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God Is Good in Trials

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on December 9th.

Romans 5:1-5 Chapter 5 1 Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; 2 through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we also rejoice in our tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh stedfastness; 4 and stedfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope: 5 and hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us.

If God is always good, why does He allow His people to experience pain? Although there will be a day when He makes all things right, for now we live in a fallen world filled with suffering. God hasn’t lost control, but if we don’t understand what He’s doing, we could become discouraged or angry when we face trials.

Our heavenly Father sovereignly uses every difficult and hurtful situation to bring about His purposes in our life. That’s why we are told to exult not only in the hope of the glory of God but in our tribulations as well.

Rejoicing in tribulations (not for them) is possible only if we know the glorious things God accomplishes through trials. The good He produces is progressive in nature, moving from one positive result to the next:

Perseverance. When our hope and trust are on the goodness, love, and power of God, we have all the resources we need to keep going instead of becoming disillusioned and abandoning our faith.

Proven character. God uses trials to purify us from sin and increasingly transform us into His image so that our character, conduct, and conversation reflect and honor Him.

Hope. Knowing the good purposes for which God allows pain and trouble in our life keeps us from descending into discouragement. Instead, we are confident of His love and place our hope in what He is accomplishing through His Spirit within us.

Trials in your life have the potential to develop good qualities within you. That’s why you can exult in the Lord, even in tribulation.

Bible in One Year: Philippians 1-4 Chapter 1 1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy, 5 for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now; 6 being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7 even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the tender mercies of Christ Jesus. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; 10 so that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offence unto the day of Christ; 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. 12 Now I would have you know, brethren, that the things `which happened' unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the gospel; 13 so that my bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole praetorian guard, and to all the rest; 14 and that most of the brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 the one `do it' of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel; 17 but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds. 18 What then? only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. 19 For I know that this shall turn out to my salvation, through your supplication and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that in nothing shall I be put to shame, but `that' with all boldness, as always, `so' now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if to live in the flesh, --`if' this shall bring fruit from my work, then what I shall choose I know not. 23 But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better: 24 yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake. 25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide, yea, and abide with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith; 26 that your glorying may abound in Christ Jesus in me through my presence with you again. 27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ: that, whether I come and see you and be absent, I may hear of your state, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel; 28 and in nothing affrighted by the adversaries: which is for them an evident token of perdition, but of your salvation, and that from God; 29 because to you it hath been granted in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer in his behalf: 30 having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. Chapter 2 1 If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, 2 make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; 3 `doing' nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; 4 not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others. 5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient `even' unto death, yea, the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; 10 that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of `things' in heaven and `things' on earth and `things' under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12 So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and questionings: 15 that ye may become blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as lights in the world, 16 holding forth the word of life; that I may have whereof to glory in the day of Christ, that I did not run in vain neither labor in vain. 17 Yea, and if I am offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all: 18 and in the same manner do ye also joy, and rejoice with me. 19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20 For I have no man likeminded, who will care truly for your state. 21 For they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. 22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a child `serveth' a father, `so' he served with me in furtherance of the gospel. 23 Him therefore I hope to send forthwith, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me: 24 but I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall come shortly. 25 But I counted it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need; 26 since he longed after you all, and was sore troubled, because ye had heard that he was sick: 27 for indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I have sent him therefore the more diligently, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all joy; and hold such in honor: 30 because for the work of Christ he came nigh unto death, hazarding his life to supply that which was lacking in your service toward me. Chapter 3 1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not irksome, but for you it is safe. 2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the concision: 3 for we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh: 4 though I myself might have confidence even in the flesh: if any other man thinketh to have confidence in the flesh, I yet more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 as touching zeal, persecuting the church; as touching the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless. 7 Howbeit what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ, 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, `even' that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith: 10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death; 11 if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing `I do', forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, 14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you: 16 only, whereunto we have attained, by that same `rule' let us walk. 17 Brethren, be ye imitators together of me, and mark them that so walk even as ye have us for an ensample. 18 For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, `that they are' the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is perdition, whose god is the belly, and `whose' glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, `that it may be' conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself. Chapter 4 1 Wherefore, my brethren beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my beloved. 2 I exhort Euodia, and I exhort Syntyche, to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yea, I beseech thee also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow-workers, whose names are in the book of life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 The things which ye both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do: and the God of peace shall be with you. 10 But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at length ye have revived your thought for me; wherein ye did indeed take thought, but ye lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. 12 I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. 13 I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me. 14 Howbeit ye did well that ye had fellowship with my affliction. 15 And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving but ye only; 16 for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my need. 17 Not that I seek for the gift; but I seek for the fruit that increaseth to your account. 18 But I have all things, and abound: I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things `that came' from you, and odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 Now unto our God and Father `be' the glory for ever and ever. Amen. 21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren that are with me salute you. 22 All the saints salute you, especially they that are of Caesar's household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.




Be Strong and Courageous

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on December 9th.

Deuteronomy 31:1-8 Chapter 31 1 And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel. 2 And he said unto them, I am a hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: and Jehovah hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan. 3 Jehovah thy God, he will go over before thee; he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt dispossess them: `and' Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as Jehovah hath spoken. 4 And Jehovah will do unto them as he did to Sihon and to Og, the kings of the Amorites, and unto their land; whom he destroyed. 5 And Jehovah will deliver them up before you, and ye shall do unto them according unto all the commandment which I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be affrighted at them: for Jehovah thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 7 And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of good courage: for thou shalt go with this people into the land which Jehovah hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it. 8 And Jehovah, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

Have you ever faced a challenge that left you feeling inadequate and afraid? The great men and women in the Bible weren’t superhuman, so they undoubtedly experienced the same weaknesses we do. Though Joshua was a strong military leader, he probably felt inadequate to fill Moses’ shoes. After all, Moses had talked with God face to face, performed amazing miracles, and led the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage. How could Joshua ever expect to live up to that?

But remember, Moses didn’t start out as a mighty man of faith. When God first called him to deliver the children of Israel, he focused on his own inadequacy and begged the Lord to send someone else (Ex. 4:10-13). I think Moses knew exactly how Joshua felt. That’s why he exhorted his successor to be strong and courageous.

However, the strength Joshua needed was not going to come from positive thinking or puffed-up self-confidence. What he needed was assurance that the Lord would go ahead of him every step of the way and give the nation the land as promised.

Confidence for God-given challenges never comes from within ourselves. But when we believe the Lord and rely on His Word instead of our feelings, He’ll give us the ability and courage that we need to accomplish His will.

If your life were always easy, you’d never need strength and courage—and you would miss great opportunities to get to know the Lord intimately. Only as we face one faith-stretching challenge after another and experience God’s faithfulness will we learn to depend on Him instead of ourselves.

Bible in One Year: Philippians 1-4 Chapter 1 1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy, 5 for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now; 6 being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7 even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the tender mercies of Christ Jesus. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; 10 so that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offence unto the day of Christ; 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. 12 Now I would have you know, brethren, that the things `which happened' unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the gospel; 13 so that my bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole praetorian guard, and to all the rest; 14 and that most of the brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 the one `do it' of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel; 17 but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds. 18 What then? only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. 19 For I know that this shall turn out to my salvation, through your supplication and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that in nothing shall I be put to shame, but `that' with all boldness, as always, `so' now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if to live in the flesh, --`if' this shall bring fruit from my work, then what I shall choose I know not. 23 But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better: 24 yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake. 25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide, yea, and abide with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith; 26 that your glorying may abound in Christ Jesus in me through my presence with you again. 27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ: that, whether I come and see you and be absent, I may hear of your state, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel; 28 and in nothing affrighted by the adversaries: which is for them an evident token of perdition, but of your salvation, and that from God; 29 because to you it hath been granted in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer in his behalf: 30 having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. Chapter 2 1 If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, 2 make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; 3 `doing' nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; 4 not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others. 5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient `even' unto death, yea, the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; 10 that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of `things' in heaven and `things' on earth and `things' under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12 So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and questionings: 15 that ye may become blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as lights in the world, 16 holding forth the word of life; that I may have whereof to glory in the day of Christ, that I did not run in vain neither labor in vain. 17 Yea, and if I am offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all: 18 and in the same manner do ye also joy, and rejoice with me. 19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20 For I have no man likeminded, who will care truly for your state. 21 For they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. 22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a child `serveth' a father, `so' he served with me in furtherance of the gospel. 23 Him therefore I hope to send forthwith, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me: 24 but I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall come shortly. 25 But I counted it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need; 26 since he longed after you all, and was sore troubled, because ye had heard that he was sick: 27 for indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I have sent him therefore the more diligently, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all joy; and hold such in honor: 30 because for the work of Christ he came nigh unto death, hazarding his life to supply that which was lacking in your service toward me. Chapter 3 1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not irksome, but for you it is safe. 2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the concision: 3 for we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh: 4 though I myself might have confidence even in the flesh: if any other man thinketh to have confidence in the flesh, I yet more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 as touching zeal, persecuting the church; as touching the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless. 7 Howbeit what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ, 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, `even' that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith: 10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death; 11 if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing `I do', forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, 14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you: 16 only, whereunto we have attained, by that same `rule' let us walk. 17 Brethren, be ye imitators together of me, and mark them that so walk even as ye have us for an ensample. 18 For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, `that they are' the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is perdition, whose god is the belly, and `whose' glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, `that it may be' conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself. Chapter 4 1 Wherefore, my brethren beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my beloved. 2 I exhort Euodia, and I exhort Syntyche, to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yea, I beseech thee also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow-workers, whose names are in the book of life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 The things which ye both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do: and the God of peace shall be with you. 10 But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at length ye have revived your thought for me; wherein ye did indeed take thought, but ye lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. 12 I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. 13 I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me. 14 Howbeit ye did well that ye had fellowship with my affliction. 15 And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving but ye only; 16 for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my need. 17 Not that I seek for the gift; but I seek for the fruit that increaseth to your account. 18 But I have all things, and abound: I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things `that came' from you, and odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 Now unto our God and Father `be' the glory for ever and ever. Amen. 21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren that are with me salute you. 22 All the saints salute you, especially they that are of Caesar's household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.




Two Kinds of Opposition to Jesus

Published by John Piper for reading on December 9th.

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. ( Matthew 2:3 3 And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. )

Jesus is troubling to people who do not want to worship him, and he brings out opposition for those who do. This is probably not a main point in the mind of Matthew, but it is inescapable as the story goes on.

In this story, there are two kinds of people who do not want to worship Jesus, the Messiah.

The first kind is the people who simply do nothing about Jesus. He is a nonentity in their lives. This group is represented by the chief priests and scribes. Matthew 2:4 4 And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ should be born. says, “Assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, [Herod] inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.” Well, they told him, and that was that: back to business as usual. The sheer silence and inactivity of the leaders is overwhelming in view of the magnitude of what was happening.

And notice, Matthew 2:3 3 And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. says, “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” In other words, the rumor was going around that someone thought the Messiah was born. The inactivity on the part of the chief priests is staggering: why not go with the magi? They are not interested. They do not want to worship the true God.

The second kind of people who do not want to worship Jesus is the kind who is deeply threatened by him. That is Herod in this story. He is really afraid. So much so that he schemes and lies and then commits mass murder just to get rid of Jesus.

So today, these two kinds of opposition will come against Christ and his worshipers. Indifference and hostility. Are you in one of those groups?

Let this Christmas be the time when you reconsider the Messiah and ponder what it is to worship him.



Clean Feet, Clean Heart

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on December 9th.

John 13:3-15 3 `Jesus', knowing that the Father had given all the things into his hands, and that he came forth from God, and goeth unto God, 4 riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments; and he took a towel, and girded himself. 5 Then he poureth water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6 So he cometh to Simon Peter. He saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt understand hereafter. 8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10 Jesus saith to him, He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew him that should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12 So when he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and sat down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me, Teacher, and, Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you.

Israel can be a dusty place, and sandaled feet get filthy walking to and fro. In ancient times, a person entering a home removed his sandals and cleaned his feet. Or if the homeowners were wealthy, servants would do the washing. This distasteful but necessary task fell to the worker of lowest position in the household.

Imagine the disciples’ surprise when the Son of God put Himself in the role of a lowly servant and knelt to wash their feet. The need for such a service was great, as they had been traveling for some time. But not one of them offered to do it.

Jesus did more than fill a need; He offered an object lesson. As He explained, “I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you” ( John 13:15 15 For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you. ). Some churches have incorrectly interpreted this as a command to make foot washing an ordinance. But it’s possible to perform a ritual without contemplating the significance of Christ’s actions.

In fact, the washing isn’t the main point—it’s the attitude that counts, not the act. Jesus desires that we be willing to humble ourselves to serve others. He is looking for men and women who will ignore pride, position, and power in order to do whatever must be done, wherever it needs doing, and for whoever requires assistance.

Jesus performed His greatest and most humble acts of service within 24 hours of each other. He washed dirty feet by using hands that would then be pierced by nails. The message here is that every task God gives us is important to His kingdom.

Bible in One Year: Philippians 1-4 Chapter 1 1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy, 5 for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now; 6 being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7 even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the tender mercies of Christ Jesus. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; 10 so that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offence unto the day of Christ; 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. 12 Now I would have you know, brethren, that the things `which happened' unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the gospel; 13 so that my bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole praetorian guard, and to all the rest; 14 and that most of the brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 the one `do it' of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel; 17 but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds. 18 What then? only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. 19 For I know that this shall turn out to my salvation, through your supplication and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that in nothing shall I be put to shame, but `that' with all boldness, as always, `so' now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if to live in the flesh, --`if' this shall bring fruit from my work, then what I shall choose I know not. 23 But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better: 24 yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake. 25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide, yea, and abide with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith; 26 that your glorying may abound in Christ Jesus in me through my presence with you again. 27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ: that, whether I come and see you and be absent, I may hear of your state, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel; 28 and in nothing affrighted by the adversaries: which is for them an evident token of perdition, but of your salvation, and that from God; 29 because to you it hath been granted in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer in his behalf: 30 having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. Chapter 2 1 If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, 2 make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; 3 `doing' nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; 4 not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others. 5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient `even' unto death, yea, the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; 10 that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of `things' in heaven and `things' on earth and `things' under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12 So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and questionings: 15 that ye may become blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as lights in the world, 16 holding forth the word of life; that I may have whereof to glory in the day of Christ, that I did not run in vain neither labor in vain. 17 Yea, and if I am offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all: 18 and in the same manner do ye also joy, and rejoice with me. 19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20 For I have no man likeminded, who will care truly for your state. 21 For they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. 22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a child `serveth' a father, `so' he served with me in furtherance of the gospel. 23 Him therefore I hope to send forthwith, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me: 24 but I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall come shortly. 25 But I counted it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need; 26 since he longed after you all, and was sore troubled, because ye had heard that he was sick: 27 for indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I have sent him therefore the more diligently, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all joy; and hold such in honor: 30 because for the work of Christ he came nigh unto death, hazarding his life to supply that which was lacking in your service toward me. Chapter 3 1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not irksome, but for you it is safe. 2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the concision: 3 for we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh: 4 though I myself might have confidence even in the flesh: if any other man thinketh to have confidence in the flesh, I yet more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 as touching zeal, persecuting the church; as touching the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless. 7 Howbeit what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ, 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, `even' that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith: 10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death; 11 if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing `I do', forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, 14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you: 16 only, whereunto we have attained, by that same `rule' let us walk. 17 Brethren, be ye imitators together of me, and mark them that so walk even as ye have us for an ensample. 18 For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, `that they are' the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is perdition, whose god is the belly, and `whose' glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, `that it may be' conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself. Chapter 4 1 Wherefore, my brethren beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my beloved. 2 I exhort Euodia, and I exhort Syntyche, to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yea, I beseech thee also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow-workers, whose names are in the book of life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 The things which ye both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do: and the God of peace shall be with you. 10 But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at length ye have revived your thought for me; wherein ye did indeed take thought, but ye lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. 12 I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. 13 I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me. 14 Howbeit ye did well that ye had fellowship with my affliction. 15 And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving but ye only; 16 for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my need. 17 Not that I seek for the gift; but I seek for the fruit that increaseth to your account. 18 But I have all things, and abound: I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things `that came' from you, and odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 Now unto our God and Father `be' the glory for ever and ever. Amen. 21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren that are with me salute you. 22 All the saints salute you, especially they that are of Caesar's household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.




Christ's Outward Appearance

Published by Grace To You for reading on December 9th.

“. . . Being found in appearance as a man” ( Philippians 2:8 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient `even' unto death, yea, the death of the cross. ).

Many people view Christ only as a man, but He is God.

After winning a gold medal at the 1924 Olympics in Paris, Scottish runner Eric Liddell served as a missionary in China; he died in a prison camp during World War II. The camp’s prisoners loved Eric, for he served them so unselfishly. It was only at his funeral that they first learned he was an Olympic hero. They had had no idea of his full identity.

Most people didn’t realize Christ’s full identity either, for He was “found in appearance as a man” (Phil. 2:8). At first glance that phrase seems like a repetition of the end of verse 7, “being made in the likeness of men.” We could paraphrase verse 8 to read, “He was discovered to appear as a man.” The difference between that and verse 7 is a shift in focus. In verse 8 we view the humiliation of Christ from the viewpoint of those who saw Him. Christ was the God-man, but as people looked at Him, they saw the “appearance” (Greek, schema, “outward form”) of a man. Paul was implying that though Christ appeared to be a man, there was much more to Him that could not naturally be seen.

For Christ to become man was humbling enough. For Him not to have been recognized must have been humiliating. He performed miracles and taught authoritatively, yet the typical responses were: “You are a Samaritan and have a demon” ( John 8:48 48 The Jews answered and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a demon? ) and, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” ( John 6:42 42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how doth he now say, I am come down out of heaven? ). Because their minds were darkened by sin, people recognized His humanity but could not see His deity. They could not recognize who He really was. They not only treated the King of kings as a man but as the worst of men—a criminal.

Unlike people who don’t recognize Christ’s true identity, let’s honor Him through a life of worship and obedience.

Suggestions for Prayer

Worship Christ for who He really is—the King of kings and Lord of lords. Praise Him for this truth in your prayer time.

For Further Study

Christ was not only fully man but also fully God. Read the following verses in which Christ Himself bears testimony that He is God: Luke 22:69-70 69 But from henceforth shall the Son of man be seated at the right hand of the power of God. 70 And they all said, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. ; John 10:30 30 I and the Father are one. , 37-38; 12:45; 14:7-10. What else should one find in these verses?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

Additional Resources        

The Sustaining Power of Christ

Published by Grace To You for reading on December 9th.
"[Christ] upholds all things by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:3).

Christ, by His almighty power, holds together all creation.

We base our entire lives on the constancy of physical laws. When something like an earthquake disrupts the normal condition or operation of things even a little, the consequences are often disastrous. Can you imagine what would happen if Jesus Christ relinquished His sustaining power over the laws of the universe for it is He in whom "all things hold together" (Col. 1:17)? We would go out of existence, our atoms scattering throughout the galaxy.

If He suspended the laws of gravity only for a brief moment, we would lose all points of reference. If any of the physical laws varied slightly, we could not exist. Our food could turn to poison; we ourselves could drift out into space or get flooded by the ocean tides. Countless other horrible things could happen.

But the universe remains in balance because Jesus Christ sustains and monitors all its movements and interworkings. He is the principle of cohesion. He is not the deist's "watchmaker" creator, who made the world, set it in motion, and has not bothered with it since. The reason the universe is a cosmos instead of chaos—an ordered and reliable system instead of an erratic and unpredictable muddle—is the upholding power of Jesus Christ.

The entire universe hangs on the arm of Jesus. His unsearchable wisdom and boundless power are manifested in governing the universe. And He upholds it all by the word of His power. The key to the Genesis creation is in two words: "God said." God spoke and it happened.

When I contemplate Christ's power to uphold the universe, I'm drawn to the wonderful promise of Philippians 1:6: 6 being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ: "I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." When Christ begins a work in your heart, He doesn't end there. He continually sustains it until the day He will take you into God's very presence. A life, just as a universe, that is not sustained by Christ is chaos.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to remind you of Christ's sustaining power when you endure your next trial.

For Further Study

Read Job 38-39 Chapter 38 1 Then Jehovah answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel By words without knowledge? 3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; For I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. 4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who determined the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon were the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner-stone thereof, 7 When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 Or `who' shut up the sea with doors, When it brake forth, `as if' it had issued out of the womb; 9 When I made clouds the garment thereof, And thick darkness a swaddling-band for it, 10 And marked out for it my bound, And set bars and doors, 11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; And here shall thy proud waves be stayed? 12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days `began', `And' caused the dayspring to know its place; 13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, And the wicked be shaken out of it? 14 It is changed as clay under the seal; And `all things' stand forth as a garment: 15 And from the wicked their light is withholden, And the high arm is broken. 16 Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? Or hast thou walked in the recesses of the deep? 17 Have the gates of death been revealed unto thee? Or hast thou seen the gates of the shadow of death? 18 Hast thou comprehended the earth in its breadth? Declare, if thou knowest it all. 19 Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And as for darkness, where is the place thereof, 20 That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, And that thou shouldest discern the paths to the house thereof? 21 `Doubtless', thou knowest, for thou wast then born, And the number of thy days is great! 22 Hast thou entered the treasuries of the snow, Or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, 23 Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, Against the day of battle and war? 24 By what way is the light parted, Or the east wind scattered upon the earth? 25 Who hath cleft a channel for the waterflood, Or the way for the lightning of the thunder; 26 To cause it to rain on a land where no man is; On the wilderness, wherein there is no man; 27 To satisfy the waste and desolate `ground', And to cause the tender grass to spring forth? 28 Hath the rain a father? Or who hath begotten the drops of dew? 29 Out of whose womb came the ice? And the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? 30 The waters hide themselves `and become' like stone, And the face of the deep is frozen. 31 Canst thou bind the cluster of the Pleiades, Or loose the bands of Orion? 32 Canst thou lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season? Or canst thou guide the Bear with her train? 33 Knowest thou the ordinances of the heavens? Canst thou establish the dominion thereof in the earth? 34 Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, That abundance of waters may cover thee? 35 Canst thou send forth lightnings, that they may go, And say unto thee, Here we are? 36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? Or who hath given understanding to the mind? 37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven, 38 When the dust runneth into a mass, And the clods cleave fast together? 39 Canst thou hunt the prey for the lioness, Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, 40 When they couch in their dens, `And' abide in the covert to lie in wait? 41 Who provideth for the raven his prey, When his young ones cry unto God, `And' wander for lack of food? Chapter 39 1 Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? `Or' canst thou mark when the hinds do calve? 2 Canst thou number the months that they fulfil? Or knowest thou the time when they bring forth? 3 They bow themselves, they bring forth their young, They cast out their pains. 4 Their young ones become strong, they grow up in the open field; They go forth, and return not again. 5 Who hath sent out the wild ass free? Or who hath loosed the bonds of the swift ass, 6 Whose home I have made the wilderness, And the salt land his dwelling-place? 7 He scorneth the tumult of the city, Neither heareth he the shoutings of the driver. 8 The range of the mountains is his pasture, And he searcheth after every green thing. 9 Will the wild-ox be content to serve thee? Or will he abide by thy crib? 10 Canst thou bind the wild-ox with his band in the furrow? Or will he harrow the valleys after thee? 11 Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? Or wilt thou leave to him thy labor? 12 Wilt thou confide in him, that he will bring home thy seed, And gather `the grain' of thy threshing-floor? 13 The wings of the ostrich wave proudly; `But' are they the pinions and plumage of love? 14 For she leaveth her eggs on the earth, And warmeth them in the dust, 15 And forgetteth that the foot may crush them, Or that the wild beast may trample them. 16 She dealeth hardly with her young ones, as if they were not hers: Though her labor be in vain, `she is' without fear; 17 Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, Neither hath he imparted to her understanding. 18 What time she lifteth up herself on high, She scorneth the horse and his rider. 19 Hast thou given the horse `his' might? Hast thou clothed his neck with the quivering mane? 20 Hast thou made him to leap as a locust? The glory of his snorting is terrible. 21 He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: He goeth out to meet the armed men. 22 He mocketh at fear, and is not dismayed; Neither turneth he back from the sword. 23 The quiver rattleth against him, The flashing spear and the javelin. 24 He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage; Neither believeth he that it is the voice of the trumpet. 25 As oft as the trumpet `soundeth' he saith, Aha! And he smelleth the battle afar off, The thunder of the captains, and the shouting. 26 Is it by thy wisdom that the hawk soareth, (And) stretcheth her wings toward the south? 27 Is it at thy command that the eagle mounteth up, And maketh her nest on high? 28 On the cliff she dwelleth, and maketh her home, Upon the point of the cliff, and the stronghold. 29 From thence she spieth out the prey; Her eyes behold it afar off. 30 Her young ones also suck up blood: And where the slain are, there is she. for a greater appreciation of what Christ does to uphold the universe.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

Additional Resources        

Daily Bible - December 9

Published by Grace To You for reading on December 9th.

Reading for Today:

  • Hosea 9:1 Chapter 9 1 Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, like the peoples; for thou hast played the harlot, `departing' from thy God; thou hast loved hire upon every grain-floor. –10:15
  • Psalms 139:13-16 13 For thou didst form my inward parts: Thou didst cover me in my mother's womb. 14 I will give thanks unto thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Wonderful are thy works; And that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My frame was not hidden from thee, When I was made in secret, `And' curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance; And in thy book they were all written, `Even' the days that were ordained `for me', When as yet there was none of them.
  • Proverbs 29:21 21 He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child Shall have him become a son at the last.
  • 3 John 1-14 Chapter 1 1 The elder unto Gaius the beloved, whom I love in truth. 2 Beloved, I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 For I rejoiced greatly, when brethren came and bare witness unto thy truth, even as thou walkest in truth. 4 Greater joy have I none than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. 5 Beloved, thou doest a faithful work in whatsoever thou doest toward them that are brethren and strangers withal; 6 who bare witness to thy love before the church: whom thou wilt do well to set forward on their journey worthily of God: 7 because that for the sake of the Name they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. 8 We therefore ought to welcome such, that we may be fellow-workers for the truth. 9 I wrote somewhat unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Therefore, if I come, I will bring to remembrance his works which he doeth, prating against us with wicked words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and them that would he forbiddeth and casteth `them' out of the church. 11 Beloved, imitate not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: he that doeth evil hath not seen God. 12 Demetrius hath the witness of all `men', and of the truth itself: yea, we also bear witness: and thou knowest that our witness is true. 13 I had many things to write unto thee, but I am unwilling to write `them' to thee with ink and pen: 14 but I hope shortly to see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace `be' unto thee. The friends salute thee. Salute the friends by name. 15 []

Notes:

Hosea 9:7,8 The prophets were God’s inspired messengers and watchmen (Ezek. 3:17; 33:1–7), yet Israel considered them fools and madmen.

Hosea 10:8 Cover us!…Fall on us! The captivity would be so severe that the people would pray for the mountains and hills to fall on them, similar to the last days ( Luke 23:30 30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. ; Rev. 6:16).

Psalm 139:13 formed…covered. By virtue of the divinely designed period of pregnancy, God providentially watches over the development of the child while yet in the mother’s womb.

Psalm 139:16 Your book. This figure of speech likens God’s mind to a book of remembrance. none of them. God sovereignly ordained David’s life before he was conceived.

3 John 4 I have no greater joy. John’s personal affection for Gaius radiated especially from his personal conduct ( Luke 6:46 46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? ). my children. The word “my” is emphatic in the original. John’s heart delighted in the proper conduct of his spiritual children in the faith. Those who walk (conduct) in the truth (belief) have integrity—there is no dichotomy between professing and living. He had strong fatherly affection for them (1 Cor. 4:14–16; 1 Thess. 2:11; 3:1–10).

DAY 9: What was the problem with Diotrephes in 3 John 9,10?

John apparently had written a previous letter to the church (v. 9), perhaps on the subject of hospitality, but it was lost. Perhaps Diotrephes never read it to the church because he rejected John’s authority (vv. 9, 10). “Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence.” The word “preeminence” has the idea of “desiring to be first.” It conveys the idea of someone who is selfish, self-centered, and self-seeking. The language suggests a self-promoting demagogue, who served no one, but wanted all to serve only him. Diotrephes’ actions directly contradict Jesus’ and the New Testament’s teaching on servant leadership in the church (Matt. 20:20–28; Phil. 2:5–11; 1 Tim. 3:3; 1 Pet. 5:3). “Diotrephes,…does not receive us.” Diotrephes modeled the opposite of kindness and hospitality to God’s servants, even denying John’s apostolic authority over the local congregation, and as a result, denying the revelation of God that came through that authority. His pride endeavored to supplant the rule of Christ through John in the church. Diotrephes’ character was the very opposite of the gentle and loving Gaius who readily showed hospitality.

“If I come, I will call to mind his deeds” (v. 10). John’s apostolic authority meant that Diotrephes had to answer for his behavior. The apostle did not overlook this usurping of Christ’s place in the church. Verse 10 indicates that Diotrephes was guilty of 4 things: 1) “prating against us.” The word “prating” comes from a word meaning “to bubble up” and has the idea of useless, empty jabber, i.e., talking nonsense. The charges against John were completely unjustified; 2) “with malicious words.” Not only were Diotrephes’ charges false, they were evil; 3) “does not receive the brethren.” He not only slandered John but also deliberately defied other believers; and 4) “putting them out of the church.” The original language indicates that Diotrephes’ habit was to excommunicate those who resisted his authority. To accept John’s authority (v. 9), as well as being hospitable to the traveling ministers, directly threatened the authority that Diotrephes coveted.

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

Additional Resources        

December 9 - Parable of the Sower: Unresponsive Hearers

Published by Grace To You for reading on December 9th.

“‘When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road’” ( Matthew 13:19 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, `then' cometh the evil `one', and snatcheth away that which hath been sown in his heart. This is he that was sown by the way side. ).

The hard-packed soil beside the road represents the unresponsive hearer who “does not understand” the gospel, solely because of his or her own hardheartedness. The person has continually resisted the gospel or anything else related to true spirituality because of an insensitive, impervious heart.

The Word lies on the surface of the unresponsive heart, exposed to attack by Satan. Such a hearer’s lack of repentance insulates him or her from Christ’s help and leaves them victim to assault by the enemy of the soul.

Such people remind us of the fools who hate wisdom and instruction (Prov. 1:7) and say there is no God (Ps. 14:1). They are often self-satisfied and self-righteous, and the gospel is simply veiled to them because “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel” (2 Cor. 4:4).

Satan uses various means to snatch away the seed sown: false teachers who promote spiritual lies, fear of human opinion that opposes Christianity, pride that blinds people to their real needs, and all sorts of other sinful prejudices against the truth of God’s Word. All of these realities ought to prompt us toward prayer for and reaching out to the lost so that God may save some.

Ask Yourself

If lack of repentance is the key ingredient in shielding people from their need for Christ, we must continually guard ourselves from this hardened condition, even after being saved. Would this be a good time to deal directly with any unconfessed sin, turning away from it and back to the mercies of God?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.

Additional Resources        

Morning Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for December 9th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on December 9th.

Isaiah 30:18 18 And therefore will Jehovah wait, that he may be gracious unto you; and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for Jehovah is a God of justice; blessed are all they that wait for him.

GOD often DELAYS IN ANSWERING PRAYER. We have several instances of this in sacred Scripture. Jacob did not get the blessing from the angel until near the dawn of day—he had to wrestle all night for it. The poor woman of Syrophenicia was answered not a word for a long while. Paul besought the Lord thrice that "the thorn in the flesh" might be taken from him, and he received no assurance that it should be taken away, but instead thereof a promise that God's grace should be sufficient for him. If thou hast been knocking at the gate of mercy, and hast received no answer, shall I tell thee why the mighty Maker hath not opened the door and let thee in? Our Father has reasons peculiar to Himself for thus keeping us waiting. Sometimes it is to show His power and His sovereignty, that men may know that Jehovah has a right to give or to withhold. More frequently the delay is for our profit. Thou art perhaps kept waiting in order that thy desires may be more fervent. God knows that delay will quicken and increase desire, and that if He keeps thee waiting thou wilt see thy necessity more clearly, and wilt seek more earnestly; and that thou wilt prize the mercy all the more for its long tarrying. There may also be something wrong in thee which has need to be removed, before the joy of the Lord is given. Perhaps thy views of the Gospel plan are confused, or thou mayest be placing some little reliance on thyself, instead of trusting simply and entirely to the Lord Jesus. Or, God makes thee tarry awhile that He may the more fully display the riches of His grace to thee at last. Thy prayers are all filed in heaven, and if not immediately answered they are certainly not forgotten, but in a little while shall be fulfilled to thy delight and satisfaction. Let not despair make thee silent, but continue instant in earnest supplication.

Evening Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for December 9th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on December 9th.

Isaiah 32:18 18 And my people shall abide in a peaceable habitation, and in safe dwellings, and in quiet resting-places.

PEACE and rest belong not to the unregenerate, they are the peculiar possession of the Lord's people, and of them only. The God of Peace gives perfect peace to those whose hearts are stayed upon Him. When man was unfallen, his God gave him the flowery bowers of Eden as his quiet resting places; alas! how soon sin blighted the fair abode of innocence. In the day of universal wrath when the flood swept away a guilty race, the chosen family were quietly secured in the resting-place of the ark, which floated them from the old condemned world into the new earth of the rainbow and the covenant, herein typifying Jesus, the ark of our salvation. Israel rested safely beneath the blood-besprinkled habitations of Egypt when the destroying angel smote the first-born; and in the wilderness the shadow of the pillar of cloud, and the flowing rock, gave the weary pilgrims sweet repose. At this hour we rest in the promises of our faithful God, knowing that His words are full of truth and power; we rest in the doctrines of His word, which are consolation itself; we rest in the covenant of His grace, which is a haven of delight. More highly favoured are we than David in Adullam, or Jonah beneath his gourd, for none can invade or destroy our shelter. The person of Jesus is the quiet resting-place of His people, and when we draw near to Him in the breaking of the bread, in the hearing of the word, the searching of the Scriptures, prayer, or praise, we find any form of approach to Him to be the return of peace to our spirits.

"I hear the words of love, I gaze upon the blood, I see the mighty sacrifice, and I have peace with God. 'Tis everlasting peace, sure as Jehovah's name, 'Tis stable as His steadfast throne, for evermore the same: The clouds may go and come, and storms may sweep my sky, This blood-sealed friendship changes not, the cross is ever nigh."

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