Monday, June 18, 2012

Daily Devotional Monday 18th June

“Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the LORD. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:4-5 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Thy Redeemer."
Isaiah 54:5
Jesus, the Redeemer, is altogether ours and ours forever. All the offices of Christ are held on our behalf. He is king for us, priest for us, and prophet for us. Whenever we read a new title of the Redeemer, let us appropriate him as ours under that name as much as under any other. The shepherd's staff, the father's rod, the captain's sword, the priest's mitre, the prince's sceptre, the prophet's mantle, all are ours. Jesus hath no dignity which he will not employ for our exaltation, and no prerogative which he will not exercise for our defence. His fulness of Godhead is our unfailing, inexhaustible treasure-house.
His manhood also, which he took upon him for us, is ours in all its perfection. To us our gracious Lord communicates the spotless virtue of a stainless character; to us he gives the meritorious efficacy of a devoted life; on us he bestows the reward procured by obedient submission and incessant service. He makes the unsullied garment of his life our covering beauty; the glittering virtues of his character our ornaments and jewels; and the superhuman meekness of his death our boast and glory. He bequeaths us his manger, from which to learn how God came down to man; and his Cross to teach us how man may go up to God. All his thoughts, emotions, actions, utterances, miracles, and intercessions, were for us. He trod the road of sorrow on our behalf, and hath made over to us as his heavenly legacy the full results of all the labours of his life. He is now as much ours as heretofore; and he blushes not to acknowledge himself "our Lord Jesus Christ," though he is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Christ everywhere and every way is our Christ, forever and ever most richly to enjoy. O my soul, by the power of the Holy Spirit! call him this morning, "thy Redeemer."

Evening

"I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse."
Song of Solomon 5:1
The heart of the believer is Christ's garden. He bought it with his precious blood, and he enters it and claims it as his own. A garden implies separation. It is not the open common; it is not a wilderness; it is walled around, or hedged in. Would that we could see the wall of separation between the church and the world made broader and stronger. It makes one sad to hear Christians saying, "Well, there is no harm in this; there is no harm in that," thus getting as near to the world as possible. Grace is at a low ebb in that soul which can even raise the question of how far it may go in worldly conformity. A garden is a place of beauty, it far surpasses the wild uncultivated lands. The genuine Christian must seek to be more excellent in his life than the best moralist, because Christ's garden ought to produce the best flowers in all the world. Even the best is poor compared with Christ's deservings; let us not put him off with withering and dwarf plants. The rarest, richest, choicest lilies and roses ought to bloom in the place which Jesus calls his own. The garden is a place of growth. The saints are not to remain undeveloped, always mere buds and blossoms. We should grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Growth should be rapid where Jesus is the Husbandman, and the Holy Spirit the dew from above. A garden is a place of retirement. So the Lord Jesus Christ would have us reserve our souls as a place in which he can manifest himself, as he doth not unto the world. O that Christians were more retired, that they kept their hearts more closely shut up for Christ! We often worry and trouble ourselves, like Martha, with much serving, so that we have not the room for Christ that Mary had, and do not sit at his feet as we should. The Lord grant the sweet showers of his grace to water his garden this day.

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Today's reading: Nehemiah 7-9, Acts 3 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
   After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers, the musicians and the Levites were appointed. 2 I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do. 3 I said to them, “The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot. While the gatekeepers are still on duty, have them shut the doors and bar them. Also appoint residents of Jerusalem as guards, some at their posts and some near their own houses.”
The List of the Exiles Who Returned
    4 Now the city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet been rebuilt. 5 So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. I found the genealogical record of those who had been the first to return. This is what I found written there:
   6 These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town, 7 in company with Zerubbabel, Joshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum and Baanah):
   The list of the men of Israel:
    8 the descendants of Parosh 2,172
    9 of Shephatiah 372
    10 of Arah 652
    11 of Pahath-Moab (through the line of Jeshua and Joab) 2,818
    12 of Elam 1,254
    13 of Zattu 845
    14 of Zakkai 760
    15 of Binnui 648
    16 of Bebai 628
    17 of Azgad 2,322
    18 of Adonikam 667
    19 of Bigvai 2,067
    20 of Adin 655
    21 of Ater (through Hezekiah) 98
    22 of Hashum 328
    23 of Bezai 324
    24 of Hariph 112
    25 of Gibeon 95
    26 the men of Bethlehem and Netophah 188
    27 of Anathoth 128
    28 of Beth Azmaveth 42
    29 of Kiriath Jearim, Kephirah and Beeroth 743
    30 of Ramah and Geba 621
    31 of Mikmash 122
    32 of Bethel and Ai 123
    33 of the other Nebo 52
    34 of the other Elam 1,254
    35 of Harim 320
    36 of Jericho 345
    37 of Lod, Hadid and Ono 721
    38 of Senaah 3,930
   39 The priests:
    the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family of Jeshua) 973
    40 of Immer 1,052
    41 of Pashhur 1,247
    42 of Harim 1,017
   43 The Levites:
    the descendants of Jeshua (through Kadmiel through the line of Hodaviah) 74
   44 The musicians:
    the descendants of Asaph 148
   45 The gatekeepers:
    the descendants of
    Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita and Shobai 138
   46 The temple servants:
    the descendants of
    Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,
    47 Keros, Sia, Padon,
    48 Lebana, Hagaba, Shalmai,
    49 Hanan, Giddel, Gahar,
    50 Reaiah, Rezin, Nekoda,
    51 Gazzam, Uzza, Paseah,
    52 Besai, Meunim, Nephusim,
    53 Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur,
    54 Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha,
    55 Barkos, Sisera, Temah,
    56 Neziah and Hatipha
   57 The descendants of the servants of Solomon:
    the descendants of
    Sotai, Sophereth, Perida,
    58 Jaala, Darkon, Giddel,
    59 Shephatiah, Hattil,
    Pokereth-Hazzebaim and Amon
    60 The temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon 392
   61 The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel:
    62 the descendants of
    Delaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda 642
   63 And from among the priests:
    the descendants of
    Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name).
   64 These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 65 The governor, therefore, ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there should be a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim.
   66 The whole company numbered 42,360, 67 besides their 7,337 male and female slaves; and they also had 245 male and female singers. 68 There were 736 horses, 245 mules, 69 435 camels and 6,720 donkeys.
   70 Some of the heads of the families contributed to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 darics of gold, 50 bowls and 530 garments for priests. 71 Some of the heads of the families gave to the treasury for the work 20,000 darics of gold and 2,200 minas of silver. 72 The total given by the rest of the people was 20,000 darics of gold, 2,000 minas of silver and 67 garments for priests.
   73 The priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the musicians and the temple servants, along with certain of the people and the rest of the Israelites, settled in their own towns.
Ezra Reads the Law
    When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns,

Nehemiah 8

1 all the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel.
   2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
   4 Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.
   5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
   7 The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.
   9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
   10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
   11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.”
   12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
   13 On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the teacher to give attention to the words of the Law. 14 They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month 15and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make temporary shelters”—as it is written.
   16 So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves temporary shelters on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim. 17 The whole company that had returned from exile built temporary shelters and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great.
   18 Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly.

Nehemiah 9

The Israelites Confess Their Sins
    1 On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads. 2 Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors. 3 They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God. 4Standing on the stairs of the Levites were Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani and Kenani. They cried out with loud voices to the LORD their God. 5 And the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah—said: “Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.”
   “Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. 6 You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
   7 “You are the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham. 8 You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. You have kept your promise because you are righteous.
   9 “You saw the suffering of our ancestors in Egypt; you heard their cry at the Red Sea. 10 You sent signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his officials and all the people of his land, for you knew how arrogantly the Egyptians treated them. You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day. 11 You divided the sea before them, so that they passed through it on dry ground, but you hurled their pursuers into the depths, like a stone into mighty waters. 12 By day you led them with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take.
   13 “You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good. 14 You made known to them your holy Sabbath and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses. 15 In their hunger you gave them bread from heaven and in their thirst you brought them water from the rock; you told them to go in and take possession of the land you had sworn with uplifted hand to give them.
   16 “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, 18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies.
   19 “Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. 20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. 21 For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.
   22 “You gave them kingdoms and nations, allotting to them even the remotest frontiers. They took over the country of Sihon king of Heshbon and the country of Og king of Bashan.23 You made their children as numerous as the stars in the sky, and you brought them into the land that you told their parents to enter and possess. 24 Their children went in and took possession of the land. You subdued before them the Canaanites, who lived in the land; you gave the Canaanites into their hands, along with their kings and the peoples of the land, to deal with them as they pleased. 25 They captured fortified cities and fertile land; they took possession of houses filled with all kinds of good things, wells already dug, vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees in abundance. They ate to the full and were well-nourished; they reveled in your great goodness.
   26 “But they were disobedient and rebelled against you; they turned their backs on your law. They killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you; they committed awful blasphemies. 27 So you delivered them into the hands of their enemies, who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.
   28 “But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time.
   29 “You warned them in order to turn them back to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, of which you said, ‘The person who obeys them will live by them.’ Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. 30 For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you warned them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you gave them into the hands of the neighboring peoples. 31 But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.
   32 “Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come on us, on our kings and leaders, on our priests and prophets, on our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today. 33 In all that has happened to us, you have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly. 34 Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our ancestors did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the statutes you warned them to keep. 35 Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways.
   36 “But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. 37 Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.
The Agreement of the People
    38 “In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it.”

Acts 3

Peter Heals a Lame Beggar
    1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
   6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Peter Speaks to the Onlookers
    11 While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.
   17 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’
   24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

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‘The love of Jesus, what it is—none but his loved ones know.’

‘And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.’Ephesians 3:19
Suggested Further Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:16–3:5
An increase of love, a more perfect apprehension of Christ’s love is one of the best and most infallible gauges whereby we may test ourselves whether we have grown in grace or not. If we have grown in grace, it is absolutely certain that we shall have advanced in our knowledge and reciprocation of the love of Christ. Many here present have believed in Jesus, and they do know the love of Jesus. But they know it not as some others here do, who have gone into the inner chamber, and have been made to drink of the spiced wine of Christ’s pomegranate. Some of you have begun to climb the mountain, and the view which lies at your feet is lovely and passing fair, but the landscape is not such as would greet your eyes if you could but stand where advanced saints are standing now, and could look to the east and to the west, to the north and to the south, and see all the lengths and breadths, and depths and heights, of ‘the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.’ To change the figure: the love of Christ is comparable with Jacob’s ladder; some of us are standing on the lower rungs, and there are others who are ascending and who rest half way; others still are getting up so high that we can scarce see them by reason of the dimness of our sight; and there are some, perhaps, at this hour, who have just reached the topmost rung of this knowledge, and are now stepping as it were into the arms of Christ who awaits them at the top; they have attained unto their perfection. Here they shall find repose. They shall rest in his love, and with the eternal songs of heaven they shall rejoice for ever and for ever.
For meditation: A realisation of Christ’s love towards us should affect us inwardly (Romans 5:52 Corinthians 5:14) and outwardly (John 13:3415:12Ephesians 5:21 John 4:11). Is this increasingly the case with you?
Sermon no. 455
18 June (1862)

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Vile ingratitude

“Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations.” Ezekiel 16:12
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
God gives to his people riches, and they offer them before the shrine of their covetousness. He gives them talent, and they prostitute it to the service of their ambition. He gives them judgement, and they pander to their own advancement, and seek not the interest of his kingdom. He gives them influence; that influence they use for their own aggrandisement, and not for his honour. This is like taking his gold, and his jewels, and hanging them upon the neck of the god Ashtaroth. Ah! Let us take care when we think of our sins, that we set them in this light. It is taking God’s mercies to lavish them upon his enemies. Now, if you were to make me a present of some token of your regard, I think it would be the meanest and most ungracious thing in the world I could do to take it over to your enemy, and say, “There, I come to pay my respects.” To pay my respects to your foe with that which had been the token of your favour! There are two kings at enmity with one another—two powers that have been at battle, and one of them has a rebellious subject, who is caught in the very act of treason, and condemned to die. The king very graciously pardons him, and then munificently endows him. “There,” says he, “I give you a thousand crown-pieces;” and that man takes the bounty, and devotes it to increasing the resources of the king’s enemies. Now, that were a treason and baseness too vile to be committed by worldly men. Alas then! That is what you have done. You have bestowed on God’s enemies what God gave to you as a love-token. Oh, men and brethren, let us bow ourselves in dust and ashes before God.
For meditation: Is a readiness to use God’s gifts selfishly the reason why he appears to say “No” to so many of your prayer-requests (James 4:3-4)?
Sermon no. 323
18 June (Preached 27 May 1860)

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FATHERHOOD

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12
The Apostle Paul is very specific here in defining a fatherly role and gives three special characteristics of a Christian father. We fathers tend to apply them in reverse order but Paul states them as:
A. Encouraging
Like children, we are often tempted to give up. When that happens, the real need is for someone to come along side who can identify with and encourage them to keep going. A Christian father is one who is always there to give an encouraging word when needed. And the need is often!
B. Comforting
This reference is to the kind of comfort that helps a child or another person carry a burden of grief or pain. Just by coming alongside in this concerned way, the burden is made lighter and the pain is lessened. We were not created to be alone, especially in grief. The Christian father and disciple maker is also always there for times of comfort giving.
C. Exhorting
This is the direction and assertiveness characteristic that should be evident in the father/disciple maker relationship. There are times when the father moves from the side to stand squarely in front and confront them with something that they need to face. The dangers in not exercising this responsibility are very great and should compel us to be diligent toward both our children and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
J.J. Andrews is an elderly Lutheran pastor friend in Rangoon, Burma—now Myanmar—with a great father’s heart for ministry. Several years ago his daughter died of viral hepatitis. Two months later his wife passed away from a broken heart. Six months after that one of his sons suddenly died. He was crushed. He said, "I felt like Job, only no one visited me."
A young Filipino staff member of Open Doors heard about this situation. He made a special trip just to visit Brother J.J. and encourage him. J.J. said, “Thank you for coming in my darkest hour.”
Some months later, I was visiting Brother J.J. in Rangoon. He had his young grand-children laughing and playing around his home. He smiled as he shared unforgettable lessons with me. The words I remember verbatim were, “God rewarded me for my perseverance and healed my broken heart!” The ministry of encouragement is straight from the heart of Father God.
RESPONSE: Today I will commit to being an encourager, comforter and exhorter.
PRAYER: Thank You Lord for Christian fathers who have modelled Your heart with their children.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

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Day 17

Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace.
Cheap grace means grace as bargain-basement goods, cut-rate forgive­ness, cut-rate comfort, cut-rate sacraments; grace as the church's inexhaustible pantry, from which it is doled out by careless hands without hesitation or limit. It is grace without a price, without cost...
Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, as principle, as system. It means forgiveness of sins as a general truth; it means God's love as merely a Christian idea of God. Those who affirm it have already had their sins forgiven. The church that teaches this doctrine of grace thereby conveys such grace upon itself. The world finds in this church a cheap cover-up for its sins, for which it shows no remorse and from which it has even less desire to be free. Cheap grace is, thus, denial of God's living Word, denial of the incarnation of the word of God.
Cheap grace means justification of sin but not of the sinner. Because grace alone does everything, everything can stay in its old ways. "Our action is in vain." The world remains world and we remain sinners "even in the best of lives." Thus, the Christian should live the same way the world does. In all things the Christian should go along with the world and not venture...to live a different life under grace from that under sin...
Cheap grace is that which we bestow on ourselves.
Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without repentance; it is baptism without the discipline of community; it is the Lord's Supper without confession of sin; it is absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ.

Biblical Wisdom

What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:15-18

Questions to Ponder

  • Why is it that the church so often proclaims and dispenses "cheap grace"?
  • What happens to the "saltiness" of disciples in a church that "conveys such [cheap] grace upon itself"?
  • What does it mean to say that cheap grace is "grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ"?

Psalm Fragment

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
   and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
   and sustain in me a willing spirit. Psalm 51:10-12

Journal Reflections

  • In your journal make a list of all the characteristics of cheap grace that Bonhoeffer identifies.
  • Do you find any of these characteristics in your own life or in the life of your community of faith? If so, reflect on them in your journal.

Intercessions

Think of the proclamation and practice of your community of faith and pray that they would be free of cheap grace.

Prayer for Today

Lord, you love me with an everlasting love. Deliver me from cheap grace that I may respond to your love with my whole life.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
Missed the first couple devotionals in this series, or want to re-read an earlier devotional? You can find a complete online archive of Bonhoeffer devotionals at BibleGateway.com. The first devotional can be found here.


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