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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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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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Morning Coffee – 04/11/14

Here are the stories I put in my coffee this morning.

  • The Neutrality of Bigness
  • Bigness is not a necessary sign of sell-out, smallness not a necessary mark of purity, any more than bigness is a necessary indicator of excellence or smallness a necessary indicator of faithlessness.

  • What is Legalism?
  • A Christian is not only one who has repented of his immorality, but, even more importantly, has repented of his morality. The more self-righteous one is, the worse it is for him.

  • The New Jerusalem
  • According to Revelation 21:15–17, the measurements of the New Jerusalem are immense, approximately 1,500 miles long on each side. By way of illustration, if one corner of the city were placed on Los Angeles, a second corner would sit on Mexico City, a third corner on St. Louis, Missouri, and the final corner on Edmonton, Alberta.

  • Predestination: Don’t Say a Word About It Until…
  • Before you speak a word about predestination, you need to emphasize the biblical teachings of humanity’s sin before God, God’s just punishment upon that sin, and the deep and high love of God. Then, and only then, does the biblical doctrine of predestination make any sense.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2014 in Links

 

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Glad Tragedy

Glad Tragedy

The greatest tragedy of human history is the cross of Christ. And yet, as Charles Spurgeon puts it in today’s Morning and Evening

No scene in sacred history ever gladdens the soul like Calvary’s tragedy.

How can one act both sadden and gladden the soul? I am so thankful for Romans 5:6-9. It says:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.

God’s love and wrath are found in the cross. As agonizing as it would be to see my Savior crucified, I could never “take the nails from His hands…” (sorry, Jeremy Camp). In anguish, He took the cup and bore my sin as it pleased the Father to crush Him. He was obedient unto death. The cross is the greatest tragedy of human history, but also the greatest act of love that mankind has ever known.

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

* * * * *

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull,
there they crucified Him… — Luke 23:33

The hill of comfort is the hill that is called The Skull or Calvary; the house of consolation is built with the wood of the cross; the temple of heavenly blessing is based upon the riven rock—riven by the spear that pierced His side. No scene in sacred history ever gladdens the soul like Calvary’s tragedy.

Is it not strange, the darkest hour
That ever dawned on sinful earth,
Should touch the heart with softer power,
For comfort, than an angel’s mirth?
That to the Cross the mourner’s eye should turn,
Sooner than where the stars of Bethlehem burn?

Light springs from the midday-midnight of Golgotha, and every herb of the field blooms sweetly beneath the shadow of the once accursed tree. In that place of thirst, grace has dug a fountain that runs continually with water pure as crystal, each drop capable of alleviating the woes of mankind. You who have had your seasons of conflict will confess that it was not at Olivet that you ever found comfort, not on the hill of Sinai, nor on Tabor; but Gethsemane and Golgotha have been a means of comfort to you. The bitter herbs of Gethsemane have often taken away the pains in your life; and the groans of Calvary yield rare and rich comfort.

We never would have known Christ’s love in all its heights and depths if He had not died; nor could we guess the Father’s deep affection if He had not given His Son to die. The common mercies we enjoy all sing of love, just as the seashell, when we put it to our ears, whispers the sounds of the deep sea from which it came; but if we desire to hear the ocean itself, we must not look at everyday blessings, but at the transactions of the crucifixion. If you want to know love, then go afresh to Calvary and see the Man of Sorrows die.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2014 in Devotional

 

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The Great Exchange

The Great Exchange

All Scripture is breathed by God and profitable (2 Tim 3:16). (Yes, even the genealogies.) But some verses tower above the rest. For them, a great density of truth is tightly packed into a compact economy of words. This morning’s Morning and Evening stems from such a mountain of a verse.

For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. — 2 Corinthians 5:21

This truth has often been referred to as The Great Exchange: Our sin for Christ’s righteousness, and Christ’s righteousness for our sin. It is the greatest truth of all.

An understanding of this verity does not nullify all other truths we have in Jesus. We are new creations in Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit who continually wrestle with the flesh. We run to win and receive the prize before us. But what a comfort it is… to know that sin is paid for! Jesus did not begin a work for others to come along afterwards, complete it, and find salvation in the process. He finished the job by becoming sin—two thousand years ago—on the cross and conquering the grave through His resurrection.

We all need this reminder from time to time. After candidly sharing his personal struggle with sin in Romans 7, Paul’s conclusion stands as a comfort for every believer. Romans 8:1 declares,

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

May we never forget the full measure of Christ’s atonement; His endless love and obedient sacrifice. For our sake, it pleased the Father to crush Him. He became sin, though He was sinless. As a result, we might become the righteousness of God in Him. That’s good news! No wonder it’s called the Gospel.

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

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

* * * * *

For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin,
so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. — 2 Corinthians 5:21

Mourning Christian, why are you weeping? Are you mourning over your own sins and failings? Look to your perfect Lord, and remember, you are complete in Him. You are in God’s sight as perfect as if you had never sinned; more than that, the Lord our Righteousness has clothed you with a royal robe of righteousness, which is wholly undeserved—you have the righteousness of God.

You who are mourning by reason of inbred sin and depravity, remember, none of your sins can condemn you. You have learned to hate sin; but you have also learned how that sin is not yours—it was laid upon Christ’s head. Your standing is not in yourself—it is in Christ. Your acceptance is not in yourself, but in your Lord; you are just as accepted by God today, with all your sinfulness, as you will be when you stand before His throne, free from all corruption.

So I urge you, take hold of this precious thought—perfection in Christ! For you are “complete in Him.”1 With your Savior’s garment on, you are as holy as the Holy One. “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”2

Christian, let your heart rejoice, for you are “accepted in the beloved”3—what do you have to fear? Keep a smile on your face! Live near your Master; live in the suburbs of the Heavenly City; for soon, when your time has come, you will rise up to where Jesus sits and reign at His right hand; and all because the Lord Jesus was made “to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

1Colossians 2:10, KJV 2Romans 8:34 3Ephesians 1:6

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Ridiculous Grace

Matt Chandler on forgiveness and the power of the cross.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Video

 

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The Golden Cage

Mark Dever’s study… a pastor’s playground.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2013 in Video

 

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