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Yearly Devotional

Our yearly devotional is now available to download in book format. Click here to download the devotions in digital formats (mobi and epub) that are compatible with a variety of devices (Kindle, iPad, iPhone, etc).

Yearly Bible Reading Plans

The most important thing for a Christian to do is to keep his or her relationship with God fervent. The best way to do that is with a consistent devotional life, a life of prayer and Bible study. We suggest that a Christian pray everyday, read the Bible and study it. Here we have listed for you several different programs to help you read through the entire Bible in a year. You can read straight through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, read it through in order of events (chronologically), or a few other ways, but whatever way you choose - READ THE BIBLE! Click on the title to download that program in PDF Format. Most "Through the Bible" methods were taken from backtothebible.org

Chronological

Read the events of the Bible as they occured chronologically. For example, the Book of Job is integrated with Genesis since Job lived around the same time as Abraham.

Historical

Read the books of the Bible as they occured in the Hebrew and Greek traditions (the order in which they were written). For example, the Old Testament books in the Hebrew Bible do not occur in the same order as they do in our English Bible. The New Testament books are arranged according to their date of writing as well.

Old and New Testament Together

Read the Old Testament and New Testament together. Your knowledge of the Old Testament will be enhanced by what you read simultaneously in the New Testament.

Beginning to End

With this guide there are no surprises. You simply read through the Bible from start to finish, from Genesis to Revelation.

Robert Murray McCheyne

This Through The Bible Plan was written by the Scottish preacher Robert Murray McCheyne for his congregation. The readings in the left hand column are to be read by the entire family as a family. The readings on the left are individual (or "secret" as McCheyne called them) readings. They are meant to be read during personal devotion time.


Devotion For June 21, 2018

God is the Hope of All Who Are Downcast

INTERESTING FACTS : Oliver Wolcott SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; MILITARY GENERAL; GOVERNOR OF CONNECTICUT

Through various scenes of life, God has sustained me. May He ever be my unfailing friend; may His love cherish my soul; may my heart with gratitude acknowledge His goodness; and may my desires be to Him and to the remembrance of His name?.May we then turn our eyes to the bright objects above, and may God give us strength to travel the upward road. May the Divine Redeemer conduct us to that seat of bliss which He himself has prepared for His friends; at the approach of which every sorrow shall vanish from the human heart and endless scenes of glory open upon the enraptured eye. There our love to God and each other will grow stronger, and our pleasures never be dampened by the fear of future separation. How indifferent will it then be to us whether we obtained felicity by travailing the thorny or the agreeable paths of life ? whether we arrived at our rest by passing through the envied and unfragrant road of greatness or sustained hardship and unmerited reproach in our journey. God's Providence and support through the perilous perplexing labyrinths of human life will then forever excite our astonishment and love. May a happiness be granted to those I most tenderly love, which shall continue and increase through an endless existence. Your cares and burdens must be many and great, but put your trust in that God Who has hitherto supported you and me; He will not fail to take care of those who put their trust in Him?.It is most evident that this land is under the protection of the Almighty, and that we shall be saved not by our wisdom nor by our might, but by the Lord of Host Who is wonderful in counsel and Almighty in all His operations

DAILY READING : PSALMS 40 - 45

TEXT : PSALM 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.  42:6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.  42:8 Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.  42:11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.  43:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.  44:6 For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me. 
 
THEME : DEPRESSION
 
Even the most holy men and women of God have suffered from depression. As noted theologian T. Horton said long ago - "The mind, even of a holy man may be unduly cast down and disquieted." In addition, many famous men and women were often plagued with "the blues." Sorrow of mind, despair, sadness, unhappiness, melancholia, gloominess, and dejection - all synonyms for depression, has come on the greatest of personalities throughout time. Some of these people included Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, John Adams, and Queen Elizabeth II. In fact the list is so long, I have included a link to a [long] list of famous men and women who suffered from depression.[1] Even the "crowned prince of preachers" - Charles Haddon Spurgeon, without doubt, among the most notable preachers of the Gospel in history, suffered from chronic depression.
 
Concerning depression - including his, Spurgeon wrote -
 
"Knowing by most painful experience what deep depression of spirit means, being visited therewith at seasons by no means few or far between, I thought it might be consolatory to some of my brethren if I gave my thoughts thereon, that younger men might not fancy that some strange thing had happened to them when they became for a season possessed by melancholy; and that sadder men might know that one upon whom the sun has shone right joyously did not always walk in the light. It is not necessary by quotations from the biographies of eminent ministers to prove that seasons of fearful prostration have fallen to the lot of most, if not all, of them. The life of Luther might suffice to give a thousand instances, and he was by no means of the weaker sort. His great spirit was often in the seventh heaven of exultation, and as frequently on the borders of despair. His very deathbed was not free from tempests, and he sobbed himself into his last sleep like a greatly wearied child."
 
Depression is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as -  "severe despondency and deje ction, especially when long-lasting; a mental condition characterized by severe feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy." From the Latin - "deprimere" meaning - to "press down," to "depress" means "to cause to feel utterly dispirited or dejected." It also means - "to reduce the level of activity in (a system); push or pull down into a lower position."
 
Thus, we see depression as being pushed or pressed down. Interestingly, we see this word - "pressed" employed by the Apostle Paul to describe their "troubles" in 2nd Corinthians chapter 1. "For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life." [2Co_1:8] 
 
How can an Apostle, or a preacher of the Gospel [or in the case of David as we read in the select verses above - a king and a prophet chosen by God Himself] fall into depression? It seems not only improbable, but also impossible that anyone who walks with God - especially as close as David did and the famous preachers of the Gospel as Spurgeon notes, can become depressed. Yet, much of our bewilderment about this fact of life is based on ignorance. That is, we are lacking in the knowledge of how God works in the lives of His chosen ones, including Israel and the Church. For those who do not know Christ one would consider depression to be the fitting result of sin. Still, how can this be with men and women of God?
 
In - "God's Preachers Are Still Frail Humanity," Rev. Spurgeon goes further to explain why depression at times visits even the preacher himself.
 
"Is it not first that they are men? Being men, they are compassed with infirmity and are heirs of sorrow. Grace guards us from much of this, but because we have not more of grace, we still suffer even from ills preventable. Ev en under the economy of redemption it is most clear that we are to endure infirmities; otherwise, there were no need of the promised Spirit to help us in them.
 
It is of necessity that we are sometimes in heaviness. Good men are promised tribulation in this world, and ministers may expect a larger share than others, that they may learn sympathy with the Lord's suffering people, and so may be fitting shepherds of an ailing flock.
 
Disembodied spirits might have been sent to proclaim the Word; but they could not have entered into the feeling of those who, being in this body, do groan, being burdened.
 
Angels might have been ordained evangelists, but their celestial attributes would have disqualified them from having compassion on the ignorant.
 
Men of marble might have been fashioned, but their impassive natures would have been a sarcasm upon our feebleness and a mockery of our wants.
 
Men, and men subject to human passions, the all-wise God has chosen to be His vessels of grace; hence these tears, hence these perplexities and castings down.
 
These infirmities may be no detriment to a man's career of special usefulness. They may even have been imposed upon him by divine wisdom as necessary qualification for his peculiar course of service.
 
Some plants owe their medicinal qualities to the marsh in which they grow; others to the shades in which alone they flourish. There are precious fruits put forth by the moon as well as by the sun. Boats need ballast as well as sail. A drag on the carriage wheel is no hindrance when the road runs downhill.
 
Pain has, in some cases, developed genius, hunting out the soul which otherwise might have slept like a lion in its den. Had it not been for the broken wing, some might have lost themselves in the clouds, some even of those choice doves who now bear the olive branch in their mouths and show the way to the ark.
 
Where in body and mind there are predisposing causes to lowness of spirit, it is no marvel if in dark moments the heart succumbs to them; the wonder in many cases is—and if inner lives could be written, men would see it so—how some ministers keep at their work at all and still wear a smile upon their countenances.
 
Grace has its triumphs still, and patience has it martyrs—martyrs nonetheless to be honored because the flames ki ndle about their spirits rather than their bodies and their burning is unseen of human eyes."
 
Therefore, as Mr. Spurgeon wrote - "grace has its triumphs still." With this, we turn to our texts, particularly the phrase - "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?" This inquiry is used three times in Psalms 42 - 43.
 
Obviously, it is a question, a query David answers for himself. Thus, he says - "I will yet praise him!" From this we glean the wisdom that in this world, in this life, nothing lasts forever. Whether good or evil, nothing we encounter lasts for eternity. Only that which we choose - God's life, or Satan's death endures. Therefore, in addition to the joy we can expect in the world to come for having been chosen by Christ and ordained to eternal life through faith in Him, we can take solace that no evil lasts forever in this life.
 
First, God will not permit it. [1Co_10:13  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.] Second, the nature of the temporal world is transience. Nothing lasts forever except God and His love. We know love remains. It will never be corrupted or destroyed.
 
Suitably, the poem - "Even This shall Pass Away" by Theodore Tilton the New York newspaper editor and poet seems fitting to cheer the downcast soul.   Tilton's poem hands wisdom to those whose hope is in this world only, and not in Christ. The wisdom that is, to look above to Him who has abolished death and promised a resurrection to eternal life in His Kingdom where no one will ever know the conflict of depression ever again.
 
 
Once in Persia reigned a king,
Who upon his signet ring
Graved a maxim true and wise,
Which, if held before his eyes,
Gave him counsel at a glance
Fit for every change and chance.
Solemn words, and these are they;
"Even this shall pass away."
 
 
Trains of camels through the sand
Brought him gems from Samarcand;
Fleets of galleys through the seas
Brought him pearls to match with these;
But he counted not his gain
Treasures of the mine or main;
"What is wealth?" the king would say;
"Even this shall pass away."
 
‘Mid the revels of his court,
At the zenith of his sport,
When the palms of all his guests
Burned with clapping at his jests,
He, amid hi s figs and wine,
Cried, "O loving friends of mine;
Pleasures come, but do not stay;
‘Even this shall pass away.'"
 
Lady, fairest ever seen,
Was the bride he crowned the queen.
Pillowed on his marriage bed,
Softly to his soul he said:
"Though no bridegroom ever pressed
Fairer bossom to his breast,
Mortal flesh must come to clay -
Even this shall pass away."
 
Fighting on a furious field,
Once a javelin pierced his shield;
Soldiers, with a loud lament,
Bore him bleeding to his tent.
Groaning from his tortured side,
"Pain is hard to bear," he cried;
"But with patience, day by day,
Even this shall pass away."
 
Towering in the public square,
Twenty cubits in the air,
Rose his statue, carved in stone.
Then the king, disguise d, unknown,
Stood before his sculptured name,
Musing meekly: "What is fame?
Fame is but a slow decay;
Even this shall pass away."
 
Struck with palsy, sore and old,
Waiting at the Gates of Gold,
Said he with his dying breath,
"Life is done, but what is Death?"
Then, in answer to the king,
Fell a sunbeam on his ring,
Showing by a heavenly ray,
"Even this shall pass away."[2]
 
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "GOD IS THE HOPE OF ALL WHO ARE DOWNCAST!"
 
David wrote of his [own] downcast soul, and in so doing, being moved of course by the Holy Spirit to do so, he offers hope to all who are downcast or dejected in spirit. It seemed fitting to consult Mr. Spurgeon on this text, not only because he was a consummate preacher and theologian, but also because he was under the dark cloud of depression so frequently.
 
"Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" As though he were two men, the Psalmist talks to himself. His faith reasons with his fears, his hope argues with his sorrows. These present troubles, are they to last for ever? The rejoicings of my foes, are they more than empty talk? My a bsence, from the solemn feasts, is that a perpetual exile? Why this deep depression, this faithless fainting, this chicken-hearted melancholy? As Trapp says, "David chideth David out of the dumps;" and herein he is an example for all desponding ones. To search out the cause of our sorrow is often the best surgery for grief. Self-ignorance is not bliss; in this case it is misery. The mist of ignorance magnifies the causes of our alarm; a clearer view will make monsters dwindle into trifles. "Why art thou disquieted within me?" Why is my quiet gone? If I cannot keep a public Sabbath, yet wherefore do I deny my soul her indoor Sabbath? Why am I agitated like a troubled sea, and why do my thoughts make a noise like a tumultuous multitude? The causes are not enough to justify such utter yielding to despondency. Up, my heart! What aileth thee? Play the man, and thy castings down shall turn to liftings up, and thy disquietudes to calm. "Hope thou in God." If every evil be let loose from Pandora's box, yet is there hope at the bottom. This is the grace that swims, though the waves roar and be troubled. God is unchangeable, and therefore his grace is the ground for unshaken hope. If everything be dark, yet the day will come, and meanwhile hope carries stars in her eyes; her lamps are not depende nt upon oil from without, her light is fed by secret visitations of God, which sustain the spirit. "For I shall yet praise him." Yet will my sighs give place to songs, my mournful ditties shall be exchanged for triumphal paeans. A loss of the present sense of God's love is not a loss of that love itself; the jewel is there, though it gleams not on our breast; hope knows her title good when she cannot read it clear; she expects the promised boon though present providence stands before her with empty hands. "For I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance." Salvations come from the propitious face of God, and he will yet lift up his countenance upon us. Note well that the main hope and chief desire of David rest in the smile of God. His face is what he seeks and hopes to see, and this will recover his low spirits, this will put to scorn his laughing enemies, this will restore to him all the joys of those holy and happy days around which memory lingers. This is grand cheer. This verse, like the singing of Paul and Silas, looses chains and shakes prison walls. He who can use such heroic language in his gloomy hours will surely conquer. In the garden of hope grow the laurels for future victories, the roses of coming joy, the lilies of approaching peace." [C.H.SPURGEON]
 
Let us all look for the smile of God! That demeanor of His beautiful countenance that says - "You shall yet praise Me!" let us pursue for the beam that speaks of better days to come. Surely - they shall come! For He is the health of my countenance! [Jer_17:14  Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.]

  • [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_with_depression
  • [2] "Even This Shall Pass Away" by Theodore Tilton
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