Nuggets – To Be Like Him

“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all
manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for
I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
Scripture admonishes us as Christians to be like our Lord
and Savior in “all manner of conversation,” or all manner of
life. We are His earthly witnesses, and we must so order our
lives that we are an adequate reflection of Him.
We are to be like Him in the purity of our lives. As our text
points out, “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” “Every man that hath
this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John
3:3). “Follow…holiness, without which no man shall see the
Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Our daily walk and lives should be patterned after Him. “He
that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even
as he walked” (1 John 2:6). “If we walk in the light, as he is in
the light, we have fellowship one with another” (1 John 1:7).
Furthermore, we are to be like Him in love. “Beloved, let us
love one another: for love is of God…for God is love” (1 John
4:7-8). We are to be willing to suffer unjustly without revenge,
“because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example,
that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was
guile found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:21-22).
Being like Him involves a life of service, as well. “If I then,
your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to
wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that
ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15).
Christ has forgiven each of us many times, even though our
sins grieve Him deeply. He stands ready to forgive and restore
fellowship, and so should we. With His help, we can emulate
Him, even when we are wronged. “Be ye kind one to another,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s
sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). JDM

From Days of Praise


Nuggets – The Flesh and the Spirit

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the
lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
The conflict between flesh and spirit is a frequent theme in
Scripture, beginning way back in the antediluvian period: “And
the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that
he also is flesh” (Genesis 6:3). The “flesh,” of course, refers to
the physical body with all its feelings and appetites, while man’s
“spirit” refers especially to his spiritual nature with its ability to
understand and communicate in terms of spiritual and moral values, along with its potential ability to have fellowship with God.
Because of sin, however, the natural man is spiritually
“dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), and “they that
are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). When the
flesh dominates, even the apostle Paul would have to say,
“I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good
thing” (Romans 7:18). This aspect of human nature became
so dominant in the antediluvian world that “all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (Genesis 6:12), and God had
to wash the world clean with the Flood.
Now, however, the substitutionary death of Christ brings
salvation and spiritual life to all who receive Him by the Holy
Spirit. “If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin;
but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit
of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he
that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your
mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans
8:10-11). By the Lord Jesus Christ, the human spirit is made
alive right now, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the
body’s resurrection is promised when Christ returns.
“They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh.” The daily
challenge to the believer is this: “If we live in the Spirit, let us
also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24-25). HMM

From Days of Praise


Nuggets – Who Shall Let It?

“Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can
deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?”
(Isaiah 43:13)
This is one of the classic “archaisms” of the King James
Version, where the English word “let” does not mean “allow”
(as we now use the word) but almost the exact opposite. This
particular English word was originally written and pronounced
“lat” and was from the same Teutonic root as the word “late.”
Thus, to our Old English ancestors, it meant essentially “make
late,” or “hinder.” Note its similar use in the King James in
Romans 1:13 and 2 Thessalonians 2:7.
However, the Hebrew word (shub) from which it is translated in the verse of our text is extremely flexible, being rendered
no less than 115 different ways in the Old Testament, occurring
about 1,150 times altogether, with the context controlling its
meaning in any given case.
In this context, the great theme is that of God as omnipotent
Creator and only Savior. The first occurrence of shub, however,
is at the time of the primeval curse on the creation, implanted
in the very dust of the earth because of Adam’s sin. To Adam,
God had said: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till
thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for
dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19).
Here, shub is twice rendered “return,” and this is the way it is
most often translated in its later occurrences.
God therefore challenges every man: “When I work, who
can return anything [or anyone] to its [or his] prior condition?”
Though none can deliver out of His hand, or “make late” His
work, He has promised to be our Savior, “and will not remember
thy sins” (Isaiah 43:11, 25). When it is time for God to do His
work—whether of creation or judgment or salvation—there is
no one in all His creation who can “make it late”! HMM

From Days of Praise


Nuggets – Elioenai

“And the sons of Neariah; Elioenai, and Hezekiah, and Azrikam, three.” (1 Chronicles 3:23)
Elioenai’s name is in a long list of names in the book of
Chronicles. In fact, it is significant that the Bible contains the
proper names of more individuals than can be found in all the
other books of antiquity put together—strong evidence of its
historical authenticity. These were real names of real people,
and each would, no doubt, have a fascinating story to tell if
he could. The ancient Israelites were very conscious of their
divine calling as God’s chosen people; family relationships and
genealogical records were highly valued.
Godly parents were very conscious that “children are an
heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3) and commonly gave each of
them a name with some special spiritual meaning. Neariah, whose
name meant “servant of the Lord,” was a distant descendant of
David, and his firstborn son was Elioenai. This was a testimony of
parental faith, for it means “turning your eyes to the mighty God.”
Very little else is known about Elioenai (except the names
of his two brothers and seven sons), but the lengthy genealogies break off in the generation of his sons, indicating probably that his parents were in the generation taken captive to
Babylon. It is fascinating to wonder why they gave Elioenai
his name and to imagine how it may have influenced the life
and spiritual growth of Elioenai himself.
In any case, it is a beautiful and meaningful name, and we
can hope that his character developed accordingly. For, if so,
believers will be able to meet him in heaven someday.
His name still bears an urgent message to us today: “Turn
your eyes upon Jesus; turn to the mighty God, your Creator
and Savior!” We should also remember the example of the
godly parents in ancient times, in giving our children names
that will inspire them and be a testimony to others. HMM

from Days of Praise


Nuggets – Threescore Years and Ten

“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)

When Moses wrote these words near the end of his life, he was 120 years old (Deuteronomy 34:7), but all the rest of the people of Israel (except Caleb and Joshua) who had been over 20 at the beginning of the 40-year wilderness wanderings had died there (Numbers 14:28-34), and so there were no others over 60 years old.

In former days men had lived much longer. Adam died at 930 and Noah at 950, but then Shem only lived to 600, and Abraham died at 175 years of age. Thus, the normal lifespan by Moses’ time was down to 70 or 80 years, and he prophesied that this would continue.

It is remarkable that, with all the increase in medical knowledge, this figure has stayed about the same, and there seems to be little the gerontologists can do to increase it.

Furthermore, the latter years are largely “labor and sorrow,” just as God told Adam when his sin brought God’s curse on the earth (Genesis 3:17-20). No matter how much we try to prolong our lives, we are “soon cut off.”

But then, we “fly away”! The soul/spirit complex of the Christian believer, released from its weary body, flies away to be with the Lord. Those left behind may sorrow, but “to depart, and to be with Christ…is far better.” The Christian may confidently say with Paul: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:23, 21). In the meantime, as our time grows shorter, it is more important than ever that we “walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5). “So teach us to number our days,” prayed Moses (and so should we), “that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). HMM

From Days of Praise


Ask God—Don’t Command Him–Another “New Commandment”

Immortality Road

“Ask” is one of the new commandments that Christ has given us. No. Really. Ask. Simple, right?

He has commanded us to ask. We are very acquainted with His words. “Ask, and it shall be given.” And so we try to ask God for things in our prayers. But most of us are not really asking; we are commanding Him, not asking Him!

I examined my prayer life, and I found that I was using commands in my prayers: “God, help brother William. Give him strength to fight the disease. Heal him, God.” Sounds okay. I’m trying to get some help for William. But I was giving God commands! “Help…Give…Heal…” I was telling God what to do and when to do it. I was not asking Him reverently. I was giving Him commandments instead of obeying His new commandment.

Someone will say, “But my heart was in…

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Stability in the Storm

Are your circumstances causing you to wonder about God’s involvement in your life?  What do you do when things seem to go from bad to worse?  How do you keep going in moments when all you hope for seems to disappear?

If these questions seem deeply familiar, it’s because they resonate within all of us at one time or another.  Read the psalms.  David, the one described as a man after God’s own heart, writes with aching realism.  In one verse he touts gigantic faith, and then in another, he wrestles with feeling distant and far away from his Creator.

So when you feel your faith wavering, remember that you’re not the only one who’s felt that way.  But don’t take that as permission to dwell where you are either.  Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus reminded His disciples how to face our doubts and conquer them.  “Trust in God. Trust also in Me,” He said. When circumstances shift and change with wild ferocity, take a moment to check your focus.  Adjust your gaze away from how your situation appears, but instead, anchor it firmly on God who promises “to never leave you nor forsake you.”


Nuggets – Christ Our Substitute

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28)

There are two specific references in the New Testament to Christ “bearing” our sins as He died on the cross. In addition to our text above, the other is 1 Peter 2:24: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.”

However, the same word (Greek anaphero) is also used with a similar thrust in Hebrews 7:27, where it is translated “offer up”: “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.”

When Christ died, He died as a substitutionary sacrifice, “offering up” our sins for judgment and punishment by a holy God, as He simultaneously “offered up” Himself as the One who would submit to that judgment and bear that punishment. He was able to do this because He was both the infinite Creator and the one sinless man, who needed not to offer a sacrifice for His own sins. He was willing to do this because He loved us and wanted to save us.

This doctrine of substitutionary sacrifice is central to the gospel of salvation, and therefore precious to the saint. But its central importance likewise means that it is profoundly offensive to the natural man. Many acclaim Him as a great martyr or a great teacher but deny either His deity or His humanity, and certainly deny the universal efficacy of His shed blood in substitutionary sacrifice for the sin of a lost world.

Nevertheless, He did bear the sins of “the many,” and He did completely settle our account with God. In both Hebrews 7:27 and 9:28 (as cited above), the word “once” means, literally, “once for all.” He did have to die once—but only once—as our sin-bearing substitute. Thus, when He comes again, it will be “without sin unto salvation.” HMM

From Days of Praise


Nuggets – Pastors and Teachers

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” (Ephesians 4:11)

The four or five specific spiritual gifts mentioned by Paul in this passage are said to have been given “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). And all of this is for the ultimate goal that “we…speaking the truth in love, may grow up into [Christ] in all things” (Ephesians 4:14-15).

The teaching gift is of particular importance in attaining this goal. The gift of serving as an apostle was given only to the 12 plus a few others (e.g., Paul) who had actually seen the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21-221 Corinthians 9:1); the last of these was John. The gift of real prophets who could convey God’s revelations to men was necessary in that first century before the New Testament was written, but that also has apparently ceased (1 Corinthians 13:8), though there are still many false prophets (Matthew 24:11).

The gifts of evangelists and pastors will continue as long as there continue to be lost people who need to be won and new believers who need to be led (the word “pastor” actually means “shepherd” and is so translated in all its other occurrences). The other two lists of spiritual gifts do not mention either evangelists or pastors, but all three do mention teachers (Romans 12:71 Corinthians 12:28). Many pastors also have the gift of teaching, but the other two lists indicate that teaching is a gift for many others as well.

In fact, Christ’s great commission included teaching people “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). And since He in the beginning had created “all things” and is now “upholding all things” (Colossians 1:16Hebrews 1:3), this teaching could well include all true education, in every subject. HMM

From Days of Praise


Nuggets – Fear Not, Little Flock

“But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Luke 12:31)

In these days of financial worries and rampant materialism, it does us good to reflect on Christ’s teaching concerning our priorities. In this passage, He was teaching His disciples not to be troubled over temporal things (v. 22), but to rest in the fact that He will supply our needs. “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (v. 28). We are not to have our mind set on material things (v. 29), neither are we to be “of doubtful mind” wavering between hope and fear of the future.

We are to be different. We are children of the King and are in His care. The “nations of the world seek after” (v. 30) these things. Our Father knows that we have need of certain things, and since He loves us and has our best interests at heart, we have nothing to “fear” and can be assured that “all these things shall be added unto [us]” (v. 31).

But more is involved. It is not enough simply to avoid improper fixation on the things of the world; we are to seek rather “the Kingdom of God”; we are to be about His business. His priorities should be our priorities. We must strive to know Him and His Word so well that we naturally conform our actions to His desires. If we do so, He not only will take pleasure in supplying our physical needs (v. 31), but also “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (v. 32).

It is our privilege to participate in His work on Earth as He enables. Our part may be to give: “Sell [what you] have, and give alms,” thereby storing up “a treasure in the heavens that faileth not” (v. 33), or to pray, “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (v. 34). If our primary desire is to enhance the work of the Kingdom, then He will give us that desire, and we will see fruit that lasts for eternity. JDM

From the Days of Praise