Thursday, April 24, 2014
A failure to trust God was the root cause of ancient Israel’s rebellion. They did not believe and so disobeyed. Faith and obedience are everywhere linked in Scripture, for true faith releases us from our fears and results in obeying God gladly.
Richards, Lawrence O. The Bible Reader’s Companion. electronic ed. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991. Print.
Devotion and Wisdom
Devotion to God and devotion to Wisdom are inseparable. For the scholar, who may be tempted to seek knowledge without having first submitted to God, this means that the search will be futile and the wisdom gained will be distorted if one has not first oriented oneself to the Creator in faith, humility, and obedience. For the religious person, this means that one’s alleged piety is hollow if it does not embrace the simple and indeed very earthy precepts of wisdom. Basic axioms of moral integrity, matters as ordinary as being a decent neighbor (vv. 28–29), must adorn the life of anyone who would claim to possess the fear of the Lord. In this time, when there are far too many examples of Christians and especially of ministers who seem to have forgotten that right living is essential for those who would claim to know God, this lesson cannot be proclaimed loudly enough.
Garrett, Duane A. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Vol. 14. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993. Print. The New American Commentary.
Transgressors of the Law
James was aware there would be some who would tend to dismiss their offense of prejudice as a trivial fault. They would hardly consider themselves as lawbreakers. James went on to make it clear that this was no small offense. Whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. There are no special indulgences. Utilizing the extreme instances of adultery and murder, James showed the absurdity of inconsistent obedience.
Blue, J. Ronald. “James.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Ed. J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck. Vol. 2. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985. 825. Print.
Walking in the Light
In the prologue the author asserted that he was writing about things he had heard, seen, and touched. Here he began with something he had heard. This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you. By the words “from Him,” John no doubt meant from the Lord Jesus Christ whose Incarnation he had just referred to (vv. 1-2). The content of this “message,” as John expressed it, is that God is Light; in Him there is no darkness at all. This precise statement is not found in the recorded words of Jesus, but the author was an apostle who heard much more than was “written down” (cf. John 21:25). There is no reason to think that John did not mean just what he said. This is a truth he had learned from the Lord.
Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Vol. 2. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.
No Fellowship with the Unfruitful
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. The point of this exhortation is in the adjective “unfruitful.” The works of darkness are unfruitful: they produce no goodness, give rise to no satisfaction, to no moral results that are “a joy for ever;” or, it fruit they have, it is shame, remorse, despair. Contrast this with the renovating, satisfying, joy-producing, fruits of righteousness. But rather even reprove them. Do not be content with a passive attitude towards them, but take the aggressive and expose their wickedness, whether in public or in the domestic circle. A testimony has to be lifted up against ways that are so shameful and that bring down the wrath of God.
Spence-Jones, H. D. M., ed. Ephesians. London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909. Print. The Pulpit Commentary.
Summary of John 15:1-17
To summarize, authentic discipleship in this bull’s-eye segment is evidenced and encapsulated in love for one another (15:12, 17) that has been epitomized by Jesus, who died for frail human beings (15:13). This model of self-sacrifice is recognized by those whom Jesus called his friends, for they do what he commands (15:14). But their obedience is not the result of some sort of slavery, since as his friends they have learned from Jesus about the will of God (15:15). This knowledge did not result from their own capabilities. It was given to them because they were chosen and appointed to bear fruit or spread the wonderful Gospel to others as their mission (15:16). They were given the resource of prayer because to accomplish God’s will one needs God’s resources (15:16). And finally, God’s will is exemplified in a living community of disciples who love one another (15:17).
But the world does not easily accept such a community or its theses commitments. Therefore in the next section the world’s reaction is discussed…
Borchert, Gerald L. John 12–21. Vol. 25B. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002. Print. The New American Commentary.
The Armenian Church and Convent in Jerusalem
The modern natives of Jerusalem caused the artist much annoyance when he attempted to take this, his second, photographic view in the City of Jerusalem in March, 1894 The men wanted to walk directly in front of the lens so as to permit the photographer to get a life-size view of themselves, whereas the artist was extremely anxious to get a good picture of the Armenian convent and church. In the above view we are looking toward the east. The Armenians separated themselves from the Catholic Church in 491 on account of the decision of the Council of Chalcedon, which pronounced their monophysite doctrine heretical. Members belonging to the Armenian Church are scattered throughout the Turkish dominions. The building which, we now face, embracing church and convent, stands upon Mount Zion. It was founded in the eleventh century by the Georgians, but on account of the enormous taxes levied upon it by the Turkish Government they were compelled to sell it. In this way it came into the hands of the Armenians in the fifteenth century. The church is dedicated to St. James, and a tradition of no great value makes it stand on the spot where the Apostle James was martyred. The chair of St. James is pointed out, and adjoining the church is a chapel said to stand upon the site of the house of the high priest Annas. Another place is pointed out as the spot where our Lord was confined. The Armenian Patriarch lives here. His authority extends over Palestine and Cyprus.
Royal tombs in Jerusalem
Only kings were allowed to be buried within the cities. All the other graves had to be outside of settlements, since they were considered unclean. Two deep shafts that were damaged during quarry work already in the Roman period go through the oldest part of Jerusalem, the City of David. It is assumed that the sarcophagi (no longer preserved) of the kings of Jerusalem were buried in these shafts.
1 Kings 2:10; 11:43; 14:31; 15:8, 15:24; 22:50; 2 Kings 8:24; 9:28; 12:21; 14:20; 15:7, 15:38; 16:20; 23:30
Today's Verse of the Day is From Deuteronomy 31:6
© Copyright Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Tongues, Flames, and Other Things That Devour
Joshua 12:1–13:32; 2 Corinthians 11:7–15; Psalm 52:1–53:6
I’d like to skip over the description of the “mighty man” in Psa 52. Of all of his destructive influences, the mighty man is most judged for his use of words. The psalmist’s words burn because I've set more than a few forests ablaze with careless words (Jas 3:5). So how should someone like me respond to the psalmist’s judgment?
“Why do you boast about evil, O mighty man? The loyal love of God endures continually. Your tongue plans destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceit. You love evil more than good, a lie more than speaking what is right. You love all devouring words, O deceitful tongue” (Psa 52:1–4).
Prideful self-reliance is at the root of the evil man’s devouring, razor-sharp tongue. He boasts to make himself appear mighty. He takes “refuge in his destructiveness” (Psa 52:7). In contrast, the psalmist finds refuge in God, in the sanctuary of His loyal love: “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God. I trust in the loyal love of God forever and ever” (Psa 52:8).
On my own, I’m more like the mighty man than the stable and prosperous olive tree. I can try to manage my words, fabricating my sense of security on the basis of good behavior. But efforts born out of self-reliance—the root problem of my flippant speech—always fail me. Unless I recognize the foolishness of my pride, I cannot see my desperate need for God. Without hope in Jesus, who provided refuge through His sacrifice, I’ll never resemble the psalmist’s prosperous olive tree.
Oftentimes, the places where we fail so miserably, where we need the most grace, are also the places we see God’s work all the more. His Spirit changes us into people who bear the fruit of thankfulness. It makes us ever more eager to say with the psalmist: “I will give thanks to your forever, because of what you have done” (Psa 52:9).
Where do you see pride and self-reliance taking root in your life?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
Barry, John D., and Rebecca Kruyswijk. Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.