God the Source of All Good
O Lord God, who inhabits eternity,
The heavens declare your glory, the earth your riches, the universe is Your temple, Your presence fills immensity, Yet You have of Your pleasure created life, and communicated happiness;
You have made me what I am, and given me what I have; In You I live and move and have my being; Your providence has set the bounds of my habitation, and wisely administers all my affairs.
I thank You for Your riches to me in Jesus, for the unclouded revelation of Him in Your Word, where I behold His Person, character, grace, glory, humiliation, sufferings, death, and resurrection;
Give me to feel a need of His continual saviorhood, and cry with Job, “I am vile,” with Peter, “ I perish,” with the publican, “Be merciful to me, a sinner.”
Subdue in me the love of sin, let me know the need of renovation as well as of forgiveness, in order to serve and enjoy You forever.
I come to You in the all-prevailing name of Jesus, with nothing of my own to plead, no works, no worthiness, no promises.
I am often straying, often knowlingly opposing You authority, often abusing Your goodness;
Much of my guilt arises from my religious privileges, my low estimation of them, my failure to use them to my advantage, but I am not careless of Your favour or regardless of Your glory;
Impress me deeply with a sense of Your omnipresence, that You are about my path, my ways, my lying down, my end.
God the All O God whose will conquers all, There is no comfort in anything apart from enjoying You and being engaged in Your service; You are All in all, and all enjoyments are what to me You make them, and no more. I am well pleased with Your will, whatever it is, or should be in all respects, and if You bid me decide for myself in any affair, I would choose to refer all to You, for You art infinitely wise and cannot do amiss, as I am in danger of doing. I rejoice to think that all things are at Your disposal, and it delights me to leave them there. Then prayer turns wholly into praise, and all I can do is adore and bless You. What shall I give You for all Your benefits? I am in a strait between two, knowing not what to do; I long to make some return, but have nothing to offer, and can only rejoice that You do all, that none in heaven or on earth shares Your honor; I can of myself do nothing to glorify Your blessed name, but I can through grace cheerfully surrender soul and body to You, I know that You are the author and finisher of faith, that the whole work of redemption is Yous alone, that every good work or thought found in me is the effect of Your power and grace, that Your sole motive in working in me to will and to do is for Your good pleasure. O God, it is amazing that men can talk so much about man's creaturely power and goodness when, if You did not hold us back every moment, we should be devils incarnate. This, by bitter experience, You have taught me concerning myself.
Three in One, One in Three, God of my salvation,
Heavenly Father, blessed Son, eternal Spirit, I adore You as one being, one Essence, one God in three distinct persons, for bringing sinners to Your knowledge and to Your kingdom.
O Father, You have loved me and sent Jesus to redeem me;
O Jesus, You have loved me assumed my nature, she Your own blood to wash away my sins, wrought righteousness to cover my unworthiness
O Holy Spirit, You have loved me and entered my heart, implanted there eternal life, revealed to me the glories of Jesus.
Three persons and one God, I bless and praise You, for love so umerited, so unspeakable, so wondrous, so mighty to save the lost and raise them to glory.
O Father, I thank You that in fullness of grace You have given me to Jesus, to be His sheep, jewel, portion;
O Jesus, I thank you that in fullness of grace You have accepted, espoused, bound me;
O Holy Spirit, I thank You that in fullness of grace You have exhibited Jesus as my salvation, implanted faith within me, subdued my stubborn heart, made me one with Him for ever.
O Father, You are enthroned to hear my prayers,
O Jesus, Your hand is outstretched to take my petitions
O Holy Spirit, You are willing to help my infirmities, to show me my need, to supply words, to pray within me, to strengthen me that I faint not in supplication.
O Truine God, who commands the universe, You have commanded me to ask for those things that concern Your kingdom and my soul.
Let me live and pray as one baptized into the threefold Name.
What I find so very encouraging about the study of the life of Abram is that I see so much similarity to my own life. I see the journey of faith God is leading me on. I see the progression of events, circumstances, and trials in my life that have resulted in my faith growing stronger and deeper with every passing day.
I see in my own life, the ups and downs, the successes and failures. As I look at Abram’s life, I see the same. We have seen in the life of Abram both great statements of faith and failures as faith entered crisis mode.
We have seen worship, repentance, love, forgiveness, and restoration. We have seen God remain faithful and true and provide assurance of His love and promises after both times of crisis and success.
We look to Abram as a giant in the faith and we think we can never be like him, have a faith like his, or reach his level of spiritual strength and maturity. And yet, when you consider the parallel’s between his life and ours, we are reminded that Abram was man, a human just like us who God had to work with, sanctify, purify, and make holy. If God can do it with Him, He can do it with us.
Does this give hope? For me it does.
Several years ago,I discovered a little book of Puritan Prayers called the Valley of Vision. I have been so impacted by reading these prayers of saints long past, that I took to typing them up, replacing some of the old English with modern day language, and reading them in our morning corporate worship services. I am convicted, challenged, and encouraged as I read their prayers, which are filled with theology, truth, and love for God. I would like to share them here as well. Below is the first of those prayers. I pray you are challenged on your spiritual journey, as I was, by reading them.
The Valley of Vision
As I learn and grow in my understanding of the word of God, I am reminded continually of the fact that my salvation is wholly of God. I realize that were it not for God seeking me and interceeding in me, I never would have sought Him, never would have recognized Him, never woud have desired Him, and never would have recieved grace.
This is hard for our current culture to accept because nowadays we think we are are basically good. Have you read the recent twitter updates of what is going on in the news and the world? Have you listened to conversations in the media, tv shows, movies, and between coworkers, friends, and family who would not, do not claim God? My biggest eye opener to the depth of humanities depravity came when I went back to work partime in a small country store environment where everybody knew everybody and the comfort level of conversations was high. I learned so much from listening to people and observing them. I also struggled a little as I was exposed to an environment I had been largly shelterd from for a long time.
No, I have seen the depth of depravity in myself and in the world around me and I know that left to myself and my sinful nature, I will choose wrong every time. So, apart from God interceeding and doing something to bring about a change in me, I had no hope or desire to change.
John 6:44 is a powerfully key verse that reminds me none can come to God unless He first take action and draw us to Himself. Over the years, the doctrine of election had become more vivid and precious to me because I know it is the only reason I love God today.
For this reason, I will cling to this truth all my days because it is the truth of my salvation.
Abba, Father, thank you for seeking me and choosing me, the vilest of vile and making me your own when I wanted nothing to do with you!
I want to share with you the words of Charles Spurgeon as I read them from my devotions today. May they encourage you as they did me.
Charles Spurgeon relates:
When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this.
I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths [the doctrine of election] in my own soul — when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron, and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown on a sudden from a babe into a man — that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, that clue to the truth of God.
One week–night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher’s sermon, for I did not believe it.
The thought struck me, How did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord? The truth flashed across my mind in a moment — I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so?
Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.”
For years I have wrestled with my weight and self-control in what I eat. Even when I was not overweight, I failed to excercise self control in the types of food I ate and was not always healthy in my eating habits. Even now, that is true of me. While I am counting calories and working out again, I am not always careful what types of food I eat.
Part of this struggle has been a self image struggle. I struggle because I want to look a certain way, have a certain body form, and feel good about the way I look.. In the past, this has been my biggest motivation for losing weight. This is certainly true after moving to Indiana to serve with the Baptist Children's Home. While there, I had access to a very inexpensive YMCA membership, and being tired of how I looked, I lost 55 pounds, going from 231 to around 185. I kept the weight off for a few years, but never really changed the way I looked at eating and the practice of self control.
Over the years, I have gained most of that weight back and have become convicted that my thinking on the matter of diet and exercise has been selfishly, pridefully, and sinfully motivated. The primary motivation was because I was tired of how I looked; tired of being overweight; and tired of the physical affects that came with that.
In more recent years, I have been convicted that this issue of being overweight is not a physical issue, or an optional issue, but is really a spiritual issue.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindnes, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, SELF-CONTROL [Caps added for emphasis]; against such things there is no law."
You see, self control, in every area of our life, including eating, is matter of being Spirit controlled. To not be controlled by the Spirit is to be controlled by the flesh, with its depraved and sinful nature. A lack of self control is not the mark of the new nature, but the old. Thus, a lack of self control is a mark of one controlled by the sinful nature and does not show the indwelling nature of the Holy Spirit.
Consider also the following:
Proverbs 25:28 - "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls"
2 Timothy 1:6-7 - "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit,not of fear but of power and love and self-control"
2 Peter 1:5-6 - "For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge and knowledge with self control and self control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love."
Scripture has much to say about the issue of self control and it all points to the reality that a lack of self control is sin and a mark of the old nature. To have self control is to reveal a love for God that submits ourselves to His complete control over what we eat, where we go, what we think, say, and do. This is specific for me in the context of my eating. If I love God, I will exercise self control in what I eat and how much I eat. If I don't love God, then I will do whatever pleases me and feels good.
Sound harsh? Maybe, but I have learned from the reading of God's word that it is true and have been greatly convicted by it.
I do not yet think these thoughts before every food I consume, but I am learning to see my dieting and exercise (which I am in the process of doing again to lose the extra weight) as a matter of love for God, as a spiritual pursuit more than a physical, selfish, and vain pursuit. This is a struggle, I will not lie, but If I learn to see this as a spiritual matter as an outflow of my love for God, my motives will be better, the outcome will glorify God as I prove to Him he is more important to me than my food, and the affects will be more eternal in nature, lasting longer than if I merely do this for my vanity and pride.
So for me, dieting and exercise is a daily struggle and spiritual journey into learning to allow the Holy Spirit to control and fill me as I empty myself of me and let God fill the void instead.
I was reminded to, through my private time with God, that faith is a much better motivator for obedience to God than gratitude. There are three primary reasons for this:
1. It is impossible to pay God back for anything He has ever done or ever will do. Romans 11:35-36 asks the question, "Who has given a gift to God that he might be repaid? For from Him and through Him, and to Him all are things. To Him be glory forevermore." God owns it all anyway. Whatever we give to God, is really simply giving back to Him what He has already given to us and which He already owns. We own nothing and have nothing to offer God. An obedience that is motivated by thankfulness is usually thinking that we are so grateful for what God has done, we have to give back to Him. But we have nothing of our own to offer. God already owns that which we intend to, or do give back to God.
2. When thankfulness is the motive for our obedience, we turn grace into a business transaction and it is no longer grace. When we say to someone who just had us over for dinner, that we want to repay them by having them over the following week, we have taken an act of grace on their part and turned it into a trade, a business transaction and nullified grace.
3. Using thankfulness instead of faith overlooks the crucial importance of having faith in God's future grace. Thankfulness looks the past and uses gratitude for past blessings to motivate future obedience. When we use faith as the fuel for obedience, we look to the future with hope, confidence, and certainty in the person and work of God. We claim his promises and depend upon his character to be there when we step out in obedience and take action to live the way He called us to live.
Obedience from thankfulness and gratitude nullifies grace and devalues it. Obedience from faith in future grace, trusts God for more grace to be there when we need it and makes God glorious because we rest all of our hopes, dreams, desires, and strength upon Him who possess heaven and earth!
Thank you John Piper for opening up scripture and reminding me of truths I need to hear today. May you be strengthened and encouraged as well as you place your
For those of you who know me well, you know that I have a love for science fiction and fantasy genre. Well, I recently finished watching a series that aired for five years on the Syfy channel, called Merlin. It followed the story of the most notable sorcerer in the fiction world. It showed him as a young man coming to Camelot during a time in which Uther Pendragon ruled. Arthur, the famous King Arthur and the knights of the round table, was yet only a prince at this time.
As the story unfolds, we find out that Uther used magic to help his wife get pregnant and produce an heir because medically it was not possible. The king was warned that using magic to bring life into the world would bring dire consequences and a life would have to be taken in order to bring balance. He proceeded anyway and Arthur was born. Shortly after his birth, the life of the queen was taken. Uther, outraged and angered at the death of his wife, blamed all magic and magicians for this act of treachery and outlawed all magic and sentenced to death all who practiced magic.
Merlin was born with magic, was born a powerful sorcerer. He was thought to be the most powerful sorcerer who ever lived. His mother sent him to Camelot as a young man to live with Guise, the court physician, because he needed a male role model in his life having been abandoned by his father at a young age. She believed he needed a male role model to guide him as his magic developed and as he grew into manhood.
WIth magic being outlawed, Merlin had to be very careful about using magic and drawing attention to himself. For five years, he served as Arthur's servant. Time and time again, Merlin used his magic to defend Uther (who would have had him killed had he found out) and Arthur against those who would have destroyed both Uther and Arthur, as well as the whole of Camelot. He grew to love Arthur and believe in him and the kind of kingdom he would build. After Uther died at the hands of magic and Arthur assumed the crown, Merlin continued to serve faithfully and use magic to defend and promote Arthur as a wise and loving king. All this time, he did so secretly and quietly for even after Arthur became king, magic continued to be outlawed.
As the series came to an end, it builds to a final battle with the witch Morgana wages a battle against Camelot and Arthur. A prophecy predicts Arthurs death at the hands of an evil sorcerer Mordrid during this battle and Merlin races to prevent it. Merlin loses his magic through an attack of Morgana just prior to the battle. Merlin races to a cave of magic in the hopes of regain his magic in order to aid Arthur in this final battle. He is successful and races to the battle late, but is able to turn the tide of the battle allowing Arthur and his knights to be victorious in routing the enemy.
However, because he was late in coming to the battle, Mordrid still inflicts a deadly wound on Arthur before Merlin can prevent it. The sword used by Mordrid to inflict a wound upon Arthur is a magical sword and the wound can only be healed by the powerful magic of the Shea. Merlin races to the Shea in hopes of finding a cure for the wound Arthur is suffering.
At the beginning of this journey, Merlin finally reveals to Arthur that he is a sorcerer and Arthur is shocked and angry at Merlin's deception and lies. Arthur is angry that Merlin lied to him and his his magic all those years. When asked why, Merlin said that if he had told him, he would have killed him. Arthur replied that he did not know what he would have done. Merlin told him that he did not want to put him in that position. Arthur seemed taken aback that Merlin was concerned for Arthur's position and not for his own life.
As they travel to the Shea, Merlin has to use to his magic to defend and protect themselves for soldiers and use magic to conceal their tracks. Arthur is struggling to accept this side of Merlin and struggling to deal with Merlin's deception. At one point, Merlin uses magic to cover their tracks and lead their followers onto a different path. Arthur recognizes this trick as something that Merlin has done before. He comments, "All those years, Merlin, and you never once sought recognition for anything." Merlin responds, "That is not why I did it."
And herein is the point of this blog. I was struck by this final episode so much that I actually watched it twice. All my life, I have pondered why this science fiction, fantasy world of magic and wonders has so appealed to me. I have concluded that part of my flesh desires the power, the recognition, to knowing that there is something special and significant about me that makes a difference in the world. And that I am recognized and praised for it. The fallen flesh desires knowing it is significant and desires that others recognize that as well.
What has been so striking to me is that Merlin realized a higher purpose for his magic. While there were times he desired to tell Arthur the truth and he wanted him to know and accept that side of who he was, he knew that his magic existed for a higher purpose; to serve the king, to make him look good, to make him successful, to build his kingdom, and to serve the king who was greater then himself.
Do you see what I saw? Is this not what we as Christians are called to do? We are called to use our gifts, talents, abilities, and lives sacrificially, completely, and unreservedly to serve the KING OF KINGS, to make God look great, to please HIm, to build His Kingdom, to serve Him who is greater than we.
We are not given gifts, talents, abilities, and tasks in order to get the credit and recognition. We are called to use those TO SERVE THE KING, to build His KINGDOM, to SERVE Him, to MAKE HIM GREAT regardless of whether we are recognized for it or not.
Merlin was content with this task. Am I?
Who would ever have thought I would find a life lesson, a spiritual lesson from the science fiction show, Merlin? And yet, God used it to bring this lesson to light.
Now to live it, that is the task. May God strengthen me for the journey.