Samuel took a stone… and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12
On January 1, 1805, missionary Henry Martyn wrote in his journal, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped me. It is now about five years since God stopped me in the career of worldliness, and turned me from the paths of sin: three years and a half since I turned to the Lord with all my heart; and a little more than two years since he enabled me to devote myself to his service as a Missionary. My progress of late has become slower than it had been; yet I can truly say, that in the course of this time, every successive year, every successive week, has been happier than the former. From many dangerous snares hath the Lord preserved me. In spite of all my inward rebellion, he hath carried on his work in my heart; and in spite of all my unbelieving fears, he hath given me a hope full of immortality.”1
What a great testimony, and it is our testimony too! Our progress isn’t always as rapid as we’d like, but every year, month, and day is sweeter with Jesus than the one before. The Lord who was with you and helped you in the past is there for you today!
The same grace and long-suffering, the same wisdom and power, that have brought me so far, will bring me on.
The Ebenezer Stone, 1 Samuel 7:12 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16
My three-year old niece, Jenna, has an expression that never fails to melt my heart. When she loves something (really loves it), be it banana cream pie, jumping on the trampoline, or playing Frisbee, she’ll proclaim, “I love it—whole world!” (“whole world” accompanied with a dramatic sweep of her arms).
Sometimes I wonder, When’s the last time I’ve dared to love like that? With nothing held back, completely unafraid?
“God is love,” John wrote repeatedly (1 John 4:8, 16), perhaps because the truth that God’s love—not our anger, fear, or shame—is the deepest foundation of reality, is hard for us grown-ups to “get.” The world divides us into camps based on what we’re most afraid of—and all too often we join in, ignoring or villainizing the voices that challenge our preferred vision of reality.
Yet amid the deception and power struggles (vv. 5–6), the truth of God’s love remains, a light that shines in the darkness, inviting us to learn the path of humility, trust, and love (1:7–9; 3:18). For no matter what painful truths the light uncovers, we can know that we’ll still be loved (4:10, 18; Romans 8:1).
When Jenna leans over and whispers to me, “I love you—whole world!” I whisper back, “I love you whole world!” And I’m grateful for a gentle reminder that every moment I’m held in limitless love and grace.
Reflect & Pray
When do you find yourself feeling pressured to believe fear is greater than love? How might your relationships with others change if you believed you don’t need to be afraid?
Loving God, thank You for Your love. Help us to trust in and follow Your light and love even when the way gets dark.
When you sing praises to God, do you consider what you are saying? So often words like majestic, holy, glorious, and righteous roll off the tongue with barely a thought, yet these are terms that describe the very God we worship.
That’s why it is helpful for us to enter with the apostle John into the heavenly throne room to see the majesty of the Lord whom we are exalting—the God worthy to receive all praise, glory, and honor. Within the limits of finite human language and understanding, John did his best to describe what he saw: a throne and the stunning radiance of the One sitting upon it.
Other participants in this scene are 24 elders representing redeemed humanity, and four living creatures who continually give glory, honor, and thanks to God, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” (Rev. 4:8). In response, the elders fall down and worship, casting their crowns before God’s throne. The entire realm of heaven is enthralled with this One who is worthy of all worship.
Although we cannot actually see this scene like John, our worship should share its sentiment. This means our praise must be focused on the heavenly Father, who is infinitely greater than all His creatures and transcendent over time and creation. We can draw close to such magnificent worship when, after spending time studying and meditating on the Scriptures, our perceptions of the Lord are accurate. Sound theology results in worship that exalts and honors God for who He truly is.
“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:13)
Jesus condemned both the Pharisees and Sadducees for the same problem, though the two groups were very different. The Pharisees were like the legalists of our day and the Sadducees like the liberals. Both camps claimed to believe in inspiration and prided themselves on their knowledge of Scripture.
However, both groups were focused on power and authority rather than on the teachings of Scripture. There was no desire to honor the Creator and be agents of witness. The Pharisees developed a vast system of rules to force their followers to behave in a certain way. The Sadducees sought favor with the Roman officials. Jesus’ opinion of them was clear.
- Matthew 23:15: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”
- Luke 11:52: “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.”
Their error was consciously twisting the truth of God with interpretations that distorted the message of Scripture. The Pharisees added extra requirements that were “burdens grievous to be borne” (Luke 11:46). The Sadducees denied the glorious hope of the resurrection, denying a core principle of the gospel. As Paul pointed out to the Corinthians, that false doctrine would make “all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). May God keep us from such confusion. HMM III
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
There are a lot of people trying to get away with the old man. What do I mean by the old man? I mean your pride, your bossiness, your nastiness, your temper, your mean disposition, your lustfulness and your quarrelsomeness. What do I mean, Reverend? I mean your study, your hunting for a bigger church, being dissatisfied with the offering and blaming the superintendent because you cannot get called….
Deacons, what do I mean? I mean sitting around in board meetings wearing your poor pastor out, because you are too stubborn to humble yourself and admit you are wrong.
What do I mean, musicians? I mean that demeanor that makes you hate somebody that can sing a little better than you can. I mean that jealousy that makes you want to play the violin when everybody knows you can’t, especially the choir director. You hate him, wish he were dead, and secretly pray that he would get called to Punxsutawney. That is what I mean. All of this may be under the guise of spirituality and we may have learned to put our head over on one side, fold our hands gently and put on a beatific smile like St. Francis of Assisi, and still be just as carnal as they come. SAT043-044
May Your Holy Spirit bring the proper conviction and repentance to my heart and give me victory over any carnal thoughts that might be mine. Amen.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men.—Galatians 6:10.
She hath done what she could.—Mark 14:8.
Very consoling words, if we can be sure they apply to us. Very pungent condemnation if they apply not, and we suffer opportunities to go by. The rule demands no impossibilities; but it does demand that every sphere, however humble, shall be filled with divine endeavors. You have not done what you could if you have not made it the problem of every day; how many burdens can I make lighter? how much heart sunshine can I shed about me? how much can I increase the sum of human blessing in the circle where my lines have fallen? How easily we slide into the delusion that we should do a great deal more good if we had the means, overlooking the means that lie close about us!
Edmund H. Sears.
There is no act too trifling to be made by God the first link in a chain of blessing; whether some trifling incident is allowed on our part to drop unobserved, or is taken up and placed in its intended position, often depends on the entertainment we have given to some previously-suggested idea of duty.
Sarah W. Stephen.
“He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Luke 18:14
It ought not to be difficult for us to humble ourselves, for what have we to be proud of? We ought to take the lowest place without being told to do so. If we are sensible and honest we shall be little in our own eyes. Especially before the Lord in prayer we shall shrink to nothing. There we cannot speak of merit, for we have none: our one and only appeal must be to mercy: “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
Here is a cheering word from the throne. We shall be exalted by the Lord if we humble ourselves. For us the way upward is downhill. When we are stripped of self we are clothed with humility, and this is the best of wear. The Lord will exalt us in peace and happiness of mind; He will exalt us into knowledge of His Word and fellowship with Himself; He will exalt us in the enjoyment of sure pardon and justification. The Lord puts His honors upon those who can wear them to the honor of the Giver. He gives usefulness, acceptance, and influence to those who will not be puffed up by them, but will be abased by a sense of greater responsibility. Neither God nor man will care to lift up a man who lifts up himself; but both God and good men unite to honor modest worth.
O Lord, sink me in self that I may rise in thee.