Tag Archives: keep

Are You Planting God’s Word?

 

 Pictures of Farmers Planting

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His Resurrection Destiny

From: Utmost.org

Our Lord’s Cross is the gateway into His life. His resurrection means that He has the power to convey His life to me. When I was born again, I received the very life of the risen Lord from Jesus Himself.

Christ’s resurrection destiny— His foreordained purpose— was to bring “many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). The fulfilling of His destiny gives Him the right to make us sons and daughters of God. We never have exactly the same relationship to God that the Son of God has, but we are brought by the Son into the relation of sonship. When our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life— a life He had never lived before He was God Incarnate. He rose to a life that had never been before. And what His resurrection means for us is that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life. One day we will have a body like His glorious body, but we can know here and now the power and effectiveness of His resurrection and can “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Paul’s determined purpose was to “know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10).

Jesus prayed, “…as You have given Him authority over all flesh that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him” (John 17:2). The term Holy Spiritis actually another name for the experience of eternal life working in human beings here and now. The Holy Spirit is the deity of God who continues to apply the power of the atonement by the Cross of Christ to our lives. Thank God for the glorious and majestic truth that His Spirit can work the very nature of Jesus into us, if we will only obey Him.

Promises Kept

From: Getmorestrength.org

Apr 08 2015

“Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” Joshua 21:45

I am about to let you in on a deep, life-changing, earth-shattering theological truth. Are you ready for this?

God keeps His promises!

I mean, He really keeps His promises. Even if you can’t see it today, or even if it doesn’t happen in your lifetime, He doesn’t forget and He doesn’t change His mind. If He has made a promise, He’s good with it!

I was reading in the book of Joshua recently when I came to these verses at the end of Joshua 21:41-44. Keep in mind, this is after many stories of the people of Israel rebelling and murmuring against Moses, and 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Israel had, essentially, tried to put their covenant with God in the dumper by their idolatrous, heretical, apostate ways. Even after God gave them the land of Canaan, they went back to idols. So it’s after they seemingly did all they could to mess it up that we read these astounding words at the end of Joshua’s life:

So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

Do you realize that the promises Joshua is referring to dated back hundreds of years? All the way back, in fact, to the early chapters of the book of Genesis where God chooses Abraham, promising Him numerous descendants, a national heritage, and land for each subsequent generation. Abraham acted on these promises, trusting the Lord, but the author of Hebrews 11:13 tells it like it is: Abraham and his wife, Sarah, “were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised.” They had one son, Isaac, but that hardly seemed like an auspicious start to a promised nation populated by their descendants—to say nothing of the fact that they never inherited the land.

But the story didn’t end there. From Joshua’s vantage point on his side of history, he had the privilege of seeing that God in His perfect time had kept His promises! God hadn’t forgotten. He hadn’t lost the list of the things He promised to give to Abraham. And so Joshua, standing in the land promised to Abraham, surrounded by the descendants of Abraham, marveled and praised God. No promises were left unfulfilled. Not one of them had failed.

We are so programmed today to be instantly gratified. From instant credit to ATM machines to high-speed Internet and fast-food restaurants, we are wired to getting everything we need and want now.And if we don’t get it now, our blood pressure starts to rise! But God’s timelines are wiser and better than our little antsy, often shortsighted expectations.

So hang in there! If He said it, claim it and cling to it. You can stay the course because the one thing you can count on is God’s faithfulness—regardless! We have the rock-solid witness of history and of Scripture that none of His promises will fail. I love the words Paul wrote to Timothy when he affirmed that though we are often faithless, God will be faithful to us because He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

 

APRIL 8, 2015

From: Crosswalk.com

It’s Time to Tell Someone
SUZIE ELLER

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (NLT)

They showed up at my door when I was 14.

Because they went to my school, my mom let them in. They stumbled into my room, standing awkwardly with their youth pastor behind them. One invited me to come to church. Another teen shuffled from foot to foot and asked if she could tell me about Jesus.

I didn’t want to hear it. I was angry at God, if there even was one.

I didn’t grow up in church, so I didn’t know a lot about the Bible. All I knew is that life was hard, and I didn’t want anyone to fix me.

Thank you very much, now here’s the door.

I can only imagine the scene afterwards. A bunch of teenagers clustered on the sidewalk outside our home on Latimer Street, wondering what in the world just happened.

I’m sorry. I really am.

Wherever you are, I want to thank you for trying. I don’t know why you picked me, but I love the fact that you wanted to tell me about Jesus.

That day you didn’t find fertile soil, but a small seed was planted. Jesus eventually rooted His love in my heart and changed not only me, but also generations after me. I wish you knew that the angry girl in the bedroom became a woman of faith who loves nothing more than telling others about Jesus.

In today’s passage, Paul and Apollos had faithfully planted seeds of teaching in a new church body. We see the newness of the church as members debate about who is the most important, Paul or Apollos.

Paul diverted the attention away from himself to remind them of a simple truth: Telling others about Jesus is not about one person or another. It’s not about recognition. It’s not even about success or failure.

It’s about faithfully planting seeds, watering them and allowing God to grow them.

If someone were to look at those teens standing in my room, they might think that their words had little effect. One day in Heaven I plan to thank them. For every person, including them, who bravely shared the truth with me planted a seed of faith in my heart.

Like Apollos and Paul, one planted. Another watered.

And then, at just the right time, a seed sprouted and broke the crusty soil of my angry heart.

Why am I telling you this?

Maybe you’ve sensed for a long time that you’re to talk to someone about Jesus. You’ve hesitated because you don’t know how or you don’t want to fail. Perhaps you even experienced someone like I once was, and it made you think twice about trying again.

But I want you to know something.

When you move beyond your fears to tell someone that Jesus loves them, it may be exactly what they need to hear that day even if they don’t know it yet.

I want a front seat one day in Heaven when those teens discover that their bravery wasn’t in vain. I want to hug their necks and thank them. In fact, there will be a lot of seed sowers I want to thank, because all of them together made a difference.

They sowed. Some watered. God grew me.

If God is leading you to tell someone about Jesus, don’t miss that moment. There might be someone in your path — a woman, a girl, a friend, a loved one — who doesn’t know Jesus loves them and His love changes you forever.

Lord, thank You for allowing me to plant a seed, or water a seed or perhaps to even watch a seed come to fruition in the life of another. Lead me. Guide me. Show me what to say and when to say it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Morning

From: Charles Spurgeon, Biblegateway

“If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?”
Luke 23:31

Among other interpretations of this suggestive question, the following is full of teaching: “If the innocent substitute for sinners, suffer thus, what will be done when the sinner himself–the dry tree–shall fall into the hands of an angry God?” When God saw Jesus in the sinner’s place, he did not spare him; and when he finds the unregenerate without Christ, he will not spare them. O sinner, Jesus was led away by his enemies: so shall you be dragged away by fiends to the place appointed for you. Jesus was deserted of God; and if he, who was only imputedly a sinner, was deserted, how much more shall you be? “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” what an awful shriek! But what shall be your cry when you shall say, “O God! O God! why hast thou forsaken me?” and the answer shall come back, “Because ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.” If God spared not his own Son, how much less will he spare you! What whips of burning wire will be yours when conscience shall smite you with all its terrors. Ye richest, ye merriest, ye most self-righteous sinners–who would stand in your place when God shall say, “Awake, O sword, against the man that rejected me; smite him, and let him feel the smart forever”? Jesus was spit upon: sinner, what shame will be yours! We cannot sum up in one word all the mass of sorrows which met upon the head of Jesus who died for us; therefore it is impossible for us to tell you what streams, what oceans of grief must roll over your spirit if you die as you now are. You may die so, you may die now. By the agonies of Christ, by his wounds and by his blood, do not bring upon yourselves the wrath to come! Trust in the Son of God, and you shall never die.

Evening

“I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.”
Psalm 23:4

Behold, how independent of outward circumstances the Holy Ghost can make the Christian! What a bright light may shine within us when it is all dark without! How firm, how happy, how calm, how peaceful we may be, when the world shakes to and fro, and the pillars of the earth are removed! Even death itself, with all its terrible influences, has no power to suspend the music of a Christian’s heart, but rather makes that music become more sweet, more clear, more heavenly, till the last kind act which death can do is to let the earthly strain melt into the heavenly chorus, the temporal joy into the eternal bliss! Let us have confidence, then, in the blessed Spirit’s power to comfort us. Dear reader, are you looking forward to poverty? Fear not; the divine Spirit can give you, in your want, a greater plenty than the rich have in their abundance. You know not what joys may be stored up for you in the cottage around which grace will plant the roses of content. Are you conscious of a growing failure of your bodily powers? Do you expect to suffer long nights of languishing and days of pain? O be not sad! That bed may become a throne to you. You little know how every pang that shoots through your body may be a refining fire to consume your dross–a beam of glory to light up the secret parts of your soul. Are the eyes growing dim? Jesus will be your light. Do the ears fail you? Jesus’ name will be your soul’s best music, and his person your dear delight. Socrates used to say, “Philosophers can be happy without music;” and Christians can be happier than philosophers when all outward causes of rejoicing are withdrawn. In thee, my God, my heart shall triumph, come what may of ills without! By thy power, O blessed Spirit, my heart shall be exceeding glad, though all things should fail me here below.

There Is Happiness In Christ

 

Happy Christians Around the World

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Why We Lack Understanding

From: Utmost.org

As the disciples were commanded, you should also say nothing until the Son of Man has risen in you— until the life of the risen Christ so dominates you that you truly understand what He taught while here on earth. When you grow and develop the right condition inwardly, the words Jesus spoke become so clear that you are amazed you did not grasp them before. In fact, you were not able to understand them before because you had not yet developed the proper spiritual condition to deal with them.

Our Lord doesn’t hide these things from us, but we are not prepared to receive them until we are in the right condition in our spiritual life. Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). We must have a oneness with His risen life before we are prepared to bear any particular truth from Him. Do we really know anything about the indwelling of the risen life of Jesus? The evidence that we do is that His Word is becoming understandable to us. God cannot reveal anything to us if we don’t have His Spirit. And our own unyielding and headstrong opinions will effectively prevent God from revealing anything to us. But our insensible thinking will end immediately once His resurrection life has its way with us.

“…tell no one….” But so many people do tell what they saw on the Mount of Transfiguration— their mountaintop experience. They have seen a vision and they testify to it, but there is no connection between what they say and how they live. Their lives don’t add up because the Son of Man has not yet risen in them. How long will it be before His resurrection life is formed and evident in you and in me?

 

Their Strength

From: Streams in the Desert

Their strength is to sit still. (Isa. 30:7).

In order really to know God, inward stillness is absolutely necessary. I remember when I first learned this. A time of great emergency had risen in my life, when every part of my being seemed to throb with anxiety, and when the necessity for immediate and vigorous action seemed overpowering; and yet circumstances were such that I could do nothing, and the person who could, would not stir.

For a little while it seemed as if I must fly to pieces with the inward turmoil, when suddenly the still small voice whispered in the depths of my soul, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The word was with power, and I hearkened. I composed my body to perfect stillness, and I constrained my troubled spirit into quietness, and looked up and waited; and then I did “know” that it was God, God even in the very emergency and in my helplessness to meet it; and I rested in Him.

It was an experience that I would not have missed for worlds; and I may add also, that out of this stillness seemed to arise a power to deal with the emergency, that very soon brought it to a successful issue. I learned then effectually that my “strength was to sit still.”
–Hannah Whitall Smith

There is a perfect passivity which is not indolence. It is a living stillness born of trust. Quiet tension is not trust. It is simply compressed anxiety.

Not in the tumult of the rending storm,
Not in the earthquake or devouring flame;
But in the hush that could all fear transform,
The still, small whisper to the prophet came.
0 Soul, keep silence on the mount of God,
Though cares and needs throb around thee like a sea;
From supplications and desires unshod,
Be still, and hear what God shall say to thee.
All fellowship hath interludes of rest,
New strength maturing in each poise of power;
The sweetest Alleluias of the blest
Are silent, for the space of half an hour.
0 rest, in utter quietude of soul,
Abandon words, leave prayer and praise awhile;
Let thy whole being, hushed in His control,
Learn the full meaning of His voice and smile.
Not as an athlete wrestling for a crown,
Not taking Heaven by violence of will;
But with thy Father as a child sit down,

And know the bliss that follows His “Be Still!”
–Mary Rowles Jarvis

 

The tomb of Jesus

From: Charles Spurgeon, and Biblegateway

“Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Matthew 28:6

Suggested Further Reading: John 20:1-10

Come, Christian, for angels are the porters to unbar the door; come, for a cherub is thy messenger to usher thee into the death-place of death himself. Nay, start not from the entrance; let not the darkness frighten thee; the vault is not damp with the vapours of death, nor does the air contain anything of contagion. Come, for it is a pure and healthy place. Fear not to enter that tomb. I will admit that catacombs are not the places where we, who are full of joy, would love to go. There is something gloomy and offensive about a vault. There are noxious smells of corruption; often pestilence is born where a dead body has lain; but fear it not, Christian, for Christ was not left in hell,in hades,neither did his body see corruption. Come, there is no foul smell, but rather a perfume. Step in here, and, if thou didst ever breathe the gales of Ceylon, or winds from the groves of Arabia, thou shalt find them far excelled by that sweet holy fragrance left by the blessed body of Jesus, that alabaster vase which once held divinity, and was rendered sweet and precious thereby. Think not thou shalt find anything obnoxious to thy senses. Corruption Jesus never saw; no worms ever devoured his flesh; no rottenness ever entered into his bones; he saw no corruption. Three days he slumbered, but not long enough to putrify; he soon arose, perfect as when he entered, uninjured as when his limbs were composed for their slumber. Come then, Christian, summon up thy thoughts, gather all thy powers; here is a sweet invitation, let me press it again. Let me lead thee by the hand of meditation, my brother; let me take thee by the arm, and let me again say to thee, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

For meditation: “Come, see …. Go …and tell.” (Matthew 28:6,7).

Sermon no. 18
7 April (Preached 8 April 1855—Easter)

 

Perfect cleansing

From: Charles Spurgeon

‘For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed.’ Joel 3:21

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:51–58

If it be promised to us that the old nature shall thus be removed, and we shall be purged, what then? Why, then, let us struggle against our corruption, because we shall get the victory. Nothing makes a man fight like the hope of getting the victory. When poor soldiers feel that it is of no use, then they are only too glad to hear the trumpet sound a retreat; but when they are confident of victory, how they draw their swords, how they haste to the struggle, how they weary not of the fight. Even now, today, my soul takes hold upon her sword. Sin, death, and hell I defy you, for I shall bear the palm as surely as I bear the sword. I shall wear the crown as certainly as I agonised unto death. Struggle with yourselves, strive daily to get the mastery of your passions. The victory is sure. Let no discouragement weaken you. ‘Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.’ He is able to give you the victory through Jesus Christ your Lord. And what next? Why, today, pray against your corruptions more than ever you have done. You have got a promise to plead. Take it, salt it with your tears. Lay it upon the altar; put your hands upon the horns of the altar, and say, ‘Great God, I will not rise, I will not let thee go until I know by divine assurance that this promise shall be fulfilled to me.’ So shall you go forth to your daily struggle with temptation, wearing a smile upon your face, and smoothing those wrinkles on your brow. Sorrow does not become the man who has so rich a promise. Be glad. The joy of the Lord shall be your strength. You shall at last win the victory. Sinner! he that believes in Christ may claim this text for himself. Believe, and this text is yours as well as mine.

For meditation: As a young man David knew that the battle was the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47); as an old man he knew that the victory also was the Lord’s (1 Chronicles 29:11). By faith the Christian shares in the victory over the world now (1 John 5:4) and over death in the time to come (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Sermon no. 379
7 April (1861)

The Collision of God and Sin

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The Collision of God and Sin

From: Utmost.org

The Cross of Christ is the revealed truth of God’s judgment on sin. Never associate the idea of martyrdom with the Cross of Christ. It was the supreme triumph, and it shook the very foundations of hell. There is nothing in time or eternity more absolutely certain and irrefutable than what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross— He made it possible for the entire human race to be brought back into a right-standing relationship with God. He made redemption the foundation of human life; that is, He made a way for every person to have fellowship with God.

The Cross was not something that happened to Jesus— He came to die; the Cross was His purpose in coming. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). The incarnation of Christ would have no meaning without the Cross. Beware of separating “God was manifested in the flesh…” from “…He made Himto be sin for us…” (1 Timothy 3:16 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The purpose of the incarnation was redemption. God came in the flesh to take sin away, not to accomplish something for Himself. The Cross is the central event in time and eternity, and the answer to all the problems of both.

The Cross is not the cross of a man, but the Cross of God, and it can never be fully comprehended through human experience. The Cross is God exhibiting His nature. It is the gate through which any and every individual can enter into oneness with God. But it is not a gate we pass right through; it is one where we abide in the life that is found there.

The heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ. The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much. The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened. But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God.

 

APRIL 6, 2015

From: Crosswalk.com

When You’re Stuck in the Middle
ALICIA BRUXVOORT

“Then Jesus became explicit, ‘Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.’” John 11:14-15 (MSG)

The poor teacher couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. One minute, my daughter’s face had been decorated with her signature smile; the next, her cheeks were streaked with silent tears.

My third-born is sensitive. As a baby, she cried around the clock. As a preschooler, she cried when her big brother pulled her ponytail.

And in first grade, she cried in Sunday school when she heard the tale of Lazarus bursting forth from the tomb.

Befuddled, the teacher pulled me aside after church that day and apologized for “whatever upset Hannah during story time.” I’d assured her we knew about our little girl’s tender heart.

However, later I asked Hannah about the unexplained tears. Like her teacher, I had no idea what might have prompted her sadness. After all, the resurrection recorded in the eleventh chapter of John seems more like a celebration-sparker than a tear-jerker.

“I wasn’t planning to cry, Mommy,” Hannah explained. “But that story just made me feel so sad.”

I squatted low to look my daughter in the eye. “Honey, the story of Lazarus is one of Jesus’ greatest miracles.”

“I know,” Hannah conceded. “I just felt so bad for those sisters. I kept thinking about how I’d feel if Jesus had let me down like that.”

“But, Hannah” I said, “You already know the ending to the story. Jesus shows up and makes everything right. Those sisters get their brother back, and they all have a graveside party!”

My girl exhaled an exasperated sigh, whispering, “Even if you know the ending, the middle can still hurt.”

My stomach lurched at the huge truth that hung between us, and suddenly, I understood the tears.

My little girl had gotten stuck in “the middle.”

She’d stood at the edge of the tomb where a beloved brother lay lifeless, crying right alongside those sisters.

I’ve been there. And if you’ve been traveling this world’s broken road for a while, you probably have, too.

The middle is where we call on God and wonder if He hears our cries.

The middle is where doubts rage loud, and our Savior grows quiet.

The middle is where life doesn’t make sense, faith seems foolish and hope seems lost.

When sickness strikes, when a friend betrays, when a spouse disappoints or a child rebels, we can find ourselves hoping for a better ending to our story.

Maybe you’re there now, feet planted shakily at the edge of the tomb where your hopes and dreams are buried. If you are, I’m sorry.

But listen to what Jesus told the disciples before raising Lazarus from the dead: “You’re about to be given new grounds for believing” (John 11:15).

You see, the middle isn’t just a place of pain. It’s a place of possibility. That middle ground is fertile soil for flourishing faith.

The middle is where we decide what we believe about Jesus — regardless of our circumstances. Before Jesus performed a miracle, Martha made her decision: “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God” (John 11:27b, NLT).

And Jesus replied with a promise we can claim for ourselves: “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40b, MSG)

Do you see it now? We don’t survive the middle by rewriting the story; we survive it by anchoring our hope to the One who has already scripted the perfect ending.

There will come a day when no one will be stuck in the middle, with no more tears and no more pain (Revelation 21:3-5).

So, plant your feet firmly on the promises of Christ, dear friend. Because life on this side of Heaven is just the scene before the miracle. And if we believe in Jesus, we already know there’s a happy ending.

Dear Jesus, I’m stuck in the middle and it hurts. But I believe You are the resurrection and the life. Help me choose faith instead of fear. Renew my hope in Your glorious ending. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Revelation 21:6a, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” (The Voice)

 

Be Watchful

From: Streams in the Desert

I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me (Hab. 2: 1).

There is no waiting on God for help, and there is no help from God, without watchful expectation on our part. If we ever fail to receive strength and defense from Him, it is because we are not on the outlook for it. Many a proffered succour from heaven goes past us, because we are not standing on our watch-tower to catch the far-off indications of its approach, and to fling open the gates of our heart for its entrance. He whose expectation does not lead him to be on the alert for its coming will get but little. Watch for God in the events of your life.
The old homely proverb says: “They that watch for Providence will never want a providence to watch for,” and you may turn it the other way and say, “They that do not watch for providences will never have a providence to watch for.” Unless you put out your water-jars when it rains you will catch no water.
We want to be more business-like and use common sense with God in pleading promises. If you were to go to one of the banks, and see a man go in and out and lay a piece of paper on the table, and take it up again and nothing more–if he did that several times a day, I think there would soon be orders to keep the man out.
Those men who come to the bank in earnest present their checks, they wait until they receive their gold, and then they go; but not without having transacted real business.
They do not put the paper down, speak about the excellent signature, and discuss the excellent document; but they want their money for it, and they are not content without it. These are the people who are always welcome at the bank, and not triflers. Alas, a great many people play at praying. They do not expect God to give them an answer, and thus they are mere triflers. Our Heavenly Father would have us do real business with Him in our praying.
–C. H. Spurgeon
“Thine expectation shall not be cut off.”

April 6

From: Through the Bible

Deuteronomy 11:26-28 (NIV) 26See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse– 27the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; 28the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.

Recently, the Prayer of Jabez has become quite popular. It is a wonderful prayer that asks for the Lord to change the circumstances in which we find ourselves into blessings. We do need to remember that blessings are contingent upon obedience. As New Testament saints, we emphasize grace, but that does not change the principle of these verses. We still reap what we sow. We cannot ask for blessing while walking in disobedience and expect God to wink at our disobedience.

The choice to obey is clearly laid before us. Instead of the many rules of the Old Testament Law, we have the leading of the Holy Spirit that indwells us. We choose to obey or disobey. We choose curse or blessing. It is sad that we think we can pray for God to remove this just principle. It is there to deter us from evil and guide us into life.

What are these other gods? They are ones that promise prosperity in spite of disobedience. They are lies that say that the pleasure of sin is more than momentary. They offer an alternative to the cut and dried choice of obedience and blessing or disobedience and curse. They lie! They are disobedience and curse in disguise.

Meditation: Obedience brings the blessing of God!

Evening

April 6

Matthew 27:45-46 (NIV) 45From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus was crucified around the time of the morning sacrifice, 9 A.M. At noon there was a strange darkness. It lasted until the afternoon sacrifice, 3 P.M. It is reminiscent of the plague of darkness that covered the land of Egypt. In the area that Israel lived, there was light, but the rest of Egypt was covered with a thick darkness. God is light. In Him is no darkness at all. Was hell unleashed upon the Savior in those three hours because our sins were laid upon Him?

Toward the end of the three hours, Jesus cried out in a loud voice the beginning of Psalm 22. It is not likely that He could have said the whole phrase at once. Each painful breath had to be drawn while pulling against the nails in His wrists and pushing against those in His ankles. These few words had to say volumes. In that psalm, David prophesied the very details of what was taking place. He predicted Jesus’ anguish, His thirst, the lots cast for His clothing, and even the nails in His hands and feet. Many have taken this to be a voice of despair. I see it more as a battle cry against the darkness. Read the rest of the psalm and you will see Jesus’ thoughts are toward the victory He is achieving for those He loves. He was turning His disciples’ minds to the Word of God. It was one way, with the limited strength He had left, He could explain that this was all predicted and would end in a glorious outcome.

I encourage you to read the whole psalm to understand the fullness of where Jesus was turning their minds. Here are the last two verses. Psalms 22:30-31 (NIV) 30Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. 31They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn– for he has done it.

Consider: He has done it, for you and me! We are a part of those future generations declaring the victory won on the cross.

 

Christ Is Risen And Alive

 

CHRIST IS RISEN, HAPPY EASTER

John 2:19-22

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

Psalms 16:10

For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

Matthew 16:4

“An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away.

Romans 6:9

knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.

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His Agony and Our Access

From: Utmost.org

We can never fully comprehend Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, but at least we don’t have to misunderstand it. It is the agony of God and man in one Person, coming face to face with sin. We cannot learn about Gethsemane through personal experience. Gethsemane and Calvary represent something totally unique— they are the gateway into life for us.

It was not death on the cross that Jesus agonized over in Gethsemane. In fact, He stated very emphatically that He came with the purpose of dying. His concern here was that He might not get through this struggle as the Son of Man. He was confident of getting through it as the Son of God— Satan could not touch Him there. But Satan’s assault was that our Lord would come through for us on His own solely as the Son of Man. If Jesus had done that, He could not have been our Savior (see Hebrews 9:11-15). Read the record of His agony in Gethsemane in light of His earlier wilderness temptation— “…the devil…departed from Him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13). In Gethsemane, Satan came back and was overthrown again. Satan’s final assault against our Lord as the Son of Man was in Gethsemane.

The agony in Gethsemane was the agony of the Son of God in fulfilling His destiny as the Savior of the world. The veil is pulled back here to reveal all that it cost Him to make it possible for us to become sons of God. His agony was the basis for the simplicity of our salvation. The Cross of Christ was a triumph for the Son of Man. It was not only a sign that our Lord had triumphed, but that He had triumphed to save the human race. Because of what the Son of Man went through, every human being has been provided with a way of access into the very presence of God.

Our Co-Pilot?

From: Getmorestrength.org

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. —Galatians 2:20

The bumper sticker “Jesus is my co-pilot” may be a well-intentioned sentiment, but it has always troubled me. Whenever I’m in the driver’s seat of my life, the destination is nowhere good. Jesus is not meant to be just a spiritual “co-pilot” giving directions every now and then. He is always meant to be in the driver’s seat. Period!

We often say that Jesus died for us, which of course is true. But there’s more to it than that. Because Jesus died on the cross, something inside of us died—the power of sin. It’s what Paul meant when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). We were essentially co-crucified with Him. With Jesus in the driver’s seat, the old destinations are off-limits. No more turning down the streets of self-centeredness, greed, or lust. No more off-road ventures into the swamp of pride or the ditch of bitterness. We were crucified with Him and He is at the wheel now! He died so that He alone can drive and define us.

So, if you’ve died and Christ lives in you, He’s not your co-pilot. Your joy is to let Him drive and define your life. There may be a few bumps in the road, but you can count on it—He’ll take you somewhere good.

Lord, I thank You for salvation,
For Your mercy, full and free;
Take my all in consecration,
Glorify Yourself in me. —Codner

Still at the wheel of your life? It’s time to let Jesus drive.

 

Justification by grace

From: Biblegateway.com

Charles Spurgeon,  AT THE NEW PARK STREET CHAPEL

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 10:11-18

God demanded of Christ the payment for the sins of all his people; Christ stood forward, and to the utmost farthing paid whate’er his people owed. The sacrifice of Calvary was not a part payment; it was not a partial exoneration, it was a complete and perfect payment, and it obtained a complete and perfect remission of all the debts of all believers that have lived, do live, or shall live, to the very end of time. On that day when Christ hung on the cross, he did not leave a single farthing for us to pay as a satisfaction to God. The whole of the demands of the law were paid down there and then by Jehovah Jesus, the great high priest of all his people. And blessed be his name, he paid it all at once too. So priceless was the ransom, so princely and generous was the price demanded for our souls, one might have thought it would have been marvellous if Christ had paid it by instalments; some of it now, and some of it then. Kings’ ransoms have sometimes been paid part at once, and part in dues afterwards, to run through years. But not so our Saviour: once for all he gave himself a sacrifice; at once he counted down the price, and said, “It is finished,” leaving nothing for him to do, nor for us to accomplish. He did not drivel out a part-payment, and then declare that he would come again to die, or that he would again suffer, or that he would again obey; but down upon the nail, to the utmost farthing, the ransom of all people was paid, and a full receipt given to them, and Christ nailed that receipt to his cross.

For meditation: Those who attempt to complete or repeat a finished piece of work insult its maker and render it useless to themselves (Galatians 5:2).

Sermon no. 126
5 April (1857)

SPURGEON AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE
Source: Biblegateway.com
SUNDAY, APRIL 5, 2015

Death and life in Christ

‘Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he did unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ Romans 6:8–11

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 1:12–18

I would to God that on one of these four anchor-holds your faith might be able to get rest.Jesus died, poor trembler; if he died and took your griefs, will not his atonement save you? Rest here. Millions of souls have rested on nothing but Jesus’ death, and this is a granite foundation; no storms of hell can shake it. Get a good hand-hold on his cross; hold it, and it will hold you. You cannot depend on his death and be deceived. Try it; taste and see, and you shall find that the Lord is good, and that none can trust a dying Saviour without being with him in paradise. But if this suffice you not, he rose again. Fasten upon this. He is proved to be victor over your sin and over your adversary; can you not, therefore, depend upon him? Doubtless there have been thousands of saints who have found the richest consolation from the fact that Jesus rose again from the dead. He rose again for our justification. Sinner, hang on that. Having risen, he lives. He is not a dead Saviour, a dead sacrifice. He must be able to hear our plea and to present his own. Depend on a living Saviour; depend on him now. He lives for ever, and therefore it is not too late for him to save you. If you cry to him he will hear your prayer, even though it be in life’s last moment, for he lives for ever. Though the ends of the earth were come, and you were the last man, yet he ever lives to intercede before his Father’s face. O gad not about to find any other hope! Here are four great stones for you; build your hope on these; you cannot want surer foundation—he dies, he rises, he lives, he lives for ever.

For meditation: All kinds of questions, doubts and fears attack our faith (Romans 8:32–34); the very best answers are to be found in the crucified and risen Saviour who intercedes for us at the right hand of God.

Sermon no. 503
5 April (Easter 1863)

Jesus Lives

 

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Jesus Christ, Resurrection

Matthew 28:6

“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.

Acts 1:3

To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

Revelation 1:5

and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood–

Colossians 1:18

He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

Luke 24:39

“See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

I know that my redeemer lives

From:  Charles Spurgeon, Biblegateway.com

‘For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.’ Job 19:25–26

Suggested Further Reading: Ruth 3:1–4:10

The word ‘redeemer’ here used, is in the original ‘goel’—kinsman. The duty of the kinsman, or goel, was this: suppose an Israelite had alienated his estate, as in the case of Naomi and Ruth; suppose a patrimony which had belonged to a family, had passed away through poverty, it was the goel’s business, the redeemer’s business to pay the price as the next of kin, and to buy back the heritage. Boaz stood in that relation to Ruth. Now, the body may be looked upon as the heritage of the soul—the soul’s little farm, that little plot of earth in which the soul has been wont to walk and delight, as a man walks in his garden or dwells in his house. Now, that becomes alienated. Death, like Ahab, takes away the vineyard from us who are as Naboth; we lose our patrimonial estate; death sends his troops to take our vineyard and to spoil the vines thereof and ruin it. But we turn round to death and say, ‘I know that my Goel liveth, and he will redeem this heritage; I have lost it; thou takest it from me lawfully, O death, because my sin hath forfeited my right; I have lost my heritage through my own offence, and through that of my first parent Adam; but there lives one who will buy this back.’ Brethren, Job could say this of Christ long before he had descended upon earth, ‘I know that my redeemer liveth;’ and now that he has ascended up on high, and led captivity captive, surely we may with double emphasis say, ‘I know that my Goel, my Kinsman liveth, and that he hath paid the price, that I should have back my patrimony, so that in my flesh I shall see God.’

For meditation: The Christian can correctly view redemption as something past (Galatians 3:13) and present (Ephesians 1:7); but to stop at the redemption of the soul is to ignore the last vital chapter of the story. We still await the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30) and the actual redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23).

Sermon no. 504
4 April (Preached 12 April 1863)

 

The Way to Permanent Faith

Jesus was not rebuking the disciples in this passage. Their faith was real, but it was disordered and unfocused, and was not at work in the important realities of life. The disciples were scattered to their own concerns and they had interests apart from Jesus Christ. After we have the perfect relationship with God, through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, our faith must be exercised in the realities of everyday life. We will be scattered, not into service but into the emptiness of our lives where we will see ruin and barrenness, to know what internal death to God’s blessings means. Are we prepared for this? It is certainly not of our own choosing, but God engineers our circumstances to take us there. Until we have been through that experience, our faith is sustained only by feelings and by blessings. But once we get there, no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. That is what is meant by faith being exercised in the realities of life.

“…you…will leave Me alone.” Have we been scattered and have we left Jesus alone by not seeing His providential care for us? Do we not see God at work in our circumstances? Dark times are allowed and come to us through the sovereignty of God. Are we prepared to let God do what He wants with us? Are we prepared to be separated from the outward, evident blessings of God? Until Jesus Christ is truly our Lord, we each have goals of our own which we serve. Our faith is real, but it is not yet permanent. And God is never in a hurry. If we are willing to wait, we will see God pointing out that we have been interested only in His blessings, instead of in God Himself. The sense of God’s blessings is fundamental.

“…be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Unyielding spiritual fortitude is what we need.

April 4

From: Through the Bible

Deuteronomy 11:13-14 (NIV) 13So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today–to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul– 14then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil.

Many of the promises of God are conditional. There is an “if you…” and a “then I will…” In this passage God tells the Children of Israel that their economy is dependent on their obedience. God did give them certain laws that would make their agrarian lifestyle more productive. He also brought them to a land that was dependent on seasonal rains. Farmers throughout the ages have had to depend on the Weather Maker. It was an incentive to obey God. When they turned from God and had drought, they tried other gods that claimed to bring rain, like Baal.

At the moment of writing this, the place I am living is experiencing extreme drought. The government of the area recently repealed what they called ‘antiquated laws’, laws that had to do with sexual morality. “Those came from the Bible and we don’t all believe in the Bible anymore,” they say. But that is not true. All western law is Biblically based. Society has just chosen to pick and choose the laws they will enforce. That does not change the promises of God.

In this drought with devastating forest fires, I have not heard one person say there is a need for us to repent. I hear, “Pray for rain.” That is general enough so as to offend no one. We have forgotten that God is the Weather Maker, and that many of His promises are conditional.

Consider: Difficulty can be an expression of grace to turn us back to God.

Evening

April 4

Matthew 27:17, 21b-22 (NIV) 17So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”

21b“Barabbas,” they answered. 22“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”

It hadn’t been that many days before this that they were shouting for Jesus to save them, save them from Rome. That week was spent sharing the words of life with all who would hear in the Temple. They had come to a crossroad. Would they ask for the release of Barabbas, the zealot that killed Roman soldiers, or Jesus, the healer and teacher? Will they choose the physical answer to their needs, or the spiritual answer? Will they choose the way of the flesh or the way of the Spirit? “They all answered, “Crucify him!”

We are often faced with the same choice. We have to decide whether we will proceed with our lives on the basis of what man can accomplish, or take a whole new path led by the Spirit of God. Will we choose the physical answer to our needs or the spiritual answer, the way of the flesh or the way of the Spirit? One is death, and the other is life.

Pilate did not have just cause to execute Jesus and told the crowd as much. They didn’t care. They said they would personally bear the guilt. “His blood be on us and our children.” We look back at the history of suffering the Jews have endured and wonder at the connection with their readiness to accept the blame for His murder. We trust that in God’s time that expression will mean their salvation.

Pilate had Jesus whipped. It was a process they called ‘half death’. Those who wielded the whips were medically trained to recognize shock. They wove into the end of the whips pieces of bone or lead so that the muscles of the back would be shredded. It was so brutal that sometimes the organs were exposed. Those wielding the whips were not held responsible should the victim die. Isaiah said, “By His stripes we are healed.”

Prayer: Thank you Lord, for enduring that for us!

If You Had Known

 

“If You Had Known!”

From: Utmost.org

Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly and the city was stirred to its very foundations, but a strange god was there– the pride of the Pharisees. It was a god that seemed religious and upright, but Jesus compared it to “whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

What is it that blinds you to the peace of God “in thisyour day”? Do you have a strange god– not a disgusting monster but perhaps an unholy nature that controls your life? More than once God has brought me face to face with a strange god in my life, and I knew that I should have given it up, but I didn’t do it. I got through the crisis “by the skin of my teeth,” only to find myself still under the control of that strange god. I am blind to the very things that make for my own peace. It is a shocking thing that we can be in the exact place where the Spirit of God should be having His completely unhindered way with us, and yet we only make matters worse, increasing our blame in God’s eyes.

“If you had known….” God’s words here cut directly to the heart, with the tears of Jesus behind them. These words imply responsibility for our own faults. God holds us accountable for what we refuse to see or are unable to see because of our sin. And “now they are hidden from your eyes” because you have never completely yielded your nature to Him. Oh, the deep, unending sadness for what might have been! God never again opens the doors that have been closed. He opens other doors, but He reminds us that there are doors which we have shut– doors which had no need to be shut. Never be afraid when God brings back your past. Let your memory have its way with you. It is a minister of God bringing its rebuke and sorrow to you. God will turn what might have been into a wonderful lesson of growth for the future.

To The Rescue

From: Getmorestrength.org

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. —Luke 15:7

Martie and I recently traveled to some major cities in several countries. We were struck with how lost our world is and grieved over the millions who have never heard the message of the saving grace of Jesus. The thought of reaching our world for Christ felt overwhelming.

Until I remembered the story of the boy walking on a beach. Encountering hundreds of starfish dying under the heat of the burning sun, he started throwing them back into the sea. A passerby asked, “What are you doing?” “Saving their lives,” the boy replied. “Forget it,” the man said. “You can’t possibly save all these starfish.” “Right,” replied the boy, “but it makes a big difference to each one I do save.”

I love the boy’s perspective. When the wave of sin threw us onto the shore to die, God sent His Son to walk on the beach to rescue all who would repent. And, as Jesus told His listeners in Luke 15, each time someone is rescued, heaven throws a party. “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).

Has heaven rejoiced over your rescue? If so, join the ranks of those who reach other lost souls with the rescuing grace of Jesus.

Your love, O God, would spare no pain
To conquer death and win;
You sent Your only Son to die
To rescue us from sin. —M. Gustafson

When you’ve been rescued, you’ll want to rescue others.

 

Streams in the Desert

Glorify ye the Lord in the fires” (Isa. 24:15).

Mark the little word “in”! We are to honor Him in the trial–in that which is an affliction indeed and though there have been cases where God did not let His saints feel the fire, yet, ordinarily, fire hurts.
But just here we are to glorify Him by our perfect faith in His goodness and love that has permitted all this to come upon us.
And more than that, we are to believe that out of this is coming something more for His praise than could have come but for this fiery trial.
We can only go through some fires with a large faith; little faith will fail. We must have the victory in the furnace.  –Margaret Bottome
A man has as much religion as he can show in times of trouble. The men who were cast into the fiery furnace came out as they went in–except their bonds.
How often in some furnace of affliction God strikes them off! Their bodies were unhurt–their skin not even blistered. Their hair was unsinged, their garments not scorched, and even the smell of fire had not passed upon them. And that is the way Christians should come out of furnace trials–liberated from their bonds, but untouched by the flames.
“Triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15).
That is the real triumph–triumphing over sickness, in it; triumphing over death, dying; triumphing over adverse circumstances, in them. Oh, believe me, there is a power that can make us victors in the strife. There are heights to be reached where we can look down and over the way we have come, and sing our song of triumph on this side of Heaven. We can make others regard us as rich, while we are poor, and make many rich in our poverty. Our triumph is to be in it. Christ’s triumph was in His humiliation. Possibly our triumph, also, is to be made manifest in what seems to others humiliation.
–Margaret Bottome
Is there not something captivating in the sight of a man or a woman burdened with many tribulations and yet carrying a heart as sound as a bell? Is there not something contagiously valorous in the vision of one who is greatly tempted, but is more than conqueror? Is it not heartening to see some pilgrim who is broken in body, but who retains the splendor of an unbroken patience? What a witness all this offers to the enduement of His grace!  –J. H. Jowett
“When each earthly prop gives under,
And life seems a restless sea,
Are you then a God-kept wonder,
Satisfied and calm and free?”

 

Morning

From: Charles Spurgeon, Biblegateway.com

“They took Jesus, and led him away.”
John 19:16

He had been all night in agony, he had spent the early morning at the hall of Caiaphas, he had been hurried from Caiaphas to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod back again to Pilate; he had, therefore, but little strength left, and yet neither refreshment nor rest were permitted him. They were eager for his blood, and therefore led him out to die, loaded with the cross. O dolorous procession! Well may Salem’s daughters weep. My soul, do thou weep also.

What learn we here as we see our blessed Lord led forth? Do we not perceive that truth which was set forth in shadow by the scapegoat? Did not the high-priest bring the scapegoat, and put both his hands upon its head, confessing the sins of the people, that thus those sins might be laid upon the goat, and cease from the people? Then the goat was led away by a fit man into the wilderness, and it carried away the sins of the people, so that if they were sought for they could not be found. Now we see Jesus brought before the priests and rulers, who pronounce him guilty; God himself imputes our sins to him, “the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all;” “He was made sin for us;” and, as the substitute for our guilt, bearing our sin upon his shoulders, represented by the cross; we see the great Scapegoat led away by the appointed officers of justice. Beloved, can you feel assured that he carried your sin? As you look at the cross upon his shoulders, does it represent your sin? There is one way by which you can tell whether he carried your sin or not. Have you laid your hand upon his head, confessed your sin, and trusted in him? Then your sin lies not on you; it has all been transferred by blessed imputation to Christ, and he bears it on his shoulder as a load heavier than the cross.

Let not the picture vanish till you have rejoiced in your own deliverance, and adored the loving Redeemer upon whom your iniquities were laid.

Evening

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Isaiah 53:6

Here a confession of sin common to all the elect people of God. They have all fallen, and therefore, in common chorus, they all say, from the first who entered heaven to the last who shall enter there, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” The confession, while thus unanimous, is also special and particular: “We have turned every one to his own way.” There is a peculiar sinfulness about every one of the individuals; all are sinful, but each one with some special aggravation not found in his fellow. It is the mark of genuine repentance that while it naturally associates itself with other penitents, it also takes up a position of loneliness. “We have turned every one to his own way,” is a confession that each man had sinned against light peculiar to himself, or sinned with an aggravation which he could not perceive in others. This confession is unreserved; there is not a word to detract from its force, nor a syllable by way of excuse. The confession is a giving up of all pleas of self-righteousness. It is the declaration of men who are consciously guilty–guilty with aggravations, guilty without excuse: they stand with their weapons of rebellion broken in pieces, and cry, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” Yet we hear no dolorous wailings attending this confession of sin; for the next sentence makes it almost a song. “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” It is the most grievous sentence of the three, but it overflows with comfort. Strange is it that where misery was concentrated mercy reigned; where sorrow reached her climax weary souls find rest. The Saviour bruised is the healing of bruised hearts. See how the lowliest penitence gives place to assured confidence through simply gazing at Christ on the cross!

Christians Have Jesus And Are Happy

 

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Image result for pictures of happy christiansImage result for pictures of happy christians

The Glory That’s Unsurpassed

From: Utmost.org

When Paul received his sight, he also received spiritual insight into the Person of Jesus Christ. His entire life and preaching from that point on were totally consumed with nothing but Jesus Christ— “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Paul never again allowed anything to attract and hold the attention of his mind and soul except the face of Jesus Christ.

We must learn to maintain a strong degree of character in our lives, even to the level that has been revealed in our vision of Jesus Christ.

The lasting characteristic of a spiritual man is the ability to understand correctly the meaning of the Lord Jesus Christ in his life, and the ability to explain the purposes of God to others. The overruling passion of his life is Jesus Christ. Whenever you see this quality in a person, you get the feeling that he is truly a man after God’s own heart (see Acts 13:22).

Never allow anything to divert you from your insight into Jesus Christ. It is the true test of whether you are spiritual or not. To be unspiritual means that other things have a growing fascination for you.

Since mine eyes have looked on Jesus,
I’ve lost sight of all beside,
So enchained my spirit’s vision,
Gazing on the Crucified.

 Streams In The Desert

The Glory Of The Lord

They looked… and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud” (Exod. 16:10).

Get into the habit of looking for the silver lining of the cloud and when you have found it, continue to look at it, rather than at the leaden gray in the middle.
Do not yield to discouragement no matter how sorely pressed or beset you may be. A discouraged soul is helpless. He can neither resist the wiles of the enemy himself, while in this state, nor can he prevail in prayer for others.
Flee from every symptom of this deadly foe as you would flee from a viper. And be not slow in turning your back on it, unless you want to bite the dust in bitter defeat.
Search out God’s promises and say aloud of each one: “This promise is mine.” If you still experience a feeling of doubt and discouragement, pour out your heart to God and ask Him to rebuke the adversary who is so mercilessly nagging you.
The very instant you whole-heartedly turn away from every symptom of distrust and discouragement, the blessed Holy Spirit will quicken your faith and inbreathe Divine strength into your soul.
At first you may not be conscious of this, still as you resolutely and uncompromisingly “snub” every tendency toward doubt and depression that assails you, you will soon be made aware that the powers of darkness are falling back.
Oh, if our eyes could only behold the solid phalanx of strength, of power, that is ever behind every turning away from the hosts of darkness, God-ward, what scant heed would be given to the effort of the wily foe to distress, depress, discourage us!
All the marvelous attributes of the Godhead are on the side of the weakest believer, who in the name of Christ, and in simple, childlike trust, yields himself to God and turns to Him for help and guidance.  –Selected
On a day in the autumn, I saw a prairie eagle mortally wounded by a rifle shot. His eye still gleamed like a circle of light. Then he slowly turned his head, and gave one more searching and longing look at the sky. He had often swept those starry spaces with his wonderful wings. The beautiful sky was the home of his heart. It was the eagle’s domain. A thousand times he had exploited there his splendid strength. In those far away heights be had played with the lightnings, and raced with the winds, and now, so far away from home, the eagle lay dying, done to the death, because for once be forgot and flew too low. The soul is that eagle. This is not its home. It must not lose the skyward look. We must keep faith, we must keep hope, we must keep courage, we must keep Christ. We would better creep away from the battlefield at once if we are not going to be brave. There is no time for the soul to stampede. Keep the skyward look, my soul; keep the skyward look!
“Keep looking up–
The waves that roar around thy feet,
Jehovah-Jireh will defeat
When looking up.
“Keep looking up–
Though darkness seems to wrap thy soul;
The Light of Light shall fill thy soul
When looking up.
“Keep looking up–
When worn, distracted with the fight;
Your Captain gives you conquering might
When you look up.”
We can never see the sun rise by looking into the west.
–Japanese Proverb

Joseph attacked by the archers

From: Biblegateway

“The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel).” Genesis 49:23,24

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 4:1-12

“The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone of the corner.” It is said that when Solomon’s temple was being built, all the stones were brought from the quarry ready cut and fashioned, and there was marked on all the blocks the places where they were to be put. Amongst the stones was a very curious one; it seemed of no describable shape, it appeared unfit for any portion of the building. They tried it at this wall, but it would not fit; they tried it in another, but it could not be accommodated; so, vexed and angry, they threw it away. The temple was so many years building, that this stone became covered with moss, and grass grew around it. Everybody passing by laughed at the stone; they said Solomon was wise, and doubtless all the other stones were right; but as for that block, they might as well send it back to the quarry, for they were quite sure it was meant for nothing. Year after year rolled on, and the poor stone was still despised, the builders constantly refused it. The eventful day came when the temple was to be finished and opened, and the multitude was assembled to see the grand sight. The builders said, “Where is the top-stone? Where is the pinnacle?” they little thought where the crowning marble was, until some one said, “Perhaps that stone which the builders refused is meant to be the top-stone.” They then took it, and hoisted it to the top of the house; and as it reached the summit, they found it well adapted to the place. Loud hosannas made the heavens ring, as the stone which the builders refused became the headstone of the corner. So is it with Christ Jesus.

For meditation: To begin with, man saw to it that the first shall be last; in the end God saw to it that the last shall be first. Where do you place the Lord Jesus Christ?

Sermon no. 17
2 April (Preached 1 April 1855)

Travelling expenses on the two great roads

From: Charles Spurgeon, Biblegateway

‘So he paid the fare thereof.’ Jonah 1:3

Suggested Further Reading: Haggai 1:1–15

With all your kicking and rebelling, you will have to go where you were originally ordered to go; you might as well go at first—you will go with better grace; you will go with your master’s comfortable presence; but you will have to go one way or another. Many men have found this true. They have struggled against duty, and perhaps, year after year they have drawn back from it, finding miserable excuses for their consciences; but they never prospered in business, they could not get on in the world, they had trouble on trouble, and at last it came to this, they had to go back to the very place where they were ten or twenty years ago, and there they discharged the duty which they had been so long seeking to avoid, which had proved a burdensome stone unto them until they were rid of it by yielding to its demands. Now, my dear brother, do not play the Jonah, for you will have to pay the fare of it. If you know your duty, do it. I may be speaking very pointedly to some of you. ‘I should have to sever the bonds of many a fond connection.’ Do it for Christ’s sake. ‘I should have to leave the camp and go outside of it, take up a very heavy cross, and bear Christ’s reproach.’ You may as well do it now as by and by, for you will have to do it. ‘But,’ says one, ‘this business of mine—I have nothing left to live upon; I feel it is a bad business, but I do not like to give it up just yet.’ You will have to do so sooner or later, you may as well do it now, before, like Jonah, you have had to pay for your wit; remember that ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and a good understanding have all they that keep his commandments.’

For meditation: Delayed obedience to God includes an initial period of disobedience. Better late than never (Matthew 21:28–32), but instant obedience is the best course of action (Psalm 119:60).

‘He claims my will, that I may prove
How swift obedience answers love.’

Sermon no. 622
2 April (1865)

Meditation (Matthew 27:50–51)

From: Biblegateway

Since the fall of humans in the garden, people have lived with the knowledge that they are separated from their Creator. Jews in Jesus’ day knew this full well, and in case they forgot, there was the curtain—the great, heavy curtain of blue, purple and scarlet thread and finely twisted linen (see Exodus 26:31). Four inches thick and so strong the historian Josephus said that horses tied to either side of it pulling could not tear it in two, it separated two rooms in the tabernacle. Though the curtain was beautiful, its real purpose was not. It did not simply separate two rooms; it existed to bar entrance to God’s holy place. It sent a message about the separation between God and people, serving as a reminder that no one was to ever approach God except in the limited ways he meticulously prescribed.

The curtain represented a closed door, open only to the high priest, and to him only once each year. And the only way he could survive entrance to that holy place was by the sprinkling of blood. The curtain constantly reminded God’s people of their sin and the separation it brought between them and the One they longed for. The curtain, in one piece for so many years, communicated that God is holy, and his people, in their sin, were not.

As we enter this Lenten season, we prepare our hearts to celebrate the day the curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom, from God to human. Jesus was the true and perfect sacrifice, paying the penalty for all sin—once for all. The curtain no longer served a purpose. Let us solemnly remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the day the holy place was opened to us.

Prayer

Almighty Father, I rejoice in the knowledge that you actually want to be with me, a sinner, and to have me with you. I realize that your grace is far beyond my ability to comprehend. The sword of judgment that should have been held over me was broken on your Son and removed all barriers between us. Teach me how to come before you with the proper mix of humility and confidence. I confess my need for you and trust in what you have done for me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Taken from Once a Day 40 Days to Easter

©2014 HarperCollins Christian Publishing

Don’t Be Fooled By Others gods

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Helpful or Heartless Toward Others?

From: Utmost.org

Do we need any more arguments than these to become intercessors– that Christ “always lives to make intercession” (Hebrews 7:25), and that the Holy Spirit “makes intercession for the saints”? Are we living in such a relationship with others that we do the work of intercession as a result of being the children of God who are taught by His Spirit? We should take a look at our current circumstances. Do crises which affect us or others in our home, business, country, or elsewhere, seem to be crushing in on us? Are we being pushed out of the presence of God and left with no time for worship? If so, we must put a stop to such distractions and get into such a living relationship with God that our relationship with others is maintained through the work of intercession, where God works His miracles.

Beware of getting ahead of God by your very desire to do His will. We run ahead of Him in a thousand and one activities, becoming so burdened with people and problems that we don’t worship God, and we fail to intercede. If a burden and its resulting pressure come upon us while we are not in an attitude of worship, it will only produce a hardness toward God and despair in our own souls. God continually introduces us to people in whom we have no interest, and unless we are worshiping God the natural tendency is to be heartless toward them. We give them a quick verse of Scripture, like jabbing them with a spear, or leave them with a hurried, uncaring word of counsel before we go. A heartless Christian must be a terrible grief to our Lord.

Are our lives in the proper place so that we may participate in the intercession of our Lord and the Holy Spirit?

Don’t Be an April Fool

From: Getmorestrength.org

The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’ Psalm 14:1.

Warning! It’s April Fools’ Day!

I’ve had a lot of AF jokes pulled on me, and I must admit that I’ve pulled off a few pretty good ones myself. But one thing I’ve noticed. No one likes being called a fool, much less being made to look like a fool. We like to think of ourselves as savvy, wise, and sharp—not easily tricked or duped. But when we measure ourselves by God’s standards, we might be surprised at how much we deserve the title.

Did you know, for example, that the Bible says we are fools if we . . .

Of course, the ultimate definition of a fool is found in today’s verse. The ultimate fool is one who lives as though “there is no God.” Notice that the verse does not say that a fool says with his mouth “there is no God.” It’s a matter of the heart attitude. In fact it would be quite possible to say with your lips that there is a God but then to have your heart think and act as though God does not factor into your dreams and choices at all. When our heart says that there is a God, we readily obey Him and surrender to His will and ways in our lives. Though it’s not always easy, a God-honoring heart is willing to begin the process of forgiving those who have deeply hurt us; to think of others as more important than ourselves; to choose generosity over greed; and to be sensitive to the needs of the poor and oppressed.

One of the most penetrating “fool” passages in Scripture is recorded in Luke 12:13-21. Jesus told the parable of a rich businessman who had more wealth than he knew what to do with. After signing the papers for corporate expansion (bigger barns), he congratulates himself and decides to throw himself a party. Everyone in his town would have said he was a smashing success. But God had a different take on him: “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:20). Jesus concluded with the point: “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21 ESV). It is indeed foolish to be satisfied with our own wealth and to have given no thought to becoming rich toward God by preparing for eternity, or as Jesus said to become rich toward God by giving our money away to the poor and to those in need (Luke 12:33).

When we recognize the rightful place of God in our hearts, our lives are wonderfully transformed to enjoy the rewarding results of wisdom—life from God’s point of view—rather than the embarrassing outcomes of a godless, foolish heart.

I hope you get to pull off a good April Fools’ joke today. In fact, you may even have a good-natured laugh at having one pulled on you. But, while all that is going on, don’t forget to honor God’s will and ways in your heart. Life is too short and too serious to live it as a fool!

 

I Will Trust Him

From: Streams in the Desert

Though he slay me, yet will I trust him (Job 13:15).

For I know whom I have believed (2 Tim. 1:12).

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I will believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
‘I trust in Thee.’

I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white realm above;
I will believe it is an all-wise love
Which has refused these things for which I yearn;
And though at times I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing
Undimmed shall burn.

I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive.
I will believe the heights for which I strive
Are only reached by anguish and by pain;
And though I groan and writhe beneath my crosses.
I yet shall see through my severest losses
The greater gain.

I will not doubt. Well anchored is this faith,
Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale;
So strong its courage that it will not quail
To breast the mighty unknown sea of death.
Oh, may I cry, though body parts with spirit,
‘I do not doubt,’ so listening worlds may hear it,
With my last breath.

“In fierce storms,” said an old seaman, “we must do one thing; there is only one way: we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there.” This, Christian, is what you must do.

Sometimes, like Paul, you can see neither sun nor stars, and no small tempest lies on you; and then you can do but one thing; there is only one way. Reason cannot help you; past experiences give you no light. Even prayer fetches no consolation. Only a single course is left. You must put your soul in one position and keep it there.

You must stay upon the Lord; and come what may–winds, waves, cross-seas, thunder, lightning, frowning rocks, roaring breakers–no matter what, you must lash yourself to the helm, and hold fast your confidence in God’s faithfulness, His covenant engagement, His everlasting love in Christ Jesus.
–Richard Fuller


 

April 1

From: Through the Bible

Deuteronomy 10:9 (NIV) 9That is why the Levites have no share or inheritance among their brothers; the LORD is their inheritance, as the LORD your God told them.)

When the Promised Land was portioned out to the sons of Israel, the tribe of Levy did not get its own area. Instead, they had cities within the other tribes lands so that they could be the priests among them. It is a wonderful picture for us today. We are to be priests (1 Peter 2:5) in the world, but not of the world. We have here no continuing city. Like Abraham, we look for the city that has lasting foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

The failure of the tribe of Levi to really be priests was a factor in the downfall of some of the tribes. The tribe of Dan went into idolatry because the priest they chose was using idols. Our faithfulness in our relationship with God and worship of God will affect many lives. The call of God on our lives is not just for our own spiritual well being, but for many.

The LORD emphasized that the Levites were not to be attached to the land as their inheritance, but to the LORD himself. He would be their inheritance. Which would you rather have? The answer shows where your heart is. Priests of God (all redeemed believers) must set their heart and mind on things above. Our desire must be toward our relationship with God, to inherit the LORD Himself, not the things that He has made. That is the heart of faith that results in a life of faith. The Levites were only a twelfth of the nation. They had a high calling. So do you.

Consider: What do you desire to inherit?

Evening

April 1

Matthew 26:33-35 (NIV) 33Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”34“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” 35But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

I think we would say the same. Those in the third world that are daily faced with suffering and death are not so quick to say the same. Like Peter, they have learned that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. We can believe in our heart that we would die before denying our Lord, but the truth is that we will never know unless we are faced with the choice. In many parts of our world, people are making the choice. Let’s remember to pray for them. There are more martyrs for Christ this century than in all previous ones combined.

We have one great resource that the disciples did not have. The Spirit has been poured out. If we are living in constant reliance upon the Spirit, when faced with a choice, we will follow our life pattern of depending on His strength. We will make the right choice. If we are live in the pattern of relying on our own strength and effort, we will certainly fail the test. Failing does not mean defeat. It is a revelation of our condition and the unreliability of the flesh. That revelation will bring us to the depths of despair, the depths to which Peter went when he went out and wept bitterly. Then we can turn and change the source of our strength.

The humility of failure made it possible for him to hear the Apostle Paul’s correction. If early church history is accurate, Peter did change the source of his strength. When faced again with a choice of denying Jesus or death, he not only chose death, but death upside down on a cross. You probably stand before a great test in which you will fail, or have failed, or have been restored. Learn the lesson of failure, and let it teach you humility and dependence on the strength of the Spirit.

Remember: God does not love us any less when we fail. Get up! Depend on Him!

Help Others Turn To Jesus

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1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Mark 16:15-16 – And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Colossians 4:6 – Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

 

Heedfulness or Hypocrisy in Ourselves?

From: Utmost.org

If we are not heedful and pay no attention to the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites. We see where other people are failing, and then we take our discernment and turn it into comments of ridicule and criticism, instead of turning it into intercession on their behalf. God reveals this truth about others to us not through the sharpness of our minds but through the direct penetration of His Spirit. If we are not attentive, we will be completely unaware of the source of the discernment God has given us, becoming critical of others and forgetting that God says, “…he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death.” Be careful that you don’t become a hypocrite by spending all your time trying to get others right with God before you worship Him yourself.

One of the most subtle and illusive burdens God ever places on us as saints is this burden of discernment concerning others. He gives us discernment so that we may accept the responsibility for those souls before Him and form the mind of Christ about them (see Philippians 2:5). We should intercede in accordance with what God says He will give us, namely, “life for those who commit sin not leading to death.” It is not that we are able to bring God into contact with our minds, but that we awaken ourselves to the point where God is able to convey His mind to us regarding the people for whom we intercede.

Can Jesus Christ see the agony of His soul in us? He can’t unless we are so closely identified with Him that we have His view concerning the people for whom we pray. May we learn to intercede so wholeheartedly that Jesus Christ will be completely and overwhelmingly satisfied with us as intercessors.

Running In The Right Direction

Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” —John 6:68

One of the most difficult experiences in my years as a pastor was telling a member of our church that her husband, her son, and her father-in-law had all drowned in a boating accident. I knew the news would shatter her life.

In the days following their tragic loss, I was amazed as she and her family responded with unusual faith. Sure, there was deep brokenness, haunting doubt, and confusion. But when nothing else made sense, they still had Jesus. Rather than deserting Him in the midst of their desperately difficult days, they ran to Him as the only source of hope and confidence.

This reminds me of the reaction of the disciples to Jesus. After some of them “went back and walked with Him no more” because He was hard to understand (John 6:66), Jesus turned to His inner circle, and asked, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:67). Peter got it right when he responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Whatever you face today, be encouraged by the words of Peter and by the example of a family who went through the fire with their faith intact. As long as you’re running in the right direction—to Jesus—you’ll find the grace and strength you will need.

Jesus is the One to run to
When our lives bring grief and pain;
He provides His strength and guidance
With a peace we can’t explain. —Sper

When all is lost, remember that you haven’t lost Jesus. Run to Him.

 

MARCH 31, 2015From: Crosswalk.comMoving From Grief to Grace
Susan B. Mead

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 (NIV)

Grief hits each one of us and can come from so many different directions.

A romantic relationship gone awry. The loss of a cherished friendship. A puppy put down. Empty arms and a broken heart due to abortion. Infertility. Abuse. The death of a loved one.

Dreams with a hope and future dashed in an instant. I know. I’ve lived it, too.

A phone call changed my hopes and future as Matt, my older son, wailed into the phone about my younger son, “Kyle died last night!”

Oh, God.

NO, GOD!

Hopes, dreams, future …

Wedding invitations from his friends simply ripped my heart apart. Birth announcements of babies from those now married friends rekindled the loss. And the realization that there would be no grandchildren from him — running to me, holding their pudgy little hands or him tossing them into the sky showered with shouts of glee — hit hard.

Yes, weddings, graduations, birth announcements — all reminders of those hope-filled dreams that had been shattered — caused weeping, groaning and bitterness. My heart often wondered: Will I remain bitter or will I get better? Will I continue to dissolve into tears, or will I ever erupt into cheers for these precious friends?

At one of my lowest moments, realization and remembrance flooded my heart and mind: God lost His Son too, His only Son. The Father knew my loss, pain and brokenness oh so well.

That revelation was like supernatural glue applied to bind my wounded soul. The lost, dark, broken part receded as God proceeded to heal my broken heart with His love and light.

How about your lost plans, hopes and dreams?

Are you bitter?

Do you want to be better?

Are you ready to lay your heavy cares at the foot of the cross … and leave that burden there, so you can step into God’s plans for you? Jesus promised, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” (Matthew 11:30, NKJV).

God’s plan for His Son was not what the people hoped for and expected as they celebrated the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, then experienced His death on the cross by week’s end. They did not know Easter Sunday — His Son’s day — was coming.

Remember, friend … Sunday’s coming! Jesus arose from the grave by the grace of God to save and redeem us. He has plans for us that include a hope and a future, even when our plans are dashed and we can’t see beyond the overwhelming loss of now.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

We lost Kyle seven years and three days ago today. Yet, out of the ashes of grief a story of grace rises — the grace of our Lord, Jesus.

Father, help me ease the grip on my grief and lay it at the foot of Your Son’s cross. Thank You that You can bind our wounds and heal our broken hearts. Remind us of Your magnificent plans for us, Lord God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Peter 5:8-11, “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ — eternal and glorious plans they are! — will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.” (MSG)

 

Morning

Spurgeon, Morning and Evening Devotion, From: Biblegateway

“With his stripes we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:5

Pilate delivered our Lord to the lictors to be scourged. The Roman scourge was a most dreadful instrument of torture. It was made of the sinews of oxen, and sharp bones were inter-twisted every here and there among the sinews; so that every time the lash came down these pieces of bone inflicted fearful laceration, and tore off the flesh from the bone. The Saviour was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus beaten. He had been beaten before; but this of the Roman lictors was probably the most severe of his flagellations. My soul, stand here and weep over his poor stricken body.

Believer in Jesus, can you gaze upon him without tears, as he stands before you the mirror of agonizing love? He is at once fair as the lily for innocence, and red as the rose with the crimson of his own blood. As we feel the sure and blessed healing which his stripes have wrought in us, does not our heart melt at once with love and grief? If ever we have loved our Lord Jesus, surely we must feel that affection glowing now within our bosoms.

“See how the patient Jesus stands,

Insulted in his lowest case!

Sinners have bound the Almighty’s hands,

And spit in their Creator’s face.

With thorns his temples gor’d and gash’d

Send streams of blood from every part;

His back’s with knotted scourges lash’d.

But sharper scourges tear his heart.”

We would fain go to our chambers and weep; but since our business calls us away, we will first pray our Beloved to print the image of his bleeding self upon the tablets of our hearts all the day, and at nightfall we will return to commune with him, and sorrow that our sin should have cost him so dear.

Evening

“And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.”
2 Samuel 21:10

If the love of a woman to her slain sons could make her prolong her mournful vigil for so long a period, shall we weary of considering the sufferings of our blessed Lord? She drove away the birds of prey, and shall not we chase from our meditations those worldly and sinful thoughts which defile both our minds and the sacred themes upon which we are occupied? Away, ye birds of evil wing! Leave ye the sacrifice alone! She bore the heats of summer, the night dews and the rains, unsheltered and alone. Sleep was chased from her weeping eyes: her heart was too full for slumber. Behold how she loved her children! Shall Rizpah thus endure, and shall we start at the first little inconvenience or trial? Are we such cowards that we cannot bear to suffer with our Lord? She chased away even the wild beasts, with courage unusual in her sex, and will not we be ready to encounter every foe for Jesus’ sake? These her children were slain by other hands than hers, and yet she wept and watched: what ought we to do who have by our sins crucified our Lord? Our obligations are boundless, our love should be fervent and our repentance thorough. To watch with Jesus should be our business, to protect his honour our occupation, to abide by his cross our solace. Those ghastly corpses might well have affrighted Rizpah, especially by night, but in our Lord, at whose cross-foot we are sitting, there is nothing revolting, but everything attractive. Never was living beauty so enchanting as a dying Saviour. Jesus, we will watch with thee yet awhile, and do thou graciously unveil thyself to us; then shall we not sit beneath sackcloth, but in a royal pavilion.

Practice Holiness Toward God

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Holiness or Hardness Toward God?

From: Utmost.org

The reason many of us stop praying and become hard toward God is that we only have an emotional interest in prayer. It sounds good to say that we pray, and we read books on prayer which tell us that prayer is beneficial— that our minds are quieted and our souls are uplifted when we pray. But Isaiah implied in this verse that God is amazed at such thoughts about prayer.

Worship and intercession must go together; one is impossible without the other. Intercession means raising ourselves up to the point of getting the mind of Christ regarding the person for whom we are praying (see Philippians 2:5). Instead of worshiping God, we recite speeches to God about how prayer is supposed to work. Are we worshiping God or disputing Him when we say, “But God, I just don’t see how you are going to do this”? This is a sure sign that we are not worshiping. When we lose sight of God, we become hard and dogmatic. We throw our petitions at His throne and dictate to Him what we want Him to do. We don’t worship God, nor do we seek to conform our minds to the mind of Christ. And if we are hard toward God, we will become hard toward other people.

Are we worshiping God in a way that will raise us up to where we can take hold of Him, having such intimate contact with Him that we know His mind about the ones for whom we pray? Are we living in a holy relationship with God, or have we become hard and dogmatic?

Do you find yourself thinking that there is no one interceding properly? Then be that person yourself. Be a person who worships God and lives in a holy relationship with Him. Get involved in the real work of intercession, remembering that it truly is work— work that demands all your energy, but work which has no hidden pitfalls. Preaching the gospel has its share of pitfalls, but intercessory prayer has none whatsoever.

Hey, You Can’t Eat Ketchup In That

From: Getmorestrength.org

“You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” 1 Corinthians 6:20

My granddaughter, Mary Catherine, affectionately known to me as Cate the Great, is all-girl. Just put her in a princess outfit with glittering slippers, wand, and a crown, and she is in sheer ecstasy!  Which explains the recent blowout at Target.

She and her mom were passing the dress section when a beautiful short-sleeved white dress with a big yellow daisy smack dab in the middle of the dress caught Cate’s eye. Immediately taken with the dress, she begged her mom to buy it for her. Having recently bought Cate a new dress, my daughter Libby explained that since she had just gotten some new clothes, they wouldn’t be able to buy the dress. Libby tried to console her. Maybe they would wait to see if the dress would be on sale in the near future. Cate refused to be comforted, and for the next few aisles sobbed with a broken heart that the beautiful dress she wanted couldn’t be hers.

Her big brother Gabe, who is all of 11 years old, finally whispered in his mom’s ear, “Could I buy the dress for Cate with the money I’ve saved?” Libby said, “Sure if that’s what you’d like to do.”

And Cate got her dress.

It was the middle of winter in Grand Rapids, but that didn’t stop Cate. She wore her sleeveless dress indoors everyday. She loved how pretty she thought she looked in daisy-clad white! One day as she began dipping her lunchtime toasted cheese sandwich in a deep pile of ketchup, Gabe turned to her and said, “Hey, Cate, you can’t eat ketchup in that dress! I paid a lot of money for it!”

I have to tell you that this may be my best grandchild story to date! I love the thought of Gabe’s love for his little sister and how precious it is that he was willing to voluntarily sacrifice to bless her with the dress. But having paid a big price, he remains interested in taking good care of the dress.

After I got done laughing about the episode, it struck me that what Gabe did for Cate and what Jesus has done for us have a lot in common. Except that Jesus’ gift is far more significant. He paid a great and sacrificial price to bless us with far more than we deserve. Hopelessly lost and guilty before a holy God, we are condemned and can’t do a thing to help ourselves. So Jesus died to take our rap and cleanse us from all our sin. And Scripture tells us that we are then clothed in His righteousness, which in turn gives us access to our God in fellowship and prayer (Philippians 3:7-9). As the old hymn says, “Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne!”

Having invested deeply in our new look, I can just hear Jesus saying, “I paid a lot for you, don’t say that; don’t go there; don’t think that; don’t do that!”

Paul told the Corinthians, who were tempted to wallow in the muck of their pagan culture, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? . . . you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

So, let’s not forget what we are wearing. It’s a thing of beauty, and Jesus paid a big price for it!

Israel at the Red Sea

Charles Spurgeon,  sermon

From: Biblegateway

“He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.” Psalm 106:9

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 136

How sweet is providence to a child of God, when he can reflect upon it! He can look out into this world, and say, “However great my troubles, they are not so great as my Father’s power; however difficult may be my circumstances, yet all things around me are working together for good. He who holds up the starry heavens can also support my soul without a single apparent prop; he who guides the stars in their well-ordered courses, even when they seem to move in mazy dances, surely he can overrule my trials in such a way that out of confusion he will bring order; and from seeming evil produce lasting good. He who bridles the storm, and puts the bit in the mouth of the tempest, surely he can restrain my trial, and keep my sorrows in subjection. I need not fear while the lightnings are in his hands, and the thunders sleep within his lips; while the oceans gurgle from his fist, and the clouds are in the hollow of his hands; while the rivers are turned by his foot, and while he digs the channels of the sea. Surely he whose might wings an angel, can furnish a worm with strength; he who guides a cherub will not be overcome by the trials of a worm like myself. He who makes the greatest star roll in dignity, and keeps its predestined orbit, can make a little atom like myself move in my proper course, and conduct me as he pleases.” Christian! There is no sweeter pillow than providence; and when providence seems adverse, believe it still, lay it under your head, for depend upon it there is comfort in its bosom. There is hope for you, child of God!

For meditation: You may find it easy to think like this when all seems to be going well. The Christian is still able to look up spiritually when circumstances would make him look down naturally (Romans 8:28,31,35-39).

Sermon no. 72
30 March (1856)

The old, old story

Charles Spurgeon, sermon

From: Biblegateway

‘In due time Christ died for the ungodly.’ Romans 5:6

Suggested Further Reading: John 5:39–47

Unbeliever, if God cannot and will not forgive the sins of penitent men without taking their punishment, rest assured he will surely bring you to judgment. If, when Christ, God’s Son, had imputed sin laid on him, God smote him, how will he smite you who are his enemy, and who have your own sins upon your head? God seemed at Calvary, as it were, to take an oath—sinner, hear it!—he seemed, as it were, to take an oath and say, ‘By the blood of my Son I swear that sin must be punished,’ and if it is not punished in Christ for you, it will be punished in you for yourselves. Is Christ yours, sinner? Did he die for you? Do you trust him? If you do, he died for you. Do you say, ‘No, I do not?’ Then remember that if you live and die without faith in Christ, for every idle word and for every ill act that you have done, stroke for stroke, and blow for blow, vengeance must chastise you. Again, to another class of you, this word. If God has in Christ made an atonement and opened a way of salvation, what must be your guilt who try to open another way; who say, ‘I will be good and virtuous; I will attend to ceremonies; I will save myself’? Fool that you are, you have insulted God in his tenderest point, for you have insulted his Son. You have said, ‘I can do it without that blood;’ you have, in fact, trampled on the blood of Christ, and said, ‘I need it not.’ Oh, if the sinner who repents not be damned, with what accumulated terrors shall he be damned, who, in addition to his impenitence, heaps affront upon the person of Christ by going about to establish his own righteousness. Leave it!

For meditation: The readings for most of the past week have concentrated on the shed blood and atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do these truths cause you relief, satisfaction and grateful thanksgiving in response to his love (1 John 4:10,19)? If not, you either hate him or couldn’t care less about him, which in God’s sight boils down to the same thing. ‘How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?’ (Hebrews 2:3).

Sermon no. 446
30 March (1862)

How Does Jesus’ Gift of Salvation Benefit Believers? (1 Thessalonians 5:9–10)

From: Biblegateway

When humans sin, they create a barrier between themselves and God. The price for sin is death (see Romans 6:23); however, 1 Thessalonians 5:9–10 indicates that by his grace God provided a substitute for us: Jesus, who “died for us” to pay the penalty for our sin.

To better understand the salvation Jesus provides, we must view it in the broader context of the story of the Bible. Genesis details the creation and rebellion of the human species. Humankind’s rejection of God and God’s response is the theme of the remaining narrative of the Bible—it colors every page. Old Testament prophecies point to a time when the world as we know it will end and judgment will take place. However, these prophecies also point to the coming Messiah who will redeem the lives of those who trust in him.

Salvation is not only a future reality but also a present one. Jesus rewarded the faith of the bleeding woman and of the blind man and literally saved them from their afflictions, as the Greek word translated “healed” actually means “saved” (see Mark 5:34; 10:52). Faith has a reward dimension in this life, sometimes in tangible benefits like physical healing and sometimes in intangibles such as comfort, peace, security and freedom.

Salvation also has a spiritual quality that benefits believers—both now and in eternity. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:9–10 that believers will live with Christ in this world (when we are “awake”) and in the next (when we are “asleep”). Because of Jesus’ salvation, believers can be confident about both the present and the future.

Taken from The Case for Christ Study Bible

©2014 HarperCollins Christian Publishing