And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 1 John 3:22
Life is full of opposites: night and day, black and white, up and down, truth and lies. In our spiritual life, we have a choice to make: We can pursue those things that are pleasing to God or pursue their opposites—things that are not pleasing to God. The choice of our pursuits is ours to make (Philippians 4:8).
The apostle John made it clear in his first letter that we can’t have it both ways. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6). We cannot serve God and the world at the same time (Matthew 6:24). The closer we move in the direction of the world and its values, the farther away from God we find ourselves. Therefore, we must live on the right side of the “opposites continuum.” We must make choices that please God, choices that move us ever closer to Him. With every step we take toward the world, our testimony for Christ is compromised.
Today, be aware of your choices. Choose God over the things of this world. Walk in a manner well-pleasing to Him.
Of two evils, choose neither. Charles H. Spurgeon
Humility Is the First Law of Ministry (John 3:22-30)
She is more righteous than I. Genesis 38:26
“I’d be very disappointed if one of our team members did that,” said a cricket player, referring to a South African cricketer who’d cheated in a match in 2016. But only two years later, that same player was caught in a nearly identical scandal.
Few things rankle us more than hypocrisy. But in the story of Judah in Genesis 38, Judah’s hypocritical behavior nearly had deadly consequences. After two of his sons died soon after marrying Tamar, Judah had quietly abandoned his duty to provide for her needs (vv. 8–11). In desperation, Tamar disguised herself by wearing a prostitute’s veil, and Judah slept with her (vv. 15–16).
Yet when Judah learned that his widowed daughter-in-law was pregnant, his reaction was murderous. “Bring her out and have her burned to death!” he demanded (v. 24). But Tamar had proof that Judah was the father (v. 25).
Judah could have denied the truth. Instead he admitted his hypocrisy, and also accepted his responsibility to care for her, saying, “She is more righteous than I” (v. 26).
And God wove even this dark chapter of Judah and Tamar’s story into His story of our redemption. Tamar’s children (vv. 29–30) would become ancestors of Jesus (Matthew 1:2–3).
Why is Genesis 38 in the Bible? One reason is because it’s the story of our hypocritical human hearts—and of God’s heart of love, grace, and mercy.
Reflect & Pray
How do you react when you become aware of your hypocrisy? What would happen if we all became truly transparent with each other?
Help me to see, Father, that at the heart of the matter, we’re all hypocrites who need Your forgiveness.
Christians are called to put aside “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech” (Col. 3:8). The command is clear, but the process of achieving and maintaining this goal may seem confusing and overwhelming.
The first step is to recognize anger in our heart. This may seem unnecessary to those who are naturally expressive, but people who bury their anger deep within will need to spend time with the Lord in reflection and soul-searching. Resentment that’s been growing and infecting the heart can do great damage; the sharp sword of God’s Word is needed to reveal anger that has been simmering under the surface (Heb. 4:12).
The next step is to confess unrighteous anger as sin and then begin to deal with it immediately. Because anger is often a response to hurt, care must be taken not to excuse or defend it in the name of justice. So even when someone has sinned against you, it’s important to realize that holding onto anger in response is also a sin. Scripture tells us to overcome evil with good, not to repay it (Rom. 12:17; Rom. 12:21).
Some people want to hang on to ill feelings, but nursing a resentful attitude isn’t sustainable; anger must be put aside. If we retain our “right” to hold grudges, we can’t expect to live in the new nature Christ has created for us.
The place where we will find strength is in that new Christlike personality. Our responsibility is to put it on. He invites us to cooperate with Him in the process of transformation. With each step of obedience, the peace of Christ will increase and anger will diminish.
“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” (Isaiah 60:3)
This beautiful Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament book of Isaiah compares the coming of Christ to the rising of the sun.
The rest of this chapter in Isaiah seems to stress His coming in glory at the future end of the age (e.g., “the LORD shall be thine everlasting light,” Isaiah 60:20), but our text verse had at least a precursive fulfillment when the Gentile wise men from the east came to Bethlehem to honor Jesus soon after His birth.
Other Messianic prophecies used a similar metaphor. For example, there is Malachi 4:2: “Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.”
Christ Himself made the same comparison. “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). He would not serve as the light for only the Jews; He is the light of the whole world!
The theme of global light through Christ is often found in the Old Testament. “I the LORD . . . will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles. . . . It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6).
It will all be perfectly and eternally fulfilled in the New Jerusalem, “for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: . . . for there shall be no night there” (Revelation 21:23-25). HMM
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth…. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
—Matthew 5:5, 8
We have but to become acquainted with, or even listen to, the big names of our times to discover how wretchedly inferior most of them are. Many appear to have arrived at their present eminence by pull, brass, nerve, gall and lucky accident. We turn away from them sick to our stomach and wonder for a discouraged moment if this is the best the human race can produce. But we gain our self-possession again by the simple expedient of recalling some of the plain men we know, who live unheralded and unsung, and who are made of stuff infinitely finer than the hoarse-voiced braggarts who occupy too many of the highest offices in the land….
The church also suffers from this evil notion. Christians have fallen into the habit of accepting the noisiest and most notorious among them as the best and the greatest. They too have learned to equate popularity with excellence, and in open defiance of the Sermon on the Mount they have given their approval not to the meek but to the self-assertive; not to the mourner but to the self-assured; not to the pure in heart who see God but to the publicity hunter who seeks headlines. MDP096-097
Lord, I thank You for all the unknown but faithful pastors serving churches in quiet places. Thank You for the “quiet heroes” and their faithful service; give them great encouragement today. Amen.
As his share is that goetb down to the battle, so shall his share be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall share alike.—1 Samuel 30:24 (R. V.).
Worship or service,—which? Ah, that is best
To which He calls us, be it toil or rest—
To labor for Him in life’s busy stir,
Or seek His feet, a silent worshipper.
Caroline A. Mason.
Let us no more yearn for present employment when God’s providence bids us “be still,” than we would think it good to yearn after cessation while God bids work. Shall we not miss a blessing if we call rest a weariness and a discontent, no less than if we called God’s work a thankless labor? If we would be holy in body and spirit, shall we not keep smooth brow, light heart, whether He bids us serve His table, or wait our summons?
Edward White Benson.
He who acts with a view to please God alone, wishes to have that only which it pleases God that he should have, and at the time and in the way which may be most agreeable to Him; and, whether he have it or not, he is equally tranquil and contented, because in either case he obtains his wish, and fulfils his intention, which was no other than purely to please God.
“He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.” Mark 16:7
Where He appointed to meet His disciples, there He would be in due time. Jesus keeps His tryst. If He promises to meet us at the mercy-seat, or in public worship, or in the ordinances, we may depend upon it that He will be there. We may wickedly stay away from the appointed meeting-place, but He never does. He says, “Where two or three are met together in my name, there am I”; he says not “There will I be,” but, “I am there already.”
Jesus is always first in fellowship: “He goeth before you. His heart is with His people, His delight is in them, He is never slow to meet them. In all fellowship He goeth before us.
But he reveals Himself to those who come after Him: “There shall ye see him.” Joyful sight! We care not to see the greatest of mere men, but to see HIM is to be filled with joy and peace. And we shall see Him, for He promises to come to those who believe in Him, and to manifest Himself to them. Rest assured that it will be so, for He does everything according to His word of promise: “As he said unto you.” Catch at those last words, and be assured that to the end He will do for you “as he said unto you.”