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Devotional Resources

This week’s excerpt in our Devotional Resources series is taken from “Morning and Evening”, by Charles H. Spurgeon, revised and edited by Alistair Begg.


Morning

“And from his fullness we have all received.” – John 1:16

These words tell us that there is a fullness of Christ. There is a fullness of essential Deity, for “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” (Col. 2:9) There is a fullness of perfect manhood, for in Him, bodily, that Godhead was revealed. There is a fullness of atoning efficacy in His blood, for “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 Jn. 1:7) There is a fullness of justifying righteousness in His life, for “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:1) There is a fullness of divine prevalence in His plea, for “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25) There is a fullness of victory in His death, for through death He destroyed him that had the power of death–that is, the devil. There is a fullness of efficacy in His resurrection from the dead, for by it “he has caused us to be born again to a living hope.” (1 Pet. 1:3) There is a fullness of triumph in His ascension, for “when he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (Eph. 4:8) There is a fullness of blessings of every sort and shape; a fullness of grace to pardon, of grace to regenerate, of grace to sanctify, of grace to preserve, and of grace to perfect. There is a fullness at all times; a fullness of comfort in affliction, a fullness of guidance in prosperity. A fullness of every divine attribute–of wisdom, of power, of love; a fullness that it is impossible to survey, much less to explore. “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” (Col. 1:19) Oh, what a fullness must this be of which all receive! Fullness, indeed, must there be when the stream is always flowing, and yet the well springs up as free, as rich, as full as ever. Come, believer, and get all your need supplied; ask largely, and you will receive largely, for this “fullness” is inexhaustible  and is treasured up where all the needy may reach it, even in Jesus, Immanuel–God with us.

 

Evening

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” – Luke 2:19

There was an exercise, on the part of this blessed woman, of three powers of her being: her memory–she kept all these things; her affections–she kept them in her heart; her intellect–she pondered them; so memory, affection, and understanding were all exercised about the things that she had heard. Beloved, remember what you have heard of your Lord Jesus and what He has done for you; make your heart the golden pot of manna to preserve the memorial of the heavenly bread whereon you have fed in days gone by. Let your memory treasure up everything about Christ that you have either felt or known or believed, and then let your fond affections hold Him fast forevermore. Love the person of your Lord! Bring forth the alabaster box of your heart, even though it be broken, and let all the precious ointment of your affection come streaming onto His pierced feet. Let your intellect be exercised concerning the Lord Jesus. Meditate upon what you read. Stop not at the surface; dive into the depths. Be not as the swallow, which touches the brook with her wing, but as the fish, which penetrates the lowest wave. Abide with your Lord: Let Him not be to you as a wayfaring man who tarries for a night, but constrain Him, saying, “Stay with us…the day is now far spent.” (Lk. 24:29) Hold Him, and do not let Him go. The word ponder means to weigh. Make ready the balances of judgment. Oh, but where are the scales that can weigh the Lord Christ? “He takes up the coastlands like fine dust”–who shall take Him up? He weighs “the mountain in scales”–in what scales shall we weigh Him? (Is. 40:15, 12) If your understanding cannot comprehend, let your affections apprehend; and if your spirit cannot compass the Lord Jesus in the grasp of understanding, let it embrace Him in the arms of affection.

January 27, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life & Doctrine,Sanctification,Sanctification/Growth,Spiritual Growth,The Christian Life | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments »

Devotional Resources

This week’s excerpt in our Devotional Resources series is taken from “For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word”, by D.A. Carson.


Monday, January 20
Genesis 21; Matthew 20; Nehemiah 10; Acts 20

In the nineteenth century, Lord Acton wrote that all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The founding fathers of the American Republic would not have disagreed. That is one of the reasons why they constructed a government with checks and balances–they did not want any one branch to have too much power, because they knew that sooner or later it would be corrupted. That is also a primary reason why they wanted constitutionally mandated democratic voting. It was not because they trusted the wisdom of people as a collective–their writings show that they were very nervous about giving too much power to popular vote. But they wanted a mechanism for voting people out of office, replacing them with others. That way, no one in power could unceasingly accumulate power: sooner or later the people could turf them out, and without bloodshed.

Jesus understands the nature of power in all governmental hierarchy: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them” (Matt. 20:25). Sad to say, ecclesiastical power can be equally corrupting. That is why Jesus sets out a radically different paradigm: “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave” (Matt. 20:26-27).

It is of vital importance to the health of the church that we understand this passage right. Three reflections may focus its meaning.

First, the ultimate model in this respect is the Lord Jesus himself, who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). This is not only a great text about the substitutionary nature of the atonement Jesus achieved when he died on the cross (cf. Matt. 20:17-19), but powerful insistence that the life and death of Jesus are to constitute the measure of Christian leadership.

Second, becoming a slave of all most emphatically does not mean that leaders must become servile, stupid, ignorant, or merely nice–any more than Jesus’ leadership and sacrifice were characterized by such incompetence.

Third, what it does mean is that Christian leadership is profoundly self-denying for the sake of others, like Christ’s ultimate example of self-denial for the sake of others. So the church must not elevate people to places of leadership who have many of the gifts necessary to high office, but who lack this one. To lead or teach, for example, you must have the gift of leadership or teaching (Rom. 12:6-8). But you must be profoundly committed to principled self-denial for the sake of the brothers and sisters in Christ, or you are disqualified.

January 20, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life & Doctrine,Sanctification,Sanctification/Growth,Spiritual Growth,The Christian Life | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments »

Devotional Resources

“We need to get people alone with this book, reading it for themselves, understanding it for themselves. Because when this is all over it’s going to be about God’s Word, and his authority is the only authority.”

~Francis Chan

With Chan’s pertinent words in mind, we want to make you aware of devotional resources which may serve your Bible reading in this new year. Today’s post is the first in a four-part series to give you a sample of some of our favorite devotional resources.


The following is an excerpt from the January 13th entry of Walking with God Day by Day: 365 Devotional Selections by Martin Lloyd-Jones, edited by Robert Backhouse:

January 13

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PENTECOST

Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!
Numbers 11:29

The great purpose of Pentecost is to give the final proof of the fact that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. This is declared. The second thing is the great inauguration of the Church as His Body; and third, it is a proof of the fact that the various people who are added to the Church are members of the Body. Also, in the Old Testament we are told that the Holy Spirit was with men or that He came upon them. He worked upon them from without, as it were, and what David even said, you remember, was, “Take not thy holy spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11), as if the Holy Spirit was with him–that is the Old Testament terminology. The New Testament terminology is in, within; He works from within, and He abides. In the Old Testament He came upon men and left them. He comes, in the New Testament, because we are members of the Body of Christ and because the Spirit comes from Christ through the whole Body. Because we are members of the Body, the Spirit abides in us–perfectly; and that, it seems to me, is the essence of the teaching with regard to this matter.

On the Day of Pentecost the rushing mighty wind and the cloven tongues as of fire especially emphasized, not the filling with the Spirit, but the baptizing into the unity of the Body, the inauguration of the Church. That is why you have the special phenomena. The cloven tongues of fire were never repeated. The walls were shaken on another occasion, but this particular sound, this noise, the gathering together of the special phenomena places a uniqueness upon the event of the Day of Pentecost that has never been repeated. The filling with the Spirit is something that can be, and often is, repeated, but that is not the vital thing that happened at Pentecost. What is emphasized at Pentecost is that the Church became Christ’s Body, and the Spirit was given to fill the Body.

A THOUGHT TO PONDER
Pentecost inaugurated the Church as Christ’s Body

Learn more about Walking with God Day by Day: 365 Devotional Selections

Let’s talk about . . . Sex and Money

PLEASURE.Sex & Money Cover

We live in a world obsessed with finding it, passionate to enjoy it, and desperate to maintain it. Chief among such pleasures are sex and money—two pleasures unrivaled in their power to captivate our attention, demand our worship, and drive us to hide or to despair.

In Sex and Money (now available), seasoned counselor and pastor Paul David Tripp pulls back the curtain on the lies that surround us and on the distortions we often overlook. As he exposes the insanity of our culture, he also wisely speaks to our own tendencies to fall prey to sexual and financial idolatry.

Sex and Money ultimately directs us to God’s Word and the liberating power of the gospel, offering real-world advice, and giving us the guidance we need to find true joy and enduring satisfaction.

Praise for Sex and Money

“I’ve come to count on Paul Tripp’s books to be biblical, Christ-centered, deep, engaging, and well-written. Sex and Money is no exception. Its insights into our cultural idolatries and God’s transforming grace are priceless.”
—RANDY ALCORN, Author, The Purity Principle and Managing God’s Money

“Fresh. Honest. Real. Paul Tripp tackles the familiar snares of sex and money with fresh perspective, honest answers from God’s Word, and a real sense of our need for God’s grace. I commend this new resource to you from my friend and ministry partner.”
—JAMES MACDONALD, Senior Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel

“This is a humble, hopeful, relevant book—a wonderful reminder that Jesus’s way truly is easy and his burden is light. I highly recommend it.”
—CHRIS BRAUNS, Pastor, The Red Brick Church

“In Sex and Money, Paul Tripp has taken two of the greatest idols and unmasked them against the glorious gospel. If you really want to unseat the insanity and power of lust and materialism in your life, this book will take you to the one true solution—Jesus himself.”
—JAY THOMAS, Lead Pastor, Chapel Hill Bible Church

Preview an Excerpt from the Book

Download this excerpt as a PDF file 

 

Reboot: Romans 7-8: More Good News

Guest post by Elyse Fitzpatrick

I have to say I’ve loved our time together in Romans. Hasn’t it been a great way to prepare our hearts for next Sunday? The resurrection is far more than a nice holiday when we get to dress our kids up. It’s the realization that everything about us has changed. Our old life characterized by disappointment and sin’s domination has been overcome by the power of God in the good news.

In chapter 6 Paul makes the connection between our new life and our daily grind.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life…For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace (6:12-14).

More Good News

Here’s more good news: God promises that “sin will have no dominion over you.” It’s easy to turn that verse into a command. But it isn’t a command. It’s a promise. Sin can’t dominate us anymore because we’re no longer under the law. What does being “under the law” have to do with it? Everything! As we’ll see in chapter 7, the law has no power to free us from sin. In fact, it incites us to sin.

Don’t misunderstand: the law is not sin (7:7); rather it’s indwelling sin that responds to God’s good commandments by producing the opposite effect in us. Paul said he wouldn’t know what it was to covet,“…if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet’” (Romans 7:7). Is the law good? Yes, in fact it reveals God’s beautiful character to us. Does it promise life? Yes, but only to those who obey it. Otherwise it produces more sin and ultimately death, as Paul writes, “The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me” (7:10) because of the sin that dwells in my heart.

It’s only when we know the law no longer has the power to condemn us that we begin to obey it as it should be obeyed—in grateful response to the good news that we are forgiven, righteous and loved no matter how we fail. Before we believed the good news, the law hung over us with the power to kill us. We couldn’t be freed from sin’s curse because all our attempts at obeying were done selfishly, not out of “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Therefore they counted for nothing.

In chapter 7 Paul describes how all the law (which is holy and righteous and good) could do was condemn him and bring him death—because of the sin still residing within him even as a believer. As you read over that chapter this week, try to envision Paul practically pulling his hair out in despair…

…I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate…For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Our Struggle with Sin

Paul was very aware of his ongoing battle with indwelling sin. Sin’s loss of dominion over him didn’t mean Paul never struggled with sin once he believed the good news. He just was no longer under its complete rule. He believed the good news and that news had the power to break guilt producing bondage and give Paul (and us) the faith to continue to war against the sin that makes us cry with him, “Wretched woman, wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

This is where Romans 8:1 comes to our rescue! No matter how you fail today, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Right now. None. No condemnation. Have you believed the good news that you are his? Have you believed that he died for you? That he was raised for you? Then you are completely free. You are free from the law’s condemning judgment and you will learn to be free from your heart’s incessant failure to believe that he continues to love you no matter what.

Which brings us to the end of our reading:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?…For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That, my friends, is the best news you’ve ever heard. Yes, you will continue struggling with sin’s pull, but he’ll never stop loving you. Good news? You bet.

Why not take few moments at the end of your reading and pray a simple prayer of thanksgiving for all this good news?

If you’re just jumping in to this series, be sure to read the introductory post and the posts for week oneweek two, and week threeClick here to download the reading plan.

Elyse M. Fitzpatrick (MA, Trinity Theological Seminary) is a counselor, a retreat and conference speaker, and the head of Counsel from the Cross Ministries. Fitzpatrick has authored over 15 books, including Because He Loves MeGive Them Grace, and Comforts from Romans.