Sunday, February 05, 2012

Daily Devotional Sunday 5th February

“For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD. He sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: I love you, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:1-2 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The love of the Lord."
Hosea 3:1

Believer, look back through all thine experience, and think of the way whereby the Lord thy God has led thee in the wilderness, and how he hath fed and clothed thee every day--how he hath borne with thine ill manners--how he hath put up with all thy murmurings, and all thy longings after the flesh-pots of Egypt--how he has opened the rock to supply thee, and fed thee with manna that came down from heaven. Think of how his grace has been sufficient for thee in all thy troubles--how his blood has been a pardon to thee in all thy sins--how his rod and his staff have comforted thee. When thou hast thus looked back upon the love of the Lord, then let faith survey his love in the future, for remember that Christ's covenant and blood have something more in them than the past. He who has loved thee and pardoned thee, shall never cease to love and pardon. He is Alpha, and he shall be Omega also: he is first, and he shall be last. Therefore, bethink thee, when thou shalt pass through the valley of the shadow of death, thou needest fear no evil, for he is with thee. When thou shalt stand in the cold floods of Jordan, thou needest not fear, for death cannot separate thee from his love; and when thou shalt come into the mysteries of eternity thou needest not tremble, "For I am persuaded, that neither death; nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Now, soul, is not thy love refreshed? Does not this make thee love Jesus? Doth not a flight through illimitable plains of the ether of love inflame thy heart and compel thee to delight thyself in the Lord thy God? Surely as we meditate on "the love of the Lord," our hearts burn within us, and we long to love him more.

Evening

"Your refuge from the avenger of blood."
Joshua 20:3

It is said that in the land of Canaan, cities of refuge were so arranged, that any man might reach one of them within half a day at the utmost. Even so the word of our salvation is near to us; Jesus is a present Saviour, and the way to him is short; it is but a simple renunciation of our own merit, and a laying hold of Jesus, to be our all in all. With regard to the roads to the city of refuge, we are told that they were strictly preserved, every river was bridged, and every obstruction removed, so that the man who fled might find an easy passage to the city. Once a year the elders went along the roads and saw to their order, so that nothing might impede the flight of any one, and cause him, through delay, to be overtaken and slain. How graciously do the promises of the gospel remove stumbling blocks from the way! Wherever there were by-roads and turnings, there were fixed up hand-posts, with the inscription upon them--"To the city of refuge!" This is a picture of the road to Christ Jesus. It is no roundabout road of the law; it is no obeying this, that, and the other; it is a straight road: "Believe, and live." It is a road so hard, that no self-righteous man can ever tread it, but so easy, that every sinner, who knows himself to be a sinner may by it find his way to heaven. No sooner did the man-slayer reach the outworks of the city than he was safe; it was not necessary for him to pass far within the walls, but the suburbs themselves were sufficient protection. Learn hence, that if you do but touch the hem of Christ's garment, you shall be made whole; if you do but lay hold upon him with "faith as a grain of mustard seed," you are safe.

"A little genuine grace ensures

The death of all our sins."

Only waste no time, loiter not by the way, for the avenger of blood is swift of foot; and it may be he is at your heels at this still hour of eventide.

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Today's reading: Exodus 34-35, Matthew 22:23-46 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The New Stone Tablets

1 The LORD said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2 Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. 3 No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.”

4 So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the LORD had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

8 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. 9“Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”

10 Then the LORD said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you. 11Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.

17 “Do not make any idols.

18 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt.

19 “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. 20 Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons.

“No one is to appear before me empty-handed.

21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.

22 “Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year. 23 Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel. 24 I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God.

25 “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Festival remain until morning.

26 “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.

“Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”

27 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.

The Radiant Face of Moses

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. 30When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai.

33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the LORD’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.

Exodus 35

Sabbath Regulations

1 Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the LORD has commanded you to do: 2 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. 3 Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”

Materials for the Tabernacle

4 Moses said to the whole Israelite community, “This is what the LORD has commanded: 5 From what you have, take an offering for the LORD. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the LORD an offering of gold, silver and bronze; 6 blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; 7 ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; 8 olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 9and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.

10 “All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the LORD has commanded: 11 the tabernacle with its tent and its covering, clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases; 12 the ark with its poles and the atonement cover and the curtain that shields it; 13 the table with its poles and all its articles and the bread of the Presence; 14 the lampstand that is for light with its accessories, lamps and oil for the light; 15 the altar of incense with its poles, the anointing oil and the fragrant incense; the curtain for the doorway at the entrance to the tabernacle; 16 the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils; the bronze basin with its stand; 17the curtains of the courtyard with its posts and bases, and the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard; 18 the tent pegs for the tabernacle and for the courtyard, and their ropes; 19 the woven garments worn for ministering in the sanctuary—both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests.”

20 Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, 21 and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the tent of meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. 22 All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the LORD. 23 Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or the other durable leather brought them. 24 Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the LORD, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. 25 Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun—blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. 26 And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair. 27 The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.28 They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. 29 All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the LORD through Moses had commanded them to do.

Bezalel and Oholiab

30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah,31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.


Matthew 22

Marriage at the Resurrection

23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him.25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

The Greatest Commandment

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Whose Son Is the Messiah?

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’

45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

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Wisdom in Creation

Today's reading:

1 Kings 4:29–34

This passage is a celebration of God’s endowment of great wisdom upon Solomon. It also celebrates the broader theme of God’s ordering of creation according to a majestic, divine design. God has infused his wisdom, as it were, into the very structure of material reality. And he has equipped the human race, created in his image, with the ability (the intellectual machinery) to, as German mathematician Johann Kepler (1571–1630) said, “think God’s thoughts after him,” in order to develop creation’s potential (note especially 1Ki 4:32–33). We as God’s designated stewards have been called to faithfully and intelligently cultivate creation’s potential. God wants us to varying degrees, based on the particular aptitudes and strengths with which he has gifted each of us, to draw out the fruitfulness of creation through engineering, entrepreneurship, development, intellectual understanding, the arts and so forth.

Bible scholar J. Richard Middleton depicts God the Creator as both a grand architect and a consummate artist:

Superimposed on and integrated with the picture of God speaking creation into being is the metaphor of God as designer and artificer, constructing with care, attention, obvious pleasure, and self-investment (as a good artist) a coherent, harmoniously functioning cosmos, according to a well-thought-out plan. This characterization of God as maker or artisan is rhetorically embodied in the superb literary artistry of the creation story, which moves from a preparatory statement in [Genesis] 1:1–2, through six “days” of God’s work, to the seventh climactic day (2:1–3), when God “rested” (šÄbat), satisfied, having completed his work.

Middleton goes on to articulate part of his understanding of the complexity of the imago Dei (“image of God”) as it pertains to humanity’s interactions with the created world:

[C]areful exegesis of Genesis 1:26–28 … does indeed suggest that the imago Dei refers to human rule, that is, the exercise of power on God’s behalf in creation. This may be articulated in two different, but complementary ways. Said one way, humans are like God in exercising royal power on earth. Said in another way, the divine ruler delegated to humans a share in his rule of the earth. Both are important ways of expressing the meaning of the imago Dei. The first expression—the notion of likeness to the divine ruler—suggests the image as “representational,” indicating a similarity or analogy between God and humans. The second expression—the delegation of, or sharing in, God’s rule—suggests the image as “representative,” designating the responsible office and task entrusted to humanity in administering the earthly realm on God’s behalf. But these expressions are not simply alternative; they are integrally connected.

Think About It

  • How is God’s wisdom a part of our physical reality?
  • In what ways are intellectual pursuits a part of God’s calling?
  • How can people steward God’s creation through understanding it?

Pray About It

Lord, you have a unique calling for each of us. Those of us who seek and pursue the wisdom found in your creation—in any vocation or avocation of life—need your guidance to fulfill our role in your grand design.

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Cue Cards for Praise

Psalm 95:1-11

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Psalm 95:1

Imagine meeting someone famous and having to keep that news to yourself. Or what if you had pictures of your first child and no one to show them to? Praise and thanksgiving beg for company; joining with other voices makes the worship so much sweeter!

Psalm 95 tells us to find companions as we praise: "Come, let us sing . . . let us shout . . . let us bow down . . . let us kneel before the LORD our Maker" (Psalm 95:1,6 ). Marriage gives us a companion in praise-someone to share all the exciting details, someone to cheer and sing and laugh with before the Lord.

Psalms is our songbook; the psalms, our cue cards for praising God. Psalm 95 puts words in our mouths to express the joy in our hearts. And if our songs have gone all mumbly and dull, this psalm helps us rejuvenate our singing together.

This song has four stanzas that give us a structure for our praise. Verses 1-2 have us on our feet, singing at the tops of our voices to our champion, the Lord. The reason for such exuberance is described in the second stanza, in verses 3-5. We worship by picturing great mountains, pounding seas and majestic sunsets. And we come away ready to trust our mountain-moving God, our sea-parting Savior, our world-holding King.

We can praise God in a similar way, but we sing this kind of praise best when we gather with God's people in church. Don't miss such celebrations!

The third stanza, verses 6-7a, is an entirely different kind of melody; it is soft and thoughtful. This music bows our heads and brings us to our knees. We sing softly that the great God who made us is the Good Shepherd who feeds and leads us, who guards and guides our lives.

Try worshiping by recounting God's provision-your first apartment, for example, or unexpected money when things were very tight. Praising God for his "shepherd care" is important for our future, for it is how we learn to trust God to guide us through the next dark valley or be our protection in a troubled tomorrow.

Psalm 95 ends in a minor key (verses 7b-11), reminding us of what happens when we fail to let worship shape our will and our ways. Israel had sung songs about God's greatness and care when he had miraculously delivered them from Egypt and provided for them in the desert. But later, when God didn't come through for them as quickly as they wanted, the people lost faith in the God they had sung about, and they ended up being prohibited from entering the promised land, the place where God intended to give them "rest" (verse 11).

What a great reminder to be full of praise-praise that is both exuberant and humble. When we worship God in our times of triumph, it prepares us to trust God in our times of struggle and prevents us from hardening our hearts toward him.
Lee Eclov

Let's Talk

  • How does worshiping God as a couple help us spiritually? How can worshiping together have the kind of variety and breadth that we see in this psalm?
  • How do we worship together with other believers? What could we do to worship more effectively with them?
  • When might we be most tempted to "harden [our] hearts" (Psalm 95:8 ) and not trust God? How can we use worship times to fortify ourselves against such temptations?
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Sweet comfort for feeble saints

“A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.” Matthew 12:20

Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 2:12-14

Man of business, toiling and striving in this world, he will not quench you when you are like smoking flax; he will not break you when you are like the bruised reed, but will deliver you from your troubles, you shall swim across the sea of life, and stand on the happy shore of heaven, and shall sing, “Victory” through him that loved you. Young people! I speak to you, and have a right to do so. You and I often know what the bruised reed is, when the hand of God blights our fair hopes. We are full of giddiness and waywardness, it is only the rod of affliction that can bring folly out of us, for we have much of it in us. Slippery paths are the paths of youth, and dangerous are the ways of the young, but God will not break or destroy us. Men, by their overcaution, bid us never tread a step lest we fall; but God bids us go, and makes our feet like hind’s feet, that we may tread upon high places. Serve God in early days; give your hearts to him, and then he will never cast you out, but will nourish and cherish you. Let me not finish without saying a word to little children. You who have heard of Jesus, he says to you, “The bruised reed I will not break; the smoking flax I will not quench.” I believe there is many a little prattler, not six years old, who knows the Saviour. I never despise youthful piety; I love it. I have heard little children talk of mysteries that grey-headed men knew not. Ah! little children who have been brought up in Sabbath-schools, and love the Saviour’s name, if others say you are too forward, do not fear, love Christ still.

For meditation: God will bring down those who are proud before him, but he will raise up those who are aware of and willing to admit to him their weakness (Luke 1:50-53).

Sermon no. 6
4 February (1855)

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The mighty arm

‘Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.’ Psalm 89:13

Suggested Further Reading: Genesis 1:1–2:3

Remember the mighty power of God in creation. Man wants something to work upon: give him material, and with cunning instruments he straightway makes for himself a vessel; but God began with nothing; and by his word alone made all things out of nothing. ‘He spake, and it was done: he commanded, and it stood fast.’ Darkness and chaos lay in the way before him, but these soon gave place to the excellence of his might when he said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light.’ ‘In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and all the hosts of them.’ How rapid was that work, and yet how perfect, how gloriously complete! Now, Christian, I want you to draw living water out of this well. The God who in the old creation did all this, can he not work today? He made the world out of nothing, can he not make new creatures without the aid of human will? His word fashioned the creation of old, and his word can work marvels still. Spoken by whomsoever he pleases to send, his word shall be as potent now as in primeval days. There may be darkness and confusion in the sinner’s soul; a word shall remove all, and swift and quick, requiring not even six days. God can make new creatures in this house of prayer and throughout this city. The Lord has but to will it with his omnipotent will, and the sinner becomes a saint. O let creation encourage you to expect a new creation!

For meditation: Every Christian is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17); God applies the same principles to his ‘new creations’ as he did during his original act of creation i.e. he gives them new life (Genesis 2:7; Ephesians 2:1), a new likeness (Genesis 1:26–27; Ephesians 4:24), new light to be separate from darkness (Genesis 1:3–4,6–7,14–18; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 6:14–18), new love (Genesis 2:18,21–22;Ephesians 2:14–16) and new labours (Genesis 1:22, 28; 2:15;Ephesians 2:10). Are you one of God’s new creations in Christ Jesus?

Sermon no. 674
4 February (1866)

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