"Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."
1 Thessalonians 5:24
Heaven is a place where we shall never sin; where we shall cease our constant watch against an indefatigable enemy, because there will be no tempter to ensnare our feet. There the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest. Heaven is the "undefiled inheritance;" it is the land of perfect holiness, and therefore of complete security. But do not the saints even on earth sometimes taste the joys of blissful security? The doctrine of God's word is, that all who are in union with the Lamb are safe; that all the righteous shall hold on their way; that those who have committed their souls to the keeping of Christ shall find him a faithful and immutable preserver. Sustained by such a doctrine we can enjoy security even on earth; not that high and glorious security which renders us free from every slip, but that holy security which arises from the sure promise of Jesus that none who believe in him shall ever perish, but shall be with him where he is. Believer, let us often reflect with joy on the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, and honour the faithfulness of our God by a holy confidence in him.
May our God bring home to you a sense of your safety in Christ Jesus! May he assure you that your name is graven on his hand; and whisper in your ear the promise, "Fear not, I am with thee." Look upon him, the great Surety of the covenant, as faithful and true, and, therefore, bound and engaged to present you, the weakest of the family, with all the chosen race, before the throne of God; and in such a sweet contemplation you will drink the juice of the spiced wine of the Lord's pomegranate, and taste the dainty fruits of Paradise. You will have an antepast of the enjoyments which ravish the souls of the perfect saints above, if you can believe with unstaggering faith that "faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."
"Ye serve the Lord Christ."
To what choice order of officials was this word spoken? To kings who proudly boast a right divine? Ah, no! too often do they serve themselves or Satan, and forget the God whose sufferance permits them to wear their mimic majesty for their little hour. Speaks then the apostle to those so-called "right reverend fathers in God," the bishops, or "the venerable the archdeacons"? No, indeed, Paul knew nothing of these mere inventions of man. Not even to pastors and teachers, or to the wealthy and esteemed among believers, was this word spoken, but to servants, aye, and to slaves. Among the toiling multitudes, the journeymen, the day labourers, the domestic servants, the drudges of the kitchen, the apostle found, as we find still, some of the Lord's chosen, and to them he says, "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." This saying ennobles the weary routine of earthly employments, and sheds a halo around the most humble occupations. To wash feet may be servile, but to wash his feet is royal work. To unloose the shoe-latchet is poor employ, but to unloose the great Master's shoe is a princely privilege. The shop, the barn, the scullery, and the smithy become temples when men and women do all to the glory of God! Then "divine service" is not a thing of a few hours and a few places, but all life becomes holiness unto the Lord, and every place and thing, as consecrated as the tabernacle and its golden candlestick.
"Teach me, my God and King, in all things thee to see;
And what I do in anything to do it as to thee.
All may of thee partake, nothing can be so mean,
Which with this tincture, for thy sake, will not grow bright and clean.
A servant with this clause makes drudgery divine;
Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws, makes that and the action fine."
Today's reading: Hosea 5-8, Revelation 2 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Hosea 5-8
Judgment Against Israel
1 “Hear this, you priests!
Pay attention, you Israelites!
Listen, royal house!
This judgment is against you:
You have been a snare at Mizpah,
a net spread out on Tabor.
2 The rebels are knee-deep in slaughter.
I will discipline all of them.
3 I know all about Ephraim;
Israel is not hidden from me.
Ephraim, you have now turned to prostitution;
Israel is corrupt.
4 “Their deeds do not permit them
to return to their God.
A spirit of prostitution is in their heart;
they do not acknowledge the LORD.
5 Israel’s arrogance testifies against them;
the Israelites, even Ephraim, stumble in their sin;
Judah also stumbles with them.
6 When they go with their flocks and herds
to seek the LORD,
they will not find him;
he has withdrawn himself from them.
7 They are unfaithful to the LORD;
they give birth to illegitimate children.
When they celebrate their New Moon feasts,
he will devour their fields....
Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 2
To the Church in Ephesus
1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God....
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. -Luke 2:4
Bethlehem was like any other town in the hills of Judea. Yet, it was the birthplace of the greatest king of Israel, David, and one thousand years later, the Messiah.
How does such honor come to the ordinary? Were the people of this town particularly worthy? Was there some great strategic advantage to where it lay? Were the people of Bethlehem politically savvy, having a long history of producing great leaders? Not at all. The little town of Bethlehem was in the shadow of great Jerusalem just six miles to the north. Even the meaning of Bethlehem, "house of bread," is unremarkable.
But hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Micah predicted the destiny of an unremarkable, small place: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times" (Micah 5:2).
The townspeople of Bethlehem were surely proud to be the "Town of David" and the home of King David's famous grandmother, Ruth. Proud also, to be the location of the tomb of Rachel, Jacob's beloved wife. Yet, they must have wondered what Micah's prophesy really meant. When would another prophet like Samuel come to town and anoint a new king, just as he had done with the boy David?
But it didn't happen that way. On an ordinary day, while men plied their trades and women baked bread and children played in the streets, a traveling couple from Nazareth arrived looking for a room. They received no special treatment. No one offered them a room. Ordinary people were having an ordinary response to an ordinary looking couple.
Honor comes to the ordinary because of God's choice, whether it is God's choice to use a town, or a nation, or even a single man or woman, boy or girl. So if this is shaping up to be an ordinary day for you-be prepared. That's the stage on which the acts of God are played.
Prayer for Today:
Dear God, it so easy for us to assume that nothing exciting will happen with the ordinary. Help us this Christmas to see the amazing things you do when you choose to use the ordinary.