Thursday, December 30, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Liberty don't work as good in practice as it does in Speech.
Never miss a good chance to shut up.
If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
DOUBLE YOUR MONEY
The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back into your pocket.
THE CAT IN THE BAG
Lettin' the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back.
FULL OF BULL
After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
ABOUT GROWING OLDER
Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.
The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.
When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra.
You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.
Long ago, when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today it's called golf.
Finally ~ If you don't learn to laugh at trouble, you won't have anything to laugh at when you are old.
(A little humor is always good. So I thought I would share these little tidbits from Will Rogers compiled by my friend, W. F. Bell.)
Monday, December 13, 2010
“I find from the Word of God that two roads lie through the wilderness of this world. The one, at its beginning, is pleasant to carnal nature, being strewed with forbidden pleasures, sensual delights and materialistic gratifications, but growing darker and more crooked and thorny as it advances, it ends abruptly in eternal misery.
The other, difficult at the entrance, requires many sacrifices and much self-denial; but gradually increasing in light and beauty, it terminates in the blissful regions of immortal glory.
In which of these roads am I now walking?”
In SPIRITUAL EXERCISES OF THE HEART or CHRISTIAN RETIREMENT by Thomas Reade, 1837
Saturday, November 27, 2010
To commune with God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of His people – these things will be the holy man’s chiefest enjoyments. He will value every thing and place and company, just in proportion as it draws him nearer to God.
From Faithfulness and Holiness: The Witness of J.C. Ryle by J.I Packer and J.C. Ryle; “Holiness”, [Wheaton: Crossway, 2002], 143.
Monday, November 15, 2010
If I have heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “A Calvinist evangelist? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Calvinism undermines evangelism.” This accusation has been repeated so many times that few make the effort to argue it. Instead, it is simply assumed. Never mind that some of the church’s greatest evangelists have been Calvinists. One need only be reminded of men such as George Whitefield, David Brainerd, or “the father of modern missions,” William Carey. “Yes,” we are told, “these men were great evangelists and Calvinists, but that is because they were inconsistent.” But is this true?
The fact of the matter is that Calvinism is not inconsistent with evangelism; it is only inconsistent with certain evangelistic methods. It is inconsistent, for example, with the emotionally manipulative methods created by revivalists such as Charles Finney. But these manipulative methods are themselves inconsistent with Scripture, so it is no fault to reject them. In order for evangelism to be pleasing to God, it must be consistent with the whole system of biblical teaching. But what does such evangelism look like?
A classic answer to that question is found in R.B. Kuiper’s little book God-Centred Evangelism (Banner of Truth). This book surveys the entire biblical scope of teaching on the subject of evangelism. Kuiper defines evangelism quite simply as “the promulgation of the evangel.” It is, in other words, the proclamation of the gospel. Kuiper explains that his book “is a plea for God–centered, in contradistinction to man-centered, evangelism.” The book, then, presents a theology of evangelism.
The first chapters set forth some of the essential theological presuppositions for God-centered evangelism. Kuiper explains that God Himself is the author of evangelism, in that before the foundation of the world, He planned the salvation of sinners. This leads directly into chapter-length discussions of God’s love, His election of sinners, and His covenant. After setting forth these basic theological foundations, Kuiper then deals with various biblical aspects of evangelism, beginning with the sovereignty of God and the Great Commission.
In the Great Commission, Jesus commands His followers to make disciples of “all nations.” The scope of evangelism, then, is universal. The gospel is to be proclaimed to all. If we truly believe what Scripture tells us about the necessity of faith in Christ for salvation, then the urgency of evangelism will become evident. A number of heterodox theologies undermine the urgency of evangelism by teaching that unbelievers will get a “second chance” after death. There is, however, no biblical warrant for such teaching, and to assert it is pure presumption.
Our primary motivation for evangelism should be love of God and love of neighbor. Those who love God will joyfully obey His commission to evangelize and disciple. Those who love their neighbor will desire nothing greater for them than eternal life. Their aim will be to see God glorified through the salvation of sinners like themselves in order that the church would grow.
The God-ordained means of evangelism is His own Word. It is through the proclamation of God’s Word that the Holy Spirit effectually works faith in men’s hearts. The specific message of evangelism is the gospel. Paul summarizes this message in 1 Corinthians 15:3–5: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” When those who hear the gospel ask what they must do to be saved, Scripture tells us that the answer is: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).
In the final chapters of his book, Kuiper surveys issues such as zeal for evangelism, the biblical method of evangelism, cooperation in evangelism, resistance to evangelism, and the triumph of evangelism. He reminds us that we can proclaim the gospel with great hope, looking forward to seeing the fruits of our evangelism, a time when “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” will stand before the throne of the Lamb, clothed in white and crying out, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9–10).
For too long, the church has attempted to achieve a worthy goal through worldly means. Let us heed Kuiper’s plea and leave man-centered Madison Avenue methods behind. May we fulfill the Great Commission in a God-glorifying manner.
( From Ligonier Ministries October 29, 2010)
Friday, November 5, 2010
Prayer is one of the best and most powerful means of helping forward the cause of Christ in the world. It is a means within the reach of all who have the Spirit of adoption. Not all believers have money to give to missions. Very few have great intellectual gifts, or extensive influence among men. But all believers can pray for the success of the Gospel, and they ought to pray for it daily. Many and marvelous are the answers to prayer which are recorded for our learning in the Bible. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." (James 5:16.)
Saturday, October 30, 2010
"Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:17
What heart can conceive or tongue express the infinite depths of the Redeemer's condescension in thus being made like unto his brethren--that the Son of God should assume a finite nature, subject to the sinless infirmities necessarily connected with a time-state and a dwelling on earth; that he should leave the bosom of his Father in which he had lain before all worlds, and should consent to become a denizen of this world of tears; to breathe earthly air; to be an eye-witness of, and himself share in human sorrows; to have before his eyes the daily spectacle of human sins; to be banished so long from his native home; to endure hunger, weariness, and thirst; to be subject to the persecutions of men, the flight of all his disciples, and the treachery of one among them whose hand had been with him on the table; not to hide his face from shame and spitting, but to be mocked, struck, buffeted, and scourged, and at last to die an agonizing death
between two malefactors, amid scorn and infamy, and covered, as men thought, with everlasting confusion and disgrace!
O what infinite condescension and mercy are displayed in these sufferings and sorrows of an incarnate God! The Lord give us faith to look to him as suffering them for our sake!
Saturday, October 16, 2010
All of us should be deeply disturbed that we hear so little direct preaching upon the cross of Christ. Let us here remember Fanny Crosby's lines:"Near the cross! O , Bring its scenes before me." And those of Isaac Watts in his "." These words must grip our hearts in awe and amazement. These, and similar, , cause us to ask ourselves, Have we ever truly "viewed" the cross in all its glory? Indeed, "Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?" And, "Help me walk from day to day, With its shadows o'er me."
Aramaic words often appear in Scripture, such as "Jegar-Sahadutha" ("heap of witness," Genesis 31:47), and "Golgotha" ("place of a skull," Matthew 27:33). The Latin word "Calvary" is found only one time (Luke 23:33), the Greek word being Kranion (Skull). What strange words these are: "Golgotha," "Calvary," "Skull." Such words "witness" to us plainly that when the Mediator gave His life, something took place that day that no one can fully explain. Murderous men in hatred crucified , but those men did not realize they were fulfilling Old Testament prophecies (Matthew 27:35). And further, in the fury of Jehovah's holy wrath, Christ died a criminal's death (capital punishment) for crimes He did not even commit. Who can understand such substitution? No wonder we need "its scenes" brought before us! No wonder we absolutely must "survey the wondrous cross."
"Him, being delivered [given up] by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain" (Acts 2:23). What more strange words! Who can fathom this? "Delivered by God's counsel and decree." "Taken by wicked hands and crucified." What mystery here! God ruled over the event, but men acted out of their own choice. Men hated Christ, and they cried out, "Crucify Him," though He was the only perfect Man who ever lived. How could that be? Solely because it was the will of Almighty God. That's how Peter described the event, preaching to multitudes on the day of Pentecost. We need not doubt it, for the whole Book of God testifies that it was so (such as Genesis 22:14, I Peter 1:20, Revelation 13:8).
But still we ask, Why did it have to be? A sovereign hatred of sin is the answer, God manifesting His holiness, righteousness, and justice. "The just for the unjust." Pure grace on display. There is no other possible answer to the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth. "For the is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). It had to be the way of the cross, for there was no other way! And there, all , "Love and mercy found me." We could not find God, being depraved and deprived. But Jesus "came down" from heaven that many of the sons of earth might be rescued (John 6:38-40). And the great glory of the cross is that Christ perfectly "finished the work" He was sent to do (John 17:4). His holy mission was accomplished. He did not fail. He could not fail. Christ saved all of "His people" there at Calvary! "It is finished." God then raised Him from the dead!
By faith, let us camp now around Jerusalem's Skull Place. May the melt us to tears of contrition as we "Behold the Lamb" and "Behold the Man." Roman soldiers "watched Him there," "feared greatly" at "those things that were done," and confessed, "Truly this was the " (Matthew 27:54). May we too "fear greatly" as we view the God-Man dying at Calvary! What "scenes" come before us, and what "beams" shed around us! And with Edward Denny let us sing,
To Calvary, Lord, in spirit now, Our grateful souls repair,
To dwell upon Thy dying love, And taste its sweetness there.
Monday, October 4, 2010
All who know me realize I love the Puritans. The original British ones, and their heirs such as Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, and some other modern preachers and writers. The Puritans studied the scriptures, preached the scriptures, and wrote books on the scriptures. The objective of most of them was to purify the church, including the ministry. Some of the Puritans I like better than others, but almost all had something to contribute to Bible study. In this case we want to look at a short clip of Richard Baxter. The Puritans were mostly very wordy, but little nuggets stand out in all their writings. Here, Baxter hits the nail on the head regarding sins of the ministry in the 1600s. He even hits the mark on the sins of the ministry in the 2000s. Read and ponder.
"Too many who have undertaken the work of the ministry do so obstinately proceed in self-seeking, negligence, pride, and other sins, that it is become our necessary duty to admonish them. If we saw that such would reform without reproof, we would gladly forbear the publishing of their faults. But when reproofs themselves prove so ineffectual, that they are more offended at the reproof than at the sin, and had rather that we should cease reproving than that themselves should cease sinning, I think it is time to sharpen the remedy. For what else should we do? To give up our brethren as incurable were cruelty, as long as there are further means to be used. We must not hate them, but plainly rebuke them, and not suffer sin upon them. To bear with the vices of the ministry is to promote the ruin of the Church; for what speedier way is there for the depraving and undoing of the people, than the depravity of their guides?"
From The Reformed Pastor-- Richard Baxter
Sunday, September 26, 2010
(A Nugget from Joseph Caryl)
Joseph Caryl on Job 1:12
Until God gives commission, Satan hath no power over the estates or persons of God's people, or over anything that belongs unto them. Neither our persons nor our estates are subject to the will of either men or devils; Christ must say, All that he hath is in thy hand, before Satan can touch a shoe-latchet: As Christ said John 19:11. unto Pilate, when he spake so stoutly, knowest thou not that I have power to crucifie thee, and power to release thee? He thought that he had all power in his hand: but Christ tells him, Thou couldst have no power at all against me unless it were given thee from above. If the Devils could not go in the swine, much less can they meddle with a man, made after God's image, till God gives them leave. Every soul that hath interest in Christ may suck comfort and consolation in the saddest, in the sorrowfullest day from the breast of this truth. If Satan and wicked men cannot move till Christ saith, go, nor wound till Christ saith, strike, nor spoil, nor kill, till Christ saith their estates, their lives are in your power, surely Christ will not speak a word to their hurt, whom he loves, nor will he ever suffer his enemies to do a real damage to his friends. Beside it may fill the soul with unspeakable joy, to remember, that, while a man is suffering, the will of Christ is doing. By Joseph Caryl -1602-1673
Monday, September 13, 2010
Naturally to declare God as God Almighty is going to ruffle some feathers. The Baptists of today forget the London Confession, the Philadelphia Confession, and the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, which all contain clear and strong statements regarding the Sovereign God. The Baptists are not alone in forgetting. The Presbyterians of today often fail to take note of the old landmark Westminster Confession of Faith (which differs from the Philadelphia Confession very little). The heritage of the church is largely discarded today, and the new evangelicalism and most of today's fundamentalism cannot shape up when compared to the faith of our fathers. Truth has fallen in the streets!
A good sign, I suppose, is that when I first saw the truth regarding the grace of the Sovereign God about 40 years ago, I was often called a "hyper-Calvinist". This is still happening, but not as much. I have never been "pushy" or intolerant (or at least I don't think I have!), with those who honestly do not see this truth. All I asked then, and all I ask now, is that we search the Scriptures. Actually, I believe, deep inside, every real Christian realizes God is Sovereign, whether he can express it or not. As J. I. Packer said: "I do not intend to spend any time at all proving to you the general truth that God is sovereign in His world. There is no need; for I know that, if you are a Christian you believe this already."1
At first, I thought maybe Bro. Packer had not met some of the Christians I had met! But he clarifies: "How do I know that? Because I know that, if you are a Christian, you pray; and the recognition of God's Sovereignty is the basis for your prayers."2 Then he makes this searching statement: "You would never dream of dividing the credit for salvation between God and yourself. You have never for one moment supposed that the decisive contribution to your salvation was yours and not God's. You have never told God that, while you are grateful for the means and opportunities of grace that He gave you, you realize you have to thank, not Him, but yourself, for the fact you responded to His call. Your heart revolts at the very thought of talking to God in such terms. In fact you thank Him no less for the gift of faith and repentance than for the gift of a Christ to trust and turn to."3
Amen! It is my conviction that the heart of every true child of God must agree with that statement. To believe this does not make one a hyper-Calvinist, but a believer of the Bible. As for hyper-Calvinism, this may be hard to define. I have been called a hyper-Calvinist myself as a result of my preaching and articles like in an earlier Word of Truth: "What Jesus Christ Said About the Sovereignty of God". Yet as J. I. Packer said in his book "When you pray for unconverted people, you do so on the assumption that it is in God's power to bring them to faith." 4 Thus, true believers are forced to believe in God's sovereignty, EVEN THOUGH THEY MAY PROTEST THAT THEY DO NOT!
1Taken from Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J. I. Packer. ©1961 by Inter-Varsity Press,
Saturday, September 4, 2010
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die , but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
“It was the belief in the accountability of man to his maker that made America a great nation.
Among those earlier leaders was Daniel Webster whose blazing eyes and fiery oratory often held
the Senate spellbound. In those days the Congress was composed of strong, noble statesmen who
carried the weight of the nation in their hearts and minds."
“Someone asked: ‘Mr. Webster, what do you consider the most serious thought that has ever
entered your mind?’ ‘The most solemn thought that has ever entered my mind is my
accountability to my maker,’ he replied.”
“Men like that cannot be corrupted and bought. They do not have to worry if someone listens to
their telephone calls. What they were in character and in deportment resulted from their belief
that they would finally be accountable to God.”
"Lord, help me to live my life today in such a way that, should You call me tonight to stand
before You and give account, I would have nothing of which I would need to be ashamed.
Amen.” ( from A.W. Tozer, Echoes from Eden, page 130; Christian Publications, 1981).
Oh, how we need men and women today with the godly character and courage of A.W. Tozer
and Daniel Webster. Men like Spurgeon and Ryle and M’Cheyne. Women like Amy Carmichael,
and Susanna Wesley and Fanny Crosby. Oh God, please send us revival!
“Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation” (Psalm 85:6,7).
“O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
PAUL TELLS US that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds. He probably had in his mind's eye the corvus, which the Romans employed in destroying fortifications, and certainly it aptly sets forth the work of Christians when attacking the citadels of error. We must sharply grapple the false doctrine, driving the sharp hook of truth between its joints; we must clearly understand the error, and study the Word of God, so as to be able to controvert it. The great corvus of Scripture is "a mighty puller down". Then unitedly with earnest tug of prayer and faithful testimony, we must throw down piece by piece the mischievous system of falsehood, be it never so great or high. Stone by stone the wall comes down, it is long and arduous work to destroy error; many hands and hearts must unite, and then with perseverance all must labor and wait. Tracts, sermons, lectures, speeches, prayers, all must be ropes with which to drag the bulwarks down. God's blessing rests on the faithful endeavors of those who overturn the castles of error, and though their work may not speedily succeed, the great result is sure. A Reformation is as much needed now as in Luther's day, and by God's grace we shall have it, if we trust in him and publish his truth. The cry is, "Overturn, overturn, overturn, till He shall come whose right it is."
Reader, are you doing service in the Lord's war, which he is now waging? You know the errors of Rome, are you doing anything to withstand them? You see the Popery and iniquity of the National Establishment, are you in your measure exposing it? Infidelity is still mighty, do you contend for God and for his Word? Sin still reigns over millions, do you seek their salvation? If not, why not? Are you yourself on the Lord's side? Oh may the grace of God lead you to trust in the great bloodshedding of Jesus, by which he has put away sin; and then may his love constrain you to aid in dragging down the ramparts of evil.
From C. H. Spurgeon's "Sword and Trowel," which was published monthly in the 1800's. This was adapted from Spurgeon.org. Copies of all Spurgeon's Sword and Trowel, and many other of his works are available in modern printings from Pilgrim Publications, Pasadena, Texas. Their web address is: http://www.pilgrimpublications.com/
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
"Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and ." Acts 5:31
Jesus is "exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance and remission of sins." The two go together. Whenever he gives repentance, he gives remission; wherever he grants remission, he bestows repentance. It will not do to let repentance go. Every child of God is brought to repent of his sins, and by repentance to forsake them. "But," you say, "have I repented? Considering the nature and magnitude of my sins, were I a repenting sinner, surely I should be mourning and sorrowing over them all the day long." What, then, creates that doubt in your mind? Because you are often hard, dark, dead, cold. Here, then, again, we must distinguish between that godly sorrow for sin which is felt in the spiritual mind, and that hardness and darkness of our carnal mind which is still enmity against God, nor is there faith or love, repentance, or any one good thing in it. But there have been times and seasons when, under a peculiar influence, your heart was softened and melted before God; when sin was truly repented of; when you felt that it was indeed an evil and a bitter thing to sin against so good, so holy, and so great and glorious a God; when the rock melted, the hard heart gave way, the eyes flowed down with tears, and the swelling breast was almost ready to burst with penitential grief for your sins and over the sufferings and sorrows of the Son and Lamb of God, and you could only loathe yourself in dust and ashes before his holy, heart-searching eye.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Leviticus 25:10; Isaiah 61:1; Romans 8:21; Galatians 5:1
The Year of Jubilee! What a wonderful subject and thought! Liberty to all captives! All debts canceled! Total joy and rest for one year! No oppression whatsoever! All original property restored! What more could anyone desire? What greater celebration could there be? All of this, and more, is found in our gracious God giving this "law" to ancient Israel.
Even though America seems bent on being anti-Bible and anti-God, it is amazing that on many of our treasured national landmarks we still have plain evidence of our nation's Christian past. For example, on the Liberty Bell are inscribed the words of Leviticus 25:10, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land." "Proclaim liberty" is the great theme of the gospel, both in prophecy (Isaiah 61:1), and in its fulfillment in Christ (Luke 4:18). However, the "liberty" that we "proclaim" on July 4 is definitely not the "liberty" referred to in these passages. We now only proclaim "freedom" from the England of the 1700s (England is now strangely America's ally). For sure, there was much oppression then, but even Americans today are guilty of some high-handed oppression, are we not? Not being slaves to sin (John 8:34), is what should concern us.
True "liberty" is not just being able to live and work in a capitalistic society, sing the songs we like, wave flags, watch parades, enjoy fireworks, or honor war veterans. True "liberty" is being released from sin, and this is what we "proclaim" as Christians who believe the gospel.We have been freed from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13), and despite our fallen, sinful condition by nature(Ephesians 2:3), we have been made righteous before God through the work of our Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24). What a message worth proclaiming! In this sense, we are all preachers!
The context of Leviticus 25 is not at all about one country being "free" from another. The passage is about the Year of Jubilee (or Release) in Israel, "the fiftieth year," a year of grace, which began at the end of the great Day of Atonement, proclaimed throughout all the land with a solemn blast of a ram's horn. This was a year of rest for both land and laborers,when people were to return to their ancestral property, all debts were canceled, and all slaves were to be released and sent home. It was a time appointed by God to cause the people of Israel to realize equality in providing for themselves, and kept certain Israelites from amassing wealth at their brethren's expense. What a law this was! But it was all typical of the work of the Messiah who was to come.
Calvary's cross and the empty tomb are our great Year of Jubilee! This is what we celebrate! A literal rendering of Galatians 5:1 is, "For freedom Christ freed us." But the only ones "proclaiming" this are the children of God. This is no Fourth of July celebration. It is far greater! It is a year by year, day by day "celebration" of victory in Christ! It is totally foreign to all sinners, till regenerated by the Spirit of God. And Paul admonishes us, "Stand fast therefore in this liberty, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of slavery." "Stand fast" indeed! "It is finished." "Blow the loud trumpet." "Christ is not here, but is risen." And some sweet day, "at the last day," even the graves of God's people will burst open, at Christ's return, and glorification of all the saints will occur, and we shall then sing in eternal triumph, "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" (I Corinthians 15:54-55).
Hallelujah, the great Atonement has been made! "Blow ye the trumpet, blow. The Year of Jubilee is come. Return, ye ransomed sinners, home." Let us all rejoice! Let us sing and shout! What a celebration! "Free at last, free at last," yes, "Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:21). This is our proclamation to the nations!
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I was thinking of Twitter, the internet fad that is sweeping the world. On my Twitter account I have followers, and those that I follow. Often someone writes “Follow Me”, and you elect whether to do so or not. I follow some interesting, mostly Christian, sites. You can only put about 140 total characters on each post, but often have a link placed where you can go for more reading, by linking a web site or blog..
Our Lord has said several times in His word; “Follow Me.” He says this not because He is on Twitter, or with some Twitter-like purpose. His reason is far more important than a fun place to be, or an information site, a political site, or even a religious quest. He told His disciples “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).
His high and holy purpose requires followers which He has called to Himself, and who are equipped by Him to reach other men and women. “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” Matthew 16:24). He implied here that there would be a cost, not a cost for salvation, He has paid that price for His elect. But there is a cross for each of us. That cross for us is bearing the reproach of Christ as far as this world is concerned, and sometimes suffering for the cause of Christ.
“But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end” (Matthew 26:58). Here Peter was frightened and uncertain as Jesus was led away to be crucified. Christ had told him that he would deny Him three times, and Peter did so. But, after Christ’s resurrection, the Lord showed Simon Peter how that he would die for Christ: “This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me” (John 21:19).
On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit transformed Simon Peter and empowered him as a preacher of the gospel. Later, in his epistle, he was given these words for us in this age: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” ( 1Peter 2:21,22).
Those in that day were literally following Jesus Christ in His earthly body. It must have been wonderful to be day by day with Him as He went from place to place, many times preaching and teaching as He was walking.
Remember, most everywhere Jesus went, He walked. Exceptions were on a boat in the Sea of Galilee, and a donkey provided for His triumphal entry into Jerusalem a little before His crucifixion. Travel was so different in those days. He spent His entire earthly life in a country roughly the size of New Jersey. Not even the size of one of our largest states! Are you a follower of Jesus?
Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (John 10:27). “And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers”(John 10:5). When we hear His voice, as His sheep, we make no mistake – we follow Him and not another because He knows us, and draws us.
There are other scriptures that teach us that should we stray away and follow another for a time, our Lord will come after us. "How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray (Matthew 18:12,13).
No, Christ did not save us to lose us. Do you think our omniscient God doesn't know the end from the beginning? If He has designed to save you; if you are one of His elect from the foundation of the world, He has eternal plans for you. Now you can stop following someone on Twitter. Your computer might crash and you can't get online anymore.You may follow a person in this present world, perhaps someone you believe you love. Such matters often "fizzle out" and you may stop following that person and go your way. Christ does not let one of His permanently and finally stop following Him. He will come after you. He may chastise you. Actually He will chastise you betimes if you are His "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons (Hebrews 12:6-8).
He goes on to say back in or text in Matthew 18:14 "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish". If the Spirit of God is speaking to you, set out to follow Him. He doesn't have any rejects, though He saves many of the world's rejects. May He save you, dear friend, as He did me. There is nobody better that you can follow. "Where He leads me, I will follow". Can you say that truthfully? "Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness" (Hebrews 3:7-8).
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
"For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him? Will he delight himself in the Almighty? Will he always call upon God?" Job 27:8-10
Many of God's people are at times exercised as to their hypocrisy, and sometimes they may think themselves the most consummate hypocrites that ever stood in a profession. But if you are exercised with these painful surmises, these doubts and fears, just see (and the Lord enable you to bring it to the light of his countenance) these two features of a spiritual character. Do not talk about your hope; it may be "a spider's web." Do not boast of your gifts; they may be altogether in the flesh. Do not bring forward the good opinion of men; they may be deceived in you. But just see if, with the Lord's blessing, you can feel these two tests in your soul, as written there by his own hand. If so, you are not a hypocrite; God himself, by his servant Job, has acquitted you of the charge. Did you, then, ever "delight yourself in the Almighty?" It is a solemn question. Did your heart and soul ever go out after the living God? Did affection, love, and gratitude ever flow out of your bosom into the bosom of the Lord? Did you ever feel as if you could clasp him in the arms of faith, and live and die in his embrace? Now if your soul has ever felt this, you are no hypocrite; and nothing can rise up out of your wretched heart, as an accusing devil, that can prove you to be one. Or if you cannot fully realise this, if you are one that always calls upon God, you are no hypocrite. I do not speak of your regular prayers, or any other of your regularities; for I believe that there is often more of God's Spirit, and more craving after God and delighting in him, in your irregularities, than in all the daily regularities which hypocrites delight in. But I mean, is there a sigh or cry by night, as well as by day; a pouring out of the heart into the bosom of God from time to time, as the Lord works it in you, in trouble, in perplexity, in sorrow, and in distress? This is a test and a mark which no hypocrite ever had or ever can have.
J.C. Philpot - 1802-1869
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
While praying today (hopefully along with many of you), I asked the Lord to "stir me," and was reminded of what is said in Deuteronomy 32:11 about "an eagle stirring up her nest, fluttering over her young, spreading abroad her wings," etc. The eagle not only cares for and provides for her young, but stirs them out of their nests, teaching them by example to use their wings and learn to fly. God did the same for Jacob when "He found him in a desert land," then "led him," then "instructed him," then "kept him as the apple of his eye" (verses 9-10). The nation of Israel itself was "stirred" out of Egypt through Moses, Jehovah saying to them, "I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to myself" (Exodus 19:4).
We can be "stirred" the wrong way, and many times we are, with "hatred stirring up strife" (Proverbs 10:12; 29:22), or by those who oppose Christ and the gospel "stirring up" unbelievers to persecute the people of God (Acts 6:12; 14:2). Yet, all Christians need to "stir up the gift of God" in them (2 Timothy 1:6), and we all need our "pure minds" to be "stirred up" often in "remembrance" of holy things (2 Peter 3:1). Is this not so?
Our nation needs stirring! Our churches need stirring! Our ministers need stirring! I personally need stirring! We are lax, lazy, indifferent, "settled on our lees," and need pushing out of our nests of self-indulgence and luxury. We need to learn to fly away from carnality and ease, and fly deep into the loveliness of Christ. As a hymnwriter once put it,
Lord, if thou thy grace impart,
Simple, teachable, and mild,
Are you and I "rooted in humility," and "teachable, and mild"? Are we truly "changed into a little child," and "pleased with all the Lord provides," being "weaned from all the world besides"? We must be "stirred" from on high if so. And amid the gross idolatry of our day, may the "stirring" of once-proud Saul of Tarsus become our experience also: "Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry" (Acts 17:16). The Almighty "stirred" Saul out of his self-righteous nest, then "stirred" him the rest of his life to proclaim the glories of the Lord Jesus Christ. May grace do the same for us.
May we all join in heartfelt prayer that God would STIR us, WEAN us, and SEND us out to glorify Christ.
Monday, June 14, 2010
We think it is most evil in our 21st century, and so it is. Sin is more blatant, visible and available today. Yet in the 16th and 17th centuries there was sin. Read this and you will see they were not little sins.Since the fall, there has always been sin. The varieties are endless, the excuses are endless; yet it still takes the same sovereign Lord to preserve us and deliver us. Look at this from Thomas Shephard (1605-1649), American Puritan who emigrated from England. Not sure of the exact date, but the article containing this excerpt was written after his immigration to America. I did not put all the eleven degrees (you likely wouldn't have the time). But, if have the inclination, more of Shephard's writing are available online.
Resting in duties appears in these eleven degrees:
1. The soul of a poor sinner, if ignorantly bred and brought up, rests confidently in superstitious vanities. Ask a devout Papist how he hopes to be saved; he will answer, by his good works. But inquire, further, What are these good works? Why, for the most part, superstitious ones of their own inventions, (for the crow thinks her own bird fairest,) as whipping themselves, pilgrimage, fasting, mumbling over their Paternosters, bowing down to images and crosses.
2. Now, these being banished from the church and kingdom, then men stand upon their token profession of the true religion, although they be devils incarnate in their lives. Look up and down the kingdom; you shall see some roaring, drinking, dicing, carding, whoring, in taverns and blind alehouses; others belching out their oaths, their mouths ever casting out, like raging seas, filthy, frothy speeches; others, like Ismaels, scoffing at the best men; yet these are confident they shall be saved. Why, (say they,) they are no Papists; hang them, they will die for their religion, and rather burn than turn again, by the grace of God. Thus the Jews boasted they were Abraham’s seed; so our carnal people boast: Am not I a good Protestant? Am not I baptized? Do I not live in the church? And therefore, resting here, hope to be saved.
I remember a judge, when one pleaded once with him for his life, that he might not be hanged because he was a gentleman; he told him that therefore he should have the gallows made higher for him: so when you plead, I am a Christian and a good Protestant, (yet you wilt drink, and swear, and whore, neglect prayer, and break God’s Sabbath,) and therefore you hope to be saved; I tell you your condemnation shall be greater, and the plagues in hell the heavier.
Friday, June 4, 2010
BY ANDREW MURRAY
"For your Father knoweth what things you have need of
before you ask Him" (Matthew 6:8).
At first sight it might appear as if this thought makes prayer less needful. If God already knows what we need, then why pray at all? But as we gain a deeper insight into what prayer really is, this truth will help much to strengthen our faith. It will teach us that we do not need the multitude and urgency of our words to compel an unwilling God to listen to us. It will lead to a holy thoughtfulness and silence in prayer as it suggests the question: Does my Father really know that I need this? Yes, He does! Therefore, let us sometimes in our prayers, when we are in danger of being so occupied with our fervent, urgent petitions, as to forget that the Father knows and hears, let us hold still and just quietly say: My Father sees, my Father hears, my Father knows; it will help our faith to take the answer, and to say: We know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him.
From Lord, Teach Us To Pray
Friday, May 21, 2010
(These are more notes from our series of Bible studies on prayer)
ENCOURAGEMENTS TO PRAYER
The Bible has many encouragements, and even some commands to pray. God must consider prayer important, for according to Herbert Lockyer in All the Prayers of the Bible, there are 650 definite prayers, and 450 recorded answers. We have likely all had answered prayers as Christians, prompting some to say “Why do we need encouragements to pray?” Probably we wouldn’t if we prayed more earnestly, and more regularly. We are naturally inclined to be on the lazy side regarding prayer, hence we get into trouble easily.
PURPOSE OF PRAYER
We might take a moment to examine some of the purposes of prayer, for there are more than one to be sure. Perhaps number one is communion with God, for prayer is conversation with the Almighty. When people get into deep trouble, even as unbelievers, they pray or get someone else to pray for them. The story is often told of several people gathered at the hospital where a loved one is in serious condition. The doctors have done about all they can do. One of the relatives asks “What can we do now?” The answer: “We can pray”. Looking shocked, the relative says “Oh no! Is it that serious?” Well, for the true Christian it is always that serious. Prayer should be primary and urgent in our lives. Sadly, it often isn’t; so we need encouragement.
Not only communion, or fellowship with God, but repentance toward God. This is really the beginning of the Christian life, and it is never something we can forego.
Help in our daily walk is another purpose of prayer. In the Lord’s Prayer (so-called), Jesus says
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” Matthew 6:13). We cannot fight the enemies of the world, the flesh, and the devil by ourselves. God protects us from our enemies. We need to praise Him for that daily!
Intercession is another purpose of prayer. We must pray for others, and their needs. Salvation, physical healing, marriage problems, family problems, etc…
Our daily needs, covered under our Lord’s words, our daily bread. Sustenance such as food, shelter and clothing.
Urgent needs. Someone is in desperate shape, for physical healing, finances, salvation, housing, etc… We need to be praying for them.
Last, but not least, thanksgiving. We must be grateful for that which God has already provided. Even when a prayer is not answered just exactly like we think it should be, we must remember that God is sovereign, and that He works according to His own purpose. Remember Romans 8:28
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” We need to be asking according to His will.
SOME ENCOURAGING PRAYER VERSES IN THE BIBLE
1) ALWAYS PRAY. “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1- 8). This is an importunate prayer; a stubborn prayer; a persistent prayer; an urgent prayer.
2) THIS MANNER “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:9-15). Often called The Lord’s Prayer, this really The Model Prayer. It has the main features of prayer needed. It is a concise, but perfect prayer.
It is worth noting that just before this prayer, our Lord says “And When thou prayest” (Matthew 6:5; “But thou, when thou prayest” (Matthew 6:6);“But when ye pray” (Matthew 6:7); then He says “After this manner therefore pray ye” (Matthew 6:9a). That is, He expects His sheep, His People to pray. A non-praying Christian is a oxymoron; a misnomer; an impossibility. You may not pray as you ought, but you will pray if you know Christ.
3) LORD TEACH US TO PRAY “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil" (Luke 11:1-4). This is a considerably shorter version of the prayer found in The Sermon on the Mount, yet here we see clearly it is the same model prayer. Our emphasis here is that Christ is prayer teacher. We may say that, at least part of the time, the Holy Spirit is the prayer sayer. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered"(Romans 8:26).
4)WATCH AND PRAY “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me" (Matthew 26:36-46).
How sleepy we sometimes get as we attempt to watch in prayer. For the disciples, this was an urgent time. They just didn’t comprehend what Jesus would go through, or even what they would go through. Hard as it may be for the flesh, we must learn to bear with Him in prayer. Turn off the TV and video games, put down the novel and spend more time with the Lord.
5)PRAY WITHOUT CEASING “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Quench not the Spirit.
Despise not prophesyings.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
Brethren, pray for us.
Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.
I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen" ( 1 Thessalonians 5:15-28).
These short admonitions from Paul are very vital. Some think he was speaking of praying for a specific thing, but not necessarily, in light of the other verses regarding prayer. It is important we endeavor to be in an attitude of prayer all the time, even when we cannot physically pray.
6) NATIONAL DELIVERANCE “And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:12-15). I hear all the time that we cannot apply these instructions to the church because it was specifically for Israel after Solomon completed the temple. Some would have us so shut up to eras and dispensations, that nothing would apply to us but the Gospels, and not all of them. But, application can often be made of principles God has set forth in His word,in both testaments.
First, He is saying My people. Who are His New Testament people? Of course it is His church.
Second. Which are called by My name. In the New Testament that is a Christian (called by His name). Originally it was possibly a name of shame to the world. But a true follower of Christ is an honorable person, redeemed by His grace, washed in Christ‘s blood..
Third. Humble themselves and pray. Recognizing our smallness; our corruption; our weakness in His sight, so that we may bow down before Him, worship, love and adore Him as the song His Name is Wonderful says. Pray! Again, so important if you desire God‘s help.
Fourth. Seek My face. Seeking His smile, His approval. His grace. His love. His care.
Fifth. Turn from their wicked ways. The only hope for a people, an individual, a nation, a church is to put away wickedness. As long as we continue to play games with God, we will get nowhere.
Sixth. Then will I hear from heaven. God has no trouble hearing. As if He was in the same room with us. He is!
Seventh. Forgive their sin. How wonderful! No one can forgive sin but God. That is why they tried to kill Jesus when He said “Thy sins be forgiven thee” They knew what He was claiming.
Eighth. Heal their land. If we follow this pattern, couldn’t God heal our land? Can we not pray for this very thing? Is He not able to do these things? Nothing is impossible with God!
7) ASK “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Luke 11:9-10). This is found in one of the sections on importunate prayer. I understand that the Greek means “Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.” This is the persistent, importunate, prayer. We often give up, but we must keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. He compares His concern for His children to show that He cares about them in the following verses. “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? " (Luke 11:11-13).
GOD CARES ABOUT HIS CHILDREN!!!