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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.

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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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Building on Eternal Truths

Building on Eternal Truths

In the words of my Selected General Epistles professor, “1 Peter has become a dear friend.” It is a bastion of comfort, hope, and timeless reminders. Going through a tough time? 1 Peter is your book! This morning’s Morning and Evening encourages us to search our hearts with the spotlight of self-examination.

1 Peter 2:1-3 says:

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

2 Corinthians 13:5 is a great companion to today’s devotional.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Doubt has no place in a believer’s life. However, self-examination is a healthy and necessary component for assurance. As Spurgeon urges, we should not rest until we have a full assurance of our interest in Jesus.

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

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If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. — 1 Peter 2:3

“If.” Then this is not a matter to be taken for granted concerning every one of the human race. “If”—then there is a possibility and a probability that some may not have tasted that the Lord is gracious. “If”—then this is not a general but a special mercy; and it is necessary to ask whether we know the grace of God by inward experience. There is no spiritual favor that may not be a matter for heart-searching.

But while this should be a matter of earnest and prayerful inquiry, no one ought to be content while there is any such thing as an “if” about his having tasted that the Lord is good. A jealous and holy distrust of self may give rise to the question even in the believer’s heart, but the continuance of such a doubt would be an evil indeed. We must not rest without a desperate struggle to clasp the Savior in the arms of faith and say, “I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”1

Do not rest, believer, until you have a full assurance of your interest in Jesus. Let nothing satisfy you until, by the infallible witness of the Holy Spirit bearing witness with your spirit, you are identified as a child of God. Do trifle with this. Do not be satisfied with “perhaps” or “if” or “maybe.” Build on eternal truths; really build upon them. Let your anchor be cast into that which is within the veil, and see to it that your soul is linked to the anchor by a cable that will not break. Get beyond these dreary “ifs”; stay no longer in the wilderness of doubts and fears; cross the Jordan of distrust, and enter the promised land of peace, where the land ceases not to flow with milk and honey.

1 2 Timothy 1:12

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Joyful Monday: God With Us

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,
and they shall call His name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). — Matthew 1:23

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Video

 

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Torn Up Repentance

Torn Up Repentance

This morning’s Morning and Evening might have been timelier for me a few months ago. One of my assignments required a few short Bible study notes on the difference between penance and repentance. Spurgeon’s text this morning is taken from the passage I chose for that assignment.

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.”

Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster. — Joel 2:12-13

The study was titled: God Wants Torn Up Hearts, Not Torn Up Clothes. Here is a short outline from the passage (minus a few details):

  • What distinguishes repentance from penance?
    • Repentance is complete – both internal and external (the whole man)
      • Biblical definition
      • Repentance turns from sin and returns to God with…
        • All your heart (thought, intent, desire)
        • Fasting (prayer, self-denial)
        • Weeping and mourning (emotional response, remorse)
    • Penance is incomplete – external not internal
      • Historical definition
      • Penance relies on external signs of grief to appease judgment
        • God is more concerned with the heart (Matt 9:4; Mark 7:21; Luke 16:5)
        • Rend your hearts and not your garments
  • What assurance do we have that God will forgive us?
    • Why return to the LORD?
      • He is gracious and merciful
      • He is slow to anger
      • He is abounding in steadfast love
      • He relents over disaster
    • When should we repent?
      • Now! (“Yet even now…” beginning of verse 12; 2 Cor 6:2)
      • Don’t delay, today is the day

God doesn’t want part of us. He wants all of us. He is not interested in our personal treasuries of merit. We cannot consolidate our debts or pay for our crimes. All we can do is cling to the cross of Christ, repent of our sin, and trust in the graciousness of God. Repentance is more than remorse or the removal of sin. It is returning to God with all that we are.

Here is Alistair Begg’s paraphrase of the Spurgeon classic.

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…rend your hearts and not your garments.
— Joel 2:13

The tearing of garments and other outward signs of religious emotion are easily displayed and are frequently hypocritical; but to feel true repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Men will pay attention to the most minute ceremonial regulations—for those things are pleasing to the flesh. But true faith is too humbling, too heart-searching, too thorough for the tastes of people of the flesh; they prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly.

Outward observances are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up: But they are ultimately delusive, for in the face of death, and at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than ceremonies and rituals to lean upon. Apart from vital godliness all religion is utterly vain; offered without a sincere heart, every form of worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of heaven.

Heart-rending is divinely worked and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief that is personally experienced, not in mere form, but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked about and believed in, but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating and completely sin-purging, but it is also sweet preparation for the gracious consolations that proud, unhumbled spirits are unable to receive; and it is distinctly discriminating, for it belongs to the elect of God, and to them alone.

The text commands us to rend our hearts, but they are naturally as hard as marble: How, then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary: A dying Savior’s voice rent the rocks once, and it is as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us hear the death-cries of Jesus, and our hearts shall be rent even as men tear their garments in the day of lamentation.

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2013 in Devotional, Study

 

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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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God Is Enough

John Piper is not a fan of the prosperity gospel.

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2013 in Video

 

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Foolish Controversies

Foolish Controversies

This morning’s Morning and Evening provides an excellent reminder.

Contrary to popular elementary school idioms, bad questions do exist. Not all wooden inquiries are profitable or even worth our time. The best question to ask when studying our Bibles does not come from the white spaces between sentences, but from the inspired ink that marks the page. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Scriptures are totally sufficient to provide absolutely everything we need in Christ. Distraction is an easy temptress. Today’s devotional provides a short list of helpful questions to ask when worthless inquiries invade our senses. Here is Alistair Begg’s paraphrase of the Spurgeon classic.

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But avoid foolish controversies…
— Titus 3:9

Our days are few and are far better spent in doing good than in disputing over matters that are, at best, of minor importance. The old scholars did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our churches suffer too often from petty wars over obscure points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion promotes neither knowledge nor love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field.

Questions about issues on which Scripture is silent, on mysteries that belong to God alone, on prophecies of doubtful interpretation, and on mere modes of observing human ceremonials are all foolish, and wise men avoid them.

Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle’s precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we will find ourselves occupied with so much profitable business that we will have no time to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings.

There are, however, some questions that are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my behavior adorn the doctrine of God my Savior? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord and watching as a servant should who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus?

Such inquiries as these demand our urgent attention; and if we have been given at all to frivolous arguments, let us now turn our critical abilities to a much more profitable service. Let us be peacemakers and endeavor to lead others both by our precept and example to “avoid foolish controversies.”

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Devotional

 

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