Reflection (Jeremiah 8:5–7)
- With sorrow, the compassionate God of Judah portrayed the rebellion of his covenant people. He longed for their return so that he could heal and comfort them, but they continued to pursue a course of destructive self-will.
- The Lord sought to refine the people of Judah, but they would not respond to his frequent prophetic urgings. He announced that he was scattering them among foreign nations.
- As followers of Jesus, our spiritual life is now hidden with Christ in God in the heavenly places. In our earthly life we are called to live out our new identity with him by putting to death our old selves and walking in the resurrected power of our life in Christ.
- Because of this new identity, for which God chose us, loved us and made us holy, we can practice compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Taken from Once a Day Morning & Evening
Pleased with His Precepts
I delight to do your will, O my God. (Psalm 40:8)
How does being born of God make the commandments of God a delight rather than a burden?
The apostle John says, “This is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.” In other words, the way that being born of God overcomes the worldly burdensomeness of God’s commandments is by begetting faith. This is confirmed in verse 1, which says, literally, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.”
Faith is the evidence that we have been born of God. We do not make ourselves born again by deciding to believe. God makes us willing to believe by causing us to be born again. As Peter said in his first letter, God “caused us to be born again to a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3). Our living hope, or faith in future grace, is the work of God through new birth.
So when John says, “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world,” and then adds, “And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith,” I take him to mean that God enables us, by the new birth, to overcome the world — that is, to overcome our worldly disinclination to keep God’s commandments. The new birth does this by creating faith, which evidently includes a disposition to be pleased, rather than put off, by God’s commandments.
Therefore, it is faith that overcomes our inborn hostility to God and his will, and frees us to keep his commandments, and say with the psalmist, “I delight to do your will, O my God” (Psalm 40:8).
Enraged by Jacob’s deception, Esau plots to kill him. Rebekah warns Jacob, who flees to distant Paddan-aram. Along the way, he has a dream . . .
At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”
Bethel was sixty miles north of Beersheba, where Jacob left his family. This was where Abraham made one of his first sacrifices to God when he entered the land. Early on, Bethel became an important center for worship; later it was a center of idolatry. The prophet Hosea condemned the evil practices of its people.
God’s covenant promise to Abraham and Isaac was offered to Jacob as well. It was not enough to be Abraham’s grandson; Jacob had to establish his own personal relationship with God.
Was Jacob’s vow a bargain with God? It is possible that he, in his ignorance, thought of God as a servant who would wait on him for a promised tip. More likely, Jacob was not bargaining but pledging his future to God. He may have been saying, in effect, “Because you have blessed me, I will follow you.” Whether Jacob was bargaining or pledging, God blessed him.
God has no grandchildren; each person must have a personal relationship with him. Even if you have a godly heritage, simply hearing wonderful stories about Christians in your family is not enough. You need to become part of the story yourself (see Galatians 3:6-7). You are a link in your family’s chain of faith. Ask God to show you what you can do to pass on the faith to the next generation.
Streams in the Desert – May 9
Abraham stood yet before the Lord (Gen. 18:22).
The friend of God can plead with Him for others. Perhaps Abraham’s height of faith and friendship seems beyond our little possibilities. Do not be discouraged, Abraham grew; so may we. He went step by step, not by great leaps.
The man whose faith has been deeply tested and who has come off victorious, is the man to whom supreme tests must come. The finest jewels are most carefully cut and polished; the hottest fires try the most precious metal. Abraham would never have been called the Father of the Faithful if he had not been proved to the uttermost.
Read Genesis, twenty-second chapter: “Take thy son, thine only son, whom thou loves.” See him going with a chastened, wistful, yet humbly obedient heart up Moriah’s height, with the idol of his heart beside him about to be sacrificed at the command of God whom he had faithfully loved and served!
What a rebuke to our questionings of God’s dealings with us! Away with all doubting explanations of this stupendous scene! It was an object lesson for the ages. Angels were looking. Shall this man’s faith stand forever for the strength and help of all God’s people? Shall it be known through him that unfaltering faith will always prove the faithfulness of God?
Yes; and when faith has borne victoriously its uttermost test, the angel of the Lord–who? The Lord Jesus, Jehovah, He in whom “all the promises of God are yea and amen”–spoke to him, saying, “Now I know that thou fears God.” Thou hast trusted me to the uttermost. I will also trust thee; thou shalt ever be My friend, and I will bless thee, and make thee a blessing.
It is always so, and always will be. “They that are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”
It is no small thing to be on terms of friendship with God.