Scriptural meditations on God's Word (5200 posted here) sent daily for 17 years -- njhiebert@sympatico.ca

Friday, April 01, 2005

Gems from April 2005

April 1

"And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for Him in the inn." (Luke 2:7)

It is striking and very humbling to notice the contrast between earth and heaven at the moment of the birth of the Lord Jesus, the most intensely interesting moment in the annals of time and in the counsels of eternity. It was night, and the world was slumbering when Christ the Lord was born.


Bethlehem slumbered when Christ the Lord was born. A few humble shepherds were the only ones who were brought into proximity to the mind of heaven at this stupendous moment in the history of the universe.
While earth slept, all heaven was astir - "Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God. . ." (Luke 2:13) That moment revealed more than 500 years before to Daniel (Daniel 9:25-27) had come, the Messiah was born - "Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11) (A.H. Barry)


N.J. Hiebert # 2206

April 2

"The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." (Psalm 46:7,11)

Twice in this psalm, we get these remarkable words, "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge" - a psalm too, for the sons of rebellious Korah. It is like the wonderful refrain, "For His mercy endureth for ever," occurring again and again in the Old Testament, and repeated 26 times in the 26 verses of Psalm 136 - a mercy that nothing can exhaust or break down, a mercy that endureth forever.


"The Lord of hosts"! What a comforting expression! How it stills our hearts in the presence of all the power of the enemy! "The Lord of hosts," whose unlimited power and boundless resources make the victory certain. And if we can complete the sentence, however feeble and weak, we may well remain in perfect peace. The Lord of hosts is with us. Absolutely feeble, absolutely weak, it matters not. "The Lord of hosts is with us." That settles everything. (A.J.P.)

N.J. Hiebert # 2207


April 3

"Mary . . .sat at Jesus feet, and heard His words." (Luke 10:38)

Devotedness is a much deeper and at the same time a much simpler thing than many suppose. Most think that if they are earnestly engaged in the Lord's work, and looking to Him for guidance and blessing, this is being devoted; but devotedness is much more than this. It is having Christ Himself as the delight and resource of my heart, and the bent of my mind toward Him. The highest service we can render the Lord is to serve His heart, and that is a service to which few devote themselves. Occupation with Christ, with a view to becoming more intimately acquainted with His character, studying Him that we may learn what pleases Him, is very rare indeed. Many can be found who are occupied for Christ, like Martha; few who are occupied with Him, like Mary. (Selected)

N.J. Hiebert # 2208


April 4

"Wait, I say, on the Lord!" (Psalm 27:14)

God grants all our requests if they are in keeping with His will, but He doesn't always fulfill them as quickly as we might wish. The Lord is never in a hurry.

We must learn to wait on Him, realizing that either the time may not yet be ripe for the answer we seek, or we are not yet fully surrendered to His will. Therefore, the immediate answer to many of our prayers is "wait awhile." If we cannot accept this but insist on running ahead of God, we get into trouble. We must trust Him and believe that His timing is best.

The kind of waiting God requires is not glum resignation or anxious fretting. It's a cheerful endurance that moves forward in the confidence that God will answer in His own good time.

Ophelia Adams wrote:

Unanswered yet? Nay, do not say ungranted;
Perhaps your part is not yet wholly done;
The work began when first your prayer was uttered,
And God will finish what He has begun.
Though years have passed since then, do not despair;
His glory you shall see, sometime, somewhere
.

Take courage, dear Christian. God's delays are not denials. Your Spirit-prompted prayers will be answered. Don't let the waiting time weaken your faith. (H.G.B.)

POINTS TO PONDER
What requests have you been waiting for God to answer?
What have you been learning while waiting?
Has your faith grown or weakened?

TIME WAITING ON GOD IS NEVER WASTED TIME.
(Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries, Copyright 1991, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted permission)

N.J. Hiebert # 2209


April 5

"That disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord." (John 21:7)

I find reasons for delighting in that _expression, again and again repeated, "That disciple whom Jesus loved"; and delighting also in the thought that such a truth has its illustration among the saints now, as it did in the midst of the apostles in earlier days. The love with which we have to do is too perfect to be partial. It does not act irregularly or carelessly. We are all the objects of it. Thomas is not neglected because John is thus loved. May the fact that we, too, are the beloved of the Lord fill our hearts with ever increasing happiness and appreciation. (Bellett)

N.J. Hiebert # 2210


April 7

"I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 3:13,14)

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,


When care is pressing you down a bit -
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup,

And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint of the clouds of the doubt,

And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -
It's when things seem worse that you mustn't quit
.

(Author Unknown)

N.J. Hiebert # 2211


April 8

"Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures." (James 1:18)

Look at a tottering baby, the object of ceaseless care and solicitude, wholly unable to promote his father's interests in any one way, yet so loved by the father that he would not exchange him for ten thousand worlds; and if it be thus with an earthly father, what must it be with our heavenly Father? He loves us, not for what we are able to do, but because we are His children. He has begotten us of His own will, by the Word of truth (James 1:18). We could no more earn a place in the heart of the Father than we could satisfy the claims of the righteous Judge. All is of free grace. The Father has begotten us, and the Judge has found a ransom (Job 33:24). We are debtors to grace for both the one and the other. (C.H. Mackintosh)

N.J. Hiebert # 2212

April 9

"Israel said, it is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die." 

(Genesis 45:28)

The wagons and long road that took Jacob to Egypt to meet his son Joseph likely would make for an uncomfortable trip. But the prospect of seeing and being in Joseph's presence would more than compensate for all the journey's discomfort. Likewise, the believers' pathway to heaven is often roughened by unpleasant experiences, difficulties and sorrow. But the nearer we get to the journey's end, the more we exclaim with ecstasy, "Our Saviour is alive! We will go and see Him, perhaps even before we die!" (Robert Steele)

N.J. Hiebert # 2213

April 10

"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
(John 1:29)

Coming down through the centuries of kings, priests and prophets He arrives, heralded by the proclamation of the last of the Old Testament prophets - the Lamb of God. This was the fulfillment of a perfect plan, the final and full atonement for sin, and the fatal blow to Satan's authority. Nothing in heaven, on earth, or under the earth could stop the relentless tide of His redeeming love for a perishing world. What a Saviour! (Drew Craig) Love that no thought can reach, Love that no tongue can teach, no love like His. God is its blessed source, death ne'er can stop its course, Nothing can stay its force, matchless it is.

N.J. Hiebert # 2214

April 11

"Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near." 

(Isaiah 55:6)

Men are responsible to turn to the Lord, and so to find Him as their deliverer. It is not that He is hidden and has to be searched for, but the call is to earnestness of purpose in turning to Him and heeding His voice while He waits to be gracious, lest if He be rejected too often He may no longer exercise the hearts and consciences of those who harden themselves against Him. "Let the wicked forsake his way" (Isaiah 55:7) by turning to God in true repentance and the acknowledgment of utter helplessness, thus repudiating the thoughts of the natural heart, and he may be assured that as he turns to the Lord, God waits to "abundantly pardon," for He delights to meet the trusting penitent in grace. (H.A. Ironside - The Prophet Isaiah)

N.J. Hiebert # 2215

April 12

"But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30)

"Ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power." (Colossians 2:1)

"In Him," observe, who is above "All principality and power," even above the angels that never sinned.
Some speak of this heavenly character of truth as unpractical, and sometimes in less worthy terms. This we think a serious mistake, and one that must lead to serious consequences. On the contrary, we firmly believe, that the Christian's full assurance of pardon, justification, peace, acceptance, will be in proportion to the clearness of his apprehension, and the measure of his enjoyment, of these truths, as taught in the word of God. Salvation is nothing short of passing from death unto life. Then, where am I - what am I, if death is behind me? Associated with a risen Christ, and eternally one with Him. "We are members of His body." (1 Corinthians 12) As the hand and foot, the eye and ear, are included in the man, so is the believer included in Christ. (Andrew Miller)

N.J. Hiebert # 2216

April 13

"And she (Rahab) sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window." (Joshua 2:21)

How beautiful is Rahab's faith! She does not wait, as recommended by the spies, until the people "be come into the land" (ver. 18) to bind the scarlet line in the window; they are scarcely gone when she hastens to put it there, testifying thus to what she has believed; her faith does not linger, it speaks henceforth loudly; she proclaims from her window Christ and the efficacy of His work to save the most miserable of sinners. (H.L. Rossier - Meditations on the Book of Joshua)

N.J. Hiebert # 2217


April 14

"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5)

The earth - why not heaven? The earth is the scene of all this evil, causing such sorrow and mourning. But now, having better learnt God's ways, they can commit all to Him. Meekness is not merely to have a sense of nothingness in ourselves, or to be filled with sorrow for the opposition to God here below; but it is rather the calmness which leaves things with God, and bends to God, and thankfully owns the will of God, even where naturally it may be most trying to ourselves. (William Kelly - Lectures on Matthew)

N.J. Hiebert # 2218


April 15

"And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest; for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous (noble character) woman." (Ruth 3:11)

The grace of Boaz was great, and the grace of our Boaz is without limit. Faith is never disappointed when it comes to Him, expecting something from Him. (The flesh is disappointed, however, because the Lord never gives the flesh what it asks for except to chastise it.) Grace rejoices when faith makes bold requests. It says, "Open thy mouth wide." Faith may ask that mountains of difficulties be removed and thrown into the sea, and it will happen. And the Lord will ever especially answer the prayer of a believer in which he yields entirely to Himself. In one of our hymns we sing, "I yield my future, way, and destiny into Thy hands, O Father, for Thou dost keep me." No matter how much faith may request, grace will always answer, "Fear not." Not only that; the Lord will also say, "All that Thou sayest will I do." He wants us to trust Him implicitly. (H.L. Heijkoop - The Book of Ruth)

N.J. Hiebert # 2219


April 16

"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you. . . for My sake." 

(Matthew 5:14)

The people of God may indeed be in affliction because of persecution on account of their faithful testimony; and they may be in reproach for the name of God. Then, indeed, it is well with them, for the Lord can say, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you. . . for My sake" (Matthew 5:14). An Apostle can also write, "If ye be reproached for the Name of Christ happy are ye" (1 Peter 4:14). But alas! they may be in affliction because of their low moral condition, and in reproach with the world through the inconsistency of their walk and ways. That such was the case in Nehemiah's day is witnessed by the fact that the wall of Jerusalem was "broken down," and the gates thereof "burned with fire." The desolations of Jerusalem were the result, and therefore the proof of the low condition of the people. (Hamilton Smith - An Outline of the Book of Nehemiah)

N.J. Hiebert # 2220


April 17

"Moses and Elias, who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease."
(Luke 9:30,31)

They were occupied with His death while talking with Him. One thing occupies the minds of heaven and earth. He was going to be crucified where He ought to have been King. Under such circumstances there was nothing for heaven or earth to talk about but His death. And so for us, the great thing to talk about Messiah is, that He died. . . . We shall never cease having interest in this subject: when with the Father in the glory, it will be the absorbing theme. He said Himself, "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life." (John 10:17) How much more shall we not love Him for the same cause? (J.N. Darby)

N.J. Hiebert # 2221

April 18

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things hall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)

God will never be a debtor to any one, only let us throw our whole souls into His work, and the end will declare how far we have acted upon sound principles. (C.H. Mackintosh)

N.J. Hiebert # 2222


April 19

"Apply thine heart unto My knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips." (Proverbs 22:17,18)

The Spirit will never bring a scripture to our lips for use unless we have first possessed it in our hearts. (Edward Dennett)

N.J. Hiebert # 2223


April 20

"I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love." (Hosea 11:4)

This text is addressed primarily to Israel, but it has meaning for all believers. We too are linked to God with eternal cords that cannot be broken. When danger affects us in our daily walk, it draws the Saviour's immediate attention because of the "bands of love" between Him and us. Therefore, in all of our afflictions, He is afflicted (Isaiah 63:9), and our every tear brings His sympathetic understanding.


The naturalist S.L. Bastian tells of a certain kind of spider that builds its nest in the branch of a small tree or bush. In this gossamer enclosure the baby spiders are hatched. If the nest is disturbed in any way, the little spiders will all rush out in fright. At once the mother goes to their side. She is alerted to their potential danger in a most unique manner. Each of the young ones has a thin silky strand attached to it, and all of these threads are joined to the body of the mother. When the babies are threatened by an enemy, they naturally scurry off, giving their lines a sharp tug. This is instantly felt by the adult spider. Within seconds she pulls them back to the nest where they are protected from harm.

 

Likewise, when Christ saves us, He does not leave us to shift for ourselves. He intimately draws us to Himself, even as the mother spider gathers her young to her side by silken threads. When we are exposed to any danger, even before we sense our trouble, He is hastening to give us His assistance.
What a comfort to know that we are forever bound to Him by the cords of His eternal love. (H.G.B.)


I've fond a Friend, oh, such a friend!
He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
And thus He bound me to Him
. (Small)

God loves everyone as though there were but one of us to love! (Augustine)
(Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries, Copyright (1977), Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted permission)
N.J. Hiebert # 2224


April 21

"Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1,2)

We are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, not spectators of us, but giving testimony to faith; but the call is to look away from all else to Jesus, the leader and completer of faith. Neither sentiment nor superstition can do any thing here but hinder our running the race well; and this can only be with endurance rather than energy. (Christian Truth - Vol. 13 - 1960)

N.J. Hiebert # 2225


April 22

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah." (Psalm 46:1-3)

Well might he pause (Selah!) at this point. What more suggestive of stability than the earth we walk upon and the everlasting hills? What more emblematic of instability than the restless sea? Yet when the most unstable thing overcomes the most stable, the psalmist has something immovable on which to rest. "God is our refuge and help."

. . . We know God as FATHER. He numbers the hairs of our heads. He puts our tears in the bottle of His remembrance. (A.J.P.)

N.J. Hiebert # 2226


April 23

"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."
(Psalm 27:14)

Let us apply to ourselves the practical question: While on the way to the rest of God, what do we enjoy as our present portion; and how do our hearts answer to it? It is easy to get discouraged through dwelling upon failure, ruin, confusion, decline, and increasing indifference - all sadly true. Every kind of evil is rampant and increasing, and there is much to fill us with shame and sorrow. But, owning this, what is our resource? Is it not the same as it was for Israel? We too have God with us, not because there is any good in us, but because of what He is. (Deuteronomy 7:7-9; 9:5,6) He is ever near for faith. How often the people of Israel "forgot" Him we are continually reminded as we read their history, even though they had the constant witness of His presence with them, showing that He, at all events, was faithful. And are we not in the same danger of losing the sense of the nearness and all-sufficiency of God for us in our pathway here at the present moment? (W.J.L.)

N.J. Hiebert # 2227


April 24

"Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifice partakers of the altar?"

(1 Corinthians 10:18)

The Lord's supper is to be eaten as a memorial, or remembrance, of Christ. This is His own interpretation of it. The bread was mystically His body, the cup His blood, accomplishing the remission of sins. To eat and to drink of this feast was to express participation in the virtues of His sacrifice; and it was thus eaten in remembrance of Christ, in token of the soul's fellowship with what His sacrifice had accomplished for sinners. It was therefore to be eaten simply with thanksgiving. The remembrance of what the sacrifice of Christ had accomplished would properly be accompanied with nothing else. No supplication would be needed, because it is a finished work. The table records a full remission. (J.G. Bellett)

N.J. Hiebert # 2228


April 25

"When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come." (John 16:13)

God has so ordered it that the soul is led into the truth by the Holy Spirit who will not act apart from the glory of the Lord Jesus. He may use means if He please, but every attempt to perpetuate truth in the abstract is vain. Apart from Christ it cannot be truly known. There is something exceedingly gracious of God in it, because in this way He keeps up the freshness of the truth for His saints. He does not permit it to become a science. (William Kelly)

N.J. Hiebert # 2229


April 26

"If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will got to the left." (Genesis 13:9)

The man of faith can easily afford to allow the man of sight to take his choice. (Genesis 13:9) What beautiful disinterestedness and moral elevation we have here! and yet what security! It is certain that, let nature range where it will, let it take its most comprehensive grasp - its boldest and highest flight, there is never the slightest danger of its laying its hand upon faith's treasure. It will seek its portion in quite an opposite direction. Faith lays up its treasure in a place which nature would never dream of examining; and as to its approaching thereto, it could not if it would, and it would not if it could. Hence, therefore, faith is perfectly safe, as well as beautifully disinterested, in allowing nature to take its choice. (C.H. Mackintosh)

N.J. Hiebert # 2230


April 27

"And (Jesus) saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them." 

(Mark 6:48)

It is a good thing for our souls to realize that while our Lord is away, we are not to be discouraged by difficulties, not cast down if the wind is contrary and ourselves toiling in vain, yet not in vain. It is He Who has sent us across that troubled sea; it is He Who meanwhile intercedes for us; and as surely will He come to us; and when He does return, all that is lacking He will supply, all that hinders will be removed, and then will the universe duly, fully exult in its Lord, our Lord and Master, when He shall be exalted from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth. (William Kelly)

N.J. Hiebert # 2231


April 28

"God is our refuge and strength a very present help in time of trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah." (Psalm 46:1,2)

Well might he pause (Selah!) at this point. What more suggestive of stability than the earth we walk upon and the everlasting hills? What more emblematic of instability than the restless sea? Yet when the most unstable thing overcomes the most stable, the psalmist has something immovable on which to rest, "God is our refuge and help."
We know God as FATHER. He numbers the hairs of our heads. He puts our tears in the bottle of His remembrance. (A.J.P.)

N.J. Hiebert # 2232


April 29

"He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." (Ephesians 1:4)

There is only one thing in which God does not suffice for Himself, and that is, in His love. His love has need of other beings besides Himself, in order to make them happy. He desires to have before Him beings in harmony with what He is, and He sets us before Him "Holy and without blame." (J.N.Darby)

N.J. Hiebert # 2233


April 30

"The ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary . . . Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea . . . be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid." 

(Matthew 14:24,25,27)

Which is happier, to be like water in a still place never moved, or to be poured from vessel to vessel, finding it all Christ, and Christ, and Christ? He chooses the time of trial as a time to give the sweetest taste of His love. When in a time of difficulty, faith may break down, but Christ will not. He sees when the storm comes, and makes that the time to come to us, walking on the waters; and at His word the storm subsides in a moment. (G.V. Wigram)

N.J. Hiebert # 2234

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