February 28, 2009
First, Paul wept on account of the GUILT of those persons who, having a name to live, were dead, and while uniting themselves with a Christian church, were not walking as they should do among men and before God.
Notice the sin with which he charges them. He says, "Their God was their belly;" by this I understand that they were sensual persons. There were those in the early church who, after they sat at God's table, would go away and sit at the feasts of the heathen, and there indulge in gluttony and drunkenness; others indulged in lusts of the flesh, enjoying those pleasures (so miscalled) which, afterwards, bring unutterable pain even to the body itself, and are disgraceful to men, much more to professors of religion. Their God was their belly.
And while faithful, you will notice that the apostle was, as every true minister should be, extremely affectionate. He could not bear to think that any of the members of the churches under his care should swerve from the truth, he wept while he denounced them; he knew not how to wield the thunderbolt with a tearless eye; he did not know how to pronounce the threatening of God with a dry and husky voice. No; while he spoke terrible things the tear was in his eye, and when he reproved sharply, his heart beat so high with love, that those who heard him denounce so solemnly, were yet convinced that his harshest words were dictated by affection.
"I have told you often, and I tell you, even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ."
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God" 2 Timothy 3:16
The word "inspire" signifies to in-breathe, and breath is both the means and evidence of life; for as soon as a person ceases to breathe he is dead. The Word of God, then, is vitalized by the very life of God, and therefore it is a living Book. Men's books are like themselves—dying creatures; but God's Book is like Himself—it "lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:23).
Yet, let it be pointed out that, unless we are on our guard, our belief of this fact is liable to lead us into error. Because the Scriptures are a living Book, some seem to think they possess, abstractly, some magical virtue of their own. Have you never heard one say, "Give them the Word of God—it will do its own work"; he meant well—but expressed himself inaccurately.
More than the Scriptures are needed to bring a sinner out of darkness into God's marvelous light—namely, the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. It is only as He applies the Word—that the conscience is pierced, the heart searched, and the will moved. Perhaps someone retorts, "But did not Christ say in John 6:63 'the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life,' and does not that prove the very words of Scripture are life-giving?" Ah, go back to the first part of that very verse, "It is the Spirit who gives life"! We must not separate the Spirit from the Word—He is the Divine Agent, the Word is the instrument which He uses.
On the other hand, we must not exalt the Spirit, to the detriment of the Word. It is sadly wrong to say that, "Apart from the Spirit, the Scriptures are a dead letter." How can they be such when "inspired of God"—imbued with His very "breath" or life! Well, then, since they are a living Word, will they not impart life of themselves? No!
Let me use an illustration. The farmer sows wheat in his ground—it is good wheat, possessing a living germ. Will it "do its own work" and yield an increase? Not of itself—if there is no rain—there will be no grain. So the Seed of the Word may lie in the hearts of sinners—but until the Spirit descends as dew from Heaven, it never springs up into life!
February 27, 2009
The true reason for all this avoidance of one of the most heavenly portions of God's Word lies in the fact that the spirit of this Song is not easily attained. Its music belongs to the higher spiritual life, and has no charm in it for unspiritual ears. The Song occupies a sacred enclosure into which none may enter unprepared. "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground," is the warning voice from its secret tabernacles.
The historical books I may compare to the outer courts of the Temple; the Gospels, the Epistles, and the Psalms, bring us into the holy place or the Court of the priests; but the Song of Solomon is the most holy place: the holy of holies, before which the veil still hangs to many an untaught believer.
It is not all the saints who can enter here, for they have not yet attained unto the holy confidence of faith, and that exceeding familiarity of love which will permit them to commune in conjugal love with the great Bridegroom.
We are told that the Jews did not permit the young student to read the Canticles—that years of full maturity were thought necessary before the man could rightly profit by this mysterious Song of loves; possibly they were wise, at any rate the prohibition foreshadowed a great truth. The Song is, in truth, a book for full-grown Christians. Babes in grace may find their carnal and sensuous affections stirred up by it towards Jesus, whom they know, rather "after the flesh" than in the spirit; but it needs a man of fuller growth, who has leaned his head upon the bosom of his Master, and been baptized with His baptism, to ascend the lofty mountains of love on which the spouse standeth with her beloved.
The Song, from the first verse to the last, will be clear to those who have received an unction from the holy One, and know all things. You are aware, dear friends, that there are very few commentaries upon the Epistles of John. Where we find fifty commentaries upon any book of St. Paul, you will hardly find one upon John.
Why is that? Is the book too difficult? The words are very simple; there is hardly a word of four syllables anywhere in John's Epistles. Ah! but they are so saturated through and through with the spirit of love, which also perfumes this Book of Solomon, that those who are not taught in the school of communion, cry out, "We cannot read it, for it is sealed."
The Song is a golden casket, of which love is the key rather than learning. Those who have not attained unto heights of affection, those who have not been educated by familiar intercourse with Jesus, cannot come near to this mine of treasure, "seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of heaven."
O for the soaring eagle wing of John, and the far-seeing dove's eyes of Solomon; but the most of us are blind and cannot see afar off.
May God be pleased to make us grow in grace, and give us so much of the Holy Spirit, that with feet like hind's feet we may stand upon the high places of Scripture, and this morning have some near and dear intercourse with Christ Jesus.
Excerpt from A Sermon (No. 558) Delivered on Sunday Morning, February 28th, 1864, by the Rev. C. H. SPURGEON, At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
Solomon’s Song 1:4
“We will remember thy love more than wine.”
Today we conclude our journey down this river of Christ's love. As I looked back to part one and two, I realized how soon I have forgotten the beauty and joy of the scenary that flooded my eyes, heart, and soul at the beginning of this journey. Oh, Lord, I pray that You will ever increase the capacity of my mind, heart and soul to retain within the love of Christ.
When any of you meet together, it is always a good thing to make Christ the theme of your conversation. Oh, what a deal of idle gossip there is even on Sundays. Many people do not go out on Sunday afternoon, so they must talk about something. They do not like to talk about their trade; that would be too secular, they fancy. They do not like to talk about strictly sacred things; that might appear hypocritical, they think. So they begin, "Have you ever heard so-and-so preach?” "Yes, I did once.” "Did you like him?” So, from one, they go on to others, and ministers and their sermons become the bones that they pick on Sunday afternoons.
They feel that they must have some theme for their conversation not quite sacred, nor wholly secular.
I would advise you to talk more about the Lord Jesus Christ than you have been wont to do; you will be less likely to forget his love if you are often talking of him. Let the music of his name ring in your ears all the day long; and if you would have it ring in your ears, it must ring from your tongue. Whenever you have the opportunity, tell out the marvelous story of his great love to you; so will your own memory be refreshed, and others, listening to your testimony, will also get a large, and, it may be, an everlasting blessing.
May God now grant to you, my dear hearers, that you may retain a sense of Christ's love to you, if you have ever enjoyed it!
If you never have, may God now give it to you!
If you have never come to Christ, come to him now. Remember that Jesus loves sinners. Those who are now farthest from him, when they once return to him, shall know that he loves them.
If you "take with you words,” and come unto him, groaning and sighing, he will not cast you out.
He stands now with open arms, and freely invites you. Come to him, I beseech you. As his ambassador, I entreat you to come; if you do so, he will fold you to his bosom. All that the heirs of heaven can have, you shall have. All that the glorified saints are now enjoying shall yet be your privilege also. You shall one day walk with Christ in white, and see his face, and be with him in Paradise, and be blessed throughout eternity.
May God grant us his grace now, that our text may become the cheerful sonnet of our experience, "We will remember your love more than wine."
Reflecting back: "Mere mortal joys write their record on the sand, and their memory is soon effaced; but Christ's love is like an inscription cut deeply into marble, the remembrance of it is deeply engraven in our hearts. The joy of the creature is something like a lithograph cut lightly on the stone; when the stone is cleaned, the picture is gone; but the love of Christ is like the steel engraving, it is deeply cut, and cannot be easily erased. Earthly joys tread with light feet, and leave but a faint impression; but the love of Christ treads into the very core of our soul at every footstep, and therefore it is that we remember it better than we remember any earthly pleasure."
February 26, 2009
Solomon’s Song 1:4
“We will remember thy love more than wine.”
Let me give you a little practical advice as to how you may keep constantly in your mind a remembrance of Jesus Christ's love.
One of the first things I would recommend to you is, "frequent meditation". See if you cannot more often get a quarter of an hour all alone, that you may sit down, and turn over and over again the love of Christ to you. Remember that souls grow more by meditation than by anything else.
The cattle go round the fields, and crop the grass; that is like hearing the Word. But, afterwards, they lie down in a quiet corner, and chew the cud; that is like meditating upon what we have heard. Get a quarter of an hour, if you can, to masticate and digest the Word. "A quarter of an hour!” says someone; "why, I could not get five minutes!” I would not be hard with you, dear brother, but I do you think could; days can sometimes be lengthened out, either at one end or at the other. If you cannot extend the day at the night end, cannot you pull it out at the morning end?
Is there not a possibility of a little saving of time at some hour during the day? You will do none the less work for allowing time for meditation and prayer. Our old proverb says, "Prayer and provender hinder no man's journey;” and I believe that prayer and meditation hinder no man's work. Do try to get a little time to think about your soul.
What, so much time to be occupied with this dusty, sinful world, and so little time to be devoted to that which relates to heaven! So much time to be employed concerning food, and drink, and clothes, and so little time to be given to thoughts of our precious Savior and all his loveliness! Do get a little time alone, beloved, for that will help to keep you right. You would not forget your Master's love nearly as much as you presently do, if you would secure more time for meditation upon it.
Another means of remembering Christ's love is this. "Take care that you are not content with what you knew of Christ's love yesterday". You want to know a little more about it today, and you ought to know still more about it tomorrow.
Some Christians do not commune with their Lord nearly as often as they ought; I wonder how they manage to live on in such a fashion. They get a little manna once a month, and they try to live on that until another month comes round. They meet with their Savior, perhaps, at the communion table, -and not always then, -and they are content to live from day to day without having fellowship with him. Do not be one of that order of Christians.
Seek for daily-no, more than that, -continual communion with the Lord Jesus Christ. You are to pray for daily bread; then, surely, he who bade you do that must mean that you should seek to be fed daily with himself, who is the Bread of heaven. I do not like to hear people talk about what they knew of Jesus five or six years ago, unless they can also tell something of what they know of him now.
What would you think of a wife who said, "My husband spoke kindly to me some years ago; and I saw him five years ago, but I have not seen him since"? You would say, "How can the woman live, if she is a loving wife, without seeing her husband? Is he in the same house with her, and yet has he not spoken to her all that while?” The Lord Jesus is always near to you, and do you mean to say that you can live without fellowship with him? You, you can, for some of you do; but I beg you not to live so any longer, for it is a poor, starving way of dragging on a miserable existence.
You who have just enough religion to make you wretched; you have not enough to make you happy- get a great deal more of it. Drink deeply at the heavenly spring of fellowship. If you learn a little more about Christ every day, you will not be likely to forget what you already know of him.
Then, again, as another way of keeping in your heart what you do know- take care, when you have a sense of Christ's love, that you let it go down deeply. If there were a nail so placed that it would slacken its hold a little every day for six days- if I had the opportunity of driving it in the first day, I would try to drive it in right up to the head, and to clinch it. So, if you have not much time for fellowship and communion with Christ, if you have only a short season for meditation, try to drive the nail well home.
Do not be content with merely thinking about Christ, seek to see him before your eyes as 'manifestly crucified'. See him as he groans in the garden, and do not be content unless you can groan with him. See him as he hangs upon the cross, and do not rest satisfied until you can feel that you are crucified with him. Realize your fellowship with him as he rises from the tomb, for this will help very much to keep you right.
I have heard the story of a man, who was passing by a house where a poor idiot lad, with a piece of sandpaper, was scouring away at a brass plate. The man asked what he was doing, and he replied, "I am trying to scour the name out.” "Ah!” said the other, "you may scour away as long as you like, but you will never be able to do that.” And so, methinks, I see the devil scouring away at some of you, trying to get the name of Jesus out of your heart. Scour away, Satan, if you like; but you will never get it out, for it is too deeply cut. If Christ's name is engraved upon your heart, Satan may try to get it out, but he will never succeed in doing so; it shall never be obliterated, but shall shine all the more brightly for his attempts to remove it.
February 25, 2009
Solomon’s Song 1:4
“We will remember thy love more than wine.”
Lastly, I would put before you A FEW PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS AS TO PRESERVING A DEEPER AND MORE SINCERE REMEMBRANCE OF CHRISTS LOVE than you have hitherto done.
The old Puritanical divines frequently compared their hearers to the Egyptian dog that ran to the Nile, and drank, and then ran away; they came up to the meeting-house, and heard the minister, took a little sip of the gospel, which sufficed them, and then they were off. One preacher said that he wished they were like the fishes; not come and lap at the stream, as the dog did; but swim in it, and live in it.
There are too many, in this age, who are content with hearing a little of Christ's love; a sip by the way is all that they seem to need. But it would be far better if you could come up to Rutherford's ideal, "I would have my soul sunk over its masthead in a sea of love to Christ. I would be sunken fifty fathoms deep in the mighty shoreless ocean of his love, so that there might be nothing left of me, and that I might be swallowed up in love to Christ, and in Christ's love to me.”
I expect, dear brethren and sisters that your complaint is that you cannot recollect good things as you sincerely would. I know very well how you feel. You hear a sermon, and become, for a while, absorbed in holy meditation; but you have to return to your shop early tomorrow morning, and you only quitted it as late as twelve o'clock on Saturday night. There are six days for the world, and only one for heaven; it is no wonder that you find the sermon so difficult to remember.
You remind me of a person going out into a garden, on a dark night, carrying a lighted candle. If the wind should blow, there is such a careful shielding of the light with the hand, lest it should be blown out. In like manner, it is but a feeble light that you bear away from the public ministry, and there are ten thousand winds blowing around you, and trying to put it out. You must indeed be careful to keep it alight all the week in your recollection.
continue tommorrow...practical steps
Solomon’s Song 1:4
“We will remember thy love more than wine.”
The next effect will be, "holy practice". When we remember the love of Christ to us, we shall hate sin. Feeling that he has bought us with his precious blood, we shall abhor the very name of iniquity. When Satan tempts us, we shall each one say, "Get gone; for I will have nothing to do with you; I remember Christ's love to me.”
Have you never heard the story of the Indian woman, who, when she was enticed by some great chief, who wished to lead her astray made to him this noble answer, "I know no one in the world to be beautiful or attractive but my husband"? So will the believer say, when he is tempted, "I know of nothing that is good but Christ; I know of no one who is so fair as he is; so begone, black Satan, my heart is given wholly to Christ, and I will have nothing to do with you.”
Another effect of remembering the love of Christ will be, "repose of heart in time of trouble".
When we have, for a while, lost the light of God's countenance; when we are like the apostle in that great storm at sea, and are in a place where two seas meet, and our vessel is already broken by the violence of the waves.
When darkness increases our fears, or daylight reveals fresh dangers, then is it specially sweet to remember the love of our Lord.
In such a time as that, the tried believer can say, "He did love me once, and his love never changes. Though I cannot now see the light of his countenance, I know that he is still the same as he ever was. I remember the garden of delights where he revealed his love to me, and the banqueting house where he gave me such choice fare; and I feel persuaded that he has not forgotten his poor spouse, but that he will come to her again, and once more lift her out of the mire, set her feet upon a rock, put a new song into her mouth, and establish her goings.”
A constant remembrance of Christ's love to us will make us always cheerful, dutiful, holy.
Dear Lord, grant us this boon; for if you will enable us to remember your love more than wine, you will give us all good things in one. Let your good Spirit but keep us up to this good resolution, and we shall be both holy and happy, honoring you and rejoicing in you.
February 24, 2009
Solomon’s Song 1:4
“We will remember thy love more than wine.”
I have to hurry over these different points; but if you enjoy hearing about this subject as much as I delight in preaching upon it, you would not mind listening to me all night long, and I should not mind preaching right through the night. Surely, this is a theme that sets one's tongue at a happy liberty. "My tongue is the pen of a ready writer” if I can but feel the love of Christ shed abroad in my heart.
Now, thirdly, I am to speak of THE PRACTICAL EFFECTS OF REMEMBERING CHRIST'S LOVE.
If we remember the love of Christ to us, the first practical effect will be that "we shall love him". Can I remember your love to me, O my sweet Lord, and not love you in return? Surely, Dr. Watts was right when he wrote,
"Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
With all your quickening powers,
Come, shed abroad a Savior's love,
And that shall kindle ours.”
True is it, O Jesus, that there is no light of love in our hearts except the light of your love! It is the holy fire from your altar that must kindle the incense in the 'censer of our hearts'. There is no living water to be drawn out of these dry wells- you, O Jesus, must supply them from the bubbling spring in your own heart! When my heart is conscious of your love, it loves you in return.
Another practical effect of remembering Christ's love will be, "love to the brethren". When we remember Christ's love as we ought, we shall not meet one of Christ's brethren without falling in love with him directly. Christ has some very poor brethren, and some very unhandsome ones. David sent to enquire whether there were any left of the house of Saul to whom he might show kindness for Jonathan's sake. Ziba told him that Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth, who was lame on his feet. What did David do when he heard this? Did he say, "I will have nothing to do with him; I do not want a lame fellow like that stumbling about my palace "? Oh, no! he might be lame on his feet, but he was Jonathan's son; so David sent for him, and said to him, "You shall eat bread at my table continually.”
Did you ever know one of Christ's beloved who was lame on his feet? There is a little lameness, somewhere or other, about all of them; and if we only love those saints who are very holy, it will seem as if we only loved them for their own sakes; but if we love Christ's deformed and crippled children, that looks like loving them for his sake.
And, methinks, if you could remember what a clumsy child YOU were yourself, you would not look with such disdain upon any of God's other children. Ministers have much to bear in connection with some of their people. One man's judgment is so keen that you are always afraid of saying something amiss in his presence; another man's temper is so hot that you cannot meddle with him for do not fear should provoke a quarrel; another man is so worldly that, although he has the grace of God in his heart, it seems to be only like a spark in damp tinder. Christ has many very unseemly children; yet if we can but see that they are Christ's, if they have only a little likeness to him, we love them directly for his sake, and are, willing to do what we can for them out of love to him.
The remembrance of the love of Christ to us will, I repeat, always kindle in us a love towards all the brethren.
Solomon’s Song 1:4
“We will remember thy love more than wine.”
Earthly comforts, too, like wine, leave but a mingled impression. In this 'cup of joy' there is always a 'dash of sorrow'. There is nothing we have here below which is not somewhat tainted with grief. Solomon has warned us against the sparkling wine: "Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it gives it's color in the cup, when it moves itself aright. At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder.” Even "friendship", the very cream of joy, trembles on the confines of disappointment, as it is written, "Cursed be the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm.”
But in Christ's love there is nothing for you ever to regret; when you have enjoyed it to the full, you cannot say that there has been any bitterness in it. When you have come forth from the secret chamber of communion with your Lord, you have realized the purity of his love, there has been nothing to qualify your enjoyment of it. When you have been to a party of your friends, you have said, "I have been very happy, but I could not enjoy myself there six days in a week;” but when you have been with Christ, you have felt that you could enjoy yourself in that way to all eternity; you could not have too much of such fellowship, for there was nothing in it to mar your happiness.
True, there is the remembrance of your sin, but that is so sweetly covered by your Lord's forgiveness and graciousness, that his love is indeed better than wine. It has had all the good effects of wine, and none of its ill results.
Equally true is it that the remembrance of earth's comforts, of which wine is the type, must be but 'transient'. If the sinner could live many days, and have much wealth, would he remember it when he entered the unseen world? Ah! he might remember it, but it would be with awful sighs and sobs. You know how Abraham spoke, across the great gulf, to the rich man in hell, "Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and you are tormented.”
But we can say, of the love of Christ, that it is better than wine, for we shall rejoice to remember it for all eternity. We shall recount the labors of him who lived and died for us. That is what we shall talk of in heaven; sure I am that this is the theme of all the music and songs of Paradise:
Jesus, the Lord, their harps employs,
Jesus, my Love, they sing!
Jesus, the life of all our joys
Sounds sweet from every string.”
Do you not see, then, why this comparison is made in our text? We remember Christ's love more than the best earthly comforts, because they make but a feeble impression, a mingled impression, a marred impression, and their impression, at best, is but transient; but the love of Christ is remembered as something that is better than wine.
February 23, 2009
Solomon’s Song 1:4
“We will remember thy love more than wine.”
I think, my dear friends, I might give you twenty reasons why it would be impossible for the children of God to forget the love of Christ to them; but above and beyond every other reason is this one-
'Christ will not let his people forget his love'. If, at any time, He finds them forgetful, He will come to them, and refresh their memories.
If all the love they have ever enjoyed should be forgotten by them, He will give them some fresh manifestations of love. "Have you forgotten my cross?” He asks; "then I will cause you to remember it afresh, for at my table I will manifest myself to you as I have not done of late.
Do you forget what I did for you in the council chamber of eternity? Then I will remind you of it, for you still need a Counselor, and I will come to your relief just when you are at your wits' end, and I will give you wisdom.
Have you forgotten that I called you to myself when you were a stranger! I will bring you back from your wanderings, and then you will recollect me again.”
Mothers do not let their children forget them if they can help it? If the boy has gone to Australia, and he does not write home, his mother writes to him, "Has my John forgotten his mother?” Then there comes back a sweet epistle, which lets the mother know that the gentle hint she gave him was not lost.
So is it with Christ; He often says to one of his forgetful children, "What! is your heart cold to Him who loved you so much that He could not live in heaven without you, but must need come to earth, go out into the wilderness, up to the cross, and down to the grave, in order to find you?”
Be sure that He will have our hearts; prone to wander, He knows that they are, and we feel it ourselves, but He will have them. Oh, that He would drive the nail of the cross right through your hearts, that it might be forever fastened there! Painful might the process be; some sharp affliction might rend your flesh; yet, if that would bring you near your Lord, and keep you near Him, you might thank Him even for the affliction, and love Him all the more because of it.
Now, let us advance another step, and look at THE COMPARATIVE RESOLUTION:
"We will remember your love more than wine.”
Why is "wine” mentioned here? I take it to be used here as a figure. The fruit of the vine represents the chief of earthly luxuries. "I will remember your love more than the choicest or most exhilarating comforts which this world can give me.” We have many things which we might compare to wine, in the good and in the bad sense, too. Good, because they cheer, and comfort, and invigorate; bad, because, when we rely upon them, they intoxicate, they overthrow, and cast down to the ground.
We very readily remember the good things of earth for a season. When creature comforts abound with us, and we have happy and merry days, we recollect them; and when nights of darkness come upon us, we remember the days of our brightness, and we talk of them. It is so with the widow bereaved of her husband; she remembers the days of her happiness, when the partner of her joys was with her; she recollects his affectionate words, and his sweet deeds of love. In the case of the mother bereaved of her child, she recalls the love that child had to her, and the solace it was to her when her little one slept on her bosom. Have you become poor? Then the "wine” that you recollect is the wealth you once possessed; you remember how you had no need to tramp over weary miles, and to shiver in the wintry cold. Now that your pain has come, you recollect your former joy, and it makes your present pain all the more painful.
This "wine” may be, to a minister, the joy of being successful; and there may come to him days when his chapel will be half-empty, and then he will look back, with regret, upon the joys he once possessed. The spouse says, "We will remember your love more than all earthly comforts.” She cannot help doing so; if she could, she would recollect the world rather than heaven; she would have a remembrance of creature comforts, and she would be forgetful of her Lord. The fact is, the impression which the love of Christ makes on the true believer is far greater and deeper than the impression which is made by anything earthly.
Mere mortal joys write their record on the sand, and their memory is soon effaced; but Christ's love is like an inscription cut deeply into marble, the remembrance of it is deeply engraven in our hearts. The joy of the creature is something like a lithograph cut lightly on the stone; when the stone is cleaned, the picture is gone; but the love of Christ is like the steel engraving, it is deeply cut, and cannot be easily erased. Earthly joys tread with light feet, and leave but a faint impression; but the love of Christ treads into the very core of our soul at every footstep, and therefore it is that we remember it better than we remember any earthly pleasure.
Solomon’s Song 1:4
“We will remember thy love more than wine.”
Thus, then, in the summary of Christ's loves, which I will now humbly endeavor to pass in review, it will be necessary for me to mention, not only the love we have heard about, but the love we have felt and enjoyed.
Do not suppose, dear brothers and sisters, that I am able to refresh your memories upon this sacred subject. It is the Holy Spirit's work to assist you in that matter; but I do trust that the resolution contained in our text will be formed in the heart of every one of you, "We will remember your loves more than wine,” and that you will have the grace to carry out that resolution.
Here then, beloved, we have A RESOLUTION POSITIVELY EXPRESSED: "We will remember your love.”
Why does the spouse speak so positively? Because she is inspired; she is not like Simon Peter when he said, "Although all shall be fall away, yet I will not.” She is speaking the truth, for she will not forget the love of her Lord. Why is that? For one very good reason, because she cannot.
If the Church could forget Christ's love to her, she would do so. She is such a forgetful wife that all her Husband's affections would be lost upon her, were it possible. But that cannot be; there is something about the love of Christ that makes it adhere to those upon whom it is bestowed; we cannot forget it.
It enters into the heart, like, wine that seasons the cask, and the scent thereof abides:
It pervades the soul;
It imbues every faculty;
It brings the secret thoughts into obedience to Christ;
It flows through every vein of hope and fear, passion and desire.
So the spouse could truthfully say to her Lord, "We will remember your love.” The virtue was not in her own constancy, but in the tenacity of his affection, wherefore she could not help remembering it.
What is there, in the love of Christ; that will compel us to remember it? The things that we recollect best are of certain kinds. Some things that we remember best have been 'sublime' things:
When we have stood, for the first time, where we could see a lofty mountain, whose snowy summit pierced the thick ebony clouds, we have said, "We shall never forget this sight.”
When Humboldt, the great traveler, had his first view of the vast prairies of North America, he declared that he could never forget the sensations of that moment. I can imagine how Dr. Livingstone, when he first came in sight of the magnificent falls which he discovered, might well say, "To my dying day, I shall hear the rushing of that tremendous stream of water.”
I can myself remember an unusually violent thunderstorm, when the lightnings flew across the heavens, flash after flash, without a moment's pause, as though a thousand suns were dashing through the sky. I also recollect the consternation of men and women when a neighboring house was smitten by the lightning, and burned with a terrific blaze, which could scarcely be seen by reason of the brightness of the lightning. My recollection of that terrible scene will never depart from me.
The sublimity of what we have seen often causes us to remember it. So is it with the love of Christ. How it towers to heaven! And mark how brightness succeeds brightness, how flash follows after flash of love unspeakable and full of glory! There is no pause, no interval of darkness or blackness, no chasm of forgetfulness. Its sublimity compels us to remember its manifestation.
Again, we are pretty sure to recollect 'unusual' things. If we were asked whether we recollected that the sun had risen, we might say, "It is not a matter of memory at all. I feel certain that it did, though I did not see it rise.” But if we are asked if we ever saw an eclipse, "Oh, yes!” we reply, "we recollect that; we remember watching it, and, how disappointed we were because it was not so dark as we expected it to be.”
Many people do not notice the stars much, but who forgets the comet? Everybody recollects that phenomenon of nature because it is unusual. When we see something strange, uncommon, out of the ordinary way, the memory at once fixes upon it, and holds it fast. So is it with the love of Christ. It is such an extraordinary thing, such a marvelous thing, that the like was never known. Ransack history, and you cannot find its parallel.
There is but one love that is like it, that is the love of the Father to his only-begotten Son. Besides this, there is nothing to which we can compare the love of Christ to his people. That "constellation of the cross” is the most marvelous that is to be seen in the spiritual sky; the eye, once spellbound by its charms, must retain its undying admiration, because it is the greatest wonder of wonders, and miracle of miracles which the universe ever saw.
Sometimes, too, things which are not important in themselves are fixed on the memory because of 'certain circumstances which happen in association with them'. The country people often say, if you ask them whether they recollect such-and-such a year, "Ah, yes! it was the year of the hard frost, wasn't it?” Another time they will say, "Why, yes! that was the year when the blight fell upon our gardens, and all our potatoes were of no use, and we were nearly starved that winter. Circumstances help to make us recollect facts. If something particular in politics should happen on our birthday, or our wedding day, or on some other notable occasion, we should say, "Oh, yes! I recollect that; it happened the day I was married, or the day so-and-so was buried.”
Now, we can never forget the love of Christ, because the circumstances were so peculiar when, for the first time, we knew anything at all about it. We were plunged in sin and ruin; we were adrift on the great sea of sin, we had no hope, we were ready to sink, and no shore was near; but Jesus came and saved us. We can never forget those circumstances; with some of us, they were truly awesome, beyond all description. Therefore, we cannot forget the time when Jesus love first dawned upon our minds.
February 22, 2009
Solomon's Song 1:4
Though we ought to recollect what we have heard, and what we have been taught, I think the spouse means more than this. "We will remember your loves,"-not only what we have been told, but what we have felt.
Come, dear hearers, let each one of you speak for yourselves; or, rather, do you think of this for yourselves, and let me speak of it for you.
I will remember your love, O Jesus; your love to me when I was a stranger, wandering far from God; the love which restrained me from committing 'deadly' sin, and withheld my hand from self-destruction!
I will remember the love which tracked me in my course- "When Satan's blind slave, I sported with death.”
I will remember the love which held back the axe when Justice said, "Cut it down; why does it cumber the ground?”
I will remember the love that took me into the wilderness, and stripped me there of all my self-righteousness, and made me feel my weight of guilt, and the burden of my iniquity.
Specially will I remember the love which said to me, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest.” I cannot forget that matchless love which, in a moment, washed my sins away, and made my spotted soul white as the driven snow.
Can you forget, my brothers and sisters, that happiest of days when Jesus first whispered to you, "I am yours, and you are mine"? I can never forget the transporting hour when He spoke thus to me; it is as fresh in my memory now as if it had only happened this afternoon. I could sing of it, if it were right to stop a sermon for a sonnet; I could sing of that love, passing all measure, which took my soul, and washed it in the precious blood of Jesus, and then clothed it in the spotless robe of his righteousness.
O love divine, you do excel all other loves, that you could deal with such a rebellious, traitorous worm, and make that worm an heir of heaven!
But we have more love than this to recollect- all the love that we have felt since then.
I will remember the valley of Baca and the hill Mizar; nor shall my soul forget those chambers of fellowship where you have unveiled yourself to me. If Moses had his cleft in the rock, where he could see the back parts of his God, we also have had our clefts in the rock, where we have seen the full splendors of the Godhead in the person of Christ. Did David remember the tracks of the wild goat, where he was hunted on the mountains- the cave of Adullam, and the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites? We, too, can remember spots equally dear to these in blessedness. "The Lord has appeared of old unto me, saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you.”
Christian, can you not recollect the sweet exchanges there have been between yourself and your Lord, when you have left your griefs at his feet, and borne away a song?
Can you not remember some happy seasons when you went to him empty, and came away full? Is your heart heavy just now? It has not always been so. There have been times when, like David, you could dance before the Lord; times of holy merriment when, like Miriam, you could strike your timbrel, and say to those around you, "Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously.” There have been times when Jesus and you have not been strangers to one another, for He has linked His arms in yours, and walked along with you; and there have been other times when your head has been upon His bosom, and you could feel his heart beating with warm love to you.
February 21, 2009
Today, while waiting for my Tax software to download (I'm on dial-up and the dialog box read "45 minutes remaining"), I decided to pull a book off the shelf and pass the time by reading. I flipped to page 303 of volume III of "The Treasury of the Bible" by C.H. Spurgeon. The sermon title was "A Refreshing Canticle" and the text was:
"We will remember thy love more than wine." Solomon's Song 1:4
It is eleven pages long. As I started reading, it was as if the words were being lifted off the page in rapid motion and sent straight to my heart. I will be reproducing it on this blog over the course of this coming week, in little bite size pieces. I hope you will stay and graze a little each day on this magnificent proclamation of "LOVE":
The Hebrew word for "love” here is in the plural: "We will remember your LOVES.” Do not think, however, that the love of Jesus is divided, but know that it has different channels of manifestation. All the affections that Christ has, he bestows upon his Church; and these are so varied that they may well be called "loves” rather than "love.”
By this expression we must understand, of course, all the love of Jesus, from the beginning even to the end; or, rather, to that eternity which has no end. We will remember those acts of love of which we have heard with our ears, and our fathers have declared unto us. It has been told us by inspired prophets, and God has revealed it to us in his Word, by his Spirit, that Jesus Christ loved us from before the foundation of the world. We believe that his love is no passion of modern date, -no mere spasm of pity. It is ancient as his glory, which he had with the Father before the world was, it is one of the things of eternity. This love divine is not a spring that welled up only a few days ago, but it is an everlasting fountain, which has never ceased to flow.
We will remember, O Jesus, that love of yours which was displayed in the council chamber of eternity, when you did, on our behalf, interpose as the Arbitrator and Mediator; when you did strike hands with your Father, and become our Surety, and take us as your betrothed!
We will remember that love which moved you to undertake a work so burdensome to accomplish an enterprise which none but yourself ever could have achieved.
We will remember the love which suggested the sacrifice of yourself; the love which, until the fullness of time, mused over that sacrifice, and longed for the hour of which, in the volume of the Book it was written of you, "Lo, I come.”
We will remember your love, O Jesus, as it was manifested to us in your holy life, from the manger of Bethlehem to the garden of Gethsemane! We will track you from the cradle to the grave, for every word and every deed of your was love.
You, wherever you did walk, did scatter loving kindnesses with both your hands. As it is said of your Father, "God is love,” so, surely, you are love, O Jesus! The fullness of the Godhead dwells in you; the essence of love, nothing else but love, is your incarnate person.
And specially, O Jesus, will we remember your love to us upon the cross!
We will view you as you come from the garden of your agony, and from the hall of your flagellation.
We will gaze upon you with your hands and your feet nailed to the accursed tree.
We will watch you when you could, if you had willed it, have saved yourself; but when you did, nevertheless, give up your strength, and bow yourself downward to the grave that you might lift us up to heaven.
We will remember your love which you did manifest through your poor, bleeding hands, and feet, and side.
We will remember this love of your until it invigorates and cheers us "more than wine,"-the love, of which we have heard, which you have exercised since your death, the love of your resurrection, the love which prompts you continually to intercede before your Father's throne, that burning lamp of love which will never let you hold your peace until your chosen ones are all safely housed, and Zion is glorified, and the spiritual Jerusalem is settled on her everlasting foundations of light and love in heaven.
We will remember all your love, from its beginning in the eternal past to the eternity that is to come; no, we will try to project our thoughts and imagination, and so to remember that, long as eternity shall continue, even forever and for evermore, so long shall your love exist in all its glory, undiminished in its luster or its force. "We will remember your love more than wine.”
The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them.
In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them – the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society – and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on. Their life is divided, like a soldier’s or a student’s life, into time “on the job” and “off the job”, “in school” and “out of school”.
But the third class is of those who can say, like St Paul, that for them “to live is Christ”. These people have got rid of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of Self and God by the simple expedient of rejecting the claims of Self altogether. The old "egoistic will" has been turned round, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.
And because there are three classes, any merely twofold division of the world into good and bad is disastrous. It overlooks the fact that the members of the second class (to which most of us belong) are always and necessarily unhappy. The tax which moral conscience levies on our desires does not in fact leave us enough to live on. As long as we are in this class we must either feel guilt because we have not paid the tax or penury because we have.
The Christian doctrine that there is no “salvation” by works done to the moral law is a fact of daily experience. Back or on we must go. But there is no going on simply by our own efforts. If the new Self, the new Will, does not come at His own good pleasure to be born in us, we cannot produce Him synthetically.
The price of Christ is something, in a way, much easier than moral effort – it is to want Him.
C. S. Lewis
February 20, 2009
There is such a thing as unconditional love in God, but it's not what most people mean by it.
It's not a saving love that he has for everybody. Else everybody would be saved, since they would not have to meet any conditions, not even faith. But Jesus said everybody is not saved (Matthew 25:46).
It's not the love that justifies sinners since the Bible says we are justified by faith, and faith is a condition (Romans 5:1).
It's not the love of working all things together for our good because Paul says that happens "to those who love God" (Romans 8:28).
It's not the love of the most intimate fellowship with the Father because Jesus said, "He who loves me will be loved by my Father" (John 14:21). And James said, "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you" (James 4:8).
It's not the love that will admit us into heaven when we die because John says, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10). And faithfulness is a condition.
How then does God love unconditionally? Two ways (at least):
He loves us with electing love unconditionally. "He chose us in him before the foundation of the world . . . for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:4-5).
He does not base this election on foreseeing our faith. On the contrary, our faith is the result of being chosen and appointed to believe, as Acts 13:48 says, "As many as were appointed to eternal life believed."
He loves us with regenerating love before we meet any condition. The new birth is not God's response to our meeting the condition of faith. On the contrary, the new birth enables us to believe. "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been [already!] born of God," (1John 5:1). "[We] were born, not . . . of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13).
Let us pray that thousands of people who speak of the unconditional love of God would discover the biblical meaning of what they say. If that happened many would find their feet on solid ground.
For the most part, we are a nation of Christians by profession--and a nation of heathens in practice.
There is to be found in the religious world--what may be termed--a pretty, cultured sort of evangelism, which too well combines luxurious ease, and serving of the world, and the flesh--not to say of the devil also. But such kind of religion will not prepare the soul for sickness, death, and eternity. At best, it will leave the soul a prey to the most fearful delusions of false peace. The way that leads to eternal life is much more narrow than many of our modern professors are aware of--the gate is too straight to allow all their trifling, and self-will, and worldliness, and carnal-mindedness, to press through it.
February 17, 2009
I am often misunderstood in “Christian” circles. So, this is my attempt to share my heart with anyone reading this blog:
The delight of my heart is to see men who love the Lord so much that they spend more time in the Word of God and in prayer than they do with the TV remote in their hand.
The delight of my heart is to see God raise young men up (or revive the hearts of older men) in positions of leadership in such a way that they actually bring Him glory; equip the saints; and, usher more souls into the Kingdom of God.
The delight of my heart is to be used by God to encourage and equip (in a non-authoritarian way) men to better serve the body of Christ as leaders because there is nothing that delights me more than to see men being used the way in which God has ordained.
The delight of my heart is to see men of God who are well equipped to take on the roles and responsibilities that God intended for them—both in the home and in the local church.
As a single woman, I have been free to concern myself wholly with the Lord's affairs, as Paul said in I Corinthians 7, and my aim in life has been to grow in the knowledge of my Lord and Savior; and, in so doing to not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of my mind, in order that I will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will; To be transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. This has been the desire of my heart for many years.
So that I might be equipped to be salt and light to a dying and lost world. So, that my pathetic life on this earth might bring Him glory! So, that I might know what it is to love Him with all my heart, with all my understanding and with all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself; so that Christ might dwell in my heart through faith and being rooted and established in love; and that I may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ; so that all who I come into contact with and all who have not met me personally may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; so that I might have a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith; so that my love might give others great joy and encouragement, because God has used me to refresh the hearts of the saints.
As a single woman, I have been allowed to keep my heart as the Bride of Christ in a very special sense and my desire and focus as been to offer to the Heavenly Bridegroom, alone, all that I am and all that I have. As a single women, I have been allowed to give myself willingly to Him, in love exclusively, and I have no need to justify myself to the world or to Christians who plague me with questions and suggestions about “finding a man” or “wouldn’t I feel more complete if I were married”.
In this way, I have had opportunities (not open to the married woman). I have no husband or children to devote my time to and have been allowed to devote a great deal of time to Him.
With this comes difficulty. With this comes the reality that some men (and women) find me intimidating.
Why? Perhaps you might ask yourself, "WHY"?
I want men in the pulpits.
I want men teaching Sunday school.
I want men leading Bible Studies.
I want men being the spiritual leaders of their families.
But, I want them equipped!
The idea of seeing women in those roles disgusts me! This is not a game. This is not a play in which we all take on a role and wear a mask to pacify our conscience or feed our weak, prideful egos.
This is "life" and this is all that matters.
"Where are the young men of this generation who will hold their lives cheap, and be faithful even unto death, who will lose their lives for Christ's, flinging them away for love of Him? Where are those who will live dangerously, and be reckless in this service? Where are the men of prayer? Where are the men who count God's Word of more importance to them than their daily food? Where are the men, who, like Moses of old, commune with God face to face as a man speaks with his friend? Where are God's men in this day of God's power?"
February 16, 2009
The following is an excerpt from a sermon that C.H. Spurgeon preached on the above text. I found it very unusual and quite thought provoking. I have never heard anyone talk about "being proud of grace". Something perhaps we should ponder.
Some have the pride of grace. That is a curious fact; but there is such a thing as being proud of grace. A man says, "I have great faith, I shall not fall; poor little faith may, but I never shall." " I have fervent love," says another man, "I can stand, there is no danger of my going astray; as for my brother over there, he is so cold and slow, he will fall, I dare say."
Says another, "I have a most burning hope of heaven, and that hope will triumph; it will purge my soul from sense and sin, as Christ the Lord is pure. I am safe." He who boasts of grace, has little grace to boast of. But there are some who do that, who think their graces can keep them, knowing not that the stream must flow constantly from the fountain head, else the bed of the brook shall soon be dry, and ye shall see the pebbles at the bottom. If a continuous stream of oil come not to the lamp, though it burn brightly to-day, it shall smoke to-morrow, and noxious will be the scent thereof. Take heed that thou neither gloriest in thy talents nor in thy graces.
I hope I have touched some here; I trust the lancet has been sharp; I have taken the scalpel, and I hope I have discovered something. O ye presumptuous ones, I speak to you; and I shall do so while next I warn you of your danger.
I shall be more brief on the second point--THE DANGER. He who thinks he stands is in danger of a fall. The true Christian cannot possibly suffer a final fall, but he is very much disposed to a foul fall. Though the Christian shall not stumble so as to destroy his life, he may break his limb. Though God has given his angels charge over him, to keep him in all his ways, yet there is no commission to keep him when he goes astray; and when he is astray he may thrust himself through with many sorrows.
First, take heed, because so many have fallen. My brother, could I take thee into the wards of that hospital where lie sick and wounded Christians, I could make you tremble. I would show you one, who, by a sin that occupied him not a single moment, is so sore broken, that his life is one continued scene of misery. I could show you another one, a brilliant genius, who served his God with energy, who is now--not a priest of the devil it is true, but almost that--sitting down in despair, because of his sin.
I could point you to another person, who once stood in the church, pious and consistent, but who now comes up to the same house of prayer as if he were ashamed of himself, sits in some remote corner, and is no longer treated with the kindness he formerly received, the brethren themselves being suspicious, because he so greatly deceived them, and brought such dishonor upon the cause of Christ.
Oh! did ye know the sad pain which those endure who fall. Could ye tell how many have fallen, (and have not perished, it is true,) but still have dragged themselves along, in misery, throughout their entire existence, I am sure ye would take heed. Come with me to the foot of the mountain of presumption. See there the maimed and writhing forms of many who once soared with Icarian wings in the airy regions of self-confidence; yet there they lie with their bones broken, and their peace destroyed. There lies one who had immortal life within him; see how full of pain he appears, and he looks a mass of helpless matter. He is alive, it is true, but just alive.
And now what more can I say ? Oh ye, my beloved, ye my brethren, think not that ye stand, lest ye should fall. Oh ye fellow heirs of everlasting life and glory, we are marching along through this weary pilgrimage; and I, whom God hath called to preach to you, would turn affectionately to you little ones, and say, take heed lest ye fall.
"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."
Why do we have such an easy time following the "rules" and obeying the "law" when there are immediate, temporal, negative consequences involved if we do not; and yet, think we have little to no control over things we do (that we know we should not do) which have no immediate, negative, temporal consequences?
February 15, 2009
I posed this question to several people and the same ultimate conclusions were expressed by everyone:
1) I don't want a ticket
2) I don't want to get into an accident
Some did begin by answering, "Because it is the law" To which I said, "That simply poses another question: "Why do you obey this law?" and then of course it came back to the reasons expressed in one and two above.
We do not actually go through that thought process every time we come to a red light. However, at some point we did ponder that and make a decision to obey that law and that decision (or choice) has now become habit (without actually thinking about it each time).
Clearly we choose to obey that law to avoid a negative (financial and/or physical) consequence. If you think about all of the decisions and choices you make, you will discover that they are primarily based on your desire for pleasure or to avoid pain, suffering, embarrassment, personal lose, etc.
Question 2: "Have you ever pulled up to a red light; no one is around; the light stays red for what seems like forever; and , you actually start contemplating going through it as you look all around for any sign of a police car?"
Think about how this red light situation is different.
Why do you put your foot on the break and bring the car to a stop, when you come to a red light at an intersection?
February 14, 2009
"They say there is a young lady who is beloved of that great Being who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight, and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on him—that she expects after a while to be received up where he is, to be raised up out of the world and caught up into heaven; being assured that he loves her too well to let her remain at a distance from him always.
There she is to dwell with him, and to be ravished with his love and delight forever…. She has a strange sweetness in her mind, and singular purity in her affections; is most just and conscientious in all her conduct; and you could not persuade her to do anything wrong or sinful, if you would give her all the world, lest she should offend this great Being.
She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness and universal benevolence of mind; especially after this great God has manifested himself to her mind…. She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have someone invisible always conversing with her".
It was Jonathan Edwards in the summer of 1723. We wrote this about Sarah who was thirteen years old at the time! Four years later they were married. In the next 23 years they had eleven children, eight daughters and three sons.
February 12, 2009
As I stood outside this morning and my eyes beheld the two large oak trees next to Grandma’s--standing in their winter nakedness before the sunrise—I thought of the acorns that lay on the ground below (which had fallen below) providing food for the creatures of God and quite possibly the deer which come near the house from time-to-time.
My mind went to a question asked of me by Pastor Grant, months ago; when he was still in good health. As he is physically blind, and we had not much opportunity to speak—I approached him while he sat in one of the chairs at the welcome center at Beacon. Laying my right hand on his right hand, I introduced myself as Michael Wood. Being a little witty, and making reference to my last name, he asked me, “What kind of tree are you?”
My mind went to Psalm 1 (and especially versus 2 and 3) and the immediate answer that came out of my mouth was, “I am an evergreen”. Psalm 1:2, 3 “…His delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
As I glory in the thought of the blessing of God upon my life, and upon all of His chosen, intricately designed by Him to bring glory to Himself, I grow also in my appreciation of His design of all His "trees" (Isaiah 55:12); which bring forth fruit in their season—providing food for all, and especially for the household of faith. And most especially, for those who are like the deer, which panteth by the waters; whose souls longeth after Him. He alone is our hearts desire and we long to worship Him.
You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.
I want you more than gold or silver
Only You can satisfy
You alone are the real joy giver
And the apple of my eye.
You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.
You're my friend and You're my brother
Even though you are a King
I love You more than any other
So much more than anything.
Father, we would ask you today to strengthen us and to cause us to desire you alone above every earthly desire that we may have. We commit our hearts, our souls, our minds—our very being; and every aspect of our lives to You. We lay our all before You, and trust that You will do good; that You are who You are; and You will give grace for Your Glory. In Jesus name. Amen.
William Grant , at the age of 93 ; having kept the faith , having finished his course ; was received into the joy of the LORD AT 2:30 A.M. / 2-11-09 . Unknown to billions in this world , but well know to our Father which is in heaven . A countless multitude will stand before our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ because of the work of His grace through the life of this humble servant who was a faithful husband, father, missionary and pastor .Michael E. Wood
February 11, 2009
From John Piper's blog:
The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University has fulfilled a dream I did not expect to see.
With the 26 volumes of the Yale paper edition of the Works of Edwards selling for over $100 each, I never expected to see every word of Edwards freely available to read, search, and quote on line.
But there it is, like an ocean of hidden treasures and no fees for the diving gear. Amazing. This is a heartfelt thank you to everyone at Yale who dreamed and labored to make this happen.
The agony and the ecstasy of Jonathan Edwards is laid bare in this breathtaking availability of all of that remains of him. From the bill of sale for a slave named Venus (the agony) to 68 titles on Heaven in the Miscellanies (the ecstasy), you can find it with the search engine built into the website. All the printed volumes are available with pagination keyed to the printed version. Besides the printed volumes there are 47 more volumes of material. These are searchable in various ways.
You can enter a scripture text or key words.
You can get your results in a concordance format or with contexts.
You can peruse the sermons by text or chronologically.
You can see the entire list of the Miscellanies and do a word search on the titles, for example, to find all the ones on "Christ's righteousness."
The reason all this matters is not merely that Edwards is the poster boy of intellectual American Historians, but, even more importantly, that, using the lens of Scripture, he saw and believed and described the greatest realities in the universe in ways that few of us would ever see on our own. He saw Jesus Christ through whom and for whom all things exist. And he saw the Gospel—that Christ died for our sins and rose again to be Lord of all.
The website is a gift because Edwards is a greater gift because Christ is the greatest gift to the world.
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2
February 9, 2009
"The Lord has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant." Psalm 35:27
What is "prosperity?" Is it threads of life weaved into a bright outcome? a full cup? ample riches? worldly applause? an unbroken circle? No, these are often a snare; received without gratitude; dimming the soul to its nobler destinies.
It rather means God taking us by the hand into the lowly Valleys of Humiliation; leading us as He did his servant Job of old; out of his sheep, oxen, camels, health, wealth, children; in order that we may be brought before Him in the dust, and say, "Blessed be His holy name!"
Yes! The very reverse of what is known in the world as Prosperity (generally) forms the background on which the Rainbow of Promise is seen. God smiles on us through these rainbows and teardrops of sorrows! He loves us too well. He has too great an interest in our spiritual welfare to permit us to live on in what is misnamed "Prosperity."
When He sees duties languidly performed, or coldly neglected; the heart deadened, and love to Himself congealed by the absorbing power of the present world, He puts a thorn in our nest to drive us to the wing, and prevent our being grovelers forever!
I may not be able now to understand the mystery of these dealings. I may be asking through the tears, "Why this unkind arrest on my earthly happiness? Why so premature a lopping of my boughs of promise? Such a speedy withering of my most cherished gourd?" The answer is plain.
It is your soul’s prosperity He has in view.
John MacDuff (1818-1895)
February 8, 2009
Clearly the terms used here by Christ (in Luke 8:15) are in designed contrast from Jeremiah 17:9—“the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” which describes that which every descendant of Adam is born with.
“An honest and good heart” then is not the natural heart, but one which Divine grace has imparted.
“The preparation (or disposing) of the heart in man...is from the LORD” (Prov. 16:1). It is by the regenerative operations of the Holy Spirit that the heart is made honest. Honesty of heart is the grand distinction between the genuine Christian and all other men. We do not regard it as a separate grace, like purity or humility, but rather is the regulator of all the graces: thus we read of “unfeigned faith” (2 Tim. 1:5) and “unfeigned love” (1 Peter 1:22).
As holiness is the glory of all the Divine perfections, so honesty is what gives colour and beauty to all the Christian’s graces. Holiness is the distinctive glory of the Godhead: as Howe termed it, “an attribute of attributes, casting lustre upon the others.” “As God’s power is the strength of His perfections, so His holiness is the beauty of them: as all would be weak without almightiness to back them, so all would be uncomely without holiness to adorn them” (Charnock). This it is on a lower plane: without honesty to regulate them, the graces of the Christian would be worthless.
As honesty of heart is that which distinguishes the genuine Christian from all other men, so it is the grand feature which is common to all the children of God, none of them being without it.
An honest heart is an “upright” heart (Psa. 7:l0); it is a “single” (Col. 3:22) or “undivided” one (Hosea 10:2).
An honest heart is a “sound” one (Prov. 14:30), a “true” one (Heb. 10:22).
The marks and fruits of an honest heart are candor, genuineness, truthfulness, integrity, righteousness, fidelity, sincerity—in contrast from dissimulation, guile, deceitfulness, pretense, treachery. An honest heart hates all shams. But passing from generalizations let us point out some of the more specific and fundamental workings and manifestations of an honest heart.
An honest heart is open to the Word, not merely to certain portions only, but to the Word as a whole. Such an one sincerely wants the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. He does not wish the preacher to please or flatter him, but to be frank and faithful. The language of the unregenerate is, “Speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isa. 30:10). They desire to hear of an easy and flesh-pleasing road to Heaven, one which does not demand the denying of self and forsaking the world. They want to be at ease in their sins and assured they are the children of God while free to serve the Devil. But it is the very opposite with one having an honest heart.
He is fearful of being imposed upon, and thinking more highly of himself than he has a right to do. If he is deceived, he ardently longs to be undeceived; if he is building his house upon sand, he wants to know it. He is willing to be tested and searched, and therefore he “cometh to the Light”—does so repeatedly and continuously, as the tense of the verb denotes. An honest heart, then, is a Truth-loving heart, one which genuinely desires to know the mind of God, one which is ready for his creed, his character and his conduct to be searched by the light of the Sanctuary.
He wants to know the truth about God, the One with whom he has to do, the One before whom he must yet appear and render an account. He will not be put off with any superficial and sentimental representations of the Divine Character, he determines at all costs to acquaint himself with God as He actually is. He wants to know the truth about himself, whether his soul be only slightly disposed or whether his case be so desperate as to be altogether beyond help. He is anxious to determine whether he has only a head or intellectual knowledge of things that matter most or whether he has been given a heart or spiritual knowledge of them. He wants to make certain of how he stands with regard to God and eternity, and he dare not take any man’s opinion or say-so with regard thereto.
February 6, 2009
He wrote the following journal entry at 14 years of age. As you read it, keep in mind he was 14 years old when he wrote this!:
"How frail the thread! How short is time, and what a small portion is allotted to man to prepare for another world! And yet how careless is he of that time! How frail the thread upon which life hangs! A few hours' illness may carry him away into a world of endless happiness or of endless woe!
What a vain world it is! What a fallen creature is man! Day by day calls forth more hidden depravity of his heart; and yet his whole affections are set upon the very object which is fostering and encouraging that depravity. His great ambition is to win the approbation of the world; a world that slew the King of kings; a world full of sin and sorrow, the medium by which Satan endeavors to blind the eyes of the children of men. And yet, after all, what a vain world it is!
It promises much, but realizes nothing. The more we expect pleasure, the more are we disappointed in it. Oh, what would man be, if instead of seeking the friendship and the love of a dying world, he would seek that of Jehovah! And yet how prone are we to lament when we are frowned upon by the world. If we did not seek its smiles, we would not mind its frowns. But the more we are delighted at the world's praise, the more are we discomforted and made unhappy by its disapprobation.
But take the world as a whole; what is it? A speck in the universe; a ball floating in the air, surrounded by other worlds greater and more magnificent than itself. Shall we love the world which hated and scorned, and ultimately slew our beloved Redeemer?
That ever promising, yet ever deceiving world? How little have appearances to do with realities! The outward show has often the effect of deceiving.
Deceit is, indeed, one of the prominent features in man; he deceives others, he deceives himself. The world is truly a false world. And does it not show the depravity of man's heart when after tasting its bitters, feeling its pains, and experiencing its disappointments and sorrows, he should still cling to that ever promising, yet ever deceiving world?"
Since, for a believer, “to die is gain”--is it any wonder that God ushered him into Glory at such an early age? I know I am sounding really old when I say, "Times have truly changed". But let's face it, most 14 year olds, in the church today, wouldn't want to stop "text messaging" long enough to ever even have these thoughts, let alone, actually articulate them in writing. What am I saying--the truth is--most 45 years olds wouldn't have these thoughts either.