Bible reading for Aug 20.
I Samuel 12.
"Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way." (1 Samuel 12:23)
SAMUEL'S FAREWELL. Now that Saul is King, Samuel passes the executive authority of the nation over to him. He finishes with a good testimony and clear conscience. He will be, as it were, a Judge Emeritus. He will not disappear, however, for his priestly role will still continue, and his prophetic words -- including the writing of the first book of Samuel -- were still needed. He will be involved in praying for the nation and giving guidance from the Lord.
REFLECT. How important is it to you to finish well? For those of us in later years the role of prayer and godly counsel becomes ever more important. Samuel, like Anna many years later (Luke 2:36-38), becomes a guardian of the faith, a mentor, and a gatekeeper in God's household. Who are you praying for? Into whose lives are you speaking? Your wisdom and experience are valuable. Don't give up on the younger generation -- they need your prayer.
"...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)
ISRAEL'S PRESENT. Yesterday (chapter 9) was Israel's past history, especially as it related to the question, what about Israel, God's people in the Old Testament? Paul had said that God's choice was never merely a matter of family lineage (physical descendants), nor of good works, nor of human will or effort, but a matter of God's electing mercy and calling by his word. At the present time, says Paul, there is a remnant of believing Israelites, those who have embraced their (and our) Messiah. A righteous standing before God comes when we give up righteousness by our works (vv 1-4). He uses an illustration -- the law itself (vv 5-8). God called Israel as a people by his own mercy and grace. He gave them his law as a gift to be received and believed. Just like the law was a gift that they did not create or attain or find, so Christ is given to us -- to both Jews and Gentiles -- in his completed work of incarnation, death, and resurrection, to be received by faith.
FREE OFFER TO ALL. What wonderful verses lie before us: "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'" (vv 12-13). Christ has completed his work of salvation, dying for our sins and rising for our justification (1 Cor 15:3-6). And this gospel, being God's word, produces faith: "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (v 17). The gospel has gone forth and borne fruit, even though many Jews were not receiving it at that time (vv 18-21).
REFLECT. Where does your peace with God come from? Is it your ancestry, or your good works, or any form of self-righteousness? Peace with God comes through trusting God and the work of Christ, his Son and our Savior. Jesus is Lord; he died for our sins; he is risen and reigning in glory. We should trust his mercy and bountiful grace, as it says, "...bestowing his riches on all who call on him." Have you called upon him for salvation? If not, call upon him today! There is a healing stream free to all...
Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain,
Free to all -— a healing stream,
Flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
From the cross my ransomed soul
Nothing then shall sever.
(Words by Fanny Crosby)
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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