Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Postponed Due to Weather

In consideration of your safety, Brushfork Baptist Church will be canceling services tomorrow due to the weather. Although some main roads should be cleared by Sunday morning, most secondary roads (including mine) will remain impassable.

We will reschedule the Christmas Cantata and Children's Play for next Sunday.

Although we will not be having services, I encourage you to spend the day worshipping together as a family. Spend some time in God's Word, in prayer together and in worship together.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

The Weather Outside is (going to be) Frightful

The forecast is calling for up to 12 inches of snow today and tomorrow. If at all possible, we are still planning on having our Christmas Cantata in the 11:00 service and our Children's Play in the 7:00 PM service.

I will monitor the weather and if it is impossible or unsafe to continue with our plans, I will let you know through WVVA Snow Patrol, this website and Facebook.

If we have to cancel services due to weather, we will reschedule the cantata and play for next Sunday, December 27th.

In the meantime, stock up, bundle up, snuggle up and pray up!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Book Giveaway

Over on Kingdom People, Trevin Wax is having his second annual Christmas Giveaway.  From December 15-25, you can register to win his 10 favorite books of the year PLUS and ESV Study Bible and a copy of his new book, Holy Subversion.  To register, click on the link above and follow the directions.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Who the Light of Christmas Is

This is the second message of a three part Christmas series on the first 7 verses of Isaiah 9. Today’s message focuses specifically on the answer to the question, “Who Is Jesus?” Do you know the answer? This is the perfect season to find out.

The manuscript from Sunday evening's sermon is available here. You can listen online or download the .mp3 audio file or podcast from the player at the bottom of this page

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Answering Questions

Have you ever asked a question and not gotten the answer you were looking for? I think we all have. The fact is, that just because a person is asking a question, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re looking for an answer. Especially if the answer goes against what they were looking for. That’s what happened in today’s passage.

The manuscript from Sunday morning's sermon is available here. You can listen online or download the .mp3 audio file or podcast from the player at the bottom of this page.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Encouraging Frail Faith

When a person is born again, they are like a newborn baby. The disciples were really no different. They had a lot of growing up to do in just a short period of time, and all through the Gospels, Jesus grew them and nurtured them. He purposely put them in situations that would test their faith. In this message, we will look at one such test.

The manuscript from Sunday morning's sermon is available here. You can listen online or download the .mp3 audio file or podcast from the player at the bottom of this page.

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What the Light of Christmas Brings

This message is the start of a new three part Christmas series on the first 7 verses of Isaiah 9. Over the next three messages, we will be looking at What the Light of Christmas Brings, Who the light of Christmas is, and What the light of Christmas Promises. I hope you can join us each time.

The manuscript from Sunday evening's sermon is available here. You can listen online or download the .mp3 audio file or podcast from the player at the bottom of this page.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

When I Suffer

This is our fourth and final look at suffering in the book of Job—and today we’re going to get personal. We’re going to talk about how to deal with it when we are the ones who are suffering. How can we suffer well?

You can listen or download from the player at the bottom of this page. If you would rather, you can read the manuscript here.

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Casting Pearls

I don’t know why I do it…. I know Jesus’ command in Matthew 7:6, but I do it anyway. I have found that there are two groups of people who are virtually impossible to talk to seriously—homosexuals and militant atheists. I deal with them quite differently, but in my experience they have been equally hostile and antagonistic.

I will not debate matters of morality or lifestyle with a person who is living in a homosexual lifestyle. Each time I have had the opportunity to talk with a person living a homosexual lifestyle, I simply try to present the truth of the Gospel as plainly and clearly as I can. Invariably I am shrilly accosted as judgmental, intolerant and hateful. Rarely can dialogue continue—as a matter of fact, I do not remember a time when it has been able to continue. I have not enjoyed those occasions and because of that, have not run the risk of violating Matthew 7:6. Each time, I have presented the Gospel, taken the heat and moved on.

Atheists are a different story. I actually enjoy debating them—probably too much. In the past, most people who identified themselves as atheists were really agnostic. They held out the possibility that God might exist. Agnostics are fairly easy to talk to because, most of the time, they are open-minded. The problem is that, in recent years, more people who identify themselves as atheists are actually anti-theists. They have taken their cue from people like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins in becoming evangelistic atheists. They combine their version of science with Michael Savage style debate tactics (read: ad hominum attacks).

I’m a big boy—I can handle personal attacks. What I find baffling is how inconsistent and incomprehensible their arguments are. “I can’t believe in God because you can’t empirically prove He exists. Your only evidence for Him is in a book.” They have no problem saying that, but simultaneously excoriate believers for saying, “I can’t believe in evolution because you can’t empirically prove it happened. Your only evidence for evolution is reading about it in a book.” They freely allow the interpretation of data according to their presuppositions, but believers are not afforded the same opportunity. Interpreting data according to their presuppositions is called science. Interpreting data according to Christian presuppositions is called myth (or worse). For examples of an ongoing debate along these lines, click here, here, and here and read the comments.

On the rare occasions I have seen someone converted from atheism, their eyes have been opened because they began to understand that they have believed in evolution by faith in the written testimony of others. When (by the grace of God) they came to that understanding, it was only a matter of time (and teaching) before they were able to see how much more reliable the testimony of Scripture is than the ever-changing testimony of “science”. When they come to see Scripture as reliable testimony, they can come to trust the One about whom Scripture is written.

Unfortunately, most of the time, their atheistic views have been formed and callused by years of anger and bitterness over a “religious” experience in their past that went terribly wrong. Maybe coincidentally (maybe not), most of the militant atheists I have encountered were raised in Catholic schools or came from nominal Catholic environments. Regardless, their deep-seeded anger and bitterness precludes them from hearing truth or accepting it when it is clearly revealed to them.

Years ago, a dear atheistic friend of mine finally admitted that he believed what he believed by faith alone. He admitted that the testimony in which he believed was far less credible than the Testimony in which I believed. Yet, through his tears and clenched teeth, he growled, “I refuse to believe in God.” I still weep for him.

Why do I continue to cast pearls? Maybe because I hold out hope that these really aren’t Matthew 7:6 people like my friend was.

Romans 1:18-23

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Extreme Letters

Philippians 3:18

Dear Mom and Dad,

I greet you with the love of Christ. I am doing well and feel very blessed. One of my schoolmates, Varia, is a member of the Communist Youth Organization. I have been witnessing to her, and I think I am finally starting to get through to her. Recently she said, “I cannot understand you at all. So many of the students insult and hurt you, and you love them anyway.”

I told her that God has taught us all to love, not only those who are kind to us, but especially those who are unkind—that they might see God within us. Varia has been one of the ones to join in the mocking and insults, but that has only made me pray for her even more.

Today, she asked me if I could really love her too! We embraced and both began to weep. I believe she is very close to receiving Christ. Please pray for her.

When you listen to those who loudly deny God, it seems like they mean it. But life shows that many of them really have a great longing in their hearts. And you can hear the groaning of the heart; they seek something and try to cover their inner emptiness with their godlessness.

I will write soon. Please send my love to everyone at home.


God created human beings with a spiritual space within them that can only be completely filled by him. When we run across someone who is hostile to Christianity, we can remind ourselves of the tremendous needs in that person’s life. Imagine a cavernous space in the chest cavity of your enemy—a body without a heart. This inner emptiness is what drives many people to a spiritual search. They either respond in faith, wanting to accept Christ’s offer to fill the void, or they respond with bitterness, rejecting Christ altogether. Often, a Christian’s presence simply reminds those who reject Christ what they are missing in their own lives. They are not resenting you personally. They resent what you represent.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Sin of Atheism

Psalm 14:1

We are much assaulted to atheism and blasphemy; to atheism, as the greatest sin that
is, in that it smites at the root of all; for to say the truth, all sin comes from atheism (for who would sin, did he then verily think that there were a God that saw all, and would punish all) and such a God, God must be, or no God. And all sin tends to atheism (for when we have sinned, sin draws us towards atheism exceedingly, and wipes out all notions of a deity as much as it can); and when we are in sin, we must be either willing to get out of it by repentance, or else we shall be willing to become atheists; the best of our play then, being to feed ourselves with a conceit, that all is but talk to hold men in awe, and that there is indeed neither heaven nor hell; no place of torment, that when we die all is gone, that it is with us not otherwise than with a beast.

Thus when the conscience will not get quiet by turning to God by repentance, then it will seek to quiet itself by unbelief bearing itself in hand, that there is no such place as hell to torment people in. Consider, however, that Satan does all he can to make people atheists, because when there is no fear of God before their eyes, they will sin all manner of sins that the devil would have them sin.

So Ps. 14, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." What follows? "They are corrupt," they have done abominable works; thus then, when once men take to atheism, they grow most corrupt and do abominable works. There is no restraint in sinning then, for what should or can keep the wit and will of man, when once he conceives that there is no such thing as God? The devil cannot be a flat atheist, for he believes and trembles; and were it nothing but the sense he has of the wrath of God tormenting, why that is enough to prove that Satan does fully and undoubtedly acknowledge a divine power. He is not an atheist because he cannot, because he shall not, but yet he bears good will to atheism, because that sin does much advantage his kingdom.
—Richard Capel

Readings taken from Day by Day with the English Puritans

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Spurgeon Saturday

3 John 3

The truth was in Gaius, and Gaius walked in the truth. If the first had not been the case, the second could never have occurred; and if the second could not be said of him the first would have been a mere pretence. Truth must enter into the soul, penetrate and saturate it, or else it is of no value. Doctrines held as a matter of creed are like bread in the hand, which ministers no nourishment to the frame; but doctrine accepted by the heart, is as food digested, which, by assimilation, sustains and builds up the body. In us truth must be a living force, an active energy, an indwelling reality, a part of the woof and warp of our being. If it be in us, we cannot henceforth part with it. A man may lose his garments or his limbs, but his inward parts are vital, and cannot be torn away without absolute loss of life. A Christian can die, but he cannot deny the truth. Now it is a rule of nature that the inward affects the outward, as light shines from the centre of the lantern through the glass: when, therefore, the truth is kindled within, its brightness soon beams forth in the outward life and conversation. It is said that the food of certain worms colours the cocoons of silk which they spin: and just so the nutriment upon which a man’s inward nature lives gives a tinge to every word and deed proceeding from him. To walk in the truth, imports a life of integrity, holiness, faithfulness, and simplicity—the natural product of those principles of truth which the gospel teaches, and which the Spirit of God enables us to receive. We may judge of the secrets of the soul by their manifestation in the man’s conversation. Be it ours to-day, O gracious Spirit, to be ruled and governed by thy divine authority, so that nothing false or sinful may reign in our hearts, lest it extend its malignant influence to our daily walk among men.

Readings taken from Logos Bible Software version of Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Spiritual Exercise

1 Timothy 4:8

Preparing the heart means unlearning evil prejudices. It is dusting off the tablet before attempting to write on it. Now solitude is most useful for this purpose. It quiets our passions and makes room for holiness to cut them out of the soul.

So then, set aside a place for yourself, separate from contact with other people so that your spiritual exercises won't be interrupted. Pure, devoted exercises nourish the soul with godly thoughts. What can be better than imitating angel choruses on earth, or beginning the day with prayer and honoring our Maker with hymns and songs, or, as the day brightens, praying throughout our duties and seasoning our work with hymns, as with salt? Soothing hymns compose the mind, bringing it into a calm, cheerful state.

So then, as I have said, quiet is the first step in our sanctification. It is the tongue that has been purified of the world's gossip. It is the eyes that are unexcited by beautiful color or lovely shape. It is the ear that doesn't relax the tone or mind by sensual songs, nor talk flippantly and joke about people. In this way, the mind is saved from external sensations. It falls back on itself and not on worldly senses. As a result, the mind rises up to contemplating God.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I pray that your Thanksgiving celebration is at least as happy as this one.... Ahhh, memories....

...and why did we never find it creepy that a bird is excited about eating another bird?

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

West Virginia Southern Baptist

The December edition of the West Virginia Southern Baptist is available for download here. In it you will find a short bio of Lottie Moon as well as stories of some homegrown missionaries.

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What Are You Looking For?

Have you found what you’re looking for? The people in today's passage thought they found what they were looking for in Jesus--but He wouldn’t have anything to do with them. Why was that? They were looking for a king, but they were looking for the wrong kind of king.

Go to the player at the bottom of this page or click here to listen to or download Sunday morning's sermon taken from John 6:14-15. You can also find the sermon manuscript here.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

It Is Well

On this day in 1873, the steamship Ville du Havre was struck by an iron sailing vessel while crossing the Atlantic. 246 people died, including the four daughters of Chicago lawyer Horatio Spafford. You might recognize the hymn that he wrote while traveling to meet his wife after the tragedy. This video tells the story:

HT: Justin Taylor

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Extreme Wisdom

James 1:5

Witnesses falsely testified against him. “We heard him cursing Moses and God. This man talks nonstop against God’s law. We even heard him say that Jesus of Nazareth would tear this place down and throw out all the customs Moses gave us.”

The chief priest of the high counsel turned to the defendant. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

Calmly he rose, and his gentle tone changed. “Your ancestors killed anyone who dared talk about the coming of the Jesus. And you’ve kept up your religious traditions—you traitors and murderers, all of you. You had God’s law handed to you by angels—gift wrapped!—and you squandered it!”

Screams and curses broke out in response, but Stephen was undeterred. He looked up into heaven and declared, “Oh! I see heaven wide open and the Son of Man standing at God’s side!” They blocked their ears with their hands, rushed him, and dragged him outside of the city. One of the Pharisees named Saul quietly collected the robes of the others so that Stephen’s blood wouldn’t stain them.

As the stones began to pound Stephen’s body, he cried out, “Master Jesus, take my life.” Then he knelt down, praying loud enough for everyone to hear, “Master, don’t blame them for this sin”—his last words. Then he died.

Keeping cool in the face of difficult situations is the wisest move. Things as trivial as being cut off in traffic, receiving a low grade in school, and being reprimanded on the job are all it takes these days to lose it. However, maneuvering through uncommonly stressful situations takes more than common sense. It takes divine wisdom. When faced with false accusations and even the threat of death, Stephen exercised true wisdom. He did not retaliate. He did not curse his accusers. He simply clung to what he knew to be true and what the Pharisees refused to believe—Jesus is the Son of God. This same Jesus who embraced Stephen as he died will also embrace you when you need the wisdom that only comes from God.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cause of Discontent

1 Timothy 6:8

Discontent arises from being so very sensible of the evil of affliction and senseless of the evil of sin. People's bodies are tender, and their senses quick, and therefore even the biting of a flea or the scratching of a pen is presently felt. People are so tender of their reputation, profits and delights, that the least touch in these is a cross to them.

Their hearts are so hard, and consciences seared, that they can lie securely under all the curses of God's book, have mountains of wrath abide on them, and feel nothing. Therefore afflictions lie so heavy because sin lies so easy. Whereas, if a person knew what sin is, and saw at night what wrath he had treasured up all day, he would rather wonder why he was out of hell than murmur that he was in trouble.
—Edward Lawrence

Readings taken from Day by Day with the English Puritans

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Spurgeon Saturday

Ephesians 4:30

All that the believer has must come from Christ, but it comes solely through the channel of the Spirit of grace. Moreover, as all blessings thus flow to you through the Holy Spirit, so also no good thing can come out of you in holy thought, devout worship, or gracious act, apart from the sanctifying operation of the same Spirit. Even if the good seed be sown in you, yet it lies dormant except he worketh in you to will and to do of his own good pleasure. Do you desire to speak for Jesus—how can you unless the Holy Ghost touch your tongue? Do you desire to pray? Alas! what dull work it is unless the Spirit maketh intercession for you! Do you desire to subdue sin? Would you be holy? Would you imitate your Master? Do you desire to rise to superlative heights of spirituality? Are you wanting to be made like the angels of God, full of zeal and ardour for the Master’s cause? You cannot without the Spirit—“Without me ye can do nothing.” O branch of the vine, thou canst have no fruit without the sap! O child of God, thou hast no life within thee apart from the life which God gives thee through his Spirit! Then let us not grieve him or provoke him to anger by our sin. Let us not quench him in one of his faintest motions in our soul; let us foster every suggestion, and be ready to obey every prompting. If the Holy Spirit be indeed so mighty, let us attempt nothing without him; let us begin no project, and carry on no enterprise, and conclude no transaction, without imploring his blessing. Let us do him the due homage of feeling our entire weakness apart from him, and then depending alone upon him, having this for our prayer, “Open thou my heart and my whole being to thine incoming, and uphold me with thy free Spirit when I shall have received that Spirit in my inward parts.”

Readings taken from Logos Bible Software version of Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Be Still

Psalm 46:10

The time for confession is now. Confess what you have done in word or action, by night or by day. Confess while it is the acceptable time, and receive heavenly treasure in the day of salvation. Blot out every earthly care from your mind, for you are running for your soul. You are completely forsak¬ing the things of the world. But the things you are forsaking are little, while what the Lord is giving is great. Forsake present things, and trust in the things to come.

Have you run in circles and busied yourself in vain with worldly things? "Be still, and know that I am God," Scripture said. Excuse yourself from saying many useless words. Don't backbite or willingly listen to backbiters. Rather, promptly run to prayer. In exercising self-denial, show that your heart is strong. Cleanse your vessel so that you can receive grace more abundantly.

For although remission of sins is equally given to everyone, communion with the Holy Ghost is given in proportion to each person's faith. If you have worked little, you receive little. But if you have worked hard, the reward is great.
—Cyril of Jerusalem

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Suffering: A Survey of Job

I'm finally starting to get caught up on posting my sermons. You'll find several new sermons in the player below including the first three sermons from the four-part series on suffering, called Suffering: A Survey of Job.
When I Suffer (To be posted later)

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Extreme Weakness

2 Corinthians 12:9

“If you will renounce your faith and trample the cross, you will go free,” the Bolshevik gang said. “If you do not, we will kill you.”

Reverend Mikhail had seen eighty thousand of his fellow Russian Orthodox leaders and lay people murdered by the Communists. Amidst all of that pain and suffering, he decided that God, if he did exist, would not have allowed such misery.

“I don’t believe,” he thought as he faced the gang. “What does a cross mean to me? Let me save my life.”

But when he opened his mouth to go along with the gang’s orders, the words that came out shocked him. “I only believe in one God. I will not trample on the cross!”

The gang put a sack around his shoulders as a royal garment and used his fur hat for Jesus’ crown of thorns. One of them, a former member of Mikhail’s church, knelt before him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews.” They took turns beating him and mocking his God.

Silently, the reverend prayed. “If you exist, please save my life.” As he was beaten, he cried out again, “I believe in one God.”

His show of faith made such an impression on the drunken gang that they released him. When he arrived in his house, he fell face down on the floor, weeping and repeating, “I believe.”

The Christian faith is full of paradoxes. Die to live. Lose to win. Be weak in order to be strong. In fact, unless we are willing to embrace our own failures, we cannot experience God’s strength. When we undergo hardship and trial or even witness the unjust suffering of others from afar, we may begin to doubt God’s goodness. That is a human, natural response. However, God does not reject our human weakness. He restores our weakness with his strength. Therefore, we can rejoice in our failures because they remind us that human strength is no substitute for godly power. We may fail, but our God remains strong. What are you learning about your own weakness? What does that teach you about God’s strength?

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Walk in Humility

Proverbs 22:4

Walk in humility, take heed of pride. It is a deadly poison that spoils and kills all where it comes; so dangerous that another poison was used as a counter-poison to preserve St. Paul from it. And we are never more in danger of it than when we have done most, and made greatest progress in the profession and practice of piety.

For it is as the spleen in the body, that grows most when the other parts waste. It grows fast often, when other evils decay, and out of the decay of them, sucks matter to feed and foster itself with. This therefore must be carefully cast out and avoided. When we have done well, we must take heed how in that regard we begin to think highly of ourselves. If we do so, all is gone; we are undone.

Be affected rather as Paul was. After he had gone so far, and done so much, "I make account, that I come not short," says he, "of the very chief apostles" (2 Cor. 11:5). Yea, "I have labored more than them all" (1 Cor. 15:10). For, "from Jerusalem round about, even unto Illyricum (that is, from Syria to Slovenia) have I plentifully preached the gospel" (Rom. 15:19). Yet, "I forget what is past" (Phil. 3:13). That is, I regard no more what I have done than as if yet I had done nothing, or had clean forgotten what I did. “And I put on toward to what is before, pressing on toward the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (v. 14).

He did as men in a race that look not back to see how many have passed, or how far they have progressed, but have their eyes fixed on those that have gained ground on them, and on the ground before them, that they are to measure, ere they can come to the mark. Let us not consider so much how far we have gone, and how many others come short of us, but how far we are to go, and how far we come short of that Christian perfection that we should all strive and contend to attain unto.
—Thomas Gataker

Readings taken from Day by Day with the English Puritans

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Spurgeon Saturday

Zephaniah 1:5

Such persons thought themselves safe because they were with both parties: they went with the followers of Jehovah, and bowed at the same time to Malcham. But duplicity is abominable with God, and hypocrisy his soul hateth. The idolater who distinctly gives himself to his false god, has one sin less than he who brings his polluted and detestable sacrifice unto the temple of the Lord, while his heart is with the world and the sins thereof. To hold with the hare and run with the hounds, is a dastard’s policy. In the common matters of daily life, a double- minded man is despised, but in religion he is loathsome to the last degree. The penalty pronounced in the verse before us is terrible, but it is well deserved; for how should divine justice spare the sinner, who knows the right, approves it, and professes to follow it, and all the while loves the evil, and gives it dominion in his heart?

My soul, search thyself this morning, and see whether thou art guilty of double-dealing. Thou professest to be a follower of Jesus—dost thou truly love him? Is thy heart right with God? Art thou of the family of old Father Honest, or art thou a relative of Mr. By-ends? A name to live is of little value if I be indeed dead in trespasses and sins. To have one foot on the land of truth, and another on the sea of falsehood, will involve a terrible fall and a total ruin. Christ will be all or nothing. God fills the whole universe, and hence there is no room for another god; if, then, he reigns in my heart, there will be no space for another reigning power. Do I rest alone on Jesus crucified, and live alone for him? Is it my desire to do so? Is my heart set upon so doing? If so, blessed be the mighty grace which has led me to salvation; and if not so, O Lord, pardon my sad offence, and unite my heart to fear thy name.

Readings taken from Logos Bible Software version of Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Divided Loyalty

Matthew 16:26

One who delights in the world, who is enticed by flattering and deceiving earthly pleasures wants to remain in the world a long time. Since the world hates Christians, why do you love that which hates you? And why don't you follow Christ instead, who both redeemed you and loves you?

John, in his epistle, cries and urges us not to follow fleshly desires and love the world. "Love not the world," he says, "neither the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but of the lust of the world. And the world shall pass away, and the lust thereof; but he who doeth the will of God abideth for ever, even as God abideth for ever."

Instead, beloved, let us be prepared for the will of God with a sound mind, a firm faith, and strong virtue. Laying aside the fear of death, let us think on the eternal life to come. Through this knowledge, let us demonstrate that we are what we believe. Then we won't delay or resist the Lord on the day He calls us to Himself.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Extreme Parable

Romans 5:3-5

In a forest one day, three young trees all agreed to pray that they would be used for some noble purpose rather than decay from old age.

The first tree wanted to become a manger where tired cattle could feed after a long day’s work. God rewarded the tree for having such modesty. It became a very special manger—the one in which the Son of God was laid.

The second tree prayed that it might become a boat. The prayer was answered, and soon its fine wood sheltered a very special passenger—the Son of God. It heard Jesus calm a fierce storm by saying, “Peace, be still.” The tree counted its life as worthwhile in order to witness such a scene.

The third tree, however, was made into a large cross to serve as an instrument of suffering. The tree was initially deeply disappointed in its fate. However, one day Jesus of Nazareth was nailed to its limbs. Strange, but the cross did not hear groaning and cursing as on other crosses. Instead it heard the Son of God offer words of love and divine forgiveness—words that opened paradise to a repentant thief.

The tree then understood that its part in the crucifixion of Jesus provided for the salvation of humankind.

In underground churches across Eastern Europe, the parable of the three trees was often told as an encouragement to those suffering for their faith. These believers needed to see purpose in what they endured. They must have had such high hopes and aspirations when they originally said they wanted to be used by God for his glory. Yet, oppression seemed to have cut them off from God’s plans. How could unjust suffering play into such a plan? Like the tree that formed the cross, they realized they were also being shaped into God’s ultimate purpose for their lives. From this perspective, suffering is not seen as an interruption of God’s plans for your life, but an integral part of the process.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Work Made Light

Ecclesiastes 9:10

The divine assistance which Christians have in their work alleviates the labor of it. Consider the Christian's work without this help. It is heavy indeed, yes, too heavy to stand under. But God's helping hand put to it makes this heavy work light. The ship, which when lying on ground, all the teams in the country could not draw off, how easily is it set afloat when the tide comes in? Thus the heart can rise out of its dullness and indisposition to duty.

Oh how soon is it elevated and inspired when God flows in with His secret aspirations and excitations of His blessed Spirit and grace! He who confessed that he could do nothing of himself, not so much as think a good thought, tells us that he is able to do all things through Christ who strengthens him.

Now this help from the Lord is promised, but it comes not till the Christian's hand is put to work. Let us be up and doing, and then God will not fail to be with us. It is easy working while God holds our hand, yes, and puts strength into it.

Are you tempted? While you are fighting in the valley below, Christ's hands are lifted up in heaven above for your victory. "I have prayed that thy faith fail not" (Luke 22:32); yes, He does not only pray above for you, but will be in the field with you, and in you, by the secret succors of His Spirit. "My grace is sufficient for thee" (2 Cor. 12:9), which is not meant of grace inherent in us, that indeed is insufficient of itself, but the auxiliary grace, which He sends in to assist us in a time of need.
—William Gurnall

Readings taken from Day by Day with the English Puritans

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Spurgeon Saturday

Isaiah 49:16

No doubt a part of the wonder which is concentrated in the word “Behold,” is excited by the unbelieving lamentation of the preceding sentence. Zion said, “The Lord hath forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten me.” How amazed the divine mind seems to be at this wicked unbelief! What can be more astounding than the unfounded doubts and fears of God’s favoured people? The Lord’s loving word of rebuke should make us blush; he cries, “How can I have forgotten thee, when I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands? How darest thou doubt my constant remembrance, when the memorial is set upon my very flesh?” O unbelief, how strange a marvel thou art! We know not which most to wonder at, the faithfulness of God or the unbelief of his people. He keeps his promise a thousand times, and yet the next trial makes us doubt him. He never faileth; he is never a dry well; he is never as a setting sun, a passing meteor, or a melting vapour; and yet we are as continually vexed with anxieties, molested with suspicions, and disturbed with fears, as if our God were the mirage of the desert. “Behold,” is a word intended to excite admiration. Here, indeed, we have a theme for marvelling. Heaven and earth may well be astonished that rebels should obtain so great a nearness to the heart of infinite love as to be written upon the palms of his hands. “I have graven thee.”It does not say, “Thy name.” The name is there, but that is not all: “I have graven thee.” See the fulness of this! I have graven thy person, thine image, thy case, thy circumstances, thy sins, thy temptations, thy weaknesses, thy wants, thy works; I have graven thee, everything about thee, all that concerns thee; I have put thee altogether there. Wilt thou ever say again that thy God hath forsaken thee when he has graven thee upon his own palms?

Readings taken from Logos Bible Software version of Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Bold Speech

Titus 2:8

It is always time to speak boldly. For the psalmist said, "I spake in Thy testimonies before kings, and was not ashamed." If we happen to be around heathens, we should shut them up without harshness or anger. If we do it in anger, we do it with passion and the boldness of those who are confident of their case. But if we speak with gentleness, this is boldness. Boldness is a success and anger is a failure. And success and failure can't possibly go together.

Therefore, if we want to have boldness, we must clear away our anger so that no one can attribute our words to it. No matter how sound your words may be, no matter how boldly you speak, how fairly you correct, or what not, you ruin everything when you speak with anger.

Look at Stephen and how free his words to his persecutors were from passion. He didn't abuse them but reminded them of the prophets' words. In order to show you that it wasn't done in anger, he prayed as he suffered evil from their hands, "Lay not to their charge this sin." He was far from speaking these words in anger. No, he spoke out of grief and sorrow for their sakes. Certainly, the Bible talks about his appearance, that “they saw his face as it had been the face of an angel,” so that they might believe his words.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Extreme Vision

Ephesians 1:18

The blows seemed to come from everywhere, and Chloe tried to wrap his arms around his head to protect himself. Although he didn’t know how many attackers there were, he felt the sharp thud of each blow as he lost consciousness. His attackers shouted at him, mocking his faith and his Jesus. Chloe prayed, silently crying out to God to give him strength.

Each week, Chloe walks more than twenty miles in his native Ivory Coast to preach in a village called Sepikaha. A small group of Christians welcomes Chloe, but the vast majority of the village is Muslim. Those that were radical, militant Muslims were the ones who were beating the preacher.

Chloe was taken to a hospital where his many wounds were treated. When police asked Chloe who had beaten him, he said he didn’t know. Chloe has been blind for many years.

The week after he was released from the hospital, Chloe was back in Sepikaha, risking his life to preach to people that he could not see. His eyes were blind, but Chloe’s heart could see clearly. It saw a need for Jesus in the small village, and it saw young Christians hungry to grow in their faith. He returns, week after week, to Sepikaha. The faces that he cannot see now, he will see one day in heaven.

It doesn’t take x-ray vision to see into the heart of a woman or man who is spiritually lost. Years of bad decisions are often in full view—etched across their tired faces. Spiritual vision means using the “eyes” of our hearts to notice others’ needs. That’s all. The power to notice is the first step toward making a difference. What do you see when you look into the faces of the people around you? Or do you even look? In today’s culture, it is possible to be surrounded by a crowd in an elevator, airport, or shopping mall and never meet eyes with another human being. Do you see people who need to know Christ? Are your spiritual eyes trained to notice those in need around you? Ask God to help you develop the spiritual vision to take note and take action.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Most Beautiful

Psalm 27:4

Christ is the most amiable person and the most suitable object for your love. If you ask of the days which are past, which were before you since the day that God created man upon the earth; if you seek from one side of heaven to the other; if you make enquiry into all the parts of the earth, you will never find that there ever was or is to be found any person so lovely, so beautiful and so in every way deserving of your love, as the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a matchless, transcendent, and incomparable beauty and excellency in Him. How passionately are some foolish men in love with the external beauty which they see in some women the lovely mixture of colors in the face, the beauty of the eyes, their spirit, their quick and graceful motions, and amorous glances; how this ravishes the hearts of some fond lovers!

Although, the most beautiful body in the world is no better than painted clay, dirt and corruption, enclosed in fair skin, which sickness will cause to look pale, and death will mar and spoil. But the amiableness and beauty of Christ is more transcendent and permanent, and therefore a more fit object for your love. Christ is fairer than the children of men; He is all fair, without any spot, altogether lovely, without any blemish or deformity.
—Thomas Vincent

Readings taken from Day by Day with the English Puritans

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spurgeon Saturday

Psalm 51:10

A backslider, if there be a spark of life left in him will groan after restoration. In this renewal the same exercise of grace is required as at our conversion. We needed repentance then; we certainly need it now. We wanted faith that we might come to Christ at first; only the like grace can bring us to Jesus now. We wanted a word from the Most High, a word from the lip of the loving One, to end our fears then; we shall soon discover, when under a sense of present sin, that we need it now. No man can be renewed without as real and true a manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s energy as he felt at first, because the work is as great, and flesh and blood are as much in the way now as ever they were. Let thy personal weakness, O Christian, be an argument to make thee pray earnestly to thy God for help. Remember, David when he felt himself to be powerless, did not fold his arms or close his lips, but he hastened to the mercy-seat with “renew a right spirit within me.” Let not the doctrine that you, unaided, can do nothing, make you sleep; but let it be a goad in your side to drive you with an awful earnestness to Israel’s strong Helper. O that you may have grace to plead with God, as though you pleaded for your very life—“Lord, renew a right spirit within me.” He who sincerely prays to God to do this, will prove his honesty by using the means through which God works. Be much in prayer; live much upon the Word of God; kill the lusts which have driven your Lord from you; be careful to watch over the future uprisings of sin. The Lord has his own appointed ways; sit by the wayside and you will be ready when he passes by. Continue in all those blessed ordinances which will foster and nourish your dying graces; and, knowing that all the power must proceed from him, cease not to cry, “Renew a right spirit within me.”

Readings taken from Logos Bible Software version of Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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