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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Our struggle


 


A.W. Pink preaches on Romans 7, narrated by T. Sullivan. We struggle with our 'wretched man', Pink expounds on this; you may listen to this excellent sermon here...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Seeking the face of God

I am just about finished reading 'Seeking the face of God', a book that deals with select Psalms and Martyn Lloyd-Jones excellent preaching and insight on them. He gives wisdom on how to seek the face of God and how to live joyfully in His presence. For example, in chapter 8, 'Always in His presence', Lloyd-Jones reflects on Psalm 16:8 'I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.'  According to Lloyd-Jones, the application of this verse is 'the determination to live life in the conscious presence of God, that is what the Psalmist is saying. He has set the Lord God always before him; he says in essence, "I am going to live consciously in His presence, as long as I do that, I shall not be moved." "I have set the Lord"; this term is used very frequently in the Scriptures. We should set ourselves in the right angle, in the correct position. We must get the right perspective, we must constantly look at those things and gaze upon them. Setting obviously implies determination, it includes an act of the will and implies a very definite decision. Determination involves thought: I am determined, I am resolved, I will live as in the presence of God, that is the first thing {we must determine to do}.
Christian biography proves abundantly that the people who have had the most gracious and the most frequent visitations from God have been those who have sought Him most diligently". - Lloyd-Jones 

Another Psalm he addresses is Ps. 27:13, 'I had fainted, unless I had believed'. Here is his insight -"This is always the beginning, you cannot have anything without belief. But even that is not enough. Some people believe the truth about God as it is revealed in the Bible and yet remain in trouble and defeated, why? Because they have not gone on to do the other things that the psalmist tells us. This 'one thing', this total concentration upon God, is essential. The devils also believe, and tremble, says James 2:19. God must become the supreme focus of your life. He must be the one object of your desire and your ambition. This, too, is found throughout the Scriptures...'I press toward the mark' {Phil. 3:14}; it is the realization that nothing really matters ultimately in life except my relationship to God, 'that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life'. This does not refer to a physical building, nor does it mean that you want to spend the whole of your time in a chapel or a church-that is only part of it. What it really means is this: 'that I might belong to the household of God; that I am ever in communion with God, in fellowship with God, in touch with Him'. In effect, the psalmist is saying 'what I want above everything else in this world is always to be in an intimate relationship with God, so that whatever happens, I am with Him and He is with me'. This is the first thing in his life and the secret of his whole position. This man's supreme desire is to worship God and to adore Him; so that is what he starts with: 'one thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life'. What for? 'to behold the beauty of the LORD'. A much better translation of the word rendered 'behold' would have been 'gaze upon, meditate upon, consider'-it means to see the desirableness of God, to see His goodness, to consider and to meditate upon and to contemplate His excellencies. That is what this man wants above everything else. 
The psalmist wanted to gaze upon the glory of God, the beauty of the Lord in His very being, the consideration of His attributes. Do you do this? Is this your supreme ambition? Is this your greatest desire? My dear friend, this is the whole secret of life! If you want to be "more than  conqueror" like this man, you must spend your time as he did. This must be your supreme desire." - Martyn Lloyd-Jones



From his book, 'the pursuit of God', Tozer writes 'come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking.'  
These two men went where few of us desire to go...deeper into God, into His presence. They knew the blessing of being consumed by God, to be infatuated with Him; to eat, sleep and breathe God. They knew it was a gift that must be sought, 'that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him'{Hebrews 11:6}. They knew the way to get there...through continual prayer and the reading of the word. These two books are an absolute must read for every child of God, they will help you on your journey into deeper intimacy with the living God.

Tozer ends chapter one with a prayer, which I think is very fitting to end this post with...

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, `Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.' Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Sin of Silence - Repost

I strongly feel that the time in which we live warrants a re-post of this piece. You may read it in its entirety here or listen to it here  or  listen to it here... {I highly recommend one or the other}


A MESSAGE TO AMERICAN PASTORS AND THEIR CONGREGATIONS

by Dr. Laurence White

Let me begin with a story about an incident that took place a few years ago as the president of a Christian university addressed the crowd. "Today is November the 9th, the 50th anniversary of the 'kristal nacht'...the night of the broken glass. On this day in 1938, Nazi thugs moved through the cities of Germany smashing the windows of German homes and shops, burning the synagogues. Innocent people; men, women and children were beaten and killed simply because they were Jews. I was there as a young man," the president went on to say, through tears, "There were many of us who were Christians then, but we did nothing." He went on to quote the words inscribed at the Auschwitz memorial in Poland, a place where so many died. "Never again", he pleaded.

My friends, it is happening again. It is happening again today in our beautiful America, so richly and abundantly blessed by a gracious God. It is happening today as the innocent are slaughtered in a holocaust that has seen well over forty million little boys and girls brutally done to death. It is happening again as families are fractured and marriages are broken, while self-obsessed people pursue the immediate gratification of their every desire. It is happening again as militant homosexuals pursue absolute approval, complete acceptance, and preferential legal treatment for their perversion. It is happening again as our young people have lost their way, and often their lives, in a maze of alcohol and drugs; and the corridors and classrooms of the high schools of our land are littered with the bodies of murdered teenagers. It is happening again as the nation's leaders wallow in decadence and deceit, while the people look on in apathetic indifference.
While the killing goes on and the nation is led down the path of destruction, the church and her pastors stand silent and afraid. This country that we love, our America, is fighting for her life. Not against the military power of foreign enemies, but against the principalities and powers of this dark age. You and I, as sons and daughters of the Lord Jesus Christ, are being called upon to take a stand at this moment of crisis. And let there be no one among us who doubts the urgency of this hour. To compare what is happening in America today to Nazi Germany is no mere flight of rhetorical exaggeration.

This nation is heedlessly stumbling toward third millennium darkness. Look around you and read the signs of the times. Look beyond the walls of our beautiful sanctuaries, and the comfort of our padded pews to see the chaos, the corruption, and the confusion that reigns throughout our culture. We live in a society where passions are riderless horses, uncontrolled and uncontrollable in which there is a desolation of decency; in which love has become a jungle emotion, lust exalted to lordship, sin elevated to sovereignty, Satan adored as a saint, and man magnified above his Maker. Americans have come to dwell in an Alice in Wonderland world of fantasy and self-delusion. Everything has been turned upside down and inside out in our America. Right is wrong, wrong is right; good is bad, bad is good; normal is abnormal, abnormal is normal; true is false, false is true. We are fast degenerating into a decadent culture obsessed with selfishness and sin, death and destruction.

In the face of this relentless onslaught of evil, the church of Jesus Christ has grown timid and afraid. We have abandoned the truth of God's word, compromised the stern demands of His law, tailored our message to meet the felt needs of sinful men, and prostituted ourselves and the Gospel that we profess to proclaim for worldly popularity and success. We, as Christian pastors, seem to have forgotten that God did not call us to be popular or successful...God called us to be faithful. Faithful preaching never comes in the form of safely vague, pious platitudes. Faithful preaching must identify and denounce the false gods of this world that call upon our people to bow down before them every day. God did not call us to be successful CEO's, protecting institutional peace and tranquility, bringing in the bodies and the bucks by avoiding controversy, and telling everybody what they want to hear. God called us to proclaim His word, to be vigilant watchmen standing high upon the walls of Zion, sounding forth the clear clarion call of the trumpet; calling out God's people to war against the host of evil advancing all around us. We as the Christians of America, we as the Pastors of America, have failed in this responsibility before God. Our country is paying a dire price for that failure; make no mistake about it brothers and sisters, we are responsible.

The great reformer Martin Luther once declared that the preacher who does not rebuke the sins of the rulers through God's word spoken publicly, boldly and honestly, strengthens the sins of the tyrants; becoming a partaker in them and bearing responsibility for them.

When Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, he scornfully dismissed the church, and her pastors as an irrelevant force which posed no threat to the Nazi agenda for that great nation."I promise you", he boasted in his inner circle, "that if I wish to I could destroy the church in just a few years. It is hollow, it is rotten, and false through and through. One push and the whole structure would collapse. We should trap the preachers by their notorious greed and self-indulgence. We shall thus be able to settle everything with them in perfect peace and harmony. I shall give them a few years reprieve, why should we quarrel? They will swallow anything in order to keep their material advantage. The parsons will be made to dig their own graves, they will betray their God for us. They will betray anything for the sake of their miserable jobs and incomes." - Adolf Hitler
The dictator's words proved to be tragically accurate. The great majority of Christians in Germany looked the other way and minded their own business. They blended in and went along following the path of least resistance. They did that which was expedient, practical and safe while their country was dragged down into a swirling maelstrom of barbarism and death. Germany lay in ruins; her great cities bombed out of existence. Cathedrals that had stood for a thousand years reduced to piles of broken brick and rubble. In the face of monstrous evil, he who keeps silent fails in his responsibility before God and shares in the guilt.

The moral meltdown that has overtaken America has been met with a deafening silence from the pulpits of America and the people-pleasing preachers who presume to stand in them. This desolation of decency could not have occurred if the pulpits of this land were once again aflame with righteousness. To use Alexis De Toqueville's famous words, "By our apathy, by our acquiescence, and by our ignorance, the church of Jesus Christ has consigned itself to irrelevance and impotence in the ongoing struggle for the soul of America."
Our political leaders deal in trivialities and superficial nonsense, practicing the feel-good politics of deliberate ambiguity; while the destruction of our families, the perversion of our most basic moral principals, and the murder of innocent unborn children goes on and on and on...........


The issue before us as Christians and as Christian pastors is faithfulness to the word of God and submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. To speak to the great moral issues of our day is an integral and essential part of that God-given responsibility. To fail to do so is nothing less than a denial of the Lordship of Jesus.





Our Mindset



‘Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.’  – Colossians 3:2

This is an hourly battle for me, victory comes by a continual feeding upon and recalling of His word. According to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, to ‘set your mind’ is to direct your mind towards a thing, to seek and strive for what it is you’ve directed your mind towards.
Strong’s defines this phrase as ‘to exercise the mind’, which means there must be a concentrated effort on our part; as John Gill so wisely comments “For unless the affections are set on them, they will never be sought after in a proper manner. The word signifies to mind them, and think on them, to favour and approve of them, to be affectionately desirous of them, and concerned for them; for where the treasure is, the heart should be; and as the saints' best things are above, their minds and affections should be there likewise; their contemplation should be on those things, and their conversation should be in heaven; nor should they regard anything but what is there, or comes from thence, for they belong not to this world, but to another and better country: their citizenship is in heaven, and there, in a short time, they must have their everlasting residence; and therefore should seek after, and highly prize and value heavenly things, and set their affections on them.”

I think Matthew Henry does an excellent job as well in his commentary on this verse…
Observe, To seek heavenly things is to set our affections upon them, to love them and let our desires be towards them. Upon the wings of affection the heart soars upwards, and is carried forth towards spiritual and divine objects. We must acquaint ourselves with them, esteem them above all other things, and lay out ourselves in preparation for the enjoyment of them. David gave this proof of his loving the house of God, that he diligently sought after it, and prepared for it. This is to be spiritually minded, and to seek and desire a better country, that is, a heavenly. Things on earth are here set in opposition to things above. We must not dote upon them, nor expect too much from them, that we may set our affections on heaven; for heaven and earth are contrary one to the other, and a supreme regard to both is inconsistent; and the prevalence of our affection to one will proportionably weaken and abate our affection to the other.
II. He assigns three reasons for this.
1. That we are dead; that is, to present things, and as our portion. We are so in profession and obligation; for we are buried with Christ, and planted into the likeness of his death. Every Christian is crucified unto the world, and the world is crucified unto him. And if we are dead to the earth, and have renounced it as our happiness, it is absurd for us to set our affections upon it, and seek it. We should be like a dead thing to it, unmoved and unaffected towards it.
2. Our true life lies in the other world: You are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. The new man has its livelihood thence. It is born and nourished from above; and the perfection of its life is reserved for that state. It is hid with Christ; not hid from us only, in point of secrecy, but hid for us, denoting security. The life of a Christian is hid with Christ. Because I live you shall live also. Christ is at present a hidden Christ, or one whom we have not seen; but this is our comfort, that our life is hid with him, and laid up safely with him. As we have reason to love him whom we have not seen, so we may take the comfort of a happiness out of sight, and reserved in heaven for us.
3. Because at the second coming of Christ we hope for the perfection of our happiness. If we live a life of Christian purity and devotion now, when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall also appear with him in glory. Observe, (1.) Christ is a believer's life. I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. He is the principle and end of the Christian's life. He lives in us by his Spirit, and we live to him in all we do. To me to live is Christ. (2.) Christ will appear again. He is now hid; and the heavens must contain him; but he will appear in all the pomp of the upper world, with his holy angels, and in his own glory and his Father's glory (3.) We shall then appear with him in glory. It will be his glory to have his redeemed with him; he will come to be glorified in his saints; and it will be their glory to come with him, and be with him forever. At the second coming of Christ there will be a general meeting of all the saints; and those whose life is now hid with Christ shall then appear with Christ in that glory which he himself enjoys. Do we look for such a happiness, and should we not set our affections upon that world, and live above this? What is there here to make us fond of it? What is there not there to draw our hearts to it? Our head is there, our home is there, our treasure is there, and we hope to be there forever.”  
 The saying ‘home is where the heart is’ certainly makes sense if your heart is fixated upon your eternal home. To think upon what awaits us should excite us, especially when we look around us and see the decay and downward progression of society. Judgment looms for this world and its inhabitants, but eternal joy and freedom from sin’s curse and its affects are what awaits us. Sin will be no more, I am not sure I can even wrap my mind around that. It is beneficial to me to recall 1 Corinthians 7:31b, For the present form of this world is passing away.’  I also recall 2 Peter 3:7, ‘But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.’ The unregenerate are hanging on to a world that is destined for judgment; they also hang on to a temporal hope of an existence that is like a vapor, never pondering on their own mortality and certain death. Living for the moment is their motto and it keeps them content and happy. Sadly, it will leave them the moment their breath leaves them.





May we exercise our minds towards eternity, being dead to the things of this world and its temporal pulse.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

To be 'given over'



I believe the times in which we live are crucial times, dangerous times, dark times; I base this on the following verses…


Romans 1:26-28For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”

Here is commentary from Davis W. Huckabee on the preceding verses, starting with verse 26 – ‘Again, the cause of this sin is within man, who, being a fallen creature, as naturally desires to sin as water flows downward. He is without excuse because he is not compelled to sin. And there comes a time in the sinner’s life when God ceases to hold him back from his natural bent to sin. “Vile affections” means shameless passion and is explained in verses 26- 27. This refers to homosexuality both in men and women, for which the cities of the plain were destroyed, (Gen. 18:20; 19:24 25). Most sin goes through six stages before God responds in judgment: (1) Shock at it. (2) Joking about it. (3) Curiosity about it. (4) Indulgence in it. (5) Excuses made for it. (6) Stoutly defended as right. Classical writers of old tell how this was a very common and accepted sin among the pagans. Modern attitudes toward this sin are already in the fifth or sixth stage. Has America become so idolatrous that God has given it up as He did the nations of old? Only the saved, as the salt of the earth, (Matthew 5:13), now prevent the utter corruption of the earth.

What really grabbed my attention in Huckabee’s commentary is the six stages he speaks of that precede judgment… we are in the sixth stage. To be given over is to be let loose to do what comes natural…diving headlong into sin. What horror it is when the God of heaven and earth gives mankind over to its own depravity and wickedness; how long before we self-destruct? This would be so if God did not intervene with judgment.

Going on to verse 27, let’s again view commentary from Davis Huckabee, ‘From the chief city that was destroyed for this sin, it is sometimes called sodomy. Men call this “an alternate lifestyle” but the Bible is clear that it is sin of an especially shameful nature. All sin has a natural recompense or payment in kind, and this sin is no exception. Many have tried to deny that AIDS, the disease peculiar to homosexuals, is a Divine retribution, but they are fooling only themselves. However, not all homosexuals get AIDS, but they all receive the reward of their sins “in themselves.” No one profits by any sin, but here, sin has a direct effect upon the minds of those who practice it. Warped morals make for warped characters and personalities because the mind is affected by their rebellion against God. Homosexuals can be saved, (1 Cor. 6:9 11), but not many are, and those who are, cease to commit this.’

There are countless men and women who continue to practice homosexual sin and yet believe themselves to be Christian; they know nothing of the doctrine of repentance. Without repentance of sin, there can be NO salvation; without a forsaking of wickedness, there is NO entrance into God’s holy kingdom. Nothing defiled shall enter within His perfect, pure and sinless kingdom {Revelation 21:27}. Homosexuals insist their perverse way of life is normal, based on love. That is not what the Bible says, ‘burned in their lust one toward another’: to ‘burn’ is to be ‘inflamed deeply, set on fire’. This burning comes from within; it is a self-centered, selfish burning. This burning is for a lust, which is a craving for, longing for, excitement of the mind for what? Someone of the same sex, a desire to be immorally perverse with a same sex partner; this is not love, this is nothing more than a desire to satisfy a perverse sexual appetite. True love is for a man and his wife, not sodomites.  I do believe Albert Barnes says it best, ‘Perhaps there is no sin which so deeply shows the depravity of man as this.’

Verse 28 says “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” Davis Huckabee nails it in his commentary on this passage –“Here is an explanation of what that recompense was. Paul engages in a play on words: “Because they reprobated the knowledge of God, God gave them over to a reprobate mind,” [Alford], or: “As they thought fit to cast out the acknowledgment of God, God gave them over to an outcast mind,” [Conybeare]. A “reprobate mind” is a mind void of right judgment. “It denotes a mind judicially blinded, so as not to discern the difference between things distinguished even by the light of nature,” [Haldane]. They did not like to retain a full knowledge of God, (so the Greek means); they had but a dim memory, and that was a caricature, [Robertson], and so God gave them over to their own desires to have an incorrect knowledge of moral and spiritual truth. “Not convenient” means not fitting or suitable to rational and moral beings. In the following verses, Paul gives examples of what he means. Sin, like cancer, is a progressive evil: it never travels alone, and it never gets better except by grace.”
John Gill defines reprobate as - ‘a vain empty mind, worthless, good for nothing devoid of all true knowledge and judgment; incapable of approving what is truly good, or of disapproving that which is evil; a mind that has lost all conscience of things, and is disapproved of by God, and all good men’.
Matthew Henry also gives a superb definition of a reprobate mind - ‘a mind void of all sense and judgment to discern things that differ, so that they could not distinguish their right hand from their left in spiritual things. See whither a course of sin leads, and into what a gulf it plunges the sinner at last.’

When society is given over to a reprobate mind, sin runs amuck. Romans 1:29-31 speaks of the sins that overtake society as a result of this ‘giving over’- Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers. Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents. Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.” Once more, we will look at commentary from Davis Huckabee…
‘This and the following verses list twenty one distinct sins with which men are filled, and continue to be filled, (so the tense implies), so that it is not a mere tendency to do these things. “Every heart by nature has in it the seed and spawn of all these sins,” [Matthew Henry]. It was such a state that led to the Flood, [Gen. 6:5 6]. “Unrighteousness” is a general term for injustice or iniquity as in verse 18. “Fornication” refers to any sexual intercourse with anyone other than one’s legitimate mate. It is a general term of which adultery is a more specific form. “Wickedness” is another general term for evil. “Covetousness” is literally the desire of having more, and is usually exercised without scruple as to how it is obtained, (1 Tim. 6:9 10). “Maliciousness” is inward viciousness or revengefulness of disposition. “Full of envy” is discontent and jealousy at the prosperity and well-being of others. “Murder” is any form of manslaughter which is done maliciously or from selfish reasons. “Debate” is strife or argument, often involving anger. Some pastors like to debate, thinking they are thereby defending the faith, but this word is never used in a good sense in Scripture. “Deceit” is fraud or falsehood. “Malignity” is rancor, or putting the worst possible interpretation on words and conduct of others. “Whisperers” refers to gossip or the secret slander of men.
“Backbiters” is the public slander of others as whisperers had to do with secret slander. “Haters of God” is taken by many in a passive sense: “hated of God,” which is certainly His attitude toward all slanderers, (Ps. 15:1 3; 101:5; Prov. 8:13). But the active “haters” is also true of all unsaved people. “Despiteful” refers to insolence, insulting or abusive conduct. “Proud” refers to egotism, excessive self- esteem and conceit. “Boasters” is the vocal claim to this supposed superiority over others. “Inventors of evil things” is characteristic of fallen man, (Eccl. 7:29). Every good that man invents he turns to an evil use. “Disobedient to parents” is characteristic of all rebels. It is one of the quickest ways to shorten one’s life (Eph. 6:1 3). The same Greek word as “foolish” in verse 21. Probably in reference to ignorance in spiritual things as in 1 Corinthians 2:14. Spiritual understanding is to be desired, (Col. 1:9). “Covenant breakers” refers to those who are not true to their contracts and commitments. Today we see this commonly in nations violating their covenants, and in the breaking of marriage covenants, as well as in business. “Without natural affection” is seen most commonly today in the desertion and destruction of children by their parents, and in the neglecting of elderly parents by their children. “Implacable” is the refusal to be reconciled to one when an offence has been committed, or holding an unyielding desire for revenge. “Unmerciful” is destitution of compassion. The last four words have been tersely translated: “senseless, faithless, heartless, pitiless,” [Green].’


All that is spoken of by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1 is rampant in our society at this present hour. Again, I ask that you would take note of Davis Huckabee’s commentary on verse 26 – ‘Most sin goes through six stages before God responds in judgment: (1) Shock at it. (2) Joking about it. (3) Curiosity about it. (4) Indulgence in it. (5) Excuses made for it. (6) Stoutly defended as right.’ I need not remind you what stage we are in…






**You can read Davis Huckabee's commentary on his studies in Romans chapter one here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The duty of men

This is from the Puritan's woodshop...





It is the disposition of a child of God, to submit his lot and condition in the world to the Lord, to be cut and carved as may serve his glory. Without this, one cannot be a child of God. For it is inseparable from the character of such an one, in whatever state he is, therewith to be content. Hence the apostle Paul could say, ‘As alway, so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death,’ Phil. 1:20.
It is the duty of all men to sanctify the holy name of God, to reverence, adore and honour it, in their hearts, lips, and lives. O! let us then be excited to the practice of this duty, considering that it is the end for which God gave us a being; that if we do not hallow it, we contradict this very petition, praying for a thing we have no mind to comply with; that if we live in the neglect of this duty, God will get honour to himself by inflicting heavy judgments upon us in this life, and by making us eternal monuments of his vengeance in the next; that when we come to encounter with the king of terrors, it will tend to sweeten the awful prospect, that we have made it our business to glorify the name of God; that we will loose nothing, but be great gainers, by honouring the name of the Lord; for they that do so shall be reckoned among his jewels, and be a royal diadem in the Lord’s hand; they shall be happy in death, and be safely conveyed to Immanuel’s land where glory dwells. Let us then make it the principal business of our lives to glorify God, that so we may come to enjoy him for ever.
-Thomas Boston, from A Body of Divinity, volume 2 of Works, page 570

Thursday, November 15, 2012

O Lord hear! O Lord forgive!


America is a nation in need of prayer, we as God’s people must be like the men of old who cried out to the Lord of Hosts on behalf of the sins of the people. We find several instances in the Old Testament of such men, torn over the sins of their people and falling on their faces before God to make intercessory prayer. Let’s start with Ezra…

‘And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God, saying: "O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.’  Ezra 9:5-6

The sins of his people brought Ezra to his knees, as Matthew Henry makes note of, ‘He fell upon his knees, put himself into the posture of a penitent humbling himself and a petitioner suing for mercy, in both representing the people for whom he was now an intercessor. Ezra's address is a penitent confession of sin, the sin of his people. But let this be the comfort of true penitents, that though their sins reach to the heavens, God's mercy is in the heavens. Ezra, speaking of sin, speaks as one much ashamed. Holy shame is as necessary in true repentance as holy sorrow. Ezra speaks as much amazed. The discoveries of guilt cause amazement; the more we think of sin, the worse it looks. Say, God be merciful to me sinner. Ezra speaks as one much afraid. There is not a surer or saddler presage of ruin, than turning to sin, after great judgments, and great deliverances. Everyone in the church of God, has to wonder that he has not wearied out the Lord's patience, and brought destruction upon himself. What then must be the case of the ungodly? But though the true penitent has nothing to plead in his own behalf, the heavenly Advocate pleads most powerfully for him.’

The reaction to sin should be shame; I found the definition for shame in Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English language to be a fitting one – A painful sensation excited by a consciousness of guilt, or of having done something which injures reputation; or by of that which nature or modesty prompts us to conceal. Shame is particularly excited by the disclosure of actions which, in the view of men, are mean and degrading. Hence it is often or always manifested by a downcast look or by blushes, called confusion of face.’ In our day, sin does not produce shame, nor is there any fear of the Lord God. If we do not pray for the lost, who will?!? Instead of being angry that our world is falling deeper into depravity and wickedness and that we are 'losing control', keep the focus biblical. Be broken over sin, be ready for His return. May God give us hearts of compassion and mercy, may He work in us a longing for home and a cry of unity, 'even so, come Lord Jesus!'

Daniel was like Ezra, making intercessory prayer on behalf of his people; from Daniel 9:3-5, Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.  I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, "O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules.’

Both Daniel and Ezra include themselves in their prayer before our Holy God. Matthew Henry breaks Daniel’s prayer down for us, ‘Here is his humble, serious, reverent address to God, 1. As a God to be feared, and whom it is our duty always to stand in awe of: “O Lord! the great and dreadful God, that art able to deal with the greatest and most terrible of the church's enemies.” 2. As a God to be trusted, and whom it is our duty to depend upon and put a confidence in: Keeping the covenant and mercy to those that love him, and, as a proof of their love to him, keep his commandments. If we fulfil our part of the bargain, he will not fail to fulfil his. He will be to his people as good as his word, for he keeps covenant with them, and not one iota of his promise shall fall to the ground; nay, he will be better than his word, for he keeps mercy to them, something more than was in the covenant. It was proper for Daniel to have his eye upon God's mercy now that he was to lay before him the miseries of his people, and upon God's covenant now that he was to sue for the performance of a promise. Note, We should, in prayer, look both at God's greatness and his goodness, his majesty and mercy in conjunction. We have sinned in many particular instances, nay, we have committed iniquity, we have driven a trade of sin, we have done wickedly with a hard heart and a stiff neck, and herein we have rebelled, have taken up arms against the King of kings, his crown and dignity.
From Daniel 9:18b-19a…
‘For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.  O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act.’ This should be our present-day prayer for this nation.  Once more, I will share Matthew Henry’s commentary, ‘O Lord! hear; O Lord! forgive. “That the mercy prayed for may be granted in mercy, let the sin that threatens to come between us and it be removed: O Lord! hearken and do, not hearken and speak only, but hearken and do; do that for us which none else can, and that speedily - defer not, O my God!” Now that he saw the appointed day approaching he could in faith pray that God would make haste to them and not defer.’

May we have hearts of compassion for lost souls, may we be empowered from on High to proclaim His truth; it is the only hope this world has. May we confess our own sin and iniquity, the sin of indifference, worldliness, complacency, selfishness, pride;  whatever sin that may be keeping us from being useful to the Master.




'O Eternal God and most merciful Father, we confess and acknowledge here before Thy Divine Majesty that we are miserable sinners, conceived and born in sin and iniquity, so that in us there is no goodness. For the flesh evermore rebelleth against the spirit, whereby we continually transgress Thy holy precepts and commandments: and so purchase to ourselves through Thy just judgment, death and damnation. Notwithstanding {O Heavenly Father} forasmuch as we are displeased with ourselves for the sins that we have committed against Thee, and do unfeignedly repent us of the same, we most humbly beseech Thee for Jesus Christs' sake to show Thy mercy upon us, to forgive us all our sins, and increase Thy Holy Spirit in us, that we, acknowledging from the bottom of our hearts, our own unrighteousness, may from henceforth not only mortify our sinful lusts and affections, but also bring forth such fruits as may be agreeable to Thy most blessed will, not for the worthiness thereof, but for the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ our only Savior, whom Thou hast already given an oblation and offering for our sins, and for whose sake we are certainly persuaded that Thou wilt deny us nothing that we shall ask in His name, according to Thy will. For Thy Spirit doth assure our consciences that Thou art our merciful Father, and so lovest us Thy children through Him, that nothing is able to remove Thy heavenly grace and favor from us. To Thee therefore, O Father, with the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end.   Amen.'   - From the 1599 Geneva Bible

















In Heavenly Love Abiding


In heavenly love abiding, no change my heart shall fear.
And safe in such confiding, for nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me, my heart may low be laid,
But God is round about me, and can I be dismayed?

Wherever He may guide me, no want shall turn me back.
My Shepherd is beside me, and nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waking, His sight is never dim.
He knows the way He’s taking, and I will walk with Him

Green pastures are before me, which yet I have not seen.
Bright skies will soon be over me, where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure, my path to life is free.
My Savior has my treasure, and He will walk with me. 

Cut if off!!!

This is such a much needed daily reminder for all of us, sin is seldom mentioned in our culture which is why we see so much of it. This is from grace gems...



(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

"If your hand or your foot causes you to sin--cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled--than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire!" Matthew 18:8

Our life is so full of temptation and peril--that even its best things may become stumbling-blocks. Our very qualities of strength--may become fatal forces driving us to eternal ruin. 

Human beauty
 is a blessing from God--and yet beauty has proved a snare to many a woman, drawing her away from God. 

Ability to make money
 is a perilous gift--which has led many a man to spiritual ruin. It is better to altogether throw away the money-making ability, and go poor through life with the talent wasted and shriveled, and reach Heaven--than to exercise the ability and grow rich, and be lost forever! These are illustrations of our Lord's meaning when He speaks of 'cutting off' the hand or the foot which causes us to sin.

The appetites, desires, and affections--are part of the glory of humanity; and yet, when they are unbridled--they have whirled many a noble life to eternal destruction!

A steam-boat came into port which had long been out on the sea. An accident had happened which caused delay. The coal gave out; then all that would burn--cargo, stores, furniture--had to be burned up, in order to bring the vessel home. At last she gained the shore--but stripped of everything of value. Yet it was better to burn up all her cargo and stores--than perish at sea.

Just so, some men can get to Heaven--only by sacrificing every earthly pleasure and crucifying every sinful desire; but who will say that theprize is not worth the sacrifice? The hand would be better chopped off--than steal or strike down another. The foot would be better cut off--than carry one into crime or sin. The eye would be better plucked-out--than by its lustful gazing set the soul on fire. A man on a wrecked vessel had better throw his bags of gold into the sea and have his life saved--than hold on to the gold and sink into the waves!