Thursday, 9 November 2017

REFLECTIONS

A State Of Sin And Holiness

“Mark, now, I beseech you, what a state of sin, and what a state of holiness is.

He that is in a state of sin, hath habitually and predominantly a greater love to some pleasures, or profits, or honours of this world, than he hath to God, and to the glory he hath promised; he preferreth, and seeketh, and holdeth (if he can) his fleshly prosperity in this world, before the favor of God and the happiness of the world to come. His heart is turned from God unto the creature, and is principally set on things on earth. Thus his sin is the blindness, and madness, and perfidiousness, and idolatry of his soul, and his forsaking of God, and his salvation for nought. It is that to his soul, which poison, and death, and sickness, and lameness, and blindness are to his body: it is such dealing with God, as that man is guilty of to his dearest friend or father, who should hate him and his company, and love the company of a dog or toad much better than his; and obey his enemy against him: and it is like a madman’s dealing with his physician, who seeks to kill him as his enemy, because he crosseth his appetite or will, to cure him. Think of this well, and then tell me, whether this be a state to be continued in. This state of sin is something worse than a mere inconsiderate act of sin, in one that otherwise liveth an obedient, holy life.

On the other hand, a state of holiness is nothing else but the habitual and predominant devotion and dedication of soul, and body, and life, and all that we have, to God; and esteeming, and loving, and serving, and seeking him, before all the pleasures and prosperity of the flesh; making his favour, and everlasting happiness in heaven, our end, and Jesus Christ our way, and referring all things in the world unto that end, and making this the scope, design, and business of our lives. It is a turning from a deceitful world to God; and preferring the Creator before the creature, and heaven before earth, and eternity before an inch of time, and our souls before our corruptible bodies, and the authority and laws of God, the universal Governor of the world, before the word or will of any man, how great soever; and a subjecting our sensitive faculties to our reason, and advancing this reason by Divine revelation; and living by faith, and not by sight: in a word, it is laying up our treasure in heaven, and setting our hearts there, and living in a heavenly conversation, setting our affections on the things above, and not on the things that are on the earth; and a rejoicing in hope of the glory to come, when sensualists have nothing but transitory, brutish pleasures to rejoice in.

This is a state and life of holiness: when we persuade you to be holy, we persuade you to no worse than this; when we commend a life of godliness to your choice, this is the life that we mean, and that we commend to you. And can you understand this well, and yet be unwilling of it? It cannot be. Do but know well what godliness and ungodliness, what grace and sin are, and the work is almost done.”

-From The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Vol. 1, page 14, Soli Deo Gloria Publications; Baxter lived from 1615-1691; he was an English Puritan Church Leader

Saturday, 28 October 2017

REFLECTIONS

The Prayer Of Love

Gracious Lord,
Thy name is love,
in love receive my prayer.
My sins are more than the wide sea’s sand,
but where sin abounds, there is grace more abundant.
Look to the cross of Thy beloved Son,
and view the preciousness of His atoning blood;
Listen to His never-failing intercession,
and whisper to my heart, ‘Thy sins are forgiven,
be of good cheer, lie down in peace.’
Grace cataracts from heaven and flows for ever,
and mercy never wearies in bestowing benefits.
Grant me more and more
to prize the privilege of prayer,
to come to Thee as a sin-soiled sinner,
to find pardon in Thee,
to converse with Thee;
to know Thee in prayer as
the path in which my feet tread,
the latch upon the door of my lips,
the light that shines through my eyes,
the music of my ears,
the marrow of my understanding,
the strength of my will,
the power of my affection,
the sweetness of my memory.
May the matter of my prayer be always wise, humble, submissive,
obedient, scriptural, Christ-like.
Give me unwavering faith that supplications are never in vain,
that if I seem not to obtain my petitions
I shall have larger, richer answers,
surpassing all that I ask or think.
Unsought, Thou hast given me the greatest gift,
the Person of Thy Son,
and in Him Thou wilt give me all I need.”

-A Puritan’s Prayer from The Valley of Vision  Edited by Arthur Bennett  Published by The Banner of Truth Trust  Carlisle, PA  2002


Thursday, 12 October 2017

REFLECTIONS

Morning Has Broken

Morning has broken,
like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken,
like the first bird
Praise for the singing,
praise for the morning
Praise for the springing
fresh from the word

Sweet the rain's new fall,
sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall,
on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness
of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness
where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight,
mine is the morning
Born of the one light,
Eden saw play
Praise with elation,
praise every morning
God's recreation
of the new day

-Morning Has Broken, a song, is the best known work of Eleanor Farjeon, children’s author and poet.

Friday, 29 September 2017

REFLECTIONS

“How Can Elsie Run?”
“How to Run and Box When You Are Over Eighty”

“Elsie Viren was for sixty-two years (1929-1991) on the staff of Bethlehem Baptist Church in various capacities generally called ‘church missionary.’ She was a rock of persevering faithfulness to Christ and his church.

“Near the end she lay with a slowly mending hip in the Augustana Home near the church. Her memory was limited and her eyes were dim. But she knew when we came, and she talked with customary spunk and courtesy and gratitude.

 “During her final illness, I preached two messages at the church under the theme ‘Olympic Spirituality’ (because the Olympics were on everyone’s mind). The Bible speaks of ‘running the race’ (Hebrews 12:1), and ‘not boxing the air’ (1 Corinthians 9:26), and ‘fighting the fight’ (2 Timothy 4:7), and ‘pommeling the body’ in athletic discipline (1 Corinthians 9:27). I asked the question: How can Elsie run? She does not look like an Olympic marathoner these days. How can Elsie box? Or does she even have to? Are running and boxing only for the fit and hardy?

“The answer is that we all must run, whether old or young, whether sick or healthy. And this is possible for the sick and senile because the race is run with the heart, not the legs, and the fight is fought with the heart, not the fists. It is a race and a fight not against other athletes, but against unbelief. It is possible for the aged and weak to win this fight because the fight is a fight against lost hope, not against lost health.

“Here’s the biblical evidence for this. In 1Timothy 6:12 Paul says to Timothy: ‘Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession’ (RSV, emphasis added). The fight is a ‘fight of faith.’ It is not a fight to get out of bed, but to rest in God.
“It is not a fight to keep all the powers of youth, but to trust in the power of God. The race is run against temptations that would make us doubt God’s goodness. It is a fight to stay satisfied in God through broken hips and lost sight and failed memory. The race can and may be run flat on your back. In fact, it may be run and fought better by the paralyzed than by the able and seemingly self-sufficient.
“Again Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’ (RSV, emphasis added). Finishing the race means keeping faith. It is a race against unbelief, not against aging.

“Another way to put it is that the fight is a fight to keep hoping in God. ‘[Christ will] present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before [God], provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel’ (Colossians 1:22-23, RSV, emphasis added). Finishing the race means not giving up the hope of the gospel. It is a race against hopelessness, not against flawlessness.

“When we cheer on the diseased or aging runners who run their final laps in hospital beds, what we are really saying is, ‘Do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward’ (Hebrews 10:35). The finish line is crossed in the end, not by a burst of human energy, but by collapsing into the arms of God. And let us not forget: In the Christian race, we do not finish alone. We finish together. It is part of the rules. ‘Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin’ (Hebrews 3:13). The more difficult it becomes for an older person to use the mind and the memory, the more we must fight with him and for him, wielding the sword of the Spirit where his own hand is weak. If any strays, we bring him back with mercy and meekness (Galatians 6:1; James 5:20). We encourage the fainthearted and help the weak (1 Thessalonians 5:14). We ‘visit the widows in their affliction’ (James 1:27)—whatever it takes to help them fight the fight and finish the race.

“Do you know an Elsie? Don’t leave her (or him) to fight alone. Remember that you too are in the body, and one day you will lie on your back alone, unable to read the Bible and barely able to think clearly to pray. Who will hold up your arm? Who will put the sword in your hand? Who will help you run?”

-From John Piper’s book Taste and See, entry 50, Published by Multnomah Publishers  1999

Friday, 15 September 2017

REFLECTIONS

Tozer’s Insights

“WE ARE TOO COMFORTABLE
And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection. (Hebrews 11:35)
Is the fact that millions of Americans refuse to attend our church services only another symptom of original sin and love of moral darkness?
No, I believe that explanation is too “pat” to be wholly true.
Churches cannot deny they are too comfortable, too rich, too contented! We hold the faith of our fathers, but it does not hold us. God is trying to interest us in a glorious tomorrow and we are settling for an inglorious today. God has set eternity in our hearts and we have chosen time instead. We are bogged down in local interests and have lost sight of eternal purposes.
It was the knowledge that they were part of God’s eternal plan that imparted unquenchable enthusiasm to the early Christians. They burned with holy zeal for Christ, and felt they were part of an army which the Lord was leading to ultimate conquest over all the powers of darkness!

A LOWER LEVEL
O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. (Psalm71:17)
There are leaders and there are churches within the Christianity of our day who will surely answer for their failure to apply the disciplines of the New Testament to the present generation of young people.
Much of Christianity today does not hold to the necessity for disciplines in the Christian life. If we have any of God’s concerns in our hearts, we must grieve over the lack of spirituality in the lives of great segments of professing Christian young people.
It is not my calling to assess blame. It is part of my Christian calling to proclaim the fact that no one, young or old, has the right to come to Jesus Christ and stake out their own conditions and terms.
Segments of Christianity have made every possible concession in efforts to win young people to Christ; but instead of converting them to Christ they have converted “Christianity” to them. Too often they have come down to the modern level—playing, teasing, coaxing and entertaining. In essence, they have been saying to them, “We will do everything as you want it,” instead of giving them Christ’s insistent word, “Take up your cross!”

THE WORLD IS SCARED
Look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:28)
A fear-stricken church cannot help a scared world; and it needs to be said that surely a fear-ridden Christian has never examined his or her defense!
No one can blame humans for being afraid. Beyond the continuing times of crisis and terror and violence, God has also warned that the world is in a baptism of fire, sooner or later. God has declared this by the voice of all of the holy prophets since time began—there is no escaping it!
Bible-reading Christians should be the last persons on earth to give way to hysteria. We have been given a prophetic preview of all those things that are to come to pass upon the earth. Can anything take us unaware?
We who are in God’s secret place of safety must begin to talk and act like it! We, above all who dwell on the earth, should be calm, hopeful, buoyant and cheerful. We will never convince the scared world that there is peace and assurance at the Cross if we continue to exhibit the same fears as those who make no profession of Christianity!”

-From Renewed Day by Day; Volume 2, by A. W. Tozer  American Pastor and Author  1897-1963


Thursday, 31 August 2017

REFLECTIONS

Prayer and Praise

“PSALM LXXXVI.
A stream of continuous prayer flows through this Psalm. Praise is sweetly intermixed. Pleas for audience are urgently enforced. May we thus pray, and verily we shall be heard.

1. “Bow down Thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.”
The cry is the breathing of humility. To seek help from our own poverty is to draw water from an empty cistern. Let us fly to God’s fullness; it ever overflows.

2. “Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O Thou my God, save Thy servant that trusteth in Thee.”
Enemies are always near: God only can keep and save. Let us urge the plea, We are Thine by entire surrender of ourselves. All our confidence rests on Thee.

3,  4. “Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto Thee daily. Rejoice the soul of Thy servant: for unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.”
Mercy is our hourly need: for mercy let our hourly cry ascend. We shall hear joy and gladness, if on Him only our eyes are fixed.

5. “For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee.”
When we thus call upon our God, we only ask for the display of His own heart. Goodness and mercy, grace and love there dwell. O God, give them scope. Let them come forth to help.

6, 7. “Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon Thee: for Thou wilt answer me.”
The cry continues, I cannot let Thee rest. I must take heaven by storm. Awake, awake in my behalf. Troubles abound. But they bear me on their tide to Thee. I come in full assurance that Thy promises shall never fail, and faithful prayer shall never be cast out.

8, 9, 10. “Among the gods there is none like unto Thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto Thy works. All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; and shall glorify Thy name. For Thou art great, and doest wondrous things: Thou art God alone.”
Precious is the season when the eye of faith contemplates the greatness—the majesty—the glory of our God. In heaven and throughout earth He sits supreme, worthy of all praise—all homage—all adoring love! In every clime enlightened servants now bow down to worship Him. The day will come when His knowledge shall cover the earth, even as the waters cover the sea. Then every knee shall bow before Him and every tongue shall magnify His name. O Lord, hasten the blessed time!

11. “Teach me Thy way, O LORD; I will walk in Thy truth: unite my heart to fear Thy name.”
How quickly the believer flies back to prayer. Here is his solace and his heart’s home. His grand desire is, that the Lord would instruct him in the path of life. He has no greater desire than to walk in God’s truth. He feels that his heart is prone in all its parts to wander. In itself it has neither cohesion nor stability. He prays that God would so restrain it by His bands, that no part should ever deviate from His fear.

12, 13. “I will praise Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify Thy name for evermore. For great is Thy mercy toward me: and Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.”
He vows that eternal praise shall issue from his comforted heart. Such glory is indeed God’s due. For through redeeming blood He has rescued from perdition’s lowest depths.

 14, 15. “O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set Thee before them. But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”
In contrast to this mercy the Psalmist sees the enmity of man. But he takes refuge in his God. His compassions never fail; His grace abides for ever; His long-suffering is inexhaustible; His mercy and truth are overflowing.

16, 17. “O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give Thy strength unto Thy servant, and save the son of Thine handmaid. Show me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because Thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me.”
This view of God prompts the prayer, that He would arise and strengthen and save: and give such tokens of His loving-kindness, that all observers may perceive that believers are the blessed men receiving help from heaven, and rejoicing in the Spirit’s comforts. When such manifestations abound they cannot be hidden. Shame depresses the cruel adversaries. They are constrained to confess, that vain is their enmity when God extends His hand to work deliverance. May we be monuments of such help!”

-From Henry Law’s Daily Prayer and Praise  (1797-1884) 


Sunday, 20 August 2017

REFLECTIONS

Going Home

“Breath the home atmosphere. Jesus tells us that the atmosphere of His home is love, “You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
Brethren, can you follow me in a great flight? Can you stretch broader wings than the condor ever knew, and fly back into the unbeginning eternity? There was a day before all days, when there was no day but the Ancient of Days. There was a time before all time, when only God was, the uncreated, the only existent One. The Divine Three, Father, Son, and Spirit, lived in blessed consort with each other, delighting in each other. Oh the intensity of the divine love of the Father to the Son! There was no world, no sun, no moon, no stars, no universe, but God alone and the whole of God’s omnipotence flowed forth in a stream of love to the Son, while the Son’s whole being remained eternally one with the Father by a mysterious essential union. How came all this which we now see and hear? Why this creation; this fall of Adam, this redemption, this church, this heaven? How came it all about? It needed not to have been, but the Father’s love made Him resolve to show forth the glory of His Son. The mysterious volume which has been gradually unfolded before us has only this one design—the Father would make known  His love to the Son, and make the Son’s glories to appear before the eyes of those whom the Father gave Him.
This Fall and this Redemption, and the story as a whole, so far as the divine purpose is concerned, are the fruit of the Father’s love to the Son, and His delight in glorifying the Son.
Those myriads, those white-robed myriads, harping to music infinitely deep, what do they all mean? They are the Father’s delight in the Son. That He might be glorified forever, He permitted that He should bear a human body, and should suffer, bleed, and die, so that there might come out of Him, as a harvest comes from a dying and buried corn of wheat, all the countless hosts of elect souls, ordained forever to a felicity exceeding bounds. These are the bride of the Lamb, the body of Christ, the fullness of Him that fills all in all. Their destiny is so high that no language can fully describe it. God only knows the love of God, and all that it has prepared for those who are the objects of it.
Love wraps up the whole in its cloth of gold. Love is both the source and the channel, and the end of the divine acting. Because the Father loved the Son He gave us to Him, and ordained that we should be with Him. His love to us is love to the Son. “Not for your sakes do I this, O House of Israel; be ashamed and be confounded.” Because of the boundless, ineffable, infinite love of the great Father toward His Son, therefore has He ordained this whole system of salvation and redemption, that Jesus in the church of His redeemed might everlastingly be glorified. Let our saintly ones go home, beloved, if that is the design of their going. Since all comes of divine love, and all sets forth divine love, let them go to Him who loves them—let divine love fulfill its purpose of bringing many sons unto glory. Since the Father once made our Lord perfect by His sufferings, let Him now be made perfectly glorious by the coming up of His redeemed from the purifying bath of His atonement. I see them rise like sheep from the washing, all of them gathering with delight at the feet of that great Shepherd of the sheep.
Beloved, I am lost in the subject now. I breathe that heavenly air. Love surrounds all, and conquers grief. I will not cause the temperature to fall by uttering any other words but this—Hold your friends lovingly, but be ready to yield them to Jesus. Detain them not from Him to whom they belong.
When they are sick, fast and pray, but when they are departed, do much as David did, who washed his face, and ate, and drank. You cannot bring them back again, you will go to them, they cannot return to you. Comfort yourselves with the double thought of their joy in Christ and Christ’s joy in them; add the triple thought of the Father’s joy in Christ and in them.
Let us watch the Master’s call. Let us not dread the question—who next, and who next? Let none of us start back as though we hoped to linger longer than others. Let us even desire to see our names in the celestial conscription. Let us be willing to be dealt with just as our Lord pleases.
Let no doubt intervene, let no gloom encompass us. Dying is but going home, indeed, there is no dying for the saints. Charles Stanford is gone! Thus was his death told to me—“He drew up his feet and smiled.” Thus will you and I depart. He had borne his testimony in the light, even when blind. He had cheered us all, though he was the greatest sufferer of us all, and now the film has gone from the eyes, and the anguish is gone from the heart, and he is with Jesus. He smiled. What a sight was that which caused that smile!
I have seen many faces of dear departed ones lit up with splendor. Of many I could feel sure that they had seen a vision of angels. Traces of a reflected glory hung about their countenances.
O brethren, we shall soon know more of heaven than all the divines can tell us. Let us go home now to our own dwellings, but let us pledge ourselves that we will meet again. But where shall we appoint the trysting place? It would be idle to appoint any spot of earth, for this assembly will never come together again in this world. We will meet with Jesus, where He is, where we shall be-hold His glory. Some of you cannot do this. Turn from your evil ways. Turn to the right, where stands that cross, and keep straight on and you will come to Jesus in glory. Blessed be the name of the Lord! Amen.”
Charles Spurgeon’s Sermon #1892 ‘Why They Leave Us’