Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Following wherever

Following "Wherever"
Charles Naylor, 1920
 
One day as Jesus was passing along the highway, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go!" (Luke 9:57). This man no doubt was greatly impressed by the wonderful works and noble character of Christ. He thought that companionship with such a man would be full of blessing and richness. Just to see and hear Jesus, would be worth any man's time and effort — to hear the gracious words that came from His lips would enrich mind and heart — to see the mighty works done would inspire. To him it seemed to be one of the most desirable of all things.
Christ's answer to him, however, showed that following Him might well mean something more than this man had ever considered. Jesus way did not always lead through pleasant places. His path was not always to be rose-strewn — not always would the multitude look on Him with favor. Whether this man followed Jesus we are not told, but following evidently meant more to him now than it had meant before.
There are many today who, like that man of old, say, "Lord, I will follow you," with no clear idea of what it means. It was not hard to follow him when the multitude shouted, "Hosanna!" and threw palm-branches before him.
In the same way, it is easy for us to follow him today when his cause is popular, when people are proclaiming the truth of what we teach and approving of our service. It is no task to follow Jesus when it brings praise and admiration. It is no task to follow in the calm after his "Peace, be still," on Gennesaret. Who would not follow gladly to the mount of transfiguration to behold his glory? But to follow him "wherever" means more than this.
It is our privilege to share in his glory, his triumph, and his exaltation; but if we have a part in these, as true followers we must also follow him in his humiliation. Are we willing to follow him . . .
when the multitude laughs and mocks at him,
when his cause is unpopular,
when instead of praise, we have reproaches,
when instead of smiles, we have sneers?
Then comes the test whether we will follow him all the way.
On one occasion, after he had preached — the multitude forsook him and only the Twelve were steadfast. In these days many are offended at the Word. Are we willing to accept it all? Are we willing to listen to it all? Are we willing to obey it all? God wants "wherever" men and women, who will . . .
hear 
the whole Word, 
believe 
the whole Word,
and obey the whole Word.
If we shrink from obedience to any part — we lack just that much of being "wherever" disciples. Christ lived a dedicated life — he was dedicated to his Father's will and accomplished his work — he gave himself solely to this. He allowed nothing to come between him and the fulfillment of God's purpose. With him, nothing counted except that he should finish his work.
There is a purpose, a moving purpose, in every life. There is one thing above all other things that is the chief purpose of our life. In many cases that purpose is to please self — to follow out a course of our own choosing.
The dominant purpose in the heart of every true follower is the same as it was in the life of Christ — to do the will and work of the Father. He who shrinks from either, may hesitate to call himself a true follower.
Christ sacrificed all — even his life. A "wherever" follower has the same spirit of sacrifice — he will not withhold himself nor that which is his. The early church rejoiced "that they were counted worthy to suffer" for Christ.
Let us today look into our own hearts and see if we are animated by the same spirit. That spirit is a very different spirit from that which is seen in those who are offended by a word or a look, and who are ready to resent the slightest act that encroaches upon their rights.
How empty are the claims of many who profess to be real followers of Jesus! They follow where it pleases them — but as soon as something happens not to their liking, they are ready to draw back!
Christ had nowhere to lay his head. We have no record that he ever owned anything but the clothes he wore. A "wherever" follower is not ashamed of the poor. And if he himself is poor — then he is not ashamed of his poverty. But Christ was not always poor. We read that "he became poor." He sacrificed — that others might be enriched. The same spirit of sacrifice will make us willing to sacrifice what we have, for the enrichment of others.
If there were more "wherevers" among us, we would not hear of a lack of funds to carry on the Lord's work. Think of a stingy "wherever"! Can you imagine such a combination? Yet many professed followers fail in their duty to give to the cause of Christ.
Let us bring the question home to ourselves. Let us examine our own hearts and lives. Are we willing to follow Christ all the way — even when we are rejected by our friends and relatives, through sneers and revilings? We might drink of the wine of Cana — but will we wear the thorns? We might be willing to walk on the waters with Jesus — but how about Gethsemane? We may be willing to eat of the loaves and fishes — but are we willing to go with him to Golgotha? We would gladly sit with him on his throne — but will we bear the cross with him to Calvary? We can easily follow him where the way is easy and when our emotions are exalted and our hearts full of praise — but will we follow him . . .
when the skies grow dark,
when we are troubled,
when bitter trials come,
when it takes courage to face what is before us?

Let us decide to be true when the way is strewn with stones or hedged with thorns, when the clouds hang low — as well as when all is bright and encouraging. Let us cast away all shrinking, and say from our hearts and by our lives, "I will follow wherever you go!"

Baptized with fire

Baptized with Fire!
Charles Naylor, 1920
 

John the Baptist said, when speaking of the work of the coming Messiah, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." The symbolic tongues of fire which sat on the believers on the day of Pentecost represented a very real something which from henceforth would be manifested in their lives.
It is not my purpose here to enter into an explanation of the Baptist's words. I wish to speak only of the fervency which fire represents as it should characterize our lives. The life that has in it no fervency, has little or nothing of God. The soul that is vigorous in God, is a soul full of power. We need to be "on fire" for God, and there are three ways in which this fervency should manifest itself.

A Burning Love.
We need a fervent love. It is the foundation, as it were, of all Christian fervency. If our love lacks fervency, it lacks the vital element that makes it effective. If our love for God is kindled into a burning passion, it will put him before all else. His will and desire will be the delight of our hearts. His service will be no task, to sacrifice for him will be easy, and to obey him will be our pleasure. It will make our consciences tender toward him. What he loves — we shall love; and whom he loves — we shall love.
If our love is fervent, we shall love Scriptural truth, and we shall love it as it is worthy to be loved — above our own opinions or ideas and more than the teachings of men. We will not sacrifice it or deny it for ease or comfort or to please others. We shall strive to make our lives conform to it. We shall labor with all our strength to spread it over the world. If we love the truth, we shall be missionaries whether we are at home or abroad. Love begets labor.
A fervent love of the brethren glows in the heart that is full of God. It will burn up criticism and backbiting. It will burn up division and strife. It will destroy jealousy and envy. It will make peace in the home, in the church, and in the individual heart. A thousand troubles come when love grows cold — the eyes see no more as they once saw, the ears hear no more as before, the tongue talks differently, and the heart feels differently — the glow dies out of the eyes, the tenderness leaves the touch, sympathy wanes in the heart, and there is ashes for beauty, and heaviness instead of praise. When the first love is left, when the divine fire is quenched — out of the life has gone its richness, its transfiguring beauty; and what is left?
O brother, sister — keep the red glow of fervency in your love. If you have lost it, rest not until it is rekindled. Love makes us strong to do and to bear. John Knox said to God, "Give me Scotland or I die!" That was love that shook a kingdom. Paul counted not his life dear to him. That was love that overthrew the idols of the heathen. God "so loved the world," and a new era dawned, bringing light and salvation. If we have such love, it will work out in effectual action. A church fervent in love, is a church reaching out and winning others. It is a church with an all-absorbing passion for the lost. Let us ask ourselves today, "Have I a fervent love? Or am I cold, and has my love lost its strength?"

A Burning Zeal.
A man or a church without zeal, is of necessity ineffective. What is the temperature of your zeal? Does it let you go for months without speaking to a man about his soul's salvation? Does it permit you to rest easy while others are toiling, praying, and sacrificing? About how much time on an average do you spend each day praying for souls, or for the progress of the kingdom of God in the earth? About how often do you pray definitely for some of your neighbors, your friends, or business associates? About how long has it been since you shared the gospel of Christ? When did you pray with someone for his spiritual needs? When did you speak encouraging words? When did you give someone a gospel tract? When did you write a letter filled with spiritual advice or help? How much sacrifice are you making for the cause? How much time, labor, or money have you expended for the kingdom in the past year? Is your zeal dead — or is it in fervent activity? How much does the salvation of others mean to you?
Behold the zeal of the advocates of some of the false movements of these days! See how they pour out their money like water. See how they never can be satisfied unless they are laboring for their movement. Are we as zealous as they? If not, why not? If we have the truth and know that we have it — then should not that be enough to fire our zeal until it would not let us rest while there are others in spiritual darkness? Almost in sight of you, or perhaps within a stone's throw — are people who do not know the truth. If you do no more than you have done the past year — may they not live and die there and never know it?
Zeal does not ask for excuses. Zeal is never satisfied until it has gone full length in labor. When one man was asked what was the secret of the marvelous success of the early church in its fight against heathenism, he replied with just one word, "Zeal!" The same sort of zeal will produce results today. Zeal must, of course, be enlightened. It can succeed only when guided by wisdom. Blind zeal is like a blind horse — it is likely to run in any direction regardless of results. So be wise when you are zealous. If you are truly wise with that wisdom "which comes down from above," you will also be zealous.

A Fervent Hatred.
A good Christian is a good hater. "You who love the Lord — hate evil." This is an age of toleration. Almost any false doctrine may be preached — while many of the religious teachers of so-called orthodoxy, plod on their way indifferently. Error thrives, a multitude of souls are deceived, but many seem but little concerned. Evil raises its head everywhere and sneers at the Christian people. Dens of vice, gambling-houses, lewd picture-shows, and a hundred other forms of evil are tolerated and even looked upon as "necessary evils" by religious professors. But he who really loves God — just as truly hates all evil. He so hates it in himself, that he will give it no place in his heart or life. He hates it in others. He sees no pleasant thing in it. To him it is foul, vile, and revolting! Sin is his enemy — and he is its bitter foe. The measure of his love for good, is the measure of his hatred for evil. We cannot love the good, more than we hate the evil. The two exactly balance in our lives.
A burning love, a burning zeal, and a burning hatred — will make your life as a beacon-light to the world. If you would be a true example of what God means men to be — you must have this fervency in your life. It alone can keep you from coldness. It alone can make you a prosperous, victorious Christian!

Monday, March 20, 2017

contentment

Contentment
Charles Naylor, 1930

Contentment is one of life's greatest blessings. But contentment is not something that can be sent down, nicely wrapped up like a Christmas gift from Heaven. It is a state of mind and heart. It is not dependent upon our situation or our circumstances. Many people are contented and happy in circumstances — where others would be thoroughly discontented. Some people are discontented under the most favorable circumstances. Contentment is a structure we build ourselves. It is a state of mind we develop. It is an attitude toward things which comes to us through careful cultivation. It is something which lives inside us — not something that circumstances and conditions create.
If happiness has not its seat and center in the heart — we may be wise, or rich or great — but never can be blessed.
Contentment is sometimes spoken of as a lazy virtue. Perhaps that is because some people are content with things with which they ought not to be content. We should never be satisfied to permit things to exist, which ought not to exist. We should never be satisfied to be less than our best. There are wrongs which need righting. There are conditions which need improving. There is progress which needs to be made. A sort of contentment that can view these things with indifference, ignore responsibility, evade duty — should be called by an entirely different name. When we have done our duty, met our responsibility, corrected those things that need correction so far as is possible for us — then we may have real contentment. Contentment does not mean surrender to conditions. It does mean being satisfied in the circumstances and conditions which exist, for which we are not responsible.
Contentment is a lesson to be learned. Paul said, "I have learned in whatever state I am therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11). He goes on to tell some of the things he has learned. "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (verses 12, 13).
Paul had learned a great secret. It was the secret of adapting himself to conditions, and being at rest in those conditions. He could enjoy to the full, the things that afforded him enjoyment. He could suffer patiently, the things that came upon him to suffer. But whether rejoicing or suffering — he had that inner contentment of spirit — the calmness and peace of which enriched his soul and made quite tolerable a life that otherwise would have been intolerable.
We, too, need to learn the lesson of contentment. The command to Christians is, "Be content with such things as you have" (Hebrews 13:5). Speaking further upon this subject Paul says, "Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Having food and clothing, let us be therewith content."
A godly life is productive of contentment — but there are many Christians who at least in some respects are discontented. This discontent produces a constant urge to rebel against things.
It is a singular fact that many of the most contented people are those who live in poverty. In fact, the working people are the most contented of all people. Those who live on the common levels of life, are the truly happy — provided they have the attitude of contentment.
There are many things people desire which can never give them contentment. One man says, "If I had a million dollars — I would be contented." Another thinks if he had political preferment — that would satisfy his ambition and he would be content. Another has another thing to attain to make him content. These things when attained — do not bring contentment.
As already pointed out contentment is a lesson learned, a state of the heart, an attitude toward things.
Riches do not bring contentment. Andrew Carnegie, known to all for his wealth and a man who should have known what he was talking about, said, "Beyond a competence for old age, and that may be very small — wealth lessens rather than increases human happiness. Millionaires who laugh are rare!" Many of us would do well to pause here and carefully study this saying of a wise and prudent Scotchman.
Jesus told his disciples not to be anxious about food and clothing and such things and added, "After all these things, the Gentiles seek" (Matthew 6:32). Possession of worldly things, is a goal set before them by the unsaved. The question asked about a man often is, "How much money does he have?" His supposed happiness is usually rated by the size of his bank account. No greater error in the choice of a standard for measurement of happiness, could be made. The command of the Scriptures is, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." We should put first things first. If we do this — then our needs will be few, and our desires not much greater.
The basis of contentment is simplicity of desire. One of the things that is ruining more happiness than anything else, is the desire to excel others. "We must keep up with the Jones," is an attitude of mind fatal to contentment. It has caused more heartaches, destroyed more happiness, ruined more homes, produced more divorces, perhaps than any other one thing! This strife to excel, often leads people into sin.
The wife would outstrip her neighbors, so she makes large demands upon her husband for money. Thus pressed, he sometimes adopts business methods that are highly improper. In many cases it has led to shame and disgrace. In any event, it leads to unhappiness for both husband and wife and for the whole family. Through envy, jealousy of others, and coveting what they don't have — many people have been brought to bitterness of soul and utterly to hate life. Better contentment in a cottage — than discontent in a mansion!
Very often prosperity in temporal things destroys the happiness which has already existed in a less prosperous condition.
Years ago in one of our northern States, a man engaged in the lumbering business in a small way, built a cozy cottage on the shore of a bay into which he brought his bride. They both worked, he in his sawmill, and she in her cottage — and were both happy. The years passed. He prospered in business and became rich. Then he built a fine mansion in the city and moved into it. After living there for some time and mingling with the society into which his riches gave them entrance — in speaking to a friend one day he said, "We are not as happy as we were in our little cottage on the bay."
A few months ago I heard Charles M. Schwab make an address over the radio. In that address he told of his big house in New York City and of another great house which he owned in the country. He said, "I don't own them. They own me. The only satisfaction I have in them, is that I have enough money in the bank to pay the taxes on them." He has to look to other sources rather than to his possessions, for contentment and happiness.
Contentment is not built of gold or of precious gems. It is not constructed of honors or fame or the applause of the multitude. It does not come from out shining others. These may bring a sort of satisfaction — but not contentment. Contentment belongs to the meek and lowly in spirit. Pride is destructive to it. Arrogance annihilates it. Covetousness curses it. Hatred poisons it. Malice thrusts a sword through it. Contentment can thrive only with the Christian virtues. Faith, hope, and charity abide with it. Peace broods over its domicile. Blessed forevermore is he who has a contented spirit.
So many nourish discontent. They are all the time looking at the things they do not possess — and coveting them. They are always reaching out, stretching themselves to gain something which they cannot attain. They find fault with the things they possess — instead of enjoying them. They minimize the simple good in things. They see all the faults and failures. They often feel that their rights are being trespassed upon. There is a frown in their hearts — and a frown upon their faces.
Who is to blame for all this? The individual himself! He has adopted a wrong attitude of mind and heart. He is facing the wrong way. He has the wrong standard. He cannot be happy. He needs to turn about, face the other way, adopt a different attitude, look at things from a different angle, and set different standards for himself. He needs to learn the secret of the simple life — simple desires, temperate aspirations, bridled ambitions.
In the valley of contentment — is calmness, sweetness of spirit, and rest of soul. Through it flow the peaceable waters of quietness. In this valley, the song-birds joyfully sing. The heart mounts up to God in praise. In it lies the spring of joy which bubbles up in gladsome song.
The valley of contentment is not a place of inactivity. When we have learned to be content with such things as we have, and in our situation in life and in our circumstances — that does not mean that we lose all aspirations or that all effort ceases. By no means. To be content with today, does not mean to be content with the same thing tomorrow. The right sort of contentment demands continual progress in the lines in which progress is possible. In fact, we cannot be contented not to make proper progress. In the valley of contentment, we are not to sit down idly dreaming away our days. On the contrary — there is a path which runs through this valley, and we are to walk in this path, ever forward, ever upward.

If we would be truly happy, if we would sing the songs of the joyous life — then we must learn the lesson of contentment. We must learn what desires to gratify — and what desires to repress. We must learn what things can bring contentment — and what things destroy it. We must avoid the latter, while we seek the former. We must cultivate our hearts. We must trust in God. Then and only then, shall we have that source of contentment and happiness within, which inspires us to sing the song of glad rejoicing!

The vile human heart

(William S. Plumer, "Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness")

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is DECEITFUL. Man is the only creature on earth that seems to practice self-deception. That we should sometimes deceive others, is proof of our depravity; but that we should spend our lives in self-deception, is truly astonishing! Men of the fewest virtues, commonly have the highest thoughts of themselves. How strange and yet how common, that he whose heart has deceived him a thousand times--should yet confide in it as if it had always been honest!

The human heart deceives every being but one. It would deceive Him--if He were not omniscient. None but God knows all the depths of iniquity and duplicity within us.

Though the language of the Bible is strong, it is just. God declares, and every Christian knows by sad experience--that his heart is deceitful above all things. A perfect knowledge of the treachery of our hearts, is possessed by none but God.

The heart is also VILE. It is "desperately wicked."
It loves vanity, and folly and sin.
It hates holiness, and truth and divine restraints.
It is . . .
  a sink of iniquity,
  a pool of pestilential waters,
  a cage of unclean birds, and
  a sepulcher full of dead men's bones!
It is torn by wild, fierce, unhallowed passions.
It rejects good--and chooses evil.
It is wholly corrupt.
It is full of evil.
There is no soundness in it.

"For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." Matthew 15:19

"He who trusts in his own heart is a fool!" Proverbs 28:26

Deuteronomy 32:15 - Ken Wimer

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sobering sermon

This sermon was preached by Ken Wimer, at a young man's funeral; he died battling a drug addiction. This is a sobering message and I pray God will use this message for His own glory.
Click below to listen.....


A funeral message