February 28, 2005

Home Sweet Home by Chris Cunningham

"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." 2 Cor. 5:8

The Greek word for "present" in our text literally means "to be at home." There is something in our nature that ties us body and soul to a place called home. The very word conjures up thoughts and feelings of comfort, security and love. A person who is homeless must be the most miserable of all creatures.

In religion, men speak of their "home" in heaven, and they get all misty eyed as they contemplate some austere mansion nestled luxuriously on some golden street. The true child of God has much higher standards. The home for which we long is no place, but a glorious Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, I say we long for Him, yet there is a very real and wonderful sense in which we dwell already in Him today and enjoy all the blessings of Home. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. John 6:56

Home is a place of great comfort. Being at "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5: 1) we find our Savior's arms a place-of quiet, sweet repose.

Home is a place of security. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of MY life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalms 27:1

Home is a place of love... and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

When we say that we long for home, we are not interested in golden streets or gates of pearl, but our sights are set on Him who is Himself as the song says:

O God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come.
Be Thou my guide while life, shall last,
And my eternal Home.

Thank God for Him who had not where to lay His head so that I might lay mine forever on His precious breast.

by Chris Cunnignham

February 23, 2005

Pray to turn my heart back again by A.W. Pink

(I Kings 18:37-38) “Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.”

This incident is recorded for our leaning and for our encouragement. The Lord God is the same today as He was then – ready to show Himself strong on the behalf of those who walk as Elijah and trust Him as he did. Are you faced with some difficult situation, some pressing emergency, some trail? Then place it not between yourself and God, but rather put God between it and you. Meditate afresh on His wondrous perfections and infinite sufficiency; ponder His precious promises which exactly suit your case; beg the Holy Spirit to strengthen your faith and call it into action. So too with God’s servants: if they are to put to confusion His enemies and gain victory over those who oppose, if they are to be instrumental in turning the hearts of men back to God, then they must look to Him to work in and by them, they must rely on His almighty power both to protect and carry them fully through the discharge of arduous duties. They must have a single eye to God’s glory in what they undertake, and give themselves to believing and fervent prayer. By A. W. Pink

February 21, 2005

Justification by Faith by John Calvin

Turning away our view from our own works, it bids us look only to the mercy of God and the perfection of Christ. The order of justification which it sets before us is this: first, God of his mere gratuitous goodness is pleased to embrace the sinner, in whom he sees nothing that can move him to mercy but wretchedness, because he sees him altogether naked and destitute of good works. He, therefore, seeks the cause of kindness in himself, that thus he may affect the sinner by a sense of his goodness, and induce him, in distrust of his own works, to cast himself entirely upon his mercy for salvation. This is the meaning of faith by which the sinner comes into the possession of salvation, when, according to the doctrine of the Gospel, he perceives that he is reconciled by God; when, by the intercession of Christ, he obtains the pardon of his sins, and is justified; and, though renewed by the Spirit of God, considers that, instead of leaning on his own works, he must look solely to the righteousness which is treasured up for him in Christ. When these things are weighed separately, they will clearly explain our view, though they may be arranged in a better order than that in which they are here presented. But it is of little consequence, provided they are so connected with each other as to give us a full exposition and solid confirmation of the whole subject. by John Calvin

February 16, 2005

How to be a great Theologian by Martin Luther

1. Prayer. For this reason you should despair of your wisdom and reason; for with these you will acquire nothing, but by your arrogance cast yourself and others into the pit of hell as did Lucifer. Kneel down in your chamber and ask God in true humility and seriousness to grant you true wisdom.

2. Meditation. In the second place, you should meditate, and not only in your heart, but also outwardly, the oral Word and the expressed words that are written in the Book, which you must always consider and reconsider, and read and read over with diligent attention and reflection to see what the Holy Spirit means thereby. And take care that you do not become weary of it, thinking that you have read it sufficiently if you have read, heard, or said it once or twice and understand it perfectly. For in this way no great theologian is made, but they (who do not study) are like immature fruit, which falls down before it is half ripe. For this reason you see in this Psalm 119 that David is always boasting that he would speak, meditate, declare, sing, hear, read, day and night forever nothing else than the Word of God alone and the commandments of God. For God does not purpose to give you His Spirit without the external Word. Be guided by that. For He did not command in vain to write, preach, read, hear, sing, and declare His external Word.

3. Temptation. In the third place, there is tentatio, that is, trial. That is the true touchstone which teaches you not only to know and understand, but also to experience how true, sincere, sweet, lovely, powerful, comforting the Word of God is, so that it is the wisdom above all wisdom. Thus you see how David in the Psalm just mentioned complains about all manner of enemies, wicked princes and tyrants, false prophets and factions, which he must endure because he always meditates, that is, deals with God's Word in every possible way, as stated. For as soon as the Word of God bears fruit through you, the devil will trouble you, make you a real teacher, and teach you through tribulation to seek and to love the Word of God. For I myself - if I am permitted to voice my humble opinion - must thank my papists very much for so buffeting, distressing, and terrifying me by the devil's fury that they made me a fairly good theologian, which otherwise I should never have become.

4. Humility. Then (namely, if you follow the rule of David exhibited in Psalm 119) you will find how shallow and unworthy will appear to you the writings of the Fathers, and you will condemn not only the books of the opponents, but also be ever less pleased with your own writing and preaching. If you have arrived at this stage, you may surely hope that you have just begun to be a real theologian, one who is able to teach not only the young and unlearned, but also the advanced and well-instructed Christians. For Christ's Church includes all manner of Christians - young, old, weak, sick, healthy, strong, aggressive, indolent, simple, wise, etc. But if you consider yourself learned and imagine that you have attained the goal and feel proud of your booklets, teaching and writing, as though you had done marvelously and preached wondrously, and if you are much pleased because people praise you before others and you must be praised or otherwise you are disappointed and feel like giving up - if you are minded like that, my friend, just grab yourself by the ears, and if you grab rightly, you will find a fine pair of big, long, rough, donkey ears. Then go to a little more expense and adorn yourself with golden bells, so that wherever you go people can hear you, admiringly point at you with their fingers and say, "Lo and behold, there is that wonderful man who can write such excellent books and preach so remarkably!" Then certainly you will be blessed, yes more than blessed, in the kingdom of heaven; indeed, in that kingdom in which the fire of hell has been prepared for the devil and his angels! . . In this Book, God's glory alone is set forth, and it says: Deus superbis resistit, humilibus autem dat gratium. Cui est gloria in secula seculerum [God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. To Whom be glory forever and ever]. Amen. by Martin Luther

February 14, 2005

Every bitter cup by John Bunyan

"My times are in Your hand." Psalm 31:15

Afflictions are governed by God, both as to . . . their time, their number, their nature, their measure. Our times, therefore, and our condition in these times, are in the hand of God. God is in all providences, be they . . . ever so bitter, ever so afflicting, ever so smarting, ever so destructive to our earthly comforts.

Every bitter cup is of His preparing!

It is Jesus, your best friend who most dearly loves you, who appoints all providences, orders them all, overrules, moderates, and sanctifies them all--and will sweeten them all--and in His due time will make them profitable unto you, that you shall one day have cause to praise and bless His name for them all.
"For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and He scourges every son whom He receives." Heb. 12:6
by John Bunyan

February 09, 2005

Dead and dark seasons by J. C. Philpot

All Christians, even the most eminent servants of God, have their dead and dark seasons--whenthe life of God seems sunk to so low an ebb as to be hardly visible--so hidden is the stream by the mud-banks of their fallen nature.

By these very dark and dead seasons, the people of God are instructed. They see and feel what 'the flesh' really is--how alienated from the life of God; they learn in whom all their strength and sufficiency lie; they are taught that in them, that is, in their flesh, dwells no good thing; that no exertions of their own can maintain in strength and vigor the life of God; and that all they are, and have--all they believe, know, feel, and enjoy--with all their ability, usefulness, gifts, and grace--flow from the pure, sovereign grace--the rich, free, undeserved, yet unceasing goodness and mercy of God! They learn in this hard school of painful experience, their emptiness and nothingness--and that without Christ they can do nothing. They thus become clothed with humility, that rare, yet lovely garb; cease from their own strength and wisdom; and learn experimentally that Christ is, and ever must be, all in all to them, and all in all in them. By J.C. Philpot

February 07, 2005

At the cross by J. C. Philpot

Standing at the cross of our adorable Lord, we see . . . the law thoroughly fulfilled, its curse fully endured, its penalties wholly removed, sin eternally put away, the justice of God amply satisfied, all His perfections gloriously harmonized, His holy will perfectly obeyed, reconciliation completely effected, redemption graciously accomplished, and the church everlastingly saved!

At the cross we see . . . sin in its blackest colors, and holiness in its fairest beauties.

At the cross we see . . . the love of God in its tenderest form, and the anger of God in its deepest expression.

At the cross we see the blessed Redeemer lifted up, as it were between heaven and earth, to show to angels and to men the spectacle of redeeming love, and to declare at one and the same moment, and by one and the same act of the suffering obedience and bleeding sacrifice of the Son of God--the eternal and unalterable displeasure of the Almighty against sin, and the rigid demands of His inflexible justice, and yet the tender compassion and boundless love of His heart to the elect.

At the cross, and here alone, are obtained pardonand peace.

At the cross, and here alone, penitential grief and godly sorrow flow from heart and eyes.

At the cross, and here alone, is . . . sin subdued and mortified, holiness communicated, death vanquished, Satan put to flight, and happiness and heaven begun in the soul. O what heavenly blessings, what present grace, as well as what future glory, flow through the cross! What a holy meeting-place for repenting sinners and a sin-pardoning God! What a healing-place for guilty, yet repenting and returning backsliders! What a door of hope in the valley of Achor for the self-condemned and self-abhorred! What a blessed resting-place for the whole family of God in this valley of grief and sorrow! by Joseph Philpot

February 02, 2005

A self-pleasing, self-indulging, worldly-minded people. By J. C. Ryle

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23

See the absolute necessity of daily self denial.

We ought every day . . . to crucify the flesh, to overcome the world, and to resist the devil. Now what do we know of all this? Surely this is a question which ought to be asked. A little formal church going, and a decent attendance at a place of worship, can never be the Christianity of which Christ speaks in this place. Where is our self denial? Where is our daily carrying of the cross? Where is our following of Christ? Without a religion of this kind we shall never be saved. A crucified Savior will never be content to have a self-pleasing, self-indulging, worldly-minded people.

No self denial--no real grace! No cross--no crown!

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23

by J.C. Ryle