Today’s Reading

Morning

“In my prosperity I said I shall never be moved.”
Psalm 30:6

“Moab settled on his lees, he hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel.” Give a man wealth; let his ships bring home continually rich freights; let the winds and waves appear to be his servants to bear his vessels across the bosom of the mighty deep; let his lands yield abundantly: let the weather be propitious to his crops; let uninterrupted success attend him; let him stand among men as a successful merchant; let him enjoy continued health; allow him with braced nerve and brilliant eye to march through the world, and live happily; give him the buoyant spirit; let him have the song perpetually on his lips; let his eye be ever sparkling with joy–and the natural consequence of such an easy state to any man, let him be the best Christian who ever breathed, will be presumption; even David said, “I shall never be moved;” and we are not better than David, nor half so good. Brother, beware of the smooth places of the way; if you are treading them, or if the way be rough, thank God for it. If God should always rock us in the cradle of prosperity; if we were always dandled on the knees of fortune; if we had not some stain on the alabaster pillar; if there were not a few clouds in the sky; if we had not some bitter drops in the wine of this life, we should become intoxicated with pleasure, we should dream “we stand;” and stand we should, but it would be upon a pinnacle; like the man asleep upon the mast, each moment we should be in jeopardy.

We bless God, then, for our afflictions; we thank him for our changes; we extol his name for losses of property; for we feel that had he not chastened us thus, we might have become too secure. Continued worldly prosperity is a fiery trial.

“Afflictions, though they seem severe,

In mercy oft are sent.”

Evening

“Man … is of few days, and full of trouble.”
Job 14:1

It may be of great service to us, before we fall asleep, to remember this mournful fact, for it may lead us to set loose by earthly things. There is nothing very pleasant in the recollection that we are not above the shafts of adversity, but it may humble us and prevent our boasting like the Psalmist in our morning’s portion. “My mountain standeth firm: I shall never be moved.” It may stay us from taking too deep root in this soil from which we are so soon to be transplanted into the heavenly garden. Let us recollect the frail tenure upon which we hold our temporal mercies. If we would remember that all the trees of earth are marked for the woodman’s axe, we should not be so ready to build our nests in them. We should love, but we should love with the love which expects death, and which reckons upon separations. Our dear relations are but loaned to us, and the hour when we must return them to the lender’s hand may be even at the door. The like is certainly true of our worldly goods. Do not riches take to themselves wings and fly away? Our health is equally precarious. Frail flowers of the field, we must not reckon upon blooming forever. There is a time appointed for weakness and sickness, when we shall have to glorify God by suffering, and not by earnest activity. There is no single point in which we can hope to escape from the sharp arrows of affliction; out of our few days there is not one secure from sorrow. Man’s life is a cask full of bitter wine; he who looks for joy in it had better seek for honey in an ocean of brine. Beloved reader, set not your affections upon things of earth: but seek those things which are above, for here the moth devoureth, and the thief breaketh through, but there all joys are perpetual and eternal. The path of trouble is the way home. Lord, make this thought a pillow for many a weary head!

Bible

Devotional

God Cares for You

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6–7)

Why is anxiety about the future a form of pride?

God’s answer would sound something like this:

I — the Lord, your Maker — I am he who comforts you, who promises to take care of you; and those who threaten you are mere men who die. So your fear must mean that you do not trust me — and even though you are not sure that your own resources will take care of you, yet you opt for fragile self-reliance, rather than faith in my future grace. So all your trembling — weak as it is — reveals pride.

The remedy? Turn from self-reliance to God-reliance, and put your faith in the all-sufficient power of future grace.

We see anxiety as a form of pride in 1 Peter 5:6–7. Notice the grammatical connection between the verses. “Humble yourselves . . . under the mighty hand of God . . . [verse 7] casting all your anxieties on him.” Verse 7 is not a new sentence. It’s a subordinate clause. “Humble yourselves . . . [by] casting all your anxieties on him.”

This means that casting your anxieties on God is a way of humbling yourself under God’s mighty hand. It’s like saying, “Eat politely . . . chewing with your mouth shut.” “Drive carefully . . . keeping your eyes open.” “Be generous . . . inviting someone over on Thanksgiving.”

One way to be humble is to cast all your anxieties on God. Which means that one hindrance to casting your anxieties on God is pride. Which means that undue worry is a form of pride.

Now why is casting our anxieties on the Lord the opposite of pride? Because pride does not like to admit that it has any anxieties. And if pride has to admit it, it still does not like to admit that the remedy might be trusting someone else who is wiser and stronger.

In other words, pride is a form of unbelief and does not like to trust in God’s future grace. Faith admits the need for help. Pride won’t. Faith banks on God to give help. Pride won’t. Faith casts anxieties on God. Pride won’t.

Therefore the way to battle the unbelief of pride is to admit freely that you have anxieties, and to cherish the promise of future grace in the words, “He cares for you.”

Bible Gateway

A Different Way of Life

John 8:12 (NRSV)  Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

By his example, Jesus showed that sin in the flesh was not unavoidable and that we really are better off without it. He came right into this earthly arena with us, where the law had failed because of the weakness of the flesh, and he took on the same kind of body we have. It would have been no great thing if Jesus had stayed in heaven or just made some sort of appearance without a physical body like ours. But he came to earth and showed that it could be done.1

Jesus became flesh—God incarnate—and that is how he condemned sin in the flesh. He showed sin to be just what it was, and that’s how he condemned it. He didn’t come and stand around saying, “Sin is condemned!” He came and showed how good life under God could be in the flesh. So that everyone who looked at sin after that would say, “That’s horrible! That’s not the way it should be. There ought to be another way.” There is another way and the life of Jesus shows what it is. He gave us a different way to live, and he laid down his own life to enable us to live it.