Think On These Things

Peace On Earth

I was thinking about the crazy world we live in, and pondered, how can we have a Merry Christmas with all the uncertainty and evil around us?  I’m reminded of one of my favorite carols.  It is based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play;
In music sweet the tones repeat,
“There’s peace on earth, good will to men.”

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor does He sleep,
For Christ is here; His Spirit near
Brings peace on earth, good will to men.”

There’s a reason why the Bible repeatedly tells us to fix our eyes on Christ—because it’s the only way we can find peace and comfort.  On one of my Frank Sinatra CDs, Sinatra quotes a child’s poem:

God is in His Heaven

All’s right with the world.

It sounds cute and trite, but I love it.  Because if you really think about what it’s saying, it’s quite profound.  God is in His Heaven—in control, watching over us, working all things for our good.  God is in His Heaven, and He sent His Son to earth, to break the power of sin and the devil, and to conquer death.  And that’s more than just for us and our salvation—Christ is Lord of all creation.  One day, the effects of sin will be no more, and creation won’t be broken anymore.  The church has a phrase that you hear now and then, “Already, but not yet.”  For example, we are saved, we already have our salvation, but we do not yet experience it fully, we’re not in God’s presence, free from sin.  In the same way, Christ has defeated the devil, but the devil still has some power here on earth.  We still suffer the effects of his power, but we know that he’s fighting a lost battle.  And so, yes, even right now, “All’s right with the world,” because the battle’s already been won and we’re just waiting for the day when Christ will come again and make it “now” instead of “not yet.”

As you look at the Christmas lights this year, take comfort in the promises of our faithful God in Heaven, who we can trust when He says, in Revelation 21, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)

God will never leave you nor forsake you, and He sent His Son to Earth to prove it.

Merry Christmas!

–Rebecca Brown, SHM secretary

 

Giving Thanks Always

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—Ephesians 5:20

Reading: Ephesians 5:1-21

Sometimes in the midst of trials it is difficult to give thanks. We may be inclined to postpone thanksgiving until some future time when we will have passed successfully through the trying experiences of the present. Today we may have some very difficult situations to meet. Perhaps we are longing for relief from them by the end of the day. We may feel that we can truly give thanks then!

When the Lord delivers us from our afflictions we should give fervent thanks. But Paul instructs us that we should give thanks always for all things. This means that before and during our trials, as well as after them, we should give thanks. This means, also, that we should give thanks to God not simply for deliverance from our trials, and not simply in spite of our trials, but also for the trials that He has appointed for us. Our God causes all things to work together for our good and His glory. In everything we are to give thanks. And whatever we do in word or deed, we are to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:17).

 

Skilton, John H. Think on These Things: Bible Truths for Faith and Life. Philadelphia: Skilton House – Sowers, 1986.

The Lord is My Shepherd

Today we take a moment to consider Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. David’s relationship to the Lord was as a sheep to his shepherd. Sheep are not smart, so they need to be led. So too, we need to trust the Lord to lead us in safety, to know where we should go because we do not know what’s best for us, and to care for us, supplying everything we need.

He makes me lie down in green pastures. When sheep are well fed, they lie down in grass, but then they wander off, so the shepherd has to lead them back. But we see here how the content sheep stay where they belong. When we wander off, how often does He have to bring us back.

He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. It’s during the quiet times that God speaks to us. When we are not quiet, we have a lot of chaos in our lives.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. When we walk through the shadow of death, doing dumb things, but knowing the Lord, we don’t have to fear evil because He is with us!

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. He not only has prepared a table for us, but a mansion! Without His mercy and grace, we would not be blessed. By His grace He rescues us, and His mercies are new every day.

The Good News of Christ’s Death

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.” –1 Corinthians 15:1-3

Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Hebrews 4:14-5:10; 7:22-27; 9:11-14; 10:10

A professor in one of our large American universities once said that Jesus should be regarded as a genius, but not as a successful genius. The professor reasoned that Jesus was defeated in His death, that His teachings were rejected, His purposes frustrated.

But Paul does not regard the death of our Lord as defeat. He includes it in the good news, the Gospel, that he preaches. He even informs the Corinthians that he had determined not to know [preach] anything among them save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. Paul regards the death of Christ as providing good news, for he knows that the holy and undefiled Saviour died for the sins of His people, as the Old Testament had foretold and as God had determined before the foundation of the world. Our Lord had come to give His life as a ransom for many. He who knew no sin became sin for His own. He freely in their place, as their substitute, paid the penalty required by the law; He covered their guilt; He satisfied the justice of God for them; and He has propitiated God and reconciled Him to His people.

The death of the Saviour did not mean defeat for Him, but it meant triumph—yes, it meant good news! Indeed, apart from it there could be no good news or no Gospel or no salvation for men.

 

Skilton, John H. Think on These Things: Bible Truths for Faith and Life. Philadelphia: Skilton House – Sowers, 1986.

 

“Blessed Be My Rock”

Today, we’re taking a look at another psalm. Don’t forget the main focus of each psalm is Jesus who is the Son of God, one with the Father and the Spirit. In Psalm 18:1, 2, 3, 46, David, the servant of the Lord, says,

1. I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
2. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.
46. The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock;
And exalted be the God of my salvation. (NASB)

Through life’s trials, let us remember that “Fearing God replaces fear of others and things” (author unknown). Nothing can sway God, nothing can change His plans, no one can change His mind. When we call on Him and trust in Him, we know that He is “my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,” because He says so. He loves His people, and nothing can get between Him and us (Romans 8:31-39). When life falls apart around us, it’s comforting to know that He won’t leave us or fail us, even if everything in this world does. He’s always with us, and like a rock, nothing will move Him. We can rely on Him. Everything He promises in the Bible, He’ll do. Always has, always will. “Blessed be my Rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation.”

We Beheld His Glory

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” –John 1:14

Reading: John 1:1-18

John beheld with his own eyes the glory of Christ. He bears witness in his Gospel to One whom he has seen and known. He is not writing about a stranger; he is not presenting the mere traditions or theories or speculations of men about the Son of God. The Word was made flesh and His glory was manifested. John witnessed that glory. And he saw mighty signs that the Lord performed in the presence of His disciples; he heard His revelations of divine truth; he observed His perfect life; he beheld Him risen from the dead. John gives us facts and an inspired interpretation of those facts.

Nothing can overthrow the testimony of John. No new theory, no discoveries of science, no ungodly philosophy can ever succeed in shaking that witness. Whatever men today may choose to believe and do, nothing whatsoever can shatter the fact that John and others actually beheld the glory of the Saviour of the world and the Son of the living God. Nothing can erase the historical record of those divine signs that John and others witnessed. Nothing can ever disprove the existence of the sovereign triune God; for apart from God there would be no facts, no signs, no existence, no meaning. John’s testimony stands, and we by God’s grace and power believe that testimony. And we look, in faith, toward that day when we will be admitted to the presence of our Redeemer and our God, and we too shall behold His glory.

 

Skilton, John H. Think on These Things: Bible Truths for Faith and Life. Philadelphia: Skilton House – Sowers, 1986.

 

The Glory of the Lord in Creation

Today we take a moment to consider the glorious and beautiful Psalm 8.

 

Psalm 8 (NKJV)

O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, You have set Your glory above the heavens!

Out of the mouth of babes and infants, You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained,

What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?

For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.

You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,

All sheep and oxen (flocks and herds)–even the beasts of the field,

The birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, (all) that pass through the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!

————–

God is great and greatly to be praised!

God is mighty, so He can give even little children power over His evil enemies. Jesus quoted verse 2 after cleansing the temple, as the children praised Him, acknowledging that He is God (Mt. 21:16).

God only needed fingers to create the universe, not a strong arm. And yet God thinks of us and cares for us, small though we are in a vast universe. Look at His greatness, rather than the smallness of our troubles. Know that He takes care of all of it. God is in control.

God has given man dominion or power over creation, but not as an equal to the Creator. It is a gift, not a right. Ultimately, verses 5-6 speak of Christ, the Son of Man, to Whom all authority has been given (Mt. 28:18). All things have been put under His control, and He is “crowned with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:8-9).

This psalm and our meaning start and end with the glory of God and Who He is.