Recommended Devotionals

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Voices From the Past

Scholar Richard Rushing spent 10 years compiling these devotional bits from the the great Puritan thinkers (Baxter, Bunyan, Charnock, Edwards, Owen, Rutherford, Sibbes, etc).  I walked through it day-by-day a few years ago and always found fresh, deep, provocative reflections. This is one of my favorite devotionals available right now. I have a copy on my desk at work and another on my desk at home. It’s that good!

Morning by Morning (C.H. Spurgeon)

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Spurgeon was a master at balancing his sophisticated intellect and pastoral heart.  His daily offerings from various verses throughout the Scriptures are always practical and gospel-saturated.   Few share his ability to go so deep so quickly, never wasting a word.  This new ESV edition, edited by Alistair Begg is my personal favorite.

The Letters of Samuel Rutherford

Samuel Rutherford was one of the Scottish divines who lived in the 17th century. A significant part of his ministry included writing letters to those under his care. In them, Rutherford encourages his people by pointing them to take comfort in Christ. Rutherford was uniquely qualified to comfort the afflicted as he lost his beloved wife only two years into their marriage. Spurgeon wrote of these letters, “When we are dead and gone let the world know that Spurgeon held Rutherford’s Letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men.”

Memoir & Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Robert Murray M’Cheyne was a Scottish minister in the 19th century. He ministered faithfully for eight years and then died of typhus at age 29. His memoirs were published by his close friend and college companion, Andrew Bonar. Spurgeon said of this volume “This is one of the best and most profitable volumes ever published. The memoir of such a man ought surely to be in the hands of every Christian, and certainly every preacher of the Gospel.”

Letters of John Newton

I discovered the letters of John Newton when Tim Keller put them on his 2008 Summer Reading List. As Keller put it, “These letters are classics of spirituality and devotion.”  This famous slave trader once converted, became a minister of the gospel and wrote of the beloved hymn, “Amazing Grace.” These letters are worth reading and rereading.

The Valley of Vision

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This collection of Puritan prayers is excellent.   Capturing the tenacity with which the Puritan pastors and thinkers pursued their personal faith, they stir the heart with their depth of passion.  Much like the Psalms, these prayers will add vocabulary to your prayer life.  If growing in prayer is your aim, then The Valley of Vision must become part of your repertoire.

Two Ways to Appear Before the Judgment Seat of Christ

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The following excerpt is taken from A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones. In Chapter 49, “Thomas Manton on the Judgment according to Works,” the authors summarize Manton’s excellent comparison of the two states people will be in at the final judgment.

As judge, Christ will be a TERROR to those who have…

(1) despised God’s kingdom (Luke 19:27)

(2) refused God’s grace (Psalm 81:11)

(3) despised God’s benefits (Heb. 2:3)

(4) abused His grace and turned to lasciviousness (Jude 4)

(5) broken His commandments (John 15:10)

(6) questioned the truth of God’s promises (2 Peter 3-4)

(7) perverted God’s ordinances (Matthew 24:48-51)

Christ as judge will be a COMFORT to those who have:

(1) believed Christ’s doctrine (John 11:25)

(2) loved Christ (Ephesians 6:24; 1 Corinthians 16:22)

(3) warred against Christ’s enemies, the devil, the world, and the flesh (Revelation 3:21)

(4) obeyed His commandments (1 John 2:28)

Believers will be comforted because the judge is their friend, their brother, their high priest, and the one who died for their sins.

Beware of False Teachers

Christians never come to the end of their need for God’s Word. There are always new truths and insights to be taught throughout every season of life.  Christ’s disciples never come to a point in this life when they can set their Bibles down because their growth is complete.

I was recently shown how consistently the New Testament writers warned against false teachers. It seems to be their regular concern and consistent warning that there would be some who would come and teach false doctrines and lead many astray.

I don’t think many Christians think carefully about whether or not the teachers and leaders they listen to could be false teachers, but the warnings remain. There are false teachers out there and we need to equip ourselves to recognize them. Consider these verses:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits… (Matthew 7:15-16, ESV)

I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. (Acts 20:29-30, ESV)

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (Romans 16:17-18, ESV)

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8 ESV)

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4, ESV)

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-3, ESV)

Along these lines, J.I. Packer says it best:

The mark of the false prophet or teacher is self-serving unfaithfulness to God and His truth. It may be that he says what he shouldn’t; but it is far more likely that he will err by failing to say what he should. He will gloss over all the tough questions and issues as did the false prophets in the Old Testament who went around saying, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace (Jer. 6:14). They wouldn’t speak the tough word calling for repentance nor suggest that Israel was out of sorts spiritually. Instead they brought groundless comfort, lulling people into a false sense of security so that their hearers were totally unprepared for the judgment which eventually came on them. There are teachers in the church today who never speak of repentance, self-denial, the call to be relatively poor for the Lord’s sake, or any other demanding aspect of discipleship. Naturally they are popular and approved, but for all that, they are false prophets. We will know such people by their fruits. Look at the people to whom they have ministered. Do these folks really know and love the Lord? Are they prepared to take risks, even hazard their lives, for Jesus? Or are they comfortable, inactive, and complacent? If so, they are self-deceived, and those who have irresponsibly encouraged their self-deception will have to answer for it. Anyone who is in a position of spiritual leadership who fails to teach the more demanding, less comfortable, “narrow gate” and “rough road” side of discipleship becomes a false prophet.

Packer’s inclusion of those who fail to teach some of the weightier aspects of the gospel is convicting. But he’s right. We must test our own hearts and the teaching of our spiritual leaders, because there will be many who’ll come along and will be easy on the ears, but could be leading us astray or rocking us to sleep. Let us prayerfully consider who is leading us toward Christ and who is leading us away from Him.

Prophecies Christ Fulfilled Through His Suffering, Death, and Resurrection

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Consider what the prophets foretold about the person and work of Christ.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
(Genesis 3:15)

I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
(Psalm 22:14-18)

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
(Psalm 34:19-20)

My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,
and my nearest kin stand far off.
(Psalm 38:10-11)

Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me. (Psalm 41:9)

They gave me poison for food,
and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.
(Psalm 69:21)

I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they wag their heads.
(Psalm 109:25)

I gave my back to those who strike,
and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face
from disgrace and spitting.
(Isaiah 50:6)

As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
(Isaiah 52:14)

For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
(Isaiah 53:2-12)

Then I said to them, ‘If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.’ And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver.
(Zechariah 11:12)

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
(Zechariah 12:10)

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,
against the man who stands next to me,”
declares the LORD of hosts.
“Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered;
I will turn my hand against the little ones.
(Zechariah 13:7)

The Precious Promises of Christ

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There are times in life when we have to fight to believe what we know to be true. We may become bogged down by the disappointments and trials of life and slip into seasons of doubting and questioning our hope. If you’re discouraged and downcast in spirit, this post is for you.

Thomas Brooks once wrote, “Three things are called precious in the Scripture: the blood of Christ is called ‘precious blood,’ 1 Peter 1:19; and faith is called ‘precious faith’ 2 Peter 1:1; and the promises are called ‘precious promises,’ 2 Peter 1:4.”  Are the promises of Christ precious to you today?

I recently compiled a list of all Christ’s promises (Download the PDF). I highlighted conditions of the promises in red and the actual promise in yellow. This has become a sweet document to me. I regularly come and let the promises of Christ wash over me. Christ’s people are a blessed people. When I read through the promises I quickly become overwhelmed. There is so much the Lord has promised to do for us in his Word.

Here are a few of the the precious promises of Christ I’ve been savoring recently:

Matthew 5:8  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Matthew 6:3-4 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 10:9-10 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 14:12-14 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Revelation 22:12-13 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Revelation 22:20  He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!


“Furnish thyself with arguments from the promises to enforce thy prayers, and make them prevalent with God. The promises are the ground of faith, and faith, when strengthened, will make thee fervent, and such fervency ever speeds and returns with victory out of the field of prayer… The mightier any is in the Word, the more mighty he will be in prayer.” ~William Gurnall

What are some of your favorite promises?

When Hard Times Come

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The Christian is not immune from difficulties in this life. But we are not without help both from God and the community of believers who come around us in times of trouble.

One place I turn for help is The Loveliness of Christ by Samuel Rutherford. I cannot recommend him enough. He brings the perspective of one who has been through his own storms and is a better man for having endured them.

Here are a few excerpts:

“You may not know what the Lord is doing in a particular circumstance, but you will know hereafter. Let Christ know of your heavy cares. Let him bear all. Dear brother, do not become weary of your Master’s chains. We are closer to Christ when we suffer. Keep close by Christ, and let the wind blow. Rejoice in his cross. Your deliverance does not sleep and his promise is not slack. Wait for God’s appointed time of deliverance. You shall lose nothing in the furnace but dross. Not one ounce too much is laid on you. The devil is just a whetstone to sharpen the faith and patience of the saints. The Lord is cutting and polishing stones for the New Jerusalem. Be content to wade through the waters holding his hand, for he knows all the fords. You may be dunked, yet you cannot drown. Those who went before you went through blood, suffering, and many afflictions. Christ has borne the whole cross, and his saints bear only chips.”

“There is no sweeter fellowship with Christ than to bring our wounds and our sores to him.”

“The floods may swell and roar, but our ark shall swim above the waters; it cannot sink, because a Saviour is in it.”

“Christ and his cross together are sweet company, and a blessed couple. My poison is my palace, my losses are rich losses, my pain easy pain, my heavy days are holy and happy days. I may tell a new tale of Christ to my friends.”

“His cross is the sweetest burden that ever I bare: it is such a burden as wings are to a bird, or sails to a ship, to carry me forward to my harbour.”

“When I am in the cellar of affliction, I look for the Lord’s choicest wines.”

“As we look back to our pains and sufferings, we shall see that suffering is not worthy to be compared to our first night’s welcome home in heaven.”

“Our fair morning is at hand, the day star is near the rising, and we are not many miles from home; what does it matter if we are ill-treated in the smoky inns of this miserable life?”

I don’t know how much I’ll be called to suffer during the rest of my days, but I’m going to definitely stay close to Christ and keep guys like Rutherford around too. I look forward to meeting and befriending him in glory.

10 Things Jesus Really Said About His Return

Another false teacher recently joined the historic cohort who arrogantly thought they had figured out when Christ will return. This is tragic on two levels. First, there are many who were duped. Tons of people believed his prediction and invested time, energy, and money spreading it.  Secondly, it’s tragic that many will now move toward the opposite extreme. They suspected Jesus wouldn’t return anytime soon and now see this false prediction as confirmation he really isn’t. This is an equally tragic mistake. Jesus said a lot about his return and one of the overarching messages was His followers should keep themselves ready and waiting.

Here are 10 things Jesus really said about his return.

1.  No one knows the day or the hour of my return.

In Mark 13:32, Jesus had been teaching his disciples about his return and says, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Luke records it this way, “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Lk 12:40).

Jesus told his disciples even He didn’t know exactly when He would return.  At this point in history, God the Father knew the exact number of years, months, days and seconds until Christ would return and Jesus didn’t. We need not speculate about future details Christ himself didn’t know.

Also, Jesus applied this truth to their lives, “Be ready.” Jesus didn’t know if he would return in their lifetimes, but his command to them is his command to us almost 2,000 years later. Keep watch. Stay awake.

2.  There will be several signs, increasing in intensity, as my return draws near.

Christ’s followers should pay attention to the signs of his return. They should speculate about the exact day or hour but should pay attention to natural events and recognize the potential fulfillment of Christ’s words as they happen.

Jesus promised there would be wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes in various places (Matt 24:6-7). And also, “signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Lk 21:25-27).

Additionally, Jesus used the term “birth pains” to describe these signs. Like the pain of childbirth, these signs will get more intense and frequent as the day draws close. When we see increasing numbers of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and other natural disasters, Jesus instructs, “straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Lk 21:28). Once again, Jesus instructs us to pay attention to the signs of His return in order to be ready when He comes.

3.  Pray for the strength to escape the things that are going to take place.

In Luke 21:36, Jesus taught his followers, “But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” From the context, the “escaping” Jesus refers to is escaping from the judgment and wrath God will bring upon those who have rejected Christ.  Jesus teaches his disciples to pray for the strength to escape. Too many believe Christians will escape by default, but Jesus told his disciples to pray for strength to escape, and so we must.

4.  It will seem like a normal day.

In Luke 17:26-30, Jesus compared the day the Son of Man will be revealed to God’s judgment in the days of both Noah and Lot. In both these times, people were going about the normal business of life: eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting, and building. In the midst of this apparent normalcy, God’s judgment and wrath fell. Jesus said this is what it will be like when He comes. It will be a great cosmic interruption that will be like lightning which “lights up the sky from one side to the other” (Lk 17:24).

5.  I will repay everyone for what he has done.

In the last chapter of Revelation, Jesus told his followers He is coming and “bringing his recompense…to repay everyone for what he has done” (22:12). Matthew 25 describes the scene when Jesus will sit on his glorious throne and all nations will be gathered before him to be judged (31-33). All people will stand before Jesus and give account for what they did in life. How glorious it will be to stand confidently in the imputed righteousness of Christ in that day.

6.  Not everyone who expects to make it into Christ’s kingdom will.

Some of the most sobering words of Jesus are about those who will not be allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” What could be worse than hearing these words from Jesus?

At the end, there will be many people who will think they are in because of their ministry credentials. And Jesus will say, “I never knew you” and call them “workers of lawlessness.” Their repentance was in word only. They acted like followers but didn’t have a saving relationship with Christ based on faith and repentance as the foundation of their lives. Jesus said there will be many people in this terrifying condition, living their lives thinking they were in and finding out in the final analysis they weren’t.

7.  There will be great persecution and many will fall away.

Jesus promised great persecution would break out against his followers and would cause many to fall away (Matt 24:9-10). It’s relatively easy to follow Christ when things are going well, but when times get tough we find out what we’re made of. Is our faith in Christ only as strong as the comfort we enjoy? If God’s enemies come and take everything will we cling to Christ or fall away? Jesus promised many would make the incomprehensible choice to fall away.

8.  Because of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold.

Jesus promised that sin would lure many away from Him (Matt 24:12). These are people who once loved Christ warmly who have cooled in their affections for Him. They’ve traded in their desires for Christ for worthless idols. Sex, money, power and other false gods have replaced the love of Christ in their hearts. Their love grows cold as they lose the war against temptations to sin. Stoking the heart’s fiery love for Christ must include destroying the wet buckets of sin that can so quickly quench it. True Christ followers must repent often and much.

9.  Be on guard, keep awake.

Jesus continually told his followers to stay awake, to watch their lives, and to be ready for his return. In Matthew, Jesus gave four parables to explain how and why his followers should be prepared for his coming: the homeowner and the thief (24:42-44); the good and wicked servants (24:45-51); the 10 virgins (25:1-13); and the talents (25:14-30). In each of these parables, Christ described readiness with working to complete the work Christ gave us, namely fulfilling the Great Commission. Every Christian is to diligently use the gifts and opportunities God provides to reach the world for Christ.

To be awake is to be ready and willing to do Christ’s will. In Gethsemane, Jesus’ disciples slept instead of joining Him in prayer. They weren’t doing what Christ asked but slept. In the same way, many Christians today are asleep to Christ’s will. They don’t seek him or ask for his direction. Instead, like the disciples in the garden, they sleep. Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Awake, awake, put on strength” (51:9).

Peter says it well, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:7-8).

10.  I am coming soon!

Four times in the book of Revelation, Jesus said to the churches, “I am coming soon!” (Rev 16:15; 22:7,12,20). It was originally meant as an encouraging word to 1st century Christians suffering by the hands of Rome and has continued to encourage Christ’s followers throughout the ages. Christians in every generation are to hold tightly to the promise that Christ will return soon.

As the writer of Hebrews reminds, “Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb 9:28). Like young children eagerly longing for Christmas morning, Christians eagerly wait for Christ to return. In doing so, we live out Paul’s wonderful promise to the church in Thessalonica, “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:17). Nothing is greater than to be with Jesus Christ always and forever.

Spurgeon: Generosity Requires Faith

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You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.
Haggai 1:9 (ESV)

Grudging souls limit their contributions to the ministry and missionary operations, and call such saving good economy; little do they dream that they are impoverishing themselves. Their excuse is that they must care for their own families, and they forget that to neglect the house of God is the sure way to bring ruin upon their own houses. Our God has a method in providence by which He can cause our endeavors to succeed beyond our expectation, or He can defeat our plans to our confusion and dismay; by a turn of his hand He can steer our vessel in a profitable channel, or run it aground in poverty and bankruptcy. It is the teaching of Scripture that the Lord enriches the generous and leaves the miserly to find out that withholding leads to poverty. In a very wide sphere of observation, I have noticed that the most generous Christians of my acquaintance have been always been the happiest, and almost invariably the most prosperous. I have seen the generous giver rise to financial levels of which he never dreamed; and I have as often seen the mean, ungenerous soul descend to poverty by the very stinginess by which he thought to rise. Men trust good stewards with larger and larger sums, and so it frequently is with the Lord; He gives by cartloads to those who give by bushels. Where wealth is not bestowed the Lord makes the little much by the contentment that the sanctified heart feels in a portion of which the tithe has been dedicated to the Lord. Selfishness looks first at home, but godliness seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, yet in the long run selfishness is loss, and godliness is great gain. It requires faith to act toward our God with an open hand, but surely he deserves it from us; and all that we can do is a very poor acknowledgment of our amazing indebtedness to his goodness.

(C.H. Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, Oct 26)

Reflections on John 11:17-44: The Reason Jesus Wept

This morning, I’m meditating on a familiar passage: John 11:17-44. The raising of Lazarus was one of the most spectacular signs Jesus did prior to his death. As I slowly look over what Jesus accomplished, one of my primary questions regards his emotional state. What was going on that made Jesus weep in this story? John doesn’t tell exactly why Jesus wept, but merely gives the context. We know from Isaiah, Jesus was a man of constant sorrows. (Is. 53:3). But I believe this is the only time a Gospel writer specifically mentions Jesus weeping.

A couple of thoughts come to mind as I chew on this story:

First, Jesus was not crying because he missed his friend Lazarus. He told the disciples before they left for Bethany, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep but I go to awaken him.” Jesus was aware Lazarus had passed away, but describes the event as good that he might manifest the glory of God.

Secondly, God’s glory does not hinge on the people’s knowledge and understanding. God’s glory exists regardless of the acceptance or rejection by people. Therefore, when Jesus did things for the sake of God’s glory, he was demonstrating glory that existed from before time began. God’s glory has not grown or developed through time. He has the same glory now as he had when their was nothing.

Also, Jesus came to reveal existent glory. Jesus never needed to win God glory or honor. From the earliest civilizations, men have done things to win themselves glory and honor. Their glory didn’t exist until they proved it. Not so with Almighty God. His glory is eternal, regardless of whether He demonstrates it or not. The Word of God gives us several different flavors of God’s glory. There are things about God we won’t know until heaven, but they remain true.

Which leads me to why I think Jesus’ wept. He wept because he saw the desperate ignorance in the people around him. Mary, Martha, and the other mourners were drawn away from the glory of God present with them. God’s glory, manifested in Jesus, was with them, yet they were blind to it. I believe Jesus wept because he realized some of his closest followers didn’t know him. He looked around and observed so many who knew so little about their Creator. Perhaps, Jesus desired his followers might have already known what was coming. Maybe Jesus wept because he looked around and saw that everyone would soon be shocked and surprised that he could raise the dead man. For Jesus, the ignorance of his followers was not bliss, for him or them.