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nChrist
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« Reply #45 on: February 25, 2006, 07:28:31 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Judges 7:1-25

Glory to God

Then Jerubbaal who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

Natural man has a penchant for trying to explain away God. The theory of evolution was developed in an attempt to remove God from the arena of creation. Liberal theologians have attempted to demythologize the Bible in order to remove the miraculous works of God from it. Man does all he can to explain naturally the divinely originated phenomena in our world.

God has always been aware of man's desire to usurp His position and authority. Frequently in Scripture can be found accounts where God places men in deliberate situations so they must recognize that their deliverance is solely of Him. When God removes the possibility of any natural explanation, man is left with the inevitable conclusion that God is in the miracle business. Such was the case in our Scripture today.

Israel was assembled and ready for battle. Already the fight had been stayed two days by the dewy and dry fleece so that Gideon could receive a token of God's presence with them. Now the fight was to be delayed again.

On the morning following the second test with the fleece, Gideon and all the people with him "rose up early and pitched beside the well of Harod" (Judges 7:1). Anxious for the battle, they had already moved into military position when God told Gideon he had too many people in His army. Jehovah wanted to be certain that Gideon, as well as Israel and the nations watching, would understand that Israel had won the battle by the hand of God. Therefore he instructed Gideon to command any of the 32,000 troops who were afraid to return home from the front. Much to the surprise of Gideon, 22,000 admitted their fear and retreated. Surely if a battle was won by 10,000 Israeli troops against 135,000 Midianites (Judges 8:10), this would indicate that the victory was the Lord's. But again Jehovah surprised Gideon by indicating that these 10,000 troops were still far too many.

Gideon was to take the troops to the spring of Harod for a strange and severe test. The soldiers were divided into two groups, those who lapped water as a dog and those who dropped to their knees to drink. Whatever the purpose of the test, only 300 soldiers were selected for Gideon's army.

Next God instructed Gideon to go with his servant, Phurah, down to the perimeter of the Midianite encampment and eavesdrop on the Midianites. They overheard one soldier telling another of his dream about a cake of barley bread that rolled into the Midian camp, against the king's tent, and flattened it. His fellow soldier interpreted the dream that this was none other than the sword of Gideon and that God was about to deliver Midian into Gideon's hands. So evident was it that this dream and the interpretation had both come from God that Gideon immediately returned to the host of Israel and said, "Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian." Three hundred men defeated the entire Midianite army and the glory belonged entirely to God.

We must never shy away from impossible situations. When the odds seem least favorable for our success, that is when God can gain the greatest glory from our success. Large armies are not as admirable as dedicated ones. The recruiting slogan of the United States Marine Corps includes the words, "A few good men." God is looking for the same. Will you be one today?

MORNING HYMN
On ev'ry hand the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array;
Let tents of ease be left behind,
And onward to the fray!
Salvation's helmet on each,
With truth all girt about:
The earth shall tremble 'neath our tread
And echo with our shout.

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« Reply #46 on: March 01, 2006, 09:29:13 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Luke 21:1-38

God's Unfailing Word

And all the people came early in the morning to Him in the temple, for to hear Him.

Throughout His teaching ministry Jesus' message enjoyed increasing appreciation. Thousands thronged around Him, not only to view His powers of healing and raising the dead, but also to hear His words. Jesus was more than a prophet, a priest, and a king. The gospel writers describe Him as a preacher and teacher as well. Just before the Passion Week Luke records that Jesus taught daily in the Temple, "And all the people came early in the morning to Him in the temple, for to hear Him" (Luke 21:38). His message was not just novel; it was truth.

Much of what Jesus taught daily in the Temple was prophetic in nature. In the early part of Luke 21 Jesus passed through the temple treasury and commented on the splendor of the magnificent Temple. However, Jesus predicted that it would be destroyed, and His words are descriptive of the days leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70.

The latter half of this chapter is a prophecy concerning Jerusalem during the great tribulation period of this earth. He describes it as a time in which there shall be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars. Men's hearts will fail them for fear. The powers of the heavens shall be shaken. Jesus taught the crowds who followed Him early in the morning to the Temple that God would unleash His vengeance on a sinful world before the Son of Man rode out of heaven in power and great glory to establish His kingdom on this earth (cf. Revelation 19:11-16).

As the people came daily to hear the teachings of the Lord, He knew that His time was quickly coming to an end on this earth. Therefore He reminded them that "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away" (Luke 21:33). It is evident that the Word of God, whether given verbally by the Lord Jesus or inscribed by God in the Holy Bible, is more unshakable than the universe itself. The same God who has the power to shake the very heavens also has the power to make unshakable His Word. While the heavens will not stand according to the prophecy of Jesus, the Word of God will always stand.

Today, in the twentieth century, Jesus does not speak to us and teach us as He did early in the morning in the temple, but He still speaks to us through His Word, God's Word the Holy Bible. We have the benefit of hearing the very same teaching that these heard who came at the dawning of the day to the temple. We can sit at the feet of Jesus today by reading His Word.

H. A. Ironside told of a godly man named Andrew Frazer, who had come to southern California to recover from a serious illness. Though this Irishman was quite weak, he opened his worn Bible and began expounding the truths of God's Word in a way that Ironside had never heard before. So moved by Frazer's words was Ironside, that his curiosity drove him to ask, "Where did you learn these things? Did you learn them in some college or seminary?" The sickly man said, "My dear young man, I learned these things on my knees on the mud floor of a little sod cottage in the north of Ireland. There, with my open Bible before me, I used to kneel for hours at a time and ask the Spirit of God to reveal Christ to my soul and to open the Word to my heart. He taught me more on my knees on that mud floor than I ever could have learned in all the seminaries or colleges in the world."

To spend time in the Word of God yields a much richer understanding of the deep things of theology than to spend time in a classroom. For the person denied a formal education in Bible and theology there is no shame if we spend time at the feet of Jesus. From early in the morning, throughout the day, and into the evening hours the great scholars of the Word become so because of time spent in God's Book and on their knees. Each of us has the same opportunity to do that. Let's take that opportunity today.

MORNING HYMN
Thy Word is like a garden, Lord, With flowers bright and fair;
And ev'ryone who seeks may pluck A lovely cluster there.
Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine, And jewels rich and rare
Are hidden in its mighty depths For ev'ry searcher there.

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« Reply #47 on: March 01, 2006, 09:30:59 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Judges 6:16-40

Fleece or Faith

And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.

Discouraged and pathetic, Israel needed a champion. God had chosen His man. The angel of the Lord appeared unto Gideon, a mighty man of valor, and encouraged him with the promise of God's presence and power. Gideon had broken down the altar to Baal. Idolatry throughout the land of Israel was pounded with a heavy blow. Jehovah alone was now worshipped in Ophrah, and the fame of Gideon spread throughout the land. It was apparent that Gideon was the man behind whom all Israel could rally.

Once again the Midianite Bedouins swarmed across the land. Gideon knew that the time for battle had come, but this time he was ready. Judges 6:34 says, "The Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon." Literally the Spirit of Jehovah clothed Gideon like a garment. The once discouraged and despondent young farmer of Ophrah was now suited up for battle in the armor of the Spirit of God. When he sounded the mustering trumpet, immediately all of the clan of Abiezer gathered around him. Messengers were sent throughout all the land. From Naphtali, Zebulun, Asher, and Manasseh they came, prepared to fight under the leadership of Gideon.

All was ready for the mighty battle, but one thing more troubled Gideon. Again he asked a sign from the Lord. Seeking a sign from God was characteristic of Jewish behavior (1 Corinthians 1:22). With troops arrayed for battle, Gideon spread a fleece of wool on the ground and said to the Lord God, "If the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that Thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as Thou hast said." A heavy dew is very common in the highlands of Palestine. Even today clothes left outdoors overnight must be wrung out in the morning. Although energized for battle, the entire camp of Israel waited throughout the night for the sign from God.

The Scripture records that Gideon rose up early on the next morning and wrung enough dew out of the fleece to fill a bowl full of water (Judges 6:38). Miracle accomplished! However, Gideon entreated the grace and patience of the Lord again and asked Jehovah to reverse the sign. One more night the Israelites waited before entering battle. In the morning the ground was saturated with dew but the fleece was entirely dry. This was proof positive that God was in this battle and that Gideon was His chosen leader.

Frequently much indecision and lack of courage is camouflaged under the guise of "putting out the fleece." Such a practice is not always an admirable one, nor does it always produce admirable results.

When John Wesley was a 32-year-old missionary in Georgia, he fell deeply in love with a young woman he wanted to marry. Some of his friends suggested that perhaps God would have the evangelist remain unmarried and devote his life to his work. One even suggested they draw lots in order to discern God's will for Wesley. The evangelist agreed. Three small slips of paper were prepared: one said, "Marry"; the second, "Think not of it this year"; and the third, "Think of it no more." Wesley drew a slip and with much sadness read, "Think of it no more." Heartbroken, he ended his courtship. Fifteen years later Wesley married a wealthy widow who became a hindrance to his ministry. After 20 years of mutual misery, she left him. He had allowed a fleece to determine his fortune.

When God sets up the parameters, encourages us in a given situation, and calls us to action, let's not be guilty of "fleecing" Him. How much better if Gideon had been remembered for his faith, as was Abraham, than for his fleece. For what will you be remembered?

MORNING HYMN
I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus
Trusting only Thee;
Trusting Thee for full salvation, Great and free.
I am trusting Thee to guide me,
Thou alone shalt lead,
Ev'ry day and hour supplying All my need.

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« Reply #48 on: March 01, 2006, 09:32:46 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: 1 Samuel 15:1-35

Incomplete Obedience

And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.

Incomplete obedience is the half brother of disobedience. Not to obey God explicitly is to disobey Him implicitly. Saul is an example of this kind of disobedience.

Several great military victories over Moab, Ammon, Edom, and the kings of Zobah all strengthened Saul's position as king of Israel and secured for him the loyalty of the people. He was their hero, and he was beginning to know it.

Still the great Bedouin tribe of the Amalekites continued to harass the Jews. In the wilderness at Sinai in the past and in the days of Gideon these Amalekites repeatedly attacked the Israelites without provocation. Thus through the prophets God told Saul to kill the wicked Amalekites and destroy all their livestock. He wanted His people to realize just how much He hates sin, and thus God would not allow them to be enriched in any way by the conquests of their ungodly neighbors.

Mustering a force of 2,000 infantrymen and an additional 10,000 men from Judah, Saul marched to the south against the Amalekites. Saul's victory over the Amalekites was complete and decisive. The Israelite army annihilated the entire tribe as God had commanded. But Saul did something that God did not command, in fact, something that He explicitly prohibited. "And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive . . . and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them."

Twice before Saul had shown himself unfit for leadership because of his disobedience to God. Now God indicated to Samuel that Saul could no longer be king because of his disobedience and rebellion; he would be rejected by God. So distressing was this news to Samuel that he cried unto the Lord all night long, but to no avail. Jehovah's mind was set; Saul must go. Reluctant to deliver such a message to the king and having wrestled about it with God all night, Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning (I Samuel 15:12).

When Samuel approached Saul at Gilgal, Saul piously greeted him, "Blessed be thou of the LORD," as if he had done nothing wrong. In fact, he reported, "I have performed the commandment of the LORD." But Samuel knew otherwise and pointedly asked the king, "What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" Bleating sheep and lowing oxen are seldom informers, but in this instance they revealed the partial disobedience of the king, demonstrating again the principle of Numbers 32:23, "Be sure your sin will find you out."

Embarrassed that his disobedience had been discovered but always ready with an explanation, Saul violated his leadership and squarely blamed the people for this sin. Samuel rehearsed in Saul's ears what the Lord had commanded him to do and how he had failed to keep the Lord's command. Assuming that the prophet would be pacified by the prospects of a sacrifice to Jehovah, Saul thought he had devised the perfect excuse for disobedience. How could God not be pleased with a sacrifice? But Samuel countered, "Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?" There was no answer. Saul was trapped in his disobedience.

The lesson that Saul failed to learn is one that we must not fail to learn from him. Samuel taught the king, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice." Obeying the voice of God can never become subservient to acts of worship or service. Obedience is the primary response necessary from a servant to his master. Partial obedience merely betrays rebellion against our master. Thus partial obedience is in reality disobedience. First, last, and always obedience is the best thing.

MORNING HYMN
When we walk with the Lord In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

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« Reply #49 on: March 01, 2006, 09:35:27 AM »

Title: Little Things
Author: Woodrow Kroll
Devotion: Woodrow Kroll
Scripture References:
1 Samuel 17:1-27
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Title: Little Things

And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.

Occasionally it is necessary to remind ourselves that success in life often depends upon little things. Little people, little tasks and little responsibilities often loom large in the eyes of God.

The Philistines waged frequent raids on Israel. The leader of the Philistines, a giant of tremendous stature named Goliath of Gath, was probably one of the Anakim (Numbers 13:33; Joshua 11:22), a strain of huge men that Joshua drove out of Hebron and who took refuge among the Philistines. No Israelite was a match for Goliath, especially not little David, who was sent to the battlefield to inquire of the welfare of his three elder brothers, Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah. David's task was a small one; he was entrusted with very little. Told to take his brothers an ephah of parched corn, ten loaves and ten cheeses for the captain of the army, David set out to the battlefield. This day began with a small task, but it was to be a momentous day in the history of Israel.

"David rose up early in the morning, and left his sheep with a keeper" and engaged in the small chore his father had commissioned to him (1 Samuel 17:20). As he talked with his brothers, behold the Philistine champion came out again to challenge the Israelites. The armies of Israel stood by, trembling in their sandals; but David was appalled and amazed at the fear that paralyzed the Israelite warriors. Not willing to see his nation shamed or his God embarrassed, he inquired why someone did not stand up to the godless Goliath. "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" Immediately his eldest brother whisked him away to quiet him. Someone entrusted with such a small task as bringing bread and cheese to his soldier-brothers should not be so vocal about the cowardice of the Israelite army.

Yes, David had slain the lion and the bear, but he was still slight in the sight of those around him. Those were but small feats; silencing the giant Goliath would be a gargantuan task. Besides, even if David accepted the challenge, he was too small to wear the armor necessary to enter battle with Goliath. His weapon, a sling, was likewise a small implement. Everything about David was small, including his chances of success against the giant. But as we all know, David's God was victorious; the slight shepherd of Israel slew the giant Goliath.

Horatius Banal, reflecting on God's use of that which is small, realized that little things can frequently be used by God to be great things. He wrote, "A holy life is made up of a multitude of small things. It is the little things of the hour and not the great things of the age that fill up a life like that of the Apostle Paul or John or David Brainard or Henry Martyn. Little words, not eloquent speeches or sermons, little deeds, not miracles or battles or one great heroic effort or martyrdom, make up the true Christian life. It's the little constant sunbeam, not the lightning, the waters of Siloam that go softly in their meek mission of refreshment, not the waters of the rivers great and main rushing down in torrent, noise, and force that are the true symbols of the holy life."

There are no small people, small tasks or small responsibilities in the service of God. You can be small only if you fail to take the bread and cheese as God has commanded. How much happier Goliath would have been if little David had stayed home that day.

MORNING HYMN

Little is much, when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame;
There's a crown and you can win it,
If you'll go in Jesus' name.

 
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« Reply #50 on: March 02, 2006, 09:10:53 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: 1 Chronicles 23:1-32

Praising God

And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even.

King David, who himself had been a fugitive and a wanderer for many years of his life, would have liked nothing better than to build a permanent dwelling place for the ark of the covenant. But because he was a man of war, Jehovah would not permit David to realize this privilege, so David "called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build an house to the LORD God of Israel" (1 Chronicles 22:6).

The zealous David did all he could to help in the preparations for the building of this temple. He gathered materials, prepared iron for nails and had a crew of masons readied. But an even greater contribution than arranging for the materials may have been David's initiation of the first full choral service. In conjunction with the chief of the Levites, David set apart three families and commissioned them to the service of the temple. These were not just singers, but prophets as well, "to prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals" (1 Chronicles 25:1). Generation after generation their instruction was handed down from father to son, and their art and musical skills were carefully perpetuated.

These families were those of Asaph, the son of Berechiah the Gershonite, the chief singer and also a distinguished seer; of Heman the Kohathite, the grandson of the prophet Samuel and himself "the king's seer in the words of God" (1 Chronicles 25:5); and of Jeduthun (or Ethan), a Merarite, who is also called "the king's seer." Each of the names of these leaders is found in the titles or superscriptions of selected psalms in the Psalter.

From 1 Chronicles 23-25 we learn that the numbers of Levites involved in the service of the temple and tabernacle was enormous. The three families numbered 288 principal singers, divided into 24 courses of 12 each. The total number of Levites engaged in the important task of praising Jehovah with the instruments which David made was 4,000. Six thousand were designated as officers and judges, 4,000 were set apart to be doorkeepers, and the remaining 24,000 Levites were designated to the general "work of the house of Jehovah."

Although to us their work may appear to be mundane, it certainly was not to them. They were to wait on the priests for the service of the house of Jehovah, purifying the holy place and the holy things, preparing the shewbread and the meat offering and assisting in the offering of burnt sacrifices on the sabbaths and on feast days. But perhaps their greatest duty, as well as their greatest delight, was "to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord and likewise at even" (1 Chronicles 23:30).

Rising early in the morning, these Levites would initiate the praise to Jehovah that day. This was not only a responsible position but a very meaningful one as well. Psalm 88, a psalm for the sons of Korah designated as a Maschil of Heman, gives a fine example of what these Levites may have said morning after morning in praising Jehovah. "But unto Thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent [come before] Thee" (Psalm 88:13).

Rising early in the morning to initiate a day filled with praise to God is our privilege as well. May we be as faithful in exercising that privilege as David's choirmasters were. Faithfulness in early praise to God may make the difference between a good day and a bad day.

MORNING HYMN
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty!
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

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« Reply #51 on: March 04, 2006, 10:04:12 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Isaiah 37:1-38

Believing is Not Seeing

Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning behold, they were all dead corpses.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Perhaps no more graphic illustration of this truth can be found in the Scriptures than the events recorded in Isaiah 36 and 37. The Assyrian king, Sennacherib, had opened a campaign against Judah by attacking the fortresses in her southland. He was engaged in the siege of Lachish, a city southwest of Jerusalem, when he decided to send a contingent of soldiers against Jerusalem under Rabshakeh, his chief cupbearer. Apparently the Assyrians felt that King Hezekiah would surrender Jerusalem without a fight if Rabshakeh could dishearten the Jewish warriors.

The Assyrian cupbearer made light of Judah's possibilities of victory. Would she rely on the armies of the Pharaoh of Egypt, armies now so weakened that they are likened to leaning on a broken staff? Would she rely on the God of Israel in the face of the might of Assyria? What would Hezekiah and his Israelites do? The servants of King Hezekiah came to seek advice from Isaiah, the man of God. Isaiah assured Hezekiah that God took the blasphemies of Rabshakeh as uttered against Him personally and would destroy the armies of Sennacherib because of their blasphemy. In destroying the armies of the Assyrians the whole world would know "that Thou art the LORD, even Thou only" (Isaiah 37:20). Isaiah predicted that the king of Assyria would never enter God's holy city nor shoot an arrow at it. God would somehow miraculously deliver His city because of the blasphemy of the Assyrians against Him. Hezekiah and the Jews must live lives of faith, for they would not be told how this deliverance would come about; they must trust God.

That very night the predicted catastrophe for the Assyrian armies occurred. "Then the angel of the LORD went forth and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses" (Isaiah 37:36). God had kept His word, even though the Jews could not see through the fog of doubt. Early in the morning they arose to find 185,000 Assyrian corpses. They never had opportunity to move against God's holy city because God always performs what He promises.

On July 4, 1952, Florence Chadwick attempted to swim from Catalina Island to the California coast. It was not the distance that was the great challenge to her but the bone-chilling waters of the Pacific. To make matters worse, a dense fog enshrouded the entire area, making it impossible to see the land. After she had swum for 15 hours and was within half a mile of her goal, Florence Chadwick gave up. Later she told a newspaper reporter, "If I could have seen land, I might have made it."

Not long thereafter she again attempted this same feat. Once again the fog shrouded the coastline and she could not see the shore, but this time she successfully completed her swim because she kept reminding herself that the land was out there, somewhere. With that confidence she bravely swam on and achieved her goal. In fact, she broke the men's record by more than two hours.

Sometimes we do not achieve our goals in life because we cannot clearly see God's hand moving in our behalf. Although we desire with all our heart to reach our goal, the fog of doubt sets in and makes it impossible for us to see clearly. Still, if believing in God we continue to press toward the mark, early in the morning we will see our goal achieved and the battlefield littered with the corpses of the enemy. We must trust God in the dark; we must remember that faith is the evidence of things not seen.

MORNING HYMN
O for a faith that will not shrink
Tho' pressed by many a foe,
That will not tremble on the brink
Of any earthly woe.

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« Reply #52 on: March 04, 2006, 10:05:55 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Psalm 30:1-12

Joy in the Morning

For His anger endureth but a moment; in His favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

In Psalm 30, as in so many other psalms, David promises to praise the Lord. He had experienced a great deliverance and was thankful. He cried unto heaven and the Lord heard him, bringing his soul back from the grave. Thus he exclaims that he will "Sing unto the Lord . . .for His anger endureth but a moment." This thought is reinforced by the delightful expression, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).

How often we have experienced the truth of this verse! Heavy trials weigh us down as we pillow our heads at night. Our minds seem unable to bear the pressure. Restlessly we toss and turn, but our body refuses to rest. We are miserable and feel helpless. Finally sleep comes, but only after hours of restlessness.

The Christian life is filled with the interchanges of sickness and health, weakness and strength, disgrace and honor, want and wealth. Sometimes we enjoy the comfort of being one of God's own; other times we bear the cross of that same privilege. On occasion the south winds of God's mercy blow over our lives; on other occasions blow the north winds of adversity. Nonetheless, when the nipping north winds of calamity chill our nights and cause us to be restless, we may rest in the promise of God that "weeping may endure [only] for a night." God always places a time limit on the suffering and restlessness of His children.

After such a night of struggle, we frequently awake with a vague sense of what transpired the night before. As we gather our thoughts, we wonder why it was so difficult for us to fall asleep. Why were we so helpless and despairing? Things do not look as impossible as they once did. What is it that makes the difference? It is the joy that comes in the morning when we cast our care upon the Lord, knowing that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7; cf. Job 33:26; Isaiah 26:20; 54:7).

Not only are the trials of the night temporary; they are gifts from God as well. We cannot deny that Christians are often called to endure soul-shaking experiences. In the Christian life there is weeping, and sometimes plenty of it. The nights of adversity are long and frequent. But God never allows them to be endless or without cause.

The cupola of St. Paul's Cathedral in London was painted by Sir James Thornhill. It was necessary for Sir James to complete his work while standing on a swinging scaffold high above the pavement. One day when he had finished a particularly difficult portion with painstaking effort, he stopped to inspect his artistry. As a good artist does, slowly he began moving backwards in order to gain a more appropriate view of his work. A helper working with him suddenly recognized that if Sir James should take one step farther backward, he would be killed in a fatal fall. The man knew that if he startled the man with a shout, it might topple him from the scaffold. As quickly as possible, he grabbed a brush and made a sweeping stroke across the exquisite work that Sir James was admiring. Understandably disturbed, the artist rushed forward with a cry of dismay. When his companion explained why he had taken this drastic measure, Sir James Thornhill burst into tears of gratitude.

We may be sure that no physician ever weighed out medicine to his patients with half as much care and exactness as God weighs out the trials of a sleepless night to us. Perhaps the dawning light of relief seems far away to you, but remember, morning will come, and with it God's promised joy. You have God's Word on it.

MORNING HYMN
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth and song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the day grows weary and long?
O yes, He cares; I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Saviour cares.

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« Reply #53 on: March 05, 2006, 05:43:42 PM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference:

Web of Conspiracy

And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early, and set upon the city: and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, then mayest thou do to them as thou shalt find occasion.

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." Conspirators against those who are righteous are ultimately destroyed by their conspiracy. How this is evident in the tragic days following the triumph of Gideon and his 300 men!

Judges 8:33-35 records the failure of the Israelites to live after the defeat of the Midianites as they had during the battle. As a result of Israel's forgetting the God who delivered them, internal strife became more damaging than their external enemies. The royalty which Gideon had refused was coveted by Abimelech, his son by a handmaiden of Shechem. Attempting to trade on his father's reputation, Abimelech harangued the men of Shechem, claiming that it was far better to be ruled by one man, a Shechemite, than by all 70 of Gideon's sons. With money stolen from the sacred treasury of Baal-berith, Abimelech hired "vain and light persons," a band of desperadoes, to slay Gideon's other sons. Miraculously, however, one son, Jotham, escaped the conspiracy.

Abimelech reigned over a limited area in Israel for three years. But his reign did not go unchallenged by Jotham, who fled to Mount Gerizim, where he pronounced a curse on Abimelech and the men of Shechem. This curse came in the form of a parable about the tree that wished one of their number to rule over them. They asked the olive tree, fig tree, and vine in succession, only to be rebuffed each time. Then they turned to the worthless thorny bramble, which accepted their offer to rule over them.

The meaning of this parable was obvious to all. The trees, which are themselves producers, are more interested in fruit than in control; but the thorn, which has nothing to give, seeks to be the leader sheerly for personal gain. Abimelech was a thorn. Jotham cried, "Let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech" (Judges 9:20).

Jotham's curse was not long in being fulfilled. After three years God sent an "evil spirit" between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. The Shechemites revolted and plotted against his life. But Zebul, the governor of the city and an Abimelech loyalist, informed Abimelech of the plot to dethrone him; and a counter plan was hatched. Zebul counseled Abimelech and his men to lie in wait for the Shechemites during the night in the fields before the city. "And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early and set upon the city"(Judges 9:33). Abimelech massacred the inhabitants of Shechem.

Having treacherously murdered his pseudo-subjects, Abimelech turned his attention to the neighboring city of Thebez. Some of the Shechemites, the men and women of Thebez, fled to a strong tower for safety. Again Abimelech prepared to burn them out, but a woman cast a piece of millstone out of the tower. In ironic reciprocation, the stone found its target the head of Abimelech and broke his skull. Jotham's prophecy was fulfilled.

Abimelech, the would-be-king conspirator, and the Shechemites, his would-be subjects, were caught in the middle of their web of conspiracy. Having destroyed the righteous, they were themselves destroyed by each other. Deception always brings destruction. How much better we are passively to accept the will of God as good, acceptable, and perfect (Romans 12:2) than to conspire self-promotion without the blessing of God.

MORNING HYMN
The God of Abraham praise,
Who reigns enthroned above,
Ancient of everlasting days
And God of love.
Jehovah, great I AM,
By earth and Heav'n confessed,
I bow and bless the sacred
Name forever blest.

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« Reply #54 on: March 09, 2006, 08:21:27 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Joshua 8:1-35

Failure and Success

And Joshua rose up early in the morning and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people of Ai.

It has been aptly said that failure is the back door to success. Nowhere is this adage more graphically illustrated in Scripture than in the capture of Ai. With a task force of 3,000 men Israel had failed miserably in her attempted conquest of Ai because of one man's sin. Achan kept God's people from victory, but once his sin had been dealt with, victory would most assuredly come again to Israel.

The defeat at Ai could have dealt a devastating blow to Joshua's leadership. Joshua feared the Canaanites would hear of Israel's cowardice and their name would be cut off from the earth. His concern really was what such a defeat would mean to the great name of Jehovah God. But his fears were alleviated when Jehovah promised Joshua victory in the second battle of Ai.

The plan of attack for this battle, unlike that of Jericho, was far more likely to be included in military manuals. God told Joshua to put an ambush of 30,000 men between Ai and Bethel to the west. To this was later added another ambush of 5,000 men in the same direction. Meanwhile "Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people of Ai" (Joshua 8:10). When the king of Ai saw what was happening, he too "hasted and rose up early" in the morning (Joshua 8:14). Mustering his Aiite troops, he marched out to meet the main body of the Israelite forces. Because he knew that the enemy was fully aware that Israel had retreated once in defeat, Joshua feigned a retreat, drawing his troops back to the northeast. The Aiite troops followed.

While this was happening, the Israelites that were waiting in ambush entered the now empty city of Ai and burned it to the ground. When the king and his men turned to see their city smoldering, they realized their defeat was imminent. They were surrounded by Israelite soldiers. The Israelites in the ambush then came out of Ai and marched on the rear flank of the Aiite army. Joshua reversed his movement and caught the king and his men in a pincer movement. The people of Ai were defeated; Joshua's victory was now complete.

Joshua had taken the stumbling stone of defeat and turned it into the stepping-stone of success. In doing so he learned the valuable lesson that our greatest glory consists not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall. Others give striking testimony to this fact as well.

In 1832 a young American was a candidate for the legislature. He lost. In 1834 he was again a candidate and this time he won. In 1847 he went to the United States Congress but served only one term. He was not even renominated by his party. He campaigned for Zachary Taylor for president, hoping to be appointed commissioner of the General Land Office. He wasn't. He returned to private law practice. In 1854 he again ran for the legislature and won but soon resigned because he hoped the new anti-Nebraska party would support him for the senate. They didn't. In 1856 he was nominated for the office of vice-president of the United States and lost. In 1858 he ran again for the United States Senate and lost again. In 1860 he was simply nominated as a favorite son from Illinois for the presidency, and later that year he, Abraham Lincoln, was elected president of the United States. Like Lincoln, we must never allow yesterday's mistakes to bankrupt tomorrow's efforts.

Just as there is no failure more disastrous than success that leaves God out of the picture, likewise there is no success greater than the rediscovery of the power of God in our lives. We must never be ashamed to confess that we have failed, for this is but one way of saying we are wiser today than we were yesterday.

MORNING HYMN
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious Thy great name we praise.

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« Reply #55 on: March 09, 2006, 08:22:41 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Exodus 32:1-35

The Deceitful Heart

And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink and rose up to play.

The prophet Jeremiah observed that, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). The Bible gives more than ample evidence to support Jeremiah's observation. In fact, so does this morning's newspaper.

A prime example of how innately wicked the human heart is can be seen in the unfaithfulness of Israel at Mount Sinai. When the people of God encamped at the foot of the mountain, Moses ascended the slopes of Sinai and received the Law. After the people acknowledged the covenant of God and answered with one voice, "All the words which the LORD hath said will we do" (Exodus 24:3), Moses again ascended the mount of God. This time he received God's instruction in the ordinances of divine worship.

Moses' sojourn on the mountain was much longer than anyone expected. After nearly six weeks passed without his return, the people grew impatient and fearful. Had they lost their leader? How could Moses survive on the mountain without food? And what about their God? He was on the mountain too, in the pillar of a cloud that led them from Egypt. Had He forsaken them?

Israel had come face to face with a real test of faith, a test they failed miserably. As long as Moses was with the Israelites, he could encourage them to "live by faith and not by sight." But now he was gone and Israel's faith rapidly evaporated. The desperate wickedness of their hearts came to the fore. The Israelites frantically begged Aaron to make gods for them, gods that would go before them as the Everlasting God had done in the cloud. Immediately Aaron instructed the people to take off their golden earrings, which were then melted down and fashioned into an idolatrous golden calf. Aaron proclaimed that on the next day they would have a feast to the Lord.

The Israelites were like a child with a new toy, barely sleeping that night because of excitement. "And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings" (Exodus 32:6). The people then sat down to eat and drink.

But the Bible says that after that they "rose up to play." This may sound innocent enough, but the "play" in which the people of God engaged was hardly the harmless kind. They fell into the pattern of sensuality that accompanies pagan worship. Idol worship nearly always ended in an orgy so disgusting that it cannot be described. So boisterous was the Israelite orgy that when Moses and Joshua returned from the mount, Joshua assumed that the delirious shouts of the people were noises of war. But the people of God were caught up in a wild frenzy that was both licentious and idolatrous. It was the sight of this frenzy that angered Moses and caused him to cast the tables of stone to the ground, breaking them.

Exodus 32:25 enhances our understanding of the depths to which the Israelites had fallen. Not only were the people worshipping an idol, engaged in a wild orgy, and worked into a frenzy by licentious dancing, they were naked as well. Their nakedness was not only offensive to Moses but it was an affront to God as well.

There is scarcely a depth to which Satan cannot drag desperately wicked human hearts, even the hearts of God's chosen people. New Testament believers must never be deceived into thinking that we have sufficient strength in ourselves to keep us from similar depths of sin. Only the Spirit of God can prevent our wicked hearts from dragging us into sin. Today let us pray as the Lord Jesus taught us, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13).

MORNING HYMN
Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Saviour, know my thoughts, I pray;
See if there be some wicked way in me:
Cleanse me from ev'ry sin, and set me free.

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« Reply #56 on: March 09, 2006, 08:23:59 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Matthew 20:1-16

Rewardable Service

For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

Jesus' favorite method of teaching was by parable. A parable is an account of something that may or may not have actually happened but nonetheless is designed to teach a truth. One of our Lord's most difficult parables is the parable of the kingdom that is likened to a householder.

In summary, the parable is this: Early in the morning one day a householder went out to hire laborers for a vineyard (Matthew 20:1). He agreed to pay the laborers a penny for the day, which were evidently the regular wages for the ordinary laborer. About the third hour the man returned to town and hired others to work in his vineyard, promising to pay them what was fair. At the sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours he returned to find others standing idle and likewise hired them with the same promise of payment.

At the end of the day the householder called his laborers together and had the steward of the house pay them, beginning with the last hired. Each was paid the same, but when those who were hired early in the morning received just a penny, they murmured that it was unfair to pay them a penny when those who had worked only an hour were also paid a penny. The householder replied that he had been just with the day-long workers, as he had been with the hour-long workers, and that whatever funds he had were his; he could do with them as he chose.

What would the Lord have us learn about Him from this parable? There are three things.

First, the Lord Jesus seeks laborers for His vineyard. There is much work to be done if we are going to win the world for Christ and train those who have been won to reproduce themselves and bear fruit in abundance. We are not saved to sit, soak, and sour; we are saved to serve the Lord. The most frustrated person in the world, I believe, is not the unsaved person; he has little understanding of what really awaits him. The most frustrated person in the world is the one who is saved and does not know why God has left him on the earth. Ephesians 2:10 claims, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." The Lord saved us to be laborers in His field.

Secondly, the Lord Jesus hires laborers at various hours and various stages in life. The Church did not begin fully equipped. Throughout history others have been added to the New Testament Church, as we have been added during these last decades. Those who were apostles in the New Testament Church will not receive a greater wage for their labors simply because they entered early into Christ's vineyard. God is interested in rewardable labor, not the hour in which we became laborers. If you have come to know the Lord as Saviour later in life and have not had the opportunities to serve Him as those who have been saved many years, do not despair. God is absolutely just in meting out rewards.

Thirdly, the Lord Jesus rewards generously as well as justly. This final lesson that this parable teaches us is perhaps the greatest of all. Each of these laborers was rewarded in an unexpected manner. Each one received a penny, a day's wage; and no one could complain that he was paid less than fair wages. Beyond acting justly to those who had been hired first, the householder acted generously to the others. When people see generosity to others and not to themselves, they are hurt and accuse the generous person of being unfair. But this is not the case. Having rewarded justly, the Lord Jesus was then free to reward generously.

A kind storekeeper once said to a little girl who was eagerly eyeing a jar of candy, "Take some; take a whole handful!" The little girl hesitated for a moment and then replied, "Will you please give it to me? Your hand is bigger than mine!" When we begin to compare our lives with others and compute our anticipated rewards, we will be dissatisfied. We must let the hand of God reward us as He deems just and fair. Remember, His hand is always bigger than ours. Let us live for Him today; let Him reward us tomorrow

MORNING HYMN
Praise the Saviour, ye who know Him!
Who can tell how much we owe Him?
Gladly let us render to Him
All we are and have.

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« Reply #57 on: March 09, 2006, 08:25:21 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Mark 16:1-20

Firm in Faith

And very early in the morning the first day of the week they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

Faith is not always a champion which marches alone. Sometimes faith is accompanied by fear. Faith is not the absence of questioning; it is the presence of action in the midst of those questions. Faith does not provide all the answers; it provides a basis for confidence in the midst of unreasonable circumstances.

We do not fully understand how God takes oxygen and hydrogen, both of them odorless, tasteless, and colorless, and combines them with carbon, which is insoluble, black, and tasteless, to produce a beautiful, white, sweet substance we call sugar. Although we do not have all the answers as to how God accomplishes this, in the midst of our circumstances we accept God's product on faith. Real faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is trusting God when you cannot see through the fog.

It was early Easter Sunday morning when Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome set out on a mission of faith. These women had covenanted among themselves to purchase spices that were needed to embalm the body of Jesus. They could not do so until after dusk on Saturday. So when the Sabbath was passed, the women purchased the sweet spices that they might come to the tomb of Joseph and there make the body of the Lord Jesus ready for burial.

It was very early in the morning the first day of the week that they came to the sepulcher, at the rising of the sun (Mark 16:2). With the spices that they had purchased the previous evening in hand, the women made their way through the dark streets of Jerusalem just before the sunrise of Sunday morning. As they approached the garden in which the tomb was located, they chattered among themselves, questioning how they would gain access to the tomb. Here is a grand example of faith amid questions. The women could not themselves roll away the stone, for it was simply too cumbersome to do so. Yet they did not stay at home and attend a seminar on stone-rolling, argue the pros and cons of gaining entrance to the tomb, or form a committee to study the problem. In the midst of their concerns about how they would gain entrance to the tomb, they steadily progressed toward the tomb in faith. Faith is not the absence of questions; it is the presence of action amidst those questions.

Once an ocean liner was engulfed in a dense fog off the coast of Newfoundland. It was Wednesday evening and the captain had been on the bridge for more than 24 hours, when he was startled by someone tapping him on the shoulder. As he turned, he saw the great man of prayer and faith, George Mueller. The concerned Mueller stated, "Captain, I must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon." Expressing his dismay, the captain replied, "That's impossible!" The fog was so dense and the progress of the ship so slow that the captain knew they would never make it to shore on time. He mumbled, "I'm helpless!" Being a man of faith, George Mueller suggested, "Let's go down to the chart room and pray." The captain, who could see only his circumstances, replied, "Do you know how dense the fog is?"

"No," Mueller said, "My eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God who controls every circumstance of my life." The captain and Mueller left the bridge and went below where Mueller fell to his knees and prayed. Within a matter of minutes the fog lifted, the ocean liner progressed rapidly, and Mueller was in Quebec before Saturday.

If we are to live a life of faith, we must get our eyes off the stone before the tomb and on the God who does the impossible. The women knew the stone would keep them from their Lord, and yet they purchased their spices, readied themselves early in the morning, and made their way in the darkness toward the garden tomb. Faith is not being free from questions; faith is being firm in commitment to the power of God. How will you demonstrate your faith today?

MORNING HYMN
May Thy rich grace impart
Strength to my fainting heart,
My zeal inspire;
As Thou hast died for me,
O may my love to Thee
Pure, warm and changeless be
A living fire!

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« Reply #58 on: March 10, 2006, 10:50:12 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Psalm 73:1-28

Character

For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.

This is the second psalm ascribed to Asaph and the first of eleven consecutive psalms that bear his name. In 2 Chronicles 29:30 King Hezekiah invites the Levites to sing "the words of David, and of Asaph the seer." Asaph was not only a writer but a prophet as well. This psalm deals with the same perplexing subject as that of Psalm 37, curiously the transposition of Psalm 73. It is the subject of Psalm 49 and the entire book of Job. How can an infinitely powerful God be good and still allow the wicked to appear to prosper and the righteous to be in want? Perhaps you have asked the same question of God. If so, your answer is given in Psalm 73.

The way to heaven is an afflicted way, a perplexed, a persecuted way, crushed close together with crosses, as was the Israelites' way in the wilderness. This was true of Asaph the psalmist when his feet were almost gone and his steps had well nigh slipped. He was envious when he looked around and saw the prosperity of the wicked. There were no pangs or pains in their death. The eyes of the wicked ever gloat on the luxuries around them. They increase in prosperity and riches while they curse God, and the Almighty appears to do nothing about it.

On the other hand, Asaph had cleansed his heart and had washed his hands before God. He had lived uprightly and yet he was afflicted and distressed. Why would God allow him to be afflicted when he had lived as God desired? Although God does not daily bring a man to his bed, breaking his spirit and his bones, nevertheless seldom a day passes without some rebuke or chastening from God. It is as much a part of the Christian's life to know afflictions as it is to know mercies, to know when God smites as to know when He smiles.

Still Asaph complains, "For all day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning" (Psalm 73:14). Every morning it appears to the psalmist that he arose after having been whipped by God. His breakfast was the bread of sorrow; his juice was the water of adversity. Morning after morning he would arise only to feel the affliction of God that day. Asaph began to question whether or not it was worth living a godly life, a life pure and unspotted from the world, when those around him refused to do so and prospered. Perhaps this question has crossed your mind as well.

In the forests of northern Europe lives the ermine, a small animal that we know best for its snow-white fur. Instinctively the ermine protects its white coat lest it become soiled. European hunters often capitalize on this trait. Instead of setting a mechanical trap to catch the ermine, they find its home in the cleft of a rock and daub the entrance with tar. A chase ensues and the frightened ermine flees toward its home. When it arrives at the cleft of the rock and finds it covered with dirt, the animal spurns its place of safety. Rather than soil itself and its white fur, it courageously faces the hunters. That's character. To the ermine, purity is dearer than life itself.

Whenever we feel we are being chastised by God unjustly and are tempted to cast off our righteous lifestyle, let's remember the ermine. To keep ourselves "unspotted from the world" (James 1:27) should be as important to the Christian as life itself. Affliction tests character; and character tested, with the right response, is character strengthened. Rejoice today that God loves you enough to afflict you.

MORNING HYMN
In the hour of trial, Jesus, plead for me;
Lest by base denial I depart from Thee;
When Thou see'st me waver, with a look recall;
Nor thro' fear or favor suffer me to fall.

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« Reply #59 on: March 12, 2006, 01:07:05 AM »

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Genesis 44:1-17

Foolish Vows

As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.

A weatherman, certain that his prediction for fair weather would be fulfilled, said, "If it rains tomorrow, I'll eat my hat!" Such a lightly considered vow is an invitation to disaster, for it is entirely possible that factors unknown to the weatherman may cause a downpour. The Bible gives many similar examples of foolishly made oaths (cf. Judges 11).

During the worldwide seven years' famine in the days of Jacob, the sons of the patriarch found themselves trapped by such a foolish vow. They had sold their brother Joseph into slavery, and unknown to them he had risen to a position of great authority in the Egyptian government. With the supply of grain in Canaan exhausted, Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain. In Pharaoh's land the brothers purchased grain from Joseph, whom they did not recognize. After that grain was gone, they returned to Egypt to buy more.

When they came to Joseph the second time, he invited them to dine; and he commanded the steward to fill the men's sacks with food and put their purchase money back in each sack. Also Joseph specifically instructed that his silver cup be placed in the sack of the youngest brother, Benjamin. "As soon as the morning was light," the brothers embarked on the long trek back to Canaan (Genesis 44:3). Before they had gone very far, Joseph commanded the steward to overtake them and accuse the brothers of stealing his royal cup. This was not done to be vindictive but simply to test the loyalty and integrity of the brothers who had once sold Joseph into slavery.

As soon as the charge was leveled against the sons of Jacob, they indignantly denied it. To think that this steward would accuse them of dishonesty! Unaware that Joseph had planted the cup in Benjamin's sack, the brothers hastily vowed a vow in order to intensify their claim of innocence: "With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord's servants." Suddenly they were trapped. They had made an irrevocable oath that would enslave them and bring death to their father's favorite son. When the search was made and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack, the brothers tore their clothes in anguish and returned to Joseph, the Egyptian governor.

It was no sin to vow this vow, for the making of such oaths was entirely voluntary. However, after a vow was made, it was sacredly binding (Deuteronomy 23:21). The Apostle Paul called upon God in making an oath (2 Corinthians 1:23; 11:31) and our Lord Himself did not refuse to answer when put under oath (Matthew 26:63-64). Yet the Lord Jesus refined the general thought of Scripture on vowing vows when He said, "Swear not at all; neither by heaven . . . Nor by the earth . . . Neither shalt thou swear by thy head. . . . But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil" (Matthew 5:34-37).

This does not mean that we cannot vow a vow to God. By the time of the New Testament the practice of making hasty and unmeaningful oaths was common. Oriental conversation was sprinkled with expressions like, "I swear that . . . ." This profaned the true meaning and sacred character of a vow, and our Lord condemned the practice. Much better, said He, that others are assured that what you say is true because of your personal integrity, rather than because of an unmeaningful oath.

It would be better to make no oath at all than to make one with no intention of keeping it (Ecclesiastes 5:5). Vows made with pure intentions and based on certain knowledge can bring great blessings. But those hastily made, like those of Jacob's sons, or those loosely used in ordinary conversation, are to be shunned by all who seek a life pleasing to God. Be careful what vows you make today! Be careful to keep those you have made!

MORNING HYMN
So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

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