Daily Devotionals For November 2005
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Daily Devotional for Tuesday November 1st/05
The Rain And The Word
Defending The Gospel
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Daily Devotional for Wednesday November 2nd/05
The Greatest Word Ever Spoken - Sermon by Oliver B. Greene
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Daily Devotional for Thursday November 3rd/05
"Quit you like men, be strong" (1 Cor. 16:13).
Do not pray for easy lives! Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle. --Phillips Brooks.
We must remember that it is not in any easy or self-indulgent life that Christ will lead us to greatness. The easy life leads not upward, but downward. Heaven always is above us, and we must ever be looking up toward it. These are some people who always avoid things that are costly, that require self-denial, or self-restraint and sacrifice, but toil and hardship show us the only way to nobleness. Greatness comes not by having a mossy path made for you through the meadow, but by being sent to hew out a roadway by your own hands. Are you going to reach the mountain splendors? --Selected.
We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift.
Shun not the struggle; face it. 'Tis God's gift.
Say not the days are evil -- Who's to blame?
And fold the hands and acquiesce -- O shame!
Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God's name.
It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong,
How hard the battle goes, the day how long,
Faint not, fight on! Tomorrow comes the song.
--Maltbie D. Babcock
(Taken from Streams In The Desert devotional)
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Daily Devotional for Friday November 4th/05
This devotional contains some thoughts on the meaning behind Thanksgiving Day - though this is specifically dealing with some events in the United States, I thought it would be worthwhile to read, even for those of us who are Canadians - we still celebrate the same Holiday, but on a different day than our southern neighbours. There is too much confusion caused by modern, politically-correct media to obscure the meaning of this day, and I believe a fresh reminder to all - about who we should be thankful towards and why - would be helpful.
The following email was sent out by:
For the Love of the Family Ministries
Missionaries to America’s Forgotten Mission Field, the Family
Pastor Terry L. Coomer, General Director
Ministry of Elwood Bible Baptist Church
P.O. Box 535
504 North 12th Street
Elwood, IN 46036
Thanksgiving, what a tremendous heritage given to us by our forefathers. The Pilgrims came to America, for religious freedom. They had left England and came to Holland for religious freedom, but found that they still were not going to be able to worship freely and they believed that the people of Holland defiled the Lord's day, Sunday, by seeking entertainment on Sunday rather than setting it aside as a day for worship, reflection, and thankfulness.
The trip to America was a harsh trip. Many died on the way over on the Mayflower. The first winter in New England after they arrived was extremely harsh as well. More died in the brutal winter. As history records, William Bradford, Myles Standish, John Alden, Priscilla Mullins and the rest of the folks who founded Plymouth in 1620 and survived their first brutal winter had much to be thankful for in the fall of 1621.
Only 55 of the more than 100 original settlers had survived to see their first winter thaw. Their labors had paid off and they had a good first harvest. William Bradford proclaimed a day of prayer and thanksgiving and extended an invitation to the local Indians, Wampanoags, who had helped with the cultivation of the colonists first crops. Around 90 of the Indians participated and brought along 5 deer to help out with the meal.
The Pilgrims were people who believed in God and stood for what they believed. The time that was set aside was to thank God for the blessings He had given to them. So, 384 years ago our forefathers because of their religious faith began a tradition that has left us with a great heritage and an example concerning thankfulness. We have much to be thankful for in our country and the Pilgrims understood the teaching of the Bible on thankfulness, and surely quoted I Thessalonians 5:18 on the special time they had set aside. Each year at this time I encourage our family to make sure we give thanks for the blessings we have received.
In studying the history of the Pilgrims, I found out something else interesting. In 1623 there was no harvest because of drought so they turned that day into one of prayer, fasting, and also thanksgiving. They had been many days without water and God answered their prayers that while they were praying and fasting for rain, rain came.
So, what we celebrate the fourth Thursday of November each year that began on the cold shores of the Atlantic Ocean several hundred years ago and has became a lasting heritage for us concerning the matter of thankfulness.
How has it changed since that first time in 1621? In June 1676, the governing council of Charleston, Mass proclaimed June 29 as a day of giving thanks for the success of the community. In October 1777, all 13 colonies celebrate Thanksgiving. In October 1779, George Washington writes the Thanksgiving Proclamation. It was lost, but recovered and installed in the Library of Congress' archives in 1921. In October 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaims the annual holiday as the last Thursday in November. In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt moves it back a week to extend the Christmas shopping season. Congress ruled that after 1941, the fourth Thursday in November will be Thanksgiving day, a legal federal holiday.
Well, folks that is it. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and take time like our forefathers did and intended to give thanks to the One who has given us so many blessings. I also hope that you were able to take it and use it to teach your family the heritage and the importance of thankfulness in our lives, Philippians 4:4-7, Ephesians 5:20, Romans 8:28, and Hebrew 13:15.
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Daily Devotional for Saturday November 5th/05
"There he proved them" (Exod. 15:25).
I stood once in the test room of a great steel mill. All around me were little partitions and compartments. Steel had been tested to the limit, and marked with figures that showed its breaking point. Some pieces had been twisted until they broke, and the strength of torsion was marked on them. Some had been stretched to the breaking point and their tensile strength indicated. Some had been compressed to the crushing point, and also marked. The master of the steel mill knew just what these pieces of steel would stand under strain. He knew just what they would bear if placed in the great ship, building, or bridge. He knew this because his testing room revealed it.
It is often so with God's children. God does not want us to be like vases of glass or porcelain. He would have us like these toughened pieces of steel, able to bear twisting and crushing to the uttermost without collapse.
He wants us to be, not hothouse plants, but storm-beaten oaks; not sand dunes driven with every gust of wind, but granite rocks withstanding the fiercest storms. To make us such He must needs bring us into His testing room of suffering.
Many of us need no other argument than our own experiences to prove that suffering is indeed God's testing room of faith. --J. H. McC
It is very easy for us to speak and theorize about faith, but God often casts us into crucibles to try our gold, and to separate it from the dross and alloy. Oh, happy are we if the hurricanes that ripple life's unquiet sea have the effect of making Jesus more precious. Better the storm with Christ than smooth waters without Him. --Macduff
What if God could not manage to ripen your life without suffering?
(Taken from Streams In The Desert devotional)
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Daily Devotional for Sunday November 6th/05
A Bar Of Steel
"I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument" (Isa. 41:15).
A bar of steel worth five dollars, when wrought into horseshoes, is worth ten dollars. If made into needles, it is worth three hundred and fifty dollars; if into penknife blades, it is worth thirty-two thousand dollars; if into springs for watches it is worth two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. What a drilling the poor bar must undergo to be worth this! But the more it is manipulated, the more it is hammered and passed through the fire, and beaten and pounded and polished, the greater the value.
May this parable help us to be silent, still, and longsuffering. Those who suffer most are capable of yielding most; and it is through pain that God is getting the most out of us, for His glory and the blessing of others. --Selected
"Oh, give Thy servant patience to be still,
And bear Thy will;
Courage to venture wholly on the arm
That will not harm;
The wisdom that will never let me stray
Out of my way;
The love that, now afflicting, knoweth best
When I should rest."
Life is very mysterious. Indeed it would be inexplicable unless we believed that God was preparing us for scenes and ministries that lie beyond the veil of sense in the eternal world, where highly-tempered spirits will be required for special service.
"The turning-lathe that has the sharpest knives produces the finest work."
(Taken from Streams In The Desert devotional)
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Daily Devotional for Monday November 7th/05
The following two illustrations would be fitting for a message on the bondage/captivity of sin and the release from that bondage through belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the early days of Ohio, while it was still an unbroken forest, a young husband and his wife went into the dense woods and built a little home. They were alone, save GOD and the baby - yes, the babe. The husband struggled to make that wilderness blossom as the rose. One day, when the babe was two and a half years' old, hearing its father's axe sounding in the far off wood, it toddled out among the trees to find the father, but alas! it followed the echo rather than the axe, and wandered far. Some roving Indians going through picked it up and took it with them to the far Northwest.
That father and mother hunted for days. They tried to live in that little cabin, but they couldn't stand it. There were the cradle and the crude playthings, and the sand pile. They left them all and went into far Wisconsin.
Fourteen years they lived with heavy hearts, and then one day there came news that some Indians at the trading post had a girl with them that did not look like an Indian girl, and the father went like a wild man to see that girl. Their babe had had a mole on the right shoulder. This girl had a mole on her right shoulder. He told her that she was his daughter, but this white Indian girl laughed in his face. He got the mother, and she was convinced that this was their child. She fell on the ground and hugged the girl's feet. But that girl, her daughter, spat upon her mother.
The mother sank to the ground, torn with a sorrow unto death. At last, almost beside herself, she broke out in the cradle songs she used to sing over the little babe: "Rockabye, Baby," "Papa's Pet," "Home, Sweet Home." The girl raised her eyes as in a dream, looked up, gazed afar, walked as in a trance, and threw herself into her mother's arms. She had heard the voice of long-ago calling her. There was her tie to her mother.
GOD created man long ago, long ago, but man was carried captive by Satan. Nevertheless there is the tie - the voice of GOD in the soul of man that says, "Thou art Mine."
(Taken from John Three: Sixteen - by R.L. Moyer)
The Purchase Of A Slave
Once there was a Negro girl on a slave block in the South. She was bitter because she did not want to serve as a slave. An old man kept bidding higher and higher for her services, and she became more bitter the higher he bid because she did not want to be a slave. Finally, he won the bidding and bought her to be his slave. She came to him, cursed, swore and said, "I hate to be your slave." He looked at her and said, "Young lady, you don't understand. I did not purchase you to make you my slave. I saw something in your face that made me want to set you free. You may go free. I bought you in order that you might be free." The young lady began to weep. She looked up at the man and said, "Oh, Sir, then I will be your slave forever!"
This is what Christianity is all about in our dispensation. Let us not fall from grace or lapse into legalism. Let us enjoy the grace of God and be His slave!
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Daily Devotional for Tuesday November 8th/05
I love reading about the story behind some of our favourite hymns. Here is one that I came across tonight, in chapter two of a new book posted on Baptist Bible Believers Study Site, entitled John Three: Sixteen by R.L. Moyer. The first paragraph and the stanzas of the hymn are from Cyberhymnal, and the rest is from Moyer's book.
George Matheson said this about the hymn that he wrote:
My hymn was composed in the manse of Innelan [Argyleshire, Scotland] on the evening of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s marriage, and the rest of the family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Something happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have ever written are manufactured articles; this came like a dayspring from on high.
George Matheson was a blind poet. Before he lost his sight he was engaged to a young lady whom he loved very dearly. He had trouble with his eyes, and his physician finally informed him that it was only a matter of a short time until his sight would be permanently gone. He felt it his duty to offer his fiancee a release from the engagement, feeling that because of her great love for him she would not accept it. His love for her was that great. Yet when he told her and offered her her freedom, she drew her engagement ring from her finger and offered it back to him saying, "Why, George, I couldn't be tied to a blind man the rest of my life." With earthly darkness closing in upon him, and with a heart darkened by the loss of this human companion, he went to his room and there thought of a love that was beyond the love of any woman. In that hour of darkness he poured forth the throbs of his heart in these immortal words:
O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
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Daily Devotional for Wednesday November 9th/05
Here is another really good Gospel sermon by Oliver B. Greene. In it he looks at three men (representing three groups of people) who observed the crucifixion of Christ and their responses to it. In which group are you?
Three Men Who Witnessed And Walked Away From Calvary - by Oliver B. Greene
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Daily Devotional for Thursday November 10th/05
I have found another really great book on the Baptist Bible Believer's Study site that I wanted to share with everyone. It is entitled The Comfort Of The Scriptures, by S. Maxwell Coder. These short little studies make for great devotionals, and I would like to share a couple of my favourite with you.
COMFORT OF THE SCRIPTURES
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Rom. 15:4).
One of the major themes of divine revelation is the comfort provided in the Bible for those who are passing through severe trials. The verse with which we begin our study of this vast body of truth declares that the sacred writings were given so that through patience and comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope.
This is an amazing statement. In the light of it, we should not find it difficult to understand our trials, and we should be drawing comfort from the fountain of living truth which issues from the Word of GOD.
Hundreds of passages deal with matters like sickness, suffering and death. Nowhere else in literature can such remarkable statements be found as these which stand forth from the pages of the Bible. A brief look at a few of them will make it clear that this is indeed GOD's Book.
For example, it is revealed that affliction is universal. "Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). No trial comes to us "but such as is common to man" (I Cor. 10:13). Other Christians face the same troubles as we do: "Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world" (I Pet. 5:9). In the world we shall have tribulation: "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). There is comfort in this knowledge, or GOD would not have revealed it.
Moreover, nothing is permitted to come into our lives except for the greatest good: "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" (Rom. 8:28). We are under the discipline of a loving heavenly FATHER whose mercies are great: "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust" (Psa. 103:8-14). "Whom the LORD loveth he correcteth" (Prov. 3:12). We are able ultimately to say, "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest" (Ps. 94:12).
Our faith is so precious in His sight that it needs to be purified and refined. "He knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). We are invited to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16).
Finally, if the way seems long and hard, our GOD has said He will at last wipe away all tears from our eyes (Rev. 7:17). The One who has been pleased to reveal such truths deserves our absolute confidence. He is "the God of all comfort" (II Cor. 1:3), and He will help us.
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Daily Devotional for Friday November 11th/05
The following devotion is taken from The Comfort Of The Scriptures.
THIS POOR MAN CRIED
"This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles" (Ps. 34:6).
Although it is very helpful to read devotional literature which seeks to unfold the riches of the Word of GOD, nothing can take the place of the Word itself. An excellent choice of Scripture for this purpose is Psalm 34. Here is the inspired record of David's experience with GOD during a period of fear and trouble.
He wrote, "I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears" (v. 4). This is clear and simple enough for a child to understand. But David was not only in fear; he was in real trouble as well. His testimony is given in seventeen words. All of them are of one syllable except for the final word of two syllables. "This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles."
Rather than attempt an exposition of the text of Psalm 34, let us simply look at its wonderful simplicity and richness. What a revelation is given in the words, "The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them" (v. 7). Who could improve upon a sentence like verse 8, "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him"? What is better than the statement, "there is no want to them that fear him" (v. 9), or the promise, "they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing" (v. 10)? How then could anyone be guilty of failing to seek Him?
"The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry" (v. 15). Here is an echo of the words of poor Hagar, lost in the wilderness long before. She cried, "Thou God seest me" (Gen. 16:13). Like a personal word from heaven to the heart of a suffering saint is the statement, "The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit" (v. 18).
Look at one final nugget from the rich mine of truth found in Psalm 34:19: "Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all." Our troubles may be numerous in spite of our sincere desire to please GOD, but He has always delivered His people out of their afflictions, and He will surely deliver us. No one that trusts in Him shall be desolate.
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Daily Devotional for Saturday November 12th/05
The following comments were gleaned from The Treasury Of David by Charles Spurgeon. This commentary on the book of Psalms that Spurgeon has put together is a compilation of the works of many preachers and Bible teachers that have gone before him, and also includes his own comments on each chapter and verse. You can find this resource included in most Bible programs as well as online at The Spurgeon Archive. Like any other commentary or study aid, it must be read with discernment (as he quotes some authors he - and we - would not agree with, to show the range of comments on each verse), but there is so much to be gleaned from and blessed by if the time is taken to read through it. Pick a favourite Psalm and work your way through it, and you will be sure to find some treasure in this Treasury!
The Book of Psalms has been a royal banquet to me, and in feasting upon its contents I have seemed to eat angels' food. It is no wonder that old writers should call it, -- the school of patience, the soul's soliloquies, the little Bible, the anatomy of conscience, the rose garden, the pearl island, and the like. It is the Paradise of devotion, the Holy Land of poesy, the heart of Scripture, the map of experience, and the tongue of saints. It is the spokesman of feelings which else had found no utterance. Does it not say just what we wished to say? Are not its prayers and praises exactly such as our hearts delight in? No man needs better company than the Psalms; therein he may read and commune with friends human and divine; friends who know the heart of man towards God, and the heart of God towards man; friends who perfectly sympathize with us and our sorrows, friends who never betray or forsake. Oh, to be shut up in a cave with David, with no other occupation but to hear him sing, and to sing with him! Well might a Christian monarch lay aside his crown for such enjoyment, and a believing pauper find a crown in such felicity.
Then, as Jerome tells us, the labourer, while he held the plough, sang Hallelujah; the tired reaper refreshed himself with the psalms, and the vinedresser, while trimming the vines with his curved hook, sang something of David. He tells us that in his part of the world, psalms were the Christian's ballads; could they have had better? They were the love songs of the people of God; could any others be so pure and heavenly? These sacred hymns express all modes of holy feeling; they are fit both for childhood and old age: they furnish maxims for the entrance of life, and serve as watchwords at the gates of death. The battle of life, the repose of the Sabbath, the ward of the hospital, the guest chamber of the mansion, the church, the oratory, yea, even heaven itself may be entered with psalms.
Charles Spurgeon commenting on the book of Psalms.
Who walk in the law of the LORD. In them is found habitual holiness. Their walk, their common everyday life is obedience unto the Lord. They live by rule, that rule the command of the Lord God. Whether they eat or drink, or whatsoever they do, they do all in the name of their great Master and Exemplar. To them religion is nothing out of the way, it is their everyday walk: it moulds their common actions as well as their special devotions. This ensures blessedness. He who walks in God's law walks in God's company, and he must be blessed; he has God's smile, God's strength, God's secret with him, and how can he be otherwise than blessed?
The holy life is a walk, a steady progress, a quiet advance, a lasting continuance. Enoch walked with God. Good men always long to be better, and hence they go forward. Good men are never idle, and hence they do not lie down or loiter, but they are still walking onward to their desired end. They are not hurried, and worried, and flurried, and so they keep the even tenor of their way, walking steadily towards heaven; and they are not in perplexity as to how to conduct themselves, for they have a perfect rule, which they are happy to walk by. The law of the Lord is not irksome to them; its commandments are not grievous, and its restrictions are not slavish in their esteem. It does not appear to them to be an impossible law, theoretically admirable but practically absurd, but they walk by it and in it. They do not consult it now and then as a sort of rectifier of their wanderings, but they use it as a chart for their daily sailing, a map of the road for their life journey. Nor do they ever regret that they have entered upon the path of obedience, else they would leave it, and that without difficulty, for a thousand temptations offer them opportunity to return; their continued walk in the law of the Lord is their best testimony to the blessedness of such a condition of life. Yes, they are blessed even now. The Psalmist himself bore witness to the fact: he had tried and proved it, and wrote it down as a fact which defied all denial. Here it stands in the forefront of David's magnum opus, written on the topmost line of his greatest Psalm -- "BLESSED ARE THEY WHO WALK IN THE LAW OF THE LORD." Rough may be the way, stern the rule, hard the discipline, -- all these we know and more, -- but a thousand heaped up blessings are still found in godly living, for which we bless the Lord.
Some of Charles Spurgeon's comments on Psalm 119:1.
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Daily Devotional for Sunday November 13th/05
Some more nuggets from The Treasury Of David, in reference to Psalm 119.
Author and Subject. This is a Psalm by itself, it excels them all, and shines brightest in this constellation. It is much longer than any of them; more than twice as long as any of them. It is not making long prayers that Christ censures; but making them for a pretence; which intimates that they are in themselves good and commendable. It seems to me to be a collection of David's pious and devout ejaculations, the short and sudden breathings of his soul to God, which he wrote down as they occurred, and towards the latter end of his time gathered them out of his day book where they lay scattered, added to them many like words, and digested them into this Psalm, in which there is seldom any coherence between the verses; but, like Solomon's proverbs, it is a chest of gold rings, not a chain of gold links. And we may not only learn by the Psalmist's example to accustom ourselves to such pious ejaculations, which are an excellent means of maintaining constant communion with God, and keeping the heart in frame for the more solemn exercises of religion; but we must make use of the Psalmist's words, both for the exciting and the expressing of our devout affections. Some have said of this Psalm, He that shall read it considerately, it will either warm him or shame him; and this is true. Matthew Henry, 1662-1714.
Subject and Connection. In stanza Aleph the blessedness of walking in the way of God's word is declared; in Beth, that word is pronounced to be the only safeguard of the young against sin; in Gimel is a pious resolve to cleave to the word, in spite of the sneers of the world. Daleth expresses a longing for the consolation of God's word to fortify good resolutions; He declares an earnest desire for grace to obey the word; Vau expresses firm trust and intense delight in God's word, and an earnest desire to see its full accomplishment; Zain describes the blessed comfort derived from God's word in evil days; Cheth utters the joy which is inspired by the consciousness that God is his portion, and by communion with those that love his word, and by a persuasion that all things work for good to all who love him; Teth describes the blessed effects of affliction, as described in God's word, in weaning the soul from the world and drawing it nearer to him; Jod represents the example of the resignation and piety of the faithful, especially in affliction, as gently drawing others to God; Caph is an expression of intense desire for the coming of God's kingdom, and the subjection of all things to him, according to the promises of his word. Lamed declares that the word of God is everlasting, immutable, and infinite in perfection; and, therefore, in Mem it is asserted that God's word is the only treasure house of true wisdom; and in Nun, that it is the only beacon light in the darkness and storms of this world; and in Samech, that all sceptical attempts to undermine men's faith in that word are hateful and deadly, and will recoil with confusion on those that make them; and in Ain, is a prayer for steadfastness and soundness of heart and mind, amid all the impiety and unbelief of a godless world; which is followed by an assurance in Pe, that the word of God brings its own light and comfort with it to those who earnestly pray for them, and fills the heart with compassion for those who despise it. In Tzaddi is a declaration that even the youthful soul may stand strong and steadfast, if it has faith in the purity, and truth, and righteousness of God's law; and therefore in Koph, is an earnest prayer for the grace of faith, especially, as is expressed in Resh, in times of affliction, desolation, and persecution, as Schin adds, from the powerful of this world; but even then there is peace, joy, and exultation for those who love God's word. And therefore the Psalm concludes, in Tau, with an earnest prayer for the bestowal of the gifts of understanding, assistance, and grace from God, to the soul which owns its weakness, and rests on him alone for support. Christopher Wordsworth, 1872.
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Daily Devotional for Monday November 14th/05
"He shall gather the lambs with His arm." --Isaiah 40:11
Our good Shepherd has in His flock a variety of experiences, some are strong in the Lord, and others are weak in faith, but He is impartial in His care for all His sheep, and the weakest lamb is as dear to Him as the most advanced of the flock. Lambs are wont to lag behind, prone to wander, and apt to grow weary, but from all the danger of these infirmities the Shepherd protects them with His arm of power. He finds new-born souls, like young lambs, ready to perish -- He nourishes them till life becomes vigorous; He finds weak minds ready to faint and die -- He consoles them and renews their strength. All the little ones He gathers, for it is not the will of our heavenly Father that one of them should perish. What a quick eye He must have to see them all! What a tender heart to care for them all! What a far-reaching and potent arm, to gather them all! In His lifetime on earth He was a great gatherer of the weaker sort, and now that He dwells in heaven, His loving heart yearns towards the meek and contrite, the timid and feeble, the fearful and fainting here below. How gently did He gather me to Himself, to His truth, to His blood, to His love, to His church! With what effectual grace did He compel me to come to Himself! Since my first conversion, how frequently has He restored me from my wanderings, and once again folded me within the circle of His everlasting arm! The best of all is, that He does it all Himself personally, not delegating the task of love, but condescending Himself to rescue and preserve His most unworthy servant. How shall I love Him enough or serve Him worthily? I would fain make His name great unto the ends of the earth, but what can my feebleness do for Him? Great Shepherd, add to Thy mercies this one other, a heart to love Thee more truly as I ought.
(Taken from Spurgeon's Morning And Evening devotional)
I wanted to share this too, though it is not on a related theme, but something else I had read recently:
A well-known worker among sailors, the late Thomas Boue, once told his hearers of three good cheers, each of which was enjoined by the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
The first is the cheer of forgiveness, as our SAVIOUR said, "Be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee."
The second is the cheer of companionship, as JESUS said, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid."
And the third is the cheer of victory, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
These three cheers cover the whole of life, for it is a striking fact that they deal with our past, present, and future. The sin of the past is blotted out for the Christian, the continual fellowship of CHRIST is offered for the present, and the future will reveal CHRIST as the conqueror over the world.
- Toronto Globe
(Taken from Knight's Master Book Of New Illustrations)
Unfortunately, the copyright of this book has been renewed.
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Daily Devotional for Tuesday November 15th/05
He Acts on Honest Confession
"He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light" (Job 33:27-28).
This is a word of truth, gathered from the experience of a man of God, and it is tantamount to a promise. What the LORD has done, and is doing, He will continue to do while the world standeth. The LORD will receive into His bosom all who come to Him with a sincere confession of their sin; in fact, He is always on the lookout to discover any that are in trouble because of their faults.
Can we not endorse the language here used? Have we not sinned, sinned personally so as to say, "I have sinned"? Sinned willfully, having perverted that which is right? Sinned so as to discover that there is no profit in it but an eternal loss? Let us, then, go to God with this honest acknowledgment. He asks no more. We can do no less.
Let us plead His promise in the name of Jesus. He will deliver us from the pit of hell which yawns for us; He will grant us life and light. Why should we despair? Why should we even doubt? The LORD does not mock humble souls. He means what He says. The guilty can be forgiven. Those who deserve execution can receive free pardon. LORD, we confess, and we pray Thee to forgive!
(Taken from Faith's Checkbook by Spurgeon)
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Daily Devotional for Wednesday November 16th/05
The following devotional is taken from The Comfort Of The Scriptures.
THOU GOD SEEST ME
"And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?" (Gen. 16:13).
The patriarch Job said of the LORD, "His eye seeth every precious thing" (Job 28:10). When GOD looked upon the affliction of Hagar, mother of Abraham's first son, He saw something which was precious in His eyes. After He had comforted her she responded by using a phrase which has been exceedingly precious to the people of GOD for nearly four thousand years. She said, "Thou God seest me."
Sometimes like Hagar of old we may think we can no longer endure our troubles. It is good then to remember her words. GOD sees each one of us. He knows us by name. He understands our trials and turns them into a source of eternal blessing. "Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy" (Ps. 33:18). GOD "beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth . . . He considereth all their works" (Ps. 33:13-15).
He sees our faith: "And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee" (Matt. 9:2). He knows our downsitting and our uprising and understands our thoughts afar off. The nighttime does not hide anything from Him; darkness and light are both alike in His sight (Ps. 139:2, 12). "The LORD knoweth the way of the righteous" (Ps. 1:6). "He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust" (Ps. 103:14).
There is comfort to be found in remembering that "the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7). He uses and blesses us on the basis of what He sees within us. "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word" (Isa. 66:2).
Encouraged by such revelations as these, we have the privilege of offering the prayer GOD gave to the children of Israel, "Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people" (Deut. 26:15). We may have full confidence that the promise will be fulfilled, "Pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matt. 6:6).
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Daily Devotional for Thursday November 17th/05
I was reminded of the Preface to the King James Bible that the Translators put together. If you are interested in learning more about the love these translators had for the Word of God, I would encourage you to read it. It can be found in some Bible programs (listed in the Help menu on SwordSearcher) or online. The following two excerpts are taken from this Preface, The Translators To The Reader:
The Scriptures then being acknowledged to be so full and so perfect, how can we excuse ourselves of negligence, if we do not study them, or curiosity, if we be not content with them? Men talk much of eiresianh, how many sweet and goodly things it had hanging on it; of the Philosophers stone, that it turneth copper into gold; of Cornucopia, that it had all things necessary for food in it; of Panaces the herb, that it was good for all diseases; of Catholicon the drug, that it is instead of all purges; of Vulcan's armor, that is was an armor of proof against all thrusts, and all blows, &c. Well, that which they falsely or vainly attributed to these things for bodily good, we may justly and with full measure ascribe unto the Scripture, for spiritual. It is not only an armor, but also a whole armory of weapons, both offensive, and defensive; whereby we may save ourselves and put the enemy to flight. It is not an herb, but a tree, or rather a whole paradise of trees of life, which bring forth fruit every month, and the fruit thereof is for meat, and the leaves for medicine. It is not a pot of Manna, or a cruse of oil, which were for memory only, or for a meal's meat or two, but as it were a shower of heavenly bread sufficient for a whole host, be it never so great; and as it were a whole cellar full of oil vessels; whereby all our necessities may be provided for, and our debts discharged. In a word, it is a Panary of wholesome food, against fenowed traditions; a Physician's shop (Saint Basil calleth it) of preservatives against poisoned heresies; a Pandect of profitable laws, against rebellious spirits; a treasury of most costly jewels, against beggarly rudiments; Finally a fountain of most pure water springing up unto everlasting life. And what marvel: The original thereof being from heaven, not from earth; the author being God, not man; the indictor, the Holy Spirit, not the wit of the Apostles or Prophets; the Penmen such as were sanctified from the womb, and endued with a principal portion of God's Spirit; the matter, verity, piety, purity, uprightness; the form, God's word, God's testimony, God's oracles, the word of truth, the word of salvation, &c.; the effects, light of understanding, stableness of persuasion, repentance from dead works, newness of life, holiness, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost; lastly, the end and reward of the study thereof, fellowship with the Saints, participation of the heavenly nature, fruition of an inheritance immortal, undefiled, and that never shall fade away: Happy is the man that delighteth in the Scripture, and thrice happy that meditateth in it day and night.
Many other things we might give thee warning of (gentle Reader) if we had not exceeded the measure of a Preface already. It remaineth, that we commend thee to God, and to the Spirit of his grace, which is able to build further than we can ask or think. He removeth the scales from our eyes, the vail from our hearts, opening our wits that we may understand his words, enlarging our hearts, yea correcting our affections, that we may love it above gold and silver, yea that we may love it to the end. Ye are brought unto fountains of living water which ye digged not; do not cast earth into them with the Philistines, neither prefer broken pits before them with the wicked Jews. Others have labored, and you may enter into their labors; O receive not so great things in vain, O despise not so great salvation! Be not like swine to tread under foot so precious things, neither yet like dogs to tear and abuse holy things. Say not to our Savior with the Gergesites, Depart out of our coasts; neither yet with Esau sell your birthright for a mess of potage. If light be come into the world, love not darkness more than light; if food, if clothing be offered, go not naked, starve not yourselves. Remember the advice of Nazianzene, It is a grievous thing (or dangerous) to neglect a great fair, and to seek to make markets afterwards: also the encouragement of S. Chrysostome, It is altogether impossible, that he that is sober (and watchful) should at any time be neglected: Lastly the admonition and menacing of S. Augustine, They that despise God's will inviting them, shall feel God's will taking vengeance of them. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; but a blessed thing it is, and will bring us to everlasting blessedness in the end, when God speaketh unto us, to hearken; when he setteth his word before us, to read it; when he stretcheth out his hand and calleth, to answer, Here am I; here we are to do thy will, O God. The Lord work a care and conscience in us to know him and serve him, that we may be acknowledged of him at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Holy Ghost, be all praise and thanksgiving. Amen.
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Daily Devotional for Friday November 18th/05
Run With Patience
"Let us run with patience" (Heb. 12:1).
To run with patience is a very difficult thing. Running is apt to suggest the absence of patience, the eagerness to reach the goal. We commonly associate patience with lying down. We think of it as the angel that guards the couch of the invalid. Yet, I do not think the invalid's patience the hardest to achieve.
There is a patience which I believe to be harder -- the patience that can run. To lie down in the time of grief, to be quiet under the stroke of adverse fortune, implies a great strength; but I know of something that implies a strength greater still: It is the power to work under a stroke; to have a great weight at your heart and still to run; to have a deep anguish in your spirit and still perform the daily task. It is a Christlike thing!
Many of us would nurse our grief without crying if we were allowed to nurse it. The hard thing is that most of us are called to exercise our patience, not in bed, but in the street. We are called to bury our sorrows, not in lethargic quiescence, but in active service -- in the exchange, in the workshop, in the hour of social intercourse, in the contribution to another's joy. There is no burial of sorrow so difficult as that; it is the "running with patience."
This was Thy patience, O Son of man! It was at once a waiting and a running -- a waiting for the goal, and a doing of the lesser work meantime. I see Thee at Cana turning the water into wine lest the marriage feast should be clouded. I see Thee in the desert feeding a multitude with bread just to relieve a temporary want. All, all the time, Thou wert bearing a mighty grief, unshared, unspoken. Men ask for a rainbow in the cloud; but I would ask more from Thee. I would be, in my cloud, myself a rainbow -- a minister to others' joy. My patience will be perfect when it can work in the vineyard. --George Matheson**
"When all our hopes are gone,
'Tis well our hands must keep toiling on
For others' sake:
For strength to bear is found in duty done;
And he is best indeed who learns to make
The joy of others cure his own heartache."
(Taken from Streams In The Desert devotional)
**For the story behind one of George Matheson's hymns, see the Daily Devotional for November 8th.
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Daily Devotional for Saturday November 19th/05
What Is Written On Your Record?
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Daily Devotional for Sunday November 20th/05
Sinking In The Mire
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Daily Devotional for Monday November 21st/05
For pastors and preachers looking for sermon ideas, or just for Christians looking for some devotional thoughts, here is a really good book with some short sermon outlines. The following is taken from Preach The Word by Frederick Rader.
Selah (Psalm 3:2, 61:4).
Many people think this word of no importance - a mere filling-in - a meaningless interjection - a useless refrain. But instead of that it has a wealth of meaning.
I. IT MEANS A PAUSE, A REST AS IN MUSIC
So GOD thrusts a "Selah" into His Bible to make us stop.
1. Stop and repent.
2. Stop and be converted.
3. Stop and weep.
4. Stop and ask for the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16).
5. Stop and pray.
8. Stop and be sick - die.
7. Stop and revere, adore, worship.
8. Stop and meditate; it may take an hour with a word, a day with a verse, a year with a chapter. GOD has in all ages called men to halt: ante-diluvians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Haman, Saul of Tarsus, etc.
Matthew Henry made a long pause after the verse "Open thou mine eyes," and it converted him. Cowper, after the verse "Being justified by faith," paused and was converted.
II. IT MEANS TO ACCENT, TO EMPHASIZE
How much we all need to correct our emphasis. We are so apt to:
1. Put first things last - Matthew 6:33.
2. Make much of things seen - II Corinthians 4:18.
3. Make much of our affliction, and not enough of the glory of GOD - II Corinthians 4:17.
Said one, "I never saw until I was blind."
III. IT MEANS TO ASCEND-CRESCENDO
1. It means to raise heart, voice, to their fullest capacity. Rouse yourselves - "Bless the LORD, O my soul", etc. Spread the wings of your imagination for flight.
2. It means fervent love, fervent prayer and the tongue of fire.
IV. IT MEANS TO REPEAT
The word "Selah" occurs 74 times in the Psalms, and 3 times in Habakkuk.
V. IT MEANS FOREVER
There are two forevers; the one is as swift as the other, as long as the other, as mighty as the other. Think of it - what will it mean for you - Mercy forever, pleasure forever, glory forever, OR misery forever, darkness forever, death forever?
Once more, and that soon, GOD is about to thrust the greatest of all "Selahs" into this world - the COMING OF JESUS.
SELAH - Think about that!
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Daily Devotional for Tuesday November 22nd/05
"But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun Of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings" (Malachi 4:2).
Fulfilled once in the first advent of our glorious LORD, and yet to have a fuller accomplishment in His second advent, this gracious word is also for daily use. Is it dark with the reader? Does the night deepen into a denser blackness? Still let us not despair: the sun will yet rise. When the night is darkest, dawn is nearest.
The sun which will arise is of no common sort. It is the Sun -- the Sun of Righteousness, whose every ray is holiness. He who comes to cheer us, comes in the way of justice as well as of mercy, comes to violate no law even to save us. Jesus as much displays the holiness of God as His love. Our deliverance, when it comes, will be safe because He is righteous.
Our one point of inquiry should be -- "Do we fear the name of the LORD? Do we reverence the living God and walk in His ways?" Then for us the night must be short; and when the morning cometh, all the sickness and sorrow of our soul will be over forever. Light, warmth, joy, and clearness of vision will come, and healing of every disease and distress will follow after.
Has Jesus risen upon us? Let us sit in the sun. Has He hidden His face? Let us wait for His rising. He will shine forth as surely as the sun.
(Taken from Faith's Checkbook by Spurgeon)
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Daily Devotional for Wednesday November 23rd/05
"And ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall" (Malachi 4:2).
Yes, when the sun shines, the sick quit their chambers and walk abroad to breathe the fresh air. When the sun brings spring and summer, the cattle quit their stalls and seek pasture on the higher Alps. Even thus, when we have conscious fellowship with our LORD, we leave the stall of despondency and walk abroad in the fields of holy confidence. We ascend to the mountains of joy and feed on sweet pasturage which grows nearer heaven than the provender of carnal men.
To "go forth" and to "grow up" is a double promise. O my soul, be thou eager to enjoy both blessings! Why shouldst thou be a prisoner? Arise, and walk at liberty. Jesus saith that His sheep shall go in and out and find pasture; go forth, then, and feed in the rich meadows of boundless love.
Why remain a babe in grace? Grow up. Young calves grow fast, especially if they are stall fed; and thou hast the choice care of thy Redeemer. Grow, then, in grace and in knowledge of thy LORD and Savior, Be neither straitened nor stunted. The Sun of Righteousness has risen upon thee. Answer to His beams as the buds to the natural sun. Open thine heart; expand and grow up into Him in all things.
(Taken from Faith's Checkbook by Spurgeon)
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Daily Devotional for Thursday November 24th/05
THE TRIAL OF YOUR FAITH
"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 1:7).
First Peter is exceedingly rich in its teaching concerning "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (1:11), as well as the sufferings of Christians and the glory that awaits them afterward. The passage before us dealing with our trials is set against a background of great rejoicing over what GOD has done for His people.
There awaits us a glorious inheritance, reserved in heaven (v. 4). This is described as incorruptible, or beyond the reach of death. It is undefiled, or beyond the reach of sin. It fadeth not away, therefore, it is beyond the reach of time and decay. It is kept in heaven for us, so that it is beyond the reach of loss.
As though this were not breathtaking enough, we are told that we too are kept by the power of GOD through faith, unto that glorious consummation of our salvation which is to be revealed in the last time. GOD is keeping safe for us an inheritance beyond our brightest dreams, and He is guarding us by His own power. In contemplation of such truths we greatly rejoice, but we also need the comfort of the Scriptures, because the time for our inheritance has not yet come, and the chastening hand of GOD is upon us to prepare us for that future day.
Now for a season, if need be, we are in heaviness through manifold trials. Every part of this sentence is full of meaning. It is "now" that we experience troubles. They will not extend into eternity. Even in the present they are limited, because they are merely "for a season." They are only "if need be." If we must learn something now so that we may be able later to enjoy our inheritance and to occupy the exalted place which is our eternal destiny, then GOD in love will meet that need (Phil. 4:19).
We are experiencing "the trial of [our] faith." This New Testament word "faith" refers to the implicit trust we have placed in CHRIST as SAVIOUR because of the work of the HOLY SPIRIT in our hearts. Faith is so exceedingly precious in the sight of GOD that, like gold, it needs to be purified in the fire. Therefore, if we find ourselves in affliction, we must remember that its purpose is "praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ," to whose coming we look forward with joy.
(Taken from The Comfort Of The Scriptures)
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Daily Devotional for Friday November 25th/05
The following was sent out by Way Of Life's mailing list, and is from Barnes New Testament Commentary on Hebrews:
Jesus bore an exact resemblance to God. He was just such a being as we should suppose God to be, were he to become incarnate, and to act as a man. He was the embodied representation of the Deity. He was pure -- like God. He was benevolent -- like God. He spake to the winds and storms -- like God. He healed diseases -- like God. He raised the dead -- like God. He wielded the power which God only can wield, and he manifested a character in all respects like that which we should suppose God would evince, if he appeared in human flesh, and dwelt among men. And this is saying much. It is, in fact, saying that the account in the Gospels is real, and that the Christian religion is true.
Uninspired men could never have drawn such a character as that of Jesus Christ, unless that character had actually existed. The attempt has often been made to describe God, or to show how he would speak and act if he came down to earth. Thus the Hindoos speak of the incarnations of Vishnu; and thus Homer, and Virgil, and most of the ancient poets, speak of the appearance of the gods, and describe them as they were supposed to appear. But how different from the character of the Lord Jesus! They are full of passion, and lust, and anger, and contention, and strife; they come to mingle in battles, and to take part with contending armies, and they evince the same spirit as men, and are merely men of great power, and more gigantic passions; but Christ is GOD IN HUMAN NATURE. The form is that of man; the Spirit is that of God.
He walks, and eats, and sleeps as a man; he thinks, and speaks, and acts like God. He was born as a man -- but the angels adored him as God. As a man he ate; yet, by a word, he created food for thousands, as if he were God. Like a man he slept on a pillow, while the vessel was tossed by the waves; like God he rose, and rebuked the winds, and they were still. As a man he went, with affectionate interest, to the house of Martha and Mary. As a man he sympathized with them in their affliction, and wept at the grave of their brother; like God he spoke, and the dead came forth to the land of the living. As a man he travelled through the land of Judea. He was without a home; yet everywhere the sick were laid at his feet, and health came from his touch, and strength from the words of his lips -- as if he were God. As a man he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane; he bore his cross to Calvary; he was nailed to the tree; yet then the heavens grew dark, and the earth shook, and the dead arose -- as if he were God. As a man he slept in the cold tomb; like God he rose, and brought life and immortality to light. He lived on earth as a man -- he ascended to heaven like God.
And in all the life of the Redeemer, in all the variety of trying situations in which he was placed, there was not a word or action which was inconsistent with the supposition that he was the incarnate God. There was no failure of any effort to heal the sick or to raise the dead; no look, no word, no deed, that is not perfectly consistent with this supposition; but, on the contrary, his life is full of events which can be explained on no other supposition than that he was the appropriate shining forth of the Divine glory, and the exact resemblance of the essence of God.
There are not two Gods, as there are not two suns when the sun shines. It is the one God, in a mysterious and incomprehensible manner, shining into the world in the face of Jesus Christ.
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:1-3).
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Daily Devotional for Saturday November 26th/05
The Good Part
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Daily Devotional for Sunday November 27th/05
"As I was among the captives by the river of Chebar... the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God... and the hand of the Lord was there upon [me] (Ezek. 1:1,3).
There is no commentator of the Scriptures half so valuable as a captivity. The old Psalms have quavered for us with a new pathos as we sat by our "Babel's stream," and have sounded for us with new joy as we found our captivity turned as the streams in the South.
The man who has seen much affliction will not readily part with his copy of the Word of God. Another book may seem to others to be identical with his own; but it is not the same to him, for over his old and tear-stained Bible he has written, in characters which are visible to no eyes but his own, the record of his experiences, and ever and anon he comes on Bethel pillars or Elim palms, which are to him the memorials of some critical chapter in his history.
If we are to receive benefit from our captivity we must accept the situation and turn it to the best possible account. Fretting over that from which we have been removed or which has been taken away from us, will not make things better, but it will prevent us from improving those which remain. The bond is only tightened by our stretching it to the uttermost.
The impatient horse which will not quietly endure his halter only strangles himself in his stall. The high-mettled animal that is restive in the yoke only galls his shoulders; and every one will understand the difference between the restless starling of which Sterne has written, breaking its wings against the bars of the cage, and crying, "I can't get out, I can't get out," and the docile canary that sits upon its perch and sings as if it would outrival the lark soaring to heaven's gate.
No calamity can be to us an unmixed evil if we carry it in direct and fervent prayer to God, for even as one in taking shelter from the rain beneath a tree may find on its branches fruit which he looked not for, so we in fleeing for refuge beneath the shadow of God's wing, will always find more in God than we had seen or known before.
It is thus through our trials and afflictions that God gives us fresh revelations of Himself; and the Jabbok ford leads to Peniel, where, as the result of our wrestling, we "see God face to face," and our lives are preserved. Take this to thyself, O captive, and He will give thee "songs in the night," and turn for thee "the shadow of death into the morning." --William Taylor
"Submission to the divine will is the softest pillow on which to recline."
"It filled the room, and it filled my life,
With a glory of source unseen;
It made me calm in the midst of strife,
And in winter my heart was green.
And the birds of promise sang on the tree
When the storm was breaking on land and sea."
(Taken from Streams In The Desert devotional)
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Daily Devotional for Monday November 28th/05
THE HANDS OF THE SAVIOUR
"They pierced my hands and my feet." (Psa. 22:16)
"What are these wounds in thine hands?" (Zech. 13:6)
"Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands." (John 20:27)
The wounds in the hands of JESUS will remain, I take it, throughout eternity as the marks of His love for us. When He left this world He bore the nail-marks and when He returns to reign He will be recognized by them as the very same JESUS who died on the cross for sinners.
Some years ago, a poor woman - baptized a Roman Catholic, was lying very ill in a city hospital. Fearing she must die, she was in great distress of mind because of the weight of her sins pressing down upon her guilty conscience.
A sweet-faced nun, passing though the ward, was called to the bedside of this dying woman, and to her she told the story of years of sin and shame. The nun promised to get in touch with the parish priest and to send him to see her, so he might hear her confession and administer the last rites of the church.
In the meantime, a Christian lady was visiting the patients and came to the woman's bed and found her very ready to hear the gospel story of free and full salvation through the crucified and risen SAVIOUR. Eagerly the poor, distressed one drank in the living water, came to CHRIST confessing her sins, and was soon rejoicing in the knowledge of forgiveness and acceptance with GOD.
When the priest arrived he found her as happy now as she had been miserable. But he at once began to make preparations to hear her confession and then to administer the last sacraments of the church. He begged her to make a good confession, that he might absolve her from all her sins and so prepare her for death.
She looked up earnestly and said, "Let me see your hand first." Thinking her mind was wandering, he pleaded with her again, as the time was getting short, to confess all her sins and obtain forgiveness. Once more came the insistent demand,
"Let me see your hand first, father." In order to humor her, he held up his hand. She took it in one of hers and held it carefully; then she exclaimed,
"It won't do, father. The hand of the One who forgives all my sins has a nail-print in it."
As she was deaf to all entreaties to confess to him, the priest left, feeling her case was hopeless. But instead of that, hers was a sure and certain hope, founded on the Word of GOD, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins" (Acts 10:43). She bore a faithful testimony to saving grace and died triumphantly.
The hands of CHRIST seem very frail,
For they were broken by a nail.
For only they reach heaven at last,
Whom those frail broken hands hold fast."
(Taken from Illustrations of Bible Truths by Harry Ironside)
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Daily Devotional for Tuesday November 29th/05
The following excerpts are taken from Hudson Taylor's book on the Song Of Solomon, entitled Union And Communion. I have gleaned much from this book - as well as from Matthew Henry's Commentary (more from Henry, though Taylor's book supplements it well) - about how the Song of Solomon pictures Christ and the church/believer. I would encourage everyone who wants to dig deeper into this book to read Matthew Henry's Commentary on it, as he does an excellent job of tracing out the symbolism and terms used throughout the rest of the Scriptures.
Despite all the unworthy fears of our poor hearts, Divine love is destined to conquer. The bride exclaims:--
Song of Solomon 1:3 Because of the savour of Thy good ointments Thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love Thee.
There was no such ointment as that with which the High Priest was anointed: our Bridegroom is a Priest as well as a King. The trembling bride cannot wholly dismiss her fears; but the unrest and the longing become unbearable, and she determines to surrender all, and come what may to follow fully. She will yield her very self to Him, heart and hand, influence and possessions. Nothing can be so insupportable as His absence! If He lead to another Moriah, or even to a Calvary, she will follow Him.
Draw me: we will run after Thee!
But ah! what follows? A wondrously glad surprise. No Moriah, no Calvary; on the contrary, a KING! When the heart submits, then JESUS reigns. And when JESUS reigns, there is rest. And where does He lead His bride?
The King hath brought me into His chambers.
Not first to the banqueting house--that will come in due season; but first to be alone with Himself.
How perfect! Could we be satisfied to meet a beloved one only in public? No; we want to take such an one aside--to have him all to ourselves. So with our MASTER: He takes His now fully consecrated bride aside, to taste and enjoy the sacred intimacies of His wondrous love. The Bridegroom of His Church longs for communion with His people more than they long for fellowship with Him, and often has to cry:--
Let Me see thy countenance, let Me hear thy voice;
For sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
Are we not all too apt to seek Him rather because of our need than for His joy and pleasure? This should not be. We do not admire selfish children who only think of what they can get from their parents, and are unmindful of the pleasure that they may give or the service that they may render. But are not we in danger of forgetting that pleasing GOD means giving Him pleasure? Some of us look back to the time when the words "To please GOD" meant no more than not to sin against Him, not to grieve Him; but would the love of earthly parents be satisfied with the mere absence of disobedience? Or a bridegroom, if his bride only sought him for the supply of her own need?
...We have found the bride making a glad discovery of a KING--her KING--and not a cross, as she expected; this is the first-fruit of her consecration.
We will be glad and rejoice in Thee, we will remember Thy love more than wine: the upright love Thee.
Another discovery not less important awaits her. She has seen the face of the KING, and as the rising sun reveals that which was hidden in the darkness, so His light has revealed her blackness to her. "Ah," she cries, "I am black";--"But comely," interjects the Bridegroom, with inimitable grace and tenderness. "Nay, 'black as the tents of Kedar,'" she continues. "Yet to Me," He responds, "thou art 'comely as the curtains of Solomon!'"
Nothing humbles the soul like sacred and intimate communion with the Lord; yet there is a sweet joy in feeling that He knows all, and, notwithstanding, loves us still. Things once called "little negligences" are seen with new eyes in "the secret of His presence." There we see the mistake, the sin, of not keeping our own vineyard. This the bride confesses:--
Song of Solomon 1:6 Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.
Our attention is here drawn to a danger which is pre-eminently one of this day: the intense activity of our times may lead to zeal in service, to the neglect of personal communion; but such neglect will not only lessen the value of the service, but tend to incapacitate us for the highest service. If we are watchful over the souls of others, and neglect our own--if we are seeking to remove the motes from our brother's eye, unmindful of the beam in our own, we shall often be disappointed with our powerlessness to help our brethren, while our MASTER will not be less disappointed in us.
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Daily Devotional for Wednesday November 30th/05
The following excerpts are also taken from chapter one of Hudson Taylor's book on the Song of Solomon, entitled Union And Communion.
In verses 12-14 the bride responds:--
While the king sitteth at His table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
It is in His presence and through His grace that whatever of fragrance or beauty may be found in us comes forth. Of Him as its source, through Him as its instrument, and to Him as its end, is all that is gracious and divine. But HE HIMSELF is better far than all His grace works in us.
Song of Solomon 1:13-14 A bundle of myrrh is my Wellbeloved unto me; He shall lie all night betwixt my breasts. My Beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
Well is it when our eyes are filled with His beauty and our hearts are occupied with Him. In the measure in which this is true of us we shall recognize the correlative truth that His great heart is occupied with us. Note the response of the Bridegroom:--
Song of Solomon 1:15 Behold, thou art fair, My love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes.
How can the Bridegroom truthfully use such words of one who recognizes herself as
Black as the tents of Kedar?
And still more strong are the Bridegroom's words in chapter 4:7:-
Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee.
We shall find the solution of this difficulty in 2 Cor. 3. Moses in contemplation of the Divine glory became so transformed that the Israelites were not able to look on the glory of his countenance.
"We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the LORD, are changed into the same image from glory to glory (i.e. the brightness caught from His glory transforms us to glory), even as by the Spirit of the LORD."
Every mirror has two surfaces; the one is dull and unreflecting, and is all spots, but when the reflecting surface is turned towards us we see no spot, we see our own image. So while the bride is delighting in the beauty of the Bridegroom He beholds His own image in her; there is no spot in that: it is all fair. May we ever present this reflection to His gaze, and to the world in which we live for the very purpose of reflecting Him.
...Song of Solomon 2:3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among the sons. I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste.
The apple tree is a beautiful tree, affording delightful shade as well as refreshing fruit. A humble wild flower herself, she recognizes her Bridegroom as a noble tree, alike ornamental and fruitful. Shade from the burning sun, refreshment and rest she finds in Him. What a contrast her present position and feelings to those with which this section commenced! He knew full well the cause of all her fears; her distrust sprang from her ignorance of Himself, so He took her aside, and in the sweet intimacies of mutual love her fears and distrust have vanished, like the mists of the morning before the rising sun. But now that she has learned to know Him, she has a further experience of His love. He is not ashamed to acknowledge her publicly.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
And His banner over me was love.
The house of wine is now as appropriate as the King's chambers were. Fearlessly and without shame she can sit at His side, His acknowledged spouse, the bride of His choice. Overwhelmed with His love she exclaims:-
Song of Solomon 2:5-6 Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. His left hand is under my head, and His right hand doth embrace me.
Now she finds the blessedness of being possessed. No longer her own, heart-rest is alike her right and her enjoyment; and so the Bridegroom would have it.
Song of Solomon 2:7 I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till He please.
It is never by His will that our rest in Him is disturbed.
You may always be abiding,
If you will, at Jesus' side;
In the secret of His presence
You may every moment hide.
There is no change in His love; He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. To us He promises, "I will never leave thee, never fail thee, nor forsake thee"; and His earnest exhortation and command is, "Abide in Me, and I in you."
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