VIDEO The Wolf and the Lamb

Jan 3, 2018

We are messed-up people. Even when we try to do good, our evil hearts are still corrupt. But Jesus knows. He covers every wrongdoing and wrong way of thinking and leads us to a place of utter peace, trust, and perfection.

Responding to Disappointment

Matthew 1:18-25

To find examples of wise, godly reactions to disappointment, you’re more likely to turn to Psalms than to Matthew. But the very first chapter in the New Testament tells the story of an upright man’s reaction to painful and disheartening news.

Joseph—Jesus’ earthly father—was a righteous person. A godly man wants a wife who shares his desire to honor and obey the Lord, and Scripture indicates that Mary was exactly that sort of woman (Luke 1:45-55). So imagine how stunned Joseph must have been when Mary returned from a long visit with her relative Elizabeth and told him that she was pregnant. Moreover, she was claiming no man had touched her.

No matter how Joseph looked at the situation, it appeared grim. And yet Matthew 1:20says that he “considered”—in other words, he sought a wise, righteous response. God entered Joseph’s life in a dramatic way to confirm Mary’s story and put a stop to his plans for a quiet annulment.

The Lord turned Joseph’s mourning into great purpose. Mary had told the truth—strange and startling though it was. The couple would bear the intense public censure of a too-soon pregnancy, but Joseph stopped thinking about what others would say. God had sacred work for him: to raise the Messiah, alongside a faithful woman.

Followers of Christ should seek a godly response to disappointments they face. Since the Lord always has a plan, the wisest reaction is to anticipate the good He can do and await His timing. God certainly blessed Joseph for his willingness to seek God’s kingdom first (Matt. 6:33).

A Warm Welcome

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9

“Who will hug everybody?”

That was one of the questions our friend Steve asked after he got the news that he had cancer and realized he would be away from our church for a while. Steve is the kind of man who makes everyone feel welcome—with a friendly greeting, a warm handshake, and even a “holy hug” for some—to adapt an application from Romans 16:16, which says, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”

And now, as we pray for Steve that God will heal him, he is concerned that as he goes through surgery and treatment—and is away from our church for a time—we will miss out on those welcoming greetings.

Perhaps not all of us are cut out to greet one another as openly as Steve does, but his example of caring for people is a good reminder to us. Notice that Peter says to “offer hospitality to one another without grumbling,” or in a way that centers on love (1 Peter 4:9; see Philippians 2:14). While first-century hospitality included offering accommodations to travelers—even that always starts with a welcoming greeting.

As we interact with others in love, whether with a hug or just a friendly smile, we do so “that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).

Lord, help us to represent You to others. Guide us to show hospitality in a way that will show others Your love.

When we practice hospitality, we share God’s goodness.

By Dave Branon 

INSIGHT

In 1 Peter 4, the apostle challenges the church to hospitality then reinforces that challenge with a call to service (vv. 10–11). In verse 10 he reminds believers that we’ve received gifts for that very purpose, and as we utilize those gifts in serving others we become expressions of God’s grace. It appears from these statements that Peter is giving his readers a glimpse into the realm of spiritual gifts about which Paul wrote in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12.

Spiritual gifts are the Holy Spirit’s provision for equipping followers of Jesus to help one another (1 Corinthians 12:7). While Paul offers a more extended list of these gifts, Peter compresses them into two basic categories: speaking gifts and serving gifts (1 Peter 4:11). Both provide support and resources for the kind of hospitality described in today’s devotional. As we encourage people with the Scriptures and help them by acts of service, the family of God is strengthened and the hurting are helped.

For more on spiritual service, check out the free download, The Church We Need .

Bill Crowder

Lamb’s Book of Life

“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27)

God does keep books! In fact, when David was pondering the time between his own conception and birth, he said “in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance [that is, as my days continued] were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). It seems that God has a book for each person who is conceived, and that all these together constitute the Book of Life, one great volume containing the names and deeds of every one who was ever given biological life by his Maker.

But many, during the course of their lives, will reject (or simply ignore) God’s provision that would also give them eternal life. As David prayed in another psalm: “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous” (Psalm 69:28). Note also Revelation 3:5 and 22:19. And that will be a fearful thing, for “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Those whose names will not be blotted out of the book, of course, are those who have been redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). Not one person deserves to be retained in God’s book, for all have sinned, but they have “beheld,” with eyes of thankful faith, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), and have therefore been redeemed by the Lamb.

Finally, only these will still have their names written on the rolls of the heavenly city. God’s Book of Life will have become “the Lamb’s Book of Life” on which are written forever the names of all those redeemed by His blood. HMM

Strive to enter in at the strait gate

Luke 13:23-35

Luke 13:23, 24

A question which has been asked many times since. If a book could be published by authority detailing the number of the saved, many would hasten to read it. It would be far more wise to ask, “Shall I be saved?” We may get a clear answer to that personal inquiry, but upon the larger question we are not yet in possession of more than clouded light. “If but three persons are to be saved, why should not I be one of them?” was a sensible remark we once heard from an earnest seeker.

Luke 13:23, 24

Now is the accepted time, but ere long the day of grace and of this mortal life will end, and then it will be too late to seek for mercy.

Luke 13:25, 26

No doubt many rely upon the means of grace and participation in the sacraments; their confidence will utterly fail them at the last.

Luke 13:27, 28

Pushed out with indignation, because the gospel was rejected by them. It will be a great loss to lose the company of prophets and saints for ever.

Luke 13:29

It will very much aggravate the sorrows of the lost to. see so many saved whose prospects did not appear to be one half so hopeful as their own.

Luke 13:32, 33

He called Herod a fox because that crafty person was trying to frighten him out of his dominions by employing the Pharisees to alarm him with fear of death. Jesus, as Lord over all kings, had a right thus to describe the cunning monarch whose character was exactly that of the scheming, artful fox. Jesus defied his threats, and went on with his holy mission.

Luke 13:35

Wonderful sight! The Son of God in tears! He could not think of the ruin of men without deep sympathy, nor should we. We must not allow our hearts to become unfeeling in this matter, or we shall be very unlike our Lord and Master.

 

Did Christ o’er sinners weep,

And shall our cheeks be dry?

Let floods of penitential grief

Burst forth from every eye.

 

The Son of God in tears,

Angels with wonder see!

Be thou astonish’d, O my soul,

He shed those tears for thee.

 

He wept that we might weep;

Each sin demands a tear;

In heaven alone no sin is found,

And there’s no weeping there.

 

There Are False Pretenders

When the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:22)

All persons who are alienated from God and outside of Christ are part and parcel of a mighty deception!

They are called upon to pretend that they can have peace of mind within and that they can be relatively happy and make a big success of their human lives if they have youth and wealth and morality and high position.

In that sense of what is going on all around us, David never had to apologize for writing that “every man is a liar!” The whole human concept of success and happiness and inner peace, based upon who we are and what we have, is completely false.

The rich young ruler who came to question Jesus had wealth, morality, position and youth. But his very first question gave the clue to his own inner emptiness of life: “What good thing should I do, that I may have eternal life?”

He knew very well that there is not a person alive who has eternal youth or eternal position or eternal righteousness. So, like every other man, he had to make a choice!

 

A Shepherd Secures Them

They shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid. Zeph. 3:13

Yesterday we thought of the afflicted and poor people whom the Lord left to be a living seed in a dead world. The prophet says of such that they shall not work iniquity nor speak lies. So that while they had neither rank nor riches to guard them, they were also quite unable to use those weapons in which the wicked place so much reliance: they could neither defend themselves by sin nor by subtlety.

What then? Would they be destroyed? By no means! They should both feed and rest, and be not merely free from danger, but even quiet from fear of evil. Sheep are very feeble creatures, and wolves are terrible enemies; yet at this hour sheep are more numerous than wolves, and the cause of the sheep is always winning, while the cause of the wolves is always declining. One day flocks of sheep will cover the plains, and not a wolf will be left. The fact is that sheep have a shepherd, and this gives them provender, protection, and peace. “None” — which means not one, whether in human or diabolical form — “shall make them afraid.” Who shall terrify the Lord’s flock when He is near? We lie down in green pastures, for Jesus Himself is food and rest to our souls.

 

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