Jun 26, 2013
Tell them that as surely as I, the Sovereign Lord, am the living God, I do not enjoy seeing sinners die. I would rather see them stop sinning and live. Israel, stop the evil you are doing. Why do you want to die? (Ezekiel 33:11)
Lyrics based on Ezekiel 7 and Lamentations, written by God.
She . . . spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. —Luke 2:38
I visit two elderly women from time to time. One has no financial worries, is fit for her age, and lives in her own home. But she can always find something negative to say. The other is crippled with arthritis and rather forgetful. She lives in simple accommodations, and keeps a reminder pad so she won’t forget her appointments. But to every visitor to her tiny apartment, her first comment is always the same: “God is so good to me.” Handing her the reminder pad on my last visit, I noticed that she had written the day before “Out to lunch tomorrow! Wonderful! Another happy day.”
Anna was a prophetess at the time of Jesus’ birth, and her circumstances were hard (Luke 2:36-37). Widowed early and possibly childless, she may have felt purposeless and destitute. But her focus was on God and serving Him. She was yearning for the Messiah, but in the meantime she was busy about God’s business—praying, fasting, and teaching others all that she had learned from Him.
Finally the day arrived when she—now in her eighties—saw the infant Messiah in his young mother’s arms. All her patient waiting was worthwhile. Her heart sang with joy as she praised God and then passed the glad news on to others. By Marion Stroud
Two people in Scripture are specifically mentioned as seeing and recognizing Jesus as the Messiah when He was an infant. Both Simeon and Anna, faithful servants of God, were blessed with seeing the “Consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25) and “redemption in Jerusalem” (v. 38). Luke records Simeon meeting the infant Jesus in 2:25-35 and Anna in verses 36-38. Anna was of great age (v. 36) and Simeon was most likely elderly as well (v. 26). Often in Scripture the passing of time plays an important role, showing that God is faithful to His promises. Simeon and Anna both waited faithfully for the Messiah and were rewarded by seeing Jesus before they died.
Lord, I don’t want to be a complainer anymore. I want to be a person who overflows with thankfulness for others and for You. May I accept whatever You give me in Your time. Show me how to start today.
It’s hard to see both God’s plan and our part. But their intersection is the best place to be.
Years ago I made a commitment to obey the Lord regardless of the cost. Like everyone else, I have made mistakes, but my determination to follow Christ has remained unchanged. When difficulties occur, such a pledge helps a person to stand firm.
We’ll all encounter times when there’s a direct conflict between God’s way and what is being asked of us. Perhaps the boss tells us to misrepresent the company’s product to customers. Or a friend may be pressuring us to join her in some risky behavior. Or family members may urge us to lie on their behalf. Saying no could bring loss, rejection, or even the end of a relationship. On the other hand, saying yes could compromise our testimony or break God’s commands.
Daniel faced such a dilemma. He and his three friends had a clear choice—to eat food prohibited by Scripture, or to refuse and incur the king’s wrath, imprisonment, or even death. Daniel showed great courage when he proposed a different eating plan (Dan. 1:12). His words and actions demonstrated his allegiance to the Lord.
Daniel and his friends were rewarded by God for their faith and commitment (v. 17). Despite their adverse circumstances, all four men confidently trusted in the Lord’s sovereign care for them.
Daniel’s choice resulted in royal favor. Jesus’ obedience led to the cross and glorification. Paul’s trust in Christ resulted in hardship. When we obey, the consequences may vary, but two things are always the same: Obedience glorifies our Father and pleases Him. What could be better than that?
“[Barnabus] was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.” (Acts 11:24)
The Holy Spirit indwells all believers (1 Corinthians 1:22; 6:19, etc.) and the fruit of the Spirit includes “goodness” (Galatians 5:22) among eight other godly traits. One should therefore expect those empowered by the Spirit (Romans 15:19) to demonstrate holy goodness.
How does holy goodness manifest itself in people?
• Good people delight in God’s holiness (Psalm 37:23).
• Good people expect God’s blessing (Proverbs 12:2).
• Good people secure their children (Proverbs 13:22).
• Good people are satisfied with life (Proverbs 14:14).
• Good people love wisdom (Matthew 12:35).
• Good people are just people (Luke 23:50).
• Good people are full of faith (Acts 11:24).
Our Lord Jesus made it clear that the “fruits” borne by our lives provide the identification of our spiritual status (Matthew 7:20) for all to see.
The parables of the “talents” and the “pounds” (Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:11-27) teach two different applications of the same principle.
In the one case, the same amount was given to everyone and reward was based on how well each did with their resources.
In the other case, different resources were granted to each, and the reward was distributed in proportion to the faithful use of what was initially given.
In both cases, the “unfaithful” and “lazy” servant was castigated and his initial wealth confiscated. No man “having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
Good people are productive people. HMM III
A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels. —Proverbs 1:5
When a very young minister, I asked the famous holiness preacher, Joseph H. Smith, whether he would recommend that I read widely in the secular field. He replied, “Young man, a bee can find nectar in the weed as well as in the flower.” I took his advice (or, to be frank, I sought confirmation of my own instincts rather than advice) and I am not sorry that I did. John Wesley told the young ministers of the Wesleyan Societies to read or get out of the ministry, and he himself read science and history with a book propped against his saddle pommel as he rode from one engagement to another. Andy Dolbow, the American Indian preacher of considerable note, was a man of little education, but I once heard him exhort his hearers to improve their minds for the honor of God. “When you are chopping wood,” he explained, “and you have a dull ax you must work all the harder to cut the log. A sharp ax makes easy work. So sharpen your ax all you can.”
In the busyness of life, Lord, help me to always guard time to sharpen my ax. Amen.
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ…. 1 Peter 1:2
We are surely aware that as human beings we can never know all of the Godhead. If we were capable of knowing all of the Godhead perfectly, we would be equal to the Godhead.
The early fathers in the church, in illustrating the trinity, pointed out that God the eternal Father is an infinite God, and that He is love. The very nature of love is to give itself but the Father could not give His love fully to anyone not fully equal to Himself. Thus we have the revelation of the Son Who is equal to the Father and of the eternal Father pouring out His love into the Son, Who could contain it, because the Son is equal with the Father!
Further, those ancient wise men reasoned, if the Father were to pour out His love on the Son, a medium of communication equal both to the Father and to the Son would be required, and this was the Holy Ghost!
So we have their concept of the Trinity—the ancient Father in the fullness of His love pouring Himself through the Holy Ghost, Who is in being equal to Him, into the Son Who is in being equal to the Spirit and to the Father!
Thus, all that man can know of God and His love in this life is revealed in Jesus Christ.
Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? JOHN 3:9
I consider it a good sign that some people are still asking questions like these in our churches: “What should happen in a genuine conversion to Christ?” and “What should a man or woman feel in the transaction of the new birth?”
If I am asked, my answer is this: “There ought to be a real and genuine cry of pain!”
That is why I am not impressed with the kind of evangelism that tries to invite people into the fellowship of God by signing a card. There should be a birth within, a birth from above. There should be the terror of seeing ourselves in violent contrast to the holy, holy God!
Unless we come into this place of conviction and pain concerning our sin, I am not sure how deep and real our repentance will ever be.
The man whom God will use must be undone, humble and pliable. He must be, like the astonished Isaiah, a man who has seen the King in His beauty!
Lord, I pray that many unbelieving people in hard-to-reach nations will realize their need for a Savior and will call upon Your holy name for their salvation.