Devotional Thoughts for Today – 9/23/20

Revelation 21:8 KJV - But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable,  and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all  liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth

AMP and RVR 1960 

These things are the new heaven and earth spoken of in by Christ in verses 1-6. Note the action expected of believers, we are to be overcomers, in a world of evil lawlessness. 

I recently read an article entitled Why the Church Needs Gentle Shepherds and while I understand the premise I disagree with the conclusion. Yes we need Pastoral leadership that has understanding and empathy in the chaotic world we live in. But we desperately need Pastoral Leadership to build warriors for Christ. 

We are at War and war is not; never has been never will be gentle. Stop feeding your congregations milk when they are in need of real meat. 

Daily Devotional – Preserved From Evil

7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. Psalm 121:7-8

Psalm 121:7-8 (KJV and RVR 1960) 


CONTEXT:

This is another of those verses often taken greatly out of context. As I have an EARLY morning appointment, I will offer a few trusted commentaries today instead of my normal exposition. 

Suffice it to say that on the surface the phase above, taken on it own, seems to imply any true believer will be exempt from all evil befalling them. NOTHING could be further from the truth.


COMMENTARY: 

John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible

Thee Lord shall preserve them from all evil,…. The Word of the Lord, as the Targum. Not from the evil of affliction, though from that as a penal evil; or as a real one, it being made to work for good: but from the evil of sin; not from the being or commission of it; but from its dominion and damning power, or from a final and total falling away by it: and from the evil of the world; not from tribulation in it, nor from the reproach or persecution of it; but from the wickedness and lusts that are in it, and from the wicked men of it, their power, rage, and fury: and from the evil one, Satan; not from his temptations, but from sinking under them, and perishing by them; see John 17:12;

he shall preserve thy soul: he preserves the bodies of his people, oftentimes from diseases and disasters, and from death, till the appointed time comes; and then he preserves their dust in the grave, and raises it up at the last day; but more especially their souls, the redemption and salvation of which he undertook, and has effected; and which are preserved by him safe to his coming, kingdom, and glory.

JOHN CALVIN

It is of importance to mark the reason why the prophet repeats so often what he had so briefly and in one word expressed with sufficient plainness. Such repetition seems at first sight superfluous; but when we consider how difficult it is to correct our distrust, it will be easily perceived that he does not improperly dwell upon the commendation of the divine providence. How few are to be found who yield to God the honour of being a “keeper,” in order to their being thence assured of their safety, and led to call upon him in the midst of their perils! On the contrary, even when we seem to have largely experienced what this protection of God implies, we yet instantly tremble at the noise of a leaf falling from a tree, as if God had quite forgotten us. Being then entangled in so many unholy misgivings, and so much inclined to distrust, we are taught from the passage that if a sentence couched in a few words does not suffice us, we should gather together whatever may be found throughout the whole Scriptures concerning the providence of God, until this doctrine – “That God always keeps watch for us” – is deeply rooted In our hearts; so that, depending upon his guardianship alone, we may bid adieu to all the vain confidences of the world. 

TREASURY OF DAVID 

Verse 7. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil, or keep thee from all evil. It is a great pity that our admirable translation did not keep to the word keep all through the psalm, for all along it is one. God not only keeps his own in all evil times but from all evil influences and operations, yea, from evils themselves. This is a far reaching word of covering: it includes everything and excludes nothing: the wings of Jehovah amply guard Iris own from evils great and small, temporary and eternal. There is a most delightful double personality in tiffs verse: Jehovah keeps the believer, not by agents, but by himself; and the person protected is definitely pointed out by the word thee, — it is not our estate or name which is shielded, but the proper personal man. To make this even more intensely real and personal another sentence is added, “The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:” he shall preserve thy soul, — or Jehovah will keep thy soul. Soul keeping is the soul of keeping. If the soul be kept all is kept. The preservation of the greater includes that of the less so far as it is essential to the main design: the kernel shall be preserved, and in order thereto the shell shall be preserved also. God is the sole keeper of the soul. Our soul is kept from the dominion of sin, the infection of error, the crush of despondency, the puffing up of pride; kept from the world, the flesh, and the devil; kept for holier and greater things; kept in the love of God; kept unto the eternal kingdom and glory. What can harm a soul that is kept of the Lord?

Verse 8. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. When we go out in the morning to labour, and come home at eventide to rest, Jehovah shall keep us. When we go out in youth to begin life, and come in at the end to die, we shall experience the same keeping. Our exits and our entrances are under one protection. Three times have we the phrase, “Jehovah shall keep”, as if the sacred Trinity thus sealed the word to make it sure: ought not all our fears to be slain by such a threefold flight of arrows? What anxiety can survive this triple promise? This keeping is eternal; continuing from this time forth, even for evermore. The whole church is thus assured of everlasting security: the final perseverance of the saints is thus ensured, and the glorious immortality of believers is guaranteed. Under the aegis of such a promise we may go on pilgrimage without trembling, and venture into battle without dread. None are so safe as those whom God keeps; none so much in danger as the self secure. To goings out and comings in belong peculiar dangers since every change of position turns a fresh quarter to the foe, and it is for these weak points that an especial security is provided: Jehovah will keep the door when it opens and closes, and this he will perseveringly continue to do so long as there is left a single man that trusteth in him, as long as a danger survives, and, in fact, as long as time endures. Glory be unto the Keeper of Israel, who is endeared to us under that title, since our growing sense of weakness makes us feel more deeply than ever our need of being kept. Over the reader we would breathe a benediction, couched in the verse of Keble.

“God keep thee safe from harm and sin,
Thy Spirit keep; the Lord watch o’er
Thy going out, thy coming in,
From this time, evermore.”

Daily Devotional – Suffered A While

1 Peter 5:10 – Kisha's Daily Devotional

1 Peter 5:10 (AMP and RVR 1960) 


BACKGROUND:

Some of y’all maybe old enough to remember the song Poor, Poor Pitiful Me, By Linda Ronstadt that was released back in 1977 and later covered in 2009 by Terri Clark in 1996. It is the story of a young singer who heads to Hollywood to make her fortune only to run into the manipulating men running the industry at the time. Here are the lyrics, out of this suffering and abuse somes a story that she just has to tell, in this case by way of a song. 

So too, as Christians, we must be every ready to tell the stories God has given us.

First of course is the Gospel story, this is NOT our testimony it is all about GOD. One of the best summaries of the Gospels I have found is from John Piper, A Six-Point Summary of the Gospel, is easy to remember and simple to communicate. 

Second as Ms. Ronstadt song portrays we need to tell our personal (testimony) story, 1 Peter 3:15.


CONTEXT:

Peter ends his 1st epistle by addressing the church body in two elements, first the elders 1 Peter 5:1-4, and then the younger or more immature believers 1 Peter 5:5-9.

To the elders he exhorts them and encourages them to be strong leaders for the flock they have been given charge of by God’s decree.

To the body of believers, he says LISTEN to your elders, obey them (as long as they are giving command that are biblical), be humble, persevere and cast your woes upon Christ.


BREAKDOWN:

And after you have suffered a little while,  Christians have been promised suffering. WHAT?  I am not going to list the many verses found in the NT alone but here is one example Acts 14:22 …“It is through many tribulations and hardships that we must enter the kingdom of God.”

the God of all grace, Christians have been promised God will intervene, for it is nothing but the Grace of God that will suffice to overcome trials and tribulations

who has called you He will intervene for those whom He has called, 2 Timothy 1:9 and choosen Matthew 22:14 

to his eternal glory in Christ, We have been called not for earthly purposes (yet we are to accomplish things until our time ends here) but for eternal glory in Christ 

will himself Eternity with GOD will be amazing, beyond our comprehension. Peter mentions four things that will happen to us in eternity.

Okay, I want to deviate (JUST A LITTLE), as we look at them and and think for a moment when we have come out of a difficult time of suffering.

restore, The King James says “perfect us” God will make us whole physically, mentally and spiritually.  

confirm, or settle the union of Christ in and with us in glory

strengthen, Both our resolve and any area which we were weak will be gone as we are hence completely renewed in glory 

and establish you. that is to place all our focus and being upon the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega. Our only “mission” in Glory will be to glorify the King Revelation 22:1-5


APPLICATION:

We have set forth and established 3 things today:

    1. Christians will suffer on Earth
    2. Christians need to be ready to tell the Gospel Story and their own testimony
    3. God has promised Eternal Glory in Christ to all His called and chosen

 

I asked however to look at applying the 4 components of 1 Peter 5:10 to when we have come out of a difficult experience. Even though Peter is referring to future Glory, remember how you felt complete, confirm, strengthen, and established, fully renewed and invigorated in the Lord after coming through a rough patch? That my friends is your Poor, Poor Pitiful Me song. Your testimony, that needs to be shared when someone asks ‘what has God done for you lately.’  

 

Grace to You; Series on Contentment

The following 11 articles are from G2Y series on Contentment I hope them are a blessing to you. 

 

10 Reasons to Pray

There are many “Reasons to Pray” I have published a few articles on the subject here on this web site over the years. I found this one intriguing because the author uses not his own opinion, but historical quotes to make his points. With all the current turmoil going on worldwide and especially the (un)civil unrest in America I think it a timely article. 

 

The Master's Seminary Blog

10 Reasons to Pray

Nathan Busenitz | 

Here are ten reminders for Christians about the vital need to cultivate a personal prayer life, as articulated by notable ministers from church history.

1. True effectiveness comes not through methods, but through prayer.

A. C. Dixon: When we rely upon organization, we get what organization can do; when we rely upon education, we get what education can do; when we rely upon eloquence, we get what eloquence can do, and so on. Nor am I disposed to undervalue any of these things in their proper place, but when we rely upon prayer, we get what God can do.1

D. L. Moody: Those who have left the deepest impression on this sin-cursed earth have been men and women of prayer.2

E. M. Bounds: What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men and women whom the Holy Ghost can use — people of prayer, people mighty in prayer.3

CONTINUED AT: SOURCE

Marriages Hit a New Low

Mark ‭10:6-9‬ “But from the beginning of the creation, God made ...

Above added


BreakPoint Daily

Marriages Hit a New Low

marriage2

How We Rebuild a Culture of Commitment

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH SHANE MORRIS

According to a new report by the National Center for Health Statistics, marriage in the United States of America has never been less popular. Today, in the U.S. there are only 6.5 weddings for every 1,000 people, the lowest rate since we started keeping records just after the Civil War, and despite the fact that millennials, who are the biggest generation in American history, are in their peak marriage years right now. And, these numbers are pre-COVID-19. As the report’s lead author suggests, the economic fallout of the virus will likely “further discourage marriage in the near term….”

Economic factors do, of course, affect marriage rates. Even before COVID closed everything down, single breadwinners could find it quite difficult to support a growing family. In recent decades, the “marriage gap,” the different marriage rates between upper and lower income Americans, has become more pronounced, with marriage becoming more and more a luxury of the wealthy.

At the same time, it’s a worldview mistake to think that economics alone can explain what’s happening to marriage. As Bradford Wilcox with the Institute for Family Studies reminds us, “there was no marked increase in divorce, family instability, or single parenthood at the height of the Great Depression.” By contrast, Cornell sociologist Daniel Lichter points out that some of the biggest drops in marriage rates, at least in recent years, have occurred during economically prosperous times.

The bigger factor here is not money but culture.

Exhibit A: As marriage has receded, cohabitation has increased in both numbers and social acceptability. Pew reports that a quarter of unmarried young adults are living with a partner. That’s the highest percentage since our record-keeping began.

The rise of cohabitation has followed not only a shift of attitudes about out-of-wedlock sex, but about the institution of marriage itself. Several years ago, another Pew study found that more than half of young people in America thought marriage was “obsolete.” As one pastor remarked on Facebook, young people who pursue the skills necessary for marriage are often treated as if they’re wasting their “real” potential, and those who get married in their early or even mid-twenties can inspire a level of shock and shame that was once reserved only for couples “living in sin.”

Even worse, our culture’s current portrayal of the “good life” involves career-minded singles living in chic urban apartments, sowing their wild oats on casual dating and hookup apps, and leading lives incompatible with a spouse, much less children.

The road to rebuilding a culture that values marriage will be long and arduous, but we do have some clues about what works when it comes to creating and preserving that kind of culture. The Institute for Family Studies reports that, contrary to a popular but mistaken talking point, the institution that remains the single best refuge for marriage is the Church. It is still true, even today, that among the surest predictors that a couple will get and stay married is how regularly they attend religious services. That’s why bringing people to God and bringing people together are so often a package deal.

Even so, the Church simply must first embrace her God-given task of re-catechizing His people about what marriage is. Too often, the Church is trying to put a band-aid of sexual morality on the gaping wound of bad Christian thinking about marriage that is often no different than the larger culture: That marriage is either a lifestyle accessory, a waste of youth, or an institution of personal happiness. We won’t know what marriage is, or how to do it, unless we know what God created marriage for.

Hint: Though companionship is certainly a wonderful side-benefit of a healthy marriage, God didn’t create marriage to solve Adam’s loneliness problem. Check the text again: He created marriage to solve Adam’s aloneness problem. It’s an important distinction that not only explains what marriage is for, but sets the groundwork for all of the moral expectations God gives us about sex and marriage.

Even after the wedding, the Church is still the best place to strengthen marriages, a necessary task if we are to see the kind of culture where people think of lifelong marriage as part of the good life. Recently, J. P. DeGance joined me on the BreakPoint Podcast to talk about a unique, data-driven approach to help pastors identify struggling marriages and then works to help save them in their communities. Working with pastors and churches in Jacksonville, Florida, DeGance’s organization, Communio, saw the divorce rate drop 24 percent in just three years. That’s many times faster than the national average.

Saving existing marriages is essential to encouraging new ones. How many young people are out there that have never seen a single marriage work? How can we expect them to trust an institution that, in their view, not only consistently fails but also causes so much pain and heartbreak when it does?

J.P. DeGance will join Katy Faust, Pastor Bob Fu, and Student for Life president Kristan Hawkins for Module 5 of our upcoming  “Truth. Love. Together” virtual event. He’ll be talking about how the Church can help restore a marriage culture. The Truth.Love.Together event is absolutely free. Sign up and learn more here.

 

 

Christian Contentment

The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines “content” as

Rest or quietness of the mind in the present condition; satisfaction which holds the mind in peace, restraining complaint, opposition, or further desire, and often implying a moderate degree of happiness.

Spurgeon said

“If you are not CONTENT with what you have, 
you would not be satisfied if it were doubled!”

A W Pink writes that

Contentment is the product of a heart resting in God…It is the blessed assurance that God does all things well and is, even now, making all things work together for my ultimate good.Thomas Wat

Thomas Watson adds that

Contentment lies within a man, in the heart and the way to be comfortable is not by having our barrels filled, but our minds quieted!

Theodore Epp comments that…

Nowhere does the Bible suggest that we should be content with unsatisfactory conditions. But because of our personal relationship with Christ we can be content in them. As different situations arise and we learn our lessons one after another, we will also find it possible to be content in every situation.

A W Tozer said,

The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One.” A Puritan sat down to his meal and found that he had only a little bread and some water. His response was to exclaim, “What? All this and Jesus Christ too!

John Owen

The soul that sets up its rest, and makes it its great concernment to walk humbly with God, is brought to His foot, bent to His will, is ready for His disposal; and whatever God does in the world with himself, his, or others, he hath peace and quietness in it. His own will is gone, the will of God is his choice; his great concernment lies not in anything that can perish, that can be lost.

When a man shall see, in the worst state and condition, that his great concernment is safe; that though all is lost, God, who is all, is not lost; that this can never be taken from him;—it fills his heart with delight. Is he in prosperity? he fears not the loss of that which he most values. Is he in adversity? yet he can walk with God still; which is his all. He can therefore glory in tribulations, rejoice in afflictions;—his treasure, his concernment is secure. (from sermon entitled Of Walking Humbly With God)

OTHER QUOTES:

The richest person is the one who is contented with what he has.

Many Christians find it difficult to be content because we typically focus, not on what we do have, but on what we lack!

Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.

When you can think of yesterday without regret and tomorrow without fear, you are near contentment.

A Christian is one who does not need to consult his bank balance to see how wealthy he is.

A contented person is one who enjoys the scenery along the detour.

Today in Church History

Alone Among 500 Million Souls

Alone Among 500 Million Souls

My feelings on stepping ashore I cannot attempt to describe. My heart felt as though it had not room and must burst its bonds, while tears of gratitude and thankfulness fell from my eyes.” So wrote Hudson Taylor of the moment of his landing at Shanghai, China on this day, March 1, 1854 at 5 p.m.

For years his heart had burned with desire to carry the gospel to China. He had exerted every ounce of his energy for this moment. Through weary struggles, through bouts of depression, through storm and danger of shipwreck, through heart-wrenching separation from his family, in isolation from other Englishmen, in hours of intense prayer, he had persevered to step upon this shore.

He did not know a soul, nor where to turn, although he had on him a letter to a missionary already established on Chinese soil. But Hudson Taylor had learned much about trusting the Lord, and this night his trust was not misplaced. As if guided, he found his way through the unfamiliar oriental streets to a mission compound where he was kindly received.

Nothing worked out according to his expectations. His first six months in China were dreary and lonely. His income was tiny and he could do little. Civil war began the week he arrived and rival gangs slaughtered people before his horrified eyes. Unable to rent a house as he had hoped, he had to impose on his kindly hosts. He flung himself into language learning, to the neglect even of his devotions. His mission board embarrassed him with its ignorance of China.

Hudson Taylor overcame these difficulties and many more. He learned the language and made up his mind to adopt native dress. It was his hope to establish a thoroughly native church. The Chinese, he felt, had little to do with Christianity because they hated foreign ways.

His methods proved successful. In time he broke gracefully away from his English board and founded the China Inland Mission, based wholly on faith. He did not tell others of his financial needs, trusting that the Lord would provide whatever was needed. He prayed specifically for his needs and for more missionaries. One year he prayed for 70 missionaries. The Lord sent 76. Another year he asked for 100 and got 102. The Lord also provided their passage money. At his death the China Inland Mission had 205 missionaries.

Hudson Taylor married Maria Dyer, who died tragically young. Nearing death, she kissed Hudson again and again, for each of their eight children. She had been a true support to him.

Hudson was left to carry on without her. Chinese Christianity grew slowly. For many years the number of Protestants hung at barely a million. Under savage persecutions, Christianity flourished. Today the Chinese church is thought by some analysts to be the fastest growing in the world. Chinese Christians owe their first contact with the Gospel to the evangelism of men such as Hudson Taylor. When he stepped in faith onto Shanghai’s soil, he became one of the greatest missionaries the world has known.

 

Today in Church History

Yield or Suffer Said Diocletian

Yield or Suffer Said Diocletian

Who was Emperor Diocletian?

Diocletian, born Diocles, was a Roman emperor from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in Dalmatia, Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become Roman cavalry commander to Emperor Carus. After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian on campaign in Persia, Diocletian was proclaimed emperor. The title was also claimed by Carus’ other surviving son, Carinus, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus. Diocletian’s reign stabilized the empire and marks the end of the Crisis of the Third Century. He appointed fellow officer Maximian as Augustus, co-emperor, in 286. Diocletian reigned in the Eastern Empire, and Maximian reigned in the Western Empire.

statue of Diocletian
Statue of Diocletian
Roman Reform

As Barbarians menaced the Roman empire, Emperor Diocletian instituted a number of reforms aimed at saving the sprawling political entity. He reorganized the provinces and made the army more mobile while increasing its size. To battle inflation, he issued a new coinage, established a uniform system of taxation and implemented wage-price controls.

Christian Persecution

Recognizing that the empire was too large for a single man to rule, he divided it into four administrative units. In doing this he raised to power a man who did Christians much harm. This man, Galerius, instigated by his mother (a die-hard pagan) prodded the Emperor to persecute the Christians. With their new customs, Christians were a threat to imperial unity, he said; and their vast, well-knit organization was the largest non-governmental body ever seen. Surely they could not be trusted: their loyalty was to King Jesus rather than to Caesar. Diocletian, who for eighteen years had never lifted a finger against the faith, followed this wicked advice. The crackdown began on this day, February 23, 303.

The persecutors dragged off church leaders and tortured them to death, employing the rack, the scourge, slow fires, crucifixion, and many other barbarities against them. They burned Christian books and scriptures. Many Christians died deaths of great courage. Theodotus, for example, after terrible tortures said as he was being led back to prison, “It is but just that Christians should suffer for Him who suffered for us all.”

Divine Resilience 

Timothy, a deacon in Mauritania, allowed his eyes to be put out with red-hot irons rather than reveal the hiding place of scriptures. His wife of just three weeks was then brought in and she attempted to persuade him to recant for love of her. He refused. Growing stouthearted, she joined him. After horrendous torture, both were crucified.

In the end, it was the church which won the showdown. All the powers of Rome could not crush its allegiance to Christ. Even Galerius eventually left off the persecution. In 311, the dying emperor issued an edict of toleration. Christians had outlasted the might of the empire. Their resistance to arbitrary power was instrumental in winning the right to follow their Christian faith.

 

ARE YOU A CRY BABY?

So yes, the title is a little deceptive, but in essence we as “True Christians” need to be ready to be “Cry Babies” if we have the expectation of reaping the JOY’S of Heaven

Life is and should be tough for the elect of Christ. If you are cruising through it then Satan does not recognize you as a true believer and you need to check your faith and salvation. If you are constantly hitting speed bumps HARD, (attacks from all sides it may seem) then you are working for the kingdom and likely on the right path. That path is full of tears and heartache but the reward is worth it all. 

Image result for Psalm 126:5

Los que sembraron con lágrimas, con regocijo segarán. (RVR 1960)


The Treasury of David Commentary;

Exposition, Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings; C.H. Spurgeon;