Monthly Archives: December 2011

From “Faith’s Checkbook” by C. H. Spurgeon

 

December 28

     If there’s one thing we Christians should never have to worry about or concern ourselves with it’s our security in our Lord’s love and provision for us.  God is above all things trustworthy, and His word can be depended on.  When He says He will never leave us or forsake us He means it.  You can have 100% assurance that He will do all that He says.  Count on it.

“Absolute Assurance ”

 

Heb_13:5

Several times in the Scriptures the LORD hath said this. He has often repeated it to make our assurance doubly sure. Let us never harbor a doubt about it. In itself the promise is specially emphatic. In the Greek it has five negatives, each one definitely shutting out the possibility of the LORD’s ever leaving one of His people so that he can justly feel forsaken of his God. This priceless Scripture does not promise us exemption from trouble, but it does secure us against desertion. We may be called to traverse strange ways, but we shall always have our LORD’s company, assistance, and provision. We need not covet money, for we shall always have our God, and God is better than gold; His favor is better than fortune.

We ought surely to be content with such things as we have, for he who has God has more than all the world besides. What can we have beyond the Infinite? What more can we desire than almighty Goodness.

Come, my heart; if God says He will never leave thee nor forsake thee, be thou much in prayer for grace that thou mayest never leave thy LORD, nor even for a moment forsake His ways.

From “Morning and Evening” by C.H. Spurgeon

     We must be aware that as Christians we will experience persecution if we follow Christ.  You stand for truth, you will face people who will lie about you.  You stand for what is right expect to be accused of terrible things.  You will have to deal with all manner of evil people, but take heart you will do not so alone.  God is with those who are His.  Never doubt it.  Never fear.  You will never go through trials alone.

“I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword.”

 

Mat_10:34

The Christian will be sure to make enemies. It will be one of his objects to make none; but if to do the right, and to believe the true, should cause him to lose every earthly friend, he will count it but a small loss, since his great Friend in heaven will be yet more friendly, and reveal himself to him more graciously than ever. O ye who have taken up his cross, know ye not what your Master said? “I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother; and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Christ is the great Peacemaker; but before peace, he brings war. Where the light cometh, the darkness must retire. Where truth is, the lie must flee; or, if it abideth, there must be a stern conflict, for the truth cannot and will not lower its standard, and the lie must be trodden under foot. If you follow Christ, you shall have all the dogs of the world yelping at your heels. If you would live so as to stand the test of the last tribunal, depend upon it the world will not speak well of you. He who has the friendship of the world is an enemy to God; but if you are true and faithful to the Most High, men will resent your unflinching fidelity, since it is a testimony against their iniquities. Fearless of all consequences, you must do the right. You will need the courage of a lion unhesitatingly to pursue a course which shall turn your best friend into your fiercest foe; but for the love of Jesus you must thus be courageous. For the truth’s sake to hazard reputation and affection, is such a deed that to do it constantly you will need a degree of moral principle which only the Spirit of God can work in you; yet turn not your back like a coward, but play the man. Follow right manfully in your Master’s steps, for he has traversed this rough way before you. Better a brief warfare and eternal rest, than false peace and everlasting torment.

From “Morning and Evening” by C.H. Spurgeon

     How long has it been since you’ve examined your life, and looked at your motivations for doing the things you do?  Can you be honest with yourself?  Can you be honest with God?  Now might be a good time to reflect on your life, and to give this devotion by Spurgeon some thought.

“Can the rush grow up without mire?”

Job_8:11

The rush is spongy and hollow, and even so is a hypocrite; there is no substance or stability in him. It is shaken to and fro in every wind just as formalists yield to every influence; for this reason the rush is not broken by the tempest, neither are hypocrites troubled with persecution. I would not willingly be a deceiver or be deceived; perhaps the text for this day may help me to try myself whether I be a hypocrite or no. The rush by nature lives in water, and owes its very existence to the mire and moisture wherein it has taken root; let the mire become dry, and the rush withers very quickly. Its greenness is absolutely dependent upon circumstances, a present abundance of water makes it flourish, and a drought destroys it at once. Is this my case? Do I only serve God when I am in good company, or when religion is profitable and respectable? Do I love the Lord only when temporal comforts are received from his hands? If so I am a base hypocrite, and like the withering rush, I shall perish when death deprives me of outward joys. But can I honestly assert that when bodily comforts have been few, and my surroundings have been rather adverse to grace than at all helpful to it, I have still held fast my integrity? then have I hope that there is genuine vital godliness in me. The rush cannot grow without mire, but plants of the Lord’s right hand planting can and do flourish even in the year of drought. A godly man often grows best when his worldly circumstances decay. He who follows Christ for his bag is a Judas; they who follow for loaves and fishes are children of the devil; but they who attend him out of love to himself are his own beloved ones. Lord, let me find my life in thee, and not in the mire of this world’s favour or gain.

From Winslow “Evening Thoughts”

     Where would we be without Christ Jesus? 

December 25

“God was manifest in the flesh.”

1Ti_3:16

Viewed as a medium of the most costly blessings to the church of God, how precious a mystery does the incarnation of our Lord appear! The union of the Divine and the human in Immanuel, is the reunion of God through the second Adam with fallen man. The first Adam severed us from the Divine nature-the second Adam reunites us. The incarnation is the grand link between these two extremes of being. It forms the verdant spot, the oasis, in the desert of a ruined universe, on which God and the sinner can meet together. Here are blended in marvelous union the gloomy clouds of human woe, and the bright beams of Divine glory-God and man united! And will you, O theist, rob me of this truth, because of its mystery? Will you yourself reject it, because reason cannot grasp it? Then might I rob you of your God (whom you ignorantly worship), because of His incomprehensibleness, not one attribute of whom can you understand or explain. No! it is a truth too precious to part with so easily. God in my nature-my God-my Brother-my Friend-my Counselor-my Guide-my Redeemer-my Pattern-my all! God in my nature, my wisdom, my righteousness, my sanctification, my redemption!

But for this heaven-descending communication, of which the patriarch’s ladder was the symbol and the type, how could a holy God advance towards me, or I draw near to Him? But He takes my nature that He may descend to me, and He gives me His nature that I may ascend to Him. He stoops, because I could not rise! Oh mystery of grace, wisdom, and love! Shall I doubt it? I go to the manger of Bethlehem, and gaze upon the infant Savior. My faith is staggered, and I exclaim, “Is this the Son of God?” Retiring, I track that infant’s steps along its future path. I mark the wisdom that He displayed, and I behold the wonders that He wrought. I mark the revelations that He disclosed, the doctrines that He propounded, the precepts that He taught, the magnanimity that He displayed. I follow Him to Gethsemane, to the judgment-hall, and then to Calvary, and I witness the closing scene of wonder. I return to Bethlehem, and with the evidences which my hesitating faith has thus collected, I exclaim, with the awe-struck and believing centurion, “Truly this is the Son of God!” All the mystery of His lowly incarnation vanishes, and my adoring soul embraces the incarnate God within its arms. We marvel not that, hovering over the spot where this great mystery of godliness transpired, the celestial choir, in the stillness of the night, awoke such strains of music along the plains of Bethlehem as were never heard before. They left the realms of glory to escort the Lord of glory in His advent to our earth. How gladly they trooped around Him, thronging His wondrous way, their benevolent bosoms dilating in sympathy with the grand object of His mission. And this was the angel’s message to the astonished shepherds: “Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.” Shall angels rejoice in the incarnation of the Son of God, and our hearts be cold and unmoved? Forbid it love, forbid it gratitude, forbid it, O my soul!

 

A note from Wayne

     I just want to take a minute to say “Merry Christmas” to you all.  You’ve made a hard year easier to bear.  Your prayers are greatly appreciated, and your support, and encouragement have been blessings from our wonderful God.   To you all I wish every good and beautiful thing, and that your best year in life be the one ahead of you.  I’m deeply appreciative for all that I’ve been given by you all.

From Winslow “Morning Thoughts”

     On this most glorious day, let us praise the Lord for the love and grace He came to give us.  Knowing what we were, and how we would treat Him, He came to earth to become one of us, to live as one of us, and to die for us.  When I think of the way I love the Lord Jesus I’m ashamed for I know that I don’t give Him what He deserves, but when I think of the way He loves me, and what He did for me I’m humbled.  I’m grateful and filled with joy that someone so undeserving of such love could be loved so much by someone so deserving of so much more than I can ever give. 

 

December 25

 

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”

 

Romans 8:35

OF whose love does the apostle speak? The believer’s love to Christ? On the contrary, it is Christ’s love to the believer. And this view of the subject makes all the difference in its influence upon our minds. What true satisfaction and real consolation, at least how small its measure, can the believer derive from a contemplation of his love to Christ? It is true, when sensible of its glow, and conscious of its power, he cannot but rejoice in any evidence, the smallest, of the work of the Holy Spirit in his soul. Yet this is not the legitimate ground of his confidence, not the proper source of his comfort. It is Christ’s love to him! And this is just the truth the Christian mind needs for its repose. To whom did Paul originally address this letter? To the saints of the early and suffering age of the Christian Church. And this truth-Christ’s love to His people-would be just the truth calculated to comfort, and strengthen, and animate them. To have declared that nothing should prevail to induce them to forsake Christ would have been but poor consolation to individuals who had witnessed many a fearful apostasy from Christ in others, and who had often detected the working of the same principle in themselves. Calling to mind the strong asseveration of Peter, “Although all shall be offended, yet will not I,” and remembering how their Master was denied by one, betrayed by another, and forsaken by all His disciples, their hearts would fail them. But let the apostle allure their minds from a contemplation of their love to Christ, to a contemplation of Christ’s love to them, assuring them, upon the strongest grounds, that whatever sufferings they should endure, or by whatever temptations they should be assailed, nothing should prevail to sever them from their interest in the reality, sympathy, and constancy of that love, and he has at once brought them to the most perfect repose. The affection, then, of which the apostle speaks, is the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

The love of Christ! such is our precious theme. Of it can we ever weary? Its greatness can we fully know? Its plenitude can we fully contain? Never. Its depths cannot be fathomed, its dimensions cannot be measured. It “passes knowledge.” All that Jesus did for His Church was but the unfolding and expression of His love. Traveling to Bethlehem-I see love incarnate. Tracking His steps as He went about doing good-I see love laboring. Visiting the house of Bethany-I see love sympathizing. Standing by the grave of Lazarus-I see love weeping. Entering the gloomy precincts of Gethsemane-I see love sorrowing. Passing on to Calvary-I see love suffering, bleeding, and expiring. The whole scene of His life is but an unfolding of the deep, awful, and precious mystery of redeeming love.

 

From “2000 Bible Illustrations” selected by Wayne Augden

     Just a gentle reminder of why it’s important to keep Christ as our focus. 

 

Keep Christ Central in Christmas

 

It is a principle of art that in the composition of a picture, all the parts shall be so arranged as to lead the eye inevitably to the central figure or feature. Whatever prevents this is a capital defect. Accessories are only important as they help this end.

 

When Varelst, the Dutch painter, made his tulips so glorious that they drew attention away from the face of James II, in whose portrait he had placed them, he violated this canon. So did Haydon when, in his picture of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he made the figure of the beast on which the Master rode more attractive than the person of Christ.

 

So does the theologian or the metaphysician or the logician, who fascinates by his argument and rhetoric, or the preacher and liturgist, who stresses his forms of worship and symbols of religion.

 

It is not the swaddling-clothes of ceremonialism, but the Christ of the simple gospel story consistently lived, that shall span the continents with love and make Christmas perpetual in the heart of man.

 

As told by the American Poet Edwin Markham

     This is an old tale that’s been around for years, but I enjoy it, and it never fails to make me think of what Christmas is really all about.  My prayer for myself and for you is that you’ll try to be like the cobbler in this story.

The Shoemaker’s Dream

One of the most beautiful of all Christmas stories was told by the American poet, Edwin Markham, about a cobbler, a godly man who made shoes in the old days. One night the cobbler dreamed that the next day Jesus was coming to visit him. The dream seemed so real that he got up very early the next morning and hurried to the woods, where he gathered green boughs to decorate his shop for the arrival of so great a Guest.

He waited all morning, but to his disappointment, his shop remained quiet, except for an old man who limped up to the door asking to come in for a few minutes of warmth. While the man was resting, the cobbler noticed that the old fellow’s shoes were worn through. Touched, the cobbler took a new pair from his shelves and saw to it that the stranger was wearing them as he went on his way.

Throughout the afternoon the cobbler waited, but his only visitor was an elderly woman. He had seen her struggling under a heavy load of firewood, and he invited her, too, into his shop to rest. Then he discovered that for two days she had had nothing to eat; he saw to it that she had a nourishing meal before she went on her way.

As night began to fall, the cobbler heard a child crying outside his door. The child was lost and afraid. The cobbler went out, soothed the youngster’s tears and, with the little hand in his, took the child home.

When he returned, the cobbler was sad. He was convinced that while he had been away he had missed the visit of his Lord. Now he lived through the moments as he had imagined them: the knock, the latch lifted, the radiant face, the offered cup. He would have kissed the hands where the nails had been, washed the feet where the spikes had entered. Then the Lord would have sat and talked to him.

In his anguish, the cobbler cried out, “Why is it, Lord, that Your feet delay. Have you forgotten that this was the day?” Then, soft in the silence a voice he heard:

“Lift up your heart for I kept My word.

Three times I came to your friendly door;

Three times My shadow was on your floor.

I was the man with the bruised feet.

I was the woman you gave food to eat,

I was the child on the homeless street.”

 

 

From the “Writings of James Ryle”

     This is where it all begins for the christian.  By saying yes, we allow God to work in our lives, to work through our lives, and by doing so open open our lives to the blessings He has in store for us both now and through eternity.

Never Hesitate to Say Yes to God’s Plan for Your Life

 

“Be it unto me according to Thy Word.” (Luke 1:38).

 

Os Guinness writes, ” Our passion is to know we are fulfilling the purpose for which we are on earth. All standards of success — wealth, power, knowledge, position, fame — grow tiny and hollow if we do not satisfy this deeper longing.”

 

Nothing short of God’s will obeyed can both ground and fulfill the truest human desire for significance. And we are never happier than when we are expressing the deepest gifts and callings that are truly us.

 

Abraham was called by God out of a dead religion practiced by pagans, and became the Father of Faith. He was without children until God spoke a promise. Abraham believed God and became the Father of Nations. He said yes to God.

 

Moses was a stuttering stammering sheep herding Bedouin in the high deserts of Midian, when a burning bush caught his eye. Approaching the Bush, he heard a voice. That Voice spoke of great and mighty things to come. Moses answered, “Who am I?” The Voice called him out of his own sense of inability and limitations, and ushered him forth into the great drama of human history as one of the greatest and most influential men who has ever lived. He said yes to God.

 

David was the runt of the litter; the eighth born son in a family where seven was enough. Last on the food chain, there was usually nothing left when his turn came along. God spoke a promise to his young heart in the isolated fields of unseen worship. He believed God and rose to become the greatest King Israel has ever known. He said yes to God.

 

Mary said yes to God and rose from humble surroundings to be the mother of our Lord.

 

Now it’s your turn. Whatever the situation of your life, or the circumstances in which you presently find yourself — it is never too late to say yes to God’s will for your life. He can still do the impossible with the improbable.

 

He CAN do what He says He can do. And He WILL do what He says He will do!

 

Never overlook the extraordinary potential of the ordinary! Never under-estimate the power of a personal word from God! And, never hesitate to say yes to God’s plan for your life! These are the three great lessons we learn from a peasant girl named Mary.

 

From the “Writings of James Ryle”

     The reason some christians are weak in their faith is because they don’t know what the word of God says.  They doubt the Word of God.  Believe and take God at His word; have faith and trust that He can and will do all He says.  You’ll be amazed at what will happen in your life when take God at His word.

Never Under-estimate the Power of a Personal Word from God

 

“With God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

 

Sometimes important things can be lost in translation. This verse is one example of that. The word nothing fails to convey into English the fullness of its Greek beginnings. In order to get a better sense of what is being said, we first need to split the word into two words — as in “no thing” instead of “nothing.”

 

Next we examine the Greek word rhema, which is translated as “thing.” It literally means “that which is spoken by a living voice.” It refers to the power that is inherent within any thing that God says.

 

In fact, the full meaning of the word “nothing” would look like this if translated into English — “Each and every thing God says; any and all words that proceed from His mouth; the whole of what He speaks, and not just a part, shall not under any circumstance of any sort be impossible in any way or at any time.”

 

Or, as the English puts it, “With God nothing shall be impossible.”

 

The point is both powerful, and personal. Whenever God speaks a word to your heart and places a promise upon your life — you can take it to the bank! He will do what He has said He will do.

 

“God said it, and it was so.” This phrase fills the first chapter of Genesis and introduces us to the God who does what He says. Even foolish Balaam has at least enough sense to state the obvious — “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).

 

So, then, what has God spoken to you? What promise has He made, what dream has He given, what hope has He placed in your heart? Whatever it is, know this for certain — “Each and every thing God says; any and all words that proceed from His mouth; the whole of what He speaks, and not just a part, shall not under any circumstance of any sort be impossible in any way or at any time.”

 

Never under-estimate the power of a personal word from God! That’s the second of three great lessons we learn from Mary’s humble response to God’s amazing invitation. Lesson Three will come tomorrow.