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Connect the Testaments

December 16: Freedom Jeremiah 31:1–40; Romans 6:15–7:6; Proverbs 21:1–12 We like to think of ourselves as autonomous. Our modern culture champions freedom and the right to pursue happiness. But if we apply the concept of rights when we think about faith, following Christ can feel like religion, dogma, rules—a type of bondage that requires us to think and behave in ways that make our autonomous selves bridle. Paul looks at the issue differently: “Do you not know that to whomever you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves to whomever you obey, whether sin, leading to death, or obedience, leading to righteousness?” (Rom 6:16). He uses another analogy in his letter to the church in Rome—one that draws on the practice of the slavery within his own culture—to highlight the opposite view. If we live without God, he says, we have a debt that binds us. We are a slave to sin, and it’s the type of bondage that leads to death. Yet, there is hope. Although we were slaves to sin, we…

My Utmost for His Highest

December 16th Wrestling before God Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, … praying always …Eph. 6:13, 18. You have to wrestle against the things that prevent you from getting to God, and you wrestle in prayer for other souls; but never say that you wrestle with God in prayer, it is scripturally untrue. If you do wrestle with God, you will be crippled all the rest of your life. If, when God comes in some way you do not want, you take hold of Him as Jacob did and wrestle with Him, you compel Him to put you out of joint. Don’t be a hirpler in God’s ways, but be one who wrestles before God with things, becoming more than conqueror through Him. Wrestling before God tells in His Kingdom. If you ask me to pray for you and I am not complete in Christ, I may pray but it avails nothing; but if I am complete in Christ, my prayer prevails all the time. Prayer is only effective when there is completeness—“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God.” Always distinguish between God’s ord…

Morning and Evening

Morning, December 16Go To Evening Reading
“Come unto me.” —Matthew 11:28
The cry of the Christian religion is the gentle word, “Come.” The Jewish law harshly said, “Go, take heed unto thy steps as to the path in which thou shalt walk. Break the commandments, and thou shalt perish; keep them, and thou shalt live.” The law was a dispensation of terror, which drove men before it as with a scourge; the gospel draws with bands of love. Jesus is the good Shepherd going before his sheep, bidding them follow him, and ever leading them onwards with the sweet word, “Come.” The law repels, the gospel attracts. The law shows the distance which there is between God and man; the gospel bridges that awful chasm, and brings the sinner across it.
From the first moment of your spiritual life until you are ushered into glory, the language of Christ to you will be, “Come, come unto me.” As a mother puts out her finger to her little child and woos it to walk by saying, “Come,” even so does Jesus. He will alwa…

Thoughts for the Quiet Hour

December 16 He [Thomas] … said, Except I shall see … I will not believe … Jesus … said … But not faithless, but believing John 20:25, 27 Every doubt in the heart of a Christian is a dishonor done to the Word of God, and the sacrifice of Christ. Selected

To the Faithful...

To the Faithful...Ephesians 1:1 Excerpt Faithful applies to the readers’ faithfulness in their Christian life, the degree to which they have remained loyal followers of Christ Jesus. Some take the word here to mean “believers” (so New English Bible [NEB], “believers incorporate in Christ Jesus”), but most translate faithful, loyal, steadfast. In a number of languages faithful can be effectively expressed in a negative way; for example, “they never fail to,” or in the broader context of the clause in which faithful occurs, “who, as they are joined with Jesus Christ in their life, never give up” or “…always remain firm.”More Bratcher, Robert G., and Eugene Albert Nida. A Handbook on Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. New York: United Bible Societies, 1993. Print. UBS Handbook Series.

Darkness

DarknessPsalm 139:11–12 Excerpt Imagery based on darkness is especially prominent in the poetic books where it represents destruction, death, and the underworld (Isa. 5:3047:5; Ps.143:3; Job17:13; cf. Mark15:33) in a manner similar to that known in other ancient Near Eastern cultures. Conceived as a curse or punishment (Deut. 28:29; Ps. 35:6), darkness characterizes the coming Day of the Lord (Joel2:2; Amos5:18). God’s appearance is often accompanied by darkness (1 Kings8:12), which, according to Gen. 1:2, prevailed prior to creation, although Isa. 45:7and Ps. 104:20 assert that it was created by God. The Dead Sea Scrolls contrast light and darkness as representing the forces of good and evil, both metaphysically and psychologically; a similar view has been noted in the Gospel of John. More Achtemeier, Paul J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. Harper’s BibleDictionary 1985 : 207. Print.

Connect the Testaments

December 15: After the Storm Jeremiah 29:1–30:24; Romans 6:1–14; Proverbs 20:13–30 As we blink and squint in the light that emerges after a storm, we marvel that the sun was there all along and we just couldn’t see it. The same is true during times of difficulty. When we’re in pain or worried, it seems impossible to find God, but in retrospect, it always seems obvious: God was there all along. Jeremiah prophesied to God’s people about their unraveling. The people heard words from Jeremiah’s mouth that must have seemed hopeless and full of despair. But in Jeremiah 29, we catch a glimpse of the light that comes after: “Build houses and live in them, and plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and father sons and daughters … and multiply there, and you must not be few” (Jer 29:5–6). Even in exile, God will continue to guide His people. Because of their sins, they have endured (and lost) war and have been driven away from the land that God gave them; but God remains with them nonetheles…

My Utmost for His Highest

December 15th Approved unto God Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.2 Tim. 2:15. If you cannot express yourself on any subject, struggle until you can. If you do not, someone will be the poorer all the days of his life. Struggle to re-express some truth of God to yourself, and God will use that expression to someone else. Go through the winepress of God where the grapes are crushed. You must struggle to get expression experimentally, then there will come a time when that expression will become the very wine of strengthening to someone else; but if you say lazily—‘I am not going to struggle to express this thing for myself, I will borrow what I say,’ the expression will not only be of no use to you, but of no use to anyone. Try to re-state to yourself what you implicitly feel to be God’s truth, and you give God a chance to pass it on to someone else through you. Always make a practice of provoking your own mi…

Morning and Evening

Morning, December 15Go To Evening Reading
“Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.” —Ruth 1:14
Both of them had an affection for Naomi, and therefore set out with her upon her return to the land of Judah. But the hour of test came; Naomi most unselfishly set before each of them the trials which awaited them, and bade them if they cared for ease and comfort to return to their Moabitish friends. At first both of them declared that they would cast in their lot with the Lord’s people; but upon still further consideration Orpah with much grief and a respectful kiss left her mother in law, and her people, and her God, and went back to her idolatrous friends, while Ruth with all her heart gave herself up to the God of her mother in law. It is one thing to love the ways of the Lord when all is fair, and quite another to cleave to them under all discouragements and difficulties. The kiss of outward profession is very cheap and easy, but the practical cleaving to the Lord, which m…

Thoughts for the Quiet Hour

December 15 Now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love 1 Cor. 13:13 (R.V.) Love is the greatest thing that God can give us: for Himself is Love; and it is the greatest thing we can give to God: for it will give ourselves, and carry with it all that is ours. Jeremy Taylor

 Hardman, Samuel G., and Dwight Lyman Moody. Thoughts for the Quiet Hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1997. Print.