VIDEO Precious in His Sight

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15

With the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, the word precious gained new frequency in cultural conversation. “Precious” was the name given by the diabolical creature, Gollum, to a powerful and malevolent golden ring. The hobbit, Frodo Baggins, pursued a perilous crusade to see the ring destroyed. But the evil Gollum opposed Frodo’s every effort, seeking to gain the ring’s magical powers for himself.

Precious appears in Scripture more than seventy times, always referring to things of value. An even deeper meaning is attached to “precious” in Psalm 116:15 referring to the death of God’s people. In this case, precious doesn’t mean desirable—but it does mean valuable. God doesn’t desire for His people to die, especially in difficult circumstances as suggested in Psalm 116. Instead, the death of God’s people is safeguarded, watched over, protected, and secured. Much as we safeguard something highly valuable, so God safeguards His people when they die. As Jesus protected His disciples in life (John 17:12), so God protects them in death.

Those in Christ should never fear death. The love of God continues from temporal life through to eternal life.

The church is the only society in the world that never loses any of its members, even by death. John Blanchard


Billy Graham – Death – Ft Lauderdale FL

Firm Refusal

Daniel . . . still pray[ed] three times a day. Daniel 6:13

When the Nazis drafted Franz Jägerstätter during World War II, he completed military basic training but refused to take the required pledge of personal loyalty to Adolf Hitler. Authorities allowed Franz to return to his farm, but they later summoned him to active duty. After seeing Nazi ideology up close and learning of the Jewish genocide, however, Jägerstätter decided his loyalty to God meant he could never fight for the Nazis. He was arrested and sentenced to execution, leaving behind his wife and three daughters.

Over the years, many believers in Jesus—under peril of death—have offered a firm refusal when commanded to disobey God. The story of Daniel is one such story. When a royal edict threatened that anyone “who pray[ed] to any god or human being except [the king]” (Daniel 6:12) would be thrown into the lions’ den, Daniel discarded safety and remained faithful. “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (v. 10). The prophet would bend his knee to God—and only God—no matter the cost.

Sometimes, our choice is clear. Though everyone around us implores us to go along with prevailing opinion—though our own reputation or well-being may be at risk—may we never turn from our obedience to God. Sometimes, even at great cost, all we can offer is a firm refusal.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Where are you sensing that obedience to God will require your firm refusal? What might this refusal cost you? What will you gain?

God, I know my loyalty to You will at times mean saying no to others’ expectations or demands. It may cost me dearly. Give me courage.

Persevering in Prayer

Romans 8:26-28

A common hindrance to our prayer life is a lack of perseverance. Many Christians feel that once they’ve prayed for something, the answer should immediately be forthcoming. But God is not a bellhop, waiting to give us what we want the moment we petition Him. Imagine if the Lord instantly provided whatever we request—we might not develop virtues like patience, trust, and dependence upon Him.

The Lord is faithful to answer our prayers, but not always in the way we expect. Yet even when the answer is no, we can be sure that what He gives is better than what we requested. Consider the apostle Paul—though he repeatedly asked for relief from his “thorn in the flesh,” he was given something more spiritually beneficial. God not only protected Paul from pride but also used the apostle’s weakness to display divine power (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Since Paul’s prayer wasn’t answered the way he’d originally hoped, you might wonder about the requests you bring to the Lord. The truth is, we don’t always know how to pray as we should, but thankfully, we have a Helper in the Holy Spirit, who intercedes for us according to God’s will. If we don’t receive what we hoped, we can be sure that the Spirit knew exactly what to ask on our behalf—and that what we received as a result was best. 

When the Foundations Are Destroyed

“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

The word here for “foundations” is not the usual word for, say, a building foundation. Used rarely, a better translation of this word would be “purpose,” or “basis.” The fear expressed is not that the foundations of our faith might be undermined but that we might lose our sense of purpose.

In the context of the psalm, David was in danger of becoming demoralized by the pressures of wicked desires and evil ambitions all around him, and Christians surely have the same problem today. Why should we try to maintain high standards of doctrinal integrity and moral purity when the people around us—even most Christians—seem to be occupied mostly with materialistic ambition and pursuit of pleasure? If we allow the devil to undermine the very purposes God has for our lives, wandering away from His will in favor of some temporal interest, then why even continue with a pretense of Christian living?

David’s solution was simply to remind himself that “the LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men” (v. 4). He may allow the righteous to be tried for a season, but we must not forget that “the righteous LORD loveth righteousness” (v. 7) and that “the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth” (v. 5).

When we are tempted to wonder whether it is really worth all the effort, and when our very foundation and purpose for living seems to be crumbling, we should remember that our God is Creator, Sustainer, and Judge of all—that He still is on His throne, and that we who belong to Him have been “predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11). HMM

“Thou Fool, This Night”

Luke 12:13-20

THE first portion of Luke 12 records diverse admonitions of our Lord, climaxing in the parable of the rich fool. In the presence of a multitude so enormous that men often trode upon each other, He warned His disciples of the leaven of Pharisaic hypocrisy. Why be hypocritical? All will be revealed anyway, so why hide anything? God is presented here sternly as having power to kill and to cast into hell; He is the One to fear.

But Jesus moves immediately to declare that even the sparrows are not forgotten of our Father. Two sparrows are sold for a farthing and five sparrows for two farthings, and He is the “God of the odd sparrow.” Then even more minute a figure is used: “Even the very hairs of your head are numbered.”

Our Lord declares that those who confess Him before men He will confess before the angels, and those who deny Him He will deny. We tell people to believe, and certainly they must, but we have soft-pedaled confession. Yet God’s Word couples mouth confession with heart belief in an unmistakable and unbreakable connection (Rom. 10:9-10). The Bible demands public mouth confession of Christ as Lord and Savior as emphatically as heart belief for salvation.

Jesus presents here the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, the sin without forgiveness. It is that expression of a nature so hardened in sin and impervious to God as to call the works of Christ the works of the devil. He advises His disciples not to prepare their messages in advance when called before synagogue councils and other authorities, but to depend upon the Holy Spirit. While this does not rule out sermon preparation, it does remind us that humble dependence upon the Spirit is the best rule of homiletics.

The parable of the rich fool was an answer to a covetous request from a man who wanted property. Our Lord first made it clear that He was no judge and divider, settling petty differences about lands and goods. “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possessed.” The things may be abundant, but the life is not.

The awful contrast appears in the rich fool, with God saying to his soul, “Thou fool, this night….” We think to make ourselves secure for the future by barricading with stocks and bonds and early wealth, but the only life insurance is saving faith in Christ. How foolish that a man will insure life, home, car, everything except his soul, the only thing he will have a few years from now! Men pride themselves on business shrewdness and clever management and fail to receive eternal life. Any man who lets Jesus pass by is a fool, however he rates at the bank. “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Go Still Deeper

They welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.—Acts 17:11

Christians who do not accept the authority of the Scriptures have no effective weapon with which to overcome Satan. It is as simple as that. If you are not certain that the Bible is the Word of God, if you do not believe that it is without error in all that it affirms, then you are like a soldier with a broken sword.

To use the sword of the Spirit effectively, we need to have as wide a knowledge of the Bible as possible. Let me take you back to Christ’s encounter with Satan in the wilderness of temptation. When Satan advanced, Jesus took up the sword of the Spirit and knew exactly which particular Scriptures to use to rebut each of the three separate temptations of the Devil.

If we are to conquer Satan in the same way that Jesus conquered him, then we must know the Bible in its entirety. It is no good saying to the Devil: “The verse I want to use against you is somewhere in the Bible.” You must quote it to him and quote it precisely.

You need a deep, intensive program of study if you are to become proficient in the use of the Scriptures against Satan. Decide right now to commit yourself to exploring the Bible more deeply and thoroughly than you have ever done before.

Prayer

O Father, I see that the more I know of Your Word, the more effective I will be in resisting Satan. Show me how to go more deeply into the Scriptures than I have ever done before. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Further Study

Ezk 37:1-10; Jn 17:17; Rm 10:8

What was the result of the spoken Word through Ezekiel?

What did Paul say of the Bereans?

A Divine Reveille

2 Corinthians 5:17

To some men and women there comes the rare experience when it seems, if only for a moment, that the barriers between God and the soul disappear and they find themselves in His very presence. Such an experience is often decisive in that life is never quite the same again; something new has broken into it, adding new vision, beauty and power. It is a new dawn, a divine reveille, which arouses one to action for God.

This is what happened in the life of Matthew the tax collector. As he sat at his work Jesus burst in upon his vision. For a moment a door opened into another world, and Matthew heard an authoritative voice calling, “Follow Me!”

(Matthew 9:9). He closed his books, put away his money and followed Jesus.

This one supreme, quiet, insistent voice called him to a high vocation. It was the imperative command of a royal person.

Following Christ, like falling in love, is a mutual matter. It is Christ coming to man and man coming to Christ. Christ offers us a new chance, a new life—and from no one else can we obtain it.

Other religious leaders had frequently passed the tollbooth where Matthew sat at the receipt of custom, but they made no impression on him, nor did he on them. To them, Matthew was a traitor to the Jewish race in the service of the hated Romans, collecting taxes from the Jews for a foreign power. To them he was a social outcast.

But Jesus never looked upon men in terms of what they were, but in terms of what they might become. Jesus knew what potential lay dormant in the tax gatherer, and He stirred impulses that opened up vistas to a new life. Where the Jews saw a rogue, Jesus saw a potentially honest man. If Matthew’s pen had been used for perfidy, a new Matthew could wield it to write a gospel. The crafty auditor could become, through Christ, a Christian author giving to the world a record of the immortal Word.

Is there a more inspiring thought to those who have failed, whose lives are blighted and broken, than that Christ always looks for the best in men? He knows the worst is capable of the best through divine grace.

To see in Christ a love which is not in ourselves, and to open our hearts to it, is the way of salvation. The real Matthew was awakened. The world becomes a different place when we follow Christ. Life vibrates with a new challenge:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

George B. Smith, Meditations for the Ordinary Man