Christianity 201

November 18, 2014

Obey: Benefits. Disobey: Consequences

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Today’s devotional comes from the website Daily Manna, a ministry of Deeper Life Bible Church, which originated in Africa with Pastor W. F. Kumuyi, but now has churches around the world including branches in the U.S. and Canada.  As always, click the title below to read the devotional at source.

The God Of Justice

TEXT: 2 KINGS 17:9-23

Key Verse: “…So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day” (2 Kings 17:23).

The dealings of God with the children of Israel reveals a lot of paradoxes: Israel, without deserving the love of God, enjoyed a unique favor and blessing from Him. Apart from that, the original purpose of God for Israel was that they would honor Him and be a light to the world. That is, through them the blessings of God and the word of God would flow to the whole world. What God expected from Israel in return was to be wholly devoted to Him and obey His commandments.

But while God is faithful, Israel demonstrated fickleness of character and unfaithfulness to the covenant of God with them. In Exodus 19:8, the children of Israel solemnly promised: “… all that the Lord hath spoken, we will do.” Yet, in Jeremiah 44:16, they defiantly recanted: “… as for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee.” Such betrayal cannot be tolerated by men, let alone God.

In the passage today, we see one of the examples of the treacheries of the children of Israel. They practiced the evil customs of the surrounding nations, worshiping false gods, accommodating pagan customs and following their own desires. Israel had forgotten the importance and benefits of obeying God’s word. The King and the people had become mired in wickedness. Time and again, God warned them of the danger of turning away from Him and calling them to return.

Eventually, Israel was swept away just as God’s prophets had warned (Jeremiah 25). Sometimes, obeying God’s precepts is difficult and painful but better if we consider the consequences of disobedience. We need to determine to be God’s people and ask for grace to do what He says, regardless of the cost.

God’s patience and mercy are beyond our ability to understand. He will pursue us until we either respond to Him; or, by our own choice and hardness of heart make ourselves unreachable. Then, God’s judgment will be swift and sure.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Man is free to obey God and reap the benefits; or disobey Him and face the consequences.

February 10, 2013

Spurgeon: Parallels Between Grace and Rain

This was posted in September at the blog Grace Guy, and turned up on my screen just yesterday.  In many denominational circles, C. H. Spurgeon is a most-quoted classic author; you can read more about him here.

Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder; To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth? Job 38:25-27

God challenges man to compare with his Maker even in the one matter of the rain. Can he create it? Can he send a shower upon the desert, to water the lone herbs which else would perish in the burning heat? No, he would not even think of doing such a thing. That generous act comes of the Lord alone.

We shall work out a parallel between grace and rain.

I. GOD ALONE GIVES RAIN, AND THE SAME IS TRUE OF GRACE.

  • We say of rain and of grace, God is the sole Author of it.
  • He devised and prepared the channel by which it comes to earth. He hath “divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters.” The Lord makes a way for grace to reach his people.
  • He directs each drop, and gives each blade of grass its own drop of dew, to every believer his portion of grace.
  • He moderates the force, so that it does not beat down or drown the tender herb. Grace comes in its own gentle way. Conviction, enlightenment, etc., are sent in due measure.
  • He holds it in his power. Absolutely at his own will does God bestow either rain for the earth, or grace for the soul.

II. RAIN FALLS IRRESPECTIVE OF MEN, AND SO DOES GRACE.

  • Grace waits not man’s observation. As the rain falls where no man is, so grace courts not publicity.
  • Nor his cooperation. It ”tarries not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men” (Mic. 5:7).
  • Nor his prayers. Grass calls not for rain, yet it comes. ”I am found of them that sought me not” (Isa. 65:1).
  • Nor his merits. Rain falls on the waste ground.
  • “Ah, grace, into unlikeliest hearts, It is thy wont to come; The glory of thy light to find; In darkest spots a home.”

III. RAIN FALLS WHERE WE MIGHT LEAST HAVE EXPECTED IT.

  • It falls where there is no trace of former showers, even upon the desolate wilderness: so does grace enter hearts which had hitherto been unblessed, where great need was the only plea which rose to heaven (Isa. 35:7).
  • It falls where there seems nothing to repay the boon. Many hearts are naturally as barren as the desert (Isa. 35:6).
  • It falls where the need seems insatiable, “to satisfy the desolate.” Some cases seem to demand an ocean of grace, but the Lord meets the need; and his grace falls where the joy and glory are all directed to God by grateful hearts. Twice we are told that the rain falls “where no man is.” When conversion is wrought of the Lord, no man is seen. The Lord alone is exalted.

IV. THIS RAIN IS MOST VALUED BY LIFE.

  • The rain gives joy to seeds and plants in which there is life. Budding life knows of it; the tenderest herb rejoices in it. So is it with those who begin to repent, who feebly believe, and thus are just alive.
  • The rain causes development. Grace also perfects grace. Buds of hope grow into strong faith. Buds of feeling expand into love. Buds of desire rise to resolve. Buds of confession come to open avowal. Buds of usefulness swell into fruit.
  • The rain causes health and vigour of life. Is it not so with grace?
  • The rain creates the flower with its colour and perfume, and God is pleased. The full outgrowth of renewed nature comes of grace, and the Lord is well pleased therewith.
  • Let us acknowledge the sovereignty of God as to grace.
  • Let us cry to him for grace.
  • Let us expect him to send it, though we may feel sadly barren, and quite out of the way of the usual means of grace.

~ Charles Spurgeon