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An Unforgiving Spirit

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on July 18th.

Matthew 18:21-35 21 Then came Peter and said to him, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? until seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven. 23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, who would make a reckoning with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, that owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But forasmuch as he had not `wherewith' to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 And the lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, who owed him a hundred shillings: and he laid hold on him, and took `him' by the throat, saying, Pay what thou owest. 29 So his fellow-servant fell down and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay that which was due. 31 So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were exceeding sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord called him unto him, and saith to him, Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou besoughtest me: 33 shouldest not thou also have had mercy on thy fellow-servant, even as I had mercy on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due. 35 So shall also my heavenly Father do unto you, if ye forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.

Because of man’s propensity to sin, we’re surrounded by opportunities to forgive others. Perhaps we’ve been unfairly criticized, disappointed by a broken promise, or harmed financially or physically. In this broken world, the list of wrongdoings is endless. The question is: How are we to deal with the offenses of others?

Peter was wondering the same thing, so He asked Jesus how often he should forgive a brother who sins against him. He probably thought he was being very generous by suggesting, “Up to seven times?” But Jesus replied, “Up to seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22). In other words, forgive every single time you’re wronged. Forgiveness doesn’t mean finding reasons to justify or excuse someone’s behavior, nor is it about forgetting what happened or pretending it never occurred.

Genuine forgiveness requires deliberate action on our part. While acknowledging that a wrong has been committed, we choose to release the offender from any obligation toward us and surrender our perceived right to hurt him or her back. In essence, we’re no longer holding the unfair, hurtful behavior against the person but are extending mercy, just as God has done toward us.

The only alternative is to hold onto anger and bitterness. Though we may think we are punishing the wrongdoer, we’re actually hurting ourselves. Resentment is like sludge that contaminates the mind, clogs the heart, and poisons the soul. Untreated anger turns into bitterness, which hinders our relationship with God and others and leaves us vulnerable to Satan’s attacks (Eph. 4:26-27). The only remedy is forgiveness.

Bible in One Year: Ecclesiastes 5-8 Chapter 5 1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God; for to draw nigh to hear is better than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they know not that they do evil. 2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. 3 For a dream cometh with a multitude of business, and a fool's voice with a multitude of words. 4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou vowest. 5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. 6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that is was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thy hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams there are vanities, and in many words: but fear thou God. 8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and the violent taking away of justice and righteousness in a province, marvel not at the matter: for one higher than the high regardeth; and there are higher than they. 9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king `himself' is served by the field. 10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance, with increase: this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them; and what advantage is there to the owner thereof, save the beholding `of them' with his eyes? 12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much; but the fulness of the rich will not suffer him to sleep. 13 There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun, `namely', riches kept by the owner thereof to his hurt: 14 and those riches perish by evil adventure; and if he hath begotten a son, there is nothing in his hand. 15 As he came forth from his mother's womb, naked shall he go again as he came, and shall take nothing for his labor, which he may carry away in his hand. 16 And this also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that he laboreth for the wind? 17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he is sore vexed, and hath sickness and wrath. 18 Behold, that which I have seen to be good and to be comely is for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy good in all his labor, wherein he laboreth under the sun, all the days of his life which God hath given him: for this is his portion. 19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor-this is the gift of God. 20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth `him' in the joy of his heart. Chapter 6 1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is heavy upon men: 2 a man to whom God giveth riches, wealth, and honor, so that he lacketh nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but an alien eateth it; this is vanity, and it is an evil disease. 3 If a man beget a hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul be not filled with good, and moreover he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he: 4 for it cometh in vanity, and departeth in darkness, and the name thereof is covered with darkness; 5 moreover it hath not seen the sun nor known it; this hath rest rather than the other: 6 yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, and yet enjoy no good, do not all go to one place? 7 All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled. 8 For what advantage hath the wise more than the fool? `or' what hath the poor man, that knoweth how to walk before the living? 9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this also is vanity and a striving after wind. 10 Whatsoever hath been, the name thereof was given long ago; and it is know what man is; neither can he contend with him that is mightier than he. 11 Seeing there are many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? 12 For who knoweth what is good for man in `his' life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun? Chapter 7 1 A `good' name is better than precious oil; and the day of death, than the day of one's birth. 2 It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made glad. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. 5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. 6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity. 7 Surely extortion maketh the wise man foolish; and a bribe destroyeth the understanding. 8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof; `and' the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger resteth in the bosom of fools. 10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this. 11 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance; yea, more excellent is it for them that see the sun. 12 For wisdom is a defence, even as money is a defence; but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom preserveth the life of him that hath it. 13 Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? 14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; yea, God hath made the one side by side with the other, to the end that man should not find out anything `that shall be' after him. 15 All this have I seen in my days of vanity: there is a righteous man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth `his life' in his evil-doing. 16 Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself overwise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? 17 Be not overmuch wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? 18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from that withdraw not thy hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth from them all. 19 Wisdom is a strength to the wise man more than ten rulers that are in a city. 20 Surely there is not a righteous man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. 21 Also take not heed unto all words that are spoken, lest thou hear thy servant curse thee; 22 for oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others. 23 All this have I proved in wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. 24 That which is, is far off and exceeding deep; who can find it out? 25 I turned about, and my heart `was set' to know and to search out, and to seek wisdom and the reason `of things', and to know that wickedness is folly, and that foolishness is madness. 26 And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, `and' whose hands are bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her. 27 Behold, this have I found, saith the Preacher, `laying' one thing to another, to find out the account; 28 which my soul still seeketh, but I have not found: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. 29 Behold, this only have I found: that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions. Chapter 8 1 Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the hardness of his face is changed. 2 I `counsel thee', Keep the king's command, and that in regard of the oath of God. 3 Be not hasty to go out of his presence; persist not in an evil thing: for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him. 4 For the king's word `hath' power; and who may say unto him, What doest thou? 5 Whoso keepeth the commandment shall know no evil thing; and a wise man's heart discerneth time and judgment: 6 for to every purpose there is a time and judgment; because the misery of man is great upon him: 7 for he knoweth not that which shall be; for who can tell him how it shall be? 8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power over the day of death; and there is no discharge in war: neither shall wickedness deliver him that is given to it. 9 All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: `there is' a time wherein one man hath power over another to his hurt. 10 So I saw the wicked buried, and they came `to the grave'; and they that had done right went away from the holy place, and were forgotten in the city: this also is vanity. 11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12 Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and prolong his `days', yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, that fear before him: 13 but it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong `his' days, `which are' as a shadow; because he feareth not before God. 14 There is a vanity which is done upon the earth, that there are righteous men unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity. 15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be joyful: for that shall abide with him in his labor `all' the days of his life which God hath given him under the sun. 16 When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes), 17 then I beheld all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because however much a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea moreover, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.




Saved and Sure

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on July 18th.

Hebrews 11:1 Chapter 11 1 Now faith is assurance of `things' hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.

To help you understand the concept of “saved and sure,” here are three truths that indicate what the Lord wants for all people:

1. God wants everyone to be saved. He calls all men and women to Himself, but there must be a response to His invitation. When we answer His call to salvation, the Father makes us part of His everlasting family (Rom. 10:9-13). If we decide to reject the Lord, however, then we will eternally remain outside of His redemption plan for mankind.

2. God wants everyone to be saved by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 8 for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, `it is' the gift of God; 9 not of works, that no man should glory. declares that our salvation is 100 percent the work of the Lord. It is His plan, His work, His gift. We have no responsibility whatsoever, other than simply receiving the free gift that He lays at our feet.

3. God wants everyone to be saved by grace through faith and sure of salvation. Lack of certainty can absolutely destroy faith. If you are not sure that you are saved, then the devil will use that seed of doubt to plague your spirit every time you feel you have done something unforgivable. In the Lord’s eyes, though, there is no such thing as unforgivable. He has already established the plan by which every one of us can join His eternal family, and He wants us to have confidence in our salvation.

Passages like John 3:16 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. , 1 John 5:13 13 These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, `even' unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God. , and Ephesians 1:13-14 13 in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation,-- in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of `God's' own possession, unto the praise of his glory. all point to the complete certainty with which we can embrace our salvation. Does your faith fluctuate with your feelings and circumstances, or is it firmly grounded in Scripture?

Bible in One Year: Ecclesiastes 5-8 Chapter 5 1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God; for to draw nigh to hear is better than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they know not that they do evil. 2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. 3 For a dream cometh with a multitude of business, and a fool's voice with a multitude of words. 4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou vowest. 5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. 6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that is was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thy hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams there are vanities, and in many words: but fear thou God. 8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and the violent taking away of justice and righteousness in a province, marvel not at the matter: for one higher than the high regardeth; and there are higher than they. 9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king `himself' is served by the field. 10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance, with increase: this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them; and what advantage is there to the owner thereof, save the beholding `of them' with his eyes? 12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much; but the fulness of the rich will not suffer him to sleep. 13 There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun, `namely', riches kept by the owner thereof to his hurt: 14 and those riches perish by evil adventure; and if he hath begotten a son, there is nothing in his hand. 15 As he came forth from his mother's womb, naked shall he go again as he came, and shall take nothing for his labor, which he may carry away in his hand. 16 And this also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that he laboreth for the wind? 17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he is sore vexed, and hath sickness and wrath. 18 Behold, that which I have seen to be good and to be comely is for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy good in all his labor, wherein he laboreth under the sun, all the days of his life which God hath given him: for this is his portion. 19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor-this is the gift of God. 20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth `him' in the joy of his heart. Chapter 6 1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is heavy upon men: 2 a man to whom God giveth riches, wealth, and honor, so that he lacketh nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but an alien eateth it; this is vanity, and it is an evil disease. 3 If a man beget a hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul be not filled with good, and moreover he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he: 4 for it cometh in vanity, and departeth in darkness, and the name thereof is covered with darkness; 5 moreover it hath not seen the sun nor known it; this hath rest rather than the other: 6 yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, and yet enjoy no good, do not all go to one place? 7 All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled. 8 For what advantage hath the wise more than the fool? `or' what hath the poor man, that knoweth how to walk before the living? 9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this also is vanity and a striving after wind. 10 Whatsoever hath been, the name thereof was given long ago; and it is know what man is; neither can he contend with him that is mightier than he. 11 Seeing there are many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? 12 For who knoweth what is good for man in `his' life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun? Chapter 7 1 A `good' name is better than precious oil; and the day of death, than the day of one's birth. 2 It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made glad. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. 5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. 6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity. 7 Surely extortion maketh the wise man foolish; and a bribe destroyeth the understanding. 8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof; `and' the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger resteth in the bosom of fools. 10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this. 11 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance; yea, more excellent is it for them that see the sun. 12 For wisdom is a defence, even as money is a defence; but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom preserveth the life of him that hath it. 13 Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? 14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; yea, God hath made the one side by side with the other, to the end that man should not find out anything `that shall be' after him. 15 All this have I seen in my days of vanity: there is a righteous man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth `his life' in his evil-doing. 16 Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself overwise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? 17 Be not overmuch wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? 18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from that withdraw not thy hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth from them all. 19 Wisdom is a strength to the wise man more than ten rulers that are in a city. 20 Surely there is not a righteous man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. 21 Also take not heed unto all words that are spoken, lest thou hear thy servant curse thee; 22 for oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others. 23 All this have I proved in wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. 24 That which is, is far off and exceeding deep; who can find it out? 25 I turned about, and my heart `was set' to know and to search out, and to seek wisdom and the reason `of things', and to know that wickedness is folly, and that foolishness is madness. 26 And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, `and' whose hands are bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her. 27 Behold, this have I found, saith the Preacher, `laying' one thing to another, to find out the account; 28 which my soul still seeketh, but I have not found: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. 29 Behold, this only have I found: that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions. Chapter 8 1 Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the hardness of his face is changed. 2 I `counsel thee', Keep the king's command, and that in regard of the oath of God. 3 Be not hasty to go out of his presence; persist not in an evil thing: for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him. 4 For the king's word `hath' power; and who may say unto him, What doest thou? 5 Whoso keepeth the commandment shall know no evil thing; and a wise man's heart discerneth time and judgment: 6 for to every purpose there is a time and judgment; because the misery of man is great upon him: 7 for he knoweth not that which shall be; for who can tell him how it shall be? 8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power over the day of death; and there is no discharge in war: neither shall wickedness deliver him that is given to it. 9 All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: `there is' a time wherein one man hath power over another to his hurt. 10 So I saw the wicked buried, and they came `to the grave'; and they that had done right went away from the holy place, and were forgotten in the city: this also is vanity. 11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12 Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and prolong his `days', yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, that fear before him: 13 but it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong `his' days, `which are' as a shadow; because he feareth not before God. 14 There is a vanity which is done upon the earth, that there are righteous men unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity. 15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be joyful: for that shall abide with him in his labor `all' the days of his life which God hath given him under the sun. 16 When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes), 17 then I beheld all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because however much a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea moreover, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.




Illuminated by the Spirit

Published by Grace To You for reading on July 18th.
"That you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9).

God has granted you the ability to understand the truth and live accordingly.

In the natural realm, darkness can be a debilitating and frightening thing. The story is told of a missionary who was on board ship one dark night when suddenly he was awakened by the frantic cry of "Man overboard!" Immediately he arose from his bunk, grabbed the portable lamp from its bracket, and held it at the window of his cabin.

He couldn't see anything, but the next morning he was told that the flash of his lamp through the porthole emitted just enough light to enable those on deck to see the missing man clinging to a rope. They rescued him seconds before his strength would have given out. The light had shone just in time to save the man's life.

In the spiritual realm, darkness is even more devastating because it represents sin with all its disastrous consequences. First John 1:5-6 5 And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. 6 There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. says, "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth."

Unbelievers are characterized as children of darkness. They are enslaved to Satan, the prince of darkness, who blinds their minds so they don't see the light of Christ's glorious gospel (2 Cor. 4:4). They love darkness and reject light because they don't want their evil deeds to be exposed ( John 3:19-20 19 And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved. ).

Christians, however, have been called out of darkness into God's marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9). That refers to God's taking the initiative to save us. As an unredeemed sinner, you could never have turned from darkness on your own because you had neither the ability nor the desire to do so. God had to grant you saving grace and the illumination of His Spirit so you could recognize truth and respond accordingly.

That blessed privilege is known only to Christians. What a joy—not only to recognize God's truth, but also to walk in it daily!

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for illuminating your mind and enabling you to see spiritual truth. Pray diligently for others to be so illuminated.

For Further Study

Read 1 John 1:5 5 And this is the message which we have heard from him and announce unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. —2:11. Contrast the children of darkness with the children of light.

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 - July 18

Published by Grace To You for reading on July 18th.

Reading for Today:

  • 2 Chronicles 32:1 Chapter 32 1 After these things, and this faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fortified cities, and thought to win them for himself. –33:25
  • Psalms 85:8-13 8 I will hear what God Jehovah will speak; For he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: But let them not turn again to folly. 9 Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him, That glory may dwell in our land. 10 Mercy and truth are met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. 11 Truth springeth out of the earth; And righteousness hath looked down from heaven. 12 Yea, Jehovah will give that which is good; And our land shall yield its increase. 13 Righteousness shall go before him, And shall make his footsteps a way `to walk in'.
  • Proverbs 21:12 12 The righteous man considereth the house of the wicked, `How' the wicked are overthrown to `their' ruin.
  • Acts 20:17-38 17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called to him the elders of the church. 18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, after what manner I was with you all the time, 19 serving the Lord with all lowliness of mind, and with tears, and with trials which befell me by the plots of the Jews; 20 how I shrank not from declaring unto you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly, and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23 save that the Holy Spirit testifieth unto me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24 But I hold not my life of any account as dear unto myself, so that I may accomplish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, shall see my face no more. 26 Wherefore I testify unto you this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God. 28 Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Wherefore watch ye, remembering that by the space of three years I ceased not to admonish every one night and day with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build `you' up, and to give `you' the inheritance among all them that are sanctified. 33 I coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. 34 Ye yourselves know that these hands ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. 35 In all things I gave you an example, that so laboring ye ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. 36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down and prayed with them all. 37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him, 38 sorrowing most of all for the word which he had spoken, that they should behold his face no more. And they brought him on his way unto the ship.

Notes:

2 Chronicles 32:30 A 1,700-foot-long tunnel cut through solid rock (below Jerusalem) redirected water from the spring Gihon outside of Jerusalem (to the east) toward the south of Jerusalem into the pool of Siloam within the city to provide water in time of siege. The tunnel was a remarkable feat of engineering and boring skill, often 60 feet below the ground and large enough to walk through. It was discovered in 1838, but not until 1909 was it cleared of the debris left by the destruction of Jerusalem back in 586 B.C. This may not have been the first water shaft, since David may have entered Jerusalem 300 years earlier through a water shaft (2 Sam. 5:6–8).

2 Chronicles 33:12,13 Manasseh. This king was very wicked and idolatrous, a murderer of his children, and a desecrater of the temple. God graciously forgave this “chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15) when he repented. He did what he could to reverse the effect of his life (vv. 15–17). Although the people worshiped God and not idols, they were doing it in the wrong place and wrong way. God had commanded them to offer sacrifices only in certain places (Deut. 12:13, 14) to keep them from corrupting the prescribed forms and to protect them from pagan religious influence. Disobedience to God’s requirements in this matter surely contributed to the decline under the next king, Amon (vv. 21–23), whose corruption his successor, Josiah, had to eliminate (34:3–7).

Psalm 85:9 salvation…who fear Him. Only those who renounce their sinful autonomy and put their complete trust in the living God will participate in the blessings of salvation and the future kingdom ( John 3:3 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. –5).glory may dwell in our land. The departure of the glory of God, which signified His presence, is described in Ezekiel 10 Chapter 10 1 Then I looked, and behold, in the firmament that was over the head of the cherubim there appeared above them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne. 2 And he spake unto the man clothed in linen, and said, Go in between the whirling `wheels', even under the cherub, and fill both thy hands with coals of fire from between the cherubim, and scatter them over the city. And he went in in my sight. 3 Now the cherubim stood on the right side of the house, when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court. 4 And the glory of Jehovah mounted up from the cherub, `and stood' over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of Jehovah's glory. 5 And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of God Almighty when he speaketh. 6 And it came to pass, when he commanded the man clothed in linen, saying, Take fire from between the whirling wheels, from between the cherubim, that he went in, and stood beside a wheel. 7 And the cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubim unto the fire that was between the cherubim, and took `thereof', and put it into the hands of him that was clothed in linen, who took it and went out. 8 And there appeared in the cherubim the form of a man's hand under their wings. 9 And I looked, and behold, four wheels beside the cherubim, one wheel beside one cherub, and another wheel beside another cherub; and the appearance of the wheels was like unto a beryl stone. 10 And as for their appearance, they four had one likeness, as if a wheel have been within a wheel. 11 When they went, they went in their four directions: they turned not as they went, but to the place whither the head looked they followed it; they turned not as they went. 12 And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, `even' the wheels that they four had. 13 As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing, the whirling `wheels'. 14 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third face the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. 15 And the cherubim mounted up: this is the living creature that I saw by the river Chebar. 16 And when the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them; and when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the wheels also turned not from beside them. 17 When they stood, these stood; and when they mounted up, these mounted up with them: for the spirit of the living creature was in them. 18 And the glory of Jehovah went forth from over the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim. 19 And the cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight when they went forth, and the wheels beside them: and they stood at the door of the east gate of Jehovah's house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. 20 This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river Chebar; and I knew that they were cherubim. 21 Every one had four faces, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. 22 And as for the likeness of their faces, they were the faces which I saw by the river Chebar, their appearances and themselves; they went every one straight forward. ; 11. He withdrew His glory because of the apostasy of the nation immediately preceding the Babylonian exile (Ezek. 8–11). The return of the glory of the Lord in the future millennial temple is foretold in Ezekiel 43:1 Chapter 43 1 Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east. –4.

Psalm 85:10 Mercy…truth…righteousness…peace. These 4 spiritual qualities, characterizing the atmosphere of the future kingdom of Christ, will relate to each other in perfect harmony and will saturate kingdom life (vv. 10, 13).

Acts 20:19 19 serving the Lord with all lowliness of mind, and with tears, and with trials which befell me by the plots of the Jews; with many tears. Paul wept because of: 1) those who did not know Christ (Rom. 9:2, 3); 2) struggling, immature believers (2 Cor. 2:4); and 3) the threat of false teachers (v. 29, 30). plotting of the Jews. Ironically, it was the plot of the Jews at Corinth that allowed the Ephesian elders this opportunity to spend time with Paul.

Acts 20:22 22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: bound in the spirit. Paul’s deep sense of duty toward the Master who had redeemed him and called him to service drove him onward despite the threat of danger and hardship (v. 23).

Acts 20:23 23 save that the Holy Spirit testifieth unto me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. Holy Spirit testifies. Paul knew he faced persecution in Jerusalem (Rom. 15:31), though he would not know the details until he heard Agabus’s prophecy (21:10, 11).

DAY 18: Why should the church always be on guard?

Paul told the Ephesians that he had declared to them “the whole counsel of God” ( Acts 20:27 27 For I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God. ). The entire plan and purpose of God for man’s salvation in all its fullness: divine truths of creation, election, redemption, justification, adoption, conversion, sanctification, holy living, and glorification. And now that he was leaving, he gives them a warning.

False teachers were already plaguing the churches of Galatia (Gal. 1:6) and the Corinthian church (2 Cor. 11:4). “Take heed to yourselves” (v. 28), a warning that proved true by later events at Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3–7, 19, 20; 6:20, 21; Rev. 2:2). Paul repeated this call to self-examination to Timothy when his young son in the faith served as pastor of the Ephesian congregation (1 Tim. 4:16; 2 Tim. 2:20, 21). The “overseers” are the same as elders and pastors. The word stresses the leaders’ responsibility to watch over and protect their congregations—an appropriate usage in the context of a warning against false teachers. Church rule, which minimizes the biblical authority of elders in favor of a cultural, democratic process, is foreign to the New Testament (1 Thess. 5:12, 13; Heb. 13:17).

He warns of “savage wolves” (v. 29)—a term borrowed from Jesus (Matt. 7:15; 10:16). This metaphor stresses the extreme danger false teachers pose to the church. “From among yourselves” (v. 30). Even more deadly than attacks from outside the church are the defections of those (especially leaders) within the church (1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 1:15; 2:17; Jude 3, 4, 10–13). These wolves would speak “perverse things.” The Greek word means “distorted” or “twisted.” False teachers twist God’s Word for their own evil ends (13:10; 2 Pet. 3:16).

“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up” (v. 32). The Scriptures, the record of God’s gracious dealings with mankind, is the source of spiritual growth for all Christians. And since the church is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15), its leaders must be familiar with that truth.

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

July 18 - Jesus’ Testimony of a Centurion’s Faith

Published by Grace To You for reading on July 18th.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ But the centurion said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.’ . . . Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, ‘Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel’” ( Matthew 8:7 7 And he saith unto him, I will come and heal him. –8, 10).

The centurion here—an officer in charge of a hundred soldiers—was undoubtedly a God-fearing Gentile. Jesus knew his heart and did not need to hear a direct request from anyone for healing of the servant. And indeed the centurion was so humble, he felt unworthy to have Jesus come into his house.

That the centurion twice called Jesus “Lord” shows a lot more than simple courtesy. The soldier was affirming that Christ was the Son of God, able to heal the man’s paralyzed servant. He knew that only a powerful word from Jesus, uttered inside or outside the house, would be adequate.

In His humanity Jesus was amazed that the Roman centurion showed more real faith than He had found in many Jews. Although a number of Jews had already believed in the Lord, none had manifested the kind of sincerity, sensitivity, humility, love, and deep faith this Gentile had just displayed. On several occasions Jesus would reprimand even the Twelve for their lack of faith (Matt. 8:26; John 14:9 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father? ).

The good news of salvation originated from Israel (Matt. 1:1–23). But that benefit comes to all who believe, not just to a certain ethnic group. God ordained in His redemptive plan that the Savior, His own Son, be born, live, and die as a Jew. But the fact that any Jew makes it to heaven will not be because he or she was a Jew like Jesus, but because of saving faith. This principle applies to everyone of every nationality.

Ask Yourself

How do you respond to the call for greater faith—especially like that of someone in a different class or station than you? Are you resentful of the implication? Convinced you can never be that way? Or are you driven to your knees in a prayerful appeal for faith at all costs?

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

Additional Resources

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

Published by Grace To You for reading on July 18th.

“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” ( 1 John 4:13 13 hereby we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. ).

Experiencing the ministry of the Holy Spirit is evidence of genuine saving faith.

In John 14:26 26 But the Comforter, `even' the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you. , Jesus described the Holy Spirit as “the Helper.” One of the most important ways He helps us is by assuring us that we belong to God. Several works of the Holy Spirit, if present in our lives, give evidence of the genuineness of our salvation. In 1 Corinthians 12:3 3 Wherefore I make known unto you, that no man speaking in the Spirit of God saith, Jesus is anathema; and no man can say, Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit. Paul writes, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” Apart from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, you would not know who Christ was, nor would you confess Him as Savior and Lord. If you have experienced that work of the Holy Spirit, that is evidence you are a true child of God.

Another essential ministry of the Spirit is that of illuminating Scripture. First John 2:27 says, “The anointing which you received from Him abides in you . . . His anointing teaches you about all things.” Do you understand the Bible when you read it? Does it convict you of sin? Does it lead you to rejoice and worship God? If so, that is evidence of the Spirit’s illuminating work in your life.

Do you long for intimate fellowship with God? That, too, is the result of the Spirit’s work in your life (Gal. 4:6). Do you feel compelled to praise God? The filling of the Spirit produces praise (Eph. 5:19). Does your life manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)? Are one or more of the gifts of the Spirit operating in your life (1 Cor. 12)? Those, too, are evidences of the Spirit’s work in your life.

All of those ministries of the Holy Spirit are the way He “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). If they are manifest in your life, they provide evidence that you abide in God and He in you ( 1 John 4:13 13 hereby we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. ). Let the Holy Spirit’s work in your life dispel the dark shadows of doubt.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would help you examine your life for evidence of the Spirit’s work.

For Further Study

Read 1 John 3:24 24 And he that keepeth his commandments abideth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he gave us. .

  • What is our part in obtaining assurance?
  • Are there any commandments you are willfully violating? If so, confess them, repent of them, and begin to experience the blessedness of assurance.

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

God’s Grace in Spiritual Gifts

Published by John Piper for reading on July 18th.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. ( 1 Peter 4:10 10 according as each hath received a gift, ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God; )

Future grace is “varied grace.” It comes in many colors and shapes and sizes. This is one of the reasons spiritual gifts in the body are so diverse. The prism of your life will refract one of the colors of grace that would never come through my prism.

There are as many future graces as there are needs in the body of Christ — and more. The purpose of spiritual gifts is to receive and dispense the future grace of God to those needs.

But someone may ask, “Why do you take Peter to refer to future grace? Doesn’t a steward manage a household store that is already on hand?”

The main reason I take Peter to refer to future grace is because the next verse illustrates how this works, and the reference there is ongoing supplies of future grace. He says, “Whoever serves . . . by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” ( 1 Peter 4:11 11 if any man speaketh, `speaking' as it were oracles of God; is any man ministereth, `ministering' as of the strength which God supplieth: that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen. ).

When you fulfill your spiritual gift to serve someone tomorrow, you will be serving “by the strength that God supplies” tomorrow. The word is supplies, not supplied.

God goes on, day-by-day, moment-by-moment, supplying the “strength” in which we minister.



Morning Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for July 18th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on July 18th.

Numbers 2:31 31 All that were numbered of the camp of Dan were a hundred thousand and fifty and seven thousand and six hundred. They shall set forth hindmost by their standards.

THE camp of Dan brought up the rear when the armies of Israel were on the march. The Danites occupied the hindmost place, but what mattered the position, since they were as truly part of the host as were the foremost tribes; they followed the same fiery cloudy pillar, they ate of the same manna, drank of the same spiritual rock, and journeyed to the same inheritance. Come, my heart, cheer up, though last and least; it is thy privilege to be in the army, and to fare as they fare who lead the van. Some one must be hindmost in honour and esteem, some one must do menial work for Jesus, and why should not I? In a poor village, among an ignorant peasantry; or in a back street, among degraded sinners, I will work on, and "go hindmost with my standard."

The Danites occupied a very useful place. Stragglers have to be picked up upon the march, and lost property has to be gathered from the field. Fiery spirits may dash forward over untrodden paths to learn fresh truth, and win more souls to Jesus; but some of a more conservative spirit may be well engaged in reminding the church of her ancient faith, and restoring her fainting sons. Every position has its duties, and the slowly moving children of God will find their peculiar state one in which they may be eminently a blessing to the whole host.

The rear guard is a place of danger. There are foes behind us as well as before us. Attacks may come from any quarter. We read that Amalek fell upon Israel, and slew some of the hindmost of them. The experienced Christian will find much work for his weapons in aiding those poor doubting, desponding, wavering, souls, who are hindmost in faith, knowledge, and joy. These must not be left unaided, and therefore be it the business of well-taught saints to bear their standards among the hindmost. My soul, do thou tenderly watch to help the hindmost this day.

Evening Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for July 18th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on July 18th.

Joel 2:8 8 Neither doth one thrust another; they march every one in his path; and they burst through the weapons, and break not off `their course'.

LOCUSTS always keep their rank, and although their number is legion, they do not crowd upon each other, so as to throw their columns into confusion. This remarkable fact in natural history shows how thoroughly the a Lord has infused the spirit of order into His universe, since the smallest animate creatures are as much controlled by it as are the rolling spheres or the seraphic messengers. It would be wise for believers to be ruled by the same influence in all their spiritual life. In their Christian graces no one virtue should usurp the sphere of another, or eat out the vitals of the rest for its own support. Affection must not smother honesty, courage must not elbow weakness out of the field, modesty must not jostle energy, and patience must not slaughter resolution. So also with our duties, one must not interfere with another; public usefulness must not injure private piety; church work must not push family worship into a corner. It is ill to offer God one duty stained with the blood of another. Each thing is beautiful in its season, but not otherwise. It was to the Pharisee that Jesus said, "This ought ye to have done, and not to have left the other undone." The same rule applies to our personal position, we must take care to know our place, take it, and keep to it. We must minister as the Spirit has given us ability, and not intrude upon our fellow servant's domain. Our Lord Jesus taught us not to covet the high places, but to be willing to be the least among the brethren. Far from us be an envious, ambitious spirit, let us feel the force of the Master's command, and do as He bids us, keeping rank with the rest of the host. To-night let us see whether we are keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace, and let our prayer be that, in all the churches of the Lord Jesus, peace and order may prevail.

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