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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

False flattery

 From Psalm 78...
Verse 36 Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth. Bad were they at their best. False on their knees, liars in their prayers. Mouth worship must be very detestable to God when dissociated from the heart: other kings love flattery, but the King of kings abhors it. Since the sharpest afflictions only extort from carnal men a feigned submission to God, there is proof positive that the heart is desperately set on mischief, and that sin is ingrained in our very nature. If you beat a tiger with many stripes you cannot turn him into a sheep. The devil cannot be whipped out of human nature, though another devil, namely, hypocrisy may be whipped into it. Piety produced by the damps of sorrow and the heats of terror is of mushroom growth; it is rapid in its springing up—"they enquired early after God"—but it is a mere unsubstantial fungus of unabiding excitement. And they lied unto him with their tongues. Their godly speech was cant, their praise mere wind, their prayer a fraud. Their skin deep repentance was a film too thin to conceal the deadly wound of sin. This teaches us to place small reliance upon professions of repentance made by dying men, or upon such even when the basis is evidently slavish fear, and nothing more. Any thief will whine out repentance if he thinks the judge will thereby be moved to let him go scot free.
Verse 37. For their heart was not right with him. There was no depth in their repentance, it was not heart work. They were fickle as a weathercock, every wind turned them, their mind was not settled upon God. Neither were they stedfast in his covenant. Their promises were no sooner made than broken, as if only made in mockery. Good resolutions called at their hearts as men do at inns; they tarried awhile, and then took their leave. They were hot today for holiness, but cold towards it tomorrow. Variable as the hues of the dolphin, they changed from reverence to rebellion, from thankfulness to murmuring. One day they gave their gold to build a tabernacle for Jehovah, and the next they plucked off their earrings to make a golden calf. Surely the heart is a chameleon. Proteus had not so many changes. As in the ague we both burn and freeze, so do inconstant natures in their religion.
Verse 38. But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not. Though they were full of flattery, he was full of mercy, and for this cause he had pity on them. Not because of their pitiful and hypocritical pretensions to penitence, but because of his own real compassion for them he overlooked their provocations. Yea, many a time turned he his anger away. When he had grown angry with them he withdrew his displeasure. Even unto seventy times seven did he forgive their offences. He was slow, very slow, to anger. The sword was uplifted and flashed in midair, but it was sheathed again, and the nation yet lived. Though not mentioned in the text, we know from the history that a mediator interposed, the man Moses stood in the gap; even so at this hour the Lord Jesus pleads for sinners, and averts the divine wrath. Many a barren tree is left standing because the dresser of the vineyard cries, "let it alone this year also." And did not stir up all his wrath. Had he done so they must have perished in a moment. When his wrath is kindled but a little men are burned up as chaff; but were he to let loose his indignation, the solid earth itself would melt, and hell would engulf every rebel. Who knoweth the power of thine anger, O Lord? We see the fulness of God's compassion, but we never see all his wrath.
Verse 39. For he remembered that they were but flesh. They were forgetful of God, but he was mindful of them. He knew that they were made of earthy, frail, corruptible material, and therefore he dealt leniently with them. Though in this he saw no excuse for their sin, yet he constrained it into a reason for mercy; the Lord is ever ready to discover some plea or other upon which he may have compassion. A wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. Man is but a breath, gone never to return. Spirit and wind are in this alike, so far as our humanity is concerned; they pass and cannot be recalled. What a nothing is our life. How gracious on the Lord's part to make man's insignificance an argument for staying his wrath.
Verse 40. How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness. Times enough did they rebel: they were as constant in provocation as he was in his patience. In our own case, who can count his errors? In what book could all our perverse rebellions be recorded? The wilderness was a place of manifest dependence, where the tribes were helpless without divine supplies, yet they wounded the hand which fed them while it was in the act of feeding them. Is there no likeness between us and them? Does it bring no tears into our eyes, while as in a glass, we see our own selves? And grieve him in the desert. Their provocations had an effect; God was not insensible to them, he is said to have been grieved. His holiness could not find pleasure in their sin, his justice in their unjust treatment, or his truth in their falsehood. What must it be to grieve the Lord of love! Yet we also have vexed the Holy Spirit, and he would long ago have withdrawn himself from us, were it not that he is God and not man. We are in the desert where we need our God, let us not make it a wilderness of sin by grieving him.

C.H. Spurgeon, from the Treasury of David

Beware of 'self'

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

This is the polar star -*23 -of a child of God—faith in his Father’s providence, promises, and grace. The unmeaning expression of trust on the lips of the ignorant and ungodly is a fearful delusion. What ground of confidence can there be when there is everything to fear? Can the sinner’s God, a just, avenging God, be an object of trust? What owe we to that precious atonement which has opened up our way to a reconciled God (Rom 5:11), and assured our confidence in Him as our Friend and Counselor! Nor is this the cold assent of the enlightened judgment. It is the trust of the heart, of all the heart. It is a child-like, unwavering (Psa 78, 2Ch 14:11; contrast Jer 1:6-8) confidence in our Father’s well-proved wisdom, faithfulness, and love.

Any limit to this confidence is a heinous provocation (Psa 78:18-22). He is truth itself. Therefore, He would have us take Him at His Word, and prove His Word to the utmost extent of His power. But our trust must not only be entire: it must be exclusive. No other confidence, no confidence in the flesh, can consist with it (cp. Phi 3:3). Man with all his pride feels that he wants something to lean to. As a fallen being, he naturally leans to
himself, to his own foolish notions and false fancies. Human power is his idol. His understanding is his god. Many would rather be convicted of want -*24 -of principle than want of talent. Many bring God’s truth to their own bar and cavil -*25 -
at it, as an excuse for rejecting it. In these and other ways, man “trusteth to himself, and his heart departeth from the Lord” (Jer 17:5).

This is the history of the fall; the history of man from the fall; the dominant sin of every unhumbled heart; the lamented and resisted sin of every child of God. Need we advert- *26- to it as the sin of youth? How rare is the sight of the “younger submitting unto the elder” (1Pe 5:5)! If advice is asked, is it not with the hope of confirming a previously-formed purpose? In case of a contrary judgment, the young man’s own understanding usually decides the course.

Great reason then is there for the warning—Lean not to thine own understanding. Once, indeed, it gave clear unclouded light, as man’s high prerogative, “created in the image of God” (Gen 1:26; Col 3:10). But now, degraded as it is by the fall (Psa 49:20), and darkened by the corruption of the heart (Eph 4:18), it must be a false guide. Even in a prophet of God it proved a mistaken counselor (2Sa 7:2-5). Yet though we refuse to lean to it, to follow it may be implicit trust in the Lord; because it is a trust in His Divine power, enlightening it, as His lamp for our direction. The Christian on his knees, as if he cast his understanding away, confesses himself utterly unable to guide his path. But see him in his active life. He carefully improves his mind. He conscientiously follows its dictates. Thus practical faith strengthens—not destroys—its power; invigorates—not supersedes—exertion (cp. Gen 32:9-20; Neh 2:4-20; 4:9). It is therefore our plain duty not to neglect our understanding, but to cultivate it diligently in all its faculties. In a world of such extended knowledge, ignorance is the fruit of sloth, dissipation, -*27- or misguided delusion.

But lean not to thine understanding.
Lean—trust in the Lord. Self-dependence is folly (Pro 28:26), rebellion (Jer 2:13; 9:23), ruin (Gen 3:5, 6; Isa 47:10, 11). “The great folly of man in trials,” as Dr. Owen justly remarks, “is leaning to or upon his own understanding and counsels. What is the issue of it? Whenever in our trials we consult our own understandings, hearken to self-reasonings, though they seem to be good, and tending to our preservation; yet the principle of living by faith is stifled, and we shall in the issue be cast down by our own counsels.”- *28-

Next, let our confidence be uniform: In all thy ways acknowledge him. Take one step at a time, every step under Divine warrant and direction (cp. Eze 18:21-23; Neh 1:11). Ever plan for yourself in simple dependence on God. -*29- It is nothing less than self-idolatry to conceive that we can carry on even the ordinary matters of the day without His counsel. He loves to be consulted. Therefore, take all thy difficulties to be resolved by Him. Be in the habit of going to Him in the first place—before self-will, self-pleasing, -*30- self-wisdom, human friends, convenience, expediency. -*31- Before any of these have been consulted, go
to God at once. Consider no circumstances too clear to need His direction. -*32 -In all thy ways, small as well as great; in all thy concerns, personal or relative, temporal or eternal, let Him be supreme. Who of us has not found the unspeakable “peace” of bringing to God matters too minute or individual to be entrusted to the most confidential ear? -*33-
Abraham thus acknowledged God. Wheresoever he pitched a tent for himself, there was always an altar for God (Gen 12:7; 13:18). In choosing a wife for his son, there was a singular absence of worldliness. No mention was made of riches, honor, beauty; only of what concerned the name and honor of his God (Gen 24:1-8; cp. also his servant, verses 12-27). Thus did the wise man’s father in all his ways acknowledge God, asking counsel of Him in all his difficulties, and never disappointed. -*34-

Now if we be weaned from the idolatry of making our bosom our oracle, and our heart our counselor; if in true poverty of spirit we go every morning to our Lord, as knowing not how to guide ourselves for this day; our eye constantly looking upward for direction (Psa 5:3; 143:8-10; 25:4, 5), the light will come down. -*35- He shall direct thy paths. We want no new revelations or visible tokens (such as Exo 13:21, 22). Study the Word with prayer. Mark the Divine Spirit shedding light upon it. Compare it with the observation of the providences of the day (Psa 107:43); not judging by constitutional bias -*36- (a most doubtful interpreter),
but pondering with sober, practical, reverential faith. Let the will be kept in a quiet, subdued, cheerful readiness, to move, stay, retreat, turn to the right hand or to the left, at the Lord’s bidding; always remembering that is best which is least our own doing, and that a pliable spirit ever secures the needful guidance (cp. Psa 32:8, 9; Isa 48:17, 18; with 30:21). We may “be led,” for the exercise of our faith, “in a way that we know not” (Isa 42:16; 50:10)—perhaps a way of disappointment, or evenof mistake! Yet no step well prayed over will bring ultimate regret. Though the promise will not render us infallible; our very error will be overruled for deeper humiliation and self-knowledge; and thus even this mysterious direction will in the end be gratefully acknowledged—“He led me forth in the right way” (Psa 107:7).



25 cavil – to object or find fault without good reason.

26 advert – turn one’s attention to; pay attention.

27 dissipation – overindulgence in the pursuit of pleasure.

28 John Owen, Treatise on Temptation, chapter 8. Cp. Job 18:7; Hos 10:8.

29 Jam 4:15. If the Lord will—as Fuller remarks with his pithy quaintness—“a parenthesis, and yet the most important part of the sentence.”

30 See the awful hypocrisy and judgment of asking counsel of God under this deadly influence: Jer 42:1-3, 19-22; Eze 14:1-6.

31 expediency – adherence to self-serving means.

32 See the evil consequence of this inconsiderate neglect: Jos 9:14.

33 Phi 4:6, 7. “In everything.”

34 1Sa 23:9-11; 30:6-8; 2Sa 2:1; 5:19. Compare the smarting rod from the neglect of this godly habit, 1Sa 27:1 with 29.

35 Mat 6:22. Cp. Psa 32:8; 34:5; Neh 1:4-11; 2:4-8. Sir M. Hale left it on record, when nearly eighty years old, as his experience, that whenever he had

committed his way simply and unreservedly to the Lord, He had always directed his path.

36 constitutional bias – personal inclination or tendency; how one feels about a matter.

Charles Bridges on Proverbs


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fear Him

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell" - Matthew 10:28


Today, it is easy to say you believe in Jesus, many give the 'Roman Road' as a means of being saved. Simply confessing and believing is all that is required, according to some. I wonder, how easy will it be to confess Jesus Christ as Lord if/when there is a weapon pointed to your head, and someone demanding that you deny Christ or die? How easy will it be to confess Christ when someone threatens to kill your children if you do not renounce your faith in the Son of God? It is good for us to read this verse and meditate on it.
I have included excellent commentary on this text from John Gill...

'And fear not them which kill the body' This is a "periphrasis" of bloody persecutors, who, not content to revile, scourge, and imprison, put the faithful ministers of Christ to death, in the most cruel and torturing manner; and yet are not so to be feared and dreaded by them, as to discourage and divert them from the performance of their important work and office; for, as Luke says, ( Luke 12:4 ) "after" that they "have no more than they can do". This is all they are capable of doing, even by divine permission, when they are suffered to run the greatest lengths in violence against the saints; this is the utmost of their efforts, which Satan, and their own wicked hearts, can put them upon, or is in the power of their hands to perform: and the taking away of the lives of good men is of no disadvantage to them; but sends them the sooner out of this troublesome world to their father's house, to partake of those joys that will never end; so that they have nothing to fear from their most implacable enemies; but should boldly and bravely go on in their master's service, openly, freely, faithfully, and fully discharging the work they were called unto: for, the loss of a corporal life is no loss to them, their souls live after death, in eternal happiness; and in a little time God will raise up their bodies, and reunite them to their souls, and be for ever happy together. A noble argument this, which our Lord makes use of, to engage his disciples to a public and diligent ministration of the Gospel, in spite of all opposers; who, when they have vented all their malice, can only take away a poor, frail, mortal life; and which, if they did not, in a little time would cease in course:
but are not able to kill the soul;
which is immortal, and cannot be touched by the sword, by fire and faggot, or any instruments of violence: it is immortal, it survives the body, and lives in a separate state, enjoying happiness and bliss, whilst the body is in a state of death:but rather fear him, which is able to destroy both body and soul in
hell.
This is a description of God, and of his power, who is able to do that which men are not: all that they can do, by divine permission, is to kill the body; but he is able to "destroy", that is, to torment and punish both body and soul "in hell", in everlasting burnings; for neither soul nor body will be annihilated; though this he is able to do. As the former clause expresses the immortality of the soul, this supposes the resurrection of the body; for how otherwise should it be destroyed, or punished with the soul in hell? Now this awful being which is able to hurl, and will hurl all wicked and slothful, unfaithful and unprofitable, cowardly and temporising servants and ministers, soul and body, into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, is to be feared and dreaded; yea, indeed, he only is to be feared, and to be obeyed: cruel and persecuting men are not to be feared at all; God alone should be our fear and dread; though the argument seems to be formed from the lesser to the greater; yet this, is the sense of the word "rather", that God is to be feared, not chiefly and principally only, but solely; and in some versions that word is left out, as in the Arabic, and Ethiopic, and in Munster's Hebrew Gospel.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Your present trial

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28 

All things? Yes! Everything that happens to the Christian is directed and overruled by God's special Providence for his good! The experience may be very bitter--it may lay him very low and try him to the core; it may keep him in the dust for a long time. But it will do him good--not only in the end, but while it lasts.

Believer, your present trial is for your good. Nothing could be better for you! You may not see it now; you may even feel as if you never could think so--but the time is coming when you will bless God for it.

You love God--and God loves you with an infinite and eternal love. You came to the cross as a poor sinner--and you looked to the Lord Jesus to be your perfect Savior. This proves that you have been called according to God's purpose. You are one of God's beloved ones, and as such--you may have the assurance that all things . . .
  light and darkness, 
  health and sickness, 
  hatred and love, 
  prosperity and adversity, 
  life and death--
will work together for your good!

Dark clouds bring rich blessings--and sharp winters introduce fruitful springs. Even so, sore troublesoften precede the sweetest consolations. Your present affliction--whether it is . . .
  sickness of body,
  trouble of mind,
  bereavements,
  losses, 
  crosses, or
  whatever else
--is working for your good. It will work for good in the future, and it is working for good now. While your heart is bleeding, and you are tempted to think that all is against you--all is working together for your good!

Dear Lord, I do not see how my affliction can be good for me. But help me, Lord, to accept it as such by faith--so that I may receive what You have for me through it.

"We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope!" Romans 5:3-4 


from Grace Gems

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Personal Holiness

Personal Holiness
by Arthur W. Pink


"That opinion that personal holiness is unnecessary to final glorification is in direct opposition to every dictate of reason, to every declaration of Scripture.”—Augustus Toplady

By our fall in Adam we not only lost the favor of God but also the purity of our nature and therefore we need to be both reconciled to God and renewed in our inner man, for without personal holiness “ no man shall see the Lord “ (Heb. 12:14). “ As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (behavior); because it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy “ (1 Peter 1:15, 16), God's nature is such that unless we be sanctified there can be no intercourse between Him and us. But can persons be sinful and holy at one and the same time? Genuine Christians discover so much carnality, filth, and vileness in themselves that they find it almost impossible to be assured they are holy. Nor is this difficulty solved, as in justification, by recognizing that though completely unholy in ourselves we are holy in Christ, for Scripture teaches that those who are sanctified by God are holy in themselves, though the evil nature has not been removed from them.

None but “ the pure in heart “ will ever “ see God “ (Matt 5:8). There must be that renovation of soul whereby our minds, affections and wills are brought into harmony with God. There must be that impartial compliance with the revealed will of God and abstinence from evil which issues from faith and love. There must be that directing of all our actions to the glory of God, by Jesus Christ, according to the Gospel. There must be a spirit of holiness working within the believer's heart so as to sanctify his outward actions if they are to be acceptable unto Him in whom “there is no darkness” True, there is perfect holiness in Christ for the believer, but there must also be a holy nature received from him. There are some who appear to delight in the imputed obedience of Christ who make little or no concern about personal holiness. They have much to say about being arrayed in “ the garments of salvation and covered with the robe of righteousness “ (Isa 61:10), who give no evidence that they “ are clothed with humility “ (1 Pet 5:5) or that they have “ put on... bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forebearing one another and forgiving one another” (Col 3:12).

How many there are today who suppose that if they have trusted in Christ all is sure to be well with them at the last even though they are not personally holy. Under the pretense of honoring faith, Satan, as an angel of light, has deceived and is now deceiving multitudes of souls. When their “faith” is examined and
tested, what is it worth? Nothing at all so far as insuring an entrance into Heaven is concerned: it is a powerless, lifeless, fruitless thing. The faith of God's elect is unto “ the acknowledging of the truth which is godliness “ (Titus 1:1). It is a faith which purifieth the heart (Acts 15:9), and it grieves over all impurity. It is a faith which produces an unquestioning obedience (Heb 11:8). They therefore do but delude themselves who suppose they are daily drawing nearer to Heaven while they are following those courses which lead only to Hell. He who thinks to come to the enjoyment of God without being personally holy, makes Him out to be an unholy God, and puts the highest indignity upon Him. The genuiness of saving faith is only proved as it bears the blossoms of experimental godliness and the fruits of true piety.

In Christ God has set before His people that standard of moral excellence which He requires them to aim and strive after. In His life we behold a glorious representation in our own nature of the walk of obedience which He demands of us. Christ conformed Himself to us by His abasing incarnation, how reasonable therefore it is that we should conform ourselves to Him in the way of obedience and sanctification. “ Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus “ (Phil 2:5). He came as near to us as was possible for Him to do, how reasonable then is it that we should endeavor to come as near as it is possible for us to do. “ Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me “ (Matt 11:29). If “ even Christ pleased not Himself “ (Rom 15:3), how reasonable is it that we should be required to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him (Matt 16:24), for without so doing we cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:27). If we are to be conformed to Christ in glory how necessary that we first be conformed to Him in holiness: “ he that saith he abideth in Him ought himself so to walk even as He walked “ (1 John 2:6). “ Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity “ (2 Tim 2:19): let him either put on the life of Christ or drop the name of Christ.

Monday, October 21, 2013

life is too solemn, too momentous, too earnest!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 3:13-14 

1. Mine be the Pauline oblivion of the past. It is well to forget the things which are behind. If I remember too vividly former failures--the recollection will depress my soul and hamper my movements. If I remember too often former attainments--I shall grow contented and make no further progress. There is a tyranny of success--as hurtful as the tyranny of defeat. And if I remember too constantly the modes of my religion hitherto, I shall look simply for a repetition of old experiences, instead of desiring greater achievements. Yes, let me forget.

2. And mine be the Pauline aspiration towards the future. Like the runner in the chariot race, I should stretch forward to the things which are before me. In front of me lie . . .
  a fuller holiness, 
  a larger likeness to Christ, 
  a deeper humility,
  a more wide-reaching usefulness, 
  victory over sin and death,
  abundant entrance into Heaven,
  and eternal glory yet to be revealed. 
These things I must seek with the intensity which . . .
  the man of the world carries into his business,
  the scholar into his studies,
  the explorer into his journeys and toils.

3. And mine be the Pauline endeavor in the present. Always let me be pressing toward the mark for the prize. Some sin I ought to put off every day; some Christian grace or virtue I ought daily to put on. I must open my soul more absolutely to the Holy Spirit. Each hour must bring . . .
  its work and its battle,
  its duty to be done,
  its prize to be gained. 

Ah, life is too solemn, too momentous, too earnest!

By forgetfulness, by expectation, by effort . . .
  I grow in Christlikeness,
  I make progress in the pilgrim march,
  I climb nearer and nearer the summits of God's snow-white Alps of purity and holiness.


from Grace Gems

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Salvation from the power of sin

This is a present and protracted process, and is as yet incomplete. It is the most difficult part of our subject, and upon it the greatest confusion of thought prevails, especially among young Christians. Many there are who, having learned that the Lord Jesus is the Saviour of sinners, have jumped to the erroneous conclusion that if they but exercise faith in Him, surrender to His Lordship, commit their souls into His keeping, He will remove their corrupt nature and destroy their evil propensities. But after they have really trusted in Him, they discover that evil is still present with them, that their hearts are still deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, and that no matter how they strive to resist temptation, pray for overcoming grace, and use the means of God’s appointing, they seem to grow worse and worse instead of better, until they seriously doubt if they are saved at all. They are not being saved.

Even when a person has been regenerated and justified, the flesh or corrupt nature remains within him, and ceaselessly harasses him. Yet this ought not to perplex hint To the saints at Rome Paul said, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body" (6:12), which would be entirely meaningless had sin been eradicated from them. Writing to the Corinthian saints he said, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1): obviously such an exhortation is needless if sin has been purged from our beings. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time" (1 Pet. 5:6): what need have Christians for such a word as this, except pride lurks and works within them. But all room for controversy on this point is excluded if we bow to that inspired declaration, "If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8).

The old carnal nature remains in the believer: he is still a sinner, though a saved one. What, then, is the young Christian to do? Is he powerless? Must he resort to stoicism, and make up his mind there is naught but a life of defeat before him? Certainly not! The first thing for him to do is to learn the humiliating truth that in himself he is "without strength." It was here that Israel failed: when Moses made known to them the Law they boastfully declared "all that the Lord has said we will do and be obedient" (Ex. 24:7). AU how little did they realize that "in the flesh there dwelleth no good thing." It was here, too, that Peter failed: he was self-confident and boasted that "though all men be offended because of thee, yet will I not deny thee—how little he knew his own heart. This complacent spirit lurks within each of us. While we cherish the belief we can "do better next time" it is evident that we still have confidence in our own powers. Not until we heed the Saviour’s words "without me ye can do nothing" do we take the first step toward victory. Only when we are weak (in ourselves) are we strong.

continue reading here

Saturday, October 19, 2013

This is too hard for me!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place: Jehovah-Jireh--the Lord will provide!" Genesis 22:13-14 

And what does He provide?

The Lord will provide BREAD when I am hungry. It seems natural to begin there. He has a care for my body as well as for my soul. He is certainly not desirous that I should have wealth or distinction or the means of indulgence and display. But, if I trust Him, I shall get enough for comfort--if not enough for plenty; enough to rid me from unworthy worry--if not enough to free me from wholesome dependence and continuous faith. Every modest and present need, He is sure to satisfy.

The Lord will provide HELP when I am helpless. Is it the discipline of my own inner life? Is it to escape this enticing world? I am sufficient for none of these things. 
Sometimes my road is rough, 
sometimes it is steep, 
sometimes it is dark, 
sometimes it is slippery. 
My heart whispers discouragement, and says, "This is too hard for me!" But, when I come to the place, I find that God Himself has solved my difficulties, and puts to flight my fears!

Best of all, my Lord will provide SALVATION when I am burdened with sin. It was a lamb for sacrifice which Jehovah-Jireh prepared on the bare summit of Moriah. And in fullness of time, on the green hill of Calvary, close beside mount Moriah--a better Lamb died by divine appointment and made reconciliation for my iniquity! In the presence of such a sacrifice, how full my joy should be! Jesus, the precious Lamb of God . . .
  breaks every fetter,
  unbars every door,
  forgives every debt!


from Gracegems

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sin...a little thing?

The Lord has dealt bountifully with you

I have been much blessed in these words, "Return unto your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you." The blessed Spirit has brought me honey out of them, showing them to me as the words of Christ the Bridegroom. He viewed the Father as dealing bountifully with Him in giving Him the Church for His Bride; and His amazing love to her, made Him feel it to be a bountiful dealing also, when the Father laid on Him all her iniquities, and all her stripes and punishment, and then received from Him an obedience on her behalf. Thus He worked, obeyed, and suffered in love, and for the joy which was set before Him. Therefore He counted the Father to have dealt bountifully in delivering Him up to the stroke, that He might be to her a way of escape. So, after laboring for His Bride, He returned to His rest; and the rest of a laboring man is sweet. What is His rest? His Church; of whom He says, "this is my rest forever, here will I dwell, for I have desired it;" and He will rest in His love to her, saying, "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places, yes, I have a goodly heritage."

He, the Head, does moreover delight in the Father's gift to His Hephzibah to be His own portion, and also in giving Him the fiery cup of bitters for her sake, and He says, "I will sing unto the Lord, for He has dealt bountifully with me." "In the midst of the Church will I sing praise unto You," even in the inner temple of the new heart of His Bride. There He rests, and there sings praise unto the Lord, and hence it is her language, too, in union with Himself: "Return unto your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you." He has dealt bountifully, in not sparing His own Son—but delivering Him up for us all, in bruising Him and putting Him to grief for her sake, and in giving her the cup of blessing because He has drained the cup of curse; and, most of all, in giving her such a Bridegroom to be her rest, and joy, and crown, forever and ever. Return then unto Him, your rest, continually, for "His rest is glorious." There all is done, and we lie down in these green pastures, singing praises to the Lord. Though poor as poverty in self, yet

"Rich to all the intents of bliss,
 Jesus is mine, and I am His."


It is most blessed to see how mutual are the delights between Christ and His Church, and how many portions of Holy Writ, which we apply entirely to one or the other, belong to both in union oneness. We have little conception of our nothingness separate from Jesus: there is no body without the Head, and the Head is never without the body, in God's account. May the blessed Spirit unlock to us these secrets with Christ the key. ~ Ruth Bryan

Monday, October 14, 2013

Philip makes a request

John 14:8-12. Philip makes a request.

Philip expressed the feeling of a pious heart when he said, "Lord, show us the Father, and it suffices us." There was something in this request that must have pleased the Son of God. Love to his Father always pleased him. It grieved him to see the creatures of his Father's hand so indifferent to his name. He had beheld another scene in heaven, where every angel and every saint glows with love to his glorious Creator. But worldly men do not care for the Being who made them. Far from wishing to see Him, as Philip did, they wish to hide themselves from him. Instead of saying, "Show us the Father," they say in their hearts, "Give us corn and wine; give us favor with men; give us success in our schemes, and prosperity in our families, and—it suffices us."

But the children of God desire to see their Father's face. Philip was a child of God, and he desired to see his glorious countenance; therefore he said, "Show us the Father." Yet he ought not to have made this request. He ought to have known that Jesus was the brightness of his Father's glory. How gently the Lord reproached him for his unbelief when he said, "Have I been so long time with you, Philip, and yet have you not known me?" Three years was a long time to have familiar communion with the Son of God. Patriarchs and prophets thought themselves highly favored, when they enjoyed short and occasional interviews with their glorious Redeemer. They were more ready to acknowledge him as God than Philip was. When Jacob had wrestled with the angel, he said, "I have seen the face of God, and my life is preserved." But the apostles found it hard to believe how great their Master was! They had seen him hungry and thirsty, weary and weeping. They had even heard him talk of dying. Was it not hard to believe, that the face so marred with sorrow was the express image of the Father's? Yet they ought to have believed this, because of his words and his works.

He spoke as never man spoke; he did works that man never performed. His divine glory shone through the veil of mortal flesh. No light around his person distinguished him from other men; but the apostle John declares, "We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father." (John 1:14.) Once, indeed, his face did shine as the sun, and his clothing was white as the light; but only once; and then only three of the apostles beheld that glorious sight. But his countenance always shone with the light ofholiness, and his garments were always white with spotless purity.


When did Jesus fulfill this wonderful promise, "He who believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do?" At the day of Pentecost, when the apostles, by the power of the Spirit, turned three thousand souls to God. When Jesus preached, only a few repented. Chorazin and Bethsaida, Capernaum and Jerusalem, repented not; but when the apostles preached, three thousand, by one sermon, were pierced in their hearts. (Acts 2:37-41.) What was the reason for this difference? Jesus explained the reason in these few words, "Because I go unto the Father." Since he has gone unto the Father, to sit at his right hand, multitudes have received the gifts of repentance, and of the forgiveness of sins, because he has gone there for that very purpose; as it is written, "Him has God exalted with his right hand, to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." (Acts 5:31.) Have we received these precious gifts? Has the great work been done in our souls—the work of conversion? If it has, then we shall be anxious to do great works ourselves, by saving the souls of our fellow-sinners, and snatching them as brands from the burning. ~ Favell Lee Mortimer (1802—1878) 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Self elevated little popes [re-post]

There are many power hungry, puffed up men in the pulpits; well -known Evangelicals embracing sin, covering up abuse, and abusing the word of God for the sake of power and control. Some of these men spend a great deal of time beating down the weaker Christians, seeking to control them by twisting God's word.
These Evangelicals continually promote their own teachings, writings, books, appearances, conferences - for a price. The word of God is being prostituted and ministries are getting wealthy as a result. And I am not talking about the WOF folks, this is happening within the Reformed camp. America is in need of being 'brought low' by God, we are guilty of idolatry within the church. With that said, I felt it necessary to re-post this brief teaching from A.W. Pink ...


Friday, October 11, 2013

Three kinds of Christians

Before attempting to define and describe what the spiritual growth of a Christian consists of, we should first show what it is that is capable of growth, for spiritual growth necessarily supposes the presence of spiritual life: only a regenerated person can grow. Progress in the Christian life is impossible unless I be a Christian. We must therefore begin by explaining what a Christian is. To many of our readers this may appear to be quite superfluous, but in such a day as this, wherein spiritual counterfeits and delusions abound on every side, when so many are deceived on the all-important matter, and because of such widely-different classes, we deem it necessary to follow this course. We dare not take for granted that all our readers are Christians in the Scriptural sense of that term, and may it please the Lord to use what we are about to write to give light to some who are yet in darkness. Moreover, it may be the means of enabling some real Christians, now confused, to see the way of the Lord more clearly. Nor will it be altogether profitless, we hope, even to those more fully established in the faith.
Three Kinds of "Christians"
Broadly speaking there are three kinds of "Christians": preacher-made, self-made, and God-made ones. In the former are included not only those who were "sprinkled" in infancy and thereby made members of a "church" (though not admitted to all its privileges), but those who have reached the age of accountability and are induced by some high-pressure "evangelist" to "make a profession." This high pressure business is in different forms and in varying degrees, from appeals to the emotions to mass hypnotism whereby crowds are induced to "come forward." Under it countless thousands whose consciences were never searched and who had no sense of their lost condition before God were persuaded to "do the manly thing," "enlist under the banner of Christ," "unite with God’s people in their crusade against the devil." Such converts are like mushrooms: they spring up in a night and survive but a short time, having no root. Similar too are the vast majority produced under what is called "personal work," which consists of a species of individual "buttonholing," and is conducted along the lines used by commercial travelers seeking to make a "forced sale."

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That I know Him

 Thus says the LORD, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;  but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD.  Jeremiah 9:23-24


What we may not depend upon in a day of distress: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, as if with the help of that he could outwit or countermine the enemy, or in the greatest extremity find out some evasion or other; for a man's wisdom may fail him when he needs it most, and he may be taken in his own craftiness. Ahithophel was befooled, and counsellors are often led away spoiled. 
But, if a man's policies fail him, yet surely he may gain his point by might and dint of courage. No: Let not the strong man glory in his strength, for the battle is not always to the strong. David the stripling proves too hard for Goliath the giant. All human force is nothing without God, worse than nothing against him. 
But may not the rich man's wealth be his strong city? (money answers all things) No: Let not the rich man glory in his riches, for they may prove so far from sheltering him that they may expose him and make him the fairer mark. Let not the people boast of the wise men, and mighty men, and rich men that they have among them, as if they could make their part good against the Chaldeans because they have wise men to advise concerning the war, mighty men to fight their battles, and rich men to bear the charges of the war.
 Let not particular persons think to escape the common calamity by their wisdom, might, or money; for all these will prove but vain things for safety.

Those that refused to know God (Jer_9:6) will boast in vain of their wisdom and wealth; but those that know God, intelligently, that understand aright that he is the Lord, that have not only right apprehensions concerning his nature, and attributes, and relations to man, but receive and retain the impressions of them, may glory in this it will be their rejoicing in the day of evil. We may glory in this, that, wherever we are, we have an acquaintance with an interest in a God that exercises lovingkindness, and judgment, and righteousness in the earth, that is not only just to all his creatures and will do no wrong to any of them, but kind to all his children and will protect them and provide for them. 

For in these things I delight. God delights to show kindness and to execute judgment himself, and is pleased with those who herein are followers of him as dear children. Those that have such knowledge of the glory of God as to be changed into the same image, and to partake of his holiness, find it to be their perfection and glory; and the God they thus faithfully conform to they may cheerfully confide in, in their greatest straits. But the prophet intimates that the generality of this people took no care about this. Their wisdom, and might, and riches, were their joy and hope, which would end in grief and despair. But those few among them that had the knowledge of God might please themselves with it, and boast themselves of it; it would stand them in better stead than thousands of gold and silver. ~ Matthew Henry

'that he understandeth and knoweth me'; or, "in understanding and knowing me" (g); or, "he understanding and knowing me"; for this clause is descriptive of the person that is to glory in the Lord, and not of the thing in which he is to glory; for it is not even in the knowledge of God that men are to glory, but in the Lord himself; and he that understands himself as a creature dependent on God, and especially as a fallen sinful creature; and still more as one regenerated by the grace of God; he will never glory in himself, but in the Lord; and so, if he understands divine things, and the scheme of salvation by the grace of God, and not by the works of men; and if he knows the Lord, he will never glory in his own wisdom, nor in his own strength, nor in his riches, nor in his righteousness, nor in any man or creature, but in the Lord only; and particularly in what follows: 

'that I am the Lord, which exercise lovingkindness'; in such various instances; in election, redemption, effectual calling, the pardon of sin, justification, adoption, and eternal life; and towards persons so very undeserving of any favour; and to have an interest in this exceeds all things else; it is better than life, and all the enjoyments of it: 

judgment; exercising it on Christ, sin being laid, found, and condemned on him; and through Christ protecting and defending his people; and by Christ at the last day: 

and righteousness in the earth; wrought by Christ here on earth in our nature, and imputed to his people in their present state, whereby they have a right to eternal glory: 

for in these things I delight, saith the Lord; in showing mercy, grace, and favour, to miserable and undeserving men; in making his Son an offering for sin, and bruising him; and in his righteousness, whereby the law is magnified and made honourable. ~ John Gill


What are you trusting in this day? 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Are You Nullifying God's Word By Your Own Tradition?

My Brother!

MY BROTHER!

"The Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said: I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?"-- Gen_4:9.
"He that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness."-- 1Jo_2:11.

MAN'S FALL, whatever else it may have been, resulted in a complete change of the centre of his being. He was made in the likeness of God, and God's nature is absolutely selfless. God's will and purpose was the one rule of man's existence until the moment came when our first parents substituted the gratification of self for the will and law of God. From that hour the self-life became the dominant principle of mankind, and the world is what it is because the essence of life is the service of self.
We do not know what really caused the difference in the disposition of Cain and Abel. There are hints and suggestions, but the fundamental reason why these two brothers differed so is veiled in mystery, though the like of it still shows itself in our homes. St. John gives us the clue in his first Epistle, where he says that Cain slew his brother, because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.

God remonstrated with Cain and warned him that sin was lying at the door of his heart, waiting to enter. He exhorted him to watch and not allow it to intrude. When the dreadful deed was done, Cain found that all nature was in arms against him, and he became an outcast. The blood of Abel cried against Cain, for all sin cries to God, and He is the Avenger and Vindicator of wronged ones who in simplicity and faith have cast themselves upon Him. Thank God, also, there is a cry louder than that of Abel's, which pleads not for judgment but for mercy (Heb_12:24).

This world is full of envy, jealousy, strife, and murder, because men keep themselves instead of keeping their brothers; because our own instead of another's welfare revolves round the pivot of "I". The first Epistle of St. John is the antipode of this story in Genesis, and contains its corrective, for it is when we love God first and best that we love our brother, and as we open our whole soul to the tidal wave of God's love, we are lifted above the jagged rocks of the self-life into the broad full ocean of life which is life indeed (1Jo_3:14-17).

F.B. Meyer

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Out of the depths must we cry

“Praying in the Holy Ghost.”- Jude 1:20


Mark the grand characteristic of true prayer-”In the Holy Ghost.” The seed of acceptable devotion must come from heaven’s storehouse. Only the prayer which comes from God can go to God. We must shoot the Lord’s arrows back to him. That desire which he writes upon our heart will move his heart and bring down a blessing, but the desires of the flesh have no power with him.

Praying in the Holy Ghost is praying in fervency. Cold prayers ask the Lord not to hear them. Those who do not plead with fervency, plead not at all. As well speak of lukewarm fire as of lukewarm prayer-it is essential that it be red hot. It is praying perseveringly. The true suppliant gathers force as he proceeds, and grows more fervent when God delays to answer. The longer the gate is closed, the more vehemently does he use the knocker, and the longer the angel lingers the more resolved is he that he will never let him go without the blessing. Beautiful in God’s sight is tearful, agonizing, unconquerable importunity. It means praying humbly, for the Holy Spirit never puffs us up with pride. It is his office to convince of sin, and so to bow us down in contrition and brokenness of spirit. We shall never sing Gloria in excelsis except we pray to God De profundis: out of the depths must we cry, or we shall never behold glory in the highest. It is loving prayer. Prayer should be perfumed with love, saturated with love-love to our fellow saints, and love to Christ. Moreover, it must be a prayer full of faith. A man prevails only as he believes. The Holy Spirit is the author of faith, and strengthens it, so that we pray believing God’s promise. O that this blessed combination of excellent graces, priceless and sweet as the spices of the merchant, might be fragrant within us because the Holy Ghost is in our hearts!
 Most blessed Comforter, exert thy mighty power within us, helping our infirmities in prayer.    ~Spurgeon

Monday, October 7, 2013

Because iniquity shall abound...

A prophetic warning

C. H. Spurgeon

"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold." Matthew 24:12.

Christ had spoken to His disciples of earthquakes in divers places, famines and pestilences—but these were only the beginning of sorrows. Such things as these need not trouble Christians, for though the earth is removed and the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea, yet may the Believer be confident and his heart may abide at rest. Even when the Master told His disciples that they would be hated of all men for His name's sake, that needed not afflict them. He had taught them before, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell." They were thus braced up to meet the fiery trial. Earthquake, pestilence, war and persecution fail to disturb the serenity of Believers in Christ! But the evil spoken of in our text—this is the wound, this is the sorrow! Here is something to tremble at! "Because iniquity shall abound"—that is worse than pestilence— "the love of many shall grow cold"—that is worse than persecution! As all the water outside a vessel can do it no harm until it enters the vessel, itself, so outward persecutions cannot really injure the Church of God. But when the mischief oozes into the Church and the love of God's people grows cold—ah, then the boat is in sore distress! I fear that we are much in this condition at the present hour. May the Holy Spirit bless the alarming prophecy now before us to our awakening!
I. Notice, first, THE CAUSE OF THAT GRIEVOUS CHILL OF HEART which is here spoken of—"Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold." When love grows cold, it is a serious sign. Then the heart is affected—affected with a chill! Is not this the forerunner of death? What is the cause of it? According to our text, it is the abounding of iniquity!

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 We call ourselves a Christian country. Do not dare to speak so falsely! This is growing to be a heathen land—part of it bowing before images, another part howling out, "There is no God," and a third secretly reveling in unutterable filthi-ness.- Spurgeon

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The state of saints in glory

THE DOCTRINE OF REVELATION

Chapter 19
REVELATION IN GLORY
THE STATE OF SAINTS IN GLORY

We have shown that there is a real and radical difference between the death of a believer and that of an unbeliever, and having contemplated some of the accompaniments of a Christian’s departure from this world we are now ready to consider how he exists in the disembodied state. It is not to be wondered at that the unregenerate should be thoroughly befogged at this point, for they are so materialistic that they find it very difficult to form a definite concept of anything that is incorporeal and intangible. But those who, by God’s grace, enjoy a real communion with Him who is "Spirit" (John 4:24), ought not to flounder on this matter, for they have proved by experience how much more important is the soul than the body, and how infinitely more real and satisfying are spiritual objects than the perishing things of time and sense. So far from regarding his soul as a mysterious, nebulous and indefinable thing, the believer looks upon it as a living, intelligent, sentient being—his real self We should view a disembodied soul as one which has cast off its earthly clothing and is now appareled in a garment of light, or, to use the language of Scripture, "clothed in white raiment" (Rev. 3:5; 4:4).


At death the soul of the saint is freed from all the limitations which sin had imposed upon it, and its faculties are then not only purified, but elevated and enlarged. It will be like a chrysalis emerging from its cramped condition, or a bird liberated from a cage, now free to spread its wings and soar aloft. It is true the body is a component part of man’s complex being, yet we must endeavour to view it in a due proportion. Which is the more important: the tenant or his tenement, the individual or the tent in which he resides? It must be borne in mind that the soul derives not its powers from the body. That is clear from the Divine account of man’s creation: after his body had been formed, and as a separate act, God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). The mind is the noblest part of our being, and therefore it must find exercise and satisfaction in the disembodied state, otherwise we should not be "blessed" or happy (Rev. 14:13) immediately after death. "It is the mind maketh the man; it is our preferment above the beasts that God hath given us a mind to know Him" (Thomas Manton).


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