Reading 1 - Gen 25:11
"After Abraham's death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi" (Gen 25:11).
The Hebrew name signifies "the well of the Living One who sees me", or "the well of life and vision". This was a fountain of water in the wilderness, between Kadesh and Bered on the road to Shur (the eastern line of Egypt's border fortresses), where the Lord's watchful care was revealed to Hagar (Gen 16:14). Also a place where Isaac "dwelt" (RSV) for some time. This site is not certain, but is possibly about 50 miles southwest of Beersheba.
Hagar had once found deliverance there and Ishmael had drunk from the water so graciously revealed by the God who liveth and seeth the sons of men; but this was a merely casual visit, the kind that worldly people pay to the Lord in times of need, when it serves their turn. They cry to Him in trouble, but forsake Him in prosperity. By contrast, Isaac dwelt there, and made the well of the living and all-seeing God his constant source of supply. The usual tenor of a man's life, the place where his "soul" dwells, is the true test of his state.
Perhaps the providential visitation experienced by Hagar struck Isaac's mind, and led him to revere the place; its poetic and mystical name endeared it to him; his frequent meditations by the well at evening made him familiar with its environs; and his meeting Rebekah (Gen 24:62) there had made his spirit feel at home near the spot. But best of all, the fact that he there enjoyed fellowship with the living God, had made him select that hallowed ground for his dwelling. Let us learn to live in the presence of the living God, and feel comfortable knowing His eyes are upon us.
Reading 2 - Psa 31
"But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God' " (Psa 31:14).
"All our happiness and pleasure and satisfaction must be centered in God. Any seeming 'happiness' or 'pleasure' or 'satisfaction' that is not centered in God is a sham and a delusion that will turn to sorrow at last. God is the only reality. All things and all beings exist only as He will they exist. Whatever is built on God is real, and will last. Whatever is not built on God is not real, and will not last. Only a few learn this. Only a few find eternal happiness and peace" (GVG).
"Love the LORD, all his saints" (v 23).
"Contemplate your blessings: principally the eternal, spiritual, unchanging ones. Contemplate your unworthiness. Contemplate God's greatness and holiness and marvelous condescending love. Get a constant sense of gratitude and desire to reciprocate that love which is almost painful in its pressing, overwhelming urgency. This is the power and the motive that creates a perpetual and irresistible yearning and striving for worthiness and holiness. It is the only power and motive that can resist and overcome and triumph over the fatal, unremitting, downward pull of the flesh. Love God enough -- through study, meditation and realization -- and you can do anything. There is no other way to life: no other power to overcome" (GVG).
Reading 3 - Mat 16:24
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mat 16:24).
"The sentiment that Christ's righteousness alone is to be the basis of our acceptance, is one of the countless and pernicious corruptions of clerical theology. It doubtless originated in the misapplication of a certain element of apostolic truth, namely that which informs us that all are under sin, and that our salvation is not of works; but through the righteousness of faith that is in Christ. Men have long ceased to perceive that this principle applies only to unjustified sinners, and not to those who have been placed in a justified or forgiven position, through the obedience of faith. Christ is righteousness for sinners in this sense, that God offers to forgive them for Christ's sake, and to grant them a co-heirship with Christ, of what Christ, as a manifestation of God, has achieved for himself. But when sinners become saints, they come into relation to a new principle. They are responsible to him as servants to a master, and he will judge them according to their works" (Robert Roberts, "Seasons of Comfort" 164).
"The cross is the symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of the human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said goodbye to his friends. He was not coming back. He was not going out to have his life redirected. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing. It slew all of the man completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. it struck swift and hard and when it had finished its work the man was no more. That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of man is false to the Bible and cruel to the soul of the hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world. It intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our life up on to a higher plane. We leave it at a cross. The grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die. That is the beginning of the gospel" (AW Tozer).
"To give my life for Christ appears glorious. To pour myself out for others... to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom -- 'I'll do it. I'm ready, Lord, to go out in a blaze of glory.'
"We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table -- 'Here's my life, Lord. I'm giving it all.' But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid's troubles instead of saying, 'Get lost.' Go to a committee meeting. Give a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home.
"Usually giving our life to Christ isn't glorious. It's done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it's harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul" (F Craddock).