Archive | Devotion

Nashville Studio Singers Record “It Is Well” with Their Phones

Isn’t it astonishing that, the worse things get, the more Christians sing? The video above was released yesterday by a group of Nashville Studio musicians called the Ten Two Six Music Group. Incredibly, they recorded this on their phones!

I was delighted to see an old college friend of mine in this one. His name is Jason Barton, and among other things he sings with Amy Grant as well as his own band 33 Miles. So to Jason: Salute, brother!

Here’s the full story on the song as it was reported by the NBC affiliate in Nashville: Continue Reading →

Be Ye Glad

If life as God intended it is anything, it is a fight for joy. Especially in moments like the one we are in now. Praise God that Christianity is a singing religion. The Lord really does wish for us to have a deep and abiding joy in him, and he often sustains us in joy through our songs:

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” –Colossians 3:16 

In my sermon last Sunday, I told the story of a time in my own life when the Lord used a song to drive the clouds away when the darkness wouldn’t lift. Many of you know exactly what I’m talking about. And it’s why we need to find our psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs right now. We need to find them for each other.

Thanks be to God that Bob Kauflin found one for us. The lyrics and Bob’s words about the song are below. Take it all in, saints, and be ye glad. Continue Reading →

Banished from the public means of grace

Our church was scattered by the coronavirus this morning. We did not gather together as usual at the intersection of Southern Parkway and Third Street. No, today we were spread out all over the city of Louisville and beyond. Our college students were literally scattered across North America as many of them were compelled to go back to their hometowns after colleges and universities closed last week. Our church’s missionaries remain scattered all over the world. None of us could be together this morning.

If you know what it means to be the ekklesia of God, your heart ached like mine did. For this is not how it is supposed to be. Gathering together for the Lord’s Day is fundamental to our identity, and we were unable to do that this morning (Hebrews 10:24-25). We had a “virtual” service like so many others, but it really isn’t the same. Nor should it be.

But something really extraordinary happened as we all sat down before our scattered screens for worship. Jim Hamilton read the call to worship from a book of devotion by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, published in 1893.1 Below is the entry for March 15, and the words are nearly incredible: Continue Reading →

Battling the Coronavirus Panic

Man Tattooed PrayingOur nation is facing a real challenge right now, and it is a real gut-check for Christians. Will we trust in Christ, suffer faithfully, show compassion, and bear witness? Or will we get swept away by the panic that seems to be unfolding in some places?

I want to be clear about what I mean. I am not winding up to rebuke those who are taking seriously the novel coronavirus and who are being vigilant to do all they can to stop the spread and to encourage others to do the same.

This is not a drill. It’s real. We all need to be vigilant. And we need to take our responsibilities seriously to love our neighbors well by taking practical measures to slow the spread of the disease. So this is not a rebuke of vigilance.

But it is a challenge to any believer tempted to being swept away by panic. And let me explain why this is so important. Continue Reading →

Remember Your Chains

I was reading Ezekiel yesterday and came across a stunning statement about a positive place for shame in our lives. Ezekiel is prophesying about the future restoration of God’s people after a long period of judgment:

62 “Thus I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD, 63 in order that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your humiliation, when I have forgiven you for all that you have done,” the Lord God declares. –Ezekiel 16:62-63

We often don’t think about shame as having a positive role in our lives. In fact, we are often told that feelings of shame undermine emotional health and well-being. And yet here we have the Lord saying that after these sinners have been forgiven, they must remember their former sins and be ashamed of them. Why? So that they will never be arrogant again. John Taylor explains the meaning well: Continue Reading →

Be careful how you jest…

“Like a madman who throws Firebrands, arrows and death,
So is the man who deals treacherously with his neighbor,
And says, ‘Was I not joking?’”

Proverbs 26:18-19

“Verses 18–19 could be taken to condemn any kind of antics (such as modern practical jokes played on a groom on his wedding day). While practical jokes can be destructive and hurtful, the larger context here implies that such may not be precisely the nature of the deceit implied here. Rather, this is a person who enjoys gossiping about or tampering with the affairs of other people. Such a person will purposefully confuse others and engage in a kind of social disinformation. When called to account, he or she will treat the whole thing as a game and be oblivious to all the hurt such actions created.”

Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, NAC (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1993), 214.

There is no death of sin without the death of Christ

“Unless a man be a believer,–that is, one that is truly ingrafted into Christ,–he can never mortify any one sin… Seneca, Tully, Epictetus; what affectionate discourses they have of contempt of the world and self, of regulating and conquering all exorbitant affections and passions! The lives of most of them manifested that their maxims differed as much from true mortification as the sun painted on a sign-post from the sun in the firmament; they had neither light nor heat… There is no death of sin without the death of Christ.”

John Owen, “Mortification of Sin in Believers” in Temptation and Sin, The Works of John Owen, vol. 6 (Edinburgh, UK/Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1967), 33.

Spurgeon on the “Business” of Prayer

“Some brethren get up in our prayer meetings, and say some very good things; but what they really ask for, I am sure I do not know. I have heard prayers of which I have said, when they were over, ‘Well, if God answers that prayer, I have not the least idea of what he will give us.’ It was a very beautiful prayer, and there was a great deal of explanation of doctrine and experience in it; but I do not think that God needs to have doctrine or experience explained to him. The fault about the prayer was, that there was not anything asked for in it. I like, when brethren are praying, that they should be as business-like as a good carpenter at his work. It is of no use to have a hammer with an ivory handle, unless you aim it at the nail you intend to drive in up to the head; and if that is your object, an ordinary hammer will do just as well as a fine one, perhaps better…

“When I pray, I like to go to God just as I go to a banker when I have a cheque to be cashed. I walk in, put the cheque down on the counter, the clerk gives me my money, I take it up, and go about my business. I do not know that I ever stopped in a bank five minutes to talk with the clerks; when I have received my change, I go away and attend to other matters. That is how I like to pray; but there is a way of praying that seems like lounging near the mercy-seat, as though one had no particular reason for being found there. Let it not be so with you, brethren. Plead the promise, believe it, receive the blessing God is ready to give, and go about your business.”

-Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Two Guards, Praying and Watching” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 38 (London: Passmore & Alabaster), 206-207.

The First Sin of the Day

O LORD OF GRACE,
I have been hasty and short in private prayer,
O quicken my conscience to feel this folly,
to bewail this ingratitude;
My first sin of the day leads into others,
and it is just that thou shouldst withdraw thy presence
from one who waited carelessly on thee.
Keep me at all times from robbing thee,
and from depriving my soul of thy due worship;
Continue Reading →

The Heart and Sin

Sin is an issue of your heart long before it is an issue of your deeds.

“He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.”

2 Chronicles 12:14

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