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Sunday, April 17, 2016

All the Hell ... (and other devotionals)


All the Hell that you shall ever have!

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod" or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes" by Thomas Brooks, 1659)

Consider Christian, that all your . . .
  trials and troubles,
  calamities and miseries,
  crosses and losses,
which you meet with in this world--is all the Hell that you shall ever have!

Here and now, you have your Hell. 
Hereafter, you shall have your Heaven! 

This life is the worst of your condition--the best is yet to come! 

Lazarus had his Hell first--and his Heaven last. 
Dives had his Heaven first--and his Hell at last. 

You have all your pangs, and pains, and throes here--that ever you shall have! 
Your ease, and rest, and pleasure--is yet to come.

Here you have all your bitters--your sweets are yet to come! 

Here you have your sorrows--your joys are yet to come. 

Here you have all your winter nights--your summer days are yet to come!

Here you have your evil things--your good things are yet to come. 

Death will put an end to all your sins--and to all your sufferings! 

Death will be an inlet to those joys, delights, and comforts--which shall never have an end! 

Who can seriously meditate upon this, and not be silent under God's most smarting rod?

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THE CROSS


by Archibald Alexander
Whence came the tree from which the cross was made? What has become of the particles of which it was composed? What hands were employed in preparing this instrument of a cruel death? To such questions no answer can be given--and none is needed. The cross was a common mode of punishment among several nations, and among the Romans was reserved for the punishment of slaves and the vilest malefactors. It was never made use of by the Jews. If they had had the power of execution in their hands when Christ suffered, the punishment for the offence alleged against him would have been stoning. But by the ordering of divine Providence, our Lord was put to death in that way which was accursed, according to the Jewish law; for it was written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree."
The death of Christ on the cross may well be reckoned mysterious, for it was at the same time a cursed and a blesseddeath. Christ was "made a curse for us," that he might deliver us from the curse of the law. And yet Christ's death on the cross is the most blessed event which ever occurred in the world; for on the cross the price of our redemption was paid. Christ "bore our sins in his own body on the tree." He died, "the just for the unjust," to bring us unto God. This led Paul to say, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
The cross is a center in which many lines of truth meet. The cross is an incomprehensible mystery. That God should be manifest in the flesh, is the great "mystery of godliness." That the Prince of life should be crucified, was an event which caused the angels to stoop from their celestial thrones, that they might gaze in amazement upon it. The prophets who predicted these events were perplexed at their own prophecies, "They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating, when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow."
The truths which are exhibited in a clear and strong light by the crucifixion of Christ, are such as these:
1. The infinite evil of sin, which in order to its pardon required such a sacrifice.
2. The holiness and justice of God, which would not allow sin to pass without full evidence of the divine disapprobation, and his inflexible purpose to visit it with deserved punishment.
3. The wisdom of God, in contriving a method of salvation by which his own glory would be promoted in the eternal salvation of hell-deserving sinners. This wisdom is chiefly manifest in the incarnation of the Son of God, by which the divine and human natures are united in one person.
4. But the most wonderful exhibition of the cross is the mercy of God, the love of God to sinners—such love as never could have been conceived of, had it not been manifest by the gift of his own Son! "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life."
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 The Providence of God!

(Don Fortner)

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Predestination is the sovereign, eternal, immutable, unalterable purpose of God almighty, by which He ordained and ordered, according to His own will and good pleasure, all things that come to pass in time.

Divine providence is the daily, constant, sovereign rule of our God over all things for the accomplishment of His eternal purpose of grace in predestination. Divine providence is the accomplishment of God's sovereign will and purpose. Providence is God bringing to pass in time (sovereignly, absolutely, and perfectly) what He purposed in eternity.

Predestination is God's purpose.
Providence is God's execution of His purpose.

Nothing in the universe happens by luck, chance, fortune, accident or by blind fate! Everything that comes to pass in time--was purposed by our God in eternity, and is brought to pass by His wise, adorable, good Providence.

Nothing comes to pass in time--that God did not purpose in eternity, in sovereign predestination.
Nothing comes to pass in time--except that which God sovereignly brings to pass in His Providence.
And that which God predestined in eternity and brings to pass in his Providence is for the good of His elect, and the glory of His name. This is clearly and incontrovertibly the teaching of Holy Scripture (Psalm 76:10; Proverbs 16:4, 9, 33; 21:1; Daniel 4:34, 35, 37; Isaiah 46:9-11; Romans 11:33-36).

Providence is God's government of the universe. If we have a proper view of God's Providence, we will see the hand of God and the heart of God in everything--in all the experiences of our lives. Believers ascribe their sorrows, and even the cursing of their enemies--to the hand of their heavenly Father's wise and good Providence (Job 1:21; 1 Samuel 3:18; 2 Samuel 16:11-12).

God is not idle. He never needs to rest, recuperate, or regroup. God almighty, our God and heavenly Father--is always at work, governing the world. I have frequently heard preachers and religious leaders speak of sickness, poverty and war, sin, crime and cruelty, famine, earthquakes and death--as things over which God has no control. Nonsense!

God's Providence is as 'minute' as it is 'mysterious' (Matthew 10:30). Our God has ordained the number of hairs on the heads of all. Not even a worthless sparrow falls to the ground without His decree.

God's Providence is 'all inclusive'. God rules everything, great and small, everywhere, and at all times.

He who created all things, rules all things!

Nothing in God's universe breathes or wiggles contrary to God's decree (Isaiah 46:9-13).

As a wise, skilled pharmacist mixes medicine--so our heavenly Father wisely mixes exactly the right measure of bitter things and sweet, to do us good.
Too much joy would intoxicate us.
Too much misery would drive us to despair.
Too much sorrow would crush us.
Too much suffering would break our spirits.
Too much pleasure would ruin us.
Too much defeat would discourage us.
Too much success would puff us up.
Too much failure would keep us from doing anything.
Too much criticism would harden us.
Too much praise would make us proud.
Our great God knows exactly what we need. By His grace, if we are His--we will bow to His Providence, accept it, and give thanks for it.

God's Providence is always executed in the 'wisest manner' possible. We are often unable to see and understand the reasons and causes for specific events in our lives, in the lives of others, or in the history of the world. But our lack of understanding does not prevent us from believing God. We bow to His will, which is evident in His works of Providence, and say, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!"

The God of Providence rules all things well. How we ought to trust Him! Ever remember, our heavenly Father is God all wise, good, and omnipotent. He is. . .
  too wise to err,
  too good to do wrong,
  and too strong to fail!

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Why the Cross?

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

—1 Corinthians 1:18

A true story was reported about a couple that was visiting a jewelry store. As the jeweler showed them various crosses, the woman commented, "I like these, but do you have any without this little man on them?"

That is what so many people want today: a cross without Jesus. They want a cross without any offense, one that will look cool with their outfits. But if we could travel back in time and see the cross in its original context, we would realize that it was a bloody and vile symbol. It would have been the worst picture imaginable to see someone hanging on a cross.

The Romans chose crucifixion because it was meant to be a slow, torturous way to die. It was designed to humiliate a person. The crucifixions outside Roman cities served as warnings to anyone who would dare oppose the rule of Rome.

If there was any other way, do you think that God would have allowed His Son to suffer like this? If there had been any other way we could have been forgiven, then God surely would have found it. If living a good moral life would get us to heaven, then Jesus never would have died for us. But He did, because there was and is no other way. He had to pay the price for our sin. At the Cross, Jesus purchased the salvation of the world.

If you were ever tempted to doubt God's love for you, even for a moment, then take a long, hard look at the Cross. Nails did not hold Jesus to that cross. His love did.
~Greg Laurie~
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Wisdom Cries Out
Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, At the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words: "How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge. Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke,  I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you.  "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the Lord, They would have none of my counsel And despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies.  For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them;  But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil." Proverbs 1:20-33
I awoke one morning to a phone call from my mom, who lives in Tennessee. She called to tell me that she was okay, just in case I had seen the news and worried if she had survived. The night before, tornadoes had ripped through my family's small town and devastated a large portion of the area. I thanked God that she was okay, at least physically. Deeper though, I wondered how much more was headed our way – in terms of storms. Has anyone noticed that there seems to be a pattern of climate changes and weather related catastrophes? Are these "wake up" calls from God?
Today's verses speak about our attitude towards God's wisdom. Are we choosing to fear the Lord, or are we turning from Him? To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). Today we need wisdom from above to live in this world as Christians. We must keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus so that nothing else matters. The tighter we cling to the world's goods, the harder it is to lose them. Storms will come in our lives; they will continue to challenge and test our hearts. Read the verses above and pray that your heart seeks the Lord first in all that you do. Ask Him to give you wisdom. Pray for "the fear of the Lord" to bring safety and protection in the midst of the storms. Do not stop praying.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~
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BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”James 4:17

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Are you one of those people who believes “Put off until tomorrow what you could be doing today”? This is one of those times when the fingers pointing back at me outnumber the one that’s pointing to you! What am I talking about? Procrastination.

Did you know that procrastination is a sin? I say that because sin is not merely doing wrong, it is failing to do what you ought to do. Procrastination and disobedience are just different shades of the same sin. I heard a quote once that said it well:
               “When you have a job to do,
               Begin this very hour.
               You supply the will,
               God supplies the power.”

That is the will power we need to instantly obey!

ACTION POINT:
Has a certain task been hounding you? Confess your procrastination as sin. And act now. Don’t hesitate. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow may never come. Today is the day!

Adrian Rogers~
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The Value of Seeking the Lord
We all have ambitions and desires. And while these are not necessarily wrong, we should analyze our priorities: Where do I invest my time and energy? What or who occupies my thoughts? As important as our earthly pursuits, responsibilities, and relationships may be, they cannot compare to the value of a life spent seeking the Lord.
First of all, consider what it means to seeksomething. The word connotes a strong desire and an energetic quest to achieve it.Suppose you discovered a very productive vein of gold on your property. You wouldn’t just stroll out and look at it occasionally. No, you would gather some equipment and diligently go out each day to chip away at the rocks and collect the precious metal.
In the same way, seeking the Lord is not a quick and occasional encounter, but a wholehearted effort to know Him more intimately and follow Him more closely. Those who unreservedly pursue this kind of fellowship with God are determined to spend time with Him; they also want to forsake anything that could hinder growth in their relationship with the Lord. God’s committed followers boldly claim His promises and trust Him to fulfill His Word. Their experiences with the Lord bring amazing satisfaction yet cause them to hunger for more of Him.
The Christian life is meant to be a pursuit of God. To walk through the door of salvation and stand still, never drawing any closer to Him, is to miss the treasures that are available in Christ. Those who seek Him soon discover that knowing Him is the greatest reward of all.

~Charles Stanley~

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