All posts tagged "Devotional"

The Gospel, discipleship and orphan care


Care for orphans is mercy at its most poignant, no doubt. But every act on behalf of the orphan also proclaims the Gospel, revealing to a watching world the heart of the God who “sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:5-6); it re-tells the story of the God who pursued and adopted us when we were destitute and alone. A passion for orphans also plunges believers into discipleship as well.   To care for orphans in any meaningful way most always requires personal, sustained involved in the life of a child.  In the process, we are drawn beyond a comfortable religion of self-actualization to a costly but vibrant faith; and there we encounter Jesus Christ as never before in the need, sorrow and beauty of the orphaned child. – Jedd Medefind, President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans via CatalystSpace.


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Called to community


Via Tim Chester: The church is not a building you enter. Nor is it a meeting your attend. It is not what you do on a Sunday. To be a Christian is to be part of God’s people and to express that in your life through belonging to a local Christian community. Michael Card’s “The Basin and Towel” comes to mind (posted below or via YouTube here). “Day after day, we must take up the basin and towel.”


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Rightly picturing Jesus


To only think of Jesus as a long-haired, gentle man in a robe and wearing sandals has devastating effects on the church.  This perception has permeated the attitudes of many who perceive Jesus as a weak character but a good teacher. The world seems blind to the Bible’s description of the resurrected Jesus, full of power and authority.  This description is highly offensive to the world.  But to worship Jesus as the artists have portrayed him instead of as the Son of Man in all his glory, is nothing short of idolatry. Adrian Warnock, Raised With Christ (Crossway, page 68). Read the book on-line here.


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Resolutions for the worship leader


Regardless of what you may think of New Years resolutions, this list by colonial pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards is worth contemplating if not emulating: RESOLUTIONS (by Jonathan Edwards, age 19) “Being sensible that I am unable to do any thing without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him, by his grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake. Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week. 1. Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever. 2. Resolved, To be continually endeavouring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the forementioned things. 3. Resolved, If ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again. 4. Resolved, Never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God, nor be, nor suffer it, if I can possibly avoid it. 5. Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can. 6. Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live. 7. Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life. 8. Resolved, To act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings, as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. Vid. July 30. 9. Resolved, To think much, on all occasions, of my dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death. 10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell. 11. Resolved, When I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not hinder. xxi 12. Resolved, If I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by. 13. Resolved, To be endeavouring to find out fit objects of liberality and charity. 14. Resolved, Never to do any thing out of revenge. 15. Resolved, Never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings. 16. Resolved, Never to speak evil of any one, so that it shall tend to his dishonour, more or less, upon no account except for some real good. 17. Resolved, That I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die. 18. Resolved, To live so, at all times, as I think is best in my most devout frames, and when I have the clearest notions of the things of the gospel, and another world. 19. Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour before I should hear the last trump. 20. Resolved, To maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking. 21. Resolved, Never to do any thing, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him. 22. Resolved, To endeavour to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigour, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of. 23. Resolved, Frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs, and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God’s glory, to repute it as a breach of the fourth Resolution. 24. Resolved, Whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then, both carefully endeavour to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it. 25. Resolved, To examine carefully and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and so direct all my forces against it. 26. Resolved, To cast away such things as I find do abate my assurance. 27. Resolved, Never wilfully to omit any thing, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions. 28. Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same. 29. Resolved, Never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession which I cannot hope God will accept. 30. Resolved, To strive every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before. 31. Resolved, Never to say any thing at all against any body, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of christian honour, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said any thing against any one, to bring it to, and try it strictly by, the test of this Resolution. 32. Resolved, To be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that, in Prov. xx. 6. ‘A faithful man, who can find?’ may not be partly fulfilled in me. 33. Resolved, To do always what I can towards making, maintaining, and preserving peace, when it can be done without an overbalancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722. 34. Resolved, In narrations, never to speak any thing but the pure and simple verity. 35. Resolved, Whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722. 36. Resolved, Never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call to it. Dec. 19, 1722. To read all 70 (!), click here. HT:  Desiring God


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Two kinds of giving


Okay, just one more fine post from Dan Cruver & Together for Adoption. This is apropos for the Christmas season: At Christmas we should celebrate two kinds of gift giving, not just one. Christmas should be a feast of reciprocal giving in a circle of intimates, a provisional enactment of the advent of God’s future world. But it should also be a feast of giving to those outside the circle, a small contribution helping to align the world of sin and need with the coming world of love. The advent of the light into the darkness of the world is not the goal; it is part of the movement toward the goal. At Christmas we celebrate this movement. Gifts should therefore chiefly flow out to the needy; they shouldn’t largely circulate among friends. quoted from Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace. How are you giving this Christmas?


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What orphans need


Borrowing from another good post by Dan Cruver of Together for Adoption over at The Gospel Coalition blog. In short, orphans need Christians who fully understand that God’s pleasure in them is equal to the pleasure He has in Jesus: When Jesus was about to go public with the mission of God, his Father declared over him, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). As Scripture makes clear, Jesus had been sent to fulfill the Father’s mission to redeem humanity and renew creation—which includes, by the way, the removal of the word “orphan” from the human vocabulary. The Gospel writers tell us that God’s Son went forward with the mission of his Father in the strength and knowledge of his Father’s delight (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22). What orphans need are churches that are full of people who wake up each morning hearing and rehearsing these amazing words that are declared over them. “You are my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased. Yes, you were once without hope and without God in this world, but I have brought you near by the blood of Jesus. I have embraced you in the Beloved. Live in my love as you move out in mission.” Full post here and worth the read.


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A sense of exile


Dan Cruver of Together for Adoption has a good series of posts on why the gospel is central to caring for the widows and orphans in their affliction (James 1:27). His conclusion from “Caring for Orphans While Soaked with a Sense of Exile“: The gospel takes those who are marked with a deep sense of exile, frees them from the “need” to self-medicate, and moves them out to serve the orphan, the widow, and the marginalized. Only by the power of the gospel can we do the self-sacrificial work of caring for orphans while soaked with the sense of exile. Read how a ‘sense of exile’ is crucial to adoption from the whole post here. Thoughtful and worth the read.


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Black Friday devotions


Good post here from Juan Sanchez of The Gospel Coalition on being on guard against worldliness. He includes this two-part test: Part 1: Take some time out this week to write out your weekly schedule. Write down every activity, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you. Where are you investing your time? Part 2: On another sheet of paper, write out your budget. Now, look at your check register, credit card and bank statements, cash flow. Where are you investing your money? Worth the read. This is worth your consideration for the holidays.


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Ravi Zacharias on worship


It is imperative in planning the worship services that church leaders give careful attention to every element and make sure that the worship retains both integrity and purpose. People come to church generally “beaten down” by the world of deceit, distraction, and demand.  There is an extraction of emotional and spiritual energy that brings them on “empty” into the community. The church’s task is to so prepare during the week that it is collectively the instrument of replenishment and fresh energy of soul.  Even being in the presence of fellow believers in worship is a restorer of spiritual hope. We so underestimate the power of a people in one mind and with one commitment.  Even a prayer can so touch a hungry heart that it can rescue a sliding foot in a treacherous time. – Ravi Zacharias, A Mighty Evangel, RZIM Read Ravi’s story on how God moved powerfully through prayer in a meeting with atheists, agnostics, and Marxists here. HT:  Josh @ blog.worship.com


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