Daily Light – August 23, 2019

Health or Rottenness

Daily Meditation from David Niednagel:  Pastor and Teacher.  David uses the S.O.A.P. method for his daily morning devotional time.  (Study, Observe, Apply, Pray).

Prov 14:30   A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.   NIV

We all prefer life and health over sickness and misery. This proverb describes a heart at peace – not the common word for peace (Shalom) but a word with the primary meaning of something that has been healed. It also describes a heart that is not healed,-  a heart that wants more, that does not have peace, in fact it brings disease to our very core – a rottenness to our bones. Pain, weakness, stumbling, brokenness – which no one wants.

The proverb says if we have strong desires for “stuff” we may or may not get the stuff, but we will get rottenness – which we don’t want. If we are past the belief that stuff/things will make us happy, and our heart is healed of those desires, we will have life! 

Of course we need some things, but if we are insecure, we think the more we have the more we will be admired and valued in our culture. That is not true. Other people may want our stuff, but they will not necessarily love or respect us, unless we have a good heart. We can recognize some people who brag about their wealth (like president Trump, entertainers, athletes) and see the truth of this proverb and the bankruptcy of their lives. But those of us who have far less money can also have the same disease in us. God made us to love people and use things, but we often love things and use people to get those things.

Lord, I can so easily want more! Something newer. Something cool. Help me desire You more and have more contentment about things. I know the answer to envy is generosity, so help me have a heart that wants to bless others more than consume stuff. Help me live life to the fullest, not by getting, but by having the mind of Christ. Amen

Daily Light – August 22, 2019

Not One of God’s Words Will Fail

Article by David Mathis, Executive Editor, desiringGod.org

Not one word has failed. Joshua, as leader of God’s people, had said this not once, but twice after God brought them safely into the land he promised (Joshua 21:4523:14).

Several hundred years later, at the height of the earthly kingdom, in his benediction to the dedication of the temple, Solomon echoed Joshua’s declaration: “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant” (1 Kings 8:56).

Not one of God’s words had failed. It was an important reminder for the first readers of the book of Kings, as they found themselves at rock bottom (all too soon after Solomon’s reign). Having fallen from those heights to the depths of exile, God’s people were tempted to wonder, Have God’s plan and power failed?

Again and again, 1 and 2 Kings seeks to restore and strengthen the faith of God’s languishing people, not with platitudes and generalities, but with specific details and concrete facts. God’s people need to be confronted with the stark realities of what God had said through his prophets and how, without fail, he acted to fulfill his word.

Specificity Feeds Faith

Two and a half millennia later, such specificity still feeds faith. Generalities about God and his trustworthiness draw on a depleting store, while concrete details, textures, and hues replenish the supply. Which is why God gave us such a big book, a book big enough to feed our faith for a whole life long. God means for his church to move about and feed from the whole pasture, not cluster in one corner of the field. He means for us not simply to remind ourselves that God is good and keeps his word, but to recall specific expressions of his goodness and particular instances in which he spoke and it came to pass, seemingly against all odds.

Some of God’s promises come to pass quickly, even overnight. Others stretch over long periods of time, acting as sinews holding together the history of his covenant people over centuries. Both long-term and short-term prophecies serve to build and renew the confidence of his people. In a previous article, I rehearsed a few of the more arresting short-term fulfillments, but here let’s consider some of the more significant long-term examples of God’s faithfulness to his word. Marvel with me at the power and patience of God, and let the specific details fill the tank of your confidence in him to accomplish, in his perfect timing, all that he promises.

As much as we might suspect differently, God never goes back on his word. As he said to Jeremiah, “I am watching over my word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:12), even when he watches for hundreds of years. Remembering his long-term care and faithfulness may not, on its own, relieve our pain today in waiting, but through it God does provide strength to endure while we wait.

Two Sons Die the Same Day

In 1 Kings 2:27, shortly after Solomon’s coronation, while the new king is establishing his reign, we learn that “Solomon expelled Abiathar from being priest to the Lord, thus fulfilling the word of the Lord that he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.” This was no day-old prophecy. It was a century old.

The promise went back generations to 1 Samuel 2:27–36, before the call of Samuel, who, in his old age, anointed David as king after Saul. Eli, serving as priest and judge in Israel for forty years, had kept his own nose clean but looked the other way on the wickedness of his sons, Hophni and Phinehas. A nameless “man of God” came forward to pronounce God’s judgment on Eli’s house because of his sons:

All the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. (1 Samuel 2:33–35)

The immediate word came to pass in 1 Samuel 4:11. The Philistines slaughtered thirty thousand Israelite foot soldiers, captured the ark of the covenant, and killed Eli’s sons. But then God patiently waited, until the reign of Solomon, to finally unseat the house of Eli, one hundred years later. God’s word did not fail.

Jericho Seven Centuries Later

At the end of 1 Kings 16 comes the first introduction and summary of the 22-year reign of Ahab, a wicked king in Israel. In the writer’s brief summary, he mentions something seemingly incidental that transpired in that span:

In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun. (1 Kings 16:34)

It’s a stunning lightning strike of prophetic fulfillment. Seven hundred years have passed since Joshua said, “Cursed before the Lord be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho. At the cost of his firstborn shall he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates” (Joshua 6:26).

Now the Kings narrative marks for us, as a simple parenthesis in Ahab’s reign, how God is watching over his word to perform it. What he said through Joshua, he meant. The passing of seven centuries did not negate one syllable of his word.

He Knew the King by Name

For those who know well the story of Israel’s tragic fall, over five centuries, into exile, we know a king named Josiah comes near the end of that tragedy (2 Kings 22–23). So, it’s surprising to hear his name foretold centuries before (1 Kings 13:2). The kingdom is newly divided between Solomon’s son (Rehoboam) and Solomon’s former servant (Jeroboam), and another nameless prophet arises to tell the latter, addressing the altar of his idolatry,

Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you. (1 Kings 13:2)

What, of course, is remarkable is that the prophet gives the specific name of a coming king, in David’s line — a king who will not even be born for almost three hundred years. Then an immediate sign is fulfilled (1 Kings 13:3–5), granting assurance that God will most certainly fulfill his long-term promise.

Sure enough, almost three hundred years later, a young ruler arises who, against the grain, “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2). His name: Josiah. Not only does a king ascend by that specific name, but he also fulfills the particular prediction:

The altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place [Josiah] pulled down and burned, reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah. And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of the Lord that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things. (2 Kings 23:15–16)

The Thousand-Year Judgment

Finally, and perhaps most dramatically, is the exile itself. The very Trauma that had so unsettled the collective faith of God’s people, and threatened to destroy them as a nation, and called God’s word into question among the faithless, was in fact precisely what God himself had foretold by his prophets. Here at the end of the Kings narrative, during the reign of Josiah’s son Jehoiakim, we discover where the story has been driving all along:

In his days, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him. And the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and bands of the Syrians and bands of the Moabites and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by his servants the prophets. (2 Kings 24:1–2)

Now it’s no mention of a singular prophecy, but the sweeping “by his servants the prophets.” This is a thousand-year, multi-prophet project finally coming to its horrible fulfillment. One of those prophets had been Isaiah, who had said to good King Hezekiah, “Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord” (2 Kings 20:17). Isaiah even pinpointed the specific nation more than a hundred years in advance.

God also spoke “by his servants the prophets” to King Hezekiah’s wicked son Manasseh:

Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria, and the plumb line of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day. (2 Kings 21:12–15)

Yet even at this point, God wasn’t done issuing warnings. He spoke to Josiah as well about the coming exile: “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there” (2 Kings 23:27). All along, the ministry of the prophets had been leading here, to exile. God’s people, on the whole, had disobeyed him “since the day their fathers came out of Egypt” (2 Kings 21:15). God sent his prophets, one after another, generation after generation, to awaken his people to repentance and warn of exile to come. But, as a whole, they would not repent.

In fact, God himself had said even through the greatest, most conspicuous prophet, Moses, “They shall go into captivity” (Deuteronomy 28:41), as well as, “You shall be plucked off the land” (Deuteronomy 28:63). And then he said to Moses (to be recorded as a testament against the people),

Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. (Deuteronomy 31:16–17)

For those who remembered these prominent words, exile was not a challenge to God’s word, but a confirmation of his plan and power. Nearly 900 years before Babylon ransacked and destroyed Jerusalem, God had said it would happen. And as the time drew near during the reigns of Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Josiah, he confirmed it again and again. A chorus of prophetic voices, spanning almost a millennium, had foretold that God would do the humanly unthinkable. And he did.

He Will Keep His Word

Kings records this important word from God through Isaiah: “Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass” (2 Kings 19:25). Not only does God have the power to make the utterly unthinkable happen in 24-hour cycles; he also has the patience to watch attentively over his words, and bring them to pass — every single one — in his perfect timing, whether it spans days and weeks, or generations and millennia.

To the Christian, even more impressive than century-spanning prophecies about Jericho, Josiah, and the exile are the long-range promises fulfilled in Jesus. More than four centuries before he came, Malachi told of a messenger who would prepare the way for God himself (Malachi 3:1). Seven centuries prior, Isaiah wrote of “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), who would be “pierced for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5).

Even the Kings narrative ends in hope, that God is keeping, and will keep, his promise to David, as the Davidic heir comes into unexpected favor in Babylon (2 Kings 25:27–30). God promised that he would not let the lamp of David go out (2 Kings 8:19), and God always keeps his word.

Every Word Comes True

Now, on this side of Christ’s coming, we take heart knowing that God’s words to us will not fail. Not that they all have come to pass. Not that we don’t have to wait. In this age, we wait for healing, for restoration, for peace, for fullness of joy.

Filled with fresh faith from feeding in Scripture on the details of how God has fulfilled his word in the past, we look with confidence to the day when our world finally rings with this great announcement:

Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:3–4)

God never goes back on his word. Not one of his promises will fail. Some will come true even in this life, and all of them in the age to come.

David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org and pastor at Cities Churchin Minneapolis/St. Paul. He is a husband, father of four, and author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.

Daily Light – August 21, 2019

Am I Truly Born Again?

Four Evidences That You Are New

Article by William Farley

We all know that not everyone who claims to be a born-again Christian is a genuine follower of Christ. A 2017 study by LifeWay Research discovered that 24% of Americans profess to be evangelical. A higher percent claim to be born again. But when pressed, only about 15% of Americans can affirm the most basic evangelical beliefs.

This is not a new problem. Anyone who has been a Christian for long knows someone who professes Christianity but fails to believe what Christians should believe, or believes right doctrine but exhibits little or no fruit. A gap always exists between the number of people who profess to be born again and those who possess the reality. This is true of every congregation. That is one reason why the constant preaching of the gospel matters. The more the gospel is preached, the smaller that gap becomes.

So, acknowledging that the gap exists, how can we know that someone who professes new birth actually possesses it? Those legitimately born again are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5). What does it mean to have the Holy Spirit living within us? Fundamentally, it means that the Holy Spirit is communicating a conviction about Christ’s moral beauty to the eyes and ears of our hearts. This communication has four important distinctives.

First, the medium of God’s communication is a conviction of faith.

Second, the place where it occurs is the heart.

Third, the knowledge communicated is the moral beauty of Christ — a growing grasp of his moral and spiritual goodness.

Fourth, the effect is changed behavior motivated by a growing desire to be holy as God is holy.

Have You Experienced Real Conviction?

First, the medium of communion with God is a growing conviction of faith. Remember, “Faith is . . . the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). True faith empowers us to increasingly see truth through God’s eyes — from a divine perspective. We “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). New birth equips us to increasingly taste spiritual truth. The primary way we taste is through conviction.

For example, I recently read Paul’s description of man’s sinfulness in Romans 3:9–20. As I read “their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive,” God opened my heart to see that this was often me. Then the thought that God had loved me, even in this condition, overwhelmed me. The result was a new conviction about the depth of God’s love and mercy. My soul soared in gratitude, and I felt a heightened desire to serve and live for God.

This is what takes place when the Holy Spirit speaks to us. We see spiritual truth with God’s eyes, and conviction is always a byproduct.

Many reading these words have experienced similar encounters with God. It can take place while reading Scripture, while listening to a sermon, while busy jogging, driving, or vacuuming the living room. To the degree that this communication happens, everything changes.

Has Something Happened in Your Heart?

Second, the location of this interaction with God is the heart, not simply the mind. In the work of sanctification, God never bypasses the mind. The intellect is crucial. Although the conviction that points to new birth passes through the mind, however, it occurs in the heart. “With the heart one believes and is justified” (Romans 10:10). “Faith is the candlestick,” noted Charles Spurgeon, “which holds the candle by which the chamber of the heart is enlightened.”

We use the expression “from the heart” to describe something done with enthusiasm and joy — something done because we want to. By contrast, we say “my heart wasn’t in it” to describe behavior done strictly from a sense of duty. Although some duty always characterizes Christianity, fundamentally it is a heart religion.

Before conversion, our hearts might be into material wealth, popularity, entertainment, or career success. After conversion, we are increasingly into God himself (not just his gifts). Increasingly, he becomes our heart’s delight. John Bunyan described the Holy Spirit’s heart conviction as God branding our hearts with a hot iron.

Is Christ More and More Beautiful?

Third, the subject of this communication is ultimately the moral beauty and goodness of Christ. I am not talking about eschatology or the best form of church government. These subjects matter, but you can have convictions about them and not be born again. But you cannot have a conviction about the moral beauty, the utter glory and trustworthiness of Christ, without the inward presence of the Holy Spirit.

That is why Paul described new birth as the shining forth of “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” in our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6). It is a growing heart conviction that God is good, that he can be trusted, that I can spend my life in his service and will not be disappointed. This conviction about God’s goodness frees me to take the risks that always accompany obedience. It is a down payment on our eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:13–14).

The more we gaze at the light of Christ, the brighter it gets. For example, at conversion my knowledge of God’s glory was basic. I trusted that God forgave my sin and loved me. Over the years, however, God has increasingly turned that light up. It now includes the excellence of his justice, the depth of his righteousness, and the majesty of his sovereignty. With each communication, the capacity to delight in his goodness has grown, and joyful obedience has increasingly followed.

Has Believing in Christ Changed You?

Fourth, this communication has one consistent effect: it motivates us to be like Christ in holiness and righteousness. New birth and spiritual fruit cannot be separated.

Our hearts cannot feel a growing conviction about “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” and not long to imitate what we see. This is what Paul meant when he also wrote, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). We will always imitate the object of our worship. That is why John inexorably connects new birth with a changed way of life. “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers” (1 John 3:14).

Am I Truly Changed?

Tragically, some legitimately born again will read this and doubt their salvation. That is not my intention. It is possible for us to experience assurance that we have been born again. Do you love and trust Christ more today than ten years ago? Yes, I know you have doubts. All Christians do at one time or another. But has your view of Christ changed? Do you increasingly want to imitate him? Has he become the treasure in the field for which you would sell everything (Matthew 13:44)?

Second, are you changing? I’m not asking if you are perfect, but are you changing? “You may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him” (1 John 2:29). Do you handle your money, your time, and your gifts differently? Is your speech becoming more godly? Are you more willing to forgive, to love an enemy, to push yourself out of your comfort zone? Are you changing how you relate to your spouse? Your roommate? Your parents? “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9).

Third, there will be a spiritual oxymoron. People born of God feel increasingly (and joyfully) unworthy. They feel their sin more acutely, and therefore are more dependent upon Christ and his grace. That is because their knowledge of Christ’s perfections grows much faster than their ability to change. Even though they are forgiven and growing in Christ, the contrast makes them feel increasingly unworthy.

Born Again for Good Works

From the data gathered from his many surveys, George Barna concludes that when “evaluating fifteen moral behaviors, [those who profess to be] born-again Christians are statistically indistinguishable from non-born-again adults.”

This will not be true of those who possess the reality of new birth. Just the opposite — they will increasingly enjoy communion with God. And a believer enjoying this communion will begin to change. “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4). That is because God saves purposefully. “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

When the Holy Spirit indwells us, he communicates a growing conviction about Christ’s moral goodness to the eyes and ears of our heart, and it slowly changes everything. “The core of conversion,” writes John Hannah in To God Be the Glory, “is the gift from God of a new indwelling principle in the heart of mankind. That principle is the very life of God; it is the love of God. This alone is the ground of true virtue and morality and is the exclusive means for glorifying God.

William Farley is a retired pastor and church planter. He and his wife, Judy, have five children and twenty-two grandchildren. They live in Spokane, Washington. He is the author of seven books, including Gospel-Powered Parenting.

Daily Light – August 20, 2019

Love Your Wife Like Jesus Loves Her

Ten Great Loves for Every Husband

Article by Tim Counts, Pastor of Northshire Baptist Church in Manchester Center, Vermont

Some days, you go to Bible study and your life is slowly but imperceptibly changed. Other days, you go to Bible study and something in God’s word changes the trajectory of the rest of your life.

One spring day in 1998, as an 18-year-old college freshman, I understood marriage in a way I never had before. I had signed up for a Bible study taught by my college pastor, “Preparing for Marriage.” That day, Pastor Doug Busby gave me and all of the young men in the room an assignment that I have been working on for the last 22 years. I will continue to work on this homework until, for my wife and me, “death do us part.”

My pastor read to us, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25). Then he asked us the obvious question (the question we husbands so often fail to ask in the daily grind of work and family life): Howdoes Jesus love the church?

Ten Christlike Loves

As I have scoured the Scriptures, year after year, looking for ways that Jesus loves the church, ways that he calls me to echo his love for me in my love for my wife, I have found ten great loves. As a husband, God calls you to love your wife like Jesus loves her, so meditate on his deep, complex, and unparalleled love.

1. Stubborn Love

Jesus won’t ever leave his bride. He says to her, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). His love for your wife is based not on her performance, but on his covenant love for her. When we keep our marriage covenants through all of the challenges and changes over years of married life, we reflect his kind of stubborn, delight-filled love. May our wives know the comfort of love that says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

2. Hopeful Love

When Jesus looks at your bride, he sees her as already sanctified. This hope is anchored in the power and promise of the gospel. Paul writes to believers, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). In fact, he sees her not only as already sanctified, but as already glorified (Romans 8:30). How often would your wife say that your love for her “hopes all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7)? By keeping eternity in mind, you can have patience with your wife, just as Jesus does with her — and you.

3. Pursuing Love

Jesus never takes a break from pursuing your wife’s heart, not romantically but persistently. In fact, he cares not only about her devotion, but also her affection (Psalm 37:4). He is the tireless Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine to seek after the one (Luke 15:4–7). In a similar way, God is glorified when a husband continually seeks a deeper relationship with his wife. A husband who has been captured by Jesus’s love is an incurable romantic toward his wife.

4. Forgiving Love

Jesus gives your wife grace when she doesn’t deserve it. It may be that the most Christlike thing you can do is offer your wife forgiveness on a daily basis, remembering that you too are in need of forgiveness. The picture of forgiving love that every husband should seek to emulate is Jesus making breakfast for Peter, who had sinned against him, denying him three times at his crucifixion (John 21:12–15). Is it you or your wife who is usually the first to begin to move toward reconciliation when it’s needed?

5. Joyful Love

Jesus doesn’t just put up with your wife or grudgingly but persistently love her — Jesus loves to love her. He delights to be with his bride. He receives joy by giving us joy (Hebrews 12:2). Wives who are loved this deeply, who know their husbands love to love them, are often an even greater blessing to others. Love your wife so joyfully that it’s obvious to her and others.

6. Serving Love

Jesus served her in life and death. There is nothing — nothing — that God can call you to do for your wife that would be too much! Jesus “gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Many husbands think of themselves as kings to be served, but you and I are called by God to be the chief servants in our homes. The way to Christlikeness in our marriages is through joining Jesus in taking up the towel and the basin (John 13:12–17).

7. Sanctifying Love

Jesus loves your wife by helping her to grow in holiness and by being her advocate before the Father (1 John 2:1). Do you encourage your wife to go to Bible study, even if it means you have to care for the kids by yourself for the evening? Do you regularly bring your wife before the Father in prayer? Work hard to help your wife blossom spiritually.

8. Leading Love

Jesus leads us to what is good for us. Jesus not only loves your wife with a leading rather than a passive love, but he also leads her toward what is good (Psalm 23:2). It is impossible to lead our wives spiritually if we ourselves are not being led by God through the word and prayer. One way you can lead her well is by seeking her input and then making big decisions (and accepting the consequences), rather than allowing the decisions and consequences to fall to her.

9. Providing Love

Jesus provides your wife with all that she needs. Do you notice your wife’s needs, even beyond physical provision, and do something about it? Christ nourishes her, providing an environment for growth and flourishing. The apostle Paul explains to us that “in the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28). It made a marked difference in my marriage when I realized that it was my responsibility to do what I could to fill my wife’s sails.

10. Knowing Love

Jesus knows your wife better than she knows herself. He has an informed love for her. He knows her strengths, her weaknesses, and he acts on her behalf (Ephesians 5:29–30). While we will never know our wives like God knows them, he wants us to know them as well as we can. Our prayers for them will always be hindered if we fail to know them (1 Peter 3:7). Our wives know they are cherished when we make an effort to really know them.

Defy the Serpent with Love

One evening, I walked down the hallway from our bedroom with bare feet when I saw something you never want to see in your hallway: a snake tail sticking out where the floor meets the wall. It turned out that there was a crack in our foundation, and a snake had made its way through the crack, and up into our home.

Brothers, we have an enemy, that ancient serpent, who desires to squirm his way into our homes and cause havoc. But praise God, we know the snake crusher, Jesus Christ, who has already defeated him and loved us with a supernatural love. Know that when you love your wife like Jesus loves her, the foundation of your marriage is strengthened, Satan is defeated again, and Christ is lifted up for more to see.

Tim Counts (@timothycounts) is married to his best friend, Melanie, and they are the proud parents of three children. He serves as the pastor of Northshire Baptist Church in Manchester Center, Vermont. Tim writes regularly at He Must Become Greater.

Daily Light – August 19, 2019

Love Actuarially 

Article by Jared C. Wilson

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. — 1 Corinthians 13:7

Love is fulfillment by way of emptiness. It would not seem to work that way. This is why nearly every worldly notion of love—and even some churchy notions of love—try to get at the fulfillment by way of filling. We want our eyes filled with sex, our ears filled with platitudes, our bellies filled with morsels, our minds filled with daydreams.

And then there is the way of Jesus. The Lord of the Universe who, not desiring to exploit his deity, empties himself. Obeys even in the personal famine of the desert. Commits even in the darkness of the garden. Serves even in his final hours. Even washes the feet of those who, if they knew better, should be hugging his neck! And he loves all the way to the cross. He loves all the way from his heart to the splattered ground beneath his pierced feet.

You and I? We would be running the numbers way back. We would see how big the mountain was, how insurmountable the task promised to be. We would compare the pain of love against the relative worthiness of the ones to be loved and think, This is not a favorable scenario. The odds are stacked against us. To love anyone that much hardly seems worth it. I mean, we’d inconvenience ourselves a little, maybe a lot for someone who really deserves it. But die to ourselves? Take up our cross? The risks outweigh the benefits. That kind of love is a liability. Or so it seems to the mind set on self-fulfillment, on the screen played romance of “you complete me”-ology.

For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, despising its shame (Heb. 12:2). True love isn’t “running the numbers” love, but “counting the cost” love.

Christian, the Lord knows you are not an asset to the organization. He knows what a tangled-up knot of anxiety, incompetence, and faithlessness you are. He knows exactly what a big fat sinner you are. He knew exactly what he was getting into. Eyes wide open, and arms too, he comes to embrace you. He’s not playing the angles, calculating the risks, hedging his bets. He emptied out to go “all in” on you.

That’s what love looks like. Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Anything less is less than love. Any grace meted out based on one’s worthiness of it is not grace at all (Rom. 11:6). Christ does not love actuarially. He actually loves. Believe it.

Jared C. Wilson is the director of content strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, and author of more than ten books, including Gospel WakefulnessThe Pastor’s Justification, and The Prodigal Church

Daily Light – August 16, 2019

‘He’ is the Strong Force

By Don Hester 

Part 4 (Final Part)   

(You may choose to re-read or review the ‘introductory premise’ (shaded in grey) again in order to ‘refresh’ the intent of presenting the chosen bible verses for the next couple of days.  Or…simply scroll down to the added Bible verses and meditate on the truth therein.) 

Introductory premise from Part I:  I’m sitting at my computer key board in my home office of Evansville, IN, USA., the latitude of 38.0223°degrees North.  While I sit comfortably in my chair, I am aware that scientific study and observation of the ‘things’ that are visible reveal that the Earth is spinning on its axis at my latitude/degree location at approximately 795 mph.   We know that the Earth is a part of ‘our’ solar system which includes our known neighboring planets and our wonderful star which is our Sun.  We know that our solar system is a part of the immense Milky Way Galaxy and we know that the MW Galaxy is a part of the larger and vastly immeasurable universe.  Scientific observation reveals that the Earth is revolving around the Sun at approximately 67,000 mph and our entire solar system is revolving in our galaxy at approximately 515,000 mph.   

There are ‘visible’ observations in all of these scientific calculations.  And then..there are the ‘invisible’ observations.  Such as, what is the force that holds all of this together and how does it work…where does it come from.  Once we move from what can be accurately observed to what is beyond observation and is not visible to measure or calculate, we move into the realm of ‘theory’.    

The strongest force in nature, according to ‘particle’ physicists, is the Strong Force and it is this ‘strong force’ that holds existence together.   If we have studied physical science at even a high school level, then we have a basic understanding of the elementary particles which are the core matter of all things that have mass.  We have heard of the basic particles that are named atoms and atoms possess neutrons and protons and we now know that there are even smaller classes of particles called elementary particles and they are named quarks and leptons.   All of these particles can be identified and observed within the study of particle physics.  Then, we get into the area of the fundamental forces that are at play within and between all of the various particles.   And it is these ‘forces’ that are at work to bind all things together.   Two of those forces, one strong, and one weak, have been named ‘gravity’ and ‘electromagnetism’.  Science can only theorize how the forces actually work and what they do and why they do it.   These theories are developed into ‘models’.

As a faith-based human being (meaning…I personally have placed my belief for the existence of ‘all things’ in the person and power of God-the-Son, Jesus Christ as Creator and Sustainer of ‘all things’) I have confidence that Jesus Christ is the creator and force that holds the universal system together.  He sustains it by His power.  I know this ‘because’ the Word of God, the Bible, reveals it over and over, again and again.

I want to take the next few days and look at verses in the Bible that clearly state that God/Jesus is the creator of the all things, is the creator of the heavens and the earth, and that He holds the existence of all things ‘together’ by His power.  He alone is the Strong Force.   I pray that as you read these verses, that your heart will well-up with praise and that you will be drawn deeper into your relationship with your sovereign and powerful God.  

John 1:3 ESV

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Hebrews 1:3 ESV

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Hebrews 11:3 ESV

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Colossians 1:16 ESV

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 and he is before all things, and in him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence  (might have supremacy).

Today’s Additional Verses:

Genesis 1:21 ESV

So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Hebrews 1:2 ESV

But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Acts 17:24 ESV

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,

Jeremiah 51:15 ESV

“It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.

Isaiah 40:28 ESV

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

Isaiah 37:16 ESV

“O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.

Ecclesiastes 7:13 ESV

Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?

Isaiah 44:24 ESV

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,

Isaiah 43:7 ESV

Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Psalm 89:11 ESV

The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.

Psalm 136:5 ESV

To him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;

Genesis 5:1 ESV

This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.

Romans 8:19 ESV

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

Psalm 115:15 ESV

May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

Genesis 1:14 ESV

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,

Genesis 1:9-13 ESV

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

Romans 11:36 ESV

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Zechariah 12:1 ESV

The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel: Thus declares the Lord, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him:

1 Chronicles 29:11 ESV

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.

1 Timothy 4:4 ESV

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

Amos 9:6 ESV

Who builds his upper chambers in the heavens and founds his vault upon the earth; who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth— the Lord is his name.

Revelation 10:6 ESV

And swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay,

Jeremiah 27:5 ESV

“It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me.

Jeremiah 5:22 ESV

Do you not fear me? declares the Lord. Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it.

2 Corinthians 4:18 ESV

As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Psalm 102:25 ESV

Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.

My Prayer today…Glorious God…my savior…Jesus Christ.  You are truly wonderful and amazing…..You have all power in heaven and earth….thank you, thank you, thank you for choosing all of us who were unworthy and paying a ransom to make us worthy.  You made us Your own so that we can be with You in the unimaginable splendor of eternity with You.  Thank You!  Thank You!   

Daily Light – August 15, 2019

‘He’ is the Strong Force

By Don Hester 

Part III

(You may choose to re-read or review the ‘introductory premise’ (shaded in grey and in smaller font) again in order to ‘refresh’ the intent of presenting the chosen bible verses for the next couple of days.  Or…simply scroll down to the added Bible verses for today and meditate on the truth therein.) 

Introductory premise from Part I:  I’m sitting at my computer key board in my home office of Evansville, IN, USA., the latitude of 38.0223°degrees North.  While I sit comfortably in my chair, I am aware that scientific study and observation of the ‘things’ that are visible reveal that the Earth is spinning on its axis at my latitude/degree location at approximately 795 mph.   We know that the Earth is a part of ‘our’ solar system which includes our known neighboring planets and our wonderful star which is our Sun.  We know that our solar system is a part of the immense Milky Way Galaxy and we know that the MW Galaxy is a part of the larger and vastly immeasurable universe.  Scientific observation reveals that the Earth is revolving around the Sun at approximately 67,000 mph and our entire solar system is revolving in our galaxy at approximately 515,000 mph.   

There are ‘visible’ observations in all of these scientific calculations.  And then..there are the ‘invisible’ observations.  Such as, what is the force that holds all of this together and how does it work…where does it come from.  Once we move from what can be accurately observed to what is beyond observation and is not visible to measure or calculate, we move into the realm of ‘theory’.    

The strongest force in nature, according to ‘particle’ physicists, is the Strong Force and it is this ‘strong force’ that holds existence together.   If we have studied physical science at even a high school level, then we have a basic understanding of the elementary particles which are the core matter of all things that have mass.  We have heard of the basic particles that are named atoms and atoms possess neutrons and protons and we now know that there are even smaller classes of particles called elementary particles and they are named quarks and leptons.   All of these particles can be identified and observed within the study of particle physics.  Then, we get into the area of the fundamental forces that are at play within and between all of the various particles.   And it is these ‘forces’ that are at work to bind all things together.   Two of those forces, one strong, and one weak, have been named ‘gravity’ and ‘electromagnetism’.  Science can only theorize how the forces actually work and what they do and why they do it.   These theories are developed into ‘models’.

As a faith-based human being (meaning…I personally have placed my belief for the existence of ‘all things’ in the person and power of God-the-Son, Jesus Christ as Creator and Sustainer of ‘all things’) I have confidence that Jesus Christ is the creator and force that holds the universal system together.  He sustains it by His power.  I know this ‘because’ the Word of God, the Bible, reveals it over and over, again and again.

I want to take the next few days and look at verses in the Bible that clearly state that God/Jesus is the creator of the all things, is the creator of the heavens and the earth, and that He holds the existence of all things ‘together’ by His power.  He alone is the Strong Force.   I pray that as you read these verses, that your heart will well-up with praise and that you will be drawn deeper into your relationship with your sovereign and powerful God.  

John 1:3 ESV

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Hebrews 1:3 ESV

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Hebrews 11:3 ESV

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Colossians 1:16 ESV

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 and he is before all things, and in him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence  (might have supremacy).

Bible Verses For Today

Proverbs 8:27-28 ESV

When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep,

Isaiah 45:11-12 ESV

Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: “Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands? I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.

Psalm 19:1-2 ESV

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.

Genesis 1:27 ESV

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Romans 1:18-20 ESV

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Acts 17:24-28 ESV

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

Proverbs 8:22-23 ESV

“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

Genesis 1:31 ESV

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 2:19 ESV

Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.

Hebrews 3:4 ESV

(For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)

Jeremiah 32:17 ESV

‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

Acts 14:15 ESV

“Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.

Ephesians 2:10 ESV

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

1 Corinthians 8:6 ESV

Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Isaiah 40:26 ESV

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.

Psalm 8:3 ESV

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

My Prayer today:   Great and wonderful Jesus Christ…I awake to this new day aware that You are Creator and Lord of life…that You love me…that You sustain all things that are in existence by Your power…and that includes me.  I trust You alone for my salvation and my eternal life.  I proclaim that You alone are my God and my life.  Amen