, don’t let all the sweet things of this season become substitutes of the final, great, all-satisfying Sweetness. Let every loss and every delight send your hearts a-homing after heaven.

Christmas. What is it but this: I came that they may have life? Marion Newstrum, Ruth Piper, and you and I — that we might have Life, now and forever.

Make your Now the richer and deeper this Christmas by drinking at the fountain of Forever. It is so near.



Jesus Christ Is Lord

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on December 15th.

Romans 14:7-12 7 For none of us liveth to himself, and none dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived `again', that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But thou, why dost thou judge thy brother? or thou again, why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God. 11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, to me every knee shall bow, And every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Followers of Jesus would agree that whether we live or die, we do so for Christ. But His sovereignty is not limited to those who claim Him as King. The entire world—the whole universe, in fact—is subject to His authority. At the final judgment, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess and praise God.

In the here and now, relatively few people recognize the Lord’s rule and seek to remain in His will. Most refuse to see that all of our human constructs—such as government, culture, and society—thrive or falter in the palm of God’s hand. Moreover, nonbelievers resist Christ’s sovereignty in their own lives. People who won’t surrender their will to the Lord’s great purpose assume control of their own destiny. However, the Lord’s supreme reign cannot be thwarted.

It’s common for men and women today to believe that there are no consequences for rejecting the lordship of Jesus Christ. You may have heard people say things like, “That Christian stuff works for you, but it’s not for me. I’ll live on my own terms.” Yet Jesus’ parable of houses built on either solid rock or sand offers a different perspective (Matt. 7:24-27). Only those who make their abode in the Lord can withstand the upheavals of this world.

Kneeling before Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life is the wisest decision you can make. The sovereign Ruler of the universe loves you and desires to bless all of your days. Make your eternal home in the safety of His kingdom, and forever delight in Him.

Bible in One Year: 2 Timothy 1-4 Chapter 1 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, according to the promise of the life which is in Christ Jesus, 2 to Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers in a pure conscience, how unceasing is my remembrance of thee in my supplications, night and day 4 longing to see thee, remembering thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; 5 having been reminded of the unfeigned faith that is in thee; which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and, I am persuaded, in thee also. 6 For which cause I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline. 8 Be not ashamed therefore of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but suffer hardship with the gospel according to the power of God; 9 who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal, 10 but hath now been manifested by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 whereunto I was appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher. 12 For which cause I suffer also these things: yet I am not ashamed; for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day. 13 Hold the pattern of sound words which thou hast heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed unto `thee' guard through the Holy Spirit which dwelleth in us. 15 This thou knowest, that all that are in Asia turned away from me; of whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 The Lord grant mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus: for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; 17 but, when he was in Rome, he sought me diligently, and found me 18 (the Lord grant unto him to find mercy of the Lord in that day); and in how many things he ministered at Ephesus, thou knowest very well. Chapter 2 1 Thou therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3 Suffer hardship with `me', as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of `this' life; that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier. 5 And if also a man contend in the games, he is not crowded, except he have contended lawfully. 6 The husbandmen that laboreth must be the first to partake of the fruits. 7 Consider what I say; for the Lord shall give thee understanding in all things. 8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my gospel: 9 wherein I suffer hardship unto bonds, as a malefactor; but the word of God is not bound. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 Faithful is the saying: For if we died with him, we shall also live with him: 12 if we endure, we shall also reign with him: if we shall deny him, he also will deny us: 13 if we are faithless, he abideth faithful; for he cannot deny himself. 14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging `them' in the sight of the Lord, that they strive not about words, to no profit, to the subverting of them that hear. 15 Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth. 16 But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in ungodliness, 17 and their word will eat as doth a gangrene: or whom is Hymenaeus an Philetus; 18 men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some. 19 Howbeit the firm foundation of God standeth, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his: and, Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness. 20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some unto honor, and some unto dishonor. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the master's use, prepared unto every good work. 22 after righteousness, faith, love, pace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But foolish and ignorant questionings refuse, knowing that they gender strifes. 24 And the Lord's servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all, apt to teach, forbearing, 25 in meekness correcting them that oppose themselves; if peradventure God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him unto his will. Chapter 3 1 But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 5 holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power therefore. From these also turn away. 6 For of these are they that creep into houses, and take captive silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts, 7 ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 And even as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also withstand the truth. Men corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further. For their folly shall be evident unto all men, as theirs also came to be. 10 But thou didst follow my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, patience, 11 persecutions, sufferings. What things befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. 15 And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 Every scripture inspired of God `is' also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. 17 That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work. Chapter 4 1 I charge `thee' in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables. 5 But be thou sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. 6 For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: 8 henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing. 9 Give diligence to come shortly unto me: 10 for Demas forsook me, having loved this present world, and went to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is useful to me for ministering. 12 But Tychicus I sent to Ephesus. 13 The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest, and the books, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord will render to him according to his works: 15 of whom do thou also beware; for he greatly withstood our words. 16 At my first defence no one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their account. 17 But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me; that through me the message might me fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 The Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will save me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom `be' the glory forever and ever. Amen. 19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the house of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained at Corinth: but Trophimus I left at Miletus sick. 21 Give diligence to come before winter. Eubulus saluteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren. 22 The Lord be with thy spirit. Grace be with you.




Christ's Coronation and Intercession

Published by Grace To You for reading on December 15th.

“God highly exalted Him” ( Philippians 2:9 9 Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; ).

Christ is the Sovereign of the universe and a faithful High Priest.

Christ was exalted not only in His resurrection and ascension, but also in His coronation. Mark 16:19 19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken unto them, was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. says, “When the Lord Jesus had spoken to [the apostles], He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.” In Scripture the right hand is a symbol of power and authority. What is the extent of Christ’s authority? Ephesians 1:20-22 20 which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly `places', 21 far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 and he put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, says, “[God] seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.” Christ is the Sovereign of the universe.

Besides His coronation, Christ is exalted in His intercession for believers. He stands before the Father as the High Priest of His people. His first act was to send the Holy Spirit ( Acts 2:33 33 Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear. ). Our sympathetic High Priest “has been tempted in all things as we are” (Heb. 4:15), and “He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for [us]” (7:25). Christ’s intercessory work grants us faith, repentance, and forgiveness (see Heb. 4—9).

Puritan minister Thomas Watson said, “Had you a friend at court, who, when you were questioned for delinquency or debt, should plead with the judge for you, and bring you off your troubles, would you not love that friend? How often does Satan put in his bills against us in the court! Now Christ is at the judge’s hand; he sits at his Father’s right hand, ever to plead for us, and to make our peace with God. Oh, how should our hearts be fired with love to Christ!”

How intense is your love for Jesus Christ, our faithful Advocate?

Suggestions for Prayer

“Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that [you] may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Pray for a fresh appreciation of this today.

For Further Study

What do 2 Corinthians 5:21 21 Him who knew no sin he made `to be' sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him. and Hebrews 2:17 17 Wherefore it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. say about Christ as our High Priest?

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        

The Lover of Righteousness

Published by Grace To You for reading on December 15th.
"'Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy companions'" (Heb. 1:8-9).

As the eternal God and King, Christ loves righteousness and hates lawlessness.

In these days it's difficult for us as Christians to be totally supportive of our governmental leaders when we see so much of what God calls righteous compromised or ridiculed. But the King of kings—Christ Himself—is the only leader who has a perfectly right attitude toward righteousness.

Christ rules from an eternal throne, and He rules eternity as God and King. The scepter He holds is symbolic of His rule, particularly as a rule of righteousness.

But there's more to it than that: He just doesn't act righteously; He loves righteousness itself. How often have we obeyed without joy, expressing an attitude of willing condescension? But Jesus gives us a different model.

James 1:17 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning. says, "Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow." True righteousness never varies from what is true, just, and good. And 1 John 1:5 5 And this is the message which we have heard from him and announce unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. says, "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." God is total light and total righteousness. Everything Jesus did resulted from His love of righteousness.

Because Christ loves righteousness, He hates lawlessness. Since He loves what is right, He must hate what is wrong. The two are inseparable—one cannot exist without the other. You cannot truly love righteousness and also like sin. When there is true love for God, there will also be true love for righteousness and total hatred of sin.

The more you and I become conformed to Jesus Christ, the more we will love righteousness. Our attitudes toward righteousness and sin will ultimately reveal how closely we are conformed to Christ. Check out your attitudes and actions. How are you doing?

Suggestion for Prayer

Like the psalmist, ask God to show you any hurtful way in you (Ps. 139:24).

For Further Study

Read Psalms 119 Chapter 119 1 ALEPH. Blessed are they that are perfect in the way, Who walk in the law of Jehovah. 2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, That seek him with the whole heart. 3 Yea, they do no unrighteousness; They walk in his ways. 4 Thou hast commanded `us' thy precepts, That we should observe them diligently. 5 Oh that my ways were established To observe thy statutes! 6 Then shall I not be put to shame, When I have respect unto all thy commandments. 7 I will give thanks unto thee with uprightness of heart, When I learn thy righteous judgments. 8 I will observe thy statutes: Oh forsake me not utterly. 9 BETH. Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed `thereto' according to thy word. 10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: Oh let me not wander from thy commandments. 11 Thy word have I laid up in my heart, That I might not sin against thee. 12 Blessed art thou, O Jehovah: Teach me thy statutes. 13 With my lips have I declared All the ordinances of thy mouth. 14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, As much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on thy precepts, And have respect unto thy ways. 16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. 17 GIMEL. Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live; So will I observe thy word. 18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold Wondrous things out of thy law. 19 I am a sojourner in the earth: Hide not thy commandments from me. 20 My soul breaketh for the longing That it hath unto thine ordinances at all times. 21 Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, That do wander from thy commandments. 22 Take away from me reproach and contempt; For I have kept thy testimonies. 23 Princes also sat and talked against me; `But' thy servant did meditate on thy statutes. 24 Thy testimonies also are my delight `And' my counsellors. 25 DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust: Quicken thou me according to thy word. 26 I declared my ways, and thou answeredst me: Teach me thy statutes. 27 Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: So shall I meditate on thy wondrous works. 28 My soul melteth for heaviness: Strengthen thou me according unto thy word. 29 Remove from me the way of falsehood; And grant me thy law graciously. 30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness: Thine ordinances have I set `before me'. 31 I cleave unto thy testimonies: O Jehovah, put me not to shame. 32 I will run the way of thy commandments, When thou shalt enlarge my heart. 33 HE. Teach me, O Jehovah, the way of thy statutes; And I shall keep it unto the end. 34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; Yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. 35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; For therein do I delight. 36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, And not to covetousness. 37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, And quicken me in thy ways. 38 Confirm unto thy servant thy word, Which `is in order' unto the fear of thee. 39 Turn away my reproach whereof I am afraid; For thine ordinances are good. 40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: Quicken me in thy righteousness. 41 VAV. Let thy lovingkindnesses also come unto me, O Jehovah, Even thy salvation, according to thy word. 42 So shall I have an answer for him that reproacheth me; For I trust in thy word. 43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; For I have hoped in thine ordinances. 44 So shall I observe thy law continually For ever and ever. 45 And I shall walk at liberty; For I have sought thy precepts. 46 I will also speak of thy testimonies before kings, And shall not be put to shame. 47 And I will delight myself in thy commandments, Which I have loved. 48 I will lift up my hands also unto thy commandments, which I have loved; And I will meditate on thy statutes. 49 ZAYIN. Remember the word unto thy servant, Because thou hast made me to hope. 50 This is my comfort in my affliction; For thy word hath quickened me. 51 The proud have had me greatly in derision: `Yet' have I not swerved from thy law. 52 I have remembered thine ordinances of old, O Jehovah, And have comforted myself. 53 Hot indignation hath taken hold upon me, Because of the wicked that forsake thy law. 54 Thy statutes have been my songs In the house of my pilgrimage. 55 I have remembered thy name, O Jehovah, in the night, And have observed thy law. 56 This I have had, Because I have kept thy precepts. 57 HHETH. Jehovah is my portion: I have said that I would observe thy words. 58 I entreated thy favor with my whole heart: Be merciful unto me according to thy word. 59 I thought on my ways, And turned my feet unto thy testimonies. 60 I made haste, and delayed not, To observe thy commandments. 61 The cords of the wicked have wrapped me round; `But' I have not forgotten thy law. 62 At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee Because of thy righteous ordinances. 63 I am a companion of all them that fear thee, And of them that observe thy precepts. 64 The earth, O Jehovah, is full of thy lovingkindness: Teach me thy statutes. 65 TETH. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Jehovah, according unto thy word. 66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge; For I have believed in thy commandments. 67 Before I was afflicted I went astray; But now I observe thy word. 68 Thou art good, and doest good; Teach me thy statutes. 69 The proud have forged a lie against me: With my whole heart will I keep thy precepts. 70 Their heart is as fat as grease; But I delight in thy law. 71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; That I may learn thy statutes. 72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me Than thousands of gold and silver. 73 YODH. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. 74 They that fear thee shall see me and be glad, Because I have hoped in thy word. 75 I know, O Jehovah, that thy judgments are righteous, And that in faithfulness thou hast afflicted me. 76 Let, I pray thee, thy lovingkindness be for my comfort, According to thy word unto thy servant. 77 Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live; For thy law is my delight. 78 Let the proud be put to shame; For they have overthrown me wrongfully: `But' I will meditate on thy precepts. 79 Let those that fear thee turn unto me; And they shall know thy testimonies. 80 Let my heart be perfect in thy statutes, That I be not put to shame. 81 KAPH. My soul fainteth for thy salvation; `But' I hope in thy word. 82 Mine eyes fail for thy word, While I say, When wilt thou comfort me? 83 For I am become like a wine-skin in the smoke; Yet do I not forget thy statutes. 84 How many are the days of thy servant? When wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? 85 The proud have digged pits for me, Who are not according to thy law. 86 All thy commandments are faithful: They persecute me wrongfully; help thou me. 87 They had almost consumed me upon earth; But I forsook not thy precepts. 88 LAMEDH. Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; So shall I observe the testimony of thy mouth. 89 For ever, O Jehovah, Thy word is settled in heaven. 90 Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. 91 They abide this day according to thine ordinances; For all things are thy servants. 92 Unless thy law had been my delight, I should then have perished in mine affliction. 93 I will never forget thy precepts; For with them thou hast quickened me. 94 I am thine, save me; For I have sought thy precepts. 95 The wicked have waited for me, to destroy me; `But' I will consider thy testimonies. 96 MEM. I have seen an end of all perfection; `But' thy commandment is exceeding broad. 97 Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Thy commandments make me wiser than mine enemies; For they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers; For thy testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, Because I have kept thy precepts. 101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, That I might observe thy word. 102 I have not turned aside from thine ordinances; For thou hast taught me. 103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! `Yea, sweeter' than honey to my mouth! 104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: Therefore I hate every false way. 105 NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And light unto my path. 106 I have sworn, and have confirmed it, That I will observe thy righteous ordinances. 107 I am afflicted very much: Quicken me, O Jehovah, according unto thy word. 108 Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill-offerings of my mouth, O Jehovah, And teach me thine ordinances. 109 My soul is continually in my hand; Yet do I not forget thy law. 110 The wicked have laid a snare for me; Yet have I not gone astray from thy precepts. 111 Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever; For they are the rejoicing of my heart. 112 I have inclined my heart to perform thy statutes For ever, even unto the end. 113 SAMEKH. I hate them that are of a double mind; But thy law do I love. 114 Thou art my hiding-place and my shield: I hope in thy word. 115 Depart from me, ye evil-doers, That I may keep the commandments of my God. 116 Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live; And let me not be ashamed of my hope. 117 Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe, And shall have respect unto thy statutes continually. 118 Thou hast set at nought all them that err from thy statutes; For their deceit is falsehood. 119 Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: Therefore I love thy testimonies. 120 My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; And I am afraid of thy judgments. 121 AYIN. I have done justice and righteousness: Leave me not to mine oppressors. 122 Be surety for thy servant for good: Let not the proud oppress me. 123 Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, And for thy righteous word. 124 Deal with thy servant according unto thy lovingkindness, And teach me thy statutes. 125 I am thy servant; give me understanding, That I may know thy testimonies. 126 It is time for Jehovah to work; `For' they have made void thy law. 127 Therefore I love thy commandments Above gold, yea, above fine gold. 128 Therefore I esteem all `thy' precepts concerning all `things' to be right; `And' I hate every false way. 129 PE. Thy testimonies are wonderful; Therefore doth my soul keep them. 130 The opening of thy words giveth light; It giveth understanding unto the simple. 131 I opened wide my mouth, and panted; For I longed for thy commandments. 132 Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me, As thou usest to do unto those that love thy name. 133 Establish my footsteps in thy word; And let not any iniquity have dominion over me. 134 Redeem me from the oppression of man: So will I observe thy precepts. 135 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; And teach me thy statutes. 136 Streams of water run down mine eyes, Because they observe not thy law. 137 TSADHE. Righteous art thou, O Jehovah, And upright are thy judgments. 138 Thou hast commanded thy testimonies in righteousness And very faithfulness. 139 My zeal hath consumed me, Because mine adversaries have forgotten thy words. 140 Thy word is very pure; Therefore thy servant loveth it. 141 I am small and despised; `Yet' do I not forget thy precepts. 142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And thy law is truth. 143 Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me; `Yet' thy commandments are my delight. 144 Thy testimonies are righteous for ever: Give me understanding, and I shall live. 145 QOPH. I have called with my whole heart; answer me, O Jehovah: I will keep thy statutes. 146 I have called unto thee; save me, And I shall observe thy testimonies. 147 I anticipated the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy words. 148 Mine eyes anticipated the night-watches, That I might meditate on thy word. 149 Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: Quicken me, O Jehovah, according to thine ordinances. 150 They draw nigh that follow after wickedness; They are far from thy law. 151 Thou art nigh, O Jehovah; And all thy commandments are truth. 152 Of old have I known from thy testimonies, That thou hast founded them for ever. 153 RESH. Consider mine affliction, and deliver me; For I do not forget thy law. 154 Plead thou my cause, and redeem me: Quicken me according to thy word. 155 Salvation is far from the wicked; For they seek not thy statutes. 156 Great are thy tender mercies, O Jehovah: Quicken me according to thine ordinances. 157 Many are my persecutors and mine adversaries; `Yet' have I not swerved from thy testimonies. 158 I beheld the treacherous, and was grieved, Because they observe not thy word. 159 Consider how I love thy precepts: Quicken me, O Jehovah, according to thy lovingkindness. 160 The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances `endureth' for ever. 161 SHIN. Princes have persecuted me without a cause; But my heart standeth in awe of thy words. 162 I rejoice at thy word, As one that findeth great spoil. 163 I hate and abhor falsehood; `But' thy law do I love. 164 Seven times a day do I praise thee, Because of thy righteous ordinances. 165 Great peace have they that love thy law; And they have no occasion of stumbling. 166 I have hoped for thy salvation, O Jehovah, And have done thy commandments. 167 My soul hath observed thy testimonies; And I love them exceedingly. 168 I have observed thy precepts and thy testimonies; For all my ways are before thee. 169 TAV. Let my cry come near before thee, O Jehovah: Give me understanding according to thy word. 170 Let my supplication come before thee: Deliver me according to thy word. 171 Let my lips utter praise; For thou teachest me thy statutes. 172 Let my tongue sing of thy word; For all thy commandments are righteousness. 173 Let thy hand be ready to help me; For I have chosen thy precepts. 174 I have longed for thy salvation, O Jehovah; And thy law is my delight. 175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; And let thine ordinances help me. 176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; Seek thy servant; For I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 120 A Song of Ascents. and note how many times the psalmist makes reference to either his love for God's law or righteousness.

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 - December 15

Published by Grace To You for reading on December 15th.

Reading for Today:

  • Amos 6:1 Chapter 6 1 Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and to them that are secure in the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel come! –7:17
  • Psalms 142:1-7 Chapter 142 1 I cry with my voice unto Jehovah; With my voice unto Jehovah do I make supplication. 2 I pour out my complaint before him; I show before him my trouble. 3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walk Have they hidden a snare for me. 4 Look on `my' right hand, and see; For there is no man that knoweth me: Refuge hath failed me; No man careth for my soul. 5 I cried unto thee, O Jehovah; I said, Thou art my refuge, My portion in the land of the living. 6 Attend unto my cry; For I am brought very low: Deliver me from my persecutors; For they are stronger than I. 7 Bring my soul out of prison, That I may give thanks unto thy name: The righteous shall compass me about; For thou wilt deal bountifully with me. Psalm 143 A Psalm of David.
  • Proverbs 29:27 27 An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous; And he that is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked.
  • Revelation 5:1-14 Chapter 5 1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the back, close sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a great voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3 And no one in the heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or to look thereon. 4 And I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look thereon: 5 and one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not; behold, the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath overcome to open the book and the seven seals thereof. 6 And I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth. 7 And he came, and he taketh `it' out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood `men' of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, 10 and madest them `to be' unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon earth. 11 And I saw, and I heard a voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 saying with a great voice, Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom, and might and honor, and glory, and blessing. 13 And every created thing which is in the heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and on the sea, and all things are in them, heard I saying, Unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, `be' the blessing, and the honor, and the glory, and the dominion, for ever and ever. 14 And the four living creatures said, Amen. And the elders fell down and worshipped.

Notes:

Amos 6:1 Chapter 6 1 Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and to them that are secure in the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel come! 0 one who will burn. This could refer to cremation, demanded by the excessive number killed and because of fear of epidemics. With rare exceptions (1 Sam. 31:12), corpses were buried in ancient Israel. dare not mention… the LORD. Previously welcomed as a friend, the Lord came in judgment as a foe. Survivors would not want to invoke His name out of fear.

Psalm 142:1–7 Under the same circumstances as Psalms 57 Chapter 57 1 Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me; For my soul taketh refuge in thee: Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I take refuge, Until `these' calamities be overpast. 2 I will cry unto God Most High, Unto God that performeth `all things' for me. 3 He will send from heaven, and save me, `When' he that would swallow me up reproacheth; Selah God will send forth his lovingkindness and his truth. 4 My soul is among lions; I lie among them that are set on fire, Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue a sharp sword. 5 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; `Let' thy glory `be' above all the earth. 6 They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down: They have digged a pit before me; They are fallen into the midst thereof themselves. Selah 7 My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing, yea, I will sing praises. 8 Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake right early. 9 I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the peoples: I will sing praises unto thee among the nations. 10 For thy lovingkindness is great unto the heavens, And thy truth unto the skies. 11 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; `Let' thy glory `be' above all the earth. Psalm 58 For the Chief Musician; `set to' Al-tashheth. `A Psalm' of David Michtam. (according to the superscription), David recounted his desperate days hiding in the cave of Adullam (1 Sam. 22:1) while Saul sought him to take his life (1 Sam. 18–24). It appears that David’s situation, for the moment at least, seems hopeless without God’s intervention. Psalms 91 Chapter 91 1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of Jehovah, He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in whom I trust. 3 For he will deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, And from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover thee with his pinions, And under his wings shalt thou take refuge: His truth is a shield and a buckler. 5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, Nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 For the pestilence that walketh in darkness, Nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, And ten thousand at thy right hand; `But' it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold, And see the reward of the wicked. 9 For thou, O Jehovah, art my refuge! Thou hast made the Most High thy habitation; 10 There shall no evil befall thee, Neither shall any plague come nigh thy tent. 11 For he will give his angels charge over thee, To keep thee in all thy ways. 12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. 13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: The young lion and the serpent shalt thou trample under foot. 14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. 15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble: I will deliver him, and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him, And show him my salvation. Psalm 92 A Psalm, a Song for the sabbath day. provides the truths that bring the solution.

Revelation 5:1 a scroll written inside and on the back. This is typical of various kinds of contracts in the ancient world, including deeds, marriage contracts, rental and lease agreements, and wills. The inside of the scroll contained all the details of the contract, and the outside—or back—contained a summary of the document. In this case it almost certainly is a deed—the title deed to the earth (Jer. 32:7ff.). sealed with seven seals. Romans sealed their wills 7 times—on the edge at each roll—to prevent unauthorized entry. Hebrew title deeds required a minimum of 3 witnesses and 3 separate seals, with more important transactions requiring more witnesses and seals.

DAY 15: Describe the worship in Revelation 5 Chapter 5 1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the back, close sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a great voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3 And no one in the heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or to look thereon. 4 And I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look thereon: 5 and one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not; behold, the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath overcome to open the book and the seven seals thereof. 6 And I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth. 7 And he came, and he taketh `it' out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood `men' of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, 10 and madest them `to be' unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon earth. 11 And I saw, and I heard a voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 saying with a great voice, Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom, and might and honor, and glory, and blessing. 13 And every created thing which is in the heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and on the sea, and all things are in them, heard I saying, Unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, `be' the blessing, and the honor, and the glory, and the dominion, for ever and ever. 14 And the four living creatures said, Amen. And the elders fell down and worshipped. .

“The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp” (v. 8). These ancient stringed instruments not only accompanied the songs of God’s people (1 Chr. 25:6; Ps. 33:2), but also accompanied prophecy (1 Sam. 10:5).The 24 elders, representative of the redeemed church, played their harps in praise and in a symbolic indication that all the prophets had said was about to be fulfilled. “Each having…bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” These golden, wide-mouth saucers were common in the tabernacle and temple. Incense was a normal part of the Old Testament ritual. Priests stood twice daily before the inner veil of the temple and burned incense so that the smoke would carry into the Holy of Holies and be swept into the nostrils of God. That symbolized the people’s prayers rising to Him. Specifically, these prayers represent all that the redeemed have ever prayed concerning ultimate and final redemption. This becomes a major theme throughout the book (11:17, 18; 13:7, 9, 10; 14:12; 16:6; 17:6; 18:20, 24; 19:8; 20:9).

“And they sang a new song” (v. 9). The Old Testament is filled with references to a new song that flows from a heart that has experienced God’s redemption or deliverance (14:3; Pss. 33:3; 96:1; 144:9).This new song anticipates the final, glorious redemption that God is about to begin. “For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood.” The sacrificial death of Christ on behalf of sinners made Him worthy to take the scroll.

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.

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December 15 - The Mustard Seed, Part 1

Published by Grace To You for reading on December 15th.

“‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches’” ( Matthew 13:31 31 Another parable set he before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: –32).

Even though the Lord Jesus in this parable speaks accurately about the size of the mustard seed and the size and use of its tree-like adult form, His purpose in the illustration is proverbial, not scientific. In context of His teachings about the kingdom of God, the parable’s meaning is self-evident—the kingdom, though now seemingly small and insignificant, will one day grow into a large body of believers.

Even with Jesus ministering on earth, God’s kingdom was almost imperceptible, both because its citizens were few and it was spiritual (invisible). Elsewhere the Lord explained it well: “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” ( Luke 17:20 20 And being asked by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God cometh, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: –21). When Christ ascended to heaven, the kingdom on earth was, figuratively and relatively speaking, very small (cf. Acts 1:15 15 And in these days Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren, and said (and there was a multitude of persons `gathered' together, about a hundred and twenty), ).

But the kingdom that began smaller than a mustard seed will grow larger and larger. The Old Testament writers knew that eventually the Lord would “rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth” (Ps. 72:8). They rightly foresaw that all sorts of people, from all stations in life, would honor Messiah, bow down to Him, and serve Him (vv. 9–11). With the apostle, we will one day see the grand culmination: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).

Ask Yourself

Are you currently involved in something for Christ that seems small in comparison with others’ ministries or talent bases? Be sure that your Lord is the master at taking the seemingly insignificant and transforming it for mighty kingdom purposes.

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.

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Morning Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for December 15th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on December 15th.

Ruth 1:14 14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clave unto her.

BOTH of them had an affection for Naomi, and therefore set out with her upon her return to the land of Judah. But the hour of test came; Naomi most unselfishly set before each of them the trials which awaited them, and bade them if they cared for ease and comfort to return to their Moabitish friends. At first both of them declared that they would cast in their lot with the Lord's people; but upon still further consideration Orpah with much grief and a respectful kiss left her mother in law, and her people, and her God, and went back to her idolatrous friends, while Ruth with all her heart gave herself up to the God of her mother in law. It is one thing to love the ways of the Lord when all is fair, and quite another to cleave to them under all discouragements and difficulties. The kiss of outward profession is very cheap and easy, but the practical cleaving to the Lord, which must show itself in holy decision for truth and holiness, is not so small a matter. How stands the case with us, is our heart fixed upon Jesus, is the sacrifice bound with cords to the horns of the altar? Have we counted the cost, and are we solemnly ready to suffer all worldly loss for the Master's sake? The after gain will be an abundant recompense, for Egypt's treasures are not to be compared with the glory to be revealed. Orpah is heard of no more; in glorious ease and idolatrous pleasure her life melts into the gloom of death; but Ruth lives in history and in heaven, for grace has placed her in the noble line whence sprung the King of kings. Blessed among women shall those be who for Christ's sake can renounce all; but forgotten and worse than forgotten shall those be who in the hour of temptation do violence to conscience and turn back unto the world. O that this morning we may not be content with the form of devotion, which may be no better than Orpah's kiss, but may the Holy Spirit work in us a cleaving of our whole heart to our Lord Jesus.

Evening Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for December 15th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on December 15th.

Isaiah 54:11 11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will set thy stones in fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.

NOT only that which is seen of the church of God, but that which is unseen, is fair and precious. Foundations are out of sight, and so long as they are firm it is not expected that they should be valuable; but in Jehovah's work everything is of a piece, nothing slurred, nothing mean. The deep foundations of the work of grace are as sapphires for preciousness, no human mind is able to measure their glory. We build upon the covenant of grace, which is firmer than adamant, and as enduring as jewels upon which age spends itself in vain. Sapphire foundations are eternal, and the covenant abides throughout the lifetime of the Almighty. Another foundation is the person of the Lord Jesus, which is clear and spotless, everlasting and beautiful as the sapphire; blending in one the deep blue of earth's ever rolling ocean and the azure of its all embracing sky. Once might our Lord have been likened to the ruby as He stood covered with His own blood, but now we see Him radiant with the soft blue of love, love abounding, deep, eternal. Our eternal hopes are built upon the justice and the faithfulness of God, which are clear and cloudless as the sapphire. We are not saved by a compromise, by mercy defeating justice, or law suspending its operations; no, we defy the eagle's eye to detect a flaw in the groundwork of our confidence—our foundation is of sapphire, and will endure the fire.

The Lord Himself has laid the foundation of His people's hopes. It is matter for grave enquiry whether our hopes are built upon such a basis. Good works and ceremonies are not a foundation of sapphires, but of wood, hay, and stubble; neither are they laid by God, but by our own conceit. Foundations will all be tried ere long: woe unto him whose lofty tower shall come down with a crash, because based on a quicksand. He who is built on sapphires may await storm or fire with equanimity, for he shall abide the test.

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