"Base things of the world hath God chosen."
1 Corinthians 1:28
Walk the streets by moonlight, if you dare, and you will see sinners then. Watch when the night is dark, and the wind is howling, and the picklock is grating in the door, and you will see sinners then. Go to yon jail, and walk through the wards, and mark the men with heavy over-hanging brows, men whom you would not like to meet at night, and there are sinners there. Go to the Reformatories, and note those who have betrayed a rampant juvenile depravity, and you will see sinners there. Go across the seas to the place where a man will gnaw a bone upon which is reeking human flesh, and there is a sinner there. Go where you will, you need not ransack earth to find sinners, for they are common enough; you may find them in every lane and street of every city, and town, and village, and hamlet. It is for such that Jesus died. If you will select me the grossest specimen of humanity, if he be but born of woman, I will have hope of him yet, because Jesus Christ is come to seek and to save sinners. Electing love has selected some of the worst to be made the best. Pebbles of the brook grace turns into jewels for the crown-royal. Worthless dross he transforms into pure gold. Redeeming love has set apart many of the worst of mankind to be the reward of the Saviour's passion. Effectual grace calls forth many of the vilest of the vile to sit at the table of mercy, and therefore let none despair.
Reader, by that love looking out of Jesus' tearful eyes, by that love streaming from those bleeding wounds, by that faithful love, that strong love, that pure, disinterested, and abiding love; by the heart and by the bowels of the Saviour's compassion, we conjure you turn not away as though it were nothing to you; but believe on him and you shall be saved. Trust your soul with him and he will bring you to his Father's right hand in glory everlasting.
"I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."
1 Corinthians 9:22
Paul's great object was not merely to instruct and to improve, but to save. Anything short of this would have disappointed him; he would have men renewed in heart, forgiven, sanctified, in fact, saved. Have our Christian labours been aimed at anything below this great point? Then let us amend our ways, for of what avail will it be at the last great day to have taught and moralized men if they appear before God unsaved? Blood-red will our skirts be if through life we have sought inferior objects, and forgotten that men needed to be saved. Paul knew the ruin of man's natural state, and did not try to educate him, but to save him; he saw men sinking to hell, and did not talk of refining them, but of saving from the wrath to come. To compass their salvation, he gave himself up with untiring zeal to telling abroad the gospel, to warning and beseeching men to be reconciled to God. His prayers were importunate and his labours incessant. To save souls was his consuming passion, his ambition, his calling. He became a servant to all men, toiling for his race, feeling a woe within him if he preached not the gospel. He laid aside his preferences to prevent prejudice; he submitted his will in things indifferent, and if men would but receive the gospel, he raised no questions about forms or ceremonies: the gospel was the one all-important business with him. If he might save some he would be content. This was the crown for which he strove, the sole and sufficient reward of all his labours and self-denials. Dear reader, have you and I lived to win souls at this noble rate? Are we possessed with the same all-absorbing desire? If not, why not? Jesus died for sinners, cannot we live for them? Where is our tenderness? Where our love to Christ, if we seek not his honour in the salvation of men? O that the Lord would saturate us through and through with an undying zeal for the souls of men.===
Today's reading: Daniel 5-7, 2 John 1 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Daniel 5-7
The Writing on the Wall
1 King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. 2 While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. 3 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. 4 As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.
5 Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6 His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.
7 The king summoned the enchanters, astrologers and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom....”
Today's New Testament reading: 2 John 1
1 The elder,
To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth— 2because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:
3 Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.
4 It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. 5 And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. 6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love....===
Issachar [Ĭs’sakar]—there is here orreward.
1. The ninth son of Jacob and the fifth by Leah. Of Issachar as an individual not a word is recorded after his birth (Gen. 30:18; 49:14, 15; Deut. 33:18, 19).
The Man Who Couched Down
The birth of Issachar was regarded by his mother as a kind of payment from the hand of God, “God hath given me my hire,” said Leah, “because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar” (that is, hire). In Jacob’s blessing to Issachar, he is described as a “strong ass couching down between two burdens,” or “between the sheep-folds.” Two things are here mentioned as a pair, meaning they belong to each other; they are on either hand of Issachar, as necessary accompaniments to each other and to him. Between them his lot is cast.
When Israel was at war against Jabin, king of Canaan ( Judg. 4), Reuben was at ease among the sheepfolds (Judg. 5:16), but the princes of Issachar fought valiantly, jeopardizing their lives unto death (Judg. 5:18). Then it is said that the children of Issachar had an understanding of the times and knew what Israel ought to do.
The strong-boned ass used with the cart, because of its capacity for bearing heavy burdens, was the apt figure used by Jacob to represent Issachar’s great strength, a strength revealed on the field of battle. The love of ease, however, made the people of Issachar unwilling to use their strength at all times in the interests of their country. They couched down in luxury and the restfulness of a rural life. The tragedy overtaking many is their couching down when they ought to be rising up. Their prosperity induces indolence, and like the rich fool in the parable, they take their ease ( Luke 12:19). The voice from heaven still cries, “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1).
2. A Levite doorkeeper of the Tabernacle in David’s time (1 Chron. 26:5).===
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. -Luke 1:32-33
Christmas represents a beginning that only makes sense if we comprehend the end. The beginning is a child-a humble birth in an earthy stable. But the end... The end is an explosion of divine glory bright enough for the whole world to see-like the birth of new star. The end is a kingdom. Jesus came to forward the kingdom of God, to open people's eyes to the power of God, to make it the central reality of their lives. "His kingdom will never end."
Contrast this with King Herod, who sought to protect his kingdom by trying to eliminate any potential rival to his throne. What Herod didn't understand was that by killing all the baby boys in Bethlehem, he was not protecting his kingdom, but showing its weakness and fearfulness. In the wake of God's kingdom and power, all human power is simply water dribbling through cupped hands, no matter how steadfast the grasp.
The kingdom of Christ is different; it will never end. There is no rival to his authority, though unbelievers will always abound. There is no one sitting at the right hand of God except Christ. No other authority was present when the earth was created, and no other will be there when the final judgment comes.
Christmas is a celebration of the coming of a kingdom. Powerful. Life-changing. Overwhelming. Don't ever think that Christmas is a way for us to wrap God up in a package, put a bow on it, and keep the whole thing under our control. A way for us to avoid God except for those extra-special religious seasons.
The first Christmas was the arrival of a king. Rulers from the east knew it, so they came to present gifts. King Herod knew it, which is why he ordered all the baby boys in Bethlehem to be killed. It is the Battle of Bethlehem, the beginning of a war in which the King of Kings is intent to take back territory that belonged to him all along, and to sweep people like us into a new benevolent kingdom.
Prayer for today:
Dear God, help me to live these days with a knowledge that you are reigning in this broken world as king. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.