Join His Church: 3

‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.’ 2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV

Nothing in history compares to what has been accomplished by Christian missionaries. Over one hundred years ago, a writer returning from a sea voyage around the world discovered that missions and missionaries were being bombarded with criticism in the London newspapers. So he wrote a letter to the papers defending missions. In it he said that the transformation of tribal people in the islands of the South Seas was amazing, and that to criticise this was a terrible crime: ‘In a voyager, to forget these things is base ineptitude; for should he chance to be at the point of shipwreck on some unknown coast, he will most devoutly pray that the lesson of the missionary may have preceded him.’ Ironically, the author of that letter was none other than Charles Darwin!

Consider the Papuans, one of the original peoples of the island of New Guinea, just north of Australia. Missionaries from Holland began to work with them and, in 1860, the first fruits of the New Holland Mission were seen when a local man named Nathaniel Pepper accepted Christ. These people were considered backward but it wasn’t long before this attitude was shown up as simply wrong. Some years later, when thousands had been converted, the Papuan school won first prize in academic competitions among over twelve hundred colonial schools in New Holland. Quite a feat!

It’s true that sceptics and atheists have built a few leprosariums, hospitals and orphanages. However, the majority by far have been built and staffed by the followers of Jesus Christ who they have made the greatest impact on this world.

SoulFood: Isa 30–33, Luke 2:8–20, Ps 71:1–16, Pro 2:1–2

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2019

Today’s Readings

Isaiah 30–33 ()

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30:1   “Ah, stubborn children,” declares the LORD,
  “who carry out a plan, but not mine,
  and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit,
    that they may add sin to sin;
  who set out to go down to Egypt,
    without asking for my direction,
  to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh
    and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
  Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame,
    and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation.
  For though his officials are at Zoan
    and his envoys reach Hanes,
  everyone comes to shame
    through a people that cannot profit them,
  that brings neither help nor profit,
    but shame and disgrace.”

An oracle on the beasts of the Negeb.

  Through a land of trouble and anguish,
    from where come the lioness and the lion,
    the adder and the flying fiery serpent,
  they carry their riches on the backs of donkeys,
    and their treasures on the humps of camels,
    to a people that cannot profit them.
  Egypt's help is worthless and empty;
    therefore I have called her
    “Rahab who sits still.”

  And now, go, write it before them on a tablet
    and inscribe it in a book,
  that it may be for the time to come
    as a witness forever.
  For they are a rebellious people,
    lying children,
  children unwilling to hear
    the instruction of the LORD;
10   who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
    and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right;
  speak to us smooth things,
    prophesy illusions,
11   leave the way, turn aside from the path,
    let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”
12   Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel,
  “Because you despise this word
    and trust in oppression and perverseness
    and rely on them,
13   therefore this iniquity shall be to you
    like a breach in a high wall, bulging out and about to collapse,
    whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant;
14   and its breaking is like that of a potter's vessel
    that is smashed so ruthlessly
  that among its fragments not a shard is found
    with which to take fire from the hearth,
    or to dip up water out of the cistern.”
15   For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,
  “In returning and rest you shall be saved;
    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
  But you were unwilling, 16 and you said,
  “No! We will flee upon horses”;
    therefore you shall flee away;
  and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”;
    therefore your pursuers shall be swift.
17   A thousand shall flee at the threat of one;
    at the threat of five you shall flee,
  till you are left
    like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,
    like a signal on a hill.

18   Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you,
    and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
  For the LORD is a God of justice;
    blessed are all those who wait for him.

19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. 22 Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!”

23 And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures, 24 and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. 25 And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26 Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

27   Behold, the name of the LORD comes from afar,
    burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke;
  his lips are full of fury,
    and his tongue is like a devouring fire;
28   his breath is like an overflowing stream
    that reaches up to the neck;
  to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction,
    and to place on the jaws of the peoples a bridle that leads astray.

29 You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel. 30 And the LORD will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and storm and hailstones. 31 The Assyrians will be terror-stricken at the voice of the LORD, when he strikes with his rod. 32 And every stroke of the appointed staff that the LORD lays on them will be to the sound of tambourines and lyres. Battling with brandished arm, he will fight with them. 33 For a burning place has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it.

31:1   Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help
    and rely on horses,
  who trust in chariots because they are many
    and in horsemen because they are very strong,
  but do not look to the Holy One of Israel
    or consult the LORD!
  And yet he is wise and brings disaster;
    he does not call back his words,
  but will arise against the house of the evildoers
    and against the helpers of those who work iniquity.
  The Egyptians are man, and not God,
    and their horses are flesh, and not spirit.
  When the LORD stretches out his hand,
    the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall,
    and they will all perish together.
  For thus the LORD said to me,
  “As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey,
    and when a band of shepherds is called out against him
  he is not terrified by their shouting
    or daunted at their noise,
  so the LORD of hosts will come down
    to fight on Mount Zion and on its hill.
  Like birds hovering, so the LORD of hosts
    will protect Jerusalem;
  he will protect and deliver it;
    he will spare and rescue it.”

Turn to him from whom people have deeply revolted, O children of Israel. For in that day everyone shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which your hands have sinfully made for you.

  “And the Assyrian shall fall by a sword, not of man;
    and a sword, not of man, shall devour him;
  and he shall flee from the sword,
    and his young men shall be put to forced labor.
  His rock shall pass away in terror,
    and his officers desert the standard in panic,”
  declares the LORD, whose fire is in Zion,
    and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.

32:1   Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
    and princes will rule in justice.
  Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,
    a shelter from the storm,
  like streams of water in a dry place,
    like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
  Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed,
    and the ears of those who hear will give attention.
  The heart of the hasty will understand and know,
    and the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak distinctly.
  The fool will no more be called noble,
    nor the scoundrel said to be honorable.
  For the fool speaks folly,
    and his heart is busy with iniquity,
  to practice ungodliness,
    to utter error concerning the LORD,
  to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied,
    and to deprive the thirsty of drink.
  As for the scoundrel—his devices are evil;
    he plans wicked schemes
  to ruin the poor with lying words,
    even when the plea of the needy is right.
  But he who is noble plans noble things,
    and on noble things he stands.

  Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice;
    you complacent daughters, give ear to my speech.
10   In little more than a year
    you will shudder, you complacent women;
  for the grape harvest fails,
    the fruit harvest will not come.
11   Tremble, you women who are at ease,
    shudder, you complacent ones;
  strip, and make yourselves bare,
    and tie sackcloth around your waist.
12   Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields,
    for the fruitful vine,
13   for the soil of my people
    growing up in thorns and briers,
  yes, for all the joyous houses
    in the exultant city.
14   For the palace is forsaken,
    the populous city deserted;
  the hill and the watchtower
    will become dens forever,
  a joy of wild donkeys,
    a pasture of flocks;
15   until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
    and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
    and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.
16   Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
    and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
17   And the effect of righteousness will be peace,
    and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
18   My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
    in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
19   And it will hail when the forest falls down,
    and the city will be utterly laid low.
20   Happy are you who sow beside all waters,
    who let the feet of the ox and the donkey range free.

33:1   Ah, you destroyer,
    who yourself have not been destroyed,
  you traitor,
    whom none has betrayed!
  When you have ceased to destroy,
    you will be destroyed;
  and when you have finished betraying,
    they will betray you.
  O LORD, be gracious to us; we wait for you.
    Be our arm every morning,
    our salvation in the time of trouble.
  At the tumultuous noise peoples flee;
    when you lift yourself up, nations are scattered,
  and your spoil is gathered as the caterpillar gathers;
    as locusts leap, it is leapt upon.
  The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high;
    he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
  and he will be the stability of your times,
    abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
    the fear of the LORD is Zion's treasure.
  Behold, their heroes cry in the streets;
    the envoys of peace weep bitterly.
  The highways lie waste;
    the traveler ceases.
  Covenants are broken;
    cities are despised;
    there is no regard for man.
  The land mourns and languishes;
    Lebanon is confounded and withers away;
  Sharon is like a desert,
    and Bashan and Carmel shake off their leaves.
10   “Now I will arise,” says the LORD,
    “now I will lift myself up;
    now I will be exalted.
11   You conceive chaff; you give birth to stubble;
    your breath is a fire that will consume you.
12   And the peoples will be as if burned to lime,
    like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.”
13   Hear, you who are far off, what I have done;
    and you who are near, acknowledge my might.
14   The sinners in Zion are afraid;
    trembling has seized the godless:
  “Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
    Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”
15   He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
    who despises the gain of oppressions,
  who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe,
    who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed
    and shuts his eyes from looking on evil,
16   he will dwell on the heights;
    his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks;
    his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.
17   Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty;
    they will see a land that stretches afar.
18   Your heart will muse on the terror:
    “Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed the tribute?
    Where is he who counted the towers?”
19   You will see no more the insolent people,
    the people of an obscure speech that you cannot comprehend,
    stammering in a tongue that you cannot understand.
20   Behold Zion, the city of our appointed feasts!
    Your eyes will see Jerusalem,
    an untroubled habitation, an immovable tent,
  whose stakes will never be plucked up,
    nor will any of its cords be broken.
21   But there the LORD in majesty will be for us
    a place of broad rivers and streams,
  where no galley with oars can go,
    nor majestic ship can pass.
22   For the LORD is our judge; the LORD is our lawgiver;
    the LORD is our king; he will save us.
23   Your cords hang loose;
    they cannot hold the mast firm in its place
    or keep the sail spread out.
  Then prey and spoil in abundance will be divided;
    even the lame will take the prey.
24   And no inhabitant will say, “I am sick”;
    the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.

Luke 2:8–20 ()

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And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14   “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Psalm 71:1–16 ()

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71:1   In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame!
  In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
    incline your ear to me, and save me!
  Be to me a rock of refuge,
    to which I may continually come;
  you have given the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.
  Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
    from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
  For you, O Lord, are my hope,
    my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
  Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
    you are he who took me from my mother's womb.
  My praise is continually of you.
  I have been as a portent to many,
    but you are my strong refuge.
  My mouth is filled with your praise,
    and with your glory all the day.
  Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
    forsake me not when my strength is spent.
10   For my enemies speak concerning me;
    those who watch for my life consult together
11   and say, “God has forsaken him;
    pursue and seize him,
    for there is none to deliver him.”
12   O God, be not far from me;
    O my God, make haste to help me!
13   May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
    with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
    who seek my hurt.
14   But I will hope continually
    and will praise you yet more and more.
15   My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
    of your deeds of salvation all the day,
    for their number is past my knowledge.
16   With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come;
    I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.

Proverbs 2:1–2 ()

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2:1   My son, if you receive my words
    and treasure up my commandments with you,
  making your ear attentive to wisdom
    and inclining your heart to understanding;

Thu 10 January, 2019


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