"Looking unto Jesus."
It is ever the Holy Spirit's work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan's work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, "Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus." All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that "Christ is all in all." Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee--it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee--it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument--it is Christ's blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by "looking unto Jesus." Keep thine eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to him; when thou liest down at night look to him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail thee.
"My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness:
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name."
"But Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods."
This incident is an instructive emblem of the sure victory of the divine handiwork over all opposition. Whenever a divine principle is cast into the heart, though the devil may fashion a counterfeit, and produce swarms of opponents, as sure as ever God is in the work, it will swallow up all its foes. If God's grace takes possession of a man, the world's magicians may throw down all their rods; and every rod may be as cunning and poisonous as a serpent, but Aaron's rod will swallow up their rods. The sweet attractions of the cross will woo and win the man's heart, and he who lived only for this deceitful earth will now have an eye for the upper spheres, and a wing to mount into celestial heights. When grace has won the day the worldling seeks the world to come. The same fact is to be observed in the life of the believer. What multitudes of foes has our faith had to meet! Our old sins--the devil threw them down before us, and they turned to serpents. What hosts of them! Ah, but the cross of Jesus destroys them all. Faith in Christ makes short work of all our sins. Then the devil has launched forth another host of serpents in the form of worldly trials, temptations, unbelief; but faith in Jesus is more than a match for them, and overcomes them all. The same absorbing principle shines in the faithful service of God! With an enthusiastic love for Jesus difficulties are surmounted, sacrifices become pleasures, sufferings are honours. But if religion is thus a consuming passion in the heart, then it follows that there are many persons who profess religion but have it not; for what they have will not bear this test. Examine yourself, my reader, on this point. Aaron's rod proved its heaven-given power. Is your religion doing so? If Christ be anything he must be everything. O rest not till love and faith in Jesus be the master passions of your soul!
[Jō'ăb] - jehovah is a good father.
- A descendant of Caleb the son of Hur, a Judahite (1 Chron. 2:54).
- Son of Seraiah, grandson of Kenaz, associated with valley craftsmen (1 Chron. 4:13, 14).
- An Israelite whose posterity went up from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:6; Neh. 7:11).
- One whose descendants went up from Babylon with Ezra ( Ezra 8:9.)
- The son of David's half-sister, Zeruiah. This nephew of David became the most overbearing captain in his uncle's army (1 Sam. 26:6; 2 Sam. 2; 13).
The Man Who Was Overambitious
Joab was the first person to be thought of in Joab's mind. His apparent devotion to David had one objective, namely that he himself should have first place. He loved self. He murdered those who stood in the way of pre-eminence as the leader of Israel's hosts (2 Sam. 3:27 ). Alexander Whyte says, "Had it not been for David, Joab would have climbed up into the throne of Israel. . . Even the king himself was afraid of his commander-in-chief. The sovereign took his orders meekly from his subject." In his own well-read and picturesque way, Dean Stanley describes Joab aptly as the Marlborough of the empire of Israel.
W. O. E. Osterley gives us the following summary of Joab's life and labors:
I. He was a skilled general, proven by the number of victories he gained (2 Sam. 2:12-32; 10; 11:1; 12:26-29; 20:4-22; 1 Chron. 11:6-9).
II. He was loyal to the house of David as his whole life of devoted service illustrates (2 Sam. 12:26; 14:1; 18:20; 19:5-7).
III. He was guilty of vindictiveness and ruthless cruelty. The treacherous and bloodthirsty acts of which Joab was guilty constitute a dark blot upon his character (2 Sam. 3:22-27; 18:14; 20:9, 10; 1 Kings 11:16).
The tragedy is that in spite of all his abundant energy, boldness, ability, shrewdness and common sense, he never manifested any real faith in God. The nearest he came to such a faith is to be found in 2 Samuel 10:12, where his trust was more in "Providence" than a personal resting in the God of Israel. Full of self-confidence, ambition and selfishness, Joab never got far away from his own interests.
Today's reading: Job 11-13, Acts 9:1-21 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Job 11-13
1 Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:
2 "Are all these words to go unanswered?
Is this talker to be vindicated?
3 Will your idle talk reduce others to silence?
Will no one rebuke you when you mock?
4 You say to God, 'My beliefs are flawless
and I am pure in your sight.'
5 Oh, how I wish that God would speak,
that he would open his lips against you
6 and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom,
for true wisdom has two sides.
Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.
Today's New Testament reading: Acts 9:1-21
1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
5 "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6 "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."