Monday, December 30, 2013

Come And Drink

"On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and [cried] in a loud voice, If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." John 7:37

As one year draws to a close and new one stretches out before us, let no one hesitate to either give thanks for God's faithfulness in the past or to trust wholeheartedly in Him for the future.  Let's be sure that the great offer of free pardon and salvation in the person and work of Jesus Christ does not go unheeded in our own lives, nor in the lives of others, as far as it depends on us!  In the Scripture quoted above, we find:
Pity expressed most plainly...provision made most plenteously...proclamation given so freely...[and] personality declared most fully.  No waiting or preparation is so much as hinted at.  "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Monday, December 23, 2013

Immanuel!

Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our life work, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendor.   
~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Monday, December 16, 2013

He Became Poor

Our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, did not hold dear the riches and glory of heaven that were rightfully His.  Instead, He abandoned it all to save His helpless people.  He took on our poverty (sin) and gave us His own riches (salvation full and free!). 
O believer, here is love! For your sake the Lord Jesus "became poor" that He might lift you up into communion with Himself. - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Best Part of Christmas

With manger scenes in abundance this time of year, we must never forget that the vulnerable babe of the nativity was born to die: to sacrifice, triumph and redeem by the virtue of His own innocent blood.
The precious blood of the Lamb slain removes the guilt, and purges away the defilement of our sins of ignorance and carelessness.  This is the best ending of a Christmas - to wash anew in the purifying fountain. ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Monday, December 2, 2013

Second Advent

Just as sure as the advent of the Son of God on planet earth, so also can we be certain of His return!  Let us not grow weary in doing good.
What a shout shall that be when humankind and angels shall unite to cry "Hallelujah, hallelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!"  What satisfaction there will be in that day to have had a share in the fight, to have helped to break the arrows of the bow, and to have aided in winning the victory for our Lord!  Happy are they who trust themselves with this conquering Lord, and who fight side by side with Him, doing their little in His name and by His strength! ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Monday, November 25, 2013

Growth In Church

Now matter how busy or bustling a congregation might seem, the heart of the matter is individual growth in Christ. It is the priority.
Whatever other signs of life and growth we might look for in our congregations - involvement, activities, newcomers, finances, number of staff, buildings, and so on - the only growth that has any significance in God's plans is the growth of believers. Colin Marshall & Tony Payne, The Trellis and the Vine

Monday, November 18, 2013

Omnipresence

God is everywhere, at all times.  If we as believers could begin to truly grasp this truth, then our faith would rise and no circumstance would seem insurmountable, impenetrable or impossible.  A.W. Tozer offers this prayer in his classic work The Knowledge of the Holy:
Our Father, we know that Thou art present with us, but our knowledge is but a figure and shadow of truth and has little of the spiritual savor and inward sweetness such knowledge should afford.  This is for us a great loss and the cause of much weakness of heart.  Help us to make at once such amendment of life as is necessary before we can experience the true meaning of the words "In thy presence is fulness of joy." Amen.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Live For One Another

We should serve one another.  We might have strong feelings for our loved ones that cause us to declare that we would die for them, but that might be the easy way out.  More difficult is keeping the commitment to live for them day after day.
It's a lovely thing to redeem those you love by dying for them.  But maybe living for them until we die is dying for them too.  There is more than one way to die for people. James McGuiggan, Jesus Hero of Thy Soul

Monday, November 4, 2013

Substitute

If God is ever to count us righteous, he will have to do it on the basis of something other than our own sinful record.  He'll have to do it on the basis of someone else's record, someone who is standing as a substitute for us.  Greg Gilbert, What Is The Gospel?

Thanks be to God, Jesus Christ was our substitute!  Salvation is not earned, nor can it ever be.  It is by faith alone in the work of Christ.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Resurrection Comfort

As a Christian, part of your firm and certain hope in the future resurrection is that it would be just as impossible for you not to be raised from the dead as it was for Jesus not to be raised from the dead, because He died in your stead.  These truths about the resurrection are very comforting to us as believers. ~ Ligon Duncan, Fear Not: Death and the Afterlife from a Christian Perspective

Monday, October 21, 2013

Live For Christ

A longer quote from Mark Dever about the responsibility of church members to live for Christ at all times:
A married man goes to work as a married man and goes to the store as a married man, and the fact that he's married affects how he interacts with others at work and the store, but neither his work nor shopping are an intrinsic part of being married.  In the same way, a member of a church follows Christ in all sorts of ways that are not tied to the work that God entrusts to the local church in any institutional fashion.  But the individual's membership should affect how he does everything outside the gathered church. ~ The Church:  The Gospel Made Visible

Monday, October 14, 2013

When Tempted To Despair Over Our Sins

It's not unusual for a believer to feel condemnation within themselves because of their sin, but we must remember our great Savior and His finished work: 
When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: 'I admit that I deserve death and hell.  What of it?  Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation?  By no means.  For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf.  His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there I shall be also.' ~ Martin Luther

Monday, October 7, 2013

Imitate, Don't Idolize

Most of us have spiritual heroes, but let's remember to imitate (Hebrews 13:7) and not idolize:
Every cult of personality that emphasizes the distinguished qualities, virtues, and talents of another person, even though these be of an altogether spiritual nature, is worldly and has no place in the Christian community. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Monday, September 30, 2013

Lukewarm?

Lukewarm living and claiming Christ's name simultaneously is utterly disgusting to God.  And when we are honest, we have to admit that it isn't very fulfilling or joyful to us, either. ~ Francis Chan, Crazy Love

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water."  Psalm 63:1

Monday, September 23, 2013

What You Need For Worship

The only qualification to experience extravagant worship is to have a realization of the object of your worship:
You don't have to be a great singer or a great player to worship...just someone who is in relationship with a GREAT GOD and who lies with THIS TRUTH reflected through all you are becoming and all you do. ~ Darlene Zschech, Extravagant Worship

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Serious Business

When the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin in our lives, it involves more than just feeling a little chagrin... 
To be convicted of sin means not just to feel that one is an all-around flop, but to realize that one has offended God, flouted his authority, defied him gone against him and put oneself in the wrong with him. J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Merciful

 In our ongoing battle against personal sin, we have to be vigilant, and ready to to rise up in resistance when temptations threaten:
Watch against all the eruptions of thy corruptions...rise mightily against the first actings of they distemper, its first conceptions.  Suffer it not to get the least ground. ~ John Owen, The Mortification of Sin

Monday, September 2, 2013

Only One Way

There's only way to become a part of God's kingdom: 
...[B]eing a citizen of Christ's kingdom is not a matter of just "living a kingdom life" or "following Jesus' example" or "living like Jesus lived."  ...You can live like Jesus lived all you want, but unless you've come to the crucified King in repentance and faith, relying on him alone as the perfect sacrifice for you sin and your only hope for salvation, you're neither a Christian nor a citizen of his kingdom...the only way into the kingdom is through the blood of the King. ~ Greg Gilber, What Is The Gospel?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Never Changes

So comforting to know that our God never changes! 
God never changes moods or cools off in His affections or loses enthusiasm.  His attitude toward sin is now the same as it was when He drove out the sinful man from the eastward garden, and His attitude toward the sinner the same as when He stretched forth His hands and cried, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  ~ A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Trinity: Mystery and Priority

From The Good News We Almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung:

Augustine once commented about the Trinity that "in no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable."  More recently, Sinclair Ferguson has reflected on "the rather obvious thought that when his disciples were about to have the world collapse in on them, our Lord spent so much time in the Upper Room speaking to them about the mystery of the Trinity.  If anything could underline the necessity of Trinitarianism for practical Christianity, that must surely be it!"

One of the many reasons the Trinity matters is because the love and relationship we find in Christian community flows out of the constant and eternal relationship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit experience; the perfect love shared by the Trinity can be modeled and experienced by those in fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Keep To The Standard

The Word of God is our standard, and we must always guard against listening to the inclination of our own hearts or even what we believe to be new revelation that would specify a course of action clearly contrary to Scripture:

Nothing is more dangerous than seeking supposed special "revelations" that will apparently justify us in evading the clear commandments of God. ~excerpted from And He Gave Pastors

Monday, July 15, 2013

Progress In Holiness

Time for action!  Sometimes (maybe most of the time!) our Christian walk feels more like a fight or struggle, and indeed that is what it is because of sin that wars against us.  Paul urged the Ephesians to stand firm in the full armor of God, and John Owen gives a brief and vivid illustration of this warfare in The Mortification of Sin:
Let not man think he makes any progress in holiness, who walks not over the necks of his lusts.  He, who doth not kill sin in his way, takes no steps towards his journey's end.

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Manifesto

In his book A Gospel Primer for Christians, Milton Vincent makes the following declaration:

Boldness is critical.  Without boldness, my life story will be one of the great deeds left undone, victories left unwon, petitions left unprayed, and timely words unsaid.  If I wish to live only a pathetically small portion of the life God has prepared for me, then I need no boldness.  But if I want my life to bloom full and loom large for the glory of God, then I must have boldness - and nothing so nourishes boldness in me like the gospel! 
Let's live close to the Gospel, and let's live boldly!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Mind Your Own Business

Matthew 25:23 ~ "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.  Enter into the joy of your master.'"

Sometimes in the course of doing the work of the Lord in this life, we get distracted when we look at the work of others who are ostensibly doing more and greater deeds than we are.  That's a dangerous business. It not only brings discouragement, but also gets us off task.  The fact is that to some, God  has given seemingly "greater" works to do.  But whether we have been given a little or a lot, we're called to simply be faithful, and the end of the work is joy.  "Enter into the joy of your master."  Remember, the words of the master are "well done", not "much done", and we would do well to quit looking at everyone else and instead get busy in our own arena.  Being faithful is better than being jealous, and far better than doing nothing at all.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Be Careful What You Pray For

In his book Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, D.A. Carson shares this story, and how true it is:
     A friend of mine who was a pastor of a church was shaking hands at the door a number of years ago.  A woman shook his hand and said, "Pastor, pray for me that I might be given more patience."
     He replied, "I will pray that the Lord will send you a packet of trouble."
     She said, "That is exactly what I don't need.  I've already got trouble.  All I need is patience."
     "Well, if you want patience, I'll pray that the Lord will give you a packet of trouble" - because that is the way the Lord regularly does things.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Show Me The Sap!

In the book Soul Winner, Charles Spurgeon urges his hearers to remember the source of Christian life and work:
No truth ought to be remembered more than this:  "From me is thy fruit found" (Hosea 14:8).  We can bring forth no fruit except as we abide in Christ.  "The righteous shall flourish as a branch" (Proverbs 11:25), and only as a branch.  How does a branch flourish?  By its connection with the stem and the consequent inflowing of the sap...the fruit of righteousness would never come from him unless the divine sap within him had produced that acceptable fruit. To God alone be all honor and glory.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Do You Teach Sunday School Or Children's Church?

19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon was adamant about leading children to the Lord Jesus for salvation:

"Oh! I beseech you, especially you, dear friends, who are working in Sunday schools and elsewhere, do not think that you have done anything unless the children's souls are saved.  Settle it that this is the top and bottom of the business."
  Teachers, give your whole strength to the task of leading these little ones to Jesus.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Who Needs Encouragement?

Why can the believer be confident?  "I will appeal to this, the years of the right hand of the Most High" (Psalm 77:10).  Our confidence is firmly rooted in the faithfulness of God.
The Psalms are crammed with people who find themselves up to their necks in trouble but who are sure that God has not forsaken them Or, if for a while he "turns his face" from them (brings or permits trouble), they're sure that things will turn out right again. So bravely they face the hardships and insist on turning to no one but the Lord, who is ever watching them and has shown his devotion to them through the years. James McGuiggan, Jesus - Hero of Thy Soul
Personal testimony is powerful encouragement.  If you need some of that today, turn to the book of Psalms (you might want to start at Psalm 77) and read about the faithful deeds of our God.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Trust Me, And Be Not Afraid

Many days have passed since we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord this year, but we can't help remembering it still.
When He arose from the dead, it was "very early in the morning."  No one saw Him rise.  It is as if God were saying, "What I am is all that need matter to you, for there lie your hope and your peace.  I will do what I will do, and it will all come to light at last, but how I do it is My secret. Trust Me, and be not afraid.

With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? Surely we are the most favored of all creatures.  ~ A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

Monday, April 1, 2013

No Other Gospel

You were born again through the living and abiding word of God.  This word is the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and risen.  Don't fall prey to another gospel. There is no other gospel, and there is no other path to God - or to ultimate well-being - than hearing, understanding, and believing the scandalous news of Jesus Christ in the gospel.  John Piper, Finally Alive

Friday, March 22, 2013

Why Jesus Couldn't (Wouldn't) Save Himself

As Jesus hung suspended on the cross, wicked and self-righteous men (and such were some of us) mocked him to satisfy their pride.  The fact that the mighty Son of God remained in place on that cross with his life ebbing away reveals something amazing:
Suddenly the words of the mockers take on a new weight of meaning.  "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself."  The deeper irony is that, in a way they did not understand, they were speaking the truth.  If he had saved himself, he could not have saved others; the only way he could save others was precisely by not saving himself.  In the irony behind the irony that the mockers intended, they spoke the truth they themselves did not see.  The man who can't save himself - saves othersScandalous - The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, D.A. Carson, emphasis added.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Honest Friendship

We have to give ourselves in honest friendship to people, if ever our relationship with them is to reach the point at which we are justified in choosing to talk to them about Christ and in speaking to them about their own spiritual needs - without being either discourteous or offensive.  If you wish to do personal evangelism, then - and i hope you do, you ought to - pray for the gift of freindship.  A genuine friendliness is in any case a prime mark of the man who is learning to love his neighbor as himself.  ~ J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

Monday, February 25, 2013

We Must Have The True Gospel

Perish the thought, but what if our church failed to preach, teach and breathe the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  We would certainly wither spiritually, would no doubt become completely irrelevant to the work of God in the world, and our worship would be pointless.  However, the more we embrace, long for, and uphold the true Gospel, the more we will thrive:
An emaciated gospel leads to emaciated worship...The biblical gospel, by contrast, is like fuel in the furnace of worship.  The more you understand about it, believe it, and rely on it, the more you adore God both for who he is and for what he has done for us in Christ.  "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!" Paul cried (Rom. 11:33), and it was because his heart was full of the gospel.  Greg Gilbert, What Is The Gospel

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Birth Of Christian Fellowship

Ever thought much about what was happening beneath the cross when our Lord entrusted his dear mother to his beloved disciple John? The ultimate precedent for Christian fellowship was being born.
"Beneath the cross Christian fellowship is born, a fellowship wholly different from all purely human fellowship based on natural kinship, mutual sympathy, or a common outlook upon human affairs. The great and distinctive characteristic of this new fellowship is that all who enjoy it are drawn to one another by the consciousness that they are all brothers for whom Christ. died." ~ R.V.G. Tasker
"Dear woman, here is your son.  John, here is your mother," are words that birth the fellowship that marks the true body of Christ.  More than mere suggestion or recommendation...they are words by which we are legally declared to be brothers and sisters in Christ just as surely as we are legally adopted as the children of the living God by the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Becoming "Vivified"

We should be careful not to dwell overly much on our sinfulness - though it needs to be acknowledged and dealt with - but along with that type of introspection, we should also be encouraged by and participate in the work of the Spirit in our lives that is forming us daily into the image of Christ.

In addition to killing sin (death), there must be a corresponding rising to new life: "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4).  Older theologians called this twofold process mortification...and vivification....Killing sin and pursuing holinesss are acts of the Holy Spirit in cooperation with the believer.  Christians "live by the Spirit" and "walk by the Spirit" (Gal. 5:25).  Derek W. H. Thomas, How The Gospel Brings Us All The Way Home

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Change Your Heart, Change Your Behavior

If we as believers are going to get serious about dealing with sin, we need to deal directly with our own hearts, and not focus merely on behavior modification.

[S]in expresses itself in different people in different ways.  That's why measuring external behavior in one area alone simply isn't enough to determine the state of one's heart.  The only way to kill sin is to mortify the roots of sin in the motives, desires, and drives of the heart....So, mortifying sin is not merely changing behavior, but rather addressing sinful desires in the heart. ~ Brian Hedges, Licensed to Kill - A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin. Emphasis added.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A High Priest Who Knows Us

Encouragement to go directly to God in prayer, without wavering:

This means we can be assured that we pray to and hope in a High Priest who knows us.  He sympathizes with us.  He has a friendly, personal understanding of our weaknesses.  He says to us, "I've been there," and he actually means it.  John Frame writes, "God, who has no body, has taken to himself a body in the person of Jesus Christ.  God, who cannot suffer, has taken to himself a human nature, in which he can suffer, in Christ." Joshua Harris, Dug Down Deep.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What It Means To Pick Up The Cross

The seriousness of our Lord's charge to follow Him can't be underestimated:

Jesus tells His followers they must pick up their cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23).  A cross is not a symbol of trying harder, of promising to do better, of really knuckling down, getting serious, and having "the eye of the tiger."

A cross is not where you go to work out, as if to build up what is already there.

A cross is where you go to die, which is the final negation of the sin-riddled nature we inherit from Adam.  ~ Excerpt from The World Tilting Gospel by Dan Phillips

Let us follow wherever He leads.