Archives for the month of: December, 2012

Blessed Is He
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity.” (Psalm 32:1-2)

What true believer is there who is not eternally thankful for the truths found in today’s verse? Sins of omission, sins of commission, sins of deliberate action, sins of the heart, youthful sins, covert sins, “big” sins, “little” sins, etc. What a thrill to know that the penalty for our sins has been paid in full, if we but accept His free gift. What rejoicing and freedom forgiveness brings.

Note that there are three different expressions for wrongdoing in today’s verse–transgression, sin, and iniquity. The differences in these words are not insignificant, but precise differentiation is beyond the scope of this discussion. Suffice it to say that they can be understood to mean the whole gamut of sinful activity.

Likewise there are three separate aspects of God’s forgiving grace mentioned, “forgiven . . . covered . . . not imputed.” In every way possible our sin is removed from us, and no more payment is necessary.

However, God’s forgiveness must be conditioned on the individual’s action. A lack of action results in the bearing of the sin, the guilt, and the consequences, again specified in a threefold manner. “My bones waxed old . . . my roaring . . . thy hand was heavy upon me” (vv. 3-4).

In keeping with the pattern of the psalm, three such actions are mentioned. “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD (v. 5). The result? “And thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.”

Because of all this, we should have a threefold response: “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart” (v. 11). JDM

 

December 13, 2012
Seek Ye First
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Our verse for today has become a favorite memory verse for millions and has even been set to music by a number of artists. Indeed, its truth is of foundational importance. Let us look with care at what it says.

First, notice that the tense of the verb “seek” in Greek implies a command to establish an ongoing habit or lifestyle of “seeking” the things of the kingdom. We are commanded to put first things first on a continual basis and watch Him take care of the items of secondary interest.

We should strive to make His priorities our priorities–to so mold our thinking by the Word of God that we think as He does on every issue. Our lives should exhibit the purity and righteousness that He exhibited when on earth. While it is true that we will never fully achieve such perfection this side of heaven, we should be striving, i.e., “seeking” to do so, by the power of His Spirit living in us.

The chapter surrounding today’s verse is permeated by the concept of proper priorities in relation to pride (vv. 5-816-18), treasures on earth (vv. 19-21), singleness of purpose (vv. 22-23), serving two masters (v. 24), or anxious thoughts about the future (vv. 25-3234). Remember, “your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (v. 32).

If we reverse the proper order, not only will we not attain kingdom priorities and His righteousness, but we will probably miss the secondary “things” as well. The word “added,” a mathematical word, implies the prior existence of something to which other things can be added.

Surely in our “seeking” we should also adopt the prayer Jesus taught His disciples, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (v. 10). JDM

 

December 12, 2012
A New Name
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” (Revelation 2:17)

This intriguing promise is one of seven promises in Christ’s letters to seven representative churches–promises made “to him that overcometh.” Although there are various opinions as to who constitute these overcomers,1 John 5:4 would indicate that “whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

On this assumption, all who have been truly born again through faith in Christ will someday be given a new name by their Lord. No one will know what his new name will be until he receives it, and even then it may remain unknown to everyone else.

It would be reasonable to assume, however, that each new name will reflect the Lord’s evaluation of the character and service of the one who receives it. We have the primitive examples of Abram, Sarai, and Jacob being given new names by God, perhaps to serve as types of this coming investiture. Abram became “Abraham” (meaning “Father of Multitudes”), Sarai became “Sarah” (meaning “Princess”), and Jacob became “Israel” (meaning “Prevailing Prince with God”). See Genesis 17:51532:28.

Whatever each of our new names will turn out to be, our Savior will also know them, of course, and this will perhaps be how we will be addressed by Him from then on in the new earth. This should be a great incentive to godly living and faithful service here on this present earth, for we surely desire to receive a good name there from our Lord on the future earth. HMM

 

December 8, 2012
Mt. Ararat and the Resurrection
“And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.” (Genesis 8:4)

The story of Noah’s preservation through the awful Flood has been recognized by all Bible students as a beautiful picture of the resurrection. It is, of course, a true story which actually happened the way the Bible describes, but is also a beautiful analogy.

The Flood was sent as a judgment upon the sinful world of Noah’s day (Genesis 6:5-711-1317). The “wages of sin” (Romans 6:23) has always been death. But God provided a way of salvation (i.e., the Ark which Noah built) to those eight souls who believed, Noah and his family (Genesis 6:8-9,14-1618-22).

Although the analogy is not perfect, it does beautifully illustrate the fact that the punishment for sin is still death, and that God has provided a perfect way of salvation to those who believe in His Son Jesus Christ and in His death on the cross.

In that light, it is interesting to note the date in today’s verse, which has great significance. The calendar was changed by God at the time of the Passover, another beautiful prefigure of Christ’s work. The seventh month became the first month (Exodus 12:2), and the Passover was to be observed on the fourteenth day of that month (v. 6) each year following. “Christ our passover” (1 Corinthians 5:7) was sacrificed for us on that day (John 19:14) and rose again the third day, the seventeenth day of the first (formerly the seventh) month.

This was the anniversary of the landing of Noah’s Ark on the mountains of Ararat, providing its inhabitants new life following judgment of the world and its destruction because of sin. What a blessed picture of our new resurrection life based on Christ’s death for our sins. JDM

Old Testament Love
October 24, 2012

“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18)

Many people have mistakenly rejected or neglected the Old Testament on the basis that it speaks about a vindictive God of judgment in contrast to the New Testament God of love manifest in Jesus Christ. This perspective, however, is completely wrong.

One day a lawyer asked Jesus, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).

Both of these commandments were recorded, of course, in the Old Testament. The first one in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 is perhaps the most revered of all passages to the Jews: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” The second great commandment is the one in our text for the day. This law is buried deep in the Pentateuch, in the unlikely heart of the book of Leviticus. In the New Testament it is even called “the royal law” (James 2:8).

Thus, the great underlying theme of the Old Testament is love–love for God and love for others–and this truth is stressed by Christ Himself in the New Testament. Even greater is God’s eternal love which was ours from before the world and that will never end. “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3). HMM

Tears to triumph!

Verse for Today: Saturday, December 15, 2012

Psalms 6:7 – My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.

 

Pain, grief and misery have a serious bearing on our eyes and face. Face is often a glass through which the anguishes of the heart are silently expressed. It is vivid to the observant people and they often wonder what bugs us. It is all the more intensively evident when our eyes become tired and our words griping. Our exuberance wanes away and even our physical energy dwindle. After all, it is not easy to bear the brunt of constant attacks by the enemy of our soul. It takes a heavy toll on our person and our physique. The greatest difficulty comes when the enemy uses people who are dearest and nearest to us as his instruments to attack us. David had such bitter experiences when the enemy used his father-in-law to fight him. As a result of the attacks by the king, his soldiers who had seen David’s great victories also acted against David. Through the king, David technically became the enemy of his nation. He couldn’t understand why his dear people attacked him. He wondered what fault they had found in him to harass him so much. David couldn’t fight them back because they were his kith and kin. So often the only thing left was to run for life and hide from being assaulted. During those dark moments of life, the best that David could do was to cry to God and weep before Him in deep agony and misery. These were moments when the great warrior of Israel became a weakling and like a helpless baby with tears in his eyes and sorrow in his heart. He felt that nobody wanted him and no one cared for him. But David was moved by the Spirit of God to keep looking unto Him for comfort, strength, hope and faith. Sure enough, help and hope came to fill his heart and rekindled his vision to keep going. The God of David is with us today to see our tears and hear our sobs and groaning. When we cry, He will not keep silent, but will act to deliver our eyes from tears and our feet from danger.

 

Dear friend, are you swimming through your tears of sorrow and weeping lately? Are you inflicted with pain and misery because of the attacks you face from the enemy of your soul? Are your dearest ones used against you? Perhaps he is using your employer, colleagues, associates, neighbors and family to fight you. You might be facing unkind and brutal treatment from them which breaks your heart. There might be a series of events in and around you that hurt you deeply. It might be unemployment, sickness, loss or failure on your part. You can see the element of attack from the enemy in all of these. But you have a place to go to and a person to talk to and that is your Heavenly Father. He sees your situation and feels your pain. He understands your predicaments. He will never hide His face from you. When all others keep away from you and refuse to help you, your God will be ever near to you. He will wipe your tears and absorb your pain and misery and will fill your heart with joy and hope which will not fade away no matter how dark the horizon looks. His presence is sufficient to meet all the challenges which you are faced with. You have the opportunity today to confide in Him about all your situations and circumstances. Your Lord will transform your tears into joy unspeakable and your weeping into singing. If you look at others for help and comfort, you will be squarely disappointed, but there will be no disappointment with our God. It is best to wait for Him silently and praise Him for all that He will do to turn your tears into hymns of praise.

 

Psalms 28:6 – Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy.

 

Thought for Today

The God of all compassion and comfort will transform the countenance of His children when they cry unto Him.