"Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name."
God's glory is the result of his nature and acts. He is glorious in his character, for there is such a store of everything that is holy, and good, and lovely in God, that he must be glorious. The actions which flow from his character are also glorious; but while he intends that they should manifest to his creatures his goodness, and mercy, and justice, he is equally concerned that the glory associated with them should be given only to himself. Nor is there aught in ourselves in which we may glory; for who maketh us to differ from another? And what have we that we did not receive from the God of all grace? Then how careful ought we to be to walk humbly before the Lord! The moment we glorify ourselves, since there is room for one glory only in the universe, we set ourselves up as rivals to the Most High. Shall the insect of an hour glorify itself against the sun which warmed it into life? Shall the potsherd exalt itself above the man who fashioned it upon the wheel? Shall the dust of the desert strive with the whirlwind? Or the drops of the ocean struggle with the tempest? Give unto the Lord, all ye righteous, give unto the Lord glory and strength; give unto him the honour that is due unto his name. Yet it is, perhaps, one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life to learn this sentence--"Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name be glory." It is a lesson which God is ever teaching us, and teaching us sometimes by most painful discipline. Let a Christian begin to boast, "I can do all things," without adding "through Christ which strengtheneth me," and before long he will have to groan, "I can do nothing," and bemoan himself in the dust. When we do anything for the Lord, and he is pleased to accept of our doings, let us lay our crown at his feet, and exclaim, "Not I, but the grace of God which was with me!"
"Ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit."
Present possession is declared. At this present moment we have the first fruits of the Spirit. We have repentance, that gem of the first water; faith, that priceless pearl; hope, the heavenly emerald; and love, the glorious ruby. We are already made "new creatures in Christ Jesus," by the effectual working of God the Holy Ghost. This is called the firstfruit because it comes first. As the wave-sheaf was the first of the harvest, so the spiritual life, and all the graces which adorn that life, are the first operations of the Spirit of God in our souls. The firstfruits were the pledge of the harvest. As soon as the Israelite had plucked the first handful of ripe ears, he looked forward with glad anticipation to the time when the wain should creak beneath the sheaves. So, brethren, when God gives us things which are pure, lovely, and of good report, as the work of the Holy Spirit, these are to us the prognostics of the coming glory. The firstfruits were always holy to the Lord, and our new nature, with all its powers, is a consecrated thing. The new life is not ours that we should ascribe its excellence to our own merit; it is Christ's image and creation, and is ordained for his glory. But the firstfruits were not the harvest, and the works of the Spirit in us at this moment are not the consummation--the perfection is yet to come. We must not boast that we have attained, and so reckon the wave-sheaf to be all the produce of the year: we must hunger and thirst after righteousness, and pant for the day of full redemption. Dear reader, this evening open your mouth wide, and God will fill it. Let the boon in present possession excite in you a sacred avarice for more grace. Groan within yourself for higher degrees of consecration, and your Lord will grant them to you, for he is able to do exceeding abundantly above what we ask or even think.
Today's reading: Psalm 94-96, Romans 15:14-33 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 94-96
1 The LORD is a God who avenges.
O God who avenges, shine forth.
2 Rise up, Judge of the earth;
pay back to the proud what they deserve.
3 How long, LORD, will the wicked,
how long will the wicked be jubilant?
4 They pour out arrogant words;
all the evildoers are full of boasting.
5 They crush your people, LORD;
they oppress your inheritance.
6 They slay the widow and the foreigner;
they murder the fatherless.
7 They say, "The LORD does not see;
the God of Jacob takes no notice."
Today's New Testament reading: Romans 15:14-33
Paul the Minister to the Gentiles
14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. 15 Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done- 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation....
Judas, Juda, Jude
[Jū'das] - praise of the lord.
1. The disciple surnamed Iscariot, who betrayed the Master and then hanged himself. He was the only one of the Twelve who was not a Galilean. He acted as treasurer of the apostolic band (John 6:71; 12:6; 13:26, 29).
The Man Who Was Guilty of a Horrible Crime
The Gospels represent the betrayal of Christ by Judas as a horrible, diabolical crime. And it stands out as the darkest deed in human history. The word "betray" is a remarkable one meaning "to deliver up." This is what Judas did - delivered up Jesus. Yet such a dastardly action was overruled, for Jesus was delivered by the determinate counsel of God.
Judas is a strange character and everything about his choice and conduct is mysterious. Why was he chosen? All we can say in answer is in the declaration, "that the scriptures might be fulfilled" (Matt. 26:56 ). The greater mystery is, why did Christ choose you and me to be His followers? Think of these features:
I. Judas'terrible crime was predicted (Ps. 109:5-8; Acts 1:16).
II. His cruel bargain was foretold (Zech. 11:12, 13).
III. He became a devil incarnate. "One of you is a devil." As Jesus became God-incarnate, Judas became the devil-incarnate.
IV. He is called "a son of perdition." Because the same designation is used of the Man of Sin, some writers feel that this grim figure will be Judas incarnate ( 2 Thess. 2:3).
V. He was a thief. He kept the bag which represented responsibility. Christ chose Judas as treasurer for the Twelve because of his commercial instinct and business acumen, but he prostituted his gift. His very endowment became a snare. A blessing was turned into a curse.
VI. He betrayed Christ with a kiss. The hatefulness of his crime reached its limit when he gave the enemies of Christ the symbol of affection. How wicked is the human heart - deceitful above all things!
VII. He was the recipient of divine patience. Why he persisted in following Christ we cannot say. All we can do is marvel at the love and patience of Christ as He bore with Judas for three years. He knew all along that this so-called disciple would betray Him, yet He kept the door open. Even when He met Judas after his contract with the foes of Christ, He greeted him as "friend." We would have scorned the traitor and hissed "enemy" or "traitor." Not so Christ, who is patient toward all men.
VIII. He went out to his own place (Acts 1:25 ). It was in self-excommunication. Christ did not excommunicate Judas - He only ratified the choice. Up to the last He gave Judas a chance to halt and turn from his wickedness. But when the die had been cast, Jesus said, "What thou doest, do quickly."
We leave our glimpse of the despicable man of the Bible with two lessons in mind:
The journey into sin gains momentum. We never know where a wrong path may end. Sin only needs opportunity to carry us to its utmost depths.
It is sadly possible to be associated with Jesus, to hear His gracious words, witness His wonderful works, yet refuse Him our heart's allegiance and be ultimately lost.
2. Half-brother of Jesus , brother of James and writer of the epistle known by his name (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13; Jude 1). See JUDE.
3. An apostle also known as Lebbeus or Thaddeus (John 14:22).
4. A Galilean who stirred up sedition shortly after the birth of Christ (Acts 5:37).
5. One with whom Paul lodged in the street called Straight (Acts 9:11).
6. The prophet surnamed Barsabas, sent with Silas to Antioch (Acts 15:22, 27).
IT IS AMAZING TO BE HUMAN
So there is one person, with two aspects, but with many functions. Here is where we get a refined view of who we really are. The rich biblical vocabulary about human nature describes the dynamics of our inner life as being made in the image of God. Some passages describe our inner functions, and others emphasize a truth about what we are like.
The biblical word mind refers to the inner life, especially emphasizing our rational, cognitive, intellectual capabilities (Rom. 7:25; Col. 2:18). Heart (Rom.10:6, 8-10 , for instance) refers to the deep, inner core of our lives, where opinions and beliefs are formed, where we sense right and wrong, and where our love is centered. The Old and New Testament use of heart (unlike the English use which sometimes refers just to emotion) is inclusive of thought, emotion, and will. Just look for the word “heart” in some of the Psalms sometime, and you will see how Scripture points us to the core so that we will understand the deep place where our very selves are shaped. Will refers to the faculty of choice (Lk.22:42 ), and spirit is the word used to describe how human beings, unlike dogs and cats, salamanders and oak trees, are persons, made in the image of God, possessing morality, consciousness, creativity, and other godlike characteristics. And soul refers to the human person animated by the living power of God.
None of these are “parts” of the human being. One can no more separate human nature into different components than one can view the attributes of God as the constituent parts of his being.
So if someone were to ask you, “Who are you, really?” a biblical answer would be, “I am part of God’s creation, and I belong to a species that was uniquely shaped to bear the likeness of God. That is why have a sense of ought and ought not, and why I hope to grow in selfless love. That is why I am able to speak to others, why I imagine things that could be, and it is why I worship. I am a creature made of clay. I have a body that processes thousands of responses and reactions an hour, but that is also easily injured and made sick. One day this body will again become the dust of which it was made. But I also am spirit and soul. Inside there is a self-conscious, self-willing spiritual center. At this heart of myself I am constantly combining the thoughts that come to me from the outside, the voice of God’s Spirit speaking to me, and the things I’m telling myself. But mixed in there are also selfish and wicked motives that come from the inner spiritual fractures I was born with and which are amplified by external temptations.”
The biblical answer is not that I am a spirit trapped in a body, and one day when that body dies my true self will be liberated to coalesce with an eternal Spirit. (Those who have believed that over the centuries have thought that the spiritual self is the only true self and the body, like the rest of the physical universe, is a mass of troublesome dirt. This view holds that our spirits are sparks separated from the Divine Fire, that we bear in ourselves a bit of divinity. It also negates the value of God’s creation of physical things.)
No, I am not destined to become a ghost. Nor will I discover one day that I was God all along.
The soul is not, as some have proposed, a dreamy combination of commonly held feelings, thoughts, images, symbols, and memories that have produced the merely cultural phenomena of religions, myths, fantasies, and fairy tales. This view sees human beings as animals who have very vivid dreams and like to share them with each other.
No, the Bible depicts us as creatures almost too good to be true. And that makes the reality of sin and wickedness in our thoughts and deeds the greatest tragedy the world has ever seen.
Excerpt from Putting the Pieces Back Together: How Real Life and Real Faith Connect. Complimentary DVDavailable now.