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.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

This Week's Memory Verse

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Spurgeon Saturday

Song of Solomon 2:15

A little thorn may cause much suffering. A little cloud may hide the sun. Little foxes spoil the vines; and little sins do mischief to the tender heart. These little sins burrow in the soul, and make it so full of that which is hateful to Christ, that he will hold no comfortable fellowship and communion with us. A great sin cannot destroy a Christian, but a little sin can make him miserable. Jesus will not walk with his people unless they drive out every known sin. He says, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” Some Christians very seldom enjoy their Saviour’s presence. How is this? Surely it must be an affliction for a tender child to be separated from his father. Art thou a child of God, and yet satisfied to go on without seeing thy Father’s face? What! thou the spouse of Christ, and yet content without his company! Surely, thou hast fallen into a sad state, for the chaste spouse of Christ mourns like a dove without her mate, when he has left her. Ask, then, the question, what has driven Christ from thee? He hides his face behind the wall of thy sins. That wall may be built up of little pebbles, as easily as of great stones. The sea is made of drops; the rocks are made of grains: and the sea which divides thee from Christ may be filled with the drops of thy little sins; and the rock which has well nigh wrecked thy barque, may have been made by the daily working of the coral insects of thy little sins. If thou wouldst live with Christ, and walk with Christ, and see Christ, and have fellowship with Christ, take heed of “the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.” Jesus invites you to go with him and take them. He will surely, like Samson, take the foxes at once and easily. Go with him to the hunting.

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

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Friday, May 29, 2009

West Virginia Southern Baptist

The June edition of the West Virginia Southern Baptist is now available for download. This edition features the statewide Youth Sing Celebration, Children's Mission Day and other news from churches across West Virginia. The link will also be available throughout the month in the button on the sidebar.

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Friday with the Fathers

Lamentations 3:40

Evaluate Daily—Athanasius

“Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Antony believed this verse applied not only to wrath but to all the commandments. The sun shouldn’t go down on any of our sins. For it is important that neither the sun nor the moon can condemn our evil acts or thoughts. In order to be pure, it is good to hear the apostle Paul and keep his words. For he says, “Try your own selves and prove your own selves.”

Therefore, every day we should consider what we have done that day and night. If we have sinned, we must stop. But if we haven’t, we must not be proud. Instead, we must live in goodness without being negligent. We must not condemn our neighbors or justify ourselves “until the Lord come who searcheth out hidden things.” For we often ignorantly do things.

The Lord, however, sees everything. Therefore, leaving judgment to Him, we must have sympathy for one another. We must bear each other’s burdens. But we must also examine ourselves quickly to improve the areas in which we are lacking.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Eternal Vigilance

In order to do a job the right way, you need the right tools. When you have the right tool for the right job, you can accomplish what you set out to do. In order for the remnant to accomplish the job that God had called them to do, they needed the right tools. They needed the tools of vigilance.

The manuscript of this sermon from Nehemiah 4:16-23 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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Coffee With Calvin

Ephesians 2:1-2

Subject to Satan

That man is so enslaved by the yoke of sin, that he cannot of his own nature aim at good either in wish or actual pursuit, has, I think, been sufficiently proved. Moreover, a distinction has been drawn between compulsion and necessity, making it clear that man—though he sins necessarily—nevertheless sins voluntarily.

But from his being brought into bondage to the devil, it would seem that he is actuated more by the devil’s will than his own. Augustine (in Psalms 31 and 33) compares the human will to a horse preparing to start, and God and the devil to riders: “If God mounts, he, like a temperate and skillful rider, guides it calmly, urges it when too slow, reins it in when too fast, curbs its forwardness and over-action, checks its bad temper, and keeps it on the proper course; but if the devil has seized the saddle, like and ignorant and rash rider, he hurries it over broken ground, drives it into ditches, dashes it over precipices, spurs it into obstinacy or fury”

With this simile, since a better does not occur, we shall for the present be contented. When it is said that the will of the natural man is subject to the power of the devil and is actuated by him, the meaning is not that the will, while reluctant and resisting, is forced to submit (as masters oblige unwilling slaves to execute their orders), but that, fascinated by the impostures of Satan, it necessarily yields to his guidance and does him homage. Those whom the Lord favors not with the direction of his Spirit, he, by a righteous judgment, consigns to the agency of Satan.

Wherefore, the Apostle says, that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” And in another passage, he describes the devil as “the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). The blinding of the wicked and all the iniquities consequent upon it are called the works of Satan—works the cause of which is not to be sought in anything external to the will of man, in which the root of the evil lies, and in which the foundation of Satan’s kingdom (in other words) sin is fixed.

Readings taken from Day by Day With John Calvin

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Beginning of Revival

The headline and sub-heads of The Denver Post, dated January 20, 1905, read as follows:

Entire city pauses for prayer at the high tide of business as the soul rises above sordid thoughts: remarkable outbursts of gospel sentiment provoked by revival. Evangelist Chapman and his associates cause a hush to spread over the populace While the noonday meetings draw congregations unprecedented in numbers.
The opening paragraphs of the lead article describe the situation in the city:

For two hours at midday, all Denver was held in a spell. The marts of trade were deserted between noon and two o’clock this afternoon and all worldly affairs were forgotten and the entire city was given over to meditation of higher things. The Spirit of Almighty pervaded every nook. Going to and coming from the great meetings, the thousands of men and women radiated this spirit which filled them, and the clear Colorado sunshine was made brighter by the reflected glow of the light of God shining from happy faces. Seldom has such a remarkable sight been witnessed: an entire city in the middle of a busy week bowing before the throne of heaven and asking and receiving the blessing of the King of the universe.
That actually happened in our country in 1905 in the city of Denver, Colorado. There was a true biblical revival in Denver that year. Though it was not on the same scale as the revival that occurred in Nineveh under Jonah’s preaching, it was every bit as genuine. When true revival comes, it impacts everything and everyone. I have been in the ministry for 30 years and I have never witnessed a revival. To be sure, I have been in church events called “Revival Meetings,” but never in a true revival. Revival doesn’t come because we schedule two weeks for it. Revival comes when certain things happen in the hearts of people.

When Jonah went to Nineveh, a real revival took place: “So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them” (Jonah 3:5).

Taken from The Runaway Prophet, by David Jeremiah.

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Edwards Wednesday

1 Peter 1:3

Strong Hope

There is a holy hope, a truly Christian hope, which the Scripture reckons among the graces of the Spirit. And I think I should never desire or seek any other hope but such a one; for I believe no other hope has any holy or good tendency. Therefore this hope, this grace of hope only, can properly be called a duty.

But it is just as absurd to talk of the exercise of this holy hope, the strong exercise of this grace of the Spirit, in a carnal, stupid, careless frame, such a frame yet remaining, as it would be to talk of the strong exercises of love to God, or heavenly-mindedness, or any other grace, remaining in such a frame to come out of it, in and by the strong exercises of all grace; but I should not think it proper to press a man earnestly to maintain strong hope, notwithstanding the prevailing and continuance of great carnality and stupidity.

For this is plainly to press people to an unholy hope, a strong hope that is no Christian grace; and that is strong wicked presumption. And the promoting of this has most evidently been the effect of such a method of dealing with souls, in innumerable multitudes of awful instances.

Readings taken from Day By Day With Jonathan Edwards

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Bonds of Legalism

We are in the same passage today as we were last time. But today, rather than doing a full exposition of the passage, we’re going to focus on one aspect of it. We’re going to focus on the bonds of legalism. And make no mistake about it, legalism is bondage.

The manuscript of this sermon from John 5:1-16 is available here. You can listen online or download the .mp3 audio file or podcast here.

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No Man

This weekend, in an effort to have some relaxing “family fun-time”, we all sat down to watch a movie together. As we sifted through the Dish Network pay-per-view options, we landed on Yes Man, starring Jim Carrey. I vaguely remembered favorable reviews I had read somewhere—probably Christianity Today. I will attribute the missed mark to my memory rather than CT’s review. The movie had a few truly funny parts and it was not as vile as most comedies. But that doesn’t mean it was good. As a matter of fact, it was disturbing.

I do not consider myself a legalist in any way, shape, form or fashion. But maybe I should be. Because at least if I was a legalist, I would not have subjected my family to the embarrassment of watching a display of oral sex between a man and woman old enough to be his grandmother. So much for enjoying a light-hearted movie with my wife and children.

That is not humorous. It is shameful. In our quest to be relevant and “free in Christ” are we flippantly sacrificing our quest for holiness? I think so.

Over the past few days, as I have reflected on the consequences of purposely inviting those images into my home, I came across this article by Andree Seu, a blogger for World Magazine.

I don’t want to wait until everything is clearer on my deathbed; I would like my deathbed clarity now, when it can still do some good. I expect that one of the things I will regret on that day “when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few,” is the movies and TV shows I allow myself to see.

In truth, this allowance has been more drift than philosophy, but to the extent that you can dignify half-conscious notions with the status of convictions, mine have been the following: (1) I am no legalist, and (2) one must be informed about the culture.
The interesting thing about these self-justifications, as I view them at the moment, is that they are nowhere to be found in the Bible. Oh, some crafty person can wrest them out of the Word “by good and necessary consequences,” as they say. I can imagine the texts rustled to the rescue: Galatians will be a rich vein. And Colossians 2:21, where Paul excoriates teachers of “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch,” who put rule keeping for true piety.

What is unequivocal in the Bible is the command to love God with all your heart. What has no ambiguity is the call to pure eyes that alone will see God. What is not fudgeable is that we are to put God’s word above the word of man.

Evan Thomas went around Wales during the great Revival of 1906 telling folks to “put away everything doubtful in your life.” I like that. You have to think about that one. I sometimes get deathbed inklings. I feel quite sure that when the death dew lies on my brow, I will not think it had been necessary to see a raunchy movie in order to be better informed about the culture.
Convicting… but I need to be convicted of holiness more often.

Hebrews 12:11

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Tuesday Mornings with Augustine

1 Chronicles 29:5

Living Sacrifices

This is true sacrifice: every work that unites us in holy fellowship to God performed for His supreme good. For He alone can bless us in the end. Therefore, even our merciful acts aren’t sacrifices if they aren’t done for God’s sake. For sacrifice is a Divine thing even though we make or offer it. Those who have vowed themselves to God and are consecrated in His name are sacrifices in that they die to the world in order to live for God

Encouraging us to make this sacrifice, the apostle says, “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” When the soul uses the body as a servant or instrument, it is a sacrifice if used rightly for God. But the soul itself becomes much more of a sacrifice when it offers itself to God. It is inflamed by the fire of His love in order that it can receive His beauty, become pleasing to Him, lose the shape of earthly desires, and be remolded into permanent loveliness.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Remember the Day

John 15:13

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Martyrs Monday

Psalm 27:1

The unwritten code of the police was clear: If you catch the Khmu or other tribesmen converting to Christianity, arrest them. If you catch anyone evangelizing the tribesmen, kill him.

After “Lu” had been shackled at the hands and feet and shamefully marched through the village, the Communist police threw him in a pit. “We will let you go,” they said, “when one hundred Christians in your village renounce their conversion to Christianity.” But they were unable to find believers willing to turn their backs on Christ.

Then tragedy struck the police. One officer’s son broke both legs in an accident. His other son became critically ill. The officer who had beaten and harassed new Christians suddenly died of a heart attack.

Other officials fearfully pulled “Lu” from the pit and allowed him to return home. Government authorities were too frightened to take action against the Christians in the village after seeing what happened to their leader.

Seeing God’s show of power, more Khmu became believers. Where there had been one hundred Christians, now there were seven hundred. They even sent Christians out to tell other villages about Jesus. While the Laotian authorities were controlled by their fear, the Christians in Southeast Asia overcame theirs.

Fear is one of the most basic human motivations. It drives stock markets and fuels wars. Its unruly energies can be used for great harm or channeled for great good. Professional boxers are often told fear is their friend. Fear can make them better fighters. It keeps them alert. It sensitizes their determination. In the same way, God can use our fears and make us better fighters for his cause. Whenever we are afraid, we have the potential to do the impossible. Why? That which is impossible in our own strength is made possible with God’s help. Fear makes us more likely to forsake our own resources and rely on God instead. In this way, extreme fear can lead to extreme faith.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

This Week's Memory Verse

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Spurgeon Saturday

Psalm 138:8

Most manifestly the confidence which the Psalmist here expressed was a divine confidence. He did not say, “I have grace enough to perfect that which concerneth me—my faith is so steady that it will not stagger—my love is so warm that it will never grow cold—my resolution is so firm that nothing can move it; no, his dependence was on the Lord alone. If we indulge in any confidence which is not grounded on the Rock of ages, our confidence is worse than a dream, it will fall upon us, and cover us with its ruins, to our sorrow and confusion. All that Nature spins time will unravel, to the eternal confusion of all who are clothed therein. The Psalmist was wise, he rested upon nothing short of the Lord’s work. It is the Lord who has begun the good work within us; it is he who has carried it on; and if he does not finish it, it never will be complete. If there be one stitch in the celestial garment of our righteousness which we are to insert ourselves, then we are lost; but this is our confidence, the Lord who began will perfect. He has done it all, must do it all, and will do it all. Our confidence must not be in what we have done, nor in what we have resolved to do, but entirely in what the Lord will do. Unbelief insinuates— “You will never be able to stand. Look at the evil of your heart, you can never conquer sin; remember the sinful pleasures and temptations of the world that beset you, you will be certainly allured by them and led astray.” Ah! yes, we should indeed perish if left to our own strength. If we had alone to navigate our frail vessels over so rough a sea, we might well give up the voyage in despair; but, thanks be to God, he will perfect that which concerneth us, and bring us to the desired haven. We can never be too confident when we confide in him alone, and never too much concerned to have such a trust.

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

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Truth Unfiltered

With Memorial Day approaching, it is only fitting to reflect on those who have protected us from terrorist attacks since 9/11. If you have not seen Dick Cheney’s response to President Obama’s speech this week, you need to. Spend the next 30 minutes watching his speech, unfiltered by the news media and without commentary. Form your own educated opinion and honor those who have protected you.

National security is far too important to be subjected to Chicago-style politics (paying off political friends while eliminating political foes).

Pay particular attention to Mr. Cheney’s critique of “the new euphemisms” in the third clip.

It only makes sense to declassify the information obtained by “enhanced interrogation” so people can see how they were spared from subsequent terrorist attacks.

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Friday with the Fathers

1 Timothy 3:16


The God of all things and of His holy angels was made known beforehand through the prophets. As a result, all the Jewish people hung in expectation of His coming. After Jesus’ arrival, however, they fell into a keen dispute with each other. A large number acknowledged Christ and believed Him to be the object of prophesy, while others didn’t believe in Him.

Instead they dared to inflict upon Jesus cruelties His disciples truthfully and candidly recorded. But both Jesus and His disciples desired that His followers wouldn’t believe merely in His Godhead and miracles (as if He hadn’t also taken on human nature and assumed the human flesh which “lusteth against the Spirit”), but that they would also see that He had descended into human nature and into the midst of human miseries.

He assumed a human soul and body. From Him there began the union of the divine with the human nature, in order that the human, by communion with the divine, might rise to be divine. Everyone who lives according to Jesus’ teaching rises to a friendship with God and communion with Him.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Coffee With Calvin

Matthew 25:21

The Gift of Perseverance

As to perseverance, it would undoubtedly have been regarded as the gratuitous gift of God had not the very destructive error prevailed: that it is bestowed in proportion to human merit, according to the reception which each individual gives to the first grace. This having given rise to the idea that it was entirely in our own power to receive or reject the offered grace of God, that idea is no sooner exploded than the error founded on it must fall.

The error, indeed, is twofold. For, not only does it teach that our gratitude for the first grace and our legitimate use of it is rewarded by subsequent supplies of grace, but it also teaches that grace does not operate alone, saying it cooperates with ourselves. As to the former, we must hold that the Lord, while he daily enriches his servants and loads them with new gifts of his grace (because he approves of and takes pleasure in the work which he has begun), finds that in them which he may follow up with larger measures of grace. To this effect are the sentences, “To him that has shall be given,” (Luke 19:26) and, “Well done, good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things,” (Matthew 25:21, 23, 29).

But here two precautions are necessary: It must not be said that the legitimate use of the first grace is rewarded by subsequent measures of grace, as if man rendered the grace of God effectual by his own industry. Nor must it be thought that there is any such reward, as it ceases to be the grace of God. I admit, then, that believers may expect as a blessing from God that the better the use they make of previous, the larger the supplies they will receive of future grace. But I say even this use is of the Lord, and this remuneration is bestowed freely of mere good will.

Readings taken from Day by Day With John Calvin

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Edwards Wednesday

1 Peter 5:7

As the Bird Cares

There are many things between the young birds in a nest and a dam, resembling what is between Christ and his saints. The bird shelters them; so Christ shelters his saints, as a bird does her young under her wings. They are brought forth by the dam; so the saints are Christ’s children. They are hatched by the broodings of the dam; so the soul is brought forth by the warmth and heat and brooding of Christ, by the Heavenly Dove, the Holy Spirit. They dwell in a nest of the dam’s providing on high out of the reach of harm, in some place of safety; so are the saints in the church. They are feeble and helpless, can neither fly nor go, which represents the infant state of the saints in this world.

The manner of the dam’s feeding the young, giving every one his portion, represents the manner of Christ’s feeding his saints. When the dam visits the nest, all open their mouth wide together with a cry, and that is all that they can do. So should the saints do, especially at times when Christ makes special visits to his church by his Spirit. They don’t open their mouths in vain. So God says, “Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10). The birds grow by this nourishment till they fly away into heaven to sing in the firmament. So the saints are nourished up to glory.

Readings taken from Day By Day With Jonathan Edwards

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dealing With Discouragement

Have you ever been discouraged? Are you discouraged now? You don’t have to be. As we examine our passage today, we will discover the causes of discouragement. But more than that, we will find the cure.

The manuscript of this sermon from Nehemiah 4:7-15 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 Mornings with Augustine

1 John 3:18-20

God’s Omnipotence

If “we assure our hearts,” we must do so “before Him.” Because “if our heart thinks ill of us” or accuses us that we aren’t doing something with the right attitude, “greater is God than our heart, and knoweth all things.” You may hide your heart from people, but try to hide it from God! How can you hide it from Him?

For a fearing, confessing sinner said to God, “whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? And fro they face whither shall I flee?” He looked for a way to run away from God’s judgment, but he couldn’t find any escape. For where isn’t God present? “If I shall ascend, “ he said, “into heaven, Thou art there: if I shall descend into hell, Thou art there.”

So where will you go? Will you listen to this advice? If you are going to run from Him, run to Him. Run to Him by confessing, not from Him by hiding.

So say unto Him, “Thou art my place to flee unto,” and be nourished by His love that leads to life. Let your conscience prove to you that your love is from God. And if it is from God, don’t desire to display it to people. For human praises can’t lift you to heaven, nor can their condemnations bring you down from there. Let Him who crowns you see. Let Him who judges and rewards you be your witness.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Poolside Views

Does God still perform miracles? Of course He does. But what is the purpose of the miracles He performs? Is it to cause people to believe in Him? The sad fact is that most people who witness the miracles of God still refuse to believe—just like the people in today’s passage.

The manuscript of this sermon from John 5:1-15 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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Martyrs Monday

Luke 12:15

“In Peru, Christians don’t expect to get something for serving Jesus,” said Pastor Zapata. “They expect to give something.” Outside the quiet mountain village, Pastor Zapata showed his guests a row of handmade white crosses, each representing a Christian killed by Communist insurgents.

Lying in front of Pastor Zapata inside the small village home was the body of another pastor who had been killed the night before by guerrillas. His body, covered with a simple blanket, was surrounded by candles and grieving family members.

Outside in the rain, the congregation of the murdered pastor sang praise choruses. Their shoes were covered in mud. Guerrillas had destroyed their church and burned many of their homes. Yet they sang praise.

The Christians were not out of danger, because guerillas could return at any time. Pastors were often singled out, since pastors strengthened the whole village to stand against Marxist incursion.

The pastor reminded the listeners that the Bible calls on us to seek God, not the material blessings that come from God’s hand. “Why do you buy a shirt?” he asked the people. “To use it. Why did Jesus redeem you and buy you with his own blood? To use you for his kingdom.”

These impoverished believers were ready for God to use them.

When we are persecuted for our faith, it is easy to get overly focused on our losses. We may mourn former friends who have rejected us for our beliefs. We may miss the business opportunities we used to have. We feel sorry for ourselves when we are left out of social circles. However, there are many others who have lost far more than material possessions or superficial relationships. These stout believers focus on what remains to be given in Christ’s service—not on what is already lost. Many of them have lost their churches, homes, jobs, and families to religious persecution. Yet they are willing to give more in sacrifice to the cause of Christ. They recognize their earthly loss is another person’s opportunity to gain salvation.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

This Week's Memory Verse

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Spurgeon Saturday

1 Timothy 6:17

Our Lord Jesus is ever giving, and does not for a solitary instant withdraw his hand. As long as there is a vessel of grace not yet full to the brim, the oil shall not be stayed. He is a sun ever-shining; he is manna always falling round the camp; he is a rock in the desert, ever sending out streams of life from his smitten side; the rain of his grace is always dropping; the river of his bounty is ever-flowing, and the well-spring of his love is constantly overflowing. As the King can never die, so his grace can never fail. Daily we pluck his fruit, and daily his branches bend down to our hand with a fresh store of mercy. There are seven feast-days in his weeks, and as many as are the days, so many are the banquets in his years. Who has ever returned from his door unblessed? Who has ever risen from his table unsatisfied, or from his bosom un-emparadised? His mercies are new every morning and fresh every evening. Who can know the number of his benefits, or recount the list of his bounties? Every sand which drops from the glass of time is but the tardy follower of a myriad of mercies. The wings of our hours are covered with the silver of his kindness, and with the yellow gold of his affection. The river of time bears from the mountains of eternity the golden sands of his favour. The countless stars are but as the standard bearers of a more innumerable host of blessings. Who can count the dust of the benefits which he bestows on Jacob, or tell the number of the fourth part of his mercies towards Israel? How shall my soul extol him who daily loadeth us with benefits, and who crowneth us with loving-kindness? O that my praise could be as ceaseless as his bounty! O miserable tongue, how canst thou be silent? Wake up, I pray thee, lest I call thee no more my glory, but my shame. “Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake right early.”

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

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday with the Fathers

James 2:26

Bear Witness—Chrysostom

Everyone looks at what we do and not what we say. Scripture says, “Thou shalt be a witness unto all men,” not just to friendly people, but also to unbelievers. For witnesses aren’t meant to persuade those who already know, but those who don’t know. Let us be trustworthy witnesses.

How can we be trustworthy? By the life we lead. The Jews assaulted Christ and our passions assault us. They tell us to reject our testimony. But we must not obey them. We are witnesses from God. But He has sent us to testify of Him. Let us testify and persuade those who need to decide who He is. If we don’t testify, then we also have to answer for their mistake.

If people wouldn’t accept an exceedingly wicked witness in an earthly court, much less would they accept one here when considering such great issues. We say that we have heard Christ and that we believe the things He has promised. Then, they say, show it by your works. For your life testifies of the opposite—that you don’t believe.

We and not just the martyrs will be witnesses for Christ. They are called martyrs because they endured everything to speak the truth when told to reject the faith. So, we must not be overcome when our passions tell us we are to reject Him.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Coffee With Calvin

2 Samuel 7:28

A Bold Spirit

Our prayers depend on no merit of our own, but all their worth and hope of success are founded and depend on the promises of God, so that they need no other support and require not to look up and down on this hand and on that. It must therefore be fixed in our minds that though we equal not the glorified sanctity of patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, the command to pray is common to us as well as them; and faith is common, so if we lean on the Word of God, we are in respect of this privilege their associates.

For God’s declaring, that he will listen and be favorable to all encourages the most wretched to hope that they shall obtain what they ask. Accordingly, we should attend to the general forms of expression, which exclude none from first to last: only let there be sincerity of heart, self-dissatisfaction, humility, and faith, that we may not, by the hypocrisy of a deceitful prayer, profane the name of God. Our most merciful Father will not reject those whom he not only encourages to come but also urges in every possible way. Hence David’s prayer: “And now, O Lord God, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant, that it may continue forever before thee.” Also, in another passage, “Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant” (Psalm 119:76).

Whatever be the pretexts which unbelievers employ, when they do not flee to God as often as necessity urges, nor seek after him, nor implore his aid, they defraud him of his due honor just as much as if they were fabricating to themselves new gods and idols, since in this way they deny that God is the author of all their blessings. On the contrary, nothing more effectually frees pious minds from every doubt than to be armed with the thought that no obstacle should impede them while they are obeying the command of God, who declares that nothing is more grateful to him than obedience. A bold spirit in prayer well accords with fear, reverence, and anxiety.

Readings taken from Day by Day With John Calvin

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Basics Audio!

Audio of the Basics 09 Conference is available here. Enjoy!

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Edwards Wednesday

Luke 22:44

Hence we may learn how dreadful Christ’s last sufferings were. We learn it from the dreadful effect which the bare foresight of them had upon him in his agony. His last sufferings were so dreadful, that the view which Christ had of them before overwhelmed him and amazed him, as it is said he began to be sore amazed.

The very sight of these last sufferings was so very dreadful as to sink his soul down into the dark shadow of death; yea, so dreadful was it, that in the sore conflict which his nature had with it, he was all in a sweat of blood, his body all over was covered with clotted blood, and not only his body, but the very ground under him with the blood that fell from him, which had been forced through his pores through the violence of his agony. And if only the foresight of the cup was so dreadful, how dreadful was the cup itself, how far beyond all that can be uttered or conceived!

Many of the martyrs have endured extreme tortures, but from what has been said, there is all reason to think those all were a mere nothing to the last sufferings of Christ on the cross. And what has been said affords a convincing argument that the sufferings which Christ endured in his body on the cross, though they were very dreadful, were yet the least part of his last sufferings; and that beside those, he endured sufferings in his soul which were vastly greater.

For if it had been only the sufferings which he endured in his body, though they were very dreadful, we cannot conceive that the mere anticipation of them would have such an effect on Christ. Many of the martyrs, for aught we know, have endured as severe tortures in their bodies as Christ did. Many of the martyrs have been crucified, as Christ was; and yet their souls have not been so overwhelmed. There has been no appearance of such amazing sorrow and distress of mind either at the anticipation of their sufferings, or in the actual enduring of them.

Readings taken from Day By Day With Jonathan Edwards

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Scenes from Basics 09

The good folks at Parkside Church have posted pictures of the Basics 09 Conference on their website here. It has thusfar been a wonderfully edifying conference and I am looking forward to the final sessions in the morning.

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Engaging in Unacceptable Behavior

Starting in October of last year, the Home Office of the United Kingdom has maintained a list of 22 people who are banned from entering the country. The BBC has released a list of 16 of them.

There are some interesting things to note about the list. First is the way the report chose to describe four militant Muslim clerics. No longer are they identified as “mullahs” or “clerics”. Calling them “extremists” or “terrorists” is out of the question. Now, it seems that they are called “preachers”. A man named Safwat Hijazi is named as being part of the hateful tribe called “television preacher”.

Key words used repeatedly to justify exclusion are “engaging in unacceptable behaviour”, “seeking to foment”, “justifying”, “provoking” and “fostering hatred”. Although I find his actions deplorable, I was surprised to find Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topika, Kansas, on the list. The BBC report states that he and his daughter are “barred for their anti-gay comments” and “engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fostering hatred that might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.”

Another surprise on the list was an American “shock-jock”. Michael Savage is banned because he fosters “hatred which might lead to inter-community violence.”

I find this report disturbing due to the conclusions I draw from it. The English language is being changed right in front of us. A few years ago, an attempt was made to classify Muslim terrorists as fundamentalist extremists. That was largely successful. Now, men like Phelps can be grouped in the same category as them. That might not be such a bad comparison except for the fact that all Fundamentalists and Fundamentalist institutions are lumped in with him under the same descriptor—including Bob Jones, Pensacola Christian College, even Jerry Falwell and Liberty University. The language has morphed to the point where the same adjective is used to describe Jerry Falwell and bin-Laden. Now, the language change is expanding. Not only are all “fundamentalists” lumped together, all “preachers” are lumped together. As this change becomes more mainstream, anyone who “provokes others” from behind a pulpit could be considered to be “engaging in unacceptable behaviour”.

I don’t mean to sound alarmist, but these are truly alarming times we live in.

2 Chronicles 7:14

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Basics Wisdom

I'm not a great notetaker, but Kevin Howerton, pastor of Covenant Baptist Church is. Kevin and I are at the Basics 09 conference and he copied down some great quotes from John Lennox, Alistair Begg and John Piper. Here they are with Kevin's comments at the end:

"Every sermon, every Bible study, every talk you have -- should portray God in Christ as supremely desirable." - John Piper

"The Church is always a big mess." - John Piper

:"Don't give up. Don't despise the days of small things." - John Piper

"The number one reason that people in Britian gave for not going to church: 'They never address the questions we are asking.'" - John Lennox

"American football, as far as I can tell, is a series of prayer meetings interrupted by war." - John Lennox (Oxford Math Professor)

"The biggest passion in my life is to exalt Jesus Christ. To make Jesus look as big as He is... (like a telescope) my pastoring, as a husband, in my fathering." - John Piper

"Going out and loving is not enough....(then he talks how anyone can do that, pagans do that, liberalism did that; they loved and fed) -- the full gospel has to be shared, forgiveness and an imputed righteousness."

"In Christ we become the righteousness of God." - John Piper

Piper quoted the following quote from John Bunyan's autobiography:

Then came the decisive moment for Bunyan:
One day as I was passing into a field…this sentence fell upon my
soul. ‘Thy righteousness is in heaven. And me thought, withal, I
saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ as God’s right hand;
there, I say, was my righteousness…. I also saw, moreover, that is
was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better,
nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my
righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, ‘The same yesterday,
today, and forever’ (Heb. 13:8). Now did my chains fall off my legs
indeed. I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations
also fled away; so that from that time those dreadful scriptures of
God [about the unforgivable sin] left off to trouble me; now went I
also home rejoicing for the grace and love of God.

Pastor Kevin - This is the source of our joy and peace in God through Jesus Christ. We have forgiveness through the blood of Christ, but as important we have Christ's imputed righteousness. What joy and peace this brings. I know I could never be good enough to have a relationship and to dwell with God forever. It's impossible for me, but praise be to God, Jesus not only took away my sins but gave me His perfect righteousness. What comfort this brings when we may doubt our goodness and our salvation. God sees only the imputed righteousness of Jesus on us.

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Tuesday Mornings with Augustine

1 John 4:12

Seeing the Father

God is invisible. He can’t be seen with eyes but with the heart. If we want to see the sun, we should purge the physical eye. In the same way, if we want to see God, we must purify the eye that we see God with. Where is this eye? Listen to the Gospel of Matthew: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

We shouldn’t imagine God according to what we want to see. For then we would make God out to be some huge form or and immense expanse. His figure would extend in all directions like the light we see with our eyes. So either we would make God out to be as big as we could imagine or else picture Him as a benevolent old man.

Don’t imagine any of these things. But imagine this if you want to see God: “God is love.” What sort of face does love have? What shape does it take? What stature? What feet or hands? No one can say. And yet it has feet that carry people to church. It has hands that reach out to the poor. It has eyes that show us those in need. For it is said, “Blessed is the man who considereth the needy and the poor.”

Love also has ears which the Lord spoke about, saying, “He that hath ears to hear let him hear.” These aren’t separate parts of love, but bring complete understanding and sight to those who have it. Live in love, and love will live in you. Dwell, and you will be dwelt in.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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