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Bad News Bearings

Bad News Bearings

No one eagerly anticipates the arrival of bad news. However, as Christ’s followers, we have no reason to fear it. Today’s Morning and Evening reminds us that our response to tragedy should not mimic those who are without hope and without help.

Fellow Christian, does the inevitability of bad news scare you? Take courage, stand firm, and trust in the unchanging nature of your ever faithful Savior.

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

* * * * *

He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. — Psalm 112:7

Christian, you ought not to be afraid of the arrival of bad news; because if you are distressed by such, you are no different from other men. They do not have your God to run to; they have never proved His faithfulness as you have done, and it is no wonder if they are bowed down with alarm and cowed with fear. But you profess to be of another spirit; you have been born again to a living hope, and your heart lives in heaven and not on earthly things. If you are seen to be distracted as other men, what is the value of that grace that you profess to have received? Where is the dignity of that new nature that you claim to possess?

Again, if you should be filled with alarm like others, you would no doubt be led into the sins so common to them under trying circumstances. The ungodly, when they are overtaken by bad news, rebel against God; they murmur and maintain that God has dealt harshly with them. Will you fall into that same sin? Will you provoke the Lord as they do?

Moreover, unconverted men often run to wrong means in order to escape from difficulties, and you will be sure to do the same if your mind yields to the present pressure. Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Your wisest course is to do what Moses did at the Red Sea: “Stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD.”1 For if you give way to fear when you hear bad news, you will be unable to meet the trouble with that calm composure that prepares for duty and sustains in adversity.

How can you glorify God if you play the coward? Saints have often sung God’s high praises in the fires, but when you act as if there were no one to help, will your doubting and despondency magnify the Most High? Then take courage and, relying in sure confidence upon the faithfulness of your covenant God, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”2

1 Exodus 14:13, 2 John 14:27

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Devotional

 

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The Best Physician

The Best Physician

Today’s Morning and Evening underscores our Savior’s tender care. Are you sick? Run to the Lord in prayer. Does He really care? Another passage that comes to mind is 1 Peter 5:6-7:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.

Cast your cares on the caring Christ. As Spurgeon writes, “You will find Jesus the best physician by far.” Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever,
and immediately they told Him about her. — Mark 1:30

This is a very interesting little peep into the house of the apostolic fisherman. We quickly observe that household joys and cares are no hindrance to the full exercise of ministry; rather they furnish an opportunity for personally discovering the Lord’s gracious work in one’s own family. They may provide better instruction for the teacher than any other earthly discipline. There are those who decry marriage, but true Christianity and family life live well together. Peter’s house was possibly a poor fisherman’s hut, but the Lord of Glory entered it, lodged in it, and worked a miracle in it. If these words are being read this morning in some very humble cottage, let this fact encourage the inhabitants to seek the company of King Jesus. God is more often in little huts than in rich palaces.

Jesus is looking around your room now and is waiting to be gracious to you. Into Simon’s house illness had entered; fever in a deadly form had prostrated his mother-in-law; and as soon as Jesus came, they told Him of the sad affliction, and He hurried to the patient’s bed. Do you have any illness in the house this morning? You will find Jesus the best physician by far; go to Him at once and tell Him all about the matter. Immediately lay the case before Him. It concerns one of His people, and therefore He will not regard it as trivial.

Notice that immediately the Savior restored the ill woman; none can heal as He does. We dare not assume that the Lord will remove all illness from those we love, but we dare not forget that believing prayer for the sick is far more likely to be followed by restoration than anything else in the world; and where this does not happen, we must meekly bow to His will by whom life and death are determined. The tender heart of Jesus waits to hear our griefs; let us pour them into His patient ear.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Time to Go

Time to Go

Some battles are not worth fighting. We are often told in Scripture to stand our ground… we contend with the flesh, the world, and the powers of the air… but when it comes to certain sins, the only course of action is to run! As Charles Spurgeon says in today’s Morning and Evening

I am to resist the devil, and he will flee from me; but the lusts of the flesh I must flee, or they will surely overcome me.

1 Corinthians 6:18 issues the command to “flee from sexual immorality.” 1 Corinthians 10:14 says to “flee from idolatry.” Paul instructed Timothy to “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness” in 2 Timothy 2:22. We must actively desert wickedness in order to pursue righteousness. To dwell in the comfort of the flesh is to forsake the liberating reprieve of the Spirit. No man is stronger than the weakness of his flesh. 1 Corinthians 10:12 warns:

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

Let’s not kid ourselves, but recognize our weaknesses… forsaking all filth and clinging to Christ for strength. We are simply not strong enough to overcome our own lusts, so let’s flee from them into the arms of our Savior. Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

But he left his garment in her hand
and fled and got out of the house. — Genesis 39:12

In contending with certain sins there remains no mode of victory but by flight. The ancient naturalists wrote much of basilisks, whose eyes fascinated their victims and rendered them easy victims; so the mere gaze of wickedness puts us in solemn danger. He who would be safe from acts of evil must hurry away from occasions of it. A covenant must be made with our eyes not even to look upon the cause of temptation, for such sins only need a spark to begin with and a blaze follows in an instant.

Who would carelessly enter the leper’s prison and sleep amid its horrible corruption? Only he who desires to be leprous himself. If the sailor knew how to avoid a storm, he would do anything rather than run the risk of weathering it. Cautious navigators have no desire to see how near the quicksand they can sail or how often they may touch a rock without springing a leak; their aim is to keep as nearly as possible in the midst of a safe channel.

Today I may be exposed to great peril; let me have the serpent’s wisdom to keep out of it and avoid it. The wings of a dove may be of more use to me today than the jaws of a lion. It is true I may be an apparent loser by declining evil company, but I had better leave my cloak than lose my character; it is not needful that I should be rich, but it is imperative for me to be pure. No ties of friendship, no chains of beauty, no flashings of talent, no shafts of ridicule must turn me from the wise resolve to flee from sin.

I am to resist the devil, and he will flee from me; but the lusts of the flesh I must flee, or they will surely overcome me. O God of holiness, preserve us like Joseph, that we may not be seduced by the subtle, vile suggestions of the temptress. May the horrible trinity of the world, the flesh, and the devil never overcome us!

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Devotional

 

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A Waking Nightmare

A Waking Nightmare

It is often said that the key to learning is repetition. Maybe that is why the following adage appears twice in Proverbs:

A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man. — Proverbs 6:10-11; 24:33-34

In this case, what is true for the body is also true for the soul.

Today’s Morning and Evening is a sobering reminder of the dangers of spiritual laziness. We all experience times of drought. For various reasons, we walk away from the till and fold our hands to rest under a large tree. We think we have earned a time-out. But idle sleepers are useless to themselves and the body of Christ. As soon as our eyes are shut, we become like zombies; hallowed husks of self-indulgent groaners. As Spurgeon observes, “lean prayers, lean praises, lean duties, and lean experiences” will “eat up the fat of my comfort and peace.” Personal holiness and acts of service are not provisional disciplines.

If we are to fully enjoy the richness of Christ, we must remain diligent in our pursuit of His glory. An eternal rest is coming for God’s people. Until then, let’s do everything we can to remain unremittingly resilient against the waking nightmare of laziness.

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

* * * * *

And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows.
And Pharaoh awoke. — Genesis 41:4

Pharaoh’s dream has too often been my waking experience. My days of laziness have ruinously destroyed all that I had achieved in times of zealous endeavor; my seasons of coldness have frozen all the genial glow of my periods of fervency and enthusiasm; and my fits of worldliness have thrown me back from my advances in the divine life. I had need to beware of lean prayers, lean praises, lean duties, and lean experiences, for these will eat up the fat of my comfort and peace.

If I neglect prayer for never so short a time, I lose all the spirituality to which I had attained; if I draw no fresh supplies from heaven, the old corn in my granary is soon consumed by the famine that rages in my soul. When the caterpillars of indifference, the worms of worldliness, and the snares of self-indulgence lay my heart completely desolate and make my soul languish, all my former fruitfulness and growth in grace avails me nothing whatever.

How anxious should I be to have no lean-fleshed days, no ill-favored hours! If every day I journeyed toward the goal of my desires I would soon reach it, but backsliding leaves me still far from the prize of my high calling and robs me of the advances that I had so strenuously made.

The only way in which all my days can be like the fat cows is to feed them in the right meadow, to spend them with the Lord, in His service, in His company, in His fear, and in His way. Why should not every year be richer than the past, in love and usefulness and joy? I am nearer the celestial hills; I have had more experience of my Lord and should be more like Him.

O Lord, keep far from me the curse of leanness of soul; let me not have to bemoan such leanness, but may I be well-fed and nourished in Your house, that I may praise Your name.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Looking to Jesus

Looking to Jesus

This morning’s Morning and Evening reminds us that we are nothing and Christ is everything. We cannot afford to trade the sight of our Savior for a view of ourselves. Today’s passage is taken from Hebrews 12:2.

…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

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

* * * * *

Looking to Jesus… — Hebrews 12:2

It is always the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus. But Satan’s work is just the opposite; he is constantly trying to make us look at ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you do not have the joy of His children; you have such a wavering hold on Jesus.” All these are thoughts about self, and we will never find comfort or assurance by looking within.

But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: He tells us that we are nothing, but that Christ is everything. Remember, therefore, it is not your hold of Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not your joy in Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, although that is the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits.

Therefore, do not look so much to your hand with which you are grasping Christ as to Christ; do not look to your hope but to Jesus, the source of your hope; do not look to your faith, but to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of your faith.

We will never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our deeds, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we are to overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “looking to Jesus.”

Keep your eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession be fresh upon your mind. When you waken in the morning look to Him; when you lie down at night look to Him. Do not let your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow hard after Him, and He will never fail you.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness:
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Mountaineers

Mountaineers

This morning’s Morning and Evening reminds us that the higher we climb, the more we see of Christ. This is an observation that every believer can attest to. We know more of Him today than we did yesterday and we long for the day when we will know Him fully. Is the climb worth it? Nothing compares to growing in the knowledge of Christ.

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

* * * * *

Get you up to a high mountain… — Isaiah 40:9

Our knowledge of Christ is somewhat like climbing one of the mountains in Wales. When you are at the base you see only a little: the mountain itself appears to be only half as high as it really is. Confined in a little valley, you discover scarcely anything but the rippling brooks as they descend into the stream at the foot of the mountain. Climb the first rising knoll, and the valley lengthens and widens beneath your feet. Go higher, and you see the country for four or five miles around, and you are delighted with the widening prospect. Higher still, and the scene enlarges; until at last, when you are on the summit and look east, west, north, and south, you see almost all of England lying before you. There is a forest in some distant county, perhaps two hundred miles away, and here the sea, and there a shining river and the smoking chimneys of a manufacturing town, or the masts of the ships in a busy port. All these things please and delight you, and you say, “I could not have imagined that so much could be seen at this elevation.”

Now, the Christian life is of the same order. When we first believe in Christ, we see only a little of Him. The higher we climb, the more we discover of His beauty. But who has ever gained the summit? Who has known all the heights and depths of the love of Christ that passes knowledge? When Paul had grown old and was sitting gray-haired and shivering in a dungeon in Rome, he was able to say with greater emphasis than we can, “I know whom I have believed,”1 for each experience had been like the climbing of a hill, each trial had been like ascending another summit, and his death seemed like gaining the top of the mountain, from which he could see the whole panorama of the faithfulness and love of Him to whom he had committed his soul. Get up, dear friend, into a high mountain.

1 2 Timothy 1:12

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Devotional

 

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None Lost

None Lost

This morning’s Morning and Evening remembers the powerful grace of God. The text is John 10:28:

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

His grace is eternal, unbreakable, and permanent. It is impossible for true children of God to lose standing with their eternal family. This truth should continually compel us to praise and worship. Since before the beginning of time, the Lord has always kept His promises. Doubt yourself, but never question the faithfulness of your Savior.

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

* * * * *

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish… — John 10:28

The Christian should never think or speak lightly of unbelief. For when a child of God mistrusts His love, His truth, His faithfulness, it is greatly displeasing to Him. How can we ever grieve Him by doubting His upholding grace?

Christian, it is contrary to every promise of God’s precious Word that you would ever be forgotten or left to perish. If it could be so, how could He be true who has said, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”1 What would be the value of the promise—”‘The mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you”?2 What truth would there be in Christ’s words—”I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand”?3

What value would there be in the doctrines of grace? They would be all disproved if one child of God should perish. What value could be placed in the veracity of God, His honor, His power, His grace, His covenant, His oath, if any of those for whom Christ died, and who have put their trust in Him, should nevertheless be cast away?

Banish then those unbelieving fears, which so dishonor God. Arise, shake yourself from the dust, and put on your beautiful clothes. Remember, it is sinful to doubt His Word in which He has promised you that you will never perish. Let the eternal life within you express itself in confident rejoicing.

The gospel bears my spirit up:
A faithful and unchanging God
Lays the foundation for my hope,
In oaths, and promises, and blood.

1 Isaiah 49:15, 2 Isaiah 54:10, John 10:28-29

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Devotional

 

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