Reading 1 - 2Kings 7:9
"Then they said to each other, 'We're not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let's go at once and report this to the royal palace' " (2Ki 7:9).
"Make sure that you have found the Savior. Eat and drink of him; enrich yourself with him; and then go and publish the glad tidings. I shall not object to your going as early as possible; but still, I would prefer that you should not go to assure others until you are quite certain yourself. I would have you go with a personal witness, for this will be your chief power with others. If you run too soon, and do not first taste and see that the Lord is good, you may say to others, 'There is abundance in the camp'; and they may reply, 'Why have you not eaten of it yourself?' Thus your testimony will be weakened, if not destroyed; and you will wish you had held your peace. It is better that you first of all delight yourself in fatness before you proclaim the fact of a festival. It is good that your faith should grasp the exceeding great and precious promises; and then, when you run as a tidings-bearer, you will testify what you have seen. If any say to you, 'Are you sure that it is true?' you will answer, 'Ay, that I am, for I have tasted and handled of the good word of life.' Personal enjoyments of true godliness assist us in our testimony for truth and grace.
"But the point I desire to bring out is this: if those lepers had stopped in the camp all night, if they had remained lying on the Syrian couches, singing, 'Our willing souls would stay in such a place as this'; and if they had never gone at all to their compatriots, shut up and starving within the city walls, their conduct would have been brutal and inhuman. I am going to talk to some at this time... who think that they have found the Savior... who write themselves down as having truly enjoyed religion, and who imagine that now their sole business is to enjoy themselves. They delight to feed on the word, and to this I do not object at all; but then, if it is all feeding and nothing comes of it, I ask to what end are they fed? If the only result of our religion is the comfort of our poor little souls, if the beginning and the end of piety is contained within one's self, why, it is a strange thing to be in connection with the unselfish Jesus, and to be the fruit of his gracious Spirit. Surely, Jesus did not come to save us that we might live unto ourselves. He came to save us from selfishness.
"I am afraid that some... have never yet confessed the work of God... They feel that, whereas they were once blind, now they see; but they have never declared what the Lord has done for them. Has all this work been done in a corner for their personal [enjoyment]? I want to [address] them, and at all others who have not yet considered that the object of their receiving grace from the Lord is that God may, through them, communicate grace to others. No man liveth unto himself. No man should attempt so to live" (CH Spurgeon).
Reading 2 - Lamentation 3:7
"He has walled me in so I cannot escape" (Lam 3:7).
In the past, God had fenced Israel with a fiery wall of protection (Exo 14:19,20; Zec 2:5), and He will do so again in the future (Zec 9:8; Isa 4:5; 60:18). But here, the "hedge" (AV) has become a hedge of thorns (as in Hos 2:6,7) and a prison (cp Job 19:8).
Likewise, compare Christ's crown of thorns (Mat 27:29; Mar 15:17; Joh 19:2,5).
Every life is surrounded by divine limitations. God hedges us all about, in one way or another. For one there may be physical limitations -- of health or disability or advancing age. Another might feel most severely the limitation of poverty; and another yet, the lack of education. If we accept our Father's will, then we will accept and graciously live with the "hedges" He has imposed upon us. But if we fret and grumble and batter against these "fences" and "chains", then -- for one thing -- we are rebelling against God. And -- for another thing -- we are proportionally neglecting our unique opportunities to do the good which God has placed within our power. As one brother expressed it, we must do what we can, with what we have, where we are. We are not responsible for what we cannot do, nor for what we do not have, nor for where we cannot go.
Reading 3 - 1Corintians 16:2
"On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made" (1Co 16:2).
The rules of the collection: