Monday, 2 January 2017

Daily Devotionals

Image result for rutherford letters
Happy New Year every one! May 2017 be your most blessed year ever! Two exclamation marks are enough, but allow me to enthuse a little. I sincerely hope that 2017 will prove to be another year of grace like 1859 when God moved mightily in revival blessing across parts of the UK  (Spurgeon's revival sermons here) and especially in my own little province of Ulster. (Reports here).

Yesterday, I started reading Samuel Rutherford's Letters again. Although they are not technically set out as a dated daily reading scheme, yet I intend to read one a day. If so, then they won't last the entire year, so I plan to move unto the select letters of John Newton which are also evangelical classics. Daily devotionals shouldn't replace systematic Bible reading (to state the somewhat obvious) but they can supplement it. Last year I used Spurgeon's Morning and Evening exercises, tweeting some of his more Calvinist statements included (with other stuff) under the #GemsFromSpurgeon  hash tag. The previous year, I used William Jay's intensely more challenging daily devotional (Morning Exercises) Mr Spurgeon's work is relatively brief and consists of 2-3 paragraphs at most. Some of Jay's devotional stuff ran to 2-3 pages. His whole book was the size of a volume of Spurgeon's sermons. But it was pure gold. My wife used it last year. His Evening Exercises are available too and maybe some day, if the Lord will, I will start into them too. I do have a couple of other daily devotionals waiting to be used i.e. Bishop Ryle on the four gospels (I have the set of commentaries from whence the daily readings are taken) and John Calvin on the Psalms. I also have dipped occasionally into the daily readings of James Packer too. It may be said, that the barns are full.

You can read about Rutherford here. He ticks all the right boxes for me: A persecuted Scottish Covenanting Presbyterian etc. You may have sang his hymn at one time or another: "The sands of times are sinking." Sometimes, the name of Mrs Annie Cousins appears at the bottom of the hymn. This is because Rutherford didn't actually compose the hymn (He would have been probably a Psalms only man) but his many spiritual statements were taken by the said lady and woven into metre and set to music. If you are familiar with the hymn, then you will invariably come across the original sentiments as you go through his letters. I am using an old edition of his letters which I picked up second hand in John Gowan's bookshop many moons ago. I think John was still operating out of a spare room in his house when I bought them. This Religious Tract Society edition isn't formally dated, but a previous owner ("George  Crew") dated his signature as 1853.

I have a modern reprint of Rutherford's catechism which is useful. Calvinistic to the core, expressing similar sentiments on the sovereignty of God as the Westminster Confession. Rutherford attended the Westminster Assembly, where (according to James Reid) "He was highly useful in that famous Assembly, and distinguished himself by speaking to good purposes in their debates."

So, this is where I am at the beginning in 2017. On the ministry front, I have been engaged to begin some door to door evangelism on behalf of Kilskeery FPC, starting tomorrow. Next week, I plan to attend the FPC ministers and missionary week of prayer. Just enjoying my last day of Christmas holidays (although I preached both Sabbaths - always a delight.)

Must run on...


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