JOY OF THE LORD

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 God will live among us with great joy

Have you experienced God’s comfort in times of sorrow?

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.

Psalm 30:11 NLT

Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return to Jerusalem, singing songs of everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be overcome with joy and gladness.

Isaiah 51:11 NLT

 

 

Mourning to joy

Have you ever danced at a funeral? That would be unthinkable, absurd. Funerals are times of reflection, sorrow, and mourning. We expect funerals to bring sadness and tears, not joy and celebration. 

We mourn for many reasons, and each painful loss tears our emotions and causes us to regret past actions and missed opportunities, to wonder what might have been. Certainly nothing hurts more than the death of a loved one — we miss our fiance or spouse or child or parent or friend, and we long to hear that familiar voice and feel the person’s touch. 

Through the Scriptures, however, we learn that, one day, God will turn mourning into gladness and sadness into joy. That is God’s plan. Because we know him, our ultimate destiny is heaven, and we have the solid assurance that one day all sickness, death and sorrow will be banished — we will be perfect and complete. All of this earth, including our pain, is temporary, but our joy will last forever. 

From A Cup of Living Water for a Hurting Soul (Tyndale House) pp110-11

 

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

God is Jealous

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Morning

“God is jealous.”
Nahum 1:2

Your Lord is very jealous of your love, O believer. Did he choose you? He cannot bear that you should choose another. Did he buy you with his own blood? He cannot endure that you should think that you are your own, or that you belong to this world. He loved you with such a love that he would not stop in heaven without you; he would sooner die than you should perish, and he cannot endure that anything should stand between your heart’s love and himself. He is very jealous of your trust. He will not permit you to trust in an arm of flesh. He cannot bear that you should hew out broken cisterns, when the overflowing fountain is always free to you. When we lean upon him, he is glad, but when we transfer our dependence to another, when we rely upon our own wisdom, or the wisdom of a friend–worst of all, when we trust in any works of our own, he is displeased, and will chasten us that he may bring us to himself. He is also very jealous of our company. There should be no one with whom we converse so much as with Jesus. To abide in him only, this is true love; but to commune with the world, to find sufficient solace in our carnal comforts, to prefer even the society of our fellow Christians to secret intercourse with him, this is grievous to our jealous Lord. He would fain have us abide in him, and enjoy constant fellowship with himself; and many of the trials which he sends us are for the purpose of weaning our hearts from the creature, and fixing them more closely upon himself. Let this jealousy which would keep us near to Christ be also a comfort to us, for if he loves us so much as to care thus about our love we may be sure that he will suffer nothing to harm us, and will protect us from all our enemies. Oh that we may have grace this day to keep our hearts in sacred chastity for our Beloved alone, with sacred jealousy shutting our eyes to all the fascinations of the world!

Evening

“I will sing of mercy and judgment.”
Psalm 101:1

Faith triumphs in trial. When reason is thrust into the inner prison, with her feet made fast in the stocks, faith makes the dungeon walls ring with her merry notes as she cries, “I will sing of mercy and of judgment. Unto thee, O Lord, will I sing.” Faith pulls the black mask from the face of trouble, and discovers the angel beneath. Faith looks up at the cloud, and sees that

“‘Tis big with mercy and shall break

In blessings on her head.”

There is a subject for song even in the judgments of God towards us. For, first, the trial is not so heavy as it might have been; next, the trouble is not so severe as we deserved to have borne; and our affliction is not so crushing as the burden which others have to carry. Faith sees that in her worst sorrow there is nothing penal; there is not a drop of God’s wrath in it; it is all sent in love. Faith discerns love gleaming like a jewel on the breast of an angry God. Faith says of her grief, “This is a badge of honour, for the child must feel the rod;” and then she sings of the sweet result of her sorrows, because they work her spiritual good. Nay, more, says Faith, “These light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” So Faith rides forth on the black horse, conquering and to conquer, trampling down carnal reason and fleshly sense, and chanting notes of victory amid the thickest of the fray.

“All I meet I find assists me

In my path to heavenly joy:

Where, though trials now attend me,

Trials never more annoy.

“Blest there with a weight of glory,

Still the path I’ll ne’er forget,

But, exulting, cry, it led me

To my blessed Saviour’s seat.”

All rights belong to the collection of Charles Spurgeon(C)

Contagious Joy

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God will live among us with great joy

Do you have a joy that rubs off on other people?

Psalm 34:4-7

Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked unto him, and were lightened:
and their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him,
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him,
and delivereth them.

Contagious joy

Do you enjoy watching the televised Olympic games? If you do, you know the joy the winners of an Olympic event experience is contagious. That’s one reason millions of people watch the Olympics so religiously. It’s not simply to see the drama of the event and the excellence and form of the athletes. It’s also to share in the contagious joy of the winners. In Psalm 34 David describes the same type of joy radiating from believers. All those who look to God for help will experience a joy so intense that other people can see it in their faces. David says the reason for that joy is that God has heard and answered our prayers. Our shame has been taken away. We have been set free from all our fears because the angel of the Lord encamps around us. He guards his people. Pray today that the angel of the Lord will set up camp around you and your relationships. Commit your fears and worries to God, and ask him to guard you. He can set you free from your fears and grant you radiant joy as you look to him for help.

 

Adapted from Praying God’s Promises for My Marriage by John Farrar (Tyndale House), pp 92-93

Wycliffe Challenged the Pope? Yes, Christ is Head of the Church!

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John Wycliffe – English Bible Translator

Quote: “It is not necessary to go either to Rome or to Avignon in order to seek a decision from the pope, since the triune God is everywhere. Our pope is Christ.” (John Wycliffe, De simonia, de apostasia, de blasphemia; On the Church, 1378-1379)

Twenty-nine years after John Wycliffe (c.1324 – 1384) died, his bones were dug up and burned, a retroactive rebuke to the “stiff-necked heretic.” At the time of his death, a Catholic leader had written a scathing indictment, calling him an “instrument of the devil” and “an enemy of the church.”

Who was this man who drew forth such vitriol? To later Protestants he would be hailed as “the Morningstar of the Reformation.” During his lifetime, he committed himself to Scripture translation in the “vulgar” language and denied purgatory and the validity of indulgences. He also articulated a theological framework that rejected the efficacy of the Mass and the dogma of transubstantiation. He was a scholar and a trained theologian whose direct link to sixteenth-century Reformers is very clear. Born into a large landed family in Yorkshire, England, Wycliffe attended local schools, and by his early twenties was a student at Oxford, where he received a broad education in science, mathematics, philosophy, and biblical studies. A brilliant scholar, he quickly moved from student to tutor to director of Canterbury Hall, and he became a Doctor of Theology in his early forties, lecturing and later serving as a parish priest in Lutterworth.

Wycliffe’s demand for religious reform was intrinsically tied to politics and commerce as well as to foreign policy. His first book (containing eighteen theses) argued that in temporal matters the king and parliament have authority over the church and its clergy, including the pope.

The new ideas created excitement among Wycliffe’s students, and the movement spread like wildfire. Opposing him, however, were monks and most of the English clerics, who dependended on the papacy. His most illustrious opponent was Pope Gregory XI himself, who issued a bull against Wycliffe and his eighteen theses, denouncing the professor’s dangerous teachings. The pope angrily laid out his case against him, warning Oxford to be rid of him.

Summoned to appear before leading bishops in Lambeth, Wycliffe arrived, accompanied by a boisterous parade of supporters, including Joan of Kent, the king’s mother. He was ordered to desist teaching heresy, but he refused to be silenced, finding the pen more powerful than the tongue. Insisting that Christ, not the pope, is head of the church, he argued that it is not “necessary to go either to Rome or to Avignon in order to seek a decision from the pope since the triune God is everywhere.” He later equated the pope with the antichrist.

Wycliffe’s crowning achievement was the English Bible; he argued that the only way Christians could truly follow Christ was through reading Scripture in their own tongue. Such ideas, however, threatened orthodoxy. “The jewel of the clergy,” clerics railed, “has become the toy of the laity.” Distributing the newly translated Scriptures were barefoot itinerant “poor priests” scorned as Lollards. They were persecuted, and Bibles were burned. But the movement continued to spread.

Both large and small landowners supported the secularization of church property, but when Wycliffe began meddling with religious rituals and dogma, many were uneasy. Church tradition was centuries old in England. Messing with the Mass was simply not tolerated. But that was exactly what he did. In 1380, just prior to the peasants’ rebellion (which he strongly opposed), he issued a provocative challenge to the doctrine of transubstantiation, attacking Thomas Aquinas for what he deemed heresy—that the bread and wine are transformed into the actual body and blood of Christ. He maintained that the church is the body of Christ, made up of elect only, all others being reprobate. He also rejected merit for indulgences, penance, pilgrimages, and confession, since only Christ forgives sin.

England was not ready for such a thoroughgoing reformation, however. In 1382 Wycliffe was ordered to appear before a synod in Oxford. Poor health and lack of concern among members of parliament worked in his favor. He was permitted to return to his parish, where he died two years later. His followers, the Lollards, carried on as an underground movement.

Source:  http://links.biblegateway.mkt4731.com/servlet/MailView?ms=NDI1ODkwMjMS1&r=MjgwMDY2NDIzMjgS1&j=MjAyOTYyNzE2S0&mt=1&rt=0

get rid of their foreign gods

dailydevotion

September 13, 2013
Getting Serious
1 Samuel 7:3-17
Read

Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you are really serious about wanting to return to the LORD, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the LORD; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the LORD.

Then Samuel told them, “Gather all of Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the LORD for you.” So they gathered at Mizpah and, in a great ceremony, drew water from a well and poured it out before the LORD. They also went without food all day and confessed that they had sinned against the LORD. (It was at Mizpah that Samuel became Israel’s judge. (1 Samuel 7:3-6)

Reflect

Samuel became the last in the long line of Israel’s judges (leaders), a line that began when Israel first conquered the Promised Land. A judge was both a political and a religious leader. God was Israel’s true leader, while the judge was to be God’s spokesman to the people and administrator of justice throughout the land. While some of Israel’s judges relied more on their own judgment than on God’s, Samuel’s obedience and dedication to God made him one of the greatest judges in Israel’s history.

Samuel urged the Israelites to get rid of their foreign gods. They could easily pledge allegiance to God, but discarding their images would show that they were “really serious.”

Idols today are much more subtle than gods of wood and stone, but they are just as dangerous. Whatever holds first place in our lives or controls us is our god. Money, success, material goods, pride, or anything else can be an idol if it takes the place of God in our lives. The Lord alone is worthy of our service and worship, and we must let nothing rival him.

Respond

If you have “foreign gods,” ask God to help you dethrone them, making the true God your first priority. Pray that you can become like Samuel, who lived a life in obedience to God.

GOD’S GRACE

THY WORD

2 Corinthians 6

6 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says,

“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Paul’s Hardships

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.

Warning Against Idolatry

14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”

17 Therefore,

“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”

18 And,

“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 byBiblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Valley of Baca

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Morning

“Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well, the rain also filleth the pools.”
Psalm 84:6

This teaches us that the comfort obtained by a one may often prove serviceable to another; just as wells would be used by the company who came after. We read some book full of consolation, which is like Jonathan’s rod, dropping with honey. Ah! we think our brother has been here before us, and digged this well for us as well as for himself. Many a “Night of Weeping,” “Midnight Harmonies,” an “Eternal Day,” “A Crook in the Lot,” a “Comfort for Mourners,” has been a well digged by a pilgrim for himself, but has proved quite as useful to others. Specially we notice this in the Psalms, such as that beginning, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” Travellers have been delighted to see the footprint of man on a barren shore, and we love to see the waymarks of pilgrims while passing through the vale of tears.

The pilgrims dig the well, but, strange enough, it fills from the top instead of the bottom. We use the means, but the blessing does not spring from the means. We dig a well, but heaven fills it with rain. The horse is prepared against the day of battle, but safety is of the Lord. The means are connected with the end, but they do not of themselves produce it. See here the rain fills the pools, so that the wells become useful as reservoirs for the water; labour is not lost, but yet it does not supersede divine help.

Grace may well be compared to rain for its purity, for its refreshing and vivifying influence, for its coming alone from above, and for the sovereignty with which it is given or withheld. May our readers have showers of blessing, and may the wells they have digged be filled with water! Oh, what are means and ordinances without the smile of heaven! They are as clouds without rain, and pools without water. O God of love, open the windows of heaven and pour us out a blessing!

Evening

“This man receiveth sinners.”
Luke 15:2

Observe the condescension of this fact. This Man, who towers above all other men, holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners–this Man receiveth sinners. This Man, who is no other than the eternal God, before whom angels veil their faces–this Man receiveth sinners. It needs an angel’s tongue to describe such a mighty stoop of love. That any of us should be willing to seek after the lost is nothing wonderful–they are of our own race; but that he, the offended God, against whom the transgression has been committed, should take upon himself the form of a servant, and bear the sin of many, and should then be willing to receive the vilest of the vile, this is marvellous.

“This Man receiveth sinners”; not, however, that they may remain sinners, but he receives them that he may pardon their sins, justify their persons, cleanse their hearts by his purifying word, preserve their souls by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, and enable them to serve him, to show forth his praise, and to have communion with him. Into his heart’s love he receives sinners, takes them from the dunghill, and wears them as jewels in his crown; plucks them as brands from the burning, and preserves them as costly monuments of his mercy. None are so precious in Jesus’ sight as the sinners for whom he died. When Jesus receives sinners, he has not some out-of-doors reception place, no casual ward where he charitably entertains them as men do passing beggars, but he opens the golden gates of his royal heart, and receives the sinner right into himself–yea, he admits the humble penitent into personal union and makes him a member of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. There was never such a reception as this! This fact is still most sure this evening, he is still receiving sinners: would to God sinners would receive him.

All rights belong to the collection of Charles Spurgeon(C)