Thursday, October 31, 2013

Christ and the Law can by No Means Agree

.....because they mingle the law with the Gospel, they must needs
be perverters of the Gospel.  For either Christ must remain, and
the law perish, or the law must remain and Christ perish; for Christ
and the law can by no means agree and reign together in the conscience.
Where the righteousness of the law ruleth, there cannot the righteousness
of grace rule; and again, where the righteousness of grace reigneth, there
cannot the righteousness of the law reign; for one of them must needs
give place unto the other.  And if thou canst not believe that God will
forgive thy sins for Christ's sake, whom he sent into the world to be
our high-priest; how then, I pray thee, wilt thou believe that he will
forgive the same for the works of the law, which thou couldest never
perform; or for thine own works, which (as thou must be constrained
to confess) be such, as it is impossible for them to countervail the
judgment of God?
     Wherefore, the doctrine of grace can by no means stand with
the doctrine of the law.  The one must simply be refused and
abolished, and the other confirmed and established.  For as Paul
saith here, to mingle the one with the other, is to overthrow the
Gospel of Christ.  And yet, if it come to debating, the greater
part overcometh the better; for Christ, with his side, is weak, and
the Gospel but a foolish preaching; contrariwise, the kingdom
of the world, and the devil, the prince thereof, are strong.
Besides that, the wisdom and righteousness of the flesh carry a
goodly show; and by this means, the righteousness of grace and
faith is lost, and the other righteousness of the law and works
advanced and maintained.....
     It seemeth to be a light matter to mingle the law and the
Gospel, faith and works, together:  but it doth more mischief
than a man's reason can conceive; for it doth not only blemish and
darken the knowledge of grace, but also it taketh away Christ,
with all his benefits, and it utterly overthroweth the Gospel, as
Paul saith in this place.  The cause of this great evil is our flesh,
which, being plunged in sins, seeth no way how to get out but by
works, and therefore it would live in the righteousness of the law,
and rest in the trust and confidence of her own works.  Wherefore,
it is utterly ignorant of the doctrine of faith and grace,
without the which, not withstanding, it is impossible for the conscience
to find rest and quietness....
.....So we at this day do not reject fasting, and other good exercises,
as damnable things; but we teach, that by these exercises we do not
obtain remission of sins.
                                              Martin Luther

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Brand Plucked out of the Fire

A Brand plucked out of the Fire-Zech 3:1-5

With Satan, my accuser, near,
My spirit trembled when I saw
The Lord in majesty appear,
And heard the language of His law.

In vain I wished and strove to hide
The tattered filthy rags I wore:
While my fierce foe, insulting, cried,
"See what you trusted in before!"

Struck dumb, and left without a plea,
I heard my gracious Savior say,
"Know, Satan, I this sinner free,
I died to take his sins away.

"This is a brand which I, in love,
To save from wrath and sin design;
In vain thy accusations prove;
I answer all, and claim him Mine."

At His rebuke the tempter fled;
Then He removed my filthy dress;
"Poor sinner, take this robe," He said,
"It is thy Savior's righteousness.

"And see a crown of life prepared!
That I might thus thy head adorn;
I thought no shame or suffering hard,
But wore for thee a crown of thorn."

O, how I heard these gracious words!
They broke and healed my heart at once;
Constrained me to become the Lord's,
And all my idol-gods renounce.

Now, Satan, thou hast lost thy aim,
Against this brand thy threats are vain;
Jesus has plucked it from the flame,
And who shall put it in again?
                             John Newon

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Tongue

Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door 
of my lips.  Psalms 141:3

The tongue is the principal instrument in the cause of God;
and it is the chief engine of the devil; give him this, and he asks
no more-there is no mischief or misery he will not accomplish by it.
The use, the influence of it, therefore, is inexpressible; and words
are never to be considered only as effects, but as causes,
the operation of which can never be fully imagined.  Let us
suppose a case, I fear, but too common.  You drop, in
the thoughtlessness of conversation, or for the sake of argument or
wit, some irreligious, sceptical expression-it lodges in the memory
of a child, or a servant-it takes root in a soil favourable to such
seed-it gradually springs up, and brings forth fruit, in the profanation
of the Sabbath; the neglect of the means of grace; in the reading
of improper books; in the choice of dangerous companions;-who
can tell where it will end?  But there is a Being who knows
where it began.  It will be acknowledged that some have it in
their power, by reason of their office, talents, and influence, to do
much more injury than others; but none are so insignificant
as to be harmless.  
                                                                                  W. Jay

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sowing in Tears

The spiritual redemption which was effected by Jesus Christ is
the Christian's highest consolation and joy; and the greatest
miracle which God ever wrought among men.  God often
so deals with His children, that they receive greater blessings
than they themselves had hoped for.  It is our duty as Christians
to remember before God, in our prayers, those who are in
distress and have been wrongly imprisoned.  The tears of true
repentance and of sanctified affliction are a precious seed, from
which will spring a joyful harvest.  In the kingdom of nature
the seed bears after its own kind, but God has a different
order for believers in the kingdom of glory.  They sow tears
and reap joy.  Where nothing is sown, nothing will be harvested.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

God Often Hides His Face

God often hides His face from us, and postpones His help, only that
we may pray more earnestly.  The more success the ungodly have in
their heart's desire, the less they care for God.  Pride and haughtiness
make the ungodly so unreasonable that they do not inquire after man
or God, and they regard all wholesome reflection as folly.  The security
and dissoluteness of man receive their support, in not reflecting upon
the judgments of God.  If an ungodly man believes in the word of God,
he must likewise believe that his fall is near, that it will surely come. 
Since however he does not believe this, he must likewise regard the
word of God as lies.  The ungodly make lies their refuge and hypocrisy
their shelter; but the curse reaches them.  To deny Divine providence is
to blaspheme against God.  When God begins to search after wickedness,
then everything must come out; for God sees even into the most secret
corners.  As long as the enemies of Christ are unable to cast Him down
from His throne of glory, His Church will remain in spite of all the devils.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Driven to the Throne of Grace

Often God's children are driven to the throne of grace by some desperate
need of help and definite supply of an absolute want, and, as they cry
to God and plead their case with tears before him, he so manifests his presence
to them and so fills them with a consciousness of his love and power, that the
burden is gone and without the want being supplied that drove them to God,
they rejoice in God himself and care not for the deprivation.  This was Paul's
experience when he went thus to God about the thorn, and came away without
the specific relief he had prayed for, but with such a blessing as a result of his
drawing near to God, that he little cared whether the thorn remained or not—or,
rather, rejoiced that it was not removed; that it might be used to keep him near
to God, whose love so filled his soul.
                                                                            D. W. Whittle

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pray Over Little Things

The mistake of Christians is in not praying over little things.  "The hairs
of your head are all numbered."  Consult God about everything.  Expect
His counsel, His guidance, His care, His provision, His deliverance, His
blessing, in everything.  Does not the expression, "Our daily bread," mean
just this?  Can there be any true life of faith that does not include this? 
Whatever will serve to help God's children to a better understanding of
the blessed privileges of prayer, and prove to them the reality of God's
answering prayer in the cares, trials and troubles of daily life, will approve
itself to all thoughtful minds as a blessing to them and an honor to God.
                                                 D. W. Whittle

Friday, October 18, 2013

Awake from Sleep

Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the 
armour of light.  Rom. 13:12.

We are not profited by the shining of the sun, and the day it produces, if our
eyes fail to perceive its light. Similarly, though the gospel is revealed and Christ
is proclaimed to the world, none are enlightened but those who receive it, who
have risen from sleep through the agency of the light of faith.  They who sleep
are not affected by the sun and the day; they receive no light and receive as
little as if there were neither sun nor day.  It is to our day that Paul refers
when he says:  "Knowing the season, that already it is time for you to wake out
of sleep."  In the light of our spiritual knowledge we are to rise from sleep and
lay aside the works of darkness.  Paul is not addressing unbelievers.  He tells
the Romans they know the time is at hand, that the night is past and the dawn
appears.  But why this passage to believers?  Because no one ever gets
to the point of knowledge where it is not necessary to admonish him, continually
to urge him to new reflections upon what he already knows; for there is danger
of his untiring enemies the devil, the world and the flesh—wearying him and
causing him to become negligent, and ultimately lulling him to sleep.  There
should, therefore, be continuous exhorting to vigilance and activity.  Hence
the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter or Helper, who incites and urges to good.
                                                 Martin Luther

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Believe the Word

One might say, I would gladly believe if an angel from heaven were to
preach to me.  But whoever does not receive the Word for its own
sake will never receive it for the sake of the preacher, even if all the angels
preached it to him.  He who receives it because of the preacher does not
believe in the Word, neither in God through the Word, but he believes
the preacher and in the preacher.  Hence the faith of such persons does
not last long.  But whoever believes the Word, does not care who
the person is that speaks the Word, and neither will he honor the Word
for the sake of the person; but on the contrary, he honors the person
because of the Word, and always subordinates the person to the Word. 
If the preacher perishes, or even falls from the faith and preaches differently,
he will forsake the person of the preacher rather than the Word of God.
                                                          Martin Luther

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Lamb of God

Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:29.

     By this John means to say: I have, by my teaching, made you all sinners,
having condemned your works and told you to despair of yourselves.  But in
order that you may not also despair of God, I will show you how to get rid
of your sins and obtain salvation.  Not that you can strip off your sins or
make yourselves pious through your works; another man is needed for this;
nor can I do it, I can point him out, however.  It is Jesus Christ, the Lamb
of God.  He, he, and no one else in heaven or on earth, takes our sins upon
himself.  You yourselves could not pay for the very smallest of your sins.
He alone must take upon himself not alone your sins, but the sins of the world,
and not some sins, but all the sins of the world, be they great or small,
many or few.
     Now if you are able to believe that this voice of John speaks the truth,
and if you are able to follow his finger and recognize the Lamb of God
carrying your sins, then you have gained the victory, then you are a Christian,
a master of sin, death, hell and all things. Then your conscience will rejoice
and become heartily fond of this gentle Lamb of God.  Then you will love,
praise and give thanks to our heavenly Father for his infinite wealth of mercy,
preached by John and given in Christ.  Finally you will become cheerful and
willing to do his divine will, as best you can, with all your strength.  What lovelier
and more comforting message can be heard than that our sins are not ours any
more, that they no more lie on us, but on the Lamb of God.  Lying on him, sin
must be vanquished and made to nothing, and likewise death and hell, being
the reward of sin, must be vanquished also.  Behold what God our Father
has given us in Christ.
     Take heed lest you presume to get rid of the smallest of your sins through
your own merit before God, and lest you rob Christ, the Lamb of God, of his
credit.  John indeed demands that each one should know himself, repent and
grow better, yet not in himself, but in Jesus Christ alone.
                                                                                           Martin Luther

Monday, October 14, 2013

Act of Prayer

     The act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness, which is a very salutary lesson for such proud beings as we are.  If God gave us favors without constraining us to pray for them, we should never know how poor we are; "but a true prayer is an inventory of wants, a catalogue of necessities, a revelation of hidden poverty.  While it is an application to divine wealth, it is a confession of human emptiness.  The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self, and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in self, and rich in Jesus; weak as water personally, but mighty, through God, to do great exploits; and hence the use of prayer, because, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be, in the very dust.  Prayer is in itself, apart from the answer which it brings, a great benefit to the Christian.  As the runner gains strength for the race by daily exercise, so for the great race of life we acquire energy by the hallowed labor of prayer.  Prayer plumes the wings of God's young eaglets, that they may learn to mount above the clouds.  Prayer girds the loins of God's warriors, and sends them forth to combat with their sinews braced and their muscles firm.  An earnest pleader cometh out of his closet, even as the sun ariseth
from the chambers of the east, rejoicing like a strong man to run his race.  Prayer is that uplifted hand of Moses which routs the Amalekites more than the sword of Joshua; it is the arrow shot from the chamber of the prophet foreboding defeat to the Syrians.  Prayer girds human weakness with divine strength, turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and gives to troubled mortals the peace of God.  We know not what prayer cannot do!  We thank thee, great God, for the mercy-seat, a choice proof of Thy marvellous loving-kindness.  Help us to use it aright throughout this day!                                                        C. H. Spurgeon

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"He Hath Set His Love Upon Me"

..........All that the Lord Jesus is in himself; all that he has done;
all that he does at the present; and all that he has promised to
do for his people, deserves the warmest admiration.  This holy
feeling is experienced in the breast of the man to whom the Lord
can say, “He hath set his love upon me”..........I may go to the
palace of the greatest monarch in the world, and be deeply
struck with astonishment and admiration at the wonder beheld,
but there will not be one thrill of complacency felt in my bosom
at the view of the astonishing objects which crowd upon my vision.
Why?  Because I neither have, nor can have any interest in them;
they are not mine, nor ever can be; therefore, I cannot take
complacent delight in them.  But the love of the Christian is a
delightful love, (as Mr. Baxter called it,) because there is in the
Lord everything that is worthy of infinite and eternal admiration; and
then there is the thought which produces a thrill of pleasure, whatever
I admire I can, in some measure, possess.  The illuminated eye of
God’s favourite sees everything in the Lord to supply his necessities;
everything to satisfy his desires, all his own; which makes the soul
delight itself in the Lord, and he rests in his love. Therefore, the
Lord says of the object of his lovingkindness, “He hath set his love
upon me”--he hath renounced sin as the greatest abomination; he
hath taken off the heart from all idolatrous attachment to the creature,
and placed it fixedly supremely upon God.
                                                                       William Dawson

Friday, October 11, 2013

God Values His People Over Everything

     Here are six words setting forth Christ's property in those who are saved:
''Them which thou hast given me"—(that is one); ''for they are thine.  And all
mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them."  There are
certain persons so precious to Christ that they are marked all over with special
tokens that they belong to him; as I have known a man write his name in a book
which he has greatly valued, and then he has turned over some pages, and he
has written his name again; and as we have sometimes known persons, when they
have highly valued a thing, to put their mark, their seal, their stamp, here, there,
and almost everywhere upon it.  So, notice in my text how the Lord seems to
have the seal in his hand, and he stamps it all over his peculiar possession: 
"They are thine.  And all mine are thine, and thine are mine."  It is all possessive
pronouns, to show that God looks upon his people as his portion, his possession,
his property.  "They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up my jewels."  Everyman has something or other which he values above
the rest of his estate; and here the Lord, by so often reiterating the words which
signify possession, proves that he values his people above everything.  Let us
show that we appreciate this privilege of being set apart unto God...........
     I call your attention, next, to the fact that, while there are these six
expressions here, they are all applied to the Lord's own people.  "Mine" (that is,
the saints) "are thine" (that is, the saints); "and thine" (that is, the saints)
"are mine" (that is, the saints).  These broad arrows of the King of kings are
all stamped upon his people.  While the marks of possession are numerous,
they are all set upon one object.  What, doth not God care for anything else? 
I answer, No; as compared with his own people, he cares for nothing else.
"The Lord's portion is his people:  Jacob is the lot of his inheritance."  Has not
God other things?  Ah, what is there that he has not?  The silver and the gold
are his, and the cattle on a thousand hills.  All things are of God; of him, and
by him, and through him, and to him are all things; yet he reckons them
not in comparison with his people.  You know how you, dearly beloved, value
your children much more than you do anything else.  If there were a fire in
your house tonight, and you could only carry one thing out of it, mother,
would you hesitate a moment as to what that one thing should be? 
You would carry your babe, and let everything else be consumed in the flames;
and it is so with God.  He cares for his people beyond everything else.  He is
the Lord God of Israel, and in Israel he hath set his name, and there he takes
his delight.  There doth he rest in his love, and over her doth he rejoice
with singing.
                                                       C. H. Spurgeon

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Crown and Glory of the Church of God.

I think it exceedingly wrong when I hear exhortations made to young
people, "Quit your service as domestics, and come out into spiritual
work.  Business men, leave your shops.  Workmen, give up your
trades.  You cannot serve Christ in that calling, come away from it
altogether."  I beg to say that nothing will be more pestilent than
such advice as that.  There are men called by the grace of God to
separate themselves from every earthly occupation, and they have
special gifts for the work of the ministry; but ever to imagine that the
bulk of Christian people cannot serve God in their daily calling, is to
think altogether contrary to the mind of the Spirit of God.  If you
are a servant, remain a servant.  If you are a waiter, go on with your
waiting.  If you are a tradesman, go on with your trade.  Let every
man abide in the calling wherein he is called, unless there be to him
some special call from God to devote himself to the ministry.  Go on
with your employment, dear Christian people, and do not imagine
that you are to turn hermits, or monks, or nuns.  You would not
glorify God if you did so act.  Soldiers of Christ are to fight the
battle out where they are.  To quit the field, and shut yourselves up
alone, would be to render it impossible that you should get the victory.
The work of God is as holy and acceptable in domestic service, or in
trade, as any service that can be rendered in the pulpit, or even by
the foreign missionary.  We thank God for the men specially called
and set apart for his own work; but we know that they would do
nothing unless the salt of our holy faith should permeate the daily life of
other Christians.  You godly mothers, you are the glory of the Church
of Christ.  You hard-working men and women, who endure patiently
"as seeing him who is invisible," are the crown and glory of the Church
of God.  You who do not shirk your daily labour, but stand manfully
to it, obeying Christ in it, are proving what the Christian religion was
meant to do.  We can, if we are truly priests unto God, make our
everyday garments into vestments, our meals into sacraments, and
our houses into temples for God's worship.  Our very beds will be
within the veil, and our inmost thoughts will be as a sweet incense
perpetually smoking up to the Most High.  Dream not that there is
anything about any honest calling that degrades a man, or hinders him
in glorifying God; but sanctify it all, till the bells upon the horses shall
ring out, "Holiness to the Lord," and the pots in your houses shall be
as holy as the vessels of the sanctuary.
                                                       C. H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nor silver nor gold hath obtained my redemption

Nor silver nor gold hath obtained my redemption,
No riches of earth could have saved my poor soul;
The blood of the cross is my only foundation,
The death of my Saviour now maketh me whole.

Nor silver nor gold hath obtained my redemption,
The guilt on my conscience too heavy had grown;
The blood of the cross is my only foundation,
The death of my Saviour could only atone.

Nor silver nor gold hath obtained my redemption,
The holy commandment forbade me draw near;
The blood of the cross is my only foundation,
The death of my Saviour removeth my fear.

Nor silver nor gold hath obtained my redemption,
The way into heaven could not thus be bought;
The blood of the cross is my only foundation,
The death of my Saviour redemption hath wrought.

I am redeemed, but not with silver;
I am bought, but not with gold;
Bought with a price---the blood of Jesus,
Precious price of love untold.

James M. Gray, D.D.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Awake, my heart, arise, my tongue

Awake, my heart, arise, my tongue,
Prepare a tuneful voice;
In God, the life of all my joys,
Aloud will I rejoice.

'Tis He adorned my naked soul,
And made salvation mine;
Upon a poor, polluted worm
He makes His graces shine.

And, lest the shadow of a spot
Should on my soul be found,
He took the robe the Saviour wrought,
And cast it all around.

How far this heavenly robe exceeds
What earthly princes wear!
These ornaments, how bright they shine!
How white the garments are!

The Spirit wrought my faith, and love,
And hope, and every grace;
But Jesus spent His life to work
The robe of righteousness.

Strangely, my soul, art thou arrayed,
By the great sacred Three!
In sweetest harmony of praise,
Let all thy powers agree.

    Isaac Watts