VIDEO The Rolling Year

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

Edmund Butcher, an English poet, began his career in cloth and draperies. At some point, he sought training for the ministry and served in small British churches. He began writing poetry as a teenager and continued all his life. But he is best known for simple poems. He left a legacy of many short poems, including “The Joy of Harvest” about the changing of the seasons:

Great God, as seasons disappear,

And changes mark the rolling year,

Thy favor still doth crown our days,

And we would celebrate thy praise.

The seasons roll by—summer and winter, springtime and harvest, but God’s faithfulness never ceases. In every season of life, His favor crowns our days, and we can celebrate His praise.

A spirit of thankfulness is one of the most distinctive marks of a Christian whose heart is attuned the Lord. Billy Graham


While the Earth Remains, Genesis 8:22 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

True Worshipers

True worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth. John 4:23

She finally had the chance to visit the church. Inside, in the deepest part of the basement, she reached the small cave or grotto. Candles filled the narrow space and hanging lamps illuminated a corner of the floor. There it was—a fourteen-pointed silver star, covering a raised bit of the marble floor. She was in Bethlehem’s Grotto of the Nativity—the place marking the spot where according to tradition Christ was born. Yet the writer, Annie Dillard, felt less than impressed, realizing God was much bigger than that spot.

Still, such places have always held great significance in our faith stories. Another such place is mentioned in the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well—the mountain where her “ancestors worshiped” (John 4:20), referring to Mount Gerizim (see Deuteronomy 11:29). It was sacred to the Samaritans, who contrasted it to the Jewish insistence that Jerusalem was where true worship occurred (v. 20). However, Jesus declared the time had arrived when worship was no longer specific to a place, but a Person: “the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth” (v. 23). The woman declared her faith in the Messiah, but she didn’t realize she was talking to Him. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you—I am he’ ” (v. 26).

God isn’t limited to any mountain or physical space. He’s present with us everywhere. The true pilgrimage we make each day is to approach His throne as we boldly say, “Our Father,” and He is there.

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

What difference does it make to you knowing that God is spirit, always and ever present? What will you praise Him for in this moment?

Father, thank You for Your constant presence no matter where I am.

Flee Youthful Lusts

The more we develop a taste for godly living, the less we’re enticed by sinful pleasures.

2 Timothy 2:20-23

It might be tempting to think that today’s passage applies only to the young. But no matter our age, every one of us should flee youthful lusts because they prevent us from pursuing what God desires: righteousness, faith, love, and peace with fellow believers. 

What exactly did Paul have in mind when he wrote about “youthful lusts” in 2 Timothy 2:22? He was referring to strong uncontrolled desires that are characteristic of the young and immature but may continue throughout life without the Holy Spirit’s guidance. In his first epistle, John wrote, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world” (1 John 2:16). These relate to the selfishness, greed, ambition, and pleasure through which Satan has influenced unbelievers everywhere.

All these longings war against God’s will for us because they are not from Him. Uncontrolled longings for pleasure, entertainment, beauty, prominence, possessions, wealth, or popularity are all self-focused and aimed at getting what we want. The way to overcome is to flee from them and begin pursuing God’s desires for our life, as revealed in His Word. 

The Danger of Willful Sin

Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him. (Numbers 15:31)

Under the Mosaic law, there was ample provision for forgiveness of sins committed unintentionally. “If any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering. And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly…and it shall be forgiven him” (Numbers 15:27-28). However, as in our text, it was altogether different for one who deliberately disobeyed God’s law. One who would so despise God’s commandment was to be put to death.

In this Christian dispensation, many would say that this harshness of God’s law has been replaced by His love. There is abundant pardon for all, since Jesus died for all our sins. Now all we need is to confess our sins and He will forgive us (1 John 1:9). But, “if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins….He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God?” (Hebrews 10:26, 28-29).

Even assuming this warning applies specifically only to those who have willfully renounced faith in Christ, the question still remains whether one with true saving faith will willfully sin against the known will of God as revealed in His Word. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4). Only God knows the heart, but those “Christians” who deliberately reject and disobey His Word should at least “examine [them]selves, whether [they] be in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). HMM

Service Of Praise: Praising The Lord For Creation

He alone does great wonders. His love is eternal. He made the heavens skillfully. His love is eternal. He spread the land on the waters. His love is eternal. He made the great lights: His love is eternal, the sun to rule by day, His love is eternal, the moon and stars to rule by night. His love is eternal (Psalm 136 vv. 4-9).

Preoccupied with business as usual, I have the tendency to sleepwalk through life, ignoring the beauties of creation around me. Television and films can dim our sight to a real visual experience, just as Muzak can jade our hearing so we don’t really hear good music. Or I concentrate on biblical truth, while failing to observe God’s testimony in nature. I believe it’s possible to be too serious, too scholarly, too cognitive. Perhaps that’s why so few people produce great art!

The psalmist is strongly motivated to give thanks because of his keen observation of God’s magnificent creation. He alone “does great wonders” (v. 4). Mere man cannot even begin to fathom the genius and power necessary to fashion the heavens.

In poetic form the psalmist enumerates the splendors of nature—the land, the waters, the dazzling stars and planets—spread out like a diamond necklace against a black velvet curtain. All of these represent gifts of grace that contribute to our equanimity and well-being. Each one gives unique testimony to the eternally enduring love of God. We live in an ultimately benign cosmos, not a hostile universe, and behind it all is the unfathomable love of God.

Surprised by the full circle of a rainbow or the breathtaking sight of the aurora borealis, the great Northern Lights, I am moved to praise. “His love endures forever!”

Personal Prayer

Lord, I thank you for the astonishing beauty of your creation. Make me more aware of my surroundings as I brush against your brilliant designs and help me to hear this silent song of your love!

“Nearer My God to Thee”

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.—James 4:8

The final two verses of Psalm 73 form a conclusion and a resolution. Listen to them here: “Those far from You will certainly perish; You destroy all who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, God’s presence is my good. I have made the Lord God my refuge, so I can tell about all You do” (vv. 27-28). The psalmist has finished his review of the past and is now hammering out a philosophy with which to face the future. He is resolved that no matter what anyone else may do, he is going to live in close companionship with God. He helps us to see the importance of this resolution by putting it in the form of a contrast: “Those far from You will certainly perish … but as for me, God’s presence is my good.”

Really, when it comes down to it, there are only two positions in life—close to God or far away from Him. I wonder, as the psalmist penned these words, was something like this going through his mind: “What caused me so much trouble in recent days and accounted for all my difficulties was the fact that I did not keep close to God. I erroneously believed that the cause of my problems was the prosperity of the ungodly, but having entered into the sanctuary of God I see that this was not he cause of my problems at all. My problems came because I had chosen not to remain close to Him. For me there is now only one thing that matters—staying close to God.”

How are things with you at this moment? Do you feel close to God? If you don’t, then let me put what I want to say in the words of a wayside pulpit that arrested my attention some years ago: “If you feel that God is far away, guess who moved?”

Prayer

Father, I am grateful for the promise of Your Word to me today that when I draw near to You, You will draw near to me. Help me put those words to the test by moving closer to You than I have ever done before. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 46:1-11; 2Sm 22:3; Ps 9:9; Ps 62:1-12

What does the psalmist affirm?

What does the psalmist exhort the people?

Have Courage

Psalm 31:24

We want a courage that will acknowledge Christ—the Christ of the New Testament—the Christ that was down upon shams, and hypocrisies, and luxuries, and selfishness, the Christ of the cross. We want a courage that will look the world—that hates Him still, and would crucify Him again—in the face, and say fearlessly, “I am on His side, and I glory in it.”

We want a courage that will confess salvation. If God has spoken to a soul, if He has given it an inspiration, a forgiveness, an adoption, an inheritance, surely that is cowardice that would keep the soul from telling it forth for the benefit of the impoverished world about him.

We want courage to denounce iniquity, to call things by their right names. Having convictions of right and wrong, let us plainly tell them forth, whether we please or displease. We will not do it in order to create pain; but, surely, if God has shown us right from wrong, we should imitate Him, and show it to others.

We want courage to warn people of the wrath and ruin that are coming upon all evildoers. Why don’t we speak out plainly and repeat it, and repeat it, until they say it to themselves, and wake up their slumbering souls and escape for their lives?

In short, we want the courage of our convictions. We want pluck and daring that cannot be abashed, that can stand up against the influence of a world in arms and risk everything to gain our holy ends.

This courage is often realized and manifested by naturally delicate timid souls—men and women who by nature would shrink from danger, but who, by grace, can face with unflinching calmness men and devils leagued in furious opposition.

There is plenty of this God-given quality in the divine storehouse. God gives it abundantly to those who seek. Courage, pluck, daring, heroism, whatever name this spirit may be known by, is not only a gift, but a growth. Cultivate it; stand up for God, and the spirit of the martyrs and holy prophets will come upon you.

William Booth, The Warrior’s Daily Portion