NEW MEN’S DEVOTIONAL BIBLE – FRIDAY, JULY 3, 2020

On Track

Today’s Bible Reading1 Chronicles 23:24–32

Recommended ReadingPsalm 95Matthew 6:5–15Colossians 4:2–4

What if every driver decided to ignore the center yellow lines? Smash-ups would rival apocalyptic visions. Those colored splotches in the roadway keep us on track. They keep us safe.

In our spiritual journey, praise and thanksgiving are like a yellow line, keeping our hearts on track. But it doesn’t take much to veer off course, does it? Think about the Levites. They were set apart to offer thanks and praise to God every morning and every night, day in and day out, in a never-ending cycle (see 23:30). It was their job. Forced “thank yous.” Praise, praise, praise.

Imagine the temptations inherent in this routine. Did easy-to-repeat prayers take the place of petitions motivated by full hearts and genuine gratitude? Did their minds wander as the words bubbled out? “Hear me, O God. Here we go again.”

We’ve all heard of the doctor who’s in terrible physical condition or the plumber whose house has leaky pipes. When you do something for a living, as these people do, it’s sometimes hard to stay motivated to keep your own life in order. This is what it may have been like for the Levites as well.

Praise and thanks are key ingredients in a healthy relationship with God. We need them as much as we need fresh air. Praise isn’t just an outward gesture; it reveals what’s inside us—the attitude we have toward God. When we offer meaningful thanks, we acknowledge that God’s goodness deserves our recognition and awe. Every gift comes from his hand. Nothing we’ve done grants us the sun’s bright rising or peaceful slumber at night—it all comes from God’s good hand.

How do we make our delight in God genuine and true every day? Unlike the Levites, God doesn’t demand that we follow certain daily requirements. Maybe that makes the routine more difficult. We are responsible for taking the time to bow before him and offer our praise and thanks.

When we skip this routine, we become like those drivers who disregard the center line—a potential accident waiting to happen. But when we take the time to regularly focus on and praise the God who loves us, he helps us to stay on track.

To Take Away

  • Spiritually, would you describe yourself as “on track” or as “an accident waiting to happen”? Why?
  • Why does God want you to praise him?
  • List several things in your life for which you can praise and thank God. How can you keep your prayers of praise and thanksgiving fresh?

Copyright © 2006 by Zondervan.

WORDS OF WISDOM FOR DAILY LIFE – FRIDAY, JULY 3, 2020

2. Good Works and Broken Keys

An Incident at Niagara

Faith is necessary to salvation, because we are told in Scripture that works cannot save. To tell a very familiar story, and even the poorest may not misunderstand what I say: a minister was one day going to preach. He climbed a hill on his road. Beneath him lay the villages, sleeping in their beauty, with the corn-fields motionless in the sunshine; but he did not look at them, for his attention was arrested by a woman standing at her door, and who, upon seeing him, came up with the greatest anxiety, and said, “O sir, have you any keys about you? I have broken the key of my drawers, and there are some things that I must get directly.” Said he, “I have no keys.” She was disappointed, expecting that everyone would have some keys. “But suppose,” he said, “I had some keys, they might not fit your lock, and therefore you could not get the articles you want. But do not distress yourself, wait till some one else comes up. But,” said he wishing to improve the occasion, “have you ever heard of the key of heaven?” “Ah, yes!” she said, “I have lived long enough, and I have gone to church long enough, to know that if we work hard, and get our bread by the sweat of our brow, and act well towards our neighbours, and behave, as the Catechism says, lowly and reverently to all our betters, and if we do our duty in that station of life in which it has pleased God to place us, and say our prayers regularly, we shall be saved.” “Ah!” said he, “my good woman, that is a broken key, for you have broken the commandments, you have not fulfilled all your duties. It is a good key, but you have broken it.” “Pray, sir,” said she, believing that he understood the matter, and looking frightened, “what have I left out?” “Why,” said he, “the all-important thing, the blood of Jesus Christ. Don’t you know it is said, the key of heaven is at his girdle; he openeth, and no man shutteth; he shutteth, and no man openeth? “And explaining it more fully to her, he said, “It is Christ, and Christ alone, that can open heaven to you, and not your good works.” “What, minister!” said she, “are our good works useless, then?” “No,” said he, “not after faith. If you believe first, you may have as many good works as you please; but if you believe, you will never trust in them, for if you trust in them you have spoilt them, and they are not good works any longer. Have as many good works as you please, still put your trust wholly in the Lord Jesus Christ, for if you do not, your key will never unlock heaven’s gate.”

So then we must have true faith, because the old key of works is so broken by us all, that we never shall enter Paradise by it. If you pretend that you have no sins, to be very plain with you, you deceive yourselves, and the truth is not in you. If you conceive that by your good works you shall enter heaven, never was there a more fell delusion, and you shall find, at the last great day, that your hopes were worthless, and that, like sere leaves from the autumn trees, your noblest doings shall be blown away, or kindled into a flame in which you yourselves must suffer for ever. Take heed of your good works; get them after faith, but remember, the way to be saved is simply to believe in Jesus Christ.

Without faith it is impossible to be saved, and to please God, because without faith there is no union to Christ. Now, union to Christ is indispensable to our salvation. If I come before God’s throne with my prayers, I shall never get them answered, unless I bring Christ with me. The Molossians of old, when they could not get a favour from their king, adopted a singular expedient; they took the king’s only son in their arms, and falling on their knees, cried, “O king, for thy son’s sake, grant our request.” He smiled and said, “I deny nothing to those who plead in my son’s name.” It is so with God. He will deny nothing to the man who comes, having Christ at his elbow; but if he comes alone he must be cast away. Union to Christ is, after all, the great point in salvation.

Let me tell you a story to illustrate this: the stupendous falls of Niagara have been spoken of in every part of the world; but while they are marvellous to hear of, and wonderful as a spectacle, they have been very destructive to human life, when by accident any have been carried down the cataract. Some years ago, two men, a bargeman and a collier, were in a boat, and found themselves unable to manage it, it being carried so swiftly down the current that they must both inevitably be borne down and dashed to pieces. Persons on the shore saw them, but were unable to do much for their rescue. At last, however, one man was saved by floating a rope to him, which he grasped. The same instant that the rope came into his hand a log floated by the other man. The thoughtless and confused bargeman, instead of seizing the rope, laid hold on the log. It was a fatal mistake: they were both in imminent peril, but the one was drawn to shore because he had a connection with the people on the land, whilst the other, clinging to the log, was borne irresistibly along, and never heard of afterwards. Do you not see that here is a practical illustration? Faith is a connection with Christ. Christ is on the shore, so to speak, holding the rope of faith, and if we lay hold of it with the hand of our confidence, he pulls us to shore; but our good works having no connection with Christ, are drifted along down the gulf of fell despair. Grapple them as tightly as we may, even with hooks of steel, they cannot avail us in the least degree.

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NIV DISCOVER GOD’S HEART DEVOTIONAL BIBLE – FRIDAY, JULY 3, 2020

God’s Beautiful Declaration Meal

1 Corinthians 11–14

God’s Story

Paul instructs the believers at Corinth to maintain the cultural distinction between genders and rebukes them for the way they have been celebrating the Lord’s Supper. The poor are getting shamed at the meal to which all come as equals. When we take communion, it’s a statement: Jesus died, and in his death we are free. All who participate in the meal are united in their need of Jesus’ atoning death. There’s no room for distinctions.

Every believer is a member of the body of Christ; together we are the Messiah’s body. The Spirit gives each of us different gifts, and we are to use those gifts to serve the rest of the body.

The fuel behind all of our actions must be love. Believers may do many impressive things with their gifts, but without love those accomplishments are nothing. Certain gifts are needed now, while we “know in part”—like the gift of prophecy and the gift of faith—but they won’t be needed in heaven when we “know fully” (see 1 Corinthians 13:212). Love will be ever-present in heaven, and as kingdom citizens, love is the kingdom atmosphere we should be spreading now.

Paul instructs the Corinthians that when a believer speaks in tongues in a worship service, what they say should be explained to the rest of the congregation so that everyone can understand and be encouraged.

The King’s Heart

“Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Communion. Every time we eat the bread and drink the cup, it’s a declaration. “Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus says (1 Corinthians 11:2425). Communion is a proclamation Jesus wants us to make over ourselves: “Jesus died. He died for me. He broke his body for me. He poured out his blood for me.”

Who is it a declaration to? To us—we need the reminder that we exist under the covering of Jesus’ sacrifice. To any watching unbelievers whose hearts might be stirred by what God has done for us. And to any of the forces of darkness: “Jesus died, and in him, I am free. You have no authority here anymore. I am his.”

God wants us and the watching world to be crystal clear on this fact: We are his.

Insight

When the early church celebrated the Lord’s Supper, they’d eat a potluck meal together. The rich would often bring more food than the poor. And sadly, because of their divisions, the rich would eat first, not leaving much for the poor.