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Robbing the Body of Christ

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on January 17th.

1 Corinthians 12:14-21 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; it is not therefore not of the body. 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; it is not therefore not of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members each one of them in the body, even as it pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now they are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee: or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

Every day, you get out of bed, put on clothes, and walk to the kitchen to eat breakfast. You maybe watch the news or check your email, and a few minutes later, you drive to work at 60 miles per hour on a road where other vehicles can pass by within feet. In the first hour or so that you’re awake, your body completes thousands of complex tasks that are so routine they go unnoticed. We hardly even think about them.

Our physical frame is a creation of remarkable beauty and intricacy. And while certain parts seem more attractive than others, all are useful. The body’s interdependent nature—that is, the way the different parts rely on one another to perform properly—is an apt metaphor for a Christ-centered church. When believers use their gifts and talents to operate and depend on each other, the whole body functions properly to the glory of God.

However, many people in church today feel insignificant. Upon seeing the successful work of others, they decide they’re not really needed or assume they haven’t got the “right” talents to make a worthwhile contribution. Those are lies from the devil. When his misguidance succeeds—which is all too often—one more Christian backs away in hopes that someone else will do the Lord’s work.

Hanging back instead of seeking a place to serve is unfair to the congregation, because your unique contribution is integral to the unity of God’s church. Your role might not be center stage, but it is vital to Jesus Christ and to His body on earth.

Bible in One Year: Exodus 7-9 Chapter 7 1 And Jehovah said unto Moses, See, I have made thee as God to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. 2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee; and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land. 3 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 But Pharaoh will not hearken unto you, and I will lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am Jehovah, when I stretch forth my hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them. 6 And Moses and Aaron did so; as Jehovah commanded them, so did they. 7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh. 8 And Jehovah spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 9 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Show a wonder for you; then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it become a serpent. 10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so, as Jehovah had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers: and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods. 13 And Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had spoken. 14 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is stubborn, he refuseth to let the people go. 15 Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river's brink to meet him; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thy hand. 16 And thou shalt say unto him, Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou hast not hearkened. 17 Thus saith Jehovah, In this thou shalt know that I am Jehovah: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in my hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. 18 And the fish that are in the river shall die, and the river shall become foul; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink water from the river. 19 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thy hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their ponds of water, that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone. 20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as Jehovah commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. 21 And the fish that were in the river died; and the river became foul, and the Egyptians could not drink water from the river; and the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt. 22 And the magicians of Egypt did in like manner with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had spoken. 23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he lay even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river. 25 And seven days were fulfilled, after that Jehovah had smitten the river. Chapter 8 1 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: 3 and the river shall swarm with frogs, which shall go up and come into thy house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneading-troughs: 4 and the frogs shall come up both upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants. 5 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thy hand with thy rod over the rivers, over the streams, and over the pools, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. 6 And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. 7 And the magicians did in like manner with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. 8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Entreat Jehovah, that he take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice unto Jehovah. 9 And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Have thou this glory over me: against what time shall I entreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, that the frogs be destroyed from thee and thy houses, and remain in the river only? 10 And he said, Against to-morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word; that thou mayest know that there is none like unto Jehovah our God. 11 And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only. 12 And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried unto Jehovah concerning the frogs which he had brought upon Pharaoh. 13 And Jehovah did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courts, and out of the fields. 14 And they gathered them together in heaps; and the land stank. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them, as Jehovah had spoken. 16 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the earth, that is may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 17 And they did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and there were lice upon man, and upon beast; all the dust of the earth became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 18 And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: and there were lice upon man, and upon beast. 19 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had spoken. 20 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 21 Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon they servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. 22 And I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am Jehovah in the midst of the earth. 23 And I will put a division between my people and thy people: by to-morrow shall this sign be. 24 And Jehovah did so; and there came grievous swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants' houses: and in all the land of Egypt the land was corrupted by reason of the swarms of flies. 25 And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land. 26 And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to Jehovah our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us? 27 We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to Jehovah our God, as he shall command us. 28 And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to Jehovah your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: entreat for me. 29 And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will entreat Jehovah that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, to-morrow: only let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to Jehovah. 30 And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and entreated Jehovah. 31 And Jehovah did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one. 32 And Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go. Chapter 9 1 Then Jehovah said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, 3 behold, the hand of Jehovah is upon thy cattle which are in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the herds, and upon the flocks: `there shall be' a very grievous murrain. 4 And Jehovah shall make a distinction between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt; and there shall nothing die of all that belongeth to the children of Israel. 5 And Jehovah appointed a set time, saying, To-morrow Jehovah shall do this thing in the land. 6 And Jehovah did that thing on the morrow; and all the cattle of Egypt died; but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one. 7 And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not so much as one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was stubborn, and he did not let the people go. 8 And Jehovah said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 And it shall become small dust over all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt. 10 And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boils were upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians. 12 And Jehovah hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them, as Jehovah had spoken unto Moses. 13 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For I will this time send all my plagues upon thy heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For now I had put forth my hand, and smitten thee and thy people with pestilence, and thou hadst been cut off from the earth: 16 but in very deed for this cause have I made thee to stand, to show thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. 17 As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go? 18 Behold, to-morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the day it was founded even until now. 19 Now therefore send, hasten in thy cattle and all that thou hast in the field; `for' every man and beast that shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die. 20 He that feared the word of Jehovah among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses. 21 And he that regarded not the word of Jehovah left his servants and his cattle in the field. 22 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Stretch forth thy hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. 23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and Jehovah sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down unto the earth; and Jehovah rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail. 27 And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: Jehovah is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. 28 Entreat Jehovah; for there hath been enough of `these' mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer. 29 And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto Jehovah; the thunders shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know that the earth is Jehovah's. 30 But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear Jehovah God. 31 And the flax and the barley were smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom. 32 But the wheat and the spelt were not smitten: for they were not grown up. 33 And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto Jehovah: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth. 34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the children of Israel go, as Jehovah had spoken by Moses.




How to Set Right Priorities

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on January 18th.

Matthew 6:33 33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

The Scriptures contain many cautionary examples of men and women who had misplaced priorities. Often, these are the otherwise godly people who had a momentary lapse. This should give every believer pause to consider the importance of taking captive detrimental thoughts and desires.

For good purposes or bad, we set priorities in one of three ways: by evaluating which things ought to carry the most importance; by succumbing to pressure and letting people or circumstances dictate how we should prioritize; or by drifting into habits and modes of thinking that become a way of life. Wise believers will certainly want to avoid the drifting option, as this approach accompanies a life that feels meaningless. And priorities ought to be in place before we face trying circumstances and people—in that way, we can be steadfast in our commitment. The only viable choice, then, is to prioritize deliberately. We do so by setting a goal to live in accordance with God’s purpose and plan.

The priorities we choose are determined by what we value. Sometimes, though, prioritizing can be frustrating since there are so many distractions diverting our focus.

If we consider a right relationship with God to be of utmost importance, then we will put first those actions and thoughts that strengthen our connection with Him. We need to be disciplined in following our goals, because living purposefully is rarely easy. However, the good news is that God knows our heart, and He will honor our sincere attempts to put Him first.

Bible in One Year: Exodus 7-9 Chapter 7 1 And Jehovah said unto Moses, See, I have made thee as God to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. 2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee; and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land. 3 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 But Pharaoh will not hearken unto you, and I will lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am Jehovah, when I stretch forth my hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them. 6 And Moses and Aaron did so; as Jehovah commanded them, so did they. 7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh. 8 And Jehovah spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 9 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Show a wonder for you; then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it become a serpent. 10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so, as Jehovah had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers: and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods. 13 And Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had spoken. 14 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is stubborn, he refuseth to let the people go. 15 Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river's brink to meet him; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thy hand. 16 And thou shalt say unto him, Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou hast not hearkened. 17 Thus saith Jehovah, In this thou shalt know that I am Jehovah: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in my hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. 18 And the fish that are in the river shall die, and the river shall become foul; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink water from the river. 19 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thy hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their ponds of water, that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone. 20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as Jehovah commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. 21 And the fish that were in the river died; and the river became foul, and the Egyptians could not drink water from the river; and the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt. 22 And the magicians of Egypt did in like manner with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had spoken. 23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he lay even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river. 25 And seven days were fulfilled, after that Jehovah had smitten the river. Chapter 8 1 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: 3 and the river shall swarm with frogs, which shall go up and come into thy house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneading-troughs: 4 and the frogs shall come up both upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants. 5 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thy hand with thy rod over the rivers, over the streams, and over the pools, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. 6 And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. 7 And the magicians did in like manner with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. 8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Entreat Jehovah, that he take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice unto Jehovah. 9 And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Have thou this glory over me: against what time shall I entreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, that the frogs be destroyed from thee and thy houses, and remain in the river only? 10 And he said, Against to-morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word; that thou mayest know that there is none like unto Jehovah our God. 11 And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only. 12 And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried unto Jehovah concerning the frogs which he had brought upon Pharaoh. 13 And Jehovah did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courts, and out of the fields. 14 And they gathered them together in heaps; and the land stank. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them, as Jehovah had spoken. 16 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the earth, that is may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 17 And they did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and there were lice upon man, and upon beast; all the dust of the earth became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 18 And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: and there were lice upon man, and upon beast. 19 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had spoken. 20 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 21 Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon they servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. 22 And I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am Jehovah in the midst of the earth. 23 And I will put a division between my people and thy people: by to-morrow shall this sign be. 24 And Jehovah did so; and there came grievous swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants' houses: and in all the land of Egypt the land was corrupted by reason of the swarms of flies. 25 And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land. 26 And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to Jehovah our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us? 27 We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to Jehovah our God, as he shall command us. 28 And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to Jehovah your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: entreat for me. 29 And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will entreat Jehovah that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, to-morrow: only let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to Jehovah. 30 And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and entreated Jehovah. 31 And Jehovah did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one. 32 And Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go. Chapter 9 1 Then Jehovah said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, 3 behold, the hand of Jehovah is upon thy cattle which are in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the herds, and upon the flocks: `there shall be' a very grievous murrain. 4 And Jehovah shall make a distinction between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt; and there shall nothing die of all that belongeth to the children of Israel. 5 And Jehovah appointed a set time, saying, To-morrow Jehovah shall do this thing in the land. 6 And Jehovah did that thing on the morrow; and all the cattle of Egypt died; but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one. 7 And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not so much as one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was stubborn, and he did not let the people go. 8 And Jehovah said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 And it shall become small dust over all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt. 10 And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boils were upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians. 12 And Jehovah hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them, as Jehovah had spoken unto Moses. 13 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For I will this time send all my plagues upon thy heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For now I had put forth my hand, and smitten thee and thy people with pestilence, and thou hadst been cut off from the earth: 16 but in very deed for this cause have I made thee to stand, to show thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. 17 As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go? 18 Behold, to-morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the day it was founded even until now. 19 Now therefore send, hasten in thy cattle and all that thou hast in the field; `for' every man and beast that shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die. 20 He that feared the word of Jehovah among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses. 21 And he that regarded not the word of Jehovah left his servants and his cattle in the field. 22 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Stretch forth thy hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. 23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and Jehovah sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down unto the earth; and Jehovah rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail. 27 And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: Jehovah is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. 28 Entreat Jehovah; for there hath been enough of `these' mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer. 29 And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto Jehovah; the thunders shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know that the earth is Jehovah's. 30 But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear Jehovah God. 31 And the flax and the barley were smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom. 32 But the wheat and the spelt were not smitten: for they were not grown up. 33 And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto Jehovah: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth. 34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the children of Israel go, as Jehovah had spoken by Moses.




The Remedy for Pride

Published by John Piper for reading on January 18th.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. ( James 4:13 13 Come now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into this city, and spend a year there, and trade, and get gain: –16)

James is talking about pride and arrogance and how they show up in subtle ways. “You boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”

When you take three categories of temptation to self-reliance — wisdom, power, and riches — they form a powerful inducement toward the ultimate form of pride, namely, atheism. The safest way for us to stay supreme in our own estimation is to deny anything above us.

This is why the proud preoccupy themselves with looking down on others. C.S. Lewis said, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you” (Mere Christianity).

But to preserve pride, it may be simpler to just proclaim that there is nothing above to look at. “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God’” ( Psalms 10:4 4 The wicked, in the pride of his countenance, `saith', He will not require `it'. All his thoughts are, There is no God. ). Ultimately, the proud must persuade themselves that there is no God.

One reason for this is that God’s reality is overwhelmingly intrusive in all the details of life. Pride cannot tolerate the intimate involvement of God in running the universe, let alone the detailed, ordinary affairs of life.

Pride does not like the sovereignty of God. Therefore, pride does not like the existence of God, because God is sovereign. It might express this by saying, “There is no God.” Or it might express it by saying, “I am driving to Atlanta for Christmas.”

James says, “Don’t be so sure.” Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live, and we will get to Atlanta for Christmas.”

James’s point is that God rules over whether you get to Atlanta, and whether you live to the end of this devotional. This is extremely offensive to the self-sufficiency of pride — not even to have control over whether you get to the end of the devotional without having a stroke!

James says that not believing in the sovereign rights of God to manage the details of your future is arrogance.

The way to battle this arrogance is to yield to the sovereignty of God in all the details of life, and rest in his infallible promises to show himself mighty on our behalf ( 2 Chronicles 16:9 9 For the eyes of Jehovah run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly; for from henceforth thou shalt have wars. ), to pursue us with goodness and mercy every day ( Psalms 23:6 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness shall follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah for ever. Psalm 24 A Psalm of David. ), to work for those who wait for him ( Isaiah 64:4 4 For from of old men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen a God besides thee, who worketh for him that waiteth for him. ), and to equip us with all we need to live for his glory ( Hebrews 13:21 21 make you perfect in every good thing to do his will, working in us that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom `be' the glory for ever and ever. Amen. ).

In other words, the remedy for pride is unwavering faith in God’s sovereign future grace.



Seeking God’s Will

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on January 18th.

1 John 5:14-15 14 And this is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: 15 and if we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him.

Parents train their children to do many tasks—from knowing which clothes match to handling money. As Christians, we are blessed to have an omniscient and mighty heavenly Father who is willing to make His way known to us. He wants to reveal what to do in every situation and, in fact, promises this: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” ( Psalms 32:8 8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will counsel thee with mine eye upon thee. ). Let’s explore how to discern God’s will at each crossroad of life.

The first step is to make sure that we have repented of all known sin in our life. Listening to the Lord while holding onto iniquity is like trying to use a foggy and unreadable compass. After confessing and repenting, we can ask for direction.

Next, we should read Scripture regularly with a seeking, open heart. The Bible is like a lamp on a dark path ( Psalms 119:105 105 NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And light unto my path. ).

The last step involves God’s indwelling Holy Spirit—the wonderful gift our Father has given each of His children. The Spirit provides truth and guidance as we read the Word and pray. We should listen patiently for His leading, which is often communicated quietly to our heart as we spend time with the Father.

When asking the Lord to reveal His will, we shouldn’t expect instant answers. The discipline of waiting builds character, and besides, rushing the process may lead to a path that misses God’s best. Take the time to seek Jesus’ plan for your life, remembering He’ll provide all you need to follow Him.

Bible in One Year: Exodus 7-9 Chapter 7 1 And Jehovah said unto Moses, See, I have made thee as God to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. 2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee; and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land. 3 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 But Pharaoh will not hearken unto you, and I will lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am Jehovah, when I stretch forth my hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them. 6 And Moses and Aaron did so; as Jehovah commanded them, so did they. 7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh. 8 And Jehovah spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 9 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Show a wonder for you; then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it become a serpent. 10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so, as Jehovah had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers: and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods. 13 And Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had spoken. 14 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is stubborn, he refuseth to let the people go. 15 Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river's brink to meet him; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thy hand. 16 And thou shalt say unto him, Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou hast not hearkened. 17 Thus saith Jehovah, In this thou shalt know that I am Jehovah: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in my hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. 18 And the fish that are in the river shall die, and the river shall become foul; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink water from the river. 19 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thy hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their ponds of water, that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone. 20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as Jehovah commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. 21 And the fish that were in the river died; and the river became foul, and the Egyptians could not drink water from the river; and the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt. 22 And the magicians of Egypt did in like manner with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had spoken. 23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he lay even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river. 25 And seven days were fulfilled, after that Jehovah had smitten the river. Chapter 8 1 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: 3 and the river shall swarm with frogs, which shall go up and come into thy house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneading-troughs: 4 and the frogs shall come up both upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants. 5 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thy hand with thy rod over the rivers, over the streams, and over the pools, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. 6 And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. 7 And the magicians did in like manner with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. 8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Entreat Jehovah, that he take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice unto Jehovah. 9 And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Have thou this glory over me: against what time shall I entreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, that the frogs be destroyed from thee and thy houses, and remain in the river only? 10 And he said, Against to-morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word; that thou mayest know that there is none like unto Jehovah our God. 11 And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only. 12 And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried unto Jehovah concerning the frogs which he had brought upon Pharaoh. 13 And Jehovah did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courts, and out of the fields. 14 And they gathered them together in heaps; and the land stank. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them, as Jehovah had spoken. 16 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the earth, that is may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 17 And they did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and there were lice upon man, and upon beast; all the dust of the earth became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 18 And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: and there were lice upon man, and upon beast. 19 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had spoken. 20 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 21 Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon they servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. 22 And I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am Jehovah in the midst of the earth. 23 And I will put a division between my people and thy people: by to-morrow shall this sign be. 24 And Jehovah did so; and there came grievous swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants' houses: and in all the land of Egypt the land was corrupted by reason of the swarms of flies. 25 And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land. 26 And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to Jehovah our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us? 27 We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to Jehovah our God, as he shall command us. 28 And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to Jehovah your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: entreat for me. 29 And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will entreat Jehovah that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, to-morrow: only let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to Jehovah. 30 And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and entreated Jehovah. 31 And Jehovah did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one. 32 And Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go. Chapter 9 1 Then Jehovah said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, 3 behold, the hand of Jehovah is upon thy cattle which are in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the herds, and upon the flocks: `there shall be' a very grievous murrain. 4 And Jehovah shall make a distinction between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt; and there shall nothing die of all that belongeth to the children of Israel. 5 And Jehovah appointed a set time, saying, To-morrow Jehovah shall do this thing in the land. 6 And Jehovah did that thing on the morrow; and all the cattle of Egypt died; but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one. 7 And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not so much as one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was stubborn, and he did not let the people go. 8 And Jehovah said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 And it shall become small dust over all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt. 10 And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boils were upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians. 12 And Jehovah hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them, as Jehovah had spoken unto Moses. 13 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For I will this time send all my plagues upon thy heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For now I had put forth my hand, and smitten thee and thy people with pestilence, and thou hadst been cut off from the earth: 16 but in very deed for this cause have I made thee to stand, to show thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. 17 As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go? 18 Behold, to-morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the day it was founded even until now. 19 Now therefore send, hasten in thy cattle and all that thou hast in the field; `for' every man and beast that shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die. 20 He that feared the word of Jehovah among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses. 21 And he that regarded not the word of Jehovah left his servants and his cattle in the field. 22 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Stretch forth thy hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. 23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and Jehovah sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down unto the earth; and Jehovah rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail. 27 And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: Jehovah is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. 28 Entreat Jehovah; for there hath been enough of `these' mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer. 29 And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto Jehovah; the thunders shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know that the earth is Jehovah's. 30 But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear Jehovah God. 31 And the flax and the barley were smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom. 32 But the wheat and the spelt were not smitten: for they were not grown up. 33 And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto Jehovah: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth. 34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the children of Israel go, as Jehovah had spoken by Moses.




Daily Bible - January 18

Published by Grace To You for reading on January 18th.

Reading for Today:

  • Genesis 35:1 Chapter 35 1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Beth-el, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, who appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. –36:43
  • Psalms 9:6-10 6 The enemy are come to an end, they are desolate for ever; And the cities which thou hast overthrown, The very remembrance of them is perished. 7 But Jehovah sitteth `as king' for ever: He hath prepared his throne for judgment; 8 And he will judge the world in righteousness, He will minister judgment to the peoples in uprightness. 9 Jehovah also will be a high tower for the oppressed, A high tower in times of trouble; 10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee; For thou, Jehovah, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
  • Proverbs 3:27-30 27 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, When it is in the power of thy hand to do it. 28 Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, And to-morrow I will give; When thou hast it by thee. 29 Devise not evil against thy neighbor, Seeing he dwelleth securely by thee. 30 Strive not with a man without cause, If he have done thee no harm.
  • Matthew 12:22-50 22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a demon, blind and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the dumb man spake and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed, and said, Can this be the son of David? 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This man doth not cast out demons, but by Beelzebub the prince of the demons. 25 And knowing their thoughts he said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26 and if Satan casteth out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? 27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. 28 But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter into the house of the strong `man,' and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong `man'? and then he will spoil his house. 30 He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. 31 Therefore I say unto you, Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come. 33 Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 Ye offspring of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 35 The good man out of his good treasure bringeth forth good things: and the evil man out of his evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. 38 Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we would see a sign from thee. 39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given it but the sign of Jonah the prophet: 40 for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh shall stand up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here. 43 But the unclean spirit, when he is gone out of the man, passeth through waterless places, seeking rest, and findeth it not. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man becometh worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this evil generation. 46 While he was yet speaking to the multitudes, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, seeking to speak to him. 47 And one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, seeking to speak to thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand towards his disciples, and said, Behold, my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Notes:

Genesis 35:2–4 Put away the foreign gods. Moving to Bethel necessitated spiritual preparation beyond the level of an exercise in logistics. Possession of idolatrous symbols such as figurines, amulets, or cultic charms (v.4, “earrings”), including Rachel’s troubling teraphim (31:19), was no longer tolerable. Idols buried out of sight, plus bathing and changing to clean clothes, all served to portray both cleansing from defilement by idolatry and consecration of the heart to the Lord. It had been 8 or 10 years since Jacob’s return to Canaan and, appropriately, time enough to clean up all traces of idolatry.

Genesis 35:5 the terror of God. A supernaturally induced fear of Israel rendered the surrounding city-states unwilling and powerless to intervene and made Jacob’s fear of their retaliation rather inconsequential (34:30).

Matthew 12:46 brothers. These are actual siblings (half brothers) of Jesus. Matthew explicitly connects them with Mary, indicating that they were not cousins or Joseph’s sons from a previous marriage, as some of the church fathers imagined. They are mentioned in all the Gospels ( Mark 3:31 31 And there come his mother and his brethren; and, standing without, they sent unto him, calling him. ; Luke 8:19 19 And there came to him his mother and brethren, and they could not come at him for the crowd. –21; John 7:3 3 His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may behold thy works which thou doest. –5). Matthew and Mark give the names of 4 of Jesus’ brothers and mention that He had sisters, as well (13:55; Mark 6:3 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended in him. ).

DAY 18: What is the unforgivable sin that Jesus spoke of?

According to Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:31 31 Therefore I say unto you, Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. , the unforgivable sin is “the blasphemy against the Spirit.” The sin He was confronting was the Pharisees’ deliberate rejection of that which they knew to be of God (see John 11:48 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation. ; Acts 4:16 16 saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been wrought through them, is manifest to all that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. ). They could not deny the reality of what the Holy Spirit had done through Him, so they attributed to Satan a work that they knew was of God (v. 24; Mark 3:22 22 And the scribes that came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and, By the prince of the demons casteth he out the demons. ).

Someone never exposed to Christ’s divine power and presence might reject Him in ignorance and “it will be forgiven him” (v. 32)—assuming the unbelief gives way to genuine repentance. Even a Pharisee such as Saul of Tarsus could be forgiven for speaking “against the Son of Man” or persecuting His followers—because his unbelief stemmed from ignorance (1 Tim. 1:13). But those who know His claims are true and reject Him anyway sin “against the Holy Spirit”—because it is the Holy Spirit who testifies of Christ and makes His truth known to us ( John 15:26 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, `even' the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me: ; 16:14, 15). No forgiveness was possible for these Pharisees who witnessed His miracles firsthand, knew the truth of His claims, and still blasphemed the Holy Spirit—because they had already rejected the fullest possible revelation (Heb. 6:4–6; 10:29).

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

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January 18 - Don’t Count on Sensationalism

Published by Grace To You for reading on January 18th.

“‘If You are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command His angels concerning You”’” ( Matthew 4:6 6 and saith unto him, If thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and, On their hands they shall bear thee up, Lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone. ).

Throughout history, sensationalism has often appealed to average people who are looking for dramatic events that titillate the senses and pander to fleshly curiosity. Toward the end of His ministry Jesus warned, “False Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:24).

Even when signs are from God, they usually do not bring unbelievers to faith, but only confirm the faith of those who already believe. God’s many miracles on behalf of the wandering Israelites just made many of them more presumptuous and unbelieving, as did Jesus’ signs to the Jews who opposed Him. The apostle John writes, “But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him” ( John 12:37 37 But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they believed not on him: ). Jesus Himself, as the Messiah and Son of God, was the greatest sign God ever gave to humanity, yet “He was despised and forsaken of men” (Isa. 53:3).

Demanding sensational signs, as Satan did from Jesus, does not manifest faith but rather skepticism and unbelief (cf. Matt. 12:39; 16:4). Because a fascination with the sensational is far removed from true faith, Jesus would take no part in it. For those who, apart from special signs, believe in God the Father and trust in His Son—our Savior—it is well evident that Christ has already proved Himself.

Ask Yourself

The best Christian witness in the world remains the power of a changed life. People will respond to your testimony of God’s love and mercy much more often than to a high-energy worship service. How are you making Christ known through your own life? Look for the simplest of ways.

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.

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Righteous Anger

Published by Grace To You for reading on January 18th.

“Walk . . . with all . . . gentleness” ( Ephesians 4:1-2 Chapter 4 1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, 2 with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; ).

Our anger must be under control and should occur only for the right reason.

After the previous lesson, you might think that Christians must always be quiet and passive, never getting upset or angry about anything. Actually, believers do have the right to get angry, but only under certain conditions. Ephesians 4:26 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: says, “Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” So there is a certain kind of anger that isn’t sinful. It must be under control, and it must be resolved expeditiously.

Proverbs 25:28 28 He whose spirit is without restraint Is `like' a city that is broken down and without walls. says, “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” Someone who is out of control is vulnerable. He falls into every temptation, failure, and weakness. On the other hand, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (16:32). One who rules his spirit has power and energy, but it’s under control. That same power and energy out of control creates nothing but chaos and sinfulness. Those who are easily angered are not gentle.

Gentle people, on the other hand, control their energies and strengths, but they do have a tough side. They don’t back away from sin or cease to condemn evil. Since the gentle person submits himself to God, he becomes angry over things that offend God, not himself. If someone offends him personally, he doesn’t seek revenge. But when God is maligned, the lion in him roars. Such anger is called righteous indignation. Under God’s control, anger reacts when it ought to react, for the right reason, and for the right amount of time.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask forgiveness if you are apt to get angry for the wrong reasons. Commit yourself to being gentle when you ordinarily would flare up in anger. GIf you don’t get angry when you see evil, ask God to make you sensitive to what He hates.

For Further Study

  • At the very time Moses was receiving God’s Law on Mount Sinai, the Israelites were involved in idolatry and debauchery. Read Exodus 32 Chapter 32 1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him. 2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden rings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 3 And all the people brake off the golden rings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4 And he received it at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it a molten calf: and they said, These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 5 And when Aaron saw `this', he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To-morrow shall be a feast to Jehovah. 6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt-offerings, and brought peace-offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. 7 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, that thou broughtest up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 8 they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed unto it, and said, These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 9 And Jehovah said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: 10 now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. 11 And Moses besought Jehovah his God, and said, Jehovah, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, that thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, saying, For evil did he bring them forth, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. 14 And Jehovah repented of the evil which he said he would do unto his people. 15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, with the two tables of the testimony in his hand; tables that were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. 16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. 17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. 18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome; but the noise of them that sing do I hear. 19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. 20 And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. 21 And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought a great sin upon them? 22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are `set' on evil. 23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him. 24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off: so they gave it me; and I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. 25 And when Moses saw that the people were broken loose, (for Aaron had let them loose for a derision among their enemies,) 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Whoso is on Jehovah's side, `let him come' unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. 27 And he said unto them, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, Put ye every man his sword upon his thigh, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor. 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. 29 And Moses said, Consecrate yourselves to-day to Jehovah, yea, every man against his son, and against his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day. 30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto Jehovah; peradventure I shall make atonement for your sin. 31 And Moses returned unto Jehovah, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin-; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. 33 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. 34 And now go, lead the people unto `the place' of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine angel shall go before thee; nevertheless in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them. 35 And Jehovah smote the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made. . What was Moses’ reaction to their sin?
  • Did he hold a grudge against them (vv. 31-32)?
  • How can Moses’ example be a pattern for your life?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

Additional Resources        

Proclaiming God's Preeminence

Published by Grace To You for reading on January 18th.

We were predestined "to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory" (Eph. 1:12).

In salvation, as in everything else, God is preeminent. He deserves all the credit.

Preeminence implies supreme standing, picturing one who excels over all others in a particular quality or achievement. There is no one more preeminent than God.

Ephesians 1:12 12 to the end that we should be unto the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ: underscores that truth. You were redeemed and granted an eternal inheritance that God might be glorified. Certainly you benefit greatly from salvation, but God's glory is the primary issue.

Our man-centered culture doesn't share that perspective. Sadly, its self-seeking and self-glorifying mentality has crept into the church, and even the gospel itself has been subjected to its influence. For example sin is often defined by how it affects man, not how it dishonors God. Salvation is often presented as a means of receiving what Christ offers, not a mandate to obey what He commands. Many modern-day evangelists have reduced the gospel to little more than a formula by which people can live a happy and more fulfilling life. The focus has shifted from God's glory to man's benefit.

Such a convoluted gospel fuels the fire of self-love and self-exaltation.

As believers we know better than that. We know that the purpose of life is to glorify God. That means living to His glory is to govern everything we do.

What higher or more noble purpose could life afford? "Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead," Paul said he pressed "on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14). Keep that goal clearly in mind in all you do today. By doing so your day will be to the praise of God's glory!

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for His preeminence in all things.
  • Pray for opportunities to speak of His preeminence to others, remembering that they will see Him in your actions as well as your words.

For Further Study

Read Job 38 Chapter 38 1 Then Jehovah answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel By words without knowledge? 3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; For I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. 4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who determined the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon were the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner-stone thereof, 7 When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 Or `who' shut up the sea with doors, When it brake forth, `as if' it had issued out of the womb; 9 When I made clouds the garment thereof, And thick darkness a swaddling-band for it, 10 And marked out for it my bound, And set bars and doors, 11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; And here shall thy proud waves be stayed? 12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days `began', `And' caused the dayspring to know its place; 13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, And the wicked be shaken out of it? 14 It is changed as clay under the seal; And `all things' stand forth as a garment: 15 And from the wicked their light is withholden, And the high arm is broken. 16 Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? Or hast thou walked in the recesses of the deep? 17 Have the gates of death been revealed unto thee? Or hast thou seen the gates of the shadow of death? 18 Hast thou comprehended the earth in its breadth? Declare, if thou knowest it all. 19 Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And as for darkness, where is the place thereof, 20 That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, And that thou shouldest discern the paths to the house thereof? 21 `Doubtless', thou knowest, for thou wast then born, And the number of thy days is great! 22 Hast thou entered the treasuries of the snow, Or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, 23 Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, Against the day of battle and war? 24 By what way is the light parted, Or the east wind scattered upon the earth? 25 Who hath cleft a channel for the waterflood, Or the way for the lightning of the thunder; 26 To cause it to rain on a land where no man is; On the wilderness, wherein there is no man; 27 To satisfy the waste and desolate `ground', And to cause the tender grass to spring forth? 28 Hath the rain a father? Or who hath begotten the drops of dew? 29 Out of whose womb came the ice? And the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? 30 The waters hide themselves `and become' like stone, And the face of the deep is frozen. 31 Canst thou bind the cluster of the Pleiades, Or loose the bands of Orion? 32 Canst thou lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season? Or canst thou guide the Bear with her train? 33 Knowest thou the ordinances of the heavens? Canst thou establish the dominion thereof in the earth? 34 Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, That abundance of waters may cover thee? 35 Canst thou send forth lightnings, that they may go, And say unto thee, Here we are? 36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? Or who hath given understanding to the mind? 37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven, 38 When the dust runneth into a mass, And the clods cleave fast together? 39 Canst thou hunt the prey for the lioness, Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, 40 When they couch in their dens, `And' abide in the covert to lie in wait? 41 Who provideth for the raven his prey, When his young ones cry unto God, `And' wander for lack of food? ; 42:6.

  • How did God convince Job of His surpassing knowledge and power?
  • What was Job's response?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

Additional Resources        

Morning Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for January 18th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on January 18th.

Hebrews 4:9 9 There remaineth therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God.

HOW different will be the state of the believer in heaven from what it is here! Here he is born to toil and suffer weariness, but in the land of the immortal, fatigue is never known. Anxious to serve his Master, he finds his strength unequal to his zeal: his constant cry is, "Help me to serve Thee, O my God." If he be thoroughly active, he will have much labour; not too much for his will, but more than enough for his power, so that he will cry out, "I am not wearied of the labour, but I am wearied in it." Ah! Christian, the hot day of weariness lasts not for ever; the sun is nearing the horizon; it shall rise again with a brighter day than thou hast ever seen upon a land where they serve God day and night, and yet rest from their labours. Here, rest is but partial, there, it is perfect. Here, the Christian is always unsettled; he feels that he has not yet attained. There, all are at rest; they have attained the summit of the mountain; they have ascended to the bosom of their God. Higher they cannot go. Ah, toil-worn labourer, only think when thou shalt rest for ever! Canst thou conceive it? It is a rest eternal; a rest that "remaineth." Here, my best joys bear "mortal" on their brow; my fair flowers fade; my dainty cups are drained to dregs; my sweetest birds fall before Death's arrows; my most pleasant days are shadowed into nights; and the flood-tides of my bliss subside into ebbs of sorrow; but there, everything is immortal; the harp abides unrusted, the crown unwithered, the eye undimmed, the voice unfaltering, the heart unwavering, and the immortal being is wholly absorbed in infinite delight. Happy day! happy! when mortality shall be swallowed up of life, and the Eternal Sabbath shall begin.

Evening Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for January 18th

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on January 18th.

Luke 24:27 27 And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

THE two disciples on the road to Emmaus had a most profitable journey. Their companion and teacher was the best of tutors; the interpreter one of a thousand, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The Lord Jesus condescended to become a preacher of the gospel, and He was not ashamed to exercise His calling before an audience of two persons, neither does He now refuse to become the teacher of even one. Let us court the company of so excellent an Instructor, for till He is made unto us wisdom we shall never be wise unto salvation.

This unrivalled tutor used as His class-book the best of books. Although able to reveal fresh truth, He preferred to expound the old. He knew by His omniscience what was the most instructive way of teaching, and by turning at once to Moses and the prophets, He showed us that the surest road to wisdom is not speculation, reasoning, or reading human books, but meditation upon the Word of God. The readiest way to be spiritually rich in heavenly knowledge is to dig in this mine of diamonds, to gather pearls from this heavenly sea. When Jesus Himself sought to enrich others, He wrought in the quarry of Holy Scripture.

The favoured pair were led to consider the best of subjects, for Jesus spake of Jesus, and expounded the things concerning Himself. Here the diamond cut the diamond, and what could be more admirable? The Master of the House unlocked His own doors, conducted the guests to His table, and placed His own dainties upon it. He who hid the treasure in the field Himself guided the searchers to it. Our Lord would naturally discourse upon the sweetest of topics, and He could find none sweeter than His own person and work: with an eye to these we should always search the Word. O for grace to study the Bible with Jesus as both our teacher and our lesson!

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