Archive for October, 2010

Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 29th October

October 29, 2010

Maintain the Difference

And I will put a division between my people and your people: tomorrow shall this sign be. (Exodus 8:23)

Pharaoh has a people, and the Lord has a people. These may dwell together and seem to fare alike, but there is a division between them, and the Lord will make it apparent. There shall be great difference between the men of the world and the people of the LORD’s choice.

It is very conspicuous in the conversion of believers when their sin is put away, while unbelievers remain under condemnation. From that moment they become a distinct race, come under a new discipline, and enjoy new blessings. Their homes, henceforth, are free from the grievous swarms of evils which defile and torment many families.

Rest assured, tried believer, that though you have your troubles you are saved from swarms of worse ones, which infest the homes and hearts of the servants of the world’s prince. The Lord has put a division; see to it that you keep up the division in Spirit, aim, character, and company.

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Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 28th October

October 28, 2010

Sins of Ignorance

And it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance. (Numbers 15:25)

Because of our ignorance we may not be fully aware of our sins of ignorance. Yet we may be sure they are many, in the form both of commission and omission. We may be doing in all sincerity, as a service to God, that which He has never commanded and can never accept.

The Lord knows every unintentional sin. This may well alarm us, but faith spies comfort, for the Lord will see to it that stains unseen by us shall yet be washed away.

Our great comfort is that Jesus, the true priest, has made atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel. His precious blood cleanses us from all sin. Whether our eyes have seen it and wept over it or not, God has seen it, Christ has atoned for it, the Spirit bears witness to the pardon of it, and so we have a threefold peace.

Father, I praise Thy divine knowledge, which not only perceives my iniquities but provides an atonement which delivers me from the guilt of them, even before I know that I am guilty.

Chris Wright: Integrity – Confronting Idols

October 27, 2010

This is a link for Chris Wright’s talk at the Lausanne conference in which he challenges the people of God to confront the idols of power and pride, wealth and greed. He calls the Church to repentance and simplicity.

Integrity – Confronting Idols.

Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 27th October

October 27, 2010

His Service, Face, Name

His servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be on their forehead. (Revelation 22:3-4)

Three choice blessings will be ours in the Glory Land.

“His servants shall serve him.” No other lords shall oppress us. We shall serve Jesus always, perfectly, without weariness. This is heaven to a saint: in all things to serve Christ and to be owned by Him as His servant is our soul’s high ambition for eternity.

“And they shall see his face.” This makes the service delightful: indeed, it is the present reward of service. We shall know our Lord, for we shall see Him as He is. To see the face of Jesus is the utmost favour that the most faithful servant of the Lord can ask. What more could Moses ask than “Let me see thy face?”

“And his name shall be in their foreheads.” They gaze upon their Lord till His name is photographed upon their brows. They are acknowledged by Him, and they acknowledge Him.

O Lord, give us these three things in their beginnings now, that we may possess them in their fullness!

Daily Devotions with Spugeon: 26th October

October 26, 2010

Because of Us

For the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:22)

For the sake of His elect, the Lord withholds many judgments and shortens others. In great tribulations the fire would devour all were it not that, out of regard to His elect, the Lord damps the flame.

What an honour is thus put upon saints! How diligently they ought to use their influence with their Lord! He will hear their prayers for sinners and bless their efforts for their salvation. Many a sinner lives because of the prayers of a mother, or wife, or daughter to whom the Lord has respect.

Have we used aright the singular power with which the Lord entrusts us? Do we pray for our country, for other lands, and for the age? Do we, in times of war, famine, pestilence, stand out as intercessors, pleading that the days may be shortened? Let us get to our knees and never rest till Christ appeareth.

Recent Methodist-Anglican Dialogue in Ireland

October 25, 2010

As most of you will know, the Lausanne Movement for mission and evangelism is currently meeting in Cape Town. In my humble opinion, the holy grail for more successful mission is a unified church. What better witness could there be to the powers and principalities than that they are forced to say of us “see how they love one another”? In fact, didn’t someone say at some time something about being one as he and his Father were one? Or, some wordy bloke, who wrote lots of letters, scribbling some piffle about being one body with one baptism under one Lord? Yeah, you vaguely remember hearing that somewhere, don’t you?

Anyway, over the past few years in particular there seems to be genuine hope that the dialogue between the Church of Ireland (Anglican) and the Methodist Church in Ireland, which has led to a Covenant between the Churches, might actually bring us down a path towards eventual unity (or something like that). Who knows? One can dream. Anyhow, as I’m very, very slowly trying to get on top of Anglican and Methodist history and theology at the moment, I thought it might be of interest to my fellow ecumenical dreamers if I sketched out what’s been happening on the little emerald isle. Thankfully, a very good friend of mine, the Rev. Peter Thompson (peace be upon him) who is Rector of St. Michael’s Castlecaulfield and St. Patrick’s Donaghmore is on the inside and in the loop and will keep me right as I proceed with a few posts dedicated to summarising the dialogue (based principally on his thesis and bending his ear).

So, to follow over the next while will be posts briefly outlining the divisions between the Churches from the beginning of Methodism to the unity in India between Anglicans and Methodists, and through to a quick depiction of early 20th century dialogue in Ireland. Further, some description of the contribution of the Joint Theological Working Party in Ireland and the Covenant which was agreed upon, as well as how matters might be furthered. At least, that’s the plan. We’ll see what happens 😉

Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 25th October

October 25, 2010

God First, Then Extras

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

See how the Bible opens: “In the beginning God.” Let your life open in the same way. Seek with your whole soul, first and foremost, the kingdom of God, as the place of your citizenship, and His righteousness as the character of your life. As for the rest, it will come from the Lord Himself without your being anxious concerning it. All that is needful for this life and godliness “shall be added unto you.”

What a promise this is! Food, raiment, home, and so forth, God undertakes to add to you while you seek Him. You mind His business, and He will mind yours. And just so, all that we need of earthly things we shall have thrown in with the kingdom. Away with anxious care; set all your mind upon seeking the Lord. Covetousness is poverty, and anxiety is misery: trust in God is an estate, and likeness of God is a heavenly inheritance.

Audio: Duke’s Convocation & Pastor’s School

October 24, 2010

The audio recordings for Duke Divinity School’s recent conferences are now available on iTunesU, and can be found here. These includes lectures by, among others, Tom Wright, Rob Bell, and Andy Crouch.

Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 24th October

October 24, 2010

Godly Stability

And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall: and they shall fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you to save you and to deliver you, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 15:20)

Stability in the fear and faith of God will make a man like a wall of brass, which no one can batter down or break.

Against uncompromising men of truth this age of shams will fight tooth and nail. Nothing seems to offend Satan and his seed like decision. They attack holy firmness even as the Assyrians besieged fenced cities. The joy is that they cannot prevail against those whom God has made strong in His strength. Carried about with every wind of doctrine, others only need to be blown upon and away they go; but those who love the doctrines of grace, stand like rocks in the midst of raging seas.

The LORD will save and deliver faithful souls from all the assaults of the adversary. We dare not budge an inch; for the Lord Himself holds us in our place, and there we will abide forever.

Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 23rd October

October 24, 2010

Harvest of Light and Gladness

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. (Psalm 97:11)

Righteousness is often costly to the man who keeps to it at all hazards, but in the end it will return an infinite profit. A holy life is like sowing seed: much is going out, and apparently it is buried in the soil, never to be gathered up again. Yet light is “sown,” it lies latent: none can see it; but it is sown. We are quite sure that it must one day manifest itself.

The Lord has set a harvest for the sowers of light, and they shall reap it. Then shall come their gladness. Sheaves of joy for seeds of light. Their heart was upright before the Lord, though men gave them no credit for it. They had to wait, but the light was sown for them, and gladness was being prepared on their behalf by the Lord of the harvest.

Take courage! We need not be in a hurry. Soon shall our souls possess light and gladness.

Welcoming the Stranger: Dundonald Elim

October 22, 2010

I know, I know, I’ve been a very naughty boy and not posted here for a couple of weeks. Life has been rather busy and the blog is rather low down on the priority list. Nonetheless, I know you’ve all missed me, but never fear, I’m back!

I’ve been rather consumed with church issues this past while as there are a few major decisions looming not too far ahead. So expect a fair amount of church-related musings on the horizon. Anyway, to follow up on an earlier, grumpy post (rant/moan), I thought I’d better balance it with something more positive. Without boring the pants off everyone by rehearsing my faith and church journey, I’ve been to a lot of different churches with lots of different theologies and lots of different styles of worship. Over those years of church-sampling, it’s been difficult not to rate/score their various facets: worship (hymns/songs); preaching; doctrine/theological precision (IMHO), and; welcoming the stranger. This post concerns the final element – and by far the most welcoming church that I’ve ever visited (about 10 years ago now), the Elim church in Dundonald.

Founded during the years of the First World War, Elim is a Pentecostal denomination with over 500 churches throughout the UK and Ireland, and which works in more than 40 other nations. Its name comes from the biblical Elim (Exod. 15:27) which was an oasis in the desert, visited by the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings. Thus, the aim of the early Elimites was that their churches should, similarly, be places of rest and refreshment. Growing out of the Welsh revival, the Elim movement carries with it much of the ethos of the holiness movement, a “congregational” ecclesiology, and an emphasis on evangelism. In fact, its theology is distinctly reformed and within the broad scope of very, conservative Evangelicalism. However, its special contribution to the church universal is its perspective on the person, work and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Firstly, the Elim movement is Trinitarian but advocates the double procession of the Spirit from the Father and the Son (filioque). Secondly, while the Spirit is active in the work of convicting of sin, repentance, regeneration and sanctification, according to the Elim movement, “the believer is also promised an enduement of power as the gift of Christ through the baptism in the Holy Spirit with signs following. Through this enduement the believer is empowered for fuller participation in the ministry of the Church, its worship, evangelism and service.”

As someone who had recently left a variant-form of Pentecostalism, visiting the local Elim seemed an eminently sensible thing to do and I’m very glad I did, for it left an indelible mark on my views of what “church” ought to be. As a complete stranger, I was very warmly welcomed at the door by two greeters. After this good, initial impression, I’d barely managed to get bum on seat before someone sat down beside me and introduced himself – “William”. Yes, I still remember his name. He chatted with me and sat with me throughout the service; I was not left alone as a faceless, nameless stranger, anonymous and insignificant. In that simple act of reaching out to an “other”, William, and the church he represented, demonstrated with ringing clarity what it means to lavish Christian love and care. An outsider, I was nevertheless made to feel like one of the gathered saints, there to praise the God of love. I’ve never forgotten it.

Ultimately, I couldn’t assent to the Elim’s views on the person and work of the Spirit, which always walks a tightrope – those without the special “baptism” of the Spirit almost inevitably struggle with seeing themselves as second-class citizens of the kingdom (common critique of this type of pentecostal belief). However, in no church before or since have I ever seen the newcomer and stranger so welcomed. I don’t know whether this was solely the policy of that one church in Dundonald, or of the whole Elim movement, or simply one particular member acting alone, but if all Christian churches would instigate such a policy, what an incredible impact we could effect! Churches can be some of the coldest, most cliquey, unwelcome places known on God’s good earth – and it’s something we can and must change.

For more information see: Elim UK or Elim Ireland.

Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 22nd October

October 22, 2010

Plead His Own Promise

Therefore, you, O Lord God, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever. (2 Samuel 7:29)

Anything which the Lord God has spoken we should receive as true and then plead it at the throne.

Oh, how sweet to quote what our own God has spoken! How precious to use a “therefore,” which the promise suggests, as David does in this verse!

We do not pray because we doubt but because we believe. No, Lord, we cannot doubt Thee: we are persuaded that every word of Thine is a sure foundation for the boldest expectation. We come to Thee and say, “Do as Thou hast said.” Bless Thy servant’s house. Heal our sick; restore those who wander; give us food and raiment according to Thy Word. Prosper our undertakings; especially succeed our endeavours to make known Thy gospel in our neighbourhood. Let the blessing flow on to future generations, and as long as any of our race remains on earth may they remain true to Thee. O Lord God, “let the house of thy servant be blessed.”