Devotional Thought for Today – 03/01/2021

25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. Psalm 73:25-26

PSALM 73

 Curiously enough this Seventy-third Psalm corresponds in subject with the Thirty-seventh: it will help the memory of the young to notice the reversed figures. The theme is that ancient stumbling block of good men, which Job’s friends could not get over; viz. –the present prosperity of wicked men and the sorrows of the godly. Heathen philosophers have puzzled themselves about this, while to believers it has too often been a temptation. – C.H. Spurgeon

In studying our main text today v.26,  it is helpful to also read v.25; Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.

You will note that I emphasized the word “heart” if you follow this blog you will note that yesterday’s Sunday Sermon Series was entitled The Heart of the Matter.   Regardless of what society and all the self-help gurus would have us believe, it is every man’s heart that will always let him down.  Conversely, it is God and God alone that can and will always revive man’s heart. 

 Samuel Blackerby the Puritan preacher of the 17th Century comments are some of the best I have ever read on this verse: 

My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. In which words we may take notice of five things.

1. The order inverted. When he mentions his malady he begins with the failing of the flesh, and then of the heart, but when he reports the relief he begins with that of the heart. From hence observe that when God works a cure in man (out of love) he begins with the heart–he cures that first. And there may be these reasons for it.

a. Because the sin of the heart is often the procuring cause of the malady of body and soul.

b. The body ever fares the better for the soul, but not the soul for the body.

c. The cure of the soul is the principal cure.

2. The suitableness of the remedy to the malady. Strength of heart for failing of heart, and a blessed portion for the failing of the flesh. Observe, that there is a proportionate remedy and relief in God for all maladies and afflictions whatsoever, both within and without. If your hearts fail you, God is strength; if your flesh fails you, or comforts fail you, God is a portion.

3. The prophet’s interest; he calls God his portion. Observe, that true Israelites have an undoubted interest in God: –He is theirs.

4. The prophet’s experience in the worst time. He finds this to be true, that when communicated strength fails, there is a never-failing strength in God. Observe, that Christians’ experiences of God’s all-sufficiency are then fullest and highest when created comforts fail them.

5. There is the prophet’s improvement of his experience for support and comfort against future trials and temptations. Observe, that a saint’s consideration of his experience of God’s all-sufficiency in times of exigency, is enough to bear up and to fortify his spirit against all trials and temptations for the time to come.

Thus you may improve the text by way of observation, but there are two principal doctrines to be insisted on. First, that God is the rock of a saint’s heart, his strength, and his portion forever. Secondly, that divine influence and relief passeth from God to his people when they stand in most need thereof.

First. God is the rock of a saint’s heart, strength, and a portion forever. Here are two members or branches in this doctrine.

1. That God is the rock of a saint’s heart, strength.

2. That God is the portion of a saint. Branch 1. God is the rock of a saint’s heart, strength. He is not only strength and the strength of their hearts, but the rock of their strength; so Isa 17:10. Ps 62:7, rwu, the same word that is used in the text, from hence comes our English word “sure.” Explication. God is the rock of our strength, both in respect of our naturals and also of our spirituals: he is the strength of nature and of grace (Ps 27:1); the strength of my life natural and spiritual. God is the strength of thy natural faculties–of reason and understanding, of wisdom and prudence, of will and affections. He is the strength of all thy graces, faith, patience, meekness, temperance, hope, and charity; both as to their being and exercise. He is the strength of all thy comfort and courage, peace and happiness, salvation and glory. Ps 140:7. “O God, the rock of my salvation.” In three respects. First. He is the author and giver of all strength. Ps 18:32: “It is God that girdeth me with strength.” Ps 24:11: “He will give strength to his people.” Ps 138:3 68:35. Secondly. He is the increaser and perfecter of a saint’s strength; it is God that makes a saint strong and mighty both to do and suffer, to bear and forbear, to believe and to hope to the end; so Heb 11:34: “Out of weakness they were made strong; “so 1Jo 2:14. And therefore is that prayer of Peter, 1Pe 5:10. Thirdly. He is the preserver of your strength; your life is laid up in God. Col 3:3. Your strength is kept by the strength of God; so Ps 91:1. God doth overshadow the strength of saints, that no breach can be made upon it. Ps 63:7. “In the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.”

TODAY’S PRAYER

Oh Lord our God, we declare our weakness of the heart unto you oh God and understand that it is only through our weakness that we can be made strong in Christ.  We ask that your Holy Spirit who indwells all true believers will guide us and mold us daily to be our strength and portion that we may repent of our failings and walk worthy of your Amazing Grace. – Amen

 

Devotional Thought for Today – 02/02/2021

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Deuteronomy 6

I have had some argue that these verses do not apply to “New Testament” Christians, how foolish and wrong can one be? Jesus himself in Matthew 5:17-20 says Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil…

While we can or at least all should agree we are not under the old covenant law (no one except Jesus could live up to its standard) we should still follow the moral precepts laid out by the LAW including that of our text. 

In context Chapter 6 is all about obedience to God.  In v.1-3, Moses declares that the people must be attentive and follow the laws of God. 

Then he gives the why in v.4. Because The Lord our God is one Lord: (KJV)  a better or easier way to reads this would be because the Lord you God is the only TRUE God.  John Gill in his commentary says the one self and all-sufficient, and perfect Being.

What is our response to such a God, the creator of the heavens and the earth? Moses says in v.5, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being] (AMP).  Sound familiar? It should to all those who read the New Testament too, Jesus is asked in Matthew 22:36-40 what is the Greatest Commandment and replies with something very similar. Does God, the one true God, omnipotent, omniscience, and omnipresent Triune God deserve anything less? 

Are you fully committed to loving God today?  Pray with me…

Dear Lord, 

Help me daily to LOVE You with all my heart, soul, mind, and might that I may honor and glorify You in all I do. AMEN

 

Daily Devotional – Fragrant Prayer Part III

What Does Psalm 141:2 Mean?

PSALM 141

Praying for others


CONTEXT

David was in distress when he penned this psalm, pursued, it is most likely, by Saul, that violent man. Is any distressed? Let him pray; David did so, and had the comfort of it.

      • I. He prays for God’s favourable acceptance (v. 1- 2).
      • II. For his powerful assistance (v. 3,-4).
      • III. That others might be instrumental of good to his soul, as he hoped to be to the souls of others (v. 5- 6).
      • IV. That he and his friends being now brought to the last extremity God would graciously appear for their relief and rescue (v. 7-10).

The mercy and grace of God are as necessary to us as they were to him, and therefore we should be humbly earnest for them in singing this psalm. – Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary 

In the first installment we looked at Praying for God’s favorable acceptance. Yesterday’s  topic was petitioning for His assistance, and today we will explore Praying to God for others


Breakdown

v.5 – Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.

Of all the verses of Psalms this and the following may be one of the hardest to interpret. Let the righteous smite me… David is basically saying he would prefer to be severely reprimanded, corrected, rebuked etc.  by a righteous person than be in the company of evil. So he will pray for them. 

The righteous, etc. The minister cannot be always preaching; two or three hours, may be, in a week, he spends among his people in the pulpit, holding the glass of the gospel before their faces; but the lives of professors, these preach all the week long: if they were but holy and exemplary, they would be as a repetition of the preacher’s sermon to their families and neighbours among whom they converse, and keep the sound of his doctrine continually ringing in their ears. This would give Christians an amiable advantage in doing good to their carnal neighbours by counsel and reproof, which now is seldom done, and when done it proves to little purpose, because not backed with their own exemplary walking. “It behooves him”, saith Tertullian, “that would counsel or reprove another, to guard his speech with the authority of his own conversation, lest, wanting that, what he says puts himself to the blush.” We do not love one that hath a stinking breath to come very near us; such, therefore, had need have a sweet scented life. Reproofs are a good physic, but they have an unpleasant reception; it is hard for men not to throw them back on the face of him that gives them. Now nothing is more powerful to keep a reproof from thus coming back than the holiness of the person that reproves. “Let the righteous smite me”, saith David, “it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head.” See how well it is taken from such a hand, from the authority that holiness carries with it. None but a vile wretch will smite a righteous man with reproach for smiting him with a reproof, if softly laid on, and like oil fermented, and wrought into him, as it should, with compassion and love to his soul! Thus we see how influential the power of holiness would be unto the wicked, neither would it be less upon our brethren and fellow Christians. Holy David professed he would take it as a kindness for the righteous man to smite him; yea, as kindly as if he broke a box of precious oil upon his head, which was amongst the Jews a high expression of love. –William Gurnall.

v.6 – When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.

Most commentators agree David is speaking about those who would oppress him. At some point all our unrighteous oppressors will come to know the truth we spoke, why? Because all our words spoken in Christ are surely words; for they are sweet. That is why a true Christian never stops sharing the Good News. 

They shall hear my words; for they are sweet. This is especially true of all the words which David spake by inspiration, or the Spirit of God spake to him; articulately in his book of Psalms; concerning the Messiah, the covenant of grace, and the blessings of it; of the rich experiences of grace he had, and the several doctrines of the gospel declared by him; which were sweet, delightful, and entertaining to those who have ears to hear such things; or whose ears are opened to hear them, so as to understand them and distinguish them, but to others not. –John Gill.


APPLICATION

No one likes to be corrected, however the correction of a righteous man is but a sweat savor to God. Respond in kind with a Fragrant Prayer of your own for both those who would persecute and profit you. Also, do not neglect the thank God for the times of discipline that drew you nearer to the cross. 

Pray The Bible: Promoting, Encouraging, and Assisting God's People in Biblical Prayer

 Supplication to God for Others

We must pray for the whole world of mankind, the lost world; and thus, we must honor everyone, 1 Peter 2:17(ESV) and, according to our capacity, do good to everyone. Galatians 6:10(ESV)

I pray, as I am taught, for all people, believing that this is good and pleasing in the sight of God my Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth and of Jesus Christ, 1 Timothy 2:3-4(ESV) who gave himself as a ransom for all. 1 Timothy 2:6(ESV)

O let your way be known on earth, Psalm 67:2(ESV) that barbarous nations may be civilized, and those who live without God in the world may be brought to the service of the living God; Ephesians 2:12(ESV) and thus, let your saving power be known among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; yes, let all the peoples praise you: O let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Psalm 67:2-4(ESV)

For Support While Being Disciplined 

Though for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, yet later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness and proves to be for my good, that I might share your holiness. Hebrews 12:10-11(ESV)

I have had reason to say that it was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes; Psalm 119:71(ESV) for before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. Psalm 119:67(ESV)

It has been but for a little while, and when it was necessary, that I was grieved by various trials; and I beg that all the trials of my faith may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom, though I have not seen, I love; though I do not now see him, yet I believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, and am longing to receive the outcome of my faith, the salvation of my soul. 1 Peter 1:6-9(ESV)

Daily Devotional – Fragrant Prayer Part II

What Does Psalm 141:2 Mean?

PSALM 141

Praying for His powerful assistance


CONTEXT

David was in distress when he penned this psalm, pursued, it is most likely, by Saul, that violent man. Is any distressed? Let him pray; David did so, and had the comfort of it.

      • I. He prays for God’s favourable acceptance (v. 1- 2).
      • II. For his powerful assistance (v. 3,-4).
      • III. That others might be instrumental of good to his soul, as he hoped to be to the souls of others (v. 5- 6).
      • IV. That he and his friends being now brought to the last extremity God would graciously appear for their relief and rescue (v. 7-10).

The mercy and grace of God are as necessary to us as they were to him, and therefore we should be humbly earnest for them in singing this psalm. – Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary 

In the first installment we looked at Praying for God’s favorable acceptance. Today’s topic is petitioning for His assistance.


Breakdown

Today in verses 3 and 4 the psalmist pleads with God to be kept from evil.  How often in modern evangelical circles do we hear someone pray to “put a hedge of protection around them (or someone) from all evil.”  Yet David is so much wiser that that. He knows the root of evil is not found from external sources but from within man himself (See Sunday Sermon Series) and so begins…

v.3 Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

A truly converted man understands that the mouth is both the doorway of good and evil words. What can come from a man’s mouth can either harm or build up those around them. Here David says wisely Lord guard my mouth so that only things that Glorify you an build others up proceed from it. 

One of the best commentaries on this is W. Jay’s Sermon on “The Regulation of the Tongue.” Here is the link to Spurgeon’s condensed comments

Ps 141_3 W.Jay Comments

v.4 Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.

As we noted above the heart of natural man, is the root cause of all evil. Here David begs God to guard him against that tendency which still lives in even the most pious of men, Incline not my heart to any evil thing.

To practise wicked works with men that work iniquity. The way the heart inclines the life soon tends: evil things desired bring forth wicked things practised. Unless the fountain of life is kept pure the streams of life will soon be polluted. Alas, there is great power in company: even good men are apt to be swayed by association; hence the fear that we may practise wicked works when we are with wicked workers. We must endeavour not to be with them lest we sin with them. It is bad when the heart goes the wrong way alone, worse when the life runs in the evil road alone; but it is apt to increase unto a high degree of ungodliness when the backslider runs the downward path with a whole horde of sinners around him. Our practice will be our perdition if it be evil: it is an aggravation of sin rather than an excuse for it to say that it is our custom and our habit. It is God’s practice to punish all who make a practice of iniquity. Good men are horrified at the thought of sinning as others do; the fear of it drives them to their knees. Iniquity, which, being interpreted, is a want of equity, is a thing to be shunned as we would avoid an infectious disease. And let me not eat of their dainties. If we work with them we shall soon eat with them. They will bring out their sweet morsels, and delicate dishes, in the hope of binding us to their service by the means of our palates. The trap is baited with delicious meats that we may be captured and become meat for their malice. If we would not sin with men we had better not sit with them, and if we would not share their wickedness we must not share their wantonness. – C.H. Spurgeon


APPLICATION

Righteous in prayer is necessary for it to be an acceptable Fragrant Prayer. In other words the motive and the asking must be in line with God’s will.  Today ask, no beg for God’s abundant Grace to fill you life and grant your petitions. 

Pray The Bible: Promoting, Encouraging, and Assisting God's People in Biblical Prayer

DAILY DEVOTIONAL FOR JAN 4, 2021

Commend Yourself to the Grace of God

We may then recommend ourselves to the conduct, protection, and government of the divine grace, in the further services that lie before us and in the whole course of our life.

And now, let us be enabled to go from strength to strength, until we appear before God in Zion; and while we pass through the valley of Baca, let it be made a place of springs, and let the rain of divine grace and blessing fill the pools. Psalm 84:6-7(ESV)

Now speak, Lord, for your servants hear. 1 Samuel 3:9(ESV) What does my Lord say to his servants? Joshua 5:14(ESV) Grant that we may not turn away our ear from hearing the law, for then our prayers will be an abomination; Proverbs 28:9(ESV) but may we listen to God, that he may listen to us. Judges 9:7(ESV)

And now, the LORD our God be with us, as he was with all our fathers; may he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to himself, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules. 1 Kings 8:57-58(ESV) And let our hearts be wholly true to the LORD our God all our days, 1 Kings 8:61(ESV) and continue so till the end; that then we may rest and may stand in our allotted place, and let it be a blessed place at the end of the days. Daniel 12:13(ESV)

Sunday’s Sermon Series – Guarding the Heart

 

Matters of the Heart – Everyday Life

CSB and RVR 1960


In yesterday’s Military Devotional we discussed a different type of guard duty against assaults. Today let us look specifically at guarding one’s own heart against rebellion against God.  PSALM 119:7 makes it abundantly clear our ability to praise God requires a clean heart grounded in His judgments (teachings). 


SERMON:

ILO the usual sermon today I decided to provide a piece in 17 short sections written by John Flavel entitled Keeping the Heart.

jfla.jpg

John Flavel (or Flavell) was born in 1628 in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. He was the son of Richard Flavel, a minister who died of the plague in 1665 while in prison for nonconformity. John Flavel was educated by his father in the ways of religion, then “plied his studies hard” as a commoner at University College, Oxford. In 1650, he was ordained by the presbytery at Salisbury. He settled in Diptford, where he honed his numerous gifts.

He married Joan Randall, a godly woman, who died while giving birth to their first child in 1655. The baby died as well. After a year of mourning, Flavel married Elizabeth Stapell and was again blessed with a close, God-fearing marriage, as well as children…  read more….

Keeping the Heart by John Flavel

Daily Devotional – The Heart

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:9-10

Jeremiah 17:9-10 (AMP and RVR 1960)


CONTEXT:

83% of Americans surveyed think folks are inherently or fundamentally good. Maybe they get this belief from quotes like the following: 

Norman Vincent Peale quote: They are inherently good - the bad ...

While it is undeniable (Genesis 1:31) that man was originally made “GOOD” and in fact “Perfect” his betrayal of God and subsequent sin nature means his “New Nature” is one of evil conceived from birth (Psalm 51:5 ) and acknowledged by all who know not Christ ( John 3:19 ).

Those who claim or believe man is fundamentally “good” are wrong. One has only to look at the recent news to confirm this. 


BREAKDOWN:

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, The human heart is the source of all idolatry and sin

and desperately wicked: It harbors all the deceit needed to do that which is evil (Immoral, Illegal, Unethical)

who can know it? –  Those who pretend to understand the human heart, are only fooling themselves and others. ONLY God can know your true heart’s intent we, apart from Christ are blinded by idolatry (Ambition, greed, fame, etc.)

10 I the Lord search the heart,  You can’y hide from God, He knows the heart, true desires of everyone

I try the reins,   He searches the innermost parts the very depths of man looking so that there is no excuse

even to give every man according to his ways,  Folks claim they want fairness and justice, someday when the unrepentant stand before a Holy God they will regret that sentiment 

and according to the fruit of his doings –  For God will judge them righteously according to all they have done, and as we say in the south it will be ugly. 


APPLICATION:

The bible makes it clear man is totally corrupt1689 Chapter 6) and deserves eternal punishment in hell. 

The “GOOD NEWS” of the Gospel is we do not have to live in this depraved state (Second Corinthians 5:17). Christ, died for our sins at Calvary and freely offers the gift of eternal life to all who repent and acknowledge His as “Lord and Savior” of their lives. Is the Holy Spirit tugging at your heartstrings? Do you feel the burden of sin weighing you down?  Answer the call to repentance today and be free from a depraved and corrupt heart. 

 

The Grit of Manliness

In a world where manliness seems to less and less a virtue this is a timely reminder that God see’s things very differently. – Mike

The Key to True Grit

July 31, 2019

The Race Set before You

Persevering grit is eternally beautiful when devoted to the real-life spiritual race that is marked out for us. The sense of biblical “perseverance” is patient fortitude, patiently “gutting it out.”

We each have a specific race mapped out for us; the course for each runner is unique. Its uniqueness is determined by God, who charts it while factoring in who you and I are right now as to our giftedness, background, responsibilities, age, health—and most of all who we are in Christ. Your race is like no one else’s. It is marked out for you where you are as a student, a single, or a parent.

Some races are relatively straight; some are all turns. Some seem all uphill; some are a flat hiking path. They are not equal. All races are long, but some are longer. But the glory is, each of us (no exceptions!) can finish the race “set before us.” I may not be able to run your course, and you may find mine impossible, but I can finish my race and you yours. Both of us can finish well if we choose and if we rely on him who is our strength and our guide. We can experience the same exhilaration the apostle Paul did as he neared the finish line: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). Depending upon God, there is no doubt that we can finish the race set before us—and finish it with satisfaction. Whoever you are and wherever you are, you can do it!

This updated edition of a best-selling classic by a seasoned pastor aims to empower men to take seriously the call to godliness and direct their energy toward the things that matter most.

Your Heart, Not Your Ability

Perseverance has nothing to do with giftedness, but everything to do with your heart. In 1981 Bill Broadhurst entered the Pepsi Challenge 10,000-meter race in Omaha, Nebraska. Surgery ten years earlier for an aneurysm in his brain had left him paralyzed on his left side. But on that misty July morning, he stood with twelve hundred lithe men and women at the starting line. The gun sounded, and the crowd surged ahead. Bill threw his stiff left leg forward and pivoted on it as his foot hit the ground. His slow plop-plop-plop rhythm seemed to mock him as the pack raced into the distance. Sweat rolled down his face and pain pierced his ankle, but he kept going. Some of the runners completed the race in about thirty minutes, but it was two hours and twenty-nine minutes until Bill reached the finish line.

A man approached from a small group of remaining bystanders. Though exhausted, Bill recognized him from pictures in the newspaper. It was Bill Rodgers, the famous marathon runner, who then draped his newly won Boston Marathon medal around Bill’s neck. Bill Broadhurst’s finish was as glorious as that of the world’s greatest, even though he finished last, because he ran with perseverance. Biblical perseverance that refuses to be deflected, overcomes obstacles and delays, and is not stopped by discouragement within or opposition without is available to us all.

It is quite within the reach of every one of us to manifest positive, conquering perseverance—putting one heavy foot in front of the other until we reach the glorious end. The race is not for sprinters who flame out after 100, 200, or 400 meters. It is for faithful plodders—people like you and me. Fast or slow, strong or weak, we must all persevere.

Focus!

If we have stripped ourselves bare of all besetting sins and every hindrance, and have begun to run with perseverance our race—the race that God has marked out for us—we are then given the focus that guarantees our finishing well. That focus, of course, is Jesus: we are to be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).

The writer of Hebrews is very intentional in commanding us to focus on Jesus rather than referring to him as Christ or Jesus Christ. We are to focus on Jesus the incarnate Son of God as he lived as a man here on earth. Jesus was the runner without parallel. Every obstacle was thrown in his way, but he never stumbled once.

It is quite within the reach of every one of us to manifest positive, conquering perseverance—putting one heavy foot in front of the other until we reach the glorious end.

He became “the founder and perfecter of our faith” by the way he lived. His life founded (literally, pioneered) faith. There never was a millisecond when he did not trust the Father, resting everything in him. So great was his trust that he lived on every word that came from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). And he continues to be “the founder and perfecter of our faith” by what he does in us. He bestows the gift of faith (Eph. 2:8–9Matt. 11:27) and then perfects it in his children (Hebrews 11).

Since we need faith to run the race, we must be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” That is, as the Greek literally indicates, we must deliberately lift our eyes from other distracting things and focus with utter concentration on him—and continue doing so.1 We must not look away even for an instant. Such focus is indispensable to a life of faith and to finishing the race.

On August 7, 1954, during the British Empire Games in Vancouver, Canada, the greatest mile-run match ever took place. It was touted as the “miracle mile” because Roger Bannister and John Landy were the only two sub-four-minute milers in the world. Bannister had been the first man ever to run a sub-four-minute mile. Both runners were in peak condition.

Bannister, a medical doctor who later became Sir Roger Bannister and master of an Oxford college, strategized that he would relax during the third lap and save everything for his finishing drive. But as they began that third lap, Landy poured it on, stretching his already substantial lead. Immediately Bannister adjusted his strategy, increasing his pace and gaining on Landy. He quickly cut the lead in half, and at the bell for the final lap, the two men were even. Landy began running even faster, and Bannister followed suit. Both men were flying. Bannister felt he was going to lose if Landy did not slow down.

Then came the famous moment (replayed thousands of times in print, celluloid, and video) as, at the last stride before the home stretch, the crowd roared. Landy could not hear Bannister’s footfall and looked back—a fatal lapse of concentration. Bannister launched his attack and won the “miracle mile” that day by five yards.2

Those who look away from Christ—the end and goal of our race—will not finish well. And this was exactly what was happening to some treading the stormy waters around the early church. They had begun to take their eyes off Christ and to fix them instead on the hardships challenging them. Some had begun to look elsewhere for answers. The author of Hebrews called them to regain their focus on Jesus.

Focus on His Focus

Along with focusing on Jesus, we must focus on his focus—“who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2). Jesus’s focus on the coming joy of his resurrection, ascension, and enthronement at God’s right hand, plus the joys of redeeming a people for himself, strengthened him to do two things. First, he endured the terrible agony of the cross with an “intensity, and with a unity of perception, which none of us can possibly fathom . . . because his soul was so absolutely in his power . . . so utterly surrendered, so simply subjected to the suffering.”3 The agony that Jesus endured on the cross was worse for him precisely because he was God. Second, he scorned the shame of the cross. That is, he thought nothing of the shame—he dismissed it with contempt as nothing. Jesus did all this because he fully knew the bounding, dancing, endless joy that awaited him.

Now here’s the wonder: Jesus’s joy is our joy! His joy is the joy set before us! How can this be? The answer is that we are one with him. Christ is in us, and we are in him (2 Cor. 5:17). Where Christ is, we are! God has already seated us in Christ in the heavenly places, so “that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). We are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17). His boundless, dancing, endless joy will be ours!

To doubt this is to doubt God’s holy Word. If we will focus on the joy that Christ has set before us, we will endure the sufferings of this world and will dismiss any shame incurred in his name as nothing. And we will run the race to his glory.

PURITAN QUOTE(S) FOR TODAY – 01 June

OUTWARD AND INWARD

Ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone – Luke 11:42

It is safer eating with unwashed hands than unwashed hearts. – Henry Smith

Outward decency in the church is a harbinger to provide lodging for inward devotion to follow after. – Thomas Fuller

Never content yourself with Elijah’s mantle, without the Lord God of that mantle. – Christopher Neese

Taken from: The Puritans Day by Day © The Banner of Truth Trust 2016

Check out our Faithful Steward Ministry Facebook page and Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones excellent, “Walking with God”, daily devotional. Today topic
THE URGENT NEED FOR REVIVAL TODAY

PURITAN QUOTE(S) FOR TODAY – 10 February

p-day-byIDLE PRAYER

 When thou prayest thou shalt not… – Matthew 6:5

 Cold prayers shall never have any warm answers. – Thomas Brooks

 The prayer that is faithless is fruitless. – Thomas Watson

 He that giveth God his lips instead of his heart, teacheth God to give him stones instead of bread. – Henry Smith

 

Taken from: The Puritans Day by Day © The Banner of Truth Trust 2016

Check out our Faithful Steward Ministry Facebook page and

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones excellent “Walking with God” daily devotional.

PURITAN QUOTE(S) FOR TODAY – 04 February

p-day-byPEDIGREE, HEREDITY AND ANTIQUITY

 We be Abraham’s seed – John 8:33

 Them of old time – Matthew 5:33

 If Abraham’s faith be not in your hearts, it will be no advantage that Abrham’s blood run in your veins. – John Favel

 It is true nobility where God is the chief and top of the kin, – Joseph Church

 Our father was Adam, our grandfather dust, our great-grandfather nothing. – William Jenkyn  

 Taken from: The Puritans Day by Day © The Banner of Truth Trust 2016

** Note for a daily devotional this year check out our Faithful Steward Ministry Facebook page and Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones excellent “Walking with God”