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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Weight of Sin

Luke 22:44
His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
The mental pressure arising from our Lord's struggle with temptation, so forced his frame to an unnatural excitement, that his pores sent forth great drops of blood which fell down to the ground. This proves how tremendous must have been the weight of sin when it was able to crush the Saviour so that he distilled great drops of blood! This demonstrates the mighty power of his love. It is a very pretty observation of old Isaac Ambrose that the gum which exudes from the tree without cutting is always the best. This precious camphire-tree yielded most sweet spices when it was wounded under the knotty whips, and when it was pierced by the nails on the cross; but see, it giveth forth its best spice when there is no whip, no nail, no wound. This sets forth the voluntariness of Christ's sufferings, since without a lance the blood flowed freely. No need to put on the leech, or apply the knife; it flows spontaneously. No need for the rulers to cry, "Spring up, O well;" of itself it flows in crimson torrents. If men suffer great pain of mind apparently the blood rushes to the heart. The cheeks are pale; a fainting fit comes on; the blood has gone inward as if to nourish the inner man while passing through its trial. But see our Saviour in His agony; he is so utterly oblivious of self, that instead of his agony driving his blood to the heart to nourish himself, it drives it outward to bedew the earth. The agony of Christ, inasmuch as it pours him out upon the ground, pictures the fulness of the offering which he made for men. Do we not perceive how intense must have been the wrestling through which he passed, and will we not hear its voice to us? "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." Behold the great Apostle and High Priest of our profession, and sweat even to blood rather than yield to the great tempter of your souls.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 7

"If Anyone Has an Ear, Let Him Hear" (continued)

In Acts 1:4, the Lord Jesus tells us that the baptism He shall baptize us "in," Immerse us "in", is "the Promise of the Father." Now what does this mean? It means this: somewhere in eternity-past, in the counsels of the Godhead, God the Father gave the Son His Eternal Promise, His Eternal Word, and this Promise of the Father to the Son was that the Church His Body would be baptized "in the Spirit." And the Church His Body was to be baptized "in the Spirit" in order that the Church would be fully empowered to become the Fullness of Christ. And the Father gave His Eternal Promise to His Son that He Himself, Jesus Christ our Lord, would baptize His Church "in the Spirit." The Promise of the Father was to be given, was to be poured forth, by the Son when the Son had accomplished ALL that God had purposed He would accomplish in and through and upon and by His Cross, His Resurrection, and His Ascension.

Christ is our ALL. He is our Fullness; and in the glorious Plan of the Father we, the Church His Body, have been empowered to become the Fullness of Christ. This is accomplished "in the Spirit" - in the Eternal Realm of the Spirit. This is the ultimate meaning of what t means to be "in the Spirit." This is the fullest meaning of what it means to be "filled in the Spirit." and, dear friends, we shall also see that this is the full meaning of what took place upon the Day of Pentecost; for in God's Full Plan, on the Day of Pentecost, the Church, the Whole Church was baptized in the Spirit- the whole Church was immersed in the Eternal Realm in the Spirit where the Holy Spirit is energizing all that God has Purposed in Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8 - "And When the Day of Pentecost Was Fully Come")

Proud of Grace

1 Corinthians 10:12
Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
It is a curious fact, that 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, "I can stand, there is no danger of my going astray." He who boasts of grace has little grace to boast of. Some who do this imagine that their graces can keep them, knowing not that the stream must flow constantly from the fountain head, or else the brook will soon be dry. If a continuous stream of oil comes not to the lamp, though it burn brightly to-day, it will smoke to-morrow, and noxious will be its scent. Take heed that thou gloriest not in thy graces, but let all thy glorying and confidence be in Christ and His strength, for only so canst thou be kept from falling. Be much more in prayer. Spend longer time in holy adoration. Read the Scriptures more earnestly and constantly. Watch your lives more carefully. Live nearer to God. Take the best examples for your pattern. Let your conversation be redolent of heaven. Let your hearts be perfumed with affection for men's souls. So live that men may take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus, and have learned of Him; and when that happy day shall come, when He whom you love shall say, "Come up higher," may it be your happiness to hear Him say, "Thou hast fought a good fight, thou hast finished thy course, and henceforth there is laid up for thee a crown of righteousness which fadeth not away." On, Christian, with care and caution! On, with holy fear and trembling! On, with faith and confidence in Jesus alone, and let your constant petition be, "Uphold me according to Thy word." He is able, and He alone, "To keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy."

~Charles Spurgeon~

Monday, April 28, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 6

"Be Filled In the Spirit"

Now it is impossible for anyone to adequately explain ALL the fullness that is "in the Spirit," but the Holy Spirit Himself can penetrate, pervade, and flood our spirit and soul and reveal in our hearts ALL that Christ is; and the Holy Spirit can make Christ All in us and through us. That is why Ephesians 5:18 instructs us to "be filled in [the]Spirit."

"But be filled with (the) Spirit". (Greek Interlinear)

"But be filled with or in the Spirit" (ASV)

"But be constantly controlled by the Spirit" (Wuest)

"But be filled with the indwelling of the Spirit" (Conybeare)

"But drink deeply of God's Spirit" (Weymouth)

In Acts 2:4 and in Acts 9:17, as well as in many other parts of the New Testament, we are told that we are filled "with" and "by" the Holy Spirit. Also, in Romans 8:9 and in 1 Corinthians 6:19, we are told that the Holy Spirit dwells in those who are redeemed.  But here in Ephesians, we have the full and consummate meaning of what it means to be "filled in the Spirit"; and that is because in Ephesians, God reveals the great Fullness of ALL that He purposed In Christ, and he reveals ALL that we are included in because we are in Christ.

Therefore, being filled "with the Spirit" - by the Spirit - in the Spirit" means being immersed into the Realm in which the Holy Spirit permeates, infuses, floods, and fills ALL THINGS with His Presence and Power. It means being controlled, surrounded and possessed in the Realm in which the Holy Spirit Himself is energizing, working, and bringing about ALL that God has purposed In The Christ. When we begin to comprehend all that is involved in the command of our Lord that we "be filled in [the] Spirit," many of us may think that being filled "in the Spirit," being filled in the Entire Realm that is "in the Spirit," seems an impossible reality. But we must not think this because God is rich in mercy, and He has engraced us with ALL things in Christ.

So in Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:343, and Acts 1:5, we find that the Word of God tells us that Jesus Christ Himself baptizes us, immerses us, "in [the] Spirit." In the Gospels, we find John the Baptist preparing the way of the Lord as he heralds the Christ. -

"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; He will baptize [immerse] you in [the] Holy Spirit and fire..." (Matthew 3:11.

"I indeed have baptized You with water: But He will baptize you in [the] Holy Spirit" (Mark 1:8)

"John answered, saying unto them all, "I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and with fire ..." (Luke 3:16).

"... But He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, "Upon Whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He Which baptizeth in the Holy Spirit. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God" (John 1:33, 34).

After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ commanded His disciples that "they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the Promise of the Father, which, saith He, "ye have heard of Me."

"For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence" (Acts 1:4, 5).

So our  Lord Jesus Christ Himself baptizes us, immerses us, in the Spirit. Our Lord Jesus Christ baptizes us, immerses us, in the Entire Realm that is in the Spirit. Our Lord Jesus Christ baptizes us, immerses us, in the Eternal Realm of the Spirit where the Holy Spirit is energizing and bringing about ALL that God Purposed in Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7)

The Sorrows of Life Cause Us to Rise Towards God

The people kept their distance, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was. (Exod 20:21)

God has still His hidden secrets, hidden from the wise and prudent. Do not fear them; be content to accept things that you cannot understand; wait patiently. Presently He will reveal to you the treasures of darkness, the riches of the glory of the mystery. Mystery is only the veil of God’s face.
Do not be afraid to enter the cloud that is settling down on your life. God is in it. The other side is radiant with His glory. “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.” When you seem loneliest and most forsaken, God is nigh. He is in the dark cloud. Plunge into the blackness of its darkness without flinching; under the shrouding curtain of His pavilion you will find God awaiting you.
“Hast thou a cloud?
Something that is dark and full of dread;
A messenger of tempest overhead?
A something that is darkening the sky;
A something growing darker bye and bye;
A something that thou fear’st will burst at last;
A cloud that doth a deep, long shadow cast,
God cometh in that cloud.
Hast thou a cloud?
It is Jehovah’s triumph car: in this
He rideth to thee, o’er the wide abyss.
It is the robe in which He wraps His form;
For He doth gird Him with the flashing storm.
It is the veil in which He hides the light
Of His fair face, too dazzling for thy sight.
God cometh in that cloud.
Hast thou a cloud?
A trial that is terrible to thee?
A black temptation threatening to see?
A loss of some dear one long thine own?
A mist, a veiling, bringing the unknown?
A mystery that unsubstantial seems:
A cloud between thee and the sun’s bright beams?
God cometh in that cloud.
Hast thou a cloud?
A sickness—weak old age—distress and death?
These clouds will scatter at thy last faint breath.
Fear not the clouds that hover o’er thy barque,
Making the harbour’s entrance dire and dark;
The cloud of death, though misty, chill and cold,
Will yet grow radiant with a fringe of gold.
GOD cometh in that cloud.”
As Dr. C. stood on a high peak of the Rocky Mountains watching a storm raging below him, an eagle came up through the clouds, and soared away towards the sun and the water upon him glistened in the sunlight like diamonds. Had it not been for the storm he might have remained in the valley. The sorrows of life cause us to rise towards God.
~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, April 27, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 5

"In the Spirit": The Entire Realm that Is In (en) the Spirit

The Greek preposition "in" (en) gives us the key to understanding more of what it means to be "in the Spirit." The Greek preposition "in" means "being or remaining within, with the primary idea of rest and continuance; it has regard to place and space or to the realm and sphere of action." The word "in" (en) also denotes inclusion in the whole of something. Thus, many times in the New Testament, as in Ephesians 1:3-14, the Holy Spirit uses the Greek preposition "in" to describe "All" that is included in the whole of God's purpose in Christ. Therefore, in the Word of God, we find that the important statement "in the Spirit" speaks of the Entire Realm that is "in the Spirit."

Therefore, the Realm that is "in the Spirit" is the Realm that is surrounded, empowered, and controlled by the Presence and Power of - out of - the Holy Spirit Himself.

Therefore, the Realm that is "in the Spirit" is the Realm that the Holy Spirit Himself permeates, pervades, infuses, immerses, floods, and fills all things with His Presence and Power.

Therefore, the Realm that is "in the Spirit" is the Realm in which the Holy Spirit is energizing, working, and bringing about all that God has purposed In Christ - the Eternal Realm in which Christ Is All, and In All.

So, it is in Ephesians 2:19-22 that we find the ultimate and consummate meaning of the phrase "in the Spirit." And that is because it is "in the Spirit", in the Eternal Realm of the Holy Spirit, that we are built upon our Sure Foundation, the Chief Cornerstone being Christ Jesus Himself. It is "in the Spirit," in the Eternal Realm  of the Holy Spirit, that each and every "living stone" is being fitly-framed-together into a holy temple n The Lord. It is "in the Spirit," in the Eternal Realm of the Holy Spirit, that in Christ we are being built together into the Eternal Habitation of God. Beloved, when this living sanctuary In The Lord is finished,  living sanctuary that is made up of all the redeemed, it will be the manifestation forever of ALL-THAT-GOD-IS. It will eternally be the manifestation of the Eternal Glory and Presence of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6 ("Be Filled In the Spirit")

The Christian Life is like Climbing Stairs

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

We realize early in our Christian life that we start on the bottom floor of the staircase. Our main goal is to get up to the top. While first beginning to ascend, the climb seems to go easy and fast. After all, the need for change was evident and our goals for coming to Christ were clear. Who wants to stay on the bottom step? As we keep climbing, sometimes we wonder if we will ever make it to the top. Our muscles ache and our heart pounds at times. We pray for an elevator or escalator to make the climb easier. But God makes sure that we consciously have to make a choice to go each step, and God is not in a rush. He waits patiently, lovingly and relentlessly for us to catch our breath and relax.

At these times of rest, we look down and see what we have had to overcome just to get this high. God does not let us know how far we still have to go. But we still get overwhelmed, thinking about the remaining climb. We gaze at the top, keep looking up, and taking one step at a time. At some levels, the rest is nice with balconies and water fountains. At other times, only by faith do we keep climbing. We know that climbing back down would be a mistake but we think about it sometimes. Other times, we just want to sit right where we are without continuing in the climb, just hang out for a while in one place. We pass those on our way up the stairs who are hanging out in their spot, and then sometimes we step aside to let someone pass by who is heading back down the stairs. Those of us who continue upward know that the temptation to stop is not a valid option because we hear the Lord’s call to go higher. In our heart of hearts, we know that when we finally arrive, we will be so happy we kept climbing. There is no hurry, but no advantage to slowing down either. So we pray for a steady pace, understanding each level and making a conscious decision to move up and onward.

Where are you at today on the staircase to God? Are you hanging out, taking a break, or are you seriously contemplating heading back down? Keep a couple of things in mind: fix your eyes upward towards the top and listen for God’s voice. Not only is the Lord calling you to come, to keep moving, but He is also waiting for you. And the best part of all of it? He is with you in every step you take. So today, lift your head up and get moving. The prize awaits at the end.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, April 26, 2014

What It Means to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 4

"He That Hath an Ear, Let Him Hear" (continued)

Beloved, at the exact instant that each one of us is saved, we are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, "Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone" (Eph. 2:20). For the Lord God hath said: "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, A Precious Cornerstone, A Sure Foundation: he who believes in it [in Him] will not be disturbed" (Isaiah 28:16). Christ is both our Sure Foundation  and our Precious Cornerstone - and In Him we, the redeemed, find our Beginning, our Source, our Development, our Consummation and our Fullness. - And "In Him all the building [all the redeemed] is being fitly-framed-together" (Eph. 2:21). - In Him the whole structure is continuously being joined together harmoniously; and this building which is being made up of all the redeemed continues to rise and grow and increase into and unto a holy temple in the Lord, into and unto a holy inner sanctuary in the Lord. - This building rises, grows, and increases in the Lord Jesus Christ Who Is the Sure Foundation and the Cornerstone, Who Is the Bond and the Substance, Who Is the Growth and the Completeness and the Sanctity of this holy temple in the Lord: - a holy temple not made of dead stones and mortar, but made of "living stones" into a living sanctuary in which "Christ is all, and in all." And, beloved, there is more to this wondrous and everlasting purpose of God, for in the Lord [ in Christ] In Him - and in fellowship with one another [we are] also being built up [into this structure] with the rest [of the redeemed] to form a fixed abode (a dwelling place) of God "in the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22).

The last three words of this surpassing statement about the eternal fullness of God's plan in Christ are the words, "In the Spirit"; and this takes us right back to the word which our Lord speaks to the churches, "Let Him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith to the churches." And since John was "in the Spirit" when the Lord gave him this message for the churches, it stands to reason that we need to be "in the Spirit" if we are going to grasp fully what the Lord means by His Words. Hence, it is essential that we comprehend more fully what it means to be "in the Spirit."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5 - "In the Spirit": The Entire Realm That Is In (en) The Spirit")

Whom Do You Belong To?

1 Samuel 30:13
To whom belongest thou?
No neutralities can exist in religion. We are either ranked under the banner of Prince Immanuel, to serve and fight His battles, or we are vassals of the black prince, Satan. "To whom belongest thou?" Reader, let me assist you in your response. Have you been "born again"? If you have, you belong to Christ, but without the new birth you cannot be His. In whom do you trust? For those who believe in Jesus are the sons of God. Whose work are you doing? You are sure to serve your master, for he whom you serve is thereby owned to be your lord. What company do you keep? If you belong to Jesus, you will fraternize with those who wear the livery of the cross. "Birds of a feather flock together." What is your conversation? Is it heavenly or is it earthly? What have you learned of your Master?-for servants learn much from their masters to whom they are apprenticed. If you have served your time with Jesus, it will be said of you, as it was of Peter and John, "They took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." We press the question, "To whom belongest thou?" Answer honestly before you give sleep to your eyes. If you are not Christ's you are in a hard service-Run away from your cruel master! Enter into the service of the Lord of Love, and you shall enjoy a life of blessedness. If you are Christ's let me advise you to do four things:
You belong to Jesus-obey him; let his word be your law; let His wish be your will.
You belong to the Beloved, then love Him; let your heart embrace Him; let your whole soul be filled with Him.
You belong to the Son of God, then trust him; rest nowhere but on him.
You belong to the King of kings, then be decided for Him.
Thus, without your being branded upon the brow, all will know to whom you belong.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Friday, April 25, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 3

"He That Hath an Ear, Let Him Hear"

Seven times in Revelation, chapters two and three, and one time in Revelation 13:9, and seven times in the Gospels, the Lord directs, "He that hath an ear, let him hear" (Matthew 11:15; 13:9, 43; Mark 4:23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35). Fifteen times the Lord Jesus Christ speaks these words, and each time He is drawing our attention to truths which are of the deepest importance to the Church. And this is because each time the Lord speaks these words, a momentous, climactic time is taking place in God's full Purpose: - one part of God's full purpose is being fulfilled and consummated In the Christ, and simultaneously, the next part is being brought forth into reality by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is important to realize when Christ first speaks the words in the Gospels, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear," at that time two of the greatest portions of God's Plan are imminent - the Cross and the Resurrection are about to become a completed reality. And let us not forget this, that at the same time and seasons that God is fulfilling each portion of His Purpose in Christ, satan is doing his evil all in his futile attempt to stop it. Consequently, we must take heed to the word of our Resurrected Lord, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches ... for the strategic, epochal season is imminent."

The Lord chose the apostle John to write these inspired words, and in Revelation 1:10 we find him writing: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, "Write in a book what you see [implies the spiritual eye], and send it to the seven churches ..." And in the Spirit, in the realm of the Spirit where God is working all things after the counsel of His Own Will, this Book would continuously be sent by the Spirit to every church in every age.

John's words give us the key to hearing what the Spirit saith unto the churches, for John said: "I was in the Spirit ... and I heard." And we must be "in the Spirit" if we are to hear "what the Spirit saith." Therefore, brethren, it becomes vital that we understand this phrase, "In the Spirit."

In Ephesians 2:19-22, the Holy Spirit tells of the all encompassing realm that is "in the Spirit."

"Now, therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy Temple in the Lord: in Whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4)

Our Awesome God

In our culture, God’s name is oftentimes mentioned with little reverence. In fact, many people actually use it as a curse. Even among those who love Him, it is far too common to use His name casually, without taking time to ponder who He is. When you say a blessing at mealtimes, for instance, do you realize that you are talking to the almighty Creator God who rules over all things?

Our view of the Lord impacts three areas of life. First, it affects our prayers. As we come to know Him better and better, our desires will start to look like His goals for us, and our petitions will align more closely with His purposes. Furthermore, as we recognize His greatness and power, we’ll become more confident that He can accomplish mighty things—and we will venture to “pray big.”

Second, our understanding of His righteousness and goodness influences our behavior. If God has these attributes, surely it is in our best interest to obey gladly. We will desire righteousness and be quick to repent of sin.

Third, our faith is impacted. Grasping that Jesus is holy, good, and powerful grows our trust in Him. Knowing our awesome God and remembering His great works will further build our confidence in Him.

Do you personally know our loving and holy heavenly Father? He invites you into an intimate relationship with Him. But, as with any good friendship, time and intentionality are necessary to understand Him and learn His ways. The more you do that, the more your prayers, behavior, and faith will be impacted.

~Charles Stanley~

Thursday, April 24, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 2

"If Anyone Has an Ear, let Him Hear" (Revelation 3:22)

The at-oneness of Christ and the Holy Spirit becomes even clearer as we realize that this serious command of the Lord Jesus Christ is used in the closing of each of these seven letters to the churches. Revelation 1:4 tells us that these letters, as well as the whole Book of Revelation, are from the Godhead - they are "from Him [God the Father] Which is, and Which was, and Which is to come" - they are "from the seven Spirits of God Which are before His Throne" [the sevenfoldness of the Holy Spirit] - they are "from Jesus Christ, Who is the Faithful Witness, and the First Begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth." Therefore, beloved, The Voice of the Lord Jesus Christ is The Voice of the Spirit, and The Voice of the Spirit is The Voice of God: "These things saith He ... he that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

In the beginning words of the Book of Revelation, the redeemed are called upon to "read" and to "hear" and to "keep" those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand (Revelation 1:3). In the Expanded Translation of the New Testament, by Kenneth S. Wuest, the force and clarity of these words come to light as the Resurrected Lord begins to show His own that which must shortly come to pass:

"Spiritually prosperous is he who reads in the worship assembly of the local church and spiritually prosperous are those who hear the words of this prophecy and observe the things which in it have been written and are on record, for the strategic, epochal season is imminent."

"For the time is at hand." The strategic, epochal season is imminent. There is great gravity behind these words because a great season of peril is at hand, a time of great tribulation is threatening - a time of pressures from evils, a time or pressures from afflictions, a time of pressures from distresses. And, beloved, it is a "time" that all the redeemed must face and endure because the Book of Revelation is a book of that "which is, and of that which was, and of that which is to come" (Revelation 1:8). So whether it was in the "time" when John was commissioned to write these words, or whether it is now in our "time", or whether it is in the "time" which is to come, the strategic, epochal season is imminent.

Hence, the Lord instructs those whom He loves of the time of peril that is at hand. This is why there is such a great sense of urgency behind the charge He issues unto the churches, for the strategic, epochal season is imminent, and the Lord's orders are clear: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." The Amplified Bible is even stronger: "He who is able to hear, let him listen to and give heed to what the Holy Spirit says to the assemblies (the churches)."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

A Pillow for a Weary Head

Job 14:1
Man . . . is of few days, and full of trouble.
It may be of great service to us, before we fall asleep, to remember this mournful fact, for it may lead us to set loose by earthly things. There is nothing very pleasant in the recollection that we are not above the shafts of adversity, but it may humble us and prevent our boasting like the Psalmist in our morning's portion. "My mountain standeth firm: I shall never be moved." It may stay us from taking too deep root in this soil from which we are so soon to be transplanted into the heavenly garden. Let us recollect the frail tenure upon which we hold our temporal mercies. If we would remember that all the trees of earth are marked for the woodman's axe, we should not be so ready to build our nests in them. We should love, but we should love with the love which expects death, and which reckons upon separations. Our dear relations are but loaned to us, and the hour when we must return them to the lender's hand may be even at the door. The like is certainly true of our worldly goods. Do not riches take to themselves wings and fly away? Our health is equally precarious. Frail flowers of the field, we must not reckon upon blooming for ever. There is a time appointed for weakness and sickness, when we shall have to glorify God by suffering, and not by earnest activity. There is no single point in which we can hope to escape from the sharp arrows of affliction; out of our few days there is not one secure from sorrow. Man's life is a cask full of bitter wine; he who looks for joy in it had better seek for honey in an ocean of brine. Beloved reader, set not your affections upon things of earth: but seek those things which are above, for here the moth devoureth, and the thief breaketh through, but there all joys are perpetual and eternal. The path of trouble is the way home. Lord, make this thought a pillow for many a weary head!

~Charles Spurgeon~

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Crushing Weights Give the Christian Wings

Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon. Descend from the crest of Amana, from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon, from the lions’ dens and the mountain haunts of the leopards (Song 4:8)

Crushing weights give the Christian wings. It seems like a contradiction in terms, but it is a blessed truth. David out of some bitter experience cried: “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! Then would I fly away, and be at rest” (Ps. 55:6). But before he finished this meditation he seems to have realized that his wish for wings was a realizable one. For he says, “Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, and he will sustain thee.”
The word “burden” is translated in the Bible margin, “what he (Jehovah) hath given thee.” The saints’ burdens are God-given; they lead him to “wait upon Jehovah,” and when that is done, in the magic of trust, the “burden” is metamorphosed into a pair of wings, and the weighted one "mounts up with wings as eagles.
—Sunday School Times
One day when walking down the street,
On business bent, while thinking hard
About the “hundred cares” which seemed
Like thunder clouds about to break
In torrents, Self-pity said to me:
“You poor, poor thing, you have too much
To do. Your life is far too hard.
This heavy load will crush you soon.”
A swift response of sympathy
Welled up within. The burning sun
Seemed more intense. The dust and noise
Of puffing motors flying past
With rasping blast of blowing horn
Incensed still more the whining nerves,
The fabled last back-breaking straw
To weary, troubled, fretting mind.
“Ah, yes, ’twill break and crush my life;
I cannot bear this constant strain
Of endless, aggravating cares;
They are too great for such as I.”
So thus my heart condoled itself,
“Enjoying misery,” when lo!
A “still small voice” distinctly said,
“Twas sent to lift you—not to crush.”
I saw at once my great mistake.
My place was not beneath the load
But on the top! God meant it not
That I should carry it. He sent
It here to carry me. Full well
He knew my incapacity
Before the plan was made. He saw
A child of His in need of grace
And power to serve; a puny twig
Requiring sun and rain to grow;
An undeveloped chrysalis;
A weak soul lacking faith in God.
He could not help but see all this
And more. And then, with tender thought
He placed it where it had to grow—
Or die. To lie and cringe beneath
One’s load means death, but life and power
Await all those who dare to rise above.
Our burdens are our wings; on them
We soar to higher realms of grace;
Without them we must roam for aye
On planes of undeveloped faith,
For faith grows but by exercise in circumstance impossible.
Oh, paradox of Heaven. The load
We think will crush was sent to lift us
Up to God! Then, soul of mine,
Climb up! for naught can e’er be crushed
Save what is underneath the weight.
How may we climb! By what ascent
Shall we surmount the carping cares
Of life! Within His word is found
The key which opes His secret stairs;
Alone with Christ, secluded there,
We mount our loads, and rest in Him.
~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit

"If Anyone Has an Ear, Let Him Hear" 

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Revelation 3:22)

In the above Scripture the Lord Jesus Christ is speaking to the churches, to the redeemed of each and every age. In each age and generation, these words have challenged the churches' spiritual ear to give ear to the Voice of the Spirit of God. And because of the spiritual warfare and the intense pressures "In The Spirit" that so many of the Lord's people are experiencing, we believe that these words of the Resurrected, Ascended Lord have a special significance for us right now. Seven time in Revelation, chapters two and three, the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ solemnly charges each one of us who belong to Him: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).

Seven times: "These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlestickes ..." The "seven candlesticks" are the seven churches, which represent the churches of each age and generation. The "seven stars" are the true messengers of the churches. They are those whose message proceeds out from the Throne. Thus the messenger and the message must be becoming the same (Revelation 2:1: 1:20).

Seven times: "These things saith the First and the Last, Which was dead, and is alive ..." (Revelation 2:8).

Seven times: "These things saith He Which hath the sharp sword with two edges ..." (Revelation 2:12).

Seven times: "These things saith the Son of God, Who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass ..." (Revelation 2:18).

Seven times: "These things saith He That hath the seven Spirits of God [the sevenfoldness of the Holy Spirit], and the seven stars ..." (Revelation 3:1).

Seven times: "These things saith He That is Holy, He That is True, He That hath the key of David, He That openeth, and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth ..." (Revelation 3:7).

Seven times: "These things saith the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God ..." (Revelation 3:14).

Yes! Seven times "these things saith He, "Who is the Resurrected, Ascended Lord: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. It is our Triumphant Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Who gives His own this very serious directive, and with these words we are taught how absolute and complete Is the Oneness between the workings of the Son and the workings of the Holy Spirit. For without explanation, the Lord Jesus declares that what He speaks is what the Spirit speaks. The Word of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of the Holy Spirit are he same: "These things saith He ... he that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

God's Choice Shaping Tools

God's kindness to us is demonstrated by the fact that He doesn't leave us in the condition we were in before coming to faith. How tragic it would be if we still thought, felt, and acted the same way we did before receiving Christ as our Savior. Throughout our lives, the Lord uses His choice tools to shape us into the image of His Son.

Prayer. By talking to the Lord in open dialogue, we develop a relationship with Him. He becomes not just our Savior, but our friend, and as the intimacy grows, so will our passion to be with Him. Setting aside time for prayer each day will become a delight, not a duty.

God's Word. You can't grow in your Christian life if you keep the Bible closed all week long. No one lives on one meal a week, yet many Christians try to get by with just a Sunday dinner of the Word served up by their pastor. How can we expect God's truth to do its transforming work if we never let it into our minds and hearts?

The Church. Christ uses His body of believers as a place for transformation. That's where we rub against each other and have the rough edges of our character smoothed. It is a place of instruction, accountability, and encouragement.

Are you letting the Lord use His character-shaping tools in your life? Our culture has no shortage of worldly voices and pressures that fill minds and influence behavior. Only when we intentionally schedule time for God, His Word, and His people can Christ do His transforming work in our lives.

~Charles Stanley~

Monday, April 21, 2014

Worship # 16

Worship: It's Priority, Principles, and Practice (continued)

Here, at our very best, we see through a glass darkly, and know the Lord Jesus Christ most imperfectly. It is our grief that we do not know him better and love him more. There, freed from all the dross and defilement of indwelling sin, we shall see Jesus as we have been seen, and know as we have been known. Surely, if faith has been sweet and peace-giving, sight will be far better.

Here we have often found it hard to worship God joyfully, by reason of the sorrows and cares of this world. Tears over the graves of those who loved have often made it hard to sing praise. Crushed hopes and family sorrows have sometimes made us hang our harps on the willows. There every tear shall be dried, every saint who has fallen asleep in Christ shall meet us once more, and every hard thing in our life-journey shall be made clear and plain as the sun at noonday. Here we have often felt that we stand comparatively alone, and that even in God's house the real spiritual worshipers are comparatively few. There we shall at length see a multitude of brethren and sisters that no man can number, all of one heart and one mind, all free from blemishes, weaknesses, and infirmities, all rejoicing in one Saviour, and all prepared to spend an eternity in his praise. We shall have worshiping companions enough in heaven.

Armed with such hopes as these, let us lift up our hearts and look forward! The time is very short. The night is far spent. The day is at hand. Let us worship on, pray on, praise on, and read on. Let us contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, and  resist manfully every effort to spoil scriptural worship. Let us strive earnestly to hand down the light of gospel worship to our children's children. Yet a little time and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Blessed in that day will be those, and those only, who are found true worshipers, "worshipers in spirit and truth"!

~J. C. Ryle~

(The End)

Sanctification Isn't Passive

Did you know that God didn't save you just to keep you from hell and get you into heaven? His top priority while you are here on earth is to shape you into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). But at this stage of our sanctification, He doesn't do it all for us. We have a responsibility to cooperate with Him and actively participate in the process. Yet many Christians have a passive attitude about the life of faith. They tolerate sin and smooth it over with the age-old excuse, "Nobody's perfect!"

When you received Christ as your Savior, you took the first step in your walk with Him--a walk that will last the rest of your life. However, you also stepped into spiritual warfare with Satan. The Enemy may have lost your soul, but he's going to do everything he can to hinder, sidetrack, and discourage you. The last thing he wants is a saint who's on fire for the Lord and useful in the kingdom.

But many believers have abdicated their responsibility to live holy lives. In fact, some of them look and act just like the unbelieving world. Sexual immorality is one area of compromise that the apostle Paul addressed specifically, but in truth, we should abstain from anything that interferes with godliness.

Have you allowed something in your life that shouldn’t be there? If so, you need to drop it now. You don't want a thread of sin to become a rope, then a chain, and finally a cable that traps you in a stronghold. Turn back to the Lord, and let your sanctification continue.

~Charles Stanley~

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Worship # 15

Worship: Its Priority, Principles, and Practice (continued)

4. True spiritual worship will continually increase the holiness of a person's life. It will make him every year more watchful over tongue, and temper, and time, and behavior in every relation of life. The true worshiper's conscience becomes annually more tender. The false worshiper's becomes annually more seared and more hard.

Give me the worship that will stand the test of our Lord's great principle, "By their fruits you will know them." Give me the worship that sanctifies the life, that makes a man walk with God and delight in God's law, that lifts him above the fear of the world and the love of the world, that enables him to exhibit something of God's image and God's likeness before his fellow men, that makes him just, loving, pure, gentle, good tempered, patient, humble, unselfish, temperate. This is the worship that comes down from heaven, and has the stamp and seal and superscription of God.

Whatever men may please to say, the grand test of the value of any kind of worship is the effect it produces on the lives of the worshipers. A man may tell us that what is called Ritualism nowadays is the best and most perfect mode of worshiping God. He may despise the simple and unadorned ceremonial of Evangelical congregations. He may exalt to the skies the excellence of ornament, decoration, and pageantry in our service of God. But I take leave to tell him that Christian men will try his favorite system by its results. So long as Ritualistic worshipers can turn from matins and early communions to race and operas, and can oscillate between the confessional and the ballroom, so long the advocates of Ritualism must not be surprised if we think little of the value of Ritualistic worship.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. The best public worship is that which produces the best private Christianity. The best church services for the congregation are those which make its individual members most holy at home and alone. If we want to know whether our own public worship is doing us good, let us try it by these tests. Does it quicken our conscience? Does it send us to Christ? Does it add to our knowledge? Does it sanctify our life? If it does, we may depend on it, it is worship of which we have no cause to be ashamed.

The day is coming when there shall be a congregation that shall never break up, and a Sabbath that shall never end, a song of praise that shall never cease, and an assembly that shall never be dispersed. In that assembly shall be found all who have "worshiped God in spirit" upon earth. If we are such, we shall be there. Here we often worship God with a deep sense of weakness, corruption, and infirmity. There, at last, we shall be able, with a renewed body, to serve him without weariness, and to attend on him with distraction.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 16)

You Can Be Sure

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. - 2 Peter 1:19-21

My son went through a season of time when he would ask me the same question.  "Mom, how do we know that what we believe about God is true?"  I encourage those questions because I am glad that my son is honest with me and can openly question these things. I pray that the answer I give him always comes from the Lord. I am so thankful that I worship a God who can handle any controversy, doubt or question. In 1 Peter 3:15, the Lord tells us to "always beready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." So, if we are not asking those questions ourselves, we may not always be ready to have an answer for someone else.

How do we know that our belief in Jesus is true? Some people base their faith on a feeling.   Others would say that it is based on all the years of tradition that have withstood the test of time. And some would say, "Because it works for me." But the reason why we know that Christianity is true is because of the sure word of prophecy spoken of in 2 Peter 1:19-21.

Prophecy (or the prediction of future events) proves that God holds time and events in His hand. Fulfilled prophecy clearly shows us that God knows the end from the beginning. The Old Testament prophets predicted the coming of Jesus Christ. When Jesus came to earth, He fulfilled 333 prophecies, which is why one of God's rules in the Law of Moses was to stone someone who was a false prophet. God does not make mistakes. He would not speak through someone and give false words for the future. God is completely in control and nothing surprises Him. If God said it, we can believe it. When we understand that we can trust Him with our future, then we will know that we can and do trust and believe.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Worship # 14

Worship: Its Priority, Principles, and Practice (continued)

I proceed, in the last place, to show some tests  which our public worship should be tried.

This is a point of vast importance, and one which every professing Christian should look fairly in the face. Too many are apt to cut the know of all difficulties about the subject before us, by referring to their own feelings. They will tell us that they are not theologians, that they do not pretend to understand the difference between one school of divinity and another. But they do know that the worship in which they take part makes them feel so much better, that they cannot doubt it is all right. I am not disposed to let such people turn away from the subject of this paper quite so easily. I cannot forget that religious feelings are very deceitful things. There is a sort of gentle animal excitement produced in some minds by hearing religious music and seeing religious spectacles, which is not true devotion at all. While it lasts, such excitement is very strong and very contagious; but it soon comes and soon goes, and leaves no permanent impression behind it. It is a mere sensuous animal influence, which even a Romanist may feel at seasons, and yet remain a Romanist both in doctrine and practice.

1. True spiritual worship will affect a man's heart and conscience. It will make him feel more keenly the sinfulness of sin, and his own particular personal corruption. It will deepen his humility. It will render him more jealously careful over his inward life. False public worship, like liquor-drinking and opium-eating, will every year produce weaker impressions. True spiritual worship, like wholesome food, will strengthen him who uses it, and make him grow inwardly every year.

2. True spiritual worship will draw a man into close communion with Jesus Christ Himself. It will lift him far above churches, and ordinances, and  ministers. It will make him hunger and thirst after a sight of the King. The more he hears, and reads, and prays, and praises, the more he will feel that nothing but Christ himself will feed the life of his soul, and that heart communion with him is "meat indeed and drink indeed." The false worshiper in the time of need will  turn to external helps, to ministers, ordinances, and sacraments. The true worshiper will turn instinctively to Christ by simple faith, just as the compass needle turns to the pole.

3. True spiritual worship will continually extend a man's spiritual knowledge. It will annually give bone, and sinew, and muscle, and firmness to his religion. A true worshiper will every year know more of self, and God, and heaven, and duty, and doctrine, and practice, and experience. His religion is a living thing and will grow. A false worshiper will never get beyond the old carnal principles and elements of his theology. He will annually go round and round like a horse in a mill, and though laboring much will never get forward. His religion is a dead thing, and cannot increase and multiply.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 15)

Come Forth As Gold

Followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb. 6:12).

They (heroes of faith) are calling to us from the heights that they have won, and telling us that what man once did man can do again. Not only do they remind us of the necessity of faith, but also of that patience by which faith has its perfect work. Let us fear to take ourselves out of the hands of our heavenly Guide or to miss a single lesson of His loving discipline by discouragement or doubt.
"There is only one thing," said a village blacksmith, "that I fear, and that is to be thrown on the scrap heap. "When I am tempering a piece of steel, I first beat it, hammer it, and then suddenly plunge it into this bucket of cold water. I very soon find whether it will take temper or go to pieces in the process. When I discover after one or two tests that it is not going to allow itself to be tempered, I throw it on the scrap heap and sell it for a cent a pound when the junk man comes around.
"So I find the Lord tests me, too, by fire and water and heavy blows of His heavy hammer, and if I am not willing to stand the test, or am not going to prove a fit subject for His tempering process, I am afraid He may throw me on the scrap heap."
When the fire is hottest, hold still, for there will be a blessed "afterward"; and with Job we may be able to say, "When he hath tried me I shall come forth as gold."
Sainthood springs out of suffering. It takes eleven tons of pressure on a piano to tune it. God will tune you to harmonize with Heaven's key-note if you can stand the strain.
Things that hurt and things that mar
Shape the man for perfect praise;
Shock and strain and ruin are
Friendlier than the smiling days.
~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, April 18, 2014

Worship # 13

Worship: Its Priority, Principles, and Practice (continued)

Against the three evils of which I have just been speaking, I desire to life up a warning voice. Such worship is not acceptable in God's sight. It may be pressed upon us most plausibly by clever men. It may be very attractive to the eye, and ear, and the sensual part of our nature. But it has one fatal defect about it: it cannot be defended and maintained by plain texts of Scripture. Sacramentalism, Ceremonialism, Sacrificialism, will never be found in Bibles fairly read and honestly interpreted.

We should search the pages of English history, if nothing else will open our eyes, and see what those pages tell us. Of worship in which Sacraments, Ceremonies, Sacerdotalism, and the Mass made the principle part - of such worship England has surely had enough. Such worship was tried by the Church of Rome in the days of our forefathers, for centuries before the Protestant Reformation, and utterly failed. It filled the land with superstition, ignorance, formalism, and immorality. It comforted no one, sanctified no one, elevated no one, helped no one toward heaven. It made the priests overbearing tyrants, and the people cringing slaves. And shall we go back to it? God forbid! Shall we once more be content with services in which baptism, the Lord's Supper, the power of the priesthood, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the necessity of symbolical decorations, the value of processions, banners, pictures, altar lights, are incessantly pressed on our minds? Once more I say, God forbid! Let Let every one that loves his soul come out from such worship and be separate. Let him avoid it and turn away from it, as he would from poison.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 14)

Evil Never Surrenders Without a Fight

And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him (Mark 9:26).

Evil never surrenders its hold without a sore fight. We never pass into any spiritual inheritance through the delightful exercises of a picnic, but always through the grim contentions of the battle field. It is so in the secret realm of the soul. Every faculty which wins its spiritual freedom does so at the price of blood. Apollyon is not put to flight by a courteous request; he straddles across the full breadth of the way, and our progress has to be registered in blood and tears. This we must remember or we shall add to all the other burdens of life the gall of misinterpretation. We are not "born again" into soft and protected nurseries, but in the open country where we suck strength from the very terror of the tempest. "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."
--Dr. J. H. Jowett
Faith of our Fathers! living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword:
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene'er we hear that glorious word.
Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
We will be true to Thee till death!
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
How sweet would be their children's fate,
If they, like them, could die for Thee!
~L. B. Cowman~

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Worship # 12

Worship: Its Priority, Principles, and Practice (continued)

I proceed, in the fourth place, to show some things which ought to be avoided in public worship.

I am well aware that there is no perfection in this world. There is no visible church, I am sure, in whose public  worship it would not be easy to show faults, defects, and shortcomings. The best service in the best visible church on earth will always be infinitely below the standard of the glorified church in heaven. I admit with sorrow and humiliation, that the faith, and hope, and life, and worship of God's people are all alike full of imperfections. To be continually separating and seceding from churches, because we detect blemishes in their administration, is not the act of a wise man. It is to forget the parable of the wheat and tares.

But I cannot forget, for all this, that we have fallen on dangerous times in the matter of worship. There are things going on in many churches, and chapels in the present day so highly objectionable, that I feel it a plain duty to offer some cautions about them. Plain speaking about them is imperatively demanded at a minister's hands. If the watchmen hold their peace, how shall the city take alarm? "If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?" (1 Cor. 14:8).

There are three great and growing evils in public worship, which require special watching in the present day. I feel it a positive duty to direct attention to them. We have need to stand on our guard about these evils, and to take heed that they do not infect and damage our souls.

1. Let us beware, for one thing, of any worship in which a disproportionate honor is given to any one ordinance of Christ, to the neglect of another. There are churches at this moment, in which baptism and the Lord's Supper, like Aaron's rod, swallow up everything else in religion. Nothing beside receives much attention. The honor done to the font and the Lord's Table meet you at every turn. All else, in comparison, is jostled out of its place, over-shadowed, dwarfed, and driven into a corner. Worship of this sort, I hesitate not to say, is useless to man's soul. Once alter the proportions of a doctor's prescription, and you may turn his medicine into a poison. Once bury the whole of Christianity under baptism and the Lord's Supper, and the real idea of Christian worship is completely destroyed.

2. Let us beware, for another, of any worship in which an excessive quantity of decoration and ornament is used. There are many churches at this moment, in which divine service is carried on with such an amount of gaudy dressing, candle-lighting, and theatrical ceremonial, that it defeats the very purpose of worship. Simplicity should be the grand characteristic of New Testament worship. Ornament at any time should be employed with a very sparing hand. Neither in the Gospels nor in the Epistles shall we find the slightest warrant for a gorgeous and decorated ceremonial, or for any symbols except water, bread, and wine. Above all, the inherent wickedness of human nature is such that our minds are only too ready to turn away from spiritual things to visible things. Whether men like it or not, what the heart of man needs teaching, is the uselessness of outward ornaments without inward grace.

3. Let us beware, above all things, of any worship in which ministers wear the dress, or act in the manner of sacrificing priests. There are hundreds of English churches at this moment in which the Lord's Supper is administered as a sacrifice and not as a sacrament, and the clergy are practically acting as mediators between God and man. The real presence of our Lord's body and blood under the form of bread and wine is openly taught. The Lord's Table is called an altar. The consecrated elements are treated with an idolatrous reverence, as if God himself was in them, under the form of bread and wine. The habit of private confession to clergymen is encouraged and urged on the people. I find it impossible to believe that such worship as this can be anything but offensive to God. He is a jealous God, and will not give his honor to another. The sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross once offered, can in no sense or way ever be repeated. His mediatorial and priestly office he has never deputed to any man, or any order of men. There is not a word in the Acts or Epistles to show that the apostles ever pretended to be sacrificing priests, or to make any oblation in the Lord's Supper, or to hear private confessions, and confer judicial absolutions. Surely that simple fact ought to make men think. Let us beware of Sacrificialism, the Mass, and the Confessional!

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 13)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Worship # 11

Worship: Its Priority, Principles, and Practice (continued)

12. In complete public worship there should be united public praise. That this was the custom among the first Christians, is evident from Paul's words to the Ephesians and Colossians, in which he commanded the use of "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). That was the custom so widely prevalent as to be a mark of the earliest Christians is simply matter of history. Pliny records that when they met they "used to sing a hymn to Christ as God". No one indeed can read the Old Testament and not discover the extremely prominent place which praise occupied in the temple service. What man in his senses can doubt that the "service of song" was meant to be highly esteemed under the New Testament? Praise has been truly called the flower of all devotion. It is the only part of our worship which will never die. Preaching and praying and reading shall one day be no longer needed. But praise shall go on for ever. A congregation which takes no part in praise, or leaves it all to be done by deputy through a choir, can be hardly thought in a satisfactory state.

13. Finally, in complete public worship there should be the regular use of the two sacraments which Christ appointed in his church. By baptism new members should be continually added to the congregation, and publicly enrolled in the list of professing Christians. By the Lord's Supper believers should be continually offered an opportunity of confessing their Master, and continually strengthened and refreshed, and put in remembrance of his sacrifice on the Cross. I believe, with every feeling of respect for Quakers and Plymouth Brethren, that no one who neglected these two sacraments would have been regarded as a Christian by Paul and Peter, James and John. No doubt, like every other good thing, they may be painfully misused and profaned by some, and superstitiously idolized by others. But after all there is no getting over the fact that baptism and the Lord's Supper were ordained by Christ himself as means of grace, and we cannot doubt he meant them to be reverently and duly used. A man who preferred to worship God for many years without ever receiving the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, is a man, I am firmly persuaded, that would not have been thought in a right state in the days of the apostles.

I commend these 13 points to the serious attention of my readers, and invite them to consider them well. I can easily believe that I may have said things about them with which some Christians may not agree. I am not their judge. To their own Master they must stand or fall. I can only tell my readers, as an honest man, what appears to me the teaching of Holy Scripture. I do not for a moment say that no man will be saved who does not see public worship precisely with my eyes. I say nothing of the kind. But I do say that any regular system of public worship which does not give a place to the Sabbath, the ministry, preaching, prayers, Scripture-reading, praise, and the two sacraments, appears to me deficient and incomplete. If we attend a place of worship where any of these points is neglected, I think we suffer loss and damage. We may be doing well; but I think we might be doing better. To my mind these points of public worship appear to stand out plainly on the face of the New Testament; and I plainly say so.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 12 - "Things to be Avoided in Public Worship)

Meet Him Alone Early In the Morning

Be ready in the morning, and come... present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. And no man shall come up with thee (Exod. 34:2-3).

The morning watch is essential. You must not face the day until you have faced God, nor look into the face of others until you have looked into His. You cannot expect to be victorious, if the day begins only in your own strength.
Face the work of every day with the influence of a few thoughtful, quiet moments with your heart and God. Do not meet other people, even those of your own home, until you have first met the great Guest and honored Companion of your life--Jesus Christ.
Meet Him alone. Meet Him regularly. Meet Him with His open Book of counsel before you; and face the regular and the irregular duties of each day with the influence of His personality definitely controlling your every act.
Begin the day with God!
He is thy Sun and Day!
His is the radiance of thy dawn;
To Him address thy lay.
Sing a new song at morn!
Join the glad woods and hills;
Join the fresh winds and seas and plains,
Join the bright flowers and rills.
Sing thy first song to God!
Not to thy fellow men;
Not to the creatures of His hand,
But to the glorious One.
Take thy first walk with God!
Let Him go forth with thee;
By stream, or sea, or mountain path,
Seek still His company.
Thy first transaction be
With God Himself above;
So shall thy business prosper well,

And all the day be love.
--Horatius Bonar
The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early upon their knees. Matthew Henry used to be in his study at four, and remain there till eight; then, after breakfast and family prayer, he used to be there again till noon; after dinner, he resumed his book or pen till four, and spent the rest of the day in visiting his friends.
Doddridge himself alludes to his "Family Expositor" as an example of the difference of rising between five and seven, which, in forty years, is nearly equivalent to ten years  more of life.
Dr. Adam Clark's "Commentary" was chiefly prepared very early in the morning. Barnes' popular and useful "Commentary" has been also the fruit of "early morning hours."
Simeon's "Sketches" were chiefly worked out between four and eight.
~L. B. Cowman~