Thursday, February 16, 2012

Daily Devotional Thursday 16th February

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"To him be glory both now and forever."
2 Peter 3:18

Heaven will be full of the ceaseless praises of Jesus. Eternity! thine unnumbered years shall speed their everlasting course, but forever and forever, "to him be glory." Is he not a "Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek?" "To him be glory." Is he not king forever?--King of kings and Lord of lords, the everlasting Father? "To him be glory forever." Never shall his praises cease. That which was bought with blood deserves to last while immortality endures. The glory of the cross must never be eclipsed; the lustre of the grave and of the resurrection must never be dimmed. O Jesus! thou shalt be praised forever. Long as immortal spirits live--long as the Father's throne endures--forever, forever, unto thee shall be glory. Believer, you are anticipating the time when you shall join the saints above in ascribing all glory to Jesus; but are you glorifying him now? The apostle's words are, "To him be glory both now and forever." Will you not this day make it your prayer? "Lord, help me to glorify thee; I am poor; help me to glorify thee by contentment; I am sick; help me to give thee honour by patience; I have talents; help me to extol thee by spending them for thee; I have time; Lord, help me to redeem it, that I may serve thee; I have a heart to feel; Lord, let that heart feel no love but thine, and glow with no flame but affection for thee; I have a head to think; Lord, help me to think of thee and for thee; thou hast put me in this world for something; Lord, show me what that is, and help me to work out my life-purpose: I cannot do much; but as the widow put in her two mites, which were all her living, so, Lord, I cast my time and eternity too into thy treasury; I am all thine; take me, and enable me to glorify thee now, in all that I say, in all that I do, and with all that I have."

Evening

"Whereby they have made thee glad."
Psalm 45:8

And who are thus privileged to make the Saviour glad? His church--his people. But is it possible? He makes us glad, but how can we make him glad? By our love. Ah! we think it so cold, so faint; and so, indeed, we must sorrowfully confess it to be, but it is very sweet to Christ. Hear his own eulogy of that love in the golden Canticle: "How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine!" See, loving heart, how he delights in you. When you lean your head on his bosom, you not only receive, but you give him joy; when you gaze with love upon his all-glorious face, you not only obtain comfort, but impart delight. Our praise, too, gives him joy--not the song of the lips alone, but the melody of the heart's deep gratitude. Our gifts, too, are very pleasant to him; he loves to see us lay our time, our talents, our substance upon the altar, not for the value of what we give, but for the sake of the motive from which the gift springs. To him the lowly offerings of his saints are more acceptable than the thousands of gold and silver. Holiness is like frankincense and myrrh to him. Forgive your enemy, and you make Christ glad; distribute of your substance to the poor, and he rejoices; be the means of saving souls, and you give him to see of the travail of his soul; proclaim his gospel, and you are a sweet savour unto him; go among the ignorant and lift up the cross, and you have given him honour. It is in your power even now to break the alabaster box, and pour the precious oil of joy upon his head, as did the woman of old, whose memorial is to this day set forth wherever the gospel is preached. Will you be backward then? Will you not perfume your beloved Lord with the myrrh and aloes, and cassia, of your heart's praise? Yes, ye ivory palaces, ye shall hear the songs of the saints!

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Today's reading: Leviticus 17-18, Matthew 27:27-50 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Eating Blood Forbidden

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites and say to them: ‘This is what the LORD has commanded: 3 Any Israelite who sacrifices an ox, a lamb or a goat in the camp or outside of it 4 instead of bringing it to the entrance to the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the LORD in front of the tabernacle of the LORD—that person shall be considered guilty of bloodshed; they have shed blood and must be cut off from their people. 5 This is so the Israelites will bring to the LORD the sacrifices they are now making in the open fields. They must bring them to the priest, that is, to the LORD, at the entrance to the tent of meeting and sacrifice them as fellowship offerings. 6 The priest is to splash the blood against the altar of the LORD at the entrance to the tent of meeting and burn the fat as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 7 They must no longer offer any of their sacrifices to the goat idols to whom they prostitute themselves. This is to be a lasting ordinance for them and for the generations to come.’

8 “Say to them: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice 9 and does not bring it to the entrance to the tent of meeting to sacrifice it to the LORD must be cut off from the people of Israel.

10 “‘I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people. 11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. 12Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may any foreigner residing among you eat blood.”

13 “‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, 14 because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.”

15 “‘Anyone, whether native-born or foreigner, who eats anything found dead or torn by wild animals must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be ceremonially unclean till evening; then they will be clean. 16 But if they do not wash their clothes and bathe themselves, they will be held responsible.’”

Leviticus 18

Unlawful Sexual Relations

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the LORD your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD.

6 “‘No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the LORD.

7 “‘Do not dishonor your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her.

8 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.

9 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere.

10 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter; that would dishonor you.

11 “‘Do not have sexual relations with the daughter of your father’s wife, born to your father; she is your sister.

12 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister; she is your father’s close relative.

13 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, because she is your mother’s close relative.

14 “‘Do not dishonor your father’s brother by approaching his wife to have sexual relations; she is your aunt.

15 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; do not have relations with her.

16 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonor your brother.

17 “‘Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. Do not have sexual relations with either her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter; they are her close relatives. That is wickedness.

18 “‘Do not take your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.

19 “‘Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period.

20 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her.

21 “‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.

22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

23 “‘Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.

24 “‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the foreigners residing among you must not do any of these detestable things, 27 for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. 28 And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.

29 “‘Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people. 30 Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the LORD your God.’”


Matthew 27

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.


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Abiel [Ăbī'el]—father of strength.

  1. Son of Zeror and father of Ner and of Kish and grandfather of Saul, Israel’s first king (1 Sam. 9:1; 14:51).
  2. One of David’s heroes from Beth-arabah ( 1 Chron. 11:32). Called Abi-albon in 2 Sam. 23:31.
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At Issue - Education

Job 8:8-13

Getting a degree (or multiple degrees) is a wonderful, satisfying accomplishment that we should look on with pride. However, our society tends to value formal education more than the wisdom of age. Reflecting on Job's suffering, Bildad urged him to learn from the instruction of former generations. While there's great value in both education and in learning from our elders, there's also a difference between a formal education and wisdom-applying that knowledge. No matter how many degrees you have, education doesn't make you always right or better than others. Work at having a teachable heart that learns from others, not one that hides behind a degree.

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Commissioning: Jesus' final prayer for his followers

Today's reading: John 17

John 17:9 "I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours."

Something seems to settle in Jesus' mind as he hears the disciples' response to his words. "Do you now believe?" he asks (John 16:31) and then concludes the intimate get-together with his longest recorded prayer. In it, Jesus sums up his feelings and his plans for the tight circle of friends gathered around him.

This famous prayer represents a kind of commissioning or graduation. In it, Jesus hands over his mission to the disciples and, by extension, to all believers who will come after them. Their previous missions, the preaching and healing excursions in the countryside, have been mere warm-up exercises. Now he is turning everything over to them.

An Unbroken Chain

Using language full of mystery, Jesus tells them that he must leave the world but that they must remain in it to proclaim him. They will now attract the hatred and hostility that have previously been directed toward him. Although they live "in the world," they are not quite "of the world." Something sets them apart from the world and binds them together to him in unity with God-a unity so close as to defy all explanation.

Jesus prays, too, for the unity of believers who will join them, stretching in an unbroken chain throughout history. "I pray ... that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:20-21). And then he leads the frightened little band toward his appointment with death.

Life Questions

Based on this prayer, how would you sum up Jesus' "goals" for the church? How well do you see Christians today fulfilling those goals?

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February 15, 2012

Words Can Captivate Your Man

(or any number of people)

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

A good wife is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds (Proverbs 31:10, The Message).

Friend to Friend

OK, today is a devo for our married GiGs, but you single gals are not off the hook. Words are so powerful. We can use them to build people up or tear people down, to encourage or discourage, to speak life or to speak death. If you are not married, think of a friend or family member looking at your picture and musing about the impact you've had on their life. What would run through their mind? Now, you can read this devotion and put someone else in this buddy's seat.

Today, I want you to use your imagination. I want you to imagine your husband sitting at his desk or at a quiet place at work. Imagine him lost in thought about how blessed he is to have you as his wife. He holds your framed picture in his hand and moisture begins to pool in his eyes. He is captivated.

All the riches in the world are not to be compared with the jewel I have in this woman, he muses. What did I ever do to deserve her? God has given me such a gift. All our married life, she has done nothing but love me, bring out the best in me, and look out for my best interest. All the guys at the office are envious of our relationship. I see the way their eyes soften when she comes by just to tell me hello, grabs my hand when we're at office functions, or pecks me on the cheek for no apparent reason. I notice that her loving words to me are in stark contrast to some of the cutting remarks of other wives…and so do my friends. I look around at the accomplishments of my life, but having this woman as my wife is my greatest. Oh sure, there are many women out there in the world who are accomplishing great feats, but my wife…well, she surpasses them all.

What a picture! That's the woman I want to be, don't you? And amazingly my words can be the determining factor as to whether this scenario is possible or not. Did you know that there are words your husband longs to hear? Did you know that there are words we should never say? Let me give you a few from my book, The Power of a Woman's Words.

Words Never to Say to Your Husband

  • I told you so.
  • You just don't think.
  • It's all your fault.
  • What's wrong with you?
  • I can't do anything to please you.
  • All you care about is yourself.
  • You never listen to me.
  • I don't know why I put up with you.
  • What do you want now?
  • How many times do I have to tell you?

Words Your Husband Longs to Hear

  1. I've been thinking about you all day.
  2. What can I do for you today?
  3. How can I pray for you today?
  4. The best part of my day is when you come home.
  5. You are one of God's most precious gifts to me.
  6. You are so wonderful.
  7. You look so handsome today.
  8. I don't feel complete without you.
  9. I will always love you.
  10. I trust your decisions.

Today, be aware of the words you say to your husband. Do they build him up or tear him down? Do they make him glad he came home, or wish he hadn't?

And for the single GiG, consider the words that you speak to your co-workers and friends. They have their own lists tooJ

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, please keep watch over my lips today. Help me use my words to speak life to those I come in contact with today. Help me use my words to build up and not tear down. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Why not pick out 1 or 2 phrases from the list of words your husband longs to hear and try them out today? You might be surprised just how much his eyes light up! When you love your husband well, God says "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"

Let's hold each other accountable. Pick one of the lines from what your husband longs to hear and tell me which one you are going to say today. And single gals, you pick one too. Tell me at www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes.

More from the Girlfriends

February is the month of love and a wonderful time to contemplate our marriages. Do you want to become the woman of your husband's dreams? The woman who makes him sorry to leave in the morning and eager to come home at night? Then you'll want to read Sharon's book, Becoming the Woman of His Dreams: Seven Qualities Every Man Longs For. And if it's that little muscle called THE TONGUE that you need to reign in, check out The Power of a Woman's Words.

Seeking God?

Click here to find out more about

how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

Matthews, NC 28106

info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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Wendy Blight

February 15, 2012

Even in the Darkness
Wendy Blight

"...all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it to dry land." Exodus 14:21b(NIV)

Does God feel far away? Do you feel alone and afraid? Does life seem dark?

At one point I answered "yes" to each of these questions. Following a tragic incident in my life, fear filled my heart. God seemed so distant and I felt completely alone.

During that very dark time, God lead me to the story of the Israelites' escape from slavery in Egypt. Initially, Pharaoh agreed to let God's people go, but soon after they left, he changed his mind. He began to pursue them with 600 of his best chariots. The approaching army terrified the Israelites. They cried out to their leader, Moses.

Moses reminded the people of God's promise that He would deliver them. But circumstances barreling toward them said otherwise. The Israelites heard the rumbling of the chariots charging at them. They saw a huge body of water blocking their only escape.

Can you imagine their fear? The reality they knew was that Pharaoh's finest soldiers were pursuing them, and there was a colossal obstacle, the Red Sea, preventing their escape. God's people had no idea the miracle awaiting them.

When Moses stretched out his hand over the water, Scripture says, "...all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it to dry land" (Exodus 14:21b NIV). Because it was dark, the Israelites couldn't quite see what God was doing.

In the black of night, the Lord tirelessly worked on behalf of His children to deliver them, just as He had promised.

It's as if the words of this story leapt off the pages of Scripture and into my desolate heart. Although the Israelites could not see or hear God, He was moving in the midst of their darkness. I too could not "see" or "feel" God, but He was at work around me in invisible ways - present and active on my behalf to carry me through my bleak place.

In the dark, we have two choices. We can take matters into our own hands, turning to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, seeking advice or reading the latest self-help book, never knowing if any of them is the way to healing and wholeness. Or we can look to God. We can open His Word, knowing He guarantees healing and wholeness.

Would you like the truth of God's Word to come alive for you? Would you like Him to come alongside you? You need only ask. The Lord promises, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV). Like He was for the Israelites, He is there for us. And He is always working on our behalf, even when we can't see or feel Him.

Today, if you are in the darkness; if your circumstances are threatening to consume you; if you feel utterly defeated... seek the Lord. Ask Him to rescue you and remember this, He is there... parting your "Red Sea" even now.

Dear Heavenly Father, it is so difficult to walk through darkness. You feel so far away. I feel so alone. Thank You for the promise that You will never leave me or forsake me, and that there is nothing in all creation that will ever separate me from the love I have in You and in Your Son. Walk ever so closely with me during this darkness, Lord. Speak to me. Give me hope. Show me the treasures in my darkness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God's Story by Wendy Blight

For more of Wendy's story, visit her blog.

Join our Proverbs 31 Ministries Facebook community for daily truth and hope!

Reflect and Respond:
Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to...bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captive and release from darkness for the prisoners..." (NIV) God the Healer, Jesus the Redeemer, binds up my brokenness, shows me the way to freedom, and releases me from the darkness. He is waiting for me.

Sometimes God allows difficult circumstances to do a mighty transformational work in our lives. Are my difficult circumstances part of His refining process to help me trust Him and make me more like Him?

Power Verses:
1 John 1:5b, "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." (NIV)

Romans 8:38-39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

© 2012 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Righteousness and Mercy

Matthew 5:6-7

Our passion for righteousness and mercy is one way we can measure our fervor for the Lord. There are innumerable ways we can pursue both of these actions. Thus, we are unable to complain to God that there have been no opportunities today or any other day to follow Christ and show mercy. Find one way you can show mercy today, perhaps by extending forgiveness to someone who has wronged you or by giving time or resources to the poor.

For further study:

2 Samuel 22:26-29

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 4-5

Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.

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Distinguishing grace

“For who maketh thee to differ from another?” 1 Corinthians 4:7

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 22:31-34

If thou leave me, Lord, for a moment, I am utterly undone.

“Leave, ah! leave me not alone, Still support and comfort me.”

Let Abraham be deserted by his God, he equivocates and denies his wife. Let Noah be deserted, he becomes a drunkard, and is naked to his shame. Let Lot be left awhile, and, filled with wine, he revels in incestuous embraces, and the fruit of his body becomes a testimony to his disgrace. Nay, let David, the man after God’s own heart, be left, and Uriah’s wife shall soon show the world that the man after God’s own heart still has an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. Oh! the poet puts it well -

“Methinks I hear my Saviour say, ‘Wilt thou forsake me too?’”

And now let our conscience answer:-

“Ah, Lord! with such a heart as mine,
Unless thou hold me fast,
I feel I must, I shall decline,
And prove like them at last.”

Oh be not rashly self-confident, Christian man. Be as confident as you can in your God, but be distrustful of yourself. You may yet become all that is vile and vicious, unless sovereign grace prevent and keep you to the end. But remember if you have been preserved, the crown of your keeping belongs to the Shepherd of Israel, and you know who that is. For he has said “I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.” You know “who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” Then give all glory to the King immortal, invisible, the only wise God your Saviour, who has kept you thus.

For meditation: Those who think they can stand by themselves are taught by being allowed to fall by themselves (1 Corinthians 10:12; Ecclesiastes 4:10).

Sermon no. 262
15 February (Preached 6 February 1859)

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The betrayal

‘But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?’ Luke 22:48

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 6:6–10

I do solemnly believe, that of all hypocrites, those are the persons of whom there is the least hope whose god is their money. You may reclaim a fallen Christian, who has given way to vice, may loathe his lust, and return from it; but I fear that the cases in which a man who is cankered with covetousness has ever been saved, are so few that they might be written on your finger nail. This is a sin which the world does not rebuke. God knows what thunders I have launched out against men who are all for this world, and yet pretend to be Christ’s followers; but they always say, ‘It is not for me.’ What I should call stark naked covetousness, they call prudence, discretion, economy, and so on; and actions which I would scorn to spit upon they will do, and think their hands quite clean after they have done them, and still sit as God’s people sit, and hear as God’s people hear, and think that after they have sold Christ for paltry gain, they will go to heaven. O souls, beware most of all of greed! It is not money, nor the lack of money, but the love of money which is the root of all evil. It is not getting it; it is not even keeping it; it is loving it; it is making it your god; it is looking at that as the main chance, and not considering the cause of Christ, nor the truth of Christ, nor the holy life of Christ, but being ready to sacrifice everything for gains’ sake. O such men make giants in sin; their damnation shall be sure and just.

For meditation: Covetousness usually appears in the New Testament’s lists of scandalous behaviour (Mark 7:22; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:10–11; 6:10; Ephesians 5:3,5; Colossians 3:5; 2 Timothy 3:2). Beware of it (Luke 12:15). Judas didn’t. His response to missing out on a small fortune ( John 12:3–6) was to betray the Lord Jesus Christ for financial gain (Matthew 26:6–16); it proved to be his own ruin (Matthew 27:3–5; 1 Timothy 6:9). ‘Thou shalt not covet’ ( Exodus 20:17).

Sermon no. 494
15 February (1863)

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Righteousness and Mercy

Matthew 5:6-7 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy" ( vv. 6-7).

The first three beatitudes in many ways express those qualities that are the prerequisites for salvation. To be poor in spirit, to mourn, and to be meek (Matt. 5:1-5 ) are all related to the idea of recognizing ourselves for who we really are in the sight of God apart from Christ - desperate sinners who cannot save ourselves. As Jesus continues outlining the marks of His disciple in today's passage, we will see Him focus on qualities that are produced in those who recognize their spiritual poverty and have turned to Him.

Our Creator's blessing (approval) is on "those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" (v. 6 ). Typically, we hunger and thirst for food and drink, without which life is impossible. In using this analogy, Jesus wants us to see that righteousness is our most basic need. Christ is not here speaking primarily of His perfect righteousness, which is imputed to us by faith alone and is the sole basis upon which God accepts us (2 Cor. 5:21). Instead, He is emphasizing the personal righteousness that all believers must cultivate (James 2:14-26 ). Simply put, we cannot have Jesus as Savior if we will not have Him as Lord. We must always endeavor to please our Father and do the right thing according to His Word. If this is our aim, Jesus tells us, we will find ourselves conforming more and more to God's law. We will always be reaching for this righteousness in this life, because there is always room for improvement until we are glorified.

Our Redeemer also says that the merciful are blessed (Matt. 5:7 ). In fact, if we want to receive mercy we must be merciful to others. This is not to say that the Lord waits for sinners to show mercy before He is merciful to them, for we know unregenerate men are incapable of showing true mercy to others. He is just listing mercy as an inevitable fruit of authentic conversion. If we truly love the Savior, we will extend the hand of compassion to those who are in need and forgive those who have offended us (Col. 3:12-13 ). John Calvin comments: "Christ says that those are happy, who are not only prepared to endure their own afflictions, but to take a share in the afflictions of others - who assist the wretched ­- who willingly take part with those who are in distress."

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Our passion for righteousness and mercy is one way we can measure our fervor for the Lord. There are innumerable ways we can pursue both of these actions. Thus, we are unable to complain to God that there have been no opportunities today or any other day to follow Christ and show mercy. Find one way you can show mercy today, perhaps by extending forgiveness to someone who has wronged you or by giving time or resources to the poor.

For further study:

2 Samuel 22:26-29

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 4-5

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

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