Monthly Archives: January 2011

Gold refined by fire

Another devotional thought from Octavius Winslow.  Let us pray for all our brethren enduring affliction!

 

Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires, [even] the name of the LORD God of Israel. – Isaiah 24:15

Great is the glory brought to our incarnate God by the sanctified afflictions of His saints. How deep these often are, let many testify; and yet the deeper the affliction, the deeper the glory. Behold the glory brought to God by Daniel in the den of lions; by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace; and by Paul and Silas in the prison. And what is their history but a type of all the afflicted members of God’s family? The Lord will be glorified in His people: therefore does He afflict, and try, and chasten them. “The Lord tries the righteous.” He has His den, His prison, His furnace. He has His own mode, His appointed way, of proving His work in their hearts; and, whether by the lions’ den, or the prison, or the furnace, He is glorified in them. To see how Christ can shut the mouth of the lion, and can temper the devouring flame, and can unbar the doors of the prison-house; how glorious thus appears His power! To mark the resigned will, the subdued spirit, the mute submission, the cheerful acquiescence in the deepest affliction- how glorious thus appears His grace! To behold the daily strength imparted, the precious promises applied, the soothing consolation experienced, how glorious thus appears his love! To see the chaff scattered, and the dross consumed, and the mind brought into perfect harmony with God’s will; to say with David, ” My soul is even as a weaned child,” -how glorious thus appears His wisdom! Oh, if these are the blessings which blossom upon the rod, then welcome the rod! If this is the glory brought to the name of Jesus by a process of sanctified affliction, then welcome the affliction! Only see that He is truly glorified in you by it. See that He is glorified, while you are in the furnace, by your passive graces; see that He is glorified, when you have come forth from the furnace, by your active graces. “When he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

 


If you don’t like the Lord’s Day…

Your won’t like heaven! 

I’ve been thinking of posting on this subject for some time.  The quotation below by J.C. Ryle says it better than I could, so I’ll go with our brother.   The Lord’s Day is a day which is to be for us a foretaste of the world to come.  It is a day when we leave off the world, when we gather in the presence of God, when we rest from our labors, and when we fellowship with the saints.   If  we do not love such things, heaven will not be heaven for us!

Here are  Pastor Ryle’s comments:

Let us never forget that our feelings about Sundays are sure tests of the state of our souls. The person who can find no pleasure in giving God one day in the week, is manifestly unfit for heaven. Heaven itself is nothing but an eternal Sabbath. If we cannot enjoy a few hours in God’s service once a week in this world, it is plain that we could not enjoy an eternity in His service in the world to come. Happy are those who walk in the steps of her of whom we read today! They shall find Christ and a blessing while they live, and Christ and glory when they die.

~ J.C. Ryle

Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke volume 2 , [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1998], 120. {Luke 13:10-17}


Test All Things….

“Test all things; hold fast what is good.”

1 Thessalonians 5:21

“I was a good Christian; born and bred in the bosom of the infallible Presbyterian Church.  How then could I unite with this wild idolater in worshipping his piece of wood?  But what is worship? … To do the will of God___that is worship.  And what is the will of God?___to do to my fellow man what I would have my fellow man to do to me.  … Consequently … I must turn idolater.” –Ishmael, in Moby Dick

Have you ever been amazed to behold a Christian talk himself out of a solid and long-held conviction?  __some man or woman with an established walk within the context of a faithful local church?  When questioned they offer their reasoning for making what you perceive to be a dangerous departure from sound belief and practice.  But their thinking is as confused as that of Ishmael, the leading character in the classic novel Moby Dick, who talked himself into worshipping an idol ostensibly to obey the Lord!

If we follow Ishmael’s line of reasoning whereby he concludes that he must worship the idol, we find that his first step was his undoing.  “But what is worship?…to do the will of God … is worship.” It seemed both plausible and pious, and was no doubt sincere, but his sincerity notwithstanding he was most seriously wrong.

To do the will of God encompasses everything a man does; yet not everything a man does is worship.  Let us have the humility to realize that whenever we find that we are rationalizing ourselves away from orthodox and established doctrine and practice it is then that we need to confer with our elders and other mature brethren in the faith.

“O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge — by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.”    1Timothy 6:20-21

 

Pastor Bob Brown


Beware!

Another gem from Octavius Winslow:

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12.

Observe to what cause He traces all departure from God—unbelief. This is the sin which, in another place, he exhorts the Christian to “lay aside,” as “the sin which does so easily beset us.” What is the easy besetting sin of every child of God? Let any believer testify. Ask him to point to his most subtle, constant, powerful, and dangerous foe. Ask him what has the most easy access to his mind; what most entangles his feet, and so impedes him in the race that is set before him; what has most easily and frequently vanquished him; what has brought most distress to his soul, and dishonor to God—and he will unhesitatingly reply, “My evil heart of unbelief.” He may have constitutional infirmities, and be assailed by peculiar temptations, and may yield to “presumptuous sins,” and these, in secret and close transaction with God, may cause him deep bitterness and humiliation of soul. But the sin which does so easily and so perpetually beset him is the sin of unbelief, the fruitful cause of all other sin. For as faith is the parent of all holiness, so is unbelief the parent of all unholiness.


Do You Want To Grow?

One of  my favorite devotional authors is Octavius Winslow.  I have been reading his book, “Morning Thoughts” each day as part of my time with the Lord. 

Here are his words from the section on Jan. 21. 

“This also we wish, even your perfection.” 2 Cor. 13:9

Seek larger degrees of grace. Let your standard be the loftiest, and your aim the highest. Place no limit to that which God has not limited. Never cease expecting until He ceases giving. If you are satisfied with your present measure of grace, a worse sign you could not have. To be content with being stationary in the divine life places you in a doubtful position. It is an essential property of grace that it grows. It is the immortal seed of God, and must, from its very nature, germinate. If your faith does not increase, your doubts will increase; and if your grace does not strengthen, your fears will strengthen. Fill the measure with pure wheat, as one has said, and there will be no room for chaff. Aim after elevated principles, if you desire elevated practice. Low principles invariably lead to low practice. Watch against that which tends to impair the vigor of your grace. Watch against your besetting sins—your greatest infirmities—your strongest temptations. Beware of your own heart—beware of self-confidence—beware of creature idolatry—beware of the world. Beware, too, of any neglect of the means of grace. God has appointed His channels of conveyance. Beware that you do not despise any one of them. A neglected sanctuary—a forsaken throne of grace—an unread Bible—will soon bring leanness into your soul. God has as much ordained the means of grace, as He has appointed the grace of the means.


Say, what??

In the sixth chapter of Exodus we find Jehovah speaking great promises to Moses which he is then to convey to the people of Israel.  He speaks of establishing His covenant with them, that He has heard their cries and groaning, that He will remove their burdens from them, free them from bondage with an outstretched arm, that He will take them as a people and be their God, and finally that He will bring them into the land which He had sworn to give their fathers.  These words were true. They were God breathed.  They were conveyed by a faithful messenger.   You might expect that such promises would bring great joy and happiness as well as eager anticipation to those who heard them.  But what do we read?  We read in v. 9 that they did not ‘heed’ or ‘hear’ or ‘listen to’ Moses.  The words did not penetrate their souls.  The word did not bring them joy.  Why?  We read, ‘because of anguish of spirit’.  Other translations say ‘despondency’ or ‘discouragement’.  This incident follows the record of Pharaoh ordering the Israelites to make bricks without straw.  The people were weary, frightened, and disheartened.  Jesus noted in the parable of the sower and the seed that some plants find themselves choked because of the ‘cares of this world’.  Have you ever had that experience?   Truths calculated to bring you joy, to put  wind in your sails, to make the pathway pleasant are simply not heard?   Have you found this in ministering to others?  We must pray not only for an understanding of the truth, but the right frame to receive it.  Let us pray that the power of the word would break through our despondent hearts and the cares of this world to bear forth much fruit!


The blessedness of meditation

Meditation has been likened to the cow chewing it’s cud.  The picture is of  eating, swallowing, bringing the matter back up to chew on again over and over again.

I was reading a chapter in a new book by Jeremy Walker in which he quotes Iain Murray, on the subject of  “The Puritans on Maintaining Spiritual

Zeal”.

 

Supposing we had lived in Puritan times and we went to our pastor with the regret that while we believed in God‟s love it did not move us very much. If the pastor had reason to think that the complaint was being expressed by a genuine Christian it is certain that one of the first questions we would face is this, “How regularly are you spending time meditating on what you say you believe?” Their judgement was that hearing sermons, even reading the Bible, will do little good if that is where we stop. “Meditation,” says Brooks, “is the food of your souls, it is the very stomach and natural heat whereby spiritual truths are digested. A man shall as soon as live without his heart, as he shall be able to get good by what he reads without meditation. . . . They usually thrive best who meditate most. Meditation is a soul-fattening duty; it is a grace-strengthening duty; it is a duty-crowning duty.

And consider these words by J.C. Ryle on the same subject:

Occasional retirement, self-inquiry, meditation, and secret communion with God, are absolutely essential to spiritual health. The man who neglects them is in great danger of a fall. To be always preaching, teaching, speaking, writing, and working public works, is, unquestionably, a sign of zeal. But it is not always a sign of zeal according to knowledge. It often leads to adverse consequences. We must make time occasionally for sitting down and calmly looking within, and examining how matters stand between our own selves and Christ. The omission of the practice is the true account of many a backsliding which shocks the Church, and gives occasion to the world to blaspheme.


What does holiness look like?

Pastor Kevin DeYoung has been posting summaries from J.C. Ryle’s Holiness.

  1. True sanctification then does not consist in talk about religion.
  2. True sanctification does not consist in temporary religious feelings.
  3. True sanctification does not consist in outward formalism and external devoutness.
  4. Sanctification does not consist in retirement from our place in life, and the renunciation of our social duties.
  5. Sanctification does not consist in the occasional performance of right actions. (p. 32)
  6. Genuine sanctification will show itself in habitual respect to God’s law, and habitual effort to live in obedience to it as the rule of life.
  7. Genuine sanctification will show itself in an habitual endeavour to do Christ’s will, and to live by His practical precepts.
  8. Genuine sanctification will show itself in an habitual desire to live up to the standard which St. Paul sets before the churches in his writings.
  9. Genuine sanctification will show itself in habitual attention to the active graces which our Lord so beautifully exemplified, and especially to the grace of charity.
  10. Genuine sanctification, in the last place, will show itself in habitual attention to the passive graces of Christianity.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/