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God’s Sovereignty and the Existence of Evil

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on September 21st.

Genesis 2:7-25 7 And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 8 And Jehovah God planted a garden eastward, in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground made Jehovah God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became four heads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12 and the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. 13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth in front of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. 15 And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 16 And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. 18 And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him. 19 And out of the ground Jehovah God formed every beast of the field, and every bird of the heavens; and brought them unto the man to see what he would call them: and whatsoever the man called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20 And the man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the heavens, and to every beast of the field; but for man there was not found a help meet for him. 21 And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: 22 and the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. , Genesis 3 Chapter 3 1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Jehovah God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat: 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And Jehovah God called unto the man, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And Jehovah God said unto the woman, What is this thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. 14 And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. 16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy conception; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. 20 And the man called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. 21 And Jehovah God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skins, and clothed them. 22 And Jehovah God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever- 23 therefore Jehovah God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Throughout the Bible, we see evidence of God’s authority over both humanity and nature. However, many of us have trouble reconciling God’s sovereign control with the existence of evil. Let’s look at what Scripture tells us.

In the beginning, God created a perfect world, after which He declared that all He had made was good (Gen. 1:31). Wickedness was not part of what He’d fashioned. In the heavens, however, an angel known as Satan sought to elevate himself above God and was cast down to earth (Isa. 14:12-14).

God created Adam and Eve in His image. They were made with the capacity to love their Creator and the ability to choose to obey or disobey Him. God had no desire for Adam and Eve to sin ( James 1:13 13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man: ), but He allowed their will to be tested. We know the rest of the story. When they disobeyed God, sin entered our world and corrupted mankind. As Adam and Eve’s descendants, we inherited a sinful nature (Rom. 5:12).

The Lord’s permissive will allowed events to unfold as they have. God did not create evil, but He has permitted it to exist and uses it to accomplish His good purposes (Isa. 45:6-7).

When you have questions or doubts about the Lord’s sovereignty, start with what you do understand, study what God has revealed about Himself and His ways, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you believe. A few answers to your questions will come quickly, while some will require diligent study and spiritual maturity. As for the answers to other questions, which God has chosen to keep hidden, we are to walk by faith (Deut. 29:29).

Bible in One Year: Amos 1-4 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. 2 And he said, Jehovah will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the pastures of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither. 3 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Damascus, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron: 4 but I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, and it shall devour the palaces of Ben-hadad. 5 And I will break the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the valley of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden; and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith Jehovah. 6 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Gaza, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole people, to deliver them up to Edom: 7 but I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, and it shall devour the palaces thereof. 8 And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon; and I will turn my hand against Ekron; and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord Jehovah. 9 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Tyre, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole people to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant: 10 but I will send a fire on the wall of Tyre, and it shall devour the palaces thereof. 11 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Edom, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever: 12 but I will send a fire upon Teman, and it shall devour the palaces of Bozrah. 13 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they may enlarge their border. 14 But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind; 15 and their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith Jehovah. Chapter 2 1 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Moab, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime: 2 but I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth; and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet; 3 and I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith Jehovah. 4 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Judah, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have rejected the law of Jehovah, and have not kept his statutes, and their lies have caused them to err, after which their fathers did walk: 5 but I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem. 6 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Israel, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have sold the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes- 7 they that pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father go unto the `same' maiden, to profane my holy name: 8 and they lay themselves down beside every altar upon clothes taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink the wine of such as have been fined. 9 Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath. 10 Also I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite. 11 And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazirites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith Jehovah. 12 But ye gave the Nazirites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not. 13 Behold, I will press `you' in your place, as a cart presseth that is full of sheaves. 14 And flight shall perish from the swift; and the strong shall not strengthen his force; neither shall the mighty deliver himself; 15 neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver `himself'; neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself; 16 and he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith Jehovah. Chapter 3 1 Hear this word that Jehovah hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up out of the land of Egypt, saying, 2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will visit upon you all your iniquities. 3 Shall two walk together, except they have agreed? 4 Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing? 5 Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is `set' for him? shall a snare spring up from the ground, and have taken nothing at all? 6 Shall the trumpet be blown in a city, and the people not be afraid? shall evil befall a city, and Jehovah hath not done it? 7 Surely the Lord Jehovah will do nothing, except he reveal his secret unto his servants the prophets. 8 The lion hath roared; who will not fear? The Lord Jehovah hath spoken; who can but prophesy? 9 Publish ye in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria, and behold what great tumults are therein, and what oppressions in the midst thereof. 10 For they know not to do right, saith Jehovah, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces. 11 Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: An adversary `there shall be', even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be plundered. 12 Thus saith Jehovah: As the shepherd rescueth out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be rescued that sit in Samaria in the corner of a couch, and on the silken cushions of a bed. 13 Hear ye, and testify against the house of Jacob, saith the Lord Jehovah, the God of hosts. 14 For in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him, I will also visit the altars of Beth-el; and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground. 15 And I will smite the winter-house with the summer-house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith Jehovah. Chapter 4 1 Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, that oppress the poor, that crush the needy, that say unto their lords, Bring, and let us drink. 2 The Lord Jehovah hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that they shall take you away with hooks, and your residue with fish-hooks. 3 And ye shall go out at the breaches, every one straight before her; and ye shall cast `yourselves' into Harmon, saith Jehovah. 4 Come to Beth-el, and transgress; to Gilgal, `and' multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, `and' your tithes every three days; 5 and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill-offerings and publish them: for this pleaseth you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovah. 6 And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places; yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah. 7 And I also have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest; and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. 8 So two or three cities wandered unto one city to drink water, and were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah. 9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: the multitude of your gardens and your vineyards and your fig-trees and your olive-trees hath the palmer-worm devoured: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah. 10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have carried away your horses; and I have made the stench of your camp to come up even into your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah. 11 I have overthrown `cities' among you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a brand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah. 12 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel; `and' because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel. 13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought; that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the Earth-jehovah, the God of hosts, is his name.




Ammunition Against Anxiety

Published by John Piper for reading on September 21st.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ( Philippians 4:6 6 In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. )

When I am anxious about my ministry being useless and empty, I fight unbelief with the promise of Isaiah 55:11 11 so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. . “So shall my word be which goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

When I am anxious about being too weak to do my work, I battle unbelief with the promise of Christ, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” ( 2 Corinthians 12:9 9 And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for `my' power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ).

When I am anxious about decisions I have to make about the future, I battle unbelief with the promise, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” ( Psalms 32:8 8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will counsel thee with mine eye upon thee. ).

When I am anxious about facing opponents, I battle unbelief with the promise, “If God is for us, who is against us!” ( Romans 8:31 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God `is' for us, who `is' against us? ).

When I am anxious about the welfare of those I love, I battle unbelief with the promise that if I, being evil, know how to give good things to my children, how much more will the “Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask him!” ( Matthew 7:11 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? ).

And I fight to maintain my spiritual equilibrium with the reminder that everyone who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for Christ’s sake “shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life” ( Mark 10:29 29 Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or mother, or father, or children, or lands, for my sake, and for the gospel's sake, –30).

When I am anxious about being sick, I battle unbelief with the promise, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all” ( Psalms 34:19 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous; But Jehovah delivereth him out of them all. ).

And I take the promise with trembling: “Tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” ( Romans 5:3 3 And not only so, but we also rejoice in our tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh stedfastness; –5).



Christ: The Key to Contentment

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on September 21st.

Philippians 4:6-7 6 In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

While in prison, Paul penned precious words about the sufficiency of Christ. We tend to attach the idea of contentment to beach vacation spots and mountain retreats, but the apostle wrote that we are not to be anxious anywhere or at any time, because we have the Lord’s peace.

Contentment is the believer’s birthright. Peace is part of the spiritual fruit that’s ours when we trust in the Savior (Gal. 5:22); it is an inward serenity that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7). Jesus lived through conflict with a sense of inner quiet, and because of His indwelling Spirit, that remarkable calm belongs to God’s children, too. That is important because there are times when we come across a problem that has no earthly solution. In situations like those, we learn that self-sufficiency is a lie. We cannot cope alone, but Christ is all we need.

Here is the flip side of the coin: “‘There is no peace for the wicked,’ says the Lord” (Isa. 48:22). Modern culture slaps the word wicked onto only the vilest of actions and people, but God’s definition is much broader. The wicked are those who willfully reject His right to forgive their sins and take Lordship over their life. If you are not a believer, you cannot experience true and lasting contentment.

When we are born again ( John 3:3-8 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God! 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born anew. 8 The wind bloweth where it will, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. ), we become children of the living God and rightful heirs to every good thing He has to offer. This includes the deep inner peace and joy that can withstand any trial. What can man do to the one who belongs to the Lord (Heb. 13:6)?

Bible in One Year: Amos 1-4 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. 2 And he said, Jehovah will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the pastures of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither. 3 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Damascus, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron: 4 but I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, and it shall devour the palaces of Ben-hadad. 5 And I will break the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the valley of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden; and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith Jehovah. 6 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Gaza, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole people, to deliver them up to Edom: 7 but I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, and it shall devour the palaces thereof. 8 And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon; and I will turn my hand against Ekron; and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord Jehovah. 9 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Tyre, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole people to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant: 10 but I will send a fire on the wall of Tyre, and it shall devour the palaces thereof. 11 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Edom, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever: 12 but I will send a fire upon Teman, and it shall devour the palaces of Bozrah. 13 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they may enlarge their border. 14 But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind; 15 and their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith Jehovah. Chapter 2 1 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Moab, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime: 2 but I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth; and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet; 3 and I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith Jehovah. 4 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Judah, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have rejected the law of Jehovah, and have not kept his statutes, and their lies have caused them to err, after which their fathers did walk: 5 but I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem. 6 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Israel, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have sold the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes- 7 they that pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father go unto the `same' maiden, to profane my holy name: 8 and they lay themselves down beside every altar upon clothes taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink the wine of such as have been fined. 9 Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath. 10 Also I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite. 11 And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazirites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith Jehovah. 12 But ye gave the Nazirites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not. 13 Behold, I will press `you' in your place, as a cart presseth that is full of sheaves. 14 And flight shall perish from the swift; and the strong shall not strengthen his force; neither shall the mighty deliver himself; 15 neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver `himself'; neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself; 16 and he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith Jehovah. Chapter 3 1 Hear this word that Jehovah hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up out of the land of Egypt, saying, 2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will visit upon you all your iniquities. 3 Shall two walk together, except they have agreed? 4 Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing? 5 Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is `set' for him? shall a snare spring up from the ground, and have taken nothing at all? 6 Shall the trumpet be blown in a city, and the people not be afraid? shall evil befall a city, and Jehovah hath not done it? 7 Surely the Lord Jehovah will do nothing, except he reveal his secret unto his servants the prophets. 8 The lion hath roared; who will not fear? The Lord Jehovah hath spoken; who can but prophesy? 9 Publish ye in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria, and behold what great tumults are therein, and what oppressions in the midst thereof. 10 For they know not to do right, saith Jehovah, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces. 11 Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: An adversary `there shall be', even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be plundered. 12 Thus saith Jehovah: As the shepherd rescueth out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be rescued that sit in Samaria in the corner of a couch, and on the silken cushions of a bed. 13 Hear ye, and testify against the house of Jacob, saith the Lord Jehovah, the God of hosts. 14 For in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him, I will also visit the altars of Beth-el; and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground. 15 And I will smite the winter-house with the summer-house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith Jehovah. Chapter 4 1 Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, that oppress the poor, that crush the needy, that say unto their lords, Bring, and let us drink. 2 The Lord Jehovah hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that they shall take you away with hooks, and your residue with fish-hooks. 3 And ye shall go out at the breaches, every one straight before her; and ye shall cast `yourselves' into Harmon, saith Jehovah. 4 Come to Beth-el, and transgress; to Gilgal, `and' multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, `and' your tithes every three days; 5 and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill-offerings and publish them: for this pleaseth you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovah. 6 And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places; yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah. 7 And I also have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest; and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. 8 So two or three cities wandered unto one city to drink water, and were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah. 9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: the multitude of your gardens and your vineyards and your fig-trees and your olive-trees hath the palmer-worm devoured: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah. 10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have carried away your horses; and I have made the stench of your camp to come up even into your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah. 11 I have overthrown `cities' among you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a brand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah. 12 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel; `and' because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel. 13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought; that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the Earth-jehovah, the God of hosts, is his name.




Daily Bible - September 21

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

Reading for Today:

  • Isaiah 33:1 Chapter 33 1 Woe to thee that destroyest, and thou wast not destroyed; and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with thee! When thou hast ceased to destroy, thou shalt be destroyed; and when thou hast made an end of dealing treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee. –34:17
  • Psalms 109:1-5 Chapter 109 1 Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise; 2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of deceit have they opened against me: They have spoken unto me with a lying tongue. 3 They have compassed me about also with words of hatred, And fought against me without a cause. 4 For my love they are my adversaries: But I `give myself unto' prayer. 5 And they have rewarded me evil for good, And hatred for my love.
  • Proverbs 25:25-26 25 `As' cold waters to a thirsty soul, So is good news from a far country. 26 `As' a troubled fountain, and a corrupted spring, `So is' a righteous man that giveth way before the wicked.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:1-21 Chapter 12 1 I must needs glory, though it is not expedient; but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not; or whether out of the body, I know not; God knoweth), such a one caught up even to the third heaven. 3 And I know such a man (whether in the body, or apart from the body, I know not; God knoweth), 4 how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 On behalf of such a one will I glory: but on mine own behalf I will not glory, save in `my' weaknesses. 6 For if I should desire to glory, I shall not be foolish; for I shall speak the truth: but I forbear, lest any man should account of me above that which he seeth me `to be', or heareth from me. 7 And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch. 8 Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for `my' power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 11 I am become foolish: ye compelled me; for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing was I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I am nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, by signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For what is there wherein ye were made inferior to the rest of the churches, except `it be' that I myself was not a burden to you? forgive me this wrong. 14 Behold, this is the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be a burden to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more abundantly, am I loved the less? 16 But be it so, I did not myself burden you; but, being crafty, I caught you with guile. 17 Did I take advantage of you by any one of them whom I have sent unto you? 18 I exhorted Titus, and I sent the brother with him. Did Titus take any advantage of you? walked we not in the same spirit? `walked we' not in the same steps? 19 Ye think all this time that we are excusing ourselves unto you. In the sight of God speak we in Christ. But all things, beloved, `are' for your edifying. 20 For I fear, lest by any means, when I come, I should find you not such as I would, and should myself be found of you such as ye would not; lest by any means `there should be' strife, jealousy, wraths, factions, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults; 21 lest again when I come my God should humble me before you, and I should mourn for many of them that have sinned heretofore, and repented not of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they committed.

Notes:

Isaiah 33:1 Chapter 33 1 Woe to thee that destroyest, and thou wast not destroyed; and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with thee! When thou hast ceased to destroy, thou shalt be destroyed; and when thou hast made an end of dealing treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee. 7 King in His beauty. The prophecy moves beyond Hezekiah in his sackcloth, oppressed by his enemy, to the Messiah in His beauty. Seeing Him in glory is another reward of the righteous. The near-future deliverance from Sennacherib anticipates a more distant wonder when the Messiah will sit on His throne.

Proverbs 25:26 26 `As' a troubled fountain, and a corrupted spring, `So is' a righteous man that giveth way before the wicked. murky spring. The righteous one who sins muddies the water for the wicked who see him and for whom he should serve as an example of righteousness (Ps. 17:5).

2 Corinthians 12:2 2 I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not; or whether out of the body, I know not; God knoweth), such a one caught up even to the third heaven. –4 Since it took place 14 years before the writing of 2 Corinthians, the specific vision Paul relates cannot be identified with any incident recorded in Acts. It probably took place between his return to Tarsus from Jerusalem ( Acts 9:30 30 And when the brethren knew it, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. ) and the start of his missionary journeys ( Acts 13:1 Chapter 13 1 Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was `there', prophets and teachers, Barnabas, and Symeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen the foster-brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. –3). caught up to the third heaven…caught up into Paradise. Paul was not describing two separate visions—“the third heaven” and “Paradise” are the same place (Rev. 2:7, which says the tree of life is in Paradise, with Rev. 22:14, which says it is in heaven). The first heaven is the earth’s atmosphere (Gen. 8:2; Deut. 11:11; 1 Kin. 8:35); the second is interplanetary and interstellar space (Gen. 15:5; Ps. 8:3; Is. 13:10); and the third the abode of God (1 Kin. 8:30; 2 Chr.30:27; Ps. 123:1).

2 Corinthians 12:8 8 Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. I pleaded…three times. Paul, longing for relief from this painful hindrance to his ministry, went to his Lord, begging Him (the use of the definite article with “Lord” shows Paul’s prayer was directed to Jesus) to remove it. The demons are only subject to His authority. The 3-fold repetition of Paul’s request parallels that of Jesus in Gethsemane ( Mark 14:32 32 And they come unto a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith unto his disciples, Sit ye here, while I pray. –41). Both Paul and Jesus had their requests denied, but were granted grace to endure their ordeals.

2 Corinthians 12:9 9 And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for `my' power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. My grace is sufficient for you. The present tense of the verb translated “is sufficient” reveals the constant availability of divine grace. God would not remove the thorn, as Paul had requested, but would continually supply him with grace to endure it (1 Cor. 15:10; Phil. 4:13; Col. 1:29). My strength is made perfect in weakness. The weaker the human instrument, the more clearly God’s grace shines forth.

DAY 21: To what was Paul referring by the term “thorn in the flesh”?

Paul began his account about the “thorn in the flesh” by indicating the reason it was given to him—“lest I should be exalted above measure.” The assault was painful, but purposeful. As with Job, Satan was the immediate cause, but God was the ultimate cause. God was allowing Satan to bring this severe trouble in the church for the purpose of humbling Paul who, having had so many revelations, including a trip to heaven and back, would have been proud.

Paul’s use of the word “messenger” (Greek, angellos, or angel) from Satan suggests the “thorn in the flesh” (literally, “a stake for the flesh”) was a demon, not a physical illness. Of the 188 uses of the Greek word angellos in the New Testament, at least 180 are in reference to angels. This angel was from Satan, a demon afflicting Paul.

Possibly, the best explanation for this demon was that he was indwelling the ring leader of the Corinthian conspiracy, the leader of the false apostles. Through them he was tearing up Paul’s beloved church and thus driving a painful stake through Paul. Further support for this view comes from the context of chapters 10–13, which is one of fighting adversaries (the false prophets). The verb translated “buffet” always refers to ill treatment from other people (Matt. 26:67; Mark 14:65 65 And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the officers received him with blows of their hands. ; 1 Cor. 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:20). Finally, the Old Testament describes Israel’s personal opponents as thorns (Num. 33:55; Josh. 23:13; Judg. 2:3; Ezek. 28:24).

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

Additional Resources        

September 21 - Spurious vs. Saving Faith

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

“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man” ( John 2:23 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, during the feast, many believed on his name, beholding his signs which he did. –25).

After the Passover, Jesus remained in Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. During His stay He performed a number of miracles not recorded in Scripture. As a result of those miracles, John says, “Many believed in His name.”

But this faith was shallow, superficial, and disingenuous. It was not true saving faith, as John’s play on words indicates. “Believed” in verse 23 and “entrusting” in verse 24 both come from the same Greek verb. Though they believed in Jesus, Jesus did not believe in them; He had no faith in their faith.

Although many claimed to believe, Jesus knew that mere intellectual assent proves nothing; even the demons have such faith ( James 2:19 19 Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well: the demons also believe, and shudder. ). Jesus did not embrace the false faith manifested by those who witnessed His signs, because “He knew all men,” and therefore “did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” He knows the true state of every heart. He saw in Nathanael the heart of an honest, true seeker (1:47); He saw in these people a superficial façade—a mere outward attraction to spectacular signs (cf. 6:2). Genuine saving faith goes far beyond that. It demands wholehearted commitment to Jesus as the Lord of one’s life (Matt. 16:24–26; Rom. 10:9). Is that the state of your heart?

Ask Yourself

It’s certainly fine to admire godly people and aspire to be like them. But if you haven’t noticed already, these same ones will eventually do or say something to spoil your image of them. We will too, if others look up to us. When you see Jesus in someone, don’t strive to be like them but to be like Him.

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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The Spirit and Assurance

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

“You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” ( Romans 8:9 9 But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. ).

The indwelling Holy Spirit gives us an assurance of salvation.

Assurance of salvation is essential to our Christian lives, and I can’t imagine living without it. And we must have clarity about it from a truly biblical standpoint. This begins with realizing that a genuine believer is in the Spirit and has been given a new nature (see John 3:6 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. ). If the Holy Spirit lives in you, you are no longer controlled by the sinful tendencies of the flesh, as Paul suggests in Romans 8:9 9 But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. . The Greek term for “dwells” indicates that the Holy Spirit makes His home in you and in every believer.

But today’s verse also points out that if someone does not have the Holy Spirit within him, he doesn’t belong to Christ. From time to time—perhaps for you it’s the first time—we need to be warned about that. Being in the Spirit is not merely professing Jesus, having a pious appearance, or attending church. No matter what we claim, if we aren’t fulfilling God’s law, desiring to walk by the Spirit, and wholeheartedly seeking the things of the Spirit, He is not in us.

Second Corinthians 13:5 exhorts, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” You can do this by looking for evidences of the Holy Spirit in your life. Have you sensed the presence of the Spirit’s fruit in your life (Gal. 5:22-23)? Do you struggle with sin and have a desire to be free from all its influences (Rom. 7:14-25; Gal. 5:16-17)? Have you experienced the actions and attitudes the Holy Spirit brings to your daily life, as we studied earlier this month? Do you yearn for a closer communion with God and a deeper fellowship with other believers? If you can answer yes to these questions, you have solid reasons to be sure the Spirit lives in you and to know for certain that you belong to Jesus Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the reminders His Spirit gives you that you belong to Christ.

For Further Study

Read 1 John 5:1-12 Chapter 5 1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God: and whosoever loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 Hereby we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that hath overcome the world, `even' our faith. 5 And who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he that came by water and blood, `even' Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. 7 And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is the truth. 8 For there are three who bear witness, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and the three agree in one. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for the witness of God is this, that he hath borne witness concerning his Son. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in him: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he hath not believed in the witness that God hath borne concerning his Son. 11 And the witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life. .

  • What indicators does John give us that would also provide us with an assurance of salvation?
  • What role does the Holy Spirit have in this passage?

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        

Conquering Doubt

Published by Grace To You for reading on September 21st.
"Take the helmet of salvation" (Eph. 6:17).

The key to conquering doubt is to focus on the preserving power of God.

Doubt comes to Christians in many ways. After you've sinned, your conscience might hiss at you, saying, "Surely you're not a Christian. Why would God save you anyway? You don't deserve His mercy. You're not good enough. How presumptuous to think God could ever use you!" Such doubts are common among Christians who focus on their performance rather than God's power.

All too often we're quick to acknowledge God's power to save us but slow to understand His power to keep us. To complicate matters, many Christians believe they can lose their salvation, so they live in constant fear of falling away from the faith. Still others have never learned what Scripture teaches about their security in Christ. They're so intent on pleasing God through their own efforts that they lose sight of grace and drift into a subtle works- righteousness mentality.

Your performance doesn't determine your standing in Christ; your standing in Christ determines your performance. Good works are the necessary result of salvation (Eph. 2:10) but they don't save you or keep you saved. That's God's work.

Jude said, "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy" (v. 24). "Able" in that verse translates a Greek word that speaks of power. "Keep" literally means "to secure in the midst of an attack." "Stumbling" refers to falling into sin. Together they say that God is powerful enough to prevent you from stumbling into sin and falling away from Him—no matter how intense Satan's attacks might be. He will continue to protect and cleanse you until the day you enter His glorious heaven perfected.

Sin is a serious issue and you should never take it lightly. But when you do sin, remember that as a believer you're immediately cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ ( 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. ). So always confess your sins and turn from them, but never doubt God's power or willingness to keep you saved. Trust in His grace, not in your ability to perform.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise the Lord for continually cleansing your sin.

For Further Study

Memorize Jude 24-25 and recite it often as a reminder of God's power and majesty.

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

Additional Resources        

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

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

Jeremiah 32:41 41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.

HOW heart-cheering to the believer is the delight which God has in His saints! We cannot see any reason in ourselves why the Lord should take pleasure in us; we cannot take delight in ourselves, for we often have to groan, being burdened; conscious of our sinfulness, and deploring our unfaithfulness; and we fear that God's people cannot take much delight in us, for they must perceive so much of our imperfections and our follies, that they may rather lament our infirmities than admire our graces. But we love to dwell upon this transcendent truth, this glorious mystery: that as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so does the Lord rejoice over us. We do not read anywhere that God delighteth in the cloud-capped mountains, or the sparkling stars, but we do read that He delighteth in the habitable parts of the earth, and that His delights are with the sons of men. We do not find it written that even angels give His soul delight; nor doth He say, concerning cherubim and seraphim, "Thou shalt be called Hephzibah, for the Lord delighteth in thee"; but He does say all that to poor fallen creatures like ourselves, debased and depraved by sin, but saved, exalted, and glorified by His grace. In what strong language He expresses His delight in His people! Who could have conceived of the eternal One as bursting forth into a song? Yet it is written, "He will rejoice over thee with joy, He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing." As He looked upon the world He had made, He said, "It is very good"; but when He beheld those who are the purchase of Jesus' blood, His own chosen ones, it seemed as if the great heart of the Infinite could restrain itself no longer, but overflowed in divine exclamations of joy. Should not we utter our grateful response to such a marvellous declaration of His love, and sing, "I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation?"

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

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

Psalms 26:9 9 Gather not my soul with sinners, Nor my life with men of blood;

FEAR made David pray thus, for something whispered, "Perhaps, after all, thou mayst be gathered with the wicked." That fear, although marred by unbelief, springs, in the main, from holy anxiety, arising from the recollection of past sin. Even the pardoned man will enquire, "What if at the end my sins should be remembered, and I should be left out of the catalogue of the saved?" He recollects his present unfruitfulness—so little grace, so little love, so little holiness, and looking forward to the future, he considers his weakness and the many temptations which beset him, and he fears that he may fall, and become a prey to the enemy. A sense of sin and present evil, and his prevailing corruptions, compel him to pray, in fear and trembling, "Gather not my soul with sinners." Reader, if you have prayed this prayer, and if your character be rightly described in the Psalm from which it is taken, you need not be afraid that you shall be gathered with sinners. Have you the two virtues which David had—the outward walking in integrity, and the inward trusting in the Lord? Are you resting upon Christ's sacrifice, and can you compass the altar of God with humble hope? If so, rest assured, with the wicked you never shall be gathered, for that calamity is impossible. The gathering at the judgment is like to like. "Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." If, then, thou art like God's people, thou shalt be with God's people. You cannot be gathered with the wicked, for you are too dearly bought. Redeemed by the blood of Christ, you are His for ever, and where He is, there must His people be. You are loved too much to be cast away with reprobates. Shall one dear to Christ perish? Impossible! Hell cannot hold thee! Heaven claims thee! Trust in thy Surety and fear not!

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