May 31, 2011
May 31, 2011
They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read. Nehemiah 8:8
Far from home and training for World War II, American recruits in basic training turned to humor and correspondence to cope with the challenges they faced. In one letter home a young man described the vaccination process with wonderful exaggeration: “Two medical officers chased us with harpoons. They grabbed us and pinned us to the floor and stuck one in each arm.”
Yet one soldier began to realize that humor could only take him so far. Then he received a Bible. “I enjoy it very much and I read it every night,” he wrote. “I never realized you could learn so much from a Bible.”
Long ago, the Jewish exiles returned home after years of slavery in Babylon to find their problems came with them. As they struggled to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, they faced opposition from enemies, famine, and their own sin. Amid their trouble, they turned to God’s Word. They were surprised at what they learned. When the priests read from the Book of the Law of God, the people were moved to tears (Nehemiah 8:9). But they also found comfort. Nehemiah the governor told them, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (v. 10).
We don’t need to wait for trouble to hear from God. The Bible is where we learn about His character, His forgiveness, and His comfort. As we read it, we’ll be surprised at what God’s Spirit will show us in its pages.
The Bible helps us see ourselves as we really are, and also helps us see how much God loves us.
What have you learned about the character of God in the Scriptures?
For further study, read How Can I Know God through His Book? at discoveryseries.org/q0404.
If there’s one thing every man, woman, and child has experienced, it’s temptation. We have all seen something new, attractive, or unusual and thought, I must have it. What is “it” for you? The object of temptation can be almost anything—perhaps something material like a nice house or new car, or maybe a physical sensation from food, alcohol, or drugs. Another possibility is an emotional temptation that comes with the anticipation of a new relationship or recognition for a job well done.
Whatever the object, temptation demands that we must have it—now! We don’t stop to consider whether it is good for us, beneficial to our family, or harmful to someone we love. Caution and loyalty are thrown to the wind when temptation gets a grip on us. It can bring absolute destruction into our life if it’s left uncontrolled.
Simply put, temptation is an enticement to follow our desires beyond the boundaries God has set. For example, the Lord has given mankind a precious gift in human sexuality, and this God-given desire is often taken outside of the context for which the Creator originally designed it. Sexual desire is inherently good, but when left unchecked, it compromises our judgment and leads to trouble and pain.
Are you allowing a single desire to control your life? Are you continually going beyond the limits of what you know God approves? Then it’s time to break the hold of temptation by turning back to God in repentance, submitting to His rule over your desires, and relying on His power to overcome.
“And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36)
As he spoke to two of his followers, John the Baptist was, in effect, telling them that they should henceforth leave him to follow Jesus. “And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus” (John 1:37). On the previous day, when John had first seen Jesus coming, he had said, apparently to all his disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
This is the first use of the word “lamb” in the New Testament, and it is significant that it refers here to the Lord Jesus as the one great sacrifice for our sins. He is called “the Lamb” 30 more times in the New Testament, the final time no longer viewing Him on the altar but on His eternal throne (Revelation 22:3). Yet, even on His throne as our King, He is still the Lamb, and we can never forget that He once died for us that we might live with Him.
Long before this, Isaac once asked his father, “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God will provide himself a lamb” (Genesis 22:7-8). God did just that 2,000 years later, when Christ, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8), “came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Then when God was ready to set His people free in ancient Egypt, He told them to place the shed blood of a spotless lamb on the doorpost of each home and said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). In fulfillment of all these ancient sacrifices and types, the once-for-all Lamb of God came, and “Christ our passover is sacrificed [even] for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Now, like John’s disciples, it surely compels us, in the very depths of our souls, to “behold the Lamb of God” and follow Him. HMM
After Jerusalem had been walled in, Nehemiah took great care to reform the manners of the people, and to celebrate the ordinances of religion as the law of God directed. We will read of one of their great assemblies.
They were not wearied with five or six hours’ devotion, whereas in these times there is much complaint if the service lasts longer than an hour and a half.
So that the pulpit was a roomy one. The presence of these eminent persons added authority and honour to the preacher’s office before the eyes of the people.
As they could not all hear the same person’s voice, they were divided into companies, and were instructed by the good men just named.
The reading of difficult passages of Scripture in public is of small use to the many: the preacher should explain what he reads.
Even our sorrow for sin must not prevent our grateful joy. While God is so good, we ought to rejoice in him, however much we may see to weep over in ourselves.
Nehemiah 13:11, 12
Good cause for gladness have those who understand the Scriptures. A service which is above our comprehension must be dreary to us; but if we can enter into it, we may well be glad.
The joyous feast of Tabernacles followed the day of atonement, and on this occasion the people, having entered, by deep sorrow, into the humiliation of the atonement, were all the more ready to enjoy the delights of the after feast. They kept it after a better fashion than in any former period. Let us also keep the feast, for our sins have been put away by our great Substitute. Let us joyfully sojourn here below in these frail tabernacles till we enter into our house eternal in the heavens.
O my soul, what means this sadness?
Wherefore art thou thus cast down?
Let thy griefs be turned to gladness,
Bid thy restless fears be gone:
Look to Jesus,
And rejoice in his dear name.
Oh that I could now adore him,
Like the heavenly host above,
Who for ever bow before him,
And unceasing sing his love!
When shall I your chorus join?
Thou shalt arise, and mercy have
Upon thy Sion yet;
The time to favour her is come,
The time that thou hast set.
For in her rubbish and her stones
Thy servants pleasure take;
Yea, they the very dust thereof
Do favour for her sake.
When Sion by the mighty Lord
Built up again shall be,
Then shall her gracious God appear
In glorious majesty.
Oft in sorrow, oft in woe,
Onward, Christians, onward go;
Fight the fight, maintain the strife,
Strengthen’d with the bread of life.
Let your drooping hearts be glad;
March in heavenly armour clad;
Fight, nor think the battle long,
Soon shall victory tune your song.
Let not sorrow dim your eye,
Soon shall every tear be dry;
Let not fears your course impede,
Great your strength if great your need.
Onward, then, to glory move,
More than conquerors ye shall prove;
Though opposed by many a foe,
Christian soldiers, onward go.
Now doth my soul resolve indeed
To wound her Lord no more;
Hence from my heart, ye sins, begone,
For Jesus I adore.
Furnish me, Lord, with heav’nly arms
From grace’s magazine,
And I’ll proclaim eternal war
With every darling sin.
No more, ye lusts, shall ye command,
No more will I obey;
Stretch out, O God, thy conqu’ring hand,
And drive thy foes away!
Look upon me, Lord, I pray thee,
Let thy Spirit dwell in mine;
Thou hast sought me, thou hast bought me,
Only thee to know I pine.
Let me find thee!
Take my heart, and own me thine!
Nought I ask for, nought I strive for,
But thy grace so rich and free;
That thou givest whom thou lovest,
And who truly cleave to thee.
Let me find thee!
He hath all things who hath thee.
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. (John 6:66)
Our Lord Jesus Christ called men to follow Him, but He plainly taught that “no man can come unto me, except it were given him of my Father” (John 6:65).
It is not surprising that many of His early followers, upon hearing these words, went back and walked no more with Him. Such teaching cannot but be deeply disturbing to the natural mind. It takes from sinful men much of the power of self-determination. It cuts the ground out from under their self-help and throws them back upon the sovereign good pleasure of God—and that is precisely where they do not want to be!
These statements by our Lord run contrary to the current assumptions of popular Christianity. Men are willing to be saved by grace, but to preserve their self-esteem, they must hold that the desire to be saved originated with them.
Most Christians today seem afraid to talk about these plain words of Jesus concerning the sovereign operation of God—so they use the simple trick of ignoring them!
“The prayer of the upright is his delight.” Prov. 15:8
This is as good as a promise, for it declares a present fact, which will be the same throughout all ages. God takes great pleasure in the prayers of upright men; He even calls them His delight. Our first concern is to be upright. Neither bending this way nor that, continue upright: not crooked with policy, nor prostrate by yielding to evil, be you upright in strict integrity and straightforwardness. If we begin to shuffle and shift, we shall be left to shift for ourselves. If we try crooked ways, we shall find that we cannot pray, and if we pretend to do so, we shall find our prayers shut out of Heaven.
Are we acting in a straight line and thus following out the Lord’s revealed will? Then let us pray much and pray in faith. If our prayer is God’s delight, let us not stint Him in that which gives Him pleasure. He does not consider the grammar of it, nor the metaphysics of it, nor the rhetoric of it; in all these men might despise it. He, as a Father, takes pleasure in the lispings of His own babes, the stammerings of His new-born sons and daughters. Should we not delight in prayer since the Lord delights in it? Let us make errands to the throne. The Lord finds us enough reasons for prayer, and we ought to thank Him that it is so.