March 8 – He Has Dealt Bountifully With Me
Read Psalm 13
You’ve likely heard the saying “Prayer changes things.” Some who use that slogan conceive of God as a genie and prayer as the rubbing of a magical lamp. Psalm 13 is a prayer of David, and it’s a prayer that does change things: it changes David.
The trials that David faces are great, and they are ongoing. He wonders if God will forget him forever, and he notes the sorrow that he bears each day. Even though David feels deserted, he knows that he is not alone, for he still turns to God in his trouble. He pleads with God to look upon him, to hear him, and to defeat his enemies. David closes his prayer confident that he will continue experience the blessings of salvation in the future, and as he looks at the past he exclaims, “I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me!”
Through prayer the Holy Spirit takes the heart of the downcast believer and instills it once more with faith. When we draw near to our Father in prayer, we leave his presence changed.
Sing or pray Psalter #22.
March 9 – The Fool
Read Psalm 14
I have read or heard read the Bible nearly every day of my life, yet I am amazed how little I know the word of God. Today I realized that Psalm 14 and Psalm 53 are nearly identical. Perhaps I learned that once before. If so, I had forgotten. Such instances remind me of the importance of regular Bible study!
How would you define a fool? In our day, the word “fool” refers to someone who has done something imprudent. The Bible doesn’t use the word fool in that way. Rather, scripture refers to those who lack faith as fools. Foolishness is “not the absence of intellectual capability but the presence of moral perversity” (Alistair Begg). Consequently there are very intelligent, well-educated men and women who are foolish in the eyes of God.
Wisdom is the opposite of foolishness. One who is wise understands God’s word and properly applies it to life. Has God instilled the beginning of wisdom in your heart? Don’t be lifted up in pride over those who are foolish! God has chosen the weak things of the world so that no flesh should glory in his presence.
Sing or pray Psalter #23.
March 10 – The God Whom the Fool Denys
Read Romans 1:18–32
“Elohim” is the Hebrew name that is translated “God” in the first verses of Psalms 14 and 53. One of the Bible storybooks that I’ve read with my children translates the name “Elohim” as “Strong Creator.” In Doctrine According to Godliness, Rev. Ron Hanko notes that the name “God” teaches us “that there is none like him nor any besides him, and that he alone is worthy of worship praise, and obedience.” Elohim is the God who framed the worlds by his word and Spirit (Heb. 11:3). He is the God upon whom all men are dependent for their life, breath, and being (Acts 17:28). That God is not only creator and sustainer: he is also judge, the one to whom all are morally accountable (Acts 17:31).
The first verses of Psalms 14 and 53 declare, “The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” It’s true that fools may acknowledge a god or gods. But they deny the Creator, on whom they are dependant and to whom they are morally accountable. They deny him because they love sin and do not want to be reproved for their evil deeds.
Sing or pray Psalter #146.
March 11 – Speak the Truth in Your Heart
Read Psalm 15
Psalm 15 describes the man who follows “peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). One of the characteristics of such a man is that he speaks the truth in his heart.
Some time ago our Ladies’ Bible discussion group tackled the topic of lying. Our pastor pointed out that at the root of every sin is pride. That pride comes to expression in the form of lies that we speak in our heart. Those lies begin with Satan’s lie: “I will be like the Most High” (Is. 14:14). That is the lie with which he tempted Adam and Eve: “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5). It is the lie that the Israelites believed when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). It is the lie that we believe every time we sin, for at the root of every sin is the belief that we have the right to determine for ourselves what we may or may not do, what is good and what is evil.
As long as we excuse the lies that we speak in our heart, we cannot abide in God’s presence.
Sing or pray Psalter #24.
March 12 – Liar, Liar
Read 1 John 1
What are some of the lies that we speak in our hearts when we sin?
When we dishonor those who are in authority over us—government officials, officebearers in the church, parents, teachers, or husbands—we believe this lie: They don’t deserve my respect. After all, I could fill their position more ably than they do. We deny that he who resists the powers that be resists the ordinance of God (Rom. 13:2).
When we steal—possessions from our neighbor, time from our employer, wages from our employees—we believe this lie: Those possessions, time, and wages are rightfully mine! I have more need of this thing or that money than they do! We deny that we will appear before the judgment seat of Christ and answer for everything that we have done (2 Cor. 5:10).
When we deceive ourselves with the lie that we have no sin, we make God, in whom there is no darkness at all, a liar. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Sing or pray Psalter #25.
March 13 – More Lies We Believe
Read 1 John 2
When you or I gossip or slander, we deny the truth that the tongue is a little flame that is capable of igniting a great fire (James 3:2–13). We deny that we will give account for every idle word that we have spoken (Matt. 12:36). We believe this lie: I know God. I can dwell in his presence even though I backbite or do evil to my neighbor.
When we covet another’s house, another’s spouse, another’s looks, or another’s life, we believe this lie: As long as I’m not doing anything outward, it’s not sin. I can’t be condemned for my thoughts. We deny that though men look on the outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).
Do you desire to dwell in God’s presence? Do you love the truth, and desire to speak truth in your heart? Then do not despair. The word of God will strengthen you to confess in word and deed that Jesus is the Christ. Your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
Sing or pray Psalter #26.
March 14 – Do Good to God’s Saints
Read Psalm 16
One of the glorious truths that scripture teaches us about God is that he is self-sufficient. Nothing that we are or do adds anything to God’s glory, goodness, or love. He is those things perfectly within his triune being. Even “the salvation of the whole church adds nothing to his glory, but is only a revelation of the glory he already has in himself. He is the source, the means, and the end of all things” (Doctrine According to Godliness). David fully recognized this reality. “Thou art my Lord,” he exclaims in Psalm 16. “My goodness extendeth not to thee.”
How does David respond to that knowledge? He resolves to do good to God’s people. He determines to show his love for God by seeking the fellowship and welfare of his fellow saints.
David calls his brothers and sisters in Christ the “excellent of earth.” Is that the way you view God’s people across the globe? Is that how you view your fellow church members? If so, is your love evidenced by the loving deeds on their behalf?
Sing or pray Psalter #27.
March 15 – Comfort Them Which Are in Trouble
2 Corinthians 1:1–11
Sometimes the Lord instructs us with negative examples. An elderly couple lives across the street from us. She has heart disease. He is deaf, has emphysema, and suffers the side effects of several strokes. But worst of all, our neighbors have no faith and no church family to care for them as they face the trials of old age. They have no fellow saints who pray for them or bring them food for their stomachs and their souls. They face a mountain of medical bills, but they have no compassionate deacons who would assist them financially. They shudder at the thought of death, yet reject the truths of the gospel. We assist them as we best we can, all the while praying for the welfare of their souls.
We who are believers face similar trials. The inspired apostle Paul gives a reason in 2 Cor. 1: so “that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” We are called to pray fervently for our fellow saints and to reassure them with these words: “Our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” What blessings belong to those who are members of the body of Christ!
Sing or pray Psalter #239.
March 16 – Love the Least
Read Matt. 25:31–36
Take a moment to think about the members of the church to which you belong. Think about those to whom you gravitate every Sunday after the worship service. Remember those who are sick. Consider the families with many children, and those who haven’t been given children. Think about those who are singled, widowed, or divorced. Consider those who are wealthy, and those who have less. Take note of those who are easy for you to like and the ones whose personalities get on your nerves. Remember the popular and the misfits.
The congregation to which you belong is a small manifestation of the glorious body of Christ as it exists throughout time and over the face of the earth. Christ loves the members of your congregation, from the greatest to the least. You are called to show your love for him in your conduct toward and care for your fellow saints, including those whom you are prone to dislike, ignore, or slander. After all, you love Jesus Christ only as much as the ones you love the least.
Sing or pray Psalter #369.
March 17 – Thou Wilt Show Me the Path of Life
Read Psalm 16
Young people, I’ve written the next few meditations specifically with you in mind. What are your plans after high school? When I was your age, that was the question I dreaded most. I remember wondering, How do I know God’s will for me? College? If so, what college, and what major? Marriage? If so, to whom? Work? Where?
I once read a quotation of young Jim Elliot, who had determined that he was called to be a missionary. How did he know that this was God’s will for him? “No visions,” he wrote, “No voices, but the counsel of a heart which desires God.”
How are you to determine God’s will for you? God’s Spirit speaks to you through his word. When you utilize “the spectacles of scripture,” he will speak to you through occurrences in your life, all of which come to pass as a result of his will. He speaks in your heart and conscience, and, yes, he even speaks through the audible voices of your pastor, parents, and teachers, who preach his word to you or offer godly counsel.
Dear young person, set the Lord always before you in prayer and in the study of scripture. He will show you the path of life.
Sing or pray Psalter #322.
March 18 – He Will Direct Your Paths
Read Proverbs 3: 1–8
Our Father promises that he will direct our paths, and he is always faithful to keep his promises. You and I can be as sure of his direction as we are of his salvation! True, he leads us only step by step. We are able to see only the part of our path that is right before us. So we live today as God’s gift to us, and we trust that he will continue to make the way plain as it unfolds before us.
There have been times in my life when I have struggled to know God’s way. In those times I have followed David’s example in Psalm 16. He begins by mediating on the goodness of God. As he meditates on God, he is filled with the realization that he is fully satisfied in God, who is his inheritance and his full cup. He reflects on God’s goodness to him in this life. Even when he is awake in the night and likely tempted by anxious thoughts, he considers these things, and the Holy Spirit gives him the counsel of heart that is filled with peace.
When you have a big decisions to make, set God before you. Prayerfully consider what would best honor him, and go forward, trusting that he will bless godly decisions with a peaceful heart.
Sing or pray Psalter #28.
March 19 – Rest in Hope
Read Acts 2:1–36
Ultimately the path of life that God shows to the believer is the path that leads him or her to glory. The Lord is so very good to us! Even though we do not know exactly how he will lead us, we have an “expected end.” He knows the plans that he has for us, and they are thoughts of good, not of evil. He will show us the path of life, and bring us safely to our destination, where there is “fullness of joy” and “pleasures for evermore.” How can this be true?
David’s words in Psalm 16:10 are a prophecy of our Lord Jesus Christ: “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” God did not leave our savior in the grave. Because he raised our head, we can rest in hope, and we can lay our loved ones to rest in hope. He will not leave the members of Christ’s body in the grave. He will raise us to heaven, where we will dwell joyfully in his presence.
Sing or pray Psalter #29.
March 20 – A Prayer of Childlike Faith
Read Psalm 16
When my dad prays, he sometimes uses this phrase: “Father, we don’t know what the future holds, but we know that thy hands hold the future.” David makes the same confession in Psalm 16, and so does Anna Waring in the following poem:
Father, I know that all my life is portioned out for me,
And the changes that are sure to come I do not fear to see;
I ask Thee for a present mind intent on serving Thee.
I ask Thee for a thoughtful love, through constant watching wise,
To meet the glad with joyful smiles, to wipe the weeping eyes;
And a heart at leisure from itself, to soothe and sympathize.
I would not have the restless will that hurries to and fro,
Er’ seeking some great thing to do or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child, and guided where I go.
Sing or pray Psalter #30.
March 21 – The Press of Sin
Read Psalm 17:1–9
Last month we considered “The Daily Press” from the point of view of our daily press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Today we consider another daily press. That press is the press of sin and temptation that you and I face each day.
Have you ever asked God’s forgiveness for a particular sin (or for protection from its consequences) even though you continue to cling to other sins? That’s a prayer that God does not hear. To use the words of John Owen, God demands “universality of obedience.” We cannot expect to be delivered from one sin if we are consciously negligent in other areas. That would be like treating a single symptom of a virus that rages throughout one’s entire body! Consider David’s example in Psalm 17. The fruit of Christ’s Spirit is evident in his life: he has purposed that he will not transgress. He has kept himself from the paths of the destroyer by following the words of God’s lips.
Are these things true of you? Then, like David, you can rest assured that God will defend you from the sins that that compass you about.
Sing or pray Psalter #33.
March 22 – The Hand of God
Read Psalm 17:8–15
What enemies press about you today? Perhaps you are you tempted to impurity. Maybe discontent pervades your heart. Maybe lethargy, doubt, or self-pity threaten your spiritual life. Your three-fold enemy presses close, seeking to snuff out the life of Christ in you, intent on hindering your steps down the narrow way.
We’re called to fight those enemies and to lay aside the weight of those sins that so easily beset us, in order that we may press on. That’s what David did. Yet David recognized something about those enemies: he calls them the sword and the hand of God. Those enemies were means that his sovereign Father used to try him, to chastise him, and to strengthen his faith. No doubt you are familiar with Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Do you remember the verse that follows? What exactly is God’s purpose? It’s this: to conform his saints to the image of his Son.
Sing or pray Psalter #32.
March 23 – The Apple of God’s Eye
Read Zechariah 2
“Keep me as the apple of the eye,” writes David in Psalm 17. That’s one of scripture’s memorable metaphors. What exactly does it mean?
The “apple” of your eye is the pupil, its little black center. It’s a precious part of your body, protected by your eyebrow and eyelashes, the shape of your eye socket, and your rapidly responding eyelids. If you’ve ever had an object thrown in your face, you know how quickly the rest of your body reacts to protect your eyes. Instantaneously your arms go up and your head ducks in attempt to protect your eyes and their precious ability to see.
God calls his people the apple of his eye. Because he loves his people, he not only uses their enemies as his sword or hand, but he will also punish those wicked for their evil deeds. That’s the truth with which the prophet Zechariah comforted the Israelites who rebuilt the temple in the face of opposition. Like them, we look for the day when God will dwell in the midst of us and be our God.
Sing or pray Psalter #31.
March 24 – God is Greater Than Your Heart
Read 1 John 3
I love my children. I love them in spite of their weaknesses and sins. I love them regardless of their abilities in certain areas and their lack of skill in others. They are the apple of my eye.
The truth that God’s children are the apple of his eye is easy to understand. After all, most people conceive of God as a loving God. “Jesus loves you” is the material of bumper stickers. But for one who truly is God’s child, sometimes that truth is hard to confess. We might wonder how a sovereign God could afflict the apple of his eye with cancer, the death of a loved one, or financial troubles. Or perhaps the recognition of the sin that still cleaves to us causes us to despair. We may find ourselves unable to trust that we are covered in Christ’s righteousness. Instead, our hearts condemn us. That kind of doubt may sound pious, but in fact, it’s ugly unbelief.
You are God’s child. He loves you in Christ. Nothing that he sends and nothing that you do or fail to do can change that. Doesn’t that infuse your heart, mind, soul, and strength with gratitude and love for him?
Sing or pray Psalter #278.
March 25 – Jewels For His Crown
Read Malachi 3
My children—in the plural—are the apple of my eye. Nothing gives me more joy than watching them play with one another, read to each other, or laugh together. Nothing brings me more grief than when they argue or fight. The same is true of God. His children— in the plural—are the apple of his eye. Nothing gives him greater joy than when love prevails among his people. Nothing brings him more grief than when we act spitefully toward one another, allowing envy or hatred to pervade our thoughts of each other.
In the passage that we read today, the prophet Malachi brings God’s word to the people of Israel. It is a word of promise as well as a word of judgment. The Messiah will soon come, but when he comes, he will witness against sin. Those who love the Lord respond to this word by speaking often to one another, encouraging and edifying each other. The Lord noted their loving concern for one another and took pleasure in his people, the precious jewels that adorn his crown.
Sing or pray Psalter #375.
March 26 – Christ’s Perfect Bride
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12–16
There once was a prince, and he was the most kind, loving, and powerful prince that ever was. The prince loved a lowly beggar maid, and he chose her to be his bride (Ez. 16). But a terrible dragon deceived the princess and kidnapped her. When the prince came to rescue her, a deadly fight ensued. The prince was badly injured, yet he crushed the dragon’s head. But alas! He failed to rescue his bride before she had been disfigured. Her hands and feet had been severed by the wicked dragon.
Wait. That’s not the way the gospel account of Christ’s rescue of his bride goes. After Christ throws the dragon into the lake of fire (there to be tormented day and night forever) the God of heaven will present him with his bride (Rev. 20–21). She will be perfect and complete in every way, adorned for her husband and radiating the unsurpassed beauty and glory of God. Not a member will be missing.
Yet you and I think, say, and act as if we do not need certain members of Christ’s bride! If God left us to our sinful, self-centered ways, Christ’s bride would be maimed and disfigured.
Sing or pray Psalter #138.
March 27 – In His Feathers
Read Deuteronomy 32:1–14
David employs another memorable metaphor in Psalm 17:8. He writes, “Hide me under the shadow of thy wings.”
When I was a child, it was my job to take care of our family’s chickens. Have you ever observed a mother hen with her chicks? One moment, a hen and her brood are busily scratching and pecking in the sunshine. Suddenly, danger slinks by, and in the blink of an eye, those chicks disappear. Where tasty little morsels scurried about only moments ago sits a formidable mother hen, twice her normal size and very much on alert. The only sign that chicks even exists is an occasional ripple beneath the mother hen’s fluffed-out feathers.
That’s the way God cares for us. In the face of trial or sorrow we can run to him and hide beneath his wings. There in his feathers we find protection from our predators, security in our salvation, and shelter in our sorrow.
Sing or pray Psalter 154.
March 28 – Abounding Grace to Chief Sinners
Read Romans 5
Throughout the coming week, we’re going to study the days that immediately precede and follow our Savior’s crucifixion, days marked by his passionate suffering on behalf of his elect.
We confess that our Jesus suffered to save us from our sins, but, to our shame, we often cannot even discern our own sins. John Bunyan concludes his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, with the following list: “I find to this day seven abominations in my heart: 1) Inclinings to unbelief. 2) Suddenly to forget the love and mercy that Christ manifesteth. 3) A leaning toward the works of the law. 4) Wanderings and coldness in prayer. 5) To forget to watch for that I pray for. 6) Apt to murmur because I have nor more, and yet ready to abuse that I have. 7) I can do none of those which God commands me, but my corruptions will thrust in themselves, ‘When I would do good, evil is present with me.’”
Bunyan’s list is a record of offenses of which we all are guilty. They are sins that we easily overlook, yet they are abominations for which our Savior suffered. Our sins abound, but praise God for his abounding grace! While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Sing or pray Psalter #110.
March 29 – The Lowly King and His Heavenly Kingdom
Read Matt. 21:1–11
On this first day of what is commonly called passion week or holy week, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. He came not as a mighty earthly king, riding in a chariot with pomp and splendor, but as the lowly servant-kng who would save his people not from Roman rule, but from their sins.
John the Baptist had paved the way for Jesus’ earthly ministry by preaching of the coming of his heavenly kingdom and commanding those who would be citizens of that kingdom to repent. Jesus himself expounded the blessedness of the citizens of his kingdom in his sermon on the mount and in many parables recorded throughout the book of Matthew.
Do you look for a heavenly kingdom, or, like the multitudes, do you seek a savior who will reward you with a pleasant earthly life? The way that Jesus walked meant a cross: for him, and for everyone who would follow him (Matt.16:24–28).
Sing or pray Psalter #318.
March 30 – A House of Prayer…for All People
Read Matt. 21:12–17
Following his triumphant entry, Jesus cleansed the temple. He had cleansed the temple once before, at the very beginning of his earthly ministry. When the rulers of the Jews challenged his authority at that time, he replied, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Now as the destruction and resurrection of his body draw near, Jesus refers to two Old Testament prophecies. Jeremiah 7:11, “Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?” and Isaiah 56:7–8: “Even them [the sons of the stranger that hath joined himself to the Lord] will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.”
Christ went to the cross mindful that his death and resurrection would fulfill all to which the Old Testament prophecies and temple pointed. The hands that were pierced with the nails were engraved not only with Jewish names, but also with names of Gentiles—your name and mine.
Sing or pray Psalter #35.
March 31 – Leaning Toward the Works of the Law
Read Matt. 22:34–23:12
Our Lord spent Tuesday of passion week teaching and preaching. According to various passion week timelines, most of Matthew 21:18 through Matthew 26:16 took place on this day. It is on this day that the Pharisees confront Jesus: “Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus responds with the summary of the law that is likely very familiar to us: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22:37–39). Jesus went on to condemn the self-righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees in one of the most fearful chapters in all of scripture.
John Bunyan was grieved that he found within himself a leaning toward the works of the law. Such Pharisaism plagues you and me too. We are called to trust in Christ’s righteousness and not our own, for even our very best deeds are as filthy rags (Is. 64:6).
Sing or pray Psalter #109.
April 1 – A Refuge in Times of Trouble
Read Matthew 24: 1–31
Scripture doesn’t record anything from Wednesday of passion week, so today we consider more of what took place on Tuesday. After teaching in the temple and answering the Pharisees, Jesus and his disciples make their way to the nearby Mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives lies just to the east of Jerusalem. The village of Bethany, in which Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived, is located on its eastern slope. Jesus likely crossed over Olivet (as it is sometimes called in the KJV) to make his triumphant entry. He slept there (Luke 21:37), and he resorted there on the evening he was arrested, to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. This place was a haven for our Savior. It is also the place where he answers his disciples’ question, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
Humanly speaking, the signs of Christ’s coming are fearful. But the Lord has always been a haven for his people, and so he will be in the last days. He who has prepared his throne for judgment will also prove himself a refuge for the oppressed in times of trouble.
Sing or pray Psalter #17.
April 2 – Watch and Pray
Read Matt. 26:17–46
On Thursday evening of passion week, Jesus and his disciples ate the Passover feast in the upper room. Here Jesus also washes his disciples’ feet (see John 13), dismisses Judas, and institutes the Lord’s Supper. Then he and disciples make their way to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prays fervently to his Father.
Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane and his instruction regarding the last days was on my mind when our family read 1 Peter 4 this evening. In that chapter, Peter, who failed to watch and pray that night with his Lord, writes this: “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God…the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”
Sing or pray Psalter #398.
April 3 – Reconciled by Jesus
During the early morning hours on Friday Jesus is tried before the Sanhedrin. Because they are unable to sentence Jesus to death, the leaders of the Jews deliver him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. When Pilate learns that Jesus is a Galilean, he sends him to Herod, the Galilean governor, who was in Jerusalem. Herod, in turn, sends him back to Pilate, and Luke notes: “And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.” These two wicked men, who had been enemies, set themselves together against the Lord and his anointed. The same holds true today. Unbelievers may disagree on many issues, but they will always be ready to unite in their hatred of Christ and his people.
Christ reconciles more than the wicked, however. His cross reconciles believers to God (Rom. 5), and it to ought to reconcile us to one another. In 1 Peter 4, after Peter commands, “Watch unto prayer,” he writes this: “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves.”
Sing or pray Psalter #348.
April 4 – Crucified With Christ
Read Matt. 27:57–28:15
Saturday, the Sabbath day, was likely a silent, somber day. The disciples of our Lord must have been filled with bitter grief, untold confusion, and intense hopelessness. Do they remember Jesus’ declaration that he would rise on the third day? The chief priests and the Pharisees remember, and in vain they seal dead.
Romans 6:6 reads, “Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Why then, you might wonder, must we still battle sin in this life? Bunyan offers seven reasons for his seven abominations:
“These things I continually see and feel, and am afflicted and oppressed with; yet the wisdom of God doth order them for my good. 1) They make me abhor myself. 2) They keep me from trusting my heart. 3) They convince me of the insufficiency of all inherent righteousness. 4) They show me the necessity of flying to Jesus. 5) They press me to pray unto God. 6) They show me the need I have to watch and be sober. 7) And provoke me to look to God, through Christ, to me help, and carry me through this world. Amen.”
Sing or pray Psalter #203.
April 5 – Because I Live, You Will Live Also
Read John 14
Apologist Ravi Zacharias grew up in India as an unbeliever. At the age of 17, he attempted suicide. As he lay in the hospital, Ravi was given a Bible, and Ravi’s mother read to him from the gospel of John. Ravi clung to the words of John 14:19 with a believing heart: “Because I live, you will live also.” Later, Ravi’s mother also became a believer. When she died, Ravi had John 14:19 inscribed on her tombstone.
Years prior to Ravi’s birth, Ravi’s grandmother had converted to Christianity after hearing the gospel from foreign missionaries. Though he had never met her, Ravi determined to find her grave when he returned to India years later. The keeper of the cemetery located her grave on a plot map. As he stooped to clear years of dust and debris, his grandmother’s name became visible, and Ravi’s breath caught in his throat. Engraved beneath her name were these words: “Because I live, you will live also.”
Do you fear the future? Do you wonder what lies ahead for your children or for God’s church? We belong to a sovereign, risen, and ascended savior. Because he lives, all who are his children will live also.
Sing or pray Psalter #29.
April 6 – He Comes With Clouds
Read Psalm 18: 1–19
Back in January, the fire chief of Atlanta was fired for publishing a book in which he had written that God hates sexual sin, including homosexuality. A New York Times editor responded to the incident, arguing “that claims of endangered religious liberty for conservative Christians are ‘absurd.’ He complain[ed] about ‘religious people getting a pass that isn’t warranted.’ Religious liberty, he claim[ed], is being used as ‘a fig leaf for intolerance’” (Dr. Al Mohler). In the same column, the Times editor insisted that freedom of religion should be confined to “pews, homes, and hearts,” while implying that churches should not be allowed to discriminate among clergy on the basis of sexual orientation. Very callously, very rationally, he presented his intolerance of the Christian faith. My response to his column was that of David in Psalm 18:4: “The floods of ungodly men made me afraid” (vs. 4b).
But the wicked will not have the last word. Our living and ascended Lord is coming again on the clouds of judgment. He will deliver his people and judge the wicked for their wickedness.
Sing or pray Psalter #34.
April 7 – An Advent Calendar
Read John 15:18–16:15
“So what do you believe about the Holy Spirit?” Our neighbor asked my husband and me that question several weeks ago as he helped lay new flooring in our kitchen. That’s not a question one hears every day, and I was disappointed by my inability to express clearly what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit.
While Jesus was in the upper room with his disciples, he told them it was expedient, that is, advantageous, for them that he go away. Why? Because then the Holy Spirit would come.
One of my uncles used to give my siblings and me an advent calendar every December. For those of you who haven’t seen one before, the dates of an advent calendar are printed on little cardboard doors. Behind each door is a chocolate candy. From now through Sunday, May 24, I intend to devote these devotionals to the study of the Holy Spirit. Think of it as an advent calendar counting down to Pentecost. Each day we’ll savor a different truth about the Holy Spirit. It’s my prayer that our study will better equip us to answer the question, “What do you believe about the Holy Spirit?”
Sing or pray Psalter #391.