Answers to Life's Questions

Dec 29, 2007 at 18:09 o\clock

His Riches for Us

Author: Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Morning: He Became Poor
Evening: Whose Side Are You On?

He Became Poor

"For your sakes he became poor."

--2 Corinthians 8:9

The Lord Jesus Christ was eternally rich, glorious, and exalted; but "though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor." As the rich saint cannot be true in his communion with his poor brethren unless of his substance he ministers to their necessities, so (the same rule holding with the head as between the members), it is impossible that our Divine Lord could have had fellowship with us unless He had imparted to us of His own abounding wealth, and had become poor to make us rich. Had He remained upon His throne of glory, and had we continued in the ruins of the fall without receiving His salvation, communion would have been impossible on both sides. Our position by the fall, apart from the covenant of grace, made it as impossible for fallen man to communicate with God as it is for Belial to be in concord with Christ. In order, therefore, that communion might be compassed, it was necessary that the rich kinsman should bestow his estate upon his poor relatives, that the righteous Saviour should give to His sinning brethren of His own perfection, and that we, the poor and guilty, should receive of His fulness grace for grace; that thus in giving and receiving, the One might descend from the heights, and the other ascend from the depths, and so be able to embrace each other in true and hearty fellowship. Poverty must be enriched by Him in whom are infinite treasures before it can venture to commune; and guilt must lose itself in imputed and imparted righteousness ere the soul can walk in fellowship with purity. Jesus must clothe His people in His own garments, or He cannot admit them into His palace of glory; and He must wash them in His own blood, or else they will be too defiled for the embrace of His fellowship.

O believer, herein is love! For your sake the Lord Jesus "became poor" that He might lift you up into communion with Himself.

Dec 22, 2007 at 18:10 o\clock

Practical Faith

Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference:
Matthew 16:1-28 

Practical Religion

And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

Faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour transforms us from a shallow meaningless person into one filled with the Spirit of God. If we are born again and the Spirit resides within us, our religion ought to be as full of meaning as our lives are full of the Spirit. How terrible to see many religions in which there is absolute meaninglessness because of spiritual ritualism. Jesus encountered this very same thing in His day as well.

The Pharisees were always guilty of practicing an empty religion. This is why John the Baptist called them a "generation of vipers" (Matthew 3:7). The Pharisees were constantly interested in keeping the ceremonial law, but they had the wrong heart attitude toward God. When Jesus called Matthew to discipleship, the Pharisees were right there to question the Lord's disciples, "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?" (Matthew 9:11). When He cast a demon out of a man who was dumb, the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out devils through the power of the prince of the devils (Matthew 9:34).

Always the Pharisees were seeking a sign from Jesus that He was the Messiah. Time and again He refused to give them such a sign saying that the sign of Jonah was all they would need. His resurrection after a death of three days would be the great sign to them that He was indeed the Messiah. If they would not believe that sign, neither would they believe any other.

At Magdala Jesus again encountered the Pharisees, this time in league with the Sadducees and Herodians, who again asked Him for a sign. As before, Jesus refused to give them such a sign but at the same time He taught them something about the emptiness and blindness of their spiritual ritualism. Jesus noted that the Pharisees and Sadducees could read the weather signs in the heavens. He said, "When it is evening you say, it will be fair weather for the sky is red." This is comparable to our axiom, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight." But Jesus continued, "And in the morning it will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring" (Matthew 16:3). Or, as we would say, "Red sky in morning, sailors take warning."

Jesus then concluded with the assessment, "O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" These religious leaders could read the skies with the best astronomers and mariners, but could not recognize that Jesus was the Messiah. This was where their expertise should have been, but because they had been involved so long with empty formalism instead of meaningful activity in carrying God's love to the world, they did not have the eyes of faith with which to see Jesus as their Saviour.

An item from a church bulletin clearly points out the inconsistency of pious religion which does not follow through in meeting the needs of people. It is a satirical rephrasing of Matthew 25: "I was famished and you formed a humanitarian club to discuss my hunger...I was imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your church to pray for my release. I was naked and you debated the morality of my unseemly appearance. I was sick and you knew it, yet did nothing but thank God for your own health. I was homeless and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God. I was lonely and you left me by myself while you went and prayed for me. You seemed so holy, so close to God; but I am still very hungry, desolate, and cold!"

While the Pharisees had all the trappings of religion, all the robes, all the religious paraphernalia, they had none of the heart, none of what true religion is all about. Yet today as well there are many churches and denominations that have all the trap-pings of religion but none of the heart of the Lord Jesus. It is up to each of us to make sure that we attend faithfully those churches which show the heart of the Lord Jesus and not the heart of the Pharisee. Is your church following Jesus or following the Pharisees? Is your religion practical? Make it a point to pray for your church today.

MORNING HYMN
All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and Heav'n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.

Dec 19, 2007 at 18:36 o\clock

Waiting on God

Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference:
Ruth 3-4 

Waiting on God

Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the Lord liveth: lie down until the morning.

DURING OUR DARK MOMENTS frequently we become impatient and ask God to speak to us immediately. But sometimes God is silent, and we must be silent as well. When the tears of frustration stream down our cheeks, when defeat and despair hang around us like a shroud, when we don't know which way to turn, we must heed God's advice to the psalmist, "Be still, and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10).

Perhaps this divine stillness in the midst of the storm is best illustrated in the story of Ruth. A severe famine in Palestine drove Elimelech and Naomi, Ephrathites of Bethlehem, to Moab with their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. Here the sons married Moabite girls named Ruth and Orpah. After ten years the father and sons died leaving three childless widows. Naomi decided to return to her homeland. Realizing the lonely life ahead for her daughters-in-law in a foreign country, she entreated them to remain behind in Moab. After some persuasion Orpah returned but Ruth requested, "Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodges, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people and thy God my God"(Ruth 1:16). Hence, Ruth and Naomi traveled on together.

It was springtime during the barley harvest when Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem. Immediately Ruth went to glean in the field of a wealthy Ephrathite named Boaz, a relative of Elimelech, her father-in-law. Boaz showed kindness to Ruth, allowing her to eat with the Jews, contrary to the Hebrew custom, and eventually came to love her. Full of gratitude to God, Naomi instructed Ruth to claim her rights under the levirate law of marriage. This law, similar to those of the Assyrians and the Hittites, permitted a childless widow to marry her husband's brother or nearest kinsman in order to perpetuate the dead husband's name.

That night, when Boaz went to sleep, Ruth softly came and laid at his feet. During the night Boaz awoke and was startled to see Ruth. She identified herself and asked him to perform the duties of the near kinsman. Apparently Boaz's interest in Ruth had blossomed. However, he knew there was a kinsman nearer than he who must first be given the opportunity to perform this custom. Thus Boaz instructed Ruth, "Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of the kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part; but if he will not do the part of the kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of the kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning"(Ruth 3:13).

In the morning Ruth arose, was given six measures of barley by Boaz, and returned to the house of Naomi. Filled with anxiety over her future, Naomi instructed Ruth in the lesson of quiet faith. She said, "Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall." Boaz kept his word. He called ten witnesses of the elders to take their seats in the gate of the city to ratify his negotiations with the nearest kinsman to Ruth. When the kinsman refused to redeem his possession, that transferred the right of redemption legally to Boaz. Boaz and Ruth were married; she bore a son named Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. Good things happen to us when we sit still and wait on God.

Like Ruth, we must learn that no one who trusts God is ever forgotten by our Saviour. He is ever praying for us (Hebrews 7:25). We may feel forsaken and forlorn, but our High Priest is always touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15-16). He catches the tears of our anxiety and anguish alike "in [His] bottle"(Psalm 56:8). He is fully aware of our situation. In the meantime, we must simply sit still until we see how the matter will fall and learn the glorious lesson that, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31).

MORNING HYMN
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.

Dec 12, 2007 at 18:50 o\clock

By His Side

Scripture Reference 1 Corinthians 15:57 

By His Side

Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:57

KEEP close to Christ, if conflict sore betide;
Stand fast, remembering He is at your side
To give you strength
In battle, and the victor's palm at length.
German, tr. by
FRANCES E.COX

IF we would endeavor, like men of courage, to stand in the battle, surely we should feel the favorable assistance of God from heaven. For He who giveth us occasion to fight, to the end we may get the victory, is ready to succor those that fight manfully, and do trust in His grace.
THOMAS À. KEMPIS

He will give the victory into thy hands, if only thou wilt fight manfully by His side, trusting not in thyself, but in His power and goodness. And if the Lord delay awhile to give thee the victory, be not disheartened, but believe assuredly (and this will also help thee to fight resolutely) that He will turn all things which may befall thee, those even which to thee may seem farthest removed from, yea, most adverse to thy success, all will He turn to thy good and profit, if thou wilt but bear thyself as a faithful and generous warrior.
LORENZO SCUPOLI

Dec 5, 2007 at 18:15 o\clock

Praise God in Everything

Morning: The Winters of Life
Evening: New Songs

The Winters of Life

"Thou hast made summer and winter."
--Psalm 74:17

My soul begin this wintry month with thy God. The cold snows and the piercing winds all remind thee that He keeps His covenant with day and night, and tend to assure thee that He will also keep that glorious covenant which He has made with thee in the person of Christ Jesus. He who is true to His Word in the revolutions of the seasons of this poor sin-polluted world, will not prove unfaithful in His dealings with His own well-beloved Son.

Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season, and if it be upon thee just now it will be very painful to thee: but there is this comfort, namely, that the Lord makes it. He sends the sharp blasts of adversity to nip the buds of expectation: He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes over the once verdant meadows of our joy: He casteth forth His ice like morsels freezing the streams of our delight. He does it all, He is the great Winter King, and rules in the realms of frost, and therefore thou canst not murmur. Losses, crosses, heaviness, sickness, poverty, and a thousand other ills, are of the Lord's sending, and come to us with wise design. Frosts kill noxious insects, and put a bound to raging diseases; they break up the clods, and sweeten the soul. O that such good results would always follow our winters of affliction!

How we prize the fire just now! How pleasant is its cheerful glow! Let us in the same manner prize our Lord, who is the constant source of warmth and comfort in every time of trouble. Let us draw nigh to Him, and in Him find joy and peace in believing. Let us wrap ourselves in the warm garments of His promises, and go forth to labours which befit the season, for it were ill to be as the sluggard who will not plough by reason of the cold; for he shall beg in summer and have nothing.

Evening: New Songs

"O that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men."

-- Psalm 107:8

If we complained less, and praised more, we should be happier, and God would be more glorified. Let us daily praise God for common mercies--common as we frequently call them, and yet so priceless, that when deprived of them we are ready to perish. Let us bless God for the eyes with which we behold the sun, for the health and strength to walk abroad, for the bread we eat, for the raiment we wear. Let us praise Him that we are not cast out among the hopeless, or confined amongst the guilty; let us thank Him for liberty, for friends, for family associations and comforts; let us praise Him, in fact, for everything which we receive from His bounteous hand, for we deserve little, and yet are most plenteously endowed. But, beloved, the sweetest and the loudest note in our songs of praise should be of redeeming love. God's redeeming acts towards His chosen are for ever the favourite themes of their praise.

If we know what redemption means, let us not withhold our sonnets of thanksgiving. We have been redeemed from the power of our corruptions, uplifted from the depth of sin in which we were naturally plunged. We have been led to the cross of Christ--our shackles of guilt have been broken off; we are no longer slaves, but children of the living God, and can antedate the period when we shall be presented before the throne without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Even now by faith we wave the palm-branch and wrap ourselves about with the fair linen which is to be our everlasting array, and shall we not unceasingly give thanks to the Lord our Redeemer? Child of God, canst thou be silent? Awake, awake, ye heritors of glory, and lead your captivity captive, as ye cry with David, "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name." Let the new month begin with new songs.