HE IS RISEN!

"For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord."
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Wisdom for Life

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on July 23rd.

Proverbs 4:10-27 10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; And the years of thy life shall be many. 11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in paths of uprightness. 12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; And if thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. 13 Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: Keep her; for she is thy life. 14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, And walk not in the way of evil men. 15 Avoid it, pass not by it; Turn from it, and pass on. 16 For they sleep not, except they do evil; And their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. 17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, And drink the wine of violence. 18 But the path of the righteous is as the dawning light, That shineth more and more unto the perfect day. 19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: They know not at what they stumble. 20 My son, attend to my words; Incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; Keep them in the midst of thy heart. 22 For they are life unto those that find them, And health to all their flesh. 23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life. 24 Put away from thee a wayward mouth, And perverse lips put far from thee. 25 Let thine eyes look right on, And let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 26 Make level the path of thy feet, And let all thy ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: Remove thy foot from evil.

Sometimes life seems like a confusing maze of options, and we don’t know which path to choose. What we need is God’s wisdom to guide us. Our first source for insight is His Word, but that is not the end. With scriptural principles as our foundation, God provides other opportunities that can help us grow in wisdom.

Discernment. Instead of blindly accepting cultural ideas, we should compare what we hear and see around us with what God has said in His Word. Then we’ll recognize evil and deception and have the wisdom to avoid that path.

Observation. By noticing actions of godly and ungodly people, we gain wisdom. As we observe their mistakes and successes, as well as our own past, we learn the blessings of obedience and the consequences of wrongdoing.

Godly counsel. The Lord will sometimes use other people to give direction for our life (Prov. 12:15). Whether they speak encouragement or correction, we can trust their advice when it lines up with Scripture and is confirmed by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Wise Associates. There’s great benefit in spending time with those who know the Lord and routinely respond in a godly manner (Prov. 13:20). Before developing close relationships, we should learn what people value. As we recognize which individuals reflect wisdom in thought and deed, we can cultivate a relationship with them and emulate their discerning ways.

God wants us to pay attention to what we see and hear—and to be deliberate in our choice of companions. Wisdom isn’t just having the right information; it’s an ability to perceive between right and wrong, good and best.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 4-7 Chapter 4 1 And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name; take thou away our reproach. 2 In that day shall the branch of Jehovah be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. 3 And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem; 4 when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of justice, and by the spirit of burning. 5 And Jehovah will create over the whole habitation of mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory `shall be spread' a covering. 6 And there shall be a pavilion for a shade in the day-time from the heat, and for a refuge and for a covert from storm and from rain. Chapter 5 1 Let me sing for my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved had a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2 and he digged it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also hewed out a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. 3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? 5 And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: 6 and I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned nor hoed; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of Jehovah of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for justice, but, behold, oppression; for righteousness, but, behold, a cry. 8 Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no room, and ye be made to dwell alone in the midst of the land! 9 In mine ears `saith' Jehovah of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant. 10 For ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield `but' an ephah. 11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that tarry late into the night, till wine inflame them! 12 And the harp and the lute, the tabret and the pipe, and wine, are `in' their feasts; but they regard not the work of Jehovah, neither have they considered the operation of his hands. 13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity for lack of knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude are parched with thirst. 14 Therefore Sheol hath enlarged its desire, and opened its mouth without measure; and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth among them, descend `into it'. 15 And the mean man is bowed down, and the great man is humbled, and the eyes of the lofty are humbled: 16 but Jehovah of hosts is exalted in justice, and God the Holy One is sanctified in righteousness. 17 Then shall the lambs feed as in their pasture, and the waste places of the fat ones shall wanderers eat. 18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, and sin as it were with a cart rope; 19 that say, Let him make speed, let him hasten his work, that we may see it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it! 20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! 22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink; 23 that justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! 24 Therefore as the tongue of fire devoureth the stubble, and as the dry grass sinketh down in the flame, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust; because they have rejected the law of Jehovah of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25 Therefore is the anger of Jehovah kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them; and the mountains tremble, and their dead bodies are as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 26 And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss for them from the end of the earth; and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly. 27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken: 28 whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent; their horses' hoofs shall be accounted as flint, and their wheels as a whirlwind: 29 their roaring shall be like a lioness, they shall roar like young lions; yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and carry it away safe, and there shall be none to deliver. 30 And they shall roar against them in that day like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold, darkness `and' distress; and the light is darkened in the clouds thereof. Chapter 6 1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 and he touched my mouth with it, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin forgiven. 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, Here am I; send me. 9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they sea with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed. 11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until cities be waste without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land become utterly waste, 12 and Jehovah have removed men far away, and the forsaken places be many in the midst of the land. 13 And if there be yet a tenth in it, it also shall in turn be eaten up: as a terebinth, and as an oak, whose stock remaineth, when they are felled; so the holy seed is the stock thereof. Chapter 7 1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. 2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart trembled, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the forest tremble with the wind. 3 Then said Jehovah unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, in the highway of the fuller's field; 4 and say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither let thy heart be faint, because of these two tails of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. 5 Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have purposed evil against thee, saying, 6 Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set up a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeel; 7 thus saith the Lord Jehovah, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. 8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken in pieces, so that is shall not be a people: 9 and the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. 10 And Jehovah spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask thee a sign of Jehovah thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt Jehovah. 13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to weary men, that ye will weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 Butter and honey shall he eat, when he knoweth to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land whose two kings thou abhorrest shall be forsaken. 17 Jehovah will bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah-`even' the king of Assyria. 18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that Jehovah will hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. 19 And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the clefts of the rocks, and upon all thorn-hedges, and upon all pastures. 20 In that day will the Lord shave with a razor that is hired in the parts beyond the River, `even' with the king of Assyria, the head and the hair of the feet; and it shall also consume the beard. 21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall keep alive a young cow, and two sheep; 22 and it shall come to pass, that because of the abundance of milk which they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the midst of the land. 23 And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, shall be for briers and thorns. 24 With arrows and with bow shall one come thither, because all the land shall be briers and thorns. 25 And all the hills that were digged with the mattock, thou shalt not come thither for fear of briers and thorns; but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of sheep.




The Blessings of Wisdom

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on July 23rd.

Proverbs 3:1-4 Chapter 3 1 My son, forget not my law; But let thy heart keep my commandments: 2 For length of days, and years of life, And peace, will they add to thee. 3 Let not kindness and truth forsake thee: Bind them about thy neck; Write them upon the tablet of thy heart: 4 So shalt thou find favor and good understanding In the sight of God and man.

The world claims there are many paths to a successful, rewarding life: education, wealth, public recognition, or even service. But in the end, true fulfillment comes from the Lord and following His wisdom.

Proverbs says that when we choose to align our heart with God’s truth, we will “find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man” (3:4). Not only will we have protection, clear guidance, and intimacy with the Father, but we’ll also receive divine power to walk circumspectly before Him.

Wisdom—understanding God’s perspective on situations and responding accordingly—brings us the strength to stand firm in our faith and choose His way. It also helps us to calmly accept the hardships in our life. Our sovereign God knows the extent of our difficulties. Out of His love for us, He never gives us more than we can handle and uses even our darkest hours for His good purposes. Wise people are convinced this is true; they enjoy supernatural peace and will live in the Lord’s favor (Prov. 8:34-35; Phil. 4:7).

God wants to prosper His people in spiritual as well as material ways. For that reason, His first priority is to increase our understanding of Him. Then as we align our heart with His wisdom and will, we can apply His principles not just to our finances but to every facet of life.

The Lord stands ready to pour out His choicest blessings—power, divine favor, spiritual prosperity, and supernatural peace—on those who draw near to Him and submit to His plan.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 4-7 Chapter 4 1 And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name; take thou away our reproach. 2 In that day shall the branch of Jehovah be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. 3 And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem; 4 when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of justice, and by the spirit of burning. 5 And Jehovah will create over the whole habitation of mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory `shall be spread' a covering. 6 And there shall be a pavilion for a shade in the day-time from the heat, and for a refuge and for a covert from storm and from rain. Chapter 5 1 Let me sing for my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved had a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2 and he digged it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also hewed out a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. 3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? 5 And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: 6 and I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned nor hoed; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of Jehovah of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for justice, but, behold, oppression; for righteousness, but, behold, a cry. 8 Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no room, and ye be made to dwell alone in the midst of the land! 9 In mine ears `saith' Jehovah of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant. 10 For ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield `but' an ephah. 11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that tarry late into the night, till wine inflame them! 12 And the harp and the lute, the tabret and the pipe, and wine, are `in' their feasts; but they regard not the work of Jehovah, neither have they considered the operation of his hands. 13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity for lack of knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude are parched with thirst. 14 Therefore Sheol hath enlarged its desire, and opened its mouth without measure; and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth among them, descend `into it'. 15 And the mean man is bowed down, and the great man is humbled, and the eyes of the lofty are humbled: 16 but Jehovah of hosts is exalted in justice, and God the Holy One is sanctified in righteousness. 17 Then shall the lambs feed as in their pasture, and the waste places of the fat ones shall wanderers eat. 18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, and sin as it were with a cart rope; 19 that say, Let him make speed, let him hasten his work, that we may see it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it! 20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! 22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink; 23 that justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! 24 Therefore as the tongue of fire devoureth the stubble, and as the dry grass sinketh down in the flame, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust; because they have rejected the law of Jehovah of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25 Therefore is the anger of Jehovah kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them; and the mountains tremble, and their dead bodies are as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 26 And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss for them from the end of the earth; and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly. 27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken: 28 whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent; their horses' hoofs shall be accounted as flint, and their wheels as a whirlwind: 29 their roaring shall be like a lioness, they shall roar like young lions; yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and carry it away safe, and there shall be none to deliver. 30 And they shall roar against them in that day like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold, darkness `and' distress; and the light is darkened in the clouds thereof. Chapter 6 1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 and he touched my mouth with it, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin forgiven. 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, Here am I; send me. 9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they sea with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed. 11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until cities be waste without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land become utterly waste, 12 and Jehovah have removed men far away, and the forsaken places be many in the midst of the land. 13 And if there be yet a tenth in it, it also shall in turn be eaten up: as a terebinth, and as an oak, whose stock remaineth, when they are felled; so the holy seed is the stock thereof. Chapter 7 1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. 2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart trembled, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the forest tremble with the wind. 3 Then said Jehovah unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, in the highway of the fuller's field; 4 and say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither let thy heart be faint, because of these two tails of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. 5 Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have purposed evil against thee, saying, 6 Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set up a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeel; 7 thus saith the Lord Jehovah, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. 8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken in pieces, so that is shall not be a people: 9 and the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. 10 And Jehovah spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask thee a sign of Jehovah thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt Jehovah. 13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to weary men, that ye will weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 Butter and honey shall he eat, when he knoweth to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land whose two kings thou abhorrest shall be forsaken. 17 Jehovah will bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah-`even' the king of Assyria. 18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that Jehovah will hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. 19 And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the clefts of the rocks, and upon all thorn-hedges, and upon all pastures. 20 In that day will the Lord shave with a razor that is hired in the parts beyond the River, `even' with the king of Assyria, the head and the hair of the feet; and it shall also consume the beard. 21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall keep alive a young cow, and two sheep; 22 and it shall come to pass, that because of the abundance of milk which they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the midst of the land. 23 And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, shall be for briers and thorns. 24 With arrows and with bow shall one come thither, because all the land shall be briers and thorns. 25 And all the hills that were digged with the mattock, thou shalt not come thither for fear of briers and thorns; but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of sheep.




How to Defy Sinful Desire

Published by John Piper for reading on July 23rd.

By faith Moses . . . [left] the fleeting pleasures of sin . . . for he was looking to the reward. ( Hebrews 11:24 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; –26)

Faith is not content with “fleeting pleasures.” It is ravenous for joy. And the Word of God says, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” ( Psalms 16:11 11 Thou wilt show me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; In thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 17 A Prayer of David. ). So faith will not be sidetracked into sin. It will not give up so easily in its quest for maximum joy.

The role of God’s Word is to feed faith’s appetite for God. And, in doing this, it weans my heart away from the deceptive taste of lust.

At first, lust begins to trick me into feeling that I would really miss out on some great satisfaction if I followed the path of purity. But then I take up the sword of the Spirit and begin to fight.

  • I read that it is better to gouge out my eye than to lust ( 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. ).
  • I read that if I think about things that are pure and lovely and excellent, the peace of God will be with me ( Philippians 4:8 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. –9).
  • I read that setting the mind on the flesh brings death, but setting the mind on the Spirit brings life and peace ( Romans 8:6 6 For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace: ).
  • I read that lust wages war against my soul ( 1 Peter 2:11 11 Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lust, which war against the soul; ), and that the pleasures of this life choke out the life of the Spirit ( Luke 8:14 14 And that which fell among the thorns, these are they that have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of `this' life, and bring no fruit to perfection. ).
  • But best of all, I read that God withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly ( Psalms 84:11 11 For Jehovah God is a sun and a shield: Jehovah will give grace and glory; No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. ), and that the pure in heart will see God ( Matthew 5:8 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. ).

As I pray for my faith to be satisfied with God’s life and peace, the sword of the Spirit carves the sugar coating off the poison of lust. I see it for what it is. And by the grace of God, its alluring power is broken.



Responding to Hardship

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on July 23rd.

1 Peter 4:12-19 12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial among you, which cometh upon you to prove you, as though a strange thing happened unto you: 13 but insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice with exceeding joy. 14 If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed `are ye'; because the `Spirit' of glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you. 15 For let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil-doer, or as a meddler in other men's matters: 16 but if `a man suffer' as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name. 17 For the time `is come' for judgment to begin at the house of God: and if `it begin' first at us, what `shall be' the end of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear? 19 Wherefore let them also that suffer according to the will of God commit their souls in well-doing unto a faithful Creator.

When you face a trial, what is your first response? You probably would like to run away as quickly as possible to escape it. Though this is a normal feeling, God has a different way.

It is not the trials in your life that develop or destroy you, but rather your response to those hardships. How, then, should we react when difficulties feel overwhelming?

First, trust God. Believe His Word and reflect on ways He has been faithful in the past. He assures us that He limits our trials and enables us to endure.

Second, persevere. Even when we don’t understand and the suffering seems too great to bear, we should never quit. Continue seeking the Lord through His Word and prayer. Cling to hope in Christ, and praise Him in the midst of the pain.

Third, remember that our sovereign God is in control. He’s allowing this adversity for a reason and will demonstrate His sustaining power through it. Even though the pain might feel intolerable, the Lord will always prosper His children. Scripture compares our growth to gold, which is refined through fire ( 1 Peter 1:7 7 that the proof of your faith, `being' more precious than gold that perisheth though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ: ). Often, I hear believers reflect on a difficult time and admit that despite the intense hurt, they wouldn’t change the situation. They see the beauty God created through the struggle and realize its value.

We will encounter difficulties—sometimes intense and painful trials that seem too much for us. Yet we can rely on our heavenly Father to deliver and grow us in ways we could never imagine. He doesn’t demand that we endure on our own, but He does want us to respond and trust Him.

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 4-7 Chapter 4 1 And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name; take thou away our reproach. 2 In that day shall the branch of Jehovah be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. 3 And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem; 4 when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of justice, and by the spirit of burning. 5 And Jehovah will create over the whole habitation of mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory `shall be spread' a covering. 6 And there shall be a pavilion for a shade in the day-time from the heat, and for a refuge and for a covert from storm and from rain. Chapter 5 1 Let me sing for my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved had a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2 and he digged it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also hewed out a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. 3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? 5 And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: 6 and I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned nor hoed; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of Jehovah of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for justice, but, behold, oppression; for righteousness, but, behold, a cry. 8 Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no room, and ye be made to dwell alone in the midst of the land! 9 In mine ears `saith' Jehovah of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant. 10 For ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield `but' an ephah. 11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that tarry late into the night, till wine inflame them! 12 And the harp and the lute, the tabret and the pipe, and wine, are `in' their feasts; but they regard not the work of Jehovah, neither have they considered the operation of his hands. 13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity for lack of knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude are parched with thirst. 14 Therefore Sheol hath enlarged its desire, and opened its mouth without measure; and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth among them, descend `into it'. 15 And the mean man is bowed down, and the great man is humbled, and the eyes of the lofty are humbled: 16 but Jehovah of hosts is exalted in justice, and God the Holy One is sanctified in righteousness. 17 Then shall the lambs feed as in their pasture, and the waste places of the fat ones shall wanderers eat. 18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, and sin as it were with a cart rope; 19 that say, Let him make speed, let him hasten his work, that we may see it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it! 20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! 22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink; 23 that justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! 24 Therefore as the tongue of fire devoureth the stubble, and as the dry grass sinketh down in the flame, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust; because they have rejected the law of Jehovah of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25 Therefore is the anger of Jehovah kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them; and the mountains tremble, and their dead bodies are as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 26 And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss for them from the end of the earth; and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly. 27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken: 28 whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent; their horses' hoofs shall be accounted as flint, and their wheels as a whirlwind: 29 their roaring shall be like a lioness, they shall roar like young lions; yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and carry it away safe, and there shall be none to deliver. 30 And they shall roar against them in that day like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold, darkness `and' distress; and the light is darkened in the clouds thereof. Chapter 6 1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 and he touched my mouth with it, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin forgiven. 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, Here am I; send me. 9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they sea with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed. 11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until cities be waste without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land become utterly waste, 12 and Jehovah have removed men far away, and the forsaken places be many in the midst of the land. 13 And if there be yet a tenth in it, it also shall in turn be eaten up: as a terebinth, and as an oak, whose stock remaineth, when they are felled; so the holy seed is the stock thereof. Chapter 7 1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. 2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart trembled, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the forest tremble with the wind. 3 Then said Jehovah unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, in the highway of the fuller's field; 4 and say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither let thy heart be faint, because of these two tails of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. 5 Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have purposed evil against thee, saying, 6 Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set up a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeel; 7 thus saith the Lord Jehovah, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. 8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken in pieces, so that is shall not be a people: 9 and the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. 10 And Jehovah spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask thee a sign of Jehovah thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt Jehovah. 13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to weary men, that ye will weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 Butter and honey shall he eat, when he knoweth to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land whose two kings thou abhorrest shall be forsaken. 17 Jehovah will bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah-`even' the king of Assyria. 18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that Jehovah will hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. 19 And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the clefts of the rocks, and upon all thorn-hedges, and upon all pastures. 20 In that day will the Lord shave with a razor that is hired in the parts beyond the River, `even' with the king of Assyria, the head and the hair of the feet; and it shall also consume the beard. 21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall keep alive a young cow, and two sheep; 22 and it shall come to pass, that because of the abundance of milk which they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the midst of the land. 23 And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, shall be for briers and thorns. 24 With arrows and with bow shall one come thither, because all the land shall be briers and thorns. 25 And all the hills that were digged with the mattock, thou shalt not come thither for fear of briers and thorns; but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of sheep.




July 23 - Jesus Christ’s Amazing Ministry

Published by Daily Readings - GTY for reading on July 23rd.

“This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases’” ( Matthew 8:17 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying: Himself took our infirmities, and bare our diseases. ).

Even excluding the miraculous healings, Jesus’ ministry was unprecedented and amazing. “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks” ( John 7:46 46 The officers answered, Never man so spake. ). The man born blind, whom Jesus healed, told the Jewish leaders, “Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man [Christ] were not from God, He could do nothing” ( John 9:32 32 Since the world began it was never heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. –33).

When Jesus healed the paralytic, the onlookers “were awestruck, and glorified God” (Matt. 9:8), and after He expelled a demon they said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel” (v. 33). When He stood before Pilate, Jesus did not say a word in His own defense, “so the governor was quite amazed” (Matt. 27:14).

Everything about our Lord was astonishing, excellent, and humanly beyond explanation. It is hard to understand how anyone who witnessed His preaching and miracles, or has even just read about Him in the gospels, can still refuse to accept and obey Him. Some are drawn by His charisma and power, and they marvel at the things He taught and did, but they still take nothing to heart and don’t believe. Sometimes they are willing to call themselves Christians, but they need a commitment that is more than superficial—one that perseveres in faith to the end.

Ask Yourself

Think of all the things that are truly amazing about Christ. If you were asked what you love the most about Him, what would you say? You never want to be at a loss to share the specific ways He makes life distinctly abundant.

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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Knowledge

Published by Strength For Today - GTY for reading on July 23rd.

“. . . in your moral excellence, knowledge” ( 2 Peter 1:5 5 Yea, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue; and in `your' virtue knowledge; ).

Moral excellence cannot develop in an intellectual vacuum.

It’s a frightening thing to realize the extent to which our culture downplays knowledge in favor of emotions. These days people are more likely to ask, “How will it make me feel?” instead of, “Is it true?” Sadly, the church has bought into the spirit of the age. Many people go to church, not to learn the truths of God’s Word, but to get an emotional high. The focus of theological discussion also reflects the contemporary hostility to knowledge. To a shocking extent, truth is no longer the issue; the questions being asked today are, “Will it divide?” or “Will it offend?” To ask if a theological position is biblically correct is considered unloving, and those who take a stand for historic Christian truth are labeled as divisive.

But knowledge is inseparable from moral excellence and Christian growth. It should be obvious that people can’t put into practice truths they don’t know; we must first understand the principles of God’s Word before we can live them out.

Peter knew well the importance of knowledge in developing a stable Christian walk and the assurance of salvation that accompanies it. Therefore, he urged his readers to add knowledge to their moral excellence. Gnosis (“knowledge”) refers to insight, discernment, and proper understanding of truth. Lacking such knowledge, believers become “children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). The resulting turmoil is not conducive to spiritual growth or the development of a settled assurance of salvation.

The Bible commends child-like (i.e., trusting, humble) faith, but not childish faith. Paul exhorted the Corinthians, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking . . . in your thinking be mature” (1 Cor. 14:20). “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord,” urged Hosea. When we do so, “He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth” (Hos. 6:3).

I pray with the apostle Paul, “that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment” (Phil. 1:9).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would enable you to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” ( 2 Peter 3:18 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him `be' the glory both now and for ever. Amen. ).

For Further Study

Read Proverbs 23:7 7 For as he thinketh within himself, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; But his heart is not with thee. and Philippians 4:8 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. . What do those verses teach about the importance of godly thinking?

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.

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God's Motive for Your Inheritance

Published by Drawing Near - GTY for reading on July 23rd.
"According to His great mercy" (1 Pet. 1:3).

Every dimension of life, whether physical or spiritual, is a testimony to God’s mercy.

When God saved you and granted you an eternal inheritance, it wasn't because you were special or more deserving of His love and grace than others. It was because He sovereignly chose to love you and extend His great mercy to you. That's why Paul said, "God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" (Eph. 2:4-5). He "saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy" ( Titus 3:5 5 not by works `done' in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, ).

Because of His great mercy, God addresses the pitiful condition of mankind. Unregenerate people are totally depraved, dead in trespasses, enslaved to sin, cursed to eternal damnation, unable to help themselves, and in desperate need of someone to show them mercy and compassion. That's the good news of the gospel: God loves sinners and extends mercy to anyone willing to trust in Him.

Mercy tempers God's justice. The Puritan writer Thomas Watson said, "Mercy sweetens all God's other attributes . . . . When the water was bitter, and Israel could not drink, Moses cast a tree into the waters, and then they were made sweet. How bitter and dreadful were the other attributes of God, did not mercy sweeten them! Mercy sets God's power [at] work to help us; it makes his justice become our friend; it shall avenge our quarrels" (A Body of Divinity [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1978], p. 94).

The very fact that God permits us to live at all speaks of His mercy. Lamentations 3:22-23 22 `It is of' Jehovah's lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. says, "It is because of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness" (KJV).

No matter what your situation is, God's mercy is more than sufficient for you. It "is great above the heavens" (Ps. 108:4, KJV). So be encouraged and look to Him always.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for His great mercy, for by it you have received eternal life and an eternal inheritance.

For Further Study

Read Mark 10:46-52 46 And they come to Jericho: and as he went out from Jericho, with his disciples and a great multitude, the son of Timaeus, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the way side. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. 48 And many rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried out the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. 49 And Jesus stood still, and said, Call ye him. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good cheer: rise, he calleth thee. 50 And he, casting away his garment, sprang up, and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus answered him, and said, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? And the blind man said unto him, Rabboni, that I may receive my sight. 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And straightway he received his sight, and followed him in the way. . How did Jesus' healing ministry demonstrate God's mercy?

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.

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Daily Bible - July 23

Published by Daily Bible - GTY for reading on July 23rd.

Reading for Today:

  • Ezra 7:1 Chapter 7 1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, –8:36
  • Psalms 88:1-5 Chapter 88 1 O Jehovah, the God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee. 2 Let my prayer enter into thy presence; Incline thine ear unto my cry. 3 For my soul is full of troubles, And my life draweth nigh unto Sheol. 4 I am reckoned with them that go down into the pit; I am as a man that hath no help, 5 Cast off among the dead, Like the slain that lie in the grave, Whom thou rememberest no more, And they are cut off from thy hand.
  • Proverbs 21:21-22 21 He that followeth after righteousness and kindness Findeth life, righteousness, and honor. 22 A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, And bringeth down the strength of the confidence thereof.
  • Acts 23:16-35 16 But Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, and he came and entered into the castle and told Paul. 17 And Paul called unto him one of the centurions, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain; for he hath something to tell him. 18 So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and saith, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and asked me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say to thee. 19 And the chief captain took him by the hand, and going aside asked him privately, What is it that thou hast to tell me? 20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to ask thee to bring down Paul tomorrow unto the council, as though thou wouldest inquire somewhat more exactly concerning him. 21 Do not thou therefore yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, who have bound themselves under a curse, neither to eat nor to drink till they have slain him: and now are they ready, looking for the promise from thee. 22 So the chief captain let the young man go, charging him, Tell no man that thou hast signified these things to me. 23 And he called unto him two of the centurions, and said, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go as far as Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night: 24 and `he bade them' provide beasts, that they might set Paul thereon, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor. 25 And he wrote a letter after this form: 26 Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix, greeting. 27 This man was seized by the Jews, and was about to be slain of them, when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. 28 And desiring to know the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him down unto their council: 29 whom I found to be accused about questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. 30 And when it was shown to me that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to thee forthwith, charging his accusers also to speak against him before thee. 31 So the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 But on the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: 33 and they, when they came to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, presented Paul also before him. 34 And when he had read it, he asked of what province he was; and when he understood that he was of Cilicia, 35 I will hear thee fully, said he, when thine accusers also are come: and he commanded him to be kept in Herod's palace.

Notes:

Ezra 7:6 a skilled scribe. Ezra’s role as a scribe was critical to reinstate the nation since the leaders had to go back to the law and interpret it. This was no small task because many aspects of life had changed in the intervening 1,000 years since the law was first given. Tradition says Ezra had the law memorized and could write it from recall. the hand of the LORD his God upon him. This refrain occurs throughout the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Its resounding presence assures the reader that it was not by the shrewd leadership skills of a few men that Judah, with its temple and walls, was rebuilt in the midst of a powerful Medo-Persian Empire. Rather it was the sovereign hand of the wise and powerful King of the universe that allowed this to happen.

Ezra 7:10 seek…do…teach. The pattern of Ezra’s preparation is exemplary. He studied before he attempted to live a life of obedience, and he studied and practiced the law in his own life before he opened his mouth to teach that law. But the success of Ezra’s leadership did not come from his strength alone, but most significantly because “the good hand of his God [was] upon him” (7:9).

Ezra 8:21–23 I proclaimed a fast. The people of Israel would soon begin the long journey. Such travel was dangerous, for the roads were frequented by thieves who robbed for survival. Even messengers traveled with caravans to ensure their safety. Ezra and the people did not want to confuse the king regarding their trust in God’s protection so they entreated Him for safety with a prayerful fast. God honored their prayer of faith with His protection.

Psalms 88:4 4 I am reckoned with them that go down into the pit; I am as a man that hath no help, go down to the pit. “Pit” is one of several references to the grave in this psalm (the dead, vv. 5, 10; the grave, vv. 3, 5, 11; place of destruction, v. 11).

Acts 23:16 16 But Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, and he came and entered into the castle and told Paul. Paul’s sister’s son. The only clear reference in Scripture to Paul’s family. Why he was in Jerusalem, away from the family home in Tarsus, is not known. Nor is it evident why he would want to warn his uncle, since Paul’s family possibly disinherited him when he became a Christian (Phil. 3:8). entered the barracks and told Paul. Since Paul was not under arrest, but merely in protective custody, he was able to receive visitors.

Acts 23:27 27 This man was seized by the Jews, and was about to be slain of them, when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. having learned that he was a Roman. Actually, Lysias did not find this out until after he arrested Paul (22:25, 26). Lysias sought to portray himself in the best possible light before the governor. For that reason, he also neglected to mention his order to have Paul scourged (22:24) and his mistaken assumption that he was the notorious Egyptian assassin (21:38).

DAY 23: How can Luke’s authorship of Acts be defended when his name is not mentioned in the book?

Lack of the author’s name is not an unusual challenge in establishing the authorship of a Bible book. Many books of the Bible come to us without obvious human authorship. In most cases, however, internal and external clues lead us to reasonable confidence in identifying the author. One benefit created by initial anonymity involves recognizing that the Bible books originated by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It may take some effort to discover whom God used in writing one of those books, but the original Author is not in question.

The Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles share numerous marks of common human authorship. They are addressed to the same person—Theophilus ( Luke 1:3 3 it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; ; Acts 1:1 Chapter 1 1 The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach, ). They are parallel in style. The second book claims to be an extension of the first.

Luke was in a unique position to record Acts of the Apostles. He was Paul’s close friend, traveling companion, and personal physician (Col. 4:14). His work indicates that he was a careful researcher ( Luke 1:1 Chapter 1 1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, –4) and an accurate historian, displaying an intimate knowledge of Roman laws and customs. His records of the geography of Palestine, Asia Minor, and Italy offer flawless details.

In writing Acts, Luke drew on written sources (15:23–29; 23:26–30). He, also, no doubt, interviewed key figures, such as Peter, John, and others in the Jerusalem church. Paul’s 2-year imprisonment at Caesarea (24:27) gave Luke ample opportunity to interview Philip and his daughters (important sources of information on the early days of the church). Finally, Luke’s frequent use of the first person plural pronouns “we” and “us” (16:10–17; 20:5–21:18; 27:1–28:16) reveals that he was an eyewitness to many of the events recorded in Acts.

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

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

Obadiah 1:11 11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that strangers carried away his substance, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.

BROTHERLY kindness was due from Edom to Israel in the time of need, but instead thereof, the men of Esau made common cause with Israel's foes. Special stress in the sentence before us is laid upon the word thou; as when Caesar cried to Brutus, "and thou Brutus"; a bad action may be all the worse, because of the person who has committed it. When we sin, who are the chosen favorites of heaven, we sin with an emphasis; ours is a crying offence, because we are so peculiarly indulged. If an angel should lay his hand upon us when we are doing evil, he need not use any other rebuke than the question, "What thou? What dost thou here?" Much forgiven, much delivered, much instructed, much enriched, much blessed, shall we dare to put forth our hand unto evil? God forbid!

A few minutes of confession may be beneficial to thee, gentle reader, this morning. Hast thou never been as the wicked? At an evening party certain men laughed at uncleanness, and the joke was not altogether offensive to thine ear, even thou wast as one of them. When hard things were spoken concerning the ways of God, thou wast bashfully silent; and so, to on-lookers, thou wast as one of them. When worldlings were bartering in the market, and driving hard bargains, wast thou not as one of them? When they were pursuing vanity with a hunter's foot, wert thou not as greedy for gain as they were? Could any difference be discerned between thee and them? Is there any difference? Here we come to close quarters. Be honest with thine own soul, and make sure that thou art a new creature in Christ Jesus; but when this is sure, walk jealously, lest any should again be able to say, "Even thou wast as one of them." Thou wouldst not desire to share their eternal doom, why then be like them here? Come not thou into their secret, lest thou come into their ruin. Side with the afflicted people of God, and not with the world.

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

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

1 John 1:7 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

CLEANSETH," says the text—not "shall cleanse." There are multitudes who think that as a dying hope they may look forward to pardon. Oh! how infinitely better to have cleansing now than to depend on the bare possibility of forgiveness when I come to die. Some imagine that a sense of pardon is an attainment only obtainable after many years of Christian experience. But forgiveness of sin is a present thing—a privilege for this day, a joy for this very hour. The moment a sinner trusts Jesus he is fully forgiven. The text, being written in the present tense, also indicates continuance; it was "cleanseth" yesterday, it is "cleanseth" to-day, it will be "cleanseth" tomorrow: it will be always so with you, Christian, until you cross the river; every hour you may come to this fountain, for it cleanseth still. Notice, likewise, the completeness of the cleansing, "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin"—not only from sin, but "from all sin." Reader, I cannot tell you the exceeding sweetness of this word, but I pray God the Holy Ghost to give you a taste of it. Manifold are our sins against God. Whether the bill be little or great, the same receipt can discharge one as the other. The blood of Jesus Christ is as blessed and divine a payment for the transgressions of blaspheming Peter as for the shortcomings of loving John; our iniquity is gone, all gone at once, and all gone for ever. Blessed completeness! What a sweet theme to dwell upon as one gives himself to sleep.

"Sins against a holy God; Sins against His righteous laws; Sins against His love, His blood; Sins against His name and cause; Sins immense as is the sea- From them all He cleanseth me."

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