You have not bought me sweet cane with money.
Worshipers at the temple were keen to bring presents of sweet perfumes to be burned upon the altar of God. But Israel, in the time of her backsliding, became ungenerous and made fewer offerings to her Lord. This was an evidence of coldness of heart toward God and His house.
Reader, does this never happen with you? Is it not possible that the complaint of this text may occasionally, if not frequently, be brought against you? Those who are poor in pocket, if rich in faith, will be accepted even though their gifts are small; but, poor reader, do you give in fair proportion to the Lord, or is the widow's mite kept back from the sacred treasury? The rich believer should be thankful for the wealth entrusted to him but should not forget his large responsibility, for where much is given, much will be required.
But, rich reader, are you mindful of your obligations, and is your giving to the Lord proportionate to the benefit you enjoy? Jesus gave His blood for us; what shall we give to Him? We are His, and He has purchased us for Himself—can we act as if we were our own? O for more consecration! O for more love! Blessed Jesus, how good it is of You to accept our sweet cane bought with money! Nothing is too costly as a tribute to Your unrivaled love, and yet You receive with favor the smallest sincere token of affection! You receive our poor forget-me-nots and love-tokens as though they were intrinsically precious, though indeed they are but as the bunch of wild flowers that the child brings to his mother.
Let us never grow stingy toward You, and from this hour may we never hear You complain of us again for withholding the gifts of our love. We will give You the firstfruits of our increase and pay You tithes of all, and then we will confess, "of your own have we given you."
taken from: http://info.truthforlife.org
19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Summer is quickly approaching and we have all waited for this long winter to be over so we can enjoy all the good things warm weather brings. Outdoor activities, biking (or riding the scooter), hiking, picnicking, sports and leisure just to name a few activities that seem to compete for our time. Our time is limited and like most of us, we prioritize, or better, we make time for what we want to make time for.
In the above verses, as well as others, we can draw out some principles that should help us determine our motives and our decisions to “miss church”. First, we need to understand that missing church hurts the body. We are one body in Christ, right? When we miss church, we fail to edify and encourage each other. We miss our “spiritual meal” that quite frankly many of us only get once a week. Our faith, over time becomes weak when we fail to hear Gods word proclaimed. And if all this was not enough, we are commanded to assemble together.
Eric Liddell was an Olympic athlete in the early 1900’s. Eric refused to run races on Sundays even during the Olympics. He believed so strongly in the Sabbath that he would not allow himself to participate even on Olympic stage. He was born to missionary parents who taught him the importance of the Sabbath and he himself became a missionary to China for almost 20 years. When asked of his decision to leave fame and glory his reply “It's natural for a chap to think over all that sometimes, but I'm glad I'm at the work I'm engaged in now. A fellow's life counts for far more at this than the other."
Eric Liddell’s testimony should be an eye opener for all of us. This man had a seat at the highest of athletic honors and he did not let that get in the way of his faith. We all know there will be times when we will miss church and many times, it can’t be helped. Most times however are self-inflicted reasons we miss. If we are not careful, our reasons to “miss church” will become easier and before you know it, church has become a byproduct of our life and no longer a staple.
Pray that God will give us all the desire to meet together as a body to love and edify one another.
Are you living through a period of life when you don't understand what God is doing, and you can't seem to improve your situation, location, or relationships?
Maybe you don't feel utterly helpless, but you feel something like this:
It is a painful exercise in spiritual maturity, but there are inescapable, necessary, and helpful reasons why we feel confused and powerless:
1. Because We Live In A Broken World With Fallen PeopleGenesis 3:17-19 defines what happened when sin entered the world. "Cursed is the ground … in pain … all the days of your life … thorns and thistles … by the sweat of your face." In a world that is broken - and with people who are selfish, competitive, and impatient (including me and you) - everything we do is harder and more complicated.
2. Because God Is Sovereign And The Narrative Is Not About UsWe are not the authors of life. Our individual stories are woven into the grand origin-to-destiny narrative that God alone has written. While circumstances may seem out of our control, they have never been outside of the infinitely attentive control of your Father. At the same time, you and I must remember that the narrative of the universe exists solely for the eternal glory of the Creator, not for our momentary pleasure and comfort.
3. Because God Is Ministering To Us And OthersGod is the ultimate definition of what is wise, loving, and good, using these moments to rescue us from our bondage to the kingdom of self and to draw us into a greater allegiance to his Kingdom. Simultaneously, God calls us to be part of what he is doing in the lives of others. Moments of hardship and confusion equip us to minster to others in their times of struggle (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Let's be honest with ourselves and with God: What have these moments revealed about our functional, street-level faith? Maybe what we thought was a robust faith in God's presence, promises, power, wisdom, and love was actually our seeming power to control our circumstances through intelligence, determination, prosperity, or something else.
In love, God will take you where you do want to go in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own. It is uncomfortable grace, but it is still divine, tender grace.
The question is, are you allowing moments of hardship and confusion to produce in you a faith that is stronger, or weaker? Have your responses to hardship and confusion drawn you closer to God, or further away?
In each case, it's your choice. So take hold of the new morning mercies that God makes available! How you respond is contingent on whether you choose God or self.
taken from: https://mailchi.mp/paultripp/wednesdays-word-5-2-2018-confused-and-powerless?e=ecd06331e2
When you woke up this morning, what gave you hope? Maybe a better way of asking the same question is: When you woke up this morning, where did you look for security?
For many well-intentioned followers of Jesus, we have mistakenly built our houses of hope on sinking sand. Without even knowing it, we load all our hope for life onto our spouse, children, career, house, retirement account, social status, or ministry calling.
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with appreciating people, possessions, or positions. But these temporal things were never designed to be a source of hope. To hope in temporal things is to hope in what I cannot control and what is not guaranteed to me.
I think you can predict where I’m going with this: When we live in with eternity in view, we find an unshakeable hope for this sin-shattered world.
But wait: There's a life-changing difference between understanding this conceptually and embracing it practically. I have found that many of us have sectioned this truth in the "theologically interesting but basically irrelevant" area of our Christianity. Eternity sounds nice, but it doesn't make much of a difference in our everyday life.
So, once again, I would invite you to meditate on eternity. If you live with Tomorrow in view, it will change everything about the way you invest your life Today.
Listen to the saints who have passed over to the other side. They don't talk about the wonderful temporal pleasures they experienced on earth. As fitting as it is to be thankful for all these things, they now have a crystal-clear sense of what is most important.
They summarize it with one sentence: "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." (Revelation 7:10b)
Now in eternity, they have their values right. And through the gift of Scripture, we are given a glimpse of what they consider central so we don't have to wait until we join them Tomorrow to get our values right Today.
But let's confess: Much of our existence is a frenetic attempt to build a paradise in a broken world. The house is never quite right. The kids never seem to measure up. Our spouse is never quite able to please us. Our friends are never quite loyal enough. The finances are never quite secure enough. We can't even meet our own expectations for ourselves!
No wonder we're frustrated, discouraged, and exhausted! We're trying find hope in a physical world that is terribly broken by sin.
Someday, you and I will be on the other side. In the meantime, will you ask people, circumstances, and things to do what they were never designed to do? Are there ways in which you look to this fallen world to become your personal paradise?
Or, will you find hope for Today because of Tomorrow? Are you eavesdropping on eternity and letting Forever shape your values on earth? Are you resting in the promise that Christ will put all his enemies under his feet?
If our faith makes no sense without eternity - "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men" (1 Corinthians 15:19) - then we ought to remind ourselves and others to live with it in view every day!
taken from https://mailchi.mp/paultripp/wednesdays-word-4-25-2018-hope-for-today-because-of-tomorrow?e=ecd06331e2
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matt. 5:9).
Christ’s atonement made it possible for man to be at peace with God.
After World War II the United Nations was created to promote world peace. But since its inception in 1945 there has not been a single day of global peace. That's a sad commentary on man's inability to make peace. In fact, someone once quipped that Washington D.C. has so many peace monuments because they build one after every war!
It hasn't always been that way. Prior to the Fall of man peace reigned on the earth because all creation was in perfect harmony with its Creator. But sin interrupted peace by alienating man from God and bringing a curse upon the earth. Man couldn't know true peace because he had no peace in his heart. That's why Jesus came to die.
I once read a story about a couple at a divorce hearing whose conflict couldn't be resolved. They had a four-year-old boy who became distressed and teary-eyed over what was happening. While the couple was arguing, the boy reached for his father's hand and his mother's hand and pulled until he joined them.
In a sense that's what Christ did: He provided the righteousness that allows man and God to join hands. Romans 5:1 says that those who are justified by faith have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:20 says that God reconciled all things to Himself through the blood of Christ's sacrifice on the cross.
Yet on the surface, the scene at the cross wasn't peaceful at all. Pain, sorrow, humiliation, hatred, mockery, darkness, and death were oppressively pervasive, but through it all Christ was doing what He alone could do: making peace between man and God. He paid the supreme price to give us that precious gift.
In the future, Jesus will return as Prince of Peace to establish a kingdom of peace that will usher us into an eternal age of peace. In the meantime He reigns over the hearts of all who love Him. Let His peace reign in your heart today!
Suggestions for Prayer
Thank God for the peace of heart that comes from knowing Christ.
For Further Study
Read Philippians 4:6-9. What must a person do to know God's peace?
Taken from https://www.gty.org/library/devotionals/drawing-near
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! (Psalm 31:19)
Consider two important truths in Psalm 31:19.
1. The goodness of the Lord
There is a peculiar goodness of God. That is, there is not only God’s general goodness that he shows to all people, making his sun rise on the evil and the good (Matthew 5:45), but also a peculiar goodness, as the psalm says, for “those who fear” him.
This goodness is abundant beyond measure. It is boundless. It lasts forever. It is all-encompassing. There is only goodness for those who fear him. Everything works together for their good (Romans 8:28). Even their pains are filled with profit according to Romans 5:3–5.
But those who do not fear him receive a temporary goodness. Romans 2:4–5 describes it like this: “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” Kindness. Forbearance. Patience. Goodness. But it does not meet with the fear of the Lord, but hardness.
That’s the first truth: the goodness of the Lord.
2. The fear of the Lord
The fear of the Lord is the fear of straying from him. Therefore, it expresses itself in taking refuge in God. That’s why two conditions are mentioned in Psalm 31:19 — fearing the Lord and taking refuge in him. “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have 1) stored up for those who fear you and 2) worked for those who take refuge in you!”
They seem to be opposites. Fear seems to drive away and taking refuge seems to draw in. But when we see that this fear is a fear of running away — a fear of straying from him — then they work together.
There is a real trembling in the heart of the saints. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). But it is the trembling one feels in the arms of a Father who has just plucked his child from the undertow of the ocean. It is the trembling at the terrible prospect of thinking we don’t need a Father.
So, cherish the goodness of the Lord. Fear straying from him. Flee from every sin and take refuge in him. “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you!”
Taken from https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/afraid-to-stray
"Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.”
(1 Samuel 12:20–22)
When the Israelites have been brought to fear and they repent of their sin of demanding that Samuel give them a king to be like the other nations, then comes the good news: “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil.” Do you hear how backward that sounds — how wonderfully backward? You might expect him to say, “Fear, for you have done all this evil.” That’s a good reason to fear: you have done the great evil of demanding another king besides God! But that’s not what Samuel says. “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil.”
He goes on, “Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.”
This is the gospel: Even though you have sinned greatly, and terribly dishonored the Lord, even though you now have a king which it was a sin to demand, even though there is no undoing that sin or its painful consequences that are yet to come, nevertheless there is a future and a hope. There is mercy.
Fear not! Fear not!
Then comes the great ground — the basis and foundation — of the gospel in 1 Samuel 12:22. Why don’t you need to fear, even though you have done all this evil? “For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.”
The ground of the gospel is God’s commitment to his own name. Did you hear it? Don’t fear, though you have sinned, “The Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake.” This should have two effects on you: heart-breaking humility and toe-tapping happiness. Humility because your worth is not the foundation of your salvation. Happiness because your salvation is as sure as God’s allegiance to his own name. It can’t get more sure.
Taken from https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-future-for-failures
There are some blunt, tell-it-like-it-is passages in the Bible. One that comes to mind is 1 John 2:19 - "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us." (ESV) This is not merely a historical recounting by John, but a warning for us today: We must resist defining Christianity as anything other than a deep devotion to Christ, the fruit of which is a lifestyle of daily worship of him and active service in his kingdom.
We must always be evaluating the motivation of our hearts to be sure that the faith we live by is the true Christianity of the Bible, not an externalistic counterfeit that omits Jesus.
What are some of the characteristics of an externalistic, counterfeit, and Christ-less Christianity? I can think of three:
1. It Mistakes Commitment To Christianity For Commitment To Christ
The traditions of Christianity are engaging and exciting, and they should be. The danger is that they can function as a replacement for a relationship with Jesus. A cruel trick of the enemy is to make us feel most alive when we are participating in the culture of Christianity, rather than communing with Christ.
2. It Mistakes Biblical Knowledge For Biblical Wisdom
It's quite possible to grow in biblical literacy without growing in wisdom and holiness. I love studying the theology of the Word of God, but having worked for twenty years at one of the finest seminaries in the world, I have seen far too many rigorously trained students graduate as immature followers of Jesus.
3. It Mistakes Participation In Ministry Opportunities For A Christ-like Lifestyle
It's good and proper for the local church to organize various ministries for the body of Christ. However, disciples of Jesus are called to offer every aspect of their life to the Kingdom of God, not just those on the church calendar.
It's unbiblical for us to think of ministry as separate from life, as if we step out of one and into the other. Instead, we ought to live with a constant mentality that asks the question: "How can I, right here right now, be part of what God is doing on earth?"
True ChristianityIf our Christianity is something less than a surrender of the thoughts and motives of our heart to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and a daily hunger for and pursuit of his transforming grace, then our faith will tend to get reduced to a system of tradition, philosophy, and activity.
Until the day we die, we are called to resist this externalistic, counterfeit, and Christ-less Christianity. We have been given the grace to do so, and the grace to desire something so much better - a soul-satisfying relationship with Jesus himself!
Taken from https://www.paultripp.com/wednesdays-word/posts/is-christ-in-your-christianity
There is a large sign posted next to the first tee of the local golf course. The sign declares the rules that govern play. The first rule is a preview of the specific rules that follow. It reads: “The first rule of golf is consideration of others.”
Consideration for others, in the context of the Christian’s liberty in Christ, is the theme of Paul’s teaching in Romans 14. With the advent of the new covenant, some rules that were important to the Old Testament were done away with. They were fulfilled by the ministry of Jesus and were no longer necessary.
When laws are revised, it is difficult for people to make adjustments. One difficult adjustment for early Jewish converts was to the new situation in which Jesus declared that certain foods that had been prohibited under Old Testament ceremonial law were now clean. Even the apostle Peter struggled with this new state of affairs (see Acts 10:9–16).
The issue the mature Christian faced was this: How should he relate to a weaker brother whose conscience was bound by rules with which God never intended to bind him? Should the mature Christian forfeit his liberty for the sake of the weaker brother? Should the stronger brother indulge his freedom regardless of the feelings of the weaker brother? Should the scruples of the weaker brother become the law of the church?
Paul’s answer to this situation is based on the principle of loving consideration by both parties.
Study Romans 14 for scriptural guidelines on relating to weaker members of the body of Christ.
Passages for Further Study
Taken from https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/considering-others/
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy" (Matt. 5:7).
God commends merciful people but condemns the merciless.
Scripture shows that those whom God blessed most abundantly were abundantly merciful to others. Abraham, for example, helped rescue his nephew Lot even after Lot had wronged him. Joseph was merciful to his brothers after they sold him into slavery. Twice David spared Saul's life after Saul tried to kill him.
But just as sure as God's commendation is upon those who show mercy, His condemnation is upon those who are merciless. Psalm 109:14-16 says, "Let the iniquity of [the merciless person's] fathers be remembered before the Lord, and do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out . . . because he did not remember to show [mercy]."
When judgment comes, the Lord will tell such people, "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me" (Matt. 25:41-43). They will respond, "Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?" (v. 44). He will reply that when they withheld mercy from those who represented Him, they were withholding it from Him (v. 45).
Our society encourages us to grab everything we can for ourselves, but God wants us to reach out and give everything we can to others. If someone wrongs you, fails to repay a debt, or doesn't return something he has borrowed from you, be merciful to him. That doesn't mean you excuse sin, but you respond to people with a heart of compassion. That's what Christ did for you—can you do any less for others?
Suggestions for Prayer
If there is someone who has wronged you, pray for that person, asking God to give you a heart of compassion for him or her. Make every effort to reconcile as soon as possible.
For Further Study
Read Romans 1:29-31. How did Paul characterize the ungodly?
Taken from https://www.gty.org/library/devotionals/drawing-near