Devotional


Scripture teaches us to view the relationship between our present sufferings and our future glory as analogous to childbirth (e.g Rom.8:22-23). If an expectant mother thinks of nothing but the pending pains of labour, she will lose heart and be overtaken with dread and apprehension. But which expectant mother forgets the wonderful prospect of having a baby? To the contrary, she is filled with hope and expectancy! Which mother would say after the birth that the (transitory through real) pain of labour outweighs the (lasting and momentous) joy of now having a baby? Or, that she would now rather not have experienced the pain in order to have become a mother? Undoubtedly childbirth is full of pain; but in comparison to the joy of motherhood, it’s agony seems now to be of little consequence.

Our Lord endured the unspeakable agonies and shame of the cross by fixing His eyes on “the joy that was set before Him” (Heb:12 :2).
 

*We know that the natural trend of our feelings is to be grieved and saddened by any kind of temptation. Nor can any of us entirely escape the instinct to break down and cry, when trouble comes; but this does not prevent God’s children from rising above fleshly pains, under the guidance of the Spirit. By this means, they may continue to rejoice, even in the midst of sorrow.

* John Calvin, Clavin’s New Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989 vol.3, p.262.)

I cannot share the details of the source of this quote, but what a wonderful description of God’s electing love for us.

The Lord knew you thoroughly when He first set His love upon you. Be sure to try to grasp hold of this! The Strength of Israel will never discover something ‘new’ about you which will then cause or incline Him to withdraw His lovingkindness and abandon you. How unlike the behaviour of men and women! Sometimes we learn a previously unknown detail about a friend which consequently diminished our estimation of them; our affection towards them is tarnished by the unearthing of this new fact; the bond of friendship is marred. However, the everlasting God already knew the worst about us before choosing to set His love upon us in eternity past. This is what A.W Pink wrote of this amazing truth: ‘The whole of my life stood open to His view from the beginning. He foresaw my every fall, my every sin, my every backsliding; yet He fixed His heart upon me. Oh, how the realization of this should bow me in wonder and worship before Him! The gospel of God comes to us in full view of ugliness of our sin. It was ‘while we were still sinners’ that Christ died for us.
Spend time rehearsing in your mind and heart the truth that God sees, with perfect clarity of sight and understanding, all that He is doing un this fallen and sin-ravaged world. He knows the end from the beginning. Every event in life is the unfolding of His grand scheme of redemption. Speaking of the difficulty which we have in understanding the tumultuous circumstances and events of our small lives, John Owen* perceptively observed: ‘We are like unskilful men, who going to the house of some curious artist, so long as he is about his work, despise it as confused; but when it is finished, admire it as excellent: – whilst the passages of providence are on us, all is confusion: but when he fabric is reared, glorious. And so, when the fabric is reared of the great tapestry-work which God is weaving and sowing in history – about which He knows fully, but most of which is at present hidden away from our dull eyes – how we shall rejoice and exult in our Lord! At that time, all will be made new which at present is crooked; all will be made clear which at present is obscured; and all which we trust now by faith we will see then by sight.

* The works of John Owen
(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1991), vol.8, p.18

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Words: George Ma­the­son

In her book ‘Loving God with all your mind’, Elizabeth George pens a very personal story of struggling with her doubts, lack of confidence and of her need to rely upon God’s precious word.
A lengthy extract, but one which means a lot.

I admit that I have to fight this battle against thinking negatively – and wrongfully! – about myself almost daily. But I well remember one day when the struggle was tougher than usual. I had accepted a writing assignment that challenged me way beyond my comfort zone! However, confident of God’s leading, I tackled the job. I worked harder and longer than ever…only to have my writing meet with strong reaction, resistance, and near rejection. I was mortified! I had failed!
Drained physically as well as emotionally, I crawled home to hide and recover. But even there, in the safety and shelter of my home-sweet-home, thoughts like these filled my mind:
“Who do you think you are? When are you going to learn that you are nobody! You are nothing! When will you understand that the kind of ministry you were attempting is reserved for others who are better than you?”

As the day went on, my thoughts became even darker. “Why don’t you just quit now? Why try? Why care? It was just a dream. And besides, you are a nobody and a nothing!”
I knew the signs all too well. I was sliding down into the dark hole of depression, defeat, discouragement, dismay, and dejection. But I began to fight back! I decided it might helpif I got out of the house. So I went for a walk. But walking didn’t help this time. With each step up our huge hill, I continued to hear the defeating chorus that had been there all day long.

But the the Holy Spirit broke through my relentless chant and prompted me to ask myself the key question: “But Elizabeth what is true and real?” And, my friend, the answers from Scripture that God brought to my poor exhausted mind and heart came to my rescue! God reminded me that…

* I am fearfully and wonderfully made, no matter what I or others may think about me (Psalm 139:14)

* He has a grand plan and purpose for my life, no matter how the present may look (2 Timothy 1:9)

* He has given me spiritual gifts that I can use to benefit other believers, no matter how I may be floundering of failing at the moment (1 Corinthians 12:7-11) and

* I am always loved and accepted by God, no matter what I experience or who may reject me (Romans 8:35)

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Correct your son, and he will give you rest;

 

 

Yes, he will give delight to your soul

 

Proverbs 29:17

 

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” Titus 3:3

Lord, we confess our numerous faults,
How great our guilt has been!
Foolish and vain were all our thoughts,
And all our lives were sin.

But, O my soul! for ever praise,
For ever love His Name,
Who turns thy feet from dangerous ways
Of folly, sin and shame.
Tis not by works of righteousness
Which our own hands have done;
But we are saved by sovereign grace
Abounding through His Son.

’Tis from the mercy of our God
That all our hopes begin;
’Tis by the water and the blood
Our souls are washed from sin.

’Tis through the purchase of His death
Who hung upon the tree,
The Spirit is sent down to breathe
On such dry bones as we.

Raised from the dead we live anew;
And, justified by grace,
We shall appear in glory too,
And see our Father’s face.

 Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spir­it­u­al Songs,

Music: St. Fla­vi­an, Day’s Psal­ter, 1563 St.Flavian

Cyberhymnal

Thy hand [shall] lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139:10

Great God, we sing Your mighty hand
By which supported still we stand;
The opening year Your mercy shows,
That mercy crowns it ’til its close.

By day, by night, at home, abroad,
Still are we guarded by our God,
By His incessant bounty fed,
By His unerring counsel led.

With grateful hearts the past we own;
The future, all to us unknown,
We to Thy guardian care commit,
And peaceful leave before Thy feet.

In scenes exalted or depressed,
You are our joy, and You our rest;
Your goodness all our hopes shall raise,
Adored through all our changing days.

When death shall interrupt our songs
And seal in silence mortal tongues,
In fairer realms, O God, shall we
Your praises sing eternally.

Words: Phil­ip Dodd­ridge

Music: Germany, Sac­red Mel­o­dies, by Will­iam Gard­in­er, 1815

There’s not very much going on in my head at the moment – perhaps some would describe me as a bit ‘vacant’, bar a desire to keep on top of all the housework for once as ‘b’ day swiftly approaches. T also is bogged down with school/work and is already counting the days ’til the next holidays (7 weeks to the ‘C’ word!).

Although concentration skills are not my strong point right now, I was engrossed in the reading of this article by C.H Spurgeon, written in January 1873 for the Sword and Trowel magazine.

Take time to read the article for yourself and be stirred!

“ACTA NON VERBA,”—Deeds not Words.

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