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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.

* * * * *

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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Waiting Well

In keeping with today’s theme, here is our first chapel message for the Fall semester.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2014 in Video

 

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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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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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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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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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God’s Masterworks

God’s Masterworks

This morning’s Morning and Evening is full of riches. Like spiritual antiseptic, it disinfects the soul with a much needed sting.

Charles Spurgeon, though long-winded, had a knack for communicating volumes through a careful economy of words. He was gifted with the ability to paint images across the mind and stir the affections towards their proper hue. One of my favorite lines from today’s devotional is simply this:

The masterworks of God are those men who stand in the midst of difficulties steadfast, unmovable.

That sentence alone is worth the price of admission. But once again, Spurgeon directs our gaze to the glories of God’s grace by providing at least 5 reasons for a believer’s afflictions.

  • To know the consolations of divine grace firsthand
  • To reflect honor upon the Gospel itself
  • To illustrate/magnify God’s grace to ourselves and others
  • To prove the power of divine grace through our patience
  • To test our resolve and instill greater confidence in the Spirit’s work

How often do we travel through hard times with these reflections of grace in mind? Not often enough. We are so quick to pray for deliverance and happy endings… how frequently do we slide under the greater lessons of our faith?

Do you find yourself lost in the depths this morning? Look up and see the glorious Christ who saved you! Even the temporary pain that grinds your soul to dust has been designed for your good by a gracious Savior. He has His reasons. You know you can trust Him, so do it… and be amazed at how purposeful, powerful, and faithful our God truly is.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. — Hebrews 10:23

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

* * * * *

My grace is sufficient for you. — 2 Corinthians 12:9

If none of God’s saints were poor and tried, we should not know half so well the consolations of divine grace. When we find the wanderer who has nowhere to lay his head who still can say, “I will trust in the Lord,” or when we see the pauper starving on bread and water who still glories in Jesus, when we see the bereaved widow overwhelmed in affliction and yet having faith in Christ—oh, what honor it reflects on the Gospel.

God’s grace is illustrated and magnified in the poverty and trials of believers. Saints bear up under every discouragement, believing that all things work together for their good, and that out of apparent evils a real blessing shall ultimately spring—that their God will either work a deliverance for them speedily or most assuredly support them in the trouble, as long as He is pleased to keep them in it. This patience of the saints proves the power of divine grace.

There is a lighthouse out at sea: It is a calm night—I cannot tell whether the edifice is firm. The tempest must rage about it, and then I shall know whether it will stand. So with the Spirit’s work: If it were not on many occasions surrounded with tempestuous waters, we would not know that it was true and strong; if the winds did not blow upon it, we would not know how firm and secure it was. The masterworks of God are those men who stand in the midst of difficulties steadfast, unmovable—

Calm mid the bewildering cry,
Confident of victory.

The one who would glorify his God must be prepared to meet with many trials. No one can be illustrious before the Lord unless his conflicts are many.

If, then, yours is a much-tried path, rejoice in it, because you will be better able to display the all-sufficient grace of God. As for His failing you, never dream of it—hate the thought. The God who has been sufficient until now should be trusted to the end.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2014 in Devotional

 

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