July 29, 2009

"You see me in Christ"

Nevertheless, I am continually with you.
--
Psalm 73:23

"Nevertheless"-as if, notwithstanding all the foolishness and ignorance that David had just been confessing to God, not one atom was it less true and certain that David was saved and accepted, and that the blessing of being constantly in God's presence was undoubtedly his. Fully conscious of his own lost estate and of the deceitfulness and vileness of his nature, yet, by a glorious outburst of faith, he sings, "Nevertheless, I am continually with you."

Believer, you are forced to enter into Asaph's confession and acknowledgment; endeavor in like spirit to say "nevertheless, since I belong to Christ I am continually with God!" By this is meant continually upon His mind-He is always thinking of me for my good.

Continually before His eye-the eye of the Lord never sleeps but is perpetually watching over my welfare.

Continually in His hand, so that none shall be able to pluck me away.

Continually on His heart, worn there as a memorial, even as the high priest bore the names of the twelve tribes upon his heart forever.

You always think of me, O God. The tender mercies of Your love continually yearn toward me. You are always making providence work for my good. You have set me as a signet upon Your arm; Your love is strong as death, and many waters cannot quench it; neither can the floods drown it. Surprising grace! You see me in Christ, and though in myself disapproved, You behold me as wearing Christ's garments and washed in His blood, and so I stand accepted in Your presence. I am therefore continually in Your favor-"continually with you."


Here is comfort for the tried and afflicted soul; vexed with the tempest within, look at the calm without. "Nevertheless"-O say it in your heart, and take the peace it gives. "Nevertheless, I am continually with you."

C. H. Spurgeon (Paraphrased)

July 26, 2009

Do you know this Christ?

"It is finished!" John 19:30

Holy Father, The heavens, the earth, and all that are therein, proclaim Your wondrous goodness. But Your love shines forth in surpassing luster--at Calvary's stupendous scene! At the cross we see Your heavenly grace removing the tremendous load of our iniquities from us--and heaping them all on Your beloved Son!

We see Him standing as a transgressor in our place.
We see Him, who knew no sin--made sin for us.
We see Him, the all-holy One--accounted as a curse!
We see Your justice leading the spotless Lamb to the slaughter--and rigorously demanding the full payment for all our sin-debt!

The avenging sword enters into His very heart! The stream of sin-atoning blood flows! Full recompense is meted out! Divine Justice can ask no more. Charges against us are all obliterated. The debt-book is cancelled. If our sins are searched for, they cannot now be found!The spotless Lamb is devoted to all anguish--that we may be inheritors of all joy.

He is cast off from You--that we may be brought near to You.
He is treated as Your enemy--that we may be welcomed as Your friends.
He is deserted by You--that we may be received to Your everlasting favor.
He is surrendered to hell's worst--that we may attain heaven's best.
He is stripped--that we may be clothed.
He is wounded--that we may be healed.
He thirsts--that we may drink of the water of life.
He is in darkness--that we may rejoice in the glories of eternal day.
He weeps--that all tears may be forever wiped from our eyes.
He groans--that we may sing an endless song.
He endures all pain--that we may rejoice in unfading health.
He wears a crown of thorns--that we may receive a crown of glory.
He bows His head in death--that we may lift up our head in heaven.
He bears earth's reproach--that we may receive heaven's welcome.
He is tormented--that we may be comforted.
He is made all shame--that we may inherit all glory.
His eyes are dark in death--that our eyes may gaze on unclouded brightness.
He dies--that we may escape the second death, and live forevermore.

O gracious Father, thus You spare not Your only begotten Son--that You may spare us! All our sins are cast behind Your back--all are buried in the ocean of reconciling blood! We can only fall low and cry, "We adore You for the gift of Your Son as our substitute; for the death of Your Son as our ransom!"Blessed Jesus, we have been standing beneath Your cross. The sight constrains us to the deepest humility. Our vile iniquity--is the cause of Your shame! We cannot fathom the sins which plunged You into such depths of unutterable woe! We cannot estimate the burden of wrath which thus crushed You. We cannot deny that the sins which stain us are evils of infinite malignity, since nothing but Your blood could wash away their guilty stains! As transgressors, we abhor ourselves before You.

While we humbly gaze--may we anxiously ponder, "Why, blessed Jesus--why did You thus die?" May His precious answer sound through every part of our hearts and souls, "I die--that you may not die. I lay down My life--to purchase your life. I present Myself as a sin-offering to--expiate all your sins. My blood thus streams--to wash out all your guilt. The fountain is thus opened in My side--to cleanse you from all impurity. I thus endure your curse. I thus pay your debt. I thus rescue you from all condemnation. I thus satisfy divine justice for you!"

Henry Law

July 25, 2009

Prosperity?

"Let the LORD be magnified, who 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. Often spiritually, 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 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? Why such a speedy withering of my most cherished gourd?" The answer is plain. It is your soul’s prosperity He has in view. Believe it, your true Ebenezers will yet be raised close by your Zarephaths (the place of furnace).

His afflictions are no arbitrary appointments. There is righteous necessity in all He does. As He lays His chastening hand upon you, and leads you by ways you know not, and which you never would have chosen--He whispers the gentle accents in your ear, 'Beloved I wish above all things that you would prosper, and be in health.'

Rest in the quiet consciousness that all is well. Murmur at nothing which brings you nearer His own loving Presence. Be thankful for your very cares, because you can confidently cast them all upon Him. He has your temporal and eternal "prosperity" too much at heart to appoint one superfluous pang, one needless stroke. Commit therefore, all that concerns you to His keeping, and leave it there!

(John MacDuff, "The Rainbow in the Clouds")

July 23, 2009

Most High God


The universe with all its myriad creatures
is Thine, made by Thy word,
upheld by Thy power, governed by Thy will.

But Thou art also the Father of mercies,
the God of all grace, the bestower of all comfort,
the protector of the saved.
Thou hast been mindful of us,
hast visited us, preserved us,
given us a goodly heritage –the Holy Scriptures,
the joyful gospel, the Saviour of souls,

We come to Thee in Jesus’ name,
make mention of His righteousness only,
plead His obedience and sufferings
who magnified the law both in its precepts
and penalty, and made it honourable.
May we be justified by His blood,
saved by His life, joined to His Spirit.
Let us take up His cross and follow Him.
May the agency of Thy grace prepare us
for Thy dispensations.

Make us willing that Thou shouldest
choose our inheritance and
determine what we shall retain or lose,
suffer or enjoy;


If blessed with prosperity may we be free
from its snares, and use, not abuse, its advantages;
May we patiently and cheerfully submit
to those afflictions which are necessary.
When we are tempted to wander,
hedge up our way, excite in us abhorrence of sin,
wean us from the present evil world,
Assure us that we shall at last enter

Immanuel’s land where none is ever sick,
and the sun will always shine.”

“Third Day Morning:God Creator and Controller,” in The Valley of Vision, Ed. Arthur Bennett (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1975/2002), 387-387.

July 22, 2009

Head and Heart

Our problem is that we tend to fall to one extreme or the other. We can continue adding to our list and expanding our definitions of these attributes without ever engaging or responding to God. We perceive (and too often take pride in) that we are learning more and deepening our knowledge of God. Or we can take a cursory, superficial look at the list, nod our assent or dismiss the “head knowledge,” and seek an experience or emotional peak that is deeper than just mere words or doctrines. Both of these approaches start with a correct but incomplete perspective.

One overvalues, the other undervalues God’s propositional revelation as a key part of His personal revelation. We need both His written Word and the incarnate Word. Unfortunately, the two extreme views often appear to be reactions to each other. Superficial disregard of doctrinal truth drives us to more emphasis on theological clarity. Cold, impersonal theological outlines seem unimportant and anemic compared to the prospect of an encounter with the Subject and Object of the doctrines.


Burroughs understood that the primary way we begin to see God’s glory this side of heaven is through His revealed attributes described in Scripture. God may choose to grace His servants with more direct manifestations of His glory through a vision or extraordinary gift. But those expressions of His Character and His Being and His Nature are more direct demonstrations of those attributes that Burroughs sees as the source of our enjoyment of God.

God is obviously free to sovereignly, graciously grant whatever experience of Himself He chooses to give to a believer. But it seems presumptuous to seek those more dramatic expressions of His glory if we have neglected (if we have not ardently, fervently pursued) His revelation in Scripture. Only arrogance or audacity would lead a beggar to expect a banquet and ignore the nutritious but simple fare he has been provided.

The attributes of God need to be studied in our personal Quiet Time and proclaimed from pulpits until they become a part of our thinking about who God is.

Author Unknown

July 21, 2009

Do you carry a "Black Book"?

You must not imagine when you hear a man swear, or when he is going on in sin- you must not write his name down in the black book, and say, "I am quite sure that man will go to the devil."

No- it may be that God ordains to save that man, and one of these days you will meet him lifting up his voice in prayer,outstripping you, perhaps, in the heavenly race, and serving his Master better than you have done! Jesus Christ takes many to his bosom, whose company we have shunned, when they were in their evil state. Sovereign mercy can dash into sinful places, and take captives! Free grace can go into the gutter, and bring up a jewel! Divine love can rake a dunghill, and find a diamond! There is no spot where God's grace cannot and will not go!

Pile up your walls, bring up the big stones of your iniquity, but Christ shall yet take your citadel and make you a captive! Plunge into the mire if you will, but that strong arm can bring you out and wash you clean. There is not strength enough in sin to overcome his grace! When he puts forth his arm, down you fall.

Let him but once strike, and you may stand and rebel, but the victory is his! You may desire to be damned, but if God wills to save you, His will be more than a match for your will, and you will come crouching down to his feet, saying, "Lord, I will that you save me."

All God's elect shall be saved! God not only saves those who are willing to be saved, but those who are unwilling to be saved, He can make willing in the day of his power!


C.H. Spurgeon

IF YOU ARE GOING TO READ....

“It is indeed to be desired that solid Scriptural theology, like that contained in these pages, should be valued and studied in the church. Books in which Scripture is reverently regarded as the only rule of faith and practice– books in which Christ and the Holy Ghost have their rightful office– books in which justification, and sanctification, and regeneration, and faith, and grace, and holiness are clearly, distinctly, and accurately delineated and exhibited, these are the only books which do real good.

Few things need reviving more than a taste for such books as these among readers. For my own part, I can only say that I read everything I can get hold of which professes to throw light on my Master’s business, and the work of Christ among men. But the more I read, the less I admire modern theology. The more I study the productions of the new schools of theological teachers, the more I marvel that men and women can be satisfied with such writing.

There is a vagueness, a mistiness, a shallowness, an indistinctness, a superficiality, an aimlessness, a hollowness about the literature of the ‘broader and kinder systems,’ as they are called, which, to my mind, stamps their origin on their face. They are of the earth, earthy. I find more of definite soul-satisfying thought in one page of Gurnall than in five pages of such books… In matters of theology the old is better.”

–J.C. Ryle, written April 23, 1864, in “A Biographical Account of the Author,” in William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1662/2002), xliii.

AMEN!

July 20, 2009

"Not so much an attribute as it is His very essence."

"God is love." John 4:16

You have thought of Him, perhaps, as the God of holiness, as the God of justice, as the God of power, as the God of judgment; come now and meditate upon Him as the God of love; and while you thus muse on this marvelous and soul-subduing truth, may the fire of a responsive affection kindle in your heart, and your tongue break forth into thanksgiving and praise.God is essentially the God of love.

The words which suggest our present meditation emphatically declare this: "God is love." This is, perhaps, the most sublime sentence of the Bible. It is a sentence which only could arise from a divine mind. It is at once simple and grand, intelligible and affecting. It involves a truth in which an angel's mind might expatiate, and which a child's can grasp. It reaches to the highest, and descends to the lowest intellect. That the abstract term love, and not the concrete term loving, should be employed, expresses something beyond the ordinary meaning of the word. And what is the truth thus embodied? Just the one we are now attempting to vindicate- that God is essential love. Love is not so much an attribute of God as it is His very essence. It is not so much a moral perfection of His being as it is His being itself. He would not be God were He not love. To deny that He is love would be to deny that He is God. To unrobe Him of this essential quality of His nature would be tantamount to the unrobing Him of His essential Godhead. He would not be God were He not love! As I have remarked, this is the central perfection, around which, as satellites, all the others revolve, and from which, as harmonized in the salvation of man, they derive their position and luster. Thus, for example omnipotence is the power of love; omniscience is the eye of love; omnipresence is the atmosphere of love; holiness is the purity of love; justice is the fire of love; and thus might we travel the circle of the Divine perfections, and each one would be found to be but another form of the essential perfection of love

In the words, "God is love," we have a perfect portrait of the eternal and incomprehensible Jehovah, drawn by His own unerring hand.

Octavious Winslow

"The mode of expression here adopted differs materially from that usually employed by the inspired writers in speaking of the Divine perfections. They say, God is merciful, God is just, God is holy; but never do they say, God is mercy, God is justice, God is holiness. In this instance, on the contrary, the apostle, instead of saying, God is loving, or good, or kind, says 'God is love,' love itself.

By this expression, we must understand that God is all pure, unmixed love, and that the other moral perfections are so many modifications of this love. Thus, His justice, His mercy, His truth, His faithfulness, are but so many different names of His love or goodness. As the light which proceeds from the sun may easily be separated into many different colors, so the holy love of God, which is the light and glory of His nature, may be separated into a variety of moral attributes and perfections. But, though separated, they are still love. His whole nature and essence is love. His will, His works, His words, are love; He is nothing, and can do nothing but love." (Payson)

Love is NOT a choice (Conclusion)

Today, we conclude this series. I began the series by stating, "I get so tired of hearing modern Christian leaders saying, "Love is not a feeling, it's a choice". Love is no more a choice then faith is a choice! One cannot choose to love any more than one can choose to believe. Love is the most misunderstood word in the English language and the most misrepresented human emotion on the face of this earth." Love is not a "feeling" nor a "choice"--it is a fruit of the Spirit. When we are born-again, it is planted in our souls and the only way that it will grow, is if it is: 1) Watered by the Word of God; 2) Fertilized by Communion with God in prayer; and, 3) Warmed by the the illuminating light of the Spirit of God. So let us continue now to see if we can find these fruits, so foreign to our natures, growing in our souls.

12. He who loves God will endeavour to make Him appear glorious in the eyes of others. Such as are in love will be commending and setting forth the amiableness of those persons whom they love. If we love God, we shall spread abroad His excellencies, that so we may raise His fame and esteem, and may induce others to fall in love with Him. Love cannot be silent; we shall be as so many trumpets, sounding forth the freeness of God’s grace, the transcendency of His love, and the glory of His kingdom. Love is like fire : where it burns in the heart, it will break forth at the lips. It will be elegant in setting forth God’s praise: love must have vent.

13. Another fruit of love is to long for Christ’s appearing. "Henceforth there is a crown of righteousness laid up for me, and not for me only, but for them which love Christ’s appearing" (2 Tim. iv. 8). Love desires union; Aristotle gives the reason, because joy flows upon union. When our union with Christ is perfect in glory, then our joy will be full. He that loves Christ loves His appearing. Christ’s appearing will be a happy appearing to the saints. His appearing now is very comforting, when He appears for us as an Advocate (Heb. ix. 24). But the other appearing will be infinitely more so, when He shall appear for us as our Husband. He will at that day bestow two jewels upon us. His love; a love so great and astonishing, that it is better felt than expressed. And His likeness. "When he shall appear, we shall be like him" (1 John iii. 2). And from both these, love and likeness, infinite joy will flow into the soul. No wonder then that he who loves Christ longs for His appearance. "The Spirit and the bride say come; even so come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. xxii. 17, 20). By this let us test our love to Christ. A wicked man who is self-condemned, is afraid of Christ’s appearing, and wishes He would never appear; but such as love Christ, are joyful to think of His coming in the clouds. They shall then be delivered from all their sins and fears, they shall be acquitted before men and angels, and shall be for ever translated into the paradise of God.

14. Love will make us stoop to the meanest offices. Love is a humble grace, it does not walk abroad in state, it will creep upon its hands, it will stoop and submit to anything whereby it may be serviceable to Christ. As we see in Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, both of them honourable persons, yet one takes down Christ’s body with his own hands, and the other embalms it with sweet odours. It might seem much for persons of their rank to be employed in that service, but love made them do it. If we love God, we shall not think any work too mean for us, by which we may be helpful to Christ’s members. Love is not squeamish; it will visit the sick, relieve the poor, wash the saints? wounds. The mother that loves her child is not coy and nice; she will do those things for her child which others would scorn to do. He who loves God will humble himself to the meanest office of love to Christ and His members.

These are the fruits of love to God. Happy are they who can find these fruits so foreign to their natures, growing in their souls.

July 19, 2009

Love is NOT a choice - (Part Six)

We continue now with Thomas Watson's "Test". He states in his introduction: LET us test ourselves impartially whether we are in the number of those that love God. For the deciding of this, as our love will be best seen by the fruits of it, I shall lay down fourteen signs, or fruits, of love to God, and it concerns us to search carefully whether any of these fruits grow in our garden.

10. Another blessed sign of love is, to entertain good thoughts of God. He that loves his friend construes what his friend does, in the best sense. "Love thinketh no evil" (1 Cor. xiii. 5). Malice interprets all in the worst sense; love interprets all in the best sense. It is an excellent commentator upon providence; it thinks no evil. He that loves God, has a good opinion of God; though He afflicts sharply, the soul takes all well. This is the language of a gracious spirit: "My God sees what a hard heart I have, therefore He drives in one wedge of affliction after another, to break my heart. He knows how full I am of bad humours, how sick of a pleurisy, therefore He lets blood, to save my life. This severe dispensation is either to mortify some corruption, or to exercise some grace. How good is God, that will not let me alone in my sins, but smites my body to save my soul!" Thus he that loves God takes everything in good part. Love puts a candid gloss upon all God’s actions. You who are apt to murmur at God, as if He had dealt ill with you, be humbled for this; say thus with yourself, "If I loved God more, I should have better thoughts of God." It is Satan that makes us have good thoughts of ourselves, and hard thoughts of God. Love takes all in the fairest sense; it thinketh no evil.

11. Another fruit of love is obedience. "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me" (John xiv. 21). It is a vain thing to say we love Christ’s person, if we slight His commands. Does that child love his father, who refuses to obey him? If we love God, we shall obey Him in those things which cross flesh and blood. (i.) In things difficult, and (ii.) In things dangerous.

(i.) In things difficult. As, in mortifying sin. There are some sins which are not only near to us as the garment, but dear to us as the eye. If we love God, we shall set ourselves against these, both in purpose and practice. Also, in forgiving our enemies. God commands us upon pain of death to forgive. "Forgive one another" (Ephes. iv. 32). This is hard; it is crossing the stream. We are apt to forget kindnesses, and remember injuries; but if we love God, we shall pass by offences. When we seriously consider how many talents God has forgiven us, how many affronts and provocations He has put up with at our hands; this makes us write after His copy, and endeavour rather to bury an injury than to retaliate it.


(ii.) In things dangerous. When God calls us to suffer for Him, we shall obey. Love made Christ suffer for us, love was the chain that fastened Him to the cross; so, if we love God, we shall be willing to suffer for Him. Love has a strange quality, it is the least suffering grace, and yet it is the most suffering grace. It is the least suffering grace in one sense; it will not suffer known sin to lie in the soul unrepented of, it will not suffer abuses and dishonours done to God; thus it is the least suffering grace. Yet it is the most suffering grace; it will suffer reproaches, bonds, and imprisonments, for Christ’s sake. "I am ready not only to be bound, but to die, for the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts xxi. 13). It is true that every Christian is not a martyr, but he has the spirit of martyrdom in him. He says as Paul, "I am ready to be bound": he has a disposition of mind to suffer, if God call. Love will carry men out above their own strength. Tertullian observes how much the heathen suffered for love to their country. If the spring-head of nature rises so high, surely grace will rise higher. If love to their country will make men suffer, much more should love to Christ. "Love endureth all things" (I Cor. xiii. 7).


Basil speaks of a virgin condemned to the fire, who having her life and estate offered her if she would fall down to the idol, answered, "Let life and money go, welcome Christ." It was a noble and zealous speech of Ignatius, "Let me be ground with the teeth of wild beasts, if I may be God’s pure wheat." How did divine affection carry the early saints above the love of life, and the fear of death! St. Stephen was stoned, St. Luke hanged on an olive-tree, St. Peter crucified at Jerusalem with his head downwards. These divine heroes were willing to suffer, rather than by their cowardice to make the name of God suffer. How did St. Paul prize his chain that he wore for Christ! He gloried in it. as a woman that is proud of her jewels, says Chrysostom. And holy Ignatius wore his fetters as a bracelet of diamonds. "Not accepting deliverance" (Heb. xi. 35). They refused to come out of prison on sinful terms, they preferred their innocency before their liberty.

By this let us test our love to God. Have we the spirit of martyrdom? Many say they love God, but how does it appear? They will not forego the least comfort, or undergo the least cross for His sake. If Jesus Christ should have said to us, "I love you well, you are dear to me, but I cannot suffer, I cannot lay down my life for you," we should have questioned His love very much; and may not Christ suspect us, when we pretend to love Him, and yet will endure nothing for Him?

July 18, 2009

Love is NOT a choice (Part Five)

We will interrupt Thomas Watson's treatise (for one post in this series) to allow Jonathan Edwards to chime in on holy love.

The Scriptures do represent true religion, as being summarily comprehended in love, the chief of the affections, and fountain of all other affections.

So our blessed Savior represents the matter, in answer to the lawyer, who asked him, which was the great commandment of the law Matt. 22:37-40: "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Which last words signify as much, as that these two commandments comprehend all the duty prescribed, and the religion taught in the law and the prophets.

And the apostle Paul does from time to time make the same representation of the matter; as in Rom. 13:8, "He that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law." And ver. 10, "Love is the fulfilling of the law." And Gal. 5:14, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

So likewise in 1 Tim. 1:5, "Now the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart". So the same apostle speaks of love, as the greatest thing in religion, and as the vitals, essence and soul of it; without which, the greatest knowledge and gifts, and the most glaring profession, and everything else which appertains to religion, are vain and worthless; and represents it as the fountain from whence proceeds all that is good, in 1 Cor. 13 through out; for that which is there rendered charity, in the original is αγαπη, the proper English of which is love.

Now, although it be true, that the love thus spoken of includes the whole of a sincerely benevolent propensity of the soul towards God and man; yet it may be considered, that it is evident from what has been before observed, that this propensity or inclination of the soul, when in sensible and vigorous exercise, becomes affection, and is no other than affectionate love. And surely it is such vigorous and fervent love which Christ speaks of, as the sum of all religion, when he speaks of loving God with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our minds, and our neighbor as ourselves, as the sum of all that was taught and prescribed in the law and the prophets.

Indeed it cannot be supposed, when this affection of love is here, and in other Scriptures, spoken of as the sum of all religion, that hereby is meant the act, exclusive of the habit, or that the exercise of the understanding is excluded, which is implied in all reasonable affection. But it is doubtless true, and evident from these Scriptures, that the essence of all true religion lies in holy love; and that in this divine affection, and an habitual disposition to it, and that light which is the foundation of it, and those things which are the fruits of it, consists the whole of religion.

From hence it clearly and certainly appears, that great part of true religion consists in the affections. For love is not only one of the affections, but it is the first and chief of the affections, and the fountain of all the affections.

From love arises hatred of those things which are contrary to what we love, or which oppose and thwart us in those things that we delight in: and from the various exercises of love and hatred, according to the circumstances of the objects of these affections, as present or absent, certain or uncertain, probable or improbable, arise all those other affections of desire, hope, fear, joy, grief, gratitude, anger, etc. From a vigorous, affectionate, and fervent love to God, will necessarily arise other religious affections; hence will arise an intense hatred and abhorrence of sin, fear of sin, and a dread of God's displeasure, gratitude to God for his goodness, complacence and joy in God, when God is graciously and sensibly present, and grief when he is absent, and a joyful hope when a future enjoyment of God is expected, and fervent zeal for the glory of God. And in like manner, from a fervent love to men, will arise all other virtuous affections towards men.

Love is NOT a choice! (Part Four)

Part One started with this statement:


"I get so tired of hearing modern Christian leaders saying, "Love is not a feeling, it's a choice". Love is no more a choice then faith is a choice! One cannot choose to love any more than one can choose to believe. Love is the most misunderstood word in the English language and the most misrepresented human emotion on the face of this earth."

It is so important that one really ponder this. It is also important that we be cautious as to how he counsel others regarding "love".

As Thomas Watson continues, "These are the fruits of love to God. Happy are they who can find these fruits so foreign to their natures, growing in their souls.":

8. The next fruit of love is fear. In the godly love and fear do kiss each other. There is a double fear arises from love.

(i.) A fear of displeasing. The spouse loves her husband, therefore will rather deny herself than displease him. The more we love God, the more fearful we are of grieving His Spirit. "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Gen. xxxix. 9). When Eudoxia, the empress, threatened to banish Chrysostom; Tell her (said he) I fear nothing but sin. That is a blessed love which puts a Christian into a hot fit of zeal, and a cold fit of fear, making him shake and tremble, and not dare willingly to offend God.

(ii.) A fear mixed with jealousy. "Eli’s heart trembled for the ark" (1 Sam. iv. 13). It is not said, his heart trembled for Hophni and Phinheas, his two sons, but his heart trembled for the ark, because if the ark were taken, then the glory was departed. He that loves God is full of fear lest it should go ill with the church. He fears lest profaneness (which is the plague of leprosy) should increase, lest popery get a footing, lest God should go from His people. The presence of God in His ordinances is the beauty and strength of a nation. So long as God’s presence is with a people, so long they are safe; but the soul inflamed with love to God fears lest the visible tokens of God’s presence should be removed.

By this touchstone let us test our love to God. Many fear lest peace and trading go, but not lest God and His gospel go. Are these lovers of God? He who loves God is more afraid of the loss of spiritual blessings than temporal. If the Sun of righteousness remove out of our horizon, what can follow but darkness? What comfort can an organ or anthem give if the gospel be gone? Is it not like the sound of a trumpet or a volley of shot at a funeral?

Number 9 is lengthy; but probably one of the most important concepts to ponder about our love to God:

9. If we are lovers of God, we love what God loves.

(i.) We love God’s Word. David esteemed the Word, for the sweetness of it, above honey (Psalm cxix. 103), and for the value of it, above gold (Psalm cxix. 72). The lines of Scripture are richer than the mines of gold. Well may we love the Word; it is the load-star that directs us to heaven, it is the field in which the Pearl is hid. That man who does not love the Word, but thinks it too strict and could wish any part of the Bible torn out (as an adulterer did the seventh commandment), he has not the least spark of love in his heart.

(ii.) We love God’s day. We do not only keep a sabbath, but love a sabbath. "If thou call the sabbath a delight" (Isa. lviii. 13). The sabbath is that which keeps up the face of religion amongst us; this day must be consecrated as glorious to the Lord. The house of God is the palace of the great King; on the sabbath God shows Himself there through the lattice. If we love God we prize His day above all other days. All the week would be dark if it were not for this day; on this day manna falls double.

Now, if ever, heaven-gate stands open, and God comes down in a golden shower. This blessed day the Sun of righteousness rises upon the soul. How does a gracious heart prize that day which was made on purpose to enjoy God in.

(iii.) We love God’s laws. A gracious soul is glad of the law because it checks his sinful excesses. The heart would be ready to run wild in sin if it had not some blessed restraints put upon it by the law of God. He that loves God loves His law — the law of repentance, the law of self-denial. Many say they love God but they hate His laws. "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us" (Psa. ii. 3). God’s precepts are compared to cords, they bind men to their good behaviour; but the wicked think these cords too tight, therefore they say, Let us break them. They pretend to love Christ as a Saviour, but hate Him as a King. Christ tells us of His yoke (Matt. xi. 29). Sinners would have Christ put a crown upon their head, but not a yoke upon their neck. He were a strange king that should rule without laws.

(iv.) We love God’s picture, we love His image shining in the saints. "He that loves Him that begat, loves him also that is begotten of him" (1 John v. 1). It is possible to love a saint, yet not to love him as a saint; we may love him for something else, for his ingenuity, or because he is affable and bountiful. A beast loves a man, but not as he is a man, but because he feeds him, and gives him provender. But to love a saint as he is a saint, this is a sign of love to God. If we love a saint for his saintship, as having some-thing of God in him, then we love him in these four cases.

(a) We love a saint, though he be poor. A man that loves gold, loves a piece of gold, though it be in a rag: so, though a saint be in rags, we love him, because there is something of Christ in him.

(b) We love a saint, though he has many personal failings. There is no perfection here. In some, rash anger prevails; in some, inconstancy; in some, too much love of the world. A saint in this life is like gold in the ore, much dross of infirmity cleaves to him, yet we love him for the grace that is in him. A saint is like a fair face with a scar: we love the beautiful face of holiness, though there be a scar in it. The best emerald has its blemishes, the brightest stars their twinklings, and the best of the saints have their failings. You that cannot love another because of his infirmities. how would you have God love you?

(c) We love the saints though in some lesser things they differ from us. Perhaps another Christian has not so much light as you. and that may make him err in some things; will you presently unsaint him because he cannot come up to your light? Where there is union in fundamentals, there ought to be union in affections.

(d) We love the saints, though they are persecuted. We love precious metal, though it be in the furnace. St. Paul did bear in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus (Gal. vi. 17). Those marks were, like the soldier’s scars, honourable. We must love a saint as well in chains as in scarlet. If we love Christ, we love His persecuted members.

If this be love to God, when we love His image sparkling in the saints, oh then, how few lovers of God are to be found! Do they love God, who hate them that are like God? Do they love Christ’s person, who are filled with a spirit of revenge against His people? How can that wife be said to love her husband, who tears his picture? Surely Judas and Julian are not yet dead, their spirit yet lives in the world. Who are guilty but the innocent! What greater crime than holiness, if the devil may be one of the grand jury!

Wicked men seem to bear great reverence to the saints departed; they canonize dead saints, but persecute living. In vain do men stand up at the creed, and tell the world they believe in God, when they abominate one of the articles of the creed, namely, the communion of saints. Surely, there is not a greater sign of a man ripe for hell, than this, not only to lack grace, but to hate it.

continued tomorrow...

July 17, 2009

Love is NOT a Choice! - (Part Three)

These are the fruits of love to God. Happy are they who can find these fruits so foreign to their natures, growing in their souls. Thomas Watson

Part One
He who is in love, his thoughts are ever upon the object. He who loves God is ravished and transported with the contemplation of God.

The next fruit of love is desire of communion. Love desires familiarity and intercourse.

Part Two
Where there is love to God, there is a grieving for our sins of unkindness against Him.

Love is valorous, it turns cowardice into courage. Love will make one venture upon the greatest difficulties and hazards.


Let us further ponder what "Love" is and whether we have, at least, the seed of it germinating in our soul:


5. The fifth fruit of love is sensitiveness. If we love God, our hearts ache for the dishonour done to God by wicked men.

To see, not only the banks of religion, but morality, broken down, and a flood of wickedness coming in; to see God’s sabbaths profaned, His oaths violated, His name dishonoured; if there be any love to God in us, we shall lay these things to heart. Lot’s righteous soul was "vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked" (2 Pet. ii. 7). The sins of Sodom were as so many spears to pierce his soul. How far are they from loving God, who are not at all affected with His dishonour? If they have but peace and trading, they lay nothing to heart. A man who is dead drunk, never minds nor is affected by it, though another be bleeding to death by him; so, many, being drunk with the wine of prosperity, when the honour of God is wounded and His truths lie a bleeding, are not affected by it. Did men love God, they would grieve to see His glory suffer, and religion itself become a martyr.

6. The sixth fruit of love is hatred against sin. Fire purges the dross from the metal. The fire of love purges out sin. "Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols!" (Hos. xiv. 8). He that loves God will have nothing to do with sin, unless to give battle to it. Sin strikes not only at God’s honour, but His being. Does he love his prince that harbours him who is a traitor to the crown? Is he a friend to God who loves that which God hates? The love of God and the love of sin cannot dwell together. The affections cannot be carried to two contrarieties at the same time. A man cannot love health and love poison too; so one cannot love God and sin too. He who has any secret sin in his heart allowed, is as far from loving God as heaven and earth are distant one from the other.

7. Another fruit of love is crucifixion. He who is a lover of God is dead to the world. "I am crucified to the world" (Gal. vi. 14). I am dead to the honours and pleasures of it. He who is in love with God is not much in love with anything else. The love of God, and ardent love of the world, are inconsistent. "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John ii. 15).

Love to God swallows up all other love, as Moses’ rod swallowed up the Egyptian rods. If a man could live in the sun, what a small point would all the earth be; so when a man’s heart is raised above the world in the admiring and loving of God, how poor and slender are these things below! They seem as nothing in his eye. It was a sign the early Christians loved God, because their property did not lie near their hearts; but they "laid down their money at the apostles’ feet" (Acts iv. 35).
Test your love to God by this. What shall we think of such as have never enough of the world? They have the dropsy of covetousness, thirsting insatiably after riches: "That pant after the dust of the earth" (Amos ii. 7). Never talk of your love to Christ, says Ignatius, when you prefer the world before the Pearl of price; and are there not many such, who prize their gold above God? If they have a south-land, they care not for the water of life. They will sell Christ and a good conscience for money. Will God ever bestow heaven upon them who so basely undervalue Him, preferring glittering dust before the glorious Deity? What is there in the earth that we should so set our hearts upon it! Only the devil makes us look upon it through a magnifying glass. The world has no real intrinsic worth, it is but paint and deception.

July 16, 2009

Love is NOT a choice! - (Part Two)

Yesterday we began a series on Love. See Part One for the introduction.

As you continue reading, continue, also, to ask the Lord to show you if any of these fruits of genuine God given love grow in the garden of your heart:

3. Another fruit of love is grief. Where there is love to God, there is a grieving for our sins of unkindness against Him. A child which loves his father cannot but weep for offending him. The heart that burns in love melts in tears. Oh! that I should abuse the love of so dear a Saviour! Did not my Lord suffer enough upon the cross, but must I make Him suffer more? Shall I give Him more gall and vinegar to drink? How disloyal and disingenuous have I been! How have I grieved His Spirit, trampled upon His royal commands, slighted His blood! This opens a vein of godly sorrow, and makes the heart bleed afresh. "Peter went out, and wept bitterly" (Matt. xxvi. 75). When Peter thought how dearly Christ loved him; how he was taken up into the mount of transfiguration, where Christ showed him the glory of heaven in a vision; that he should deny Christ after he had received such signal love from Him, this broke his heart with grief: he went out, and wept bitterly.

By this let us test our love to God. Do we shed the tears of godly sorrow? Do we grieve for our unkindness against God, our abuse of mercy, our non-improvement of talents? How far are they from loving God, who sin daily, and their hearts never smite them! They have a sea of sin, and not a drop of sorrow. They are so far from being troubled that they make merry with their sins. "When thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest" (Jer. xi. 15). Oh wretch! did Christ bleed for sin, and do you laugh at it? These are far from loving God. Does he love his friend that loves to do him an injury?

4. Another fruit of love is magnanimity. Love is valorous, it turns cowardice into courage. Love will make one venture upon the greatest difficulties and hazards. The fearful hen will fly upon a dog or serpent to defend her young ones. Love infuses a spirit of gallantry and fortitude into a Christian. He that loves God will stand up in His cause, and be an advocate for Him. "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts iv. 20). He who is afraid to own Christ has but little love to Him. Nicodemus came sneaking to Christ by night (John iii. 2). He was fearful of being seen with Him in the day-time. Love casts out fear. As the sun expels fogs and vapours. so divine love in a great measure expels carnal fear. Does he love God that can hear His blessed truths spoken against and be silent? He who loves his friend will stand up for him, and vindicate him when he is reproached. Does Christ appear for us in heaven, and are we afraid to appear for Him on earth? Love animates a Christian; it fires his heart with zeal, and steels it with courage.

continued tomorrow....

July 15, 2009

Love is NOT a choice!

I get so tired of hearing modern Christian leaders saying, "Love is not a feeling, it's a choice". Love is no more a choice then faith is a choice! One cannot choose to love any more than one can choose to believe. Love is the most misunderstood word in the English language and the most misrepresented human emotion on the face of this earth.

What I see missing in the church today is genuine Spirit-Filled, God given love. Real Love! As I watch students picketing (in the name of Christ) on college campuses against homosexuality, I see hate and rage in their eyes. As I listen to those who follow "The Way of the Master" street evangelism techniques, I see pride in their eyes and hear arrogance and hatred in their voices - as if they are somehow better then those whose eyes are still blind. It is an ugly thing.

This will begin a series of posts on what love looks like (Real Love) from the pen of Thomas Watson. As you read ask the Lord to show you if any of these fruits of genuine God given love grow in the garden of your heart:

1. The first fruit of love is the musing of the mind upon God. He who is in love, his thoughts are ever upon the object. He who loves God is ravished and transported with the contemplation of God. "When I awake, I am still with thee" (Psalm cxxxix. 18). The thoughts are as travellers in the mind. David’s thoughts kept heaven-road. I am still with Thee. God is the treasure, and where the treasure is, there is the heart. By this we may test our love to God. What are our thoughts most upon? Can we say we are ravished with delight when we think on God? Have our thoughts got wings? Are they fled aloft? Do we contemplate Christ and glory? Oh, how far are they from being lovers of God, who scarcely ever think of God! "God is not in all his thoughts" (Psalm x. 4). A sinner crowds God out of his thoughts. He never thinks of God, unless with horror, as the prisoner thinks of the judge.
2. The next fruit of love is desire of communion. Love desires familiarity and intercourse. "My heart and flesh crieth out for the living God" (Psalm lxxxiv. 2). King David being de-barred the house of God where was the tabernacle, the visible token of His presence, he breathes after God, and in a holy pathos of desire cries out for the living God. Lovers would be conversing together. If we love God we prize His ordinances, because there we meet with God. He speaks to us in His Word. and we speak to Him in prayer. By this let us examine our love to God. Do we desire intimacy of communion with God? Lovers cannot be long away from each other. Such as love God have a holy affection, they know not how to be from Him. They can bear the want of anything but God’s presence. They can do without health and friends, they can be happy without a full table, but they cannot be happy without God. "Hide not thy face from me, lest I be like them that go down into the grave" (Psalm cxliii. 7). Lovers have their fainting-fits. David was ready to faint away and die, when he had not a sight of God. They who love God cannot be con-tented with having ordinances, unless they may enjoy God in them; that were to lick the glass, and not the honey.

July 14, 2009

Finding the Balance that Pleases the Lord. Easier said, then done.

"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." Romans 15:7

The Christian, especially he who is advanced and established in the life of faith, has a fervent zeal for God--for the honor of His Name, His Word and His Gospel. The honest warmth of zeal which he feels, when God's Word is broken, His Gospel is despised, and when the great and glorious Name of the Lord his God is profaned, would, by the occasion of his infirmities, often degenerate into anger or contempt towards those who error--if he was under the influence of zeal alone.

But his zeal is blended with benevolence and humility; it is softened by a consciousness of his own frailty and fallibility. He is aware, that his knowledge is very limited in itself, and very faint in its transforming power in his own life; that his attainments are weak and few, compared with his deficiencies; that his gratitude is very disproportionate to his obligations; and that his obedience is unspeakably short of conformity to his prescribed rule; that he has nothing but what he has received, and has received nothing but what, in a greater or less degree, he has either misapplied or misimproved. He is, therefore, a debtor to the mercy of God--and lives upon His multiplied forgiveness

.The Christian also makes the gracious conduct of the Lord towards himself--a pattern for his own conduct towards his fellow-worms. He cannot boast of himself--nor is he anxious to censure others. He considers himself, lest he also fall. And thus he learns tenderness and compassion to others, and to bear patiently with those mistakes, blemishes and faults in others--which once belonged to his own character; and from which, as yet, he is but imperfectly freed.

He therefore acts in character, as the follower of Him who was compassionate towards the infirmities and mistakes of His disciples, and taught them gradually, as they were able to bear it--and not everything at once.

But then, the same considerations which inspire him with meekness and gentleness towards those who oppose the truth--strengthen his regard for the truth itself, and his conviction of its importance. For the sake of peace, which he loves and cultivates--he accommodates himself, as far as he lawfully can, to the weaknesses and mistakes of other sincere Christians; though he is thereby exposed to be censured by 'bigots' of all parties, who deem him flexible and wavering, like a reed shaken with the wind.

But there are other fundamental points, essential to the Gospel, which are the foundations of his hope, and the sources of his joy. For his firm attachment to these, he is content to be treated as a 'bigot' himself! For here he is immovable as an iron pillar; nor can either the fear or the favor of man prevail on him to yield the truth of the Gospel, no not for an hour! (Galatians 2:5).

Here his judgment is fixed; and he expresses it in simple and unequivocal language, so as not to leave either friends or enemies in suspense, concerning the side which he has chosen, or the cause which is nearest to his heart.

Knowing that the Gospel is the wisdom and power of God, and the only possible means by which fallen man can obtain peace with God--he most cordially embraces and avows it. Far from being ashamed of it--he esteems it his glory. He preaches Christ Jesus, and Him crucified. He disdains the thought of distorting, disguising, or softening the great doctrines of the grace of God, to render them more palatable to the depraved taste of the times (2 Corinthians 4:2). And he will no more encounter the errors and corrupt maxims and practices of the world, with any weapon but the truth as it is in Jesus--than he would venture to fight an enraged tiger with a paper sword!

(Letters of John Newton)

"But there are other fundamental points, essential to the Gospel, which are the foundations of his hope, and the sources of his joy." Ah yes, that is the big question, isn't it. What are the fundamental points? I think we all actually know what they are, we just can't seem to help adding to them.

July 12, 2009

How does this happen? (Part Two)

A few days ago, I posted an article entitled "How does this happen?" where I described a testimony given by a woman at my church during a women's forum and also described how stunned I was by her concluding comment--"The thing I need prayer about, is that I have a very difficult time being around lost sinners. They make me very uncomfortable."

John MacArthur sums up the problem beautifully in his latest post: Inward, Upward, Outward? over at the Shepherd's Fellowship blog. Here is an excerpt:

"There is only one reason the Lord allows His church to remain on earth: to seek and to save the lost, just as Christ’s only reason for coming to earth was to seek and to save the lost. “As the Father has sent Me,” He declared, “I also send you” (John 20:21). Therefore, believers who are not committed to winning the lost for Jesus Christ should reexamine their relationship to the Lord and certainly their divine reason for existence.

Fellowship, teaching, and praise are not the mission of the church but are rather the preparation of the church to fulfill its mission of winning the lost. And just as in athletics, training should never be confused with or substituted for actually competing in the game, which is the reason for all the training. "

I would only add that if one professes Christ and yet does not feel a love for the lost and a desire to share Christ with them, they can evangelise the lost out of a sense of "duty" or out of a motivation to somehow prove to themselves and/or others that they are "born-again" because they are outwardly doing what the Lord commands, yet inwardly they are still dead in their sins. So, we add "evangelism" to the list of outward expressions for what should naturally occur from an inward reality.

The important thing is not in the doing, but in the why we are doing, "the doing". I have found that lost sinners can detect the difference. It is almost as if God uses them to expose the hypocrisy of those who wear His name and yet inwardly are as dead, blind and lost, as those they are evangelising without His love dwelling in them.

I suggest that there is also a huge difference between someone who does feel a sorrow and love for lost sinners and desires to share Christ; but doesn't step up even when the Lord presents them with a perfect opportunity to do so; because they feel ill-equipped or are have a timid or shy temperament versus someone who has been raised in the church; professes Christ; is very equipped (in terms of knowledge of the Gospel) and yet feels no sorrow or love for the lost.

Welcome the Storm

"In a musical instrument there are some keys that must be touched in order to evoke its fullest melodies; God is a wonderful organist, who knows just what heart-chord to strike. In the Black Forest of Germany a baron built a castle with two lofty towers. From one tower to the other he stretched several wires, which in calm weather were motionless and silent. When the wind began to blow, the wires began to play like an aeolian harp. As the wind rose into a fierce gale, the old baron sat in his castle and heard his mighty hurricane-harp playing grandly over the battlements.

Just so, while the weather is calm and the skies clear, a great many of the emotions of a Christian's heart are silent. As soon as the wind of adversity smites the chords, the heart begins to play; and when God sends a hurricane of terrible trial—you will hear strains of submission and faith, and even of sublime confidence and holy exultation, which could never have been heard in the calm hours of prosperity.

Oh, brethren, let the winds smite us, if they only make the spices flow! Let us not shrink from the deepest trial, if at midnight we can only sing praises to God. If we want to know what clouds of affliction mean and what they are sent for, we must not flee away from them in fright with closed ears and bandaged eyes. Fleeing from the cloud is fleeing from the Divine love that is behind the cloud. "

Theodore Cuyler, 1882

July 11, 2009


"Oh, may His precious name be engraved upon our hearts, and sound sweeter than music to our ears--for He has loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and will save us to the uttermost--in defiance of . . . all our sins, all our fears and all our enemies!"

John Newton

July 9, 2009

How does this happen?


I recently attended a women's forum at my church. The evening began with a member of my church sharing a brief testimony with us. In a nutshell, it went like this:

"I was raised in a Christian home. My father was a Pastor and my mother was very involved in the women's ministry as well as home schooling us kids. From a very early age, I knew Christ as my Lord and Savior and had memorized many passages of scripture. As a young adult, I attended Master's College were I grew a great deal in the Lord and experienced true Christian fellowship. It was a wonderful time of growing in grace. That is where I met my husband. I am now a wife and a mother of a sweet little girl with another child on the way."

And here is how she ended her testimony: "The thing I need prayer about, is that I have a very difficult time being around lost sinners. They make me very uncomfortable."

I sat there stunned. In my mind I thought, "What? This is a woman who has memorized the entire book of James. How does this happen? Forgive me Lord; but, I cannot for the life of me understand this. Whatever she thinks that she has--it is not Christianity."

Will I pray for this woman? Yes, I will. But I will not pray that she learns to tolerate lost sinners. I will pray that the Lord will change her heart and fill her with love for the lost and for His truth. The truth that apparently has not yet permeated and changed her heart, mind and soul, despite her parents influence and her Christian upbringing; her involvement in the church; her eduction at Master's College, Christian fellowshipping, and her own personal discipline of scripture memorization. Until and unless that prayer is answered, I would not even want her around lost sinners representing the Savior.

As I was pondering all this, I came across these quotes by Walter Chantry from a Banner of Truth article. Clearly this is a message that those who wear His name, need to hear.

"I am afraid that too many, like the scribes and Pharisees, see sinners as bothersome. We are attempting to build a 'clean' society and they are in the way. They disrupt our programme and dirty the landscape. But they are torn asunder by their sins and taken captive by the wicked one at his will. Is there no loving pity for sinners? Their humanity is utterly shattered by their own sin.

Our Saviour's heart is drawn to lost humanity. He has an urge to be near the broken specimens known as sinners. We say that we want to imitate our Lord Jesus. Surely, if we begin to be more like him, we too will desire to spend time with sinners, to be fishers of men, to labour at recovering lost humanity.

The Saviour's high purpose in coming into the world was 'to seek and save that which was lost'. How can we be like him and not share that purpose to some extent?" Evangelism of sinners is very close to the core of His heart of love. Never does God take pleasure in the death of the wicked. God's pleasure arises from seeing the wicked turn from his way to live."

July 7, 2009

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.


So then death worketh in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4


O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

There is a Union which shall never be broken...

My Dear Friend,

You ask how I am--but I know not what answer to give. My experience is made up of enigmas--but the sum and solution of all is, "That I am a vile creature--but I have a good and gracious Savior!"

He has chosen me--and through His rich grace--I have chosen Him! There is a union between Him and my soul, which shall never be broken, because He has undertaken for both parts--that He will never forsake me, and that I shall never forsake Him. Oh, I like those royal, sovereign words, "I will," and "they shall."

"I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts--that they shall not depart from Me!" Jeremiah 32:40

How sweetly are they suited to the long experience He has given me of my own weakness, and the power and subtlety of Satan! If my spiritual conflicts terminate in victory--it must be owing to His own arm, and for His own name's sake. For I in myself have neither strength nor plea. If I were not so poor, so sick, so foolish--the power, skill, riches, wisdom and mercy of my Physician, Shepherd, and Savior--would not be so signally illustrated in my own case! Upon this account, instead of complaining, we may glory in our infirmities. Oh, it is pleasant to be deeply indebted to Him, to find Him, and own Him, all in all--

Our Husband, Shepherd, Brother, Friend, Our Guide, and Guard, our Way, and End!

"Christ is all!" Colossians 3:11

May 31, 1775
Letters of John Newton

July 5, 2009

What a Glorious Lord's Day!

As I arrived home from evening Communion, I was greeted by an email from a very beloved friend. In that email, he shared the highlights of his day; and, among those highlights, he shared a few verses from one of the hymns sung during his local churches worship service that the Lord had used to feed and bless his soul.

Is it not lovely that one can praise and worship the Lord and then continue that praise and worship by sharing in a portion of another churches worship that very day? Now, that is such a beautiful example of the far reaching power of the body of Christ.

After hearing him talk about the hymn (which I could not recall ever hearing) I looked it up and simply had to post it --in its entirety. What gifts our Lord has given to His church--a never ending fountain of beauty and grace to drink from. May He use it to bless many others as it has blessed me and provided another means in which to worship my Lord this evening.

In Immanuel’s Land

The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of Heaven breaks,
The summer morn I’ve sighed for,
The fair sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight,
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory-glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

Oh! well it is for ever,
Oh! well for evermore,
My nest hung in no forest
Of all this death-doom’d shore:
Yea, let the vain world vanish,
As from the ship the strand,
And glory-glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

There the Red Rose of Sharon
Unfolds its heartsome bloom,
And fills the air of Heaven
With ravishing perfume:
Oh! to behold it blossom,
While by its fragrance fann’d
Where glory-glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

The King there in His beauty,
Without a veil, is seen:
It were a well-spent journey,
Though seven deaths lay between.
The Lamb, with His fair army,
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory-glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

Oh! Christ He is the Fountain,
The deep sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I’ve tasted,
More deep I’ll drink above:
There, to an ocean fullness,
His mercy doth expand,
And glory-glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

E’en Anwoth was not heaven
E’en preaching was not Christ;
And in my sea-beat prison

My Lord and I held tryst:
And aye my murkiest storm-cloud
Was by a rainbow spann’d
Caught from the glory dwelling
In Immanuel’s land.


But that He built a heaven
Of his surpassing love,
A little New Jerusalem,
Like to the one above,
“Lord, take me o’er the water,”
Had been my loud demand,
“Take me to love’s own country,
Unto Immanuel’s land.


But flowers need night’s cool darkness
The moonlight and the dew;
So Christ, from one who loved it,
His shining oft withdrew;
And then for cause of absence,
My troubled soul I scann’d
But glory, shadeless, shineth
In Immanuel’s land.


The little birds of Anwoth
I used to count them blest,
Now, beside happier altars
I go to build my nest:
O’er these there broods no silence,
No graves around them stand,
For glory, deathless, dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.


Fair Anwoth by the Solway,
To me thou sill art dear!
E’en from the verge of Heaven
I drop for thee a tear.
Oh! if one soul from Anwoth
Meet me at God’s right hand,
My Heaven will be two Heavens,
In Immanuel’s land.

I have wrestled on toward Heaven,
‘Gainst storm, and wind, and tide:
Now, like a weary traveller,
That leaneth on his guide,
Amid the shades of evening,
While sinks life’s ling’ring sand,
I hail the glory dawning
From Immanuel’s land.


Deep water cross’d life’s pathway,
The hedge of thorns was sharp;
Now these lie all behind me
Oh! for a well-tuned harp!
Oh! to join Hallelujah
with yon triumphant band,
Who sing, where glory dwelleth,
In Immanuel’s land.


With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove,
And aye the dews of sorrow
Were lustered with His love.
I’ll bless the hand that guided,
I’ll bless the heart that plann’d,
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

Soon shall the cup of glory
Wash down earth’s bitterest woes,
Soon shall the desert-briar
Break into Eden’s rose:
The curse shall change to blessing
The name on earth that’s bann’d,
Be graven on the white stone
In Immanuel’s land.


Oh! I am my Beloved’s,
And my Beloved is mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner
Into His “House of wine.”
I stand upon His merit,
I know no other stand,
Not e’en where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.


I shall sleep sound in Jesus
Fill’d with His likeness rise,
To live and to adore Him,
To see Him with these eyes
‘Tween me and resurrection
But Paradise doth stand;
Then-then for glory dwelling
In Immanuel’s land!


The Bride eyes not her garment
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand:
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel’s land.


I have borne scorn and hatred,
I have borne wrong and shame,
Earth’s proud ones have reproach’d me,
For Christ’s thrice blessed name:
Where God is seal set fairest
They’ve stamp’d their foulest brand;
But judgment shines like noonday
In Immanuel’s land.


They’ve summoned me before them,
But there I may not come,
My Lord says, “Come up hither,”
My Lord says, “Welcome Home!”
My kingly King, at His white throne,
My presence doth command,
Where glory-glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.


This much-loved poem was composed by Mrs. Anne Ross Cousin, wife of a minister of the Free Church of Scotland. The poem is as remarkable as it is beautiful in that Mrs. Cousin extracted from the letters of Samuel Rutherford many of his most memorable sayings and wove them into a hymn of 19 stanzas, maintaining throughout high poetic excellence and great faithfulness to the language and spirit of the letters.

Certain stanzas of this poem are familiar to most Christians as “The Sands Of Time Are Sinking.”