Samuel’s Counsel #1536

23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king. (1 Samuel 12:23–25, NKJV)

Israel had demanded a king to be like the nations around her. With stern warnings against their hard hearts and disobedience to God’s law, Samuel anointed Saul to be king of Israel at God’s direction. The prophet would continue to do his work even though many were abandoning God and His law. In verse 23 Samuel reminds us we cannot allow the sins of others to lead us into sin and its carelessness toward our spiritual duty. Like Samuel, we must continue to pray and teach God’s will. As hearers of God’s word, we must fear Him and serve Him in truth with hearts given fully to Him (verse 24). The great things God has done for us compels our earnest, faithful service. Samuel’s warning in verse 25 remains relevant today. If we disobey God and persist in wickedness we will be punished. Israel was punished for her sins. When God’s people do wickedly and refuse to repent, punishment from God is just and sure (Romans 2:1-11; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

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A Bitter Complaint Against God #1535

1 Then Job answered and said: 2 “Even today my complaint is bitter; My hand is listless because of my groaning. 3 Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat! 4 I would present my case before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments.” (Job 23:1–4, NKJV)

Have you ever complained against God? Like Job, most of us at one time or the other have found ourselves in a place that was not of our own choosing – someplace we never thought we would be. “Why this trial?” “Why this pain?” “Why this loneliness?” As such times we are tempted to blame God, to long for a chance to explain things to God about why we are being treated so unfairly. We are tempted to think we know more than God. We may even find ourselves arguing against God by opposing and rejecting His word, the inspired Scriptures. We think we know better. But, the truth is, we don’t. The truth is, our eyes need to be opened to God’s power and purposes, as Job’s were when God explained things to him (Job 38-41). Then, Job understood God is sovereign and that we never counsel God (Job 42:1-2). Job confessed, “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3). Don’t blame God. Don’t argue with God. Trust Him, believe His word and follow His truth. Come what may, He does all things well (Mark 7:37; Romans 8:35-39). Instead of asking, “Why me?” ask, “Why not me?”

The Righteous are Scarcely Saved #1534

17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:17–18, NKJV)

Judgment from God comes to the Christian as well as to the unbeliever. This passage affirms the house of God (the church) obeys the gospel of God and is composed of “the righteous” who are saved. By contrast, the result of the ungodly and sinner, who does not obey the gospel of God, is being lost. Each of us choose whether our judgment will bring us salvation in Christ or condemnation due to our sin. To be “scarcely saved” requires the strenuous activity of obeying the gospel. Jesus said the way that leads to life is difficult (confined or straight, Matthew 7:14). The way that leads to death is broad and has many travelers (Matthew 7:13). It is time to see clearly which road you are on. One leads to eternal life and the other leads to eternal death. Choose wisely by obeying the gospel of God.

Do Not Envy Sinners #1533

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day; 18 For surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:17–18, NKJV)

Envy involves misplaced zeal. Becoming agitated and activated to compare yourself with the advantages of sinners robs you of fervor that ought to be directed toward fearing God and trusting Him. Envy is strong displeasure caused by observing the prosperity of others. It drives a person to even try to deprive a person of what he has. Envying sinners reveals a heart that is not fearing God because it is consumed with brooding and grieving over the temporal advantages of others. The psalmist “nearly slipped” when he “was envious of the boastful” and “saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:2-3). He experienced the pain and pride of envy until he remembered the goodness of God and the end result of the wicked person (Psalm 73:1, 16-28). Remember your hope is in the hereafter, not the here and now (Psalm 37:1-4). The wicked will face accountability on the day of judgment, and so will those who have envied them. Direct your zeal toward fearing God and keeping His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13). By doing so your life will be blessed with sure hope and a heart free of envy.

“Good Teacher, what shall I do…?” #1532

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17, NKJV)

We are not told why this man ran to Jesus. We assume he urgently desired to talk with Jesus before he lost his opportunity. (We should not delay to urgently run to Christ for salvation and the spiritual blessings only He gives.) He knelt before Jesus in an obvious expression of deference and honor. (We ought to approach Jesus with reverential honor.) The man recognized Jesus as “Good Teacher.” (Jesus emphasized His goodness was linked to His divine nature, since “No one is good but One, that is, God,” Mark 10:18). The man was interested in eternal life, and wanted to know what to do to inherit it. Note, Jesus did not tell him there was nothing he could or should do. Jesus told him to keep the commandments of God (which the man had kept from his youth, Mark 10:19-20). Jesus loved the man, but he lacked one thing. His heart was not fully given to Christ. He loved his possessions more than following Jesus (Mark 10:21-22). He had to change his heart – his allegiance – to follow Jesus and inherit eternal life. When you run to Jesus, where is your heart? Be sure your heart will do whatever it takes to “take up the cross and follow” Jesus (Mark 10:21).

Jesus Makes a Promise to His Apostles #1531

25 These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:25–26, NKJV)

Jesus taught His apostles the commands of God. They were to keep them because they loved Jesus, as must we (John 14:15). By doing so His abiding presence was assured, even as it is to us when we obey His word (John 14:19-24). Jesus had just promised He would not abandon the apostles as orphans, but would come to them by the Spirit of truth (“another Helper”) whom the Father would give them (John 14:15-18). Today’s passage assured the apostles that what Jesus taught them in person would continue with them through the work of the Helper (the Holy Spirit) whom the Father would send. The Spirit would reveal “all truth” to the apostles as well as give them reliable recall of all that Jesus had taught them (John 16:12-13). We are reading and keeping the word of Jesus when we read and obey what the apostles taught (John 14:23). Jesus promised the apostles that the Father would send them Spirit, and He did (Acts 1:4, 5, 8; 2:1-4). Jesus promised the Spirit would empower the apostles to know all Jesus taught them, and He did (Hebrews 2:3; Galatians 1:11-12). When we read what they wrote we can understand what they knew about God’s plan to us in His Son (Ephesians 3:3-5). Now, by keeping what the apostles taught we love Jesus and have His fellowship (John 13:20; 14:23-24).

Why We Reverently Worship God #1530

1 The Lord reigns; Let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; Let the earth be moved! 2 The Lord is great in Zion, and He is high above all the peoples. 3 Let them praise Your great and awesome name— He is holy. (Psalm 99:1–3, NKJV)

We are given multiple reasons in this passage to reverently praise and worship God. Let us recognize them and allow them to inform and invigorate our worship. 1) The Lord reigns in glory. His sovereign rule over men, nations, the world, and the universe is reason enough for all the nations of the earth to tremble before Him. 2) The Lord dwells in mercy. Between the cherubim refers to the mercy seat atop the ark in the Most Holy Place, a figure of heaven itself. We worship God both to honor and to seek His mercy. 3) The Lord is great in His kingdom. God is exalted in greatness in Zion, and His kingdom excels all the kingdoms of men (Psalm 2; Hebrews 12:22-23). 4) The Lord is holy. Though we have sinned against God, in Christ we are redeemed and granted the honor of being God’s people. As Moses sang, so we also join the refrain, “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)