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Growth Through Suffering

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on July 23rd.

1 Peter 1:3-9 3 Blessed `be' the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold trials, 7 that the proof of your faith, `being' more precious than gold that perisheth though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ: 8 whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 receiving the end of your faith, `even' the salvation of `your' souls.

Yesterday we saw that when we focus on God, we are in a better position to grow in maturity and godliness. When our suffering persists, the Lord may also have other purposes in mind:

To increase our trust. You might think the happiest people are the wealthy or famous. But the truly contented are those who are at peace with God because their faith has been tested—and they know He has only their good in mind.

To strengthen our dependence upon Him. The apostle Paul testified about how his persistent thorn taught him reliance upon the Lord’s grace and strength ( 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 7 And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch. 8 Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for `my' power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. ). Instead of believing that we can handle things on our own, we likewise learn to depend more fully on God when our circumstances leave us powerless.

To manifest Christ’s life in us. God wants us to be a living example of the conduct and character of Jesus Christ. For this reason, He uses suffering to sift, sand, and prune whatever doesn’t belong in our life. But in those hard seasons of change, He also sustains us, providing all that we need in order to persevere.

To purify our hearts. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that the pure in heart are blessed, for they will see God (Matt. 5:8). The purification of our heart is an ongoing process. Sometimes it takes difficult situations to identify the things that keep us from delighting in our relationship with God.

Do you trust that God loves you and wants the best for you? Decide to be more open to the work He wants to do in your life through the hard times.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 8-10 Chapter 8 1 And Jehovah said unto me, Take thee a great tablet, and write upon it with the pen of a man, For Maher-shalal-hash-baz; 2 and I will take unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. 3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said Jehovah unto me, Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz. 4 For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and, My mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be carried away before the king of Assyria. 5 And Jehovah spake unto me yet again, saying, 6 Forasmuch as this people have refused the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son; 7 now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the River, strong and many, `even' the king of Assyria and all his glory: and it shall come up over all its channels, and go over all its banks; 8 and it shall sweep onward into Judah; it shall overflow and pass through; it shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of its wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel. 9 Make an uproar, O ye peoples, and be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and be broken in pieces. 10 Take counsel together, and it shall be brought to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us. 11 For Jehovah spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, 12 Say ye not, A conspiracy, concerning all whereof this people shall say, A conspiracy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be in dread `thereof'. 13 Jehovah of hosts, him shall ye sanctify; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble thereon, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. 16 Bind thou up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. 17 And I will wait for Jehovah, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from Jehovah of hosts, who dwelleth in mount Zion. 19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living `should they seek' unto the dead? 20 To the law and to the testimony! if they speak not according to this word, surely there is no morning for them. 21 And they shall pass through it, sore distressed and hungry; and it shall come to pass that, when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse by their king and by their God, and turn their faces upward: 22 and they shall look unto the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and into thick darkness `they shall be' driven away. Chapter 9 1 But there shall be no gloom to her that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the latter time hath he made it glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. 3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased their joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, thou hast broken as in the day of Midian. 5 For all the armor of the armed man in the tumult, and the garments rolled in blood, shall be for burning, for fuel of fire. 6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this. 8 The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel. 9 And all the people shall know, `even' Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in pride and in stoutness of heart, 10 The bricks are fallen, but we will build with hewn stone; the sycomores are cut down, but we will put cedars in their place. 11 Therefore Jehovah will set up on high against him the adversaries of Rezin, and will stir up his enemies, 12 the Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 13 Yet the people have not turned unto him that smote them, neither have they sought Jehovah of hosts. 14 Therefore Jehovah will cut off from Israel head and tail, palm-branch and rush, in one day. 15 The elder and the honorable man, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. 16 For they that lead this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. 17 Therefore the Lord will not rejoice over their young men, neither will he have compassion on their fatherless and widows; for every one is profane and an evil-doer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 18 For wickedness burneth as the fire; it devoureth the briers and thorns; yea, it kindleth in the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke. 19 Through the wrath of Jehovah of hosts is the land burnt up; and the people are as the fuel of fire: no man spareth his brother. 20 And one shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm: 21 Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh; and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. Chapter 10 1 Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and to the writers that write perverseness; 2 to turn aside the needy from justice, and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey! 3 And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory? 4 They shall only bow down under the prisoners, and shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 5 Ho Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, the staff in whose hand is mine indignation! 6 I will send him against a profane nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. 7 Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few. 8 For he saith, Are not my princes all of them kings? 9 Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus? 10 As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria; 11 shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols? 12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that, when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks. 13 For he hath said, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I have understanding: and I have removed the bounds of the peoples, and have robbed their treasures, and like a valiant man I have brought down them that sit `on thrones': 14 and my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the peoples; and as one gathereth eggs that are forsaken, have I gathered all the earth: and there was none that moved the wing, or that opened the mouth, or chirped. 15 Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? shall the saw magnify itself against him that wieldeth it? as if a rod should wield them that lift it up, `or' as if a staff should lift up `him that is' not wood. 16 Therefore will the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory there shall be kindled a burning like the burning of fire. 17 And the light of Israel will be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; and it will burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day. 18 And he will consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and it shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth. 19 And the remnant of the trees of his forest shall be few, so that a child may write them. 20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and they that are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again lean upon him that smote them, but shall lean upon Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 A remnant shall return, `even' the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. 22 For though thy people, Israel, be as the sand of the sea, `only' a remnant of them shall return: a destruction `is' determined, overflowing with righteousness. 23 For a full end, and that determined, will the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, make in the midst of all the earth. 24 Therefore thus saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian, though he smite thee with the rod, and lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt. 25 For yet a very little while, and the indignation `against thee' shall be accomplished, and mine anger `shall be directed' to his destruction. 26 And Jehovah of hosts will stir up against him a scourge, as in the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and his rod will be over the sea, and he will lift it up after the manner of Egypt. 27 And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall depart from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed by reason of fatness. 28 He is come to Aiath, he is passed through Migron; at Michmash he layeth up his baggage; 29 they are gone over the pass; they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah trembleth; Gibeah of Saul is fled. 30 Cry aloud with thy voice, O daughter of Gallim! hearken, O Laishah! O thou poor Anathoth! 31 Madmenah is a fugitive; the inhabitants of Gebim flee for safety. 32 This very day shall he halt at Nob: he shaketh his hand at the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. 33 Behold, the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, will lop the boughs with terror: and the high of stature shall be hewn down, and the lofty shall be brought low. 34 And he will cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.




He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on July 23rd.

Daniel 2:20-22 20 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever; for wisdom and might are his. 21 And he changeth the times and the seasons; he removeth kings, and setteth up kings; he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that have understanding; 22 he revealeth the deep and secret things; he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.

How many of us have listened to the global or national news and wondered, What in the world is going on? Without a firm foundation of biblical truth, we can easily be overcome with fear and despair. Despite the upheaval in political and financial realms, Christians can find peace in the knowledge that our God is sovereign over every nation and ruler on earth.

Though the future of a nation appears to be in the hands of its rulers and lawmakers, an omnipotent hand is orchestrating a good and glorious plan: The Lord is the one who “removes kings and establishes kings” (Dan. 2:21). Ultimately, every governmental leader is put into office, not by voters, political campaigns, or personal abilities, but by the hand of God.

Nothing that the Lord does is carried out in isolation. He’s working all things according to His divine plan. We tend to think that a ruler has to be righteous for God to use Him, but Proverbs 21:1 Chapter 21 1 The king's heart is in the hand of Jehovah as the watercourses: He turneth it whithersoever he will. tells us the Lord can direct the heart of any national leader wherever He wishes. In fact, He describes two pagan kings—Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus—as “My servant” (Jer. 25:9) and “My shepherd” (Isa. 44:28). Unbeknownst to them, God guided their paths to fulfill His purposes for Israel.

When the news threatens to dislodge your peace or cause despair, remember who holds the nations and rulers in His hand. The Lord’s plans for this world are moving along according to His divine purposes, and no unrighteous ruler can thwart Him. Just keep singing, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.”

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 8-10 Chapter 8 1 And Jehovah said unto me, Take thee a great tablet, and write upon it with the pen of a man, For Maher-shalal-hash-baz; 2 and I will take unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. 3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said Jehovah unto me, Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz. 4 For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and, My mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be carried away before the king of Assyria. 5 And Jehovah spake unto me yet again, saying, 6 Forasmuch as this people have refused the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son; 7 now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the River, strong and many, `even' the king of Assyria and all his glory: and it shall come up over all its channels, and go over all its banks; 8 and it shall sweep onward into Judah; it shall overflow and pass through; it shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of its wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel. 9 Make an uproar, O ye peoples, and be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and be broken in pieces. 10 Take counsel together, and it shall be brought to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us. 11 For Jehovah spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, 12 Say ye not, A conspiracy, concerning all whereof this people shall say, A conspiracy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be in dread `thereof'. 13 Jehovah of hosts, him shall ye sanctify; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble thereon, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. 16 Bind thou up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. 17 And I will wait for Jehovah, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from Jehovah of hosts, who dwelleth in mount Zion. 19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living `should they seek' unto the dead? 20 To the law and to the testimony! if they speak not according to this word, surely there is no morning for them. 21 And they shall pass through it, sore distressed and hungry; and it shall come to pass that, when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse by their king and by their God, and turn their faces upward: 22 and they shall look unto the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and into thick darkness `they shall be' driven away. Chapter 9 1 But there shall be no gloom to her that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the latter time hath he made it glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. 3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased their joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, thou hast broken as in the day of Midian. 5 For all the armor of the armed man in the tumult, and the garments rolled in blood, shall be for burning, for fuel of fire. 6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this. 8 The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel. 9 And all the people shall know, `even' Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in pride and in stoutness of heart, 10 The bricks are fallen, but we will build with hewn stone; the sycomores are cut down, but we will put cedars in their place. 11 Therefore Jehovah will set up on high against him the adversaries of Rezin, and will stir up his enemies, 12 the Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 13 Yet the people have not turned unto him that smote them, neither have they sought Jehovah of hosts. 14 Therefore Jehovah will cut off from Israel head and tail, palm-branch and rush, in one day. 15 The elder and the honorable man, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. 16 For they that lead this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. 17 Therefore the Lord will not rejoice over their young men, neither will he have compassion on their fatherless and widows; for every one is profane and an evil-doer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 18 For wickedness burneth as the fire; it devoureth the briers and thorns; yea, it kindleth in the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke. 19 Through the wrath of Jehovah of hosts is the land burnt up; and the people are as the fuel of fire: no man spareth his brother. 20 And one shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm: 21 Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh; and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. Chapter 10 1 Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and to the writers that write perverseness; 2 to turn aside the needy from justice, and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey! 3 And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory? 4 They shall only bow down under the prisoners, and shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 5 Ho Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, the staff in whose hand is mine indignation! 6 I will send him against a profane nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. 7 Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few. 8 For he saith, Are not my princes all of them kings? 9 Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus? 10 As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria; 11 shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols? 12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that, when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks. 13 For he hath said, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I have understanding: and I have removed the bounds of the peoples, and have robbed their treasures, and like a valiant man I have brought down them that sit `on thrones': 14 and my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the peoples; and as one gathereth eggs that are forsaken, have I gathered all the earth: and there was none that moved the wing, or that opened the mouth, or chirped. 15 Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? shall the saw magnify itself against him that wieldeth it? as if a rod should wield them that lift it up, `or' as if a staff should lift up `him that is' not wood. 16 Therefore will the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory there shall be kindled a burning like the burning of fire. 17 And the light of Israel will be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; and it will burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day. 18 And he will consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and it shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth. 19 And the remnant of the trees of his forest shall be few, so that a child may write them. 20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and they that are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again lean upon him that smote them, but shall lean upon Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 A remnant shall return, `even' the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. 22 For though thy people, Israel, be as the sand of the sea, `only' a remnant of them shall return: a destruction `is' determined, overflowing with righteousness. 23 For a full end, and that determined, will the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, make in the midst of all the earth. 24 Therefore thus saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian, though he smite thee with the rod, and lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt. 25 For yet a very little while, and the indignation `against thee' shall be accomplished, and mine anger `shall be directed' to his destruction. 26 And Jehovah of hosts will stir up against him a scourge, as in the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and his rod will be over the sea, and he will lift it up after the manner of Egypt. 27 And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall depart from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed by reason of fatness. 28 He is come to Aiath, he is passed through Migron; at Michmash he layeth up his baggage; 29 they are gone over the pass; they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah trembleth; Gibeah of Saul is fled. 30 Cry aloud with thy voice, O daughter of Gallim! hearken, O Laishah! O thou poor Anathoth! 31 Madmenah is a fugitive; the inhabitants of Gebim flee for safety. 32 This very day shall he halt at Nob: he shaketh his hand at the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. 33 Behold, the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, will lop the boughs with terror: and the high of stature shall be hewn down, and the lofty shall be brought low. 34 And he will cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.




Encouraging the Pastor

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on July 24th.

2 Timothy 1:1-6 Chapter 1 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, according to the promise of the life which is in Christ Jesus, 2 to Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers in a pure conscience, how unceasing is my remembrance of thee in my supplications, night and day 4 longing to see thee, remembering thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; 5 having been reminded of the unfeigned faith that is in thee; which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and, I am persuaded, in thee also. 6 For which cause I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee through the laying on of my hands.

Do you attend church? If so, God has placed a person in your life whose job it is to train you in righteousness and speak the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it. You are blessed to have a pastor who loves you and cares about your spiritual well-being. He needs to know you care about him too.

Many churchgoers neglect to encourage the pastor, but being aware of his needs is an important part of belonging to the body of Christ. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul models the way we’re to encourage those who minister.

1. Tell your pastor you appreciate him. There’s nothing more uplifting to a person’s heart than to know someone else cares. Words are certainly valuable, but actions can speak even more loudly. So intentionally seek ways to demonstrate your love for your minister.

2. Express confidence in the pastor. Let him know you recognize the sincerity of his faith and appreciate his commitment to speak scriptural truths into your life.

3. Affirm the call of God on his life. Work with your pastor; respond to him in a way that shows you understand he’s been called to minister and therefore has God’s hand upon him. And when you experience the Lord working through him, let him know.

Above all, pray for your pastor. Don’t assume that others in the church are praying or that a spiritual leader doesn’t need intercession. The opposite is true. The devil would like to thwart effective ministering, but you can help to defend your shepherd as he tends the flock.

Bible in One Year: Isaiah 8-10 Chapter 8 1 And Jehovah said unto me, Take thee a great tablet, and write upon it with the pen of a man, For Maher-shalal-hash-baz; 2 and I will take unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. 3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said Jehovah unto me, Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz. 4 For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and, My mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be carried away before the king of Assyria. 5 And Jehovah spake unto me yet again, saying, 6 Forasmuch as this people have refused the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son; 7 now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the River, strong and many, `even' the king of Assyria and all his glory: and it shall come up over all its channels, and go over all its banks; 8 and it shall sweep onward into Judah; it shall overflow and pass through; it shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of its wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel. 9 Make an uproar, O ye peoples, and be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and be broken in pieces. 10 Take counsel together, and it shall be brought to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us. 11 For Jehovah spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, 12 Say ye not, A conspiracy, concerning all whereof this people shall say, A conspiracy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be in dread `thereof'. 13 Jehovah of hosts, him shall ye sanctify; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble thereon, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. 16 Bind thou up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. 17 And I will wait for Jehovah, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from Jehovah of hosts, who dwelleth in mount Zion. 19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living `should they seek' unto the dead? 20 To the law and to the testimony! if they speak not according to this word, surely there is no morning for them. 21 And they shall pass through it, sore distressed and hungry; and it shall come to pass that, when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse by their king and by their God, and turn their faces upward: 22 and they shall look unto the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and into thick darkness `they shall be' driven away. Chapter 9 1 But there shall be no gloom to her that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the latter time hath he made it glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. 3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased their joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, thou hast broken as in the day of Midian. 5 For all the armor of the armed man in the tumult, and the garments rolled in blood, shall be for burning, for fuel of fire. 6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this. 8 The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel. 9 And all the people shall know, `even' Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in pride and in stoutness of heart, 10 The bricks are fallen, but we will build with hewn stone; the sycomores are cut down, but we will put cedars in their place. 11 Therefore Jehovah will set up on high against him the adversaries of Rezin, and will stir up his enemies, 12 the Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 13 Yet the people have not turned unto him that smote them, neither have they sought Jehovah of hosts. 14 Therefore Jehovah will cut off from Israel head and tail, palm-branch and rush, in one day. 15 The elder and the honorable man, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. 16 For they that lead this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. 17 Therefore the Lord will not rejoice over their young men, neither will he have compassion on their fatherless and widows; for every one is profane and an evil-doer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 18 For wickedness burneth as the fire; it devoureth the briers and thorns; yea, it kindleth in the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke. 19 Through the wrath of Jehovah of hosts is the land burnt up; and the people are as the fuel of fire: no man spareth his brother. 20 And one shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm: 21 Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh; and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. Chapter 10 1 Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and to the writers that write perverseness; 2 to turn aside the needy from justice, and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey! 3 And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory? 4 They shall only bow down under the prisoners, and shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 5 Ho Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, the staff in whose hand is mine indignation! 6 I will send him against a profane nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. 7 Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few. 8 For he saith, Are not my princes all of them kings? 9 Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus? 10 As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria; 11 shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols? 12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that, when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks. 13 For he hath said, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I have understanding: and I have removed the bounds of the peoples, and have robbed their treasures, and like a valiant man I have brought down them that sit `on thrones': 14 and my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the peoples; and as one gathereth eggs that are forsaken, have I gathered all the earth: and there was none that moved the wing, or that opened the mouth, or chirped. 15 Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? shall the saw magnify itself against him that wieldeth it? as if a rod should wield them that lift it up, `or' as if a staff should lift up `him that is' not wood. 16 Therefore will the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory there shall be kindled a burning like the burning of fire. 17 And the light of Israel will be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; and it will burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day. 18 And he will consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and it shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth. 19 And the remnant of the trees of his forest shall be few, so that a child may write them. 20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and they that are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again lean upon him that smote them, but shall lean upon Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 A remnant shall return, `even' the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. 22 For though thy people, Israel, be as the sand of the sea, `only' a remnant of them shall return: a destruction `is' determined, overflowing with righteousness. 23 For a full end, and that determined, will the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, make in the midst of all the earth. 24 Therefore thus saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian, though he smite thee with the rod, and lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt. 25 For yet a very little while, and the indignation `against thee' shall be accomplished, and mine anger `shall be directed' to his destruction. 26 And Jehovah of hosts will stir up against him a scourge, as in the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and his rod will be over the sea, and he will lift it up after the manner of Egypt. 27 And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall depart from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed by reason of fatness. 28 He is come to Aiath, he is passed through Migron; at Michmash he layeth up his baggage; 29 they are gone over the pass; they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah trembleth; Gibeah of Saul is fled. 30 Cry aloud with thy voice, O daughter of Gallim! hearken, O Laishah! O thou poor Anathoth! 31 Madmenah is a fugitive; the inhabitants of Gebim flee for safety. 32 This very day shall he halt at Nob: he shaketh his hand at the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. 33 Behold, the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, will lop the boughs with terror: and the high of stature shall be hewn down, and the lofty shall be brought low. 34 And he will cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.




Jesus Keeps His Sheep

Published by John Piper for reading on July 24th.

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” ( Luke 22:31 31 Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat: –32)

Though Peter failed miserably, the prayer of Jesus preserved him from utter ruin. He was brought to bitter weeping and restored to the joy and boldness of Pentecost. So Jesus is interceding for us today that our faith might not fail ( Romans 8:34 34 who is he that condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. ).

Jesus promised that his sheep would be preserved and never perish. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” ( John 10:27 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: –28).

The reason for this is that God will work to preserve the faith of the sheep. “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” ( 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: ).

We are not left to ourselves to fight the fight of faith. “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” ( Philippians 2:13 13 for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure. ).

You have the assurance of God’s Word that, if you are his child, he will “equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ” ( Hebrews 13:21 21 make you perfect in every good thing to do his will, working in us that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom `be' the glory for ever and ever. Amen. ).

Our endurance in faith and joy is finally and decisively in the hands of God. Yes, we must fight. But this very fight is what God “works in us.” And he most certainly will do it, for “whom he justified he also glorified” ( Romans 8:30 30 and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. ).

He will lose none of those he has brought to faith and justified.



The Holy Spirit: Filling the Believer

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on July 24th.

Ephesians 5:15-21 15 Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; 19 speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.

A choice of enormous significance lies before every believer in Christ. God has given each one the responsibility of deciding who will rule his or her life. Christians are indwelt and sealed with the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation, but being filled with the Spirit—in other words, being led by Him—is optional.

From the moment we are saved, God’s Spirit will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). But by refusing to submit to His authority over every area of our life, we limit His work in and through us. He will not override our will but waits for us to choose Him.

The Lord wants you to have His power to overcome sin, to become the person He designed you to be, and to accomplish the work He has called you to do. The filling of the Spirit is His provision for this kind of supernatural living. Without it, the Christian life will be full of defeat and discouragement.

God wants to motivate us to desire His fullness, and He will use various methods. Sometimes He places a longing in our hearts to be closer to Him. Other times He uses our feelings of inadequacy and failure that result from trying to live in our own strength. The Lord even uses the example of other Spirit-filled believers to make us want what they have.

The Holy Spirit promises to fill a believer who is willing to yield all aspects of life to Him. This isn’t an instantaneous event, but a gradual peeling away of the layers of self-rule. As the heavenly Father reveals an area that you have kept under your own control, surrender it to Him, and let Him fill you with His Spirit.

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 8-10 Chapter 8 1 And Jehovah said unto me, Take thee a great tablet, and write upon it with the pen of a man, For Maher-shalal-hash-baz; 2 and I will take unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. 3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said Jehovah unto me, Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz. 4 For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and, My mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be carried away before the king of Assyria. 5 And Jehovah spake unto me yet again, saying, 6 Forasmuch as this people have refused the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son; 7 now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the River, strong and many, `even' the king of Assyria and all his glory: and it shall come up over all its channels, and go over all its banks; 8 and it shall sweep onward into Judah; it shall overflow and pass through; it shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of its wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel. 9 Make an uproar, O ye peoples, and be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and be broken in pieces. 10 Take counsel together, and it shall be brought to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us. 11 For Jehovah spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, 12 Say ye not, A conspiracy, concerning all whereof this people shall say, A conspiracy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be in dread `thereof'. 13 Jehovah of hosts, him shall ye sanctify; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble thereon, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. 16 Bind thou up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. 17 And I will wait for Jehovah, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from Jehovah of hosts, who dwelleth in mount Zion. 19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living `should they seek' unto the dead? 20 To the law and to the testimony! if they speak not according to this word, surely there is no morning for them. 21 And they shall pass through it, sore distressed and hungry; and it shall come to pass that, when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse by their king and by their God, and turn their faces upward: 22 and they shall look unto the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and into thick darkness `they shall be' driven away. Chapter 9 1 But there shall be no gloom to her that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the latter time hath he made it glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. 3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased their joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, thou hast broken as in the day of Midian. 5 For all the armor of the armed man in the tumult, and the garments rolled in blood, shall be for burning, for fuel of fire. 6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this. 8 The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel. 9 And all the people shall know, `even' Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in pride and in stoutness of heart, 10 The bricks are fallen, but we will build with hewn stone; the sycomores are cut down, but we will put cedars in their place. 11 Therefore Jehovah will set up on high against him the adversaries of Rezin, and will stir up his enemies, 12 the Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 13 Yet the people have not turned unto him that smote them, neither have they sought Jehovah of hosts. 14 Therefore Jehovah will cut off from Israel head and tail, palm-branch and rush, in one day. 15 The elder and the honorable man, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. 16 For they that lead this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. 17 Therefore the Lord will not rejoice over their young men, neither will he have compassion on their fatherless and widows; for every one is profane and an evil-doer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 18 For wickedness burneth as the fire; it devoureth the briers and thorns; yea, it kindleth in the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke. 19 Through the wrath of Jehovah of hosts is the land burnt up; and the people are as the fuel of fire: no man spareth his brother. 20 And one shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm: 21 Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh; and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. Chapter 10 1 Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and to the writers that write perverseness; 2 to turn aside the needy from justice, and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey! 3 And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory? 4 They shall only bow down under the prisoners, and shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 5 Ho Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, the staff in whose hand is mine indignation! 6 I will send him against a profane nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. 7 Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few. 8 For he saith, Are not my princes all of them kings? 9 Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus? 10 As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria; 11 shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols? 12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that, when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks. 13 For he hath said, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I have understanding: and I have removed the bounds of the peoples, and have robbed their treasures, and like a valiant man I have brought down them that sit `on thrones': 14 and my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the peoples; and as one gathereth eggs that are forsaken, have I gathered all the earth: and there was none that moved the wing, or that opened the mouth, or chirped. 15 Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? shall the saw magnify itself against him that wieldeth it? as if a rod should wield them that lift it up, `or' as if a staff should lift up `him that is' not wood. 16 Therefore will the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory there shall be kindled a burning like the burning of fire. 17 And the light of Israel will be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; and it will burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day. 18 And he will consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and it shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth. 19 And the remnant of the trees of his forest shall be few, so that a child may write them. 20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and they that are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again lean upon him that smote them, but shall lean upon Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 A remnant shall return, `even' the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. 22 For though thy people, Israel, be as the sand of the sea, `only' a remnant of them shall return: a destruction `is' determined, overflowing with righteousness. 23 For a full end, and that determined, will the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, make in the midst of all the earth. 24 Therefore thus saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian, though he smite thee with the rod, and lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt. 25 For yet a very little while, and the indignation `against thee' shall be accomplished, and mine anger `shall be directed' to his destruction. 26 And Jehovah of hosts will stir up against him a scourge, as in the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and his rod will be over the sea, and he will lift it up after the manner of Egypt. 27 And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall depart from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed by reason of fatness. 28 He is come to Aiath, he is passed through Migron; at Michmash he layeth up his baggage; 29 they are gone over the pass; they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah trembleth; Gibeah of Saul is fled. 30 Cry aloud with thy voice, O daughter of Gallim! hearken, O Laishah! O thou poor Anathoth! 31 Madmenah is a fugitive; the inhabitants of Gebim flee for safety. 32 This very day shall he halt at Nob: he shaketh his hand at the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. 33 Behold, the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, will lop the boughs with terror: and the high of stature shall be hewn down, and the lofty shall be brought low. 34 And he will cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.




Daily Bible - July 24

Published by Daily Bible - GTY for reading on July 24th.

Reading for Today:

  • Ezra 9:1 Chapter 9 1 Now when these things were done, the princes drew near unto me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, `doing' according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. –10:44
  • Psalms 88:6-10 6 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, In dark places, in the deeps. 7 Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, And thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah 8 Thou hast put mine acquaintance far from me; Thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth. 9 Mine eye wasteth away by reason of affliction: I have called daily upon thee, O Jehovah; I have spread forth my hands unto thee. 10 Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? Shall they that are decreased arise and praise thee? Selah
  • Proverbs 21:23-24 23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue Keepeth his soul from troubles. 24 The proud and haughty man, scoffer is his name; He worketh in the arrogance of pride.
  • Acts 24:1-27 Chapter 24 1 And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with certain elders, and `with' an orator, one Tertullus; and they informed the governor against Paul. 2 And when he was called, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy much peace, and that by the providence evils are corrected for this nation, 3 we accept it in all ways and in all places, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness. 4 But, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I entreat thee to hear us of thy clemency a few words. 5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of insurrections among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: 6 who moreover assayed to profane the temple: on whom also we laid hold: `and we would have judged him according to our law.' 7 `But the chief captain Lysias came, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,' 8 `commanding his accusers to come before thee.' from whom thou wilt be able, by examining him thyself, to take knowledge of all these things whereof we accuse him. 9 And the Jews also joined in the charge, affirming that these things were so. 10 And when the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, Paul answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I cheerfully make my defense: 11 Seeing that thou canst take knowledge that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship at Jerusalem: 12 and neither in the temple did they find me disputing with any man or stirring up a crowd, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city. 13 Neither can they prove to thee the things whereof they now accuse me. 14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the Way which they call a sect, so serve I the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the law, and which are written in the prophets; 15 having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust. 16 Herein I also exercise myself to have a conscience void of offence toward God and men always. 17 Now after some years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings: 18 amidst which they found me purified in the temple, with no crowd, nor yet with tumult: but `there were' certain Jews from Asia-- 19 who ought to have been here before thee, and to make accusation, if they had aught against me. 20 Or else let these men themselves say what wrong-doing they found when I stood before the council, 21 except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question before you this day. 22 But Felix, having more exact knowledge concerning the Way, deferred them, saying, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will determine your matter. 23 And he gave order to the centurion that he should be kept in charge, and should have indulgence; and not to forbid any of his friends to minister unto him. 24 But after certain days, Felix came with Drusilla, his wife, who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ Jesus. 25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, and self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified, and answered, Go thy way for this time; and when I have a convenient season, I will call thee unto me. 26 He hoped withal that money would be given him of Paul: wherefore also he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. 27 But when two years were fulfilled, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and desiring to gain favor with the Jews, Felix left Paul in bonds.

Notes:

Ezra 9:1 When these things were done. This refers to the implementation of the different trusts and duties committed to him. priests…Levites. As was the case before the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations, the spiritual leadership defaulted along with the people (Is. 24:2; Jer. 5:30, 31; 6:13–15; Hos. 3:9; Mal. 2:1–9; 2 Tim. 4:2–4). abominations. The reason for this exclusiveness was to keep the people pure. In the first settlement, Israel was warned not to make covenants with the nations, which would result in intermarriages and inevitably the worship of foreign gods (Ex. 34:10–17; Deut. 7:1–5). To a great extent, the continual violation of this precipitated the 70-year exile from which they had just returned. Ezra found out it had happened again and called for immediate repentance. Nehemiah (Neh. 13:23–27) and Malachi (Mal. 2:14–16) later encountered the same sin. It is unthinkable that the Jews would so quickly go down the same disastrous path of idolatry. Neither wrath from God in the exile to Babylon nor grace from God in the return was enough to keep them from defecting again.

Ezra 9:5–15 Ezra’s priestly prayer of intercession and confession is like Daniel’s (Dan. 9:1–20) and Nehemiah’s (Neh. 1:4–11), in that he used plural pronouns that identified himself with the people’s sin, even though he did not participate in it. The use of “we,” “our,” and “us” demonstrates Ezra’s understanding that the sin of the few is sufficient to contaminate the many.

Ezra 10:1 praying…confessing, weeping, and bowing down. Ezra’s contrite spirit before the people was evident and they joined him. These extreme expressions of contrition demonstrated the seriousness of the sin and the genuineness of their repentance.

Acts 24:3 3 we accept it in all ways and in all places, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness. Felix. Governor of Judea from A.D. 52 to 59. Felix was a former slave whose brother (a favorite of Emperor Claudius) had obtained for him the position as governor. He was not highly regarded by the influential Romans of his day and accomplished little during his term as governor. He defeated the Egyptian and his followers (21:38), but his brutality angered the Jews and led to his ouster as governor by Emperor Nero two years after Paul’s hearing (v. 27).

Acts 24:24 24 But after certain days, Felix came with Drusilla, his wife, who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ Jesus. Drusilla. The youngest daughter of Agrippa I (12:1) and Felix’s third wife. Felix, struck by her beauty, had lured her away from her husband. At the time of Paul’s hearing, she was not yet 20 years old.

Acts 24:25 25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, and self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified, and answered, Go thy way for this time; and when I have a convenient season, I will call thee unto me. righteousness, self-control, and the judgment. God demands “righteousness” of all men, because of His holy nature (Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:15, 16).For men and women to conform to that absolute standard requires “self-control.” The result of failing to exhibit self-control and to conform oneself to God’s righteous standard is (apart from salvation) “judgment.” Felix was afraid. Living with a woman he had lured away from her husband, Felix obviously lacked “righteousness” and “self-control.” The realization that he faced “judgment” alarmed him, and he hastily dismissed Paul. when I have a convenient time. The moment of conviction passed, and Felix foolishly passed up his opportunity to repent (2 Cor. 6:2).

DAY 24: How does Ezra’s handling of the intermarriage situation fit into the overall pattern of biblical teaching?

Ezra 9 Chapter 9 1 Now when these things were done, the princes drew near unto me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, `doing' according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2 For they have taken of their daughters for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the peoples of the lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. 3 And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my robe, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down confounded. 4 Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the trespass of them of the captivity; and I sat confounded until the evening oblation. 5 And at the evening oblation I arose up from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe rent; and I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto Jehovah my God; 6 and I said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our guiltiness is grown up unto the heavens. 7 Since the days of our fathers we have been exceeding guilty unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to plunder, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. 8 And now for a little moment grace hath been showed from Jehovah our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. 9 For we are bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended lovingkindness unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the ruins thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. 10 And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments, 11 which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land through the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, through their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their filthiness: 12 now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their prosperity for ever; that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever. 13 And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great guilt, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such a remnant, 14 shall we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the peoples that do these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape? 15 O Jehovah, the God of Israel, thou art righteous; for we are left a remnant that is escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our guiltiness; for none can stand before thee because of this. and 10 record a critical time in the reestablishment of the Jewish people in their homeland. In the years before Ezra arrived from Persia, many of the returned Jewish men intermarried with pagan women from the area. This practice reflects no circumstances like we find in the marriages of Rahab or Ruth, Gentiles who became believers in God. The pagan background of these women was not taken into account by their husbands. Ezra received this news as part of the report when he reached Jerusalem.

For Ezra, this was almost the worst possible news. Intermarriage with pagans had historically been a key in the repeated downfalls of the nation. These marriages were an act of disobedience. Ezra was overwhelmed with shame and distress over the situation ( Ezra 9 Chapter 9 1 Now when these things were done, the princes drew near unto me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, `doing' according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2 For they have taken of their daughters for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the peoples of the lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. 3 And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my robe, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down confounded. 4 Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the trespass of them of the captivity; and I sat confounded until the evening oblation. 5 And at the evening oblation I arose up from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe rent; and I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto Jehovah my God; 6 and I said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our guiltiness is grown up unto the heavens. 7 Since the days of our fathers we have been exceeding guilty unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to plunder, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. 8 And now for a little moment grace hath been showed from Jehovah our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. 9 For we are bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended lovingkindness unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the ruins thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. 10 And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments, 11 which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land through the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, through their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their filthiness: 12 now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their prosperity for ever; that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever. 13 And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great guilt, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such a remnant, 14 shall we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the peoples that do these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape? 15 O Jehovah, the God of Israel, thou art righteous; for we are left a remnant that is escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our guiltiness; for none can stand before thee because of this. :3, 4). His grief was open and convicting.

Eventually, the people themselves confessed their error and decided that those who had married pagan women would have to “put away” (divorce) these wives.

God had not changed His mind about divorce. Malachi, who lived in this time period, declared that God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16).

Several important notes can be made about this passage in Ezra. It does not establish a norm about divorce. It is also easy to overlook the fact that while the solution of divorce was a group decision, each of these marriages was examined individually. Presumably, cases in which the women had become believers were treated differently than cases in which the women involved saw questions of faith as violation of the marriage agreement.

In the humility of the guilty and the care in confronting these issues, a great deal of God’s mercy comes through. A strict interpretation of the law could have led to the stoning death of all involved. The eagerness to set things right opened the doorway for a solution, even though in some of the cases it involved the grief and sadness of divorce.

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.

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July 24 - Strong Profession Is Not Always Sincere

Published by Daily Readings - GTY for reading on July 24th.

“Then a scribe came and said to Him, ‘Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.’ Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head’” ( Matthew 8:19 19 And there came a scribe, and said unto him, Teacher, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. –20).

The issue of commitment is one to be evaluated very carefully. The scribe here was an authority on Jewish law and a close ally of the Pharisees. As such he would have broken with his allies had he become one of Jesus’ true disciples. He knew a decision like that would be costly, and thus he might have been testing Jesus’ reaction to his words.

Normally the scribes were teachers, not followers of other teachers. And one such as this man would have been reluctant to follow a rabbi like Jesus, who was not from the scholarly class, not educated in a rabbinic school, and not loyal to Jewish religious traditions.

For this scribe to address Jesus as he did was quite out of the ordinary and probably impressive to the apostles and the crowds, since he issued the claim as a Jewish leader. It’s not certain that the man ever really believed in Jesus, but he probably felt sincere in his own mind with what he professed. He was likely just as convinced as Peter that he would always follow the Lord (Matt. 26:33, 35), but neither could be sure about that, as Peter’s temporary denial illustrates.

Unlike today’s evangelical church, always eager to instantly embrace a prominent person who professes Christ, Jesus knew that every strong profession does not necessarily translate to strong commitment. Hence He compared His living situation to the foxes and birds as a testing of the man’s true dedication, which ought to be a self-examining device for us too.

Ask Yourself

Think of the bold promises you’ve made to the Lord before and the many times you’ve failed to follow through. Have your past inabilities kept you from making such statements anymore? Is that what God wants you to learn from these experiences?

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.

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Self-Control

Published by Strength For Today - GTY for reading on July 24th.

“And in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance . . .” ( 2 Peter 1:6 6 and in `your' knowledge self-control; and in `your' self-control patience; and in `your' patience godliness; ).

Personal self-control demonstrates the certainty of your salvation.

In Peter’s day, the word translated “self-control” was used to describe athletes. The successful ones abstained from sexual activity and an unhealthy diet for the sake of disciplined training exercises. You practice personal self-control when you control your desires and don’t allow them to control you.

Let me share some practical tips that have helped me with self-control.

1. Start small. For example, begin by cleaning your bedroom or office, then extend that discipline to the rest of your home.

2. Be on time. This is more than good advice; it’s based on Scripture (see Eccles. 8:6; Eph. 5:15-16). Learn to budget your time, and discipline your desires so you can arrive at places on time.

3. Organize your life. Use a schedule book, or make a daily list of things you need to do. Don’t let circumstances control your time.

4. Practice self-denial. Periodically refrain from something that is all right just to remind yourself who’s in charge. Sometime when you want a hot fudge sundae, have a glass of iced tea instead.

5. Do the hardest job first. Doing this will keep you from letting the difficult tasks slide by undone.

6. Accept correction. Constructive criticism helps you become more disciplined because it shows you what to avoid. Acknowledge the courage of the one who corrects you. It’s almost always easier to keep silent, but that person, especially if he or she is a believer, spoke up because he or she likely had your best interest at heart.

7. Welcome responsibility. If you’re qualified for a task or assignment that arises, such as opportunities at church, volunteer occasionally. That will prompt you to be disciplined and organized.

Some of the items on my list may not seem very spiritual and may even sound silly. However, I’ve found that pursuing discipline in the secular realm often carries over to the spiritual. Any theology that separates faith from practical conduct is heresy. Self-control is a great Christian virtue and solid proof that one’s salvation is genuine.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you get better control of an area in which you lack discipline.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 9:25 25 And every man that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things. Now they `do it' to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. ; 1 Timothy 3:2 2 The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach; ; Titus 1:8 8 but given to hospitality, as lover of good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled; ; 2:2. How do those verses underscore the importance of self-control? Explain.

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.

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Inheriting Heaven or Hell

Published by Drawing Near - GTY for reading on July 24th.
"[God] caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pet. 1:3).

Everyone receives an eternal inheritance—either Heaven or Hell.

We have seen several aspects of the believer's inheritance, and will see more in future days. But realize that unbelievers also will receive an inheritance, for Jesus will say to them, "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels. . . . And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matt. 25:41, 46).

Only Christians have eternal life and a royal inheritance. When you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you became a new creation in Christ and your life began to center on Him rather than yourself. The Holy Spirit indwelt you and began to transform your attitudes and actions. That's the new birth! It's like starting all over again, only this time you're pursuing God's glory rather than worldly pleasures or goals.

Also, when you were saved you became an heir of God and a fellow heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17). So the new birth was the means of your salvation and your eternal inheritance.

Having said that, I must admonish you, just as Paul admonished the Corinthians, to "test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Cor. 13:5). You never want to be deluded about your relationship with Christ. When you trust in the living Lord, you have a living hope and a glorious eternal inheritance. Anything less results in an inheritance of eternal damnation.

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies" ( John 11:25 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; ). Be sure your faith is firmly fixed on Him.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for family and friends who don't know Christ. Ask the Lord to redeem them so He will be glorified, and they will become joint heirs with Christ.

For Further Study

What do these verses teach about the new birth: John 1:12-13 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, `even' to them that believe on his name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. , John 3:3 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. , and 1 Peter 1:23 23 having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth. ?

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.

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Morning Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for July 24th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on July 24th.

Exodus 14:13 13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah, which he will work for you to-day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

THESE words contain God's command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut up on the right hand and on the left; what is he now to do? The Master's word to him is, "Stand still." It will be well for him if at such times he listens only to his Master's word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions. Despair whispers, "Lie down and die; give it all up." But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in His love and faithfulness. Cowardice says, "Retreat; go back to the worldling's way of action; you cannot play the Christian's part, it is too difficult. Relinquish your principles." But, however much Satan may urge this course upon you, you cannot follow it if you are a child of God. His divine fiat has bid thee go from strength to strength, and so thou shalt, and neither death nor hell shall turn thee from thy course. What, if for a while thou art called to stand still, yet this is but to renew thy strength for some greater advance in due time. Precipitancy cries, "do something. Stir yourself; to stand still and wait, is sheer idleness." We must be doing something at once—we must do it so we think—instead of looking to the Lord, who will not only do something but will do everything. Presumption boasts, "If the sea be before you, march into it and expect a miracle." But Faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Precipitancy, but it hears God say, "Stand still," and immovable as a rock it stands. "Stand still";—keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, "Go forward."

Evening Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for July 24th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on July 24th.

Joel 2:11 11 And Jehovah uttereth his voice before his army; for his camp is very great; for he is strong that executeth his word; for the day of Jehovah is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?

CONSIDER, my soul, the mightiness of the Lord who is thy glory and defence. He is a man of war, Jehovah is His name. All the forces of heaven are at His beck, legions wait at His door, cherubim and seraphim;, watchers and holy ones, principalities and powers, are all attentive to His will. If our eyes were not blinded by the ophthalmia of the flesh, we should see horses of fire and chariots of fire round about the Lord's beloved. The powers of nature are all subject to the absolute control of the Creator: stormy wind and tempest, lightning and rain, and snow, and hail, and the soft dews and cheering sunshine, come and go at His decree. The bands of Orion He looseth, and bindeth the sweet influences of the Pleiades. Earth, sea, and air, and the places under the earth, are the barracks for Jehovah's great armies; space is His camping ground, light is His banner, and flame is His sword. When He goeth forth to war, famine ravages the land, pestilence smites the nations, hurricane sweeps the sea, tornado shakes the mountains, and earthquake makes the solid world to tremble. As for animate creatures, they all own His dominion, and from the great fish which swallowed the prophet, down to "all manner of flies," which plagued the field of Zoan, all are His servants, and like the palmer-worm, the caterpillar, and the cankerworm, are squadrons of His great army, for His camp is very great. My soul, see to it that thou be at peace with this mighty King, yea, more, be sure to enlist under His banner, for to war against Him is madness, and to serve Him is glory. Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, is ready to receive recruits for the army of the Lord: if I am not already enlisted let me go to Him ere I sleep, and beg to be accepted through His merits; and if I be already, as I hope I am, a soldier of the cross, let me be of good courage; for the enemy is powerless compared with my Lord, whose camp is very great.

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