Nuggets – The Word Made Flesh

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

This is the definitive verse on the divine incarnation, when “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19), and the wealth of truth implied therein is beyond human comprehension. We can never understand how the infinite God could become finite man, but where the intellect fails, faith prevails.

It was the Word who “was God” and by whom “all things were made” (John 1:1, 3), yet He made His own human body, in the womb of Mary, and therein “dwelt among us” for 33 years. The Greek word here for “dwelt” is unusual, literally meaning “tabernacled.”

How could this be? “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). This is, indeed, a great mystery, “but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). God made a body for Adam; surely He could also make a perfect body in which He Himself could “tabernacle.” He was made “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3) and “was in all points tempted [i.e., tested] like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Since “God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13), and since the Word, who was God, was merely tabernacling in the likeness of sinful flesh, this testing was to demonstrate to man (not to Himself) that He was without sin and therefore able to save sinners. Therefore, John could testify, “We beheld his glory!”

Jesus Christ is, indeed, true man—in fact, He is man as God intended man to be. Yet, neither in the womb of Mary, nor on the cross, did He ever cease to be God. HMM

From Days of Praise

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Nuggets – No Other Name

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

There are many famous names in the history of religious thought—names such as Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, Joseph Smith, among a host of others. Each has a multitude of followers who pay homage to his name.

But there is only one name that saves eternally, the Lord Jesus Christ. The words of our text were spoken by the apostle Peter. In his epistle, John also stresses this fact: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12). The apostle Paul wrote that all those “that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

This exclusivity necessarily results from the fact that there is only one God and Creator of all men, and that all men have rebelled against Him. God Himself has become Redeemer and Savior, dying for the sin of the world and rising again. There can, therefore, be no other Savior than God Himself.

The Lord Jesus repeatedly stressed this truth. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).

It is urgent, therefore, that anyone desiring forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation come to God through Jesus Christ. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). HMM

From Days of Praise

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Filipino Expat Encouragement RL023

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The Legacy of Sodom and Gomorrah

THROUGHOUT Scripture and in countless extrabiblical works, Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities of the plain (Genesis 13:12) stand as a symbol of divine judgment for collective wickedness. What was once a well-watered, fertile region is today barren, full of tar pits, mounds of asphalt, and marsh. These ill-fated cities remind us that wickedness will not go unpunished. They also show that God not only judges sinful individuals, such as Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:26), but also entire cities and their surroundings.

However, the story is not all bad news. After the tragic end of Sodom and Gomorrah, “God remembered Abraham.” – Genesis 19:29. When we remember the patriarch’s righteous example, several lessons of the story become clear:

  • Prayer makes a difference. Abraham shows us that it is legitimate to pray for cities, as he did (Genesis 18:22–33). We may not always be able to go to a city, but we can still pray for it. Abraham prayed more for a place than for individual people. He prayed persistently for an entire city, believing that nothing was too hard for the Lord (Genesis 18:14). Moreover, he prayed for justice in the city, as well as for its peace and salvation. His example challenges us to ask: Are we praying for cities today? If so, what are we asking God to do? Save the city, or judge it?
  • People count. Ten believing persons living in Sodom could have saved it (Genesis 18:32). In other words, the presence of righteous persons acting as salt and light can preserve places where evil runs rampant. Even though Sodom was filled with wickedness, God would have saved it if He had found even a handful of righteous people. He spared Zoar, for the sake of one righteous man—Lot (Genesis 19:16–22; 2 Peter 2:6-7). As God’s people, are we living righteously in the places to which He has called us?
  • God is sovereign. God’s decision to destroy four cities of the plain but to preserve the fifth, Zoar, shows that He is ultimately in control. Let there be no mistake: God does not want to destroy cities or their systems and people (2 Peter 3:9); but He can, and will. He decides when, where, and how judgment will fall. On the other hand, God can rescue people from evil places when and if He wishes. We might ask: Do we trust and respect the sovereignty of God? Do we live with a perspective that He is ultimately in control? Do we act as though we are accountable to Him?
  • Pride goes before a fall. Sodom was destroyed not only because of sexual sin (Genesis 19:1–17; Jude 7), but because it had pride and a surplus of wealth, yet failed to care for its poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:48–50). Its example challenges us: What are we doing with the resources God has put under our control?
  • Fleeing from the city does not avoid sin; it only spreads it around. The behavior of Lot and his daughters after fleeing from Sodom shows that sin is not confined to the city; they exported Sodom-like immorality to the hinterlands (Genesis 19:19–22, 30–36). Are we running from the city in order to “escape” its problems and evils? Is it possible that God wants us to stay and live as His representatives of righteousness?

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*Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
**Scripture links courtesy of Biblia.com
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Nuggets – The Lord Our Maker

“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.” (Psalm 95:6)

In the first chapter of Genesis we are told that God was to “make man in our image,” and also that He “created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:26-27). Similarly, on the seventh day God “rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:3).

God is, therefore, both Creator and Maker of all things, including the image of God in man. These two terms are not synonymous, though they sometimes seem to be used interchangeably. “Creation” is calling into existence entities that previously had no existence. No one except God is ever the subject of the verb “create.” The work of making, on the other hand, is that of organizing created entities into complex systems.

It is interesting that God is called “Creator” five times in the Bible, whereas He is called “Maker” 16 times. God created His image in men and women, but He also made them in that image. That is, He called into existence the spiritual component of man’s nature, not shared in any degree by the animals. He also organized the basic material elements into complex human bodies, the most highly organized systems in the universe, and these were made in that image that God Himself would one day assume when He became an incarnate human being. In this way, He is both Creator and Maker of His image in each person.

That image has been marred because of sin, but through the work of Christ we have been “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:10), and our bodies will “be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Created and newly created, made and remade, let us humbly kneel before the Lord, our Maker and Creator. HMM

From Days of Praise

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Nuggets – Open Doors

“Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” (Colossians 4:3-4)

This was Paul’s prayer request of the Colossian Christians, that God would open the door for His testimony. Paul had written earlier about “when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 2:12). The purpose of an open door is thus to preach the gospel of Christ and to speak the mystery of Christ.

Furthermore, these passages indicate that such doors are opened by the Lord, not by human devices. In fact, Christ Himself is “he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth” (Revelation 3:7). Doors of testimony are opened by the Lord in answer to prayer, but He also specifies three criteria for keeping the door opened. “I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8).

These conditions mean, literally, having little strength of one’s own and thus depending only on God, jealously guarding the integrity of God’s Word, and upholding the name of Christ as Creator, Savior, and coming King.

Even when the door is kept open by God, there is no assurance of ease in entering it. Paul wrote that “a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9). This is the reason prayer is needed, relying on God, not man!

The Lord is also seeking an open door into churches that think they “have need of nothing….Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:17, 20). HMM

From Days of Praise

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