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Friday, May 11, 2018

May Devotional: "But to David the earth looked very different..."


You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills;
 they give drink to every beast of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
they sing among the branches.
 From Your lofty abode You water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your work.

You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
 and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs;
You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.

You visit the earth and cause it to overflow;
You greatly enrich it;
The stream of God is full of water;
You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth.

 The pastures of the wilderness drip,
And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.
The meadows are clothed with flocks
And the valleys are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, yes, they sing.

Psalm 104: 10-17, 65:8-9, 12-13


The Lord of all, Himself through all diffused,
Sustains and is the life of all that lives.
Nature is but a name for an effect,
Whose cause is God…
One spirit, His
Who wore the platted thorns with bleeding brows,
Rules universal nature. Not a flower
But shows some touch, in freckle, streak, or stain,
Of His unrivall'd pencil.  He inspires
Their balmy odours, and imparts their hues,
And bathes their eyes with nectar, and includes,
In grains as countless as the seaside sands,
The forms with which He sprinkles all the earth.
Happy who walks with Him! whom what he finds
Of flavor or of scent in fruit or flower,
Or what he views of beautiful or grand
In nature, from the broad majestic oak
To the green blade that twinkles in the sun,
Prompts with remembrance of a present God.
His presence, Who made all so fair, perceived,
Makes all still fairer.  As with Him no scene
Is dreary, so with Him all seasons please.
William Cowper
The Task

         David looked at the earth as God’s earth: we look on it as man’s earth, or nobody’s earth. We know that we are here, with trees and grass, and beasts and birds round us. And we know that we did not put them here; and that, after we are dead and gone, they will go on just as they went on before we were born. The earth is here, and we on it: but who put it there, and why it is there, and why we are on it, instead of being anywhere else, few ever think. But to David the earth looked very different: it had quite another meaning: it spoke to him of God who made it. By seeing what this earth is like, he saw what God, who made it, is like: and we see no such thing. The earth? —we can eat the corn and cattle on it, we can earn money by farming it, and ploughing and digging it; and that is all most men know about it. But David knew something more—something which made him feel himself very weak, and yet very safe; very ignorant and stupid, and yet honored with glorious knowledge from God,—something which made him feel that he belonged to this world, and must not forget it or neglect it; namely, that this earth was his lesson-book—this earth was his work-field; and yet those same thoughts which showed him how he was made for the land round him, and the land round him was made for him, showed him also that he belonged to another world—a spirit world; showed him that when this world passed away, he should live forever; showed him that while he had a mortal body, he had an immortal soul too; showed him that though his home and  business were here on earth, yet that, for that very reason, his home and business were in heaven, with God who made the earth—with that blessed One of whom he said, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands. They shall perish, but Thou shalt endure: they all shall fade as a garment, and like a vesture shalt Thou change them, and they shall be changed; but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.”—“As a garment shalt Thou change them”—ay, there was David’s secret! He saw that this earth and skies are God’s garment—the garment by which we see God; and that is what our forefathers saw too, and just what we have forgotten; but David had not forgotten it.

CHARLES KINGSLY
Village Sermons, I

-1884

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Devotional ~"No One Takes Your Joy Away from You!"

will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you.” 

John 16:22
Very early in the morning, …when it was yet dark, …behold, there was a great earthquake:  for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.  His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow… and the angel answered and said unto the women, "Fear not!  For I know that you seek Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here, for He is risen, as He said.  Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  Go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead…” 
Matthew 28:2-7

Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him… 
Luke 24:30-31

Now let the heavens be joyful! Let earth the song begin!
Let the round world keep triumph, and all that is therein!
Let all things seen and unseen their notes in gladness blend,
For Christ the Lord hath risen, our joy that hath no end.           
      The Day of Resurrection
                                                       JOHN of DAMASCUS ~760AD                                                                

        If you come to seek His face, not in the empty sepulchre, but in the living power of His presence, as indeed realizing that He has finished His glorious work, and is alive forevermore, then your hearts will be full of true Easter joy, and that joy will shed itself abroad in your homes.  And let your joy not end with the hymns and the prayers and the communions in His house.  Take with you the joy of Easter to the home, and make that home bright with more unselfish love, more hearty service; take it into your work, and do all in the name of the Lord Jesus; take it to your heart, and let that heart rise anew on Easter wings to a higher, a gladder, and fuller life; take it to the dear grave-side and say there the two words, "Jesus lives!" and find in them the secret of calm expectation, and hope of eternal reunion.
JOHN ELLERTON
 ~1826-1893


        There are no marks of the crown of thorns upon His Brow, yet He looks more than ever a King!  The placid sunrise is beautiful, but there is not half so much quiet beauty about it as reigns over that ineffably sweet Face.  O, look into His eyes; what a depth of love, what a tenderness, yet what an overwhelming power of love!  In His Easter joy, He thought of us and of our salvation, of each one of us by name and look; He will know that joy again when we come before Him, to rest forever in His presence.
F. W. FABER
~1815-1863

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Good Friday Devotional "Deep Depression of Spirit is the Most Grievous of all Trials..." '

'My heart is like wax: it is melted within My breast…'                       
Psalm 22:14

Therefore He had to be made like His brothers and sisters in every respect, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people.
Hebrews 2:17


Lord, I know You to be great with compassion,
So I come with a humble heart that’s broken.
Be gracious, forgive, and cleanse me from my sin,
To the praise of Your glorious grace.

I am crushed like a reed, but You’ll not break me;
My soul’s a flickering candle, but You’ll not quench me.
You bind up the brokenhearted and bring healing,
To the praise of Your glorious grace.

Bruised and downtrodden, my heart’s in pieces;
Wrap Your loving arms tightly ‘round me.
Bind and tie my wounded soul for Your glory,
To the praise of Your glorious grace.

I know You to be rich in mercy and grace,
Making my heart joyfully sing of Your praise,
Renew and revive my soul for Your great name’s sake
To the praise of Your glorious grace.

Praise to Your Glorious Grace
C.A. TAYLOR


Our Blessed Lord experienced a terrible sinking and melting of soul.  'The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?'  Deep depression of spirit is the most grievous of all trials; all besides is as nothing.  Well might the suffering Savior cry to His God, 'Be not far from Me', for above all other seasons a man needs his God when his heart is melted within him because of heaviness.  Believer, come near the cross today, and humbly adore the King of glory as having once been brought far lower, in mental distress and inward anguish, than any one among us; and mark His fitness to become a faithful High Priest, who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities.  Especially let those of us whose sadness springs directly from the withdrawal of a present sense of our Father's love, enter into near and intimate communion with Jesus.  Let us not give way to despair, since through this dark room the Master has passed before us. 
Our souls may sometimes long and faint, and thirst even to anguish, to behold the light of the Lord's countenance: at such times let us stay ourselves with the sweet fact of the sympathy of our great High Priest.  Our drops of sorrow may well be forgotten in the ocean of His griefs; but how high ought our love to rise!  Come in, O strong and deep love of Jesus, like the sea at the flood in spring tides, cover all my powers, drown all my sins, wash out all my cares, lift up my earth-bound soul, and float it right up to my Lord's feet, and there let me lie, a poor broken shell, washed up by His love, having no virtue or value; and only venturing to whisper to Him that if He will put His ear to me, He will hear within my heart faint echoes of the vast waves of His own love which have brought me where it is my delight to lie, even at His feet forever.
C. H. SPURGEON
 Mornings and Evenings


God has arranged it that in every conceivable way Jesus has been made like unto His brethren.  There are only two matters in which He is not like them ~His virgin birth and His sinless life. But in everything else, He has been identified with them in their infirmities.  There are no sufferings that His brethren suffer but that He has suffered them too.  There are no tears that His brethren shed, but that He has shed them too. God has made the Captain of our salvation perfect through suffering.  He would not be an adequate High Priest for us had He not been through everything that we go through. In our hour of suffering He says, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden.  I am your Brother, I have been made like unto you in everything."
ROY HESSION 1908-87
From Shadow to Substance

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March '18 Devotional ~"What must be the Glory of the Heavenly City?"

The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.”
Revelation 21:23-26

Take me to the crystal river that flows,
Where fruitful trees are given for our healing.
I want to dwell before the Lamb’s throne,
To see Your face, and stand, forever gazing.

Take me to the New Jerusalem,
Adorned with the beauty of a beloved bride.
Laden with glorious and precious gems,
Radiant with the brilliance of God most glorified.

    Take me to the water of life for the thirsty,
Where Your gentle hand wipes away tears of sorrow;
Where our sun will never set for all eternity,
Dwelling in Paradise with Your perfect Face to behold.

Take me to the clear, Golden City,
Where the forgiven rest in peaceful mansions,
Where darkness becomes a far, distant memory,
And the radiance of the Lamb fills the heavens.

Take me to Yourself upon eagle’s wings,
To the place where Your great glory shines;
Where Your redeemed fill the throne with thanksgiving,
Our sun, our moon, our Morning Star, shining bright.

Take Me
C.A. TAYLOR

Who has not marked even here the glory of God as seen in a great sunset. Rivers of glory wind through meadows of gold. Lakes of glory lie embedded in the evening sky. Seas of glory lap eternal shores with their shimmering waves. Mountains of glory rear themselves to the heavens with cloud-capped summits tipped with the splendor of the dying day. Earth too is flooded with the glory. It falls in the dim aisles of great forests and illumines them with its splendor. It dances among the wind-tossed leaves. It splotches the trunks of giant trees. It bathes in light the upturned faces of those who watch and worship as the climaxing splendor of earth, sea, and sky turns the heart to God our Father who is Himself the glory of all creation and who deigns to give us, in the lavish, golden glory of the sunset the faint forth-shadowing of the glory of the Father's House.
But if the earthly glory is such, what must be the glory of the heavenly city? It needs no sun, for the glory of God doth lighten it. The nations of the earth walk in the glory of it. Its foundations can only be likened to the glory of the diamond, the sapphire, the amethyst, the topaz, and like precious stones of earthly glory. Its gates are pearls —each wondrous gate a single pearl. The city and its street are gold. But it is gold which the earth knows not. For it is called "gold like unto clear glass" (Rev. 21:18), and "transparent glass" (Rev. 21:21). That is —it is the glory-gold. It is gold through which the glory of God can shine forth in crystal splendor. God uses this earthly imagery as the nearest symbolism by which He can give us any glint of the glory of His House prepared for us. But when all has been said it is as nought to that glory of which He says —
“Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people….” (Rev. 21:3)

JAMES McCONKEY

This Devotional is dedicated to the joyful homecoming of Billy Graham to his forever home. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

February '18 Devotional ~"God's love is deeper than human sorrow...".

"The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms."
Deuteronomy 33:27

Fear not, for I am with you,
Be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

The arms of God are open, waiting,
Everlasting, loving, saving
Underneath me when I fall
Outstretched every time I call
The arms of God are always near
They hold me high above my fear
This is where I want to stay
My Hideaway
When I feel God’s arms around me
Healing rest and peace surround me
My weakness only brings to light
The arms of God, such strength and might
The arms of God will always be
Open, waiting here for me.

NANCY AGUILAR
Hideaway

The love and strength of God are everlasting. Nothing can ever separate us from Him. An Old Testament promise reads: “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” If we are stayed upon the eternal God, nothing ever can disturb us, for nothing can disturb Him on whom we are reposing. If we are held in the clasp of the everlasting Arms, we need not fear that we shall ever be separated from the enfolding.
The position of the everlasting arms in this picture is suggestive—"Underneath." They are always underneath us. No matter how low we sink, in weakness, in fainting, in pain, in sorrow, we never can sink below these everlasting Arms. We can never drop out of their clasp. God's love is deeper than human sorrow. Sorrow is very deep, but still and forever, in the greatest grief, these arms of love are underneath the sufferer.
God's love is deeper than death. When every earthly support is gone from beneath us, when every human arm unclasps and every face fades from before our eyes, and we sink away into what seems darkness and the shadow of death, we shall only sink into the everlasting arms.
The word “are,” must not be overlooked—“Underneath are the everlasting arms.” This is one of the wonderful present tenses of the Bible. To every trusting believer, to each one, in all the ages, to you who today are reading these words and trying to learn this lesson, as well as to those to whom the words were first spoken, God says, “Underneath you are now, this moment, every moment, the everlasting arms.”
J.R. MILLER


God’s love is deeper than human sorrow. Drop your plummet-line into the deepest sea of sorrow, and at the end of your soundings, "underneath are the everlasting arms." God’s love is deeper than death and there are multitudes who know how deep grim death can be. But the gravedigger's spade cannot get beneath our Father's love. God's love is deeper than the deepest grave you ever dug! “And entering into the sepulcher they saw an angel,” and you can never dig into any dreary, dwelling of death which is beyond the reach of those white-robed messengers of eternal love. Yes, God’s love is deeper than death. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” What abiding consolation! What all-embracing, never-falling strength!
J. H. JOWETT



Saturday, January 27, 2018

January '18 Devotional "The Power of an Endless Life"



Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
John 11:25-26

We are not left of God
So long as a rose blooms at our window-pane;
So long as the sun shines and the soft rain
Calls forth the early violets from the sod.
If but a wild brier by our pathway nod,
After its winter death wakened again,
Seeing its life we may forget our pain
Of unbelief. Who brings forth life but God?
He stains with tender tint the lily's lip;
Feeds with incessant care the insect crew;
Drops honey for the wandering bee to sip
In a white chalice set with pearls of dew.
The glow-worm hath its lamp; the firefly's light
Is but a pledge of love writ on the night.
F.W. BUTTS

Did you ever climb the winding staircase in the interior of some great monument or tower? At intervals, as you ascended, you came to a window which let in a little light, and through which, as you looked out, you had a glimpse of a great expanse of fair and lovely world outside the dark tower. You saw green fields, rich gardens, picturesque landscapes, streams flashing like flowing silver in the sunshine, the blue sea yonder; and far away, on the other hand, the shadowy forms of great mountains. How little, how dark, how poor and cheerless, seemed the close, narrow limits of your staircase as you looked out upon the illimitable view that stretched from your window!
Life in this world is like the ascent of such a column. But while we climb heavily and wearily up its steep, dark stairway—there lies, outside the thick walls, a glorious world reaching away into eternity, beautiful and filled with the rarest things of God's love. And thoughts of immortality, when they come to us, are little windows through which we have glimpses of the infinite sweep and stretch of life beyond this hampered, broken, fragmentary existence of earth.
The doctrine of the resurrection is one of these windows. It opens to us a vista running way beyond the grave. Death is a mere episode, a mere experience, an incident on the way. Even the grave, which seems to quench all the light of life, is but a chamber in which we shall disrobe ourselves of the infirmities, blemishes and imperfections of mortality—and be re-clothed in the holy, spotless vesture of immortality.
Thus winter comes, and the leaves fall, the flowers fade, the plants die—and snow wraps the earth in a blanket of death. But spring comes again, and the buds burst out anew, the flowers lift their heads and the grasses shoot up once more. From beneath the great snowdrifts—the gentlest and most delicate forms of life come as fresh and fragrant as if they had been nourished in a conservatory. Nature rises from the grave of winter in new beauty and luxuriance. In place of the sere leaves, and faded loveliness, and exhausted vigor of the autumn—there is now all the splendor of new creation! Every leaf is green, every pore is flowing full of vital sap, and every flower pours sweetest fragrance on the air.
The grave is but life's winter, from whose darkness and chill we shall come with unwasted beauty. Then, way beyond this strange experience, as we look out at the window again—we see life going on, expanding, deepening, enriching.
When the truth of immortal existence comes into our personal consciousness, it opens a wonderful vista before us. It gives life a new glory. It furnishes one of the most powerful motives for noble living.
Life may seem a failure here—crushed like a lily under the heel of wrong or sin—broken, trampled, torn. But it may yet become a glorious success. Many of the truest and best of God's children, know only defeat in this world. They are evermore beaten back and thrust down. The burdens are too heavy for them. They are overmastered by sorrows. The world's enmity treads them in the dust. They are not worldly-wise, and while others march by to great earthly success—they live obscurely, oppressed, cheated, wronged, and lie buried away in the darkness….
If the vista did not reach beyond the bare and cold room in which these suffering ones breathe their last—we might drop a tear of pity over their sad story of defeat. But when the curtain is lifted—and we see millions of years of existence for them on the other side—we dry our tears. There will be time enough for them to retrieve the failure of earth. Through the love and grace of Christ, the defeated Christian life that goes out in the darkness here—may be restored to beauty and power, and in the long ages beyond death may realize all the hopes that seemed utterly wrecked in this world.
The translation of a Christian life from earth to heaven—is but like the removal of a tender plant from a cold northern garden, where it is stunted and dying—into a tropical field, where it puts out most luxuriant growths and covers itself with splendor!
Thus the glimpses we get through the little dim windows in the walls of our earthly life—should give a new meaning to our existence here, and to all our multiplied relationships. With immortality glowing before us, our brief years on earth should be marked by earnestness, reverence, love and faithfulness. Soon we shall break out of our narrow circle—and traverse the boundless fields that we see now only in the far-away and momentary glimpse. But it will be a blessed thing if we can get into our hearts even here, something of the personal consciousness of our immortality, with its limitless possessions and possibilities, and feel something in our souls—of the power of an endless life!

J.R. MILLER -1880
Glimpses at Life’s Window

This devotional is dedicated to Sue Whitely, missionary to Nepal, who has been transplanted to the Garden of Paradise in Heaven now.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

4th Advent Devotional ~ "For the Birth of Jesus Christ is the turning point in the world’s history."

Adoration of the Shepherds
Gerard van Honthorst-1622


So  it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”  And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Luke 2:15-16

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;

See how the shepherds, summoned to His cradle,
Leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze;
We too will thither bend our joyful footsteps;

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

                                                         JOHN F. WADE
O Come, All Ye Faithful

         The Gospel of St. Luke has been described by one of the greatest literary critics, though not a Christian, as ‘the most beautiful book in the world.’ And in that beautiful book there is no passage of greater beauty and tenderness than the simple story which is in all our hearts this Christmas Day…. We read again with a growing admiration and reverence the matchless phrases in which St. Luke tells of the song of the angels, the faith of the shepherds, the adoring love of the maiden mother who kept in her heart all that was said of her wondrous Son. The story is so simple, so human, and we know it so well, that we do not always recognize, as we read, of how great a thing it tells—how wonderful a thing, full of daily consequence to us all.
         For the Birth of Jesus Christ is the turning point in the world’s history. Whether you accept His claims and obey His words or—which God forbid—disbelieve the one and reject the other, this is certain—that He rules the life of men today. For the civilized nations of the world, the years are reckoned from His Advent. ‘In the year of our Lord.’ So all our years are named, and so they are in truth. For the greatness of Jesus Christ is not only the greatness of a Master of mankind who affects posterity by the memory of His wisdom and His example; it is the greatness of Him who is the First and the Last and the Living One, with whom a thousand years are but as one day, who is as truly present now for grace and blessing as He was in Bethlehem when the shepherds came in trembling faith to greet the long-looked-for Savior of their race.
         It is He who was from the beginning, the Eternal and Supreme, who is the Life and Light, not only of this world and of all that is on it, but of the millions of worlds that science reveals to us—it is He who became man for our sakes, and submitted, of His love, to the restraints and limitations of man’s nature. And it is because we forget this, because we forget who it was that was born on the first Christmas Day, that we pay so little heed to His words and to His will.
         'Let us now go even unto Bethlehem.' So said the shepherds one to another on that first Christmas Eve, when they had heard the message of the angels, and had seen the shining glory round about them. Shall we follow them? For Christmas has come again, and once more the thoughts of men everywhere are turning to that little village far away on the uplands of Judea.
Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, that we may find Christ…. God’s ways are not even now as our ways. If we are to find Christ we must look for Him where we should not expect to see Him. We must lay aside our pride if we are indeed to welcome the Son who is given to us today. His first coming is the image of His comings still. He comes to us in the lowly places of the earth; He comes to us in the shape of the most helpless. He comes to us in the lonely outlying cottage, He comes to us in the crowded and neglected suburbs, He comes to us in the penitent, ant prisoner, the outcast. We have but to go a little way from our own homes to find some Bethlehem—some poor unnoticed spot—which Christ left heaven to glorify by His presence. We have but to open our eyes and we shall see Him very near to us, even as He once was, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, ready to receive, even from us whom He saves, the offerings of grateful love.
         To recognize the love of God in the infant of Bethlehem is now, as then, to acknowledge the Divine inheritance of all humanity.
         “And they came with haste, and found the babe lying in a manger.” That is all they found. Something so gentle and homely and sweet, this entry of our God. Just a flickering light in the night under the stars; just a light through a window in a dark yard, and a rough hill-village, low and dark amid the huddled stones of the ridge. And, within, cattle looming in the shadows, and one spot in the midst bright with torch or lamp; and a carpenter from Nazareth, bending tender and anxious, and a white, wearied, happy maiden-mother laid on the bed. In a manger on the soft hay a tiny Baby, with wondering eyes opening on a world that was strange to it. That was all.
         And yet the Prophets were right. The strength of the Lord of Hosts was lodged there in the baby body. The seed of Calvary lay there within that soft and tender flesh. Through those little hands, white and delicate as flowers, nails would be run, and the brow so fair would wear the thorn. The zeal and the fury of high passion for righteousness would bear Him out into the loneliness of conflict, into the terrors and the pains, in restlessness and groanings to work out the awful tragedy, with the sweat of agony, with the loud cry of a broken heart, forsaken and alone. Lifted up to the scorn and slight of savage foes, hung naked between heaven and earth—it would all come to pass in the order of the days…. All life, all history, led up, according to Jewish prophecy, to the final act of Divine justification. And when that moment is reached, it is He, this quiet, unassuming Man, who will be found seated on the Throne; and according to men’s relations with Him, and by no other test or standard, they will discover themselves to be judged. On that day there will be no other cry going out from the human lips but, ‘Lord! Lord!’
JAMES HASTINGS
The Speaker’s Bible -Luke