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The Cost of Following Jesus

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on April 21st.

Matthew 16:21-26 21 From that time began Jesus to show unto his disciples, that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up. 22 And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall never be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art a stumbling-block unto me: for thou mindest not the things of God, but the things of men. 24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?

Have you ever found yourself trying to follow two people at one time? This works only when they’re going in the same direction. But what happens if their paths diverge? For instance, imagine you’re on a hiking trail with friends, and you reach a fork in the road. If one person wants to go right and someone else thinks you should turn left, you must choose which one to follow.

This principle is also true for Christians, but now our choice is whether to follow Jesus or ourselves. Most of us will happily follow Jesus as long as He’s going where we want. But what happens if He leads us down a road of sacrifice, self-denial, suffering, or even death? Will we still trust Him and keep going?

This was the dilemma Jesus’ disciples faced. When they started following Him, they expected that He’d establish His Messianic kingdom, deliver them from Roman domination, and give them places of honor and authority. Thinking they’d soon be exalted in the kingdom, they were willing to suffer the temporary deprivations of home, security, and comfort. But then Jesus told them His path was leading to suffering and death, and if they wanted to follow Him, they too must deny themselves and take up their cross.

Many Christians today have the same expectation the disciples had—maybe not for a kingdom, but for a happy and prosperous life. However, this is essentially like inviting Jesus to follow us. Self-denial means giving up our right to lead and surrendering to Christ’s lordship over our life. Though His path isn’t easy, He alone knows the way to the Father’s house.

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 20-22 Chapter 20 1 And Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together; and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and fought against it. 2 And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel, into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Ben-hadad, 3 Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. 4 And the king of Israel answered and said, It is according to thy saying, my lord, O king; I am thine, and all that I have. 5 And the messengers came again, and said, Thus speaketh Ben-hadad, saying, I sent indeed unto thee, saying, Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children; 6 but I will send my servants unto thee to-morrow about this time, and they shall search thy house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be, that whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and take it away. 7 Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, Mark, I pray you, and see how this man seeketh mischief: for he sent unto me for my wives, and for my children, and for my silver, and for my gold; and I denied him not. 8 And all the elders and all the people said unto him, Hearken thou not, neither consent. 9 Wherefore he said unto the messengers of Ben-hadad, Tell my lord the king, All that thou didst send for to thy servant at the first I will do; but this thing I may not do. And the messengers departed, and brought him word again. 10 And Ben-hadad sent unto him, and said, The gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me. 11 And the king of Israel answered and said, Tell him, Let not him that girdeth on `his armor' boast himself as he that putteth it off. 12 And it came to pass, when `Ben-hadad' heard this message, as he was drinking, he and the kings, in the pavilions, that he said unto his servants, Set `yourselves in array'. And they set `themselves in array' against the city. 13 And, behold, a prophet came near unto Ahab king of Israel, and said, Thus saith Jehovah, Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thy hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am Jehovah. 14 And Ahab said, By whom? And he said, Thus saith Jehovah, By the young men of the princes of the provinces. Then he said, Who shall begin the battle? And he answered, Thou. 15 Then he mustered the young men of the princes of the provinces, and they were two hundred and thirty-two: and after them he mustered all the people, even all the children of Israel, being seven thousand. 16 And they went out at noon. But Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him. 17 And the young men of the princes of the provinces went out first; and Ben-hadad sent out, and they told him, saying, There are men come out from Samaria. 18 And he said, Whether they are come out for peace, take them alive, or whether they are come out for war, taken them alive. 19 So these went out of the city, the young men of the princes of the provinces, and the army which followed them. 20 And they slew every one his man; and the Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them: and Ben-hadad the king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen. 21 And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter. 22 And the prophet came near to the king of Israel, and said unto him, Go, strengthen thyself, and mark, and see what thou doest; for at the return of the year the king of Syria will come up against thee. 23 And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their god is a god of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we: but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. 24 And do this thing: take the kings away, every man out of his place, and put captains in their room; 25 and number thee an army, like the army that thou hast lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot; and we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. And he hearkened unto their voice, and did so. 26 And it came to pass at the return of the year, that Ben-hadad mustered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel. 27 And the children of Israel were mustered, and were victualled, and went against them: and the children of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country. 28 And a man of God came near and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith Jehovah, Because the Syrians have said, Jehovah is a god of the hills, but he is not a god of the valleys; therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thy hand, and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. 29 And they encamped one over against the other seven days. And so it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined; and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians a hundred thousand footmen in one day. 30 But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and the wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand men that were left. And Ben-hadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber. 31 And his servants said unto him, Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings: let us, we pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: peradventure he will save thy life. 32 So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and `put' ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Ben-hadad saith, I pray thee, let me live. And he said, Is he yet alive? he is my brother. 33 Now the men observed diligently, and hasted to catch whether it were his mind; and they said, Thy brother Ben-hadad. Then he said, Go ye, bring him. Then Ben-hadad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot. 34 And `Ben-hadad' said unto him, The cities which my father took from thy father I will restore; and thou shalt make streets for thee in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria. And I, `said Ahab', will let thee go with this covenant. So he made a covenant with him, and let him go. 35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his fellow by the word of Jehovah, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him. 36 Then said he unto him, Because thou hast not obeyed the voice of Jehovah, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and slew him. 37 Then he found another man, and said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, smiting and wounding him. 38 So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with his headband over his eyes. 39 And as the king passed by, he cried unto the king; and he said, Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver. 40 And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it. 41 And he hasted, and took the headband away from his eyes; and the king of israel discerned him that he was of the prophets. 42 And he said unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people. 43 And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria. Chapter 21 1 And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house; and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it: or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. 3 And Naboth said to Ahab, Jehovah forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. 4 And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. 5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? 6 And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee `another' vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. 7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thy heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. 8 So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, `and' that dwelt with Naboth. 9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: 10 and set two men, base fellows, before him, and let them bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst curse God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him to death. 11 And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, according as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them. 12 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people. 13 And the two men, the base fellows, came in and sat before him: and the base fellows bare witness against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did curse God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him to death with stones. 14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead. 15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead. 16 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it. 17 And the word of Jehovah came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who dwelleth in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to take possession of it. 19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, Hast thou killed and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine. 20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee, because thou hast sold thyself to do that which is evil in the sight of Jehovah. 21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will utterly sweep thee away and will cut off from Ahab every man-child, and him that is shut up and him that is left at large in Israel: 22 and I will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and hast made Israel to sin. 23 And of Jezebel also spake Jehovah, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the rampart of Jezreel. 24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the birds of the heavens eat. 25 (But there was none like unto Ahab, who did sell himself to do that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. 26 And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites did, whom Jehovah cast out before the children of Israel.) 27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. 28 And the word of Jehovah came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days; but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house. Chapter 22 1 And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel. 2 And it came to pass in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. 3 And the king of Israel said unto his servants, Know ye that Ramoth-gilead is ours, and we are still, and take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria? 4 And he said unto Jehoshaphat, Wilt thou go with me to battle to Ramoth-gilead? And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses. 5 And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Inquire first, I pray thee, for the word of Jehovah. 6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king. 7 But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of Jehovah besides, that we may inquire of him? 8 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, there is yet one man by whom we may inquire of Jehovah, Micaiah the son of Imlah: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. 9 Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, Fetch quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah. 10 Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting each on his throne, arrayed in their robes, in an open place at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 11 And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron, and said, Thus saith Jehovah, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until they be consumed. 12 And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramoth-gilead, and prosper; for Jehovah will deliver it into the hand of the king. 13 And the messenger that went to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets `declare' good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak thou good. 14 And Micaiah said, As Jehovah liveth, what Jehovah saith unto me, that will I speak. 15 And when he was come to the king, the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go up and prosper; and Jehovah will deliver it into the hand of the king. 16 And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou speak unto me nothing but the truth in the name of Jehovah? 17 And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and Jehovah said, These have no master; let them return every man to his house in peace. 18 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil? 19 And `Micaiah' said, Therefore hear thou the word of Jehovah: I saw Jehovah sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. 20 And Jehovah said, Who shall entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one said on this manner; and another said on that manner. 21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before Jehovah, and said, I will entice him. 22 And Jehovah said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt entice him, and shalt prevail also: go forth, and do so. 23 Now therefore, behold, Jehovah hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets; and Jehovah hath spoken evil concerning thee. 24 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of Jehovah from me to speak unto thee? 25 And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see on that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself. 26 And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son; 27 and say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace. 28 And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, Jehovah hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hear, ye peoples, all of you. 29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. 30 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and go into the battle; but put thou on thy robes. And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle. 31 Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty and two captains of his chariots, saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel. 32 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, Surely it is the king of Israel; and they turned aside to fight against him: and Jehoshaphat cried out. 33 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him. 34 And a certain man drew his bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the armor: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thy hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am sore wounded. 35 And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even; and the blood ran out of the wound into the bottom of the chariot. 36 And there went a cry throughout the host about the going down of the sun, saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his country. 37 So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria. 38 And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood (now the harlots washed themselves `there'); according unto the word of Jehovah which he spake. 39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he built, and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 40 So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead. 41 And Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. 42 Jehoshaphat was thirty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 43 And he walked in all the way of Asa his father; He turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah: howbeit the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. 44 And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel. 45 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he showed, and how he warred, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 46 And the remnant of the sodomites, that remained in the days of his father Asa, he put away out of the land. 47 And there was no king in Edom: a deputy was king. 48 Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber. 49 Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not. 50 And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father; And Jehoram his son reigned in his stead. 51 Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned two years over Israel. 52 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherein he made Israel to sin. 53 And he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger Jehovah, the God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.




The Key to Radical Love

Published by John Piper for reading on April 21st.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” ( Matthew 5:11 11 Blessed are ye when `men' shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. –12)

One of the questions I posed while preaching on loving our enemies from Matthew 5:44 44 but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; was, How do you love the people who kidnap you and then kill you?

How can we do this? Where does the power to love like this come from? Just think how astonishing this is when it appears in the real world! Could anything show the truth and power and reality of Christ more than this?

I believe Jesus gives us the key to this radical, self-sacrificing love, described in Matthew 5:44 44 but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; , earlier in the very same chapter.

In Matthew 5:11 11 Blessed are ye when `men' shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. –12, he is again talking about being persecuted, just like he was when he said in Matthew 5:44 44 but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; , “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” What is remarkable about these verses is that Jesus says that you are able not only to endure the mistreatment of the enemy, but rejoice in it. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you. . . . Rejoice and be glad.”

This seems even more beyond our reach than praying for our enemies or doing good to them. If I could do this humanly impossible thing — namely, rejoice in being persecuted — then it would be possible to love my persecutors. If the miracle of joy in the midst of the horror of injustice and pain and loss could happen, then the miracle of love for the perpetrators could happen too.

Jesus gives the key to joy in these verses. He says, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” The key to joy is faith in God’s future grace — that is, being satisfied in all that God promises to be for you. He says, “Rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven.” Our joy in persecution is the joy of heaven streaming back into this moment of horror and setting us free to love. So, this joy is the freeing power to love our enemies when they persecute us.

If that is true, then the command to love is implicitly also a command to set our minds on things that are above — all that God promises to be for us — not on things that are on the earth ( Colossians 3:2 2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. ).

The command to love our enemy is a command to find our hope and our deepest soul-satisfaction in God and his great reward — his future grace. The key to radical love is faith in future grace. We must be persuaded in the midst of our agony that the love of God is “better than life” ( Psalms 63:3 3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise thee. ). Loving your enemy doesn’t earn you the reward of heaven. Treasuring the reward of heaven empowers you to love your enemy.



Our Predestined Appointment

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on April 21st.

Revelation 20:11-15 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is `the book' of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, `even' the lake of fire. 15 And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.

The moment we were born, a countdown began on our life. Every tick of the clock brings us one step closer to our inescapable appointment with the Lord. Each of us will stand before Him as we approach our eternal destination.

Tragically, there will be shocking disappointment for some. Jesus Himself warned, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name ... ?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:22-23).

The only way to eternal life is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, our sin has separated us from the Father. But God’s Son provided the solution to this universal problem: Christ lived a perfect life and then died a sinner’s death on the cross at Calvary to pay the penalty each of us owed (Rom. 6:23). After three days, He rose from the grave, defeating death and evil. By accepting His sacrifice on our behalf, we no longer have to live apart from God.

To receive this amazing gift, we must simply believe in Jesus and what He did. As a result, we become new creations ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 17 Wherefore if any man is in Christ, `he is' a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new. ), are adopted as God’s children (Eph. 1:5), and enter into a never-ending personal relationship with our Father.

Do you have confidence about where you will spend eternity? You may assume you have time to figure out this important issue, but let me give you some wise advice: Don’t wait another minute to settle the matter, because later may never come. Repent of your sin today, and follow Jesus.

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 20-22 Chapter 20 1 And Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together; and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and fought against it. 2 And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel, into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Ben-hadad, 3 Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. 4 And the king of Israel answered and said, It is according to thy saying, my lord, O king; I am thine, and all that I have. 5 And the messengers came again, and said, Thus speaketh Ben-hadad, saying, I sent indeed unto thee, saying, Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children; 6 but I will send my servants unto thee to-morrow about this time, and they shall search thy house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be, that whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and take it away. 7 Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, Mark, I pray you, and see how this man seeketh mischief: for he sent unto me for my wives, and for my children, and for my silver, and for my gold; and I denied him not. 8 And all the elders and all the people said unto him, Hearken thou not, neither consent. 9 Wherefore he said unto the messengers of Ben-hadad, Tell my lord the king, All that thou didst send for to thy servant at the first I will do; but this thing I may not do. And the messengers departed, and brought him word again. 10 And Ben-hadad sent unto him, and said, The gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me. 11 And the king of Israel answered and said, Tell him, Let not him that girdeth on `his armor' boast himself as he that putteth it off. 12 And it came to pass, when `Ben-hadad' heard this message, as he was drinking, he and the kings, in the pavilions, that he said unto his servants, Set `yourselves in array'. And they set `themselves in array' against the city. 13 And, behold, a prophet came near unto Ahab king of Israel, and said, Thus saith Jehovah, Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thy hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am Jehovah. 14 And Ahab said, By whom? And he said, Thus saith Jehovah, By the young men of the princes of the provinces. Then he said, Who shall begin the battle? And he answered, Thou. 15 Then he mustered the young men of the princes of the provinces, and they were two hundred and thirty-two: and after them he mustered all the people, even all the children of Israel, being seven thousand. 16 And they went out at noon. But Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him. 17 And the young men of the princes of the provinces went out first; and Ben-hadad sent out, and they told him, saying, There are men come out from Samaria. 18 And he said, Whether they are come out for peace, take them alive, or whether they are come out for war, taken them alive. 19 So these went out of the city, the young men of the princes of the provinces, and the army which followed them. 20 And they slew every one his man; and the Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them: and Ben-hadad the king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen. 21 And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter. 22 And the prophet came near to the king of Israel, and said unto him, Go, strengthen thyself, and mark, and see what thou doest; for at the return of the year the king of Syria will come up against thee. 23 And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their god is a god of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we: but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. 24 And do this thing: take the kings away, every man out of his place, and put captains in their room; 25 and number thee an army, like the army that thou hast lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot; and we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. And he hearkened unto their voice, and did so. 26 And it came to pass at the return of the year, that Ben-hadad mustered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel. 27 And the children of Israel were mustered, and were victualled, and went against them: and the children of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country. 28 And a man of God came near and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith Jehovah, Because the Syrians have said, Jehovah is a god of the hills, but he is not a god of the valleys; therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thy hand, and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. 29 And they encamped one over against the other seven days. And so it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined; and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians a hundred thousand footmen in one day. 30 But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and the wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand men that were left. And Ben-hadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber. 31 And his servants said unto him, Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings: let us, we pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: peradventure he will save thy life. 32 So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and `put' ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Ben-hadad saith, I pray thee, let me live. And he said, Is he yet alive? he is my brother. 33 Now the men observed diligently, and hasted to catch whether it were his mind; and they said, Thy brother Ben-hadad. Then he said, Go ye, bring him. Then Ben-hadad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot. 34 And `Ben-hadad' said unto him, The cities which my father took from thy father I will restore; and thou shalt make streets for thee in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria. And I, `said Ahab', will let thee go with this covenant. So he made a covenant with him, and let him go. 35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his fellow by the word of Jehovah, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him. 36 Then said he unto him, Because thou hast not obeyed the voice of Jehovah, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and slew him. 37 Then he found another man, and said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, smiting and wounding him. 38 So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with his headband over his eyes. 39 And as the king passed by, he cried unto the king; and he said, Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver. 40 And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it. 41 And he hasted, and took the headband away from his eyes; and the king of israel discerned him that he was of the prophets. 42 And he said unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people. 43 And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria. Chapter 21 1 And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house; and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it: or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. 3 And Naboth said to Ahab, Jehovah forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. 4 And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. 5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? 6 And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee `another' vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. 7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thy heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. 8 So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, `and' that dwelt with Naboth. 9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: 10 and set two men, base fellows, before him, and let them bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst curse God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him to death. 11 And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, according as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them. 12 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people. 13 And the two men, the base fellows, came in and sat before him: and the base fellows bare witness against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did curse God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him to death with stones. 14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead. 15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead. 16 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it. 17 And the word of Jehovah came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who dwelleth in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to take possession of it. 19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, Hast thou killed and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine. 20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee, because thou hast sold thyself to do that which is evil in the sight of Jehovah. 21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will utterly sweep thee away and will cut off from Ahab every man-child, and him that is shut up and him that is left at large in Israel: 22 and I will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and hast made Israel to sin. 23 And of Jezebel also spake Jehovah, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the rampart of Jezreel. 24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the birds of the heavens eat. 25 (But there was none like unto Ahab, who did sell himself to do that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. 26 And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites did, whom Jehovah cast out before the children of Israel.) 27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. 28 And the word of Jehovah came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days; but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house. Chapter 22 1 And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel. 2 And it came to pass in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. 3 And the king of Israel said unto his servants, Know ye that Ramoth-gilead is ours, and we are still, and take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria? 4 And he said unto Jehoshaphat, Wilt thou go with me to battle to Ramoth-gilead? And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses. 5 And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Inquire first, I pray thee, for the word of Jehovah. 6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king. 7 But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of Jehovah besides, that we may inquire of him? 8 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, there is yet one man by whom we may inquire of Jehovah, Micaiah the son of Imlah: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. 9 Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, Fetch quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah. 10 Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting each on his throne, arrayed in their robes, in an open place at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 11 And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron, and said, Thus saith Jehovah, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until they be consumed. 12 And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramoth-gilead, and prosper; for Jehovah will deliver it into the hand of the king. 13 And the messenger that went to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets `declare' good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak thou good. 14 And Micaiah said, As Jehovah liveth, what Jehovah saith unto me, that will I speak. 15 And when he was come to the king, the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go up and prosper; and Jehovah will deliver it into the hand of the king. 16 And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou speak unto me nothing but the truth in the name of Jehovah? 17 And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and Jehovah said, These have no master; let them return every man to his house in peace. 18 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil? 19 And `Micaiah' said, Therefore hear thou the word of Jehovah: I saw Jehovah sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. 20 And Jehovah said, Who shall entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one said on this manner; and another said on that manner. 21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before Jehovah, and said, I will entice him. 22 And Jehovah said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt entice him, and shalt prevail also: go forth, and do so. 23 Now therefore, behold, Jehovah hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets; and Jehovah hath spoken evil concerning thee. 24 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of Jehovah from me to speak unto thee? 25 And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see on that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself. 26 And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son; 27 and say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace. 28 And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, Jehovah hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hear, ye peoples, all of you. 29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. 30 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and go into the battle; but put thou on thy robes. And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle. 31 Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty and two captains of his chariots, saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel. 32 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, Surely it is the king of Israel; and they turned aside to fight against him: and Jehoshaphat cried out. 33 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him. 34 And a certain man drew his bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the armor: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thy hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am sore wounded. 35 And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even; and the blood ran out of the wound into the bottom of the chariot. 36 And there went a cry throughout the host about the going down of the sun, saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his country. 37 So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria. 38 And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood (now the harlots washed themselves `there'); according unto the word of Jehovah which he spake. 39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he built, and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 40 So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead. 41 And Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. 42 Jehoshaphat was thirty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 43 And he walked in all the way of Asa his father; He turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah: howbeit the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. 44 And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel. 45 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he showed, and how he warred, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 46 And the remnant of the sodomites, that remained in the days of his father Asa, he put away out of the land. 47 And there was no king in Edom: a deputy was king. 48 Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber. 49 Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not. 50 And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father; And Jehoram his son reigned in his stead. 51 Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned two years over Israel. 52 And he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherein he made Israel to sin. 53 And he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger Jehovah, the God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.




Daily Bible - April 21

Published by Grace To You for reading on April 21st.

Reading for Today:

  • Judges 7:1 Chapter 7 1 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and encamped beside the spring of Harod: and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. –8:35
  • Psalms 49:10-20 10 For he shall see it. Wise men die; The fool and the brutish alike perish, And leave their wealth to others. 11 Their inward thought is, `that' their houses `shall continue' for ever, `And' their dwelling-places to all generations; They call their lands after their own names. 12 But man `being' in honor abideth not: He is like the beasts that perish. 13 This their way is their folly: Yet after them men approve their sayings. Selah 14 They are appointed as a flock for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd; And the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; And their beauty shall be for Sheol to consume, That there be no habitation for it. 15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol; For he will receive me. Selah 16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, When the glory of his house is increased. 17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him. 18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul (And men praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself,) 19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers; They shall never see the light. 20 Man that is in honor, and understandeth not, Is like the beasts that perish. Psalm 50 A Psalm of Asaph.
  • Proverbs 14:22-24 22 Do they not err that devise evil? But mercy and truth `shall be to' them that devise good. 23 In all labor there is profit; But the talk of the lips `tendeth' only to penury. 24 The crown of the wise is their riches; `But' the folly of fools is `only' folly.
  • Luke 15:11-32 11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of `thy' substance that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together and took his journey into a far country; and there he wasted his substance with riotous living. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 But when he came to himself he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: 19 I am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But while he was yet afar off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: I am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 and bring the fatted calf, `and' kill it, and let us eat, and make merry: 24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called to him one of the servants, and inquired what these things might be. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28 But he was angry, and would not go in: and his father came out, and entreated him. 29 But he answered and said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, and I never transgressed a commandment of thine; and `yet' thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 but when this thy son came, who hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou killedst for him the fatted calf. 31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that is mine is thine. 32 But it was meet to make merry and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive `again'; and `was' lost, and is found.

Notes:Judges 7:18 The sword of the LORD and of Gideon! Here was the power of God in harmony with the obedience of man. Such shouts reminded the enemies that the threat of the sword of Gideon and of God was for real. The impression was one of doom and terror.

Judges 8:24–27 Gideon made...an ephod. This was certainly a sad end to Gideon’s influence as he, perhaps in an expression of pride, sought to lift himself up in the eyes of the people. Gideon intended nothing more than to make a breastplate as David did (1 Chr. 15:27) to indicate civil, not priestly, rule. It was never intended to set up idolatrous worship, but to be a symbol of civil power. That no evil was intended can be noted from the subduing of Midian (v. 28), quietness from wars (v. 28), and the fact that idolatry came after Gideon’s death (v. 33), as well as the commendation of Gideon (v. 35).

Psalm 49:15 But God will redeem my soul...He shall receive me. This is one of the greatest affirmations of confidence in God in the Psalms. Although the faithless person cannot buy his way out of death (v. 7ff.), the faithful one is redeemed by the only Redeemer, God Himself. (On the significance of the word “receive,” see Gen. 5:24; 2 Kin. 2:10; Ps. 73:24; Heb. 11:5.) So in v. 15 the psalmist expresses his confidence in God, that He would raise him to eternal life.

Luke 15:29 I never transgressed your commandment at any time. Unlikely, given the boy’s obvious contempt for his father, shown by his refusal to participate in the father’s great joy. This statement reveals the telltale problem with all religious hypocrites. They will not recognize their sin and repent. The elder son’s comment reeks of the same spirit as the words of the Pharisee in 18:11. you never gave me a young goat. All those years of service to the father appear to have been motivated too much by concern for what he could get for himself. This son’s self-righteous behavior was more socially acceptable than the younger brother’s debauchery, but it was equally dishonoring to the father—and called for repentance.

DAY 21: What is the main feature of the parable of the prodigal son?

The parable in Luke 15:11 11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: –32, unlike most parables, has more than one lesson. The prodigal is an example of sound repentance. The elder brother illustrates the wickedness of the Pharisees’ self-righteousness, prejudice, and indifference toward repenting sinners. And the father pictures God, eager to forgive and longing for the return of the sinner. The main feature, however, is the joy of God, the celebrations that fill heaven when a sinner repents.

For the son to demand “the portion of goods that falls to me” (v. 12) is tantamount to saying he wished his father were dead. He was not entitled to any inheritance while his father still lived. Yet the father graciously fulfilled the request, giving him his full portion, which would have been one-third of the entire estate—because the right of the firstborn (Deut. 21:17) gave the elder brother a double portion. This act pictures all sinners (related to God the Father by creation), who waste their potential privileges and refuse any relationship with Him, choosing instead a life of sinful self-indulgence. The Greek word for “prodigal” means “dissolute” and conveys the idea of an utterly debauched lifestyle. “To feed swine” (v. 15) was the worst sort of degradation imaginable for Jesus’ Jewish audience; swine were the worst sort of unclean animals. His situation could hardly have been more desperate.

Nevertheless, when “his father saw him [he] had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (v. 20). Clearly, the father had been waiting and looking for his son’s return. The father’s eagerness and joy at his son’s return is unmistakable. This is the magnificent attribute of God that sets Him apart from all the false gods invented by men and demons. He is not indifferent or hostile, but a Savior by nature, longing to see sinners repent and rejoicing when they do. From Genesis 3:8- 8 And they heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah God amongst the trees of the garden. Revelation 22:17 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And he that heareth, let him say, Come. And he that is athirst, let him come: he that will, let him take the water of life freely. , from the Fall to the Consummation, God has been and will be seeking to save sinners, and rejoices each time one repents and is converted.

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 21 - Dealing Radically with Sin

Published by Grace To You for reading on April 21st.

“‘If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell’” ( Matthew 5:29 29 And if thy right eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body be cast into hell. –30).

We must be willing, as Jesus teaches here, to relinquish whatever is necessary to protect us from evil and preserve righteousness. Mutilation will not cleanse our hearts, but Jesus’ figurative words call for dramatic severing of any impulse that could lead to sin (cf. Matt. 18:8–9).

In other words, we must deal radically with sin, as Paul says, “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). If we don’t purpose to carefully control the worldly influences around us, they will control us. Those we can’t control we should not hesitate to discard.

Cutting off harmful influences will not necessarily and automatically turn a corrupt heart into a pure one. But just as external acts of murder or adultery reflect internal hearts of sin, the outward act of fleeing sinful effects reflects the inward attitude that seeks holiness and God’s will rather than human pleasure.

Jesus reminds us again that His standards of righteousness are humanly impossible to attain. We have all been murderers and adulterers in our hearts, and often we don’t realize this because of sin’s subtlety and blinding effect. But the impossibility of measuring up to divine standards points to our need to receive a new heart and turn over our helplessness to His sufficiency.

Ask Yourself

How have you practiced this kind of severing in your Christian life? What familiar sins and seductions have proven so injurious in your past, it’s best if they’re just never in the same room with you?

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 Centrality of the Resurrection

Published by Grace To You for reading on April 21st.

“‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said’” ( Matthew 28:5-6 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus, who hath been crucified. 6 He is not here; for he is risen, even as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. ).

The fact of Jesus’ resurrection is the culmination of redemptive history and the essential basis of the Christian faith.

Without the Resurrection, our Christian faith would just be a lot of wishful thinking, no better than human philosophies and speculative religions. In fact, the noted seventeenth-century philosopher John Locke, some of whose ideas were incorporated into the Declaration of Independence, wrote, “Our Saviour’s resurrection is truly of great importance in Christianity, so great that His being or not being the Messiah stands or falls with it.”

From its very early accounts, Scripture has contained the message of resurrection hope. Death has never been the end for the believer, but simply a gateway to eternal life in Heaven. Abraham was ready to sacrifice his only son Isaac because in faith “he considered that God is able to raise men from the dead” (Heb. 11:19). The Lord assured Daniel that believers “will awake . . . to everlasting life” (Dan. 12:2).

The Resurrection was the focal point of Christ’s teaching to the disciples about His sufferings and death: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” ( Mark 8:31 31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, and the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. ). It is therefore completely understandable that Matthew and the other three Gospel writers all included an historical account of Jesus’ resurrection in their narratives.

Paul knew that without the Resurrection our salvation could not have been possible. He was also convinced that the truth of the Resurrection must be believed or else salvation cannot be received: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Rom. 10:9).

It’s no wonder that Paul, the other apostles, and every leader in the early church continually proclaimed Christ’s resurrection as the culmination of His ministry. Those men were so captivated by the significance of the Resurrection that they could not help but preach it. And that should be our attitude today.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the truth of John 11:25 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; , which gives us the hope of resurrection in Jesus’ own words.

For Further Study

Read Acts 2:14-36 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spake forth unto them, `saying', Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and give ear unto my words. 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose; seeing it is `but' the third hour of the day. 16 but this is that which hath been spoken through the prophet Joel: 17 And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all flesh: And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams: 18 Yea and on my servants and on my handmaidens in those days Will I pour forth of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heaven above, And signs on the earth beneath; Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the day of the Lord come, That great and notable `day'. 21 And it shall be, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. 22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, even as ye yourselves know; 23 him, being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay: 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 25 For David saith concerning him, I beheld the Lord always before my face; For he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; Moreover my flesh also shall dwell in hope: 27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul unto Hades, Neither wilt thou give thy Holy One to see corruption. 28 Thou madest known unto me the ways of life; Thou shalt make me full of gladness with thy countenance. 29 Brethren, I may say unto you freely of the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us unto this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins he would set `one' upon his throne; 31 he foreseeing `this' spake of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he left unto Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we all are witnesses. 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. 34 For David ascended not into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet. 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified. or 3:12-26.

  • What is the focal point of Peter’s evangelistic sermons?
  • How does he prove his theme?

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 Cushion of Peace

Published by Grace To You for reading on April 21st.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matt. 5:9).

God’s peace cushions the soul during difficult times.

I remember reading about what is called "the cushion of the sea." The ocean surface is often greatly agitated, but as you descend, the water becomes increasingly calm. At its greatest depths the ocean is virtually still. Oceanographers dredging ocean bottoms have found animal and plant remains that appear to have been undisturbed for hundreds of years.

Similarly, Christians can experience a cushion of peace in their souls regardless of their troubled surroundings. That's because they belong to God, who is the source of peace; serve Christ, who is the Prince of Peace; and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who is the agent of peace. Galatians 5:22 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, says, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, [and] peace." When you become a Christian, God grants you the gift of peace.

God is not only the source of perfect peace, but also its purest example. Everything He does is marked by peace. First Corinthians 14:33 says He is not a God of confusion but of peace. In Judges 6:24 24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto Jehovah, and called it Jehovah-shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. He is called Jehovah-shalom, which means, "the Lord is peace." The Trinity is characterized by a total absence of conflict: perfect oneness, perfect righteousness, and absolute harmony. It is impossible for God to be at odds with Himself!

God wants everyone to know that kind of peace. He created the world with peace and sent His Son to offer peace. Someday Christ will return to establish His kingdom and reign in peace for eternity.

In the meantime turmoil exists for all who don't know Christ. They have no cushion for their souls. You, however, have peace with God through the death of Christ Jesus, and as you obey Him, His peace will continually reign in your heart. Don't ever let sin rob you of that blessed cushion. Only as you experience peace within yourself can you share it with others.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the cushion of peace He has provided amid difficult circumstances.
  • Ask God to use you as an instrument of His peace today.

For Further Study

Read Isaiah 57:15-21 15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite. 16 For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit would faint before me, and the souls that I have made. 17 For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him; I hid `my face' and was wroth; and he went on backsliding in the way of his heart. 18 I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. 19 I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace, to him that is far off and to him that is near, saith Jehovah; and I will heal him. 20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea; for it cannot rest, and its waters cast up mire and dirt. 21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. , noting how God encourages the repentant and warns the wicked in relation to peace.

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

Morning Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for April 21st

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on April 21st.

Job 19:25 25 But as for me I know that my Redeemer liveth, And at last he will stand up upon the earth:

THE marrow of Job's comfort lies in that little word "My"—"My Redeemer," and in the fact that the Redeemer lives. Oh! to get hold of a living Christ. We must get a property in Him before we can enjoy Him. What is gold in the mine to me? Men are beggars in Peru, and beg their bread in California. It is gold in my purse which will satisfy my necessities, by purchasing the bread I need. So a Redeemer who does not redeem me, an avenger who will never stand up for my blood, of what avail were such? Rest not content until by faith you can say "Yes, I cast myself upon my living Lord; and He is mine." It may be you hold Him with a feeble hand; you half think it presumption to say, "He lives as my Redeemer;" yet, remember if you have but faith as a grain of mustard seed, that little faith entitles you to say it. But there is also another word here, expressive of Job's strong confidence, "I know." To say, "I hope so, I trust so" is comfortable; and there are thousands in the fold of Jesus who hardly ever get much further. But to reach the essence of consolation you must say, "I know." Ifs, buts, and perhapses, are sure murderers of peace and comfort. Doubts are dreary things in times of sorrow. Like wasps they sting the soul! If I have any suspicion that Christ is not mine, then there is vinegar mingled with the gall of death; but if I know that Jesus lives for me, then darkness is not dark: even the night is light about me. Surely if Job, in those ages before the coming and advent of Christ, could say, "I know," we should not speak less positively. God forbid that our positiveness should be presumption. Let us see that our evidences are right, lest we build upon an ungrounded hope; and then let us not be satisfied with the mere foundation, for it is from the upper rooms that we get the widest prospect. A living Redeemer, truly mine, is joy unspeakable.

Evening Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for April 21st

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on April 21st.

Romans 8:34 34 who is he that condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

HE who was once despised and rejected of men, now occupies the honourable position of a beloved and honoured Son. The right hand of God is the place of majesty and favour. Our Lord Jesus is His people's representative. When He died for them they had rest; He rose again for them, they had liberty; when He sat down at His Father's right hand, they had favour, and honour, and dignity. The raising and elevation of Christ is the elevation, the acceptance, and enshrinement, the glorifying of all His people, for He is their head and representative. This sitting at the right hand of God, then, is to be viewed as the acceptance of the person of the Surety, the reception of the Representative, and therefore, the acceptance of our souls. O saint, see in this thy sure freedom from condemnation. "Who is he that condemneth?" Who shall condemn the men who are in Jesus at the right hand of God?

The right hand is the place of power. Christ at the right hand of God hath all power in heaven and in earth. Who shall fight against the people who have such power vested in their Captain? O my soul, what can destroy thee if Omnipotence be thy helper? If the aegis of the Almighty cover thee, what sword can smite thee? Rest thou secure. If Jesus is thine all-prevailing King, and hath trodden thine enemies beneath His feet; if sin, death, and hell are all vanquished by Him, and thou art represented in Him, by no possibility canst thou be destroyed.

"Jesu's tremendous name Puts all our foes to flight: Jesus, the meek, the angry Lamb, A Lion is in fight.

"By all hell's host withstood; We all hell's host o'erthrow; And conquering them, through Jesu's blood We still to conquer go."

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