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The special privilege God meant as a tool for witness, they [the Israelite’s] were to be a channel and you know what happened don’t you? Instead of them seeing themselves as a witness, instead of them seeing the difference as a way to reach people, instead of them standing up and saying, I’m different and consequently the world is going to say what’s the difference and I can tell them that God has made me different. Instead of that it became an excuse for carnal, selfish, self-glorification and pride.
It can happen with us too. We’re to be different aren’t we? We’re to be completely different than the rest of the world. We’re to walk a different walk, talk a different talk, think a different way. Read later in Ephesians and you’ll find out we are to walk not as the Gentiles walked, not as the heathen walk in the vanity of their mind. We are to walk in love. We are to walk in light. We are to walk in wisdom. We
are to walk in the spirit. Our conversation, our manner of life, our walk is to be totally different than the rest of the world. And that it is to be different because want them to take note of us. First of all, and secondly, God wants to keep us separated so different that we can’t mingle with them. It’s the same two things again. And hopefully the world will see the difference and we’ll say to them it’s Jesus Christ
that made the difference and here’s how He can make a difference in your life. And that’s exactly what Israel should have done. Instead of doing that, Israel became proud, loved the difference, celebrated the difference, became proud about the difference, and elevated themselves as if they were better than everybody else.
And I hate to think about it, but I think it’s even possible that that’s happening in Christianity or could happen. Where Christianity forms some sort of an elite that think they’re better than everybody else. And instead of really being a channel to reach the world, we become an isolated little group of people with our own little lingo and our own little deal and our own little code and our own little bumper stickers and our own little radio stations and TV stations and our own books and our own everything, and it’s us for, no more, shut the door, you know. ~ John McArthur, teaching on Ephesians 2: 11-12
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2: 1-20
“And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching.”
“But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part” Luke 10:39, 42
Let not the many trifles of time affect, distract, and bewilder you; but let the one thing needful be the constant object of pursuit and desire. Live at the feet of Jesus–and you are safe.
Seek, above all things, to enjoy Jesus–and you will be happy.
Aim in all things to glorify Jesus–and you will be holy.
Look daily for the coming of Jesus–and you will be consistent.
Seek to . . .
obey Him, and
O Jesus! manifest Yourself to me; draw me to Your feet, and keep me there!
~James Smith, ‘The Pastor’s Morning Visit’
HT: Grace Gems
It is astonishing that such a worm should be
so favored with discoveries of His beauty–whom
glorified saints and angels gaze with ineffable
delight. But, after all, I know not a thousandth
part of what He is, and what I have in Him.
Surely Christ is all!
How little, how verily nothing, am I.
Oh! that my lips, my life, and every action–
might speak His praise and glorify His name,
who is a Heaven to me!
~Ruth Bryan, ‘Gleanings from the Inner Life”
HT: Grace Gems
“Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord!”
Are we holy? Shall we see the Lord?
In this hurrying, bustling world–let us stand still for a few minutes and consider the matter of holiness. It is a solemn thing to hear the Word of God saying, “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord!”
A man may go great lengths in religion–and yet never reach true holiness.
What is true practical holiness?
It is not knowledge–Balaam had that.
It is not great profession–Judas Iscariot had that.
It is not doing many things–Herod had that.
It is not zeal for certain matters in religion–Jehu had that.
It is not morality and outward respectability of conduct–the rich young ruler had that.
It is not taking pleasure in hearing preachers–the Jews in Ezekiel’s time had that.
It is not keeping company with godly people–Joab and Gehazi and Demas had that.
Yet none of these were holy people! These things alone, are not holiness. A man may have any one of them–and yet never see the Lord!
Let me try to draw a picture of Biblical holiness, that we may see it clearly before the eyes of our minds.
1. Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture.
2. A holy man will endeavor to shun every known sin, and to keep every known commandment.
3. A holy man will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ.
4. A holy man will follow after meekness, patience, gentleness, patience, kind tempers, and government of his tongue.
5. A holy man will follow after temperance and self-denial.
6. A holy man will follow after love and brotherly kindness.
7. A holy man will follow after a spirit of mercy and benevolence towards others.
8. A holy man will follow after purity of heart.
9. A holy man will follow after the fear of God.
10. A holy man will follow after humility.
11. A holy man will follow after faithfulness in all the duties and relations in life.
12. Last–but not least, a holy man will follow after spiritual-mindedness.
HT: Grace Gems
- Jesus, cast a look on me;
Give me sweet simplicity;
Make me poor, and keep me low,
Seeking only Thee to know.
- All that feeds my busy pride,
Cast it evermore aside;
Bid my will to Thine submit,
Lay me humbly at Thy feet.
- Make me like a little child,
Of my strength and wisdom spoiled;
Seeing only in Thy light,
Walking only in Thy might;
- Leaning on Thy loving breast,
Where a weary soul may rest;
Feeling well the peace of God
Flowing from Thy precious blood.
- In this posture let me live,
And hosannas daily give;
In this temper let me die,
And hosannas ever cry.
“Make Your way straight before my face.”
Dear Father, this cry is going up to You this morning, from many a tried and perplexed soul, who is fearing to “wander in the wilderness, in a pathless wasteland.” Will You graciously bend down Your ear, and listen to their prayer, and grant the desired direction and guidance?
“Make Your way straight.” Dear Lord, it is not that Your ways are ever crooked or deviating, but that my eyes are bent on seeing pleasant little bypaths, where the road is not so rough, or the walking so toilsome–as on the King’s highway! My way looks so enticing, so easy, so agreeable to the flesh. Your way means self-denial, taking up the cross, and the relinquishment of much that my carnal heart desires.
Now, dear Lord, hear my cry, “Make Your way straight before my face!” Compel me, by the power of Your love and Your example–to go in the narrowroad! “Hedge up my way with thorns”–rather than that I should take a step out of the way which You have laid down for me.
What if, sometimes, there are mists and fogs so thick that I cannot see the path? ‘Tis enough that You hold my hand, and guide me in the darkness; for walking with You in the gloom–is far sweeter and safer than walking alone in the sunlight!
Dear Lord, give me grace to trust You wholly, whatever may befall; yielding myself up to Your leading, and leaning hard on You when “dangers are in the path.” Your way for me has been marked out from all eternity, and it leads directly to Yourself and home! Help me to keep my eyes fixed on the joy that is set before me, and deliver me from the very faintest desire to turn aside, and linger in the flowery meadows which have so often lured the feet of poor pilgrims into danger and distress!
Father, You have said, “My ways are not your ways, neither are My thoughts your thoughts.” True, dear Lord; but then You can uplift my thoughts to Yours, and exalt my ways until they reach the mountain-top of obedience to Your blessed will. Work this miracle for me this day, O Lord; use thatsweet compulsion which will delight my heart, while it directs my steps! Make me to run in the way of Your commandments, and I shall run gladly, with the blessed certainty that I shall reach the goal at last! Have You not given me a monitor within, which strikes a gentle warning note, when my feet turn but an instant from the straight way?
But, best of all, dearest Lord, may You Yourself come with me along life’s road, today and every day! Let the abiding of my soul in You be so real and constant, so true and tender–that I may always be aware of Your sweet presence, and never take a single step, apart from Your supporting and delivering hand!
~Susannah Spurgeon, “Free Grace and Dying Love!”
HT: Grace Gems
A Peek Behind
The Name of God
“Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever”
When we go to Israel our guides are usually non-Christian Jews. To be a guide in Israel means you are licensed by the State of Israel only after completing the equivalent of a two-year college course studying the hundreds of Biblical sites in the promised land.
So the vast majority of our Israeli guides are articulate, well-educated… but secular– meaning not religious. They usually observe Passover and Day of Atonement but nothing else. Sorta like some Christians only go to church on Christmas and Easter.
They talk about God and Jesus all day long, quote passages out of the Old and New Testaments, but don’t connect the spiritual dots. They refer to Him by name, but the deep and powerful meaning of that name escapes them.
What Does “Yahweh” Mean?
Hebrew letters all have meanings. You’re going to love what the letters mean in “Yahweh”!
So when read in Hebrew, right to left, God’s name means:
“Behold the Nail, Behold the Hand”
“Behold the nailed hand.”
It gets even better when you combine the meaning of the individual letters with the overall meaning of the word, Yahweh, YHWH, which means “Salvation,” then it basically translates:
“Behold, the nailed hand is salvation.”
“…they will look upon Me whom they have pierced”
“…they have pierced My hands and feet.” Ps 22:16
With the name of God being so specific, it makes one wonder how in the world do the Jews, especially the Jewish guides in Israel, miss the fact Jesus came as the Messiah?!
The answer, of course, is in scripture. God has “blinded” them.
“… And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this cause they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes, and He
hardened their heart; lest they see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and be converted, and I heal them.”John 12:39-40
But God has not blinded us. His Holy Spirit living in us reveals truth to Believers through the Word of God.
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
His delight is in the fear of the LORD,
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
But with Righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist.