HE IS RISEN!

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Skills Needed to Walk by Faith

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on December 13th.

Genesis 12:10-20 10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was sore in the land. 11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: 12 and it will come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they will say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. 13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister; that it may be well with me for thy sake, and that my soul may live because of thee. 14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. 15 And the princes of Pharaoh saw her, and praised her to Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. 16 And he dealt well with Abram for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he-asses, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and she-asses, and camels. 17 And Jehovah plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife. 18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? 19 why saidst thou, She is my sister, so that I took her to be my wife? now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. 20 And Pharaoh gave men charge concerning him: and they brought him on the way, and his wife, and all that he had.

Learning to walk by faith requires time. As we have seen, Abraham listened to God and obeyed Him. Then over the years he learned to master additional skills.

Dependence. The Christian life is one of reliance upon God. From the very start, Abraham recognized that his own knowledge was limited and the right way was not obvious. But he understood whom he could trust to meet his needs: God knew the plan perfectly and had all the necessary resources to accomplish His will through Abraham.

Waiting on God. This can be one of the hardest disciplines to master. Scripture shows that even Abraham, the great man of faith, had trouble in this area. While our human nature wants action, the Lord often asks His people to hold back ( 2 Chronicles 20:17 17 Ye shall not need to fight in this `battle': set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of Jehovah with you, O Judah and Jerusalem; fear not, nor be dismayed: to-morrow go out against them: for Jehovah is with you. ). He wants us to let Him act first. Our part is to meditate on the Word, listen for God’s voice, and hold off until He instructs us to act. The Lord, meanwhile, promises to bless those who wait (Isa. 64:4).

Confession. Abraham was not perfect. When famine threatened, he headed toward Egypt, not toward God. Then he lied, which made trouble for others. Later, Sarah found it too hard to wait for the promised child, so she and Abraham took matters into their own hands (Gen. 16:1-3). We also will stumble. But when we return to the Lord in repentance and acknowledge our failure, we will receive forgiveness and can resume walking by faith.

God knows we are imperfect people. He will patiently and repeatedly teach us faith-walking lessons until we learn to trust Him. We just have to maintain responsive hearts and teachable spirits.

Bible in One Year: 1 Timothy 1-3 Chapter 1 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Saviour, and Christ Jesus our hope; 2 unto Timothy, my true child in faith: Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 As I exhorted thee to tarry at Ephesus, when I was going into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge certain men not to teach a different doctrine, 4 neither to give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questionings, rather than a dispensation of God which is in faith; `so do I now'. 5 But the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned: 6 from which things some having swerved have turned aside unto vain talking; 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, though they understand neither what they say, nor whereof they confidently affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully, 9 as knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for abusers of themselves with men, for menstealers, for liars, for false swearers, and if there be any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine; 11 according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. 12 I thank him that enabled me, `even' Christ Jesus our Lord, for that he counted me faithful, appointing me to `his' service; 13 though I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: howbeit I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 15 Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief: 16 howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all his longsuffering, for an ensample of them that should thereafter believe on him unto eternal life. 17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, `be' honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 18 This charge I commit unto thee, my child Timothy, according to the prophecies which led the way to thee, that by them thou mayest war the good warfare; 19 holding faith and a good conscience; which some having thrust from them made shipwreck concerning the faith: 20 of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I delivered unto Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme. Chapter 2 1 I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; 2 for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, `himself' man, Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony `to be borne' in its own times; 7 whereunto I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I speak the truth, I lie not), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8 I desire therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing. 9 In like manner, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment; 10 but (which becometh women professing godliness) through good works. 11 Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. 12 But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression: 15 but she shall be saved through her child-bearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety. Chapter 3 1 Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 no brawler, no striker; but gentle, not contentious, no lover of money; 4 one that ruleth well his own house, having `his' children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (but if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have good testimony from them that are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8 Deacons in like manner `must be' grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them serve as deacons, if they be blameless. 11 Women in like manner `must be' grave, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be husbands of one wife, ruling `their' children and their own houses well. 13 For they that have served well as deacons gain to themselves a good standing, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; 15 but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.




The Final Reality Is Here

Published by John Piper for reading on December 13th.

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. ( Hebrews 8:1 Chapter 8 1 Now in the things which we are saying the chief point `is this': We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, –2)

Christmas is the replacement of shadows with the real thing.

Hebrews 8:1 Chapter 8 1 Now in the things which we are saying the chief point `is this': We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, –2 is a kind of summary statement. The point is that the one priest who goes between us and God, and makes us right with God, and prays for us to God is not an ordinary, weak, sinful, dying priest like in the Old Testament days. He is the Son of God — strong, sinless, with an indestructible life.

Not only that, he is not ministering in an earthly tabernacle with all its limitations of place and size and wearing out and being moth-eaten and being soaked and burned and torn and stolen. No, Hebrews 8:2 2 a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. says that Christ is ministering for us in a “true tent that the Lord set up, not man.” This is the real thing in heaven. This is what cast on Mount Sinai a shadow that Moses copied.

According to Hebrews 8:1 Chapter 8 1 Now in the things which we are saying the chief point `is this': We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, , another great thing about the reality which is greater than the shadow is that our High Priest is seated at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. No Old Testament priest could ever say that.

Jesus deals directly with God the Father. He has a place of honor beside God. He is loved and respected infinitely by God. He is constantly with God. This is not shadow reality like curtains and bowls and tables and candles and robes and tassels and sheep and goats and pigeons. This is final, ultimate reality: God and his Son interacting in love and holiness for our eternal salvation.

Ultimate reality is the Persons of the Godhead in relationship, dealing with each other concerning how their majesty and holiness and love and justice and goodness and truth shall be manifest in a redeemed people.



A Pattern for Prayer

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on December 13th.

Matthew 6:7-15 7 And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. 9 After this manner therefore pray ye. Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil `one.' 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

In Matthew 6:7, Jesus cautioned against meaningless repetition when talking to the Father. Just two verses later, He left a pattern to help us pray. However, in using this passage, which is known as the Lord’s Prayer, we’re often guilty of the very thing Jesus warned against: Instead of thoughtfully praying each line, we run through the words mindlessly. But if we take time to carefully examine Christ’s words, we’ll find the pattern that can transform our prayer life.

Adoration of the Father (Matt. 6:9). God the Father is the focus of all our prayers. We should never forget what a privilege it is to bend our knees on earth and reach almighty God in heaven.

Submission to His Will (Matt. 6:10). Prayer should reflect a desire to align ourselves with God’s goals and purposes, not to get Him to follow our plans.

Petition God for our needs (Matt. 6:11). We are dependent upon the Lord, and He wants us to come to Him with our requests.

Confession of sins (Matt. 6:12). When we repent and forgive others, we maintain fellowship with God. But if we hold grudges, that fellowship is broken. God loves to answer our prayers when the lines of communication are not disrupted.

Deliverance from evil (Matt. 6:13). Our enemy is too strong for us, but Christ has already won the victory over him.

Jesus ended the prayer where He began—with praise to the Father for His kingdom, power, and glory (Matt. 6:13). Next time you say this prayer, concentrate on each verse. Then, following this pattern will result in a more dynamic and effective prayer life because it will be God-centered.

Bible in One Year: 1 Timothy 1-3 Chapter 1 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Saviour, and Christ Jesus our hope; 2 unto Timothy, my true child in faith: Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 As I exhorted thee to tarry at Ephesus, when I was going into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge certain men not to teach a different doctrine, 4 neither to give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questionings, rather than a dispensation of God which is in faith; `so do I now'. 5 But the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned: 6 from which things some having swerved have turned aside unto vain talking; 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, though they understand neither what they say, nor whereof they confidently affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully, 9 as knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for abusers of themselves with men, for menstealers, for liars, for false swearers, and if there be any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine; 11 according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. 12 I thank him that enabled me, `even' Christ Jesus our Lord, for that he counted me faithful, appointing me to `his' service; 13 though I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: howbeit I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 15 Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief: 16 howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all his longsuffering, for an ensample of them that should thereafter believe on him unto eternal life. 17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, `be' honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 18 This charge I commit unto thee, my child Timothy, according to the prophecies which led the way to thee, that by them thou mayest war the good warfare; 19 holding faith and a good conscience; which some having thrust from them made shipwreck concerning the faith: 20 of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I delivered unto Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme. Chapter 2 1 I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; 2 for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, `himself' man, Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony `to be borne' in its own times; 7 whereunto I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I speak the truth, I lie not), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8 I desire therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing. 9 In like manner, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment; 10 but (which becometh women professing godliness) through good works. 11 Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. 12 But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression: 15 but she shall be saved through her child-bearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety. Chapter 3 1 Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 no brawler, no striker; but gentle, not contentious, no lover of money; 4 one that ruleth well his own house, having `his' children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (but if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have good testimony from them that are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8 Deacons in like manner `must be' grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them serve as deacons, if they be blameless. 11 Women in like manner `must be' grave, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be husbands of one wife, ruling `their' children and their own houses well. 13 For they that have served well as deacons gain to themselves a good standing, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; 15 but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.




Elements of Christ's Exaltation

Published by Grace To You for reading on December 13th.

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

Christ followed the path to glory so that we could follow Him.

Because Christ humbled Himself, the Father wonderfully exalted Him. His exaltation includes the elements of both His resurrection and His coronation—His exaltation to the right hand of God. The apostle Peter said Jesus was “raised up again” and “exalted to the right hand of God” (Acts 2:3233).Peter and the other apostles preached, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus. . . . He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (5:30-31). Thus, the New Testament affirms both the resurrection and coronation of Christ (see also Eph. 1:20), as well as the forgiveness of sins that comes with Christ’s intercession for His people.

Paul described Christ’s coronation as placing Him “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come” (v. 21). The final element is described in Hebrews 4:14: 14 Having then a great high priest, who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. “We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.” That alludes to the ascension of Christ. He “always lives to make intercession for [believers]” (7:25).

Christ’s exaltation was thus fourfold: resurrection, ascension, coronation, and intercession. He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. Then He was seated on the throne of God to intercede as High Priest of His people.

As a believer, you will follow Christ in His exaltation. You will rise from the grave and ascend to Heaven. There you will experience coronation, for you will sit with Christ on His throne. You will no longer need our Lord’s intercessory ministry, for the work of transformation will be complete.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank Christ for establishing the path to glory so you can follow after Him.

For Further Study

Meditate on Revelation 22:1-5 Chapter 22 1 And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the midst of the street thereof. And on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve `manner of' fruits, yielding its fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall be no curse any more: and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be therein: and his servants shall serve him; 4 and they shall see his face; and his name `shall be' on their foreheads. 5 And there shall be night no more; and they need no light of lamp, neither light of sun; for the Lord God shall give them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. . What in this passage helps you think about your future glory?

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        

Worship of Distinction

Published by Grace To You for reading on December 13th.
"When He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, 'And let all the angels of God worship Him'" (Heb. 1:6).

Jesus Christ is greater than angels because He is worshiped.

Even though Jesus Christ humbled Himself and was made lower than the angels for a time, angels are still to worship Him. Since angels are to worship Him, then Christ must be greater than them.

Angels have always worshiped Christ, only they worshiped Him as God. It wasn't until His incarnation that angels were commanded to worship Him as God's Son. It is a sin to worship anyone or anything but God—in fact, note how sternly the apostle John was rebuked for worshiping angels (Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9). So the very fact that angels are to worship Christ verifies that Christ is indeed God.

At present, the angels don't fully understand the entire picture of God's redemptive plan. Peter tells us that the prophets didn't understand all that they wrote, "seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow" (1 Pet. 1:11). Then he added, "Things into which angels long to look" (v. 12). They are still trying to figure out things they don't understand.

But that won't always be the case. Notice that Hebrews 1:6 6 And when he again bringeth in the firstborn into the world he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. says, "When He again brings the first-born into the world" (emphasis added). God already brought Christ into the world once—at the second coming He will bring Him into the world in blazing glory. Then the fullness of the prophecy of Psalms 97:7 7 Let all them be put to shame that serve graven images, That boast themselves of idols: Worship him, all ye gods. quoted in Hebrews 1:6 6 And when he again bringeth in the firstborn into the world he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. will come to pass: "Let all the angels of God worship Him."

In His second coming Christ is revealed in full glory as the Son. More than ever we have reason to join the heavenly chorus in declaring, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing" (Rev. 5:12).

Suggestion for Prayer

Thank God for His wonderful plan of salvation. Ask Him to make it more real to you every day.

For Further Study

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

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

Additional Resources        

Daily Bible - December 13

Published by Grace To You for reading on December 13th.

Reading for Today:

  • Amos 1:1 Chapter 1 1 The words of Amos, who was among the herdsmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. –3:15
  • Psalms 141:1-4 Chapter 141 1 Jehovah, I have called upon thee; make haste unto me: Give ear unto my voice, when I call unto thee. 2 Let my prayer be set forth as incense before thee; The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. 3 Set a watch, O Jehovah, before my mouth; Keep the door of my lips. 4 Incline not my heart to any evil thing, To practise deeds of wickedness With men that work iniquity: And let me not eat of their dainties.
  • Proverbs 29:25 25 The fear of man bringeth a snare; But whoso putteth his trust in Jehovah shall be safe.
  • Revelation 3:1-22 Chapter 3 1 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars: I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and thou art dead. 2 Be thou watchful, and establish the things that remain, which were ready to die: for I have found no works of thine perfected before my God. 3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and didst hear; and keep `it', and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. 4 But thou hast a few names in Sardis that did not defile their garments: and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy. 5 He that overcometh shall thus be arrayed in white garments; and I will in no wise blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. 6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. 7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and none shall shut, and that shutteth and none openeth: 8 I know thy works (behold, I have set before thee a door opened, which none can shut), that thou hast a little power, and didst keep my word, and didst not deny my name. 9 Behold, I give of the synagogue of Satan, of them that say they are Jews, and they are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. 10 Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, that `hour' which is to come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown. 12 He that overcometh, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out thence no more: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and mine own new name. 13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. 14 And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God: 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold refined by fire, that thou mayest become rich; and white garments, that thou mayest clothe thyself, and `that' the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest; and eyesalve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I reprove and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.

Notes:

Revelation 3:10 keep you from the hour of trial. Christ’s description must refer to the time of tribulation, the 7-year period before Christ’s earthly kingdom is consummated, featuring the unleashing of divine wrath in judgments expressed as seals, trumpets, and bowls. This period is described in detail throughout chapters 6–19. The latter half is called “the Great Tribulation” (7:14; Matt. 24:21) and is identified as to time in 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5. The verb “to keep” is followed by a preposition whose normal meaning is “from” or “out of”—this phrase, “keep…from” supports the pretribulational Rapture of the church. This period is the same as Daniel’s 70th week (Dan. 9:24–27) and “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7).

Revelation 3:16 lukewarm. I.e., tepid. Nearby Hierapolis was famous for its hot springs, and Colosse for its cold, refreshing mountain stream. But Laodicea had dirty, tepid water that flowed for miles through an underground aqueduct. Visitors, unaccustomed to it, immediately spat it out. The church at Laodicea was neither cold, openly rejecting Christ, nor hot, filled with spiritual zeal. Instead, its members were lukewarm, hypocrites professing to know Christ, but not truly belonging to Him (Matt. 7:21ff.). I will vomit you out of My mouth. Just like the tepid water of Laodicea, these self-deceived hypocrites sickened Christ.

DAY 13: Who was the prophet Amos, and what is the background behind his messages?

Amos was from Tekoa, a small village 10 miles south of Jerusalem. He was the only prophet to give his occupation before declaring his divine commission. He was not of priestly or noble descent, but worked as a “sheep breeder” (1:1; 2 Kin. 3:4) and a “tender of sycamore fruit” (7:14) and was a contemporary of Jonah (2 Kin. 14:25), Hosea (Hos. 1:1), and Isaiah (Is. 1:1).

Amos was a Judean prophet called to deliver a message primarily to the northern tribes of Israel (7:15). Politically, it was a time of prosperity under the long and secure reign of Jeroboam II who, following the example of his father Joash (2 Kin. 13:25), significantly “restored the territory of Israel” (2 Kin. 14:25). It was also a time of peace with both Judah (5:5) and her more distant neighbors. The ever-present menace of Assyria was subdued earlier that century because of Nineveh’s repentance at the preaching of Jonah (Jon. 3:10). Spiritually, however, it was a time of rampant corruption and moral decay (4:1; 5:10–13; 2 Kin. 14:24).

Amos addresses Israel’s two primary sins: 1) an absence of true worship and 2) a lack of justice. In the midst of their ritualistic performance of worship, they were not pursuing the Lord with their hearts (4:4, 5; 5:4–6) nor following His standard of justice with their neighbors (5:10–13; 6:12). This apostasy, evidenced by continual, willful rejection of the prophetic message of Amos, is promised divine judgment. Because of His covenant, however, the Lord will not abandon Israel altogether, but will bring future restoration to the righteous remnant (9:7–15).

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

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December 13 - Parable of the Sower: Receptive Hearers

Published by Grace To You for reading on December 13th.

“‘And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty’” ( Matthew 13:23 23 And he that was sown upon the good ground, this is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; who verily beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. ).

The ultimate barrier to salvation is unbelief, and anyone willing to receive the gospel on Christ’s terms proves he or she is “good soil.” God honors the humble faith of receptive hearers and opens their spiritual ears, minds, and hearts, allowing them to understand the gospel.

The example of the receptive hearers ought to encourage everyone who has ever witnessed in Christ’s name. Despite the nature and prevalence of the other hearers, there are always some whose hearts have good soil in which the gospel can take root and flourish—people prepared by the Spirit to receive the truth.

Spiritual fruit is the inevitable by-product of spiritual life. Receptive hearers will demonstrate fruitfulness in both attitude—“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23)—and behavior, which Paul calls “the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:11; cf. Col. 1:6). We are not saved by bearing fruit or doing good works, but we are saved to become fruitbearers (Eph. 2:10).

Jesus not only assures us here that believers will bear fruit, but that we will bear it abundantly: “some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” These figures represent an extraordinarily abundant yield for the regions Jesus ministered in. They do not guarantee that we all will produce that much; but they do show the productive results of sowing the Word and emphasize that true believers will indeed produce fruit. That’s the point of Jesus’ parable.

Ask Yourself

Besides the obvious blessings and service opportunities created by fruitbearing, what other benefits pour into the lives of those who hear the Word and take it to heart?

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

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Morning Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for December 13th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on December 13th.

Ezra 7:22 22 unto a hundred talents of silver, and to a hundred measures of wheat, and to a hundred baths of wine, and to a hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.

SALT was used in every offering made by fire unto the Lord, and from its preserving and purifying properties it was the grateful emblem of divine grace in the soul. It is worthy of our attentive regard that, when Artaxerxes gave salt to Ezra the priest, he set no limit to the quantity, and we may be quite certain that when the King of kings distributes grace among His royal priesthood, the supply is not cut short by Him. Often are we straitened in ourselves, but never in the Lord. He who chooses to gather much manna will find that he may have as much as he desires. There is no such famine in Jerusalem that the citizens should eat their bread by weight and drink their water by measure. Some things in the economy of grace are measured; for instance our vinegar and gall are given us with such exactness that we never have a single drop too much, but of the salt of grace no stint is made, "Ask what thou wilt and it shall be given unto thee." Parents need to lock up the fruit cupboard, and the sweet jars, but there is no need to keep the salt-box under lock and key, for few children will eat too greedily from that. A man may have too much money, or too much honour, but he cannot have too much grace. When Jeshurun waxed fat in the flesh, he kicked against God, but there is no fear of a man's becoming too full of grace: a plethora of grace is impossible. More wealth brings more care, but more grace brings more joy. Increased wisdom is increased sorrow, but abundance of the Spirit is fulness of joy. Believer, go to the throne for a large supply of heavenly salt. It will season thine afflictions, which are unsavoury without salt; it will preserve thy heart which corrupts if salt be absent, and it will kill thy sins even as salt kills reptiles. Thou needest much; seek much, and have much.

Evening Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for December 13th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on December 13th.

Isaiah 54:12 12 And I will make thy pinnacles of rubies, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy border of precious stones.

THE church is most instructively symbolized by a building erected by heavenly power, and designed by divine skill. Such a spiritual house must not be dark, for the Israelites had light in their dwellings; there must therefore be windows to let the light in and to allow the inhabitants to gaze abroad. These windows are precious as agates: the ways in which the church beholds her Lord and heaven, and spiritual truth in general, are to be had in the highest esteem. Agates are not the most transparent of gems, they are but semi-pellucid at the best:

"Our knowledge of that life is small, Our eye of faith is dim." Faith is one of these precious agate windows, but alas! it is often so misty and beclouded, that we see but darkly, and mistake much that we do see. Yet if we cannot gaze through windows of diamonds and know even as we are known, it is a glorious thing to behold the altogether lovely One, even though the glass be hazy as the agate. Experience is another of these dim but precious windows, yielding to us a subdued religious light, in which we see the sufferings of the Man of Sorrows, through our own afflictions. Our weak eyes could not endure windows of transparent glass to let in the Master's glory, but when they are dimmed with weeping, the beams of the Sun of Righteousness are tempered, and shine through the windows of agate with a soft radiance inexpressibly soothing to tempted souls. Sanctification, as it conforms us to our Lord, is another agate window. Only as we become heavenly can we comprehend heavenly things. The pure in heart see a pure God. Those who are like Jesus see Him as He is. Because we are so little like Him, the window is but agate; because we are somewhat like Him, it is agate. We thank God for what we have, and long for more. When shall we see God and Jesus, and heaven and truth, face to face?

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