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Staying Put

Staying Put

This morning’s Morning and Evening reminds us that “there is no ideal place for us to serve God except the place He sets us down.” The lowliest division of the King’s work is still an honor and privilege. With God, there are no accidents. He has not forgotten where He has placed us and the details of our situation are not lost on Him.

As Spurgeon says, “We are not to run from it on a whim or sudden notion, but we should serve the Lord in it by being a blessing to those among whom we live.” The grass may appear greener elsewhere, but who cares when God Himself has directed your steps? Often, the best course of action is to trust in Him, hope in His promises, and simply stay put.

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

* * * * *

These were the potters who were inhabitants of Netaim and Gederah.
They lived there in the king’s service. — 1 Chronicles 4:23

Potters were among the ranks of manual workers, but the king needed potters, and therefore they were elevated to royal service, although the material upon which they worked was nothing but clay. In the same way we also may be engaged in the most menial part of the Lord’s work, but it is a great privilege to do anything for the King; and therefore we will play our part, hoping that, although we live among the pots, we will soar in the service of our Master.

These people dwelt among plants and hedges and had rough, rustic hedging and ditching work to do. They may have wanted to live in the city, amid its life, society, and refinement, but they kept their assigned places because they were doing the king’s work. There is no ideal place for us to serve God except the place He sets us down. We are not to run from it on a whim or sudden notion, but we should serve the Lord in it by being a blessing to those among whom we live. These potters and gardeners had royal company, for they lived with the king, and although among hedges and plants, they lived with the king there. No lawful place or gracious occupation, however menial, can keep us from communion with our Lord. In hovels, run-down neighborhoods, and jails, we may keep company with the King. In all works of faith we can count upon Jesus’ fellowship. It is when we are in His work that we may reckon on His smile.

You unknown workers who are serving the Lord amid the dirt and wretchedness of the lowest of the low, be of good cheer, for jewels have often been found among rubbish, earthen pots have been filled with heavenly treasure, and ugly weeds have been transformed into precious flowers. Dwell with the King and do His work, and when He writes His chronicles, your name shall be recorded.

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Posted by on June 3, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Passing on the Truth Part 2

Here is the follow-up message to this excellent sermon.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Video

 

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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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Passing on the Truth

A solid sermon concerning God’s strength and the impact of a deep-seeded conviction of the gospel…

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2014 in Video

 

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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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Running From Safety

Running From Safety

Charles Spurgeon knew how to write a killer one-liner. This morning’s Morning and Evening contains at least two of them. They are:

“It is one thing to promise, and quite another to perform.”

&

“Divine grace can make the coward brave.”

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

* * * * *

Then all the disciples left Him and fled. — Matthew 26:56

He never deserted them, but they in cowardly fear of their lives fled from Him at the very outset of His sufferings. This is but one instructive instance of the frailty of all believers if left to themselves; they are but sheep at best, and they flee when the wolf appears. They had all been warned of the danger and had promised to die rather than leave their Master; and yet they were seized with sudden panic and took to their heels.

It may be that I, at the opening of this day, have braced myself to bear a trial for the Lord’s sake, and I imagine myself able for the challenge; but let me be careful in case with the same evil heart of unbelief I should depart from my Lord as the apostles did. It is one thing to promise, and quite another to perform. It would have been to their eternal honor to have stood manfully at Jesus’ side; they fled from honor. May I be kept from imitating them! Where else could they have been so safe as near their Master, who could presently call for twelve legions of angels? They fled from their true safety.

O God, let me not play the fool also. Divine grace can make the coward brave. The smoking flax can flame forth like fire on the altar when the Lord wills it. These very apostles who were timid as hares grew to be bold as lions after the Spirit had descended upon them, and even so the Holy Spirit can make my wretched spirit brave to confess my Lord and witness for His truth. What anguish must have filled the Savior as He saw His friends so faithless! This was one bitter ingredient in His cup; but that cup is drained dry; let me not put another drop in it.

If I forsake my Lord, I shall crucify Him afresh and put Him to an open shame. Keep me, O blessed Spirit, from such a shameful end.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Fetching Faith

Fetching Faith

Yesterday’s Morning and Evening is full of truth, but requires an ounce or two of discernment. Spurgeon was not a “word of faith” or “name it and claim it” preacher. And yet he says, “If we want blessings from God, nothing can fetch them down but faith.” How are we to interpret such a statement without injecting the worst of all presuppositions?

First of all, we should remember that asking for spiritual blessing is not sinful. In fact, we are encouraged to ask. But what we ask for (and why) determines everything. How often do we pray for an escape plan out of trial instead of praying for God’s grace to bring us through it? James 4:2-3 states,

You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Spurgeon’s devotional is not intended to promote a self-centered attitude of worldly entitlement. The Apostle Paul did not speak words of prosperity into his own life either. In Philippians 3:10, he says that he wishes to…

…know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death…

To his son in the faith, he wrote in 2 Timothy 1:8,

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.

So what is Spurgeon saying? To better understand the nature of faith, we should consider God’s servant Job. Job 1:8 says,

And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

Notice that God puts Job on Satan’s radar… not because Job had sinned… but because he was righteous. He even says “there is none like him on the earth.” That’s high praise from creation’s Creator. Who doesn’t want God to say that about them? And yet, Job was in the perfect position for his faith to be showcased through affliction. After losing his sons, daughters, and wealth, he reacted as a true man of faith. Job 1:20 says,

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.

Who worships God when they lose everything? Those of faith.

Faith is not believing hard enough until God gives us what we want. Faith is trusting God that He is in control of all things and has our best interests in mind. Without faith, we are without hope. We have no access to the faithful promises of God, unless our faith in Christ is that of genuine stock. He alone knows all things, including the unseen circumstances that surround our situation. He will not hand us a snake when we ask for bread, but He will allow the serpents to come when they are needed. When that happens, let’s fall to our faces like Job and stand with the Apostles who begged, “Increase our faith!”

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

* * * * *

…strong in his faith… — Romans 4:20

Christian, take good care of your faith, for faith is the only way in which you can obtain blessings. If we want blessings from God, nothing can fetch them down but faith. Prayer cannot draw down answers from God’s throne unless it is the earnest prayer of the man who believes. Faith is the angelic messenger between the soul and the Lord Jesus in glory. Let that angel be withdrawn, we can neither send up prayer, nor receive the answers. Faith is the telegraphic wire that links earth and heaven—on which God’s messages of love fly so fast that before we call He answers, and while we are still speaking He hears us. But if that telegraphic wire of faith is snapped, how can we receive the promise? Am I in trouble? I can obtain help for trouble by faith. Am I beaten about by the enemy? My soul leans on God by faith. But take faith away—in vain I call to God.

There is no road between my soul and heaven. In the deepest wintertime faith is a road on which the horses of prayer may travel—ay, and all the better for the biting frost; but blockade the road and how can we communicate with the Great King? Faith links me with divinity. Faith clothes me with the power of God. Faith engages on my side the omnipotence of Jehovah. Faith ensures every attribute of God in my defense. It helps me defy the hosts of hell. It makes me march in triumph over my enemies. But without faith how can I receive anything from the Lord? The one who wavers—who is like a wave of the sea—should not expect to receive anything from God!

So, then, Christian, pay attention to your faith; for with it you can win all things, however poor you are, but without it you can obtain nothing. “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”1

1 Mark 9:23

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2014 in Devotional

 

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