Beholding the Glory of the Lord
Jos Douma-translated by Dick Moes
Summary: Pondering the glory of God is an awesome, weighty exercise that requires eyes that have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit. No one can truly see or experience the mighty God and remain unaffected. Indeed, what splendour! But so often we become dull and unaffected in spiritual matters. We allow a veil to fall over our eyes which often effectively hinders that glory from penetrating into our souls. Is Christ precious to you? Do you see the beauty in a bleeding Savior? Does your heart swell at the thought of Him praying for you and advocating for you in heaven? In order to show us the glorious Savior, Douma pulls glittering, priceless gems out of this rather obscure passage--2 Corinthins 3:18. Anyone, yes I say anyone, can get a glimpse of this glory--from the greatest theologian to the simplest pew sitter. Do you want to experience real lasting change? Then look to the Lord. Recognize His beauty. Delve into the Word and ask the Holy Spirit to lift that veil. If you keep looking at this world you will be conformed. But when you look to Christ be ready to be transformed.
Personal Thoughts: One of the greatest strengths of this book is its use of personal pronouns. Reading words like 'I, me and my' immediately personalizes the content in the book. 'What causes me to lose sight of His glory? ...the more I enjoy the beauty of Jesus, the more I will change.'
Douma has just an excellent analogy using a plant as an example of a Christian's steady growth under the correct conditions. I don't think I will ever forget that word picture that he painted. It's on page 49 for those of you whose interest has just been piqued.
Douma's tone is fatherly. He wants to share something very special with us--something that has affected him deeply. He is in love with the revelation of God's glory, and he wants us to share that same love.
Also of important mention: the book has a very obvious division that can be startling to an unsuspecting reader. The first 3 chapters are theological in nature--essentially the reader is poring over 3 incredibly well articulated sermons. Then comes the second part where the book takes a very sudden and abrupt turn in the writing style with 40 short, practical devotions. Now, there's nothing wrong with the content at all. Not at all, but unfortunately after reading a thorough exposition on the glory of God in the three previous chapters, the devotionals seem a little simplistic. However, I do believe that in order to benefit most from these 40 selections, they should be read and digested slowly with perhaps one or two read in a day. This would be the best way to impress each of the topics in the mind and avoid reading them quickly or carelessly. The longer one can daily pore over a book, the longer its contents will be embedded in the mind.
Quote: "You see, it's possible to hear the gospel and to intellectually accept it, but yet have the feeling that it's not really landing in your life." --pg. 29
The Blessed and Boundless God
Summary: Who can be compared to the Lord? Oh blessed, eternal, everlasting, omniscient God! How your attributes have been exalted in this little volume! Our views are so small in light of such a mighty God. These short, readable chapters are so rich and so powerful. Oh, what do we have, or what can we do that would add to the greatness and gloriousness of the Lord? Alas, nothing. He is incomparable perfect and complete in Himself. And wonder of wonders... yet He is mindful of us.
Personal Thoughts: This is Puritan reading at its very finest. The language has been updated from the original to appeal to a greater readership. As a result, this little volume is just packed with glorious, wondrous statements of our God that any one can easily understand. This is the first book I would put in someone's hand who wanted to read something of depth. This book is meat for the soul and as a result, I believe this book is meant to be devoured slowly. It would be excellent for devotional use as it is infused with Scripture. This book made an enormous impact on me. Yes, it made deep impressions that will last, Lord willing, a long time.
Quote: The misery of sinners consists in the fact that they will depart from the incomparable God for all eternity. They will lose the communion of perfect saints, the company of glorious angels, and the blessed exercises of the heavenly host. They will lose the only Paradise of Pleasure, the only Fountain of Living Water, and the only Author of true happiness.
The Light of the Psalms
Summary: This is a devotional on the Psalms. 150 psalms are covered in 150 days. The book is divided into 3 sections: God our Refuge, God our Redeemer, and God our Rejoicing making the devotional Trinitarian in approach. The author talks a lot about the historical context of these psalms and when the Israelites would sing them. The author also makes excellent application in each reading for present day life.
Personal Thoughts: First of all, I really love the Psalms. As a result, a devotional on the Psalms was immediately appealing to me. Secondly, I found this devotional extremely 'doable.' I would read the appropriate psalm bookmarked for the day, read the 2 page exposition of this psalm in this book and finish in prayer. In total, all of this took about 20-30 minutes. Third, most of the devotionals I found very enlightening, There were about a handful that I wasn't very impressed with, and out of that 1 or 2 where I found the content questionable. Overall, I would recommend this book to others.
Quote: "Our modern church is caught up with the idea that the Lord owes us all "personal peace and affluence." If that were the case we would not need faith and Christ's life would not be the pattern for all believers. Our struggles with sacrifice, service, suffering and stewardship ultimately result from a defective view of life. We are not here to "settle down" and get comfortable, but to travel with Christ through this dangerous life to the house of the Lord.
The danger then, as I have already said, is the sentimentalizing of the psalm, shaped by Sunday-school pictures, and, to the extent that the psalm defines our faith, a sentimentalizing of our faith. Let the reader of Psalm 23 beware!" --pg. 127, 128
Morning and Evening
Summary: A wonderful devotion penned by the well loved preacher Charles Spurgeon. As the title hints, the book is set up to read one devotion every morning and one every evening. This book is well known in Reformed circles and is good reading. It comes with a Scripture index in the back as well as a topical index. This book can be purchased in 2 different formats: one that uses the King James Version of the Bible, and the other, which many people find easier to read, is written using the New International Version.
Personal Thoughts: You can never, never, NEVER go wrong while reading Spurgeon. The man believed strongly and felt deeply. He had a great love for the gospel and the Spirit blessed his work in conveying that to his hearers and readers. I have been blessed many times by Spurgeon and really liked this devotional. In fact, when people ask for a recommendation for a devotional, this is the first book I will put in their hands. You can use this book twice a day or just use it once and take 2 years to go through it. Both options work well.
Excerpt from February 4 MORNING
The love of the Lord.
Believer, look back through all thine experience, and think of the way whereby the Lord thy God has led thee in the wilderness, and how He hath fed and clothed thee every day-how He hath borne with thine ill manners-how He hath put up with all thy murmurings, and all thy longings after the flesh-pots of Egypt-how He has opened the rock to supply thee, and fed thee with manna that came down from heaven. Think of how His grace has been sufficient for thee in all thy troubles-how His blood has been a pardon to thee in all thy sins-how His rod and His staff have comforted thee. When thou hast thus looked back upon the love of the Lord, then let faith survey His love in the future, for remember that Christ's covenant and blood have something more in them than the past. He who has loved thee and pardoned thee, shall never cease to love and pardon. He is Alpha, and He shall be Omega also: He is first, and He shall be last. Therefore, bethink thee, when thou shalt pass through the valley of the shadow of death, thou needest fear no evil, for He is with thee. When thou shalt stand in the cold floods of Jordan, thou needest not fear, for death cannot separate thee from His love; and when thou shalt come into the mysteries of eternity thou needest not tremble, "For I am persuaded, that neither death; nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Now, soul, is not thy love refreshed? Does not this make thee love Jesus? Doth not a flight through illimitable plains of the ether of love inflame thy heart and compel thee to delight thyself in the Lord thy God? Surely as we meditate on "the love of the Lord," our hearts burn within us, and we long to love Him more.
--pg 70 of the King James Version
A Voyage of Discovery
Summary: A wonderful exposition on each of the Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120-134). The book takes an interesting approach to this study. First, one is asked to read over the psalm and then pray. Read the psalm again and make a few personal notes. Next read the chapter and make any notes on anything that stood out to you. Finally answer the 2 or 3 questions at the end of the chapter.
Personal Thoughts: I don't know why it took me almost a year to get through this book. The format was great and the chapters were excellent. This more intensive study really did open up each psalm so that it enriched the reader greatly. However, it does take some dedication to get through this book if you want to reap the full benefit. Generally it took me about an hour to properly complete each chapter, of which there are 15. But yes, well worth the time.