"Grow up into him in all things."
Many Christians remain stunted and dwarfed in spiritual things, so as to present the same appearance year after year. No up-springing of advanced and refined feeling is manifest in them. They exist but do not "grow up into him in all things." But should we rest content with being in the "green blade," when we might advance to "the ear," and eventually ripen into the "full corn in the ear?" Should we be satisfied to believe in Christ, and to say, "I am safe," without wishing to know in our own experience more of the fulness which is to be found in him. It should not be so; we should, as good traders in heaven's market, covet to be enriched in the knowledge of Jesus. It is all very well to keep other men's vineyards, but we must not neglect our own spiritual growth and ripening. Why should it always be winter time in our hearts? We must have our seed time, it is true, but O for a spring time--yea, a summer season, which shall give promise of an early harvest. If we would ripen in grace, we must live near to Jesus--in his presence--ripened by the sunshine of his smiles. We must hold sweet communion with him. We must leave the distant view of his face and come near, as John did, and pillow our head on his breast; then shall we find ourselves advancing in holiness, in love, in faith, in hope--yea, in every precious gift. As the sun rises first on mountain-tops and gilds them with his light, and presents one of the most charming sights to the eye of the traveller; so is it one of the most delightful contemplations in the world to mark the glow of the Spirit's light on the head of some saint, who has risen up in spiritual stature, like Saul, above his fellows, till, like a mighty Alp, snow-capped, he reflects first among the chosen, the beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and bears the sheen of his effulgence high aloft for all to see, and seeing it, to glorify his Father which is in heaven.
"Keep not back."
Although this message was sent to the south, and referred to the seed of Israel, it may profitably be a summons to ourselves. Backward we are naturally to all good things, and it is a lesson of grace to learn to go forward in the ways of God. Reader, are you unconverted, but do you desire to trust in the Lord Jesus? Then keep not back. Love invites you, the promises secure you success, the precious blood prepares the way. Let not sins or fears hinder you, but come to Jesus just as you are. Do you long to pray? Would you pour out your heart before the Lord? Keep not back. The mercy-seat is prepared for such as need mercy; a sinner's cries will prevail with God. You are invited, nay, you are commanded to pray; come therefore with boldness to the throne of grace.
Dear friend, are you already saved? Then keep not back from union with the Lord's people. Neglect not the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper. You may be of a timid disposition, but you must strive against it, lest it lead you into disobedience. There is a sweet promise made to those who confess Christ--by no means miss it, lest you come under the condemnation of those who deny him. If you have talents keep not back from using them. Hoard not your wealth, waste not your time; let not your abilities rust or your influence be unused. Jesus kept not back; imitate him by being foremost in self-denials and self-sacrifices. Keep not back from close communion with God, from boldly appropriating covenant blessings, from advancing in the divine life, from prying into the precious mysteries of the love of Christ. Neither, beloved friend, be guilty of keeping others back by your coldness, harshness, or suspicions. For Jesus' sake go forward yourself, and encourage others to do the like. Hell and the leaguered bands of superstition and infidelity are forward to the fight. O soldiers of the cross, keep not back.
Today's reading: Isaiah 59-61, 2 Thessalonians 3 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Isaiah 59-61
Sin, Confession and Redemption
1 Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
2 But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
3 For your hands are stained with blood,
your fingers with guilt.
Your lips have spoken falsely,
and your tongue mutters wicked things.
4 No one calls for justice;
no one pleads a case with integrity.
They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies;
they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.
5 They hatch the eggs of vipers
and spin a spider’s web.
Whoever eats their eggs will die,
and when one is broken, an adder is hatched.
6 Their cobwebs are useless for clothing;
they cannot cover themselves with what they make.
Their deeds are evil deeds,
and acts of violence are in their hands.
7 Their feet rush into sin;
they are swift to shed innocent blood.
They pursue evil schemes;
acts of violence mark their ways.
8 The way of peace they do not know;
there is no justice in their paths.
They have turned them into crooked roads;
no one who walks along them will know peace....
Today's New Testament reading: 2 Thessalonians 3
Request for Prayer
1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
Warning Against Idleness
6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat....”
[Săm'uel] - heard, asked of god, offering of god or appointed by god.
The Man Who Had God's Ear
Samuel was the earliest of the Hebrew prophets after Moses and the last of the Judges. He was the son of Elkanah of Ephraim (1 Sam. 1:1), and of Hannah, Elkanah's other wife. Samuel was her first-born and possibly saw the light of day at Ramah (1 Sam. 2:11; 7:17). Hannah bore Elkanah five other children ( 1 Sam. 2:21). There are many points of resemblance between Hannah and Mary, the mother of our Lord (1 Sam. 2:1-11 with Luke 1:46-56).
Samuel was a Nazarite (1 Sam. 1:11), the character of the vow being:
Abstinence from intoxicating drinks; self-denial and separation from sensual indulgence.
Free growth of hair, indicating the complete dedication of all the power of the head to God.
Avoidance of contact with a dead body as a token of absolute purity of life (Num. 6).
Samuel's call to service came when weaned and dedicated to God by his mother (1 Sam. 1:24-28; 3:1-18). When Samuel was around twelve years of age he received his first revelation of the Lord, which was a clear message of doom against Eli's guilty house (1 Sam. 3:11-14).
Samuel's ministry was of a fourfold nature. We see him:
I. As a prophet. As a prophet of the Lord ( 1 Sam. 2:27-35; 3:19-21; 8:22), his faithfulness was a rebuke to the unfaithfulness of Eli. To the end of his days Samuel exercised the office of prophet and his ministry was not in vain. Under the impact of his courageous pronouncements Israel renounced her idolatry and shook off the yoke of the Philistines.
II. As an intercessor. Samuel was born in answer to prayer and his name constantly reminded him of the power of prayer and of the necessity of maintaining holy intimacy with God. Samuel deemed it a sin not to pray for others ( 1 Sam. 7:5-8; 8:6; 12:17, 19, 23; 15:11).
III. As a priest. Although Samuel was only a Levite and not a priest by descent, the words, "I will raise up," imply an extraordinary office (1 Sam. 2:35; 7:9, 10; 13:8-10; Judg. 2:16). The exercises of priestly functions are proved by the following:
By intercession (1 Sam. 7:9).
By offering sacrifices (1 Sam. 7:9, 10).
By benediction ( 1 Sam. 10:17, 25).
By anointing kings (1 Sam. 10:1; 16:13).
IV. As a judge. Of Samuel it is said that he "judged Israel all the days of his life." Even after the government of Israel had changed from that of a theocracy to a monarchy, Samuel still acted as a circuit judge, going from place to place giving divine judgment upon moral and spiritual questions, and maintaining in the hearts and lives of the people the law and authority of Jehovah (1 Sam. 7:15-17 ). The appointment of his own sons as Judges to succeed him (1 Sam. 8:1) was a parental mistake, for their wickedness gave the people reason for demanding a king (1 Sam. 8:5).
The universal reverence and love the nation had for Samuel is proven by the grief manifested at his death. "All Israel lamented him" (1 Sam. 25:1; 28:3). His passing as one of the great heroes of Hebrew history makes impressive reading. Faith was the animating principle of his honored life and labors ( Heb. 11:32).