Daily Archives: January 4, 2020

January—4 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

And David said, Seemeth it to you a light thing to be a king’s son-in-law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed?—1 Sam. 18:23.

Did David indeed set by so high an honour in being allied to the family of an earthly prince; what then must be the dignity to which believers are called, in being heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ? The apostle was so lost in the contemplation of this unspeakable mercy, that he cried out with holy rapture, Behold! what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! My soul, art thou begotten to this immense privilege? Ponder well thy vast inheritance. Not a barren title; not an empty name; this relationship brings with it a rich revenue of all temporal, spiritual, and eternal blessings. Sons-in-law and in grace to God in Christ, believers are born to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away. They have the spirit of adoption, and of grace: and because they are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into their hearts, whereby they cry, Abba, Father. Are they poor in outward circumstances? bread shall be given, and water shall be sure; and their defence shall be the munitions of rocks. Are they afflicted in body or in mind? their back shall be proportioned to their burden; and as their day is, so shall their strength be. Every child shall have his own portion, and the Father’s blessing sanctifying all. Yea, death itself is in the inventory of the inheritance of a child of God: for so far is death from separating from God, that it brings to God. What sayest thou, O my soul! to these things? Art thou, like David, a poor man, and lightly esteemed? Look up and enjoy thy relationship in Jesus, and from this time do thou cry out, in the words of the Prophet, and say unto God, “My Father! thou art the guide of my youth.”[1]

 

[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, p. 6). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

Forgetting what is behind? — Gentle Reformation

I thought it might be appropriate, as we move on into 2020, to consider, briefly, Paul’s zeal for “pressing on” with the Lord.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus – Philippians 3:7-14 ESV

Like many biblical statements, it should not be absolutized, particularly when it comes to forgetting what is behind.

The apostle almost certainly takes this metaphor from the arena – the length of the course in Athens was 607 feet from starting blocks to finishing post.

In order to get the prize, runners must not get distracted – looking back not only spelt danger but also made athletes decelerate: dithering delay would result in defeat.

To reach the racer-goal, and receive the 1st-prize call, needed total mental focus, eyes fixed on the finish, motivated by smell of success, to make sinew-strain worthwhile.

When we translate this metaphor into the spiritual arena, it is helpful to think of the following when applying it to ourselves:

It is good to look back in the following circumstances:

  1. To commemorate what God has done – in redemption, in history, in revivals, through heros, for churches and in believers.
  2. To reflect on God’s work of grace in our own lives – predestined, called, justified, progress to date in sanctifying grace, and all that precedes the glory that awaits.
  3. To repent or deepen repentance of unconfessed or superficially confessed sins.
  4. To repair relationships which should have been put right long ago – it is tragic when a brother or sister dies to whom we main unreconciled.
  5. To lead us from contrition, to the promises of the Gospel, for grace and glory which is located in Christ, in the pursuit of holiness.

Why is it good to look back to such things?

A. It speeds (and actually is part of) sanctification and the progress Paul pursues in seeking full conformity to Christ – ingratitude and impenitence will actually slow our walk and hinder us in this race.

B. It cheers us up and spurs us on when we think of what God has done already, and knowing He is faithful, and will surely go again – He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

C. It glorifies God and is commanded in Scripture – as A and B it will all work for good.

It is bad to look back in the following circumstances:

  1. When it fills us with improper grief, bitter resentment or gloom discouragement – there are some things that need decisively ‘put to bed’ if we are to run well.
  2. When we turn in on ourselves in unhealthy introspection about former sins we cannot undo or problems which we cannot resolve and were not the basic cause.
  3. When we are filled with vain regrets about decisions we made which were foolish or injudicious and which leave us pain, hesitant or confused – Christ shed His blood and offer Himself to us to remove these shackles from our feet and nooses from our necks (instead we must trust God, as we look forward optimistically, to seeing how our numerous, tragic, mistakes will be sovereignly overruled, in love, for good).
  4. When we start to boast before the Lord in our pedigree, heritage, religion, rituals, service, efforts as works of righteousness by which we justify ourselves.
  5. When we start to boast before God in any of the above and thereby turn our gaze onto self (and away from Christ who is freely offered to us in the means of grace).

How and when should we look back?

So look back to the God who had done great things for us, and look back to you sin in order to move forward; but don’t look back to amass credit for yourself – instead look forward to Christ, who is both goal and call – the Risen, Exalted, Savior has grace in the present, more grace for the future, and glory in the end, when the upward call is complete, when you see His smiling face.

Remember, always, to look up to Christ!

And if you are plagued by the tendency to look back in wrong ways, or be always glancing over your shoulder at sin, smarten up the pace, look up to Christ – His gaze was always right! He fixed both eyes on the Cross! To win and grant superabundant grace to keep eyes fixed on Him.

via Forgetting what is behind? — Gentle Reformation

January 4 Streams in the Desert

Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.” (John 4:50.)

When ye pray, believe.” (Mark 11:24.)

WHEN there is a matter that requires definite prayer, pray till you believe God, until with unfeigned lips you can thank Him for the answer. If the answer still tarries outwardly, do not pray for it in such a way that it is evident that you are not definitely believing for it. Such a prayer in place of being a help will be a hindrance; and when you are finished praying, you will find that your faith has weakened or has entirely gone. The urgency that you felt to offer this kind of prayer is clearly from self and Satan. It may not be wrong to mention the matter in question to the Lord again, if He is keeping you waiting, but be sure you do so in such a way that it implies faith. Do not pray yourself out of faith. You may tell Him that you are waiting and that you are still believing Him and therefore praise Him for the answer. There is nothing that so fully clinches faith as to be so sure of the answer that you can thank God for it. Prayers that pray us out of faith deny both God’s promise in His Word and also His whisper “Yes,” that He gave us in our hearts. Such prayers are but the expression of the unrest of one’s heart, and unrest implies unbelief in reference to the answer to prayer. “For we which have believed do enter into rest” (Heb. 4:3). This prayer that prays ourselves out of faith frequently arises from centering our thoughts on the difficulty rather than on God’s promise. Abraham “considered not his own body,” “he staggered not at the promise of God” (Rom. 4:19, Rom. 4:20). May we watch and pray that we enter not into temptation of praying ourselves out of faith.—C. H. P.

Faith is not a sense, nor sight, nor reason, but a taking God at His Word.—Evans.

The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.—George Mueller.

You will never learn faith in comfortable surroundings. God gives us the promises in a quiet hour; God seals our covenants with great and gracious words, then He steps back and waits to see how much we believe; then He lets the tempter come, and the test seems to contradict all that He has spoken. It is then that faith wins its crown. That is the time to look up through the storm, and among the trembling, frightened seamen cry, “I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me.”

“Believe and trust; through stars and suns,

Through life and death, through soul and sense,

His wise, paternal purpose runs;

The darkness of His Providence

Is starlit with Divine intents.”[1]

 

[1] Cowman, L. B. (1925). Streams in the Desert (pp. 4–5). Los Angeles, CA: The Oriental Missionary Society.

January 4 – Proverbs on food — Reformed Perspective

“Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit.” – Proverbs 25:16 

Scripture reading: Proverbs 23:19-21

The average North American eats more than 150 pounds of sugar per year. No wonder North America is the fattest continent in the world. But the misuse of food is not new. It occurred many, many times in the Bible.

Now, Solomon enjoyed food, even exotic, tasty food. Food is God’s gift. But because of abuse of food, which hinders our sanctification, Solomon was compelled to address the issue of food abuse, or rather, body abuse. What did he teach?

Enjoy your food, but don’t be a glutton. Being a glutton is acting as if God couldn’t provide for you tomorrow and you must eat all today. It is also an abuse of the body. Many diseases are caused by overeating. Enjoy your food, but learn to share with those who do not have, especially with those who are from the same blood, the blood of Jesus. Remember, the reason you have more food is not because you are better than Christians in Africa, but because God is pleased to bless you. A suggestion might be to miss one meal a week and give that money to the needy. (That might be good for your health as well!) Enjoy your food, but don’t waste it. Save up for hard times. Learn from Solomon’s ants (Proverbs 30:25). It seems that ants even store up more food when they sense a famine coming.

Not being a glutton and not hoarding is evidence that you are growing in Jesus.

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that God will teach you to live a balanced life and that you will share of your abundance and be satisfied with God’s gifts.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed.

via January 4 – Proverbs on food — Reformed Perspective