Sun of Righteousness

“But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” (Malachi 4:2)

This is the very last of the numerous Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. After this, there were four centuries of silence from heaven, as far as inspired Scriptures were concerned. Thus this prophecy must have special significance.

The Messiah (“Christ”) is called “the Sun of righteousness” in contrast to “all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly” that “shall burn as an oven” when “the day cometh” (v. 1)—that “great and dreadful day of the LORD” (v. 5), and it “shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts” (v. 1).

The “Sun of righteousness” clearly refers to the coming Savior, for He will come “with healing in his wings.” The sun does not have wings, of course, so many commentators think this word refers to the rays of the sun, with their lifesustaining energy. However, the Hebrew word means “wings,” and nothing else. It is as though the sun is rising rapidly on great wings, dispelling the world’s darkness with its light, dispensing healing to its sin-sick soul.

The “Sun of righteousness,” of course, can be none other than God Himself, for “the Lord God is a sun and shield” who “will give grace and glory” to “them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). It is the LORD Jesus Christ, the “light of the world” (John 8:12) coming “from heaven with his mighty angels [his ‘wings’?], in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).

But “you that fear my name” in that day “shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts,…when I make up my jewels” (Malachi 3:17). In the last prophecy of the Old Testament, Christ is the rising Sun; in the last prophecy of the New Testament (Revelation 22:16), He is “the bright and morning star.” HMM

Humble In Service

Thou therefore endure hard—ness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

—2 Timothy 2:3-4

 

Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet—not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ….

And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven.   GTM105-106

Enable me by your Holy Spirit to make this prayer genuinely mine. Amen.

 

Problems! Problems!

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

—1 John 4:7

 

What…is the conclusion of the matter? That problems are the price of progress, that friction is the concomitant of motion, that a live and expanding church will have a certain quota of difficulties as a result of its life and activity. A Spirit-filled church will invite the anger of the enemy.

How then shall we deal with our problems? First, expect them so you will not be taken off guard. Second, realize that every live body of Christians has its troubles, from Christ and His apostles to the present day, so yours are not unique. Third, pour in copious amounts of love, the best lubricant in the world. Love will reduce friction to a minimum and keep the whole body working smoothly and without injury to its parts.

Where does this love come from? The love of God bursts forth from the Holy Spirit in our hearts. TWP113

The same bond which unites believers to Christ, binds them to each other….Those who love Christ, love those who are like Him and those who are beloved by Him….There is unity of design, a common interest in the objects of their pursuits. DTC167-168

 

Three Crosses—Three Results

2 Corinthians 5:19

That barren hill outside Jerusalem’s wall will not be forgotten. Its name, Golgotha, will always bring a shudder to our mind and heart. There were three crosses on that ugly hill; three lives ended on those cruel instruments of torture and death. One was the Son of God.

The attitude of the one malefactor on the right of Jesus seems portentous and the foreshadowing of the position taken by skeptics through the ages. The word that might well have been mounted on the cross above this man is “rejection.”

The Scripture records: “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t You the Christ? Save Yourself and us!'” (Luke 23:39). Men of this character find it hard to accept anything but the material world. Accept only the things that are tangible and sensate, live for today.

The attitude and demeanor of the criminal to the left of Jesus differed significantly. He shouted above the din, “We receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing amiss.” And then to Jesus he said: “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The word that might well have been mounted on the cross above this man is “realization.”

This man’s values and activities may have been quite like that of the other thief. He makes no boast of goodness but expresses regret and shame. How lovingly the Master replies. His words convey the message of forgiveness and acceptance. Even for those who have lived shamefully, rejected Him openly, there is forgiveness. The realization that Christ was and is the Son of God makes a tremendous difference, not only for the world that is yet to be, but in this present world as well.

On the center cross, in agony and shame, hung our blessed Lord. The sign that might have been placed above this cross is the word “redemption.” This was the atoning Christ who suffered death for every man. By this perfect sacrifice upon the cross, Jesus abolished death for every believer. The Scripture states, “God was reconciling the world to Himself through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19). That was the purpose for His ignominious suffering and death—it was for our redemption, to atone for our sins and set us free from guilt and death.

May our attitude toward Christ’s suffering and death, be that of the realization of sins forgiven, and faith in a living Lord whose death and resurrection brings us the assurance of redemption and life abundant.

George Nelting, The War Cry

 

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Fruit Juice

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. John 15:5

A thrift-store bargain, the lamp seemed perfect for my home office—the right color, size, and price. Back at home, however, when I plugged in the cord, nothing happened. No light. No power. No juice.

No problem, my husband assured me. “I can fix that. Easy.” As he took the lamp apart, he saw the trouble immediately. The plug wasn’t connected to anything. Without wiring to a source of power, the “perfect” pretty lamp was useless.

The same is true for us. Jesus told His disciples, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” But then he added this reminder: “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

This teaching was given in a grape-growing region, so His disciples readily understood it. Grapevines are hardy plants, and their branches tolerate vigorous pruning. Cut off from their life source, however, the branches are worthless deadwood. So it is with us.

As we remain in Jesus and let His words dwell in us, we’re wired to our life source—Christ Himself. “This is to my Father’s glory,” said Jesus, “that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (v. 8). Such a fruitful outcome needs daily nourishment, however. Freely, God provides it through the Scriptures and His love. So plug in and let the juice flow!

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What does it mean for you to remain in Jesus? How has He equipped you to bear fruit for Him?

All-powerful God, empower me to remain in You and allow Your loving Word to yield good fruit in me.

To learn more about growing spiritually, visit christianuniversity.org/SF104.

Sunday Reflection: Sorrow According to the Will of God

Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians follows up on a previous letter of his (likely 1 Corinthians), in which he rebuked that congregation. In this later epistle, he writes about their feeling grieved and draws a distinction between the sorrows of the world and being “sorrowful according to the will of God” (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). Paul asks them to repent in sincerity and see what fruit that will bear.

This kind of mourning doesn’t have to be a dark, scary, or joyless experience. In fact, it can be quite the opposite—hopeful and filled with light. As we let go of temporal desires and instead pursue the good that God has for us, we get a taste of the eternal comfort He has promised.

THINK ABOUT IT
• Paul is writing about a sorrow that produces repentance. In some translations, this is written as “godly grief.” Consider the opposite—what is borne of worldly grief? How is that different from the fruit that results from a godly kind of sorrow?

• Earlier in this letter, the apostle reminds the church that we live “as sorrowful yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). How can both things be true?

Early Confession

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16)

One of the specific reasons Paul wrote this letter to Timothy is contained in our text. The church is to guard and declare the “mystery of godliness.”

A “mystery” in Scripture is something that was previously hidden but that is now revealed. Here the mystery is the blessed truth that God is in the business of producing godliness in the lives of men and women; in this context, it is through the work of the church (v. 15). This ministry of the church in proclaiming this mystery was augmented by a doctrinal confession, or hymn, which was presented in:

“God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit.” “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), and was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness” (Romans 1:4). This couplet relates Christ’s human/divine nature. His humanity was evident to all; His divinity was declared through the Spirit.

“Seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles” (or nations). Angels observed, and to some degree participated in, Christ’s earthly ministry, but the salvation and godliness He offered was only to men, “which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12).

“Believed on in the world, received up into glory.” Other teachers have gained a following, but only Christ ascended directly into heaven following His resurrection. Doctrinal confessions or hymns can be an aid in learning and remembering truth, but the goal of each is godliness— “this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you” (Colossians 1:27). JDM

No Speech Humility

And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb…. There remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.

—Daniel 10:15, 17

 

When we meet God we also have a sense of weakness. I don’t think you will ever be strong until you know how utterly weak you are. And you will never know how utterly weak you are until you have stood in the presence of that great plenitude of strength, that great fullness of infinite power that we call God. When for an awful, happy, terrible, wonderful moment the eyes of our hearts have gazed upon the transcendent God, high and lifted up with His train filling the temple, then we will know how weak we are….

I’ve been preaching since I was nineteen years old and now I’m sixty-three. And yet, after all these years of preaching, I come into the pulpit shaking inside—not because I fear the people, but because I fear God. It’s the fear and trembling of knowing that I stand to speak of God and if I don’t speak rightly about God, what a terrible error it will be. If I speak evilly of God, what a frightful crime! It is only when I speak well of God that I dare sleep at night without asking forgiveness. AOGII046

Most of us have never had a true vision of Your power, Lord, and so have not experienced a real sense of our own weakness. May I fear You in speechless humility. Amen.

 

To Want No More

Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.

—Job 22:21

 

To know God, this is eternal life; this is the purpose for which we are and were created. The destruction of our God-awareness was the master blow struck by Satan in the dark day of our transgression.

To give God back to us was the chief work of Christ in redemption. To impart Himself to us in personal experience is the first purpose of God in salvation. To bring acute God-awareness is the best help the Spirit brings in sanctification. All other steps in grace lead up to this.

Were we allowed but one request, we might gain at a stroke all things else by praying one all-embracing prayer:

Thyself, Lord! Give me Thyself and I can want no more. WTA071

To be able to look into God’s face, and know with the knowledge of faith that there is nothing between the soul and Him, is to experience the fullest peace the soul can know. Whatever else pardon may be, it is above all things admission into full fellowship with God. JAS062