Sing forth the honour of His name, make His praise glorious


C. H. Spurgeon from his Morning by Morning for September 30.


 

“Sing forth the honour of His name, make His praise glorious.”—Psalm 66:2.

IT is not left to our own option whether we shall praise God or not. Praise is God’s most righteous due, and every Christian, as the recipient of His grace, is bound to praise God from day to day. It is true we have no authoritative rubric for daily praise; we have no commandment prescribing certain hours of song and thanksgiving: but the law written upon the heart teaches us that it is right to praise God; and the unwritten mandate comes to us with as much force as if it had been recorded on the tables of stone, or handed to us from the top of thundering Sinai. Yes, it is the Christian’s duty to praise God. It is not only a pleasurable exercise, but it is the absolute obligation of his life. Think not ye who are always mourning, that ye are guiltless in this respect, or imagine that ye can discharge your duty to your God without songs of praise. You are bound by the bonds of His love to bless His name so long as you live, and His praise should continually be in your mouth, for you are blessed, in order that you may bless Him; “this people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise”1; and if you do not praise God, you are not bringing forth the fruit which He, as the Divine Husbandman, has a right to expect at your hands. Let not your harp then hang upon the willows, but take it down, and strive, with a grateful heart, to bring forth its loudest music. Arise and chant His praise. With every morning’s dawn, lift up your notes of thanksgiving, and let every setting sun be followed with your song. Girdle the earth with your praises; surround it with an atmosphere of melody, and God Himself will hearken from heaven and accept your music.

 

“E’en so I love Thee, and will love,
And in Thy praise will sing,
Because Thou art my loving God,
And my redeeming King.”

 

1Isaiah 43:21


Come needy, come guilty, come loathsome and bare; You can’t come too filthy—come just as you are


C. H. Spurgeon devotion from his Morning by Morning for September 29


“Behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague.”—Leviticus 13:13.

STRANGE enough this regulation appears, yet there was wisdom in it, for the throwing out of the disease proved that the constitution was sound. This morning it may be well for us to see the typical teaching of so singular a rule. We, too, are lepers, and may read the law of leper as applicable to ourselves. When a man sees himself to be altogether lost and ruined, covered all over with the defilement of sin, and no part free from pollution; when he disclaims all righteousness of his own, and pleads guilty before the Lord, then is he clean through the blood of Jesus, and the grace of God. Hidden, unfelt, unconfessed iniquity is the true leprosy, but when sin is seen and felt it has received its death blow, and the Lord looks with eyes of mercy upon the soul afflicted with it. Nothing is more deadly than self-righteousness, or more hopeful than contrition. We must confess that we are “nothing else but sin,” for no confession short of this will be the whole truth, and if the Holy Spirit be at work with us, convincing us of sin, there will be no difficulty about making such an acknowledgment—it will spring spontaneously from our lips. What comfort does the text afford to those under a deep sense of sin! Sin mourned and confessed, however black and foul, shall never shut a man out from the Lord Jesus. Whosoever cometh unto Him, He will in no wise cast out. Though dishonest as the thief, though unchaste as the woman who was a sinner, though fierce as Saul of Tarsus, though cruel as Manasseh, though rebellious as the prodigal, the great heart of love will look upon the man who feels himself to have no soundness in him, and will pronounce him clean, when he trusts in Jesus crucified. Come to Him, then, poor heavy-laden sinner,
Come needy, come guilty, come loathsome and bare; You can’t come too filthy—come just as you are.

 

The LORD looketh from heaven He beholdeth all the sons of men


C. H. Spurgeon devotion from his Morning by Morning for September 28.

The LORD looketh from heaven;
he beholdeth all the sons of men Psalms 33:13 (KJV)

PERHAPS no figure of speech represents God in a more gracious light than when He is spoken of as stooping from His throne, and coming down from heaven to attend to the wants and to behold the woes of mankind. We love Him, who, when Sodom and Gomorrah were full of iniquity, would not destroy those cities until He had made a personal visitation of them. We cannot help pouring out our heart in affection for our Lord who inclines His ear from the highest glory, and puts it to the lip of the dying sinner, whose failing heart longs after reconciliation. How can we but love Him when we know that He numbers the very hairs of our heads, marks our path, and orders our ways? Specially is this great truth brought near to our heart, when we recollect how attentive He is, not merely to the temporal interests of His creatures, but to their spiritual concerns. Though leagues of distance lie between the finite creature and the infinite Creator, yet there are links uniting both. When a tear is wept by thee, think not that God doth not behold; for, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” Thy sigh is able to move the heart of Jehovah; thy whisper can incline His ear unto thee; thy prayer can stay His hand; thy faith can move His arm. Think not that God sits on high taking no account of thee. Remember that however poor and needy thou art, yet the Lord thinketh upon thee. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him.
Oh! then repeat the truth that never tires; No God is like the God my soul desires; He at whose voice heaven trembles, even He, Great as He is, knows how to stoop to me.

The myrtle trees that were in the bottom


C. H. Spurgeon devotion from his Morning by Morning devotional for September 26.

“The myrtle trees that were in the bottom.”—Zechariah 1:8.
HE vision in this chapter describes the condition of Israel in Zechariah’s day; but being interpreted in its aspect towards us, it describes the Church of God as we find it now in the world. The Church is compared to a myrtle grove flourishing in a valley. It is hidden, unobserved, secreted; courting no honour and attracting no observation from the careless gazer. The Church, like her head, has a glory, but it is concealed from carnal eyes, for the time of her breaking forth in all her splendour is not yet come. The idea of tranquil security is also suggested to us: for the myrtle grove in the valley is still and calm, while the storm sweeps over the mountain summits. Tempests spend their force upon the craggy peaks of the Alps, but down yonder where flows the stream which maketh glad the city of our God, the myrtles flourish by the still waters, all unshaken by the impetuous wind. How great is the inward tranquility of God’s Church! Even when opposed and persecuted, she has a peace which the world gives not, and which, therefore, it cannot take away: the peace of God which passeth all understanding keeps the hearts and minds of God’s people. Does not the metaphor forcibly picture the peaceful, perpetual growth of the saints? The myrtle sheds not her leaves, she is always green; and the Church in her worst time still hath a blessed verdure of grace about her; nay, she has sometimes exhibited most verdure when her winter has been sharpest. She has prospered most when her adversities have been most severe. Hence the text hints at victory. The myrtle is the emblem of peace, and a significant token of triumph. The brows of conquerors were bound with myrtle and with laurel; and is not the Church ever victorious? Is not every Christian more than a conqueror through Him that loved him? Living in peace, do not the saints fall asleep in the arms of victory?

Just, and the justifier of him which believeth


C. H. Spurgeon from his Morning by Morning for September 25.

“Just, and the justifier of him which believeth.”—Romans 3:26.
BEING justified by faith, we have peace with God. Conscience accuses no longer. Judgment now decides for the sinner instead of against him. Memory looks back upon past sins, with deep sorrow for the sin, but yet with no dread of any penalty to come; for Christ has paid the debt of His people to the last jot and tittle, and received the divine receipt; and unless God can be so unjust as to demand double payment for one debt, no soul for whom Jesus died as a substitute can ever be cast into hell. It seems to be one of the very principles of our enlightened nature to believe that God is just; we feel that it must be so, and this gives us our terror at first; but is it not marvellous that this very same belief that God is just, becomes afterwards the pillar of our confidence and peace! If God be just, I, a sinner, alone and without a substitute, must be punished; but Jesus stands in my stead and is punished for me; and now, if God be just, I, a sinner, standing in Christ, can never be punished. God must change His nature before one soul, for whom Jesus was a substitute, can ever by any possibility suffer the lash of the law. Therefore, Jesus having taken the place of the believer—having rendered a full equivalent to divine wrath for all that His people ought to have suffered as the result of sin, the believer can shout with glorious triumph, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” Not God, for He hath justified; not Christ, for He hath died, “yea rather hath risen again.” My hope lives not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; my trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, He is my righteousness. My faith rests not upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me. On the lion of justice the fair maid of hope rides like a queen.

Learn, dear reader, to glorify the Lord by leaving means untried


C. H. Spurgeon devotion from his Morning by Morning for September 24.

“For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek Him; but His power and His wrath is against all them that forsake Him.”—Ezra 8:22.

A convoy on many accounts would have been desirable for the pilgrim band, but a holy shame-facedness would not allow Ezra to seek one. He feared lest the heathen king should think his professions of faith in God to be mere hypocrisy, or imagine that the God of Israel was not able to preserve His own worshippers. He could not bring his mind to lean on an arm of flesh in a matter so evidently of the Lord, and therefore the caravan set out with no visible protection, guarded by Him who is the sword and shield of His people. It is to be feared that few believers feel this holy jealousy for God; even those who in a measure walk by faith, occasionally mar the lustre of their life by craving aid from man. It is a most blessed thing to have no props and no buttresses, but to stand upright on the Rock of Ages, upheld by the Lord alone. Would any believers seek state endowments for their Church, if they remembered that the Lord is dishonoured by their asking Caesar’s aid? as if the Lord could not supply the needs of His own cause! Should we run so hastily to friends and relations for assistance, if we remembered that the Lord is magnified by our implicit reliance upon His solitary arm? My soul, wait thou only upon God. “But,” says one, “are not means to be used?” Assuredly they are; but our fault seldom lies in their neglect: far more frequently it springs out of foolishly believing in them instead of believing in God. Few run too far in neglecting the creature’s arm; but very many sin greatly in making too much of it. Learn, dear reader, to glorify the Lord by leaving means untried, if by using them thou wouldst dishonour the name of the Lord.

 


Accepted in the beloved


C. H. Spurgeon devotion from his Morning by Morning for September 23.


3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6 (KJV) 

WHAT a state of privilege! It includes our justification before God, but the term acceptance” in the Greek means more than that. It signifies that we are the objects of divine complacence, nay, even of divine delight. How marvellous that we, worms, mortals, sinners, should be the objects of divine love! But it is only “in the beloved.” Some Christians seem to be accepted in their own experience, at least, that is their apprehension. When their spirit is lively, and their hopes bright, they think God accepts them, for they feel so high, so heavenly-minded, so drawn above the earth! But when their souls cleave to the dust, they are the victims of the fear that they are no longer accepted. If they could but see that all their high joys do not exalt them, and all their low despondencies do not really depress them in their Father’s sight, but that they stand accepted in One who never alters, in One who is always the beloved of God, always perfect, always without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, how much happier they would be, and how much more they would honour the Saviour! Rejoice then, believer, in this: thou art accepted “in the beloved.” Thou lookest within, and thou sayest, “There is nothing acceptable here!” But look at Christ, and see if there is not everything acceptable there. Thy sins trouble thee; but God has cast thy sins behind His back, and thou art accepted in the Righteous One. Thou hast to fight with corruption, and to wrestle with temptation, but thou art already accepted in Him who has overcome the powers of evil. The devil tempts thee; be of good cheer, he cannot destroy thee, for thou art accepted in Him who has broken Satan’s head. Know by full assurance thy glorious standing. Even glorified souls are not more accepted than thou art. They are only accepted in heaven “in the beloved,” and thou art even now accepted in Christ after the same manner.

 


I will rejoice over them to do them good.


This devotion by Charles Spurgeon is from his Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning for September 21.

“I will rejoice over them to do them good.”—Jeremiah 32:41.

HOW heart-cheering to the believer is the delight which God has in His saints! We cannot see any reason in ourselves why the Lord should take pleasure in us; we cannot take delight in ourselves, for we often have to groan, being burdened; conscious of our sinfulness, and deploring our unfaithfulness; and we fear that God’s people cannot take much delight in us, for they must perceive so much of our imperfections and our follies, that they may rather lament our infirmities than admire our graces. But we love to dwell upon this transcendent truth, this glorious mystery: that as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so does the Lord rejoice over us. We do not read anywhere that God delighteth in the cloud-capped mountains, or the sparkling stars, but we do read that He delighteth in the habitable parts of the earth, and that His delights are with the sons of men. We do not find it written that even angels give His soul delight; nor doth He say, concerning cherubim and seraphim, “Thou shalt be called Hephzibah, for the Lord delighteth in thee”; but He does say all that to poor fallen creatures like ourselves, debased and depraved by sin, but saved, exalted, and glorified by His grace. In what strong language He expresses His delight in His people! Who could have conceived of the eternal One as bursting forth into a song? Yet it is written, “He will rejoice over thee with joy, He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.” As He looked upon the world He had made, He said, “It is very good”; but when He beheld those who are the purchase of Jesus’ blood, His own chosen ones, it seemed as if the great heart of the Infinite could restrain itself no longer, but overflowed in divine exclamations of joy. Should not we utter our grateful response to such a marvellous declaration of His love, and sing, “I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation?”

Be on guard and watch yourself


by Mike Ratliff

11 And do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. Romans 13:11-14 (LSB) 

Genuine Christians are marked in this life by a spiritual journey that God uses to sanctify them. Sanctification is the process whereby God removes Christians from the pollution of the world and conforms them unto His holiness. I have had some emergents and neo-evangelicals attempt to deny this as true for all Christians. They claim that only God is Holy and there is no call by God for His people to repent and mortify their sins. Regardless of what these people say, the Word of God does contradict what they say. Continue reading

Wait on the Lord


this devotion is from Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning for August 30.
C. H. Spurgeon

“Wait on the Lord.”—Psalm 27:14.
IT may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures which a Christian soldier learns not without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier to God’s warriors than standing still. There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, knows not what part to take. Then what shall it do? Vex itself by despair? Fly back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption? No, but simply wait. Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God, and spread the case before Him; tell Him your difficulty, and plead His promise of aid. In dilemmas between one duty and another, it is sweet to be humble as a child, and wait with simplicity of soul upon the Lord. It is sure to be well with us when we feel and know our own folly, and are heartily willing to be guided by the will of God. But wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in Him; for unfaithful, untrusting waiting, is but an insult to the Lord. Believe that if He keep you tarrying even till midnight, yet He will come at the right time; the vision shall come and shall not tarry. Wait in quiet patience, not rebelling because you are under the affliction, but blessing your God for it. Never murmur against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses; never wish you could go back to the world again, but accept the case as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God, saying, “Now, Lord, not my will, but Thine be done. I know not what to do; I am brought to extremities, but I will wait until Thou shalt cleave the floods, or drive back my foes. I will wait, if Thou keep me many a day, for my heart is fixed upon Thee alone, O God, and my spirit waiteth for Thee in the full conviction that Thou wilt yet be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower.”

Christians and honesty


by Mike Ratliff

12 You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:12 (NASB) 

2 If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. Numbers 30:2 (NASB) 

21 “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you. 22 However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. 23 You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God, what you have promised. Deuteronomy 23:21-23 (NASB) 

33 “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘ YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ 34 But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. 36 Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil. Matthew 5:33-37 (NASB) 

For a short period of time in late 1980’s I worked in a PC/Computer store in sales. I am not a sales person, but most if not all of the other fellows I worked with were. Instead, I simply told people what the computers could do or what they could not do and tried to match them up with what the people needed. I was usually in the top two or three in sales, never number one there, but I was always number one in customer satisfaction. In fact, the only time I ever saw those customers again was if something broke or they wanted an upgrade or they brought a friend or relative in to buy a computer. However, something changed when I sold a truckload of computers to a local school. Then I did it again. Then our sales manager forced me to move to outside sales and out of the showroom. I hated it. Suddenly I began dealing with agents from companies whose whole way of doing business was based on mistrust. In fact, I had one who went out of his way to put legal pressure on us to fill contracts, et cetera. I asked the guy why he did that since I always did what I said I would do. He told me that he did that with everyone he did business with because that was how he insured that he always got things done. I told him I didn’t want his business and gave the account to another guy in our group. That was the beginning of the end of my time in marketing. Even though God provided for my family and me during that time through it, I hated it except in those early days when I was helping those people one-on-one and they were overjoyed to get it. When it became ugly I came to hate my job and God was gracious to move me back into what I really liked doing at that time, which was writing database applications. Continue reading

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven


by Mike Ratliff

1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. 3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:1-7 NASB)

18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. 19 It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the spoil with the proud. (Proverbs 16:18-19 NASB)

When I encounter a professing Christian who is joyless and focused entirely on trying to be fulfilled by worldly things, I want to take them aside and tell them that what they are seeking will not be found where they are looking. I want to show them that only genuine Christians who are humble as their Lord is humble find true blessedness. All truly regenerate believers have what they need to become humble and Spirit-filled, but most of us struggle for many years in the furnace of sanctification before God gives us that first taste of joy that is beyond measure. Why do we struggle so? God knows what is best for us. Each of us is unique and God will use us according to His will in His timing. Some require much more refining than others based on what God has for them to do. However, everyone who is regenerate can experience the blessedness our Lord shared at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount. Let’s take a close look at what some call The Beatitudes.

Continue reading

The Incarnate Word and Sunday Mornings


by Mike Ratliff

14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. John 1:14 (NA28)

14 And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. and we gazed upon his glory, glory as of the only one from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

1 The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalms 23 (NASB)

I write this motivated from my Lord’s own work in my heart over the past several days to “restore my soul” (Psalm 23:2). The battle against apostasy and seeing how the visible church is becoming more and more symbolic and less and less genuinely focused on what the Apostle John calls “Spirit and Truth” has caused me to become susceptible to attacks from the enemy all designed to discourage and distract. However,I heard a sermon on Psalm 23 once not long ago and when the preacher came to v2, he spoke of how God allows us to be attacked like that. He allows us to be taken into the valley of the shadow of death and so be tested that we may become more and more reliant on God’s grace and less and less on ourselves. After these trials, he will take us to a quiet place of restoration and recovery, and, for me, that is to dig into and exegete His Word for His glory and the edification of the Body of Christ. Hence, we will look at John 1:1-18 and the Incarnate Word.

Continue reading

Life and Peace


by Mike Ratliff

6 τὸ γὰρ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκὸς θάνατος, τὸ δὲ φρόνημα τοῦ πνεύματος ζωὴ καὶ εἰρήνη· Romans 8:6 (NA28)

6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but he mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Discernment work is no fun. I wonder at some who seem to thrive on it. I do not. I will take up the sword when necessary and will not hesitate to take that firm stand, but my heart yearns for that time of peace like I am in right now as I am working my way through Romans 8:1-11 in light of my reading Matthew Mead’s The Almost Christian Discovered. The other side of discernment work for me is dealing with the inevitable spiritual assaults that come through our enemy’s servants. Their nagging little cuts and slices are nothing compared to the power of our Lord. They are simply those ugly voices of small people who are being used to echo the accusing of our enemy as he attempts to derail us from exposing one of his favorites. Let us never forget that our God is Sovereign and Satan can do nothing to us unless God allows it. Over that several days I have really been struggling staying focused spiritually. My shoulder is hurting again which doesn’t help and I have been doing a lot of research into the eschatology, which can really overwhelm you if you are not careful. If you become self-focused while doing that sort of research your flesh will cause you to start worrying about things that we have no control over. Our focus must never be set on the flesh, but always on the Spirit, God and HIs glory, especially when studying eschatology.  Continue reading