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Giving and Getting

Giving and Getting

Giving to get and getting to give… today’s Morning and Evening highlights the reciprocal nature of providing for others.

The best medicines typically oppose our inclinations. Need comfort? Be a comfort to someone else. There is so much benefit in serving others, but those gains are not our only motivators. As Christ’s servants, we have been called to the task. Galatians 5:13-14 says…

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered. — Proverbs 11:25

We are taught here the great lesson that to get, we must give; to accumulate, we must scatter; to make ourselves happy, we must make others happy; and in order to become spiritually vigorous, we must seek the spiritual good of others. In watering others, we are ourselves watered. How? Our efforts to be useful bring out our powers for usefulness. We have latent talents and unused gifts that become apparent by exercise. Our strength for work is even hidden from ourselves until we take our stand and fight the Lord’s battles or climb the mountains of difficulty. We do not know what tender sympathies we possess until we try to dry the widow’s tears and soothe the orphan’s grief.

We often find in attempting to teach others that we gain instruction for ourselves. What gracious lessons some of us have learned in visiting the sick! We went to teach the Scriptures, and we came away blushing that our knowledge of them was so poor. In our conversation with humble saints, we are taught the way of God more perfectly for ourselves and get a deeper insight into divine truth. So watering others makes us humble. We discover how much grace there is where we had not looked for it, and how much the humble saint may outstrip us in knowledge.

Our own comfort is also increased by working for others. We endeavor to cheer them, and the consolation gladdens our own heart. Consider the two men in the snow—one massaged the other’s limbs to keep him from dying, and in doing so kept his own blood circulating and saved his own life. Remember the poor widow who supplied the prophet’s needs from her own meager resources, and from that day she never experienced need again. Give, and it will be given to you—good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.

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Posted by on August 21, 2014 in Devotional

 

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A Reason for Joy

A Reason for Joy

We lose our joy when we take our eyes off the Savior. Today’s Morning and Evening is an extremely encouraging attitude adjustment for the near-sighted Christian. It reminds us of our atonement and freedom; our present condition and future hope. We are no longer shackled with the slavery of sin and the total love of Christ should compel us to continually love others. Undeserved mercy, forgiveness, and liberty… with so much to be thankful for, may we never misplace our joy.

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

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For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy. — Psalm 92:4

Do you believe that your sins are forgiven and that Christ has made a full atonement for them? Then what a joyful Christian you ought to be! How you should live above the common trials and troubles of the world! Since sin is forgiven, can it matter what happens to you now? Luther said, “Smite, Lord, smite, for my sin is forgiven; if You have forgiven me, smite as hard as You will.” And in a similar spirit you may say, “Send sickness, poverty, losses, crosses, persecution, what You will. You have forgiven me, and my soul is glad.”

Christian, if you are thus saved, while you are glad, be grateful and loving. Cling to that cross that took your sin away; serve Him who served you. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”1 Do not let your zeal evaporate in some little exuberant song. Show your love in meaningful ways. Love the brethren of Him who loved you. If there is a Mephibosheth anywhere who is disabled, help him for Jonathan’s sake. If there is a poor tried believer, weep with him, and bear his cross for the sake of Him who wept for you and carried your sins.

Since you are forgiven freely for Christ’s sake, go and tell others the joyful news of pardoning mercy. Do not be contented with this unspeakable blessing for yourself alone, but publish widely the story of the cross. Holy gladness and holy boldness will make you a good preacher, and all the world will be a pulpit for you to preach in. Cheerful holiness is the most forcible of sermons, but the Lord must give it to you. Seek it this morning before you go into the world. When it is the Lord’s work in which we rejoice, we need not be afraid of being too glad.

1 Romans 12:1

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Supreme Sovereignty

Supreme Sovereignty

Nothing operates beyond God’s knowledge or jurisdiction. This truth is a timeless source of comfort and strength. In his book, Chosen By God, R.C. Sproul writes…

If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.

Today’s Morning and Evening is a reminder of God’s sovereign control. As Spurgeon points out, there are no real causes for anxiety so long as the Lord rules heaven and earth. Rogue molecules do not exist. Our King commands all things. Therefore…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. — Philippians 4:6

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice. — Psalms 97:1

There are no real causes for anxiety as long as this blessed sentence is true. On earth the Lord’s power controls the rage of the wicked as readily as the rage of the sea; His love refreshes the poor with mercy as easily as the earth with showers. Majesty gleams in flashes of lightning amid the tempest’s horrors, and the glory of the Lord is seen in its grandeur in the fall of empires and the crash of thrones. In all our conflicts and tribulations, we may behold the hand of the divine King.

God is God; He sees and hears
All our troubles, all our tears.
Soul, forget not, in your pains,
God o’er all forever reigns.

In hell, evil spirits acknowledge, with misery, His undoubted supremacy. When permitted to roam about, it is with a chain at their heel; the bit is in the mouth of the beast, and the hook in the jaws of the monster. Death’s darts are under the Lord’s jurisdiction, and the grave’s prisons have divine power as their jailer. The terrible vengeance of the Judge of all the earth causes fiends to cower and tremble.

Fear not death, nor Satan’s thrusts,
God defends who in Him trusts;
Soul, remember, in your pains,
God o’er all forever reigns.

In heaven there are none who doubt the sovereignty of the King Eternal, but all fall on their faces to do Him homage. Angels are His courtiers, the redeemed His favorites, and all delight to serve Him day and night. May we soon reach the city of the great King!

For this life’s long night of sadness
He will give us peace and gladness.
Soul, remember, in your pains,
God o’er all forever reigns.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Devotional

 

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The Hypocrite’s Web

The Hypocrite’s Web

Today’s Morning and Evening paints a vivid word-picture of hypocritical religion. The illustration stands well enough on it’s own. Who hasn’t admired the frail beauty of a spider’s web from time to time? And yet every web is fashioned by a deadly hunter.

As Bill Watterson observes in his collection, Calvin and Hobbes: Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat

Like delicate lace
So the threads intertwine
Oh, gossamer web
Of wond’rous design!
Such beauty and grace
Wild nature produces…
Ughh, look at the spider
Suck out that bug’s juices!

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

They weave the spider’s web… — Isaiah 59:5

Observe the spider’s web and find in it a most suggestive picture of the hypocrite’s religion. It is meant to catch his prey: The spider fattens himself on flies, and the Pharisee has his reward. Foolish people are easily trapped by the loud professions of pretenders, and even the more discerning cannot always escape. Philip baptized Simon Magus, whose deceitful declaration of faith was so quickly exposed by the stern rebuke of Peter. Routine and reputation, praise and promotion, along with other flies, are the small game that hypocrites take in their nets.

A spider’s web is a marvel of skill: Look at it and admire the tricks of this cunning hunter. The deceiver’s religion is equally seductive. How does he make so barefaced a lie appear to be a truth? How can he make his tinsel look so much like gold?

A spider’s web emerges all from the creature itself. The bee gathers her wax from flowers; the spider doesn’t, but still she spins her material to great length. In the same way hypocrites find their trust and hope within themselves; their anchor was forged on their own anvil, and their rope twisted by their own hands. They rest upon their own foundation and carve out the pillars from their own house, scorning the thought of being debtors to the sovereign grace of God.

But a spider’s web is very frail. It is curiously constructed, but not enduringly manufactured. It is no match for the servant’s broom or the traveler’s staff. The hypocrite does not need a battery of cannons to blow his hope to pieces; a mere puff of wind will do it. Hypocritical cobwebs will soon come down when the broom of destruction begins its purifying work. Which reminds us of one more thought—namely, that such cobwebs are not to be tolerated in the Lord’s house: He will see to it that the webs and those who spin them will be utterly destroyed. My soul, make sure to rest on something better than a spider’s web. Take the Lord Jesus as your eternal hiding-place.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2014 in Devotional

 

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The Loving Knot

The Loving Knot

Christians do not fall in and out of their love for Christ. It is impossible for those who have truly been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit to abandon the faith. As new creations, we are not capable of mutating back into God-haters and Christ-rejectors.

Today’s Morning and Evening reminds us that a true believer’s love for Christ will rightly deepen and persevere to the very end.

But what about those who share in the Holy Spirit and fall away (Hebrews 6:4-6)? In a sermon on this passage, Charles Spurgeon makes the helpful distinction between falling and falling away. He illustrates the concept with the disparity between fainting and dying. A fainting Christian may fall to the ground and appear dead for a while, but he will rise again once consciousness returns. Not so with a dead man.

Transformed sinners occasionally fall but never fall away. We may live in a season of unconfessed sin as David did… or, like Peter, deny our Lord with curses… but the undead heart will always return to its senses. We are bound together with Christ. Nothing can separate us from His love and nothing is capable of ultimately destroying the believer’s love for Him. As today’s devotional states,

Neither crowns of honor, nor frowns of anger have been able to untie this loving knot.

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

Rightly do they love you. — Song of Solomon 1:4

Believers love Jesus with a deeper affection then they dare to give to any other being. They would sooner lose father and mother than part with Christ. They hold all earthly comforts with a loose hand, but they carry Him locked tight in their hearts. They voluntarily deny themselves for His sake, but they are not to be driven to deny Him. It is a feeble love that the fire of persecution can dry up; the true believer’s love is a deeper stream than this.

Men have tried to divide the faithful from their Master, but their attempts have been fruitless in every age. Neither crowns of honor, nor frowns of anger have been able to untie this loving knot. This is not just a routine attachment that the world’s power may eventually dissolve. Neither man nor devil have found a key that opens this lock. Never has the craft of Satan been more at fault than when he has exercised it in seeking to break this union of two divinely welded hearts. It is written, and nothing can blot out the sentence, “Rightly do they love you.” The intensity of the love of the upright, however, is not so much to be judged by how it appears as by what the upright long for.

It is our daily lament that we cannot love enough. If only our hearts were capable of holding more and reaching further. Like Samuel Rutherford, we sigh and cry, “Oh, for as much love as would go round about the earth, and over heaven—yes, the heaven of heavens, and ten thousand worlds—that I might expand it all upon this fairest Lord Jesus.” Unfortunately, our longest reach is only a span of love, and our affection is like a drop in a bucket compared with what He deserves. Measure our love by our intentions, and it is strong indeed; we trust that the Lord judges it in this way. If only we could give all the love in all hearts in one great offering, a gathering together of all loves to Him who is altogether lovely!

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Good Out of Evil

Good Out of Evil

Romans 8:28 is a tremendous source of comfort for the struggling Christian. Are all things good? Nope. Does God use everything in our lives to conform us more into the holy image of Christ? Definitely.

This morning’s Morning and Evening reminds us that God is always in control of all things. He is not surprised, reactionary, or fallible. Those who love Him have a shelter of strength. As Charles Spurgeon says in today’s devotional,

…and so, believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil, the believer’s heart is assured…

Is your heart a splintered shipwreck of sinful consequences? Does the shame of failure weaken your bones? Are the hurricanes of life cutting into your walls? God has not forgotten you. He wastes nothing. Love Him and remember His goodness. The sufferings of this life are momentary afflictions that wane in comparison to our eternal hope. Someday soon, we shall be like Christ when we see Him face-to-face.

For more short commentary on today’s verse, see this post.

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to His purpose. — Romans 8:28

Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the center of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world’s tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, God is steering it. That reassuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus walking on the water, and he hears a voice saying, “It is I—do not be afraid.” He knows too that God is always wise, and knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes and that nothing can occur that ought not to happen. He can say, “If I should lose everything, it is better that I should lose it than keep it if it is God’s will: The worst disaster is the wisest and the kindest thing that I could face if God ordains it.”

“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. So far everything has worked for good; the poisonous drugs mixed in proper proportions have effected the cure; the sharp cuts of the scalpel have cleaned out the disease and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil, the believer’s heart is assured, and he is learning to meet each trial calmly when it comes. In the spirit of true resignation the believer can pray, “Send me what You will, my God, as long as it comes from You; there never was a poor portion that came from Your table to any of Your children.”

Do not say, my soul, “Where will God find one to relieve my care?”
Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere.
His method is sublime and His heart profoundly kind,
God is never too early and never behind!

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2014 in Devotional

 

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A Good Time to Cry

A Good Time to Cry

As Peter wept after his denial, it is appropriate for our sinful actions and unfulfilled promises to drive us to tears. Today’s Morning and Evening provides a good reason to cry.

How inappropriate would it have been for Peter to shrug and say, “Well, at least I’m forgiven by grace?” It is God’s faithfulness despite our failure that softens the stony heart.

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

And Peter remembered . . . and he broke down and wept. — Mark 14:72

It has been thought by some that as long as Peter lived, the fountain of his tears began to flow whenever he remembered that he had denied his Lord. It is not unlikely that it was so (for his sin was very great, and grace in him had afterwards a perfect work). This same experience is common to all the redeemed family according to the degree in which the Spirit of God has removed the natural heart of stone.

We, like Peter, remember our boastful promise: “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”1 We eat our own words with the bitter herbs of repentance. When we think of what we vowed we would be and of what we have been, we may weep whole showers of grief. He remembered denying his Lord—the place in which he did it, the little cause that led him into such heinous sin, the oaths and blasphemies with which he sought to confirm his falsehood, and the dreadful hardness of heart that drove him to do so again and yet again. Can we, when we are reminded of our sins and their exceeding sinfulness, remain stolid and stubborn? Will we not make our house a place of sacrifice and cry to the Lord for renewed assurances of pardoning love?

May we never take a dry-eyed look at sin, in case we discover our tongue parched in the flames of hell. Peter also remembered his Master’s look of love. The Lord followed up the rooster’s warning voice with an admonitory look of sorrow, pity, and love. That glance was never out of Peter’s mind so long as he lived. It was far more effectual than ten thousand sermons would have been without the Spirit. The penitent apostle would be sure to weep when he remembered the Savior’s full forgiveness, which restored him to his former place. To think that we have offended so kind and good a Lord is more than sufficient reason for being constant weepers. Lord, smite our rocky hearts, and make the waters flow.

1 Matthew 26:33

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Devotional

 

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