April 8: Compelled to Worship
Deuteronomy 12:29–14:29; 2 Corinthians 4:1–6; Psalm 36
When we experience God’s mercy, it shows. Our instincts change and our priorities shift from gratifying our own ego to making much of God. We stop fearing what others think of us and find our identity grounded in Christ. It’s a transformation that shows God is working in our lives. Paul recognized the transformative power of the gospel, and it drove his ministry. This is evidenced in his second letter to the Corinthian church:
“Just as we have been shown mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced shameful hidden things, not behaving with craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but with the open proclamation of the truth commending ourselves to every person’s conscience before God” (2 Cor 4:1–2).
Paul wasn’t manipulating or distorting the good news for his own gain, as some were doing in the community. He preached the good news to all people with openness and sincerity. He allowed the gospel to convict people as it should, refusing to distort it to make people comfortable. He proclaimed “Christ Jesus as Lord” and he and his disciples as “slaves for the sake of Jesus” to those in Corinth (2 Cor 4:5). Bound to Christ, they lived as free slaves for His cause. They were solely dedicated to Jesus because they wanted to be, and because of the salvation, He had brought them.
Psalm 36 provides an illustration of Paul’s approach, highlighting the qualities of those who don’t fear God. This person is characterized by “rebellion in the midst of his heart” (Psa 36:1). He is self-absorbed and rejects his need: “he flatters himself in his eyes, hating to detect his iniquity” (Psa 36:2). He is deceitful (Psa 36:3).
The psalmist doesn’t contrast this picture with one of the righteous [men]. Instead, he honors Yahweh—His loyal love, faithfulness, righteousness, and judgments (Psa 36:5–6). The psalmist says, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light, we see light” (Psa 36:9). Paul echoes “For God … is the one who has shined in our hearts for the enlightenment of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). God’s grace puts everything in perspective. Both passages help us assess with wisdom the message and posture of those who teach. They also challenge us to take a look at our own standing before God.
Take an honest look at what motivates you. Are you transformed by the good news? Is it apparent to others around you?
Rebecca Van Noord
Barry, John D., and Rebecca Kruyswijk. Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.
Morning, April 8 Go To Evening Reading
“If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?”
Among other interpretations of this suggestive question, the following is full of teaching: “If the innocent substitute for sinners [suffers] thus, what will be done when the sinner himself—the dry tree—shall fall into the hands of an angry God?” When God saw Jesus in the sinner’s place, he did not spare him; and when he finds the unregenerate without Christ, he will not spare them. O sinner, Jesus was led away by his enemies: so shall you be dragged away by fiends to the place appointed for you. Jesus was deserted of God; and if he, who was only [imputed] a sinner, was deserted, how much more shall you be? “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” what an awful shriek! But what shall be your cry when you shall say, “O God! O God! why hast thou forsaken me?” and the answer shall come back, “Because ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.” If God spared not his own Son, how much less will he spare you! What whips of burning wire will be yours when conscience shall smite you with all its terrors. Ye richest, ye merriest, ye most self-righteous sinners—who would stand in your place when God shall say, “Awake, O sword, against the man that rejected [Me]; smite him, and let him feel the smart[ forever]?” Jesus was spit upon the sinner, what shame will be yours! We cannot sum up in one word all the mass of sorrows which met upon the head of Jesus who died for us, therefore it is impossible for us to tell you what streams, what oceans of grief must roll over your spirit if you die as you now are. You may die so, you may die now. By the agonies of Christ, by his wounds and by his blood, do not bring upon yourselves the wrath to come! Trust in the Son of God, and you shall never die.
Go To Morning Reading Evening, April 8
“I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.”
Behold, how independent of outward circumstances the Holy Ghost can make the Christian! What a bright light may shine within us when it is all dark without! How firm, how happy, how calm, how peaceful we may be, when the world shakes to and fro, and the pillars of the earth are removed! Even death itself, with all its terrible influences, has no power to suspend the music of a Christian’s heart, but rather makes that music become [sweeter], more clear, more heavenly, till the last kind act which death can do is to let the earthly strain melt into the heavenly chorus, the temporal joy into the eternal bliss! Let us have confidence, then, in the blessed Spirit’s power to comfort us. Dear reader, are you looking forward to poverty? Fear not; the divine Spirit can give you, in your want, a greater plenty than the rich have in their abundance. You know not what joys may be stored up for you in the cottage around which grace will plant the roses of content. Are you conscious of a growing failure of your bodily powers? Do you expect to suffer long nights of languishing and days of pain? O be not sad! That bed may become a throne to you. You little know how every pang that shoots through your body may be a refining fire to consume your dross—a beam of glory to light up the secret parts of your soul. Are the eyes growing dim? Jesus will be your light. Do the ears fail you? Jesus’ name will be your soul’s best music, and his person your dear delight. Socrates used to say, “Philosophers can be happy without music;” and Christians can be happier than philosophers when all outward causes of rejoicing are withdrawn. In thee, my God, my heart shall triumph, come what may of ills without! By thy power, O blessed Spirit, my heart shall be exceeding glad, though all things should fail me here below.
Spurgeon, C. H. Morning and Evening: Daily Readings. London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896. Print.
His resurrection destiny
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? Luke 24:26.
Our Lord’s Cross is the gateway into His life: His Resurrection means that He has power now to convey His life to me. When I am born again from above, I receive from the risen Lord His very life.
Our Lord’s Resurrection destiny is to bring “many sons unto glory.” The [fulfillment] of His destiny gives Him the right to make us sons and daughters of God. We are never in the relationship to God that the Son of God is in, but we are brought by the Son into the relation of sonship. When Our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life, to a life He did not live before He was incarnate. He rose to a life that had never been before; and His resurrection means for us that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life. One day we shall have a body like unto His glorious body, but we can know now the efficacy of His resurrection and walk in newness of life. “I would know Him in the power of His resurrection.”
“As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou has given Him.” “Holy Spirit” is the experimental name for Eternal Life working in human beings here and now. The Holy Spirit is the Deity in proceeding power Who applies the Atonement to our experience. Thank God it is gloriously and majestically true that the Holy Ghost can work in us the very nature of Jesus if we will obey Him.
Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986. Print.
Each one resembled the children of a king
If the King is indeed near of kin to us, the royal likeness will be recognizable.
Frances Ridley Havergal
Hardman, Samuel G., and Dwight Lyman Moody. Thoughts for the Quiet Hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1997. Print.