Connect The Testaments

April 29: Examine Thy Self

Joshua 21:1–22:9; 2 Corinthians 13:1–10; Psalm 59:1–17

Before advising others on how they should act, self-examination is always necessary. When the Corinthians questioned the authenticity of Paul and his colleagues’ ministry (which is ironic, since he had planted their church), Paul says to them: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are unqualified?” (2 Cor 13:5).

None of us are ready for the ministry that Jesus has for us because we’re not worthy of the great gift of salvation He has offered. We are meant to find our identity and calling in Christ and to lead out of the gifts He has given us (see 1 Cor 12). For this reason, Paul makes this claim:

“And I hope that you will recognize that we are not unqualified! Now we pray to God that you not do wrong in any way, not that we are seen as approved, but that you do what is good, even though we are seen as though unqualified. For we are not able to do anything against the truth, but rather only for the truth” (2 Cor 13:6–8).

Paul is bound to what Christ has called him to do, which is why he often calls himself a slave for Christ (e.g., Rom 1:1). Because of His great sacrifice, Paul sees the only natural action is living fully—with his entire being—for Jesus. It is in Christ that Paul finds his strength, even in the difficulties he faces with the Corinthians: “For we rejoice whenever we are weak, but you are strong, and we pray for this: your maturity” (2 Cor 13:9).

The psalmist also has a plea for times when he faces opposition from others: “Deliver me from my enemies, O my God. Protect me from those who rise up against me.… For look, they lie in wait for my life. The mighty attack against me, not because of my transgression or my sin, O Yahweh. Without guilt on my part they run and ready themselves. Awake to meet me and see” (Psa 59:1, 3–4).

The Bible is full of understanding and insight for moments of struggle. And we have a great Savior who can sympathize with our struggles (Heb 4:14–16). It’s not a matter of if we as Christ followers will experience unrighteous opposition; it’s a matter of when. May we have the type of faithfulness that Paul and the psalmist did. May we plea to the good God who loves us. May we speak only His truth.

What opposition are you currently experiencing? How would God have you to answer it? How should you be praying to Him?

JOHN D. BARRY

EZC

  • Then came the principal fathers of the Levites unto Eleazar the Priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the chief fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, And spake unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, The Lord commanded by the hand of Moses, togive us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle. So the children of Israel gave unto the Levites, out of their inheritance at the commandent of the Lord these cities with their suburbs. And the lot came out for the families of the Kohathites: and the children of Aaron the Priest, which were of the Levites, had by lot, out of the tribe of Judah, and out of the tribe of Simeon, and out of the tribe of Benjamin thirteen cities. And the rest of the children of Kohath had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Ephraim, and out of the tribe of Dan, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh, ten cities. Also the children of Gershon had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Asher, and out of the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities. The children of Merari according to their families had out of the tribe of Reuben, and out of the tribe of Gad, and out of the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities. So the children of Israel gave by lot unto the Levites these cities with their suburbs, as the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses. And they gave out of the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, these cities which are here named. And they were the children of Aaron being of the families of the Kohathites, and of the sons of Levi, (for theirs was the first lot.) So they gave them Kirjath-arba of the father of Anak (which is Hebron) in the mountain of Judah with the suburbs of the same round about it. (But the land of the city, and the village thereof, gave they to Caleb the son of Jephunneh to be his possession.) Thus they gave to the children of Aaron the Priest, a city of refuge for the slayer, even Hebron with her suburbs, and Libnah with her suburbs, And Jattir with her suburbs, and Eshtemoa, and her suburbs, And Holon with her suburbs, and Debir with her suburbs, And Ain with her suburbs, and Juttah with her suburbs, Beth Shemesh with her suburbs: nine cities cities out of those two tribes. And out of the tribe of Benjamin they gave Gibeon with her suburbs, Geba with her suburbs, Anathoth with her suburbs, and Almon with her suburbs: four cities. All the cities of the children of Aaron Priests, were thirteen cities with their suburbs. But to the families of the children of Kohath of the Levites, which were the rest of the children of Kohath (for the cities of their lot were out of the tribe of Ephraim.) They gave them the city of refuge for the slayer, Shechem with her suburbs in mount Ephraim, and Gezer with her suburbs, And Kibzaim with her suburbs, and Beth Horon with her suburbs: four cities. And out of the tribe of Dan, Eltekeh with her suburbs, Gibbethon with her suburbs, Aijalon with her suburbs, Gath Rimmon with her suburbs: two cities. All the cities for the other families of the children of Kohath were ten with their suburbs. Also unto the children of Gershon of the families of the Levites, they gave out of the half tribe of Manasseh, the city of refuge for the slayer, Golan in Bashan with her suburbs, and Be Eshterah with her suburbs: two cities. And out of the tribe of Issachar, Kishon with her suburbs, Daberath with her suburbs, Jarmuth with her suburbs, En Gannim with her suburbs: four cities. And out of the tribe of Asher, Mishal with her suburbs, Abdon with her suburbs, Helkath with her suburbs, and Rehob with her suburbs: four cities. And out of the tribe of Naphtali, the city of refuge for the slayer, Kedesh in Galilee with her suburbs, and Hammoth Dor with her suburbs, and Kartan with her suburbs: three cities. All the cities of the Gerhonites according to their families, were thirteen cities with their suburbs. Also unto the families of the children of Merari the rest of the Levites, they gave out of the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with her suburbs, and Kartah with her suburbs, Dimnah with her suburbs, Nahalal with her suburbs: four cities. And out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with her suburbs, and Jahaz with her suburbs, Kedemoth with her suburbs, and Mephaath with her suburbs: four cities. And out of the tribe of Gad they gave for a city of refuge for the slayer, Ramoth in Giilead with her suburbs, and Mahanaim with her suburbs, Heshbon with her suburbs, and Jazer with her suburbs: four cities in all. So all the cities of the children of Metari according to their families (which were the rest of the families of the Levites) were by their lot, twelve cities. And all the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel, were eight and forty with their suburbs. These cities lay every one severally with their suburbs round about them: so were all these cities. So the Lord give unto Israel all the land, which he had sworn to give unto their fathers: and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. Also the Lord gave them rest round about according to all that he had sworn unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them: for the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed nothing of all the good things, which the Lord had said unto the house of Israel, but all came to pass. Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, And said unto them, Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you: You have not forsaken your brethen this long season unto this day, but have diligenty kept the commandment of the Lord your God. And now the Lord hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and go to your tents, to the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the Lord hath given you beyond Jordan. But take diligent heed, to do the commandment and Law, which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you: that is, that ye love the Lord your God, and walk in all his ways, and keep his commandments, and cleave unto him, and serve him with all your heart, and with all your soul. So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away, and they went unto their tents. Now unto one half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given a possession in Bashan: and unto the other half thereof gave Joshua among their brethren on this side Jordan Westward: therefore when Joshua sent them away unto their tents, and blessed them, Thus he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, and with a great multitude of cattle, with silver and with gold, with brass and with iron, and with great abundance of raiment: divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren. So the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel from Shiloh (which is in the land of Canaan) to go unto the country of Gilead to the land of their possession, which they had obtained according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses. Joshua 21:1–22:9
  • Lo this is the third time that I come unto you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word stand. I told you before, and tell you before: as though I had been present the second time, so write I now being absent to them, which heretofore have sinned, and to all others, that if I come again, I will not spare. Seeing that ye seek experience of Christ, that speaketh in me, which toward you is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though he was crucified concerning his infirmity, yet liveth he through the power of God. And we no doubt are weak in him, but we shall live with him, through the power of God toward you. Prove yourselves whether ye are in the faith: examine yourselves: know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates. Now I pray unto God that ye do none evil, not that we should seem approved, but that ye should do that which is honest: though we be as reprobates. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak, and that ye are strong: this also we wish for, even your perfection. Therefore write I these things being absent, lest when I am present, I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me, to edification, and not to destruction. 2 Corinthians 13:1–10
  • O my God, deliver me from mine enemies; defend me from then that rise up against me. Deliver me from the wicked doers, and save me from the bloody men. For lo, they have laid wait for my soul; the mighty men are gathered against me, not for mine offense, nor for my sin, O Lord. They run and prepare themselves without a fault on my part: arise therefore to assist me, and behold. Even thou, O Lord God of hosts, O God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen, and be not merciful unto all that transgress maliciously. Selah. They go to and fro in the evening: they bark like dogs, and go about the city. Behold, they brag in their talk, and swords are in their lips: for who, say they, doth hear? But thou, O Lord, shalt have them in derision, and thou shalt laugh at all the heathen. He is strong: but I will wait upon thee: for God is my defense. My merciful God will prevent me: God will let me see my desire upon mine enemies. Slay them not, lest my people forget it: but scatter them abroad by thy power, and put them down, O Lord, our shield, For the sin of their mouth, and the words of their lips: and let them be takenin their pride, even for their perjury and lies, that they speak. Consume them in thy wrath: consume them that they be no more: and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob, even unto the ends of the world. Selah. And in the evening they shall go to and fro, and bark like dogs, and go about the city. They shall run here and there for meat, and surely they shall not be satisifed, though they tarry all night. But I will sing of thy power, and will praise thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. Unto thee, O my Strength will I sing: for God is my defense, and my merciful God. Psalm 59:1–17

Morning and Evening

April 29

Thou art my hope in the day of evil. Jeremiah 17:17

The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. True, it is written in God’s Word, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace;” and it is a great truth, that religion is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above; but experience tells us that if the course of the just be “As the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day,” yet sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain periods clouds cover the believer’s sun, and he walks in darkness and sees no light. There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the earlier stages of their Christian career; they have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters,” but suddenly they find the glorious sky is clouded; instead of the Land of Goshen they have to tread the sandy desert; in the place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to their taste, and they say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.” Oh! say not so, thou who art walking in darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the wormwood; the dearest of his children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his harp from the willows. Perhaps the Lord allotted you at first a smooth and unclouded path, because you were weak and timid. He tempered the wind to the shorn lamb, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence, and to root us more firmly in Christ. The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.

Evening

The Lord taketh pleasure in his people. Psalm 149:4

How comprehensive is the love of Jesus! There is no part of his people’s interests which he does not consider, and there is nothing which concerns their welfare which is not important to him. Not merely does he think of you, believer, as an immortal being, but as a mortal being too. Do not deny it or doubt it: “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.” It were a sad thing for us if this mantle of love did not cover all our concerns, for what mischief might be wrought to us in that part of our business which did not come under our gracious Lord’s inspection! Believer, rest assured that the heart of Jesus cares about your meaner affairs. The breadth of his tender love is such that you may resort to him in all matters; for in all your afflictions he is afflicted, and like as a father pitieth his children, so doth he pity you. The meanest interests of all his saints are all borne upon the broad bosom of the Son of God. Oh, what a heart is his, that doth not merely comprehend the persons of his people, but comprehends also the diverse and innumerable concerns of all those persons! Dost thou think, O Christian, that thou canst measure the love of Christ? Think of what his love has brought thee—justification, adoption, sanctification, eternal life! The riches of his goodness are unsearchable; thou shalt never be able to tell them out or even conceive them. Oh, the breadth of the love of Christ! Shall such a love as this have half our hearts? Shall it have a cold love in return? Shall Jesus’ marvellous lovingkindness and tender care meet with but faint response and tardy acknowledgment? O my soul, tune thy harp to a glad song of thanksgiving! Go to thy rest rejoicing, for thou art no desolate wanderer, but a beloved child, watched over, cared for, supplied, and defended by thy Lord.

Spurgeon, C. H.

Amazing Grace Hymns

April 28

WERE YOU THERE?

Spiritual

It was the third hour when they crucified Him. (Mark 15:25)

Folk songs are generally described as songs of which the origins have been lost but which express the heartfelt traditions and experiences of a particular culture or people. Therefore, they become greatly cherished by each succeeding generation.

The Negro spirituals represent some of the finest of American folk music. These songs are usually a blending of an African heritage, harsh remembrances from former slavery experiences, and a very personal interpretation of biblical stories and truths. They especially employ biblical accounts that give hope for a better life—such as the prospects of heaven. They symbolize so well the attitudes, hopes and religious feeling of the black race in America.

To better understand a Negro spiritual, one must feel even as a black singer does that he or she is actually present and very much involved in the event itself. The event being sung—in this case the story of Christ’s suffering, death, and ultimate resurrection—becomes a very intensely emotional experience. It is told with much feeling and freedom of spirit, generally without any instrumental accompaniment.

The lesson for each of us to learn from a Negro spiritual like this is that truths such as the redemptive work of Christ must have much more than just our mental assent. The biblical account must become a very personal conviction in our lives, and our very souls should be gripped by its emotional power.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

Were you there when they pierced Him in the side?

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

Were you there when God raised Him from the dead?

Sometimes I feel like shouting glory, glory, glory! When I think how God raised Him from the dead!

For Today: Isaiah 53:4–12; Matthew 20:28; 1 Peter 2:24; Revelation 1:5, 6

Imagine yourself standing at the foot of the cross when Christ was tortured and crucified. Then place yourself outside the empty tomb when the angelic announcement “He is not here …” was given. Try to relive the emotional feelings that would have been yours. Allow this song to minister to you as you go through the day—
Osbeck, K. W. 

EZC

  • Surely, he hath born our infirmities, and carried our sorrows, yet we did judge him as plagued and smitten of God, and humbled. But he was wounded for our transgressions: he was broken for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes are we healed. All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet did he not open his mouth: he is brought as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. He was taken out from prison, and from judgment: and who shall declare his age?for he was cut out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he plagued. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no wickedness, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet the Lord would break him and make him subject to infirmities: when he shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed and shall prolong his days, and the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisified; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many: for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I give him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was counted with the transgressors, and he bare the sin of many, and prayed for the trespassers. Isaiah 53:4–12
  • Even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life for the ransom of many. Matthew 20:28
  • Who his own self bare our sins in his body on the tree, that we being dead to sin, should live in righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray: but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. 1 Peter 2:24
  • And from Jesus Christ which is that faithful witness, and that first begotten of the dead, and that Prince of the Kings of the earth, unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood. And made us Kings and Priests unto God even his Father, to him, I saybe glory, and dominion for evermore, Amen. Revelation 1:5-6