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Watching Daily At My Gates

Many of you have used the devotionals and we hope to continue providing good devotional material in the future. Writing them, however, is a very big job, especially when one works on four months worth of material. Even writing one month is a lot of work, but it is also very rewarding. I would really like to encourage anyone who has thought at all about writing devotionals, to give it a try. Even if you are willing to commit to a half a month, or could work with some friends to write a month, it would be appreciated. The men who have been writing have put in a tremendous amount of work and it has been much appreciated. They would welcome some help with this work.

This month I have chosen some topics that I have used in devotions with my sixth through eighth grade students.

Arguments with Others

June 1 Read 2 Timothy 2:22-26

This week we will meditate upon some passages of God’s word that warn us against ungodly arguments with others. So often our arguments are centered around “foolish and unlearned questions.” The issue itself is really not that important, and what is really at stake is our pride. No one wants to back down, because that would look weak. We are more concerned about ourselves and not the glory of God. God tells us to avoid these questions. A wise person can see from the start the essence of such an argument and avoids it altogether. Pray for such strength and wisdom. Sing Psalter 80:1, 11, 12.

June 2 Read Acts 9:26-31

Arguing about whether or not my idea or action is better than yours is an argument that is often rooted in pride, but not every argument is wrong. If our genuine goal is to bring another to a better understanding of a particular truth of God, or a debate is established to bring out the truth of God’s word, then we give glory to God. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17. Paul went boldly in the true knowledge of God to confront unbelievers with the truth. He did not go in pride. Let this be our motive, and let us also be humble and ready to concede our mistake when we are proven wrong. Sing Psalter 21.

June 3 Read 1 Timothy 6:1-6

Sometimes our arguments rage around a single word. Here again we could look at a hundred different scenarios. Some criticize the church for destroying unity over debates about the meaning of a single word or even a single letter while overlooking the general plain teaching of Christ. Here again, pride shows itself when such a doting over words has as its motive the desire to justify a lifestyle that is contrary to God’s word. Our depraved minds, acting as children of the devil himself, are masters at twisting the meanings of words to suit our own desire. Let us flee this trap and cling to the cross. Sing Psalter 151.

June 4 Read Titus 3:1-11

“But avoid foolish questions.” Questions are asked for many different reasons. Some are good and profitable, but others are foolish and unprofitable. Foolish questions are often asked with the motive of raising an issue that will lead to strife. Perhaps we use a question to raise a controversial topic and we enjoy seeing others get riled up. Perhaps we raise a question that will serve to put someone down while we are lifted up in pride. We need to be careful every time we open our mouths to speak, and this includes asking questions. Ask yourself, “Why am I asking this question?” Will it be profitable? Sing Psalter 329.

Imitators of Christ

June 5 Read Ephesians 5:1-12

The word “followers” in verse one is a translation of a word that has the idea of being an imitator. Just as children imitate their father, so we are imitators “of God, as dear children;” How can we imitate God? We, of course, do not imagine that we are God and pretend to be a sovereign ruler. The next verse explains very plainly what we are to do. “Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” Pray for grace to look up to your heavenly Father and walk today as a child of His. Will those around you recognize you as a child of God? Sing Psalter 359.

June 6 Read Leviticus 11:43-45

Yesterday we noticed that we imitate God when we walk in love. In what other way must we imitate God? One important lesson that the children of Israel had to learn was to be holy, even as their covenant God is holy. I believe the basic idea here behind the term holy is to be separate from everything else: all the other people who were not chosen out of fallen humanity, all that was left defiled with sin. God had chosen His people. He had redeemed them from death. To look back and long for the old life would be spiritual adultery. To reinforce this concept, God gave various laws to remind and teach His people the concept of separation. Do you flee temptation, or do you get as close to the dirt as possible? Be holy, even as God is holy. Sing Psalter 24.

June 7 Read Matthew 5:43-48

As imitators of our Father, we must walk in love, be holy, and in this word of God, we must be perfect. Yes, we must be perfect. Does this mean we must avoid doing anything wrong? It is more than that. To be perfect involves positive action on our part. We saw earlier that we must walk in love. But even that stops short at the real test. Even the publicans and sinners will love. What is that love of God that we must imitate? God loved us while we were yet enemies. We were in union with the Devil himself. Do you have that kind of love in your heart? Do you love that one who cut you down, who slandered you, who desires to rub you in the mud every chance he gets? By grace alone this sort of love begins to find a place in the heart of a child of God. Pray for that grace. Sing Psalter 35.

June 8 Read Luke 6:27-36

When we try to imitate God as our Father, we begin to realize how far short we fall and how great our God is. Today we are called to be merciful even as God is merciful. This mercy is closely tied to the concept of loving our enemies but is applied here in the area of giving. We are to give, not with the hope of getting something in return, but expecting never to see any profit for ourselves. We really have nothing of ourselves anyway. All we have is what we have from God. When we begin to realize our utter dependence upon God for everything, then we can also begin to give properly, and experience what it means to be a child of God. Do you spend more time looking out for yourself, or do you have a heart of mercy and quickly stoop to the needs of others and forget yourself? This mercy, along with all the other qualities of a child of God come by the grace of God alone. Sing Psalter 232.

June 9 Read Ephesians 4:25-32

God, for Christ’s sake has forgiven us. Are you willing to forgive those who wrong you? Our sins have been blotted out before God. They are gone and will never come between God and His children again. As children of God, we also must seek to blot out and forget the wrongs others do to us. Do you have a reputation of one who is kind and tender hearted? Meditate upon God’s word. Study God as a child studies his father, and imitate Him. Sing Psalter 140.

June 10 Read 1 Peter 1:1-16

Here too we are called to be holy. God repeats His word from Leviticus 11 in the context of believers facing persecution. When we face persecution, we ought not hide among the heathen as David once did, but rather turn to the wonder of our salvation, which even the angels desire to look into. When we ponder our salvation, we are strengthened and encouraged to continue in the holy life which is filled with difficulties in this sinful world. Sing Psalter 141.

Listening

June 11 Read James 1:19-25

In the next few days we will look at some passages of God’s word that have to do with listening to others. The general principle we have in verse 19 is to be swift to hear and slow to speak. It is our nature to do just the opposite. When we are quick to speak and slow to hear, we do not function well as the body of Christ. Quick speech often is associated with a sharp tongue that cuts and stirs up anger and sin. Quick speech indicates pride and making our word more important than the words of someone else. Listening is the humble activity of one who esteems another better than himself. Try to keep track today of the time you spend listening in comparison to speaking. Sing Psalter 222:4-6.

June 12 Read Nehemiah 8:1-12

God has given us this day as a day to be set aside for rest and the hearing of His word preached. What a blessing it is to be able to hear the pure preaching of the word at least twice. Do you look forward to that opportunity? All too often a day of hearing is a distraction from our busy life. All the things we want to do for ourselves wait impatiently for tomorrow and we are reminded again how difficult it is to be swift to hear. God had sent his people at the time of Nehemiah many trials and they were swift to hear. Sometimes God needs to send us trials as well so that we come gladly to God’s house to hear His word. Sing Psalter 349.

June 13 Read Proverbs 8:32-38

As children of God, our ears must always be swift to hear what our Father says to us. Christ is revealed to us in Proverbs 8 as the word and wisdom of God. Hearing is the means by which God reveals Himself to us. Hearing is more than registering sound; hearing means that the truth of God becomes a part of us and we are made wise. Hearing is also the way to blessedness and peace. Did you keep track of the time you spent hearing yesterday? How does the time you spend meditating upon God’s word compare to the time you spend speaking to Him in prayer? Sing Psalter 1.

June 14 Read Ecclesiastes 5:1-3

God has strict words for our use of our hearing, thinking, and speaking while worshiping in Church. If we are not ready to hear, we are in danger of offering the sacrifice of fools. An acute awareness of what we are doing in church and Whom we worship must serve to put us in our proper place. It is a place of hearing, and thinking carefully before we speak. Let us work diligently to curb the flow of words from our mouths lest the multitude of our words mark us as fools. Sing Psalter 11.

June 15 Read Luke 15:1-7

Jesus said in John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” This was clear every day as Christ went out to preach the gospel of salvation. The voice of Christ caused the publicans and sinners to draw near unto Him. They gathered around like sheep. These are the children of God who know their sins. They stray and become lost, and no sound is more beautiful and comforting that the gospel of salvation. Sing Psalter 55.

June 16 Read Acts 17:10-13

The Bereans are commended here for their diligent hearing. They received the word with all readiness of mind. They did not stop with hearing and pondering, they went another step and searched more deeply into the word of God to make sure that what they were hearing was true. Do you make sure that what you are hearing is the truth? This takes work, and it is often more fun and enjoyable to believe only what is pleasing to our flesh. The Bereans are commended for their diligent hearing. Will this be true of you today? Sing Psalter 64.

June 17 Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13

Our sinful nature makes it difficult to listen to others. We like to make known our needs and don’t have the time to bother with listening to others. But our sinful nature makes it impossible to listen to God. Paul does not thank the Thessalonians for listening to them preach. He does not praise them for any special spiritual insight that enabled them to see that their preaching was the very word of God. He thanked God for this hearing. Clever arguments will never convince anyone to believe. These people were sheep of the fold of Christ. They heard His voice. Let us rejoice in the wonder of God’s work in our hearts to believe His word. Sing Psalter 79.

June 18 Read Psalm 116

Many of the Psalms speak not of our listening to God, but of God listening to us. The Psalms by their very nature as prayers are petitions. But this does not mean that we spend all our time asking of God and not listening to Him. Earlier we meditated upon the truth that we must imitate our God. We must do that also with our listening. God listens very carefully to His children. The Psalmist sings, “I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.” What a blessing it is to know God hears us. Let us as God’s children listen to one another as well. Sing Psalter 310.

Being First or Greatest

June 19 Read Mark 10:35-45

Do you get irritated when someone gets ahead of you? We like to be the first, and we like to be the greatest. In this world, we get to the top by strength of will, mind, or brute force. In the church, the whole system of getting to the top is turned upside down. If you want to be the greatest in the kingdom of God, you have to be the servant of all. Instead of fighting others, you fight your own sinful nature. Instead of extolling your virtues, you come to the realization of your sinfulness. Will you go out ready to serve others today, or are you going to fight your way to the next notch, even if it means stepping on some other heads? Remember, Christ gave His very life. Sing Psalter 97.

June 20 Read Mark 9:30-37

As children we openly argue about who is the greatest. As adults, it becomes more subtle and we try to prove our greatness in other ways. When the disciples argued, Jesus patiently had them all sit down so He could teach them a lesson. He reminded them of the basic truth that rules in the kingdom of heaven: greatness is measured by humility. How do you show your humility? One way is to receive into your fellowship those that may be considered small and insignificant. Do you stop to befriend those with no friends? Such are great in the kingdom of God. Sing Psalter 179.

June 21 Read Luke 14:7-11

Sometimes our desire to be first or greatest is clearly manifest by how we behave ourselves in society. Jesus pointed out to His disciples how some people made fools of themselves when they overestimated their importance. He used this example to show them again how the humble are the exalted ones in the kingdom of God. We live in this world, but we are not of this world. The world says you must be aggressive and assert yourselves to get to the top. To live by this philosophy is to be of the world. Do your actions show that you are not of this world? Sing Psalter 186.

June 22 Read Luke 18:9-14

When we strive to be first and greatest, we do not experience the peace and joy of our salvation in Christ. Everything may look great on the outside, but inside we are hollow. Our pride brings us spiritually low. When we humbly come before God to confess our sins, we know the joy and peace of our justification. Take a close look at yourself today. How do you present yourself to others? Do you put on a false front? Are you trying to be someone you are not? Let us be honest and humble before God and others, “for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Sing Psalter 366.

June 23 Read James 4:1-10

“God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” These words come in the context of admonitions against fighting and being a friend of the world: two things that seem to be a constant struggle in our lives. These problems are rooted in that desire to be first or greatest. God resists the proud. He puts troubles in their path. But to the humble He gives grace: that power that lifts the soul from darkness to everlasting life. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” Sing Psalter 402.

June 24 Read Proverbs 13:1-10

Here again we see that all the fighting and strife we have is rooted in pride. In contrast to the proud are the “well advised:” those who are rooted and grounded in the truth of God’s word. That’s why children must be instructed in catechism. Only when we, by grace, begin to understand and believe the fundamental truths of the gospel will we see that humility is greatness. Do you work hard at learning your catechism? Do you listen carefully during the sermons? This is wisdom, and the wise live peacefully as humble Christians. Sing Psalter 325.

Submitting to Authority

June 25 Read 1 Peter 5:1-5

In close connection with being humble is the truth that we are to submit to those in authority over us. This passage addresses the church and those who are under the authority of the elders. We need to submit to the elders. In general, the younger members ought to submit to the older members. Addressing an older member as Mr. or Mrs. is one simple way to give them honor. Does this mean that the older look down upon the younger as unworthy of respect? Not at all. God calls us all to “be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” Sing Psalter 331.

June 26 Read Leviticus 19:30-33

Showing respect to the elderly is here connected with the fear of the Lord. A lack of respect on the part of children for the elderly is an indication of a lack of the fear of the Lord. When Israel walked in sin, God chastised them and “the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable” Isaiah 3:5. How do you view the elderly? Are you in the habit of standing to greet elderly visitors? Do you willingly give up your seat? Today would be a good day to pay attention to your attitude toward the elderly. Sing 366.

June 27 Read Hebrews 13:7-17

Everyone from the President to the police officer has been given authority by God to rule over others. This authority to rule is for the good of those under that authority. This is especially true for the elders who watch over our souls. It is tempting for those under authority to rail against authority because we feel oppressed. It appears to us that those in authority have it so easy. Such an idea is far from the truth. Those in authority are burdened with great responsibility. They all stand under the authority of God to whom they must answer. Do you walk in obedience and submission? Not only is this pleasing to God, it makes the work of those in authority a joy and the church is blessed. Sing 370.

June 28 Read I Peter 2:13-17

This passage emphasizes our calling to submit not only to the elders in the church, but worldly authorities and their laws as well. Sometimes laws seem rather foolish to us and we quickly scoff at them. Those who constantly scoff at what appears to be foolish laws are, in verse 15 referred to as “ignorant” and “foolish.” Chances are good that the law has a good reason, but even a foolish law is to be obeyed. We ought not take part in such scoffing, but rather obey the rules and put them to silence. Sing Psalter 344.

June 29 Read Romans 13:1-7

This passage makes it perfectly clear that all authority comes from God. Any time we resist any authority, we resist God, and walk the path of eternal destruction. And when the authorities exact money in the form of taxes or tolls, we have no business withholding what we owe. It is not a game to see how much we can get away with. To do so is to play games with God. Is it really worth defying authority just to save a few dollars? When you fill out your tax form, do you hide as much income as possible so that you can keep a few extra dollars from the government? Pay what you owe and enjoy the peace of God. Sing Psalter 321.

June 30 Read Deuteronomy 17:8-13

There are times when authorities need to make judgments in a matter. It may be something as simple as an umpire making a call at a ball game or a supreme court ruling. What is your attitude when a decision is made? When the priest in Israel made a decision, God demanded that the people submit to that ruling. The ruling bodies in the church also need to make decisions, and there is a proper way to address grievances. To complain and deride a decision is wicked and wrong. We must address the problem properly or quietly submit. Is this how you deal with the decisions of your parents, your teachers, or your boss? Sing Psalter 223.

June 31 Read John 14:15-21

Do you love God? Do you love your parents? How do you show that love? The ungodly imagine that they can show love to God by doing what they think is best. Saul did this when he brought sacrifices to God instead of obeying him. The one most important way to show our love for God is to obey him. This is why it is so important for us to obey all those in authority over us. When we learn to submit to men who have been given authority, then, by grace, we are also able to obey God. When we walk in obedience to God, God promises that He will manifest Himself to us. This is the way to a walk of covenant fellowship with our God. Sing Psalter 305.