My only comfort is “that I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with His precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation, and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready from now on to live for Him.” Continue reading
Do you ever find it hard to stay focused in prayer or in worship? Why is that? This paraphrase from Thomas Boston, a Scottish theologian, provides some insightful analysis of the pervasive sinfulness of the human heart and mind:
“When God is speaking to men by His Word, or they are speaking to Him in prayer, doesn’t the mind often leave them before the Lord, like so many ‘idols that have eyes, but see not, and ears, but hear not’? The body is bowed down before God, but the world gets the heart. Though his eyes are closed in prayer, a man sees a thousand things; the mind in the mean time, is like a bird escaped out of a cage, skipping from bush to bush, so that, in effect, the man never comes to himself till he is gone from the presence of the Lord. As you reflect on this, don’t say, it is impossible to keep the mind focused in prayer–it is hard, but not impossible. Grace from the Lord can do it (Psalm 108:1), and there are objects of our attention that easily do it. A pleasant idea easily captivates our minds; Continue reading
“Is there anything in which I am, like Jonah, unreconciled to the will of God–His will in His Word; His leading in providence? And when He reasons kindly with me, –”Is it good for you to be angry?”–do I allow His gracious reproof to pass by unheeded? Let me beware. God’s purpose, though unwelcome to me, is very dear to Him: it follows the counsel of His own will; it is according to the pleasure of His will; and I must, if I am a child of God, be constrained to understand that it is, and be brought to agree with him, and acquiesce…
The great truth [of Psalm 31:15] is this — all that concerns the believer is in the hands of Almighty God. “My times”, these change and shift; but they change only in accordance with unchanging love, and they shift only according to the purpose of One with whom there is no variation nor a shadow of turning. “My times”, that is to say, my ups and downs, my health and my sickness, my poverty and my wealth — all those are in the hand of the Lord, who arranges and appoints according to his holy will the length of my days, and the darkness of my nights. Storms and calms vary the seasons at divine appointment. Continue reading
One of life’s mysteries is that parents love their children, and that right from the start. When a mother first meets her new-born baby, she kisses it, hugs it, feeds it, talks to it, tells her mother to come and see it, and, these days, floods facebook with pictures of her darling. What has that baby ever done to deserve such treatment? Nothing. Quite the opposite, in fact.
By the time a child is born, it has caused its mother weeks or months of sickness, sleeplessness (often shared by the father), loss of her entire wardrobe, discomfort, severe pain, and in this country, thousands of dollars. And that is just the beginning – toilet training is already on the horizon! Continue reading
Christians often tend to think down. We think small, not getting much beyond the daily stuff of life. God, however, desires that we think up and think big. He desires that our vision be raised and expanded by his Word. Consider Ephesians 2:5-6. In these short verses he graciously tells us the vast wonder of what it means to be a Christian. In “rich mercy” and “great love” having “made us alive with Christ,” God “has raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
“That august mind, out of which all things spring, bows itself to us; and those eternal wings, which cover the universe, also brood over us and our household, and our daily wants and woes. Our God sits not still as a listless spectator of our griefs, suffering us to be drifted like waifs upon the waters of circumstance; but is busily occupying himself at all times for the defense and perfecting of his children. He leads us that he may bring us home to the place where his flock shall rest for ever.” – C.H. Spurgeon, “My Times are in Thy Hands” [May 17th, 1891]
Philip’s question for the Ethiopian reading Isaiah in his chariot is a good one. As I recently started into the book of Job in my devotions I realized I shared his answer: “How can I unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:31) While I haven’t been reading in my chariot, I have been reading through Job with Derek Thomas’s excellent Welwyn Commentary on Job (Evangelical Press) as a helpful guide. Doing devotions with a good commentary in hand is something I’ve done on and off. Picking it up again I found my resolve to re-engage this practice reinforced soon afterwards in our seminary chapel, with Al Martin highly commending this as a life habit.