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, February 25, 2015

Only one saved...



Originally posted at Surphside...

"Another important lesson which we may learn from the crucifixion of Christ between the two thieves, and the fact that one received him and the other rejected him, is that of the sovereignty of God. The two malefactors were crucified together. They were equally near to Christ. Both of them saw and heard all that transpired during those fateful six hours. Both were notoriously wicked; both were suffering acutely; both were dying, and both urgently needed forgiveness. Yet one of them died in his sins, died as he had lived - hardened and impenitent; while the other repented of his wickedness, believed in Christ, called on him for mercy and went to Paradise. How can this be accounted for except by the sovereignty of God!"


~ AW Pink

He is...



HT - Aletheuo

Go, and sin no more

"Go, and sin no more." ~  John 8:11


See how Christ manifests His abhorrence of the sin, while He throws His shield of mercy around the sinner. The Lord does not justify the sinner's transgression, though He justifies the sinner's person. In the great matter of salvation, justification and sanctification, pardon and holiness, are essentially and inseparably united. When the Lord Jesus dismisses a sinner with a sense of acquittal in his conscience, it is ever accompanied with that most affecting of all exhortations, "Sin no more." And as he passes out from the presence of Jesus, pardoned, justified, saved, the Savior's tender, soul-subduing words from that moment seem to vibrate upon his ear every step of his onward way. "Go, admire, and publish abroad the glory of that grace that has done such great things for you. Go, and spread His fame, and with your latest breath dwell upon His name, who, when sin and Satan and conscience accused you, and would have consigned you to eternal woe- then appeared your Friend, your Advocate, and your Savior. Go, and when tempted to wound afresh the bosom that sheltered you, remember Me; from Gethsemane, from Calvary, and from the hallowed spot where I spoke to you, I condemn you not. Go, and sin no more."  ~ Octavius Winslow

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The immutable God

"For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed." Malachi 3:6.

It is no small attainment to be built up in the faithfulness of God. This forms a stable foundation of comfort for the believing soul. Mutability marks everything outside of God. Look into the Church, into the world, into our families, ourselves, what innumerable changes do we see on every hand! A week, one short day, what alterations does it produce! Yet, in the midst of it all, to repose calmly on the unchangeableness, the faithfulness of God. To know that no alterations of time, no earthly changes, affect His faithfulness to His people. And more than this- no changes in them- no unfaithfulness of theirs, causes the slightest change in God. Once a Father, ever a Father; once a Friend, ever a Friend. His providences may change, His heart cannot. He is a God of unchangeable love. The promise He has given, He will fulfil; the covenant He has made, He will observe; the word that has gone out of His mouth, He will not alter. "He cannot deny Himself." Peace then, tried believer! Are you passing now through the deep waters? Who kept you from sinking when wading through the last?
Who brought you through the last fire? Who supported you under the last cross? Who delivered you out of the last temptation? Was it not God, your covenant God- your faithful, unchangeable God? This God, then, is your God now, and your God forever and ever, and He will be your guide even unto death. ~ Octavius Winslow
 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Deepen my reverence!


"And Micaiah said, As the Lord lives, even what my God says, that will I speak." –2 Chron. 18:13



Micaiah was a God-fearing prophet. His fidelity to the Lord stands in striking and instructive contrast with the worldly policy of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, who joined affinity with Ahab, King of Israel--an alliance which proved, as all alliances of the holy with the unholy ever will, a source of discomfort and sorrow to the king. The good prophet Micaiah was charged by the Lord with an especial and solemn message to Ahab. It contained a prohibition, and forewarned a danger. The message was distasteful and annoying to the ungodly, self-willed monarch. Other prophets, anxious to conciliate Ahab, had prophesied good, urging the adoption of a course at once contradictory to the divine injunction, and ruinous to the monarch. The moment was a critical one. Micaiah, the true prophet of the Lord, urged to join the false prophets in speaking what the Lord had not spoken to Ahab, refused to disobey God, replying in the noble language which suggests our present reflection--"As the Lord lives, even what my God says, that will I speak."What to him was the favor of Ahab? What the earthly and temporary reward of a time-serving, man-pleasing policy, weighed with reverence for, and obedience to, the word and command of the living God? How replete with spiritual and solemn instruction are the words of the prophet? May the Holy Spirit open and apply them to our minds!
Am I a minister of Christ? Then, as the Lord lives, what my God says, that must I speak, nothing more and nothing less. In this point of light how tremendous the responsibility of my ministerial office! I am under the most solemn obligation to preach the Gospel, the whole Gospel, and nothing but the Gospel, as God has spoken it in His Word. I must not dilute, nor pervert, nor withhold it. I must not preach it with reservation, either to exalt myself or to please man. I must preach Christ's obedience as the sinner's free justification; Christ's death as the sinner's full pardon; Christ's example as the believer's rule of life--in a word, Christ must be the all and in all of my ministry--even what my God says, that will I speak. Woe is unto me, if I preach not the pure, simple, unadulterated Gospel of Christ! The blood of souls will God require at my hands!
Am I a disciple of Christ? Then I must believe and accept nothing but what the Lord my God has spoken. Guarded against human additions, man's teaching, and those who would seduce me from the simplicity of the truth as it is in Jesus, I must have a "Thus says the Lord" for what I believe and accept. To the law and to the testimony. By this divine rule I must weigh and examine, taking heed, not only how I hear, but also, what I hear. An inspired Apostle has told me that, "The anointing which I have received abides in me, and that I need not that any man should teach me;" let me therefore believe and speak only that which my God has spoken.
O Lord! deepen my reverence for Your word! Confirm my faith in its divinity, increase my experience of its power, and deepen my sense of its preciousness. May I stand in awe of its solemn revelations, walk in the holiness of its precepts, live more simply upon its promises, and increasingly find it sweeter than honey, yes, than the honeycomb, to my taste. As the Lord lives, even what my Lord says, that will I believe, that will I accept, and that will I speak. In all my trials, sorrows, and needs, may Your Word be my comfort and support. May it sweeten the bitter waters of affliction, pencil the rainbow of hope upon the dark clouds of my pilgrimage; and, when I die, may its gracious invitations and precious promises bring Jesus near to my soul.
"How well Your blessed truths agree!
How wise and holy Your commands!
Your promises, how sweet they be!
How firm our hope and comfort stands!
"Should all the forms that men devise
Assault my faith with treacherous art,
I'd call them vanity and lies,
And bind the Gospel to my heart."

Octavius Winslow 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Christ's presence

Christ's PRESENCE

Chapter 2
Octavius Winslow, 'Christ is ever with you'

"Surely, I am with you always — even unto the end of the world!" Matthew 28:20
But it is the spiritual presence of Christ thus promised and pledged to His people: "Surely, I am with you always." This promise of Jesus, as precious as it is marvelous, is predicated upon His essential Deity. Were He, as some represent, only human and not absolutely divine — what confidence could we have in this promise? What comfort would it impart, what hope would it inspire, whatprotection would it afford? Where is the created being, be he man or angel, who could in truth speak in language so lofty and sublime as this? "Surely, I am with you always — even to the end of the world!" Would it not be the utterance of the boldest blasphemy in him thus to speak, and would it not be the truest delusion in us thus to believe?
But because our Lord Jesus was God, He spoke with authority, Godlike and divine. "I am with you always!" Oh, sublime thought! there is not a world, a being, a spot in the universe, however remote, insignificant, or obscure — there beams not a star, there flames not a sun, there breathes not a spirit, there exists not an empire — where Christ's government does not rule, Christ's power is not felt, Christ's glory is not displayed. Could the believer take the wings of the dawn, and fly to the most distant planet, or touch the utmost limit of space — there the smile of Christ's love would illumine him, the accents of Christ's voice would cheer him, the atmosphere of Christ's presence would encircle him, the power of Christ's omnipotence would uphold him — he would feel the right hand of Christ gently laid upon his spirit; and in the solemn stillness and fathomless depth of that profound solitude, he would exclaim, "you are near, O Lord!"
We repeat the inquiry for the purpose of pursuing it more fully: Whose presence is thus promised and pledged? It is the presence ofChrist! The Christ who is God. "Immanuel, God with us." The Christ who made all worlds, created all beings, governs all empires, controls all events. The Christ who replenishes earth with beauty, heaven with glory, eternity with song. The Christ before whom angels and archangels, principalities and powers bend, and at whose name every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. The Christ whose glory is divine, whose beauty is peerless, whose wealth is boundless, whose love is as infinite as His being. The Christ who took your human nature — that same infirm, suffering nature which now wearily you wear — and in that nature bore and put away forever your sins, uplifted and forever removed your curse, paid all your great debt to Divine justice, sorrowed for you in the garden, suffered and expired in your stead on the cross, rose from the grave, irradiating it with the hope of the "first resurrection," ascended up to heaven, lives and intercedes for you, representing your person and presenting your prayers and praises with ineffable acceptance and delight to His Father and your Father, to His God and your God.
The Christ who loves you with an affection whose depth no line can sound, whose constancy no change can chill, whose care of, whose sympathy for, whose watchfulness over you — is the warmest, tenderest love that ever pulsated in a human breast. The Christ who acknowledges Himself your Brother, has proved Himself your Friend, and who assures you that as the head is in union with the body, and the vine is one with the branch — is ever with, ever one with, ever close to you in an invisible, yet real and conscious presence; from which neither life with all its changes, nor death with all its solemnities, shall be able to sever you! Such, child of God, is the Being who breathes these gentle, assuring words into your ear, "I am with you always!"
O honored saint of God! You have . . .
the Divinest in the universe to love you,
the Mightiest in the universe to shield you,
the Loveliest in the universe to delight you,
the Dearest in the universe to soothe, cheer, and gladden you!
O favored disciple of Jesus — you have such a one ever at your side! Tell me, if, of all whom you have ever loved, or all who have loved you — the one who was given to your youth to love you more tenderly than all; yes, the being who loved you yet more deeply, tenderly, and unchangeably still — who loved you as a mother only could — is there one of all these whose presence ever with you, you would prefer to Christ's love?
The question grieves you, you shrink from the comparison, and with uplifted eye, moistened with tears, yet beaming with affection — you exclaim, from the profoundest depths of your soul, "Whom have I in heaven but You? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside You!"
But we must remind you, before we proceed further, that the presence of Christ with His people involves equally the presence of theFirst and Third Persons of the ever-blessed and glorious Trinity. It is a triple staff we place in your hand, in grasping which, your faith leans upon infinity in its threefold manifestation. We can have nothing to do truly, spiritually, and savingly with one Person of the Godhead — without an equal faith in, and love to, the others. When Christ pledges His presence with you, He unites with it the Fatherhood of God, its boundless sources of love, wisdom, and strength.
Christ came to make known the Father's mind, to reveal the Father's love, to bring home to heaven the Father's family, predestined to the adoption of children. "No man knows the Father — but he to whom the Son will reveal him." "He who has seen Me — has seen the Father." That great God, that eternal Father, who thus spoke to His Church, speaks equally to you: "Fear not, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand!" "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!"
Oh, seek to realize this precious truth in all your journeying: the presence of Christ — is the assurance that your Heavenly Father is with you. Christ's voice speaking to you in love — is the echo of the Father's voice. Christ's smile of delight beaming upon you — is the brightness of the Father's smile. Christ's precious promises sustaining and soothing you — are the "exceeding great and precious promises" of God, which are "all yes and amen in Christ Jesus, unto the glory of God the Father."
It is a truth, equally as revealed and equally as precious, that the presence of Christ with His people involves also the presence of theHoly Spirit. Oh that we had a more spiritual, vivid, grateful apprehension of the Divinity, personality, and gracious work of the Spirit — our Spiritual Quickener, our Divine Comforter, our Indwelling Sanctifier, our Infallible Teacher. "I believe in the Holy Spirit," is one of the vital articles of our Creed. Is it equally the deep, experimental, sanctifying sentiment of our heart? Do I firmly, practically believe in the Divine personality of the Holy Spirit, in His official relation to my salvation, in His absolute necessity in regeneration, in His tender, changeless love as my Comforter, in His indispensable necessity as my Teacher, and in His gracious, sanctifying power, as ever abiding with, and dwelling in me? Such is the magnitude and extent of the promise of Christ, "I am with you!" We repeat, it involves the love of the Father who adopted you, the grace of the Son who died for you, the power of the Spirit who quickened you, the Triune-Jehovah!

Before I refer to the circumstances in which you may anticipate a full realization of this precious promise, let me remind you of the offices of Christ it involves, the materials of this triple Staff which Jesus places in your hand.

Hear my cry O God!




Psalm 61:1-4 (NKJV)
1 Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. 
2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. 
4 I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

You have searched me and known me





Psalm 139:1-18 (NKJV)
1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The promise of promises!

Octavius Winslow, 1863

Chapter 1. The FAREWELLS

"Surely, I am with you always — even unto the end of the world!" Matthew 28:20
There were two farewells of our Lord on earth, and they formed two of the most touching and instructive epochs of His history. As the sun, setting amid a flood of liquid gold, invests the whole heavens with variegated tints of beauty long after the majestic orb has run its race, so there clustered around the two earthly sunsets of Christ — the most divine assurances, the most precious promises, the most brilliant hopes that ever shed their light and glory upon the pathway of the Christian Church; and which will linger upon its spiritual sky in deathless splendor until He comes again in His glory to set no more forever.
The first farewell of Christ, was when He parted from His disciples on His return to heaven. To them, it was a time of inexpressible grief. To part with Christ was to part with their all. Yet He would not leave them comfortless; nor will He, beloved, ever so leave you. Blended with His departure was the most precious promise and the most costly gift Heaven could bestow or the Church receive — the promise and gift of the Holy Spirit, as the Comforter, Teacher, and Indweller of the Church: "If I depart — I will send the Comforter."What an hour of blessing was this! What a glorious setting of the Sun of righteousness! What spiritual benedictions, what resplendent hopes gather, like a glowing halo, around the sinking of this Divine Orb!
And still the glow lingers. And still the setting rays tinge with unfading light and glory, the gloomy clouds which often drape in woe earth's pilgrimage. We have abiding with, and dwelling in, us the Holy Spirit the Comforter, sent of Christ — to lead us to Christ, totestify of Christ, to assimilate us to Christ, and to sanctify us to dwell with Christ forever! Oh, could the personal departure of our Lord have been blessed and graced with an assurance more transcendently great, precious, and glorious than this?
Our Lord's second farewell was when He closed the sacred canon of Scripture, fencing it with the most solemn warning, and sealing it with the most illustrious promise. And, as the threatening of woe to those who should either take from, or add to, the perfect Word of God, resounded solemnly on the ear, it was succeeded and softened by words which will live and linger in the sweetest cadence until the promise they contain shall be fulfilled: "Behold, I come quickly!"
Then all that is dark in providence and grace, shall be lucid; and all that is discrepant, shall be harmonized; the bliss of the saints will be complete, the mystery of God will be finished, and God will be all in all. O believer in Jesus! long for that day that shall bring the Beloved of your soul arrayed in all His Father's and His own glory. He will come quickly, suddenly, unexpectedly — His advent surprising both the Church and the world — the one slumbering in the light, and the other in the dark. But let us who are of the day be sober, watchful, hastening unto His coming, prepared as a bride for her husband — loving and desiring Him with a single, ardent, wakeful affection. "Come, Lord, Jesus, come quickly!"
But it was in connection with His first farewell that Christ spoke the memorable and precious words, "Surely, I am with you always!"It is not to a future — but to an ever-present Christ with His saints, that these pages will direct your thoughts.
What the Lord has laid up for us, by what road He will lead us, what lessons He will teach us, by what discipline of trial He will mature us for present service and prepare us for future rest — we will not be too curious to search out. It is enough, that it is all in the covenant, and in His hands who administers the covenant.
And whatever new lights and shadows may be penciled upon life's picture, though our song is of both mercy and of judgment — we will patiently wait and calmly trust its gradual and timely unfolding, assured that all our trials will be shrouded blessings, and all those blessings will be bright stepping-stones, aiding our progress in the divine life, our nearness to God, and our fitness for heaven.
Embarking upon a new stage of your pilgrimage, I propose placing the pilgrim's true Staff in your hands, upon which, if you lean in childlike faith, you will be firmly upheld, safely led, securely kept, divinely strengthened, cheered, and comforted every step of your journey. It was left by our Lord for the use of His whole Church when He exchanged the scene of His humiliation, for the throne of His glory. He Himself placed it in the hands of His apostles, who, now that their pilgrimage is closed, have transmitted it to us. In the name of Christ, I now put this divine Staff in your hand, and bid you firmly grasp it and set out anew for heaven. "Surely, I am with you always — even unto the end of the world!"
Let me for a moment concentrate your thoughts upon Him whose promise is thus pledged: "I am with you." Were you assured of the personal presence, ever attending, ever clinging, ever abiding — of a beloved friend selected from a wide and choice circle; and were that one friend the most wise, the most powerful, the most true, the most loving, confiding, and sympathizing — would you not be content to dwell with him through all your future lot — to make him the confidant of your bosom, the partaker of your every joy, the sharer of your every sorrow?
That Friend is Christ! He occupies the preeminent position of being ever near to His people! Everywhere, and at the same moment — His presence is . . .
the atmosphere that enfolds them,
the shield that encircles them,
the sun that guides and cheers their path to the celestial city, where His glorified presence fills . . .
each soul with ineffable happiness,
heaven with its sweetest song, and
eternity with its transcendent splendor!
When Jesus left our earth, He entwined the personal interests of His people around His heart, and bore them with Him to heaven; leaving the gracious promise, that, though personally and visibly withdrawn from the scene of their journeyings, trials, and conflicts — His spiritual presence should ever and everywhere encircle them, until like Himself, they should exchange earth for heaven.
"Lo! Mark! Behold! the Incarnate God, I who opened my bleeding heart for your redemption on Calvary, I who am your dearest Friend, your Elder Brother — I am with you always, in all places, and at all times, unto the end of the world!"
Saint of God! This is the promise of promises, the richest pearl of all the promises, exceeding in its mightiness and preciousness; while it is the substance, sweetness, and pledge of all the rest! Christ is ever with you, and were this the one and only assurance of the Word of God upon which He had caused your soul to hope, you may gratefully and truthfully exclaim, "Lord! it is enough! with this Staff I will travel onward; and if through fire and through water, You are leading me. Upheld by Your power, and soothed by Your sympathy — I will press forward until You shall bring me into a wealthy place!"
Christ's presence with His people was once, though not now, physical. He was bodily in the midst of His Church. Oh, it is a marvelous truth, the belief of which imparts a conviction of verity to the whole Gospel, that, eighteen hundred years ago, the incarnate God actually tabernacled upon this earth, trod its soil, sailed upon its lakes, drank of its springs, admired its flowers, bedewed it with tears, and consecrated it with blood. That babe of Bethlehem smiling in its mother's arms — that carpenter of Nazareth shoving the plane and plying the saw — that young man, pale and thoughtful, standing at Pilate's bar — that victim of woe impaled upon the central cross — listen, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth — was "the fullness of the Godhead bodily!"
It is written by the pen of the Holy Spirit, and let no profane hand dare attempt its erasure, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." Yes! your flesh, O believer! laden with infirmity, sorrow, and woe. And He wears it still in a spiritual and glorified form, and is with you in suffering and weakness and infirmity — ever sympathizing, ever sustaining. Try your spirit, whether it be Christ-taught, Christ-loving, Christ-trustful — by its firm, realizing faith in this cardinal and precious truth, for, "every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God."
In addition to this, there is Christ's representative presence with His people in the embassy, fullness, and preaching of the Gospel. The Gospel is glad tidings of Christ, it is the message of His grace, the proclamation of His love to lost sinners. The Gospel is Christ first, Christ last, Christ midst, Christ without end.
Christ is the prophet of the Gospel — teaching His people His doctrines.
Christ is the priest of the Gospel — bearing and making atonement for their sins.
Christ is the king of the Gospel — reigning in the hearts of loyal and loving disciples.

Thus, Christ is present wherever and whenever the good tidings of that Gospel are preached, to "bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, to give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, to comfort all that mourn." Remember, O you neglectful, unbelieving hearer of Christ's Gospel, that it is not the minister you slight nor the message you scorn — it is Christ Himself. "We beseech you In Christ's stead" — as though Christ Himself were pleading with tears and blood, "be reconciled to God." O blessed, yet solemn thought, that, whenever my ears are saluted with the joyful sound, infinitely sweeter than angels' chimes — it is Christ's voice I hear, it is Christ's presence I feel, it is Christ's love that thrills and warms my soul, it is Christ's invitation to my weary spirit, Christ's words of sympathy to my sorrowful heart, Christ's promises of grace and strength and hope to my depressed and desponding mind. Oh, welcome, you divine and precious Gospel! bringing with you Christ's presence with a realizing power so personal, so conscious, and so soothing to the soul. We can bid farewell to things most near and dear to us, for the sake of Christ.

Vainglory

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  -  Philippians 2:3

The idea seems to be that of mere self-esteem; a mere desire to honor ourselves, to attract attention, to win praise, to make ourselves uppermost, or foremost, or the main object. The command here solemnly forbids our doing anything with such an aim - no matter whether it be in intellectual attainments, in physical strength, in skill in music, in eloquence or song, in dress, furniture, or religion. Self is not to be foremost; selfishness is not to be the motive. Probably there is no command of the Bible which would have a wider sweep than this, or would touch on more points of human conduct, it fairly applied. Who is there who passes a single day without, in some respect, desiring to display himself? What minister of the gospel preaches, who never has any wish to exhibit his talents, eloquence, or learning? How few make a gesture, but with some wish to display the grace or power with which it is done! Who, in conversation, is always free from a desire to show his wit, or his power in argumentation, or his skill in repartee? Who plays at the piano without the desire of commendation? Who thunders in the senate, or goes to the field of battle; who builds a house, or purchases an article of apparel; who writes a book, or performs a deed of benevolence, altogether uninfluenced by this desire? If all could be taken out of human conduct which is performed merely from “strife,” or from “vain-glory,” how small a portion would be left!  -   Albert Barnes
But in lowliness of mind - Modesty, or humility. The word used here is the same which is rendered “humility” in Act_20:19; Col_2:18, Col_2:23; 1Pe_5:5; humbleness, in Col_3:12; and lowliness, in Eph_4:2; Phi_2:3. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It here means humility, and it stands opposed to that pride or self-valuation which would lead us to strive for the ascendancy, or which acts from a wish for flattery, or praise. The best and the only true correction of these faults is humility. This virtue consists in estimating ourselves according to truth. It is a willingness to take the place which we ought to take in the sight of God and man; and, having the low estimate of our own importance and character which the truth about our insignificance as creatures and vileness as sinners would produce, it will lead us to a willingness to perform lowly and humble offices that we may benefit others. -  Albert Barnes
We must esteem others in lowliness of mind better than ourselves, be severe upon our own faults and charitable in our judgments of others, be quick in observing our own defects and infirmities, but ready to overlook and make favourable allowances for the defects of others. We must esteem the good which is in others above that which is in ourselves; for we best know our own unworthiness and imperfections. - Matthew Henry

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Unto you I lift up my eyes



Psalm 123 (NKJV)
A Song of Ascents
1 Unto You I lift up my eyes,
O You who dwell in the heavens.
2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the LORD our God,
Until He has mercy on us.
3 Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us!
For we are exceedingly filled with contempt.
(Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us!)
4 Our soul is exceedingly filled
With the scorn of those who are at ease,
With the contempt of the proud.
(Have mercy on us, O LORD)

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty



Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
The King of creation
O my soul, praise Him
For He is thy health and salvation
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near
Join me in glad adoration

Praise to the Lord
Who o'er all things so wonderfully reigneth
Shelters thee under His wings
Yea, so gladly sustaineth
Hast thou not seen how thy glories e'er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him
All that hath life and breath
Come now with praises before Him
Let the 'amen' sound from His people again
Gladly for aye we adore Him

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Days of prosperity, days of adversity

This is a biblical message from Pastor Owen Alford...

Passive Sanctification?

By J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)
I ask whether it is wise to speak of faith as the one thing needful, and the only thing required, as many seem to do nowadays in handling the doctrine of sanctification. Is it wise to proclaim in so bold, naked, and unqualified a way as many do that the holiness of converted people is by faith only, and not at all by personal exertion? Is it according to the proportion of God’s Word? I doubt it.

That faith in Christ is the root of all holiness; that the first step towards a holy life is to believe on Christ; that until we believe we have not a jot of holiness; that union with Christ by faith is the secret of both beginning to be holy and continuing holy; that the life that we live in the flesh, we must live by faith in the Son of God; that faith purifies the heart; that faith is the victory which overcomes the world; that by faith the elders obtained a good report—all these are truths which no well instructed Christian will ever think of denying. But surely the Scriptures teach us that in following holiness the true Christian needs personal exertion and work as well as faith. The very same apostle who says in one place, “the life that I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,’ says in another place, “I Fight,” “I run,” “I keep under my body”; and in other places, “let us cleanse ourselves,” “Let us labor,” “Let us lay aside every weight.”


HT- Christ Bible Church

Homosexuality: A Biblical Response (Part II)

Understanding the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is also vital to understanding God’s disposition toward the sin of sexual immorality in general and homosexuality in particular. The LORD is often accused as being capricious in the Old Testament and filled with uncontrolled anger. The accounts of Sodom and Gomorrah, specifically as they relate to the Abrahamic Covenant, reveals that the LORD is just the opposite of what He is accused. Yes, He is a jealous God (Ex. 20:15; Ex. 34:14; Deut. 4:24). However, His jealousy is provoked by His righteousness and holiness. The context of Genesis chapters 18 and 19 reveals that Yahweh has set His sights on Sodom and Gomorrah. Their wickedness is not merely an afterthought. Instead, her sins are crying out for judgment. Impending judgment solicits Abraham’s plea for mercy. In Abraham’s dialogue with Yahweh, it is evident that if there are among the wicked, righteous persons then a stay of execution will be granted to Sodom and Gomorrah.

Continue reading here...

Friday, February 13, 2015

Quotes



HT- Christ Bible Church

The gospel poverty of spirit

Humility
by William Romaine
Observe O my soul what an honour God has put upon this grace: “Before honour is humility” (Prov. 15:33)! Whom God honours, He humbles first. He gives grace to the humble, because the humble give Him all the glory. The highest throne which He has upon earth is in the humblest heart. To it He vouchsafes His constant presence and makes the greatest communications of His love: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa. 57:15). O what an honour is here promised to the humble! The greatest they can have on this side of Heaven. God will dwell with them; and what a blessing! And His temple shall be in the humble heart. The high and holy One passes by what is in the highest esteem amongst men. He stains the pride of human greatness and goodness. He does not vouchsafe to set up His throne with the princes, nor to give His honour to the learned of the world. But He puts honour upon the contrite and humble. He condescends to visit them; yea, He delights to dwell with them, and in them.the Highest above all heavens in the lowest hearts. There He communicates His choicest love and richest favours. O my God! bestow upon me this grace, which in Thy sight is so precious. Humble me, that I may be revived with Thy presence, and refreshed daily with Thy love. Give me more humility, and fit me for nearer fellowship with Thee. Bring down every high thought, and let me find it true, that You resisteth the proud, but giveth more grace unto the humble.Thus the true poverty of spirit is needful, not only to bring the sinner to Christ, but also to preserve the believer in communion with Him; for so long as he walks by faith, every thing will tend to promote this communion. In the daily sense of his wants, he will go to his bountiful Saviour for a supply. In the feeling of his misery, He will depend on his loving Saviour for relief; whereby he will be led to more intercourse with Him. What he finds wrong in himself will bring him to live more by faith, and as faith increases, so will his delight in God. He will grow more sensible of his weakness, and that will make him stronger in the Lord. He will know more of his own heart, which will humble him, and keep him dependent on the grace of Jesus. He will see reason not to lean to his own understanding, but ever to pray, Lord guide me by Thy good Spirit. Viewing spots and blemishes in his best doings, his triumph will be, “I will make mention of Thy righteousness, Lord Jesus, even of Thine only” (Psa. 71:16). Thus every thing will humble him, and lead him to live more by faith: by which means he will get faster hold of Christ, live in nearer fellowship, and be receiving out of his fullness “grace for grace”.two graces at once: the blessings needed and thankfulness for them. Hereby a sweet intercourse will be kept open.
To the humble, God delights to give grace, and they delight to return Him His glory. The more He gives, the more glory would they gladly return. And He does give more, and He receives it back again in thanks and praise. Blessed grace! by which this holy fellowship is maintained. Happy humility! by which the heart, being emptied of self, is made capable of receiving the fullness which is of God. Then is the promise fulfilled, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).it is theirs now: not only in title, but also in possession, for the kingdom of God is within them and they are partakers at present of its blessings and glories as truly, though not so perfectly, as they will be in Heaven. Meditate, O my soul, upon this Divine grace. Thou seest the necessity of it: O pray earnestly for it, and for more of it. The great idol self must be dethroned where God reigns. Thou canst not walk with Him unless thou art humble in heart. And if thou hast been walking with Him, thou wilt be taught to stop, whenever thou beginnest to look at self with admiration. O beg of the Lord, then, to give thee the true Gospel poverty of spirit. It is to be in constant practice, and used for everything; for thou seest how it keeps up fellowship with God, who makes the greatest communications of Himself to the humblest. And the reason is plain; because they return Him all His glory. If therefore thou wouldest have much grace in exercise, pray for much humility. O my God! whatever Thou givest, give humility with it, that I may not seek self in it, but Thine honour, nor lay it out upon myself, but to Thy glory. Meek and lowly Jesus, make me like Thyself; keep me learning of Thee, till I am perfectly like Thee. I would come always poor to Thee, to receive of Thy riches, and to receive with them an humble heart to praise Thee for them. O let Thy glory be mine end and aim. Let me and mine be Thine: I humbled, Thou exalted. Let Thy graces and gifts bring Thee in a constant revenue of praise. And may Thine increasing goodness be joined with a constant increase of humility, that my heart and all within me may bless and praise Thy holy name, today and forever. Amen.
And let this appear in my whole behaviour to others. This is another blessed fruit of humility: it has an influence over the believer’s intercourse with mankind, and renders his tempers and manners loving and amiable. Pride was not made for man, and yet it is in all men, and is the chief parent of human woe. It sets people above their place, and makes them think they could support the greatest fortunes, and are able to manage the most difficult affairs. Others, as proud as they, deny them their fancied superiority. Hence come wars and fightings, public and private. The sweet grace of humility is sent from Heaven to relieve those distresses; for into whatsoever bosom it enters, it renders men kind to one another, tender-hearted, ready to every good word and work. Thus runs the Divine exhortation, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Rom. 12:10). This is heart-humility, which the Holy Spirit requires, and which He bestows. He brings His disciples into humble subjection to God, then to one another; which has the most happy effects upon public, social, and private happiness. But would these flourish, if all men were of a meek and quiet spirit! But there is none of this among the unconverted; and, alas, how little is there among believers! How often are they found in the proud spirit of the world! acting contrary to the lowly spirit of Jesus. And yet it is not for want of precepts, nor for want of promised help; but it is because they are not walking by faith, as becometh the Gospel, nor out of love to God’s glory studying to recommend humility by their practice.
Observe, O my soul, the remedy provided of God for the subduing of all selfish tempers, and pray that it may be effectual in thy life and conversation. Do you think that the Scripture, saith in vain, “The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:5, 6). This Scripture cannot speak in vain; for fallen man is certainly such as he is here described. The spirit that dwelleth in him, in his own nature, lusteth to envy.a passion made up of pride and discontent, offended with God, and displeased with the blessings which He bestows upon men. It is an enemy to the love both of God and man, and transgresses the Law of both tables. Pride brought it into Heaven, and the fallen angels brought it into this world. Ever since it entered by sin, natural corruption breaks out very much in envy. But God giveth more grace to conquer this passion, than sinful nature has to put it forth. He not only gives grace to pardon it, but also more grace to subdue it; so that envy loses its dominion in the reign of grace. We cannot subdue it, any more than we can pardon envy, pride, and such passions; but grace is almighty. What ever so much, use ever so much, God has still more for you. And He gives more, when the creature is humbled enough to take it out of the hands of His mercy. Thus he overcomes envy; “for He resisteth the proud”.He is at open war with them, and they with Him.
Pride lifts up the creature against the Creator, and puts it upon seeking happiness out of God; this is resisting His sovereignty, attacking His providence, and opposing His Law. He is concerned to pull such rebels down, and He says their pride goeth before destruction. But “He giveth grace unto the humble”: He gives them grace to humble them, and being emptied, He delights to fill them; for then they are disposed to receive His grace and to value it. Whatever God gives, the humble give it back again to Him. They have the blessing, He has the praise: which is the just tribute due to Him for His gifts. And He gives more grace where He can get more glory. Thus He subdues self-conceit, with its various proud workings. And as grace reigns over them, humility prevails; which has a friendly aspect towards mankind. It keeps brotherly love in the heart, and tends mightily to the practice of every social virtue. Humility suffereth long and is kind; humility envieth not; humility vaunteth not itself; is not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemly; seeketh not her own; is not easily provoked; thinketh no evil.

In the Potter's house

by Arthur W. Pink
“The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear My words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it” (Jer. 18:1-4). This is a passage which has presented difficulty to not a few, or probably it would be more correct to say that (in most cases at least) it has been made to present difficulty. Enemies of the Truth have grievously “wrested” these verses and even the interpretations of its friends have not always succeeded in removing the mists which have beclouded the minds of those influenced by error. Because of this and also as we hope to write upon some later portions in this chapter, a comment or two on its opening verses may not prove unacceptable.Arminians have appealed to this passage in support of their horrible and God-dishonouring tenet that the Creator may be thwarted by the creature, that puny man is able to bring to nought the designs of the Most High. If such a dreadful calamity were possible, then, to be consistent, they should carry such a premise to its logical conclusion, and avow
The universe He fain would save,
But longs for what He cannot have!
We therefore worship, praise and laud,
A disappointed, helpless God!”
Such a blasphemous caricature of Deity is repugnant and repellent to the last degree unto every renewed heart, yet is it one which finds more or less acceptance today in professedly “Christian” quarters. The natives of dark Africa manufacture idols with their hands but the heathen in Christ­endom fashion a “God” out of their Satan-blinded minds.
A disappointed and defeated God! What a concept! What a contradiction in terms! How can He be the great Supreme if man is capable of check-mating Him? How can He be the Almighty if lacking in ability to carry out His will? Who would render homage unto One who is thwarted by His creatures? How vastly different is the God of Holy Writ, who has but to speak and it is done—who commands and it stands fast (Psa. 33:9)!
Jehovah is no pasteboard Monarch. No, “our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psa. 115:3). “Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did He in Heaven and in the earth, in the seas and all deep places” (Psa 135:6). “This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” (Isa. 14:26, 27). “I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand and I will do all My pleasure” (Isa. 46:9, 10).
But are there not other passages which speak of God in quite another strain? Suppose such be the case, then what? Why, would these not oblige us to modify our conception of the absoluteness of God’s supremacy as predicated in the verses cited above? Certainly not. The Holy Scriptures are not a “nose of wax” (as Papists have wickedly affirmed) which man may twist as he pleases. They are the inspired Word of God, without flaw or contradiction; yet we need wisdom from the Holy Spirit if we are to interpret them aright. “God is Spirit” (John 4:24), incorporeal, and therefore “invisible” (Col. 1:15), “whom no man hath seen nor can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). Must we, forsooth, modify this representation of His ineffable Being because we read of His “eyes” (2 Chron. 16:9), His “hands” (Psa. 95:5) and “feet” (Exo. 24:10)? “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Psa. 121:4): is that negated by the statement, “Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep” (Psa. 78:65), or because He represents Himself as “rising up early” (Jer. 7:13)?
When Scripture affirms that God’s “dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand” (Dan. 4:34,35), are we obliged to place limitations upon such supremacy when we hear Him saying elsewhere, “I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof” (Prov. 1:24, 25)? Of course not.
Then how are we to avoid such an expediency? By distinguishing between things that differ: by discriminating between God’s secret will and His revealed will, between His eternal decree and the rule which He has given us to walk by. The latter passage speaks of men scorning the Word of God, which it is their responsibility to obey. The former passage affirms the sovereign supremacy of God over all, whose eternal purpose is accomplished in and by men, not because of their willing compliance but in spite of their enmity and rebellion—as was the case with Pharaoh.
Settle it in your mind once and for all, my reader, that the true and living God is King of kings and Lord of lords, the Almighty, whom neither man nor devil can defeat or successfully resist—for such is the plain and positive teaching of His word. The churches may no longer proclaim such a God. The vast majority of those who still pose as His people may no longer believe in such an One, but that alters not the fact that He is so: “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4). Settle it in your mind likewise that Holy Writ cannot contradict itself, and therefore if the meaning of some passages are not clear to you, humbly look to their Author to enlighten you—for the obscurity is in your mind and not in His Word.
When Christ affirmed, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30), He spake according to His absolute Deity. But when He declared, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28), He spake as the God-man Mediator. The perfect accord of the two passages is evident when we perceive the dual relationship of Christ to the Father: as the Son and as God-man. In like manner we must learn to distinguish between God speaking as absolute sovereign and as the Enforcer of human responsibility—as the One who deals with men according to their condition.
Now in the verses at the beginning of this article there is not even an apparent difficulty: men must read into it what is not there before they encounter a stumbling stone. The Lord does not affirm therein that He is represented by “the potter” (vv. 5-10 are considered in our next), and if we suppose He is, then we shall be rightly confounded. Jeremiah was sent to a “potter’s house” that he might receive instruction from what he saw. While there he witnessed a vessel of clay “marred” in the hand of the potter. Most assuredly that cannot picture man’s fall, for his Creator pronounced him “very good” when he left His hands. Nor can it picture the experience of any since the Fall, for the hand of God is the place of safety and not of injury. Further, we are told this potter “made it (the marred vessel) again another vessel.” But God never mends what man has marred, but displaces with something altogether new: the old covenant was set aside for the New (Heb. 8:8), the old creation for a New (2 Cor. 5:17), the present Heaven and earth by a New (Isa. 65:17). Rather is the “as seemed good to the potter to make it” the particular similitude fastened upon (v. 6).
“Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in Mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in My sight, that it obey not My voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them” (Jer. 18:5-10).
A superficial reading of those verses may suggest they contain that which supports the Arminian’s conception of God, yet a more careful pondering should show there is nothing whatever in them which militates against the “immutability of His counsel” (Heb. 6:17). The Lord does not here say to Israel “ye have become marred in My hand”—ye have defeated My purpose concerning you,” nor does He declare, “I will repair and make another vessel of you”—revise My intention and try again. Rather does He affirm His sovereignty and supremacy over them: “as the clay is in the potter’s hand so are ye in Mine hand.” Again, it is to be carefully noted that God is not here speaking of the spiritual and eternal destiny of individuals, but of the earthly and temporal fortunes and misfortunes of kingdoms (Jer. 18:7) In this passage the Most High is viewed as the Governor of the nations, as the Dispenser or Withholder of eternal blessings, and not as the Predestinator of His Church to everlasting glory. God deals with kingdoms on a very different footing from what He does His dear children, and unless that be clearly recognized we shall be without the master-key which opens scores of passages
The favour which the Lord shows unto a nation is an altogether different thing from the love which He bears unto His elect, and he who is blind to such a distinction is utterly unqualified to expound Holy Writ. God’s favour unto a nation is merely the outward dispensing of good things, which favour is forfeited when they turn their backs upon Him. But His love for the elect is an eternal and unchanging purpose of grace which effectually works in them, ceasing not to do them good and securing their everlasting felicity with regard to the former. He may pluck up and pull down what His providence has planted and set up, but to the elect, His assurance is, “He which hath begun a good work in you will finish it” (Phil. 1:6). From the former He may withdraw what He has bestowed, but to the latter, “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29). Nor do the variations of the Divine dispensations with a kingdom argue any fickleness in His character, rather do they demonstrate His stability—as long as a nation’s ways please Him He gives proof of His approbation. When displeasing He evidences His disapprobation.
God may act in mercy with a nation today and in wrath tomorrow without the least “shadow of turning” or change of character, and so far from that being any alteration of His eternal decree it is through these multifarious dispensations it is accomplished, for He foreordained all that comes to pass. There is therefore no proportion whatever between the fluctuations of His temporal bestowments on a kingdom and the peculiar love and special grace of the Everlasting Covenant wherein God assures His saints of their eternal security on the ground of His immutability. The decrees of God, as to their execution are suspended on no condition in man. If they were, it would destroy alike His wisdom, independence and fidelity. On the other hand, when He declares, “them that honour Me, I will honour, and them that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Sam. 2:30), God is enunciating a moral law according to which He governs the race. His decrees are His irresistible determinations. His laws reveal the duty of men and the issues thereof according to their response.
The Lord approves of obedience and righteousness wherever it is found and rewards the same with temporal blessings without the least saving grace. Conversely, He disapproves of sin and unrighteousness and sooner or later visits His anger upon them in this world. But even when the dark clouds of His judgments hang over a kingdom, calamity may be averted by national humiliation before God and reformation of conduct. But that no more implies fickleness in the Divine character that it denies His foreknowledge. The history of God’s judgments on Egypt is a case in point: each time her monarch humbled himself in any measure, the Divine rod was lifted. Nevertheless, God had foreordained the destruction of Pharaoh and suited His dispensations in great variety and with many changes to bring it about. He plagued and freed him, freed and plagued him again, yet there was not the least alteration in God, all being so many effects of His power suited to the accomplishment of His unalterable purpose.
God’s governmental dealings make more or less evident to men the proportion there is between their conduct and His attitude toward them—the correspondence is such as to convey impressions of His goodness, justice and mercy. The character of God’s dominion is seen to be such that where righteousness and morality obtain He blesses “in basket and store,” but where wickedness is obstinately indulged in it inevitably entails a doom of evil. Yet if sin is forsaken that doom is avoided and a heritage of prosperity is entered into. But such alterations as these in the Divine administration, so far from making God to be capricious in His ways or unstable in the principles of His government, rather demonstrates that He is unalterably the same. It is because His procedure is marked by undeviating righteousness that He must change His dealings with men when their relation or attitude to Him involves a change. Consequently when God is said to “repent” it connotes no change in His purpose or mind, but only in the matter of His treating with men.
Jeremiah 18:7, 8 simply means that many of the judgments which God pronounces against kingdoms are not absolute declarations or infallible predictions of what is about to surely take place, but rather ethical intimations of His sore displeasure on account of sin and solemn threats of what must inevitably follow if there be no change for the better in those denounced. Whether or not the impending judgments become historical events is contingent upon their refusal to heed the warning. In like manner Jeremiah 18:9 has reference to no absolute promise of God: it is no unqualified declaration of what He would certainly do, but rather an intimation of His readiness to bless and prosper, accompanied by a warning that such blessing will be forfeited if obedience gives place to disobedience. God never signified in any promise of national blessing that the promise held good under all circumstances. See Deuteronomy 28:2 and 15! God ever presses upon men the fundamental distinction between sin and holiness. It was the fatal mistake of the nation of Israel to regard God’s promises to them as absolute, supposing the fulfillment was certain regardless of their degeneracy.
We must, then, distinguish sharply between God’s decrees and His denunciations, between His absolute purpose and His conditional promises, between His bestowment of spiritual gifts and temporal mercies, between the administration of the Covenant of Grace and the dispensations of His providence. We must distinguish between the ground on which Jehovah deals with His Church and with a nation, for the former is in Christ and the latter out of Christ. There was a radical and vital difference between Christ shedding tears over Jerusalem because the Jews stubbornly refused to enter into the benefits of a temporal covenant (Matt. 23:37) and His shedding His blood for His brethren that they might receive the blessings of the Everlasting Covenant (Heb. 13:20, 21). Changes in God’s material favours unto a nation do not imply that the eternal purpose of spiritual grace is liable to alteration, any more than the removal of a local “candlestick” (Rev. 2:5) argues that He may take away His Spirit from any regenerate soul. The “wills” and “shalls” of Divine immutability and fidelity are never jeopardized by the “ifs” of human responsibility

There is a purpose

"We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." Acts 14:22b

We are tempted to think that when we come to Christ ours will be an easier road. For after all, doesn't it say in the Proverbs, "The way of the transgressor is hard"? Yet it is in understanding the place of difficulty and hardness that we find strength in Christ.
The way of the transgressor IS hard; though he be rich and famous, rarely have a care in the world, or have everyone around him adoring his name. His way is hard because, whether he has few or many cares in this world, they all lead down the same road: to hell.
Psalm 73 verifies this. Asaph was enduring great difficulty, struggling from day to day. As he struggled, he noticed that the ungodly were prosperous! This hardly seemed fair: here he was barely making a living from day to day, struggling with various trials, trying his best to serve God, and the ungodly sat in wealth and contentment. Asaph at first grew envious of the rich. How could God be fair in all of this? Then he realized as he went to the sanctuary of God: "Surely You set them in slippery places: You cast them down into destruction ... So foolish was I, and ignorant... You shall guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory." (vs. 17-24)
Asaph realized true delight and true riches: "Whom have I in heaven but You? and there is none on the earth I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fails: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever." (vs. 25-26)
Sometimes it seems a hard road God takes us down. Disappointment, illness, aloneness, trials of various sorts; all while the ungodly live life to the fullest, and seem to have their dreams come true. Yet it is not so. God sees the beginning from the end; and He sees the heart and what it needs to become a Christ-honoring soul.
Very often it needs intermittent bouts of tribulation. Christian on the road to the Celestial City found this out. It wasn't Appollyon he had to fight. No, he fell into the slough of despond; he foolishly crossed lines he was told not to and wound up a prisoner to Giant Despair, of Doubting Castle. Others came and mocked him for remaining on the road to the City; they urged him to take a shortcut, or abandon his journey all together. Though he got confused, sinned and got off track at times, Christian remained faithful, and was joyfully received into the Celestial City.
"Tribulation works patience" Paul instructs us in Romans 5:3. There is a purpose--a Divine purpose--in the illness, the aloneness, the difficulties and troubles of the true believer in Jesus Christ! God is at work through our difficulties: conforming us into the image of His Son. (Romans 8)
Take heart, downhearted Christian! Though our lives are not always easy, there is meaning and purpose to everything that comes our way.
Cling to Christ, fainthearted! Find comfort in His Word, and you will have strength to go on until YOU reach the Celestial City! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Unworldliness

Jesus was despised because of the UNWORLDLINESS OF HIS LIFE. 

"The world hates me because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil." His whole life was one ceaseless testimony against the ungodliness of this ungodly world. It rejected Him because He was holy. In proportion as the life we live is a solemn and consistent protest against the vanities and sinfulness of the world, so will it hate and cast us out. "You are not of the world; therefore the world hates you." In His memorable intercessory prayer, Jesus reminds His Father, "The world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." Accept, then, the world's despisings as your glory. The farther you recede from it, the more powerful your testimony, and the more decided and consistent your unworldly walk, the more virulent will be its malignity, bitter its hate, and wide its separation.

Octavius Winslow

Sacred picklocks

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law!" Psalm 119:18

Let me tell you a little secret: whenever you cannot understand a text, open your Bible, bend your knee, and pray over that text; and if it does not split into atoms and open itself, then try again. If prayer does not explain it, then it is one of those things that God did not intend you to know, and you may be content to be ignorant of it. 

Prayer is the key that opens the cabinets of mystery. Prayer and faith aresacred picklocks that can open secrets, and obtain great treasures! There is no college for holy education like that of the blessed Spirit, for He is an ever-present tutor, to whom we have only to bend the knee, and He is at our side--the great expositor of truth!

You will frequently find fresh streams of thought leaping up from the passage before you, as if the rock had been struck by Moses' rod! New veins of precious ore will be revealed to your astonished gaze as you quarry God's Word and use diligently the hammer of prayer! 

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth!"John 16:13 


"Every text prayed over opens a mine of 'unsearchable riches,' with a light from above, more clear and full than the most intelligent exposition." (Charles Bridges)

"A humble and prayerful spirit will find a thousand things in the Bible--which the proud, self-conceited student will utterly fail to discern." (J.C. Ryle)

"There should be a definite asking Him to graciously anoint our eyes--not only that we may be enabled to behold wondrous things in His law, but also that He will make us of quick discernment to perceive how the passage before us applies to ourselves--what are the particular lessons we need to learn from it. The more we cultivate this habit, the more likely that God will be pleased to open His Word unto us." (Arthur Pink)