Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Our struggles are not so different

"Help me never to mistake the excitement of my passions for the renewing of the Holy Spirit, never to judge my religion by occasional impressions and impulses..."

Excerpt from the Valley of Vision, today's devotional, 'True Religion'. The set of Puritan prayers edited by Arthur Bennett is copyrighted and requested not to be published so I won't post the entire devotional, as energizing and encouraging as it is. You can read today's full devotional here.

More info on the book here:

"In this classic volume, edited by Arthur Bennett, the prayers of the Puritans are brought to life. Including prayers of Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, Charles Spurgeon, and others, The Valley of Vision is a selection of petitions and meditations in the Puritan tradition. This compilation of prayers is intended to teach and encourage Christians to be faithful in their private and family worship."

What I love about the book is not just the quality writing, the stirring sentiments, and the deep theological pleas and truths. It's also that we can see that in the 1600s, 1700s, 1800s Christians prayed and pleaded for the same things we do in the 2000s, go through the same things, have the same cares and wants. O, the thread that connects us to the brothers of the past. It's glorious and it's Jesus. He keeps us, He hears us, and He knows us. We are truly family with these precious brethren who lived and loved and struggled, just as we do. Yes, they were heroes, but they were men and women, and thus, had a flesh nature that plagued them until the end. Just as we have and we do.

Sister, are you fighting against temptation to mistake personal passionate emotion for Holy Spirit enlivenment? So did the Puritans. Perhaps it was Bunyan or Watts, or one of the other men who wrote today's devotional, who asked the Lord in his prayer to help him not mistake passion for Holy Spirit. Are you seeking "to be enrolled amongst the earthly great and rich"? Or are we asking "to be numbered with the spiritually blessed"? as the devotional writer stated. Are we 'feeling and confessing ourselves a stranger and a pilgrim here' or do we seek to hide, meld in, or worse, pursue earthly goods and fame? The Valley of Vision writers sought the same spiritual blessings we pursue we do and were yet tempted to stray toward the same paths we encounter today.

The good news is that foremost, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8). He responds to our please with the same compassion, care, and perfection that He did to all the previous pray-ers and pursuers we read of in the Valley of Vision.

It is also good news that Jesus knows what is in a man. (John 2:24-25). And He loves us anyway.

He also knows what temptation is, having encountered it at all points. And so He sympathizes with us. (Hebrews 4:15).

He is also God, who is above us and beyond us in comprehension, but He gave us His word so as to know Him and be encouraged by His love and strength when we're tempted. For when we're sad. For when we're confused. For when we fail. For everything.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16).

Whether we are John Bunyan in the 1600s, the author of Pilgrim's Progress and nearly 60 other books, whether we are Isaac Watts in the 1700s, writer of 750 hymns and acknowledged as the father of English Hymnody, whether we are 1800s Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers and deliverer of over 3500 sermons, or whether we are Elizabeth Prata in the new millennium, a Christian woman who isn't anybody, or whether you are you, we all share the same struggles, the same fears, wants, and affections. We share Christ.

We're blessed that the Lord raised up good men like the aforementioned ones, and also the editor of Valley of Vision, who compiled these monumental prayers and devotions. We take encouragement from them, and thus strengthened, we go forth as the writer said, paying attention to our principles as well as our conduct, to our motives as well as our actions.

As it says in today's devotional, please, Jesus-

Give me large abundance of the supply of the Spirit of Jesus, that I may be prepared for every duty...




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