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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Division (and other devotionals)


Today's ReadingGenesis 29Matthew 9:1-17

Today's Thoughts: Division

 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness….Then God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters." Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. - Genesis 1:4, 6-7

God is in the business of division. As in creation, He divided whatever was necessary in order to bring order. He divides light and darkness today also. That is why His people are in this world but not of it. God’s children are separated from the world as they are sanctified, or set apart, for the things of God. As Christians, we think of the Lord as One who wants to make “everything ok” or to bring peace to a given situation. However, the Lord Jesus clearly said that He came to divide.
"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39)
If you have troubles with loved ones who don’t know the Lord, be at peace in the Lord. It is the work of the Lord in your life that has changed you so that you feel the division. Your love for your loved ones shouldn’t change, but your heart’s desire to see them come to Christ will set you apart or divide you from them. Keep praying, keep loving and keep your peace in Jesus. He didn’t give peace to the world but brought peace to you individually as He set you apart for Him.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~
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The Power of a Godly Life

At this time Aramean raiders had invaded the land of Israel, and among their captives was a young girl who had been given to Naaman's wife as a maid.

—2 Kings 5:2

In 2 Kings 5 we read of a young Israelite girl, whose name we don't even know, that had been kidnapped and carried away to Syria. How easily she could have been bitter against God for allowing this to happen. And certainly she could have been angry with the people she was working for as a slave.

So when her master Naaman was stricken with leprosy, she could have thought, He deserves it. But that isn't the way she felt at all. She was concerned for him. Her heart went out to him. And she saw the opportunity to tell Naaman about a prophet in Israel named Elisha who could pray for him. Elisha was Elijah's successor. God was working through him and had used him to raise someone from the dead. Like Elijah, he had miracle-working power.

This girl had somehow heard about Elisha. So she said to Naaman's wife, "I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy" (2 Kings 5:3).

It reminds me of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, young Israelites who also were taken captive. They were brought to Babylon, where the king changed their names. But he couldn't change their hearts. They walked closely with God, as did this young woman.

Imagine how she felt when she heard how God had healed Naaman. I wonder if she ever thought God would use someone like her to reach someone as significant as Naaman. It's a wonderful thing when you have lived such a godly life that when you speak to someone, they listen. This girl earned the right to bring the message she did probably because she was such a great person and a hard worker. She held fast to her faith, even in a foreign land.
~Greg Laurie~
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Practical Suggestions for Guarding Against Extremes
by Chuck Swindoll
Three suggestions come to mind as I think about living with the risks of grace and putting all this into balanced living.
First, guard against extremes if you want to enjoy the freedom grace provides. Try your best to keep balanced, then enjoy it. No reason to feel guilty. No reason to be afraid. Try this first: Simply give yourself permission to be free. Don't go crazy . . . but neither should you spend time looking over your shoulder worrying about those who "spy out your liberty," and wondering what they will think and say.
Second, treat grace as an undeserved privilege rather than an exclusive right. This will also help you keep a balance. Live gratefully, not arrogantly. Have fun, but don't flaunt. It is all in one's attitude, isn't it? It has nothing to do with financial status or where you live or what clothes you prefer or which car you drive. It has everything to do with attitude.
Third, remember that while grace came to you freely, it cost the Savior His life. It may seem free, but it was terribly expensive when He purchased it for us. And who wouldn't want to be free, since we have been purchased from the horrors of bondage?
Grace is God's universal good news of salvation. The tragedy is that some continue to live lives in a deathlike bog because they have been so turned off by a message that is full of restrictions, demands, negativism, and legalism. You may have been one of those held in bondage, victimized by a system that has stolen your joy and snuffed out your hope. If so, I have some wonderful news. You've gotten very close to the border. There's a flag flying. And on that flag is a cross. And if you come into this camp of grace beneath the cross, you'll never have to be in that awful bog again.
You will be free . . . free at last.
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Holy, Holy, Holy! 

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory! 
Isaiah 6:3 
Recommended Reading
Isaiah 6:1-8
Reginald Heber was pastor of an Anglican Church in the village of Hodnet, in a church once led by his father. Between 1811 and 1821, Reginald wrote 57 hymns, which he longed to see published; but the Anglicans hadn’t yet adopted the singing of hymns in worship. Heber packed away his hymns and sailed as a missionary to India, where he labored with intensity for a few short years before passing away at age 42. His hymns were published after his death, and one is famous to this day: “Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee.”
In Isaiah 6, the prophet Isaiah had a vision of the throne of God, surrounded by seraphim crying, “Holy, holy, holy!” Isaiah, caught up in the worship of God, confessed his sins, was wonderfully cleansed, and offered to go and do whatever the Lord said. “Here am I! Send me.”

When we worship, we get caught up in the nature of God and in His holiness. We praise Him who is merciful and mighty; and then we say, “Here am I! Send me.”

Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee, perfect in power, in love and purity.
~David Jeremiah~
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Because I live, you also will live. (John 14:19 NIV)

Relationship with God today in so many directions, and over such a wide range, is not a living relationship. There is an acknowledgment of God, there is a form of worship of God, there are rites connected with God; yes, there is a recognition in a greater or lesser measure of a kind of devotion to God, worship of God, acknowledgment of God, perhaps desire for God, but all short of a living relationship with God. Yet that He is the living God means that those who are related to Him should live. He would say, "Because I live ye shall live also." A living relationship with God is possible....
It is not a relationship with some dead order of things, but with a living Person. But I must ask, Have you that living relationship? Are you following a system, an order, or are you in living fellowship with a living God? The Lord desires that such a relationship with Him shall be living all the way along. It is a great thing to know that you have access to the living God. You do not know whether a thing is right or wrong? Well, you have the living God, ask Him; He is open, He is accessible, He is alive; you can have dealings with Him. Just to enjoy a living relationship with a living God is how He wills it to be. The desire of His heart is that you should treat Him as being a living God. "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." We must believe, when we come, that He is; not feeling out into the universe, the vacant, empty universe. No, we are coming to a living Person; we believe that He is! There is nothing vague about that.

~T. Austin-Sparks~
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Today's ReadingGenesis 31Matthew 9:18-38

Today's Thoughts: A Changed Heart

And Jacob saw the countenance of Laban, and indeed it was not favorable toward him as before. Then the Lord said to Jacob, "Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you." So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field, to his flock, and said to them, "I see your father's countenance, that it is not favorable toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me. And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.   Genesis 31:2-7

God is God and He can change the heart of people for your advantage. Jacob knew that despite all his efforts and hard work, Laban's heart was changing towards him. Jacob described it as "not favorable toward him as before." This would seem like an injustice to Jacob since he had worked for Laban who had deceived him and changed his wages unfairly 10 times. And through it all, Laban was completely blessed because of Jacob. However, for some strange reason, Laban's heart changed towards Jacob and his work. With the unfair treatment and Laban's change of heart, Jacob wanted to move on. Why? Because God wanted Jacob to leave and when leaving, God did not want Jacob to ever look back and regret his decision. So God allowed Laban to test Jacob unfairly and to cause Jacob to desire to leave.
Has this ever happened to you? It happens in all kinds of circumstances where people form close ties that are mutually beneficial. A person's heart can change towards a friend when they fear they are losing something of value, but God can change a heart simply for His purposes, even when the innocent one is treated unfairly. It is hard being the one who is mistreated because the heart of a friend has changed against you. But God knows your heart as well as the heart of your former friend.
If you are finding yourself in this place, completely trust in the Lord. Even though you might not have ever left, He still may change circumstances and hearts to get you to change. Some of us pray for years to have our circumstances change. For others of us, we are so surprised when God intervenes and changes a heart. But if you really examine your prayers, the change should not catch you off guard. God is good like that. You can trust Him. He knows where you need to be and He will perform miracles to get you there. 

~Daily Disciples Devotional~
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The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

We speak about natural laws. What are natural laws? Take the law of nourishment. Provided that law is complied with, honored; and at the right time the body is given what it needs, not more, not less; the law of nourishment deals with that and quite spontaneously works out in development, growth, to express itself in various ways. It is the working of a natural law spontaneously. You do not sit down with the law, and watch it, and worry about it. What you do is to feed yourself, and leave all the rest to the law. If you violate the law you know all about it, but acting rightly in relation to the law you will not be fretting all day long about the law of nourishment, you will simply be taking your meals and getting on with your work. The result is that you are able to work, able to go on; you are nourished.
The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ is like that. It is a law of Life, and it works out in a practical way when respected and honored. It works out spontaneously in certain directions. It has its own results quite naturally. The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ is that law by which we become aware. That is the simplest way of putting things. The Lord Jesus knew that at a certain time He could not act, could not speak; He had no movement of the Spirit in quickening, no Life to do so at that time; in His spirit there was no movement of Life; the law was not active in the positive way. But when the Father, Who knew what was required in speech or action, saw that the time had come, He did not bend down and speak with an audible voice into His ear, and say, "Now is the time! Say this! Do that!" He simply quickened Him inwardly. The law of Life became active in that direction, and He knew by an inward quickening what the mind of God was. That is what Paul means when he says, "The mind of the Spirit is Life."

~T. Austin-Sparks~


Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Lifestyle of Obedience (and other devotionals)

A Lifestyle of Obedience


According to John 14:21, we express love for Jesus by obeying His commands. To love Him wholeheartedly, we must develop a lifestyle of obedience. Let's look at four aspects of such a lifestyle.
1. Our trust in the Father grows. This confidence comes from believing that the Lord is who Scripture says He is. And God's Word tells us that He is good—as well as faithful to keep His promises (2 Cor. 1:20). Psalm 86:15 calls Him merciful, gracious, loving, and slow to anger. His character remains unchanged by difficult or hard-to-understand circumstances (Heb. 13:8).
2. We develop a deepening ability to wait on the Lord. Delays can be hard in our I-want-it-now culture. But we must resist temptation and wait on Him instead of running ahead.
3. We commit to obey God. Without such a resolve, we'll vacillate at decision time or allow fear to prevent us from choosing His way.
4. Our study of Scripture becomes consistent. TheBible reveals God's priorities, commands, and warnings. It acts as a light, illuminating His chosen path for us while revealing obstacles and dangers along the way (Ps.119:105). Without it, we are like a person who walks in the woods at night without a flashlight.
Becoming a Christian doesn't mean that obedience to the Lord is automatic. It's a lifelong process of growing in our trust and patiently waiting on Him before we act. This requires a steadfast commitment to obey so that we can say no to ungodly choices and yes to God.
~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~
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No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us!—Rom 8:37 
The Gospel is so arranged and the gift of God so great that you may take the very enemies that fight you and the forces that are arrayed against you and make them steps up to the very gates of heaven and into the presence of God.
Like the eagle, who sits on a crag and watches the sky as it is filling with blackness, and the forked lightnings are playing up and down, and he is sitting perfectly still, turning one eye and then the other toward the storm. But he never moves until he begins to feel the burst of the breeze and knows that the hurricane has struck him; with a scream, he swings his breast to the storm, and uses the storm to go up to the sky; away he goes, borne upward upon it.
That is what God wants of every one of His children, to be more than conqueror, turning the storm-cloud into a chariot. You know when one army is more than conqueror it is likely to drive the other from the field, to get all the ammunition, the food and supplies, and to take possession of the whole. That is just what our text means. There are spoils to be taken!
Beloved, have you got them? When you went into that terrible valley of suffering did you come out of it with spoils? When that injury struck you and you thought everything was gone, did you so trust in God that you came out richer than you went in? To be more than conqueror is to take the spoils from the enemy and appropriate them to yourself. What he had arranged for your overthrow, take and appropriate for yourself.
When Dr. Moon, of Brighton, England, was stricken with blindness, he said “Lord, I accept this talent of blindness from Thee. Help me to use it for Thy glory that at Thy coming Thou mayest receive Thine own with usury.” Then God enabled him to invent the Moon Alphabet for the blind, by which thousands of blind people were enabled to read the Word of God, and many of them were gloriously saved.
—Selected
God did not take away Paul’s thorn; He did better—He mastered that thorn, and made it Paul’s servant. The ministry of thorns has often been a greater ministry to man than the ministry of thrones.
~L. B. Cowman~
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Simon, Simon, behold Satan asked to have you that he might sift you as wheat - Luke 22:31
The Master apparently did not pray that temptation should be withheld. The quick eye of His affection had discerned the tempter's approach. His quick ear had detected Satan's request of the Father; as though he said, "Let me have the chance for one brief hour, and I will show that these men, so far from being gold, silver, and precious stones, are only wood, hay, and stubble." But though He knew all this, the Master did not request that the winnowing wind should be withheld. Why? Because temptation is part of the present order of the world. Why it is so we cannot tell; that it is so we know assuredly. Why the Almighty permitted the evil one to intrude into paradise, and to assail every single soul of woman born, that has passed to years of consciousness, we shall probably never understand until mystery drops from our eyes in the meridian light of heaven. We only are sure that the permission of temptation is not inconsistent with His almightiness or beneficence.
Because temptation tests character and reveals us to ourselves and to one another. - Was it not well that Peter should know how weak he was; that he might become truly penitent and converted? Was it not befitting that Judas should be exposed before the day of Pentecost? Was it not best that the foundation stones of the Church should be well tested? It is better to learn our weakness now and here than at the Judgment seat.
But if Satan tempts, our Advocate pleads. He anticipates the advent of temptation by storing up His prayers. He warns the soul when the hawk begins to hover. If He may not arrest temptation, He will at least ask that our faith may not fail; and will seek us out as He did Peter.

~F. B. Meyer~
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Protecting New Believers

We have been talking about the devil's attack on newborn babes in Christ.  This is something we can expect.  But what are the reasons for it?
Look at Isaiah 59:15-16, as it provides us with a clue,
So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.  Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice.  He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
I want you to think about that.  Truth fails, and the person who departs from evil makes himself a prey, in the same way that a lion looks at a wounded gazelle as prey.
To me this is a picture of what happens to some new believers.  They depart from evil (get saved) and suddenly it seems like everything is going wrong for them.  And God is not pleased about it!
Where it says He "wondered " literally means He was astonished that there was no intercessor.  This means that there was no one praying.  That is why they became prey!
If we do not pray for those who turn from evil, then they will become the prey of the devil.  We have a responsibility to intercede for people who come to Christ.  It puts up a barrier of protection around them.
Paul wrote to the Colossians about this when he said, Praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ.  Paul didn't just pray for them before they were saved, he also prayed for them after they were saved.
Oh, may God not wonder in our day, "Where is the intercessor who should be praying for the new babes in Christ?"
Let's take our responsibility seriously and pray for those who have newly come to the faith.

~Bayless Conley~
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God's School of Obedience

1 John 1:3-6

Starting at age five, our children are enrolled in school and given lessons to learn each year. We are students too. At salvation, we became participants in the Lord's school of obedience. There, we are discovering the necessity of trusting Him and waiting for His direction. We are taught the importance of commitment and learn to search His Word for guidance. God also wants us to learn these lessons:
• Listen attentively to the Spirit's promptings. Our God does not speak in an audible voice, but He makes Himself heard quite clearly through the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the Spirit is our Helper who will bring to mind Scripture passages we have studied (John 14:26) and show us how they apply.
• Obey the next step. Abraham was called to leave his home and journey to an unknown destination (Gen. 12:1). He obeyed even though the way was unclear to his human mind. We, too, must step out in faith even when we do not know all the details of the itinerary.
• Expect conflict. We can't live obedient lives without having trouble with the world (John 16:33). Our friends or family may drift away when they realize certain interests of ours have changed. Some may hurl criticism our way or call us unkind names, while others may reject us completely.
Practicing a lifestyle of obedience doesn't mean we'll never make mistakes. But it does require diligence if we are to succeed. Obeying the Father was Jesus' priority and purpose in life, and we should make it ours as well. Which of these lessons do you want to tackle first?

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~


Monday, July 18, 2016

Not I, But Christ (and other devotionals)


Not I, But Christ

By Frances E. Bolton

Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted,
Not I, but Christ, be seen be known, be heard; 
Not I, but Christ, in every look and action,
Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word.

Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord!
Oh, to be lost in Thee!
Oh, that it might be no more "I",
But Christ that lives in me!

Not I, but Christ, to gently soothe in sorrow,
Not I, but Christ, to wipe the falling tear;
Not I, but Christ, to lift the weary burden,
Not I, but Christ, to hush away all fear.

Christ, only Christ! no idle words e'er falling,
Christ, only Christ; no needless bustling sound;
Christ, only Christ; no self important bearing,
Christ, only Christ; no trace of "I" be found!

Not I, but Christ, my every need supplying,
Not I, but Christ, my strength and health to be;
Not I, but Christ, for body, soul, and spirit,
Christ, only Christ, here and eternally!

Christ, only Christ ere long will fill my vision;
Glory excelling soon, full soon I'll see
Christ, only Christ my every wish fulfilling
Christ, only Christ my all and all to be!
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“The high ground of Christ & Him crucified must be claimed in our preaching. Any other footing is a slippery slope that inevitably descends downward into vain rhetoric and mere words. To the contrary, every pulpit must present a towering vision of the unique person and saving work of Jesus Christ. All preaching must point to His sin-bearing, substitutionary death for sinners. All exposition must lift up this Sacrificial Lamb who became a sin-bearing Substitute for all who believe. Every message must exalt this Christ, who was raised from the dead, exalted to the right hand of God the Father, and entrusted with all authority in heaven and earth.” 
― Steven J. Lawson
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“The sermon has been reduced to parenthetical church remarks about newspaper events,” 
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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“They tell me that I rub the fur the wrong way. I don't; let the cat turn around.” 
― Billy Sunday
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“It matters to God what is preached. And it matters to Him how it is preached. No man is free to preach whatever and however he so chooses.” 
― Steven J. Lawson
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“A prepared heart is much better than a prepared sermon. A prepared heart will make a prepared sermon.” 
― E.M. Bounds
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“It is not opinions that man needs: it is TRUTH. It is not theology; it is God. It is not religion: it is Christ. It is not literature and science; but the knowledge of the free love of God in the gift of His only-begotten Son.” 
― Horatius Bonar
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God is not who you think He is. He is what He says He is.
~Unknown~
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Always remember that your present situation is not your final destination. The best is yet to come.
~Unknown~
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Give me such love for God and man as will blot out all hatred and bitterness.
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer~
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We must stop negotiating with evil. We Christians must stop apologizing for our moral position and start making our voices   heard, exposing sin for the enemy of the human race which it surely is.
~A. W. Tozer~
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Millions began their religious lives without understanding their moral duty to God. They try to believe without having first repented. They try to have faith without intending to bring their lives into moral conformity with the will of God.
~A. W. Tozer~
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A part-time Christian cannot defeat a full-time devil.
~A. W. Tozer~
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The greatest legacy one can pass on to one's children is not money or other material things, but rather a legacy of character and faith.
~A. W. Tozer~
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Reduce your stress level by taking time to unplug from the world, open your Bible, and listen to what God has to tell you.
~A. W. Tozer~






Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Rejection of Gospel-light

The Rejection of Gospel-light,
the Condemnation of Men

 A sermon by Samuel Davies, delivered at Princeton College

"And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light—for fear that his deeds will be exposed!" John 3:19-20
What a strange and alarming declaration is this! Light has come into the world! The Sun of Righteousness has risen upon this region of darkness; therefore it is enlightened; therefore it is bright daylight with all its rational inhabitants: therefore they will no longer grope and stumble in darkness—but all find their way into the world of eternal light and glory.
These would be natural inferences from this event that we would be apt to expect from the entrance of light into the world. But hear and tremble, you inhabitants of the enlightened parts of the earth! hear and tremble, you inhabitants of Princeton! The benevolent Jesus, the Friend of human nature, the Savior of men, whose lips never dropped an over-severe word, or gave a false alarm: Jesus himself proclaims, "And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
"This is the condemnation!" That is, this is the great occasion of more aggravated condemnation at the final judgment, and of more severe and dreadful punishments in the eternal world; or, this is the cause of men's condemning themselves even now at the bar of their own consciences.
That light has come into the world—Jesus, the Sun of the moral world, has risen, and darts his beams around him in the gospel. And this furnishes guilty minds with materials for self-condemnation; and their obstinate resistance of the light enhances their guilt, and will render their condemnation the more aggravated; and the reason is, that "men love darkness rather than light!" They choose ignorance rather than knowledge! The Sun of righteousness is not agreeable to them—but shines as a baleful, ill-boding luminary. If they did but love the light, its entrance into the world would be their salvation; but now it is their condemnation!
Truly, light is sweet—and it is a pleasant thing for the eyes to see the light of the sun. And no light is so sweet as this divine light from heaven—no sun so bright and reviving as the Sun of righteousness!
But why do they hate the light? Alas! there is no reason for it—but this wretched one, "men loved darkness rather than light—because their deeds were evil!" And evil deeds always excite uneasiness in the light, and afford the conscience matter of self-accusation, therefore they wrap them selves up in darkness, and avoid the painful discoveries of the light!
The text directs us to the following inquiries:
What is that light which has come into the world?
What is that darkness which is opposed to it?
What are the evidences of men's loving darkness rather than light?
What is the reason for it?
In what respect is the light's coming into the world, and men's loving darkness rather than light—their condemnation?
1. What is that LIGHT, which has come into the world?
The answer to this and the other questions, I shall endeavor to accommodate to our own times and circumstances, that we may the more readily apply it to ourselves.
The light of reason entered our world as soon as the soul of man was created; and, though it is greatly obscured by the grand apostasy—yet some sparks of it still remain.
To supply its defects, the light of Revelation soon darted its beams through the clouds of ignorance which obscured the human mind—on its flying off to so great a distance from the Father of lights. This heavenly day began feebly to dawn upon the first pair of sinners, in that early promise concerning the seed of the woman: and it grew brighter and brighter in the successive revelations made to the patriarchs, to Moses, and the prophets; until at length the Messiah appeared, as an illustrious sun—after a gradual, tedious twilight of the opening dawn.
The light of human literature has also come into the world, and shines with unusual splendors upon our age and nation; and lo! it illuminates this little village, and extends its beams through the land.
But it is not light in any of these senses, that our Lord principally intends—but himself and his blessed gospel; a more clear and divine light than any of the former.
He often represents himself under the strong and insightful metaphor of LIGHT. "I am the light of the world," says he: "he who follows me shall not walk in darkness." John 8:12. "I am come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me, should not abide in darkness." John 12:46. Light is a strong and beautiful metaphor for knowledgeprosperitycomfort, and happiness; and these are the rays which the blessed Jesus diffuses around him. But wherever he does not shine, all is sullen and dismal darkness. HELL is the BLACKNESS of darkness forever, because he does not extend to it the light of his countenance. That country where he does not shine—is the land of darkness and the shadow of death! And that heart which is not illuminated with the light of the knowledge of his glory—is the gloomy dungeon of infernal spirits. But wherever he shines, there is intellectual day, the bright meridian of glory and blessedness.
His gospel also is frequently represented as a great light; and no metaphor was ever used with more emphasis and propriety. His gospel is the medium through which we discover the glory of the Deity, the beauties of holiness, the evil of sin, and the reality and infinite importance of eternal, invisible things! His gospel is the light that reveals the secrets of the heart, and reveals ourselves to ourselves. It is this which gives us a just and full view of our duty to God and man, which is but imperfectly or falsely represented in every other system of religion and morality in the world. It is this which reveals and ascertains the method in which rebels may be reconciled to their offended Sovereign, and exhibits a Savior in full view to perishing sinners.
Hail! sacred heaven-born light! Welcome to our eyes, O brightest and fairest effulgence of the divine perfections! May this dayspring from on high, visit all the regions of this benighted world, and overwhelm it as with a deluge of celestial light! Blessed be God, its vital rays have reached to us in these ends of the earth; and if any of us remain ignorant of the important discoveries it makes—it is because we love darkness rather than light! Which leads me to inquire,
II. What is that DARKNESS, which is opposed to this heavenly light?
Darkness is a word of gloomy import; and there is hardly anything dismal or destructive—but what is expressed by it in Scripture. But the precise sense of the word in my text is, a state of ignorance, and the absence of the means of conviction. Men love darkness rather than light; that is, they choose to be ignorant, rather than well-informed. They choose to be ignorant, particularly of such things as will give them uneasiness to know—such as their sin, and the danger to which it exposes them. They are willfully ignorant; and hence they hate the means that would alarm them with the mortifying discovery. They would rather be flattered than told the honest truth, and know their own character and condition; and hence they shut their eyes against the light of the gospel—which would flash the painful conviction upon them. Though the light of the gospel shines round you—yet are not some of you involved in this darkness? This you may know by the next inquiry.
III. What are the EVIDENCES of men's loving darkness, rather than light?
The general evidence, which comprehends all the rest, is their avoiding the means of conviction, and using all the artifices in their power to render them ineffectual.
Those of you who love darkness rather than light, are so much upon your guard against the discovery, as not to perceive your own character. Though you may have a turn for speculation, and perhaps delight in every other branch of knowledge—yet the knowledge of yourselves, the knowledge of your duties to God, the discovery of your sin and danger, of your miserable condition as under the condemnation of the divine law—this kind of self-knowledge you carefully shun! And, when it irresistibly flashes upon you—then you endeavor to shut up all the avenues of your mind, through which it might break upon you, and you avoid those means of conviction from which it proceeds!
You set yourselves upon an attempt which is very preposterous and absurd in a rational being, and that is, Not to think. When the ill-boding surmise rises within, "All is not well with my soul! I am not prepared for the eternal world! If I should die in this condition, I am undone forever!" When conscience thus whispers your doom, it may make you sad and pensive for a minute or two—but you soon forget it; you designedly labor to cast it out of your thoughts, and to recover your former stupid serenityThe light of conviction is a painful blaze to a guilty eye! So you wrap yourselves up in darkness, lest it should break in upon you!
When your thoughts are likely to fix upon this painful subject, do you not labor to divert them into another channel? You immerse yourselves in business, you mingle in company, you indulge and nourish a thoughtless levity of mind, you break out of retirement into the wide world—that theater of folly, trifling, and dissipation! And all this to scatter the gloom of conviction which hangs over your ill-boding minds, and silence the clamors of an exasperated conscience! You laugh, or talk, or work, or study away these fits of seriousness! You endeavor to prejudice yourselves against them, by giving them ill names such as fanaticismnarrow-mindedness, and I know not what! Whereas they are indeed—the honest struggles of an oppressed conscience to obtain a fair hearing, and give you faithful warning of approaching ruin! They are the benevolent efforts of the Spirit of grace to save a lost soul. And O! it would be happy for you if you had yielded to them, and nourished the serious hour!
For the same reason, also, you love a soft representation of Christianity, as an easy, indolent, inactive thing; requiring no vigorous exertion, and attended with no difficult conflict! You love an easy-going gospel which encourages your hopes of heaven—even while you remain in a course of sloth, carelessness, and sinful indulgence! Your favorite sermons and favorite books—are those which flatter you with smooth things, putting the most favorable construction upon your wickedness, and representing the way to heaven as smooth and easy!
Or if you have an unaccountable fondness for faithful, and therefore, alarming preaching, as it must be owned that some self-flatterers have, it is not with a view to apply it to yourselves—but to others. If you love the light, it is not that you may see yourselves—but other objects. And whenever it forces upon you a glance of yourselves, you immediately turn from it and hate it!
Hatred of the light, perhaps, is the reason why so many among us are so impatient of public worship; so fond of their own homes on the sacred hours consecrated to divine service: and are so reluctant, so late, or so inconstant in their attendance. It is darkness perhaps, at home; but the house of God is filled with bright light, which they hate—because their deeds are evil!
This also is one reason why they hate the conversation of zealous Christians, who are not ashamed to talk of what lies nearest their hearts—their Savior, and His gospel; and to express an abhorrence of what they so sincerely hate—the sins of mankind, and every appearance of evil. I say, this is one reason why their conversation is such a heavy and painful burden to those who love darkness. Such godly men reflect the beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and the beauties of holiness all around them! They carry light with them wherever they go—and this light strikes painful conviction to the guilty. The strictness, the warm devotion and spirituality of their lives, pass a sentence of condemnation upon the ungodly; a sentence which they cannot but feel, and which therefore renders them very uneasy. Hence it is that such lively and holy believers are not at all popular in the world.
The favorites of the world are your pliable, obliging, accommodating professors, who never carry true religion with them into polite company—but conform themselves to the taste of those they converse with. These give no man's conscience uneasiness, they reflect no heavenly light—but thicken the darkness of every company in which they appear; therefore they are quite acceptable to every lover of darkness.
Another expedient that has often been used, and which some of you perhaps have attempted, to avoid the light, is: to endeavor to work up yourselves to a disbelief of the Christian gospel. If you could banish that heavenly light out of the world, or substitute darkness in its place—then you might perpetrate the works of darkness with more confidence and abandonment! Therefore you eagerly listen to the laughs, the jeers, the railleries and sophisms of loose wits against the gospel; and you are afraid to give a fair hearing to the many satisfactory evidences in its favor. Thus you nourish that hideous monster, UNBELIEF; which is your own offspring, not Satan's, though he is the father of lies; for the demons believe—and tremble! James 2:19.
These artifices and the like, are the effects, and consequently the evidences and indications of men's loving darkness rather than light. And instead of a larger illustration, I shall conclude this head with a plain honest appeal to my hearers.
As in the presence of the heart-searching God, I solemnly appeal to your consciences, whether you do not deal partially with yourselves, and refuse pursuing those hints of your dangerous condition—because you love darkness, and therefore do not want to make a full discovery of your dreadful condition! Do not your hearts smite you, because you have suppressed evidence, when it was against you, and shut your eyes against plain conviction? When the looking-glass of the divine law has been held up before you, and shown you your own hideous image—have you not gone away, and soon forgot what kind of men you are? Do you not know in your consciences, that the hopes you entertain of future happiness—are not the result of severe repeated trial—but on the other hand, owe their strength and even their being to a superficial examination, or none at all—to blind self-flattery and excessive self-love, which tempt you to believe things—just as you would have them? Is it censoriousness, or is it evidence and faithfulness, that constrains me to cry out, "O! how rare are well-founded, well-attested hopes of heaven among us! Hopes supported by that only sufficient proof—a conspicuous holiness of heart and life!"
I proceed to inquire,
IV. What is the REASON of this absurd preference, that men love darkness rather than light?
The melancholy reason of this is easily discovered, and has been partly anticipated; and it is this: that men love ease and peace of mind—rather than fear and anxiety. They are really obnoxious sinners, under the dreadful displeasure of almighty God, and on the slippery brink of everlasting destruction! Now to have a full conviction of this—would alarm their fears, embitter their pleasures, dampen their eager pursuits after the world, and cast their minds into a ferment of anxiety and terror! But to be blind to all these miserable prospects, to be elated with hopeful expectations of the contrary, to have all serene and calm within, to be charmed with all the fine delusions of a flattering imagination; to be ignorant of danger, and pleased with themselves; this is a state they naturally delight in! In this state they will lull themselves asleep at all hazards, regardless of the consequence!
And as darkness is the most proper attendant of sleep, therefore they choose it. But the light of the gospel let into the conscience would give them quite another view of things! It would:
overturn all their towering hopes;
set the terrors of the Lord in array against them;
open such shocking prospects in the ways of sin—
that they could no longer dare to walk in them; would constrain them to indulge the sorrows of a broken heart, and to long, and pant, and look, and cry for a Savior! This would be a very painful exercise to them; and therefore they hate and shun the light, which would force the unwelcome convictions upon them!
"But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." John 3:21. Such a one is willing to be searched. The trial is in his favor, and will turn out to his honor.
This is the reason which Christ himself assigns for some men's loving darkness, rather than light. "But everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light—for fear that his deeds will be exposed." John 3:20. It is the fear of this 'exposure' which makes him afraid of the light; for he cannot but be conscious that his evil deeds deserve divine punishment: and to be thus 'exposed' will yield him pain.
"But since they have such favorable thoughts of themselves, and entertain such high hopes—why are they afraid of the light? Must they not rather presume its discoveries will be in their favor? And if so, why do they hate it?"
I answer, that notwithstanding all their high sentiments of themselves, they have often a secret suspicion that they are not well grounded, and that the light would make some dreadful discoveries concerning themselves! And hence they will not venture to trust themselves in the light, lest their secret suspicion should be confirmed, and rise into a full conviction.
It is really so evident that they are guilty, unholy creatures, unfit for heaven, and their consciences sometimes give them such hints of this alarming secret—that they cannot keep themselves altogether ignorant of it. They therefore try to evade the trial, lest the sentence should go against them. I appeal to your own hearts, my friends, whether this is not the true reason why you are so unwilling to examine yourselves, and submit to the severe scrutiny of the light of Scripture? What is the true reason why you are averse to the light of self-knowledge, and the means that would obtrude it upon you? Is it not because you cannot but pre-judge the matter even against yourselves—in spite of all the arts of self-flattery? And if there are such strong evidence against you—that even yourselves cannot but dread a trial at the tribunal of your consciences—then is it not evident, that your chosen darkness is your only guard against conviction, and that your case is really bad? And if so, how sorry a relief is it to avoid the discovery! Since all your preposterous care to avoid it—will but aggravate your condemnation! Which naturally introduces the last inquiry:
V. In what respects, that the light's coming into the world, and men's loving darkness rather than light—is their own condemnation.
Here I have only to illustrate two particulars already hinted at; that this furnishes them with matter for self-condemnation now—and will be the occasion of their more aggravated condemnation in the eternal world.
1. This furnishes them with matter of self-condemnation in the PRESENT state. It is hard, perhaps impossible, for sinners under the meridian light of the gospel—to avoid all conviction of their guilt and danger. That light is very penetrating, and will dart its rays through the thickest glooms of ignorance! "For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword—it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart!" Hebrews 4:12.
Such of you, my friends, as are resolved to shun the mortification of self-knowledge, live in a situation very unfavorable to your design. You have had "burning and shining lights" among you, who have shone as the sun; (Davies may here be alluding to Jonathan Edwards, president of Princeton College—who had recently died). But, when they were translated to a higher sphere, the gospel has not left you—but still shines around you; and you will find it very difficult, I hope, impossible, to wrap up yourselves in Egyptian darkness in such a Goshen—such a land of light. In Japan, India, or some savage region of darkness—you might have lived in contented ignorance, and avoided those unacceptable blazes of light which will now break in upon you, in spite of all your vigilance; for under the faithful and solemn preaching of the gospel, your consciences will often be disturbed, and you will find yourselves unable to go on in sin boldly and fearlessly. And though in the thoughtless gaiety of health, and the hurry and din of business—you may drown the clamors of conscience—yet in a retired hour, upon a sick bed, and in the near views of death and eternity—then conscience will speak, and constrain you to hear! And thus you will live as unhappy, self-condemned creatures in this world, until you are condemned by the righteous sentence of God in the world to come! Therefore consider,
2. Your loving darkness rather than light, will occasion your more aggravated condemnation in the ETERNAL world.It was in your power to receive warning, and discover your danger in time! Nay, it cost you some pains to avoid the discovery, and despise the warning. And what a fruitful source of self-tormenting reflections will this be! How will you then fret, and vex, and accuse, and condemn yourselves—for acting so foolish a part! How will you then exhaust and spend yourselves in eager, fruitless wishes—that you had admitted conviction, while the danger was avoidable! But, O! it will then be too late!
HELL is a region of darkness too—but not of that soothing, peaceful darkness of ignorance, which you now prefer to the light of the gospel—but a dreadful, tremendous, tormenting darkness, which will forever hide every bright and pleasing prospect from your eyes! And yet, this darkness of hell will be the proper medium for revealing sights of woe and terror! It will be a thick darkness, occasioned by the everlasting eclipse of the Sun of righteousness and the light of God's countenance, who will never dart one ray of comfort or of hope through the sullen gloom!
In this blackness of this hellish darkness—you, who now love darkness rather than light—must dwell forever! And O! how will your consciences haunt and terrify you—in that black, cheerless, stormy, eternal night!
Your guilt will also appear great in the sight of God, as well as to your own consciences, and therefore he will inflict the greater punishment upon you. You have despised the richest blessings that even infinite goodness could bestow upon sinful men; I mean, his gospel and his Son! You have made light of His gospel in the most open and audacious manner. He knows you were even afraid to discover your duty towards him; he knows you would not regard your own consciences when they were his advocates, and that you were unwilling to admit so much conviction as would render you sorry for your offences against him. Nay, he knows that your being convinced, that this or that was an offence against Him—was no restraint to you from the commission of it!
In short, he knows that you spent your lives either in sinning against knowledge—or in avoiding that knowledge which would have prevented your sinning. And while he views you in this light—what obstinate, willful, daring offenders must you appear in his eyes! And what aggravated punishment must he judge to be your just recompense! He also knows that you blinded yourself, and struggled against your own salvation, and hated that light which would have shown you the way to everlasting life! And must he not think you worthy of that dreadful eternal destruction which you have voluntarily chosen—and refuse you admittance to that eternal happiness which you willfully refused?
This is the representation which the holy Scriptures uniformly give us, of such as love darkness rather than light. "If I had not come and spoken to them," says the blessed Jesus, "they would not have sin; but now they have no cloak for their sin." It shall be more tolerable in the day of judgment—for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, though most notorious for all manner of wickedness and debauchery—than for the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, in which Christ's mighty works were done, and the light of his gospel shone so brightly! Matthew 11:21, 24.
And this is perfectly agreeable to the eternal rules of justice and righteousness: that much should be required—where much has been given; and that the degree of guilt should be estimated by the degrees of obligation, and advantages for obedience.
And now, my dear hearers, upon a review of this subject, you see your own circumstances: the light has come among you—it shines all around you! And, I doubt not but at times it finds some openings through which it forces its way even into your unwilling minds. You have light to distinguish between truth—and error; between sin—and duty to God; between the way to heaven—and the way to hell. You are warnedadmonished and instructed. You have the strongest inducements to a life of holiness—and the strongest dissuasives from a course of sin. I leave you therefore to determine what your guilt and punishment must be—if you choose darkness rather than light; if you refuse light so clear, so reviving, so beneficial, so divine!
This alarming subject is very pertinent to us all, and we should all apply it to ourselves. But it is so peculiarly adapted to the residents of this college, that I must direct my address particularly to you, my dear pupils, who have had the light shine so brightly around you.
There is not one in a thousand people—who enjoy your spiritual advantages. Light, human and divine, natural and supernatural, ancient and modern; that is, knowledge of every kind—shines upon you, and you are every day basking under its rays. You have nothing to do but to polish your minds, and, as it were, render them luminous.
But let me put you in mind, that unless you admit the light of the glorious gospel of Christ to shine in your hearts—you will still be the children of darkness, and confined in the blackness of darkness forever! This is intolerably shocking, even in supposition: Suppose any of you should be surrounded with more light than others—for no other purpose but that you may have a stronger conflict with conviction, and that your consciences may with greater force raise tumults and insurrections within you! Suppose your sins should be the sins of men of learning and knowledge, the most daring and gigantic sins on this side of hell! Suppose you should turn out to be sinners of great abilities, fine geniuses, like the fallen angels, those vast intellects; wise but wicked; wise to do evil; but without knowledge to do good! Suppose it should be your highest character, that you can dispute well, that you know a few dead languages, that you have passed through a course of philosophy; but as to that knowledge which sanctifies all the rest, and renders them useful to yourselves or others; that knowledge which alone can make you wise to salvation, and guide you to avoid the paths of eternal destruction—you shun it, you hate it, and choose to remain contentedly ignorant in this important respect!
Suppose your parents, who have financed your education; your friends, who have entertained such high and pleasing expectations concerning you; church and state, which look to you for help, and depend upon you to fill stations of importance in the world; and your godly instructors, who observe your growing improvements with proportional pleasure; suppose, that after all this sincere labor, and all these pleasing prospects, they should see you at last doomed to everlasting darkness, for your voluntary abuse of the light you now enjoy!
Suppose these things, and the consequences of these suppositions are so dreadful—that I am not hardy enough to mention them. And O! shall they ever become matters of fact!
Therefore, my dear pupils—admit the light, love it, and pursue it, though at first it should make such discoveries as may be painful to you; for the pain will prove medicinal. By discovering your danger in time—you may be able to escape it. But never expect to remove the painful discovery—by the silly expedient of shutting your eyes to the light! Be impartial inquirers after truth as to yourselves—and no longer attempt to put a cheat upon yourselves! Alas! how childish and foolish—as well as wicked and ruinous—would such an imposture be!
The gospel, in this particular, only requires you to be honest men; and surely this is a most moderate and reasonable demand. Therefore, be children of the light and of the day, and walk as such—and then you will be a blessing to the world and to yourselves.
Finally, let us all remember the terror of this friendly warning: "And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light—for fear that his deeds will be exposed!" John 3:19-20

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Our Father (and other devotionals)


I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. (Ephesians 3:14,15)

God is acting in this dispensation to get a family, and God’s present dispensational activity is not going to be defeated by death, and He is not going to be cheated of it by death. He will get a Family, and will cheat death of that Family. It is not God, Infinite and Mighty, as such, it is the Father; and it is a deathless Family that He is after. This Family is never divided by death, this Family is never broken into by death, this Family knows no such thing as bereavement by death, this Family will never lose a child by death. Of course, as the Family, when we enter into the appreciation of that, that is our comfort: that in this Family we do not lose anyone. Death may touch things here, but the spiritual Family is no more separated in the spiritual reality and in the eternal oneness of the Father’s house, than they would be if they were still here. It is the natural, human side of us that suffers the loss and knows all that pain. But what is the comfort of the believer? We sorrow not as those who have no hope. What is our hope? Because we have a Father who has got a Family that can never be broken up by death and never lose a member by death. Our hope is that the whole Family will be together with not one missing. The hope is that we have not lost any. Ours it is to be together forever. “The whole family in heaven and on earth....” That is a part of the meaning of Fatherhood, and that is what the Father is doing in this dispensation; getting that kind of Family.
The mentality of “God” is sometimes severe. We can never have a severe mentality in the right atmosphere of “the Father.” All these things have to be brought into that realm; the Lord’s dealings with us now are the dealings of the Father and are along the family line. That is what is happening in this dispensation.... The revelation above all revelations of God in the history of the world is the revelation in which we are now living; the revelation of the Father, brought to us by the Son, Jesus Christ. In future when we say “Our Father” may it have a fuller meaning for us.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

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Does He Even Care? 

When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 
Luke 7:13 

Recommended Reading
Luke 7:11-17
Her tears blurred her vision. While we do not know if she saw Jesus, she did not reach out to Him: her son was dead and needed life. She knew Jesus was a healer but what could He do for her? In the midst of her grief, Jesus saw her and He had compassion. Instead of skipping to the happy end of this story, let’s stop here: Jesus had compassion. 

This simple phrase is found throughout each of the Gospels. An integral part of Jesus’ character is His compassion. Sometimes we find it easier to pray for others than for ourselves. We subconsciously wonder, why would God help me? We forget Jesus’ compassion when we get stuck in this mindset. The life-changing truth is that Jesus is good and He encourages us to ask Him for help. He never ran from disease, death, or wretchedness. While we may not understand why certain prayers are answered quickly while others hang painfully in the air, we can be assured that He sees us and cares. 

There was no identity crisis in the life of Jesus Christ. He knew who He was. He knew where He had come from, and why He was here. And He knew where He was going. And when you are that liberated, then you can serve. 
Howard Hendricks
~David Jeremiah~
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Downward Steps of Sin
by Chuck Swindoll
Tracing the downward steps in David's eroding family relationships, we now have Absalom murdering Amnon, a brother murdering a brother. "The sword will never depart out of your household, David." Here he is groaning under the ache of that prediction.
Now if that's not bad enough, after Absalom kills David's son, he then flees: rebellion. When Absalom fled, he went to Geshur. That's where his grandfather lived—his mother's father, who was a king in Geshur. He can't live at home, so he'll go stay with granddad while he licks his wounds and sets up his plan later on to lead a revolt against his daddy. And that's precisely what he does. Absalom leads a conspiracy against his father.
Later, Joab murders Absalom. The sword has still not departed from David's house.
David dearly regrets the day he ever even looked at Bathsheba and carried on a year of deception. And finally, in the backwash of rape, conspiracy, rebellion, hatred, and murder, he's sitting alone in the palace, no doubt perspiring to the point of exhaustion, and in comes a runner bearing bad news. Absalom has been killed.
David is a beaten man. He's strung out, sobbing as if he's lost his mind. Every crutch is removed. He's at the bitter end, broken and bruised, twisted and confused. The harvesting of his sins is almost more than he can bear.
If you have taken lightly the grace of God, if you have tiptoed through the corridors of the kingdom, picking and choosing sin or righteousness at will, thinking grace covers it all, you've missed it, my friend. You've missed it by a mile. As a matter of fact, it's quite likely that you are harvesting the bitter fruit of the seeds of sin planted in the past. Perhaps right now you are living in a compromising situation, or right on the edge of one. You are skimming along the surface, hoping it'll never catch up. But God is not mocked. It will. Trust me on this one . . . it will.
Turn to Him right now. Turn your life over to Him. Broken and bruised, twisted and confused, just lay it all out before Him. Ask Him to give you the grace and strength to face the consequences realistically and straight on.
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God's love is revealed and made known by these six deeds of indescribable love!

(Don Fortner)

"Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!" 1 John 3:1 

We rejoice to know that "God is love!" Love is an attribute of His holy Being, without which He would not be God. We know that God is love, because His love is revealed and made known by His deeds. Love is active. It is never dormant. Like fire, it must break out. It cannot be contained. It is known only when it is experienced--not by words, but by deeds. We know the love of God is that love that "surpasses knowledge." Yet, God's love is revealed and made known by these six deeds of indescribable love! 

The first act of God's love was our ELECTION in Christ (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). Election is not a hard doctrine. It is a delightful doctrine. Were it not for God's electing love toward sinners, there would be no salvation (Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). We would never have come to know and love Christ--had He not first loved us (John 15:16; 1 John 4:19).

The second act of God's love was our REDEMPTION by Christ (Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-10). Because He loved us, the Son of God assumed our nature, assumed our sin, assumed our guilt and died under the wrath of God as our Substitute, to put away our sins. "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me!" 

The third act by which God reveals His love to sinners is is EFFECTUAL SAVING GRACE (Jeremiah 31:3).
Those whom the triune God loved--the Father chose to save. 
Those whom the Father chose to save--the Son redeemed
And those whom the Son redeemed--the Holy Spirit will effectually call by His irresistible grace to life and faith in Christ.

The love of God is revealed fourthly in the absolute PRESERVATION of His elect in a state of grace (John 10:28; Romans 8:39). Can you imagine one who is loved of God falling from a state of grace, perishing and suffering the wrath of God forever in Hell? Such a notion is worse than nonsense--it is utter blasphemy! The love of God is . . .
  without cause,
  without beginning,
  without condition,
  without change,
  and without end! 
It is free. 
It is sovereign. 
It is indestructible. 
It is everlasting. 

Fifthly, God's love for His elect is seen in our Savior's TENDER, PROVIDENTIAL CARE for us (John 11:35-36). Our Savior really is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. We really are the apple of His eye. 

But there is one act of love that goes beyond election, redemption, effectual calling, preservation, and providential care. As great and marvelous as those things are--there is one act of God that goes beyond them all. If the climax of God's love is our redemption by Christ--then the apex of God's love is our ADOPTION into the family of God! (1 John 3:1-3) 

By birth, we are all fallen, depraved and spiritually dead (Romans 5:12). 
By our deeds, we show ourselves to be children of the devil, sinful, deceitful, and wicked (John 8:44). 
By nature, we are all children of wrath (Ephesians 1:3), a people deserving the wrath of God.
But by grace, we who believe are the sons of God!

Election is the great fountain of grace. 
Redemption is the greatest mystery of grace. 
And adoption is the greatest privilege of grace. 

"Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!"
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