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Posts Tagged ‘William Gurnall’


Some timely thoughts from the Puritan William Gurnall for my needy heart.  They are from the Christian in Complete Armour daily devotional.  Perhaps some others need to hear them too.

The grace which God has given you is a sure pledge that more is on the way.

God is not a loan shark who will only lend you money with the hope you will be able to repay.  God gives grace with the full knowledge we will need more, and more, and…  That he has provided grace in the first place (will not he who did not spare his own Son, but offered him up for us all…) proves more is to come (give us all we need).  Christ sits upon the throne of grace- seek him!

The same faith which caused you to work against your sins as God’s enemies will undoubtedly move Him to work for you against them. … The reason so many Christians complain about the power of their corruptions lies in one of two roots- either they try to overcome sin without acting on the promises, or else they only pretend to believe.

Faith praises God in sad conditions. … Faith can praise God because it sees mercy even in the greatest affliction. … Will we let a few present troubles become a grave to bury the memory of all His past mercies?  What God takes from us is less than we owe Him, but what He leaves us is more than He owes (us).

I really like that last series.  It was a great struggle in my heart to think that we might lose our home in this time of transition.  I saw that it had become an idol, but one that filled me with fear and despair.  I had to remember that God owes me NOTHING.  All I have is His, and He is free to give and take away as He sees fit.  It is a difficult thing getting to that place of acceptance.  And it happened just before I read that, oddly enough.

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Some great thoughts from William Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour (Oct. 23) on the differences between doubt and unbelief.

“A person should no more sit down and be content in his unresolved doubt than one who thinks he smells fire in his house would go to bed and sleep.  He will look in every room and corner until he is satisfied that everything is safe.

“The doubting soul is much more afraid of waking with hellfire about it, but a soul under the power of unbelief is falsely secure and careless. … In spite of his doubts the true believer leans on and desires still to cling to Christ. … The weak Christian’s doubting is like the wavering of a ship at anchor- he is moved, yet not removed from his hold on Christ; but the unbeliever’s doubting is like the wavering of a wave which has nothing to anchor it and is wholly at the mercy of the wind.”

In a section on faith and unbelief (October 24) we are reminded of this scary, yet oddly comforting, reality.

“This dispute is from two contrary principles, faith and unbelief, which lust against each other; and your unbelief, which is the elder- no matter how hard it fights for mastery- shall serve the younger.  Presumptuous faith lacks balance.”

Faith and unbelief are at war in the Christian’s heart.  This is part of the conflict between the Spirit and the flesh.  When we follow the lead of the Spirit, we live by faith and grow in grace.  When we follow the lead of the flesh, we experience spiritual entropy & apathy, or spiritual decline.  This stuff isn’t talked about much these days.  We lack the spiritual insight of the Puritans, and suffer for it.

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I’ve started to use one of my devotionals again.  It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been in that routine.  I think trying to do the Pilgrim’s Progress devotional with the wife “ruined” me for awhile.  We tried to read it at night which is just not the best time for her to think.

The Reformissionary has a number of Big 5 Lists, and one of them is devotionals.  I figured that I might list my favorite devotionals here, perhaps people didn’t know they existed.  I’ll also list some that I’m very interested in reading some day.  I’m focused only on ones that cover a full year- though some great shorter ones exist.

My favorites:

  • The Christian in Complete Armour: Daily Readings in Spiritual Warfare by William Gurnall, edited by James Bell, Jr.  Bell breaks up Gurnall’s classic work into 365 daily readings.  Great stuff!  It is not in order, but I often found that what I was reading is exactly what I needed to read that day.  Though it is October, I’m jumping in because I need some godly encouragement.
  • Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional by Martin Luther edited and modernized by James Galvin.  Here Luther is pounding the gospel into our heads each day- or so it seems.  I received my copy as a gift from a congregant.  And a great gift it was.
  • Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon.  I gave away Morning by Morning to my congregants one year.  Spurgeon is full of insight and nearly always puts us to Christ.  You can’t go wrong with the Prince of Preachers.  [okay, he didn’t get the baptism thing, but I still love him]
  • Day By Day with the Early Church Fathers by Christopher Hudson.  Some great wisdom from the early church fathers.  It is easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of writings.  Here you get the best in digestible portions.
  • Day by Day with John Calvin.  There are a few different Calvin devotionals.  This one draws from all his writings, containing much of the best Calvin wrote.

Future Purchases:

  • Day by Day with Jonathan Edwards by Randall Pederson.  Edwards has had a profound influence on my thanks to Sproul and Piper.  It would be great to spend a year with the greatest theological mind God ever gave America.
  • Day By Day with the English Puritans by Randall Pederson.  This would serve as a great intro to the Puritans for those who haven’t met them yet.  A steady diet of godly wisdom for those of us who do appreciate them.
  • A Year with C.S. Lewis.  I don’t always agree with this literary giant of the 20th century, but he is often insightful.  I could think of few better people to sit with for a year.  Too bad we couldn’t sit at the Bird & Babe for a pint and puff of a fine cigar while we’re at it.

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