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, 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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Friday, October 30, 2009

Waiting for Us

Philippians 3:20

Always remember that we have renounced the world and are living here as guests and strangers in the meantime. Anticipate the day assigned to each of us for our homecoming. This day will snatch us up, set us free from the snares of the world, and return us to Paradise and the king­dom.

Who, in foreign lands, wouldn't hurry to return to their own country? Who, when rushing to return to his friends, wouldn't eagerly want the winds at his back so that he could embrace those dear to him sooner? We consider paradise as our country. We already consider the patri­archs as our parents. Why don't we hurry and run, so that we can see our country and greet our par­ents?

A great number of our dear ones are waiting for us there. A dense crowd of parents, brothers, and children is longing for us, already assured of their own safe­ty and eager for our salvation. Beloved, let us hurry to these peo­ple eagerly. Let us long to be with them and to come to Christ quick­ly.

May God see our eager desire. May the Lord Jesus Christ look at the purpose of our mind and faith. He will give the larger rewards of His glory to those with a greater desire for Him!

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Deep Riches: Augustine and Pelagius

Click on over to Deep Riches to learn who Augustine and Pelagius were and what in the world they have to do with today's theological debates.

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Augustine and Pelagius

As the true father of what is commonly referred to as Calvinism, Augustine properly emphasized the sovereign nature of God. While not tipping to the extreme position of certain over-zealous disciples of Calvin in accusing God of creating certain men solely for damnation, he did articulate an accurate framework concerning creation, the fall, and the nature of man. Conversely, Pelagius was every bit an Arminian as Jacobus (James) Arminius proved to be generations later--if not more. Their doctrinal differences began with their view of creation. While both men rightly saw Adam as originally created innocent and possessing a free will, Augustine correctly understood that he was immortal. Pelagius did not recognize the fact that death was brought about by the curse. He believed Adam was originally created to die--a belief clearly contrary to Scripture. It naturally follows that they disagreed on the scope of the fall. Pelagius, consistent with his view of man’s original mortality, saw the curse causing only the spiritual death of Adam--not his posterity. Physical death was already a created, inherent part of man. Spiritual death in Adam’s posterity was brought on by individual sinful actions. Augustine rightly disagreed. Both physical and spiritual death were placed on man as a curse. As such, both kinds of death are imputed to all subsequent generations. This is the basis for what later would be labeled, “The total depravity of man”—the refutation of the first point of Arminianisms’ Remonstrance. Augustine consistently held that since Adam’s sin is imputed to him, man is corrupt from his conception. Pelagius was consistent with his other views in believing all men are born innocent. It has been said that Pelagius’ beliefs were never tested in the crucible of parenthood.

While the contemporary debate rages in theological and denominational circles between Calvinism and Armenianism, it is good to remember its origin. Realizing the debate is certainly not new and seeing the ancient arguments and accusations sheds light on current posturing. It would seem helpful to highlight the historical context in public venues, but “Why I Am Predestined Not to be Augustinian” does not provocatively generate the same buzz as “Why I Am Predestined Not to be a Hyper-Calvinist.” As the years progress, Spurgeon’s treatment of the subject seems increasingly wise.

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Extreme Warmth

Jeremiah 20:9

Nadejda Sloboda could hardly contain her enthusiasm. She had just learned about Christ from a shortwave radio program broadcast from Europe. As the first Christian in her Russian village, she desperately wanted to tell all her friends about the God who had miraculously changed her heart. But she knew the local authorities strictly prohibited any talk of God or Christianity.

However, Nadejda was unable to contain her zeal, and soon a church was born. When the police were unable to squelch the church’s growth even with road blockades, they arrested Nadejda and sentenced her to four years in prison. Her five children were taken by force to an atheistic boarding school, which tormented Nadejda. But she felt nearer to God than ever before and persisted in sharing Christ even with her fellow prisoners.

Because of her refusal to stop talking about Christ, officials put her in a solitary, unheated cell for two months. It was in the middle of winter and Nadejda was not aloud any bedding whatsoever. She was forced to sleep on the cold concrete floor. After she was returned to the common cell, her fellow prisoners asked her how she was able to stand the treatment. She replied, “I fell asleep on the cold concrete floor trusting in God, and it became warm around me. I rested in the arms of God.”

Most Christians can recall a time in their spiritual journey when it seemed like they could never get enough of God and his Word. Spiritual zeal was second nature. Fervor was a constant friend. Yet, somehow our faith grew cold along the way. Perhaps it was persecution that squelched our enthusiasm. Perhaps it was personal tragedy. Or perhaps it was nothing in particular—just ordinary activities that dampened our spirits and reclaimed our priorities. Are the flames of spiritual fervor now merely smoldering ashes? Has your zeal grown dormant? It is possible to ignite a new relationship with God and fuel the fire within. Ask him to help you warm up to the idea today.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Enduring Adversity

Psalm 39:5

I do not know of any one temptation that in all ages has more solicited and perplexed the minds of good men, than that which springs from the prosperity of the wicked; a scandal that the best of men have been ever apt to take against the dispensations of God Himself.

It has therefore pleased God, in compassion to the suffering, frequently to obviate this temptation, by causing many parts of holy Scripture to be written purposely upon this argument, among which the thirty-ninth Psalm is one, the main proposition of which is an exhortation that we, beholding the prosperity of the wicked, do not doubt of the divine care and providence.

We must not be broken in our minds, nor murmur against God, or fall away from Him, but patiently endure adversity, and hold fast our profession.
—Samuel Shaw

Readings taken from Day by Day with the English Puritans

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Spurgeon Saturday

Psalm 104:16

Without sap the tree cannot flourish or even exist. Vitality is essential to a Christian. There must be life —a vital principle infused into us by God the Holy Ghost, or we cannot be trees of the Lord. The mere name of being a Christian is but a dead thing, we must be filled with the spirit of divine life. This life is mysterious. We do not understand the circulation of the sap, by what force it rises, and by what power it descends again. So the life within us is a sacred mystery. Regeneration is wrought by the Holy Ghost entering into man and becoming man’s life; and this divine life in a believer afterwards feeds upon the flesh and blood of Christ and is thus sustained by divine food, but whence it cometh and whither it goeth who shall explain to us? What a secret thing the sap is! The roots go searching through the soil with their little spongioles, but we cannot see them suck out the various gases, or transmute the mineral into the vegetable; this work is done down in the dark. Our root is Christ Jesus, and our life is hid in him; this is the secret of the Lord. The radix of the Christian life is as secret as the life itself. How permanently active is the sap in the cedar! In the Christian the divine life is always full of energy—not always in fruit- bearing, but in inward operations. The believer’s graces, are not every one of them in constant motion? but his life never ceases to palpitate within. He is not always working for God, but his heart is always living upon him. As the sap manifests itself in producing the foliage and fruit of the tree, so with a truly healthy Christian, his grace is externally manifested in his walk and conversation. If you talk with him, he cannot help speaking about Jesus. If you notice his actions you will see that he has been with Jesus. He has so much sap within, that it must fill his conduct and conversation with life.

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

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Devotional Christian

If you are in need of a one-stop site for all of your devotional reading, look no further than Devotional Christian. The site has been around for a while, but is now being re-launched. It is now cleaner and more managable with links to some the most popular daily devotionals. Check it out!

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Secret Sin

Proverbs 6:16-18

Most people think idolatry is only burning incense, sacrificing a victim, committing to sacred ceremonies or priesthoods. Similarly, some find adultery only in kisses, embraces, and actual fleshly contact, or murder only in the shedding of blood and the actual taking of life. But the Lord looks at these crimes in much broader terms.

He says adultery exists even in lust, "if one shall have cast an eye lustfully on" and stirred his soul with immodest excitement. He sees murder even in a curse or reproach, in every impulse of anger, and in the neglect of kindness toward a neighbor. As John teaches, he who hates his neighbor is a mur­derer.

If we were judged only by the faults even wicked nations consider punishable, then both the devil's schemes and the Lord's discipline by which He strengthens us against the devil would have little significance. For how, unless we have stood firm through an abundance of unrigh­teousness, will our "righteousness abound above that of the scribes and Pharisees," as the Lord commanded? So if the head of unrighteousness is idolatry, we must strengthen ourselves ahead of time against both secret and evident manifestations of sin.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Deep Riches: Spurgeon's Friends

Does man have free will or is God completely sovereign over all things? Find the answer on Deep Riches.

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Spurgeon's Friends

Theological discussions throughout history have often begun with the same question: Is man free or is God sovereign?

My answer to that question is simply, yes. In a sermon in 1884, Charles Spurgeon recalled a time when someone asked him about a perceived dichotomy between predestination and free will. “I was once asked to reconcile these two statements, and I answered, ‘No, I never reconcile friends.’”

Predestination and free will never need to be balanced, reconciled, or denied because they are inseparable friends, united in the plan and personality of God. Not only was Spurgeon the Prince of Preachers, he was a very wise man who understood the biblical doctrine of predestination and free will.

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Extreme Mother

2 Timothy 1:5

Susannah Wesley was born in 1668, in England, when the state church and government crushed any form of Christian worship or education not controlled by them. This determined Christian woman began programs of Christian education for adults in her kitchen and daily with her children.

In 1662, six years before Susannah was born, the English government passed a law forcing the state church’s Book of Common Prayer in all worship services. Two thousand clergy were forced to resign.

In 1664, a law was passed forbidding more than five people who were not family members worship together without a state official. In 1665, the Five Mile Act was passed aimed at Nonconformist ministers who were forbidden to come within five miles where they had founded a congregation. This law was upheld for almost 150 years. Soldiers destroyed meeting houses, took away furniture and Christian books. Five thousand Nonconformist Christians died in prison.

Although Susannah was associated at times with the official church, she refused to be a “Sunday-only” Christian. Her angry neighbors burned her fields and stabbed the three cows that gave milk to her family. They called her children “the little devils.” One of her children, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodists, led a great spiritual awakening in England. He had learned perseverance from his mother.

Many believe the reason England did not experience a bloody revolution, in the same way that France was terrorized, is due to the Christian revival that began among the poor in Great Britain. This spiritual revival was led in part by John Wesley, who also championed practical help, education, jobs and food. Did the influence of his mother, Susannah Wesley, help to save England? Your influence for Christ does change history. Even if we don’t have biological parents or grandparents like the Wesleys, who pass down the Christian faith to us, God gives us a spiritual family to nurture and love us. Who is your spiritual mother or father—someone who taught you about Christ? To whom can you be a spiritual brother or sister?

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Room for Babes

Luke 10:21

For all Christians, especially those that are most sensible of the weakness of their faith, there have been and are more dwarfs besides you. Perfection is a white that was never hit; the best archers prove a handful short. It is indeed the mark at which every one sets out to level his arrows, but all the souls of Christians, like the arrows of Jonathan, have flown, some over into glory, some short, some on this hand, some on that, but none have hit the mark.

Be of good comfort, weak faith is faith; little ones are true children of the Father, who casts none away that comes (though creeping) to Him. Heaven has room for babes as well as adults. A child may pull the latch of heaven's door, and go in, and be welcome to the knee of the King of Glory, to His bosom, "Who feeds His flock like a shepherd" (Isa. 40:11) and carries the lambs in His bosom. Jesus Christ has His arms full of tender sucking lambs, or at least, that were so upon the earth.

The youngest Christian, if an heir, is of age to take land in heaven; youth is no bar. The garden of God has more slips than old stocks in it. Now indeed they are to become stocks in heaven, but here on earth they were but tender slips when Christ took them up to the land of grace and transplanted them.
—John Collinges

Readings taken from Day by Day with the English Puritans

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Spurgeon Saturday

1 Samuel 27:1

The thought of David’s heart at this time was a false thought, because he certainly had no ground for thinking that God’s anointing him by Samuel was intended to be left as an empty unmeaning act. On no one occasion had the Lord deserted his servant; he had been placed in perilous positions very often, but not one instance had occurred in which divine interposition had not delivered him. The trials to which he had been exposed had been varied; they had not assumed one form only, but many—yet in every case he who sent the trial had also graciously ordained a way of escape. David could not put his finger upon any entry in his diary, and say of it, “Here is evidence that the Lord will forsake me,” for the entire tenor of his past life proved the very reverse. He should have argued from what God had done for him, that God would be his defender still. But is it not just in the same way that we doubt God’s help? Is it not mistrust without a cause? Have we ever had the shadow of a reason to doubt our Father’s goodness? Have not his lovingkindnesses been marvellous? Has he once failed to justify our trust? Ah, no! our God has not left us at any time. We have had dark nights, but the star of love has shone forth amid the blackness; we have been in stern conflicts, but over our head he has held aloft the shield of our defence. We have gone through many trials, but never to our detriment, always to our advantage; and the conclusion from our past experience is, that he who has been with us in six troubles, will not forsake us in the seventh. What we have known of our faithful God, proves that he will keep us to the end. Let us not, then, reason contrary to evidence. How can we ever be so ungenerous as to doubt our God? Lord, throw down the Jezebel of our unbelief, and let the dogs devour it.

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

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Friday, October 16, 2009

More than Master

Mark 10:17-18

What youth don't believe, Christ helps them understand so that they can believe God's Son is not a good master, but the good God. For if who­ever glorifies the "One God" also fully glorifies the Son of God, how can the Only-begotten Son not have God's goodness when only God is good?

So then, with divinely inspired comprehension our Lord didn't say, "There is none good but the Father alone," but "There is none good but God alone." For the proper name for one who pro­duces children is "Father." But God's unity by no means excludes the Godhead of each of the three Persons. Therefore, it is His nature that is wor­shiped.

Goodness is from God's nature and the Son of God exists in the nature of God. Therefore, goodness doesn't express just one Person, but the complete unity of the Godhead. The Lord, then, doesn't deny His goodness, but rebukes the disci­ple who doubts His deity.

When the scribe said, "Good Master," the Lord answered, "Why callest thou Me good?" He is saying there, "It isn't enough to call someone good who you don't believe is God. I don't want such people to be My disciples—people who consider My manhood and see Me as a good master, rather than look to My Deity and believe that I am the good God."

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Deep Riches: Persecution in Today's Church

It's hard to think about persecution as we sit in our comfortable churches with our "take-it-or-leave-it" attitude. But persecution is a daily fact in most countries around the world. See more over on Deep Riches.

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Persecution in Today's Church

Within the past several days, believers have been martyred all over the world, from North Korea, to the Middle East, to Indonesia, to parts of Africa. Practically everywhere there is persecution, Tertullian’s quote rings prophetic.

It has been said that when Chinese house church leaders discovered American Christians praying for the end of persecution in China, they were rebuked. They asked instead that people pray they would stand strong and that God would be glorified in the face of persecution.

This should not be taken as a call to prayerfully desire persecution. Clearly, persecution brings negative consequences as well as positive results. It does, however, put things into perspective. In America, most churches are clean, comfortable and casual (attitude, not dress). One tends to wonder what will happen when the persecution eventually hits close to home.

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Extreme Encouragement

Romans 1:11-12

When Communists took over Vietnam, Pastor Nguyen Lap Ma refused to relinquish the Christian Missionary Alliance Church in Can Tho. For this “crime,” he and his entire family were placed under house arrest in a tiny, rural village with no travel and with no mail for the first twelve years.

Finally, when authorities loosened the mail restrictions, Pastor Lap Ma was thrilled to see letters arrive at his home. The Voice of the Martyrs published Pastor Lap Ma’s story and his address. Students, housewives, pastors, and businessmen wrote letters of encouragement to the pastor and his family. Vietnamese police were shocked when Pastor Lap Ma received more than three thousand letters from all over the world.

“I read every letter with prayers and tears,” Pastor Lap Ma said. “I devour every letter and meditate on the Scriptures shared in them. I then share these words of encouragement and the Scriptures in Vietnamese with my family. We are glad and encouraged by the messages in them.”

“God has strengthened and helped us,” the pastor continued. “So we keep hoping in him and fixing our eyes on Jesus. We follow him to endure the cross, scorning its shame t o the point of death. While we are living, God uses us to comfort the other suffering Christians.” The letters encourage them as they happily encourage other believers.

Encouragement is a necessary fuel for the Christian race. Without encouragement, as a runner without water, no one could endure the often grueling stretch for long. As we make our journey, we learn that encouragement is a two-way street. We give encouragement to others and so receive it ourselves from other believers and even from God himself. A little encouragement goes a long way in strengthening the weary and motivating those whose faith is languishing. We often find that the spiritual encouragement we receive from the prayers of those around us rejuvenates us for the second mile. In some cases, that is another twelve years in prison for our faith. In other cases, it is merely the ability to endure another day.

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Saint’s Pastime

Psalm 77:12

Meditation is a saint's pastime. It recreates and perfumes the tired spirits. It is a ladder by which the soul climbs to heaven. It is a duty ever at hand (Prov. 6:22), when you are alone, nay, in the dark, when traveling, and so on. On all occasions you may let out your soul in meditation, when other duties cannot be performed. Nay, when you sleep you may be meddling with this duty. For having communion with God in the day, and closing your eyes with some meditation, even your dreams may be of the love of God, and the glory of heaven, as the experiences of the saints can witness.

Meditation brings us to the first degrees of those heavenly joys, and imparts to us some beginnings of the vision and fruition of God. It enables us with Moses to discern, as we are able, some glimpses of God, that our faces shine with purity and divine splendor. By this we are ravished with Paul, and are caught up into paradise, and in the twinkling of an eye are driven (as in a fiery chariot) into heaven. By this with holy Stephen we see the heavens opened, and Jesus sitting at the right hand of God. Indeed admirable are the effects of divine meditation.

It confirms our knowledge (Ps. 119:99). It strengthens our memory (Ps. 63:6). It enflames our love (Ps. 119:97). It cherishes time with God (Ps. 119:148). It maintains a true and childlike fear of God (Ps. 4:4). It hushes and quiets the soul in afflictions (Ps. 119:23). It promotes prayer (Ps. 143:5-6). What shall I say? Meditation is the very life of our life, as a heathen could say and see by the light of nature. It is the food of our souls, the fuel of our zeal, the spur of our devotion; the soul that can meditate on God is never less alone than when alone, for its fellowship is then with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
—Robert Dingley

Readings taken from Day by Day with the English Puritans

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Spurgeon Saturday

Jude 24

Revolve in your mind that wondrous word, “faultless!” We are far off from it now; but as our Lord never stops short of perfection in his work of love, we shall reach it one day. The Saviour who will keep his people to the end, will also present them at last to himself, as “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but holy and without blemish.” All the jewels in the Saviour’s crown are of the first water and without a single flaw. All the maids of honour who attend the Lamb’s wife are pure virgins without spot or stain. But how will Jesus make us faultless? He will wash us from our sins in his own blood until we are white and fair as God’s purest angel; and we shall be clothed in his righteousness, that righteousness which makes the saint who wears it positively faultless; yea, perfect in the sight of God. We shall be unblameable and unreproveable even in his eyes. His law will not only have no charge against us, but it will be magnified in us. Moreover, the work of the Holy Spirit within us will be altogether complete. He will make us so perfectly holy, that we shall have no lingering tendency to sin. Judgment, memory, will—every power and passion shall be emancipated from the thraldom of evil. We shall be holy even as God is holy, and in his presence we shall dwell for ever. Saints will not be out of place in heaven, their beauty will be as great as that of the place prepared for them. Oh the rapture of that hour when the everlasting doors shall be lifted up, and we, being made meet for the inheritance, shall dwell with the saints in light. Sin gone, Satan shut out, temptation past for ever, and ourselves “faultless” before God, this will be heaven indeed! Let us be joyful now as we rehearse the song of eternal praise so soon to roll forth in full chorus from all the blood-washed host; let us copy David’s exultings before the ark as a prelude to our ecstasies before the throne.

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

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Coming Storms

Proverbs 2:8

Those who navigate a ship must watch all the more carefully the farther they move from shore. Then they can see signs of coming storms. When small storms come, the ship can ride over them in a straight path. If storms swell up violently, navi¬gators must avoid them by steering sideways. They often watch alone when everyone else not in charge of the ship is resting.

But if the power of the Holy Spirit breathes on an afflicted mind, what was done physically for the Israelites takes place spiritually in us. For it is written, "But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea." And the prophet of the Lord promises, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and the rivers shall not overflow thee."

The rivers flood on those whose minds are shaken up by the world's activity. But those whose minds are persistent by the Holy Spirit's grace pass through the water and aren't flooded by rivers. This is because such people move along in the midst of crowds but don't sink the head of their minds beneath the activity of the world.
—Gregory I

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ex Libris: The God I Don’t Understand, by Christopher, J. H. Wright

The God I Don't Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith, by Christopher J. H. Wright is a very popular and highly recommended book. Do I agree with the majority of reviewers and endorsers?

See what I have to say over on Ex Libris.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Deep Riches: Developments from Persecution

Can anything good come from persecution? See if it has in the past over on Deep Riches.

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Development Resulting from Persecution

For the most part, persecution had a purifying effect on Christianity. It has been said that a person will die for something they know to be true. If the second and third century Christians knew they were going to die, they had to know what they were dying for was absolutely true. This pressure brought about the need to canonize Scripture. After all, no one wanted to risk death over something considered to be a spurious writing. The church grew phenomenally during this period. It grew to the point that Tertullian wrote, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Despite the fact that many people denied their faith, the vast majority did not.

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Extreme Prayer

James 5:16

“O most merciful Christ,” John Huss wrote while awaiting his execution, “give us a courageous spirit, so that it may be ready. And if the flesh is weak, may your grace go before it, for without you we can do nothing, and above all, without you we cannot face a cruel death. Give us a bold courage and upright faith, a firm hope, and perfect charity, that we may give our life for you in all patience and all joy. Amen.”

Huss had called for reform in the fifteenth-century church, challenging priests who sold indulgences (the right to sin without consequence) and calling for biblical standards of justice. Huss was promised royal protection to present his defense. But he now sat in a dungeon, awaiting death, and cried out to God.

On July 6, 1415, Huss was stripped and chained to a stake. As the fire was lit around him, Huss prayed, “Lord Jesus Christ, it is for the sake of the gospel and the preaching of the word that I undergo with patience and humility this terrifying, ignominious, and cruel death.”

As the flames rose around him, Huss, with his final breath, cried out, “Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy upon me.”

Huss’s witness was crucial in ending the practice of selling indulgences and influencing Christians to return to biblical teachings.

Prayer. That which does the most, we often do the least. Prayer is our first defense against spiritual warfare, yet often our last resort. Those who are persecuted for their faith teach us the priority of prayer. Their last remarks are not fighting words. Their final actions on earth are not resistance. Instead, prayer is their dying breath, confounding their accusers and convincing others of their resolute faith. History shows persecuted saints’ dying prayers can influence others for the gospel perhaps more than if they had lived. When you are in life’s crucible and the “flames” are hot around you, will you turn to prayer? Will others see your first and last defense is your communication with your heavenly Father?

Readings taken from
Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Table Blessings

Psalm 116:12

Forget not to pray unto God for a blessing on the things you are to partake. For as the apostle says, "Every creature of God is good, being sanctified by the Word of God, and prayer" (1 Tim. 4:4-5). By the Word, as it does show, and warrant our right thereunto; and by prayer, as it is a means appointed by God for obtaining His blessing upon our food, without which it will do us little good. "For man liveth not by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:1); that is, bread does not nourish by its own power, but by the appointment and blessing of God.

And therefore it was the usual practice of our Savior to lift up His eyes and crave a blessing upon the creatures, before He did partake of them, which has been the usual practice of the saints and people of God, before and since Christ's time (1 Sam. 9:13; Acts 27:30).

Having therefore such worthy patterns and precedents, follow them, not daring to partake of any of God's good creatures, until you have lifted up your heart to God and craved His blessing upon them, for otherwise how justly might you expect from God a curse rather than a blessing? The things on your table are God's things, and therefore you must need be more bold than welcome, if you make use of them without asking His blessing.
—Thomas Gouge

Readings taken from Day by Day with the English Puritans

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Spurgeon Saturday

Hebrews 1:14

Angels are the unseen attendants of the saints of God; they bear us up in their hands, lest we dash our foot against a stone. Loyalty to their Lord leads them to take a deep interest in the children of his love; they rejoice over the return of the prodigal to his father’s house below, and they welcome the advent of the believer to the King’s palace above. In olden times the sons of God were favoured with their visible appearance, and at this day, although unseen by us, heaven is still opened, and the angels of God ascend and descend upon the Son of man, that they may visit the heirs of salvation. Seraphim still fly with live coals from off the altar to touch the lips of men greatly beloved. If our eyes could be opened, we should see horses of fire and chariots of fire about the servants of the Lord; for we have come to an innumerable company of angels, who are all watchers and protectors of the seed-royal. Spenser’s line is no poetic fiction, where he sings—

How oft do they with golden pinions cleave
The flitting skies, like flying pursuivant
Against foul fiends to aid us militant!
To what dignity are the chosen elevated when the brilliant courtiers of heaven become their willing servitors! Into what communion are we raised since we have intercourse with spotless celestials! How well are we defended since all the twenty- thousand chariots of God are armed for our deliverance! To whom do we owe all this? Let the Lord Jesus Christ be for ever endeared to us, for through him we are made to sit in heavenly places far above principalities and powers. He it is whose camp is round about them that fear him; he is the true Michael whose foot is upon the dragon. All hail, Jesus! thou Angel of Jehovah’s presence, to thee this family offers its morning vows.

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

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Every Deed

Revelation 20:12

Every good deed we do to our neighbors is entered in the Gospel, which is written on heavenly tablets and read by all who are worthy of the knowledge of the whole of things. But on the other hand, there is a part of the Gospel which condemns those who do the same evil deeds done to Jesus.

The Gospel includes the treachery of Judas and the shouts of the wicked crowd when it said, "Away with such a one from the earth," "Crucify Him, crucify Him," the mockings of those who crowned Him with thorns, and everything of that kind. There are those who still have thorns with which they crown and dishonor Jesus namely, those peo­ple who are choked by the cares, riches, and pleas­ures of life. Though they have received the Word of God, they don't carry it out.

Therefore, we must beware, lest we crown Jesus with thorns of our own. In that case those who are learning about Jesus— who is in all and present with all who are rational and holy—would be reading about us in that light, and about how Jesus is anointed with oil and dined and praised, or on the other hand dishonored and mocked and beaten. All this helps show that both our good actions and the sins of those who stumble have their place in the Gospel, either to everlasting life or to guilt and everlasting shame.

Readings taken from Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ex Libris: The Baptism and Gifts of the Holy Spirit, by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Why would I recommend a book that I theologically disagree with? See the answer to that question as I review The Baptism and Gifts of the Spirit, by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

Click over to Ex Libris to see what I had to say.

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