Monday Morning Devotions: Rest

Matt. 11:18 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

What is Sabbath rest? How can we enjoy Sabbath rest even during the week when we are busy working? Rev. Hoeksema answers these questions (and others) in chapter 7 of Peace for the Troubled Heart. Here is today’s excerpt:

With unrest he fills the heart until every last basis of self-confidence is removed, until from the heart the cry is wrung, “O, God, be merciful unto me, a sinner!”

When all the wisdom and prudence, all the righteousness of works, all self-conceit and self-confidence to carry our own burdens and remove them is uprooted, and the heart longs for a righteousness that is not its own but God’s, he stands forth in all the beauty of his salvation, in all the glory of his power and says, “Weary toiler, it is finished. The task you labor to accomplish is completed. The work is done!”

“It was done for you.”

“Completely finished by me.”

“I will give you rest!”

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Monday Morning Devotions: Sojourning Safely

This morning’s excerpt is from chapter 4 of Peace for the Troubled Heart. I am jumping over chapter 3, not because it isn’t worth reading, but only because its theme is similar to chapter 2’s theme. Chapter 4’s theme is Sojourning Safely based on Psalm 105:14, “He suffered no man to do them wrong.” Here is today’s excerpt about God’s care of his sojourning people:

God suffered no man to do them wrong.

He was Abraham’s shield, Isaac’s protector, Jacob’s guide, and Israel’s deliverer. He is the refuge and high tower of all his people throughout their earthly sojourn, and he never fails nor forsakes them.

This is quite sufficient, for he is God almighty.

He ordained all things with a view to the salvation if these sojourning strangers; he made all things with a view to their glorification; he moves and directs all things with a view to the realization of their eternal inheritance. Without him no creature moves. Without him no hateful heart registers another beat; without him no malicious mind contrives a single plan; without him no reviling tongue utters another syllable. No murderous sword strikes a blow, no human power condemns, no human army moves, no devil stirs in the darkness of the abyss, but by his will. No lion roars, no serpent sneaks, no pestilence stalks, no fire burns, no water drowns, no death lurks, but when he allows. If he does not suffer, nothing in all the wide creation stirs.

Still more: when they do move, beat, contrive, speak, strike, sneak, lurk, they do so to serve his purpose. He it is—the Almighty—who suffers no man to do these sojourners wrong.

How safe they are!

Peace, be still!

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Monday Morning Devotions: The Pilgrim’s Goal

In chapter 2 of Peace for the Troubled Heart Rev. Hoeksema provides an exposition of Hebrews 13:4, “For we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” He explains that this word of God encourages us to press on to the goal of heaven while we recognize that this world is not our home. Understanding the beauty of heaven as our goal encourages us to seek it as our goal. Here is part of what Rev. Hoeksema says about the heavenly city we seek:

God is the chief joy of the heavenly Jerusalem. His presence fills the city. His blessed covenant friendship perfected is the very essence of all its bliss and rejoicing. Unlike the earthly Jerusalem, built of wood and stone, it has no temple. If you entered the gates of Jerusalem that once was, and if you would inquire as to the dwelling place of the Most High, and you would be pointed to a building made with hands. If, approaching the temple and entering through its outer gate, you would repeat your query, bystanders would direct your gaze to the sanctuary proper, at the same time warning you that you could not enter there to see the face of God. It was all so imperfect, earthly, and prophetic of things to come. But when you enter the heavenly city through its pearly gates, you need not inquire, for there is no temple there. God himself and the Lamb are the temple of that city, and its preeminent joy and glory is that there the tabernacle of God is with men; he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God.

We need to be reminded of how good the goal is because the way to the heavenly city is difficult. Rev. Hoeksema explains that the way to the heavenly city is through the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is the means by which pilgrims “have properly washed garments to enter the city of eternal light and joy.” But the cross is also the symbol of the world’s rejection of Jesus and all of his servants on earth who “share his reproach.” In light of the suffering involved in living a pilgrim’s life it is good for us to know the goal and that it “is about to come.” Rev. Hoeksema reminds us that the sufferings of this life are brief in comparison to eternal glory. “Yet a little patience and a little suffering, yet a little struggle, and a little battle, and the end of your journey will be reached. A very light affliction quickly passing and then eternal joy.”

With this encouragement pilgrims are ready to hear the call to continue to direct their lives towards the heavenly city that is to come. Rev. Hoeksema writes, “Seek that city! Press on!”

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Reformed Spirituality: Monday Devotions

One of the RFPA’s exciting projects is the publishing of a series of books on Reformed Spirituality. These books contain meditations written by Rev. Herman Hoeksema and edited by Prof. David Engelsma, which are excellent for personal devotions. Currently I am reading through Peace for the Troubled Heart and decided to use it for my Monday morning devotions. Part I of the book is entitled Pilgrimage, and chapter 1 is entitled The Pilgrim’s Confession and based on Hebrews 11:13. I hope you will read the whole chapter. Here is an excerpt explaining the source of the pilgrim’s confession:

God makes his people pilgrims.

In his eternal counsel before the foundation of the world, he appointed them as foreigners, for he chose them and foreordained them in order that they should be made like unto the image of his Son, so that the Son would be the firstborn among many brethren. He chose them unto eternal, heavenly glory and unto citizenship in the heavenly Jerusalem. He also causes them to be foreigners temporally on the earth, for he gives to them the new, eternal life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and he calls them out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The new life is resurrection life!

It is differentiated from the life of the world not only because it is free from the law of sin and death, and thus free to express itself according to the law of the Spirit of life, but also because it is from above.

It is the life of heaven.

By virtue of having received the new life that is from above, they actually have become citizens of the Jerusalem that will presently descend from heaven as God’s blessing.

Their conversation is in heaven.

There is their real, eternal home.

And out of the principle of the new life springs forth the confession that they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For here is not their continuing city.        

They seek the city that comes down out of heaven.

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