Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Week Eight - Jehoiachin and Evilmerodach

Jehoiachin, the King of Judah, wound up a prisoner of war for 37 years. Eventually, the new king of Babylon, Evilmerodach, released him from his bonds and the Bible says, "he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon; and changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life. And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life." 

Spurgeon uses this passage to explain to us a precious truth.

"Jehoiachin wasn't sent away from the kings' palace with provisions that would last him for months; rather, his allowance was given to him on a daily basis. In this he very much depicts the happy position of all the Lord's people. A daily portion is all that a person really wants. We don't need tomorrow's supplies; that day has not yet dawned, and its wants are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may allow in the month of June doesn't need to be quenched in February, for we don't feel it yet; if we have enough for each day as the days arrive we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy.

We cannot eat or drink or wear more than the day's supply of food and clothing; the surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveler, but a bundle of staves is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the complete glutton can truly enjoy. This is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this is ungrateful.

When our Father doesn't give us more, we should be content with His daily allowance. Jehoiachin's situation is ours; we have a sure portion, a portion given to us by the king, a gracious portion, and a perpetual portion. Here, surely, is grounds for thankfulness.

Dear Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of strength. Day by day you must seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that a daily portion is provided for you. In the world, through the ministry, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God you shall receive renewed strength. In Jesus all necessary things are laid up for you. So, then, enjoy your continual allowance. Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy."


Morning and Evening by Spurgeon - page 90

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Week Seven - Count Your Blessings

Pause and sing the chorus with me!

Count your blessings,
Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings,
See what God has done.

Count your blessings,
Name them one by one.
And it will surprise you,
What the Lord hath done. 

Have you ever tried restricting your prayer time to doing this only? Remembering all God has done in the past and counting the blessings, the joy, or the lessons learned? It is a good practice. It brings such joy and humility to the heart.

Paul says to the Thessalonicans - "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father" (1 Thess. 1:3). He had watched these people grow in the Lord. Their testimony of faith, love, and hope bloomed in his heart, making them his joy and crown of rejoicing, a feather proudly displayed in his cap, if you will.

God gets the glory when we remember His works, mercy, and leading and then give thanks. I challenge you to try a moment of prayer right now thanking God for all He has done in your past. Let the tears of rejoicing flow as you see His hand guiding you, forgiving, and helping you through every trial.

But don't stop there. Take time also to pay attention to what is happening now. God is at work around you today. "This is the day which the Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).

As you read First Thessalonians, you hear the heart of a man actively watching what is happening in Thessalonica, and he rejoices to see their faith and love that is resulting in extended influence for Christ.

Friend, God is at work. He is moving things into position for the rapture of the church, for Christ's return, and for God's final glory. Souls are being saved around the world. Churches are being planted, and the gospel is being heard by millions in a way we could not have imagined even ten years ago.

Let's not allow the noise of the world or the ugliness of life to block our view of God's eternal work. And we, as His children, are a part of that work. He works through us just as He did among the Thessalonicans back when Paul first visited Europe.

Let's be thankful. God is here, loving and caring for us today. Rejoice!

And then, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Think ahead. What will God do tomorrow, next week, or next year? We don't know, do we? But we can rest assured He will continue working. And all things, according to Ephesians 1:11, are done "according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." So we can begin thanking Him that He is in control. He knows our future and has it all worked out perfectly. We can thank Him because He will equip us and prepare our hearts no matter what is ahead.

In everything...give thanks. Everything. 

I have found that even in an awful situation, I can find glimmers of thanksgiving if I but look. And this always raises my spirits and helps me see God at work around me, helping me remember how He has worked in the past and giving me hope for both today and tomorrow.

Thankfulness is a key attitude and attribute of the child of God. Cultivate it each day by remembering how God has been there for you in the past, being aware of His activity today, and looking forward to tomorrow by faith with thanksgiving.

Then, you will have truly learned to count your blessings!

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Week Six - A Bible Valentine

Beautiful, loving phrases sparkle throughout First Thessalonians as Paul writes to this beloved church. He begins expressing thankfulness for their work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in Christ that has created an example for others.

He is thankful that they received the Word gladly and allowed God to work in their lives. Their far-reaching testimony was a joy to this traveling evangelist. His rejoicing brings him to encourage them to continue to walk worthy and stand fast in the Lord. And then he says, in 3:12, "The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you."

What a beautiful blessing - to love one another and all men with the same love Paul has shown them.

And what did Paul's love for the Thessalonians look like?

He spoke truth to them, not words of shallow flattery but of depth and honesty. His words built them up with life-giving instruction and strength. They were memorable words from God that saved their souls and equipped them to love others more.

He exhibited gentleness, not some mamby-pamby fluff, but graceful, gentle care and concern that drew them to Christ. His was an open and approachable message of heart and hand that cultivated trust, and an easiness of person that created a healthy, loving atmosphere.

He behaved himself wisely, living the gospel before them. He was never burdensome and heavy or demanding. No showing off, no bossing them around, no arrogance, just a worthy walk, holy, just, and unblameable. His love was true discipleship that affected them greatly.

And why? Because he loved them, and he loved the Lord. The two go together, you know? You can't love God and be effective for Him unless you love others. And Paul's love for the Thessalonicans created a loving mutual bond. What an excellent example for us to follow.

As love is the theme for the coming week, how might your relationships be strengthened if you reached out with loving, gentle words and actions and your behavior was about giving and sharing as you showed the love of Christ to those you love?