Scriptural meditations on God's Word (5560 posted here) sent daily for 18 years --

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Gems from January 2005

January 1

"Men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself." (Psalm 49:18)

Men love something. Trace the course of Judas. What was it that led him astray? He loved money, not so uncommon an evil. In this he was the world's prudent man. But observe the progress of corrupt nature; a little circumstance in John 12:3-6 may help us to see the connection. Satan suggests a way to gratify the lust there. Well, he goes on, and what is his next step? Satan puts it into his heart to betray his Master. Judas, it may be, thinking that the blessed One would have been delivered in some way, as at other times, and thus he get his money and yet save his character, consents.

Man will excuse himself by any folly. Sin has its progress with a defiled conscience. Hypocrisy now enters; he sits with Jesus at the table (goes on with religiousness) even after he had sold him. Mark, too, it was "after the sop" that Satan entered, never nearer to Christ in form. Now he is hardened against even the relentings of nature; he goes out and betrays the Son of man with a kiss. Here then is the progress of corrupt nature toward this fearful consummation - first, lust; second, a means of gratifying it in his office of bearer of the bag (all this goes on along with religiousness, in the very company of Chris, from day to day); third, he is led to the ultimate character of his crime, at a time and in circumstances of most blessing to a true disciple; fourth, the heart is hardened, so that the betrayal takes place even with a kiss, the token of affection. Sinning and religiousness go on together. Where the power of godliness is not, nearness to godly things is only the more dangerous. (Christian Truth - Vol. 13)

N.J. Hiebert # 2116

January 2

"For to me to live is Christ." (Philippians 1:21)

It is exceedingly important in these days to have Christ the centre of everything to us, so as to be able to say, "to me to live is Christ;" to be walking in the light of His glory shining down upon our path, in everything that glory kept uppermost; not to be allowing two lives in us, the life of the flesh and the life of the Spirit, but to be sinking the life of the flesh, and having only the life of Christ living in us. (G.V. Wigram - Gleanings from the Teaching of G.V.W.)

N.J. Hiebert # 2117

January 3

"It is written." (John 4:4)

If we could put down self in every way and entirely, we should find rest in all circumstances. If we walked as Christ did, we should see God and our Father in everything. Privations, temptations, difficulties - God and our Father in all. Subjection to His word in everything - saying, "It is written," makes the bitterest thing sweet. Christ has pledged Himself that I shall have rest, He reveals the Father to me, that is the blessing He has shut me into. All blessing comes from Christ teaching every day to find rest by seeing God and my father in everything. (G.V. Wigram)

N.J. Hiebert # 2118

January 4

"And therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, ...Blessed are all thy that wait for Him." (Isaiah 30:18)

Did you ever put these two "waits" together like that? Perhaps there is a fear at the back of your mind just as a fear is sometimes at the back of mine. Perhaps nobody knows of it, or would only smile if they heard it. Never mind: read these words and let them lead you into peace. (Amy Carmichael - Edges of His Ways)

N.J. Hiebert # 2119

January 5

"If any man thirst, let him come unto ME and drink" (John 7:37).

A nobleman about to be executed asked for a glass of water, but when it was handed to him he trembled so that he could not drink. The prince said, "Your life is safe until you have drunk that water." Taking the prince at his word, he dashed the glass to the ground. The water could not be gathered up again, so the nobleman's life was saved. This was faith; just simply receiving the words uttered, and acting upon them; the result was salvation to his body.

Exactly in the same manner is it that we have to take God's words and act upon them. Trusting God is not like a drowning man catching at straws. It is no hanging on the words of a fitful, capricious prince, but trusting the faithful word of a gracious and faithful God, who means what He says, and who says what He means; who never makes a mistake, nor draws back from His word. (The Sower - Vol. 23 - 1913)

"I heard the voice of Jesus say,
'Behold, I freely give
The living water - thirsty one,
Stoop down, and drink, and live

N.J. Hiebert # 2120

January 6

"Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to ALL THE SAINTS..." 

(Philippians 1:1)

How often we forget "to all the saints." How often out thoughts and prayers include only the saints in one little group, that is of special interest to us. Let us remember that God's heart, God's thought, goes out to"all the saints." When I was a child, every night and morning my father would pray for "the whole Church of God." This is as it should be: and if we are walking down here as Christ would have us walk, we will not be content that our hearts should take in any smaller circle than "all the saints." We may not be able to walk with them all, in the paths they have chosen, but we may love them, and pray for them, all. Before the Assembly at Ephesus had left their first love (Revelation 2:4): Paul could write of their "love unto all the saints." (Ephesians 1:15) (G.Christopher Willis - Sacrifices of Joy)

N.J. Hiebert # 2121

January 7

"...He will beautify the meek with salvation." (Psalm 149:4)

Once there was a brier growing in a ditch, and there came along a gardener with his spade. As he dug around it and lifted it out, the brier said to itself, "What is he doing that for? Doesn't he know that I am a worthless brier?" But the gardener took it into the garden and planted it amid his flowers, while the brier said, "What a mistake he has made, planting a brier like myself among such rose trees as these!" But the gardener came once more with his keen-edged knife, made a slit in the brier and budded it with a rose, and by and by, when summer came, lovely roses were blooming on that old brier! Then the gardener said, "Your beauty is not due to that which came out, but to that which I put into you." That is just what Christ is doing all the time with our human lives. (Mountain Trailways for Youth)

"Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All His wondrous compassion and purity;
By Thy Spirit Divine, may Christ from my life shine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me

N.J. Hiebert # 2122

January 8

"For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."
(2 Timothy 1:12)

The vanity of the flesh likes to be popular and self-important and make itself prominent before the world and the saints, but in view of that day it is better to take a lowly place in self- effacement rather than a public place in self-advertisement, for then it will be found that many that are first shall be last; and the last first. (Hamilton Smith)

N.J. Hiebert # 2123

January 9

"...He will beautify the meek with salvation." (Psalm 149:4)

Once there was a brier growing in a ditch, and there came along a gardener with his spade. As he dug around it and lifted it out, the brier said to itself, "What is he doing that for? Doesn't he know that I am a worthless brier?" But the gardener took it into the garden and planted it amid his flowers, while the brier said, "What a mistake he has made, planting a brier like myself among such rose trees as these!" But the gardener came once more with his keen-edged knife, made a slit in the brier and budded it with a rose, and by and by, when summer came, lovely roses were blooming on that old brier! Then the gardener said, "Your beauty is not due to that which came out, but to that which I put into you." That is just what Christ is doing all the time with our human lives. (Mountain Trailways for Youth)

"Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All His wondrous compassion and purity;
By Thy Spirit Divine, may Christ from my life shine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me

N.J. Hiebert # 2124

January 10

"I... sat chief, and dwelt as a king..." (Job 29:25)
"But now they that are younger than I have me in derision." (Job 30:1)

Thus it eve is in this poor, false, deceitful world. All must, sooner or later, find out the hollowness of the world, the fickleness of those who are ready to cry out "Hosanna" today, and "Crucify Him" tomorrow. Man is not to be trusted. When the prodigal had plenty to spend, he found plenty to share his portion; but when he began to be in want, "no man gave unto him." (C.H. Mackintosh)

N.J. Hiebert # 2125

January 11

"Be ye also enlarged." (2 Corinthians 6:13)

Oh to have Christ so before the eye as to be able to judge everything in His light! Do not think it is great learning; no, there may be the lust of the mind as well as the lust of the flesh; but if in communion with God, it discerns all things. (J.N. Darby)

N.J. Hiebert # 2126

January 12

"And the disciples were called Christians." (Acts 11:26)

What is a Christian? The disciples were divinely called Christians - those who received the Word of God in their hearts; they received the gospel and therefore were born again through the power of the risen Christ in heaven. They were Christians because they belonged to Christ.

A Christian is Christ's representative here in this world. Many years ago, when studying Cantonese, one of the branches of the Chinese language, I found the word used for a Christian was "Yasu-yan." Yasu was their word for Jesus - and yan was man; and whenever my teacher would introduce me, he would say I was a "Jesus man." That is what a Christian really is.

It is his high privilege to represent Christ in this world. He belongs to Christ, is united to Christ, and now should seek to live out the life of Christ before men. That is what Paul meant when he said, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) God give us to be consistent Christians! There is no greater testimony to the power of the gospel than that. (H.A. Ironside)

N.J. Hiebert # 2127

January 13

"The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof." (Psalm 50:1)

One morning as the sun cast its first shadows over a bed of flowers in our yard I noticed one perennial called a "Star Gazer" particularly attracted to the warm rays. Beautiful, yellow daisy-like petals on long stems angled their faces as if reaching up towards the sun. What really caught my attention was later that evening as the sun was setting, these flowers were still facing towards the sun! They had fixed their gaze upon the sun and kept it there. I felt God was telling me that we too need to fix out gaze upon His Son and to follow Him from the rising of the sun till the setting of the same. (Jerry Proctor)

Turn your eyes upon Jesus;
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace

N.J. Hiebert # 2128

January 14

"Take heed that ye do not your alms (righteousness) before men, to be seen of them... When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly." 

(Matthew 6:1,3,4)

The first principle of all godliness comes out in its sweetest shape, namely, the having to do with our Father in secret; who understands us, sees all that is passing within and around us, hears and counsels us, as, indeed, He takes the deepest interest in us. It is the inner, divine relationship of the saint - our spiritual bonds with God our Father, and the conduct that ought to flow from them. (William Kelly)

N.J. Hiebert # 2129

January 15

"This Man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." (Luke 15:2)
"He saved others; Himself He cannot save." (Mark 15:31)

Two of the most precious statements ever made about our Lord were said in contempt. Yet how blessedly true they are. We who know Him rejoice because He did receive us even though we were ungodly sinners, and He is pleased to dwell with us. And how precious that, though He saved others in all kinds of need, He would not free Himself because His death was necessary to redeem us. Love, not nails, held Him there. (Selected)

N.J. Hiebert # 2130

January 16

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men... who will have all men to be saved." (1 Timothy 2:1,4)

We are to pray, not only in view of the good of all saints, but also in view of the blessing of all men.
The world may at times persecute God's people and seek to vent upon them all the hatred of their hearts towards God. Unless we walk in self-judgment, such treatment would arouse the flesh in resentment and retaliation. Here we learn that it is "good and acceptable in the sight of God" to act and feel towards all men, as God Himself does, in love and grace. Thus we are to pray for "all men", not simply for those who govern well, but also for those who use God's people despitefully (Luke 6:28). We are to pray, not for retributive judgment to overtake the persecutors of God's people, but that in sovereign grace they may be saved. (Hamilton Smith)

N.J. Hiebert # 2131

January 17

"There they crucified HIM." (Luke 23:33)

The ultimate crime! The supreme blasphemy! The vilest obscenity! The grossest stupidity! Sinners defiled and dead to God, actually nailed "Him" to the wood. He, the loveliest Man who ever walked the dust of earth. He healed their broken-hearted, dried their tears, and blessed their little children. He brought the Word of heaven to their hearts and would open heaven to their souls. Who were "they"? People like you and me. But, praise the Lord, He did it to procure forgiveness for people like you and me. (J. Boyd Nicholson)

N.J. Hiebert # 2132

January 18

"Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." (Colossians 4:6)

John Wesley found himself in a coach travelling with an officer who was an agreeable conversationalist except that profanity punctuated his talk. When they stopped to rest the horses, Wesley took the officer aside and said he had a great favour to ask. The officer was willing to do what he could. Replied Wesley "As we have to travel together some distance, if I should so far forget myself as to swear, I beg that you will kindly reprove me." The officer immediately saw the force of the request. The reproof acted like a charm. (Selected)

N.J. Hiebert # 2133

January 19

"...even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." (Colossians 3:13)

The following story is told about Sir Eardley Wilmot, an English baronet, widely known as a leader and a man of great personal dignity and force of character: "Having been a distinguished chief of justice of the Court of Common Pleas, Sir Wilmot was often consulted in regard to perplexing social questions. On one occasion a statesman came to him very excited over an injury inflicted upon him. He used strong epithets in describing the malicious attack. 'Is not my indignation righteous?' he asked impetuously. 'Will it not be manly to resent such an injury?' 'Yes,' was the calm reply, 'it will be manly to resent it, but it will be godlike to forgive it!' "

These words were well spoken. If practiced in our daily relationships they would soothe irritations and remove misunderstandings which mar our fellowship as believers and hinder our testimony before the world. The Bible says, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:31, 32). This example of forgiveness silences every objection and excuse we might raise. In view of God's great love and His offer to pardon the very ones who crucified His Son, who can refuse to forgive another! And, when forgiveness is granted, we should also forget! Dear old Dr. William Pietsch used to say, "Too many folks bury the hatchet with the handle sticking out." That isn't the way God forgives. He has promised that "their sins and iniquities will I remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17)! This is true forgiveness. (Selected)

N.J. Hiebert # 2134

January 20

" are dull of hearing..." (Hebrews 5:11)

There is a great deal of love in the heart when first converted. And there is another thing. When first converted, all these things are easier to understand than when more used to hearing them, and the world comes in. When there is freshness in the heart, the understanding goes with it. ...Freshness of affection and intelligence go together. When it is bright sunshine, things at a distance are easily seen. If it is dark, there is more difficulty. In the day one may walk through the streets without thinking about the way - one knows it; but at night one has to look and think which way. Just so with spiritual things; there is less spring, less apprehension, less clearness when our hearts are not happy. My judgment is clear when my affections are warm. Motives that acted before cease to be motives when my heart is right. I can count all dross and dung, when force is given to my affections. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (J.N.D.)

N.J. Hiebert # 2135

January 21

"Acquaint now thyself with HIM, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee." 

(Job 22:21)

Often people ask me, "Why do I not hear God's answer? When I ask for guidance, it is as if the Lord is not willing to answer." My answer then can only be a question: "Do you honestly expect an answer?" And they admit they don't. (Corrie Ten Boom - This Day is the Lord's)

N.J. Hiebert # 2136

January 22

"For with God nothing shall be impossible." (Luke 1:37)

Far up in the Alpine hollows, year by year God works one of His marvels. The snow patches lie there, frozen with ice at their edge from the strife of sunny days and frosty nights, and through that ice crust come, unscathed, flowers that bloom.

Back in the days of the bygone summer the little soldanel plant spread its leaves wide and flat on the ground to drink in the sun's rays, and it kept them stored in the root through the winter. Then spring came and stirred the pulses even below the snow shroud, and as it sprouted, warmth was given out in such strange measure that it thawed a little dome in the snow above its head.

Higher and higher it grew, and always above it rose the bell of air till the flower bud formed safely within it; and at last the icy covering of the air-bell gave way and let the blossom through into the sunshine, the crystalline texture of its mauve petals sparkling like snow itself as if it bore the traces of the flight through which it had come.

The fragile thing rings an echo in our hearts that none of the jewel-like flowers nestled in the warm turf on the slopes below could waken. We love to see the impossible done; and so does God!
Face it out to the end, cast away every shadow of hope on the human side as an absolute hindrance to the Divine, heap up all the difficulties together recklessly and pile as many more on as you can find; you cannot get beyond the blessed climax of impossibility. Let faith swing out to Him. He is the God of the impossible. (Selected - Mountain Trailways for Youth)

N.J. Hiebert # 2137

January 23

"Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat... my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven." (John 6:31,32)

- If I am walking with God through the desert, I shall be satisfied with the food which He provides, and that is Christ.
- The only provision which God has made, is the heavily manna, and on this the true believer should ever feed.
- As in nature the more we exercise, the better the appetite; so in grace: the more our renewed faculties are called into play, the more we feel the need of feeding each day upon Christ. (Food for the Desert)

N.J. Hiebert # 2138

January 24

"To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Ephesians 1:6)

Has it ever come into your mind what sort of a thrill the delight of God in Christ must cause in heaven? And is it indeed true that we are accepted in the Beloved, and that God loves us as He loves Christ, because we are in Him and He is in us? What in you can interfere with the delight of God in His Son? His delight in believers is not in themselves, but in connection with Christ and redemption. His blood has washed all my sin away, my soul is in Him - one with Him; all my guilt and misery judged on the cross. Oh, it makes one feel very little; it sinks one into insignificance as being nothing and Christ everything; God looking on His Son with ever the same delight, seeing His members and loving them as such! It is pure grace from first to last. (G.V. Wigram - Gleanings)

N.J. Hiebert # 2139

January 25

"And Jonathan (King) Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God." (1 Samuel 23:16)

God make us all His Jonathans. There is a great hunter abroad in the world. Like Saul who sought David every day, he seeks souls every day, never a day's respite, always the hunt is on. Although the words stand for ever, "but God delivered him not into his hand" (v.14), yet sometimes souls tire of being hunted, and like David they are in a wilderness in a wood. Then is Jonathan's chance. But notice what he does, he does not so comfort David that he becomes necessary to him. "He strengthened his hand in God." He leaves his friend strong in God, resting in God, safe in God. He detaches his dear David from himself and he attaches him to his "Very Present Help" (Psalm 46:1). Then Jonathan went to his house, and David abode in the wood - with God. (Amy Carmichael - Edges of His Ways)

N.J. Hiebert # 2140

January 26

"And the next [day] we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave [him] liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself."

(Acts 27:3)

We look at Julius as a picture of each on the journey of life. He was given the charge of getting the prisoners to Rome safely and he will answer to Nero-Caesar for how he carried out that responsibility.
Julius had to decide how he was going to act towards Paul on the journey. Would he listen to and believe him, or despise him? He is openly courteous towards Paul in just the same way as many who are on life's journey are reverent - courteous, we might say - towards God and towards religion. But though respectful of these things, they do not attach themselves by faith to Christ. Julius was polite to Paul, gave him a certain amount of liberty to have fellowship with his friends, but he was not interested in listening to Paul or going with him.

It is not enough to be respectful of God and to treat His servants courteously. You must submit your thoughts to God's thoughts. You must, if you are to have a happy life's journey, fully and unreservedly attach yourself to and by faith embrace, the revealed mind of God as it has been given to us in the Bible. (Douglas Nicolet - The Journey of Life)

N.J. Hiebert # 2141

January 27

"Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
(James 1:15)

Someone has wisely said, "Bad habits are like comfortable beds - easy to get into but hard to get our of." While the word "habit" doesn't appear in the Bible, the above verse seems to capture the idea expressed by it. James says that lustful thoughts lead to sinful acts, which in turn leave their mark on one's character. Good habits are wonderful servants, but evil habits become dreadful taskmasters.

The Heidelberg Herald published this thought-provoking story: "An elderly teacher, with a pupil by his side, took a walk through a forest. Suddenly he stopped and pointed to four plants close at hand. The first was just beginning to peep above the ground, the second had rooted itself pretty well into the earth, the third was a small shrub, while the fourth was a full-sized tree. The tutor said to his young companion, 'Pull up the first plant.' The boy did so eagerly, using only his fingers. 'Now pull up the second.' The youth obeyed but found the task more difficult. 'Do the same with the third,' he urged. The boy had to use all his strength to uproot it. 'Now,' said the instructor, 'try your hand with the fourth.' The pupil put his arms around the trunk of the tall tree and couldn't even shake it leaves. 'This, my son, is just what happens with our bad habits. When they are young, we can remove them readily; but when they are old, it's hard to uproot them, though we pray and struggle ever so sincerely.' "
The holding power of sinful habits cannot be overemphasized. Take warning! Only the supernatural power of God can enable you to uproot them. (H.G.B.)

Most sinful habits gather
By small unseen degrees,
As brooks create large rivers,
So rivers run to seas

(Dryden, alt.)

First WE make our habits, then our habits make US.
(Our Daily Bread, RIB Ministries, Copyright (1980), Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted permission)

N.J. Hebert # 2142

January 28

"What shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the age?... Be ye also ready." 

(Matthew 24:3,44)

"What are the signs of Thy coming, And when shall the end-times be?"
Anxious, they questioned the Master, Curious, even as we.

Are these the signs of His coming That loom over sea and land,
That darken the earth and the heavens? Is the day so near at hand?

We know not; He hath not told us This secret of the Lord,
But all we need He hath left us To read in His sacred word.

And pulsing through the silence Like the far, faint throb of a drum;
"Watch, be ye also ready, For ye know not when I come."

Sweet as a sliver trumpet Through tumult and clamour clear;
"Watch, be ye also ready, For the time is drawing near
(Annie Johnson Flint)

N.J. Hiebert # 2143

January 29

"Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." (Luke 18:17)

The little child comes in all the simplicity of unquestioning faith. How did you come? How did I come? Surely not in the sense of personal merit. Not in virtue of a breast decked with badges, ribbons, and medals. No! nor with a list of degrees after my name. How did we get into the kingdom of God? If we entered at all, it was through that lowly gate of childlike faith. "A little child shall lead them." (Matthew 18:3) There are no private entrances, so we must all come through that narrow gate of faith. (C.H. Brown)

N.J. Hiebert # 2144

January 30

"...kill it (the lamb) in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it." 

(Exodus 12:6,7)

If an Israelite had been asked as to his enjoyment of peace, what would he have said? Would he have said, "I know there is no other way of escape but the blood of the lamb, and I know that to be a divinely perfect way; and, moreover, I know that the blood has been shed and sprinkled on my door post; but somehow I do not feel quite comfortable. I am not quite sure that I am safe. I fear I do not value the blood as I ought, nor love the God of my fathers as I ought"? Would such have been his answer? Assuredly not. And yet hundreds of professing Christians speak thus when asked if they have peace. They put their thoughts about the blood in place of the blood itself, and thus, in result, make salvation as much dependent on themselves as if they were to be saved by works alone. (C.H. Mackintosh)

N.J. Hiebert # 2145

January 31

"Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein." (Romans 6:1,2)

In divine things people forget (what they see every day and which is as simple as possible in human things) that duties flow always from the relationship in which we are already placed; putting a person into a relationship, puts him as naturally as possible into the duties belonging to that relationship. If the place is a constant one, the duty is a constant one, as with parents and children, husband and wife. The statement often made, that if I am saved I may do as I like, is thus disposed of. Can my child say that because he is my child he may do as he likes? No; the duty flows from the relationship. If I am a child of God, duty is always there. I may fail in it and be chastened as a naughty child - quite true - but the duty is there. That is what redemption does; on the total failure of man under responsibility, it brings me the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. Thus praise, service, obedience - whatever belongs to the child of God - flows from it. (Christian Truth - Volume 14)

N.J. Hiebert # 2146


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