Monthly Archives: January 2020

January—31 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.—Ezek. 1:26.

It forms the most satisfying consideration to the breast of the faithful, that every event and every providence concerning the people of God is as much directed, arranged, and determined, as the purposes of redemption themselves. The covenant is “a covenant ordered in all things, and sure.” He who hath undertaken and completed salvation for them, hath no less secured the means that shall infallibly accomplish the end: and all things, how unpromising soever on the first view, shall work together for good to them that love God. When the Holy Ghost would graciously lead the Church into the proper apprehension of this great truth, the Prophet is directed to the contemplation of a vision by the river Chebar, which opened before him. There were living creatures moving in a straight direction upon wheels, wheel within wheel, attended with a noise and a voice; hereby intimating, as it should seem, that the government of every thing, in the kingdom of providence and grace, was regulated by an unerring standard; and that the prophet’s mind might farther understand the vision, he was led to see, above the whole, the likeness of a throne, and the appearance of the likeness of a man upon it. Nothing could be more gracious, by way of teaching the Church that the government of all things is in the hand of Jesus, and the most minute circumstances of his people subject to his control. Amidst numberless improvements to be made of this doctrine, there is one, my soul, which, in the exercises of thy warfare, thou wilt find perpetual occasion to apply: for what can be more blessed than to contemplate this government of thy Jesus, as continually exercised in his sin preventing providences, whereby the Lord keeps back his people from presumptuous transgressions? How often, how very often, might a child of God discover those sweet restraints of the Lord, when hedging up his way with thorns, that he may not find his paths? How often hath some outward affliction, or inward sorrow, sickness in ourselves, or death in our houses, acted in a way of prevention to this end? There is a great variety of ways, by which indwelling corruptions would manifest themselves, and break forth in their several disorders, but for restraining grace. What a beautiful instance was that of David, in the case of Nabal, and what a gracious sentiment to this amount the Psalmist expressed upon it! When Abigail came, in the seasonable moment to check his anger, David discerned the Divine hand in the appointment, and brake out into a devout acknowledgment: “Blessed be the Lord, and blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, that hath kept me this day from shedding blood.”—(1 Sam. 25:32.) And who shall say, amidst the ten thousand occurrences of life, what multitudes of instances to the same purport are going on, to restrain the children of God from the commission of evil. Oh! how blessed it is to see Jesus as well in providence as grace, and, like the Prophet, to keep an eye to that throne, and to see one like the Son of man sitting upon it, regulating and ordering all things for his own glory, and the salvation of his people. Precious Jesus! keep me in the hour, and from the power of temptation. Do thou order my steps by thy word, so shall no iniquity have dominion over me.[1]


[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, pp. 36–37). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

12 Simple Strategies to Pray More —

I know very few people who don’t struggle with prayer. Sometimes we try to fix this problem by seeking to become a prayer warrior overnight. A better approach is to build your prayer life one step at a time. Here are some simple strategies for increasing your prayer:

  1. Establish prayer “triggers.” Associate prayer with daily activities, and then develop prayer patterns. For example, you might pray before you turn the ignition on your car or as you cook a meal, clean a room, or walk on the treadmill.
  2. Use the church bulletin or calendar as a prayer guide. Find the list of scheduled church events for the week, and pray each morning for each day’s activities.
  3. Develop a “Family Focus” prayer strategy. Each week, focus on a different family in the church. Find out what prayer needs they have, and pray for them.
  4. Follow the ACTS paradigm. Build a prayer list based on Adoration (praising God for who He is), Confession (admitting sin), Thanksgiving (expressing gratitude) and Supplication (praying for others). The intentionality of this strategy will help you stay focused during prayer.
  5. Use a “Focused ACTS” strategy for one week. On Monday, adore God throughout the day. On Tuesday, ask God to bring to light all of your sin so you might confess it. Wednesday is for thanksgiving, and Thursday is for supplication/praying for others.
  6. Do “drive by” praying. Watch for church buildings, and pray for the pastors of those congregations. Intercede for children and teachers as you drive past a school. If you pass a “For Sale” sign in your neighborhood, pray for that family.
  7. Set some “prayer power points.” A “prayer power point” is a set time each day when you stop to pray. I find it best to set the alarm on my watch, and that reminder calls me away from my desk to pray.
  8. Pray the “Model Prayer” of Matthew 6:9-13 daily. I don’t want this strategy to become routine and repetitious, but Jesus taught us to pray this prayer. Start each day this way. Pause long enough to meditate on each phrase.
  9. Pray as you read or listen to the news. Intercede for countries in war. Pray for families affected by crime or natural disasters. Ask God to guide government leaders. Pray for missionaries in each country in the news.
  10. Send an email prayer to someone each day. Take ten minutes, pray for someone else, and send a written prayer to that person. Just a few sentences of prayer will encourage somebody unexpectedly.
  11. Pray proactively about temptation before you ever get out of bed in the morning. That’s the way Jesus taught us to pray—ask God to keep us from temptation and the evil one before we’ve ever faced the temptation (Matt 6:13). Don’t wait until the battle heats up to begin praying.
  12. Pray at least briefly with your spouse each day (or with someone else if you’re single). Even a quick one-minute daily prayer together can strengthen a relationship.

Remember, you won’t become a prayer warrior overnight . . . but start somewhere. Becoming a furnace of prayer begins with just a spark.

via 12 Simple Strategies to Pray More —

January 31 Streams in the Desert

He giveth quietness.” (Job 34:29.)

QUIETNESS amid the dash of the storm. We sail the lake with Him still; and as we reach its middle waters, far from land, under midnight skies, suddenly a great storm sweeps down. Earth and hell seem arrayed against us, and each billow threatens to overwhelm. Then He arises from His sleep, and rebukes the winds and the waves; His hand waves benediction and repose over the rage of the tempestuous elements. His voice is heard above the scream of the wind in the cordage and the conflict of the billows, “Peace, be still!” Can you not hear it? And there is instantly a great calm. “He giveth quietness.” Quietness amid the loss of inward consolations. He sometimes withdraws these, because we make too much of them. We are tempted to look at our joy, our ecstasies, our transports, or our visions, with too great complacency. Then love for love’s sake, withdraws them. But, by His grace, He leads us to distinguish between them and Himself. He draws nigh, and whispers the assurance of His presence. Thus an infinite calm comes to keep our heart and mind. “He giveth quietness.”

“He giveth quietness.” O Elder Brother,

Whose homeless feet have pressed our path of pain,

Whose hands have borne the burden of our sorrow,

That in our losses we might find our gain.

“Of all Thy gifts and infinite consolings,

I ask but this: in every troubled hour

To hear Thy voice through all the tumults stealing,

And rest serene beneath its tranquil power.

“Cares cannot fret me if my soul be dwelling

In the still air of faith’s untroubled day;

Grief cannot shake me if I walk beside thee,

My hand in Thine along the darkening way.

“Content to know there comes a radiant morning

When from all shadows I shall find release;

Serene to wait the rapture of its dawning—

Who can make trouble when Thou sendest peace?”[1]


[1] Cowman, L. B. (1925). Streams in the Desert (pp. 34–35). Los Angeles, CA: The Oriental Missionary Society.

Is the Church Doing Enough to Teach Apologetics? (Video) — Cold Case Christianity

Cold case detective, J. Warner Wallace, answers questions following a presentation at Ohio State University. Given the fact that our young people face so many objections to Christianity today, are churches doing enough to prepare their members to respond to these objections? How can we increase the teaching of apologetics in our churches? Be sure to check out Eric Chabot’s ministry on the campus of Ohio State.

To see more training videos with J. Warner Wallace, visit the YouTube playlist.

via Is the Church Doing Enough to Teach Apologetics? (Video) — Cold Case Christianity

The Plan of Salvation (Hodge) — The Reformed Reader

I always appreciate Charles Hodge’s clear explanation of Christian doctrine and teaching.  I was recently reading volume two of his Systematic Theology – specifically his discussion of God’s sovereign plan of salvation.  After talking about other views, Hodge mentions the Augustinian view.  This is, of course, the view Hodge takes.  After he mentions this view he spends some time explaining it based on the sovereignty of God and the various Scriptures that talk about God’s great plan of salvation.  Here’s Hodge:

The Augustinian scheme includes the following points:
(1.) That the glory of God, or the manifestation of his perfections, is the highest and ultimate end of all things.
(2.) For that end God purposed the creation of the universe, and the whole plan of providence and redemption.
(3.) That He placed man in a state of probation, making Adam, their first parent, their head and representative.
(4.) That the fall of Adam brought all his posterity into a state of condemnation, sin, and misery, from which they are utterly unable to deliver themselves.
(5.) From the mass of fallen men God elected a number innumerable to eternal life, and left the rest of mankind to the just recompense of their sins.
(6.) That the ground of this election is not the foresight of anything in the one class to distinguish them favourably from the members of the other class, but the good pleasure of God.
(7.) That for the salvation of those thus chosen to eternal life, God gave his own Son, to become man, and to obey and suffer for his people, thus making a full satisfaction for sin and bringing in everlasting righteousness, rendering the ultimate salvation of the elect absolutely certain.
(8.) That while the Holy Spirit, in his common operations, is present with every man, so long as he lives, restraining evil and exciting good, his certainly efficacious and saving power is exercised only in behalf of the elect.
(9.) That all those whom God has thus chosen to life, and for whom Christ specially gave Himself in the covenant of redemption, shall certainly… be brought to the knowledge of the truth, to the exercise of faith, and to perseverance in holy living unto the end.

Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 2, p. 333.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54002

via The Plan of Salvation (Hodge) — The Reformed Reader