The royal death bed

‘Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?’ Amos 3:6

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Samuel 5:6–6:9

There are still some found foolish enough to believe that events happen without divine predestination, and that different calamities transpire without the overruling hand, or the direct agency of God. What would we be, brethren, if chance had done it? We should be like poor mariners, at sea in an unsafe vessel, without a chart or a helm; we should know nothing of the port to which we might ultimately come; we should only feel that we were now the sport of the winds, the captives of the tempest, and might soon be the victims of the deep. Alas! poor orphans would we all be, if we were left to chance. No Father’s care to watch over us, but left to the fickleness and fallibility of mortal things! What would all that we see about us be, but a great sandstorm in the midst of a desert, blinding our eyes, preventing us from ever hoping to see the end through the darkness of the beginning. We would be travellers in a pathless waste, where there would be no roads to direct us, travellers who might be overwhelmed at any moment, and our bleached bones left the victims of the tempest, unknown, or forgotten of all. Thank God, it is not so with us. Chance exists only in the hearts of fools; we believe that everything which happens to us is ordered by the wise and tender will of him who is our Father and our Friend; and we see order in the midst of confusion; we see purposes accomplished where others discern fruitless wastes; we believe that, ‘the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.’

For meditation: God is never the author of sin, but he himself claims responsibility not only for pleasant things which we welcome, but also for unpleasant events which we may call ‘evil’ (Isaiah 45:7). The English language even calls them ‘acts of God’ rather than ‘acts of chance’.

N.B. This was a memorial sermon for Albert, the Prince Consort, who died on 14 December 1861.

Sermon no. 426
19 December (Preached 22 December 1861)

365 Days with C.H. Spurgeon, Vol. 2: A Unique Collection of 365 Daily Readings from Sermons Preached by Charles Haddon Spurgeon from His Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (365 Days With Series); edited by Terence Peter Crosby; (c) Day One Publications, 2002.

Having a heavenly mindset — BEYOND MY LIMITATIONS

I read a blog entitled “Like A Winner.” The blog post talks having a winning mindset. I like the title and so I was obliged to read. It was a great read. In reading this blog post, I thought about also how it is important to have a heavenly mindset. Lets take a look at […]

Having a heavenly mindset — BEYOND MY LIMITATIONS

MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

The Right Kind of Help

And I, if I am lifted up…will draw all peoples to Myself.  John 12:32

Very few of us have any understanding of the reason why Jesus Christ died. If sympathy is all that human beings need, then the Cross of Christ is an absurdity and there is absolutely no need for it. What the world needs is not “a little bit of love,” but major surgery.

When you find yourself face to face with a person who is spiritually lost, remind yourself of Jesus Christ on the cross. If that person can get to God in any other way, then the Cross of Christ is unnecessary. If you think you are helping lost people with your sympathy and understanding, you are a traitor to Jesus Christ. You must have a right-standing relationship with Him yourself, and pour your life out in helping others in His way— not in a human way that ignores God. The theme of the world’s religion today is to serve in a pleasant, non-confrontational manner.

But our only priority must be to present Jesus Christ crucified— to lift Him up all the time (see 1 Corinthians 2:2). Every belief that is not firmly rooted in the Cross of Christ will lead people astray. If the worker himself believes in Jesus Christ and is trusting in the reality of redemption, his words will be compelling to others. What is extremely important is for the worker’s simple relationship with Jesus Christ to be strong and growing. His usefulness to God depends on that, and that alone.

The calling of a New Testament worker is to expose sin and to reveal Jesus Christ as Savior. Consequently, he cannot always be charming and friendly, but must be willing to be stern to accomplish major surgery. We are sent by God to lift up Jesus Christ, not to give wonderfully beautiful speeches. We must be willing to examine others as deeply as God has examined us. We must also be sharply intent on sensing those Scripture passages that will drive the truth home, and then not be afraid to apply them. From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition

Bible in One Year: Micah 1-3; Revelation 11

 

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

When a man’s heart is right with God the mysterious utterances of the Bible are spirit and life to him. Spiritual truth is discernible only to a pure heart, not to a keen intellect. It is not a question of profundity of intellect, but of purity of heart.

from Bringing Sons Unto Glory, 231 L

What’s in a Name?

 

God's Story For My Life.jpg

Day 16: Read today’s devotional on Bible Gateway.

Genesis 17:1-14

Several years have passed and still no child for Abram and Sarai. But God reassures Abram of his covenant promise, gives him circumcision as its mark, and changes his name to Abraham.

Read

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.”

At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!”
(Genesis 17:1-6)

Reflect

Why did God repeat his covenant to Abram? He had already mentioned this agreement twice (Genesis 12 and 15). Here, however, God was clarifying it and preparing to carry it out.

He revealed to Abram several specific parts of his covenant: (1) God would give Abram many descendants; (2) many nations would descend from him; (3) God would maintain his covenant with Abram’s descendants; (4) God would give Abram’s descendants the land of Canaan.

The terms were simple: Abraham would obey God and circumcise all the males in his household; God would give Abraham heirs, property, power, and wealth. Most contracts are balanced exchanges: We give something and receive something of equal value in return. But when we become part of God’s covenant family, the blessings we receive far outweigh what we must give up.

To reaffirm these promises, God changed Abram’s name (which means “exalted father”) to Abraham (which means “father of many”). From this point on, the Bible calls him Abraham. Abraham’s name served as a reminder of God’s promises.

Respond

The Lord told Abram, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.” God has the same message for us today. We are to obey the Lord in every aspect because he is God—that is reason enough. If you don’t think the benefits of obedience are worth it, consider who God is—the only one with the power and ability to meet your every need.

FAITH-FULL

faith full
Certain dates on the calendar need no explanation and demand no commentary. Several of them are anxiously anticipated and warmly welcomed. One in particular is December 25. Not much needs to be said about what that date means. Another is January 1. And how about July 4? Without saying a word, you thought of hot dogs, apple pie, and fireworks, didn’t you? Other dates, however, prompt a much more solemn response. I am thinking especially of December 7, November 22, and September 11. The mere mention of such a date causes our minds to race back to where we were and what we were doing when we first heard the news.

None of those dates in December, January, July, September, or November require anything of us, but that’s not the case with another date. It needs no elaboration, but it is different because it requires specific action on our part: April 15! On that date each year, we are required to pay Uncle Sam for the privilege of living in the United States of America. And if we don’t pay our taxes, we will pay penalties instead.

God is rich in mercy and full of grace, yet He requires certain things of us who are citizens of His Kingdom.

Sometimes we think that because our sins are forgiven, it really doesn’t matter how we live. Wrong! And the prophet Micah, who wrote seven hundred years before Christ, understood that.

Micah is best known as the one who foretold that the coming Messiah would be born in the tiny, seemingly insignificant village of Bethlehem:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. — Micah 5:2

Micah is also known for his very practical teaching in chapter 6. The lesson comes in a combination question/answer verse: the answer is embedded in the very question it asks! “What does the Lord require of you…”

His three-part answer immediately follows:

Do justly… love mercy… and walk humbly with your God. — Micah 6:8

These three actions are not suggestions. Nor are they mere options. These behaviors — related to our actions, our affections, and our attitudes — are “required” of each of us.

OUR ACTIONS

Micah taught in a culture characterized by idolatry, immorality, and outright rebellion against worship of God. In fact, it was a culture much like the one we are experiencing today in America. Micah boldly proclaimed that certain things are “required” of those who follow the path of the Lord. First, we are required to “do justly.” And he was referring to much more than a ruling in a court of law — God requires that we are to live differently than those around us. Specifically, we should be both moral and ethical in our dealings with others.

We should always honor what is right and speak up for those who have no voice.

Justice has become a popular byword among young evangelicals today, but Micah was emphasizing action over mere talk. It is not enough for God’s people to love justice and to be cheering from the grandstands for those people working for justice. each of us is required to “do justly,” to put justice into practice. What a difference it would make in our society today if more of us began to “do justly,” and rushed to the defense of those who are suffering in unjust circumstances and situations. Again, doing justly is a requirement, not a suggestion.

OUR AFFECTIONS

God also requires us as Christ-followers to “love mercy,” and the emphasis continues to be on action, not thought. We are not simply to show mercy to others but to passionately “love mercy.” Mercy is best defined as “not getting what we deserve,” whereas grace is “getting what we don’t deserve.” Micah’s instruction means that we are required to give people what they don’t always deserve; we are to cut them some slack and show them some mercy.

When we see someone in a difficult situation, though, some of us tend to immediately think, Guilty… until proven innocent! We take the seat of the judge when our “love” for mercy should be compelling us to be Christ’s hand extended to someone in need, whether or not that person deserves it. Susie, my wife, is one who truly “loves mercy,” and she has always reminded me that our children most need our love and encouragement when they least deserve it.

Twenty-five-hundred years after Micah wrote that God requires mercy from His people, the apostle John wrote this:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. — 1 John 4:7-8

For the one who truly loves God, doing justly and loving mercy are as natural as water running downhill.

OUR ATTITUDES

Lastly, the Lord requires us not only to do justly and to love mercy but also to “walk humbly with your God,” a requirement that clearly addresses our attitude. We are not to allow the perpendicular pronoun to raise its ugly head. Pride, the “Big I,” is one of the greatest hindrances to receiving God’s blessing. This was the beginning of Satan’s downfall (literally) when he said, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). In sharp contrast, Paul’s admonition says to

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. — Philippians 2:3

Again, the emphasis is on the action we take in response to Micah’s instructions. We are to walk humbly before God and others, and walk refers to how you live your life. Enoch “walked with God” (Genesis 5:22), Noah “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9), and so has every man and woman who have known God’s favor.

What is required of us? Justice… you must DO it! Mercy… you must LOVE it! Humility… you must WALK it!

And Jesus is our ultimate example. Knowing that divine justice demanded payment for the penalty of mankind’s sin, and even though He Himself never sinned, Jesus went to the Cross to “do justly.” And from the Cross we see how He loved mercy, saying to those who had driven the spikes into His hands,

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do. — Luke 23:34

Did He walk humbly? Even on the evening of His betrayal and arrest — the evening of His greatest need — Jesus was on His knees, washing His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17).

Micah 6:8 is not a suggestion, but a requirement. So keep your hands busy: do justly. Keep your heart broken: love mercy. And keep your head bowed: walk humbly with your God.

Q & A:

“What does the Lord require of you?” There is a positive action to take: do justly. There is a powerful affection to awaken: love mercy. And there is a prideful attitude to forsake: walk humbly with your God.

Excerpted with permission from The Jesus Code by O. S. Hawkins, copyright O. S. Hawkins.

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Your Turn

The new year is just around the corner. What better time to start afresh following Micah 6:8! Even before 2020, let’s keep our eyes and hearts open to ways that we can do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. Come share your thoughts on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full

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