This morning as I took my first sips of tea I read Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotion. The morning reading was about Acts 4:13 where the text says the Jews could tell that the Apostles had "been with Jesus." Spurgeon reminds us that we need to live such distinctive lives for Christ that people can tell that we have been with Jesus. How about you?

Added to that poke to the heart was Spurgeon’s evening reading based on Rev. 2:4 "You have lost your first love." Again, I was exhorted to make sure I haven’t lost my first love, my passion, and devotion for the Lord Jesus Christ. I need to guard against allowing the love of ease, pleasure, and the world to crowd out my love for Jesus. How about you?

Then I read a devotion called, Amazing Grace Hymns by Kenneth Osbeck. The particular hymn being discussed was written by George Beverly Shea during a sea voyage with the Billy Graham crusade. It was called, "Wonder of it All." The words are simple and somewhat repetitive, but speak of the wonder we should have that Jesus loves us. I thought to myself, do I still have wonder and awe that Jesus loves me? I remember as a young believer marveling, feeling euphoria that Jesus loved me! With shame I must confess that those times are fewer and further between these days. I must pray, plead, and beg the Lord to increase my love for Him. I know He will answer that prayer. How about you?

After that I read John MacArthur’s devotion, Truth for Today where he talks about not being materialistic, falling for the prosperity gospel, or being lazy in our Christian walks, but to be willing to serve and sacrifice for Christ Jesus as Lord. MacArthur writes:

To grow spiritually, we must lose ourselves in the lordship of Christ at the moment of salvation and allow Him to dominate our lives from then on. In doing so, we must seek only His glory—not our own comfort and success. We will not grow when we choose our own way or serve God with the wrong motive.[1]

I had to ask myself, “Am I letting my desire to give Christ glory dominate every area of my life?” Just asking the question is a bit painful. I know in my mind what the right answer is, but when I look at my life, I don’t always make a conscious effort to have the glory of God drive all I do. It’s there, in my heart and mind, but I think I can just live, not think about it, not remind myself that I do need to continually ask myself, “What would give glory to Christ at this moment, in this circumstance, etc.” I want to obey I Cor. 10:31 so that “whether I eat, or drink or whatever I do, do all for the glory of God.” How about you?

Finally, my last healing wound came from reading about William Sangster in the historical devotion On This Day by Robert Morgan. Morgan tells us how relentlessly Sangster served the Lord in his ministry and even in his slow painful death from muscular dystrophy. Sangster made four rules for dying and vowed: 1) I will never complain, 2) I will keep my home bright, 3) I will count my blessings, and 4) I will try to turn whatever the Lord gives me to gain. And this is what Sangster did to his dying day.

As I read Sangster’s four rules for dying, I realized they are actually four rules for living for the Lord in adversity. Sangster was only able to apply those rules while living. Yes, he expected to die from his disease, but we all have the disease of sin and death in us, we are all dying just like Sangster. Sangster’s four rules are rules that I can apply to my life until the Lord takes me home. What do you think? Do you agree with Sangster’s four rules? Do you see them as biblical and worthy of the Lord? Then what are you going to do about it? I am going to start with prayer, confession, and supplication for grace, that is what I am going to do. How about you?

Sangster’s story also made me consider how often we let our circumstances become excuses for not serving the Lord. We will wait until times are better, when fields are greener, when health is more vigorous, when serving the Lord is more convenient, when our job is less stressful and demanding, etc. But as we all know, tomorrow never comes, today is the only day we are given to live for the Lord. Satan is pleased to have us bound hand and foot while we wait for fair weather and perfect circumstances to serve the Lord. Sangster’s story and the lessons it teaches are a stern rebuke to my soul, how about yours? Listen to what Sangster did during very difficult times during WW II, while he pastored in London, and while the Germans were blowing London to smithereens:

In 1939 Sangster assumed leadership of Westminster Central Hall, a Methodist church near London’s Westminster Abbey. During his first worship service he announced to his stunned congregation that Britain and Germany were officially at war. He quickly converted the church basement into an air raid shelter, and for 1,688 nights Sangster ministered to the various needs of all kinds of people. At the same time he somehow managed to write, to preach gripping sermons, to earn a Ph.D., and to lead hundreds to Christ. He became known as Wesley’s successor in London and was esteemed as the most beloved British preacher of his era.[2]

As I read all these devotions I couldn’t help but feel the gravity from the alignment of the planets. When multiple resources, written by different people, in different times, based on different texts, addressing different subjects, line up to give me the same basic message—I know I had better pay attention! Love and live for the Lord Jesus Christ now! I feel the conviction and the pull of God’s Spirit on my heart, reproving, rebuking, and admonishing me to take action—now! Reader, do you feel the gravity of Christ’s love, worth, position, and Word pulling on you to love and serve Him—now?

This is not a message I do not know. In fact, I am well acquainted with it. It is something I have preached, read, understood, and exhorted others to practice. I have given this same message to others on many occasions and now, others give it to me. “Physician heal yourself,” rings in my ears! This is how the church works. We all need the same thing, all need constant encouragement to love the Lord and to show our love to the Lord by sacrificially obeying all He commands and to do it now, today, this instant. We don’t live in the past and the future is uncertain. We can only live for the Lord now, this moment. I need to be reminded to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I need to let my love for Christ drive me to serve Him, to sacrifice for Him, to live for Him in sunshine or rain, ease or hardship. I must pray and ask the Lord to help me be more like Jesus, to serve Him more for His glory, and to be content at whatever lot He has given me, to turn whatever He has given me into an opportunity to give Him glory and to be a blessing to others. I need all of these things, how about you?

Believer, look at your life: 1) Can people tell you have been with Jesus? 2) Have you lost your first love? 3) Are you given over completely to live for Christ Jesus as Lord of your life? 4) Are you serving the Lord now, regardless of how hard your life is or how difficult your circumstances? These are worthy things to first pray to the Lord about, then to put into practice. Some repentance will surely be in order too, then more prayer for strength, wisdom, and grace to pursue with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength living for the glory of Christ in all you do, at all times, and in every circumstance because you love Him.

[1] John MacArthur, Truth for Today: A Daily Touch of God’s Grace (Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman, 2001), 54.

[2] Robert J. Morgan, On This Day: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997).