VIDEO Choose This Day

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. Deuteronomy 30:19

Every parent has been through the “It’s your choice” exercise with their children. They set out two alternatives, two possibilities, two choices—as well as the ramifications of each choice—and then let the child choose and live with the following consequences. Sometimes life gives us choices, the consequences of which are unknown. So we have to make our best decision and move forward. But in the spiritual and moral realms, choices are much clearer.

When Moses was preparing the Israelites to inhabit the Promised Land of Canaan, he set before them two ways of life: “life and good” or “death and evil” (Deuteronomy 30:15). He had previously spelled out for them the consequences of each way of life. Walking in covenant with God would bring life and blessing, but rejecting God’s ways would bring death and destruction. Joshua reiterated these choices to them again years later: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

You will have choices to make today. Choose life and blessing by choosing the ways of the Lord.

Oh happy day that fixed my choice on Thee, my Savior and my God!
Philip Doddridge, “Happy Day”


Tim Keller | Life and Prosperity, Death and Destruction | Deuteronomy 30

Sharing Hope

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

As Emma shared how God helped her embrace her identity as His beloved child, she weaved Scripture into our conversation. I could barely figure out where the high school student stopped speaking her words and began quoting the words of God. When I commended her for being like a walking Bible, her brow furrowed. She hadn’t been intentionally reciting Scripture verses. Through daily reading of the Bible, the wisdom found in it had become a part of Emma’s everyday vocabulary. She rejoiced in God’s constant presence and enjoyed every opportunity He provided to share His truth with others. But Emma isn’t the first young person God has used to inspire others to prayerfully read, memorize, and apply Scripture.

When the apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to step into leadership, he demonstrated confidence in this young man (1 Timothy 4:11–16). Paul acknowledged that Timothy was rooted in Scripture from infancy (2 Timothy 3:15). Like Paul, Timothy faced doubters. Still, both men lived as if they believed all Scripture was “God-breathed.” They recognized Scripture was “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (vv. 16–17).

When we hide God’s wisdom in our hearts, His truth and love can pour into our conversations naturally. We can be like walking Bibles sharing God’s eternal hope wherever we go.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How do you hide Scripture in your heart and mind? How has God’s wisdom helped you share His truth with others?

Father, saturate my heart with Your wisdom so I can share You with others naturally and courageously.

Quieting Your Soul

When we make time to be alone with the Father and quiet in His presence, we experience His peace

Psalm 131

Do you hurry through your prayer time so you can get to other things? If so, consider the values Jesus modeled when He spent time with His Father. 

Solitude. Though Jesus was constantly surrounded by people as He tended to their needs, His own need for seclusion was important. Often, after an intense period of ministry, He’d retreat from the crowds—and even His disciples—to pray in private. 

Safeguarded time. Jesus protected His time so He could rest in the Spirit, be with the Father, and build up physical and emotional strength. Even when people were clamoring for His attention, Jesus safeguarded this time, knowing that His ministry would flow from it. 

Stillness. Psalm 46:10 calls us to quietness with these words: “Stop striving and know that I am God.” To develop this inner peace, stop everything you’re doing, and let your soul become aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence. In Psalm 46:2 of today’s reading, David described stillness as being like a “weaned child” who’s at perfect rest and happy in his mother’s arms. 

These values may seem challenging in our fast-paced, multitasking world. But when you quiet your heart before the Lord, you’ll discover how much you need the peace of His presence. 

The Prosperity of the Ungodly

Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? (Jeremiah 12:1)

One of the perennial theological problems is the apparent prosperity of the ungodly along with the suffering of the righteous. Why would God seem to endorse such a system?

It has been this way for ages. Some 2,000 or more years before Christ, Job asked essentially the same question as did the prophet Jeremiah in our text above. “Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?…They spend their days in wealth, and…say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways” (Job 21:7, 13-14). Likewise, the psalmist Asaph complained, “I was envious…when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:3).

The real solution to this paradox is not in this present world but in the world to come, where hell awaits the ungodly and heaven awaits those whom God has redeemed through faith in Christ. The fact that a man may prosper materially is not necessarily a measure of God’s approval. The previous economic boom in this country made many men very wealthy, and most of them seem either indifferent or hostile to God, but their wealth is very ephemeral. As David said in another psalm, “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not” (Psalm 37:35-36).

If God does give a few believers material wealth, it is so that they may use it for the Lord and for others, not to pamper themselves. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but…that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to [share]” (1 Timothy 6:17-18). HMM

Service Of Praise: Thanking The Lord For His Acts In History

He struck the firstborn of the Egyptians His love is eternal, and brought Israel out from among them His love is eternal, with a strong hand and outstretched arm. His love is eternal. He divided the Red Sea His love is eternal, and led Israel through, His love is eternal, but hurled Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea. His love is eternal. He led His people in the wilderness. His love is eternal. He struck down great kings His love is eternal, and slaughtered famous kings—His love is eternal… and gave their land as an inheritance, His love is eternal, an inheritance to Israel His servant. His love is eternal. He remembered us in our humiliation His love is eternal, and rescued us from our foes. His love is eternal. He gives food to every creature. His love is eternal. Give thanks to the God of heaven! His love is eternal (Psalm 136 vv. 10-18, 21—26).

God’s loyal, enduring love extends to this century and to you and me on this special day. What greater cause for giving thanks?

Personal Prayer

O Lord, thank you for the thread of your love in the tapestry of human history. Along with my ancient Hebrew brother, I praise you today!

The Language of Music

Antiphonal

Relating to a response between two groups of singers (i.e., like two choirs echoing each other).

Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli are known for brilliant antiphonal brass writing.

Down, but Not Out

Since my youth they have often attacked me, but they have not prevailed against me.—Psalm 129:2

The opening verses of this psalm spell out the simple but powerful message that though the world has always harassed the people of God, the world will never win. “Since my youth they have often attacked me,” says the psalmist, “but they have not prevailed against me.” The man or woman who clings closely to God outlasts all oppressors. He or she is provided with an inner fortitude that is enduring. Perseverance, patience, stickablity—this then is the message of Psalm 129.

There is no better way of seeing the persistency of faith than by setting it in the context of history. God’s people have been ostracized, ridiculed, humiliated, scorned, persecuted, and beaten, but in the midst of the most horrific trials they have continued to serve God. If the persistence that flows from faith was merely a fad, then we would not be talking about it now.

Faith—persistent faith, that is—is not a fad; it is a fact. It runs like a thread throughout all history and is shared by the men and women of every generation. Those who think of the Christian faith as a plant that flourishes only in good weather ought to take a look at history.

Faith is a hardy perennial that survives all weather conditions—drought, storm, even floods. J. B. Phillips, in his brilliant paraphrase of the New Testament, sums it up admirably: “We may be knocked down but we are never knocked out!” (2Co 4:9). A preacher friend of mine puts it equally well when he says: “We may be floored but we are not flattened.”

Prayer

Gracious Father, help me see that my perseverance is not so much a matter of my persevering but Your persevering in me. I supply the willingness; You supply the power. Together we will make it, You and I. All glory be to Your wonderful name. Amen.

Further Study

Jms 1:1-27; 5:1-11; Gl 6:9; Heb 12:1

What is Paul’s exhortation?

What will enable us to persevere?

Faith and Feeling

1 Thessalonians 4:3

God calls us to the heights: “Be holy” He says (1 Peter 1:16). No one can do that, however hard he tries, until he realizes that God’s commands are God’s enablings. With the command we may have the endowment.

The psychologist Adler has pointed out how much insight lies in Jesus’s first inquiry of the infirm man, “do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6 NKJV). The will is determination; it is decision; it is the direction of a man’s desires. “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). The Christian is to bring his will into agreement with God’s will in the matter.

John Ruysbroeck was a 14th century mystic of wide influence. One day two young priests approached him to seek his advice on Christian living. He is reported to have said to them, “You are just as holy as you want to be.” It was profoundly true.

Perhaps any Christian movement that emphasizes experience, as The Salvation Army does, will need to take care to keep a sense of proportion. Our songs encourage us to expect religion to be heartfelt. Such an accent is legitimate, but let us not forget the divine order. It is (1) fact, (2) faith, (3) feeling. There is always the danger of reversing the order. Some Christians will believe when they “feel” convinced. But feelings were never intended to rule; we are to obey God whether we feel like it or not.

Our Lord’s confidence in our capacity for holiness is amazing, almost incredible. But how encouraging! Even though what man is may be far from what he ought to be, Jesus is sure we can rise to it.

If that victory is ever won, however, it will be just that—a victory, over a thousand besetments and temptations. We encounter the same storms in which others have suffered shipwreck.

God looks upon His embattled child and says, “You can have victory if you really want victory, not with half your being but with every part of you.” In the 19th century Kierkegaard said, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.”

Holiness is wholeness, integrating the entire personality around one passion. Catherine Booth declared: “No man ever got this blessing if he felt he could get along without it.” When it matters that much to us, command and promise, duty and privilege, will meet and mingle in the experience of sanctifying grace.

Edward Read, Studies in Sanctification