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Tag: Devotional

The Beautiful Body

“And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.” Acts 28:15 Image found here: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/06/El_Greco_Apostles.JPG/358px-El_Greco_Apostles.JPG People sometimes imagine that Paul was a spiritual superman: an intrepid missionary, theological genius, and multi-gifted polymath, […]

Patience Produced By Love

“So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her.” Genesis 29:20 Despite his scheming spirit, Jacob was a first class lover. Even after he was duped into marrying weak-eyed Leah by his new father-in-law, Laban, he still sought to wed […]

The Necessity Of Thankfulness

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“Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:21
“It is good to give thanks to the LORD, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High.” Psalm 92:1
Given that He is their Creator and Sustainer, human beings ought to naturally overflow with thanksgiving towards God. Sadly, man’s everyday existence does not conform to this most basic principle. In fact, unthankfulness is at the root of man’s problems. Romans 1 lists a catalogue of odious sins; heading the list is the failure to “glorify” God as God – i.e. giving the Almighty His rightful honor as sovereign Lord over the universe. Secondly, the verse says they were not thankful towards Him (Rom. 1:21.) Therefore, it is apparent that ingratitude is a most grievous iniquity, for it is listed before various types of perversion, violence, and other ills that most in society would recognize as bad.
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The Unparalleled Cross

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“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8
People sometimes read the account of Jesus’ crucifixion as if it is an ancient event that does not pertain to them. Yet the Scriptures make it plain that everyone – Jews and Gentiles – must reckon with the crucified Christ and what His death on the cross means for them personally. One may not remain neutral in Calvary’s shadow. The Lord Jesus’ death on the cross sets Christianity apart from all other belief systems, and reveals the truth about everyone: ancient or modern; rich or poor; educated or illiterate – as well as every other human demographic.
A Unique Event In The Annals Of Human History
No humanly devised philosophy or religion could invent the Lord Jesus’ unparalleled sacrifice on the cross. Numerous belief systems have martyrs like Socrates or Joseph Smith; others have noted prophets and teachers like Gautama Buddha or Muhammed. Yet only biblical Christianity has the propitiatory offering of Christ, taking place on a despised gibbet of shame. As the classic commentator J.C. Ryle notes:
The cross is the grand peculiarity of the Christian religion. Other religions have laws and moral precepts, forms and ceremonies, rewards and punishments. But other religions cannot tell us of a dying Saviour. They cannot show us the cross. This is the crown and glory of the Gospel. This is that special comfort which belongs to it alone. Miserable indeed is that religious teaching which calls itself Christian, and yet contains nothing of the cross. A man who teaches in this way, might as well profess to explain the solar system, and yet tell his hearers nothing about the sun.

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The High Cost Of Liberty

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“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Luke 4:18-19

The author of the American Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson once penned the following regarding armed revolution:
We have had 13 states independent 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s [sic] liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s [sic] natural manure.
Despite this incendiary rhetoric and all of his contributions to the founding of the United States of America, Jefferson never shed a drop of his own blood to create or defend liberty.
You Say You Want A Revolution?
The recent unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Iran, and other despotically ruled nations once more shows the innate human desire for freedom from tyranny. It remains to be seen whether these protests will produce political situations where freedom may flourish. Yet on a higher level the Lord Jesus Christ “preached freedom for the prisoners…to release the oppressed” through the shedding of His own blood (Luke 4:18; Eph. 1:7.) He was willing to suffer the heinous torture of crucifixion in order to free repentant sinners. Rather than sending others to die for spiritual liberty, Christ Himself gave His life on the cross. By pouring out His blood He paid the redemption price to liberate people from the tyranny of sin, Satan, the grave, and hell. His resurrection shows that the rescue has been accomplished. Only the Lord Jesus can grant true eternal freedom to lost sinners.
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The School Of Adversity

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“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12
Paul was probably the most effective Christian missionary in history. His dynamic evangelistic and Bible teaching ministry resulted in many conversions and the subsequent formation of several Asian and European churches. Far from robbing the apostle of his effectiveness his imprisonment actually led to the advancement of the gospel. First, Paul diligently witnessed to his captors who were taken from the ranks of the elite palace guard (Phil. 1:13; in this verse “palace” is literally Praetorium, i.e. the place of the powerful royal bodyguards.) Second, the curtailment of his public preaching ministry, coupled with his resolute courage in the face of danger, motivated other Christians to begin proclaiming the good news of Christ in place of the incarcerated apostle.
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Another gem from the past: "The True Grace of God Wherein We Stand" by J.N.D.

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God is made known to us as the “God of all Grace,” and the position in which we are set is that of “tasting that He is gracious.” How hard it is for us to believe this, that the Lord is gracious. The natural feeling of our hearts is, “I know that thou art an austere man”; there is the want in all of us naturally of the understanding of the Grace of God.
There is sometimes the thought that grace implies God’s passing over sin, but no, grace supposes sin to be so horribly bad a thing that God cannot tolerate it: were it in the power of man, after being unrighteous and evil, to patch up his ways, and mend himself so as to stand before God, there would be no need of grace. The very fact of the Lord’s being gracious shows sin to be so evil a thing that, man being a sinner, his state is utterly ruined and hopeless, and nothing but free grace will do for him – can meet his need.
We must learn what God is to us, not by our own thoughts, but by what He has revealed Himself to be, and that is, “The God of all Grace.” The moment I understand that I am a sinful man, and yet that it was because the Lord knew the full extent of my sin, and what its hatefulness was, that He came to me, I understand what grace is. Faith makes me see that God is greater than my sin, and not that my sin is greater than God. . . . The Lord that I have known as laying down His life for me, is the same Lord I have to do with every day of my life, and all His dealings with me are on the same principles of grace. The great secret of growth is, the looking up to the Lord as gracious. How precious, how strengthening it is to know that Jesus is at this moment feeling and exercising the same love towards me as when He died on the cross for me.
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Another gem from the past: “The True Grace of God Wherein We Stand” by J.N.D.

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God is made known to us as the “God of all Grace,” and the position in which we are set is that of “tasting that He is gracious.” How hard it is for us to believe this, that the Lord is gracious. The natural feeling of our hearts is, “I know that thou art an austere man”; there is the want in all of us naturally of the understanding of the Grace of God.
There is sometimes the thought that grace implies God’s passing over sin, but no, grace supposes sin to be so horribly bad a thing that God cannot tolerate it: were it in the power of man, after being unrighteous and evil, to patch up his ways, and mend himself so as to stand before God, there would be no need of grace. The very fact of the Lord’s being gracious shows sin to be so evil a thing that, man being a sinner, his state is utterly ruined and hopeless, and nothing but free grace will do for him – can meet his need.
We must learn what God is to us, not by our own thoughts, but by what He has revealed Himself to be, and that is, “The God of all Grace.” The moment I understand that I am a sinful man, and yet that it was because the Lord knew the full extent of my sin, and what its hatefulness was, that He came to me, I understand what grace is. Faith makes me see that God is greater than my sin, and not that my sin is greater than God. . . . The Lord that I have known as laying down His life for me, is the same Lord I have to do with every day of my life, and all His dealings with me are on the same principles of grace. The great secret of growth is, the looking up to the Lord as gracious. How precious, how strengthening it is to know that Jesus is at this moment feeling and exercising the same love towards me as when He died on the cross for me.
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True Sainthood

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The recently deceased journalist, diplomat, and scholar of South East Asia, Phillips Talbot once wrote: “I’ve been a Christian, and in particular a Presbyterian, and yet in Gandhi I saw saintliness…He was a 77-year-old ascetic and the physical ordeal did not worry him. Here, if I ever saw one, is a pilgrimage. Here is the Indian – and the world’s – idea of sainthood: a little old man who has renounced personal possessions, walking with bare feet on cold earth in search of a great human ideal.” His profession to be a Christian notwithstanding, Talbot betrayed a common misunderstanding of the nature of true saintliness. His comments on the Indian statesman Mohandas K. Gandhi depict a saint as a really good man or woman, whose abstemious or extremely religious behavior directs attention towards himself or herself in the pursuit of “a great human ideal.”
Saints: The False & The True
The biblical usage of the term is far different: it depicts bad men and women who have been set apart by the grace of God to receive a life of eternal glory with the Lord Jesus Christ. This eternal life is a gift from the Lord, stemming from His generosity and love – not based on any personal merit in the recipient of this gracious position. It results in a transformed life, that displays the character and reflective glory of Christ Himself as given through the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-26.) The destiny of saints culminates in their being conformed to the image of their Lord through “the redemption of the body” which results in glorification (Rom. 8:17, 23, 28-30; 1 John 3:1-2.)
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