Overlapping Devotional thoughts

As part of my daily devotions I read through Scripture and read from Kenneth Osbeck’s “Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions”. I also frequently read from C. H. Spurgeon’s excellent “Morning and Evening” devotional. Today there was a happy overlapping of the devotional thoughts from them. First, here is a quote from the Spurgeon:

“We are married unto Christ; and shall our great Bridegroom permit his spouse to linger in constant grief? Our hearts are knit unto him: we are his members, and though for awhile we may suffer as our Head once suffered, yet we are even now blessed with heavenly blessings in him. We have the earnest (down payment or guarantee) of our inheritance in the comforts of the Spirit, which are neither few nor small. Inheritors of joy for ever, we have foretastes of our portion. There are streaks of the light of joy to herald our eternal sunrising. Our riches are beyond the sea; our city with firm foundations lies on the other side the river; gleams of glory from the spirit-world cheer our hearts, and urge us onward.”

The hymn for today is called “The Sands of Time Are Sinking” by Anne Ross Cousin (1824-1906). Here is the hymn text, as quoted in the devotional:

The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of heaven breaks; the summer morn I’ve sighed for—the fair, sweet morn awakes. Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but day-spring is at hand, and glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O Christ, He is the fountain, the deep, sweet well of love! The streams on earth I’ve tasted more deep I’ll drink above: There to an ocean fulness His mercy doth expand, and glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved’s mine! He brings a poor vile sinner into His “house of wine.” I stand upon His merit—I know no other stand, not e’en where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

The Bride eyes not her garment but her dear Bridegroom’s face; I will not gaze at glory but on my King of grace, not at the crown He giveth but on His pierced hand: The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.

Spurgeon says, “we have foretastes of our portion”. The hymn says, “the streams on earth I’ve tasted more deep I’ll drink above.”

“There are streaks of the light of joy to herald our eternal sunrising”, says Spurgeon.  “The dawn of heaven breaks…the fair, sweet morn awakes” speaks the hymn.

There is also the comparison of the church and Christ as Bridegroom and Bride: “We are married unto Christ; and shall our great Bridegroom permit his spouse to linger in constant grief?” “The Bride eyes not her garment but her dear Bridegroom’s face.”

All, all of this is written to encourage our hearts towards thoughts of our eternal home. May we ever more be sighing for that “summer morn” of the Eternal Day in Heaven…

 

Coming to the cross again

There will never be a day when I don’t have to fight for holiness. It will never come easily, but then, my inheritance was bought with precious blood. Why should I expect that my life in Christ should be a walk in the park?

Oh, give me strength, Lord, to carry on– each day coming to the cross and affirming again Your justice against my sin was paid for by Jesus. Justice, yes, and LOVE. (Rom. 5:8) Through Jesus, I have access to God’s grace daily. I have access to God’s unmerited favor towards me through the merit of Christ. I can rejoice! I have hope! Oh, fill me again with the sense of that hope and joy!

A personal meditation

Monday morning, you sure look fine! It’s a beautiful start to the week. My proclivity towards stress and negativity haven’t woken up yet, though they linger at the door. There was this great quote from Spurgeon on Challies’ blog this morning: “How much of the staple of our conversation consists in complaint!” I am reflecting more and more on how my thinking needs to change in this area. It all relates to my trust and satisfaction in God and His provision. I fight against the tide of my own negative thinking all the time. Like most things, it is easiest just to go with the flow of my negativity, rather than fight against it. It ultimately is not the way I want to live my life, though.

I don’t want to just be a Pollyanna, either. I want a reasoned trust that looks for the best in all the situations I encounter, whether in planning or in the meeting of them along the way. How will I fight the battle today? How will I fight the battle in this moment? I’m not sure that negative thoughts are ones to “take captive”. I think it will be better to put them to death as a deed of the flesh. Certainly it is in the flesh that I do not trust in God’s provision, plan and timing. In the spirit, I realize that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

So, a negative thought, a gloomy outlook, a pessimistic expectation springs from my flesh. In short, it is sinful for me to entertain and nurture those thoughts. I want to change in my heart and in my thoughts and in my actions! Who can save me from this? Only you, Lord. Only you.

So, let’s take a bit of Psalm 56 and work it around to my application and desire for life change (and I don’t think it’s an inappropriate working of the verse.)
Ps. 56:3-4 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”
(Since I battle fear as well, this is a great verse to think upon, to meditate upon, to soak into my thought- and action-life. Let’s look at it from the negativity framework in this instance.)

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This is my prayerful application of those verses into my life. It is the way I pray Scripture to God and pray Scripture into my life and thinking. I suppose in some ways it is the “preparatory” corrective prayer. I will pray this Scripture prayer in daily preparation for the battle against negativity and pessimism. The struggle in the moment of temptation will be aided by this taking up of the sword of the Spirit in advance of the fight.

The fight will come, count on it. It will probably be a long struggle, since the formation of the habit of negativity took years and years. I am confident, though, that it is God’s will for me to trust in Him in all circumstances. I trust that it is according to His good purposes that He wants me to be joyful and confident in Him and His provision and plan. Since these things are in accordance to His will, I know that they will be accomplished in me as I “work out my salvation with fear and trembling”, knowing that “it is God who works in [me], both to will and work for *his* (and my) good pleasure.”

In all things, may He receive the glory. What is done for His glory is ultimately for my good, too.
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!”
Ps. 57:7-11