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Supreme Sovereignty

Supreme Sovereignty

Nothing operates beyond God’s knowledge or jurisdiction. This truth is a timeless source of comfort and strength. In his book, Chosen By God, R.C. Sproul writes…

If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.

Today’s Morning and Evening is a reminder of God’s sovereign control. As Spurgeon points out, there are no real causes for anxiety so long as the Lord rules heaven and earth. Rogue molecules do not exist. Our King commands all things. Therefore…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. — Philippians 4:6

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

* * * * *

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice. — Psalms 97:1

There are no real causes for anxiety as long as this blessed sentence is true. On earth the Lord’s power controls the rage of the wicked as readily as the rage of the sea; His love refreshes the poor with mercy as easily as the earth with showers. Majesty gleams in flashes of lightning amid the tempest’s horrors, and the glory of the Lord is seen in its grandeur in the fall of empires and the crash of thrones. In all our conflicts and tribulations, we may behold the hand of the divine King.

God is God; He sees and hears
All our troubles, all our tears.
Soul, forget not, in your pains,
God o’er all forever reigns.

In hell, evil spirits acknowledge, with misery, His undoubted supremacy. When permitted to roam about, it is with a chain at their heel; the bit is in the mouth of the beast, and the hook in the jaws of the monster. Death’s darts are under the Lord’s jurisdiction, and the grave’s prisons have divine power as their jailer. The terrible vengeance of the Judge of all the earth causes fiends to cower and tremble.

Fear not death, nor Satan’s thrusts,
God defends who in Him trusts;
Soul, remember, in your pains,
God o’er all forever reigns.

In heaven there are none who doubt the sovereignty of the King Eternal, but all fall on their faces to do Him homage. Angels are His courtiers, the redeemed His favorites, and all delight to serve Him day and night. May we soon reach the city of the great King!

For this life’s long night of sadness
He will give us peace and gladness.
Soul, remember, in your pains,
God o’er all forever reigns.

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Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Good Out of Evil

Good Out of Evil

Romans 8:28 is a tremendous source of comfort for the struggling Christian. Are all things good? Nope. Does God use everything in our lives to conform us more into the holy image of Christ? Definitely.

This morning’s Morning and Evening reminds us that God is always in control of all things. He is not surprised, reactionary, or fallible. Those who love Him have a shelter of strength. As Charles Spurgeon says in today’s devotional,

…and so, believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil, the believer’s heart is assured…

Is your heart a splintered shipwreck of sinful consequences? Does the shame of failure weaken your bones? Are the hurricanes of life cutting into your walls? God has not forgotten you. He wastes nothing. Love Him and remember His goodness. The sufferings of this life are momentary afflictions that wane in comparison to our eternal hope. Someday soon, we shall be like Christ when we see Him face-to-face.

For more short commentary on today’s verse, see this post.

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

* * * * *

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to His purpose. — Romans 8:28

Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the center of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world’s tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, God is steering it. That reassuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus walking on the water, and he hears a voice saying, “It is I—do not be afraid.” He knows too that God is always wise, and knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes and that nothing can occur that ought not to happen. He can say, “If I should lose everything, it is better that I should lose it than keep it if it is God’s will: The worst disaster is the wisest and the kindest thing that I could face if God ordains it.”

“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. So far everything has worked for good; the poisonous drugs mixed in proper proportions have effected the cure; the sharp cuts of the scalpel have cleaned out the disease and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil, the believer’s heart is assured, and he is learning to meet each trial calmly when it comes. In the spirit of true resignation the believer can pray, “Send me what You will, my God, as long as it comes from You; there never was a poor portion that came from Your table to any of Your children.”

Do not say, my soul, “Where will God find one to relieve my care?”
Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere.
His method is sublime and His heart profoundly kind,
God is never too early and never behind!

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2014 in Devotional

 

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The Election Question

The Election Question

Religion and politics might be famous conversation killers to avoid at Thanksgiving. But if you really want to push Aunt Suzy to tears, defend the doctrine of election. You know… the biblical doctrine that God has foreknown and predestined those who are saved since the beginning (Matthew 22:14; Mark 13:20; John 6:37, 17:9; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29-30, 9:11-13, 16, 18-20; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11, 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 1:1-2, and many, many more…).

As important as this precious truth is, this morning’s Morning and Evening warns against the frenzy of focusing on this doctrine without Christ. He is the answer to all of election’s questions. Do you want assurance of your salvation? Run to Jesus before running to a Christian bookstore. As Spurgeon says below:

Leave all curious inquiry about election alone. Go straight to Christ, and hide in His wounds, and you shall know your election.

I am so thankful for the truths of election and divine sovereignty. God has not only won the war, but every battle belongs to Him as well. Nothing surprises Him. No one fools Him. He is in complete control of all things from beginning to end. Not one of His children will slip through His fingers. He loses no one. Salvation truly belongs to the Lord. However, if I rely on my growing understanding of election while ignoring the Christ who saves, what have I gained? No, we know our election when we know the Savior.

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

* * * * *

For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you. — 1 Thessalonians 1:4

Many persons want to know their election before they look to Christ, but that is not possible; it is only to be discovered by “looking to Jesus.”1 If you desire to ascertain your own election, after the following manner shall you assure your heart before God.

Do you feel yourself to be a lost, guilty sinner? Go straight to the cross of Christ, and tell Jesus so, and tell Him that you have read in the Bible, “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”2 Tell Him that He has said, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”3 Look to Jesus and believe on Him, and you shall make proof of your election directly, for as surely as you believe, you are elect.

If you will give yourself wholly up to Christ and trust Him, then you are one of God’s chosen ones; but if you stop and say, “I want to know first whether I am elect,” you do not know what you are asking. Go to Jesus, just as you are, in all your guilt. Leave all curious inquiry about election alone. Go straight to Christ, and hide in His wounds, and you shall know your election. The assurance of the Holy Spirit shall be given to you, so that you shall be able to 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.”4

Christ was at the everlasting council—He can tell you whether you were chosen or not; but you cannot find it out in any other way. Go and put your trust in Him, and His answer will be, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”5 There will be no doubt about His having chosen you when you have chosen Him.

Sons we are through God’s election,
Who in Jesus Christ believe.

1 Hebrews 12:2, 2 John 6:37, 3 1 Timothy 1:15, 4 2 Timothy 1:12, 5 Jeremiah 31:3

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Devotional

 

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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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Keep Praying

Keep Praying

This morning’s Morning and Evening centers around our need for God’s constant provision. Self-reliance, laziness, entitlement, and ungratefulness are easy traps to fall into. At times, we often question God’s control of our situation. Only when we are faced with His glory and greatness, can we say,

Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. — Job 40:4

God has done (and continues to do) so much for us. Everything we have comes from Him. Why would we ever turn to another source?

James 1:17 says,

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Likewise, Matthew 7:11 declares,

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

God does not only give good gifts to His children, He enjoys giving them. I like how Spurgeon says we are “constant beggars” who ask God for everything and receive nothing apart from His hand. Let’s not forget that, even for a moment, as we continually offer praise and petition to our Provider.

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

* * * * *

…praying at all times… — Ephesians 6:18

What countless prayers we have offered from the first moment we learned to pray. Our
first prayer was a prayer for ourselves; we asked that God would have mercy upon us and
blot out our sin. He heard us. But when He had blotted out our sins like a cloud, then
we had more prayers for ourselves. We have had to pray for sanctifying grace, for
constraining and restraining grace; we have been led to crave for a fresh assurance of
faith, for the comfortable application of the promise, for deliverance in the hour of
temptation, for help in the line of duty, and for comfort in the day of trial. We have
been compelled to go to God for our souls, as constant beggars asking for everything.

Remember, child of God, you have never been able to get anything for your soul anywhere
else. All the bread your soul has eaten has come down from heaven, and all the water it
has drunk has flowed from the living rock—Christ Jesus the Lord. Your soul has never
grown rich in itself; it has always been dependent upon the daily provision of God; and
consequently your prayers have ascended to heaven for a vast range of spiritual
mercies. Your wants were innumerable, and therefore the supplies have been infinitely
great, and your prayers have been as varied as the mercies have been countless.

So then have you not reason to say, “I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and
my pleas for mercy?” For as your prayers have been many, so also have God’s answers
been. He has heard you in the day of trouble, has strengthened you and helped you, even
when you dishonored Him by trembling and doubting at His throne. Remember this, and let
it fill your heart with gratitude to God, who has graciously heard your poor, weak
prayers. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”1

1Psalm 103:2

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Tested Genuine

Tested Genuine

This morning’s Morning and Evening runs parallel to another devotional entry last month, Testing Our Faith. Trials play an important role in the Christian’s life. Nobody likes them, but everyone needs them.

How quickly do we turn to God for relief from our suffering? It is good that we do, but if that is all we do, we have missed the point of the trial. Does God hold the universe in His hand? Is He sovereign over every mountain and molecule? Does my situation fall under His jurisdiction? If so, how does this trial fit into His plan?

What are You teaching me? Where is the lesson? How is this trial molding me closer into the image of Christ? In what ways am I weak? How are You strong? Would You show me, Lord?

These are excellent questions to ask God in the midst of a storm. He is gracious and accomplished to use any trial for His glory and our good. We miss the glory in suffering when we fix our eyes on comfort instead of Christ.

Let’s test our focus when the next trial comes and join with Job in saying,

But He knows the way that I take;
when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.1

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

* * * * *

The tested genuineness of your faith…
— 1 Peter 1:7

Untested faith may be true faith, but it is sure to be small faith, and it is likely to remain little as long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her: Tempests are her trainers, and bolts of lightning are her illuminators.

When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship does not move to its harbor; for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush and howl, and let the waters lift themselves, though the vessel may rock and her deck may be washed with waves and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then that she makes headway toward her desired haven.

No flowers are as lovely a blue as those that grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam as brightly as those that glisten in the midnight sky; no water tastes as sweet as that which springs up in the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity.

Tested faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness if you had not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God’s strength if you had not been supported in the flood. Faith increases in quality, assurance, and intensity the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too.

Do not let this, however, discourage those who are young in faith. You will have trials enough without seeking them: The full portion will be measured out to you in due course.

Meanwhile, if you cannot yet claim the result of long experience, thank God for what grace you have; praise Him for that degree of holy confidence you have now attained: Walk according to that rule, and you will still have more and more of the blessing of God, until your faith will remove mountains and conquer impossibilities.

1 Job 23:10

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in Devotional

 

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Testing Our Faith

Testing Our Faith

Once again, today’s Morning and Evening is fantastic. It reminded me of Job 2:10. Job had just lost his health and wealth. (Needless to say, he was not experiencing his best life now.) His wife encouraged him to curse God and die. Instead, this was his response…

But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

We often can’t see the big picture. This passage, Deuteronomy 8:11-16, Romans 8, James 1:2-4, and many others contend that the omnipotent God of everything can use anything to accomplish His great purposes. What are those purposes? His glory and our good. If Romans 8:31-39 is true, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. His love is the anchor that holds our faith secure in trying times. He doesn’t hate us or merely allow bad things to happen. He often sends them to us for a myriad of reasons. Spurgeon touches on just a few. Here is Alistair Begg’s paraphrase of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

Why have you dealt ill with your servant?
— Numbers 11:11

Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to test our faith. If our faith is worth anything, it will stand the test. Gilt is afraid of fire, but gold is not: The imitation gem dreads being touched by the diamond, but the true jewel fears no test. It is a poor faith that can only trust God when friends are true, the body is healthy, and the business profitable; but it is true faith that rests in the Lord’s faithfulness when friends are gone, the body is ailing, spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father’s face is hidden. A faith that can say, in the deepest trouble, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him”1 is heaven-born faith.

The Lord afflicts His servants to glorify Himself, for He is greatly glorified in the graces of His people, who are His own handiwork. When “suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope,”2 the Lord is honored by these growing virtues. We would never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched, nor enjoy the juice of the grape if it were not trodden in the winepress, nor discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten, nor feel the warmth of fire if the coals were not completely consumed. The wisdom and power of God are discovered by the trials through which His children are permitted to pass.

Present afflictions tend also to heighten future joy. There must be shade in the picture to bring out the beauty of the light. Could we be so supremely blessed in heaven if we had not known the curse of sin and the sorrow of earth? Will peace not be sweeter after conflict, and rest more welcome after labor? Will the recollection of past sufferings not serve to enhance the bliss of the glorified?

There are many other comfortable answers to the question with which we opened our brief meditation; let us think upon it all day long.

1Job 13:15 2Romans 5:3-4
 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Devotional

 

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