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Happy Monday: The Good-O-Meter

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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Video

 

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The Source of Love

The Source of Love

This morning’s Morning and Evening comes from one of my favorite New Testament books, 1 John. As Spurgeon says, “This truth is foundational, that we love Him for no other reason than because He first loved us.” Every day is a good day to remember the source of our love. He loved us while we were unlovable (and continues to do so).

Even the marriage relationship is built upon Christ’s perfect love for the church (Ephesians 5:22-33). In every way, Christ sets the standard. If He had not intervened, we would never have loved Him. If it were still up to us, we would never last. His love is flawless, complete, and eternal. Not one drop of the Savior’s blood fell in vain. His sacrificial love should motivate us to love sacrificially. Why do we love? Because He first loved us.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. — Psalm 138:8

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

* * * * *

We love because He first loved us. — 1 John 4:19

There is no light in the planet but that which proceeds from the sun; and there is no true love for Jesus in the heart but that which comes from the Lord Jesus Himself. From this overflowing fountain of the infinite love of God, all our love to God must spring.

This truth is foundational, that we love Him for no other reason than because He first loved us. Our love for Him is the result of His love for us. When studying the works of God, anyone may respond with cold admiration, but the warmth of love can only be kindled in the heart by God’s Spirit.

What a wonder that any of us, knowing what we’re like, should ever have been brought to love Jesus at all! How marvelous that when we had rebelled against Him, He should, by a display of such amazing love, seek to draw us back. We would never have had a grain of love toward God unless it had been sown in us by the sweet seed of His love for us.

Love, then, has for its parent the love of God shed abroad in the heart: But after it is divinely born, it must be divinely nourished. It is not like a plant, which will flourish naturally in human soil—it must be watered from above. Love for Jesus is a flower of a delicate nature, and if it received no nourishment but that which could be drawn from the rock of our hearts, it would soon wither. As love comes from heaven, so it must feed on heavenly bread. It cannot exist in the wilderness unless it be fed by manna from on high. Love must feed on love. The very soul and life of our love for God is His love for us.

I love Thee, Lord, but with no love of mine,
For I have none to give;
I love Thee, Lord; but all the love is Thine,
For by Thy love I live.
I am as nothing, and rejoice to be
Emptied, and lost, and swallowed up in Thee.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Cheer Up, Christian

Cheer Up, Christian

This morning’s Morning and Evening is a convicting and encouraging reminder to focus on Christ. Too often, we dwell upon our sorrows, struggles, and afflictions with little acknowledgment to God’s grace and mercy. I like how Spurgeon puts things into perspective:

It is true that we have our corruptions, and sadly we acknowledge this, but it is just as true that we have an all-sufficient Savior who overcomes these corruptions and delivers us from their dominion.

Don’t be a depressing Christian. Christ is our all-sufficient Savior. Let’s acknowledge the darkness while focusing on the object of our deliverance so we can say with David,

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to Him. — Psalm 28:7

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

* * * * *

The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. — Psalm 126:3

Some Christians are sadly prone to look on the dark side of everything, and to dwell more upon what they have gone through than upon what God has done for them. Ask for their impression of the Christian life, and they will describe their continual conflicts, their deep afflictions, their sad adversities, and the sinfulness of their hearts, but with scarcely any reference to the mercy and help that God has provided them.

But a Christian whose soul is in a healthy state will come forward joyously and say, “I will not speak about myself, but to the honor of my God. He has brought me up out of a horrible pit and out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings; and He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God. The Lord has done great things for me—I am glad.”

This summary of experience is the very best that any child of God can present. It is true that we endure trials, but it is just as true that we are delivered out of them. It is true that we have our corruptions, and sadly we acknowledge this, but it is just as true that we have an all-sufficient Savior who overcomes these corruptions and delivers us from their dominion. In looking back, it would be wrong to deny that we have been in the Slough of Despond and have crept along the Valley of Humiliation, but it would be equally wicked to forget that we have been through them safely and profitably; we have not remained in them, thanks to our Almighty Helper and Leader, who has “brought us out to a place of abundance.”1

The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through them all and preserved us until today. Our griefs cannot spoil the melody of our praise; we consider them to be the “bass line” of our life’s song, “The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.”

1 Psalm 66:12

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Hating Sin

Hating Sin

This morning’s Morning and Evening is taken from Psalm 45:7.

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.

Sin is serious. It should anger us, disgust us, and drive us headlong to the feet of Christ. Charles Spurgeon’s short devotional is excellent today.

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

* * * * *

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. — Psalm 45:7

Be angry and do not sin.”1 There can hardly be goodness in a man if he is not angered by sin; he who loves truth must hate every false way. How our Lord Jesus hated it when the temptation came! Three times it assailed Him in different forms, but He responded with, “Be gone, Satan.” He hated it in others, no less fervently by showing His hatred often more in tears of pity than in words of rebuke; yet what language could be more stern, more Elijah-like, than such words as, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers.”

He hated wickedness so much that He bled to wound it to the heart; He died that it might die; He was buried that He might bury it in His tomb; and He rose that He might forever trample it beneath His feet. Christ is in the Gospel, and that Gospel is opposed to wickedness in every shape. Wickedness arrays itself in fine clothes and imitates the language of holiness; but the precepts of Jesus, like His famous scourge of small cords, chase it out of the temple and will not tolerate it in the church.

So, too, in the heart where Jesus reigns, what a war is waged between Christ and Satan! And when our Redeemer shall come to be our Judge, those thundering words, “Depart from me, you cursed” that are, indeed, but a prolongation of His life-teaching concerning sin shall manifest His abhorrence of iniquity. As warm as His love is to sinners, so hot is His hatred of sin; as perfect as is His righteousness, so complete shall be the destruction of every form of wickedness. Glorious champion of right, and destroyer of wrong, for this cause God has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows.

1 Ephesians 4:26

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Suffering and Security

Suffering and Security

Today’s devotional is taken from the great “Golden Chain” of Romans 8.

For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified. — Romans 8:29-30

We quote Romans 8:28 all the time. But how often do we forget that the purpose of verse 28 is for us to “be conformed to the image of His Son” in verse 29? God is the ultimate agent of our salvation. He foreknows, He predestines, He calls, He justifies, and He glorifies. He begins the work and finishes it (Philippians 1:6). Why does God deserve all the glory? Well, for one thing, He does all the work.

As Spurgeon acknowledges in this morning’s Morning and Evening, these truths are a tremendous comfort for believers. He says, “do not bemoan your troubles, but rather rejoice” because a day is coming when there will be no more pain. A big understanding of God produces big comfort for the Christian. Peter encouraged the believers who were suffering under Nero’s persecution with these amazing words:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. — 1 Peter 1:3-9

The recipients of this letter are being wrapped in wax and set on fire to light Nero’s dinner parties. Many of them have lost mothers, fathers, limbs, and dear friends for the sake of the gospel. Peter does not ignore their pain. He simply redirects their focus. What does he say? God has caused us to be born again to a living hope! Our inheritance lasts forever and is guarded by the very power of God Himself. The afflictions of this life are temporary, but God’s promises are eternally secure. These are comforting words indeed for anyone in need of consolation.

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

* * * * *

Those whom He justified He also glorified. — Romans 8:30

Here is a precious truth for you, believer. You may be poor or suffering or unknown, but for your encouragement take a moment to review your calling and the consequences that flow from it, and especially the blessed result spoken of here. As surely as you are God’s child today, so surely will all your trials soon come to an end, and you shall be rich to an extent that is hard to imagine.

Wait awhile, and your weary head will wear the crown of glory, and the worker’s hand shall grasp the palm-branch of victory. Do not bemoan your troubles, but rather rejoice that before long you will be where no longer “shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore.”1 The chariots of fire are at your door, and it will take only a moment to transport you to the glorified. The everlasting song is almost on your lip. The portals of heaven stand open for you.

Do not think that you can fail to enter into your rest. If He has called you, nothing can divide you from His love. Distress cannot sever the bond; the fire of persecution cannot burn the link; the hammer of hell cannot break the chain. You are secure; that voice which called you at first shall call you yet again from earth to heaven, from death’s dark gloom to immortality’s unuttered splendors. Rest assured, the heart of Him who has justified you beats with infinite love toward you. You will soon be with the glorified, where your portion is; you are only waiting here to be made ready for the inheritance, and with that done, the wings of angels shall carry you far away, to the mount of peace and joy and blessedness, where

Far from a world of grief and sin,
With God eternally shut in,

you shall rest forever and ever.

1 Revelation 21:4

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Fellow Heirs

Fellow Heirs

This morning’s Morning and Evening is a joyful reminder of the inheritance we have with Christ. The text is taken from Paul’s letter to the Romans.

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.  Romans 8:16-17

This is a tremendous truth indeed! However, we should not ignore the clause of suffering and glorification that follows. Glory is always preceded by suffering. Even Christ Himself had to be rejected before He could be accepted. He asked the travelers on the road to Emmaus:

Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory? — Luke 24:26

Peter understood this truth well when he stood before the men who crucified Jesus, looked them in the eye, and boldly interpreted the fulfillment of Psalm 118:22. He proclaimed:

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. — Acts 4:11-12

Suffering comes first, then glory. But when we suffer, we do not agonize as those who are without hope. As fellow heirs with Christ, our eternal reward has been safely secured. It exceeds our greatest anticipations and transforms our darkest hours into “light momentary afflictions” (2 Corin 4:17). As David declared in Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

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

* * * * *

Fellow heirs with Christ.  Romans 8:17

The boundless realms of His Father’s universe belong by right to Christ. As “heir of all things,”1 He is the sole proprietor of the vast creation of God, and He has admitted us to claim it all as ours, by making us His fellow heirs. The golden streets of paradise, the pearly gates, the river of life, the transcendent bliss, and the unutterable glory are all, by our blessed Lord, made ours for an everlasting possession. All that He has, He shares with His people.

The royal crown He has placed upon the head of His Church, granting her a kingdom, and calling her sons a royal priesthood, a generation of priests and kings. He uncrowned Himself that we might have a coronation of glory; He would not sit upon His own throne until He had procured a place upon it for all who overcome by His blood. Crown the head, and the whole body shares the honor.

Here then is the reward of every Christian conqueror! Christ’s throne, crown, scepter, palace, treasure, robes, heritage are yours. He deems His happiness completed by His people sharing it. “The glory that you have given me I have given to them.”2 “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”3

The smiles of His Father are all the sweeter to Him because His people share them. The honors of His kingdom are more pleasing because His people appear with Him in glory. More valuable to Him are His conquests since they have taught His people to overcome. He delights in His throne because on it there is a place for them. He rejoices in His royal robes since they cover His people. He delights all the more in His joy because He calls them to enter into it.

1 Hebrews 1:2, 2 John 17:22, 3 John 15:11

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Not Forsaken

Not Forsaken

In the worst seasons of life, it is easy to feel abandoned by God. As the blood drips from a once healthy heart, we often echo Christ’s cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Most of us do not expect an audible answer from the sky, but we do pray that our voices would be heard. Once the shock has waned or the pain has numbed, we scratch our heads and question where God might have wandered off to. If He loves us so much, why would He abandon us to the dark?

This morning’s Morning and Evening reminds us that God never forsakes His children. Historically, only one man has ever felt the true sting of God’s abandonment: Christ Himself. And He is the One who continually intercedes to the Father on our behalf (Romans 8:34), even now. The believer’s hopeless solitude is a lie.

Despite all his grief and loss, an aging King David observed:

I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or His children begging for bread. — Psalm 37:25

Paul invigorated the Corinthians by reminding them that we are:

…persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… — 2 Corinthians 4:9

Jesus concluded the Great Commission with this encouraging truth:

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. — Matthew 28:20

If our faith is anchored in Christ, we are never alone. Unfortunately, we frequently believe the lie of abandonment and fail to cry out to God at all. If He has truly left the building, what’s the point? We focus on the pain, the forfeiture, the shadow of death. Our faithless hearts leave cavernous cavities in our chests. But thankfully, the Good Shepherd is near with a rod and a staff. He provides and protects. In Him, we lack nothing.

Reject the lie. Hold fast to the Truth. We are not alone. We will not be forsaken.

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

* * * * *

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? — Psalm 22:1

Here we view the Savior in the depth of His sorrows. No other place displays the griefs of Christ like this, and no other moment at Calvary is so full of agony as when His cry rends the air—”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” At this moment physical weakness was united with acute mental torture from the shame and ignominy through which He had to pass; His grief culminated in suffering the spiritual agony beyond all telling that resulted from the departure of His Father’s presence. This was the black midnight of His horror—when He descended the abyss of suffering.

No man can enter into the full meaning of these words. Some of us think at times that we could cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” There are seasons when the brightness of our Father’s smile is eclipsed by clouds and darkness; but let us remember that God never really does forsake us. It is only a seeming forsaking with us, but in Christ’s case it was a real forsaking. We grieve at a little withdrawal of our Father’s love; but the real turning away of God’s face from His Son—who can calculate how deep the agony that caused Him?

In our case, our cry is often dictated by unbelief: In His case, it was the utterance of a dreadful fact, for God had really turned away from Him for a season. Poor, distressed soul who once lived in the sunshine of God’s face but now in darkness, remember that He has not really forsaken you. God in the clouds is as much our God as when He shines forth in all the beauty of His grace; but since even the thought that He has forsaken us gives us agony, what must the suffering of the Savior have been when He exclaimed, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Devotional

 

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