Sunday, January 29, 2012

Daily Devotional Sunday 29th January

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”” John 4:24NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Perfect in Christ Jesus."
Colossians 1:28

Do you not feel in your own soul that perfection is not in you? Does not every day teach you that? Every tear which trickles from your eye, weeps "imperfection;" every harsh word which proceeds from your lip, mutters "imperfection." You have too frequently had a view of your own heart to dream for a moment of any perfection in yourself. But amidst this sad consciousness of imperfection, here is comfort for you--you are "perfect in Christ Jesus." In God's sight, you are "complete in him;" even now you are "accepted in the Beloved." But there is a second perfection, yet to be realized, which is sure to all the seed. Is it not delightful to look forward to the time when every stain of sin shall be removed from the believer, and he shall be presented faultless before the throne, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing? The Church of Christ then will be so pure, that not even the eye of Omniscience will see a spot or blemish in her; so holy and so glorious, that Hart did not go beyond the truth when he said--

"With my Saviour's garments on,

Holy as the Holy One."

Then shall we know, and taste, and feel the happiness of this vast but short sentence, "Complete in Christ." Not till then shall we fully comprehend the heights and depths of the salvation of Jesus. Doth not thy heart leap for joy at the thought of it? Black as thou art, thou shalt be white one day; filthy as thou art, thou shalt be clean. Oh, it is a marvellous salvation this! Christ takes a worm and transforms it into an angel; Christ takes a black and deformed thing and makes it clean and matchless in his glory, peerless in his beauty, and fit to be the companion of seraphs. O my soul, stand and admire this blessed truth of perfection in Christ.

Evening

"And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them."
Luke 2:20

What was the subject of their praise? They praised God for what they had heard--for the good tidings of great joy that a Saviour was born unto them. Let us copy them; let us also raise a song of thanksgiving that we have heard of Jesus and his salvation. They also praised God for what they had seen. There is the sweetest music--what we have experienced, what we have felt within, what we have made our own--"the things which we have made touching the King." It is not enough to hear about Jesus: mere hearing may tune the harp, but the fingers of living faith must create the music. If you have seen Jesus with the God-giving sight of faith, suffer no cobwebs to linger among the harp strings, but loud to the praise of sovereign grace, awake your psaltery and harp. One point for which they praised God was the agreement between what they had heard and what they had seen. Observe the last sentence--"As it was told unto them." Have you not found the gospel to be in yourselves just what the Bible said it would be? Jesus said he would give you rest--have you not enjoyed the sweetest peace in him? He said you should have joy, and comfort, and life through believing in him--have you not received all these? Are not his ways ways of pleasantness, and his paths paths of peace? Surely you can say with the queen of Sheba, "The half has not been told me." I have found Christ more sweet than his servants ever said he was. I looked upon his likeness as they painted it, but it was a mere daub compared with himself; for the King in his beauty outshines all imaginable loveliness. Surely what we have "seen" keeps pace with, nay, far exceeds, what we have "heard." Let us, then, glorify and praise God for a Saviour so precious, and so satisfying.

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Today's reading: Exodus 19-20, Matthew 18:21-35 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
At Mount Sinai

1 On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. 2After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.

3 Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak. 8 The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD.

9 The LORD said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the LORD what the people had said.

10 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. 13 They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.”

14 After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. 15 Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.”

16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

20 The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 21 and the LORD said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish. 22 Even the priests, who approach the LORD, must consecrate themselves, or the LORD will break out against them.”

23 Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’”

24 The LORD replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the LORD, or he will break out against them.”

25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

Exodus 20

The Ten Commandments

1 And God spoke all these words:

2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Idols and Altars

22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: 23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

24 “‘Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you. 25 If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it. 26 And do not go up to my altar on steps, or your private parts may be exposed.’


Matthew 18

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

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Help for a Shaky Marriage

Psalm 46:1-11

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

What could shake the very foundation of your marriage?

For Rick and Amanda, it started with Rick's working too much. With each promotion, Rick spent more time on the road and less time with Amanda. But success at work left him empty. He bought things he couldn't afford to reward himself for his long hours away. Soon he and Amanda were arguing over money.

To pay the mounting bills, Amanda found a job. She also found a sympathetic friend at work and tried to heal her hurts with an affair. When Rick found out about the affair, he quietly made plans to divorce Amanda. Before the papers could be filed, however, Amanda got sick with a minor illness. But complications set in, and she was put into the hospital. More than once, the doctors told Rick that she wouldn't make it through the night.

That night Rick began to see things differently. He wanted to save the marriage, but he didn't know how. As Amanda's illness became progressively worse, she went into a coma. Rick feared for her life and spent every waking moment by her side.

In Psalm 46, we see the world being torn apart by cataclysmic disasters-mountains collapsing into the sea, earthquakes, floods and military conquests. But the author of this psalm tells us that we shouldn't fear. How could we not be afraid when faced with such terrifying events?

The psalmist tells us that through all of the turbulence, God is with us. God is our refuge and strength when problems shake our world. He has such awesome power that the world actually melts at the sound of his voice. God is in control and will be exalted.

As Amanda lay in the hospital, fighting to live, Rick was fired from his job. He had to sell their house and their car. But when everything he thought was important was stripped away, Rick found God was there through it all. When he heard God's voice, it was as if his earthly troubles melted away. Rick believed God was in control and that Amanda would live.

And she did.

Today Amanda is permanently disabled. She requires full-time care. Life will never be the same for this couple. But their marriage has withstood the worst threats possible. They now trust God daily for healing, forgiveness and the restoration of their marriage. They endured past trials and found that God was their refuge. They will face future trials knowing he is their strength. Their marriage has never been stronger.

Whatever long, dark nights you face as a couple, let this passage remind you that God is ever-present, the morning will come, and the battle has already been won.
Jennifer Schuchmann

Let's Talk

  • This psalm inspired the hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." What spiritual fortresses can we build to protect our marriage in times of trials?
  • Recognizing that God is our refuge and our strength during trials means understanding his character before trials occur. What is God really like? How does knowing who he is provide us with strength and refuge?
  • When our world is shaken, how hard is it for us to believe that God is really in control?
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The kingly priesthood of the saints

“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:10

Suggested Further Reading: Mark 14:32-42

Jesus said, “I will take the cup of salvation;” and he did take it—the cup of our deliverance. Bitter were its drops; gall lay in its depths; there were groans, and sighs, and tears, within the red mixture; but he took it all, and drank it to its dregs, and swallowed all the awful draught. All was gone. He drank the cup of salvation, and he ate the bread of affliction. See him, as he drinks the cup in Gethsemane, when the fluid of that cup did mingle with his blood, and make each drop a scalding poison. Mark how the hot feet of pain did travel down his veins. See how each nerve is twisted and contorted with his agony. Behold his brow covered with sweat; witness the agonies as they follow each other into the very depths of his soul. Speak, you lost, and tell what hell’s torment means; but you cannot tell what the torments of Gethsemane were. Oh! the deep unutterable! There was a depth which couched beneath, when our Redeemer bowed his head, when he placed himself between the upper and nether millstones of his Father’s vengeance, and when his whole soul was ground to powder. Ah! that wrestling God-man—that suffering man of Gethsemane! Weep o’er, saints—weep o’er him; when you see him rising from that prayer in the garden, marching forth to his cross; when you picture him hanging on his cross four long hours in the scorching sun, overwhelmed by his Father’s passing wrath—when you see his side streaming with gore—when ye hear his death-shriek, “It is finished,”—and see his lips all parched, and moistened by nothing save the vinegar and the gall,—ah! then prostrate yourselves before that cross, bow down before that sufferer, and say, “Thou hast made us—thou hast made us what we are; we are nothing without thee.”

For meditation: Creating us could not have been easier for God—it took just a word. (Genesis 1:26,27 ). Making us right with himself could not have given him more trouble. The work of salvation was terribly hard for the Lord Jesus Christ, but he completed it. It would have been absolutely impossible for us.

Sermon no. 10
28 January (1855)

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365 Days with C.H. Spurgeon, Vol. 1: A unique collection of 365 daily readings from sermons preached by Charles Haddon Spurgeon from his New Park Street Pulpit! Edited by Terence Peter Crosby.



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Secret sins driven out by stinging hornets

‘Moreover the Lord thy God will send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed.’ Deuteronomy 7:20

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 19:7–14

John Bunyan in The Holy War very wisely describes the town of Mansoul after it had been taken by Prince Immanuel. The Prince rode to the Castle called the Heart and took possession of it, and the whole city became his; but there were certain Diabolonians, followers of Diabolus, who never quitted the town. They could not be seen in the streets, but lurked about in certain old dens and caves. Some of them got impudent enough even to hire themselves out for servants to the men of Mansoul under other names. There was Mr Covetousness, who was called Mr Prudent Thrifty, and there was Mr Lasciviousness, who was called Mr Harmless Mirth. They took other names, and still lived there, much to the annoyance of the town of Mansoul, skulking about in holes and corners, and only coming out on dark days, when they could do mischief and serve Diabolus. Now in all of us, however watchful we may be, though we may set Mr Pry Well to listen at the door, and he may watch; and my Lord Mayor, Mr Understanding, be very careful to search all these out, yet there will remain much hidden sin. I think we ought always to pray to God to forgive us sins that we do not know anything about. Perhaps the sins which you and I confess are not the tenth of what we really do commit. Our eyes are not sufficiently opened to know of the heinousness of our own sin. It is possible that God in mercy suffers us to be somewhat blind to the abominable accursedness of sin. He gives us enough of it to make us hate it, but not enough to drive us absolutely to despair. Our sin is exceedingly sinful.

For meditation: ‘Be sure your sin will find you out.’ (Numbers 32:23) Be also sure that you will never find out all your sins. Even if you could, you could never make yourself right before God. He alone knows the extent of the wickedness of your heart (Jeremiah 17:9 ); only God the Son could shed his blood and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7,9).

Sermon no. 673
28 January (1866)

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Stewards of Eternal Life

Today's reading: 1 John 2:24-25

It is important to address the theology tied to the phrase "eternal life" (1Jn 2:25; cf. 3:15; 5:11-13,20). In Scripture, eternal life has the connotation of future reward, to be sure, but it also has a present sense of the type of life that comes when we remain in Christ here and now. This Biblical concept should not be understood in exclusively physical or spiritual terms. Easton's Bible Dictionary gives us this definition of eternal life:

[The expression "eternal life"] occurs frequently in the New Testament. It comprises the whole future of the redeemed (Lk 16:9), and is opposed to "eternal punishment" (Mt 25:46). It is the final reward and glory into which the children of God enter (1Ti 6:12); their Sabbath of rest (Heb 4:9). The newness of life which the believer derives from Christ (Ro 6:4) is the very essence of salvation, and hence the life of glory or the eternal life must also be theirs (Ro 6:8). It is the "gift of God ... in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ro 6:23). The life the faithful have here on earth (Jn 3:36; 5:24) is inseparably connected with the eternal life beyond, the endless life of the future, the happy future of the saints in heaven (Mt 19:16,29).

Eternal life and Christian stewardship are intimately connected in the administration of the new life in Christ we currently participate in. Evangelical theologian R. Scott Rodin explores the idea that eternal life is not only a future reality but a present reality of a life lived in Christ.

We live in a kingdom that is both "now" and "not yet." This provisional nature provides us with the opportunity to live as children in God's kingdom and thereby to announce the grace of God to all of the world. If we hear the "not yet" nature of the kingdom in Hebrews 2:8, "Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them," we must also hear the very certain "now" reality of the kingdom in the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:18, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." It is this kingdom into which we are called to be stewards.

Rodin describes the life of a steward who lives in the awareness of the fullness of eternal life.

Imagine what life would be like if every day was seen as an incredible gift in a life that was guaranteed to last forever. Imagine what it would be like to be so certain about tomorrow that you could be free to invest every hour of today doing whatever was most pleasing to God. Imagine being so certain about who you were in the eyes of God that you could give yourself away in service to others with real joy. This is not only possible; it is our calling as stewards in the kingdom of the triune God who has freed us for just this kind of rich and abundant life.

Think About It

  • In what ways does eternal life have a component that is lived out in the present?
  • How does the perspective of eternity influence the way you live?
  • How do you steward eternal life?

Act on It

Spend some time imagining the scenarios described by Rodin. How does this exercise affect your perspectives on stewardship and eternity?

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