Sunday, January 31, 2010

Evidence if Things Not Seen

In Galatians 3:1, Paul says that in teaching them the gospel, “Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.”  He did this in order to exhort these Christians to continue to live in light of what Christ’s death had accomplished for them.  Actually witnessing the crucifixion would have a powerful effect on anyone.  Our feelings would have been stirred to the depths of our being.  Now “faith is the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  One effect of faith is to make things that we cannot see as real to us as anything we can see.  Faith will effect us as if we did see the invisible God; it will put the same affections (feelings) in us as if Christ were crucified before our eyes.  To believing Christians the death of Christ has a present reality that moves their hearts as nothing else can.  If this God is for us, who can possibly be against us?  If He did not spare His own Son, how can we possibly doubt His love for us?  We must live by faith, that is, we must live by what faith enables us to see.   

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Word of God

The goal of all of the Christian’s interaction with the word of God is edification (1 Corinthians 14:26).  Hearing and reading God’s word is the great means of making the believer strong in the faith.  In verse 31, Paul tells us that the teaching of God’s word does two things, both of which are necessary in order for us to fully benefit from the teaching of Scripture.  The apostle writes that “all may learn and all may be exhorted.”  First, all are to learn, that is, to gain knowledge, to be instructed in the great truths and doctrines of the Bible. In it we find such wisdom as we never dreamed of.  The Scripture has so much to teach us about God, ourselves, and the great work of redemption by which sinners are restored to God’s favor.  But knowing what the Bible teaches, as indispensable as that is, is not enough.  We also all need to be exhorted, that is, to have our hearts and affections stirred up to love the doctrines of the Bible, and the God that is presented to us in its pages.  We need fresh encouragement every day.  God has given to His church His priceless word to provide all that we need.  We can never exhaust all the treasure that awaits us in God’s word.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Effects of Thanksgiving

Colossians 2:6-7 teaches us that just as we have been saved by grace, so we are to live each day by grace.  If we are to be unmovably grounded in faith, we must be “abounding in thanksgiving.”  The way to grow in faith is to be thankful for what we have already received from God.  Giving thanks to God is acknowledging our dependence on Him.  We are commanded to give thanks to God for all things (Ephesians 5:20), because He is the source of all good.  In Romans 6:17, Paul rejoices that those who were once the helpless slaves of sin have become wholeheartedly obedient to the gospel.  You must not miss the fact that the great apostle does not thank the Romans themselves, for doing this.  He thanks God—the implications of which are staggering!  The Lord is to be thanked when we obey Him, because without His grace we could not sincerely obey a single command.  Our faith will not grow strong and firm if our hearts are not filled with the humble realization that we owe everything to God.  Such a heart will overflow with thanksgiving. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Some Thoughts on Love

The Christian’s love for God involves our duty to Him, that is, the Christian responds to the Lord’s merciful love by seeking to obey Him in all things.  Believers should have such a deep sense of the majesty of God, and such an esteem of His favor, that they would never endanger it by doing anything that displeases Him.  Doing something that would dishonor God’s name is abhorrent to believers.  All their desire is to sincerely endeavor to please, honor, and enjoy Him.  The Scripture commands us to love God above all things and with our whole hearts.  We are also commanded to love other people, especially fellow believers.  But it is worth noting that there is no explicit command to love ourselves.  The Bible assumes we will do so.  There are many laws that restrain self-love, seeking to put limits on it, but there are none that command it.  Self-love is a part of our nature and can become self-destructive if it is not moderated.  Only love for God can be safely pursued with no limits.  We can never love God too much.  All of the instruction in the Bible concerning self-love is intended to moderate and direct it for God’s glory and our benefit.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Prosperity and Temptations

God could very easily prosper His people in this world far beyond their wildest imagination.   He could order all things to satisfy their desires completely. He could easily prevent any sorrow from ever crossing our path.  He could give us all the money anyone could ever want or use.  Why doesn’t He do these things?  God knows that without His merciful intervention, the deadly temptations that accompany prosperity in this life would be too strong for us to resist.  We would quickly succumb to them if all we saw of the world was its alluring pleasures and tempting delights.  Therefore, the Lord also shows us the ugly and abhorrent side of life, and the dreadful consequences of sin in the world.  We often experience all of the cares, griefs, and disappointments which are an indelible part of this present life in, in order to show us how restless and empty the world is without Him.  God wants us to know the sad condition of our world, that we might earnestly look beyond it to Him.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

First Fruits

James 1:18 tells us that God has saved us by His word, so that we might be “the first fruits among His creatures.”  Until recently, I had never  fully understood the meaning of the phrase “first fruits,” nor had I grasped the profound significance of this passage.  Then one of Thomas Manton’s sermons on the Epistle of James opened my eyes!  The first and best part of every harvest in the Old Testament was dedicated to God.  In this way the people of God acknowledged that all that they had was a blessing from the Lord.  Our lives are to be dedicated as “first fruits” to God now, knowing that we will soon enjoy the full harvest of salvation in heaven.  Paul expressed the same thought in Romans 12:1.  In view of the many precious mercies God has poured out upon us in salvation, we should give ourselves totally to Him.  We should not walk in our own ways, but in the will of God.  We should reject whatever hinders us in fulfilling our chief goal—giving glory to God.  Manton wrote: “All pleasures, honors, profits, are to be refused or received as they make us serviceable to the glory of God.” 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Prayer and God's All-Sufficiency

When we grasp just how needy we really are, and trust God’s all-sufficiency to meet our needs, then the Lord will work to direct and guide us in life.  Proverbs 3:5-6 give us a marvelous promise: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”  In His wisdom, God has determined to bestow His choicest blessings in answer to prayer.  Prayer comes between our desires and God’s benefits.  We too often grow discouraged in the midst of life’s hardships, because we look no further than ourselves.  We have no conception of what blessings might be ours for the asking!  God ordains many difficulties, that His children will seek help from Him in prayer.  What is impossible to human nature is no difficulty to God.  He requires obedience that is beyond our natural abilities, but not beyond the power of His grace.  We can never ponder these things too often. The Christian life is a continual, daily battle to live by humble trust in a faithful God.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Prayer and Our Needs

The exhortation in james 1:5, to ask God for wisdom, is intimately connected with the preceding verses.  The specific wisdom intended is the understanding or skill to manage afflictions to our great benefit.  In the Bible, wisdom is the ability to correctly apply knowledge to our lives.  From Scripture we learn that affliction is intended by God for a good purpose.  In the context of James 1:2-5, wisdom is applying the knowledge we learn from God’s word so that we are able to patiently and cheerfully endure afflictions.  Only God can provide this.  If we desire wisdom to endure afflictions without complaining or growing fainthearted, we must ask God.  Note very carefully what it is that motivates prayer in verse 5.  It is the sense of our own need; it is being aware that we lack something.  We realize that we lack the wisdom we require, and we acknowledge that only the Lord can provide it.  The more we understand that our desires can only met by God, the more we will be dependent upon Him.  We are made up of many desires, and we must look to God to fulfill them.  It is well that God sanctifies our self-love to so blessed a purpose.  The first motive that drives us to the Lord in prayer is a sense of our need.  In particular, afflictions manifest just how needy we are.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

All Joy

“Count (or “consider”, or “reckon”) it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2).  “Count it”, that is, even though your natural senses will not find trials to be joyful, your spiritual judgment must regard them as such.  Trials do not just happen by chance.  We must consider them as under the sovereign hand of God.  Without this, we have no foundation to view trials as designed by a loving God for good purposes.  We will experience trials as either bitter or sweet depending on how we judge them.  The remarkable command to “count it all joy” may seem to be impossible.  Are not joy and sorrow spontaneous feelings that cannot be controlled?  I think this accounts for the language used in this verse.  We are commanded to carefully consider these things, and on the basis of Scripture to come to a reasonable conclusion.  The Bible gives Christians sound reasons for responding to life’s hardships with joy.  James 1:5 tells us that if we lack the wisdom needed to manage adversity with joy, we are to ask God.  Carefully consider these things.  You will find great blessing in doing so.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Encouragement and Duty

We cannot separate the encoragement of Christianity from the duties that are to be obeyed.  Although true peace of conscience is founded on Christ’s sacrificial death, yet it is enjoyed only in serving Him.  The wonderful offer of Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me and I will give you rest” cannot be separated from from verse 29, “Take My yoke upon you, and you shall find rest for your souls.”  As we must come to Christ for comfort, so we must obey Him if we would experience the fulness of that confort in our souls.  The Gospel alone so excellently provides for all of our needs.  We find in it Christ’s merits for our failings and the Spirit’s strength for our weaknesses.  But it must be accepted on God’s terms.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


In his psalms, David often asks God to “revive” him, or to “give him life”.  The King James version uses the beautiful phrase “to quicken.”  The fact that repeatedly in Psalm 119 and in other psalms, believers ask God to “quicken” them should make us realize how great our need is for this blessing.  It is David’s way of asking God for grace to meet every day’s needs.  It is equivalent in the New Testament to going to God’s throne of grace, for renewed spiritual strength.  Believers have always desperately needed God’s grace every day to live as will please Him.  May God mercifully “quicken” each of us today.  May He give us the strenghth to obey Him, regardless of the cost or consequences.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Effect of Faith

If we exercise faith in trials, we give honor to God and find favor and acceptance with Him.  Faith teaches us how to value and properly judge the worth of invisible and spiritual things.  It teaches us to value and cherish God’s favor above all earthly treasures, even above life itself (Psalm 63:3).  Life without the Lord’s merciful love is empty.  Faith gives us priceless knowledge and wisdom that human reason is powerless to obtain by itself.  Without faith we are ignorant and foolish (Luke 24:25).  Faith makes us willing to part with anything that hinders our relationship with God.  Faith in great adversity with the least enjoyment of God is better than the greatest enjoyment of the pleasures of the world.  Faith knows that it is always a good bargain to lose things for the Lord’s sake.  Those who have seen something of the glory of God by faith will be able to relinquish worldly things that no longer appear so attractive to them.    

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

God's Presence and Our Faith

Faith is vitally important in everything we do as Christians because it values all our circumstances and conditions by the presence of God.  It values all things by how they impact our relationship with our Lord, by the degree we enjoy Him in them.  The Christian sees the world in a fundamentally different way than the unbeliever, because faith sees God in the world.  Any book or movie, no matter how benign its subject matter may appear to be, is presenting a false view of reality if it leaves God out.  Even the most family-friendly stories, if they ignore the reality of God, are presenting the very evil idea that people can find happiness without God.  Faith sees that God is intimately concerned with and involved in every aspect of our lives.  In heaven we will behold God face to face (1 John 3:2).  For the present we are made aware of God’s presence with us only by faith, while we are engaged in acts of obedience to His will.  

Monday, January 18, 2010

If You Lack—Ask God

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously without reproach, and it will be given to Him.”  James 1:5

This verse tells us that God will respond to sincere prayer  with mercy.  What is it in this verse that gives rise to prayer?  Clearly, it is our sense of need or lack.  We go to God in prayer to give us what we cannot get from anyone or anything else.  The more aware we are of what we lack, the more frequently and fervently will we go to God as the all-sufficient source of all good.  God is merciful in pouring out His undeserved blessings upon us.  Many of God’s tender mercies come to us by virtue of a promise.  We must recognize those mercies that come in answer to prayers motivated by God’s promises.  The sweetest blessings are those that we know we do not merit, but are poured out by virtue of a promise.  Such blessings strengthen our faith and fill us with gratitude to God.  Over time, such experiences of God’s mercy will greatly increase our trust and invite others to do the same. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

John Piper—Holding Fast to the Word

I consider John Piper the best teacher of this generation.  I have been reading his books and listening to his sermons for years, and it has always been richly rewarding.  John has opened up to my understanding many verses with soaring enthusiasm and unmatched clarity.  I can’t tell you how many times one of His sermons has given me sorely needed encouragement in the midst of affliction.  All of his sermons are available at his Desiring God websight without cost.  What a blessing!  A recent sermon is a stirring exhortation to hold fast to God’s word.  John starts by taking the first fifteen minutes to dramatically recite the entire book of Philippians by memory.  This is a great example for all of us to follow.  The balance of the sermon is a powerful plea to hold on to the word of life.  It doesn’t get any better than this!  The sermon is available at:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Faith is not Positive Thinking

Today a word of warning.  Beware of spiritual counterfeits that promise or guarantee you the power of God if you just follow their formula.  There are many so-called “Christian” books and ministries that claim to be biblical, but are in reality nothing but positive thinking.  These books will guarantee you a certain amount of blessing if you will engage in a certain amount of Bible reading or memorization.  They assert that an hour of prayer will guarantee you a determined result.  If you “believe God for” a set amount and are really convinced it will be given, you cannot fail.  Just believe hard enough, desire it supremely, and it will happen. This is not faith in God, it is faith in the power of positive thinking.  This involves your imagination, not trust in God’s promises. Bible reading is not magic.  These people can guarantee you nothing.  They can promise you nothing.  They are not God.  The Spirit of God sovereignly blows where He wishes (John 3:8);  He determines when and how much of His power will be poured out upon believers.  God imparts His divine influences through the means of the Bible and our faith, but He retains His sovereignty in dispensing His blessings.  

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Power of Creation—Part 3

God’s mighty power is at work in our hearts (Ephesians 3:20).  There is no more reason to not believe in creation than in God’s power at work in us. 

Another yardstick of the power He exerts on the hearts of Christians is that involved in the resurrection of Christ (Ephesians 1:17-20).  The focus of the apostle’s prayer here is that the power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power at work in every believer.  Paul exhorts us to make this comparison.  This should give us some comprehension of the awesome power that was necessary to save us!  Just as His almighty power created the universe, and raised the Lord Jesus from the grave, even so that same divine power is at work in the lives of every Christian.  If this power is working in you through faith, there will be clear evidence of its reality in your life.  The blast of an atomic bomb cannot be hidden; neither can the influence of God’s power on every part of a believer’s life leave no imprint.  The almighty working that breaks into your life through saving faith must demonstrate its reality.  God’s power will most easily be seen in afflictions; a backdrop of human weakness most clearly highlights divine power (2 Corinthians 12:10).  Thomas Manton wrote, “Confidence in the resurrection would make us go to the grave as cheerfully as we go to our beds.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Power of Creation—Part 2

When you trust God you trust an almighty creator, who is able to help you, no matter how difficult your circumstances.  It will also be of great help to you to consider the providence of God.  Providence is but creation continued.  The same power that made all things maintains all things.  This is a great comfort and relief to the soul, because it shows us that God forever remains the same.  As the Lord continually upholds and governs His universe by His almighty power, so He continually works in the hearts of believers to accomplish His purposes.

We should also often recall specific, past instances of God’s grace and power in our lives.  This will give strong assurance to our faith.  In Ephesians 3:20, Paul asserts that God’s power at work in the hearts of believers is far beyond our comprehension.  He doesn’t speak of the power which made the world, or raised Christ, or produced the miracles recorded in Scripture.  He directs our attention to the divine “power at work within us.”  This is truly breathtaking!  More tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Power of Creation—Part 1

We must not limit God’s power to the measure of our strength or faith.  The power that He exercises on our hearts is to be measured by nothing less than the power He displayed in creating the universe out of nothing!  In Psalm 124:8, in a context of overwhelming troubles, David proclaims that “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”  It is as if he had said, “As long as I can see heaven and earth, I will never doubt God; I will be able to trust Him.”  Whatever adversity we go through in life, we must always rely on God as “a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19).  If our Lord does indeed have the power to create everythiing out of nothing, surely He can provide whatever strength we need, in any situation.  This is worth taking a few days to explore.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Greatest Test—Part 5

To endure the greatest trials we must have faith.  Christians must understand the nature of biblical faith and how it is grounded on the promises of God.  Faith must have an object.  We must believe something.  Without a promise, faith has nothing to believe in.  Without God’s promises, there can be no biblical faith.  And what exactly are God’s promises?

The promises we find in Scripture reveal how far and for what God is to be trusted.  God’s loving purposes for believers are declared in His promises.  They show us the great blessings the Lord has in store for us.  They circumscribe the boundaries that our faith must operate within.  We cannot exercise faith on something that the Lord has never promised us.  Faith that is firmly grounded on divine promises draws our hearts away from worldly pleasures.  The great work of faith is to bring our hearts to God.  Faith cannot do this if our hearts are dominated by desires for the things of this world.  To break this domination, God’s promises reveal by how much the happiness of Christians excels that of unbelievers.  What a  tragedy it is when a person seeks for nothing beyond the pleasures of this life!  Faith in God’s precious promises breaks this fatal bondage by assuring believers of God’s unshakable love for them and by filling their future with hope.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Greatest Test—Part 4

The Lord’s seemingly inexplicable command to Abraham (in Genesis 22) to sacrifice his son Isaac was a test of Abraham’s faith.  The patriarch would stand or fall by faith.  More than any other virtue, it is faith that determines the fruitfulness and usefulness of our lives to God.  Every Christian’s faith, like Abraham’s, stands on the great foundation stone of God’s power.  If you want to have strong faith, faith that glorifies God, you must think often about the power of God.  God’s almighty power is the great encouragement of faith.  The very life of faith lies in dwelling often on our Lord’s power to fulfill His promises.  Whenever we exercise faith, we must have a promise of God.  Without a promise, what we think of as faith is merely imagination.  Without a promise, faith has nothing to believe.  God’s promises are what we believe; the reason we believe them is His ability to fulfill those promises. If we truly believe that God’s almighty power is engaged when He fulfills one of His promises to us, we will regard faithful obedience to His will better than all the pleasures of the world.  No matter how costly the sacrifice, a Christian will never be a loser for having obeyed God.  Tested faith is more precious than gold (1 Peter 1:7).  

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Greatest Test—Part 3

How was Abraham able to submit to God’s command to sacrifice his son Isaac?  What was in the great patriarch’s heart as he contemplated killing his son?  Could such a deed really be God’s will?  The fulfillment of all God’s promises were dependent on Isaac.  Wouldn’t Abraham’s future be sacrificed along with Isaac?  Hebrews 11:19 tells us that Abraham “considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead.”  Here we are given an inside view of the working of Abraham’s faith in this trial.  Nothing is so great an enemy to faith as human reason, when it debates with faith for the throne of our hearts.  But when our reason serves faith, what a great friend it is!  In this passage, we see how Abraham reasoned in faith in this awesome trial.  He considered that God was able (don’t miss this!) to fulfill all the promises that concerned Isaac, no matter what obstacles were in the way.  He believed that God would turn the whole course of nature upside down rather than let one of His promises fail.  It was this belief that supported Abraham’s faith.  The patriarch believed what every Christian must believe—that God is able.  Our part is to trust God and obey His will in all things; it is on God’s shoulders to fulfill His promises.  Duty belongs to us; the burden of success must be left in God’s hands.  Simply obeying our Lord and leaving the consequences to Him eases our souls of a burden we were never meant to carry.  “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).  We don’t cast our duty on the Lord, trust and obedience remains our part.  But we are to cast all our anxieties for the outcome on Him (1 Peter 5:6).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Greatest Test—Part 2

God will test us in different ways at different times.  He may at one time ask a Christian to give up something or someone very dear to them, as He did to Abraham.  You  may be called upon just once in your life to make such a costly sacrifice.  How you respond could determine the usefulness and fruitfulness of the rest of your life.  Will you respond with murmuring and impatience?  Or will you freely submit to the will of God, acknowledging His wisdom and sovereign right to deal with you as He deems best?

You will also be tested every day in regard to sinful desires that must be rejected.  It is in the things of the world we love most, the sins that we cherish most, that daily tests will come.  It is in putting to death the corruptions which are so contrary to spiritual life, and yet so deeply rooted in our nature, that we will be called upon to give up our Isaac.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Greatest Test—Part 1

Certainly the greatest test of faith that Abraham ever faced was the command of God to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22).  Isaac was the son of his wife Sarah, the son of his old age, the son in whom all the promises of God were to be fulfilled.  Abraham loved Isaac above everthing else, well...almost everything.  Abraham proved by his willingness to obey God in this awesome test that he loved and feared the Lord above all.  Believe me, God will ask nothing less of His choicest saints!  I’m not sure whether or not He tests all Christians to this degree, but our hearts must be prepared for such trials if we desire His greatest blessings.  To stand with Abraham we must be prepared to sacrifice our Isaac—what we love most in this world.  I will take a couple of days to focus on what we can learn from such tests.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What Then Shall We Say?—Part 3

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Let us consider for a moment how God is for us.  He is for us supremely in the acts of redemption mentioned in Romans 8:28-30.  Since the Lord has determined to do all this for us, what cause have we to fear?  Our God is always and irrevocably for us!  We must lay up this great truth in our hearts, for it is the ground and foundation of our relationship to Him.  We must live as those who believe that “God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).  Believing that God is for us in this way has a profound influence on every aspect of our lives.  We must get it rooted and settled in our hearts.  If we do, it will fill us with courage and peace in the most difficult circumstances.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What Then Shall We Say?—Part 2

Questions like the ones in Romans 8:31 challenge our faith: “What then shall we say to these things?”  The “things” referred to are those in the preceding verses, 28-30.  The meaning is, since God will fulfill His eternal purpose to justify, sanctify, and glorify those who have been predestined for this, who can prevent it?  “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Since God has predestined us to experience all of the blessings of redemption, and has been working in our individual lives everything needed to accomplish what He has planned, who can hinder our eternal salvation?  Given what our Lord has done for us, how are we to respond?  Our minds must dwell on these things until our hearts are profoundly affected by them.  The demonstration we have here of God’s incredible love should fill us with wonder, awe, and gratitude.  Paul in effect asks us, “What more can be said for our encouragement and satisfaction?  What more could we desire?  How can we not be satisfied with what our Lord has provided?  What use shall we make of these things?  What then shall we say?  How shall we then live?”

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What Then Shall We Say?—Part 1

The two questions put to us in Romans 8:31 are so important and overflow with so much encouragement, that I will take a few days to explore them.  The first thing to notice is that one of the most profitable things we can do is to ask questions about what we read.  This is a great help in applying biblical truth to our lives.  Examples of this abound in Scripture, and the apostle Paul was particularly adept at using questions to lead his readers to the desired conclusions.  So, to help us apply the blessed truths that he has presented in earlier chapters, and particulalry in the preceding verses, 8:28-30, Paul asks two questions in 8:31.  For any biblical truth to have its proper effect on us, we must respond to it in faith with our whole hearts.  This involves three things.  First, we must clearly understand what is taught in the passage, so that we accept it with sound belief.  Second, this foundation of certainty must be followed by serious consideration on the greatness and importance of what is taught, so that we rightly value it.  Third, in order for this truth to operate in our lives, we must see how it applies to each of us individually.  The most important truths in the Bible will have no effect on us until we receive them in this complete way.  More tomorrow.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Affliction versus Sin

Moses’ self-denial in choosing to suffer affliction rather than to enjoy sin was a sound and very rational decision.  Thomas Manton vindicated Moses’ choice by comparing the effects of affliction with those of sin.  He wrote that the greatest affliction should be chosen before the least sin because:

Sin is a transgression of God’s law that diminishes what truly satisfies us; affliction diminishes our happiness only for a short time.

It is a greater misery to be in a sinful state that separates us from God, than in an afflicted condition that may actually draw us nearer to God.

We can rejoice in afflictions because good may be the final result, but we can never rejoice in our sins.

Affliction is often sent by God to prevent sin, but sin must never be committed to escape affliction.

We lose by sin what is of eternal value, the loss involved in suffering is only for a moment.

Sin is an offense against Almighty God, the creator of all things, and therefore is of infinitely greater consequence than the temporary affliction of one of His creatures.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Priorities and Choices

God has commanded us to seek His kingdom and His righteousness before the interests of our bodies, before the  things we need in this world (Matthew 6:33).  He has promised that if we live by this prority we will not lack what we need.  Whoever fails to live by this wisdom is a fool in God’s eyes.  Our commitment to this priority will be tested.  The truly wise person has learned that heaven is to be preferred before earth, the salvation of our souls before the welfare of our bodies, and the greatest affliction is to be chosen before the least sin.  We have the example of Moses, who chose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:25).  Thomas Manton, the great Puritan, wrote that the choice Moses made, which may seem so radical to us at first glance, is eminently worthy of our consideration and imitation.  We will consider it further tomorrow.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Prayers that Instruct and Encourage

Prayers that Instruct and Encourage

Below are a few lines from a Puritan prayer.  The Puritans had such a reverent and profound knowledge of Scripture that their prayers are tremendously instructive and encouraging.  But many Christians today have a strong prejudice against any form of prayer.  Many associate forms with insincerity, and fear they will degenerate into sterile formality.  That can happen, but today the far greater problem is  the lack of any structure, discipline, or aid to motivate prayer.  I can only say that I pray through a Puritan prayer (from The Valley of Vision) every morning, and far from having a deadening effect, they have proved to be a great source of fuel to fan the flames of spiritual life.  These Puritan prayers are very God-centered and  help free us from self-centeredness in prayer.


My God, You are all  my good in times of peace, my only support in days of trouble, my one sufficiency when life shall end.

Help me to see how good Your will is in all,and even when it crosses mine teach me to be pleased with it.  Grant me to feel You in fire, and food and every providence.

If it be consistent with Your eternal counsels, the purpose of Your grace, and the great ends of Your glory, then bestow upon me the blessings of Your comforts; if not, let me resign myself to Your wiser determinations.


Friday, January 1, 2010

More Thoughts on Our Country

We are witnessing a host of things in our country and in our government that are shocking and very distressing.  Endlessly thinking and talking about our national woes, without taking God into consideration, will erode our joy and confidence, filling our hearts with fear and foreboding.  In times like these, Christians need more than ever to dwell on God’s sovereignty over all things.  He is still on His throne and can do whatever He pleases.  He is the one who sets up one ruler and brings down another. And what we see happening around us may hold great blessing, as well as severe judgment, in store for us.  The Bible makes clear that material prosperity is a great danger.  It can turn an individual or a nation away from dependence on God.  America is in the process of squandering one of the greatest legacies of God-given liberty and prosperity ever seen.  An economic upheaval such as we have never experienced may be the very thing that will open our hearts to God.  It may very well be the answer to so many of our prayers.  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way” (Psalm 46:1-2).