Monthly Archives: March 2011

An Empty Boot

 I am indebted to Pastor George McDearmon who first shared this story with me.

 If you were to tour the Saratoga National Historical Park in Upstate NY, you would find a profoundly sad monument. The monument is that of an empty boot. On the back of the monument we are told that it was raised in honor of a ‘most brilliant solider’ of the Continental Army. That ‘brilliant solider’ was wounded in aiding the victory of the Continental Army against the British in the Battle of Saratoga. The brilliant soldier, wounded in the foot, was the hero of that particular day. But there is a reason why his name is left off the monument. That hero became a traitor. In fact, he became the most famous traitor in American history. The named Benedict Arnold is not remembered today because of what he did on the battlefield of Saratoga. Many who know his name do not know of his past heroic exploits. Those brave deeds  have been covered by his treachery. There are pastors and well known professing believers of the past who have left their mark on their churches for good and ill. Many who were once useful heroes to the people of God are remembered, not for their saintly service, but rather for their scandalous sin. The evil that they have done, the betrayal they have leveled against their Savior and His people is what is called to mind when their names are uttered. That they may have done genuine good in the past is not the issue. Shepherds of the flock have an unusual power to do good or to do evil. We may influence many, but most of us will only impactonly  a few. The issue is not numbers.  How will we be remembered? What legacy will we leave behind? The daily necessity of keeping the heart, of taking heed to ourselves and our doctrine will determine at the end of day the longevity of the good that we do. May God remove us before we become an empty boot.


The Blood Of Christ, Most Precious!

Friends,

Another post from  Winslow.  I thought about editing it, as it is long, but I feel it is well worth your time!

 

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, – Hebrews 10:19

In all true prayer great stress should be laid on the blood of Jesus; perhaps no evidence distinguishes a declension in the power and spirituality of prayer more strongly than an overlooking of this. Where the atoning blood is kept out of view, not recognized, not pleaded, not made the grand plea, there is a deficiency of power in prayer. Words are nothing, fluency of expression nothing, niceties of language and brilliancy of thought nothing, and even apparent fervor nothing, where the blood of Christ- the new and the living way of access to God, the grand plea that moves Omnipotence, that gives admission within the holy of holies- is slighted, undervalued, and not made the groundwork of every petition. Oh, how much is this overlooked in our prayers, how is the atoning blood of Immanuel slighted! How little mention we hear of it in the sanctuary, in the pulpit, in the social circle! Whereas it is this that makes prayer what it is with God. All prayer is acceptable with God, and only so, as it comes up perfumed with the blood of Christ; all prayer is answered as it urges the blood of Christ as its plea; it is the blood of Christ that satisfies justice, and meets all the demands of the law against us; it is the blood of Christ that purchases and brings down every blessing into the soul; it is the blood of Christ that sues for the fulfillment of His last will and testament, every precious legacy of which comes to us solely on account of His death; this it is, too, that gives us boldness at the throne of grace. How can a poor sinner dare approach with out this? How can he look up, how can he ask, how can he present himself before a holy God, but as he brings in the hand of faith the precious blood of Jesus? Outside of Christ, God can hold no communication with us; all communion is suspended, every avenue of approach is closed, all blessing is withheld. God has crowned His dearly beloved Son, and He will have us crown Him too; and never do we place a brighter crown upon His blessed head, than when we plead His finished righteousness as the ground of our acceptance, and His atoning blood as our great argument for the bestowment of all blessing with God. If, then, dear reader, you feel yourself to be a poor, vile, unholy sinner; if a backslider, whose feet have wandered from the Lord, in whose soul the spirit of prayer has declined, and yet still feel some secret longing to return, and dare not, because so vile, so unholy, so backsliding; yet you may return, “having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” Come, for the blood of Jesus pleads; return, for the blood of Christ gives you a welcome. “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”


Part of the glory…

As mentioned numerous times here, I have found great joy in reading Octavius Winslow’s Morning Thoughts this year as part of my devotions.  This section from earlier in March has stuck with me and I have read it out loud to several brethren.  One of our dear folks lost their grandmother this week and again the cheering words from this book came to mind.  These words go well with Ryle’s essay on knowing one another in heaven.

Here is Winslow:

Will it add nothing to the glory of that event, and to the happiness of that moment, when the Son of God descends, and, dissolving the soft slumbers of the holy dead, will reanimate each with its former occupant, that then we shall perfectly recognize those we once knew and loved, and renew the sweet communion, before imperfect and limited, but now complete and eternal? Dry, then, your tears, and cease to mourn, you saints of God. They are “not lost, but gone before.” Their spirits live with Jesus. And when He comes, He will bring them with Him, and you shall see and know them with a cloudless sight and a perfect knowledge. The very eyes which once smiled upon you so kindly- the very tongue which spoke to you so comfortingly- the very hands which administered to you so skillfully- the very feet which traveled by your side so faithfully- the very bosom which pillowed you so tenderly- you shall meet again. “The coming of the Lord draws near,” and those who “sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.” Let us “comfort one another with these words.”

And will it be no additional joy to meet and to know those eminent servants of the Lord whose histories and whose writings stimulated, instructed, and cheered us, shedding light and gladness on our way? Abraham, whose faith had animated us- David, whose experimental psalms had comforted us- Isaiah, whose visions of Jesus had gladdened us- Paul, whose doctrinal epistles had instructed us- John, whose letters of love had subdued us; to gaze upon the “Magdalene ” sitting at Jesus’ feet- upon the “beggar” reposing in Abraham’s bosom- upon the “thief” with Christ in Paradise- oh! will not this add to the happiness of heaven? Will this be no joy, no bliss, no glory? Assuredly it will! At Christ’s coming, will not His ministers, too, and those to whom their labors had been useful, meet, know, and rejoice in each other? The pastor and the flock, will there be no certain and permanent reunion? no sweet, and fond, and holy recognition? Shall their union in the Church below exceed, in its beauty and sweetness, their reunion in the Church above? Here it is necessarily mingled with much that is imperfect. Much concealment is connected with their united labors in the vineyard of Christ. They go forth weeping, bearing precious seed, and often are called to their rest before the fruit of their prayers, and tears, and toil appears. Here, too, seasons of sickness and of separation frequently transpire, enshrouding the spirit with gloom, and wringing the heart with anguish. And then, at last, death itself rudely breaks the tender bond, lays the standard-bearer low, leaving the affectionate flock to gaze with streaming eye upon the lessening spirit of their pastor as it ascends and towers away to glory. But the coming of Jesus, with all His saints, will restore this happy union, invest it with new and richer glory, and place it upon a permanent, yes, everlasting basis. “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.” Yes, beloved, we shall know each other again, altered and glorified though we may be.


No Cheerleaders Required

Many believe that the sight of the Grand Canyon is the single most awesome view in all of the United States.  To simply stand at the brink and drink in the view is to stand in wonder.  Imagine for a moment that the National Park Service felt the need to “make it more exciting”, you know, bring the young crowds in.  Let’s say for a moment that they hired cheerleaders and a band to whip up the emotions of  the viewers.  Let’s say that to do this, they erected a large platform with big screens which blocked the view, but drew the crowds in order to ‘catch’ the excitement over what God did in the forming of the canyon. How foolish, we say, how unnecessary, how distracting, how dishonoring!

I thought of this recently when I attended a worship event in which yet another  worship facilitator kept ‘getting in the way’ of the praises of  God.  Constantly interjecting comments while the congregation attempted to sing.   “Isn’t He wonderful!”  “Oh, yes, can’t you sing it?”, “Yes!  That grace is so amazing!”.   I found myself wanting to shout, “Get out of the way!!  You’re blocking my view!”

Now if you were to go to the Grand Canyon, thankfully you would not find my nightmare scenario, but  you might well find a Park Ranger.  He would (we’ll leave out the evolutionary bits here) describe for you the details of the Canyon to enhance your understanding.  But he would do so by getting out of the way, he would be standing beside you, pointing.  That’s what those who lead in worship or in preaching ought to do.  Point, get out of the way of the glory, and simply point.

It turns out that God does not need a cheerleader.


Enough, already!

There is plenty for us to feel guilty about in our Christian lives.  We all fail.  In one area or another, at one time or another, every day we fail.  Not only do we fail, we actually sin.  In thought or word or deed.  There is not one Christian who is constantly all that he is called to be.  The same goes with the local church.  I’m sure many of us have wondered what the risen Christ would say to our local assembly if He were to address us along the lines of the seven church of Asia Minor.  Where are we strong in His opinion?  What are we failing in?   Where would He commend and where would He criticize? 

One of the means by which we measure ourselves is the elusive ‘enough’.    Do I love God enough?  Do I witness enough?  Do I serve my brethren enough?  Am I involved in evangelism and missions enough?  Do we reach enough people?  Have we planted enough churches, raised up enough men to train for the ministry?  

What exactly,  is enough?  How many people do we need to witness to to be enough?  How many souls do we need to ‘save’ to be enough?  How many churches can one church plant that is enough?  How many missionaries can we send out that is enough?  We can do more than we are doing and we can do more than others are doing but is that enough?  Protestentism rightly rejects the notion of supererogation.  The idea that you can do more than enough.   I’d settle to do half!

I’m sure you all realize only One did enough.  In fact He did all that the Father required of Him.  And He did all that the Father requires of me.  He did all the Father requires of my church.  That does not make me want to sit on my hands and do less.  To the contrary.  But it does help me to live my life centered on His sufficiency and not to gaze at my lack.


Come Boldly, Come Needy, Come Often

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16

The throne of grace is for the needy. It is always a time of need with a child of God. “Without me,” says Jesus, “you can do nothing.” There is not a moment, but, if he knows his real state, he is in need of something. What a blessing, then, is the throne of grace! It is for the needy. It is for those who are in need- upon whom all other doors are closed, with whom all other resources have failed, who have nowhere else to look, nowhere else to fly. To such is the throne of grace always open. Is it a time of trial with you? Then it is a time of need. Take your trial, whatever it be, simply to God. Do not brood over it. Do not cherish it. This will not make it sweeter, or easier to be borne. But taking it to Jesus will. The very act of taking it will lighten it, and casting it upon His tenderness and sympathy will make it sweet. Is it a time of spiritual darkness with you? Then it is a time of need. Take your darkness to the throne of grace, and “in His light” who sits upon it you “shall see light.” Is it a time of adverse providences? Then it is a time of need. And where can you go for guidance, for direction, for counsel, for light upon the intricacies of the way, but to the God of grace? Is it a time of temporal distress with you? Then it is a time of need. Take your temporal cares and necessities to the Lord, for He who is the God of grace is also the God of providence.

Thank the Lord for every errand that takes you to the throne of grace. Whatever it is that sends you to prayer, count it one of your choice blessings. It may be a heavy cross, a painful trial, a pressing need; it may be a broken cistern, a cold look, an unkind expression; yet, if it leads you to prayer, regard it as a mercy sent from God to your soul. Thank God for an errand to Him.

Winslow


It is the Object of Our Faith Who Saves

Some look too much at their own faith and not enough at the object of their faith.   Here are wise words from a pastor of another generation based on the words of   Hebrews 12:2
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; –

Be careful of making a savior of faith. There is a danger, and it cannot be too vigilantly guarded against, of substituting the work of the Spirit for the work of Christ; this mistake it is that leads so many of God’s saints to look within, instead of outside of themselves, for the evidences of their calling and acceptance; and thus, too, so many are kept, all their spiritual course, walking in a state of bondage and fear, the great question never fully and fairly settled; or, in other words, never quite sure of their sonship. The work of Christ is a great and finished work; it is so glorious that it can admit of no comparison, so complete that it can allow of no addition, and so essential that it can give place to no substitution. Precious as is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart, and essential as it is to the salvation of the soul, yet he who places it where the work of Jesus ought only to be, deranges the order of the covenant, closes up the legitimate source of evidence, and will assuredly bring distress and uncertainty into his soul. “Righteousness, peace, and joy” are the fruit of a full belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he who looks for them away from the cross will meet with disappointment; but they are found in Jesus. He who looks away from himself, from his vileness, guiltiness, emptiness, and poverty, fully, and believingly unto Jesus, shall know what the forgiveness of sin is, and shall experience the love of God shed abroad in his heart.

If, then, your faith is feeble and tried, do not be cast down. Faith does not save you; though it be an instrument of salvation, and, as such, is of vast importance, it is but the instrument. The finished work of Immanuel is the ground of your salvation. Yes, it is your salvation itself. Then, make not a savior of your faith; despise it not if it is feeble, exult not in it if it is strong, trample not on it if it is small, deify it not if it is great: such are the extremes to which every believer is exposed. If your faith is feeble and sharply tried, it is no evidence that you are not a believer; but the evidence of your acceptance in the Beloved is to arise from Jesus alone; then let your constant motto be, “looking unto Jesus;” looking to Him just as you are; looking unto Him when faith is feeble; looking unto Him when faith is tried; looking unto Him when faith is declining; yes, looking unto Him when you fear you have no faith. Look up, tried and tempted soul! Jesus is the Author, the Sustainer, and He will become the Finisher of your faith. All you need is in Him; one glimpse, dim though it be, of His cross, one touch, trembling though it be, of His garment, will lift you from your lowest depths, lighten your heaviest burden, gild your darkest prospect, and when you arrive at Jordan’s brink, will bear you safely through its swellings, and land you on the sunny and verdant shores of Canaan.


No Corruption for Christ or His People

For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither will thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. (Psalm 16:10)

This word has it proper fulfillment in the Lord Jesus; but it applies also, with a variation, to all who are in Him. Our soul shall not be left in the separate state, and our body, though it see corruption, shall rise again. The general meaning, rather than the specific application, is that to which we would call our readers’ thoughts at this particular time.

We may descend in spirit very low till we seem to be plunged in the abyss of hell; but we shall not be left there. We may appear to be at death’s door in heart, and soul, and consciousness; but we cannot remain there. Our inward death as to joy and hope may proceed very far; but it cannot run on to its full consequences, so as to reach the utter corruption of black despair, We may go very low, but not lower than the Lord permits; we may stay in the lowest dungeon of doubt for a while, but we shall not perish there. The star of hope is still in the sky when the night is blackest. The Lord will not forget us and hand us over to the enemy. Let us rest in hope, We have to deal with One whose mercy endureth forever. Surely, out of death, and darkness, and despair we shall yet arise to life, light, and liberty.

C.H. Spurgeon


A Fountan of Life!

For with thee [is] the fountain of life: – Psalm 36:9

What a fountain of life is Jesus! The dead, on whose ear falls the sound of His voice, live. There is grace in Christ- quickening, regenerating, life-giving grace; and to whomsoever that grace is imparted, he that was lying cold and inanimate in the valley begins to move, to live, to breathe, and to arise. One touch of Christ, a whisper of His voice, a breath of His Spirit, begets a life in the soul that never dies. What a fountain of life is Jesus! Think of its super abundance. There is a fullness of life in Christ. The grace that is welled in Jesus is as infinite in its source, as it is divine in its nature. An uncreated fullness, it must possess an inexhaustible overabundance. Had the Father deposited this life-giving grace in all the angels in heaven, it had long since been exhausted. Think of the myriads, thirsting for holiness and for happiness, who have knelt and slaked their thirst at this fountain- think of the myriads who have here filled their empty vessels, and have gone away with joy and hope springing high in their minds. Think of the myriads whose sins His blood has washed, whose souls His righteousness has clad, whose corruptions His grace has subdued, and whose sorrows His love has comforted. Think of the iniquities which He has pardoned; of the backslidings which He has healed; of the grief which He has removed; of the tears which He has dried; of the souls which He has saved. Think of the myriads once drinking from the stream below, but who are now drinking from the fountain head in glory. And yet is this fountain as full as ever! Not one hair’s breadth has it sunk. Jesus is as full of pardoning grace for the guilty, and of justifying grace for the vile, and of sanctifying grace for the unworthy, as ever. He is full enough to meet the needs of every poor, thirsty, panting soul who ventures near. Oh, what a precious truth is this! Precious indeed! To him who feels his own insufficiency, poverty and need. What, reader, is your need? What your sorrow? What your trial? What your infirmity? What your burden? Whatever it may be, repair with it to this fountain of living water, and despair not of a gracious welcome and of an adequate supply. It is a fountain, and a living fountain. It needs no persuasion to flow, for it flows spontaneously; and wherever it flows there is life.

-Octavius Winslow