“This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24 (NASB)
Everyday without fail, this promise is fulfilled. Everyday without fail, we have reason to rejoice in the day the Lord God has given to us. But the day spoken of in this verse was perhaps intended for one specific day. To understand this we need the context and look back to verse 22. “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.” Peter identified the chief cornerstone as Christ* And in the parable Jesus told of the vineyard**, the rejected son of the vineyard owner is likened to the rejected stone which became the chief cornerstone. Christ was that rejected stone. The rejection of Jesus by the Jewish leaders – who were pictured as builders of the nation – led, by God’s plan, to make Christ the capstone of the Kingdom which included the whole world in God’s promise of redemption. At the memorial service for a recently departed friend, today’s verse was shared as his life verse. It is this promise which Van Craddock would quote each time he spoke to a group of people. A promise for us as well each day as we praise God for His gift of salvation.
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” – Galatians 4:4-5 (ESV)
This is a verse that demonstrates a need to close a gap in our means of interpretation. Adoption, in the time that Rome ruled the world and Paul wrote his letters to the churches in the first century was not like the adoptions we are familiar with today. It was not babies or young children but adult men that were adopted by families seeking to have an heir to carry on the family name and business. It was different in many ways to adoption familiar to us. “Adoption” is the act of bringing someone who is the offspring of another into one’s own family. Since unbelieving people are by nature not children of God, the only way they can become God’s children is by spiritual adoption. Indeed, we are made members of our Father God’s family”. With respect to this adoption, it surpasses anything that takes place on earth. It confers upon its recipients not only a new name, a new legal standing, and a new family-relationship, but also a new image, the image of Christ. We are adopted by God because He has chosen us to become one of His family. It is a permanent action and standing.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)
Can we say that the promise in today’s passage is the promise of God’s power working within us? Yes, we can. For this is just what the Apostle Paul is praying for with confidence for all believers. This power is abundant to the point of exceeding our ability to ask or imagine. Beyond our thoughts. But, again we need the context to understand more completely how this power is made available. Spiritual power is a mark of every Christian who submits to God’s Word and Spirit. It is not reserved for some special class of Christian, but for all those who discipline their minds and spirits to study the Word, understand it, and live by it. Paul’s prayer included requests for: strength for our inner person; the dwelling of Christ in our hearts through faith; solidly grounded and rooted in love; ability to comprehend the fullness of God’s love which surpasses knowledge; and filled with the fullness of God. When these conditions are met, God’s power working in and through believers, is unlimited and far beyond any comprehension. All for His glory in Christ Jesus and His church forever. That is God’s promise of power for us.
“Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent.” – 1 Samuel 3:1 (NASB)
“Where there is no vision (revelation), the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.” – Proverbs 29:18 (NASB)
In the time recorded in the Old Testament, the people did not yet have God’s complete revelation as we do in our Scriptures, the Bible. God would communicate and reveal himself through prophetic messages and through visions. The visions were God’s revelations mediated through an auditory or visual encounter. The time of the judges was a period of extremely limited prophetic activity. The few visions that God did give were not widely shared or known and observance of the Law of God was a low priority. There are obvious and veiled dangers in the practice of disregarding the teachings we have in God’s Word. No longer delivered in visions or prophetic messages, our Bible provides for us the complete revelation that God intended us to have. Because it is “God breathed” through people who were given the inspired word by the Holy Spirit and wrote it down for us, we trust it fully to be without error in its original writings. From it we learn about God and His expectations, His commandments, and how God wants us to live trusting His Word. Our promise is happiness for those who abide by the revelation we have in our Holy Scripture.
““Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.””– Jeremiah 18:6 (NASB)
Potter’s clay has no plans of its own. Sitting as a lump on the potter’s wheel it has no aspirations for service nor reluctance to perform its given task. It’s simply clay. Moldable, pliable, totally submissive to the will of the potter. Do we sometimes become excited and say or think, “I’ve discovered my strengths and gifts and now I know how I can serve God best.” Or, perhaps there are times that we see our failings and we might say or think, “My weaknesses are so great I know what tasks I’m not capable of doing in service to God.” This isn’t a characteristic of clay and God isn’t limited to use only our strengths. He can use our weaknesses if he chooses to. God knows us and he will shape and form us in love to be the people to do what he gives us to do. God doesn’t need us to be perfect or in condition. He needs us to be humble and submissive to do His will. We are like clay in His hands just as Israel was described in our verse. Trust today that God promises to use us perfectly for His will.
“They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, Through a land of deserts and of pits, Through a land of drought and of deep darkness, Through a land that no one crossed And where no man dwelt?’” – Jeremiah 2:6 (NASB)
Might we question where is the promise from God in this verse? It’s there but we need the context. Jeremiah, was a prophet for God to the people of Israel in Jerusalem for 41 years, had the task of delivering judgment messages and warnings to God’s people who have forgotten Him. God accounts for how faithful He has been in taking care of his chosen people as he lead them out of Egypt to their promised land. Eight centuries later God’s provision and protection has been long ago forgotten. God asks for cause. Has God been less than absolutely just with them? No, it was their ingratitude as they departed from their first love. God reminds them of His faithfulness and His justice. It was a desolate place that God led them through and in that place confirmed His covenant and gave them His Law. The people had so forgotten God that they didn’t even ask after Him. They no longer had even a thought about who led them out of Egypt, through wilderness and deserts, through droughts and darkness. God leads us because we too are chosen by Him. Today let’s remember His promises and worship Him with thanksgiving.
“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?” – Acts 7:49-50 (ESV)
These words, spoken by Stephen to the Jewish Sanhedrin in defense of his faith. Stephen was a deacon in the truly first church in Jerusalem and became the first Christian martyr. Stephen quoted Isaiah 66:1-2. It is a reminder for us to remember church is not a building, in grand or simple architecture and the size and does not make a place a church. When emphasis is on the structure, we tend to limit God to that building. Because of His majesty no one can build a house for Him to dwell in (1 Kings 8:27); God is the Creator of all things – especially all things used to build the grand and beautiful church buildings. What He values above His inanimate Creation are people who are humble and contrite (Isaiah. 57:15) and who follow His word. God desires to dwell in the hearts of persons who takes His Word so seriously that it produces humility, broken spirit, and trembling in the presence of His Word. ““But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:2b
“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.” …”At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food.” – Daniel 1:8, 15 (ESV
In this passage Daniel made a resolution of great importance. It required wisdom and character to stick to it. It’s a great story and worth reading. Daniel and three named friends* were in the first group of exiles taken by Nebuchadnezzar from Jerusalem to Babylon in 605 B.C. These men were very young and likely 14-18 years old. The king of Babylon wanted the best and he wanted them made ready for court. They were served the best of all food and drink which were against the Law of God. Daniel was devoted to God and he was frequently tested. This was the first test. It is the best time to establish the boundaries of what you will stand for, what you will and will not do. Daniel, seeking to keep his resolutions and the Law, asks for consideration from those over him. He and his three friends are tested for ten days eating a diet of vegetables and only drinking water by their own request. The test proved that their way was better. Avoiding the restricted foods and drink, They proved their faithfulness. When our faithfulness is tested God will help us maintain our faithfulness to Him.
* Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego. Daniel 1:6-7
But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, Daniel 1:11
The king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they bentered the king’s personal service. Daniel 1:19
“And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”” – Isaiah 6:5 (ESV)
These words by the prophet Isaiah are found in the book with his name. Much can be learned from this passage and this verse expresses what happens when we encounter an exalted view of God and His holiness. We see a clear view of sin and a realistic view of ourselves. We understand that Isaiah may have been satisfied with his personal holiness until he saw this vision of the Lord God in His unspeakable glory. If we have a diminished view of God we will have a reduced concern for sin and an inflated view of self. Truly, it is impossible to worship God and remain unchanged. Isaiah’s encounter with holy God made him immediately and keenly aware of his own lack of holiness and of the sinfulness of those around him. God does not want us to be conformed to a sinful world seeking its pleasures and attracted by temptations that are traps and snares to unholy living. God desires in us a clear difference between ourselves and the world. God wants to sanctify us, to make us holy as He is holy. That is a promise made to every faith believer.
With this post we begin the seventh year of writing and sharing these brief devotionals. We hope they continue to be an encouragement for all who choose to follow them.
“He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” – John 21:17 (NASB)
Jesus has a wonderful way of restoring us when we fail Him. He does not humiliate us. He does not criticize us; He does not ask us to make a resolution to try harder. Jesus takes us aside and asks us to reaffirm our love for Him. It was the third time Jesus asked Peter if He, Simon by name, loved Him. First in verse 15, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” Second in verse 16, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Third in verse 17 – our verse for today. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, He used a word for love that signified total commitment. Peter replied using a word for love that signified his love for Jesus, but not necessarily his total commitment. This was because he had been disobedient and denied the Lord in the past after a bold declaration of being committed. The resolution we might do well to consider this year would be to submit to Jesus’ demand of total commitment as His follower. Place our love for Jesus above our love for all else in our lives.