Sunday, April 30, 2023

God Is Not Mocked

 By Joshua Stone

There is an eternal lesson found by carefully reading old testament accounts, notably Kings and Chronicles. Invariably when God’s people turned away from Him and began sacrificing to idols and worshipping material things, God removed His blessings and they experienced horrifying national calamities. When they finally repented of their wrongdoings and turned back to God, He would pour out His blessings on them once again.

The nation once referred to as ‘A Shining City on a Hill’, founded on the solid rock of Judaeo-Christian principles, has turned it’s face from God and is reaping the results. The populace cannot expect continued blessings having resorted to all forms of licentious pagan idolatry and condoning the murder of millions of children still in their mother’s wombs.

As in the Days of Old, unwelcome winds of change have been unleashed against an unrepentant people. There are none who are innocent, all have been partakers in bringing about the current deconstruction of society and the eventual collapse of the greatest nation on earth. When people become complacent and fail to call out and condemn evil, they become complicit partners in their nation’s fall.

A self righteous populace is currently obsessed with identifying and lamenting over the various aspects of the impending collapse and blaming others while failing to understand that the reason this catastrophe has befallen them is sin and pride. 

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

The only answer to this debacle is for the nation’s populace to acknowledge the Lordship of God and repent. 

”If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 

(2 Chronicles 7:14) The converse of this comes for failing to repent and turn to God.

The Lord said: “And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7: 26-27)

An Explanation of Trials

 By Charles Spurgeon

An Explanation of Trials

You are my refuge in the day of disaster.

Jeremiah 17:17

The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. It is true that God’s Word says, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace”;1 and it is a great truth that faith is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above. But life confirms that if the experience of the righteous is “like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day,”2 sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain periods clouds cover the believer’s sun, and he walks in darkness and sees no light.

There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the early stages of their Christian life; they have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters.” But suddenly they find that the glorious sky is clouded; instead of the promised land they have to endure the wilderness; in place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to their taste, and they say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.” Do not say that if you are walking in darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the bitter potion; the dearest of His children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his heart in constant tune.

Perhaps the Lord gave you in the beginning a smooth and unclouded path because you were weak and timid. He moderated the wind on account of your weakness, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten branches of self-reliance, and to root us more firmly in Christ. The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.

The Second Reaction

 By Alistair Begg

The Second Reaction

But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord.

1 Samuel 8:6

How do you react when something displeases you?

It is understandable that when the people of Israel asked for a king, the prophet Samuel was displeased. After all, there was a personal slight in the request. Samuel had judged the people well, demonstrating leadership at its finest. He had preached repentance, and the people had repented. He had prayed for them, and the Philistine forces had been vanquished without any weapons being lifted in defense or to attack (1 Samuel 7:5-10). Finally, a stone of remembrance had been set up to signify God’s goodness to Israel for time immemorial (v 12-13). Samuel had done his best—and his best had been good.

But the years had passed since those victories. Samuel had grown old, and the leaders of Israel had decided it was time for a change. They were ready to push Samuel out and move on.

Samuel’s immediate and understandable reaction was to be unhappy and angry. But he didn’t dwell there. Instead, his second reaction was to pray. Samuel’s disapproval led him to talk to God about all that was happening and to seek His counsel and His intervention.

We see a similar first and second reaction in the book of Nehemiah. When Nehemiah heard the news that had come out of Jerusalem concerning the destruction and chaos that was taking place there, he sat down and wept. But then, for many days, he prayed to God and fasted (Nehemiah 1:1-4). His first reaction was to weep; his second reaction was to pray.

The actions of Samuel and Nehemiah set us a challenging example. When something displeases you and your first reaction to a situation is anger, sorrow, or disappointment, what’s your second reaction? Perhaps you tend to tell everybody how let down you have been, or you brood in self-pity or lash out. But here’s the challenge: while it is understandable to weep or to feel displeased, we are not to stay like that, and we are to make sure that our second reaction is to pray. Like Samuel, when something has caused you displeasure, let your second reaction be to talk to God about all that is happening, seeking His perspective and His help in the situations before you.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Claiming God’s Promises

 By Charles Spurgeon

Claiming God’s Promises

Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.

Psalm 119:49

Whatever your particular need may be, you will find some promise in the Bible related to it. Are you faint and feeble because your way is rough and you are weary? Here is the promise—“He gives power to the faint.”1 When you read such a promise, take it back to the great Promiser and ask Him to fulfill His own word. Are you seeking for Christ and thirsting for closer communion with Him? This promise shines like a star upon you—“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”2 Take that promise to the throne continually; do not plead anything else, but go to God over and over again with this—“Lord, You have said it; do as You have said.”

Are you distressed because of sin and burdened with the heavy load of your iniquities? Listen to these words—“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”3 You have no merit of your own to plead why He should pardon you, but plead His written promises and He will perform them. Are you afraid that you might not be able to hold on to the end and that after having thought yourself a child of God you should prove a castaway? If that is your condition, take this word of grace to the throne and plead it: “The mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.”4

If you have lost the sweet sense of the Savior’s presence and are seeking Him with a sorrowful heart, remember the promises: “Return to me . . . and I will return to you.”5 “For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you.”6 Feast your faith upon God’s own Word, and whatever your fears or wants, take them to the Bank of Faith with your Father’s note, which reads, “Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.” 7

  1. Isaiah 40:29 
  2. Matthew 5:6 
  3. Isaiah 43:25 
  4. Isaiah 54:10 
  5. Zechariah 1:3 
  6. Isaiah 54:7 
  7. Psalm 119:49

God Works Through Every Gift

 By Alistair Begg

God Works Through Every Gift

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

1 Peter 4:10

Good parents give gifts to all their children, excluding none. Thoughtful parents select appropriate gifts for each child to match their stage, aptitudes, and character. If we care for our children and love them without favoritism, we will give to each one what is fitting at any given time to meet his or her unique needs and desires. And often the best gifts are ones that can, while owned by one child, then be enjoyed by the whole family.

Our heavenly Father operates in the same way. He gives gifts to all His people—generously, lavishly, and purposefully.

Three verses in 1 Corinthians 12 confirm to us God’s generosity to all His children:

• “It is the same God who empowers” all kinds of gifts and service and activities “in everyone” (v 6, emphasis added).

• “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (v 7, emphasis added).

• Every spiritual gift is “empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to eachindividually as he wills” (v 11, emphasis added).

Like a good parent, God gives gifts to all His children, all for the good of Christ’s body, the church family.

Sometimes, though, untaught by our Bibles and unguided by the Spirit, we take the view that the people who really count are those who possess certain gifts—whatever those gifts might be, in whatever given context. This elitism leads to defeatism: those without the “privileged” gifts feel they have no meaningful contribution to make.

We must therefore be very clear on the basics of spiritual gifts. Who gives them? God.Who gets them? All believers. Spiritual gifts are not reserved for a chosen few; they are the privilege of the whole Christian family. Our gifts differ, but we all have them, and every gift is good, necessary, and integral to the life of the body. Each one is given for the “common good,” as 1 Corinthians 12:7 puts it.

Instead of wondering about what we haven’t received, being jealous of what someone else has been given, or wishing we could exchange our gift, God wants us to enjoy and make use of what He has kindly provided to us. “As each has received a gift,” says Peter, “use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” As God’s child, you are a recipient of God’s grace. He has given you abilities and opportunities. He calls you, in the strength He supplies, to steward that grace for the fame of Christ’s name and the good of His family. So consider: What are the gifts He has given you? Have you thanked Him? And how might you use those gifts to serve your church? Remember, God-given gifts are most enjoyed when they are used for the good of the family.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Remember Me

By Charles Spurgeon

Remember Me

Do this in remembrance of me.

1 Corinthians 11:24

It appears that Christians may forget Christ! There would be no need for this loving exhortation if there were not a fearful possibility that our memories might prove treacherous. Nor is this an empty notion: It is, sadly too well confirmed in our experience, not as a possibility, but as a lamentable fact. It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb and loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God could forget that gracious Savior; but if startling to the ear, sadly it is too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the crime. Forget Him who never forgot us! Forget Him who poured His blood out for our sins! Forget Him who loved us even to death! Can it be possible? Yes, it is not only possible, but conscience confesses that it is too sadly a fault with all of us that we treat Him as a stranger, like an overnight guest. Instead of Him being a permanent resident in our memories, we treat Him as a visitor. The cross where one would expect that memory would linger and disinterest would be an unknown intruder is desecrated by the feet of forgetfulness.

Doesn’t your conscience say that this is true? Don’t you find yourselves forgetful of Jesus? Some other love steals away your heart, and you are unmindful of Him upon whom your affection ought to be set. Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you ought to be fixed steadily upon the cross. It is the incessant turmoil of the world, the constant attraction of earthly things, that takes the soul away from Christ. While memory works to preserve a poisonous weed, it allows the rose of Sharon to wither. Let us charge ourselves to tie a heavenly forget-me-not around our hearts for Jesus our Beloved, and whatever else we let slip, let us hold tight to Him.

Seeing Jesus One More Time

 By Alistair Begg

Seeing Jesus One More Time

He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

Acts 1:3

Jesus could have simply risen from the dead and gone directly to heaven. After all, the work of redemption was complete. He had made full atonement in His death, and He had triumphed over death. Why not just return directly to the Father? Because Jesus did not intend to leave His followers with their final memories of Him bloodied and beaten, hanging on a cross. Rather, their last memories were to be of a resurrected Christ.

It is a mark of His grace and kindness that after His resurrection Jesus “presented himself alive” to His disciples. He answered their questions. He banished their fears. He “opened their minds” to better understand the Old Testament Scriptures (Luke 24:45). He prepared them for the coming of the Holy Spirit. And then, and only then, did He leave.

How glad doubting Thomas must have been that Jesus did not leave immediately! Had Jesus done so, Thomas would have been unable to meet his Savior and to have his questions answered and his fears dispelled (John 20:24-29). Surely Peter, too, in all of his discouragement and in his disgrace, was equally glad of the opportunity to spend time with the risen Jesus. He had denied Christ repeatedly at the crucial hour. But then Jesus came and met him on the shore, made him breakfast, and gave him the opportunity to be reinstated as he gave a threefold affirmation of his love for Christ (21:15-19). And don’t you think the mother of Jesus was also glad for these 40 days? She who had laid Him in the manger had witnessed the brutality that was meted out upon her son, her boy, on the cross. But Mary’s final vision of Jesus was of Him resurrected and ascending—a vision that prompted her and those with her to worship Him and return to Jerusalem “with great joy” (Luke 24:52).

This final vision of Jesus as the resurrected, all-powerful, ascended King is the answer for those of us who have been looking in other places to find an antidote to doubt, shame, fear, or grief. The cross is empty, as is the tomb. King Jesus is in His heavenly dwelling place, and He is coming back. Until then, lift up your head, know that your Savior lives and His kingdom is open, and encourage your soul as you praise your King:

Jesus, hail! enthroned in glory,
There forever to abide;
All the heavenly hosts adore Thee,
Seated at Thy Father’s side.
There for sinners Thou art pleading;
There Thou dost our place prepare;
Thou for saints art interceding
Till in glory they appear.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Thinking Deeply for God’s Sake

 By Alistair Begg

Thinking Deeply for God’s Sake

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

2 Timothy 2:7

It is not unusual—in fact, it’s quite common—for Christian faith to be regarded as a kind of illogical belief in improbable events. For some, faith is seen as a crutch to prop up less rational people as they navigate life’s challenges. Such critics may be surprised to learn that in reality, Christianity calls its followers not to neglect their minds but to critically engage them.

When we read the Bible, we discover that it never invites us simply to feel things; it never attempts merely to sweep us up in an emotional surge. God never once asks for or endorses the disengagement of our thinking processes. Instead, God’s word repeatedly shows us that Christianity is actually a call to think rightly and deeply about God, His world, and our place in it.

When the apostle Paul addressed the Ephesians, we read that he was “reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus,” which was likely a school for philosophy or rhetoric (Acts 19:9). Paul wasn’t just singing songs or attempting to stir up some emotional experience. No, he essentially said, Citizens of Ephesus, I want you to think and reason with me today. In Thessalonica, too, Acts tells us that Paul “reasoned” with the people, “explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead” (17:2-3). The book of Isaiah begins with a similar call to think earnestly: “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18).

This exhortation to think and reason isn’t just for proclaiming the gospel but for growth in Christian maturity too. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul said, “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking” (1 Corinthians 14:20). He wanted the church to think intently and intensely about the issues they were facing. Paul was even more direct when he wrote to Timothy: “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” We do need God’s Spirit to be at work in order to think rightly (Luke 24:451 Corinthians 12:3), for our intellects are as affected by sin as every other part of ourselves (Ephesians 4:17). But it is as we expend mental energy to consider the wisdom of the Scriptures that God will give us greater and greater understanding.

To follow Christ, then, is not to take a step of blind faith into the darkness but to have your eyes opened to the light of rigorous truth. It will take a lifetime—and more!—to unearth the riches of the truth you encounter in God’s word about His Son, but one thing is sure: today, as every day, God wants you to love Him and honor Him with all your mind.

How Are You Fighting Sin?

 By Charles Spurgeon

How Are You Fighting Sin?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Romans 8:37

We go to Christ for forgiveness, and then too often look to the law for power to fight our sins. Paul issues this rebuke: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? . . . Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”1 Take your sins to Christ’s cross, for the flesh can only be crucified there: We are crucified with Him. The only weapon to fight sin with is the spear that pierced the side of Jesus.

To give an illustration—if you want to overcome an angry temper, how do you go about it? It is very possible that you have never tried the right way of going to Jesus with it. How did I get salvation? I came to Jesus just as I was, and I trusted Him to save me. I must kill my angry temper in the same way. It is the only way in which I can ever kill it. I must go to the cross with it and say to Jesus, “Lord, I trust You to deliver me from it.” This is the only way to give it a deathblow.

Are you covetous? Do you feel the world entangle you? You may struggle against this evil as long as you please, but if it is your besetting sin, you will never be delivered from it in any other way than by the blood of Jesus. Take it to Christ. Tell Him, “Lord, I have trusted You, and Your name is Jesus, for You save Your people from their sins. Lord, this is one of my sins; save me from it!”

Ordinances are nothing without Christ as a means of mortification. Your prayers, and your repentances, and your tears—the whole of them put together—are worth nothing apart from Him. Only Jesus can do helpless sinners good, and helpless saints too. You must be conquerors through Him who has loved you if you will be a conqueror at all. Our laurels must grow among His olives in Gethsemane.

  1. Galatians 3:1-3

Sunday, April 23, 2023

The War of Two Worlds

 By Joshua Stone

                                                    The War of Two Worlds

In recent years a vast chasm has opened creating disunity and division within many nations. On the face of it their populace leans either to the left or the right according to preferred political ideology. The struggles for control has created extreme loathing, hatred and even death in various places. However there is more to this than most understand, because it involves a world wide spiritual warfare in progress.

It began in the heavens long ago with Lucifer. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ’I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.’” 

(Isaiah 14:12-14) 

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world, he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12: 7-9)

And it was in Eden that Adam and Eve rebelled against God and listened to the Deceiver receiving his same personality traits within their own beings that has been passed on to every generation. Jesus the Son of God took up His cross and died in order to ransom mankind from sins of that curse and after three days arose from the dead, the first born of a new creation. All those who place their belief and trust in Him will be redeemed and raised to a new and eternal life in the last day. Those who don’t and refuse, will be cast aside into the hell of eternal darkness along with Satan and the fallen angels (demons).

 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;  

(Matthew 25:31-34 & 41)

During what may be the close of this age the Deceiver has set in motion a great delusion wherein many believe that they can live as they please without consequences. Men wanting to be women and women wanting to be men as they strive to step out of God’s designated will as Lucifer and his angels had done. Evil is multiplied daily and pushed in the faces of God’s righteous believers. The hatred emanated by the left has become a palpable burden for all of decent, civil society and Jesus is about to return soon.

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. (Revelation 1: 7&8)

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Turn to the Scriptures

 By Alistair Begg

Turn to the Scriptures

The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

For the first readers of the book of Hebrews, the metaphor in this verse would have drawn to mind the gladius, the Roman short sword. These swords had y-shaped tips that looked almost like steel tongues. It is to this that the writer to the Hebrews compares the word of God. In Revelation, too, Jesus refers to His authoritative word as the “sword of my mouth” (Revelation 2:16). Whether pricking the conscience, cutting away our camouflages, piercing through Satan’s lies, or offering us encouragement, the sword of God’s word is sharp enough for all our needs.

Jesus understood the sufficiency of Scripture in every situation and modeled for us a complete dependence upon it. In the face of temptation, He turned to the Bible to answer the Evil One, warding off his attacks (Matthew 4:1-11Luke 4:1-12). After His resurrection, in order to revitalize the despondent duo on the road to Emmaus, He turned them to God’s word and “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (24:27). Why did He not simply show them His nail-pierced hands? Because He knew that while the opportunity to see His wounds would be limited to a moment and a few observers, there would be many generations who followed them who could not walk along the road with Him—but they would still have the Scriptures and would be able to read them to see “the things concerning himself.” The unerring truth of God’s word would be sufficient for God’s people in all times and in all places.

We live in an environment in which long-held convictions have been shaken. Confidence in Scripture has significantly eroded. Few truly trust in its authority and its sufficiency to accomplish the purposes for which God has ordained it. It may not become fully apparent in one generation, but as time passes the declension, the rot, the misgivings, the disinterest, and the wrongful preoccupations will yield bitter fruit.

Beware anything that encourages you to waver on your convictions concerning the singular authority and absolute sufficiency of Scripture. Beware moments when your own heart seeks to blunt God’s word, either by not reading it or not applying it. Instead, open your Bible and ask the Spirit of God to go to work with His sword, piercing your thoughts and intentions, showing you Jesus, and reminding you time and time again of His love and of the power of His word.