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How to Seek the Lord

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on April 14th.

Psalms 105:1-7 Chapter 105 1 Oh give thanks unto Jehovah, call upon his name; Make known among the peoples his doings. 2 Sing unto him, sing praises unto him; Talk ye of all his marvelous works. 3 Glory ye in his holy name: Let the heart of them rejoice that seek Jehovah. 4 Seek ye Jehovah and his strength; Seek his face evermore. 5 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, His wonders, and the judgments of his mouth, 6 O ye seed of Abraham his servant, Ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones. 7 He is Jehovah our God: His judgments are in all the earth.

Although Scripture tells us to seek the Lord, many Christians struggle with this command. Some are so distracted by other interests and responsibilities that God is only a miniscule part of their goals and desires in life. When confronted with their responsibility to pursue Him, they often feel guilty but don’t know how to begin.

When desire for the Lord surpasses our eagerness for other pursuits, following through becomes more natural. But hunger for the Lord can be like an acquired taste. The more we pursue Him, the greater our hunger will be. However, if we ignore Him, what little appetite we have will diminish even further. Do you find that the latter describes your experience? If so, ask the heavenly Father to whet your appetite for Him—and follow through by making the effort to seek Him.

Begin with the Scriptures and prayer. Set aside time each day for meditating on God’s Word—listen for His voice, slowly digest what you read, talk to the Lord, ask Him questions, and apply what you learn to your life. Begin studying the Bible. Some of you may say, “I’ve never been into that.” My advice: Get into it! The deep things of God don’t just drop into our brains; they are placed there through diligent study.

Seeking anything requires time and effort. Will you invest your life in the pursuit of the Eternal One—the source of all contentment, joy, and hope? Or will you go after that which is fleeting? By neglecting the Lord, you cheat yourself of all the benefits He promises to those who diligently seek Him.

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 6-7 Chapter 6 1 And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of Jehovah. 2 And the house which king Solomon built for Jehovah, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty `cubits', and the height thereof thirty cubits. 3 And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; `and' ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house. 4 And for the house he made windows of fixed lattice-work. 5 And against the wall of the house he built stories round about, against the walls of the house round about, both of the temple and of the oracle; and he made side-chambers round about. 6 The nethermost story was five cubits broad, and the middle was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad; for on the outside he made offsets `in the wall' of the house round about, that `the beams' should not have hold in the walls of the house. 7 And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready at the quarry; and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building. 8 The door for the middle side-chambers was in the right side of the house: and they went up by winding stairs into the middle `story', and out of the middle into the third. 9 So he built the house, and finished it; and he covered the house with beams and planks of cedar. 10 And he built the stories against all the house, each five cubits high: and they rested on the house with timber of cedar. 11 And the word of Jehovah came to Solomon, saying, 12 Concerning this house which thou art building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute mine ordinances, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I establish my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father. 13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel. 14 So Solomon built the house, and finished it. 15 And he built the walls of the house within with boards of cedar: from the floor of the house unto the walls of the ceiling, he covered them on the inside with wood; and he covered the floor of the house with boards of fir. 16 And he built twenty cubits on the hinder part of the house with boards of cedar from the floor unto the walls `of the ceiling': he built `them' for it within, for an oracle, even for the most holy place. 17 And the house, that is, the temple before `the oracle', was forty cubits `long'. 18 And there was cedar on the house within, carved with knops and open flowers: all was cedar; there was no stone seen. 19 And he prepared an oracle in the midst of the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of Jehovah. 20 And within the oracle was `a space of' twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof; and he overlaid it with pure gold: and he covered the altar with cedar. 21 So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he drew chains of gold across before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold. 22 And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until all the house was finished: also the whole altar that belonged to the oracle he overlaid with gold. 23 And in the oracle he made two cherubim of olive-wood, each ten cubits high. 24 And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the other wing of the cherub: from the uttermost part of the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other were ten cubits. 25 And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubim were of one measure and one form. 26 The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was it of the other cherub. 27 And he set the cherubim within the inner house; and the wings of the cherubim were stretched forth, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house. 28 And he overlaid the cherubim with gold. 29 And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubim and palm-trees and open flowers, within and without. 30 And the floor of the house he overlaid with gold, within and without. 31 And for the entrance of the oracle he made doors of olive-wood: the lintel `and' door-posts were a fifth part `of the wall'. 32 So `he made' two doors of olive-wood; and he carved upon them carvings of cherubim and palm-trees and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold; and he spread the gold upon the cherubim, and upon the palm-trees. 33 So also made he for the entrance of the temple door-posts of olive-wood, out of a fourth part `of the wall'; 34 and two doors of fir-wood: the two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding. 35 And he carved `thereon' cherubim and palm-trees and open flowers; and he overlaid them with gold fitted upon the graven work. 36 And he built the inner court with three courses of hewn stone, and a course of cedar beams. 37 In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of Jehovah laid, in the month Ziv. 38 And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it. Chapter 7 1 And Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished all his house. 2 For he built the house of the forest of Lebanon; the length thereof was a hundred cubits, and the breadth thereof fifty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits, upon four rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams upon the pillars. 3 And it was covered with cedar above over the forty and five beams, that were upon the pillars; fifteen in a row. 4 And there were beams in three rows, and window was over against window in three ranks. 5 And all the doors and posts were made square with beams: and window was over against window in three ranks. 6 And he made the porch of pillars; the length thereof was fifty cubits, and the breadth thereof thirty cubits; and a porch before them; and pillars and a threshold before them. 7 And he made the porch of the throne where he was to judge, even the porch of judgment: and it was covered with cedar from floor to floor. 8 And his house where he was to dwell, the other court within the porch, was of the like work. He made also a house for Pharaoh's daughter (whom Solomon had taken to wife), like unto this porch. 9 All these were of costly stones, even of hewn stone, according to measure, sawed with saws, within and without, even from the foundation unto the coping, and so on the outside unto the great court. 10 And the foundation was of costly stones, even great stones, stones of ten cubits, and stones of eight cubits. 11 And above were costly stones, even hewn stone, according to measure, and cedar-wood. 12 And the great court round about had three courses of hewn stone, and a course of cedar beams; like as the inner court of the house of Jehovah, and the porch of the house. 13 And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. 14 He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill, to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work. 15 For he fashioned the two pillars of brass, eighteen cubits high apiece: and a line of twelve cubits compassed either of them about. 16 And he made two capitals of molten brass, to set upon the tops of the pillars: the height of the one capital was five cubits, and the height of the other capital was five cubits. 17 There were nets of checker-work, and wreaths of chain-work, for the capitals which were upon the top of the pillars; seven for the one capital, and seven for the other capital. 18 So he made the pillars; and there were two rows round about upon the one network, to cover the capitals that were upon the top of the pillars: and so did he for the other capital. 19 And the capitals that were upon the top of the pillars in the porch were of lily-work, four cubits. 20 And there were capitals above also upon the two pillars, close by the belly which was beside the network: and the pomegranates were two hundred, in rows round about upon the other capital. 21 And he set up the pillars at the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin; and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz. 22 And upon the top of the pillars was lily-work: so was the work of the pillars finished. 23 And he made the molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and the height thereof was five cubits; and a line of thirty cubits compassed it round about. 24 And under the brim of it round about there were knops which did compass it, for ten cubits, compassing the sea round about: the knops were in two rows, cast when it was cast. 25 It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; and the sea was set upon them above, and all their hinder parts were inward. 26 And it was a handbreadth thick: and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, like the flower of a lily: it held two thousand baths. 27 And he made the ten bases of brass; four cubits was the length of one base, and four cubits the breadth thereof, and three cubits the height of it. 28 And the work of the bases was on this manner: they had panels; and there were panels between the ledges; 29 and on the panels that were between the ledges were lions, oxen, and cherubim; and upon the ledges there was a pedestal above; and beneath the lions and oxen were wreaths of hanging work. 30 And every base had four brazen wheels, and axles of brass; and the four feet thereof had undersetters: beneath the laver were the undersetters molten, with wreaths at the side of each. 31 And the mouth of it within the capital and above was a cubit: and the mouth thereof was round after the work of a pedestal, a cubit and a half; and also upon the mouth of it were gravings, and their panels were foursquare, not round. 32 And the four wheels were underneath the panels; and the axletrees of the wheels were in the base: and the height of a wheel was a cubit and half a cubit. 33 And the work of the wheels was like the work of a chariot wheel: their axletrees, and their felloes, and their spokes, and their naves, were all molten. 34 And there were four undersetters at the four corners of each base: the undersetters thereof were of the base itself. 35 And in the top of the base was there a round compass half a cubit high; and on the top of the base the stays thereof and the panels thereof were of the same. 36 And on the plates of the stays thereof, and on the panels thereof, he graved cherubim, lions, and palm-trees, according to the space of each, with wreaths round about. 37 After this manner he made the ten bases: all of them had one casting, one measure, and one form. 38 And he made ten lavers of brass: one laver contained forty baths; and every laver was four cubits; and upon very one of the ten bases one laver. 39 And he set the bases, five on the right side of the house, and five on the left side of the house: and he set the sea on the right side of the house eastward, toward the south. 40 And Hiram made the lavers, and the shovels, and the basins. So Hiram made an end of doing all the work that he wrought for king Solomon in the house of Jehovah: 41 the two pillars, and the two bowls of the capitals that were on the top of the pillars; and the two networks to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were on the top of the pillars; 42 and the four hundred pomegranates for the two networks; two rows of pomegranates for each network, to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were upon the pillars; 43 and the ten bases, and the ten lavers on the bases; 44 and the one sea, and the twelve oxen under the sea; 45 and the pots, and the shovels, and the basins: even all these vessels, which Hiram made for king Solomon, in the house of Jehovah, were of burnished brass. 46 In the plain of the Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarethan. 47 And Solomon left all the vessels `unweighed', because they were exceeding many: the weight of the brass could not be found out. 48 And Solomon made all the vessels that were in the house of Jehovah: the golden altar, and the table whereupon the showbread was, of gold; 49 and the candlesticks, five on the right side, and five on the left, before the oracle, of pure gold; and the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs, of gold; 50 and the cups, and the snuffers, and the basins, and the spoons, and the firepans, of pure gold; and the hinges, both for the doors of the inner house, the most holy place, and for the doors of the house, `to wit', of the temple, of gold. 51 Thus all the work that king Solomon wrought in the house of Jehovah was finished. And Solomon brought in the things which David his father had dedicated, `even' the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, and put them in the treasuries of the house of Jehovah.




Triumph Through Failure

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on April 14th.

John 21:1-9 Chapter 21 1 After these things Jesus manifested himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and he manifested `himself' on this wise. 2 There was together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the `sons' of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also come with thee. They went forth, and entered into the boat; and that night they took nothing. 4 But when day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach: yet the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus therefore saith unto them, Children, have ye aught to eat? They answered him, No. 6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. 7 That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his coat about him (for he was naked), and cast himself into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from the land, but about two hundred cubits off), dragging the net `full' of fishes. 9 So when they got out upon the land, they see a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.

We’ve all left footprints in the valley of failure. What matters is how we respond afterwards. Do we give up and live a defeated life, or do we believe God can restore us?

The story of Peter’s failure and subsequent restoration gives us tremendous encouragement. Jesus warned that Peter would fall short, but He also prayed for the disciple’s faith not to fail. Jesus assured Peter ahead of time that his failure would not be the end of the story—he would stand up again and strengthen the others ( Luke 22:31-32 31 Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat: 32 but I made supplication for thee, that thy faith fail not; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, establish thy brethren. ).

The Lord knew that before Peter could be molded into a strong yet humble leader, his pride and self-confidence had to be brought low and his heart broken. Although Satan wanted to sift the disciple to make him useless, Christ commandeered the process to make Peter useful.

In the same way, God can use our failures to prepare us to be more effective servants for Him. Although we may feel as though we have slipped from His grasp, Jesus has promised that nothing and no one can separate us from His love. He sits at the Father’s right hand, always interceding for us (Rom. 8:34).

When we wallow in our failures and build walls around our heart to deny the Lord access, we are resisting much-needed brokenness and healing. If we want God to use us, we must allow Him to get rid of the chaff that keeps us from being who He desires us to be. But if we will humbly turn to the Lord, He’ll give us a fresh start and a renewed understanding of His goodness and purpose.

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 6-7 Chapter 6 1 And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of Jehovah. 2 And the house which king Solomon built for Jehovah, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty `cubits', and the height thereof thirty cubits. 3 And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; `and' ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house. 4 And for the house he made windows of fixed lattice-work. 5 And against the wall of the house he built stories round about, against the walls of the house round about, both of the temple and of the oracle; and he made side-chambers round about. 6 The nethermost story was five cubits broad, and the middle was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad; for on the outside he made offsets `in the wall' of the house round about, that `the beams' should not have hold in the walls of the house. 7 And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready at the quarry; and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building. 8 The door for the middle side-chambers was in the right side of the house: and they went up by winding stairs into the middle `story', and out of the middle into the third. 9 So he built the house, and finished it; and he covered the house with beams and planks of cedar. 10 And he built the stories against all the house, each five cubits high: and they rested on the house with timber of cedar. 11 And the word of Jehovah came to Solomon, saying, 12 Concerning this house which thou art building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute mine ordinances, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I establish my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father. 13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel. 14 So Solomon built the house, and finished it. 15 And he built the walls of the house within with boards of cedar: from the floor of the house unto the walls of the ceiling, he covered them on the inside with wood; and he covered the floor of the house with boards of fir. 16 And he built twenty cubits on the hinder part of the house with boards of cedar from the floor unto the walls `of the ceiling': he built `them' for it within, for an oracle, even for the most holy place. 17 And the house, that is, the temple before `the oracle', was forty cubits `long'. 18 And there was cedar on the house within, carved with knops and open flowers: all was cedar; there was no stone seen. 19 And he prepared an oracle in the midst of the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of Jehovah. 20 And within the oracle was `a space of' twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof; and he overlaid it with pure gold: and he covered the altar with cedar. 21 So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he drew chains of gold across before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold. 22 And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until all the house was finished: also the whole altar that belonged to the oracle he overlaid with gold. 23 And in the oracle he made two cherubim of olive-wood, each ten cubits high. 24 And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the other wing of the cherub: from the uttermost part of the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other were ten cubits. 25 And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubim were of one measure and one form. 26 The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was it of the other cherub. 27 And he set the cherubim within the inner house; and the wings of the cherubim were stretched forth, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house. 28 And he overlaid the cherubim with gold. 29 And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubim and palm-trees and open flowers, within and without. 30 And the floor of the house he overlaid with gold, within and without. 31 And for the entrance of the oracle he made doors of olive-wood: the lintel `and' door-posts were a fifth part `of the wall'. 32 So `he made' two doors of olive-wood; and he carved upon them carvings of cherubim and palm-trees and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold; and he spread the gold upon the cherubim, and upon the palm-trees. 33 So also made he for the entrance of the temple door-posts of olive-wood, out of a fourth part `of the wall'; 34 and two doors of fir-wood: the two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding. 35 And he carved `thereon' cherubim and palm-trees and open flowers; and he overlaid them with gold fitted upon the graven work. 36 And he built the inner court with three courses of hewn stone, and a course of cedar beams. 37 In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of Jehovah laid, in the month Ziv. 38 And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it. Chapter 7 1 And Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished all his house. 2 For he built the house of the forest of Lebanon; the length thereof was a hundred cubits, and the breadth thereof fifty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits, upon four rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams upon the pillars. 3 And it was covered with cedar above over the forty and five beams, that were upon the pillars; fifteen in a row. 4 And there were beams in three rows, and window was over against window in three ranks. 5 And all the doors and posts were made square with beams: and window was over against window in three ranks. 6 And he made the porch of pillars; the length thereof was fifty cubits, and the breadth thereof thirty cubits; and a porch before them; and pillars and a threshold before them. 7 And he made the porch of the throne where he was to judge, even the porch of judgment: and it was covered with cedar from floor to floor. 8 And his house where he was to dwell, the other court within the porch, was of the like work. He made also a house for Pharaoh's daughter (whom Solomon had taken to wife), like unto this porch. 9 All these were of costly stones, even of hewn stone, according to measure, sawed with saws, within and without, even from the foundation unto the coping, and so on the outside unto the great court. 10 And the foundation was of costly stones, even great stones, stones of ten cubits, and stones of eight cubits. 11 And above were costly stones, even hewn stone, according to measure, and cedar-wood. 12 And the great court round about had three courses of hewn stone, and a course of cedar beams; like as the inner court of the house of Jehovah, and the porch of the house. 13 And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. 14 He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill, to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work. 15 For he fashioned the two pillars of brass, eighteen cubits high apiece: and a line of twelve cubits compassed either of them about. 16 And he made two capitals of molten brass, to set upon the tops of the pillars: the height of the one capital was five cubits, and the height of the other capital was five cubits. 17 There were nets of checker-work, and wreaths of chain-work, for the capitals which were upon the top of the pillars; seven for the one capital, and seven for the other capital. 18 So he made the pillars; and there were two rows round about upon the one network, to cover the capitals that were upon the top of the pillars: and so did he for the other capital. 19 And the capitals that were upon the top of the pillars in the porch were of lily-work, four cubits. 20 And there were capitals above also upon the two pillars, close by the belly which was beside the network: and the pomegranates were two hundred, in rows round about upon the other capital. 21 And he set up the pillars at the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin; and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz. 22 And upon the top of the pillars was lily-work: so was the work of the pillars finished. 23 And he made the molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and the height thereof was five cubits; and a line of thirty cubits compassed it round about. 24 And under the brim of it round about there were knops which did compass it, for ten cubits, compassing the sea round about: the knops were in two rows, cast when it was cast. 25 It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; and the sea was set upon them above, and all their hinder parts were inward. 26 And it was a handbreadth thick: and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, like the flower of a lily: it held two thousand baths. 27 And he made the ten bases of brass; four cubits was the length of one base, and four cubits the breadth thereof, and three cubits the height of it. 28 And the work of the bases was on this manner: they had panels; and there were panels between the ledges; 29 and on the panels that were between the ledges were lions, oxen, and cherubim; and upon the ledges there was a pedestal above; and beneath the lions and oxen were wreaths of hanging work. 30 And every base had four brazen wheels, and axles of brass; and the four feet thereof had undersetters: beneath the laver were the undersetters molten, with wreaths at the side of each. 31 And the mouth of it within the capital and above was a cubit: and the mouth thereof was round after the work of a pedestal, a cubit and a half; and also upon the mouth of it were gravings, and their panels were foursquare, not round. 32 And the four wheels were underneath the panels; and the axletrees of the wheels were in the base: and the height of a wheel was a cubit and half a cubit. 33 And the work of the wheels was like the work of a chariot wheel: their axletrees, and their felloes, and their spokes, and their naves, were all molten. 34 And there were four undersetters at the four corners of each base: the undersetters thereof were of the base itself. 35 And in the top of the base was there a round compass half a cubit high; and on the top of the base the stays thereof and the panels thereof were of the same. 36 And on the plates of the stays thereof, and on the panels thereof, he graved cherubim, lions, and palm-trees, according to the space of each, with wreaths round about. 37 After this manner he made the ten bases: all of them had one casting, one measure, and one form. 38 And he made ten lavers of brass: one laver contained forty baths; and every laver was four cubits; and upon very one of the ten bases one laver. 39 And he set the bases, five on the right side of the house, and five on the left side of the house: and he set the sea on the right side of the house eastward, toward the south. 40 And Hiram made the lavers, and the shovels, and the basins. So Hiram made an end of doing all the work that he wrought for king Solomon in the house of Jehovah: 41 the two pillars, and the two bowls of the capitals that were on the top of the pillars; and the two networks to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were on the top of the pillars; 42 and the four hundred pomegranates for the two networks; two rows of pomegranates for each network, to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were upon the pillars; 43 and the ten bases, and the ten lavers on the bases; 44 and the one sea, and the twelve oxen under the sea; 45 and the pots, and the shovels, and the basins: even all these vessels, which Hiram made for king Solomon, in the house of Jehovah, were of burnished brass. 46 In the plain of the Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarethan. 47 And Solomon left all the vessels `unweighed', because they were exceeding many: the weight of the brass could not be found out. 48 And Solomon made all the vessels that were in the house of Jehovah: the golden altar, and the table whereupon the showbread was, of gold; 49 and the candlesticks, five on the right side, and five on the left, before the oracle, of pure gold; and the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs, of gold; 50 and the cups, and the snuffers, and the basins, and the spoons, and the firepans, of pure gold; and the hinges, both for the doors of the inner house, the most holy place, and for the doors of the house, `to wit', of the temple, of gold. 51 Thus all the work that king Solomon wrought in the house of Jehovah was finished. And Solomon brought in the things which David his father had dedicated, `even' the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, and put them in the treasuries of the house of Jehovah.




Don’t Be Like the Mule

Published by John Piper for reading on April 15th.

Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. ( Psalms 32:9 9 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding; Whose trappings must be bit and bridle to hold them in, `Else' they will not come near unto thee. )

Picture God’s people as a farmyard of all sorts of animals. God cares for his animals, shows them where they need to go, and supplies a barn for their protection.

But there is one beast on this animal farm that gives God an awful time; namely, the mule. He’s stupid and he’s stubborn, and you can’t tell which comes first — stubbornness or stupidity.

Now, the way God likes to get his animals into the barn for their food and shelter is by teaching them all a personal name and then calling them by name. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go” ( Psalms 32:8 8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will counsel thee with mine eye upon thee. ).

But the mule will not respond to that sort of direction. He is without understanding. So, God gets in his pickup truck and goes out in the field, puts the bit and bridle in the mule’s mouth, hitches it to the truck, and drags him stiff-legged and snorting all the way into the barn.

That is not the way God wants his animals to come to him for blessing.

One of these days it is going to be too late for that mule. He’s going to get clobbered with hail and struck by lightening, and when he comes running, the barn door is going to be shut.

Therefore, don’t be like the mule, but instead let everyone who is godly come to God in prayer at a time when he may be found ( Psalms 32:6 6 For this let every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: Surely when the great waters overflow they shall not reach unto him. ).

The way not to be a mule is to humble ourselves, to come to God in prayer, to confess our sins, and to accept, as needy little farmyard chicks, the direction of God into the barn of his protection.



The Impact of the Cross

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on April 15th.

Hebrews 2:14-15 14 Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

A day after the crucifixion, life must have looked hopeless to Jesus’ followers. They’d watched their beloved leader die, and the enemy seemed to have won. Considering the prevalence of evil today, we could make the same assumption. But we’d be wrong because when Christ died on the cross, Satan was defeated.

In Genesis 3:15 15 and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. , the evil one—who had spoken through the serpent—was cursed for his part in Adam and Eve’s sin. Referring to the conflict between the realms of light and darkness, God told Satan, “He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” This was the Lord’s way of foretelling, “Christ will be victorious over you.”

That’s why the enemy went to such great lengths in both testaments to derail God’s program of redemption, even attempting genocide to prevent Jesus’ arrival or otherwise disrupt the divine agenda (Est. 3:6; Matt. 2:16). Since the devil knows all the prophecies, he was well aware that Jesus Christ, the virgin-born, sinless, incarnate Son of God, came to give His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). This meant that if the Lamb of God died on the cross at Passover, His shed blood would pay mankind’s sin debt in full (Rom. 4:7-8). Satan did want Jesus to die, but at any other time and in any other way. (See Luke 4:29-30 29 and they rose up, and cast him forth out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. 30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way. .) Yet all his efforts amounted to “nipping on the heel” compared to the deathblow Christ would deliver from the cross.

Satan has lost his power and can in no way tamper with our eternal life. If you believe in Christ, remember: “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” ( 1 John 4:4 4 Ye are of God, `my' little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. ).

Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 6-7 Chapter 6 1 And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of Jehovah. 2 And the house which king Solomon built for Jehovah, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty `cubits', and the height thereof thirty cubits. 3 And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; `and' ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house. 4 And for the house he made windows of fixed lattice-work. 5 And against the wall of the house he built stories round about, against the walls of the house round about, both of the temple and of the oracle; and he made side-chambers round about. 6 The nethermost story was five cubits broad, and the middle was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad; for on the outside he made offsets `in the wall' of the house round about, that `the beams' should not have hold in the walls of the house. 7 And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready at the quarry; and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building. 8 The door for the middle side-chambers was in the right side of the house: and they went up by winding stairs into the middle `story', and out of the middle into the third. 9 So he built the house, and finished it; and he covered the house with beams and planks of cedar. 10 And he built the stories against all the house, each five cubits high: and they rested on the house with timber of cedar. 11 And the word of Jehovah came to Solomon, saying, 12 Concerning this house which thou art building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute mine ordinances, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I establish my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father. 13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel. 14 So Solomon built the house, and finished it. 15 And he built the walls of the house within with boards of cedar: from the floor of the house unto the walls of the ceiling, he covered them on the inside with wood; and he covered the floor of the house with boards of fir. 16 And he built twenty cubits on the hinder part of the house with boards of cedar from the floor unto the walls `of the ceiling': he built `them' for it within, for an oracle, even for the most holy place. 17 And the house, that is, the temple before `the oracle', was forty cubits `long'. 18 And there was cedar on the house within, carved with knops and open flowers: all was cedar; there was no stone seen. 19 And he prepared an oracle in the midst of the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of Jehovah. 20 And within the oracle was `a space of' twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof; and he overlaid it with pure gold: and he covered the altar with cedar. 21 So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he drew chains of gold across before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold. 22 And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until all the house was finished: also the whole altar that belonged to the oracle he overlaid with gold. 23 And in the oracle he made two cherubim of olive-wood, each ten cubits high. 24 And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the other wing of the cherub: from the uttermost part of the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other were ten cubits. 25 And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubim were of one measure and one form. 26 The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was it of the other cherub. 27 And he set the cherubim within the inner house; and the wings of the cherubim were stretched forth, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house. 28 And he overlaid the cherubim with gold. 29 And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubim and palm-trees and open flowers, within and without. 30 And the floor of the house he overlaid with gold, within and without. 31 And for the entrance of the oracle he made doors of olive-wood: the lintel `and' door-posts were a fifth part `of the wall'. 32 So `he made' two doors of olive-wood; and he carved upon them carvings of cherubim and palm-trees and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold; and he spread the gold upon the cherubim, and upon the palm-trees. 33 So also made he for the entrance of the temple door-posts of olive-wood, out of a fourth part `of the wall'; 34 and two doors of fir-wood: the two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding. 35 And he carved `thereon' cherubim and palm-trees and open flowers; and he overlaid them with gold fitted upon the graven work. 36 And he built the inner court with three courses of hewn stone, and a course of cedar beams. 37 In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of Jehovah laid, in the month Ziv. 38 And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it. Chapter 7 1 And Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished all his house. 2 For he built the house of the forest of Lebanon; the length thereof was a hundred cubits, and the breadth thereof fifty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits, upon four rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams upon the pillars. 3 And it was covered with cedar above over the forty and five beams, that were upon the pillars; fifteen in a row. 4 And there were beams in three rows, and window was over against window in three ranks. 5 And all the doors and posts were made square with beams: and window was over against window in three ranks. 6 And he made the porch of pillars; the length thereof was fifty cubits, and the breadth thereof thirty cubits; and a porch before them; and pillars and a threshold before them. 7 And he made the porch of the throne where he was to judge, even the porch of judgment: and it was covered with cedar from floor to floor. 8 And his house where he was to dwell, the other court within the porch, was of the like work. He made also a house for Pharaoh's daughter (whom Solomon had taken to wife), like unto this porch. 9 All these were of costly stones, even of hewn stone, according to measure, sawed with saws, within and without, even from the foundation unto the coping, and so on the outside unto the great court. 10 And the foundation was of costly stones, even great stones, stones of ten cubits, and stones of eight cubits. 11 And above were costly stones, even hewn stone, according to measure, and cedar-wood. 12 And the great court round about had three courses of hewn stone, and a course of cedar beams; like as the inner court of the house of Jehovah, and the porch of the house. 13 And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. 14 He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill, to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work. 15 For he fashioned the two pillars of brass, eighteen cubits high apiece: and a line of twelve cubits compassed either of them about. 16 And he made two capitals of molten brass, to set upon the tops of the pillars: the height of the one capital was five cubits, and the height of the other capital was five cubits. 17 There were nets of checker-work, and wreaths of chain-work, for the capitals which were upon the top of the pillars; seven for the one capital, and seven for the other capital. 18 So he made the pillars; and there were two rows round about upon the one network, to cover the capitals that were upon the top of the pillars: and so did he for the other capital. 19 And the capitals that were upon the top of the pillars in the porch were of lily-work, four cubits. 20 And there were capitals above also upon the two pillars, close by the belly which was beside the network: and the pomegranates were two hundred, in rows round about upon the other capital. 21 And he set up the pillars at the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin; and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz. 22 And upon the top of the pillars was lily-work: so was the work of the pillars finished. 23 And he made the molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and the height thereof was five cubits; and a line of thirty cubits compassed it round about. 24 And under the brim of it round about there were knops which did compass it, for ten cubits, compassing the sea round about: the knops were in two rows, cast when it was cast. 25 It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; and the sea was set upon them above, and all their hinder parts were inward. 26 And it was a handbreadth thick: and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, like the flower of a lily: it held two thousand baths. 27 And he made the ten bases of brass; four cubits was the length of one base, and four cubits the breadth thereof, and three cubits the height of it. 28 And the work of the bases was on this manner: they had panels; and there were panels between the ledges; 29 and on the panels that were between the ledges were lions, oxen, and cherubim; and upon the ledges there was a pedestal above; and beneath the lions and oxen were wreaths of hanging work. 30 And every base had four brazen wheels, and axles of brass; and the four feet thereof had undersetters: beneath the laver were the undersetters molten, with wreaths at the side of each. 31 And the mouth of it within the capital and above was a cubit: and the mouth thereof was round after the work of a pedestal, a cubit and a half; and also upon the mouth of it were gravings, and their panels were foursquare, not round. 32 And the four wheels were underneath the panels; and the axletrees of the wheels were in the base: and the height of a wheel was a cubit and half a cubit. 33 And the work of the wheels was like the work of a chariot wheel: their axletrees, and their felloes, and their spokes, and their naves, were all molten. 34 And there were four undersetters at the four corners of each base: the undersetters thereof were of the base itself. 35 And in the top of the base was there a round compass half a cubit high; and on the top of the base the stays thereof and the panels thereof were of the same. 36 And on the plates of the stays thereof, and on the panels thereof, he graved cherubim, lions, and palm-trees, according to the space of each, with wreaths round about. 37 After this manner he made the ten bases: all of them had one casting, one measure, and one form. 38 And he made ten lavers of brass: one laver contained forty baths; and every laver was four cubits; and upon very one of the ten bases one laver. 39 And he set the bases, five on the right side of the house, and five on the left side of the house: and he set the sea on the right side of the house eastward, toward the south. 40 And Hiram made the lavers, and the shovels, and the basins. So Hiram made an end of doing all the work that he wrought for king Solomon in the house of Jehovah: 41 the two pillars, and the two bowls of the capitals that were on the top of the pillars; and the two networks to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were on the top of the pillars; 42 and the four hundred pomegranates for the two networks; two rows of pomegranates for each network, to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were upon the pillars; 43 and the ten bases, and the ten lavers on the bases; 44 and the one sea, and the twelve oxen under the sea; 45 and the pots, and the shovels, and the basins: even all these vessels, which Hiram made for king Solomon, in the house of Jehovah, were of burnished brass. 46 In the plain of the Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarethan. 47 And Solomon left all the vessels `unweighed', because they were exceeding many: the weight of the brass could not be found out. 48 And Solomon made all the vessels that were in the house of Jehovah: the golden altar, and the table whereupon the showbread was, of gold; 49 and the candlesticks, five on the right side, and five on the left, before the oracle, of pure gold; and the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs, of gold; 50 and the cups, and the snuffers, and the basins, and the spoons, and the firepans, of pure gold; and the hinges, both for the doors of the inner house, the most holy place, and for the doors of the house, `to wit', of the temple, of gold. 51 Thus all the work that king Solomon wrought in the house of Jehovah was finished. And Solomon brought in the things which David his father had dedicated, `even' the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, and put them in the treasuries of the house of Jehovah.




Daily Bible - April 15

Published by Grace To You for reading on April 15th.

Reading for Today:

  • Joshua 19:1 Chapter 19 1 And the second lot came out for Simeon, even for the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families: and their inheritance was in the midst of the inheritance of the children of Judah. –20:9
  • Psalms 46:1-6 Chapter 46 1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will we not fear, though the earth do change, And though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, Though the mountains tremble with the swelling thereof. Selah 4 There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God will help her, and that right early. 6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered his voice, the earth melted.
  • Proverbs 14:7-11 7 Go into the presence of a foolish man, And thou shalt not perceive `in him' the lips of knowledge. 8 The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way; But the folly of fools is deceit. 9 A trespass-offering mocketh fools; But among the upright there is good will. 10 The heart knoweth its own bitterness; And a stranger doth not intermeddle with its joy. 11 The house of the wicked shall be overthrown; But the tent of the upright shall flourish.
  • Luke 12:32-59 32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell that which ye have, and give alms; make for yourselves purses which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief draweth near, neither moth destroyeth. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning; 36 and be ye yourselves like unto men looking for their lord, when he shall return from the marriage feast; that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may straightway open unto him. 37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and shall come and serve them. 38 And if he shall come in the second watch, and if in the third, and find `them' so blessed are those `servants'. 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched, and not have left his house to be broken through. 40 Be ye also ready: for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh. 41 And Peter said, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even unto all? 42 And the Lord said, Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall set over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will set him over all that he hath. 45 But if that servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; 46 the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant, who knew his lord's will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many `stripes'; 48 but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few `stripes'. And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more. 49 I came to cast fire upon the earth; and what do I desire, if it is already kindled? 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! 51 Think ye that I am come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52 for there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53 They shall be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against her mother; mother in law against her daughter in law, and daughter in law against her mother in law. 54 And he said to the multitudes also, When ye see a cloud rising in the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it cometh to pass. 55 And when `ye see' a south wind blowing, ye say, There will be a scorching heat; and it cometh to pass. 56 Ye hypocrites, ye know how to interpret the face of the earth and the heaven; but how is it that ye know not how to interpret this time? 57 And why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right? 58 For as thou art going with thine adversary before the magistrate, on the way give diligence to be quit of him; lest haply he drag thee unto the judge, and the judge shall deliver thee to the officer, and the officer shall cast thee into prison. 59 I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou have paid the very last mite.

Notes:

Joshua 20:1–9 cities of refuge. Moses had spoken God’s word to name 6 cities in Israel as refuge centers. A person who inadvertently killed another could flee to the nearest of these for protection (see Num.35:9–34). Three lay west of the Jordan, and 3 lay to the east, each reachable in a day for those in its area. The slayer could flee there to escape pursuit by a family member seeking to exact private justice. Authorities at the refuge protected him and escorted him to a trial. If found innocent, he was guarded at the refuge until the death of the current high priest, a kind of statute of limitations (Josh. 20:6). He could then return home. If found guilty of murder, he suffered due punishment.

Proverbs 14:10 At its depth, suffering and rejoicing are personal and private. No one is able to communicate them fully ( 1 Samuel 1:10 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto Jehovah, and wept sore. ; 1 Kin. 8:38; Matthew 2:18 18 A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; And she would not be comforted, because they are not. ; 26:39–42, 75).

Luke 12:33 Sell what you have and give alms. Those who amassed earthly possessions, falsely thinking their security lay in material resources (vv. 16–20), needed to lay up treasure in heaven instead. Believers in the early church did sell their goods to meet the basic needs of poorer brethren ( Acts 2:44 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; , 45; 4:32–37). But this commandment is not to be twisted into an absolute prohibition of all earthly possessions. In fact, Peter’s words to Ananias in Acts 5:4 4 While it remained, did it not remain thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power? How is it that thou hast conceived this thing in thy heart? thou has not lied unto men, but unto God. make it clear that the selling of one’s possessions was optional. money bags which do not grow old. These purses that do not wear out (so as to lose the money) are defined as “treasure in the heavens that does not fail.” The surest place to put one’s money is in such a purse—in heaven, where it is safe from thieves and decay, as well.

Luke 12:34 your heart will be also. Where one puts his money reveals the priorities of his heart. See 16:1–13; Matthew 6:21 21 for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also. .

DAY 15: Where can we find stability in troubled times?

Psalms 46 Chapter 46 1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will we not fear, though the earth do change, And though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, Though the mountains tremble with the swelling thereof. Selah 4 There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God will help her, and that right early. 6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7 Jehovah of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah 8 Come, behold the works of Jehovah, What desolations he hath made in the earth. 9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariots in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 Jehovah of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah Psalm 47 For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. was the scriptural catalyst for Martin Luther’s great hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” This psalm extols the adequacy of God in facing threats from nature and the nations. God indeed protects (see vv. 1, 7, 11) His people upon the earth (see vv. 2, 6, 8, 9, 10). The major burden of Psalms 46 Chapter 46 1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will we not fear, though the earth do change, And though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, Though the mountains tremble with the swelling thereof. Selah 4 There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God will help her, and that right early. 6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7 Jehovah of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah 8 Come, behold the works of Jehovah, What desolations he hath made in the earth. 9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariots in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 Jehovah of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah Psalm 47 For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. is that God provides stability for His people who live in two exceedingly unstable environments.

Specifically, “Even though the earth be removed” (v. 2). I.e., “When earth changes and when mountains move or shake or totter or slip” (see the language of Is. 24:19, 20; 54:10; Hag. 2:6). These are poetic allusions to earthquakes. Since “the earth” and “mountains” are regarded by men as symbols of stability, when they “dance,” great terror normally ensues. But when the most stable becomes unstable, there should be “no fear” because of the transcendent stability of God. And “though its waters roar” (v. 3). This is an illustration of powerfully surging and potentially destructive floods of waters. These will not erode God’s protective fortifications.

“There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God” (v. 4). Refreshing waters contrast with those threatening torrents of v. 3. See the garden of paradise concept often mentioned in ancient Near Eastern literature, but most importantly, see the biblical revelation, noting especially the “bookends” of Genesis 2:10 10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became four heads. and Revelation 22:1 Chapter 22 1 And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, , 2. “She shall not be moved” (vv. 5, 6). These verses pick up some of the key terms about moving, slipping, tottering, sliding, and roaring from vv. 1–3. However, here, because of the presence of God, the forces of nature and the nations are no longer a threat to the people of God who dwell with Him.

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

April 15 - Slander Equals Murder

Published by Grace To You for reading on April 15th.

“‘Whoever says to his brother, “You good-for-nothing,” shall be guilty before the supreme court’” ( Matthew 5:22 22 but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire. ).

The word (raca) translated by the New American Standard Bible “good-for-nothing” has been variously rendered elsewhere as “brainless idiot,” “worthless fellow,” “blockhead,” and the like. It was a term of malicious abuse and slander that really has no precise modern translation. David graphically described persons who used such slander as those who “sharpen their tongues as a serpent; poison of a viper is under their lips” (Ps. 140:3). The Roman soldiers who tortured and crucified Jesus could well have used the term to mock and disrespect Him (cf. Matt. 27:29–31).

According to Jewish legend, a young rabbi had just come from a session with his famous teacher. He felt especially proud of how he had handled himself before the teacher. As he basked in those feelings of superiority, he passed an especially unattractive man who greeted him. The young rabbi responded, “You Raca! How ugly you are. Are all men of your town as ugly as you?”

“That I do not know,” the man replied, “but go and tell the Maker who created me how ugly is the creature He has made.”

To slander someone made in God’s image is to slander God Himself and is the same as murdering that person. Jesus called such harsh contempt murder of the heart. The contemptuous person was as much as “guilty before the supreme court” (the Jewish Sanhedrin, which tried the most serious cases and pronounced the ultimate penalty—death). We dare not trifle with any kind of contemptuous language toward others.

Ask Yourself

Remember, this is not just an injunction against speaking unkind, judgmental words, but also of thinking them in our minds. When God has led you to seasons of victory in your thought life, how has He accomplished it? What stopped evil thoughts from ever coming up?

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

Reaching Out to Others

Published by Grace To You for reading on April 15th.

“‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise’” ( Luke 23:43 43 And he said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. ).

The circumstances are never too adverse, nor the hour too late, to offer the gospel of Christ to someone.

Jesus was crucified between two criminals (thieves)—one on each side of His cross. At first the two men both joined the onlookers in hurling unbelieving rhetoric at the Lord ( Mark 15:32 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reproached him. ). But one of the thieves obviously had a change of heart as the hours elapsed. He rebuked the other thief by pointing out Jesus’ sinlessness ( Luke 23:40-41 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, Dost thou not even fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. ) and then expressed his need of salvation: “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” (v. 42). And Jesus graciously answered the thief’s request.

The dying thief’s conversion is an extraordinary story. At Calvary there was nothing convincing or favorable about Jesus. From man’s vantage point He was dying because He had been completely rejected; even the disciples had deserted Him. Jesus appeared weak, disgraced, and ashamed. When the thief uttered his plea for help, no one was pointing to Jesus and saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” ( John 1:29 29 On the morrow he seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world! ).

Given the circumstances, it is difficult to comprehend how Christ could be concerned with the immediate salvation of a wretched thief who was justly being executed for his crimes. But our Lord cared very much about the destiny of that man’s soul. Jesus’ desire to see sinners saved was constant, because He came to seek and save the lost ( Luke 19:10 10 For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost. ). His concern for the unsaved is the supreme example and motivation to us in reaching out to others.

The thief’s salvation is also a clear illustration of the sovereignty of God in redemption. So often the church wants to attribute someone’s salvation to human cleverness in presenting a well-crafted message at just the right time and in the most appropriate place. But salvation is always the direct result of God’s intervening grace. The sovereign work of God’s Spirit, not circumstances, gave the thief a saving understanding about who Jesus was and what His death was accomplishing.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God for the courage to reach out with the good news of salvation no matter what the circumstances.

For Further Study

Read John 4:1-42 Chapter 4 1 When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples), 3 he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. 4 And he must needs pass through Samaria. 5 So he cometh to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph: 6 and Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 For his disciples were gone away into the city to buy food. 9 The Samaritan woman therefore saith unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a Samaritan woman? (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered and said unto unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his sons, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Every one that drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come all the way hither to draw. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said unto him, I have no husband. Jesus saith unto her, Thou saidst well, I have no husband: 18 for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: this hast thou said truly. 19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father. 22 Ye worship that which ye know not: we worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh (he that is called Christ): when he is come, he will declare unto us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am `he'. 27 And upon this came his disciples; and they marvelled that he was speaking with a woman; yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why speakest thou with her? 28 So the woman left her waterpot, and went away into the city, and saith to the people, 29 Come, see a man, who told me all things that `ever' I did: can this be the Christ? 30 They went out of the city, and were coming to him. 31 In the mean while the disciples prayed him, saying, Rabbi, eat. 32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not. 33 The disciples therefore said one to another, Hath any man brought him `aught' to eat? 34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to accomplish his work. 35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and `then' cometh the harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white already unto harvest. 36 He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; that he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 37 For herein is the saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. 38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye have not labored: others have labored, and ye are entered into their labor. 39 And from that city many of the Samaritans believed on him because of the word of the woman, who testified, He told me all things that `ever' I did. 40 So when the Samaritans came unto him, they besought him to abide with them: and he abode there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word; 42 and they said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy speaking: for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world. .

  • What excuses could Jesus have used for not talking to the woman?
  • How did He keep His focus during His conversation with her?

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

Showing Mercy

Published by Grace To You for reading on April 15th.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy" (Matt. 5:7).

There are many ways to show mercy.

God delights in mercy, and as a believer you have the privilege of showing mercy in many ways. In the physical realm you can give money to the poor, food to the hungry, or a bed to the homeless. God has always wanted His people to be that way. Deuteronomy 15 Chapter 15 1 At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. 2 And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release that which he hath lent unto his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother; because Jehovah's release hath been proclaimed. 3 Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it: but whatsoever of thine is with thy brother thy hand shall release. 4 Howbeit there shall be no poor with thee; (for Jehovah will surely bless thee in the land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it;) 5 if only thou diligently hearken unto the voice of Jehovah thy God, to observe to do all this commandment which I command thee this day. 6 For Jehovah thy God will bless thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over thee. 7 If there be with thee a poor man, one of thy brethren, within any of thy gates in thy land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thy hand from thy poor brother; 8 but thou shalt surely open thy hand unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need `in that' which he wanteth. 9 Beware that there be not a base thought in thy heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou give him nought; and he cry unto Jehovah against thee, and it be sin unto thee. 10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thy heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him; because that for this thing Jehovah thy God will bless thee in all thy work, and in all that thou puttest thy hand unto. 11 For the poor will never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt surely open thy hand unto thy brother, to thy needy, and to thy poor, in thy land. 12 If thy brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. 13 And when thou lettest him go free from thee, thou shalt not let him go empty: 14 thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy threshing-floor, and out of thy winepress; as Jehovah thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. 15 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and Jehovah thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to-day. 16 And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go out from thee; because he loveth thee and thy house, because he is well with thee; 17 then thou shalt take an awl, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maid-servant thou shalt do likewise. 18 It shall not seem hard unto thee, when thou lettest him go free from thee; for to the double of the hire of a hireling hath he served thee six years: and Jehovah thy God will bless thee in all that thou doest. 19 All the firstling males that are born of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto Jehovah thy God: thou shalt do no work with the firstling of thy herd, nor shear the firstling of thy flock. 20 Thou shalt eat it before Jehovah thy God year by year in the place which Jehovah shall choose, thou and thy household. 21 And if it have any blemish, `as if it be' lame or blind, any ill blemish whatsoever, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto Jehovah thy God. 22 Thou shalt eat it within thy gates: the unclean and the clean `shall eat it' alike, as the gazelle, and as the hart. 23 Only thou shalt not eat the blood thereof; thou shalt pour it out upon the ground as water. says, "If there is a poor man with you . . . you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from [him]; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks" (vv. 7-8). Verses 12-14 instruct Israelites who release a slave to provide for the slave's needs. That was the merciful thing to do.

In the spiritual realm you can show mercy by pitying the lost. St. Augustine said, "If I weep for that body from which the soul is departed, how should I weep for that soul from which God is departed?" (cited by Thomas Watson in The Beatitudes, p. 144). We mourn over the dead but do we mourn as much for lost souls? When Stephen was being stoned, he pitied his wretched murderers, asking God to forgive them ( Acts 7:60 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. ). Jesus did the same ( Luke 23:34 34 And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And parting his garments among them, they cast lots. ). That should be our attitude as well.

Another way of showing mercy is to rebuke sin. Second Timothy 2:24-25 says, "The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all . . . with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth." It is merciful and loving to rebuke sinners because it gives them a chance to repent and be forgiven.

Prayer is also an act of mercy, as is preaching the gospel. In fact, sharing Christ with someone is the most merciful thing you can do!

There are many more ways to be merciful, but I hope these will stimulate your thinking and encourage you to discover as many ways as possible to pass on the abundant mercy God has shown to you.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the mercies you have received from others.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity to minister to others.

For Further Study

Determine who receives mercy according to the following verses: Matthew 6:14 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. ; Titus 3:5-6 5 not by works `done' in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 which he poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; ; Hebrews 4:14-16 14 Having then a great high priest, who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as `we are, yet' without sin. 16 Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help `us' in time of need. ; James 2:13 13 For judgment `is' without mercy to him that hath showed no mercy: mercy glorieth against judgment. ; and 1 Peter 2:9-10 9 But ye are a elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for `God's' own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. .

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

Morning Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for April 15th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on April 15th.

Psalms 22:1 Chapter 22 1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? `Why art thou so' far from helping me, `and from' the words of my groaning?

WE here behold the Saviour in the depth of His sorrows. No other place so well shows the griefs of Christ as Calvary, and no other moment at Calvary is so full of agony as that in which His cry rends the air—"My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" At this moment physical weakness was united with acute mental torture from the shame and ignominy through which He had to pass; and to make His grief culminate with emphasis, He suffered spiritual agony surpassing all expression, resulting from the departure of His Father's presence. This was the black midnight of His horror; then it was that He descended the abyss of suffering. No man can enter into the full meaning of these words. Some of us think at times that we could cry, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" There are seasons when the brightness of our Father's smile is eclipsed by clouds and darkness; but let us remember that God never does really forsake us. It is only a seeming forsaking with us, but in Christ's case it was a real forsaking. We grieve at a little withdrawal of our Father's love; but the real turning away of God's face from His Son, who shall calculate how deep the agony which it caused Him?

In our case, our cry is often dictated by unbelief: in His case, it was the utterance of a dreadful fact, for God had really turned away from Him for a season. O thou poor, distressed soul, who once lived in the sunshine of God's face, but art now in darkness, remember that He has not really forsaken thee. God in the clouds is as much our God as when He shines forth in all the lustre of His grace; but since even the thought that He has forsaken us gives us agony, what must the woe of the Saviour have been when He exclaimed, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"

Evening Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for April 15th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on April 15th.

Psalms 28:9 9 Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: Be their shepherd also, and bear them up for ever. Psalm 29 A Psalm of David.

GOD'S people need lifting up. They are very heavy by nature. They have no wings, or, if they have, they are like the dove of old which lay among the pots; and they need divine grace to make them mount on wings covered with silver, and with feathers of yellow gold. By nature sparks fly upward, but the sinful souls of men fall downward. O Lord, "lift them up for ever!" David himself said, "Unto Thee, O God, do I lift up my soul," and he here feels the necessity that other men's souls should be lifted up as well as his own. When you ask this blessing for yourself, forget not to seek it for others also. There are three ways in which God's people require to be lifted up. They require to be elevated in character. Lift them up, O Lord; do not suffer Thy people to be like the world's people! The world lieth in the wicked one; lift them out of it! The world's people are looking after silver and gold, seeking their own pleasures, and the gratification of their lusts; but, Lord, lift Thy people up above all this; keep them from being "muck-rakers," as John Bunyan calls the man who was always scraping after gold! Set thou their hearts upon their risen Lord and the heavenly heritage! Moreover, believers need to be prospered in conflict. In the battle, if they seem to fall, O Lord, be pleased to give them the victory. If the foot of the foe be upon their necks for a moment, help them to grasp the sword of the Spirit, and eventually to win the battle. Lord, lift up Thy children's spirits in the day of conflict; let them not sit in the dust, mourning for ever. Suffer not the adversary to vex them sore, and make them fret; but if they have been, like Hannah, persecuted, let them sing of the mercy of a delivering God.

We may also ask our Lord to lift them up at the last! Lift them up by taking them home, lift their bodies from the tomb, and raise their souls to Thine eternal kingdom in glory.

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