Daily Devotionals For January 2005
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List of main devotionals written by Jerry for these January 2005 Devotionals (not posted elsewhere on this site):
Since Yesterday/An Unexpected Influence - January 22nd&23rd
I have preached some of these devotionals on Fridays at the Gospel Mission. They are now marked with asterisks by the date, for those who might be interested.
Daily Devotional for Saturday January 1st/05
Apprehended Of Christ
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Daily Devotional for Sunday January 2nd/05
The Bible's First Promise
"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Genesis 3:15).
This is the first promise to fallen man. It contains the whole gospel and the essence of the covenant of grace. It has been in great measure fulfilled. The seed of the woman, even our LORD Jesus, was bruised in His heel, and a terrible bruising it was. How terrible will be the final bruising of the serpent's head! This was virtually done when Jesus took away sin, vanquished death, and broke the power of Satan; but it awaits a still fuller accomplishment at our LORD's second advent and in the Day of Judgment. To us the promise stands as a prophecy that we shall be afflicted by the powers of evil in our lower nature, and thus bruised in our heel; but we shall triumph in Christ, who sets His foot on the old serpent's head. Throughout this year we may have to learn the first part of this promise by experience, through the temptations of the devil and the unkindness of the ungodly, who are his seed. They may so bruise us that we may limp with our sore heel; but let us grasp the second part of the text, and we shall not be dismayed. By faith let us rejoice that we shall still reign in Christ Jesus, the woman's seed.
(Taken from Faith's Checkbook by Spurgeon)
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Daily Devotional for Monday January 3rd/05
I thought this was a good, hard-hitting article. It is not a paraphrase of a Bible passage, but instead gives a look at what could happen today, if the same type of situation were to come up. Modern Christendom is too busy running after their programs and preaching for itching ears, that too often service and soul-winning gets neglected. This is the light the story is presented in.
Acts 8:26-40 (2005 Version)
"Lord, are you sure about this? You want me to leave my church in Sydney and go to Lightning Ridge? I dunno if I can do it, Lord. I know, I said I’d go where you want me to go, and I’d say what you want me to say, but this is asking a bit much.
You know I’d be stepping down from my Megachurch ministry. Why, Hybels and Schuller are going to be here in a month for our Church Growth Seminar. And you know we’ve got the Hillsong Praise and Worship Team coming, too. I can’t just up and leave, Lord. What would they think?
I just got our Ministry’s new website up and running, Lord, and already it’s getting over 10 000 hits a day. It’s been nominated for the Website of the Month Award. Who would go to the banquet to receive the cheque if I shoot through?
And, Lord, you wouldn’t want me to go someplace out in the boonies to serve you if there’s not a good Internet Service Provider there, would you? How am I going to keep up with the sports scores? I hear they don't even have Broadband out there in the bush.
You know, Lord, the little wife has a really good hairdresser here. I might have problems if we have to shift way out there. The climate out there is murder on a woman’s hair.
And the kids. Lord, they’ll kill me if I take them away from the games arcade in the shopping mall. They’re at that delicate stage right now, Lord.
I don’t mean to be stubborn, Lord, but my golf game is going really well, and I’d hate to miss seeing the football finals. You know how much trouble I had getting those tickets.
So, if you don’t mind, Lord, I think I’ll pass on this one. I’m sure you’ll find somebody."
The 4wd pickup slowed as it neared the campground. A long plume of dust drifted downwind as the driver braked to a halt beside a fireplace. The driver stepped down, and stretched. The sun, a ball of red fire, hovered on the horizon for a moment, and then dropped out of sight.
Swag rolled out, and tea dishes washed, the traveler hung a gas lantern on a branch and went to the truck to find something to read. He fossicked around on the parcel shelf until he dug up a small paper bag. He turned up the lantern, and settled back against the trunk of the tree. His posture betrayed his curiosity as he bent to peer closely at the words. He read a few words from the first page, smiled to himself, and began flipping through the pages, finally settling on a spot about halfway through. He read aloud, slowly, seeking to understand each word, "He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living…"
He read the words again, and gazed into the fire for a long spell, and said, "I wish I could understand what this is all about…"
The road lay empty and quiet, and no one passed by.
Written by Buddy Smith
(Used With Permission)
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Daily Devotional for Tuesday January 4th/05
REMEMBERING OUR PRIVILEGES
"I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake" (I John 2:12) .
We might rephrase the title of this section to read: "Counting Our Blessings." This is an exercise which certainly ought to help keep us close to the LORD. You remember the old hymn which admonishes:
"Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done."
This is what John is saying here. Furthermore, he mentions specifically a number of things, and indicates what classes or groups of the LORD's people ought to count certain blessings in particular.
Verse 12 says that "little children," or babes in CHRIST -- that is, those who perhaps are beginning the Christian life, and who as yet have not progressed very far -- are to remember that their sins have been forgiven. Note the statement "are forgiven." Our sins have already been forgiven. Our sins have been forgiven. Notice the reason our sins have been forgiven: "for his name's sake" is John's way of reminding us of the name of our REDEEMER, and the reason He was given that name. "Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). 'JESUS' means "SAVIOUR," or perhaps "JEHOVAH is salvation." This is a wonderful truth, not merely for beginners in CHRIST, but for the most advanced as well. We should all keep this great fact constantly in mind.
Verse 13 calls on "fathers," or mature believers, to remember that they have known Him who is from the beginning. Such are to count as a rich blessing the fact that they know GOD. The One they know is no late-comer, no novice. He has the experience, the knowledge, and the wisdom of eternity. He is, in fact, the Eternal One. What a privilege it is to know Him!
Again, this verse calls on "young men," or those who have been on the way for some time, and have reached a degree of maturity and strength. Note what such are to rejoice about as they remember it -- they have "overcome the wicked one." There has been at least a measure of victory over Satan, our great and persistent enemy. Of course, such victory comes from GOD. However, it is made ours through our faith in the LORD.
In this same verse, "little children" are exhorted to remember -- and as they remember, rejoice -- that they "have known the Father." This is substantially what "fathers" had been asked to remember at the beginning of the verse.
In verse 14, "fathers" are again asked to keep in mind the blessing of knowing the One who is from the beginning. But now we have a new item in connection with what "young men" should keep in mind -- two items in fact. First, they are strong, which was implied in verse 13 in the words: "ye have overcome the wicked one." But now a new idea is introduced, and an important one -- "the word of God abideth in you." This is the secret of victory over Satan. The Word of GOD is what our LORD JESUS CHRIST used to defeat the temptation of Satan in Matthew 4:1-11. Three times He said to the great enemy, "It is written"! Victory over Satan comes from GOD, and is available to us through the proper use of His Word.
Thus the third requirement for maintaining fellowship with GOD is for us to remember our privileges, or count our blessings.
(From a study on 1 John entitled The Father's Family by J. Arthur Springer.)
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Daily Devotional for Wednesday January 5th/05
"I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure" (Gen. 33:14).
What a beautiful picture of Jacob's thoughtfulness for the cattle and the children! He would not allow them to be overdriven even for one day. He would not lead on according to what a strong man like Esau could do and expected them to do, but only according to what they were able to endure. He knew exactly how far they could go in a day; and he made that his only consideration in arranging the marches. He had gone the same wilderness journey years before, and knew all about its roughness and heat and length, by personal experience. And so he said, "I will lead on softly." "For ye have not passed this way heretofore" (Josh.3:4.).
We have not passed this way heretofore, but the Lord Jesus has. It is all untrodden and unknown ground to us, but He knows it all by personal experience. The steep bits that take away our breath, the stony bits that make our feet ache so, the hot shadeless stretches that make us feel so exhausted, the rushing rivers that we have to pass through--Jesus has gone through it all before us. "He was wearied with his journey." Not some, but all the many waters went over Him, and yet did not quench His love. He was made a perfect Leader by the things which He suffered. "He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust." Think of that when you are tempted to question the gentleness of His leading. He is remembering all the time; and not one step will He make you take beyond what your foot is able to endure. Never mind if you think it will not be able for the step that seems to come next; either He will so strengthen it that it shall be able, or He will call a sudden halt, and you shall not have to take it at all. --Frances Ridley Havergal
In "pastures green"? Not always; sometimes He
Who knowest best, in kindness leadeth me
In weary ways, where heavy shadows be.
So, whether on the hill-tops high and fair
I dwell, or in the sunless valleys, where
The shadows lie, what matter? He is there.
(Taken from Streams In The Desert devotional)
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Daily Devotional for Thursday January 6th/05
In September, I had sent out chapter 2 of this book. Tonight and tomorrow I wanted to send out chapter 1. May it be as much of a blessing to you as it was to me!
You can read the whole book online here:
Till He Come
Communion Meditations And Addresses
By C. H. Spurgeon
Unfortunately it is one long webpage, so it may take a while to load.
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Daily Devotional for Friday January 7th/05
Please see previous day for the devotional for today: I had originally sent a chapter of Charles Spurgeon's book Till He Come in two parts, but now have made a separate page for the whole chapter.
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Daily Devotional for Saturday January 8th/05
Daniel - The Edict Of Darius
I would rather have such a testimony as that borne of Daniel than have all that this world can give.
The men said, “We will get him out of the way. We will get the king to sign a decree; and we will propose a penalty. It shall not be the fiery furnace this time. We will have a lions’ den — a den of angry lions; and they will soon make away with him.” Probably these plotters met at night, for it generally happens that if men want to do any downright mean business they meet at night: darkness suits them best. The chief-president himself was not there: he had not been invited to meet them. Very likely some lawyer, who understood all about the laws of the Medes and Persians, stood up, and talked something after this fashion: “Gentlemen, I have got, I think, a plan that will work well, by which we may get rid of this old Hebrew. You know he will not serve any but the God of Abraham and of Isaac.”
We know that very well. And if a man had gone to Babylon in those days he would not have had to ask if Daniel loved the God of the Bible. I pity any man who lives so that people have to ask, “Is he a Christian?” Let us so live that no one need ask that question about us. These men knew very well that Daniel worshipped none other than the God of the Bible, the God of the Hebrews, the God of Abraham, and the God of Moses; the God who had brought His people Israel out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and into the Promised Land: they knew that very well.
And these plotters said one to another, “Now, let us get Darius to sign a decree that if any man make a request of any God or man — except of the King Darius — for thirty days, he shall be put into the lions’ den. And let us all keep perfectly still about this matter, so that it won’t get out. We must not tell our wives, for fear the news may get about the city: Daniel would find it all out; and he has more influence with the king than all the rest of us put together. The king would never sign the decree if he found out what the object was.” Then they may have said, “We must draw it so tight that Darius will not be able to get out of it after he has once signed. We must make it so binding that if the king once signs we shall have that Daniel in the lions’ den: and we will take good care that the lions shall be hungry.”
When the mine is all ready, the conspirators come to the king, and open their business with flattering speech: “King Darius, live forever!” When people approach me with smooth and oily words, I know they have something else coming — I know they have some purpose in telling me I am a good man. These plotters, perhaps, go on to tell the king how prosperous the realm is, and how much the people think of him. And then, perhaps, in the most plausible way, they tell him that if he signs this decree he will be remembered by their children’s children — that it would be a memorial forever of his greatness and goodness. “What is this decree that you wish me to sign?” And running his eye over the document he says, “I don’t see any objection to that” “Will you put your signet to it, and make it law?” He puts his signature to the decree, and seals it with his seal. And one of them says, “The law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not?” and the king answers, “Oh, yes; the law of the Medes and Persians: that is it.” In the pleasure of granting the request of these people he thinks nothing about Daniel; and the presidents and princes carefully refrain from jogging his memory. They had told the king a lie, too; for they said, “ALL the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counselors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute”; although the chief-president knew nothing at all about it.
There was probably a long preamble, telling him how popular he was; saying that he was liked better than Nebuchadnezzar or Belshazzar. They most likely tickled his vanity, and told him that he was the most popular man that had ever reigned in Babylon; and then they may have gone on to tell him how attached they were to him and his rule, and that they had been consulting together what they could do to increase his popularity and make him more beloved; and now they had hit upon a plan that was almost sure to do it. They would point out that if no one called upon any God for thirty days, but only on him, the king, making him a God, it would render him the most popular monarch that had ever reigned in Babylonia; and his name would be handed down to posterity. And if he could get men to call upon his name for thirty days they would probably keep it up, and so permanently reckon him among the gods.
If you touch a man’s vanity he will do almost anything; and Darius was like most of the human race. They touched his vanity by intimating that this would make him great. He thought it a very wise suggestion, and he agreed with them exactly.
It was not only Daniel they were thus going to get out of the way, but every conscientious Jew. There was not a true Jew in the whole of that wide empire who would bow down and worship Darius; and these men knew that: and so they were going to sweep away at a stroke all the Jews who were true to their faith. They hated them.
And I want to tell you that the world does not love Christians nowadays. The world will persecute a man if he attempts to live the life of a true Christian. The world is no friend to true grace: mark that! A man may live for the world, and like the world, and escape persecution. But if the world has nothing to say against you, it is a pretty sure sign that God has not much to say for you; because if you do seek to live unto Christ Jesus you must go against the current of the world.
And now they are ready to let the news go forth; and it is not long before it spreads through the highways of Babylon. The men of the city knew the man: knew that he would not vacillate. They knew that the old man with the gray locks would not turn to the right hand or the left: they knew that if his enemies caught him in that way, he would not deny his God or turn away from Him: they knew that he was going to be true to his God.
Daniel was none of your sickly Christians of the nineteenth century: he was none of your weak-backed, none of your weak-kneed Christians: he had moral stamina and courage...
I can picture that aged man, with his gray hairs upon him, listening to the words of these “miserable counselors,” who would tempt him to “trim,” and “hedge,” and shift — to “save his skin,” as men say, at the cost of his conscience. And their counsel falls flat and dead. I can fancy how Daniel would receive a suggestion that he should even seemingly be ashamed of the God of his fathers. Will he be ashamed or afraid? Not likely! You know he will not; and I know he will not.
(Taken from Bible Characters by D.L. Moody)
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Daily Devotional for Sunday January 9th/05
Daniel - The Edict Of Darius Continued
“They will be watching you; they will have their spies all around. But if you are determined to go on praying, shut up your window; close all your curtains; stop up the keyhole, so that no one can look through to see you on your knees, and so that no one can overhear a single word. Accommodate yourself just a little. Compromise just a little.”
That is just the cry of the world today! It is, “Accommodate yourself to the times. Compromise just a little here; and deviate just a little there, just to suit the opinions and views of a mocking world.” Do you think that Daniel, after having walked with God for half a century or more, is going to turn round like that? Ten thousand times, No!
True as steel, that old man goes to his room three times a day. Mark you, he had time to pray. There is many a business man today who will tell you he has no time to pray: his business is so pressing that he cannot call his family around him, and ask God to bless them. He is so busy that he cannot ask God to keep him and them from the temptations of the present life — the temptations of every day. “Business is so pressing” I am reminded of the words of an old Methodist minister: “If you have so much business to attend to that you have no time to pray, depend upon it you have more business on hand than God ever intended you should have.” But look at this man. He had the world, or nearly the whole, of the king’s business to attend to. He was Prime Minister, Secretary of State, and Secretary of the Treasury, all in one. He had to attend to all his own work; and to give an eye to the work of lots of other men. And yet he found time to pray: not just now and then, nor once in a way, not just when he happened to have a few moments to spare, mark you — but “three times a day.” Yes, he could take up the words of the fifty-fifth Psalm, and say:
“As for me, I will call upon God;
And the Lord shall save me.
Evening, and morning, and at noon,
will I pray and cry aloud;
And He shall hear my voice.”
Busy as he was, he found time to pray. And a man whose habit it is to call upon God saves time, instead of losing it. He has a clearer head, a more collected mind, and can act with more decision when circumstances require it.
So Daniel went to his room three times a day: he trod that path so often that the grass could not grow upon it. I would be bound to say those plotters knew whereabouts he would be going to pray: they knew the place where Daniel’s prayer was wont to be made; and they were sure they should find him there at his usual hours. And now again he has
“a purpose firm,
And dares to make it known.”
He goes to pray as aforetime; and he has his windows open. Like Paul, in later days, he “knew whom he had believed”; like Moses, he “saw Him who is invisible.” He knew whom he worshipped. There was no need to trace back the church records for years to find out whether this man had ever made a profession of religion. See him as he falls upon his knees. He is not careful to inquire whether there are any outsiders, or whether they can hear. In tones not one atom softer or quieter than his custom, he pours out his prayer to the God of his life; to the God of his people; to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He does not omit to pray for the king. It is right to pray for our rulers. If we cease praying for our rulers, our country will go to pieces. The reason they are not better is oftentimes because we do not pray for them. Does Daniel pray to Darius? Not he! He prays for Darius, but not to him.
There are men listening there near the open window: the hundred and twenty princes have taken good care of that. They themselves are their own witnesses, and some of them gather together as listeners, so doing their own vile work. If there had been any newspaper reporters in that day, how anxious they would have been to have got hold of every word of that prayer! Give them the smallest chance; and they would have taken it down, and telegraphed it all over the world, inside of twenty-four hours. After Daniel has prayed, “and given thanks,” — “given thanks,” mark that! — he goes out, and walks along the street with a firm step. He is undaunted. If it be the will of God that he shall pass from earth to heaven by the way of the den of lions, he is prepared for that. God’s presence is with him. Like Enoch, he bore within himself this testimony — “that he pleased God.”
Do you see the Hebrew captive kneeling,
At morning, noon, and night, to pray?
In his chamber he remembers Zion,
Though in exile far away.
Do not fear to tread the fiery furnace,
Nor shrink the lions’ den to share;
For the God of Daniel will deliver,
He will send His angel there.
Children of the living God, take courage,
Your great deliverance sweetly sing
Set your faces toward the hill of Zion,
Thence to hail your coming King!
Are your windows open toward Jerusalem,
Though as captives here “a little while” we stay
For the coming of the King in His glory,
Are you watching day by day.
(Taken from Bible Characters by D.L. Moody)
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Daily Devotional for Monday January 10th/05
"Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you." --1 Peter 5:7
It is a happy way of soothing sorrow when we can feel--"HE careth for me." Christian! do not dishonour religion by always wearing a brow of care; come, cast your burden upon your Lord. You are staggering beneath a weight which your Father would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden, would be to Him but as the small dust of the balance. Nothing is so sweet as to
"Lie passive in God's hands,
And know no will but His."
O child of suffering, be thou patient; God has not passed thee over in His providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows, will also furnish you with what you need. Sit not down in despair; hope on, hope ever. Take up the arms of faith against a sea of trouble, and your opposition shall yet end your distresses. There is One who careth for you. His eye is fixed on you, His heart beats with pity for your woe, and his hand omnipotent shall yet bring you the needed help. The darkest cloud shall scatter itself in showers of mercy. The blackest gloom shall give place to the morning. He, if thou art one of His family, will bind up thy wounds, and heal thy broken heart. Doubt not His grace because of thy tribulation, but believe that He loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might you lead if you would leave providing to the God of providence! With a little oil in the cruse, and a handful of meal in the barrel, Elijah outlived the famine, and you will do the same. If God cares for you, why need you care too? Can you trust Him for your soul, and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens, He has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! have done with fretful care, and leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God.
(Taken from Spurgeon's Morning And Evening devotional)
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Daily Devotional for January 11th/05
"In my flesh shall I see God." --Job 19:26
Mark the subject of Job's devout anticipation "I shall see God." He does not say, "I shall see the saints" --though doubtless that will be untold felicity --but, "I shall see God." It is not --"I shall see the pearly gates, I shall behold the walls of jasper, I shall gaze upon the crowns of gold," but "I shall see God." This is the sum and substance of heaven, this is the joyful hope of all believers. It is their delight to see Him now in the ordinances by faith. They love to behold Him in communion and in prayer; but there in heaven they shall have an open and unclouded vision, and thus seeing "Him as He is," shall be made completely like Him. Likeness to God --what can we wish for more? And a sight of God --what can we desire better? Some read the passage, "Yet, I shall see God in my flesh," and find here an allusion to Christ, as the "Word made flesh," and that glorious beholding of Him which shall be the splendour of the latter days. Whether so or not it is certain that Christ shall be the object of our eternal vision; nor shall we ever want any joy beyond that of seeing Him. Think not that this will be a narrow sphere for the mind to dwell in. It is but one source of delight, but that source is infinite. All His attributes shall be subjects for contemplation, and as He is infinite under each aspect, there is no fear of exhaustion. His works, His gifts, His love to us, and His glory in all His purposes, and in all His actions, these shall make a theme which will be ever new. The patriarch looked forward to this sight of God as a personal enjoyment. "Whom mine eye shall behold, and not another." Take realizing views of heaven's bliss; think what it will be to you. "Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty." All earthly brightness fades and darkens as we gaze upon it, but here is a brightness which can never dim, a glory which can never fade --"I shall see God."
(Taken from Spurgeon's Morning And Evening devotional)
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Daily Devotional for Wednesday January 12th/05
In the letters to the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, there are promises to those who overcome. Based on the context and cross-references by the Apostle John, it is obvious that the Lord Jesus Christ (the speaker in these chapters) refers to all true believers as overcomers. Those who are saved through personal faith in the Saviour, Jesus Christ, will be overcomers, and all true believers will receive all the promises to the overcomers in these seven letters. These are not rewards, but promises for the believer to claim and embrace through faith.
To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. To the Church at Ephesus (and the individual churches throughout history), the Lord promises that He will give the person that overcomes to eat from the Tree of Life. In Genesis 3:22-24, because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, mankind was denied access to this Tree – which represented eternal life - but now it is promised to all overcomers. Lest we arrive at the unbiblical doctrine of persevering to be saved, Scripture teaches us that we overcome through our faith in Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour. 1 John 5:4-5 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. To be saved and have the Holy Spirit indwelling us is to be an overcomer. (We receive the Holy Spirit when we believe on Jesus Christ as our Saviour. See Ephesians 1:13) In Jesus Christ, positionally, we share in Christ’s victory and are overcomers; but practically, our obedience and faithfulness to God’s Word will result in our daily overcoming of the world, the flesh, and the devil. (See 1 John 2:14)
Paradise (Heaven) is defined as the dwelling place of God. In Luke 23:43, Jesus told the repentant thief that when he died he would be with Jesus in Paradise. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, referred to Paradise as the third Heaven – the first two, according to the Bible, are as follows: the first heaven is where the birds fly, our atmosphere (Genesis 1:8, 20). The second heaven is the universe where the stars and planets are (Genesis 1:14-18; 2:1). The third Heaven is dwelling in the presence of God. (Hebrews 9:24) After the Millenium, Heaven will be on earth. (See Revelation 21-22)
Spiritually-speaking, Christ is our Tree of Life. It’s in Him that we have eternal life; in Him we have abundant life; He is our life. (Colossians 3:4; Philippians 1:21; John 14:19) I believe the primary application of this promise is to have eternal life in Heaven, where we continually have access to the literal and spiritual Trees of Life, and secondarily, I believe that it is a promise to the overcomer that the power and presence of Jesus Christ will be with them in their Christian walk. We know the Lord has promised never to leave us nor forsake us, but we only sense His presence in our daily lives as we walk according to His Word, as we humbly obey Him. (John 14:15, 21, 23; Psalm 91:1; Isaiah 57:15)
A study of the promises to the overcomers in these seven letters will reveal that, although the promises are relevant to the saved (overcomers) of each specific church, they are all applicable to the true children of God throughout the church age. We will dwell with God in Heaven eternally; we will not be hurt by the second death (Hell), our names will not be blotted out of the Book of Life, etc. (These promises will be covered in more depth within the context of their particular letters.)
(Taken from Ephesus: The Backslidden (Loveless) Church)
One point worthy of note is the tense of the promises. The word overcometh is present tense in these seven letters and in 1 John 5:4-5. Though, no doubt, true believers will sin and fail at times in their walks with the Lord, they will overcome over all, as a manner of living. The closer we walk with the Lord and are filled with His Holy Spirit, the more we will be victorious on a practical level, and the more that victory will be evident to others.
Notice also this promise and the tense of it:
Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
More on this promise later.
Several more promises regarding the victory that we have in Jesus Christ:
1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place.
Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
Lord willing, as time permits, I would like to cover all seven of these Promises To The Overcomers in future devotionals.
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Daily Devotional for Thursday January 13th/05
Made Perfect Through Suffering
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18).
I kept for nearly a year the flask-shaped cocoon of an emperor moth. It is very peculiar in its construction. A narrow opening is left in the neck of the flask, through which the perfect insect forces its way, so that a forsaken cocoon is as entire as one still tenanted, no rupture of the interlacing fibers having taken place. The great disproportion between the means of egress and the size of the imprisoned insect makes one wonder how the exit is ever accomplished at all--and it never is without great labor and difficulty. It is supposed that the pressure to which the moth's body is subjected in passing through such a narrow opening is a provision of nature for forcing the juices into the vessels of the wings, these being less developed at the period of emerging from the chrysalis than they are in other insects.
I happened to witness the first efforts of my prisoned moth to escape from its long confinement. During a whole forenoon, from time to time, I watched it patiently striving and struggling to get out. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and at last my patience was exhausted. Very probably the confining fibers were drier and less elastic than if the cocoon had been left all winter on its native heather, as nature meant it to be. At all events I thought I was wiser and more compassionate than its Maker, and I resolved to give it a helping hand. With the point of my scissors I snipped the confining threads to make the exit just a very little easier, and lo! immediately, and with perfect case, out crawled my moth dragging a huge swollen body and little shrivelled wings. In vain I watched to see that marvelous process of expansion in which these silently and swiftly develop before one's eyes; and as I traced the exquisite spots and markings of divers colors which were all there in miniature, I longed to see these assume their due proportions and the creature to appear in all its perfect beauty, as it is, in truth, one of the loveliest of its kind. But I looked in vain. My false tenderness had proved its ruin. It never was anything but a stunted abortion, crawling painfully through that brief life which it should have spent flying through the air on rainbow wings. I have thought of it often, often, when watching with pitiful eyes those who were struggling with sorrow, suffering, and distress; and I would fain cut short the discipline and give deliverance. Short-sighted man! How know I that one of these pangs or groans could be spared? The far-sighted, perfect love that seeks the perfection of its object does not weakly shrink from present, transient suffering. Our Father's love is too true to be weak. Because He loves His children, He chastises them that they may be partakers of His holiness. With this glorious end in view, He spares not for their crying. Made perfect through sufferings, as the Elder Brother was, the sons of God are trained up to obedience and brought to glory through much tribulation. --Tract.
(Taken from Streams In The Desert devotional)
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Daily Devotional for Friday January 14th/05
Daniel - The Den Of Lions
“Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions.” (Daniel 6:16)
There must have been great excitement in the city then: all Babylon knew that this man was not going to swerve. They knew very well that this old statesman was a man of iron will; and that it was not at all likely he would yield. The lions’ den had few terrors to him. He would rather be in the lions’ den with God, than out of it without Him... It is best to have God with us, and to know that we are on the right side.
I venture to say that man Daniel was worth more than any other man Darius had in his empire — yes, worth more than forty thousand men who wanted to get him out of the way. He was true to the king. He prayed for him; he loved him; and he did for that king everything he could that did not conflict with the law of his God.
And now the spies rush off to the king, and cry,
“O Darius, live forever! Do you know there is a man in your kingdom who will not obey you?”
“A man who won’t obey me! Who is he?”
“Why, that man Daniel. That Hebrew whom you set over us. He persists in calling upon his God.”
And the moment they mention the name of Daniel, a frown arises upon the king’s brow; and the thought flashes into his mind: “Ah! I have made a mistake: I ought never to have signed that decree. I might have known that Daniel would never ‘call’ upon me. I know very well whom he serves: he serves the God of his fathers.” So, instead of blaming Daniel he blames himself: instead of condemning Daniel he condemns himself. And then he casts about in his mind as to how he could manage to preserve him unharmed. All that day, if you could have looked into the palace, you would have seen the king walking up and down the halls and corridors, greatly troubled with the thought that this man must lose his life before the sun sets on that Chaldean plain; for if Daniel were not in the lions’ den by sundown the law of the Medes and Persians would be broken: and, come what will, that law must be observed and kept.
Darius loved Daniel; and he sought in his heart to deliver him. All day he sought for some plan by which he might save Daniel, and yet preserve the Median law unbroken. But he did not love Daniel as much as your King loved you: he did not love him as much as Christ loved us: for if he had he would have proposed to have gone into the lions’ den in his stead. Let us remember that Christ “tasted death” for us. I can imagine those plotters having a suspicion as to the king’s feelings; and saying to him, “If you break the law which you yourself have made, respect for the laws of the Medes and Persians will be gone: your subjects will no longer obey you; and your kingdom will depart from you.” So Darius is at last compelled to give him up; and he speaks the word for the officers to seize him and take him to the den. And his enemies would take good care that the den is filled with the hungriest beasts in Babylon.
You might have seen those officers going out to bind that old man with the white flowing hair: they march to his dwelling; and they bind his hands together. And those Chaldean soldiers lead captive the man who a few hours before ranked next to the king; the noblest statesman Babylon had ever possessed. They guard him along the way that leads to the lions’ den. Look at him as he is led along the streets. He treads with a firm and steady step, bearing himself like a conqueror. He trembles not. His knees are firm: they do not smite together. The light of heaven shines in his calm face. And all heaven is interested in that aged man. Disgraced down here upon earth, he is the most popular man in heaven. Angels are delighted in him: how they love him up there! He had stood firm; he had not deviated; he had not turned away from the God of the Bible. And he walks with a giant’s tread to the entrance of the lions’ den; and they cast him in. They roll a great stone to the mouth of the den; and the king puts his seal upon it. And so the law is kept.
Daniel is cast into the den; but the angel of God flies down, and God’s servant lights unharmed at the bottom. The lions’ mouths are stopped: they are as harmless as lambs. And if you could have looked into that den, you would have found a man as calm as a summer evening. I do not doubt that at his wonted hour of prayer he knelt down as if he had been in his own chamber. And if he could get the points of the compass in that den, he prayed with his face toward Jerusalem. He loved that city; he loved the temple: and probably with his face toward the city of Jerusalem, he prayed and gave thanks. And later on I can imagine him just laying his head on one of the lions, and going to sleep: and if that were so, no one in Babylon slept more sweetly than Daniel in the den of lions.
But there was one man in Babylon who had no rest that night. If you could have looked into the king’s palace, you would have seen one man in great trouble. Darius did not have in his musicians to play to him that night. Away with music and singing! There was no feast that night: he could eat nothing. The servants brought him dainty food; but he had no appetite for it. He felt troubled: he could not sleep. He had put in that den of lions the best man in his kingdom; and he upbraided himself for it. He said to himself, “How could I have been a party to such an act as that?”
And early in the morning — probably in the gray dawn, before the sun has risen — the men of Babylon could have heard the wheels of the king’s chariot rolling over the pavement; and King Darius might have been seen driving in hot haste to the lions’ den. I see him alight from his chariot in eager haste, and hear him cry down through the mouth of the den: “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?”
Hark! a voice gives answer — why, it is like a resurrection voice — and from the depths come up to the king’s ear the words of Daniel: “O king, live forever! My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before Him innocence was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.”
The lions could not harm him. The very hairs of his head were numbered. I tell you, that whenever a man stands by God, God will stand by him. It was well for Daniel that he did not swerve. Oh, how his name shines! What a blessed character he was!
The king gives command that Daniel should be taken up out of the den. And, as he reaches the top, I fancy I see them embracing one another; and that then Daniel mounts the king’s chariot, and is driven back with him to the royal palace. There were two happy men in Babylon that morning. Most likely they sat down at meat together, thankful and rejoicing.
“No manner of hurt was found upon him.” The God who had preserved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the fiery furnace, so that “no smell of fire had passed on them,” had preserved Daniel from the jaws of the lions.
But Daniel’s accusers fared very differently. So to speak, they “dug a pit for him; and are fallen into it themselves.” The king orders that Daniel’s accusers shall be delivered to the same ordeal. And they were cast into the den; “and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.”
Young men, let us come out from the world; let us trample it under our feet; let us be true to God; let us stand in rank, and keep step, and fight boldly for our King! And our “crowning time” shall come by and by. Yes, the reward will come by and by; and then it may perhaps be said of one, or another, of us: “O man, greatly beloved!” Young men, your moral character is more than money, mark that! It is worth more than the honor of the world: that is fleeting, and will soon be gone. It is worth more than earthly position: that is transient, and will soon be gone. But to have God with you, and to be with God — what a grand position! It is an eternal inheritance.
(Taken from Bible Characters by D.L. Moody)
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Daily Devotional for Saturday January 15th/05
John Bunyan's name is familiar to most Christians. Some months ago I came across one of his short books, 'The Acceptable Sacrifice'. It was originally a sermon based on Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise". It was his last book.
My heart was deeply moved by this book. Not only is the content impressive, weighty and convincing, but Bunyan's grasp and use of Scripture is amazing. The book is absolutely compelling simply because of his knowledge of the Word of God. This was no contemporary sermon consisting of a joke, three points and a poem; this is a cobalt bomb in hardcover and the reader stands at ground zero.
My heart began shouting questions at my mind. "How did he write such a sermon? Where did he get such substance, such wisdom, such power? What did he use for study aids to be able to compile such a masterpiece?" In the midst of these questions I realized Bunyan had almost none of the resources we use everyday. Strong's Concordance was 200 years in the future, Cruden's a hundred.
Thayer's, Gesenius, Robertson, Wuesl were all unknown. Bunyan's biographers mention Luther's commentary on Galatians, Foxes Book of Martyrs, and an anonymous concordance. We suppose that Bunyan, the prolific writer, would be a voracious reader. But there is the one resource book, his chief study aid he mentions again and again. Hear him: "As I was sitting by the fire...suddenly...this word sounded in my heart, 'I must go to Jesus'. I said, 'Wife, is there ever such a scripture, I must go to Jesus?' Thus unexpectedly questioned, she cannot tell".
"Therefore," says Bunyan, "I sat musing to see if I could remember such a place. I had not sat above two or three minutes but it came bolting in upon me, 'You are come to Mt Zion...and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Testament" - Heb. 12:22-24". This, then, was Bunyan's chief resource, his chief study aid, the Holy Scriptures themselves, taught him by the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
He thoroughly knew the Scriptures. He memorised long passages. He meditated much upon the Word. He looked and longed and lingered until the Holy Spirit brought to mind the needed truth for each crisis. He knew by daily experience the truth of John 14:26, "But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost...He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance..."
Bunyan used this resource when discouraged. He used it when he prepared sermons. He used it when he stood before magistrates, accused of preaching without a license. He used it when in jail where he began writing Pilgrim's Progress. He used it when he preached from his cell window. He used it when he pointed the lost to Christ. This is Bunyan's secret: the Spirit and the Word - the sufficiency of Scripture! The Comforter, who is our tutor, was Bunyan's best study aid. His utter dependence upon the Word of God and its Author is what gave his life and literature their impact.
What a contrast he makes with the modern minister! Somewhere between the TV sports show, the trip to the airport, and the golf game, he must prepare his message. No problem! Just light up the new IBM (Inspired Business Machines?), and open up the Super Sermon Maker Program. Memorisation, meditation and midnights are displaced by gigabytes, nanoseconds and mousy sermons. No blood, sweat, no tears, no Bible, no prayer, no blessing, no people, too bad, so sad! ("No message tonight, folks. The computer is down.") Study aids? Sure, but used sparingly remembering that no man's thoughts, programs, floppies, or CD ROMS can ever compare with the Word and the Spirit.
Bunyan's computer is still available, but it's expensive. It will cost the user time. Time in the Word. Time waiting on God for truth.
Is the price too high? Not if your sermons are to be still a blessing after 300 years.
By Buddy Smith
(Used With Permission)
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Daily Devotional for Sunday January 16th/05
"Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines." --Song of Solomon 2:15
A little thorn may cause much suffering. A little cloud may hide the sun. Little foxes spoil the vines; and little sins do mischief to the tender heart. These little sins burrow in the soul, and make it so full of that which is hateful to Christ, that He will hold no comfortable fellowship and communion with us. A great sin cannot destroy a Christian, but a little sin can make him miserable. Jesus will not walk with His people unless they drive out every known sin. He says, "If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love, even as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." Some Christians very seldom enjoy their Saviour's presence. How is this? Surely it must be an affliction for a tender child to be separated from his father. Art thou a child of God, and yet satisfied to go on without seeing thy Father's face? What! thou the spouse of Christ, and yet content without His company! Surely, thou hast fallen into a sad state, for the chaste spouse of Christ mourns like a dove without her mate, when he has left her. Ask, then, the question, what has driven Christ from thee? He hides His face behind the wall of thy sins. That wall may be built up of little pebbles, as easily as of great stones. The sea is made of drops; the rocks are made of grains: and the sea which divides thee from Christ may be filled with the drops of thy little sins; and the rock which has well nigh wrecked thy barque, may have been made by the daily working of the coral insects of thy little sins. If thou wouldst live with Christ, and walk with Christ, and see Christ, and have fellowship with Christ, take heed of "the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes." Jesus invites you to go with Him and take them. He will surely, like Samson, take the foxes at once and easily. Go with Him to the hunting.
(Taken from Spurgeon's Morning And Evening devotional)
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Daily Devotional for Monday January 17th/05
The Love Of The Father
(Taken from The Father's Family - Studies in 1 John by J. Arthur Springer)
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." (I John 3:1)
We begin here the second division of our epistle (2:29-4:6), the theme of which is: "GOD is Righteous." However, immediately after asserting that "he is righteous," attention is called to the love of the FATHER for us. Evidently, there is a close connection between GOD's righteousness and His love.
We have just been considering the rules for maintaining our fellowship with the LORD. Now, we are reminded of the righteousness of GOD (2:29). But that is not all. If we know that GOD is righteous, we know also that all who practice righteousness have been born of GOD. This indicates that righteousness is hereditary. Since GOD is righteous, and we are GOD's children, then we are righteous too -- or ought to be, at least. At any rate, we cannot practice righteousness unless we have been born again, born of GOD. More about this a little later.
Now we come to the love of GOD (3:1). The apostle seems to be astonished at the quality of GOD's love for us. He exclaims over it, GOD loved the world, and as a result gave His SON for its salvation. But here is a love which He bestows, not on the world, but on us. We have been born again, and GOD has such great love for us that He wants us to be known as His children: "that we should be called the sons of God." This is a tremendous privilege, for human beings to be known as GOD's children.
Not only are we known as children of GOD, but we actually are children of GOD! Of course, this is true only of those who are "born of him" (2:29), and John 1:12 tells us that those who receive the LORD JESUS CHRIST are the ones who have the right to become children of GOD. The world fails to recognize us as children of GOD, because it has failed to recognize the LORD JESUS as the SON of GOD. John says: "It [the world] knew him not" (3:1)
Verse 2 calls attention to several things. First, while we actually are children of GOD right now, it is not yet manifest what we are ultimately to be. We are GOD's children, but we may not look or act like it. In fact, we usually look and act quite otherwise. But when CHRIST shall appear, on His return from heaven, then we shall be like Him.
What does this mean? Are we to be members of the Godhead as He is? Of course not! Are we to have all power or authority in heaven and on earth as He does? Certainly not! Are we to be equal with the FATHER as He is? Or are we to be omniscient, or omnipotent, or omnipresent as He is? No, indeed! John is talking about righteousness, and we shall be righteous, or as free from sin, as He is. At long last, the grip of sin upon us will be broken, and we shall be like CHRIST -- without sin! The curse of sin will be gone, and gone forever. Then we shall be free from that terrible thing that fastened itself upon our first parents in the Garden of Eden, and which they passed down to us. GOD's purpose to conform us to the image of His SON will at last have been accomplished -- like CHRIST, forever!
One thing more -- "we shall see him as he is"! The LORD said to Moses: "There shall no man see me, and live (Ex. 33:20). Perhaps the reason for this is man's sin. But when sin is gone, then we shall see our LORD JESUS CHRIST "as he is." We shall behold His glory, in answer to His prayer in John 17:24. Then, when sin has finally been purged from us, we shall know far more of the love of the FATHER -- both for His beloved SON, and for us. What a day that will be, when we see the LORD JESUS CHRIST "as he is"!
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Daily Devotional for Tuesday January 18th/05
Some Quotes From A Church Bulletin
Get What You Can
Some folks do not read the Bible because, they say, there are so many things in the Book that they cannot understand. It is said that these things which cannot be understood trouble them. Of course these are excuses. What does one do when he sits down to a Southern-fried chicken dinner, and finds there are bones in the chicken which he is unable to chew? Does he excuse himself, and say, "I can't chew the bony parts of the chicken, therefore I won't try to eat any of it"? Hardly. He merely puts the bones to one side and enjoys the edible parts of the chicken. Why not put at least this much effort into Bible reading?
One rescued sinner said, "The fact that I am alive and on my way somewhere really caused me anxious moments, until I found the answer in the Bible. When I found it, it prompted me to let the shed blood of Christ cleanse me from my sins. God saved me and gave me the assurance of it, and I began to study the Bible, digesting the parts God's Holy Spirit led me to understand, and setting the rest aside, until He opened my eyes to the Truth therein. As God showed me the answers, my worship of Him increased naturally. Oh, indispensable is the Book of books! - Selected.
A Christian traveler was once packing his suitcase when he remarked to a friend, "Well, I still wish to pack a guidebook, a lamp, a mirror, a telescope, a book of poems, a number of biographies, a bundle of letters, a hymn book, a sharp sword, a small library containing 66 volumes..." "But," his friend interrupted him, "you've only got about six inches left in one side of your suitcase. How are you ever going to manage to get it all in?" The Christian smiled and his eyes twinkled, "That will be very easy," he said. "You see, all I have to do is put my Bible in the suitcase, for it is all the things that I have mentioned." - Selected.
A companion of a newly saved man said to him one day, "Can you tell me where Hell is?" After a moment's hesitation the young Christian said, "Yes, it's at the end of a Christless life."
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Daily Devotional for Wednesday January 19th/05
"The unsearchable riches of Christ." --Ephesians 3:8
My Master has riches beyond the count of arithmetic, the measurement of reason, the dream of imagination, or the eloquence of words. They are unsearchable! You may look, and study, and weigh, but Jesus is a greater Saviour than you think Him to be when your thoughts are at the greatest. My Lord is more ready to pardon than you to sin, more able to forgive than you to transgress. My Master is more willing to supply your wants than you are to confess them. Never tolerate low thoughts of my Lord Jesus. When you put the crown on His head, you will only crown Him with silver when He deserves gold. My Master has riches of happiness to bestow upon you now. He can make you to lie down in green pastures, and lead you beside still waters. There is no music like the music of His pipe, when He is the Shepherd and you are the sheep, and you lie down at His feet. There is no love like His, neither earth nor heaven can match it. To know Christ and to be found in Him --oh! this is life, this is joy, this is marrow and fatness, wine on the lees well refined. My Master does not treat His servants churlishly; He gives to them as a king giveth to a king; He gives them two heavens --a heaven below in serving Him here, and a heaven above in delighting in Him for ever. His unsearchable riches will be best known in eternity. He will give you on the way to heaven all you need; your place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks, your bread shall be given you, and your waters shall be sure; but it is there, THERE, where you shall hear the song of them that triumph, the shout of them that feast, and shall have a face-to-face view of the glorious and beloved One. The unsearchable riches of Christ! This is the tune for the minstrels of earth, and the song for the harpers of heaven. Lord, teach us more and more of Jesus, and we will tell out the good news to others.
(Taken from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Devotional)
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Daily Devotional for Thursday January 20th/05
Rest on a Promise
"The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it" (Genesis 28:13).
No promise is of private interpretation: it belongs not to one saint but to all believers. If, my brother, thou canst in faith lie down upon a promise and take thy rest thereon, it is thine. Where Jacob "lighted" and tarried and rested, there he took possession. Stretching his weary length upon the ground, with the stones of that place for his pillows, he little fancied that he was thus entering into ownership of the land; yet so it was. He saw in his dream that wondrous ladder which for all true believers unites earth and heaven, and surely where the foot of the ladder stood he must have a right to the soil, for other wise he could not reach the divine stairway. All the promises of God are "Yea" and "Amen" in Christ Jesus, and as He is ours, every promise is ours if we will but lie down upon it in restful faith.
Come, weary one, use thy LORD's words as thy pillows. Lie down in peace. Dream only of Him. Jesus is thy ladder of light. See the angels coming and going upon Him between thy soul and thy God, and be sure that the promise is thine own God-given portion and that it will not be robbery for thee to take it to thyself, as spoken specially to thee.
(Taken from Faith's Checkbook by Spurgeon)
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Daily Devotional for Friday January 21st/05
"These all died in faith." --Hebrews 11:13
Behold the epitaph of all those blessed saints who fell asleep before the coming of our Lord! It matters nothing how else they died, whether of old age, or by violent means; this one point, in which they all agree, is the most worthy of record, "they all died in faith." In faith they lived--it was their comfort, their guide, their motive and their support; and in the same spiritual grace they died, ending their life-song in the sweet strain in which they had so long continued. They did not die resting in the flesh or upon their own attainments; they made no advance from their first way of acceptance with God, but held to the way of faith to the end. Faith is as precious to die by as to live by.
Dying in faith has distinct reference to the past. They believed the promises which had gone before, and were assured that their sins were blotted out through the mercy of God. Dying in faith has to do with the present. These saints were confident of their acceptance with God, they enjoyed the beams of His love, and rested in His faithfulness. Dying in faith looks into the future. They fell asleep, affirming that the Messiah would surely come, and that when He would in the last days appear upon the earth, they would rise from their graves to behold Him. To them the pains of death were but the birth-pangs of a better state. Take courage, my soul, as thou readest this epitaph. Thy course, through grace, is one of faith, and sight seldom cheers thee; this has also been the pathway of the brightest and the best. Faith was the orbit in which these stars of the first magnitude moved all the time of their shining here; and happy art thou that it is thine. Look anew to-night to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith, and thank Him for giving thee like precious faith with souls now in glory.
(Taken from Spurgeon's Morning And Evening devotional)
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Daily Devotional for Saturday January 22nd/05
Since yesterday, I have been thinking of someone's unplanned influence in my life. Since yesterday, I have been praying for the family of this man who has now gone to be with the Lord. Darrel is even now walking the streets of gold. Please pray for Barb, his wife, and for their daughter - for the Lord to comfort them and give them peace and grace at this time.
Since yesterday, when I found out about his homegoing, I have been thinking...
Today was his funeral.
Tomorrow, I will share a little of how he influenced me - unexpectedly - but planned all along by our Heavenly Father.
In Jesus' precious name,
Along the golden streets
A stranger walks tonight
With wonder in his heart --
Faith blossomed into sight.
He walks and stops and stares,
And walks and stares again
At vistas of loveliness
Beyond the dreams of men.
He who was feeble, weak,
And shackled to a bed
Now climbs eternal hills
With light and easy tread.
He has escaped at last
The cruel clutch of pain;
His lips shall never taste
Her bitter cup again.
Oh never call him dead,
This bouyant one and free,
Whose daily portion is
Delight and ecstacy!
He bows in speechless joy
Before the feet of Him
Whom, seeing not, he loved
While yet his sight was dim.
Along the golden streets
No stranger walks today,
But one who, long homesick,
Is home at last, to stay!
(by Martha Snell Nicholson, from her poetry book entitled A Daily Visit To The Ivory Palaces)
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Daily Devotional for Sunday January 23rd/05
An Unexpected Influence
On New Year's Eve 2003, we had our yearly Watchnight service at church. One of the key events of the evening was what we call Popcorn preaching. That is where many of the men in the church are given a verse (sometimes chosen that night by the Pastor - or as in this specific case, chosen by the men several days prior) and several minutes to think on the passage, then come up and preach for 5-10 minutes on the passage. It is all intended to be fun - but at the same time it breaks the ice and gives a little bit of preaching experience in a friendly atmosphere.
I had an opportunity to preach as well, but I fought the Lord all the way. I fought the Spirit's moving upon my heart and conscience and refused to get up there and preach. I chickened out - no polite way to phrase that. Even though there were some unsaved people there that the Lord was impressing me with the need to give a clear Gospel presentation (based on what I had already prepared). I chose to focus on myself and my fear/reluctance, and rejected the opportunity to be a witness - in an informal setting that might have even had more influence on the particular unsaved people there that night. Though I had submitted to the call to preach several years before, I really had not had that much experience with it - and at this point in time, I let fear overwhelm me and rebelled against what I knew God clearly wanted me to do.
All through January 2004, I was bothered by what I had neglected, and how I had limited the Lord in my life. He would have given me the grace and wisdom needed (as He had done while I had prepared the message) when it was my turn to preach.
February came along. I was unemployed and looking for work. I did not have many resources, but I found that I had more money to use for job searching and photocopying of resumes, if I went and ate lunch and Supper at the Gospel Mission when I was downtown. (I had volunteered there in the past and had been invited back by some of the staff.)
In the first week of February, I met Darrel, who was one of the evening staff at the Mission. He was not doing too well that week. He had been saved for 7 years prior to this time - but activities and associations before he got saved had taken a toll on his health. He was dying - and this week was one of the first few times he really felt the drain on his strength. I was able to fellowship with him privately, pray and share some of what the Lord had been teaching me on the different Valleys of Life (mostly The Valley Of Trouble).
The Bible promises and reminders of God's love and grace was what Darrel needed to hear that week. He still felt physically weak though, and asked me to share the devotion that night - to just share some of what I had shared with him. I did so.
Then he suggested I see if I can volunteer there on certain days to do the devotionals. Desiring to make up for my lack of willingness to serve the Lord of New Year's Eve, I decided to see how God would open this door - now willing to obey, walk through this door of ministry, and preach at the Gospel Mission on a regular basis, if it was His will. It was Friday, February 6th that I preached my first devotional there. The following Monday I went to an orientation, and they signed me up for Friday Suppers as my regular time. Since then, I have preached every Friday except for several weeks due to sickness. Yesterday marks my 46th time of preaching there in almost a year (plus two times of preaching at a Senior's home).
If you had asked me last January (2004) if I would be preaching regularly somewhere, I would have quaked in my shoes and loudly proclaimed, "No!" But God had other plans. He had to put me in the place where I saw others' needs - to hear the Gospel or to hear God's promises, love, and faithfulness - as greater than my own fears. He has done a lot of work in my this last year - a lot still to work on too!
It is interesting to note that the message I preached yesterday was on Jacob wrestling with God (a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ), relinquishing his own self-will and turning from his own strength (which he had finally realized could never solve all his problems or get him out of difficult situations - only the Lord could do that), and just clinging to God until God blessed him, and worked out the situations in his life. Lord, let me cling to You. Change me, use me, for Your glory.
Lord willing, I will finish typing up the several devotions I preached on Jacob, and share them as part of these Daily Devotionals. Please keep me and them in prayer.
Lord, please bless Darrel's family. I know he is home with you now. Remind them that he is in a much better place and that he is happy and in no pain now. Thank you for using me to be an encouragement to Darrel in his times of weakness - and for using Darrel as the tool to get me into a place of service. And thank you, Heavenly Father, for letting me store my treasures in that Mission - because my heart is there too. And seeing the changed lives is worth it all. I could never have guessed that You would be leading me there when I was overwhelmed with fear, but Your ways are so much greater than mine, Your wisdom is so much higher than mine. When the future looks uncertain, I will just walk with you - today - and let You guide all my tomorrows.
Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
Isaiah 55:9-11 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
"That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." (Eph. 2:7)
I stood with GOD on the edge of the world, and my hand was in His hand. I looked down the road of the past, as it stretched away in the dim distance, till it was shrouded in the mists of time. And I knew it had no beginning, and a little chill wind of fear blew about my head.
GOD asked, "Are you afraid?"
And I said, "Yes, because I cannot understand how there can be no beginning."
So GOD said, "Let us turn and face the other way."
And I looked into glory, and my heart rejoiced with joy unspeakable. And then my mind went ahead, a billion, billion years, and I knew there would be no end, and again that little chill wind of fear began to blow.
And GOD asked me again, "Are you afraid?"
And I answered, "A little, because I cannot understand how there can be no end."
So GOD asked me tenderly, "Are you afraid now, today, with your hand in mine?"
And I looked up at Him and smiled and replied, "O my Father, NO!"
And GOD said, "Every day in eternity will be today."
(by Martha Snell Nicholson, from her poetry book entitled A Daily Visit To The Ivory Palaces)
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Daily Devotional for Monday January 24th/05
The Living God
"O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee?" (Dan. 6:20)
How many times we find this expression in the Scriptures, and yet it is just this very thing that we are so prone to lose sight of. We know it is written "the living God"; but in our daily life there is scarcely anything we practically so much lose sight of as the fact that God is the living God; that He is now whatever He was three or four thousand years since; that He has the same sovereign power, the same saving love towards those who love and serve Him as ever He had and that He will do for them now what He did for others two, three, four thousand years ago, simply because He is the living God, the unchanging One. Oh, how therefore we should confide in Him, and in our darkest moments never lose sight of the fact that He is still and ever will be the living God!
Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. An older brother who has known the Lord for forty-four years, who writes this, says to you for your encouragement that He has never failed him. In the greatest difficulties, in the heaviest trials, in the deepest poverty and necessities, He has never failed me; but because I was enabled by His grace to trust Him He has always appeared for my help. I delight in speaking well of His name. --George Mueller
Luther was once found at a moment of peril and fear, when he had need to grasp unseen strength, sitting in an abstracted mood tracing on the table with his finger the words, "Vivit! vivit!" ("He lives! He lives!"). It is our hope for ourselves, and for His truth, and for mankind. Men come and go; leaders, teachers, thinkers speak and work for a season, and then fall silent and impotent. He abides. They die, but He lives. They are lights kindled, and, therefore, sooner or later quenched; but He is the true light from which they draw all their brightness, and He shines for evermore. --Alexander Maclaren
"One day I came to know Dr. John Douglas Adam," writes C. G. Trumbull. "I learned from him that what he counted his greatest spiritual asset was his unvarying consciousness of the actual presence of Jesus. Nothing bore him up so, he said, as the realization that Jesus was always with him in actual presence; and that this was so independent of his own feelings, independent of his deserts, and independent of his own notions as to how Jesus would manifest His presence.
"Moreover, he said that Christ was the home of his thoughts. Whenever his mind was free from other matters it would turn to Christ; and he would talk aloud to Christ when he was alone--on the street, anywhere--as easily and naturally as to a human friend. So real to him was Jesus' actual presence."
(Taken from Streams In The Desert devotional)
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Daily Devotional for Tuesday January 25th/05
Thy Rod And Thy Staff
"Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me" (Ps. 23:4).
At my father's house in the country there is a little closet in the chimney corner where are kept the canes and walking-sticks of several generations of our family. In my visits to the old house, when my father and I are going out for a walk, we often go to the cane closet, and pick out our sticks to suit the fancy of the occasion. In this I have frequently been reminded that the Word of God is a staff.
During the war, when the season of discouragement and impending danger was upon us, the verse, "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord," was a staff to walk with many dark days.
When death took away our child and left us almost heartbroken, I found another staff in the promise that "weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning."
When in impaired health, I was exiled for a year, not knowing whether I should be permitted to return to my home and work again, I took with me this staff which never failed, "He knoweth the thoughts that he thinketh toward me, thoughts of peace and not of evil."
In times of special danger or doubt, when human judgment has seemed to be set at naught, I have found it easy to go forward with this staff, "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." And in emergencies, when there has seemed to be no adequate time for deliberation or for action, I have never found that this staff has failed me, "He that believeth shall not make haste." --Benjamin Vaughan Abbott, in The Outlook
"I had never known," said Martin Luther's wife, "what such and such things meant, in such and such psalms, such complaints and workings of spirit; I had never understood the practice of Christian duties, had not God brought me under some affliction." It is very true that God's rod is as the schoolmaster's pointer to the child, pointing out the letter, that he may the better take notice of it; thus He pointeth out to us many good lessons which we should never otherwise have learned. --Selected
"God always sends His staff with His rod."
"Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be" (Deut.33:25).
Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with strong shoes, and He will not send us out on any journey for which He does not equip us well. --Maclaren
(Taken from Streams In The Desert devotional)
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Daily Devotional for Wednesday January 26th/05
The Bible reveals the mind of God,
the state of man,
the way of salvation,
the doom of sinners,
and the happiness of believers.
Its doctrines are holy,
Its precepts are binding,
its histories are true,
and its decisions are immutable.
Read it to be wise,
believe it to be safe,
and practice it to be holy.
It contains light to direct you,
food to support you,
and comfort to cheer you.
It is the traveler's map,
the pilgrim's staff,
the pilot's compass,
the soldier's sword,
and the Christian's charter.
Here, too, Paradise is restored,
Heaven is opened,
and the gates of Hell disclosed.
The Lord Jesus Christ is its grand subject,
our good its design,
and the glory of God its end.
Let it fill the memory,
rule the heart,
and guide the feet.
Read it slowly,
It is a mine of wealth,
a paradise of glory,
and a river of pleasure.
It is given you in life,
will be opened at the judgement,
and be remembered forever.
It involves the highest responsibility,
will reward the greatest labor,
and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.
Owned, it is riches;
studied, it is wisdom;
trusted, it is salvation;
lived, it is character;
and obeyed, it is power.
Here is another invitation to visit Angela Trenholm's (my partner on EarnestlyContending.com) family site, where you will find some testimonies, poems, hymns, and stories by others, and even a Veteran's section. I'm sure you will be blessed by her site as I have been. The Trenholms Of Kelowna
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Daily Devotional for Thursday January 27th/05
Here is the first part of a series that I am really looking forward to putting together. This marks the background and early life of Jacob, as covered in Genesis 25.
Lessons From The Life Of Jacob:
Part One - Jacob, The Plain Man
I have already preached these last two Fridays on Jacob's dream and Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, and will preach a third message tomorrow on what God did in Jacob (ie. His work on Jacob). Please keep these devotionals (as well as the messages I preach on Fridays) in your prayers. Thank you.
Hope these studies are a blessing to you. This first part forced me to do a little deeper digging than I was planning on, but the results were worth it (at least to me). The Lord has taught me so much through the various periods of Jacob's life. Lord willing, I will pass on what I am able. God bless.
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Daily Devotional for Friday January 28th/05
"God, my Maker, who giveth songs in the night." - Job 35:10
Any man can sing in the day. When the cup is full, man draws inspiration from it. When wealth rolls in abundance around him, any man can praise the God who gives a plenteous harvest or sends home a loaded argosy. It is easy enough for an Aeolian harp to whisper music when the winds blow --the difficulty is for music to swell forth when no wind is stirring. It is easy to sing when we can read the notes by daylight; but he is skilful who sings when there is not a ray of light to read by --who sings from his heart. No man can make a song in the night of himself; he may attempt it, but he will find that a song in the night must be divinely inspired. Let all things go well, I can weave songs, fashioning them wherever I go out of the flowers that grow upon my path; but put me in a desert, where no green thing grows, and wherewith shall I frame a hymn of praise to God? How shall a mortal man make a crown for the Lord where no jewels are? Let but this voice be clear, and this body full of health, and I can sing God's praise: silence my tongue, lay me upon the bed of languishing, and how shall I then chant God's high praises, unless He Himself give me the song? No, it is not in man's power to sing when all is adverse, unless an altar-coal shall touch his lip. It was a divine song, which Habakkuk sang, when in the night he said, "Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Then, since our Maker gives songs in the night, let us wait upon Him for the music. O Thou chief musician, let us not remain songless because affliction is upon us, but tune Thou our lips to the melody of thanksgiving.
(Taken from Spurgeon's Morning And Evening devotional)
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Daily Devotional for Saturday January 29th/05
The devotional I am sending out today is actually a study that has been sent to me by Buddy Smith - I have already sent out several of his articles in the Daily Devotionals. I found this study a great blessing, and would encourage all here to read it.
It is about the necessity of grace in our service to the Lord.
I have also put up a separate page for the two shorter articles by Buddy Smith that I had sent out as devotionals, entitled Bunyan's Computer and Acts 8:26-40 (2005 Version).
Other Articles by Buddy Smith
Also by the same author:
I also would like to extend an invitation for you all to read one of the best devotional books I have ever read, entitled The Companion Of The Way. It has an introduction and 12 character studies - 9 from the OT and 3 from the NT. The focus is on each of these characters' walks with the Lord, and how that relates to us. Please read each chapter in order as they do build upon one another. If you are blessed by this book, please pass the link on to others:
The Companion Of The Way
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Daily Devotional for Sunday January 30th/05
This is taken from the study called The Six Trials Of Christ by John W. Lawrence. This is the first part of a chapter entitled Why Peter Denied His Lord, and, Lord willing, I will post the rest of this chapter, which contains the spiritual solution to this problem, on Monday.
WHY PETER DENIED HIS LORD
In our last study we looked at the Scriptures concerning the facts of Peter's denials, let us now go back and look at the significance behind these facts.
What was behind Peter's fall?
Peter did not fall because Christ prophesied that he would. Rather it is the reverse. Christ prophesied he would because Peter was going to fall -- the signs were all there based on Peter's nature. The cause of Peter's fall was not Christ's prediction, but Peter's life. Peter didn't fall because God planned it to happen, Peter was only doing what comes natural when we take our eyes off of Jesus. Of course, you think he would have learned that back when he was walking on the water and took his eyes off of Him. Then again, some of us need to have the same lesson taught to us more than once before it sinks in, or "registers."
It is always true. "No one suddenly becomes base." Peter's fall was not a blow out, but a slow leak, and as such is the case for every man and woman that appears suddenly to deny their Lord and do that which is wrong morally and spiritually. There have been certain steps taken "in the flesh" before this. The steps may be somewhat secret or concealed, but they always exist. They may be found in every child of God who has ever "fallen into sin." It wasn't a fall at all. It was a deliberate walk in the flesh.
Let us then notice Peter's footprints.
1. Self-confidence: "But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I" (Mark 14:29).
This was confidence in Peter, or better, confidence in Simon. Later on Peter would write that we are "kept by the power of God" (1 Pet. 1:5), even though in manifold temptations and trials (1:6-7). It was no longer the flesh that kept Peter. Peter then would say with Paul, "For I know that in my (that is in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18).
2. Unreprovable (or unteachable): "And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all" (Mark 14:30-31).
Peter knew it all. The Word of God could not reach him to reprove and correct him (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Whenever the Word cannot reach us before we fall, there is nothing left but failure. Here is one who would not listen to even his own Saviour speaking to him. In essence, Peter was telling Jesus that He was wrong! Imagine that, but that is exactly what he did by speaking the more vehemently.
3. Prayerlessness: "And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?" (Mark 14:37).
"Simon, are you of all people sleeping?" Christ here gives further warning to Peter which again goes unheeded: "Watch ye and pray, LEST YE ENTER INTO TEMPTATION. The Spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak" (14:38).
Without prayer, and the victory gained through prayer, the flesh will overpower the spirit of a man. He would will to do good, but have no power to perform it -- for again, "the flesh is weak."
Christ's words go unheeded: "And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him" (Mark 14:40) and they have no answer because there is none.
The person out of fellowship is so at ease and unaware of his spiritual state that he has no trouble sleeping: "Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep" (Jonah 1:5).
I feel there is a lesson here also that needs to be emphasized greatly. Whenever I will not pray with another, I am the one who is wrong. Whenever there is a problem to be faced by the Lord's people and one will pray and another will not, the one who refuses to pray is always wrong. The flesh never wants to pray, and the one controlled by the flesh will not pray, for that very act (and continuous state) of prayer would reprove him and his wrong position.
God's man loves to pray, and the one in fellowship with the Lord loves the time of fellowship with Him. If we are not in fellowship, His presence is the last thing we want. Just as the last thing Peter wanted was for the Lord to look him in the eyes that night, we will soon be following Him afar off also.
It will be noticed that these footsteps of Peter are a series of chain reaction. Each one leads to the next and to the next. Having taken the first step, and refusing to be converted or reproved, one merely continues on the downward course.
4. Impulsive Actions: "And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear" (Mark 14:47). cf. John 18:10-11.
Peter was acting without thinking of the consequences of his action as we have already seen. He was acting to maintain his honor because he had previously boasted of what he would do. What happened to Christ's honor was immaterial.
In the garden when Peter should have been active, he was passive and asleep; now when he should have been passive he is active. Oh, how characteristic of "the flesh."
5. Unfaithfulness: "And they all forsook him, and fled" (Mark 14:50).
Now this should have been enough to cause Peter (and all of the others) to realize their spiritual condition. It was this prediction in Mark 14:27, "And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered," that caused Peter to say, "Although all shall be offended, yet will not I" (14:29).
It had now been fulfilled, but Peter did not weep bitterly at this time. He has not hit rock bottom but is rapidly moving in that direction.
6. Following Christ afar off: "And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire."
Intimate fellowship with the Lord has now been broken. This will only lead to further sinning.
Because Peter was following at a safe distance behind the procession, as Christ was taken to Annas' home, he was left outside in the street as the gate was closed: "And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter" (John 18:15-16).
Evidently both Peter and John started following the procession together after fleeing the scene in the Garden. John went in with the procession moving quickly ahead so as to join in with the end of it, but Peter missed entering. John, who knew he was outside, went out and got him and came back in with him.
James Stalker reminds us: "A western house looks into the street, but an Oriental into its own interior, having no opening to the front except a great arched gateway, shut with a heavy door or gate. When this door is opened, it discloses a broad passage; penetrating the front building and leading into a square, paved courtyard, opens to the sky, round which the house is built, and into which its rooms, both upstairs and downstairs, look . . . On the side of the passage, inside the outer gate, there is a room or lodge for the porter or portress, who opens and shuts the gate; and in the gate there is a little wicket by which individuals can be let in or out."
John felt he was doing Peter a favor by bringing him into the house, but while John might enter without being tempted to deny his Lord, Peter could not. What a graphic illustration of the doctrinal truth Paul presents in Romans 14 and 15 and in 1 Corinthians 8-10 concerning the weaker brother. If we do something that causes our brother to sin, we have sinned against our brother. We may not fall, but if he falls, we sin also.
John, because he was known to the high priest and therefore to his servants, would have been able to move around with perfect ease, but not Peter. He was in a strange place and was probably fearful of being recognized as one of Jesus' disciples.
Whether John was present at Peter's first denial is not known; however, he is the only one who mentions it. It may have been that John hurried away not wanting to miss anything that was going on, and Peter was left behind. I personally feel John was there. At any rate, the very maid who let Peter and John in, questions Peter: "Art not thou also one of this man's disciples?" He saith, "I am not" (John 18:17).
Don't hurry over this. "Art not thou ALSO one of this man's disciples?" This maid knew John was a disciple of Christ for he was known unto the high priest and therefore to his servants; she is asking Peter if he were also a disciple, and she says this because she could reason why John would want to bring him in. Peter says: "I am not."
I imagine if you would have asked Peter right after this: "Why did you say that," he would have answered: "I don't know." It was something he said without thinking about it or premeditating it at all. Subconsciously Peter is fearful.
After this Peter stands with the officers and servants and warmed himself.
7. Wrong Company: "And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself. The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not" (John 18:18-25).
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful" (Ps. 1:1).
Nothing is mentioned further of John from this point on until we come to the cross and see him standing beneath it with the Lord's mother. The implication is that John as well as Peter went to Caiaphas' house when the Lord was taken there.
At Caiaphas' house another fire is kindled in the courtyard, and Peter is standing with the men warming himself. They ask him: "Art not thou also one of his disciples?" He denied it, and said, "I am not" (John 18:25).
Peter has emphatically said, "No," and he figures this will suffice; so the next time we see him he has set down at the fire and in light of the fire one of the maids of the high priest spots Peter. She intently looks him over and then speaks up: "Thou also wast with the Nazarene, even Jesus." But he denied, saying, "I neither know, nor understand what thou sayest" (Mark 14:68). "Woman, I know him not" (Luke 22:57).
At this Peter felt he had better change location. So he went into the precourt or forecourt which is the archway leading from the gate of the court.
Peter is now controlled by fear, and in this state the whole nature of the flesh will manifest itself -- given enough time.
The very same maid who spotted him in the light of the fire sees him again in the forecourt and began to say to them that stood by: "This is one of them." But he denied it (Mark 14:69-70a).
Another maid saw him and said unto them that were there: "This man also was with Jesus the Nazarene." Being controlled by fear, Peter felt now the need to make his denial even more emphatic than he had done before, so he denied with an oath, calling God to witness: "I know not the man" (Matt. 26:72).
Thus we have another step taken by Peter.
9. Oath -- Calling God to witness his lie:
Then after a little while, a male servant saw him, an said: "Thou also art one of them." But Peter said: "Man, I am not" (Luke 22:58).
Then the servant of the high priest who was a kinsman to the man whose ear Peter cut off said to Peter: "Did not I see thee in the garden with him?" Peter denied it. But the man confidently affirmed: "Of a truth this man also was with him: for he is a Galilean." To this Peter said: "Man, I know not what thou sayest."
While Peter was in the process of speaking, the cock crowed.
Then after a little while again, they that stood by said to Peter: "Of a truth thou art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee that thou art a Galilean." This causes Peter to panic and so to take his final step on his downward course. He began to curse and to swear and said: "I know not this man of whom ye speak."
10. Cursing - Peter's language as a fisherman before he met the Saviour:
Peter says in effect: "Does my speech betray that I am his disciple? Well then, listen closely to my speech. Does this sound like someone who is His follower? Would anyone who was His follower use language like this?"
Peter knew that they knew that no one belonging to Jesus would use such language as Peter was using. What a testimony Peter was unconsciously giving to Christ and to His disciples, but oh how wrong that such a testimony of Christ's purity and of His power to transform men should have been borne in this way from the Lord's own disciple.
Still today the world does not expect cleanness of speech and conduct from its own, but it does expect and demand it (and rightly so) of one of the Lord's disciples.
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Daily Devotional for Monday January 31st/05
This is the second part of the study sent out yesterday, on Why Peter Denied His Lord.
CAN THE DISCIPLE OF THE LORD REVERT BACK TO THE OLD LIFE AND CONDUCT?
Yes he can. But he can never do so as a manner of life. Formerly, before he met Jesus, this was the way he lived. He can now only do this as an act, after which he will be convicted by the Holy Spirit within.
Should he persist in sinning and hardening his heart to the Holy Spirit's reproving, he is on dangerous ground simply because he is God's child. He cannot live this way for God will take him off the scene. Read very carefully, and very prayerfully, these following passages: Acts 5; I Cor. 5, 11; James 5; and I John 5).
The cock now crows the second time. Peter hears it, and there comes to his mind all the words that Christ spoke to him, but he refused to listen and believe. It was just beginning to become light; the trial and beatings before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin were over; Christ was being led out. At the very instant Peter was swearing and cursing, Christ was close enough to His disciple to pick up every word. With the crowing of the cock, "the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter."
THE LOOK OF CHRIST
Eye met eye, and while no words were spoken, yet a volume of words were communicated. What a look it must have been. It had to bring conviction, and yet be filled with compassion, else Peter would have been brought to despair. One would imagine that the look must have been one of hurt love, for had it been one of angry indignation - it might have crushed the disciple on the spot!
It was both a sword to cut, and a balm to heal. It was used as the climatic turning point in Peter's life. It brought Peter back to reality and spiritual truth. For the next fifty days Peter will be moving upward until he delivers to these same people the message of the Holy Spirit as the powerful preacher of Pentecost. Did you get that? These same people to whom he now denies Jesus he will deliver that message.
HOW FAR IS TOO FAR?
How far have we sinned against our Lord? It makes no difference how far we have gone, there is always forgiveness if we will but turn and seek it. But if truth be told, isn't even one step in the wrong direction too far? Let alone the ten steps of Peter.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).
The Lord is always faithful to His child. Satan would love to bring the child of God to the place of despair so that he plunges himself over the precipice that Judas used to end his life. If Satan can succeed in having the child of God do this, he can gain the victory and defeat the Lord's plan in that life. If Satan can make them a mental wreck over their sin, it will be a good second best.
WHAT DO WE NEED?
We need to look into the face of the one we have denied just as Peter did. Never mind you don't want to, you NEED to. When Peter looked at Him, he saw one who loved him with an infinite love EVEN IN HIS SIN. The Lord loved Peter even though Peter had just denied Him. He was on the way to the cross to die for Him -- greater love hath no man than this.
The very fact that Christ loved Peter was what broke Peter's heart.
As James Stalker has penned it: "He saw now what kind of Master he had denied; and it broke his heart. It is this that always breaks the heart. It is not our sins that make us weep; it is when we see what kind of Saviour we have sinned against." It is when we look into the eyes of our Saviour! We need to look in His eyes daily.
The remembrance of his fall and restoration never left Peter for one moment the remainder of his life. It colors everything in Peter's first Epistle. It might be a good idea to go over and read it after reading this sad tale from the life of Peter and see if you can see the face of Jesus in His Epistle.
THE WEEPING MAN
I have heard some say that they never like to see a man cry. I would to God we had men today who could cry. Many of the men God used have been men that wept before Him.
"My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death" (Job 16:16).
"For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping" (Psalm 102:9).
"And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up" (II Sam. 15:30).
"Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!" (Jer. 9:1).
"But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive" (Jer. 13:17).
"For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed" (Lam. 1:16).
"And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven" (Neh. 1:4).
"And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it" (Luke 19:41).
"And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon" (Rev. 5:4).
"(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) (Phil. 3:18-19)
"And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him" (Acts 20:37).
"And he went out, and wept bitterly" (Matt. 26:75b).
"And when he thought thereon, he wept" (Mark 14:72b).
WEEPING IN THE SCRIPTURE
The Word of God tells us:
"Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh" (Luke 6:21).
"Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep" (James 4:9).
"Weep with them that weep" (Rom. 12:15).
Here is weeping, not because of any personal sin, but because of a heart of compassion. Many times Scripture portrays weeping as the sign of the true repentance of the heart and conviction of sin.
"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" (Ps. 126:5-6).
EARTH HAS NO SORROW THAT JESUS CANNOT HEAL.
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