Monthly Archives: December 2010

Determining To Grow In The New Year

When I was a boy I was introduced to the world of Marvel comics by two of my older brothers.  These comics not only contained the stories of the super heroes but page after page of advertising designed to excite the interest of  young boys.  I was promised that I could have x-ray vision and become a master of karate and even build a submarine!

The one ad that stands out above all others was the one by Charles Atlas, the body builder.  The ad was about transformation.  Here was a skinny guy getting sand kicked in his face at the beach and who decides that he is going to send way to Mr. Atlas to learn how to transform his body.  He ‘gambles the stamp’ and receives the information.  By following the simple steps  he is transformed into a muscular man who can stand up for himself and win back his girl.

The idea behind the ad was simple: if you will commit yourself to a certain pattern of life, you will have results.  You do not have to be a victim of circumstance, you do not have to stay a weakling.  If you will only eat right and exercise, you would be shocked by how changed your physique could be.  Generally speaking this is true.  If you diet and exercise this year, your physical condition will improve.  But it will require more than a desire to change.  It will require activity.   It will require perseverance.  Most boys seeing the ad by Mr. Atlas would say that they wanted to look like that, but how many were willing to do what it takes to accomplish that goal?

The same holds true for the Christian life.  It is possible for you to become a stronger,  more muscular Christian.  It is possible for you to grow this year in both grace and in knowledge.  It is possible this coming year for you to walk more closely with God, to enjoy his comforts, and to grow in holiness.

God has provided means for our growth.  Those means are freely available for every believer, certainly every believer in the  Western world.    The problem that most professing believers face is not one of ignorance, but rather of  desire and  felt need.

Do I want to do these things?  Do I need to do these things?  I want the results (being a strong Christian) but do I want the results badly enough to do what I need to do to have the results?  Allow seven words of  exhortation for the coming year.

1.  Commit yourself to  daily communion with  God

-Make time to thank God, to seek renewed strength from God, to confess your sins to God,  and to intercede for others.

-Read or listen to the Bible daily

-Mediate

-The blessed man meditates upon God’s word.

-Memorize

-Hide God’s word in your heart.

2.  Commit yourself to the stated meetings of the church

Every single meeting of the church for instruction, worship, and prayer is designed to bring glory to God and to bring help to your on the pilgrim pathway.  By willfully absenting yourselves from those meetings your are denying yourself crucial nutrition for your soul.

3.  Commit yourself to mortifying sins

Is there some nagging issue in your life, some place of disquiet in your soul, some thing which saps your strength and your assurance, the lingering issue of concern regarding your soul, some sin which easily ensnares you?  When will it be dealt with?  Shall sin have dominion over you?  Has God placed the resources at hand–prayer and the word and the Spirit to aid you in overcoming it?  Does he desire victory?  Will he provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it?

4.  Commit yourself to hospitality

1 Peter 4:9 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.

Hospitality generally speaking refers to showing love to strangers–taking in the traveler, but here it is expressed within the church.  Every member in the church has something to offer you and you have something to offer every member.  Can you  receive or give these benefits on the Lord’s Day and at prayer meeting only?

5.  Commit yourself to dealing with unnecessary distractions

We all have distractions in our lives.  Our jobs and daily human needs, our commitments to family, etc.  But are there things that fill our time and our affections which detract from the great issues of  life?

6.   Commit yourself to study (read a good biography, find a good book on a doctrinal subject)

I have found few things more helpful and challenging than the reading of a good biography.  When I say good–I am referring to a worthy subject, a well written treatment and what I will call realism–not fawning praise, not the presentation of perfection, but real progress of real pilgrims

7.  Enjoy the rich benefits of a sanctified Lord’s Day

Here is a day, by divine design, to aid us in delighting in God.  Here is a day designed to be for us a foretaste of  heaven.  A declension in our commitment to its benefits will not promote heavenly ends.

May God help us to grow strong in the coming year!


A Call To Moral Clarity


ÉOMER: The world is all grown strange … How shall a man judge what to do in such times?

ARAGORN: As he ever has judged.  Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another thing among Men.  It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house. ­­­___ from The Lord Of The Rings-Book Three

Tolkien’s reluctant hero, Aragorn, makes the point that the difference between good and evil are not like shades of gray in a near-infinite continuum, but rather definite, fixed and unchanging realities.

How strange this has become to the present generation.  Political correctness demands that every viewpoint, every opinion and each system of ethics stand on equal ground and be equally respected __all, that is, except the system of ethics set forth in the Holy Scriptures.  But it no longer surprises that all these other ethical systems (however inconsistent, mutually exclusive, and self-contradictory) are applauded by the masses of humanity.

Society, in advance stages of the erosion of common grace, no longer is able to declare unequivocally that any given behavior is categorically, and therefore always, wrong; dare I say sinful?

Every ruthless murderer shot down by police was, as news stories tell us, “a good boy”.  The pastor who “comes out of the closet” demands our sympathetic understanding, rather than righteous indignation when he finally chooses what was “right for him.”

This no longer surprises us.   But what ought to surprise us is that such muddled thinking (if thinking it can be called) has found its way into the hearts of multitudes of professing Christians.

Such thinking flows from the mentality of situational ethics, a theory of social morality made popular in the 1960’s by Joseph Fletcher.  In the five decades since it was written this Jell-O-like ethic has not only enabled duplicitous souls to maintain the appearance of followers of Jesus but it has surreptitiously clouded the moral judgment of true believers.

Choices which would have been clear-cut in prior generations now befuddle Christians today.  “Ought I join the growing church which has many young men and women my age and has two lesbian deaconesses __or the small church which has an older congregation yet has such patent love and zeal for the Lord?  How can I know which to choose?”

May our Lord pity His people and call them back to the only sure foundation for their faith and practice __The Word of God!

“For the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life”  _Proverbs 6:23

 

Pastor Bob Brown


Drifting…

 

People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. —D.A. Carson

seen on Challies.com

 


Little Sins????

The following is from Thomas Brook’s classic, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices.  It is long, but powerful stuff to aid us in putting to sin to death.

That even those very sins that Satan paints, and puts new names and colors upon, cost the best blood, the noblest blood, the life-blood, the heart-blood of the Lord Jesus. That Christ should come from the eternal bosom of his Father to a region of sorrow and death; that God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature; that he who was clothed with glory should be wrapped with rags of flesh; he who filled heaven and earth with his glory should be cradled in a manger; that the almighty God should flee from weak man—the God of Israel into Egypt; that the God of the law should be subject to the law, the God of the circumcision circumcised, the God who made the heavens working at Joseph’s homely trade; that he who binds the devils in chains should be tempted; that he, whose is the world, and the fullness thereof, should hunger and thirst; that the God of strength should be weary, the Judge of all flesh condemned, the God of life put to death; that he who is one with his Father should cry out of misery, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46); that he who had the keys of hell and death at his belt should lie imprisoned in the sepulcher of another, having in his lifetime nowhere to lay his head,nor after death to lay his body; that that HEAD, before which the angels do cast down their crowns, should be crowned with thorns, and those EYES, purer than the sun, put out by the darkness of death; those EARS, which hear nothing but hallelujahs of saints and angels, to hear the blasphemies of the multitude; that FACE, which was fairer than the sons of men, to be spit on by those beastly wretched Jews; that MOUTH and TONGUE, which spoke as never man spoke, accused for blasphemy; those HANDS, which freely swayed the scepter of heaven, nailed to the cross; those FEET, “like unto fine brass,” nailed to the cross for man’s sins; each sense pained with a spear and nails; his SMELL, with stinking odor, being crucified on Golgotha, the place of skulls; his TASTE, with vinegar and gall; his HEARING, with reproaches, and SIGHT of his mother and disciples bemoaning him; his SOUL, comfortless and forsaken; and all this for those very sins that Satan paints and puts fine colors upon! Oh! how should the consideration of this stir up the soul against sin, and work the soul to fly from it, and to use all holy means whereby sin may be subdued and destroyed.


Five Marks Of A Forgiven Soul

1.  Forgiven Souls Hate Sin

Forgiven souls HATE SIN. They can enter most fully into the words of our Communion Service, “The remembrance of sin is grievous unto them, and the burden of it is intolerable.” It is the serpent which bit them—how should they not shrink from it with horror? It is the poison which brought them to the brink of eternal death—how should they not loathe it with a godly disgust? It is the Egyptian enemy which kept them in hard bondage—how should not the very memory of it be bitter to their hearts? It is the disease of which they carry the marks and scars about them, and from which they have scarcely recovered—well may they dread it, flee from it, and long to be delivered altogether from its power! If you and sin are friends, you and God are not yet reconciled. You are not fit for heaven; for one main part of heaven’s excellence is the absence of all sin.

2.  Forgiven Souls Love Christ

Forgiven souls LOVE CHRIST. This is that one thing they can say, if they dare say nothing else—they do love Christ. His person, His offices, His work, His name, His cross, His blood, His words, His example, His ordinances—all, all are precious to forgiven souls. The ministry which exalts Him most, is that which they enjoy most. The books which are most full of Him, are most pleasant to their minds. The people on earth they feel most drawn to, are those in whom they see something of Christ. He is their Redeemer, their Shepherd, their Physician, their King, their strong Deliverer, their gracious Guide, their hope, their joy, their All. Were it not for Him they would be of all people most miserable.

3.  Forgiven Souls Are Humble

Forgiven souls are HUMBLE. They cannot forget that they owe all they have and hope for to free grace, and this keeps them lowly. They are brands plucked from the fire—debtors who could not pay for themselves—captives who must have remained in prison forever—but for undeserved mercy—wandering sheep who were ready to perish when the Shepherd found them! What right then have they to be proud? I do not deny that there are proud saints. But this I do say—they are of all God’s creatures the most inconsistent, and of all God’s children the most likely to stumble and pierce themselves with many sorrows. We have nothing we can call our own–but sin and weakness. Surely there is no garment that befits us so well, as humility.

4.  Forgiven Souls Are Holy

Forgiven souls are HOLY. Their chief desire is to please Him who has saved them, to do His will, to glorify Him in body and in Spirit, which are His. “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits?” (Ps. 116:12), is a leading principle in a pardoned heart. It was the remembrance of Jesus showing mercy that made Paul in labors so abundant, and in doing good so unwearied. If anyone points out to me believers who are in a carnal, slothful state of soul, I reply in the words of Peter, “They have forgotten they were purged from their old sins.” (2 Pet. 1:9.)

But if you show me a man deliberately living an unholy and licentious life, and yet boasting that his sins are forgiven, I answer, “He is under a ruinous delusion, and is not forgiven at all.” I would not believe he is forgiven if an angel from heaven affirmed it, and I charge you not to believe it too. Pardon of sin and love of sin are like oil and water—they will never go together. All who are washed in the blood of Christ, are also sanctified by the Spirit of Christ.

5.  Forgiven Souls Are Forgiving

Forgiven souls are FORGIVING. They do as they have been done by. They look over the offenses of their brethren. They endeavor to “walk in love, as Christ loved them, and gave Himself for them.” (Eph. 5:2.) They remember how God for Christ’s sake forgave them, and endeavor to do the same towards their fellow-creatures. Has He forgiven them pounds, and shall they not forgive a few pence? Doubtless in this, as in everything else, they come short—but this is their desire and their aim. A spiteful, quarrelsome Christian is a scandal to his profession. Forgiveness is the way by which every saved soul enters heaven. Forgiveness is the eternal subject of song with all the redeemed who inhabit heaven. Surely an unforgiving soul in heaven would find his heart completely out of tune. Surely we know nothing of Christ’s love to us but the name of it, if we do not love our brethren.

From J.C. Ryle’s Old Paths.

From jcrylequotes.com


A Faithful Wound…

From Thomas Watson:

Christ went more willingly to the cross than we do to the throne of grace.


The Power of Prayer

Satan dreads nothing but prayer.  His one concern is to keep the saints from praying.  He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion.  He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray. —Samuel Chadwick

Seen at Challies.com


Our Sovereign God

From a sermon by Charles Spurgeon on Matthew 20:15

There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that Throne. On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldings, no truth of which they have made such a football, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth, and we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter; then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love. But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon His throne whom we trust.


Hating Sin

How incredible it is that we do not hate sin more than we do! Sin is the cause of all the pain and disease in the world. God did not create man to be an ailing and suffering creature. It was sin, and nothing but sin, which brought in all the ills that flesh is heir to. It was sin to which we owe every racking pain, and every loathsome infirmity, and every humbling weakness to which our poor bodies are liable. Let us keep this ever in mind. Let us hate sin with a godly hatred.

~ J.C. Ryle