Oct 31, 2008

Change to blogging patterns

I am thinking of changing my blogging patterns a little. 
- Reduce the frequency to about twice a week
- increase the bible studies in the site

If you do have a comment, let me know. 
God bless!

Devotional - Kind and tender heart

A devotional from Morrison

Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted— Eph_4:32

The first thing to impress me as I read these words is the change which had been wrought in the apostle. There had been a day, not so far away, when you would scarce have expected such a word from Paul. When Paul first appears on the scene, he seems the incarnation of hardheartedness. He is a Pharisee, cruel and intolerant, delighting in sacrifice and not in mercy. He holds the clothes of the murderers of Stephen, intensely interested in that ghastly spectacle, and he makes havoc of the Church of Christ. Is it not remarkable that such a man should become the advocate of tenderness? No softening of the years could have wrought that. It is a tribute to the power of Christ. For if it was Christ in Paul that made him great and inspired him to be the evangelist of nations, it was also Christ who made him tenderhearted. There are men who are constitutionally tender, but I do not think that Paul was of that kind. He had to fight his way out of the stony ground into the green pastures of this grace. And when we remember how Paul had lived at Ephesus and how he had labored night and day with tears, we feel what an urgency his word would have, "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted."

Tenderheartedness Is Different from Weakness
There is a tenderness—and it is very common—which is the antithesis of strength. There is no justice in it, no morality, no love of the good, no hatred of the bad. It is the overflowing of an easy nature that often works irreparable wrong just because it has not strength enough to take a firm stand for what is right. It is weak. Not such is the tenderheartedness of Paul. It knows the cleavage between light and darkness. It knows that it may be cruel to be kind and that sometimes it may be kindest to seem cruel. But it also knows how lonely people are; how sad the heart may be for all the laughter; how heavily the burden of the cross may weigh, although the face is always brave and bright. Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted. You can never tell what that other soul is bearing. The men and women you are inclined to envy—if you knew all, you might not envy them. And it is this—this instinct for the deeps, this surmise of what is hidden in the shadow —it is this that gives to tenderheartedness its power and its place in Christian brotherhood.

Causes Which Make Tenderheartedness Difficult
1. Custom—There are several causes working in the world which make it a hard thing to keep the tender heart. One of the commonest of all is custom. Do you remember, in the parable of the sower, what happened to the seed by the wayside? It fell on the pathway that led across the field, and the birds of the air came and picked it up. It was not stony ground on which it fell; it was not foul with thistles and with thorns; it was good ground, but it was beaten hard by the passing of innumerable feet. Little children had gone that way to school; grave and reverend men had gone to the synagogue. And the feet of happy lovers had been there, and the weary step of the farmer going home, until at last, under that ceaseless traffic, the surface had become impenetrable, and the strip that might have been golden with a harvest was just the happy hunting ground of birds. Are we not all exposed to such a hardening with the constant traffic of our days? Ah friends, what open hearts we had when heaven lay about us in our infancy! But now we are dulled down a little; we are less sensitive, less eager, less receptive; and one inevitable peril of all that is the peril of ceasing to be tenderhearted.
2. The struggle to live—Another enemy of this same grace is the fierce struggle which many have to live. Men say it is difficult to be true today; it is equally difficult to be tender. You could hardly expect a soldier on the field to be a perfect pattern of gentleness. At home he might be that—with his own children—scarcely amid the rigors of the war. And in that city battle of today which we disguise with the name of competition, a man must be in deadly peril of losing the genius of the tender heart. In simpler communities it was not so. Life was easier in simpler communities. And time was longer, and men had more leisure, and the sense of brotherhood was not quite lost. But in the city with its stress and strain, with its pressure at every point, and with its crowd, life may have the joy of growing keen, but it has also the risk of growing cruel. It is not often that the successful man is what you would call the tenderhearted man. The battle has been too terrible for that: there has been too much crushing underfoot; and always when a man tramples upon others, he tramples in that hour on his own heart. Now I want you to remember that when Paul wrote to Ephesus, he wrote to a city like Glasgow or like Liverpool. He was not addressing a handful of quiet villagers. He was writing to a commercial metropolis. And that, I take it, just means this, that Paul was alive to the dangers of the city and knew how supremely difficult it was there to keep the secret of the tender heart.
3. Sin—But the greatest enemy of tenderheartedness is the old sad fact of sin. Sin is the mightiest antisocial power that ever alighted with curse upon the world. Sin blights all that is fairest in the character; sin coarsens everything that is most delicate; sin in the long run softens nothing; it hardens everything it touches. You would think from the popular novels of today that sin is something which transfigures life. Young men and women, don't you believe it; that is the most tragic of fallacies. Sin at the heart of it is always vile. Deck it in any garments that you please, sin leaves us narrower, impoverishes life, always ends in hardening of the heart. There is an old legend of the goblin horseman whose steed might be heard galloping at midnight. And the legend was that where the hoofs alighted, the grass would nevermore be green again. I think that is a parable of sin when a man gives it the rein within his heart; "it hardens all within, and petrifies the feeling." Sin hardens a man's heart towards his wife. It hardens a man's heart towards his children. It hardens him to the touch of human need and to the call which the world makes upon his sympathy. And that is why the grace of tenderheartedness is so conspicuously a Christian virtue—because it betrays that conquest over sin which has been won for us in Jesus Christ.
Think for a moment of the case of David to illustrate what I have been saying. By nature David was a gallant soul, and he was as tenderhearted as heroic. When a shepherd, he had faced a lion; when sent to the army, he had faced Goliath. No one could question the magnificent courage of one who had these fine actions to his credit. And yet this David, when he lit on Saul asleep alone in a cave and at his mercy: this David, who had matched himself with giants, was too tenderhearted to destroy him. One blow, and he was monarch of a kingdom. One blow, and a crown was on his brow. And there was not a Jewish warrior in his train but would have said "It is the will of God." But David could not do it—it was impossible, and David was never greater than just then, when at the back of all his bravery he showed the chivalry of the tender heart. But then there came the day when David sinned, and I shall draw a veil over his sin. But who is this plotting against Uriah and making him drunk and sending him out to die? Ah friends, this is that very David who had once been so chivalrous and gentle but who now, in the grip of a dark passion, has forfeited his tenderness of heart. I thank God he got it back again when he cried in penitence to heaven. "Create in me a clean heart," he cried, "O God, and renew a right spirit within me." But I thank God too that the story is all here to warn us against the hardening of sin, to teach us how all that is fairest in the best may be blighted by the power of its curse.

The Disguise of Our Lack of Tenderheartedness
I know no virtue that is more often disguised than the virtue of which I am speaking. It is not one of the qualities of which men are proud as they are proud of courage or endurance. On the contrary, they are a little ashamed should one suspect them of being tenderhearted. And so very often they hide it out of sight and wrap it up in the most strange disguises and assume a manner that is so far from gentle that it takes a little while to guess the truth. It is not always those of gentle manners who really possess the gentlest hearts. Some of the tenderest men I ever knew have had a rough, even a boisterous, exterior. They were like Mr. Boythorn in Bleak House who was always for hanging somebody or other and all the time was feeding the canary that nestled without a tremor in his hand. I am not sure that had you seen our Lord, you would have fathomed His tenderness at once. Had you seen Him when face to face with Pharisees, I may say without a doubt that you would not. It was one of those secrets that was revealed to children, for children have far quicker eyes than we, and they detect, as by a kind of genius, the gentleness that is hidden in the heart. The French have a proverb which says this—there is nothing so tender as the austere man. Like other proverbs, that has its exceptions, for there are austere men who are not tender. But at least let it teach us not to be rash in judgment, not to sum up at once against our brother. There are men who seem to have a face of brass, and all the time they have a heart of gold.

Memory in the Service of Tenderheartedness
This, too, is one of the works of memory. God has given our memories that calling. It is one of the great works of memory to keep a man tenderhearted in the struggle. I always remember that story of John Newton with whom Christ dealt in such a signal way. As a young man he was desperately wild as if God had given him over to work iniquity. And yet in the wildest of it all, he tells us, he could never forget the soft hand of his mother. Although he was a thousand miles away, he felt that soft caress upon his head. "I will arise and go unto my Father"—was not that the memory of home? "And the Lord turned and looked on Peter"—do you not think the past was in that look? Peter was hardening his heart that night; he was a reckless and a desperate man; and the Lord looked, and all the past revived, and then like summer tempest came his tears. Do we not all have hours like that when the past revives to make us tenderhearted? That is one of the offices of memory where the heart is in daily peril of hardening. And it may be that is the deepest reason why men so often grow tenderer with age. Once they were living in the fierce light of hope; now in the softer light of memory.

Fellowship with Christ Makes Us Tenderhearted
But the great secret of the tender heart lies in the fellowship of Jesus Christ. It is a continual wonder about Jesus that He was so strong and yet so tenderhearted. No authority could make Him fearful; no array of power could ever daunt Him, and yet a bruised reed he would not break, and smoking flax He would not quench. He was not tender because He knew so little. He was tender because He knew so much. All that was hidden from duller eyes He saw—all that men had to bear and battle through. Their helplessness, their crying in the night, their inarticulate appeal to heaven—all this was ever audible to Jesus and kept His heart as tender as a child's. And He never lost this tenderheartedness even in the darkness of the cross. Men scorned Him, and they spat on Him, and crucified Him, yet "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." And what I say is that when that mind of Christ is given by the Spirit to you and me, then whatever happens, however we are treated, we shall be kind one to another, tenderhearted.

Devotional - Run With Patience

Run With Patience 

"Let us run with patience" (Heb. 12:1). 

O run with patience is a very difficult thing. Running is apt to suggest the absence of patience, the eagerness to reach the goal. We commonly associate patience with lying down. We think of it as the angel that guards the couch of the invalid. Yet, I do not think the invalid's patience the hardest to achieve. 

There is a patience which I believe to be harder--the patience that can run. To lie down in the time of grief, to be quiet under the stroke of adverse fortune, implies a great strength; but I know of something that implies a strength greater still: It is the power to work under a stroke; to have a great weight at your heart and still to run; to have a deep anguish in your spirit and still perform the daily task. It is a Christlike thing! 

Many of us would nurse our grief without crying if we were allowed to nurse it. The hard thing is that most of us are called to exercise our patience, not in bed, but in the street. We are called to bury our sorrows, not in lethargic quiescence, but in active service--in the exchange, in the workshop, in the hour of social intercourse, in the contribution to another's joy. There is no burial of sorrow so difficult as that; it is the "running with patience." 

This was Thy patience, O Son of man! It was at once a waiting and a running--a waiting for the goal, and a doing of the lesser work meantime. I see Thee at Cana turning the water into wine lest the marriage feast should be clouded. I see Thee in the desert feeding a multitude with bread just to relieve a temporary want. All, all the time, Thou wert bearing a mighty grief, unshared, unspoken. Men ask for a rainbow in the cloud; but I would ask more from Thee. I would be, in my cloud, myself a rainbow--a minister to others' joy. My patience will be perfect when it can work in the vineyard. --George Matheson 

"When all our hopes are gone, 
'Tis well our hands must keep toiling on 
For others' sake: 
For strength to bear is found in duty done; 
And he is best indeed who learns to make 
The joy of others cure his own heartache."

Oct 29, 2008

Devotional - Chosen to go and bear fruit

“ Ye Did Not Choose Me, But I Chose You, and Appointed You That Ye Should Go and Bear Fruit ” 
- Joh_15:16
The branch does not choose the vine, or decide on which vine it will grow. The vine brings forth the branch, as and where it will. Even so Christ says: “Ye did not choose me, but I chose you.” But some will say is not just this the difference between the branch in the natural and in the spiritual world, that man has a will and a power of choosing, and that it is in virtue of his having decided to accept Christ, his having chosen Him as Lord, that he is now a branch? This is undoubtedly true. And yet it is only half a truth. The lesson of the Vine, and the teaching of our Lord, points to the other half, the deeper, the divine side of our being in Christ. If He had not chosen us, we had never chosen Him. Our choosing Him was the result of His choosing us, and taking hold of us. In the very nature of things, it is His prerogative as Vine to choose and create His own branch. We owe all we are to “the election of grace.” If we want to know Christ as the true Vine, the sole origin and strength of the branch life, and ourselves as branches in our absolute, most blessed, and most secure dependence upon Him, let us drink deep of this blessed truth: “Ye did not choose me, but I chose you.” 

And with what view does Christ say this? That they may know what the object is for which He chose them, and find, in their faith in His election, the certainty of fulfilling their destiny. Throughout Scripture this is the great object of the teaching of election. “Predestinated to be conformed to the image of his son.” (to be branches in the image and likeness of the Vine). “Chosen that we should be holy.” “Chosen to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit.” “Elect in sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience.” Some have abused the doctrine of election, and others, for fear of its abuse, have rejected it, because they have overlooked this teaching. They have occupied themselves with its hidden origin in eternity, with the inscrutable mysteries of the counsels of God instead of accepting the revelation of its purpose in time, and the blessings it brings into our Christian life. 

Just think what these blessings are. In our verse Christ reveals His twofold purpose in choosing us to be His branches: that we may bear fruit on earth, and have power in prayer in Heaven. What confidence the thought that He has chosen us for this gives, that He will not fail to fit us for carrying out His purpose! What assurance that we can bear fruit that will abide, and can pray so as to obtain! What a continual call to the deepest humility and praise, to the most entire dependence and expectancy! He would not choose us for what we are not fit for, or what He could not fit us for. He has chosen us; this is the pledge, He will do all in us. 

Let us listen in silence of soul to our holy Vine speaking to each of us: “You did not choose Me!” And let us say, “Yea, Lord, but I chose You! Amen, Lord!” Ask Him to show what this means. In Him, the true Vine, your life as branch has its divine origin, its eternal security, and the power to fulfill His purpose. From Him to whose will of love you owe all, you may expect all. In Him, His purpose, and His power, and His faithfulness, in His love let me abide. 

I chose you. Lord, teach me what this means—that Thou hast set Thy heart on me, and chosen me to bear fruit that will abide, and to pray prayer that will prevail. In this Thine eternal purpose my soul would rest itself and say: “What He chose me for I will be, I can be, I shall be.” 

Oct 28, 2008

Devotional - On the wonderful Salvation

"For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." 1Th_5:9
[A beautiful spirit filled devotional from Octavius Winslow]

Salvation is God's greatest work; in nothing has He so manifested forth His glory as in this. He embarked all His infinite resources, and staked all His Divine honor, in the accomplishment of this work so dear to His heart-the salvation of His church. The universe is full of His beauty, but myriads of worlds, on a scale infinitely more vast and magnificent than this, could give no such idea of God as the salvation of a single sinner. Salvation required the revelation and the harmony of all the Divine perfections. Creation affords only a partial view of God. It displays His natural but not His moral attributes. It portrays His wisdom, His goodness, His power; but it gives no idea of His holiness, His justice, His truth, His love. It is but the alphabet, the shadow of God. These are parts of His ways, and how little of Him is known! But in the person of Immanuel, in the cross of Christ, in the finished work of redemption, God appears in full-orbed majesty. And when the believing soul surveys this wondrous expedient of reconciling all the interests of heaven, of uniting all the perfection of Jehovah in the salvation of sinners by the blood of the cross-"Mercy and truth meeting together, righteousness and peace kissing each other"-it exclaims in full satisfaction with the salvation of God-"Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!"

The anxious question of an awakened soul, as it bears its weight of sin to the cross, is, "Is the salvation of the Lord Jesus a work commensurate with my case? Will it meet my individual condition as a sinner? May I, in a deep conviction of my guiltiness, venture my soul upon Jesus? Am I warranted, without a work of my own, apart from all my merit or my demerit, to believe in Christ and indulge the hope that I shall be saved?" The Bible, in brief but emphatic sentences, answers these inquiries. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." "Him that comes unto me I will in no wise cast out." "By grace are you saved." "If by grace, then it is no more of works." "You are complete in Him." The Holy Spirit giving the inquirer a possession of these declarations, working the faith that receives the Lord Jesus into the heart, the believing soul is enabled to say, "I see that it is a salvation for sinners-for the vilest, the poorest, the most unworthy. I came to Christ, and was received; I believed in Him, rested in Him, and I am saved. Christ is mine, His salvation is mine, His promises are mine, His advocacy is mine, His heaven is mine."

 Dear reader, is your soul saved? Are you converted by the Spirit of God? Everything else in comparison is but as the bubble that floats down the stream. This busy life will soon cease; its last thought, and care, and anxiety will yield to the great, the solemn realities of eternity. Are you ready for the result? Are you in a state of pardon, of justification, of peace with God through Christ? How is it with your soul? Will it be well with you in death, well with you after death, well with you at the judgment-seat of Christ? Have you come to the Lord Jesus as a Savior-to His blood for cleansing, to His righteousness for acceptance, to His cross for shelter, to Himself for rest? Have you fled as a sinner to Jesus as the Savior? Look these questions, I beseech you, fairly, fully in the face, and answer them in your own conscience, and as in view of that dread tribunal at whose bar you will soon be cited. What if you should prosper in temporals, and be lean in spirituals! What if you should pamper the body, and starve the soul! What if you should gain the world-its riches, its honors, its pleasures-and be yourself through eternity a castaway! To die in your sins, to die without union to Christ, to die unreconciled to God, tremendous will be the consequences; so dire will be your condition, so fearful and interminable your sufferings from the wrath of a holy and righteous God, it would have been good for you never to have been born. The unrighteous will be "punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power."

But there is hope! Does this page meet the eye of a penitent mourner-one whose heart is smitten with godly grief for sin? Be it known you, that the sacrifice of a broken heart and of a contrite spirit God will not despise. Despise it! oh, no! It is the precious, holy fruit of His Spirit in your soul, and in His eye it is too holy, too costly, too dear to be despised. Bring to Him that broken heart, and Jesus will bind it up, heal and fill it with joy, and peace, and hope. It was His mission to receive and save sinners-it is His office to receive and save sinners-it is His delight and glory to receive and save sinners; and if you will but approach Him, exactly as you are, He will receive and save you.

Devotional - Friends of Christ

“ No Longer Do I Call You Servants; for the Servant Knoweth Not What His Lord Doeth: But I Have Called You Friends; for All Things That I Heard From My Father, I Have Made Known Unto ”

- Joh_15:15

The highest proof of true friendship, and one great source of its blessedness, is the intimacy that holds nothing back, and admits the friend to share our inmost secrets. It is a blessed thing to be Christ’s servant; His redeemed ones delight to call themselves His slaves. Christ had often spoken of the disciples as His servants. In His great love our Lord now says: “No longer do I call you servants”; with the coming of the Holy Spirit a new era was to be inaugurated. “The servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth”—he has to obey without being consulted or admitted into the secret of all his master’s plans. “But, I have called you friends, for all things I heard from my Father I have made known unto you.” Christ’s friends share with Him in all the secrets the Father has entrusted to Him.


Let us think what this means. When Christ spoke of keeping His Father’s commandments, He did not mean merely what was written in Holy Scripture, but those special commandments which were communicated to Him day by day, and from hour to hour. It was of these He said: “The Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that he doeth, and he will show him greater things.” All that Christ did was God’s working. God showed it to Christ, so that He carried out the Father’s will and purpose, not, as man often does, blindly and unintelligently, but with full understanding and approval. As one who stood in God’s counsel, He knew God’s plan.


And this now is the blessedness of being Christ’s friends, that we do not, as servants, do His will without much spiritual insight into its meaning and aim, but are admitted, as an inner circle, into some knowledge of God’s more secret thoughts. From the Day of Pentecost on, by the Holy Spirit, Christ was to lead His disciples into the spiritual apprehension of the mysteries of the kingdom, of which He had hitherto spoken only by parables.


Friendship delights in fellowship. Friends hold council. Friends dare trust to each other what they would not for anything have others know. What is it that gives a Christian access to this holy intimacy with Jesus? That gives him the spiritual capacity for receiving the communications Christ has to make of what the Father has shown Him? “Ye are my friends if ye do what I command you.” It is loving obedience that purifies the soul. That refers not only to the commandments of the Word, but to that blessed application of the Word to our daily life, which none but our Lord Himself can give. But as these are waited for in dependence and humility, and faithfully obeyed, the soul becomes fitted for ever closer fellowship, and the daily life may become a continual experience: “I have called you friends; for all things I have heard from my Father, I have made known unto you.”


I have called you friends. What an unspeakable honor! What a heavenly privilege! O Saviour, speak the word with power into my soul: “I have called you My friend, whom I love, whom I trust, to whom I make known all that passes between my Father and Me.” 

Oct 22, 2008

Devotional - Faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.  (Heb_11:1-3)

In order to live by grace, we must be willing to walk by faith. For those who actually depend upon the Lord day by day, (thereby accessing His grace), the scriptures regularly proclaim the extensive consequences of walking by faith.  

First, let's consider the significant characteristics of faith. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for." Faith is the assuring confirmation of the wonderful things that we anticipate God will do. As faith grows in the promises and purposes of God, that faith becomes an increasing substantiation of the certainty of those heavenly plans of God. Also, faith is "the evidence of things not seen." Faith is the convicting verification of realities the human senses cannot observe. Faith convinces us of the absolute existence of God and His angels, Adam and Eve, the devil and demons, heaven and hell, and the prophets and apostles of old.  

Next, let's consider some of the living results of faith. "For by it the elders obtained a good testimony." By faith men and women of generations past established a godly witness concerning their relationship with the Lord. "By faith Abel . . . By faith Enoch . . . By faith Noah . . . By faith Abraham . . . By faith Sarah . . . By faith Isaac . . . By faith Jacob . . . By faith Joseph . . . By faith Moses . . . By faith the harlot Rahab . . . [and others]" (Heb_11:4-5, Heb_11:7-8, Heb_11:11, Heb_11:20-23, Heb_11:31). Their testimonies were exceedingly diverse. Yet, the common elements were their trust in the Lord and the glory such faith brought to His name.  

Last, let's consider some of the spiritual understanding of faith. "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." God has shaped the heart of all humanity so that the observation of creation guarantees a universal conviction of Himself as creator. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Rom_1:20). His holy scriptures then explain how He created all visible things. "By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Psa_33:6).

Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, creator of heaven and earth, I bow before You in faith. I rejoice in the assurances, convictions, and understandings of faith. I have a deep desire to obtain a good testimony through faith in You, for Your honor and glory, Amen.

Oct 20, 2008

Devotional - Security of Salvation through Faith

An inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  (1Pe_1:4-5)
In our previous biblical meditation, we considered the delightful work of God's grace that brings to His children assurance of salvation through faith. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life" (Joh_5:13). Assurance of salvation pertains to the certainty that we actually are saved. Another related work of God's grace is security of salvation through faith. Security of salvation pertains to the certainty that we will remain saved.  
The scriptures offer great confidence that our salvation is eternally secure. Jesus spoke of such security for His sheep. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand" (Joh_10:27-28). Paul was inspired of the Holy Spirit to write of this grand theme. "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom_8:38-39). What great security is available in Christ!  
Yet, other scriptures stir apprehension for some concerning security. "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit . . . if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance . . . For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" (Heb_6:4, Heb_6:6 and Heb_10:26). Such verses certainly provoke debate on whether or not one can lose his salvation (or whether a willfully fallen, professing Christian was ever saved or not).  
In light of this, where do we turn to settle eternal security? We must turn to the Lord in faith. The children of God have a rich salvation inheritance waiting in glory: "An inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." Day by day, we can enjoy the blessing of being guarded by God's power for this salvation, if we are depending upon the Lord: "who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Security of salvation is known through day by day faith in the Lord Jesus.
Lord God of my salvation, I praise You that eternal security is available in Christ through faith. At times, I have tried to find security of salvation through theological debates with others. Lord, I gladly trust you to keep me this day by Your power, Amen.

Devotional - When God delays His response

"Know of a surety that thy seed shall be sojourners in a land that is not theirs; . . . they shall afflict them four hundred years; . . . and afterward they shall come out with great substance" (Gen. 15:12-14). 

An assured part of God's pledged blessing to us is delay and suffering. A delay in Abram's own lifetime that seemed to put God's pledge beyond fulfillment was followed by seemingly unendurable delay of Abram's descendants. But it was only a delay: they "came out with great substance." The pledge was redeemed. 

God is going to test me with delays; and with the delays will come suffering, but through it all stands God's pledge: His new covenant with me in Christ, and His inviolable promise of every lesser blessing that I need. The delay and the suffering are part of the promised blessing; let me praise Him for them today; and let me wait on the Lord and be of good courage and He will strengthen my heart. --C. G. Trumbull 

Devotional - God's word guiding the way

"The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them" (Num. 10:33). 

God does give us impressions, but not that we should act on them as impressions. If the impression be from God, He will Himself give sufficient evidence to establish it beyond the possibility of a doubt. 

How beautiful is the story of Jeremiah, of the impression that came to him respecting the purchase of the field of Anathoth. But Jeremiah did not act upon this impression until after the following day, when his uncle's son came to him and brought him external evidence by making a proposal for the purchase. Then Jeremiah said: "I knew this was the word of the Lord." 

He waited until God seconded the impression by a providence, and then he acted in full view of the open facts, which could bring conviction unto others as well as to himself. God wants us to act according to His mind. We are not to ignore the Shepherd's personal voice but, like Paul and his companions at Troas, we are to listen to all the voices that speak and "gather" from all the circumstances, as they did, the full mind of the Lord. --Dr. Simpson 

"Where God's finger points, there God's hand will make the way." 

Do not say in thine heart what thou wilt or wilt not do, but wait upon God until He makes known His way. So long as that way is hidden it is clear that there is no need of action, and that He accounts Himself responsible for all the results of keeping thee where thou art. --Selected 

"For God through ways we have not known, 
Will lead His own." 

Devotional - The Grace of a happy heart

I would have you without carefulness — 1Co_7:32 Cast thy burden upon the Lord — Psa_55:22
There are few graces which the world admires so much as the grace of a cheerful heart. There is a certain perennial attraction in men and women who bear their burdens well. When we see a face all lined with care it often touches the chord of pity in us. We are moved to compassion when it flashes on us what a story is engraven there. But the face that really helps us on our journey is seldom the face of battle and of agony; it is the face which has its sunshine still. None of us is enamored by a frown. All of us are attracted by a smile. We recognize by an unerring instinct that in happy-heartedness there is a kind of victory. And so we love it as we love the sunshine or the song of the birds upon the summer morning. It takes its place with these good gifts of God.
The Charms of Children
Children are possessors of this sunny attribute. That is one reason why the presence of children is such a perpetual solace and so refreshing. Children are far from being little angels as every father and every mother knows. They can be cruel and intensely selfish and amazingly and unblushingly untruthful. Yet when the worst is said of them that can be said, there yet remains in them this touch of heaven which is a greater blessing to the world than all the modem methods of communication. They cry., and then in the passing of an hour the heart that was inconsolable is healed. They scowl (and they are not pretty when they scowl), but so far as I know them they never bear any malice. They bully in the most shocking fashion, when you and I happen to be absent, but if they bully they almost never brood. "I would have you without carefulness" — that is how the great apostle puts it. He was one of these men whose interests were too vast to allow him time for watching little people. But Christ, whose interests were far vaster, somehow or other always had time for that, and so He puts it, not "I would have you without carefulness," but "except ye become as little children."
Of course we must distinguish happy-heartedness from that poor counterfeit we call frivolity. A child may be absolutely irresponsible, but a child is never frivolous. No one is so swiftly touched to wonder. No one is so deeply moved with awe. When our children laugh at what to us is sacred, it simply means that they do not understand. The things that are wonderful and great in their eyes are not at all what we consider so, and note, you never find them mocking at what is wonderful and great to them. Now that is the very hallmark of frivolity. It recognizes what is great and jests at it. It is not an intellectual inability; it is much more truly a moral inability. Some of the most frivolous people I have known had plenty of brains and were as sharp as needles; it was their heart and not their brain which was contemptible. The great instance of frivolity in Scripture is that of the men who refused the invitation. They were by no means intellectual fools, these men. They could do a bit of work and do it admirably. But when this moment came they all made light of it — they took it as a joke though it was kingly —they lost the opportunity of their lives because of their old habit of belittling. Different by all the world from that is the sweet genius of happy-heartedness. It is as swift to recognize the best as is frivolity to have a laugh at it. Indeed so far as my experience goes, frivolous people are commonly unhappy and are very often trying to forget something which is akin to tragedy.
Now we are all apt to think that such a happy disposition is just temperamental. We are apt to think it is just born with people, and of course in a measure that is true. There are those with a perfect genius for the sunshine, and those with a perfect genius for the shadow. There are those who will carry a burden in a happy way without the slightest aid from any faith, and you, who wrestle in prayer about the thing, are bowed with it to the very ground. And not only is it temperamental. We might go further and say that it is racial. Broadly speaking, as we survey the world, we find it to be a national characteristic. For the Irish have it and the Scots have not; and the southern peoples and not the northern peoples; and the Kaffir boy out in South Africa will go singing and laughing over his work all day while his Dutch master, for all his Bible reading, will have a face as long as his prayers.
A Virtue To Be Won
But there is one thing in the Bible I have often noticed. I wonder if it has occurred to you? It is how often it classes with virtues to be won what we have reckoned to be gifts of nature. The Bible is always true to the great facts. It never diminishes nor distorts anything. It recognizes in the most liberal way the infinite divergences of nature. And yet I am often struck by how often it takes these natural endowments and says to you of what you do not have —"that is a virtue to be won." Think of courage — do not we regard that as a gift? Don't we know that certain men are born courageous? Do you think every boy could say what Nelson said: "Fear, mother — what is fear?
I never saw it"? And yet this courage, which with perfect justice we are in the way of regarding as temperamental, is viewed in Scripture as something to be won. Take joy. Are we the masters of our joy? Is not the capacity for joy inherent? Are there not those who gravitate to joy as there are others who gravitate to gloom? And yet our Savior says to His disciples, "These things have I spoken to you, that in me ye might have joy." And the fruit of the spirit is love and joy and peace.
Well now, as it is with these, so I take it as with happy-heartedness. In the eyes of God and in the light of Scripture it is a shining virtue to be won. It may be easier for some than others just because of the nature God has given. But remember we do not win our best when we have won our most congenial virtues. A happy disposition is possible for all — that is what I want to urge tonight —and the unfailing secret of it lies in the casting of the burden on the Lord. It does not matter what the burden be. Burdens are just as various as blessings: They may be secret, or they may be public. They may be real, or they may be imaginary. But once a man has learned this deepest lesson that God is with him and will see him through, I say to the weariest and most desponding soul that happy-heartedness is in his grasp. Many of the heaviest burdens men can bear have to be borne where eyes can never pierce. Many of the heaviest burdens men can bear fall on them through the relationships of life. It matters not. There can be no exceptions in the magnificent impartiality of God. Cast thy burden on the Lord.
Depending upon God
Now I want you to notice — it is very important — the words in which our text is couched. It is "cast thy burden on the Lord"; it is not "cast thy burden anywhere." I think there is nothing poorer or more cowardly than just the desire to be rid of burdens. It is always the mark of meanness in a character and the sorry witness of a contracting soul. For life grows richer by what we have to bear, and sympathies grow tenderer and broader, and the world expands into a richer place through things which we once thought would make us poorer. They say that the Indian by putting his ear to the ground can hear far off the galloping of horses. Erect, there is not a sound upon the breeze. Prone on the earth, he hears the distant trampling. And I daresay there are some here tonight who lived and moved upon a silent prairie until somehow they were bowed into the dust. The Bible never urges any man recklessly to cast his cares away. As soon would it urge the captain of a ship to cast out his ballast when he was clear of port. Knowing the preciousness of what is heavy, it bids us summon to our aid the power of God, and it is that which makes all the difference in the world. Now we know we are in the hands of One who providently caters to the sparrow. Now we know that on the line of duty we shall have strength for all that must be done. Now we can laugh with the children in the thick of it, and have our sunshine even in December, for God is with us and His name is wonderful and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Christ Makes the Difference
In closing I have one thing more to say — one thing I never think of without shame. It is how much easier this secret is for us than it ever could have been for David. "Cast thy burden on the Lord," he wrote — and of course he had first done it for himself. Now tell me, what was that Lord to David- that Lord into whose keeping he committed everything? He was the King eternal and invisible, and clouds and darkness were around His throne, and men looked to the left hand and He was not there, and to the right and lo! they could not find Him. Was not the faith of these old Jews magnificent? Could you have trusted in such a God as that? Could you have believed that the infinite Creator would open His arms and take your burden in? It might have been easy for a Greek to do it for he believed in the divinity of man, but how a Jew rose to a faith like that is to me as wonderful as any miracle.
But do you see how everything is changed now? We have Christ and that makes all the difference. For do you remember how, when Christ was here, men came and cast their burdens upon Him? Everyone did it, and did it as by instinct — it did not matter what the burden was — and "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father." Run through the gamut of our human burdens, and tell me if there were any that they failed to bring. They brought their sicknesses and they brought their fears. They brought their children and they brought themselves. And the strange thing is that though Christ was angry sometimes, and His eyes flashed in righteous indignation, not in a single instance do you find Him angry because anyone cast a burden upon Him.

We Can Achieve Joy
My brother and sister, if your faith is to be real, shall I tell you what you must always do? You must always carry into your thought of God what you have learned and seen of Jesus Christ. "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father:" He is the express image of His person. You must carry up into your thought of God all the revelation of His Son. And I tell you that when you once do that the Fatherhood of God becomes so wonderful that even you, with your weak and trembling faith, are able to cast your burden upon Him. It took a hero to achieve it once. The weakest woman can achieve it now. It was once the act of a sublime enthusiasm. It is now within the reach of everyone of you. So sure are we in Christ of God's deep sympathy and of His care for us and of His love, that there is not a man or woman here who may not know the strength of happy-heartedness. Therefore I charge you in the name of Christ that you are not to let that burden weigh you down. I charge you to remember that you sin if you live in gloom and miserable wretchedness. Never frivolous, but always reverent-happy-hearted just because He knows — I know no better way in this strange world of glorifying the Father and the Son.

Devotional - Our duty to fellow believers - to support

October 19
"The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary." Isaiah 50:4 

THE Lord Jesus gives His people the tongue of the learned, the they may sometimes speak a word in season to His weary ones. Have you not a word for Christ? May you not go to that tried believer in sickness, in poverty, in adversity, or in prison, and tell of the balm that has often healed your spirit, and of the cordial that has often cheered your heart? "A word spoken in due season, how good is it!" A text quoted, a sentiment repeated, an observation made, a hint dropped, a kind caution suggested, a gentle rebuke given, a tender admonition left-oh! the blessing that has flowed from it! It was a word spoken in season! Say not with Moses, "I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue;" or with Jeremiah, "Ah! Lord God! behold, I cannot speak; for I am a child." Hear the answer of the Lord: "Who has made man's mouth? have not I, the Lord? Now therefore go: I will be with your mouth, and teach you what you shall say." And oh! how frequently and effectually does the Lord speak to His weary ones, even through the weary. All, perhaps, was conflict within, and darkness without; but one word falling from the lips of a man of God has been the voice of God to the soul. And what an honor conferred, thus to be the channel conveying consolation from the loving heart of the Father to the disconsolate heart of the child! to go and smooth a ruffled pillow, lift the pressure from off a burdened spirit, and light up the gloomy chamber of sorrow, of sickness, and of death, as with the first dawnings of the coming glory! Go, Christian reader, and ask the Lord so to clothe your tongue with holy, heavenly eloquence, that you may know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. Ah! it is impossible to speak of the preciousness of Christ to another, and not, while we speak, feel Him precious to our own souls. It is impossible to lead another to the cross, and not find ourselves overshadowed by its glory. It is impossible to establish another in the being, character, and truth of God, and not feel our own minds fortified and confirmed. It is impossible to quote the promises and unfold the consolations of the gospel to another, and not be sensible of a tranquillizing and soothing influence stealing softly over our own hearts. It is impossible to break the alabaster box, and not fill the house with the odor of the ointment. 

In contending for the faith, remember that the Lord Jesus can give you the tongue of the learned. Listen to His promises-"I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist." Thus the most unlearned and the most weak may be so deeply taught, and be so skillfully armed in Christ's school, as to be able valiantly to defend and successfully to preach the truth, putting to "silence the ignorance of foolish men." 

Oct 19, 2008

Devotional - Christian disciples

Prior to posting this devotional, I got the hint for the topic from a christian devotional contrasting the ways of the disciples when they were with Jesus (without experiencing the holy spirit) and after the pentecostal experience. (What a contrast - the disciples hardly understood anything in the spiritual sense - their spirits were dull - Peter denied the lord and warmed his flesh. And contrast the view in Acts and letters where we see the disciples winning souls for the lord) But more than that contrast, I started musing more on the topic of discipleship. I found a well written article on the web - which I need to put here as part of the posts. 

Credit : God's Squad website, Bill Bright

Read on. God Bless!

You can be a great scientist, a famous statesman, or even a great theologian, and still fall short of God's plan for your life.  If you do not understand and experience basic truths about discipleship taught by the apostle Paul and Jesus Christ, you are not his disciple, and you won't be able to disciple others.

The apostle Paul wrote to his spiritual son, his disciple Timothy, in 2 Timothy 2:1,2: "Oh, Timothy, my son, be strong with the strength Christ Jesus gives you.  For you must teach others those things you and many others have heard me speak about.  Teach these great truths to trustworthy men who will, in turn, pass them on to others." [Living Bible]

A disciple is one who loves God, our Lord Jesus Christ, with all his heart, soul, and mind, and tries to become more and more like him through a life of faith and obedience. 

The following are some characteristics of such "trustworthy men":

  1. A disciple must have assurance of salvation.  He must know that he is a child of God, that Christ dwells within him.

  2. A disciple walks in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is responsible for everything that happens in the life of a believer-his new birth, daily walk, understanding of Scripture, and prayers.  He produces the fruit of the Spirit in us, which enables us to live holy lives and witness for Christ.

  3. A disciple demonstrates love for God, his neighbor, his fellow disciples, and his enemies.  Jesus commands us to love God with all of our hearts, with all of our souls, with all of our minds, and he also commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

  4. A disciple is one who knows how to read, study, memorize, and meditate upon the Word of God, to hide its truths in his heart.  It is impossible to walk in the fullness of God's Holy Spirit without an understanding of God's Word.  The reverse is also true-you can't understand God's Word without the Holy Spirit.

  5. A true disciple of Jesus is a man or woman of prayer.  The Lord Jesus Christ, who spent 40 days in prayer and fasting in the wilderness, is our great example of this.

  6. The disciple is one who is obedient, who studies the Word of God, and obeys the commands of God in a lifestyle that honors the Lord Jesus Christ.

  7. A disciple is one who trusts God and lives a life of faith. Scripture reminds us that "without faith it is impossible to please God."

  8. A disciple understands God's grace.  God loves us unconditionally, whether we obey him or not.  This is the opposite of legalism, the primary heresy of the Christian life, which urges us to try to obey God's laws in our own wisdom, our own strength, and our own power.

  9. A disciple is one who witnesses for Christ as a way of life.  As Christians we are to bear fruit, according to John 15:8.  This includes the fruit of souls brought into Christ's kingdom as well as the fruit of the Spirit.

  10. A true disciple of the Lord Jesus worships God in the fellowship of his church.  He is involved in his church through study, worship, prayer, witnessing, and the stewardship of his time, talent, and treasure.

If you want to become a disciple of our Savior and be a discipler of others, you can begin today.  Develop the practice of spending time alone each day with God in prayer and in his Word.  Pray for people who will meet weekly with you, who will commit themselves to changing the world through evangelism and discipleship.  The world desperately needs such a change, but only our Lord Jesus Christ has the power and plan to change men and nations.

Oct 13, 2008

Devotional - Bearing much fruit - with the Holy Spirit

“ He That Abideth in Me, and I in Him, the Same Bringeth Forth Much Fruit ” 
- Joh_15:5
Our Lord had spoken of fruit, more fruit. He now adds the thought: much fruit. There is in the Vine such fullness, the care of the divine Husbandman is so sure of success, that the much fruit is not a demand, but the simple promise of what must come to the branch that lives in the double abiding—he in Christ, and Christ in him. “The same bringeth forth much fruit.” It is certain. 

Have you ever noticed the difference in the Christian life between work and fruit? A machine can do work: only life can bear fruit. A law can compel work: only love can spontaneously bring forth fruit. Work implies effort and labor: the essential idea of fruit is that it is the silent natural restful produce of our inner life. The gardener may labor to give his apple tree the digging and manuring, the watering and the pruning it needs; he can do nothing to produce the apple: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy.” The healthy life bears much fruit. The connection between work and fruit is perhaps best seen in the expression, “fruitful in every good work.” (Col_1:10). It is only when good works come as the fruit of the indwelling Spirit that they are acceptable to God. Under the compulsion of law and conscience, or the influence of inclination and zeal, men may be most diligent in good works, and yet find that they have but little spiritual result. There can be no reason but this—their works are man’s effort, instead of being the fruit of the Spirit, the restful, natural outcome of the Spirit’s operation within us. 

Let all workers come and listen to our holy Vine as He reveals the law of sure and abundant fruitfulness: “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” The gardener cares for one thing—the strength and healthy life of his tree: the fruit follows of itself. If you would bear fruit, see that the inner life is perfectly right, that your relation to Christ Jesus is clear and close. Begin each day with Him in the morning, to know in truth that you are abiding in Him and He in you. Christ tells that nothing less will do. It is not your willing and running, it is not by your might or strength, but—“by my Spirit, saith the Lord.” Meet each new engagement, undertake every new work, with an ear and heart open to the Master’s voice: “He that abideth in me, beareth much fruit.” See you to the abiding; He will see to the fruit, for He will give it in you and through you. 

O my brother, it is Christ must do all! The Vine provides the sap, and the life, and the strength: the branch waits, and rests, and receives, and bears the fruit. Oh, the blessedness of being only branches, through whom the Spirit flows and brings God’s life to men! 

I pray you, take time and ask the Holy Spirit to give you to realize the unspeakably solemn place you occupy in the mind of God. He has planted you into His Son with the calling and the power to bear much fruit. Accept that place. Look much to God, and to Christ, and expect joyfully to be what God has planned to make you, a fruitful branch. 

Much fruit! So be it, blessed Lord Jesus. It can be, for Thou art the Vine. It shall be, for I am abiding in Thee. It must be, for Thy Father is the Husbandman that cleanses the branch. Yea, much fruit, out of the abundance of Thy grace. 

Devotional - Light of life from Jesus

"Then Jesus spoke again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Joh_8:12

Are you, my reader, a searcher of this life? Are you breathing for it, panting after it, seeking it? Then be it known to you, that He who inspired that desire is Himself the life for which you seek. That heaving of your heart, that yearning of your spirit, that "feeling after God, if haply you may find Him," is the first gentle pulsation of a life that shall never die. Feeble and fluctuating, faint and fluttering, as its throbbings may be, it is yet the life of God, the life of Christ, the life of glory in your soul. It is the seedling, the germ of immortal flower; it is the sunshine dawn of an eternal day. The announcement with which we meet your case-and it is the only one that can meet it-is, "THIS MAN RECEIVES SINNERS." Oh joyful tidings! Oh blessed words! Yes, he receives sinners-the vilest-the meanest-the most despised! It was for this He relinquished the abodes of heavenly purity and bliss, to mingle amid the sinful and humiliating scenes of earth. For this He quitted His Father's bosom for a cross. For this He lived and labored, suffered and died. "He receives sinners!" He receives them of every name and condition-of every stature and character and climate. There is no limit to His ability to pardon, as there is none to the sufficiency of His atonement, or to the melting pity of His heart. Flee, then, to Jesus the crucified. To Him repair with your sins, as scarlet and as crimson, and His blood will wash you whiter than snow. What though they may be as clouds for darkness, or as the sand on the sea-shore for multitude; His grace can take them all away. Come with the accusations and tortures of a guilty conscience, come with the sorrow and relentings of a broken heart, come with the grief of the backslider, and with the confession of the prodigal; Jesus still meets you with the hope-inspiring words-"Him that comes unto me, I will in no wise cast out." Then, "return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon you; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon!"

Devotional - The best intercessor - Jesus

"And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." 1 John 2:1 

WE are used to read in the Bible of one Intercessor, and of one advocacy. But the believer has two courts with which prayer has to do. In the court below, where prayer is offered, the Spirit is his Intercessor. In the court above, where prayer is presented, Jesus is his Intercessor. Then, what an honored, what a privileged man, is the praying man! On earth-the lower court-he has a Counselor instructing him for what he should pray, and how he should order his suit. In heaven-the higher court-he has an Advocate presenting to God each petition as it ascends, separating from it all that is ignorant, sinful, and weak, and pleading for its gracious acceptance, and asking for its full bestowment. Here, then, is our vast encouragement in prayer. The inditings of the Spirit-the Intercessor of earth-are always in agreement with the mind of God. In prayer we need just such a Divine counselor. Is it temporal blessing that we crave? We need to be taught how to graduate our request to our necessity, and how to shape our necessity to our heavenly calling. Supplication for temporal good is, we think, limited. And this is the limit, "Having food and clothing, let us be therewith content." What child of God is warranted in asking worldly wealth, or distinction, or rank? And what child of God, in a healthy state of soul, would ask them? "But," says the apostle, "my God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Should God, in His providence, send either of these temporal things undesired, unasked, and unexpected, receive it as from Him, and use it as to Him. But with regard to spiritual blessings, our grant is illimitable, our requests may be boundless. "Ask what you will," is the broad, unrestricted warrant. When we ask to be perfected in the love of God, we ask for that which is in accordance with the will of God-for "God is love." When we ask for an increase of faith, we ask for that which is in accordance with the will of God; for "without faith it is impossible to please him." When we ask for more divine conformity, we ask for that which is in harmony with God's will; for He has said, "Be you holy, for I am holy." And when we ask for comfort, we plead for that which it is in His heart to give-for He is the "God of all comfort." Oh, to possess a Divine counselor, dwelling in our hearts, who will never indite a wrong prayer, nor suggest a weak argument, nor mislead us in any one particular, in the solemn, the important, the holy engagement of prayer; who is acquainted with the purpose of God; who knows the mind of God; who understands the will of God; who reads the heart of God; yes, who is God Himself. What encouragement is this to more real prayer! Are you moved to pray? While you muse, does the fire burn? Is your heart stirred up to ask of God some especial blessing for yourself, or for others? Are you afflicted? Oh, then, rise and pray-the Spirit prompts you-the Savior invites you-your heavenly Father waits to answer you.  

With such an Intercessor in the court on earth-so divine, so loving, and so sympathizing-and with such an Intercessor in the court in heaven-so powerful, so eloquent, and so successful, "let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." 

Oct 5, 2008

Devotional - Salvation - Its simplicity and exclusivity in Jesus

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”
- Mar_16:16

A gem from Spurgeon - on salvation and it's simplicity

Mr. MacDonald asked the inhabitants of the island of St. Kilda how a man must be saved. An old man replied, “We shall be saved if we repent, and forsake our sins, and turn to God.” “Yes,” said a middle-aged female, “and with a true heart too.” “Aye,” rejoined a third, “and with prayer”; and, added a fourth, “It must be the prayer of the heart.” “And we must be diligent too,” said a fifth, “in keeping the commandments.” Thus, each having contributed his mite, feeling that a very decent creed had been made up, they all looked and listened for the preacher’s approbation, but they had aroused his deepest pity. The carnal mind always maps out for itself a way in which self can work and become great, but the Lord’s way is quite the reverse. Believing and being baptized are no matters of merit to be gloried in-they are so simple that boasting is excluded, and free grace bears the palm. It may be that the reader is unsaved-what is the reason? Do you think the way of salvation as laid down in the text to be dubious? How can that be when God has pledged his own word for its certainty? Do you think it too easy? Why, then, do you not attend to it? Its ease leaves those without excuse who neglect it. To believe is simply to trust, to depend, to rely upon Christ Jesus. To be baptized is to submit to the ordinance which our Lord fulfilled at Jordan, to which the converted ones submitted at Pentecost, to which the jailer yielded obedience the very night of his conversion. The outward sign saves not, but it sets forth to us our death, burial, and resurrection with Jesus, and, like the Lord’s Supper, is not to be neglected. Reader, do you believe in Jesus? Then, dear friend, dismiss your fears, you shall be saved. Are you still an unbeliever, then remember there is but one door, and if you will not enter by it you will perish in your sins.

Devotional - Backsliding away from God - Lack of prayer

"Yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand your truth. Therefore has the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he does." Dan_9:13; Dan_9:14

All backsliding has its commencement in the neglect of prayer: it may date its beginning at the throne of grace. The restraining of prayer before God was the first step in departure; and the first step taken, and not immediately retraced, was quickly succeeded by others. Reader, do you tremble at the possibility of ever becoming a backslider? do you dread the thought of wounding Jesus, then restrain not prayer before God; vigilantly guard against the first symptom of declension in this holy exercise, or if that symptom has already appeared, haste you to the dear Physician, who alone has power to arrest its progress, and heal your soul.

A distant walk from God will super-induce distant thoughts of God, and this is no light consequence of the soul's declension in the spirit and habit of prayer. If the simple axiom be true, that the more intimate we become with any object, the better we are prepared to judge of its nature and properties, we may apply it with peculiar appropriateness to our acquaintance with God. The encouraging invitation of His word is, "Acquaint now yourself with God, and be at peace." Now, it is this acquaintance with God that brings us into the knowledge of His character as a holy, loving, and faithful God; and it is this knowledge of His character that begets love and confidence in the soul towards Him. The more we know of God, the more we love Him: the more we try Him, the more we confide in Him. Let the spiritual reader, then, conceive what dire effects must result from a distant walk with God. When He appears in His corrective dealings, how will those dealings be interpreted in the distant walk of the soul? As of a covenant God? as of a loving Father? No, far from it. They will receive a harsh and unkind interpretation, and this will neutralize their effect: for in order to reap the proper fruit of the Lord's dealings with the soul, it is necessary that they should be viewed in the light of His faithfulness and love. The moment they are otherwise interpreted, the soul starts off from God, and wraps itself up in gloomy and repulsive views of His character, and government, and dealings. But this will assuredly follow from a distant walk. Oh guard against a declension in prayer; let there be no distance between God and your soul!

Do not forget that the season of trial and of bereavement is often the sanctified occasion of a revival of prayer in the soul. The Lord has marked your wanderings, He has had His eye upon the declension of your soul. That voice, always so pleasant to His ear, has ceased to call upon Him; and now He would recover you; He would hear that voice again, and how will He effect it? He causes you to "pass under the rod," sends some sore trial, lays on you some weighty cross, brings trouble and sorrow into your soul, and then you cry unto Him, and do besiege the mercy-seat. Oh how eagerly is God sought, how attractive and how precious does the throne of grace become, when the soul is thus led into deep waters of trial! No longer silent, no longer dumb, the believer calls upon God, pleads with "strong crying and tears," wrestles and agonizes, and thus the slumbering spirit of prayer is stirred up and revived in the soul. Oh sweet affliction, oh precious discipline, that brings back the wandering soul to a closer and a holier walk with God!

Again we exhort the believer-guard against the least declension in prayer; let the first unfavorable symptom that appears alarm you, go to the Lord in your worst frames; stay not from Him until you get a good one. Satan's grand argument to keep a soul from prayer is-"Go not with that cold and insensible frame; go not with that hard and sinful heart; stay until you are more fit to approach God!" and listening to this specious reasoning, many poor, distressed, burdened, longing souls have been kept from the throne of grace, and consequently from all comfort and consolation. But the gospel says-"Go in your very worst frames;" Christ says-"Come just as you are;" and every promise and every example but encourages the soul to repair to the cross, whatever be its frame or condition.