Daily Reading & Meditation: Thursday (April 27)
Author Don Schwager, 2017 Servants of the Word, source: www.dailyscripture.net
Scripture: John 3:31-36
31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth belongs to the earth, and of the earth he speaks; he who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony; 33 he who receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit; 35 the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.
Meditation: Do you hunger for the true and abundant life which God offers through the gift of his Holy Spirit? The Jews understood that God gave a certain portion of his Spirit to his prophets. When Elijah was about to depart for heaven, his servant Elisha asked for a double portion of the Spirit which Elijah had received from God (2 Kings 2:9).
The Holy Spirit opens our minds to understand God’s word of truth
Jesus tells his disciples that they can believe the words he speaks because God the Father has anointed him by pouring out his Spirit on him in full measure, without keeping anything back. The function of the Holy Spirit is to reveal God’s truth to us. Jesus declared that “when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). When we receive the Holy Spirit he opens our hearts and minds to recognize and understand God’s word of truth.
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) said, “I believe in order to understand; and I understand the better to believe.” Faith opens our minds and hearts to receive God’s word of truth and to obey it willingly. Do you believe God’s word and receive it as if your life depended on it?
God gives us the freedom to accept or reject what he says is true. But with that freedom also comes a responsibility to recognize the consequences of the choice we make – either to believe what he has spoken to us through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, or to ignore, reject, and chose our own way apart from God. Our choices will either lead us on the path of abundant life and union with God, or the path that leads to spiritual death and separation from God.
Love the Lord, cling to him, and you will have life
God issued a choice and a challenge to the people of the Old Covenant: “See I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. …I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). And God issues the same challenge to the people of the New Covenant today. Do you weigh the consequences of your choices? Do the choices you make lead you towards life or death – blessing or cursing?
If you choose to obey God’s voice and to do his will, then you will know and experience that abundant life which comes from God himself. If you choose to follow your own way apart from God and his will, then you choose for death – a spiritual death which poisons and kills the heart and soul until there is nothing left but an empty person devoid of love, truth, goodness, purity, peace, and joy. Do your choices lead you towards God or away from God?
“Lord Jesus Christ, let your Holy Spirit fill me and transform my heart and mind that I may choose life – the abundant life you offer to those who trust in you. Give me courage to always choose what is good, true, and just and to reject whatever is false, foolish, and contrary to your holy will.”
Psalm 34:2, 9, 17-20
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.
9 O fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no want!
17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones; no one of them is broken.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Always bless the Lord! by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
“When are you to ‘bless the Lord?’ When he showers blessings on you? When earthly goods are plentiful? When you have a plethora of grain, oil, wine, gold, silver… – while your mortal body remains healthy, uninjured and free from disease; while everything that is born on your estate is growing well, and nothing is snatched away by untimely death; while every kind of happiness floods your home and you have all you want in profusion? Is it only then that you are to bless the Lord? No, but ‘at all times.’ So you are to bless him equally when from time to time, or because the Lord God wishes to discipline you, these good things let you down or are taken from you, when there are fewer births or the already-born slip away. These things happen, and their consequence is poverty, need, hardship, disappointment and temptation. But you sang, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be in my mouth always,’ so when the Lord gives you these good things, bless him, and when he takes them away, bless him. He it is who gives, and he it is who takes away, but he does not take himself away from anyone who blesses him. (excerpt from EXPOSITIONS OF THE PSALMS 34.3)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.