Pink: Thy Kingdom Come

“God’s name is manifestatively glorified here only in the proportion in which His Kingdom comes to us and His will is down by us…. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness’ (Matt. 6:33). But though men ought to glorify God’s name upon earth, yet of themselves they cannot do so. God’s Kingdom must first be set up in their hearts. God cannot be honored by us until we voluntarily submit to His rule over us.

‘Thy Kingdom come.’ Whose Kingdom is being referred to here? Obviously, it is that of God the Father, yet it is not to be thought of as something separate from the Kingdom of the Son. The Father’s Kingdom is no more distinct from Christ’s than ‘the Church of the living God’ (1 Tim. 3:15) is something other than the Body of Christ or than the ‘Gospel of God’ (Rom. 1:1) is something different from ‘the Gospel of Christ’ (Rom. 1:16), or than ‘the Word of Christ’ (Col. 3:16) is to be distinguished from the Word of God. But Christ does mean, by the words ‘Thy Kingdom,’ to distinguish sharply the Kingdom of God from the kingdom of Satan (Matt. 12:25-28), which is a kingdom of darkness and disorder. Satan’s kingdom is not only opposite in character, but it also stands in belligerent opposition to the Kingdom of God.

The Father’s Kingdom is, first and more generally, His universal rule, His absolute dominion over all creatures and things. ‘Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the Kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as Head above all’ (1 Chron. 29:11). Second, and more specifically, it is the external sphere of His grace on earth, where He is ostensibly acknowledged (see Matt. 13:11 and Mark 4:11 in their contexts). Third, and more definitely still, it is God’s spiritual and internal Kingdom, which is entered by regeneration, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God’ (John 3:5).

Now as the Father and the Son are one in nature, so is Their Kingdom the same; and thus it appears in each of its aspects. Concerning the aspect of providence, we read, ‘My Father worketh hitherto, and I work’ (John 5:17), signifying cooperation in the government of the world (Heb. 1:3). Christ now holds the mediatorial office of a King by virtue of His Father’s appointment (Luke 22:29) and establishment (Ps. 2:6). When the Kingdom is viewed very specifically as a reign of grace set up in the hearts of God’s people, it is rightly called both “the Kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 4:20) and ‘the Kingdom of His dear Son’ (Col. 1:13). Viewing the Kingdom in regard to its ultimate eternal glory, Christ says that He shall drink the fruit of the vine with us ‘in [His] Father’s Kingdom’ (Matt. 26:29), yet it is also called ‘the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 1:11). Thus it should seem perfectly natural to us when we read these words: ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ’” (Rev. 11:15).

-A.W. Pink, The Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer, 91-93.

Bonhoeffer: Who Stands Firm?

Who stands firm?

Only the one whose ultimate standard is not his reason, his principles, conscience, freedom, or virtue; only the one who is prepared to sacrifice all of these when, in faith and in relationship to God alone, he is called to obedient and responsible action. Such a person is the responsible one, whose life is to be nothing but a response to God’s question and call. Where are these responsible ones?

Tripp: Trust

“Don’t be discouraged today. You can leave your ‘what-ifs’ and ‘if-onlys’ in the hands of the One who loves you and rules all things.”

Even though you’re a person of faith who has acquired some degree of biblical literacy and theological knowledge, there’s one thing you can be sure of—God will confuse you. Your theology will give you only a limited ability to exegete your experiences. The commands, principles, and case studies of Scripture will take you only so far in your quest to figure out your life. There will be moments when you simply don’t understand what is going on. In fact, you will face moments when what the God who has declared himself to be good brings into your life won’t seem good. It may even seem bad, very bad.

Now, if your faith is based on your ability to fully understand your past, present, and future,then your moments of confusion will become moments of weakening faith. But the reality is that you are not left with only two options—understand everything and rest in peace or understand little and be tormented by anxiety. There is a third way. It really is the way of true biblical faith. The Bible tells you that real peace is found in resting in the wisdom of the One who holds all of your ‘what-ifs’ and ‘if-onlys’ in his loving hands. Isaiah captures this well with these comforting words ‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you’ (Isa. 26:3).

Real, sturdy, lasting peace, peace that doesn’t rise and fall with circumstances, isn’t to be found in picking apart your life until you have understood all of the components. You will never understand it all because God, for your good and his glory, keeps some of it shrouded in mystery. So peace is found only in trust, trust of the One who is in careful control of all the things that tend to rob you of your peace. He knows, he understands, he is in control of what appears to be chaos, he is never surprised, he is never confused, he never worries or loses a night’s sleep, he never walks off the job to take a rest, he never gets so busy with one thing that he neglects another, and he never plays favorites.

You need to remind yourself again and again of his wise and loving control, not because that will immediately make your life make sense, but because it will give you rest and peace in those moments that all of us face at one time or another—when life doesn’t seem to make any sense.

For further study and encouragement: Luke 12:22-34”

-Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies, January 14.

Eareckson Tada: Hunger

“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” —Deuteronomy 8:2-3

Humans get hungry and not just for food but for a whole range of desires and dreams. Hunger to have hopes fulfilled and longings answered seems to be built into us. Sometimes our hunger gets us into trouble, and we wish we could curb our appetites. But in Deuteronomy 8:2, you’ll be surprised to learn who gives us these longings. The Lord is the one who causes us to hunger. He is the one who has put within us our desires and yearnings. At first, this seems odd. Doesn’t God know that the “hungries” often get us into trouble? God has good reasons for giving us such large appetites. He has placed within us desires and dreams in order to test us and humble us, to see what is in our heart, to see whether or not we would follow Him.He causes us to hunger so that we might learn to feed on the Bread of Heaven, to live on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

To hunger is to be human, but to hunger for God is to feed on Him. Hunger and thirst after His righteousness and feed on Him in your heart. Taste and see that the Lord is good; it is He who will fill you to satisfaction.

I am prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. I’m prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my beart, please take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

-Joni Eareckson Tada, Diamonds In the Dust, January 14.

Alleine: Let Me Not Sin Against You

“Lord, keep me from yielding to sin, whatever I suffer. How could I do such wickedness? How could I neglect this duty and sin against you, God?

For your sake, Lord, let me not sin against you. You are good. You are kind. You are gracious. You are holy.

Will I sin or rebel? For your sake, Lord, I will not do it. I will not for my own sake. In sinning m against God, I sin against my own soul. Sin and death, sin and hell are linked together.

Even if it were not so,Lord,I will not sin against you.You are good in yourself and good to me. You are my God and my Father.

Love, care, tenderness, compassion, and kindness are all in your heart toward me.

What I am, what I have, what I hope for, that I breathe, that I live—all is your goodness and your bounty to me.

Do not let me rise up against the one that bore me and fed me. I would never return evil for good—not to my child, my fellow laborer, or my friend. And let me never do so to you, my Father and my God!

Do not let this evil which I fear ever come upon me. Put your fear into my heart, Lord, that I may not sin against you. Amen.”

-Richard Alleine, Piercing Heaven, Robert Elmer Ed., 83.

I Am His

With trembling faith, and reckless hope
I seek the face of God
I close my eyes and offer up
A heart I know is flawed
I bow before the blazing throne
Whatever He may do
He lifts my eyes and whispers Peace
My Son has made you new

This one hope is my salvation
This one plea, my declaration

I am not, but Jesus is
And praise God, I am His
I may be dead, but Jesus lives
And praise God, I am His

I am not
I am not
I am not
But Jesus is

With ears of faith I seek the truth
Whatever it may say
It tells me this My soul was lost
And Jesus found the way
With no more fear I take my crown
And melt it in the flame
The Spirit’s power, refining fire
Leaves only Jesus’ name

-Eric Scholtens

Doddridge: A Prayer for Revival

Eternal, unchangeable Jehovah! Your perfections and glories will never change. Jesus your Son is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

The closer the eternal world gets, the more I must consider it. But sadly, my views, my affections, and my best intentions keep changing—just like my poor body.

Where do these changes come from, Lord? And what about the way my soul feels alienated from you?

Why can I not just come to you with the affection of a child, as I once did? Why do I avoid serving you? It was once my greatest pleasure. Now it seems like a burden.

Where is the blessing I once had? My joy in you as my Heavenly Father was so obvious that strangers could not miss it. My heart overflowed with so much love to you, and passion for serving you, that it felt like self-denial not to express it.

Where did I fall? You see me still, but I am not the same. I blush to see how cold and indifferent I have become.

When you see me in secret, you see me amusing myself with trivial things, when I used to spend my time serving you.

You see me coming into your presence as if I was forced. And when I am before you, my spirit is so empty that I hardly know what to say to you—though you are my God, and there could never be anything more important than time spent with you.

Even when I do speak with you, my prayer is cold and formal. What happened to the passion I once felt, the intense pursuit of you, O God?

And what happened to the wonderful rest I had in you, that feeling of just being happy to be near you—and my determination to never stray from your presence?

I am so far removed from that place. When my short devotions are over-—if you can even call them devotions— I forget about you for the longest time.

I am so barely animated by your love, or interested in serving you, that a stranger might talk with me for a long while and not have a clue that I knew you, or had even ever heard of you!

You call me to your house, Lord, on your own day. But my worship is heartless.

I present you with nothing more than my body. My thoughts and affections are engrossed in other things.I draw near you with my mouth, and honor you with my lips—but my heart is far from you (Isaiah 29:13).

You call me to your table, but my heart is so frozen, it hardly melts even at the fot of the cross. It hardly feels any power in the blood of Jesus.

I am such a wretched creature,unworthy of being called yours! Unworthy of a place among your children, even the lowest place in your family.

I am worthy to be cast out, forsaken, even utterly destroyed.

Is this the dedication I once promised you, and which you have so many reasons to expect?

Is this my response to your daily care? For the sacrifice of your Son, the presence of your Spirit, the pardon of my numberless sins? For the undeserved and so often forfeited hopes of eternal glory?

Lord, I am ashamed to stand or kneel before you. But pity me, I beg you, and help me. My soul lays itself in the dust before you. Give me life, according to your word (Psalm 119:25)!

Do not let me waste any more time—I am at the edge of a cliff!

Give me grace to turn toward your testimonies, without further delay, that I may keep your commandments (Psalm 119:59-60).

Search me, Lord, and try me. Get to the root of this disease which spreads itself over my soul, and heal me.

Show me my sin, Lord, that I may see its horror. Show me Jesus in such a light that I may look upon him and mourn, that I may look upon him and love (Zechariah 12:10).

May I awaken from this lethargy into which I am sinking, and may Christ give me a more abundant spiritual life than ever. Alive in him, let me recover the ground I have lost—and then gain yet more!

Send your Spirit on me to dwell in a temple consecrated to himself (1 Corinthians 3:16), and may he direct my holy and acceptable sacrifice of service (Romans 12:1).

May the incense be constant and fragrant! May the sacred fire burn and blaze perpetually (Leviticus 6:13)! And may none of its vessels ever be profaned by unholy or forbidden use. Amen.

-Philip Doddridge, Piercing Heaven, Robert Elmer Ed., 76-79.

Stott: Morning Trinitarian Prayer

“Good morning heavenly Father,
good morning Lord Jesus,
good morning Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, I worship you as the creator and sustainer of the universe.
Lord Jesus, I worship you,Savior and Lord of the world.
Holy Spirit, I worship you, sanctifier of the people of God.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more.

Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.

Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life:

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me. Amen.”

-John Stott

Clarkson: No Sorrow Like Yours

“There was no sorrow like your sorrow, Lord—no love like your love. Was it not enough, dearest Savior, that you came down to pray, and sigh, and weep for us? Would you also bleed and die for us?

Was it not enough that you were hated, slandered, blasphemed, buffeted? But you would also be scourged, nailed, wounded, and crucified.

Was it not enough to feel the cruelty of man? Would you also experience the wrath of God?

And if your love was not enough, giving up your life and shedding that precious blood, was it not enough to die once, to suffer one death? Would you die twice by tasting the first, and something of the second death—suffering the pains of death in both soul and body?

Oh the far-surpassing love of Christ! Heaven and earth are astonished at it. What tongue can express it? What heart can conceive it? The tongues and the thoughts of people and angels are far below it.

Oh the height, and depth, and breadth, and length, of the love of Christ! All creation knows not how to react. Our thoughts are swallowed up.
And there they remain until glory elevates them, when our job will be to praise, admire, and adore this love of Christ.

Amen.”

-David Clarkson

Chalmers: The Expulsive Power of a New Affection

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15-17)

There are two ways in which a practical moralist may attempt to displace from the human heart its love of the world-either by a demonstration of the world’s vanity, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon simply to withdraw its regards from an object that is not worthy of it; or by setting forth another object, even God, as more worthy of its attachment. . . .

Love may be regarded in two different conditions.

The first is, when its object is at a distance, and then it becomes love in a state of desire.

The second is, when its object is in possession, and then it becomes love in a state of indulgence….

Such is the grasping tendency of the human heart that it must have a something to lay hold of-and which, if wrested away without the substitution of another something in its place, would leave a void as painful to the mind as hunger is to the natural system. It may be dis- possessed of one object, or of any, but it cannot be desolated of all….

We know not a more sweeping interdict upon the affections of nature than that which is delivered by the apostle in the verse before us. To bid a man into whom there has not yet entered the great and ascendant influence of the principle of regeneration, to bid him withdraw his love from all the things that are in the world, is to bid him give up all the affections that are in his heart.

The world is the all of a natural man. He has not a taste nor a desire that points not to a something placed within the confines of its visible horizon. He loves nothing above it, and he cares for nothing beyond it; and to bid him love not the world, is to pass a sentence of expulsion on all the inmates of his bosom. . . .The love of the world cannot be expunged by a mere demonstration of the world’s worthlessness….

But may it not be supplanted by the love of that which is more worthy than itself? The heart cannot be prevailed upon to part with the world by a simple act of resignation. But may not the heart be prevailed upon to admit into its preference another, who shall subordinate the world, and bring it down from its wonted ascen- dency?.. . This, we trust, explains the operation of that charm which accompanies the effectual preaching of the gospel…

Beside the world, it places before the eye of the mind Him who made the world, and with this peculiarity, which is all its own—that in the gospel do we so behold God, as that we may love God. It is there, and there only, where God stands revealed as an object of confidence to sinners—and where our desire after Him is not chilled into apathy, by that barrier of human guilt which intercepts every approach that is not made to Him through the appointed mediator. It is the bringing in of this better hope, whereby we draw nigh unto God—and to live without hope is to live without God; and if the heart be without God, the world will then have all the ascendency. It is God apprehended by the believer as God in Christ, who alone can dispost it from this ascendency.”

-Thomas Chalmers, from the sermon The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.