Articles

Morning Drive

“I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.” Psalm 119:147

The essence of Satan’s deception is that we can live our lives independently of God. He doesn’t care if we believe in God or fill our schedules with a lot of spiritual activities – as long as he can get us to run on our own steam rather than living in conscious dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit.

Six times in the Old Testament, we read that David “inquired of the Lord” ( 1 Sam. 23:2, 4; 30:8; 2 Sam. 2:1; 5:19, 23). David knew he was nothing apart from God, that he could not make it on his own. In fact, the first thing he did each morning –before turning to the business of the day – was to turn his heart toward the Lord in prayer. “In the morning you hear my voice” (Ps. 5:3).

Too often I find myself turning my attention to the details and tasks of the day without first taking time to “inquire of the Lord”. What I’m really saying (though I’d never actually say it) is that I can handle this day on my own. I can do my work, keep my home, handle my relationships, and deal with my circumstances just fine, all by myself. I don’t really need Him.

Sometimes I sense He may be saying to us, “You want to manage this day yourself? Go ahead!” Then, even though we can create a lot of dust and activity, we ultimately end up having nothing of real value to show after a day spent making our own decisions and operating in our own strength.

Only by humbling ourselves and acknowledging that we cannot make it without Him—that we need Him—can we count on His divine enabling to carry us through the day.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss—The Quiet Place

Lord Teach Us to Pray!

"Lord, teach us to pray!" Luke 11:1

It is my deepening conviction that perhaps the Lord’s own people sin more in their efforts to pray, than in connection with any other thing they engage in.

What hypocrisy there is -- where there should be reality!

What presumptuous demandings – where there should be submissiveness!

What formality – where there should be brokenness of heart!

How little we really feel the sins we confess!

What little sense of deep need for the mercies we seek!

And even when God grants a measure of deliverance from these awful sins…

how much coldness of heart,

how much unbelief,

how much self-will and self-pleasing

--have we to bewail!

We need to be delivered from a cold, mechanical and formal type of praying which is merely a lip-service, in which there is …

no actual approach unto the Lord,

no delighting of ourselves in Him,

no pouring out of the heart before Him.

I often say my prayers,

But do I ever pray?

And do the wishes of my heart

Go with the words I say?

I may as well kneel down

And worship gods of stone,

As offer to the living God

A prayer of words alone!

Arthur Pink

God At Work

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

The Lord doesn’t promise to give us something to take so we can handle our weary moments. He promises us himself. That is all. And that is enough. - Charles Swindoll

A father and his young son returned home after a trip to the grocery store. The son loved being with his dad and wanted to help him finish the chore. In fact, he wanted to carry the largest bag – which was much too heavy for him – inside. The father had a simple solution. He put the bag in his son’s arms and then picked him up and carried both inside.

What a lovely picture of how our Heavenly Father works within us. He loves our willingness to take on any assignment. But He knows what we can and cannot do in our strength. When the load is too heavy, the assignment too big, He honors our willing spirit by lifting us up and allowing us to do His work. He empowers us to accomplish more than we can in our own strength.

Do all you can – but realize it is God’s power working through you that makes the difference.

Taken from Inspired Faith

Serve Where You Are

"And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the Lord”. 2 Chronicles 35:2

In the Kingdom of God, service is not a stepping-stone to nobility: it is nobility, the only kind of nobility that is recognized. T.W. Manson

A Classical Devotional from C.H. Spurgeon

Dear friends, do you not think we frequently limit our estimate of serving God to the public exercises of the sanctuary, and forget the strong claims that our Lord has upon our private fidelity and obedience? You say, “I cannot serve God,” when you cannot teach in the school or preach in the pulpit, when you are unable to sit on a committee or speak on a platform; as if these were the only forms of service to be taken into account. Do you not think that a mother nursing her baby is serving God? Do you not think that men and women going about their daily toil with patient industry discharging the duties of domestic life are serving God? If you think rightly you will understand that they are. The servant sweeping the room, the mistress preparing the meal, the workman driving a nail, the merchant casting up his ledger, ought to do all in the service of God.

Taken from Inspired Faith

Slow It Down!

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” Psalm 23:2

Have you ever noticed that Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry? We never see Him hustling from place to place or doubling up His schedule after running behind. We never see Him running anywhere, for that matter. But we do see Him walking. We see Him seated by a well in Samaria and sitting down to teach His disciples. We read of Him reclining at meals and sleeping in the hull of a storm-tossed boat.

When you thing about it, hurry is simply not Christlike.

And more often than not, hurry is the enemy of spiritual intimacy. It is a pace of life that is seldom conductive to godliness, to relationships, to marriage, to anything that ultimately matters to us.

So it’s not surprising – though a world apart from the harried, breathless mindset we so often exhibit – to learn that the Lord would want to lead us to “green pastures” and “still waters” (literally, “waters of rest”). For like sheep, we don’t know when we need to rest. Left to ourselves, we’ll just keep going until we fall down from exhaustion. And yet the more hurried our pace, the less we will truly experience our “shepherd”. He knows that we can’t cultivate godly character and affections when we’re constantly on the run, in the red, as high RPMs. Intimacy with God (and with others) requires time, stillness, waiting, and focused attention.

So expect Him to take you to those restful places –regularly, repeatedly – not to make you less productive but to renew your perspective, remind you what really matters, refresh your soul, slow down your racing pulse, and send you out to serve Him with joy. Even with meals to prepare, errands to run, and a job to do, there are green pastures and still waters within reach. Let Him lead you there today.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss – The Quiet Place

A Renewed Strength

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

When God is our strength, it is strength indeed; when our strength is our own, it is only weakness. St. Augustine

In a world that can wear us down mentally, physically, and spiritually, how do we renew our strength? What do we do in the face of too many projects, too many temptations, too many conflicts, and too many other soul- and energy-sapping dynamics at work in life?

The prophet Isaiah ministered to a nation on the verge of collapse. It wasn’t just the acute threat from foreign powers – though that was an obvious stressor- but the once proud and righteous country was sinking in a mire created by its own cynicism and corruption. His antidote to spiritual fatigue was simple: Hope in the Lord.

Others might help you. Great. But don’t put your hope in them. You might be able to muster some more determination to get the job done. Wonderful. But don’t even place your hope in yourself. The only place to turn for a renewed spirit is the One who has given you every good and perfect gift, including any strength or talent you were born with. What a wonderful promise that we can run without growing weary!

So how is your day? How has your week been going? How does this month look to be shaping up for you? Are you hopeful and inspired? Or are you discouraged? Either way, place your hope in the Lord and let Him give you a supernatural strength

Taken from Inspired Faith

The Doctrine Which is According to Holiness

“….and to the doctrine which is according to godliness.” I Timothy 6:3

The doctrine which is according to godliness at once defines the nature of Divine doctrine, intimating that its design or end is to teach a right temper of mind and deportment of life—it is pure and purifying. It is very much more than a series of intellectual truths intended for the instructing of our brains. The doctrine which is according to godliness, is the enunciation of spiritual facts and holy principles, for the warming of the heart and the regulating of our lives.

The objects which are revealed in Scripture are not bare abstractions which are to be accepted as true, nor even sublime and lofty concepts to be admired – they are to have a powerful effect upon our daily walk. There is no doctrine revealed in Scripture for a merely speculative knowledge, but all is to exert a powerful influence upon conduct. God’s design in all that He has revealed to us, is to the purifying of our affections and the transforming of our characters.

It is absurd to conclude that if my creed is sound, then it matters little how I live. Thus it is possible to deny the Faith by conduct – as well as by words. A neglect of performing our duty is as real a repudiation of the Truth, as is an open renunciation of it!

The doctrine of grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11, 12). By far the greater part of the doctrine taught by Christ consisted not of the explication of mysteries – but rather that which corrected men’s lusts and reformed their lives. Everything in Scripture has in view the promotion of holiness.

Arthur Pink – Practical Christianity

Reading God's Word

“There is nothing more important in the Christian life than the way in which we approach the Bible, and the way in which we read it.” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

“God has given the Word to us as a revelation…

of Himself,

of His character,

of His government,

of His requirements.

Our motive in reading it, then, should be to become better acquainted with Him, with His perfections, with His will for us. Our end in perusing His Word should be to learn how to please and glorify Him; and that, by our characters being formed under its holy influence, and our conduct regulated in all its details by the rules He has there laid down.” (Arthur Pink)

“Our knowledge of God’s Word, and delight in it, must be directed to practice!” (Thomas Manton)

“The Scripture is given to establish our faith, and comfort our hearts, and sanctify our lives – but not to amuse us and to gratify our curiosity.” (William Jay)

Another Year

"Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Isaiah 42:9

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day. Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Another year has come and gone. How will this one go down in the books for you? Did you meet new friends? Did you start or finish any new projects? Did you take a class or learn anything new? Did you read any books? Did you bless those around you? Your family? Your neighbors? Did you serve at your church? Did you share your faith? Did you pray more or less? Did you draw closer to God?

Years come and go. Are we growing and making a difference in the time God has given us? The questions raised above are not intended to elicit guilt, but they are the kind of questions that help us determine how much we are making our life count.

Consider writing down a highlight of your year before you even begin thinking about goals for next year. Do this thoughtfully and prayerfully. Ask God to convict you in areas that need to change. Let Him affirm you in areas where He is pleased with your life. Let this account of your year challenge and encourage you to live your best life yet in the days ahead.

Taken from Inspired Faith

He Was Saint as Well as Scholar!

"For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” Ezra 7:10

If I would be like Ezra the scribe, bringing things new and old out of a full treasury, and guiding the feet of the perplexed into the ways of peace – I must look in four directions:

1.First, I shall turn my gaze inwards upon my heart. “Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord.” Ezra had prepared his heart, and so must I. I must understand that vital religion is deeper…

than external observance of religious rituals,

than a valiant confession of the lips,

than an ordered theological belief system.

It is the soul convinced of sin, confiding the Savior, filled from above with penitence and faith and peacefulness and power.

He alone can plead with others and can prevail –who has undergone this most radical change, and whose heart is prepared for his work by its simple trust in the redeeming and quickening mercy of his Good Physician.

2.Then I shall give my attention to my mind. For “Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord.” He was a pupil in the school of the heavenly oracles. He hungered and thirsted for clearer and profounder and more adequate conceptions of that wisdom which is eternal and divine.

To the last of my life, I must be a disciple and student of God’s Word. He has more light and truth to break forth from His holy Word; but He reveals them to those alone who search and dig for them as for hidden treasure. How can I feed my fellows with the bread of the soul, unless I am busy appropriating and enjoying it myself?

3.And I shall be watchful over my life. “Ezra had prepared his heart to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord.” Ezra was careful not merely to study the Word, but to DO it. He was saint as well as scholar! Day after day, the purifying Word kept him from staining his garments, and made his character gracious and godly. The sermon I preach by what I AM – is more eloquent than the sermon I preach by what I SAY!

4.And finally, I shall guard and train and hallow my lips. It was Ezra’s ambition to teach God’s decrees and laws in Israel –to speak…

when the fitting opportunity presents itself;

with no affectation, but naturally and sincerely;

as a dying man to dying men;

the unyielding truth in love and pity and tears;

to the glory of God.

May I tread in the wake of Ezra the scribe!

Alexander Smellie – The Secret Place

Providence Is No Other Than God Providing!

“To be served at a table by a great king, would be counted as great a favor as the meal itself. Just so, to take outward blessings out of God’s hand -- to see that He remembers us, and sends our provision at every turn – this endears His mercy, and increases our delight in Him.”

What, indeed, would most men give if they could say, “The Queen herself has served me, and was most anxious that I should be well supplied!” But each believer has the Lord Himself for his Provider. He loads our table, and fills our cup. Providence is no other than God providing!

He…

measures out our joys,

weighs our sorrows,

appoints our labors,

and selects our trials!

There is no morsel on the saint’s plate, which is not of the Lord’s serving – unless he has been so foolish as to put forth his hand unto iniquity.

It is delightful to know that our Father’s hand provided for us the bread which we have eaten this day; that the Savior’s own fingers mingled our cup; and that every blessing has come directly from God’s own table!

Surely we are as dear to God as the little ewe lamb in Nathan’s parable was to the poor man. For we are told that “the poor man had raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him!” Does not this make our food, and drink, and lodging more than royal? Are we not more than content with such fare?

Yes, Lord, my portion tastes of Your divine love, for Your hand has sweetened it. A sacred perfume is on my clothing and in my chamber – for You have prepared both for me. And this would be true if I wore rags, and lay in a dungeon in sore sickness! What a heritage is mine!

O Lord, You are my all, and my all in all. My all is more than all – because it comes of You, and is dealt out to me by Your own precious self!

Charles Spurgeon – Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden

The Shepherd Searching for the Sheep!

“For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.” Ezekiel 34:11

The prophet looked into a distant future, and saw the day of Christ from afar.

1.Just so I look back see my sovereign Lord in the manger-cradle at Bethlehem. He has emptied Himself—He has laid all His glory down. He has come to my earth, not in the splendors of His divinity, but with an infant’s palpable and pathetic claim for nursing and nurture. He has taken my nature in its feeblest and most helpless condition, and made it His own nature.

It is a long way for the Shepherd to travel in search of the sheep – no arithmetic can compute it, no history can describe the downward journey. But the Incarnation is not enough. Not at Bethlehem does the Lover of my soul find me who has departed from His fold.

2.Then I see my sovereign Lord on the hillsides and in the cornfields and on the lake-waters of Galilee.

Never a man speaks like this Man – His are the words of grace and truth, of fire and dew.

Never a man lives like this Man—He does not weary in healing, feeding, comforting, rebuking sin, and compassionating and blessing the sinner.

He is seeking me by the messages of His lips, and by the blamelessness and beneficence of His life. Patiently He is enticing me home. But the ministry of word and miracle is not enough. Not like in Capernaum doe the Flock-master find me, who am so persevering in my revolt.

3.Then I see my sovereign Lord beneath the olive trees in Gethsemane. He is praying with strong cryings and tears. He has come very near to the transgressors now, and more poignantly than ever He feels the awfulness of their burden. His sweat, falling down to the ground, is, as it were, great drops of blood. The Seeker is learning the sharpness of the crag, and the rush of the torrent. None has cared for me so much; none has borne a sorrow so deep on my behalf. But His intercession and His sympathy are not enough. Not in the agonies of the garden, does He succeed in finding me.

4.But, last, I see my sovereign Lord nailed to the Cross outside the gate on the Hill of Reproach. He dies for sin –but not His own; He is purer than the newborn lamb and the new-fallen snow. He lays my immeasurable guilt on Himself. He redeems me by the one perfect offering of His unblemished body and soul. The Good Shepherd is giving His life for His sheep! And this, at length, is enough – the atonement, the blood-shedding. It is enough for God—and it is enough for me.

On Calvary I behold the depth of my iniquity – and the wonder of His redemption!

On Calvary my God finds me, and conquers me, and saves me!

Never was there a sheep so silly, so found of roaming, so bent on destroying itself!

Never was there a search so longsome, so untiring, and so fraught with suffering!

Never was there a Shepherd like my adorable Redeemer!

“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” John10:11

Alexander Smellie – On the Secret Place

The Christian's Ambition!

"Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” 2 Corinthians 5:9

Three times over in his Epistles, Paul speaks of the Christian’s ambition. I may learn much from every one of his three messages.

What should be the ambition of my personal life? It should not be to be merely pardoned, nor simply permitted escape from eternal wrath. “We make it our ambition, the apostle says, “to please Him.”

What should be the ambition of my church life? It should be to further the prosperity and to enlarge the boundaries of my Lord’s kingdom on earth. It should be to proclaim His Evangel, and to extend His realm, and to win some new captives and subjects for Him. “It has always been my ambition,” the apostle says again, to preach the gospel where Christ was not known.”

And what should be the ambition of my social life? It should be, in my ordinary duties, in my simplest and lowliest occupations, to exhibit Christlikeness and my heavenly citizenship. If I cannot be holy at my daily work, it is scarcely worth while taking trouble to be holy at other times. “Make it your ambition,” says the apostle to me once more, “to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands.”

These are the apostolic ambitions. Lord, let them be mine. Towards such goals, to gain such prizes – I would lay aside every weight, and the run the race with perseverance!

Alexander Smellie – “The Hour of Silence”

Tears of Gratitude

"ye do show the Lord's death till he come." 1 Corinthians 11:26

At a communion service my wife and I attended, the congregation was invited to come forward to receive the bread and cup from one of the pastors or elders. They told each one personally of Jesus’ sacrifice for him or her. It was an especially moving experience during what can often become just routine. After we returned to our seats, I watched as others slowly and quietly filed past. It was striking to see how many had tears in their eyes. For me, and for others I talked with later, they were tears of gratitude.

The reason for tears of gratitude is seen in the reason for the communion table itself. Paul, after instructing the church at Corinth about the meaning of the memorial supper, punctuated his comments with these powerful words: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He comes.” (1Cor. 11:26). With the elements of communion pointing directly to the cross and the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, that service was about so much more than ritual -- it was about Christ. His love. His sacrifice. His cross. For us.

How inadequate words are to convey the extraordinary worth of Christ! Sometimes tears of gratitude speak what words can’t fully express.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

The love Christ showed for us on the cross is greater than words could ever express.

Our Daily Bread

What Does the Lord Require of You?

“and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with the Lord thy God?” Micah 6:8

Simplicity and comprehensiveness mark the requirements of my God. He can abbreviate His demands into the fewest words; but they are words which embrace…

the inward and the outward,

the present and the future,

the earthly and the heavenly.

I may fall into serious error regarding His will for me:

It is not a religion of ritual observances which He requires. How easily I attach an undue importance to ceremonies and forms, rites and penances and fasts!

Nor does He solicit primarily a religion of external moralities. God looks on my heart.

Nor is it a religion of emotions of which He is in quest. I must not put excitement and tears, in the place of saving grace and childlike obedience.

But see, my soul, God asks us to act justly. I cannot be His, unless I do justly. Everything that takes an improper advantage of another, and all that departs from the straightest line of absolute rectitude – I must hate and abjure. It is a demand which pierces deeper than it seems. For the integrity of conduct He desires – is the outcome only of a conscience He has quickened, and a will He has bent into submission to His law. The ethics of the Gospel are preceded and rendered possible, by the redemption and regeneration of the Gospel.

And God asks tenderness. He counsels me to love mercy. The world is full of sorrow, and I am to move through it as a good physician, befriending and uplifting those in need.

It is what He does Himself. Every glorious quality has its fountain in Him – pre-eminently the quality of mercy. He is the great Forgiver and the great Helper—no earthly father lovers like Him, and no mother is half so mild. So my feeble torch is but kindled at His altar. My charities and philanthropies must be learned in His school, who pardons my ten thousand transgressions!

And God asks humility. He commands me to lay my hand in His, and to walk humbly in His company. Nothing is so essential as poverty of spirit. It is the source and spring from which alone runs the fertilizing river of a holy life. The humble heart is where the flowers of Heaven find their congenial soil, and grow into beauty and fragrance. I only begin to be a disciple, when my proud heat is brought low – and my Savior is lifted high.

Now, my Father, if these are to be the features of my soul – then it is manifest that none but You can create them, and can nurture them, and can lead them to their perfection. Do the word Lord, and have the glory!

Alexander Smellie – On the Secret Place

He Leads The Way

“tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him…” Mark 16:7

The risen King leads the way for His people. Unworthy, fallen people are called to follow Him. You need not possess anything in order to follow this King when He goes before you into Galilee. Nothing is expected from your side, for He is a King who glorifies Himself in giving. For His glory He gives you everything you need. And it is His honor to grant life to you who are worthy of death. Now it becomes not only an Easter celebration for His people but above all a celebration for the King Himself. His Name is glorified in the seeking and finding of guilty sinners.

Jesus is crowned King of kings on the day of His resurrection. He is crowned King when those who are guilty of death seek Him. A Mediator’s crown is set on His head, for He is not an earthly king who is glorified in the receiving of honor and glory. This King does not ask for sacrifices; He sacrifices Himself for His subjects, even to death on the cross. He is, therefore, exalted highly by those who are worthy of that cross.

At the exaltation of Jesus the Peters of the world begin to weep again. This time it is not with bitter tears of joy because of the grace of God freely given to them. Jesus became for them what they should have been before God. Jesus died for them when they still thought it was unnecessary. He loved them to the end, even when they would not acknowledge Him and their sins make them vile and loathsome. But the power of His resurrection is greater than the power of their sins.

“Tell his disciples and Peter.” Tell the good news to the unworthy ones and especially to those who esteem themselves most unworthy. Tell them that Jesus will go before them into Galilee. Tell them Jesus will go wherever their path leads them. Though their path may lead them through the sea of oppression or through the fire of temptation, Jesus will be there. They may walk a path that they do not desire, but surly all will be well as long as He goes before them.

Finally, He will also go before them through the gates of death. Because He is victorious over death and hell, they will not be overcome by death. He will also defeat the last enemy in order to bring them through the Jordan of death, to go before them into the gates of heaven. His ascension to heaven must follow His resurrection. He himself has said: “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” Heaven is the best place for them by far. They will never forsake Him and never deny Him. There they will live eternally in communion with Him. God will have His people back again to remain in paradise forever.

Frans Bakker – The Everlasting Word

Meditation

Luke 23:26-38

When our Lord was crucified his first words were words of gracious intercession (v.34). His own racking agony of body did not make him forget others. The first of his seven sayings on the cross was a prayer for the souls of his murderers. His prophetical office he had just exhibited by remarkable prediction. His kingly office he was about to exhibit by opening the door of paradise to the penitent thief. His priestly office he now exhibited by interceding for others, even those who crucified him.

The fruits of this marvellous prayer will never by fully seen until the day when the books are opened and the secrets of all hearts are revealed. We have probably not the least idea how many of the conversions to God which took place during the first six months after the crucifixion were the direct reply to this marvelous prayer. Perhaps it was one means of affecting the centurion (v.47) and the people who smote their breasts (v.48). Perhaps the three thousand people on the Day of Pentecost, foremost it may be at one time amongst our Lord’s murderers, owed their conversion to that prayer. The day will declare it. There is nothing secret that shall not be revealed. This only we know: that the Father always hears the Son (John 11:42)

Let us see in our Lord’s intercession for those who crucified him one more proof of Christ’s infinite love to sinners. The Lord Jesus is indeed full of pity, most compassionate and gracious. None are too wicked for him to care for. None are too far gone in sin for his almighty heart to take an interest in their souls. He wept over unbelieving Jerusalem. He heard the prayer of the dying thief. He stopped under the tree to call the publican Zacchaeus. He came down from heaven to turn the heart of the persecutor Saul. Love like this is a love that passes knowledge. The vilest of sinners can apply to a Savior like this without fear. He prayed for his murderers from the cross.

J.C. Ryle - Daily Readings

Meditation

John 19:8-11

Our Lord’s silence, when this appeal was made to him by Pilate, is very striking. Hitherto he had spoken freely and replied to questions; now he refused to speak any more. The reason of our Lord’s silence must be sought in the state of Pilate’s soul. He deserved no answer and therefore got none. He had forfeited his title to any further revelation about his prisoner. He had been told plainly the nature of our Lord’s kingdom and the purpose of our Lord’s coming into the world and been obliged to confess publicly his innocence. And yet with all this light and knowledge, he had treated our Lord with flagrant injustice, scourged him, allowed him to be treated with the vilest indignities by his soldiers and held him up to scorn, knowing in his own mind all the time that he was a guiltless person. He had, in short, sinned away his opportunities, forsaken his own mercies and turned a deaf ear to the cries of his own conscience. Hence our Lord would have nothing more to do with him and would tell him nothing more. ‘He gave him no answer.’

Here, as in many other cases, we learn that God will not force conviction on men and will not compel obstinate unbelievers to believe and will not always strive with men’s consciences. Most men, like Pilate, have a day of grace and an open door put before them. If they refuse to enter in, and choose their own sinful way, the door is often shut and never opened again. There is such a thing as a ‘day of visitation’, when Christ speaks to men. If they will not hear his voice and open the door of their hearts, they are often let alone, given over to a reprobate mind and left to reap the fruit of their own sins. It was so with Pharaoh and Saul and Ahab, and Pilate’s case was like theirs. He had his opportunity and did not choose to use it, but preferred to please the Jews at the expense of his conscience and to do what he knew was wrong. We see the consequence. Our Lord will tell him nothing more.

J.C. Ryle - Daily Readings

Meditation

John 13:21-30

The whole length and breadth and depth of our Master’s troubles during his earthly ministry are far beyond the conception of most people. His death and suffering on the cross were only the heading up and completion of his sorrows. But all throughout his life, partly from the general unbelief of the Jews, partly from the special hatred of the Pharisees and Sadducees, partly from the weakness and infirmity of his few followers, he must have been in a peculiar degree ‘a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’ (Isa. 53:3).

But the trouble before us was a singular and exceptional one. It was the bitter sorrow of seeing a chosen apostle deliberately becoming an apostate, a backslider and an ungrateful traitor. That it was foreseen sorrow from the beginning we need not doubt, but sorrow is not less acute because long foreseen. That it was a peculiarly cutting sorrow is very evident. Nothing is found so hard for flesh and blood to bear as ingratitude. Even a poet of our own has said that it is ‘sharper than a serpent’s tooth to have a thankless child’. Absalom’s rebellion seems to have been David’s heaviest trouble and Judas Iscariot’s treachery seems to have been one of the heaviest trials of the Son of David. When he saw it drawing near, he was ‘troubled in spirit’.

Passages like these should make us see the amazing love of Christ to sinners. How many cups of sorrow he drained to the dregs in working out our salvation, beside the mighty cup of bearing our sins! They show us how little reason we have for complaining when friends fail us and men disappoint us. If we share our Master’s lot, we have no cause to be surprised. Above all, they show us the perfect suitableness of Christ to be our Saviour. He can sympathize with us. He has suffered himself and can feel for those who are ill-used and forsaken.

J.C. Ryle - Daily Readings

These Words Which I Command You Today

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

It is well when the Word of God governs my personal life.

It should control my body with its members and passions.

It should solve the puzzling questions of my intellect.

It should answer the indictment, and allay the fears of my conscience.

It should fill my imagination with pure and inspiring pictures.

It should make my will the happy bond-servant of Christ.

It should satisfy the cravings of my heart for the perfect and eternal love.

And it is well when the Word of God governs my home life. When I teach it to the children, when I talk of it sitting in the house and walking by the way, lying down and rising up – I am giving them…

the sublimest theme for meditation,

the best rule of conduct,

the strongest safeguard against evil,

the passport to the family of the Lord and the city of the eternal King.

I am rendering them the most noble service conceivable!

And it is well when the Word of God governs my social life. Let it be written on the posts of my house and on my gates. Then my neighbors will know where I stand, and whom I serve. They will not come to me to talk gossip and scandal, and to whisper away the good name of others with idle tongues. They will not wish me to be a partner with them in any evil work. They will be drawn rather towards the Book and towards the Lord.

In my personal history,

in the relationships of my home,

in my social fellowship –

may God rule through His Word, with an undisputed scepter and a gracious tyranny!

Alexander Smellie – The Hour of Silence

Common Mercies!

Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. Acts 14: 17

We ofttimes forget that the common mercies of life are evidences of our Father’s loving thought and care for His children. There is no such thing as ‘chance’ in this world. God sends the rains, orders the seasons, and brings the harvests. In enjoying the gifts – we should not forget the Giver. In accepting and using the blessings – we should not fail to see the Hand which brings them to us! (J. R. Miller)

“What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” Psalm 116:12

The Christian, as he journeys onwards in the pathway of life, ought frequently to look back, and review the way by which God has led him. If we would keep alive our gratitude – if we would have it to increase more and more, until, like a holy flame, it burns within us – we must often, in thought, retrace the varied turnings and winding of our earthly pilgrimage.

We are so prone, amid our daily duties and our interaction with the world, to forget and overlook the divine benefits received, that only by a careful and frequent retrospect, can we continue, from day to day, cherishing a spirit of true and ever-increasing thankfulness to God. But, the oftener we make the review, the greater cause will we have for saying, with David, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my father’s house, that you have brought me hitherto?”

Christian! you cannot indeed reckon up all the benefits you have received from the hand of God – for they are as numerous as the stars of heaven or the drops of the mighty ocean! Your common mercies – alas! too lightly valued …

the air you breathe,

the return of the gladsome sunlight,

the succession of the seasons,

and the quiet and gentle stillness and repose of night—all these, with their unnumbered host of attendant blessings, are scattered on your path!

(John MacDuff)

Let us praise God for common mercies, for they prove to be uncommonly precious – when they are once taken away! ( Charles Spurgeon)

God Our Refuge

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Psalm 46:11

Psalm 46, like so many others, speaks of seasons and situations that could just as easily be pulled from our present-day headlines or personal journals. I mean, we’ve all experienced times in life when it seemed as though major regions of our world were literally “giving way” (see verse2). We’ve seen natural disasters either up close or on television, watching the furious “roar and foam” of the earth’s destructive waters (verse 3). And each day’s news provides us visual evidence of the “nations” boiling over in violent “rage” (verse 6).

In eleven short verses, the psalmist uses this kind of language we can relate to, to paint for us the very real fears and feelings of helplessness that can overwhelm us. And yet even with so many graphic ways of describing grave troubles, the centrality of God is at the heart of this song – the psalmist refers to Him specifically by name no fewer that eleven times in these same eleven verses.

Five times he speaks of Him as Elohim – the powerfully transcendent One, supreme above every storm and struggle. Another time he identifies Him as Elyon, the Most High. He is Yahweh, a name reflecting God’s covenant with His people. He is Jehovah Sabaoth, the commanding Lord of hosts. He is the God of Jacob, true to His Word and His promises.

He is God – “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (verse 1) – sure and steady even when our world is at its most topsy-turvy. Therefore, we need not be dismayed or overcome by the tumults of life , because God truly is “in the midst” of each moment, and we shall “not be moved” (verse 5). Everywhere we turn, in everything we face, we find our God already there; we find Him to be our sure hiding place.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss – Daily Devotional Readings

People With Sore and Bruised Hearts

And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment. Luke 7:37

It is wonderful how genuine goodness draws to itself …

the unfortunate,

the troubled,

the friendless,

the outcast,

the fallen.

Wherever Jesus went – these classes always found Him out and gathered about Him. It was because He was the true, unselfish friend of all men. They found sympathy in Him. He would listen to their story. Though He was the sinless One, here was yet no air of “I am holier than you” about Him. He was just as gentle to an outcast sinner – as to a religious Nicodemus. No matter who reached out a hand for help – He was ready to grasp it. One of the truest things ever said of Jesus, was the prophetic word concerning him, “He shall not break a bruised reed!” He always dealt most gently with sore spirits and with bruised hearts!

Those who want to be useful in this world—must have the same qualities as Jesus. There is a kind of false “holiness” which draws nobody to itself – but rather repels. Genuine holiness, however, wins its way everywhere into men’s hearts. The secret of it all, is in living “not to be served –but to serve;” in considering one’s self not too good to serve the most unworthy of God’s creatures. If we live in this world to be served – we shall be of no use to anyone. But if we live to minister to others, yearning to be of service to everyone we meet – then our life will be of great worth. The hungry-hearted and the soul-needy will be drawn to us – and God will love to put work into our hands.

We need, too, to train ourselves to exceeding gentleness in dealing with human souls in their spiritual crises. Many earnest people, in the excess of their zeal – do incalculable harm to those whom they greatly desire to help. People with sore and bruised hearts – usually need loving sympathy and strong, kindly friendship – much more than they need a lecture in theology!

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

J.R. Miller - Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ

Find Us Faithful

We will not hide from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength, and His wonderful works that he hath don. Psalm 78:4

One of the greatest heartaches of my adult life has been to watch so many young adults who have grown up in Christian homes and churches, who demonstrate so little interest in spiritual matters, or worse yet, claim to be Christian while loving in a way clearly contrary to His Word. We have to ask ourselves what's causing this lack of passion to follow hard after Christ?

What's happening - or not happening?

Yes, each individual is responsible for his own choices. But I think we in their parents' generation have to ask if we bear any responsibility for these trends. Every generation of believers is charged with passing on a godly heritage to the next. We are responsible for the seeds we sow, and we must live with the harvest that results. We cannot plant seeds of halfhearted, undisciplined, worldly lives, and then hope for "crop failure" in the next generation.

Our enemy is determined to claim the children of faithful parents will always choose to follow Christ, or that all unfaithful children are the product of unfaithful parents. We know that is not the case in Scripture or in our own experience. It is to say that the next generation is taking its cues from us, as to what really matters and what they will choose (or not choose) to live for.

Oh for a generation of parents who purpose to live out the truth before their children, and to train and nurture their children in God's ways, trusting Him to capture their hearts by His grace, that they might not drop the baton of faith but pass it on intact to their children.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss - Daily Devotional Readings

So Mighty - Yet So Loving!

Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31:3

What a wonderful Savior! So mighty – yet so loving!

Spurning, indeed, all baseness and vileness, all mere lip-homage and hypocrisy.

Upsetting all false human ideals and empty philosophies.

At war with conventional empty religious rituals.

Denouncing every white-washed sepulcher that serves only to screen spiritual rottenness.

But welcoming…

many of those who were looked at askance by their fellows;

some of who were the subjects of social ostracism;

those deemed fit only to be trampled, as bruised battered flowers, underneath the feet;

the repentant harlot and sinner, the prodigal, the outcast, the lost.

His heart is a very hive of tenderness…

washing His disciples’ feet in token of humility;

standing by the grave of buried affection;

wiping away the tear of bereavement;

calming the paroxysms of untold sorrow;

arrested by the penitential sighings of the contrite spirit.

In a word, imparting…

rest to the weary and heavy-laden,

hope to the desponding,

sympathy to the mourner,

healing to the brokenhearted; and

finally showing, in the scenes of Gethsemane and Calvary which crowned that Incarnation of suffering love – what He the Divine Man could do and dare for perishing sinners.

The kingdom of the kindest on earth has a limit – His had none.

Human affection and love may come and go – but His flows on forever!

John MacDuff – Ripples in the Twilight

We Would Not Be So Perplexed by the Mysteries of Our Lives!

For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Hebrews 12:10-11

We are not in this world merely to have a pleasant time—but to be fashioned into beauty of Christly character. If we would always remember this, we would not be so perplexed by the mysteries of our lives.

If joy is ours – it is to make us a greater blessing to others.

If sorrow is ours – it is to bring out Christ’s image in us more clearly.

If our hopes are disappointed – it is because God has some better thing for us, than that which we so earnestly desire.

If we are called to endure pain – it is because godly character can only be matured by affliction.

If bereavement comes and we are left without the human arm we have always leaned upon – it is because there are elements of character in our life which never could be developed unless the human support were removed.

If our burdens are heavy – it is because we grow best under burdens.

If we suffer wrong – it is to teach us better the great lessons of meekness, patience and sweet temper.

Always the Master is making us into the beauty of the holy pattern He has set for us, and preparing us for greater usefulness and better service!

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

J.R. Miller – Evening Thoughts

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Now Thank We all Our God

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped. Job 1:20

Martin Rinkart was a seventeenth-century Lutheran pastor serving in his hometown of Eilenberg during the height of the Thirty Years' War. A walled city, Eilenberg soon found itself overrun with refugees and injured troops, bringing on not only fear and overcrowding but a deadly wave of disease, pestilence, hunger, and want.

The Rinkart home became a makeshift refuge of sorts for many of the sick and stranded. And though limited with hardly enough food and supplies to care for his own family, Martin ministered tirelessly to the needs of those around him. When other pastors fled for safety, he stayed on, eventually conducting more than 4500 funeral services that year.

One of those was for his wife.

And yet at some point amid these dire events, Martin composed a family grace to be said by his children before meals - a hymn still sung today all across Germany at state occasions and national days of remembrance: "Now thank we all our God, / With heart and hands and voices, / Who wondrous things hath done, / In whom His world rejoices; / Who from our mother's arms / Hath blessed us on our way / With countless gifts of love, / And still is ours today."

When we sing these words in the comfortable surroundings of a Thanksgiving service at church, we smell turkey in the oven, warm bread on the table. We hear the voices of relatives, enjoying reconnecting and conversing with one another.

But make no mistake: this joy-filled refrain wasn't birthed in the settled quiet of a country cottage. It was forged in pain and suffering and grief and death. True Thanksgiving comes at a cost. And no circumstances are so dire that they can't produce hymns of joy and thanks on the lips of those who know their God.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss - The Quiet Place