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

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Gems from January 2006

January 1

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned (unschooled) and ignorant (ordinary) men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13)

While driving in rush-hour traffic one day, I found myself behind a car with a bumper sticker. It had a yellow smiley face on it with these words: SMILE JESUS LOVES YOU.

Suddenly another car squeezed in front of the "smiley" car, forcing the driver to hit the brakes. With that, he shook his fist angrily, displaying anything but a smiley face. I felt ashamed, until I remembered my own impatience as a driver. The incident reminded me that our actions and reactions, more than the display of a sticker on our car, show whether we really know the Lord Jesus.

Acts 4 tells us that Peter and John faced opposition from local rulers, elders, and scribes as they proclaimed the good news of Christ. But their reaction caused their opponents to stat thinking. Even though Peter and John were not highly educated, the people marveled at their bold witness and realized that these two men had been with Jesus. There was no need for a bumper sticker. . . Their words and actions said it all.

Do you feel too untrained or timid to be a witness for God? If you'll spend time getting to know Jesus, He will empower you to impress others with Himself. You'll have boldness - without a bumper sticker. (Joanie Yoder)

For me 'twas not the truth you taught,
To you so clear, to me so dim;
But when you came to me, you brought
A deeper sense of Him
. (Clelland)


Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries, Copyright (2004) Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted Permission.

N.J. Hiebert # 2479

January 2

"Pull me out of the net." (Psalm 31:4)

When fishermen trawl the seas they often find fish they do not want entangled in their nets. Many die before they can be cut free. Here the psalmist seems to have been deliberately trapped in a net and he is entangled in it, quite unable to release himself. Believers can become entangled in the nets of the world: the net of pleasure; the net of addiction; the net of immorality; the net of backsliding. The more they struggle the more entangled they become. There is only one way out of this. Cry, "O Lord, pull me out of the net"! He will. (Roy Hill)

Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Saviour, know my thoughts, I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin and set me free
. (J. Edwin Orr)

N.J. Hiebert # 2480

January 3

"Hear thou my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way."

(Proverbs 23:19)

Just one thing, O Master, I ask today,
Now that the old year has passed away,
And a promising new year, through grace of Thine,
With all the dreams of youth is mine -
Just one thing I ask as I onward go,
That I'll walk with Thee - not too fast, nor slow;
Just one thing I ask, and nothing more,
Not to linger behind, nor run before,
O Master! This is my only plea -
Take hold of my life and pilot me
. (Selected)

N.J. Hiebert # 2481

January 4

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee." (Isaiah 26:3)

This world can be a fearful place, full of uncertainty and danger. Who knows what this past year has brought in life? Perhaps there was the loss of employment. A fatal accident may have claimed a loved one. A crippling illness may have struck. But for the one who knows God there is the peace of a child in the loving arms of his Father. Go forward in that peace and see what joys He has just around the corner for you. (Donald L. Norbie)

N.J. Hiebert # 2482

January 5

"Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world." (2 Timothy 4:10)

What had secretly pained the Apostle Paul has come to light and borne fruit. Demas has given up the path of service and faithfulness to the Lord which in brighter days he had chosen. First, he had grown cold in heart; now his feet too have gone back. How sad! Yet, this is but the history of many dear young Christians who allowed something, probably very small at first, to come between their hearts and the Lord. For a time all may seem to go on well, and their brethren may think so; but if the heart goes after any other object, the feet will some day follow the heart.

We also learn from this verse the secret of what drew away the heart of Demas; he loved this present world. What a sad exchange! He had forsaken the fountain of living waters and hewn out a broken cistern that could not hold water (Jeremiah 2:13). This poor world had come between his soul and the Lord - this world of which we read, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." (1 John 2:15-17) (Christian Truth)

N.J. Hiebert # 2483

January 6

"He (Jesus) riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with a towel, and girded Himself." (John 13:3,4)

If Satan can spoil an action by carrying us beyond the truth in dealing with sin (and it is difficult not to do this), he has triumphed.

You cannot wash a brother's feet with a club. You can make him black and blue, but this does not accomplish his cleansing. Nor is this a long distance action, as by a mop. You must be at his feet to really cleanse them. And do not forget the action of the "towel." The thing should be done so thoroughly that nothing is left even to suggest to you that the brother ever needed cleansing; otherwise, you are indulging lack of confidence, and he breach remains. Upon hearing another say, "I have no confidence in that brother," the one spoken to replied, "Have you any in yourself?" The truth has a reflex action, so when you direct it at another you may feel the edge of it yourself, and should.

"If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." (Galatians 6:1) (Selected)

N.J.Hiebert # 2484

January 7

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, gentleness, goodness,
faith, meekness, temperance
. . ."
(Galatians 5:22,23)

Joy - is love exulting
Peace - is love in repose
Longsuffering - is love on trial
Gentleness - is love outflowing
Goodness - is love in action
Faith - is love confiding
Meekness - is love yielding
Temperance - is love in training

N.J. Hiebert # 2485

January 8

" . . .
For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time,
and then vanishes away
." (James 4:14)

The year (2005) is history. Time speeds swiftly onward in its ceaseless course, and you and I are carried along, no more able to retard our progress than leaves on a stream can stop their watery flight, or a fragile feather hold back a whirlwind. Ask a man seventy years old, "How long is life?" and no doubt his reply will be, "It is short, and passes swiftly; it seems but a few days." Approach middle-aged persons, even younger ones, and make the same inquiry. Their answers will be the same, "The years have slipped from our grasp as nothingness." For that reason James says: "For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." Yes, our lives are like the mists that hang low over the landscape at daybreak, and suddenly dissolve in the warm rays of the morning sun. The writer of Ecclesiastes compares life to a shadow: one moment it dances upon the earth's grassy carpet and then a cloud passes over and the elusive shade is swallowed up, never to return. Hezekiah refers to life as a thread which is soon cut off; while Psalm 90 compares it to "a tale that is told." In Psalm 73 our existence is likened to a dream which vanishes when we awaken.

The fact that time passes so swiftly should encourage us to make the most of every moment. We are not to squander life, but to "redeem the time, for the days are evil."

No doubt as we look back over (2005) there will be many regrets over our folly in neglecting opportunities, and for our foolishness in idling away precious hours. Let us at the threshold of a brand new year confess these faults to the Lord, and then, "forgetting those things which are behind," determine to make the most of the time which the Lord in His grace may yet allot to us. (R.W.D.)

I do not know, I cannot see
What God's kind hand prepares for me,
But yet I know, that o'er it all,
Rules He who notes the sparrow's fall
! (Anon)


Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries, Copyright - 1966, Grand Rapids, MI Reprinted Permission

N.J. Hiebert # 2486

January 9

"How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!" (Proverbs 16:16)

- At eighty-seven the mother of Francis Willard was asked what she would have done differently had she to live her life over again. She replied, "I would blame less and praise more."

- However much wrong is on the other side - what of the wrong of not forgiving the wrong - or of not seeking to win back as a brother one who has wronged you?

- The final test of our love for man - is our willingness to reach out and help every man in all the world, as we are able: but the severest test is our attitude to those next to us because they try us in more ways and more intimately.

N.J. Hiebert # 2487

January 10

"Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one toward another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer." (Romans 12:9-12)

Happiness keeps you Sweet
Trials keep you Strong
Sorrows keep you Human
Failures keep you Humble
Success keeps you Glowing
But only GOOD keeps you Going

N.J. Hiebert # 2488

January 11

"I am the least of the apostles . . . because I have persecuted the church of God. But by God's grace I am what I am." (1 Corinthians 15:9-10)

What if I am just a failure? / What if all I've seemed to do

Is travel on and leave in shambles What I've touched as I've passed through?
What if as a parent / Or a mate, I've seemed to fail?
What if I've to crime resorted; / What if I've been sent to jail?
What if I have lost a fortune? Foolish waste has cost it all.

What if every turn I've taken, / Led me up against a wall?
How can ever in this life / Jesus use someone like me?
How can Jesus use a failure? / What good on earth could my life be?
Friend, Jesus shops for future leaders / Often in the failure store.
Often those He picks to cherish / Have tried and failed before.

From the rubbish heap of failure / Sovereign Holiness will choose

Men and women oft defeated, / Saying, "Here is one I can use."
So it was with Abraham, / Father of the world to be,

Childless still at ninety, then / God's miracle his eyes could see.
So it was with Moses, / "Lead my people out" his chore,

Not until he'd failed completely / Could God open up the door.

So it was with Joseph, / Dad's beloved dreamer; fool!

Not until he was sold in slavery / Could he really be God's tool.
That's the message oft repeated / From the Holy Spirit's pen,

God delights to turn life's failures / Into His successful men.
What if I am just a failure? / What if all my marks are poor?
I may very well be / Just what God is looking for
! (D. Engli)

N.J. Hiebert # 2489

January 12

"What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36-37)

There is nothing which the men of this world dread more than solitude and reflection. They would rather be overpressed with engagements than have leisure for thought. The conscience, ill at ease, will at such times lift up its voice; but its warning voice must be hushed by that convenient word "duty," and its honest speech is soon and willingly forgotten. Sins - many sins - are there, and the thought of God as the Judge of sin is dreadful. The condition of the soul is such that it cannot bear the light, therefore darkness is loved. The activities of this present life are sought and welcomed, that the crushing weight of reflection may be escaped. The pleasures of the world, too, in due time and place, serve a similar purpose.

Thus every care is taken that solitude may be avoided, and that there may be no opportunity for calm and serious reflection. The solemn and eternal realities of the soul have no portion of thought or time allowed them; the higher, nobler, and better part of man is totally neglected, and left uncared-for, and unprovided-for, notwithstanding its deep, pressing and eternal need. (Andrew Miller)

N.J. Hiebert # 2490

January 13

"And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother?" (Genesis 4:9)

This question is very similar to the one the Lord asked Cain's father in the previous chapter. "Where art thou?" (Genesis 3:9) Just as God knew exactly where Adam and Eve were, He likewise knew where Abel was. What appears to be a question of His wrath was actually a probing of His grace. God knew the answer; He simply wanted Cain to take sides with God - and against himself - to confess what he had done wrong. An admission of guilt is the first step towards reconciliation. Will you agree with God today and be forgiven? (Craig Funston)

Our sins were borne by Jesus, the holy Lamb of God;
He took them all, and freed us from the condemning load.
Our guilt was borne by Jesus, who washed the crimson stains,
White in His blood most precious, till not a spot remains
(H. Bonar)

N.J. Hiebert # 2491

January 14

"Give me understanding according to Thy word. Let my supplication come before Thee: deliver me according to Thy word." (Psalm 119:169-170)

There is strength for every burden;
There is courage for the day;
There is hope for each tomorrow;
There is help along the way!

There is comfort in just trusting
Each new moment to His care,
And a real and blest assurance
In the quietness of prayer


N.J. Hiebert # 2492

January 15

I am become like the pelican of the wilderness,
I am as an owl in desolate places;
I watch, and am like a sparrow alone upon the housetop
(Psalm 102:6-7)

This language is that of the Lord Jesus in the days of His sojourn in the world. He had become like a pelican of the wilderness. The pelican is of course a water bird, so to be in the wilderness was far from its natural habitat.

Thus the Lord Jesus, who was accustomed to the precious, refreshing fellowship of His Father, was in a dry and thirsty land, an experience that He deeply felt. Not even His disciples could give Him the comfort and enjoyment that He was accustomed to in heaven.

Or, like an owl in desolate places, He felt the loneliness of His path on earth far more than any other has ever felt loneliness. A sparrow alone on a housetop is another picture of the loneliness of the Lord Jesus, but in a different realm. For the owl was in desolate places, where no fellowship was to be expected. The sparrow is a different bird entirely, for its very nature is to be social. Sparrows love to congregate together, and the house speaks of the place of social fellowship. But here on the housetop, where the sparrow would expect company, it is alone.

Thus, the Lord Jesus desired the fellowship of His disciples, but on the eve of His crucifixion they were asleep! (Luke 22:40-46). Also, in Luke 9:18 we are told that "as He was praying alone, His disciples were with Him." Was He alone? Yes! Were His disciples with Him? Yes! Though outwardly present, the disciples did not enter into His thoughts, nor understand His prayer. What Loneliness! (Selected)

N.J. Hiebert # 2493

January 16

"For in Him dwells ALL the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in Him, which is the head of ALL principality and power." (Colossians 2:9,10)

There is nothing the heart can crave which we have not in Jesus. Does it long for genuine sympathy? Where can it find it, save in Him who could mingle His tears with those of the bereaved sisters of Bethany? Does it desire the enjoyment of sincere affection? It can only find it in that heart which told forth its love in drops of blood. Does it seek the protection of real power? It has but to look to Him who made the worlds. Does it feel the need of unerring wisdom to guide? Let it betake itself to Him who is Wisdom personified, and "who of God is made unto us wisdom." In one word, we have all in Christ. (Food for the Desert)

N.J. Hiebert # 2494

January 17

"Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water . . . he shall in no wise lose his reward." (Matthew 10:42)

If only we are self-emptied, our every act may emit a sweet odour to God. The smallest as well as the greatest services may, by the power of the Holy Spirit, present the fragrance of Christ. The paying of a visit, the writing of a letter, the public ministry of the word, giving a cup of cold water to disciple, giving money to the poor, yea, the commonplace acts of eating and drinking - all may emit the sweet perfume of the name and grace of Jesus. (Food for the Desert)

N.J. Hiebert # 2495

January 18

"The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers."
(1 Peter 3:12)

As a teacher with many ears of experience in high school and college classrooms, I have observed many kinds of students. One in particular is what I call the "just me and the teacher" student. This pupil has a kind of one-on-one conversation with the teacher - almost as if no one else were in the class. The teacher's rhetorical questions, for instance, result in verbal answers from this student - oblivious to anyone else's reaction. While the class is filed with other pupils, this one seems to think it's "just me and the teacher."

As I watched one of these students recently and saw him command the teacher's attention, I thought, He's on to something. He has the focus we all need to have when we pray.

The thought that millions of other Christians are talking to God as we pray should never cause us to feel that we are less important. No, as we talk to our everywhere-present, all-knowing, all-powerful God, we can be confident that He is giving us His full attention. David said, "This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him" (Psalm 34:6). God directs single-minded attention toward our praise, our requests, and our concerns.
When you pray, to Him you are the only one. (Dave Branon)

So lift up your heart to the heavens;
There's a loving and kind Father there
Who offers release - comfort and peace -
In the silent communion of prayer
. (Anon)


Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries, Copyright (2005), Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted permission.

N.J. Hiebert # 2496

January 19

"I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts,
which war against the soul
." (1 Peter 2:11)

Saint Jerome tells how, having lived a lecherous life in his youth, after he become a Christian he fled from all contact with the gross and vulgar world in which he had once sought to gratify every fleshly desire. He left Rome and wandered to Palestine, and there lived in a cave near Bethlehem, where he sought to subdue his carnal nature by fasting almost to starvation. And then he tells us how disappointed he was when, exhausted and weary, he fell asleep and dreamed he was still rioting among the dissolute companions of his godless days. The flesh cannot be starved into subjection. It cannot be improved by subjecting it to ordinances whether human or divine. But as we walk in the Spirit, and are occupied thus with the risen Christ, we are delivered from the power of fleshly lusts which war against the soul. (The Christian Newsletter)

N.J. Hiebert # 2497

January 20

"Seemeth it to you a light thing to be the king's son-in-law?"
(1 Samuel 18:23)

Our position is weightier than David's! We are not "in-laws," but joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14,16,17). Is this not good enough reason for us to be careful as to our behavior? We are children of the King. His honor and Name are at stake with us, so let us live as royal priests. Do we taste of the good things of the King's household? Then let us live thankful lives! Those around us who do not know our King have heard of Him, but not seen Him. All they may see of Him in this life is what they see in us. It is not a light thing to be a join-heir with Christ. (C. Knott)

N.J. Hiebert # 2498

January 21

"Their strength is to stand still." (Isaiah 30:7)

I am accused of letting things take their own course too much. Still, it seems to me that I trust in God that the work is His own. If I can help in that work it is a favour which He confers on me, but I think that often, when we wish to guide and govern too much, faith is wanting. (J.N. Darby)

N.J. Hiebert # 2499

January 22

"I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11)

Happy is he . . . who has learned to look beyond the actions of men to the power that controls them all, and to receive all, favour or persecution, aids or hindrances, from the Lord. That soul has acquired the secret of perfect peace amid the confusion and turmoil of the world, as well as in the presence of Satan's power. (Edward Dennett)

N.J. Hiebert # 2500

January 23

"Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, rejoice." (Philippians 4:4)

"Rejoice in the Lord alway" and "Be careful for nothing." (Philippians 4:6) What sweeping words, leaving us without excuse for not being happy! For "nothing" takes in everything, and "always" leaves no time out, only it must be "in the Lord." (J.N. Darby)

N.J. Hiebert # 2501

January 24

"Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm." (1 Timothy 1:7)

It is one thing to be the advocate of Christianity, and another to be the disciple of it. And though it may sound strange at first, far easier is it to teach its lessons than to learn them. (J.G. Bellett)

N.J. Hiebert # 2502

January 25

"My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work."

(John 4:34)

His WILL and His WORK. There are not many considerations for the servant of Christ; there is only the will of the Father, and the work of the Father. (E.P. Corrin)

N.J. Hiebert # 2503

January 26

"God whom we serve is able to deliver . . . and He will deliver." (Daniel 3:17)

- God is able to deliver us, not only from the world and Satan practically, but from our own selves also, otherwise what and where would be His great salvation?

- Satisfied with God, rejoicing in Christ, full of the Holy Ghost, the weakest believe may be well wondered at by men of the earth . . . who feel an incessant craving for something they know not what. (G.V. Wigram)

N.J. Hiebert # 2504

January 27

"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." (1 Corinthians 3:5-7)

You enter your room, and find the fire all but out, there seems scarcely a trace of vitality. The fire-irons are there, all polished and laid in order; but what could they do? Nothing! A thousand sets of the most splendid fire-irons could not produce a single spark. There must be a living hand to move them, or they will lie there motionless and powerless.

What is to be done? You seize the poker, rake out the ashes, and introduce a current of air; then you stir up the almost dead lumps of coal; and, in a few moments, you have a brilliant and beautiful fire. Who thinks of praising the poker? Who would say, "What a marvelous poker!" It is not the lifeless poker, but the living hand that does the work. True, the hand uses the poker; but the poker is useless without the hand.

Now, there is a fine moral lesson here for all who are, in any little way, used in the Lord's blessed work. We have ever to bear in mind that the works that are done upon the earth, God is the doer of them. If He deigns to use us, let us never forget that we are but mere instruments, just as helpless and powerless as the poker. No doubt, we have enjoyment in the work; but we are not now dealing with the question of enjoyment, but ability. If any real work is done, God is the doer of it. To Him be all the glory. (C.H. Mackintosh - February 14, 1889) (Submitted by a reader.)

N.J. Hiebert # 2505

January 28

"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think; of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." (Romans 12:3)

A right estimate of oneself will always be a humble estimate, and will be confirmed in the realization of the fact that, whatever we are and whatever we do that is pleasing to God, comes from God. (W.E. Vine)

N.J. Hiebert # 2506

January 29

"What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath . . ." (Romans 9:22)

Longsuffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation, which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy. "Despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" (Romans 2:4) (Selected)

N.J. Hiebert # 2507

January 30

"Ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith." (Jude 20)

These words evidently set forth the responsibility of all true Christians to be found together instead of being divided and scattered. We are to help one another in love, according to the measure of grace bestowed and the nature of the gift communicated. It is a mutual thing - "building up yourselves." It is not looking to an order of men, nor complaining of our lack of gifts, but simply doing each what we can to promote the common blessing and profit of all. (C.H. Macintosh)

N.J. Hiebert # 2508

January 31

"By HIM were all things created . . . all things were created . . . for HIM . . . HE is before all things . . . by HIM all things consist . . . that in all things HE might have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:16-18)

If you have Christ, you have all; without Christ, you have nothing. You can be happy without money, without liberty, without parents, and without friends, if Christ is yours. If you have not Christ, neither money, nor liberty, nor parents, nor friends, can make you happy; liberty without Christ, is a chain. Christ without anything is riches; all things without Christ is poverty indeed. (Extract - Christian Truth - December 1969)

N.J. Hiebert # 2509


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