Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Don't Preach When You Pray

Beware of the evil of mistaking preaching for prayer. The friends who were reputed to be ‘gifted’ indulged themselves in public prayer with a review of their own experience, a recalling of their creed, an occasional running commentary upon a chapter or Psalm, or even a criticism upon the Pastor and his sermons. It was too often quite forgotten that the brother was addressing the divine Majesty, before whose wisdom a display of our own knowledge is impertinence, and before whose glory an attempt at swelling words and pompous periods is little short of profanity; the lecture was evidently intended for man rather than God, and on some occasions did not contain a single petition from the beginning to end.

We hope that good men are stopping this unhallowed practice, and are beginning to see that sermons and doctrinal dissertations are miserable substitutes for earnest wrestling prayers, when our place is before the mercy-seat, and our engagement is intercession with the Most High. If each person will offer the petition most pressing upon his heart by the Holy Spirit, and then make room for another, the evening will be far more profitable, and the prayers incomparably more fervent than if each brother ran round the whole circle of petition without dwelling on one point. Compare your topics of prayer to so many nails; it will be better for an intercessor to drive one nail home with repeated blows, than to deal one ineffectual tap to them one after another.

Let as many as possible take part in the prayer of the church’s desires; the change of voice will prevent weariness, and the variety of subjects will excite attention. Better to have six pleading earnestly, than two drowsily; far better for the whole meeting, that the many needs should be represented experimentally by many intercessors, than formally by two or three.

- Charles Spurgeon

Monday, December 27, 2010

Family Sickness

"And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered!" Matthew 10:30
Dear friend,

My dear wife has been quite ill. Sickness is a bitter pill to swallow. Yet the Lord is good; He knows what we need, and when we need it. We must and shall have it--whether it is sweet, bitter, or sour--for He will withhold no good thing from those who fear and love Him.

He upholds and enlightens the planets and stars. He weighs the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance. At the same time, He is providing for the lions and ravens, and supporting all the ants and worms that creep upon the earth!

And with equal accuracy, He adjusts all that concerns us! Worms as we are, He is attentive to everything that relates to our peace and welfare, as though we, each of us individually were the sole objects of His providential care! Yes, His eye and His heart are attentively fixed upon you and worthless me! Well may we say, "Who is a God like unto You!"

- John Newton

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Lord Reigns -- A Letter from John Newton

"The Lord reigns! He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength!" Psalm 93:1

"The Lord reigns! Let the nations tremble!" Psalm 99:1

The Lord reigns! He who once bore our sins, and carried our sorrows is seated upon a throne of glory, and exercises all power in heaven and on earth! Thrones, principalities, and powers, bow before Him. Every being and event are under His rule. His providence pervades and manages the whole, and is as minutely attentive to every part as if there were only that single object in His view.

From the tallest archangel, to the meanest ant or fly--all depend on Him for their being, their preservation, and their powers! He directs the sparrows where to build their nests, and to find their food. He overrules the rise and fall of nations; and bends, with an invincible energy and unerring wisdom all events! So that, while many intend otherwise in the outcome, their designs all concur and coincide in the accomplishment of His holy will. He restrains with a mighty hand, the still more formidable efforts of the powers of darkness; and Satan, with all his hosts, cannot exert their malice a hair's breadth beyond the limits of His permission. Satan may rage, but he is a chained enemy!
This is He, who is the Redeemer and Husband of His believing people. How happy are those whom it is His good pleasure to bless! Howsafe are those whom He has engaged to protect! How honored and privileged are those whom He enables and warrants to claim Him as their friend and their portion! Having redeemed them by His own blood, He sets a high value upon them! He esteems them His treasure, His jewels! He guards them as the pupil of His eye. They shall not lack; they need not fear!

His eye is upon them in every situation, His ear is open to their prayers, and His everlasting arms are under them for their sure support.

On earth, He guides their steps, controls their enemies, and directs all His dispensations for their good! While, in heaven, He is pleading their cause, preparing a place for them, and communicating down to them reviving foretastes of the glory that shall shortly be theirs!

"The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord!" Psalm 146:10

- John Newton

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

When Jesus Comes

One sat alone, beside the highway begging,
His eyes were blind, the light he could not see;
He clutched his rags and shivered in the shadows,
Then Jesus came and bade his darkness flee.

From home and friends the evil spirits drove him,
Among the tombs he dwelt in misery;
He cut himself as demon powers possessed him,
Then Jesus came and set the captive free.

Their hearts were sad, as in the tomb they laid him,
For death had come and taken him away;
Their night was dark and bitter tears were falling,
Then Jesus came and night was turned to day.

"Unclean, unclean!" the leper cried in torment,
The deaf, the dumb, in helplessness stood near;
The fever raged, disease had gripped its victim,
Then Jesus came and cast out every fear.

So men today have found the Savior able,
They cannot conquer passion, lust, and sin;
Their broken hearts have left them sad and lonely,
Then Jesus comes and dwells Himself within.

When Jesus comes, the tempter's power is broken,
When Jesus comes, the tears are wiped away;
He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory,
For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay.

- Oswald J. Smith

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Debtor to Grace

"By the grace of God--I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10

It is a part of my daily habit to look back to my slavery in Africa, and to retrace the path by which the Lord has led me, for about forty-seven years, since He called me from infidelity and madness!

My astonishing, unsought deliverance from the hopeless wickedness and misery into which I had plunged myself, taken in connection with what He has done for me since, make me say, with peculiar emphasis, "Oh to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be!"

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come!
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home!

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine!

- John Newton

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What Morning Always Brings

1. New mercies- "His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." - Lam. 3:23

2. Prayer is fresh- "In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch." - Psalm 5:3

3. New joy and expectation- "For His anger is but for a moment; His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning." - Psalm 30:5

4. Fresh help- "God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns." - Psalm 46:5

5. A foretaste of that final Great Morning and the blessed hope- "As sheep they are appointed for sheol; death shall be their shepherd; and the upright shall rule over them in the morning." - Psalm 49:14

6. Alone time with the Father- the Lord Jesus knew and used the early morning time as a man- "And rising a great while before day, he went out into a wilderness place, and there he prayed." - Mark 1:35

- Bob Jennings

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Recognizing God's Providence in Life

"You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit." - Job 10:12

What a great mercy it is from the Lord to have the right perspective about our lives. When a person doesn't have that, they cannot understand or appreciate all that has been done for them by a sovereign and gracious God. Neither can they have a thankful and gracious heart. The bigger perspective is huge and very important.

It is a humbling and heart-moving reality to step back and look at your journey until now, and then be able to say, "Lord, it is You who gave me life; You have shown me kindness, and in Your providence every moment of every day You have watched over my spirit."

How good is the God we adore--a faithful, unchangeable Friend; let us continually rehearse, as Job did, God's sovereign and intimate rule in all of life.

- Mack Tomlinson

Monday, December 6, 2010

“Ask, and it shall be given you.” - Matthew 7:7

We know of a place in England still existing, where bread is served to every passerby who chooses to ask for it. Whoever the traveller may be, he has but to knock at the door of St. Cross Hospital, and there is bread for him.

Jesus Christ so loveth sinners that he has built a St. Cross Hospital, so that whenever a sinner is hungry, he has but to knock and have his needs supplied. Nay, he has done better; he has attached to this Hospital of the Cross a bath; and whenever a soul is black and filthy, it has but to go there and be washed. The fountain is always full, always cleansing. No sinner ever went into it and found that it could not wash away his stains. Sins which were scarlet and crimson have all disappeared, and the sinner has been whiter than snow.

As if this were not enough, there is attached to this Hospital of the Cross a wardrobe, and a sinner making application simply as a sinner, may be clothed from head to foot; and if he wishes to be a soldier, he may not merely have a garment for ordinary wear, but armour which shall cover him from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. If he asks for a sword, he shall have that given to him, and a shield too. Nothing that is good for him shall be denied him. He shall have spending-money so long as he lives, and he shall have an eternal heritage of glorious treasure when he enters into the joy of his Lord.

If all these things are to be had by merely knocking at mercy’s door, O my soul, knock hard this morning, and ask large things of thy generous Lord. Leave not the throne of grace till all thy needs have been spread before the Lord, and until by faith thou hast a comfortable prospect that they shall be all supplied. No bashfulness need retard when Jesus invites. No unbelief should hinder when Jesus promises. No cold-heartedness should restrain when such blessings are to be obtained.

- C. H. Spurgeon

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pray without Ceasing

"Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:1

How important is a spirit of prayer! It is the proof of regeneration, the manifestation of grace in our hearts, and the evidence our title to mansions in the skies!

Prayer is the breath of the renewed soul, the beating of the sanctified heart, and the effect of the life of God within us.

O that I had prayed more! Prayer should become a habit with us--then everything would furnish us with matter for prayer. Prayer should mingle with our pleasures and our pains, with our labor and our rest. O for more prayer!

We should never do what we cannot pray God to bless. We should never go where we cannot ask God to go with us.

If we would hold fast our profession, if we would adorn the gospel, if we would honor Jesus, if we would enjoy our mercies, if we would get good by our trials, if we would see all things working together for good, if we would conquer Satan, if we would overcome the world, if we would crucify the flesh with its affections and lust--then we must pray!

Prayer, if it is believing prayer, opens Heaven to us, unveils the glorious face of God, and brings down foretastes of the joys of paradise. Prayer makes us a match for all our foes, enables us patiently to carry every cross, and with perseverance to climb and pass over the loftiest hills we meet with on our heaven-bound pilgrimage!

Those who pray, will, by deriving strength from Heaven, by drawing down wisdom from above to withstand every storm, and shout God's praises at last.

Tempted Christian--pray, and you will overcome every temptation.

Troubled Christian--pray, and God will deliver you out of every trouble.

Perplexed Christian--pray, and God will make your way plain before your face.

Doubting Christian--pray, and God will disperse your doubts, and chase your fears away.

Trembling Christian--pray, and God will strengthen you with strength in the soul.

Sick Christian--pray, and God will make all your bed in your affliction.

Dying Christian--pray, and death will lose all its terrors, and you will gently fall asleep in Jesus.

Lost sinner--pray, for God who heard the publican and justified him, will hear you and save you.

O for the grace of prayer, that we may in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present our requests to God.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2

- James Smith

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter in the Soul

"Thou hast made summer and winter." - Psalm 74:17

My soul, begin this wintry month with your God. The cold snows and the piercing winds all remind you that He keeps His covenant with day and night, and they tend to assure you that He will also keep that glorious covenant which He has made with you in the person of Christ Jesus. He who is true to His Word in the revolutions of the seasons of this poor world will not prove unfaithful in His dealings with His own well-beloved Son.

Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season; if it is upon you just now, it will be very painful to you. But there is this comfort, namely, that the Lord Himself makes it. He sends the sharp blasts of adversity to nip the buds of expectation; He scatters the hoarfrost like ashes over the meadows of our joy; He casts forth His ice like morsels, freezing the streams of our delight. He does it all; He is the great winter King, and rules in the realms of frost.

Losses, crosses, heaviness, sickness, poverty, and a thousand other ills are of the Lord's sending, and come to us with wise design. Frosts kill insects and put a boundary on raging diseases; they break up the clods and sweeten the soil. Oh, that such good results would always follow our winters of affliction.

How we prize the fire just now! How pleasant is its cheerful glow! Let us in the same manner prize our Lord, who is the constant source of warmth and comfort in every time of trouble. Let us draw near to Him and in Him find joy and peace in believing. Let us wrap ourselves in the warm garments of His promises and go forth to labors which fit the season, for it wrong to be as the sluggard who will not plough by reason of the cold, for he shall beg in summer and have nothing.

- C. H. Spurgeon