From One Pastor to Another

Robert Murray McCheyne to a fellow pastor:

“Take heed to thyself.
Your own soul is your first and greatest care.
You know a sound body alone can work with power,
much more a healthy soul.
Keep a clear conscience through the blood of the Lamb.
Keep up close communion with God.
Study likeness to Him in all things.
Read the Bible for your own growth first,
then for your people.”

Horatius Bonar, Words to Winners of Souls, p. 10.

A Delightful, Devotional Exercise: God’s Providence

“Search backward into all the performances of Providence throughout your life. So did Asaph: ‘I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all your work, and talk of your doings’ (Psalm 77:11, 12). He labored to recover and revive the ancient providences of God’s mercies many years past, and suck a fresh sweetness out of them by new reviews of them. Ah, sirs, let me tell you, there is not such a pleasant history for you to read in all the world as the history of your own life, if you would but sit down and record from the beginning until the present what God has been to you, and done for you; what signal manifestations and outbreakings of His mercy, faithfulness and love there have been in all the conditions you have passed through. If your hearts do not melt before you have gone half through that history, they are hard hearts indeed. ‘My Father, you are the guide of my youth’ (Jeremiah 3:4).”
—John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence, chapter 9.)

Three Questions to Ask When Looking for a Church

In our mobile society, many find themselves looking for a new church home. Here are a few questions to ask when you are looking for a new church home:

1. GOSPEL TRUTH: Is the Word well used at this church? Do the teachings of this particular local church sync with the teachings and emphases of God’s Word? In other words, is the preaching and teaching Christ-centered or does it promote what is called moralism – which is do better and be better Christianity?

2. COMMUNITY: Is the gospel clearly demonstrated in a loving, welcoming, outward focused community? Will I be loved here and find genuine connection and friendship with people who will spur me on to grow spiritually?

3. PURPOSE: Is the work well done here and am I needed here? In other words, can I use my gifts to serve Christ and his people here?

A Pastoral Prayer for Mothers on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day can be a day of great rejoicing and great sadness. For pastors and worship leaders, it demands great sensitivity and wisdom as you plan on how to honor mothers corporately. I have found that the best way is to pray for them.

Here is one attempt at praying for moms who are at many different junctures on the journey:

Heavenly Father,
On this Mother’s Day, we acknowledge that
there is no nobler career than that of motherhood…
We thank you for our moms and ask that you would increase the number
of converted, heaven-inspired and praying mothers in our midst.

You call us to weep with those mothers who weep.
Therefore, we pray for those mothers who have lost a child in death.
Assure them that You are a God who is familiar with suffering
and well acquainted with grief.
Comfort those mothers who have experienced loss through miscarriage,
failed adoptions, or children who run away from all that we hold dear.
Lord Jesus, walk with those who walk the hard path of infertility…
that is fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment.
We pray for those who have lost their mothers.
Even today may they grieve their loss with hope
knowing that in every change You faithful will remain.
For those women who are single and long to be married
and mothering their own children, we pray that You would grant them
the grace to wait upon You for Your provision
and that you might provide for them more than they could ask or imagine.
We pray for those mothers who have aborted children.
Bring the healing balm of your gospel of grace and pardon to their consciences.
Thank you Jesus that there is no condemnation for those who are in you.

You call us to rejoice with those mothers who rejoice!
We thank You for those moms who have given birth this year to children.
May they acknowledge that every good gift comes from you.
We thank You for the foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms in our midst.
We rejoice with those mothers whose children are walking in the truth of the gospel.

You call us to pray for our mothers!
We pray for those mothers who are doing parenthood alone. Grant them your incredible perseverance and the encouragement of Your presence and Word.
Make our mothers women of noble character whose worth far exceeds rare and expensive jewels.” May our moms love Jesus more today than they did yesterday.
Give our mothers a proper perspective of the future. May they smile at the future as You give them grace to cast all their cares upon You.
Develop our mothers into faithful, wise and kind teachers of Your truth.
May our mothers have a proper perspective on their outward appearance Free them from an undue focus on externals for You do not look on the outward appearance, but on the heart.
May our mothers grow in their knowledge and fear of You.
We pray all of this for your great glory
and for the flourishing of our moms
and the families for which they care, in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

God is My Portion Forever

God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
– Psalm 73:26

When earthly things are taken from you,
he is the good part that will never be taken away (Luke 10:42).
When dying and withered,
he will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
Satan cannot part you from your portion.
God has him in a chain, and like a dog without teeth,
he may bark, yet he can never bite.
At death, your portion will swim out with you in that shipwreck.
Death parts all other portions from the sons of men,
but gives you your full portion.
Then will you know your portion’s true worth.
When the fire burns up the world
it will not even singe your portion.
You may stand upon the ruins of the world and sing:
I have lost nothing, I have my inheritance,
my happiness, and my God still.
– George Swinnock

The Lord is Our Portion

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
– Lamentations 3:24
Is the Lord enough for us? The secret of joy, contentment, hope and victory over temptation is resting in and knowing that the Lord is enough. We ultimately don’t need all the other things of this world.
Thomas-BrooksThomas Brooks (1608-1680) comments on the above verse:
“All the soul needs is found in God.
There is light to enlighten the soul,
wisdom to counsel the soul,
power to support the soul,
goodness to supply the soul,
mercy to pardon the soul,
beauty to delight the soul,
glory to ravish the soul,
and fullness to fill the soul.
Health is not more suitable to a sick man,
wealth to a poor man, bread to a hungry man,
drink to a thirsty man, clothes to a naked man,
balm to a wounded man, ease to a tormented man,
and pardon to a condemned man,
that this portion is to all the needs of man.
No earthly portion can suit an immortal soul…
Nothing else can satisfy the soul without God”

From the pen of George Swinnock (1627-1673):
The portions in this world are like candles
that are consumed with use and then go out.
Here is God, there is the world;
here bread, and their husk;
here substance, there a shadow;
here a Paradise, there an apple;
here is fullness, there is emptiness;
here in fountain, there a broken cistern;
here are all things, there is nothing;
here is heaven, there is hell;
here eternity of pleasure, there eternity of sorrow and pain.
Now, is not this an infinite reason to choose God for your portion?

Whatever your necessity, he can relieve it.
He is silver, gold, honor, delight, food, clothing,
house, land, peace, wisdom, power, beauty, father,
mother, wife, husband, mercy, love, grace, glory,
and infinitely more than all these.
There are all sorts of delights in him.
See God, and you see all. Enjoy God, and enjoy all.

Grasping the Wonder of Grace

mccheyne“For every one look you take at your sin, take ten looks at Jesus.”
Robert Murray M’Cheyne spoke these words to his congregation
in Scotland in the early 1800s.
We do well to heed M’Cheyne’s counsel
as we regularly confess our sins to the Lord
and experience anew the assurance of forgiveness.

The regular discipline of confession (1 John 1:9)
enables us to grasp more fully
the beauty and wonder of grace
as we are made continually aware of the depth
of our need of the Gospel.

We often include a written prayer of confession in our worship service
as a tool to facilitate an honest and thorough confession
of our personal sins to the Lord.

Our time of confession should never lead to despair,
but always to joy, since our God
is one who pardons iniquity, delights in mercy,
and casts our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:18-19).

One of the high moments of a worship service
occurs when we hear the words of the assurance of our pardon:
“If your faith is in Jesus Christ,
then I can assure you, based on the sure promise of the Word,
that your sins are forgiven.”

Oh what a blessing it is to know
that we are completely forgiven, totally accepted,
and deeply loved by our Lord!