The Report That Makes a Difference – 1 Kings 10

“And she [the Queen of Sheba] said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.” 1 Kings 10:6-8

The visit by the Queen of Sheba to Solomon opened her eyes to a kingdom that she had never seen or experienced before. She had heard the news in her own land of the fame and glory of this great king and consequently invested both time and energy to make the arduous journey to investigate this report first hand. When she arrived and observed the character and conduct of his servants, she was forced to admit that the half had not been told her, even though she had been skeptical at first. Friend, have you heard the good news about the Lord Jesus, the One whose glory and kingdom exceeds that of Solomon? If this glorious news has reached to you, head in that direction for what you see and hear will be far greater than you could have ever imagined. Come to Him today.

“ Almost persuaded,” come, come today; “Almost persuaded,” turn not away;
Jesus invites you here, Angels are ling’ring near, Prayers rise from hearts so dear,
O wand’rer, come. –P. Bliss

Reporting for Duty – Romans 1:15

“So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel…” Rom. 1:15
“ Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you…” 2 Cor. 12:14
“ For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” 2 Tim. 4:6

If there was ever someone who was “ready”, it was the apostle Paul. He was ready to preach the glad tidings of the Gospel of Christ to anyone at any time under any circumstances despite the personal hardship and dangers it posed. He was ready to come to the saints at Corinth and instruct them in the Lord and help in their joy (2 Cor. 1:24), even though it meant the possibility of impugned motives and further criticism. Above all, He was ready to offer his life as a living sacrifice and to see the Savior whom he served and whose appearing he eagerly anticipated. Ready…to save sinners, serve the saints, and see the Savior. Are we?

Who will follow Jesus, Standing for the right,
Holding up His banner, In the thickest fight?
List’ning for His orders, Ready to obey,
Who will follow Jesus, Serving Him today? — Hewitt

Do You Have a Message?

“Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings…” 2 Sam 18:19“Joab said,Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready?” 2 Sam 18:22

” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man…” 1 Pet 3:15

Ahimaaz’s excitement to be the first one to bring David the news of Absalom’s death was only exceeded by his ignorance. Joab knew that Ahimaaz, despite his willingness to be put to use actually had nothing to say since he had nothing prepared. Nevertheless, he let him run only proving that his report lacked detail and definitiveness (v. 29) In our labors for the Lord, we too may have the same interest to be of service to the King, but unless we are prepared in heart and mind, we too may be carrying a powerful message but present it in a bland and powerless way. May we learn the importance of obtaining and owning a powerful message in private so that we can deliver it with conviction in public.

Father, give Thy benediction,
Give Thy peace before we part;
Still our minds with truth’s conviction,
Calm with trust each anxious heart.–Dimitri Bortnianski

The Guidance of the Lord

“He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.” Deut. 32:10

Before Israel entered Canaan, Moses’ song recounted the prominent aspects of God’s mighty work on their behalf. “He found him” was a stark reminder of His unmerited favor that extricated them from the nations of the world and set them apart for His purposes. “He encircled him” was testimony to His protective care during their vulnerable time as they departed from Egypt and traveled through the wilderness. “He instructed him” recalled His loving nurture of them so that they might know more of the God they served and His great love. And “He kept them” was a powerful statement of His faithfulness despite their failures. As with Israel, so it is with us in Christ. We were found and set apart by God’s amazing grace, protected by His loving hand, instructed through His Word and Spirit, and will be kept by His power through faith unto salvation. Nothing of us and all of Him. Praise His name.

Thy mercy found us in our sins,
and gave us to believe;
Then in believing peace we found;
And in thy Christ we live.

A Living Sacrifice

“Also you shall make its pans to receive its ashes, and its shovels and its basins and its forks
and its firepans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze.” Ex. 27:3

Prescribed by God, fleshhooks were used in the service of the Tabernacle to keep sacrifices centered on the altar. As the sacrifice burned, these fleshhooks ensured that it remained there until it was totally consumed. Likewise, believers are called to keep their lives on the altar of commitment, presenting their bodies a “living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” Ours is a call to full resignation to God’s will. The Holy Spirit, His Word, prayer, and fellowship of the saints are various “fleshhooks” that He provides to help keep us steadfast in our commitment to Him. Are we using them?

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid? Your heart, does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest, have peace and sweet rest, as you yield Him your body and soul.

Crossing Over

“On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Mark 4:35

Little did the disciples realize what lay ahead in their journey– the windstorm, the waves, the worry. “Master, do you not care that we are perishing?” (v. 38) These are our thoughts also when we take our eyes off the Lord and look to much t our circumstances. But the One who said “let us cross over” knows our every need, goes before us, and will surely see us through.

“Jesus, Lover of my soul, Let me to thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide, Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the harbor guide; O receive my soul at last!” – Charles Wesley

A Case Study in Conversion – Luke 19

“… make haste and come down, for today, I must abide at thy house.” Luke 19:5
“ And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully”. Luke 19:6

There was perhaps not a more unlikely candidate for salvation than Zacchaeus. Not only was he an unscrupulous tax-collector, despised by his own countrymen with a reputation to prove it (v. 7), but he was also rich and from a material standpoint probably had need of nothing. Yet in his heart, there was an aching to find out more about this Man named Jesus, who was to pass his way. He was commanded by the Lord to “make haste” and “come down”, which he did with joy, something that friends and money never provided him. Friend, what is keeping you from coming to the Lord? Is it your reputation or work? Do people get in your way? Or are you simply reluctant to humble yourself and “come down” to see what He has for you? “Make haste” and “come down” and you too can receive Him joyfully.

Make not conscience make you linger, nor of fitness fondly dream,
All the fitness Christ requireth, is to feel your need of Him.

Good News From a Far Country

“Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.”Joshua 13:1

Despite his advanced age, God charged Joshua to fully possess the remaining land of Canaan. Jericho, Ai, Hazor and other Caananite strongholds had all been defeated, but there were still enemies to be driven out and land to be occupied if they were to fully enjoy the inheritance that God had promised. Joy, peace, and communion with the Lord are all a part of our spiritual inheritance in Christ which is guaranteed in heaven (1 Peter 1:4) but which must be fought for by faith to appreciate now. But standing in the way is a trinity of evil — the world, the flesh, and the devil which are constantly at work to contest our right of inheritance in Christ. Like Joshua, we must admit despite our age or experience, there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed–a worthy goal as we head into this new year.

Sure I must fight if I would reign: Increase my courage, Lord;
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy word. — Isaac Watts

The Intercessory Work of Christ – Matthew 14

“And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.” John 6:17
“ And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.” Matt 14:25

It had been a long day of ministry. Having fed the multitude, the Lord sent them away while making His disciples get into a boat as He went up on the mountain to pray. But while the disciple’s were at sea, a storm arose greatly hindering their progress. Four adverse conditions prevailed: they were tossed by the waves, the wind was contrary, they were far from land and it was dark—and He had not yet come to them. But when all seemed hopeless, deep in the night He did appear, offering words of assurance. (John 6:20) Adverse conditions may likewise be prevailing in our experience, hindering our spiritual progress. But rest assured dear friend, the same Lord, who you may not see now, sees you and is also praying for you. He will come to you in time and make His presence known.

Ev’ry day, He comes to me with new assurance, More and more I understand His words of love;
But I’ll never know just why He came to save me, Till some day I see His blessed face above.” – Weigle

Making Room for New Trees

“To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3

“When it is time to remove the older trees, we circle them to make way for the younger trees”, the park guide told our little group. “What do you mean, ‘circle them’?, I asked.” “Well” he said, “when it is time for the older trees to be removed, we cut a circle around the bark to slow their lives so that the younger trees will take their place and begin the process of growing deeper, stronger roots” to eventually replace the older trees. Likewise, many an older saint after standing tall for the Lord through many years of service may be slowed down making the way for a new generation to take their place in the service for the Lord and stand for Him.

“Faith of our fathers” we will love both friend and foe in all our strife.
And preach thee, too as love knows how, by kindly words and virtuous life.”

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