December 8—Christ, the Wisdom of God
Read Proverbs 8:22–36
If you were given the task of arranging the passages of scripture in chronological order—not in the order in which they were inspired and written down, but with regard to their content—you could put Proverbs 8:22–31 near the very beginning of your list. Christ, the power and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24) was before God’s works of old. When Elohim created the heavens, the clouds, the sea, and the earth, Jesus Christ, the Word, was there. Indeed, “by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible…all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Col. 1:16–17).
Proverbs 8 offers a beautiful glimpse into the covenant relationship that exists between God the Father and God the Son: “Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him” (Prov. 8:30). What a wonder that God that gave his beloved Son, the one in whom he daily delights, for sinners like you and me!
Sing or pray Psalter #302.
December 9—A Grisly Feast
Read Proverbs 9:13–18
The first part of Proverbs 9 describes Wisdom’s banquet, at which she imparts understanding to the simple. Her words “are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh” (Prov. 4:22). The verses that we read today describe another banquet. The foolish woman hosts this feast. Like Wisdom, she invites the simple to her table. The water she serves is sweet, and the bread tastes pleasant, but the food is deadly. Too late the guests who sit at her table realize that all who dine there will die. “He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter…as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life” (Prov. 7:22–23).
Brother, sister, what sins tempt you? Does sexual sin seem sweet or gossip, pleasant? Maybe you relish worldly entertainment, or perhaps you make idols out of material things. Be warned: if you don’t fight your sin, it will have your life. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14–15).
Sing or pray Psalter #333.
December 10—Dread Realized and Desire Fulfilled
Read Proverbs 10:23–32
This passage is full of reminders regarding the futures of the wicked and the righteous. It teaches that the dread of unbelievers will be realized, while the desire of the righteous will be fulfilled (v. 24). What do the ungodly fear? They fear their own destruction, which comes swiftly. They will be swept away in the whirlwind of God’s wrath, but the righteous, who are built on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, will stand secure forever (v. 25). “The fear of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened” (v. 27).
Knowing his, do you follow the way of Jehovah? His way is a stronghold for the just (v. 29). Heed his words in Psalm 37: “Rest in the Lord and be thou still, / With patience wait his holy will, / Enduring to the end. / Fret not though sinners’ gains increase; / Forsake they wrath, from anger cease; / It will to evil tend.”
Sing or pray Psalter #96.
December 11—The Things God has in Store
Read Proverbs 11:16–31
My children love to sing a song that goes like this: “I’m just a child, my life is still before me / I just can’t wait to see what God has for me / But I know that I will trust him / And I’ll wait to see what life will bring for me.” Listening to them sing those words sometimes brings me to tears. They exuberantly look forward to the future. I, on the other hand, am apprehensive when I consider the years ahead, for I know that in the world they will have tribulation (John 16:33).
But this morning God’s word reassured me: “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered” (Prov. 11:21). When I think about my children’s future from that perspective, I can’t wait to see what God has in store for them. For “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).
Sing or pray Psalter #278.
December 12—Precious Substance
Read Proverbs 12:15–28
Our family enjoys Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series. Whenever we read one of those books, I’m struck by how careful the pioneers were to preserve every precious thing they could. In contrast, we live in an incredibly wealthy–and wasteful–society. Proverbs 12:27 is recorded not only for those of us who enjoy hunting. It reminds all of us that “the substance of a diligent man is precious.”
Our substance must not be precious to us because we make idols of material things. No, we “cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). Our substance should be precious to us exactly because it’s not “ours” at all: all that we have been given belongs to God. Therefore, we’re not wasteful like the prodigal son (Luke 15), nor do we follow the example of the servant who buried his talent in the ground (Matt. 25). The Christian is not a consumer, but a caretaker—not slothful, but stewardly. Not wasteful, but wise to use his substance in service of the God who gave it and mindful of Jesus’ words: “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:11).
Sing or pray Psalter #98.
December 13—A Good Man Leaves an Inheritance
Read Proverbs 13:12–25
Proverbs 13:22 reads, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children.” Does this passage refer to a monetary inheritance or to something far richer? This text originates in the Old Testament, when the inheritance that a godly man left his children was his share of the land of Canaan, which typified one’s citizenship in heaven. Remember Naboth’s refusal to sell his inheritance to King Ahab? That response came in obedience to God’s command in Numbers 36:7: “For every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.”
When it comes to monetary inheritances, Proverbs 20:21 cautions, “An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.” Author Randy Alcorn comments, “Wise parents can leave enough to their children and grandchildren to be helpful without leaving them so much as to hurt them. Your children should love the Lord, work hard, and experience the joy of trusting God. More important than leaving your children an inheritance is leaving them a spiritual heritage.” Parents, is the inheritance that you’re laying up for your children an everlasting one? Children, on what kind of an inheritance have you set your heart?
Sing or pray Psalter #213:1–3.
December 14—Mercy on the Poor
Read Proverbs 14:20–35
Proverbs 14: 31 teaches that “he that oppresseth the poor reproaches [insults] his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.” How are we to show mercy to the poor? Just today I read the quotation below, which was written by a woman who works as a Bible translator in Cameroon, Africa:
“There are so many problems here… Honestly, I want to try to fix them all. Although we can attempt to solve these problems, we want so much more for these people than just clean water. Jesus said that everyone who drinks physical water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that he gives “will never be thirsty forever” (John 4:13–14). If this is what Jesus supplies, then is this not a long-term solution to Simon’s water problem? In the same way, even as we are ready to help Simon pay for a surgery, what we really want for him is to get a whole new body that will never pain him again. Every day he walks very far away on a dirt path to his field, and although it would be nice to have a smooth paved road, what we really desire for him is to parade through the clean, gold-laden streets of heaven forever. So our first priority is not to meet physical needs or even provide education, but instead our first priority is to introduce people to the one who is capable of working out all things (even hunger and disease) for their good…”
Sing or pray Psalter #112.
December 15—In the Multitude of Counsellors
Read Proverbs 15:21–33
When you have a big decision to make, do you rely on your own wisdom, or do you seek the advice of your fellow saints? Proverbs 15:22 declares, “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” Proverbs 11:14 echoes, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” What must we do when we’ve received a multitude of counsel? We consider it carefully and prayerfully in the light of God’s word, and then we make our decision. We must beware that we don’t seek a multitude of counsellors only because we want to find someone whose opinion agrees with ours. That’s what Solomon’s son Rehoboam did in 1 Kings 12, and the entire nation was destroyed as a result of his foolishness. A wise man asks advice because he truly desires understanding (Prov. 15:14).
This passage brings to my mind a benefit of attending Bible study. A Bible study is a gathering of believers who are seeking counsel regarding their strategy in the battle against sin, Satan, and their own sinful selves. Proverbs 20:18 applies to that fight, too: “Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war” (Prov. 20:18).
Sing or pray Psalter #1.
December 16—Two Teachers
Read Proverbs 16:16–33
Two teachers are mentioned in this passage. One teacher is the wise man’s heart: it teaches his mouth. Out of the abundant well of wisdom that is his heart, his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). The second teacher is the wise man’s mouth. His sweet, persuasive speech increases the learning of those who are about him. “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (v. 24).
You and I need to remember this when we’re interacting with others, including our children, family members, neighbors, and brothers and sisters in Christ. When you’re tempted to speak quickly and in anger, recall James 1:20: Man’s anger doesn’t produce righteousness—not in the one speaking, nor in the one spoken to. “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom…the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:13–17). In that way “The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so” (Prov. 15:7).
Sing or pray Psalter #326.
December 17—A Merry Heart
Read Proverbs 17:13–28
In everyone that he creates, God unites a body and a soul. Our bodies and souls are so closely connected that a light heart often accompanies a healthy body, but when the body is sick, the soul is also inclined to sorrow. The reverse is true too: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Prov. 17:22). There is a mirth that ends in heaviness: that laughter is the empty laughter of the fool (see Prov. 14:13, Eccl. 2:2). And there is “a time to weep” (Eccl. 3:4). Those tears are tears of sorrow for sin.: “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning…” (James. 4:9). Those who mourn that way “shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). It’s with that assurance that we experience already in this life the joyful reality described in Ps. 126:2: “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.”
Are you characterized by a joyful heart that brings spiritual health to others, or does your bitter, pessimistic disposition dry out their bones as well as your own?
Sing or pray Psalter #357.
December 18—A Good Thing
Read Proverbs 18:17–24
Too often the church takes her cues from the world. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the realm of marriage. Churches today are plagued with divorce. Some have compromised their once-Biblical stances forbidding sexual activity outside of marriage and homosexual activity. As the news media repeatedly reports that mainstream adults are waiting longer to marry, so it seems in the church as well.
Perhaps you’re a single person who desires to be married, but God hasn’t placed the right person on your path yet. You need to remember that though it may be painful, God’s way for you is perfect. Employ your free time and your talents not in the service of self, but of Jehovah and his people. Perhaps you’re single and you like it that way: you’d rather establish your career, become financially stable, and buy a few toys before you settle down. Then you had better seriously consider the word of God in Proverbs 18:22: “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.” (Notice, young man: you’re to take initiative! You’re the one to whom God has given the responsibility of searching!)
Sing or pray Psalter #281.
December 19—No Respecter of Persons
Read Proverbs 19:17–29
James 2 begins with this plea: “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” The Bible exposes us as respecters of persons by nature. Proverbs 14:20: “The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends.” Proverbs 19:7: “All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.” What is your attitude toward the needy in your family or congregation? Some are poor in other ways: are you ready to extend kindness toward your unpopular classmates? “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord” (Prov. 19:17). That man shows kindness to the poor because he’s grateful to Jehovah for saving him from spiritual bankruptcy.
There is a promise attached to the calling to lend to the poor: “That which he hath given will he [Jehovah] pay him again.” No, we don’t lend to the poor because we expect God to pay us back in material things. We lend to the poor because we value true riches far more than earthly possessions.
Sing or pray Psalter #24.
December 20—The Rod of Correction
Read Proverbs 20:15–30
The general consensus in our society seems to be that corporal punishment—spanking—is cruel. Instead, parents are encourage to barter, bribe, or simply bear their children’s misbehavior. But our heavenly Father commands Christian parents to administer the rod of correction when their children disobey. The connection between the behind and the heart may be hard for us to discern, but Proverbs 20:30 (NKJV) asserts that it’s there: “Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, as do stripes the inner depths of the heart.” Proverbs 22:15 agrees: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
How are believing parents to administer the rod? 1) In love. 2) With self-control. 3) Consistently. 4) Accompanied by reproof, that is, instruction from God’s word. 5) Preceded by prayer (a silent, personal prayer) and 6) followed by prayer, an audible prayer with your child. Discipline is a difficult duty, isn’t it, fellow parents? Here’s a promise from our heavenly Father to motivate us to obey: “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul” (Prov. 29:17).
Sing or pray Psalter #106.
December 21—God’s Counsel Stands
Read Proverbs 21:13–31
How great is the God whom we serve? Listen: “I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isa. 46:9–10). “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand” (Is. 14:24). Although “there are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand,” for “there is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord” (Prov. 19:21; 21:30). Our God is so great that he determined every detail of your life, and he directs your steps (Prov. 16:9). Take comfort: he rules over the wicked also. Even when unbelieving men committed the worst atrocity imaginable—the crucifixion of the holy, anointed Son of God—they gathered together, “for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4:28).
What a mighty God we serve!
Sing or pray Psalter #86.
December 22—Slave to the Lender
Read Proverbs 22:17–29
In our society, debt is viewed as a financial tool. The Bible doesn’t condemn borrowing money, but it does warn against it: “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Prov. 22:7). “Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts. If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?” (Prov. 22:26–27). In Proverbs 6, Solomon urges his son to deliver himself from being surety for his friend “as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.” Immediately following that instruction are the admonitions to the sluggard to heed the diligent ant.
Psalm 37:21 reminds us that if we do borrow, we must be faithful to pay back what we owe: “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.” The righteous man is the one who desires to “Owe no man anything, but to love one another” (Rom. 13:8a).
Sing or pray Psalter #97.
December 23—Not a “Foodie”
Read Proverbs 23:1–8 and 15–35
“Foodie.” That’s a term I see and hear more often lately. According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, a foodie is “a person who enjoys and cares about food very much.” You won’t find the word foodie in the Bible, but you will find a term that more accurately describes the same type of person: glutton. A glutton is person who is “given to appetite” (v. 2). How serious is gluttony? “The glutton shall come to poverty” (v. 21). In Philippians 3:19 the inspired apostle Paul describes enemies of the cross of Christ this way: “Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” A glutton worships his stomach.
Food and the experience of eating are wonderful gifts from God, pleasures that he created to point us to far more wonderful spiritual realities, such as partaking of Jesus Christ by faith and enjoying the communion of saints. Our physical appetites are satisfied rather quickly—when we eat beyond what we’re hungry for, we’re guilty of gluttony. In contrast, our soul’s hunger for God can never be fully satiated.
Sing or pray Psalter #426:1,3,5 and 7
December 24—Tend Your Fields
Read Proverbs 24:13–34
Our next-door neighbor’s yard looks like the field of the slothful man that’s described in Proverbs 24:30–32. Where it’s not overgrown with thistles and waist-high weeds, it’s heaped with piles of junk. In contrast, we’ve considered previously that “the substance of a diligent man is precious” (Prov. 12:27). The diligent man tends his field well. This passage can be applied to more than our farming or gardening, however. Recently our pastor preached a sermon on this text in a series entitled “Living Joyfully in Marriage.” If you are married, are you diligent to tend that relationship? Do you water your marriage with thoughtfulness and godly communication? Do you pull out the weeds of sin that would threaten to choke the communion you’re called to have with your spouse? Our other relationships require constant nurture as well, and so do our spiritual lives. One can’t expect to bear fruit in his or her Christian life unless his godly walk is fed with the word of God, watered with prayer, and weeded by living in fellowship with the other members of Christ’s body.
How well are you tending the gardens in your life?
Sing or pray Psalter #357.
December 25—Love is Courteous
It’s Christmas Day, on which we commemorate the birth of our Savior. It’s a day that for many of us will be full of hosting or visiting. Here’s a sober reminder for those of us who will be guests today, or any other day of the year: “Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee” (v. 17). By nature we’re so self-absorbed we need to be admonished not to take advantage of our neighbors’ generosity to us. Instead, we must be pitiful and courteous (1 Pet. 3:8), mindful not only of our own needs and interests, but also of those of others (Phil. 2:4). The Christian must be characterized by love, which “doth not behave itself unseemly,” and “seeketh not her own” (1 Cor. 13:5).
While we can exhaust the hospitality of our friends and family, we have a Friend and Father whose welcome we can never wear out. In fact, it’s his desire that we visit him multiple times every day! “Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors” (Prov. 8:34).
Sing or pray Psalter #26.
December 26—Where No Wood Is
Read Proverbs 26:13–28
We heated our former home with a wood-burning stove. Our oldest children were still young, but they understood that wood was necessary for the fire to burn. It was then that we memorized Proverbs 26:20–21: “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.” I taught them that “the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…” (James 3:5–6). Since that time we’ve considered Proverbs 26:18–19 as well. This is what the Bible says about the person who deceives his neighbor and then says, “I was only joking!” He is like a madman who throws flaming darts and deadly arrows.
Do the words that proceed out of your mouth minister grace to the hearers, or are they kindling that feeds the fire of strife? Where no wood is, there the fire will go out.
Sing or pray Psalter #386:1 and 4.
December 27—As Iron Sharpeneth Iron
Read Proverbs 27:17–27
Prov. 27:17 reads, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Just as metal sharpens like metal, wicked men sharpen their companions to do evil (Prov. 5:4), while Christians sharpen fellow saints to godliness. Hebrews 4:12 describes the iron on which we are to sharpen one another: “For the word of God is quick [living], and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” Ephesians 6:17 enjoins us to take up that sword in the fight of faith, and Psalm 149:6 says this about God’s saints: “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.”
So Jonathan sharpened David: he went to David in the wood, “and strengthened his hand in God.” (1 Sam. 23:16). Malachi mentions that those who feared the Lord spoke often with one another (Mal. 3:16). They weren’t busying themselves in casual conversation. No, like the saints in the early New Testament, they devoted themselves to teaching, fellowship, communion, and prayer (Acts 2:42–47). Likewise, “let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…but exhorting one another” (Heb. 10:24–25).
Sing or pray Psalter #369.
December 28—Stop Your Flattering
Read Proverbs 28:15–28
Prov. 28:23 reads, “He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.” What is flattery? Flattery is the use of excessive—and often exaggerated—compliments by one person in an attempt to bring him or herself into the favor of the one they’re flattering. Sincere compliments are meant to encourage another, but flattery either inflates the other’s self-importance or is intent on making oneself look kind, generous, or perceptive. Proverbs 29:5 teachers that a flatterer will be trapped by his own sin: “A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.”
Proverbs 28:23 offers an alternative to flattery: rebuke. We’re often hesitant to rebuke another when necessary. We hesitate to rebuke for the same reason that we flatter: we’re focused on what others will think of us. But “open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Prov. 27:5–6). “Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head” (Ps. 141:5). Is that the attitude with which you give and receive rebuke?
Sing or pray Psalter #70.
Read Proverbs 29:15–27
Antithesis. That’s a doctrine that’s not very popular today, but it’s a very important doctrine. The antithesis is “the separation and opposition between darkness and light, believer and unbeliever, church and world” (Doctrine According to Godliness). The antithesis plays an integral part in our salvation, as revealed already in third chapter of the Bible: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed…”
Ever since man’s fall into sin, “An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked” (Prov. 29:27). So Cain, who was of that wicked one, “slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (1 John 3:10–13). Are you able to say with David, “Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies” (Ps. 139:21–22). We must, for we’re called to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
Sing or pray Psalter #99.
December 30—Never Satisfied?
Read Proverbs 30:15–33
The horseleech described in Proverbs 30 has a voracious appetite: she is never filled. Similarly, the grave, the barren womb, and the land plagued by drought, and fire, are never satisfied. This list is meant to be instructive, not exhaustive, for Proverbs 27:20 adds to it: “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” There’s a warning for us: our adversary, the devil, is a relentless and persistent enemy, and the appetite of our carnal minds for the pleasures of sin is never full.
We must combat our insatiable sinful natures with contentment. I read once that we need to have contentment in two areas: in the area of things we have and don’t want, and in the area of things we want but don’t have. How is your contentment in those two areas faring? Hebrews 13:5 is instructive when it comes to combatting covetousness with contentment: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” What’s the reason we truly can be satisfied? We belong to Jehovah in Christ Jesus. Not only will he never forsake us: he is working all things for our good.
Sing or Pray Psalter #32.
December 31—More Precious than Rubies
Read Proverbs 31
The book of Proverbs contains many warnings about the foolish woman, the strange woman, the contentious woman, and the woman who lack discretion. It’s striking, then, that the book concludes by describing at length the virtuous woman. The virtuous woman is characterized by selflessness and godliness. Her industry is driven by wisdom and kindness. She cares for the members of her household and extends her hands to her needy neighbors as well. How highly does God value a virtuous woman? “Her price is far above rubies.” Sometimes we wives and mothers give in to the temptation to desire a more prominent career, one that seems as if it would be more interesting or fulfilling. But God thinks highly of those who are keepers at home. Indeed, a prudent wife is a gift from Jehovah (Prov. 19:14b). Husbands and children, have you been blessed with a wife and mother one who fears the Lord? She needs to hear your encouragement and praise of her faithful labors, lest she become weary in well-doing.
Many of the virtues of the godly wife in Proverbs 31 can be extended to the church. Is your congregation a virtuous, industrious manifestation of Christ’s bride?
Sing or pray Psalter #360.
January 1—Maybe this Year
Read Psalm 90
We stand at the beginning of another year. We stand as frail men and women, mindful that our lives are fleeting. “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away” (1 Pet. 1:24). But we stand as those too who belong to the one who is God from everlasting to everlasting (Ps. 90:2). His faithful word endures forever (1 Pet. 1:25). We know not what the future holds, but we know that his capable hands hold the future.
Are you filled with anticipation regarding what this year may hold for you? Or do you dread what lies in 2016? Here’s a quote from Elisabeth Elliot: “Will the young woman find a mate? Will the couple have a child? Maybe this year will be the year of desire fulfilled. Perhaps, on the other hand, it will be the year of desire radically transformed, the year of finding, as we have perhaps not yet truly found, Christ to be the all-sufficient one, Christ, the ‘deep sweet well of Love.’” Dear friend, my prayer for you is that it will be a year in which you experience more fully the reality that Christ Jesus is sufficient for your every need.
Sing or pray Psalter #247.
January 2—But God is Faithful
Read Malachi 3
In celebration of the 75th year of the publication of the Beacon Lights, we’re going to meditate for several days on the faithfulness of our heavenly Father. What first comes to your mind when you consider the truth that Jehovah is faithful? For me it’s the lyrics of the familiar hymn, which so memorably express the wonderful reality of this attribute of our God: “Great is thy faithfulness, O God, my Father, / There is no shadow of turning with thee; / Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not / As thou hast been thou forever wilt be.” Our God doesn’t change, which means he never fails to keep his promises. He is eternally reliable and everlastingly true to his word.
Our unchanging God requires us, who were created to bear his image, to be faithful. But we are not faithful by nature: in the words of another old hymn, we are “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, / Prone to leave the God I love.” Praise God: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22–23).
Sing or pray Psalter #241.
January 3—The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Read 1 Peter 1
When we are first getting acquainted with someone, we’re hesitant to trust them, but as we get to know them better, we’re given more opportunities to discern if they’re trustworthy—if they’re faithful. Are they true to their word? Do they sincerely seek our well-being?
In order to trust in God as the faithful one, we must know him well. How do we better acquaint ourselves with our heavenly Father? One way is by reading and studying his living and abiding word, and by hearing that word faithfully preached. God’s word is sure: it’s fixed forever in heaven, declares the psalmist in Psalm 119:89. Even though “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” his “words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). For “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Num. 23:19). “Search the scriptures”: they testify of our faithful heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, our merciful and faithful high priest (John 5:39 and Heb. 2:17). To know them is to know the faithful and eternal God, the giver of life (John 17:3).
Sing or pray Psalter #332.
Read Psalm 77
Asaph doubts God’s faithfulness in Psalm 77. He brings himself to trust in Jehovah once again by meditating on the Lord’s faithfulness to him in the past.
For more than seven decades, God has provided the Beacon Lights with dedicated writers, editors, printers, and readers of its edifying material: he has been faithful! But what does the future hold? How much longer will we be permitted to print material that’s Biblical and antithetical? We need not worry when we consider the future, for “The Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations” (Deut. 7:9). When we—and when our children—reach the end of this earthly life, we’ll be able to look at our fellow saints and say with Joshua, “And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof” (Josh. 23:14). So “let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised)” (Heb. 10:23).
Sing or pray Psalter #241.
January 5—Faithfulness: A Fruit of the Spirit
Read 1 Thessalonians 5
In Galatians 5:22 “faith” is listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. There the word faith does not mean saving faith: it is better understood to mean “faithfulness.” Faithfulness is a spiritual virtue of the saint by which he is loyal toward the Father and Christ with result that the saint is also loyal, reliable, and dependable toward others whom the Father providentially brings upon his pathway in life and whom he must serve in some way in his place and calling life. When one is faithful to the Father and Jesus Christ as revealed in his word, he will be a faithful, trustworthy, and reliable Christian, member of his church, officebearer, spouse, friend, employer, employee, parent, school teacher, student, or child” (Smit, The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ).
Our Lord Jesus Christ was faithful to accomplish all the work that his Father gave him to do. Even today he works as our faithful intercessor on the right hand of God. When we are discouraged in our callings, we can rest in the knowledge that he will be faithful to sanctify us, to preserve us, and to bring to completion the good work that he has begun in us (Phil. 1:6).
Sing or pray Psalter #389.
January 6—If We are Faithless
Read 2 Timothy 2
Our God is faithful. Our Savior Jesus Christ is faithful. The Holy Spirit is faithful. The triune God does not have to work to be faithful: faithfulness is one of his attributes. He cannot be unfaithful. That’s a comfort to us who are called to be faithful but too often show a lack of fidelity, for if we are faithless, he remains faithful—“he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). Did you notice the other two uses of the word “faithful” in 2 Timothy 2? The church is called to commit the gospel to faithful ministers (v. 2), and this is a faithful saying: “For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him” (v. 11).
2 Thessalonians. 3:3 declares, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” Doesn’t that make you want to exclaim, “O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth” (Is. 25:1).
Sing or pray Psalter #243.
January 7—Well Done
Read Matthew 25:14–46
We can become discouraged in our calling to be faithful. For us, faithfulness requires diligence, and sometimes it can seem that, try as we may, our faithfulness bears no fruit. The scriptures record for us examples of faithful men for our encouragement. They include Abraham (Neh. 9:8), Moses (Heb. 3:2), Daniel (Dan. 6:4), Silas (1 Pet. 5:8), Tychicus (Eph. 6:21), Epaphras (Col. 1:7), and Onesimus (Col. 4:9). Some of those names may be unfamiliar to you: they belong to men about whom we know little. But God, who sees all things, rewards those who are faithful even in a very little (Luke 19:17). “Be thou faithful unto death,” declares our Lord, “and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).
“Living out of God’s truth daily, praying on the basis of God’s promises and his mercies, new every morning, and laboring daily through faith in Christ alone is the way of our faithfulness” (Smit, The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ). When we live faithfully from day to day, we can look forward to hearing these blessed words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21).
Sing or pray Psalter #250.
Dear Daily Press readers,
There’s a change coming to this rubric in 2016: Mr. Ben Laning, a fellow member of Loveland PRC, will be sharing the task of writing these mediations with me. Ben is the 5th–6th grade teacher at Loveland Protestand Reformed Christian School. He and his wife Becky (Feenstra) have a darling baby daughter named Melanie. Ben’s parents are Rev. James and Margaret Laning—you may have read some of their excellent articles in The Standard Bearer before. I’m grateful for Ben’s willingness to share this high calling with me, especially as my husband and I look forward to the birth of our seventh child in May. Please pray for Ben and me: it’s our desire that the devotionals that we write will praise our heavenly Father and profit you, our fellow saints.