Monday, December 31, 2007

Spurgeon Devotionals for December 31st

Morning

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.”

- John 7:37

Patience had her perfect work in the Lord Jesus, and until the last day of the feast he pleaded with the Jews, even as on this last day of the year he pleads with us, and waits to be gracious to us. Admirable indeed is the longsuffering of the Saviour in bearing with some of us year after year, notwithstanding our provocations, rebellions, and resistance of his Holy Spirit. Wonder of wonders that we are still in the land of mercy!

Pity expressed herself most plainly, for Jesus cried, which implies not only the loudness of his voice, but the tenderness of his tones. He entreats us to be reconciled. “We pray you,” says the Apostle, “as though God did beseech you by us.” What earnest, pathetic terms are these! How deep must be the love which makes the Lord weep over sinners, and like a mother woo his children to his bosom! Surely at the call of such a cry our willing hearts will come.

Provision is made most plenteously; all is provided that man can need to quench his soul’s thirst. To his conscience the atonement brings peace; to his understanding the gospel brings the richest instruction; to his heart the person of Jesus is the noblest object of affection; to the whole man the truth as it is in Jesus supplies the purest nutriment. Thirst is terrible, but Jesus can remove it. Though the soul were utterly famished, Jesus could restore it.

Proclamation is made most freely, that every thirsty one is welcome. No other distinction is made but that of thirst. Whether it be the thirst of avarice, ambition, pleasure, knowledge, or rest, he who suffers from it is invited. The thirst may be bad in itself, and be no sign of grace, but rather a mark of inordinate sin longing to be gratified with deeper draughts of lust; but it is not goodness in the creature which brings him the invitation, the Lord Jesus sends it freely, and without respect of persons.

Personality is declared most fully. The sinner must come to Jesus, not to works, ordinances, or doctrines, but to a personal Redeemer, who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree. The bleeding, dying, rising Saviour, is the only star of hope to a sinner. Oh for grace to come now and drink, ere the sun sets upon the year’s last day!

No waiting or preparation is so much as hinted at. Drinking represents a reception for which no fitness is required. A fool, a thief, a harlot can drink; and so sinfulness of character is no bar to the invitation to believe in Jesus. We want no golden cup, no bejewelled chalice, in which to convey the water to the thirsty; the mouth of poverty is welcome to stoop down and quaff the flowing flood. Blistered, leprous, filthy lips may touch the stream of divine love; they cannot pollute it, but shall themselves be purified. Jesus is the fount of hope. Dear reader, hear the dear Redeemer’s loving voice as he cries to each of us,

“IF ANY MAN THIRST,

LET HIM

COME UNTO ME

AND DRINK.”


Evening

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”

- Jeremiah 8:20

Not saved! Dear reader, is this your mournful plight? Warned of the judgment to come, bidden to escape for your life, and yet at this moment not saved! You know the way of salvation, you read it in the Bible, you hear it from the pulpit, it is explained to you by friends, and yet you neglect it, and therefore you are not saved. You will be without excuse when the Lord shall judge the quick and dead. The Holy Spirit has given more or less of blessing upon the word which has been preached in your hearing, and times of refreshing have come from the divine presence, and yet you are without Christ. All these hopeful seasons have come and gone-your summer and your harvest have past-and yet you are not saved. Years have followed one another into eternity, and your last year will soon be here: youth has gone, manhood is going, and yet you are not saved. Let me ask you-will you ever be saved? Is there any likelihood of it? Already the most propitious seasons have left you unsaved; will other occasions alter your condition? Means have failed with you-the best of means, used perseveringly and with the utmost affection-what more can be done for you? Affliction and prosperity have alike failed to impress you; tears and prayers and sermons have been wasted on your barren heart. Are not the probabilities dead against your ever being saved? Is it not more than likely that you will abide as you are till death for ever bars the door of hope? Do you recoil from the supposition? Yet it is a most reasonable one: he who is not washed in so many waters will in all probability go filthy to his end. The convenient time never has come, why should it ever come? It is logical to fear that it never will arrive, and that Felix like, you will find no convenient season till you are in hell. O bethink you of what that hell is, and of the dread probability that you will soon be cast into it!

Reader, suppose you should die unsaved, your doom no words can picture. Write out your dread estate in tears and blood, talk of it with groans and gnashing of teeth: you will be punished with everlasting destruction from the glory of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. A brother’s voice would fain startle you into earnestness. O be wise, be wise in time, and ere another year begins, believe in Jesus, who is able to save to the uttermost. Consecrate these last hours to lonely thought, and if deep repentance be bred in you, it will be well; and if it lead to a humble faith in Jesus, it will be best of all. O see to it that this year pass not away, and you an unforgiven spirit. Let not the new year’s midnight peals sound upon a joyless spirit! Now, NOW, NOW believe, and live.

“ESCAPE FOR THY LIFE;
LOOK NOT BEHIND THEE,
NEITHER STAY THOU IN ALL THE PLAIN;
ESCAPE TO THE MOUNTAIN,
LEST THOU BE CONSUMED.”

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Be Thou Faithful Until Death, and I Will Give You a Crown of Life (Rev. 2:10)

by Charles Hodge


Ministers are often represented as those to whom a special trust has been committed. Paul says, ( πεπιστευμαι οικονομιαν, το ευαγγελιον), 1 Cor. 9:7. Gal. 2:7. 1 Thess. 2:4. 1 Tim. 1:11. Two things included in fidelity. First, the safe custody of what is committed, “keep that which I have committed unto thee.” Second, strict adherence to our obligations and assiduous performance of our duties. A treasurer is faithful who keeps safely the treasure confided to him. A subject, or servant is faithful, who is true in his allegiance and assiduous in the performance of his duties. In the case of stewards both these ideas are included. The property of their masters is entrusted trusted to them; and they are charged with its due administration and the guidance and government of the household. In like manner ministers are called upon to exercise fidelity in both these forms. To them a treasure has been committed for safe custody; and they are the servants of a king and master to whom they owe allegiance and devotion.

I. The trust committed to them. That is, η παραζηχη. This is said to be “the mysteries of God”; “the gospel”; “the word of God”; “this treasure,”2 Cor. 4:7. The thing therefore committed to the Church, and especially to ministers, is the truth—not scientific, historical, philosophical truth—but the truth of God as revealed in his holy word.

Of this treasure it is to be remarked,

1. That it is of infinite value, i.e., it has a value to which it is impossible to set any limit, and of which we have no measure. It is incommensurable. Gold, silver, precious stones can no more be compared to it than light can be compared with sound. There is no standard of comparison. The truth of God stands in a category by itself It has an intrinsic value altogether apart from its effects. There are three kinds of value.

(a) That which is purely fictitious and conventional. The value of rarity. As of gems, rare plants or books.

(b) The value of utility.

(c) Intrinsic worth. All these combined in the gospel. It is by itself. Its utility is beyond estimate. And its intrinsic worth is infinite. There is a sense in which the knowledge of God or of Christ is God or Christ, as blank ignorance is equivalent to the non–existence of the object of knowledge. The truths of Scripture are therefore of the highest order of truths. They relate to the highest class of subjects which can come under the cognizance of men or angels. Secondly, these truths are of infinite value measured by the standard of utility. They are essential to our own salvation; to the salvation of the world; to the best interests of society and of civilization. They are necessary to pardon; to holiness, to morality; to eternal life. No substitute can be provided for them. They and they only are the power of God, i.e., the only channels through which his saving power is manifested and exercised. This infinite treasure on which so much depends is committed to you. And it is committed to you exclusively so far as your own souls are concerned, and mainly so far as your people are concerned. This therefore is a fearful responsibility.

2. It is a treasure which it is very hard to keep. Gold and silver may be put in safes or buried in the earth. But this cannot be so disposed posed of. It must be unconfined. The difficulty of this task is plain from the fact, that the church has so generally failed. The Greek, Latin, Protestant.

(a) It is committed to earthen vessels; to very feeble hands. It will not do for us to trust to our strength, or to our watchfulness.

(b) It is exposed to numerous enemies. Our own hearts, our own understandings, the traditions of men; the force of public opinion; the speculations of philosophy; the assaults of false teachers; the machinations of Satan.

You must therefore feel that you have not only a great task; but most difficult one to perform. The only thing for you to do is, first, to have a clear conception of what you have to do, not to discover truth, but simply to ascertain what is revealed as truth and to hold it fast, without adulteration; second, to determine that you will be faithful to this trust and resist all these enemies of the truth whether inward or outward; and then, look to God constantly for help, knowing that your sufficiency is of Him.

II. The only form of fidelity is allegiance and devotion to Christ as our King and Master.

This includes,

1. A right state of mind towards him. In pure love; consuming gratitude; entire submission; and zeal for his glory. These are motives which secure fidelity, and without which it is impossible.

2. The renunciation of any other master. You cannot serve God and mammon; Christ and Belial; the world and your Saviour.

3. Assiduity and diligence in the discharge of all your duties to yourself, to your people, to the Church and to the world.

This fidelity must be unto death: Some are very faithful for a while and then become false. How was it with Judas. With Arnold. With thousands in the world and in the Church. It is only those who persevere unto the end who are saved. Remember that your work and your danger end only in the grave, etc.

III. The reward. I will give you a crown of life.

“ I,”i.e., the eternal Son of God clothed in our nature. The giver is Christ. The gift a crown of life. A crown is an ornament, a dignity and a symbol of power. This crown is one of life, not only living but consisting in life, spiritual and eternal, the highest kind of life. Imperishable, which renders beautiful; which exalts; which gives power.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sad news again

Benazir Bhutto is no more. She went away from this world unexpectedly, but in the usual way politicians from that part of the world leave the scene. I remember her when she was mourning her father's trial and death, I remember admiring her courage and firm position, her love for her country. I am not much into politics, but this lady meant a lot in my womanhood.
Let me pray for peace and Gospel in Pakistan.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

My eyes have seen your salvation

“Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:28-32)

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence





1. Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly-minded,
for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.

2. King of kings, yet born of Mary,
as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
in the body and the blood;
he will give to all the faithful
his own self for heavenly food.

3. Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the powers of hell may vanish
as the darkness clears away.

4. At his feet the six-winged seraph,
cherubim, with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christ, from Whom All Blessings Flow





1. Christ, from whom all blessings flow,
perfecting the saints below,
hear us, who thy nature share,
who thy mystic body are.

2. Join us, in one spirit join,
let us still receive of thine;
still for more on thee we call,
thou who fillest all in all.

3. Move and actuate and guide,
diverse gifts to each divide;
placed according to thy will,
let us all our work fulfill;

4. Never from thy service move,
needful to each other prove;
use the grace on each bestowed,
tempered by the art of God.

5. Many are we now, and one,
we who Jesus have put on;
there is neither bond nor free,
male nor female, Lord, in thee.

6. Love, like death, hath all destroyed,
rendered all distinctions void;
names and sects and parties fall;
thou, O Christ, art all in all!

Xmas!!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Today in the town of David...

“ And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:8-11)

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Am I a Soldier of the Cross





1. Am I a soldier of the cross,
a follower of the Lamb,
and shall I fear to own his cause,
or blush to speak his name?

2. Must I be carried to the skies
on flowery beds of ease,
while others fought to win the prize,
and sailed through bloody seas?

3. Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
to help me on to God?

4. Sure I must fight, if I would reign;
increase my courage, Lord.
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain,
supported by thy word.

5. Thy saints in all this glorious war
shall conquer though they die;
they see the triumph from afar,
by faith they bring it nigh.

6. When that illustrious day shall rise,
and all thy armies shine
in robes of victory through the skies,
the glory shall be thine.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A sign

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
(Isa 7:14)

Therefore - Because you despise me, and the sign which I now offer to you, God of his own free grace will send you a more honourable messenger, and give you a nobler sign. A sign - Of your deliverance. But how was this birth, which was not to happen 'till many ages after, a sign of their deliverance from present danger? This promised birth supposed the preservation of that city, and nation and tribe, in and of which the Messiah was to be born; and therefore there was no cause to fear that ruin which their enemies now threatened. Immanuel - God with us; God dwelling among us, in our nature, Joh_1:14. God and man meeting in one person, and being a mediator between God and men. For the design of these words is not so much to relate the name by which Christ should commonly he called, as to describe his nature and office. (Wesley)

Every time when December comes, I am not only reminded of Christmas, but most literally of giving birth. Both my sons are born in December, as well as my husband, and even some dear friends and siblings in Christ.
Today is my youngest son's birthday. He is five years old.
Time flies, bringing us closer to the other side of eternity with every passing minute. PTL

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The proper picture of us

Isa 5:1-30
(1) Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
(2) And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
(3) And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, between me and my vineyard.
(4) What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
(5) And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
(6) And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
(7) For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
(8) Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!
(9) In mine ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.
(10) Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of a homer shall yield an ephah.
(11) Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!
(12) And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.
(13) Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
(14) Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
(15) And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled:
(16) But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.
(17) Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.
(18) Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:
(19) That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!
(20) Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
(21) Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
(22) Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:
(23) Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
(24) Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
(25) Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcasses were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
(26) And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:
(27) None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:
(28) Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hooves shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:
(29) Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it.
(30) And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.

One of the series by John MacArthur is about the abandoned nation. The abandonment as punishment, as due consequence of ungodly conduct, as warning to us...

I have been under fierce attacks lately, it feels like the spiritual war has moved into my life and the powers of darkness are trying to destroy me using a person closest to me. All sorts of heresies and false teachings are being presented to me in form of "beautiful words", the latest one being anthroposophy, and the only defense I have is to close my ears, because I cannot run...

Please offer a prayer for me...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Joseph, listen!

“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)

listen to chapter (Read by Max McLean. Provided by Zondervan.)

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),” (Luke 1:68-70)

listen to chapter (Read by Max McLean. Provided by Zondervan.)


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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How to Be a Refuge for Your Children


John Piper

If Daddy is afraid, where can a little child turn? Daddies are supposed to be safe. They are supposed to know what to do and how to solve problems and fix things and, most of all, protect the children from harm. But what happens if a child sees fear in Daddy's face? What if Daddy is as scared as the child, and doesn't know what to do? Then the child is utterly distraught and feels panic. He feels that the one strong and good and reliable place of safety is no longer safe.

But if Daddy is confident, then the children have a refuge. If Daddy is not panicking, but calm and steady, all the walls can come tumbling down, and all the waves can break, and all the snakes can hiss and the lions roar and the wind blow, and there will still be a safe place in Daddy's arms. Daddy is a refuge, as long as Daddy is confident.

That's why Proverbs 14:26 says that "his children will have a refuge," if Daddy has a "strong confidence." Daddy's confidence is the refuge of his children. Dads, the battle to be confident is not just about us, it is about the security of our children. It is about their sense of security and happiness. It's about whether they grow up fretful or firm in faith. Until children can know God in a deep personal way, we are the image and the embodiment of God in their lives. If we are confident and reliable and safe for them, they will be much more likely to cleave to God as their refuge when the storms break over them later.

So how shall we have "strong confidence"? After all, we, too, are little children, clay pots, weak and broken and battling anxieties and doubts. Is the solution to put on the best show we can and hide our true selves? That will lead to ulcers at best, and God-dishonoring teenager-repelling duplicity at worst. That is not the answer.

Proverbs 14:26 gives another answer: "In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence." This is very strange. It says that the solution to fear is fear. The solution to timidity is fear. The solution to uncertainty is fear. The solution to doubt is fear.

How can this be?

Part of the answer is that the "fear of the Lord" means fearing to dishonor the Lord. Which means fearing to distrust the Lord. Which means fearing to fear anything that the Lord has promised to help you overcome. In other words the fear of the Lord is the great fear destroyer.

If the Lord says, "Fear not, I am with you, be not dismayed, I will help you," (Isaiah 41:10), then it is a fearful thing to worry about the problem he says he will help you with. Fearing that problem when he says, "Fear not, I will help you, is a vote of no confidence against God's word, and that is a great dishonor to God. And the fear of the Lord trembles at such dishonoring God.

If the Lord says, "I will never fail you nor forsake you," so you can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6) - if the Lord says that to you, then not to be confident in the Lord's promised presence and help is a kind of pride. It puts our reckoning of the trouble above God's. That is why we read the amazing words of the Lord in Isaiah 51:12, "I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies And of the son of man who is made like grass?" Who are you to fear man, when God has promised to help you? So it is pride to fear man. And pride is the exact opposite of the fear of God.

So, yes, the Proverb is true and a great help to us. Fear God, dads. Fear God. Fear dishonoring him. Fear distrusting him. Fear putting your assessment of the problem above his. He says he can help. He is smarter. He is stronger. He is more generous. Trust him. Fear not to trust him.

Why? He works for those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4). He will solve the problem. He will rescue the family. He will take care of the little ones. He will meet your needs. Fear not believing that. Then your children will have a refuge. They will have a Daddy who "has strong confidence" - not in himself, but in the promises of God, which he trembles not to trust.

Learning to fear the Lord for the sake of my children,
Pastor John

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Holy is His Name

“ And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46-47, 49)


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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken

Text: John Newton, 1725-1807
Music: Croatian folk song; arr. by Franz Joseph Haydn
Tune: AUSTRIA, Meter: 87.87 D




1. Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
God, whose word cannot be broken,
formed thee for his own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
thou mayst smile at all thy foes.

2. See, the streams of living waters,
springing from eternal love,
well supply thy sons and daughters,
and all fear of want remove.
Who can faint while such a river
ever will their thirst assuage?
Grace which like the Lord, the giver,
never fails from age to age.

3. Round each habitation hovering,
see the cloud and fire appear
for a glory and a covering,
showing that the Lord is near!
Thus deriving from our banner
light by night and shade by day,
safe we feed upon the manna
which God gives us when we pray.

4. Blest inhabitants of Zion,
washed in our Redeemer's blood;
Jesus, whom our souls rely on,
makes us monarchs, priests to God.
Us, by his great love, he raises,
rulers over self to reign,
and as priests his solemn praises
we for thankful offering bring.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Woe is Unto Me If I Preach Not the Gospel (1 Cor. 9:16)

Charles Hodge


The gospel is God’s message of mercy to mankind. It contains an exhibition of the plan, and the only plan, of salvation. It sets forth the person, the work, and the offices of Christ, and urges all men to whom it comes, to accept of Christ as their God and Saviour, and to devote themselves to his worship and service; and it assures those who do so that they shall never perish, but have eternal life.

In one sense it is every man’s duty, provided he has received the knowledge of the gospel, to preach it, i.e., to make it known to others. The commission and command; Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, was given not to the apostles exclusively, nor to the ministry exclusively, but to the whole Church and to all its members. Every member has the right and is under obligation to make known this great salvation to his fellowmen. This is a right which has always been recognized and exercised by Christians. But there is an official preaching of the gospel. There is a class of men set apart according to Christ’s command, to devote themselves to this work. It is to this the apostle here refers, for in the same connection he says that they who preach the gospel shall live by the gospel. This is true only of official preachers. And it was of himself as a minister that he said, “Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel!” No man takes this honor on himself. He must be called of God. The call is by the Spirit. The office of the church is simply to authenticate that call. When a man has been thus called, licensed, or ordained to the work of the ministry, then he will be overwhelmed with woe, with the wrath of God, if he does not preach the gospel. This includes two things, the one affirmed, the other evidently implied and elsewhere directly asserted.

I. Woe will be to the minister who neglects his work, who fails to preach, who turns off his mind and devotes his time to other avocations, unless subsidiary to his great work.

II. The truth implied is, that woe will be to the man who in preaching preaches anything else than the gospel; who preaches another gospel.

I. Men who enter the ministry should count the cost.

They should understand what are the responsibilities which they assume, and the vows which they make. Let this then be graven on the palms of your hands. You must preach. You cannot turn back; you cannot turn aside to any other work; you cannot rightfully engage in anything which does not subserve the preaching of the gospel.

The reason for which woe is denounced on ministers who fail to preach the gospel is that men cannot be saved without it. All men are exposed to eternal death. There is but one way of deliverance from that death, and woe to him who, although officially called and dedicated to the work, fails to make that way known. If any man know of a certain preventive of or specific for the cholera, which now threatens our land, he would be a murderer if he did not make it known. So the blood of souls, the Scriptures assure us, will be required of those watchmen who fail to warn their fellowmen of their danger. It will not be a cold, heartless, perfunctory performance of this duty, which will satisfy conscience, clear our skirts, or secure the approbation of God. Our preaching must be earnest, assiduous, instructive and pointed or personal.

II. A still heavier woe is denounced on those who when called to preach the gospel, preach something else. If what they preach be another gospel, another method of salvation then what Paul said must befall them. “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach another gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” It need not, however, be entirely another gospel. If the truth is perverted, sublimated, rendered unintelligible or unadapted to the end of convincing and converting sinners and edifying the people of God, it will bring us woe in some form and at some time. Brethren enter on your work,

1. With the firm purpose to preach the gospel; to devote yourselves to that work, and to it faithfully.

2. With the purpose of preaching nothing else; preaching only what the Bible teaches.

3. Go with the assurance that Christ will be with you, and aid and support you.

4. Be concerned only about your devotion and fidelity.

5. Your reward will not be in proportion to your talents, your popularity, or even your success, but in proportion to your devotion and fidelity.

6. Be of good courage; your labor will be short, your reward eternal.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Time came

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Welcome Royal Son


I have recently enriched my humble blog by another author's contributions. He has already published a few posts, and I am hoping for many more.
Welcome, Royal Son, and feel at home here :)

I want also to ask you who come here for a prayer on my behalf and on the behalf of my family: we have been going through hard times lately, the sudden death of my father-in-law has been forcing us into many unexpected and vital decisions, involving a possible moving, changing of jobs, etc. None of these we had been contemplating some months ago, and yet these are issues that have to be dealt with soon.
Tomorrow is the day of giving his ashes back to the earth. Please pray.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Aggressive Character of Christianity

by Charles Hodge
April 19, 1863

There is a great difference between the knowledge given in consciousness and that attained by the logical understanding. For example, all men know from consciousness what beauty is; but if the question be asked, What is beauty? and the answer be sought from the logical understanding, there is the greatest perplexity and diversity. Dissertation after dissertation, and volume after volume have been written in answer to that question. So we all know what Christianity is; but when the question is asked, What is Christianity? the answers become uncertain and divergent. It might seem useless to ask the question if we know without asking, and cease to know when asked. But the difficulty is men will ask, and will give wrong answers; answers not merely incorrect, but fatally injurious. Of all the theological questions of our day, especially in Germany and among English and American theologians addicted to German modes of thinking, none has been more debated, and none is more vitally important than the question, What is Christianity? If we are to think or speak intelligently of the aggressive character of Christianity, we must know what Christianity is. It has been defined,

1. As a form of knowledge, i.e., the system of divine truth revealed in the Scriptures.

2. As that modus Deum cognoscendi et colendi introduced by Christ.

3. As simply and exclusively a life. By this some mean a form or state of the religious consciousness, while others intend by that expression the theanthropic life of Christ as communicated to his people, humanity restored in him, as it was corrupted in Adam. The objection to these answers is that they are too limited. (The last, as explained by mysticism, is false). Christianity is a form of knowledge; it is a religion; it is a life. It is not exclusively the one or the other, but it is all. The best way to determine what Christianity is, is to ask what makes a man a Christian in the true and proper sense of the term. A Christian is one who knows and receives as true what Christ has revealed in his word, whose inward state (religious consciousness) is determined by that knowledge, and whose life is devoted to the obedience and service of Christ. Christianity is therefore a system of doctrine, it is an inward life, and it is a rule of action. When, therefore, we speak of the aggressive character of Christianity, we may mean the antagonism of truth to error, the expansive power of the principles of spiritual life, or, the opposition position of good to evil, of holiness to sin, in the outward life; or we may include all these, as they are all included in the religion of Christ. Or, as the Scriptures call it, the kingdom of God; we may mean by the aggressive character of Christianity, its inherent force, by which it tends to gain more and more the complete control of the individual man and of human society, by controlling all the forms of human thought, the inward character of men and their outward conduct.

I. Christianity is thus aggressive. It does tend and strive to subdue.

1. This is variously taught in the Scriptures. It is compared to a stone cut out of a mountain, which gradually fills the whole earth; to a tree whose branches extend over all lands; to leaven hid in a measure of meal; to a great temple in the process of erection; to the sun in its course through the heavens, and from tropic to tropic.

2. It is deducible from its nature. Truth is necessarily antagonistic to error, and holiness to sin. The one must strive to overcome the other both in the individual and in the world Besides, being a religion suited to the necessities of all men, and absolutely essential to their well–being here and hereafter, it cannot be embraced by the individual man without the consciousness on his part of the obligation to uphold and extend it. A Christian, from the nature of the case, is fired with zeal for the glory of Christ, and with love for his fellowmen. His Christianity makes him an advocate of the truth and a proselyter.

3. It is further proved and illustrated by the history of the Church. The original promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head has expanded into the full system of Christian doctrine. The one hundred and twenty disciples in Jerusalem in the age of the apostles occupied Syria, Egypt, Greece, Italy; and since then Christianity has gained the civilized world. It has banished polytheism and idolatry, it has elevated woman, exalted man, and molded human society.

4. It is proved in the experience of every Christian. His inward life is a progress. He passes from infancy to maturity; from a “νηπιο” (infant) to a “τελειο” (grown), and from a “τελειο” to the full measure of the stature of Christ. The truth becomes better known and more firmly believed. Indwelling sin becomes weaker, and grace stronger; and the outward life is made more and more consistent with the gospel. When this is not true, there is no true life.

II. To what is the aggressive power of Christianity due?

1. It is not due to anything in itself as A system of truth. If revealed to the lost in the other world, it would be powerless. If revealed to fallen man, sent in books or by living teachers to the heathen, it would, if left to itself, be universally rejected. The opposition of Satan and of the evil heart would be too much for it.

2. It is not due to the subjective effect on the hearts of those who are led to embrace it. If nothing were done ab extra but to induce the reception of the gospel, the inward effect and the outward efficiency would fade away.

3. But it is supernatural in its character. It is due to the purpose of God and the cooperation of the Spirit. When a woman puts leaven into a measure of meal, she is sure that the whole will be leavened, because the effect is due to the operation of invariable physical laws. But when the gospel is introduced into a community or a nation, whether it will take root and extend or not, depends on an ab extra sore. reign working of divine power. Hence a sense of dependence is to be acknowledged and cultivated. It is because Christianity is the life of God (i.e., of a present Christ), that it must prevail.

4. Although the gospel is thus dependent upon supernatural agency for its preservation and extension, yet human cooperation is ordained as the means. Faith and love are the powers which we are to wield, depending on the Spirit of God.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why Memorize Scripture?

by John Piper

1. Conformity to Christ
Paul wrote that "we all... beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another." If we would be changed into Christ likeness we must steadily see him. This happens in the word. "The LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD" (1 Samuel 3:21). Bible memorization has the effect of making our gaze on Jesus to be steadier and clearer.
2. Daily Triumph over Sin
"How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word... I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:9, 11). Paul said that we must "by the Spirit... put to death the [sinful] deeds of the body" (Romans 8:13). The one piece of armor used to kill is the "sword of the Spirit," which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). As sin lures the body into sinful action, we call to mind a Christ-revealing word of Scripture and slay the temptation with the superior worth and beauty of Christ over what sin offers.
3. Daily Triumph over Satan
When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness he recited Scripture from memory and put Satan to flight (Matthew 4:1-11).
4. Comfort and Counsel for People You Love
The times when people need you to give them comfort and counsel do not always coincide with the times you have your Bible handy. Not only that, the very word of God spoken spontaneously from your heart has unusual power. Proverbs 25:11 says, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." That is a beautiful way of saying, When the heart full of God's love can draw on the mind full of God's word, timely blessings flow from the mouth.
5. Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers
Opportunities to share the gospel come when we do not have the Bible in hand. Actual verses of the Bible have their own penetrating power. And when they come from our heart, as well as from the Book, the witness is given that they are precious enough to learn. We should all be able to sum up the gospel under four main headings (1) God's holiness/law/glory; 2) man's sin/rebellion/disobedience; 3) Christ's death for sinners; 4) the free gift of life by faith. Learn a verse or two relating to each of these, and be ready in season and out of season to share them.
6. Communion with God in the Enjoyment of His Person and Ways
The way we commune with (that is, fellowship with) God is by meditating on his attributes and expressing to him our thanks and admiration and love, and seeking his help in living a life that reflects the value of these attributes. Therefore, storing texts in our minds about God helps us relate to him as he really is. For example, imagine being able to call this to mind through the day:
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:8-14)

I used the word "enjoyment" intentionally when I said, "communion with God in the enjoyment of his person and ways." Most of us are emotionally crippled -- all of us really. We do not experience God in the fullness of our emotional potential. How will that change? One way is to memorize the emotional expressions of the Bible and speak them to the Lord and to each other until they become part of who we are. For example, in Psalm 103:1, we say, "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!" That is not a natural expression for many people. But if we memorize this and other emotional expressions from the Bible, and say them often, asking the Lord to make the emotion real in our hearts, we can actually grow into that emotion and expression. It will become part of who we are. We will be less crippled emotionally and more able to render proper praise and thanks to God.
There are other reasons for memorizing Scripture. I hope you find them in the actual practice.

Still learning with you,
Pastor John

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Prayer as a Means of Grace

September 18, 1859
Charles Hodge

I. What is prayer?

It is not simply petition, but converse with God, including, therefore,

1. The expression of our feelings in view of his greatness and glory, i.e., adoration.

2. The expression of our feelings in view of his goodness, i.e., thanksgiving.

3. The expression of our feelings in view of our sins and sinfulness, i.e., confession.

4. The expression of our feelings in view of our wants, i.e., supplication. Of course this verse with God may be,

1st. Solemn and formal, in the use of articulate words and on set occasions, in the closet, family, or sanctuary.

2d. Occasional and ejaculatory, and thus constant, as the bubbling of a spring of living water.

3d. Or in the unuttered aspirations and longings of the soul after God, like the constant ascent of the flame towards heaven.

II. Prayer, or this converse with God, is means of grace.

1. It is not merely a means of spiritual improvement, nor a means of securing divine blessings, but one of the appointed means of supernatural, divine communications to the soul from God.

2. This, therefore, is not due to a law of nature, according to which we are assimilated to those with whom we converse, but to the fact that in prayer God communicates himself, reveals his glory and his love to the soul.

3. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of prayer, in the sense,

(a) That he reveals those objects which call forth spiritual affections, i.e., the glory of God, his love, the glory and love of Christ, the inexhaustible riches of the divine promises, our own sinfulness and necessities.

(b) That he not only presents these objects, but also awakens the appropriate feelings.

(c) That he leads us to clothe those feelings, those adoring, penitential, grateful or craving feelings, in appropriate language, or in groanings which cannot be uttered. Thus he maketh intercession for us. Thus he is our “παρακλητο” (advocate). Prayer thus inspired is not only always answered in some way, and that the best, but it is also a means of grace. It is the occasion and the channel of infusing new measures of divine life into the soul. It is not therefore prayer as the mere uttering of words, nor prayer as the uttering of natural desires of affection, as when one prays for his own life or the life of those dear to him; but it is prayer as the real intercourse of the soul with God, by the Holy Ghost, that is, the Holy Ghost revealing truth, exciting feeling, and giving appropriate utterance.

III. Our duty in the premises is,

1. To remember that this intercourse with God is optional. We can gain access to him only when he pleases to admit us.

2. That as it is the life of the soul, we should most earnestly desire and diligently seek it.

3. That we must seek it in his appointed way, that is, through Christ and the Spirit.

4. That we must seek it on the occasions on which he is wont to grant it, in the closet, the family, and the sanctuary.

5. That we must not wait for it, so as to pray only when we feel the spirit of prayer. We must go to his courts, knock at his door, bow be. fore the oracle, and expect him in the use of his appointed means.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

More of the WAY

“Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Jesus said to her

“Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;” (John 11:25)

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So obviously simple, and so endlessly deep words...
What does it mean "to believe"? Well, certainly not only the intellectual acknowledgement of Jesus' existence, since many saw Him in His day and did not believe. What didn't they believe then? His Deity, His being the Son of God. Believing in Him means obeying Him, and trusting Him without hesitation, onto death and into eternal life.
Who can understand it...unless it is granted to us by the Father?

Friday, December 07, 2007

For the sheep

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15)

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I will try never to forget this verse - as a Reformed believer, I need to remember it.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Gate

“Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:7, 9-10)

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Many who hear the word of Christ, do not understand it, because they will not. But we shall find one scripture expounding another, and the blessed Spirit making known the blessed Jesus. Christ is the Door. And what greater security has the church of God than that the Lord Jesus is between it and all its enemies? He is a door open for passage and communication. Here are plain directions how to come into the fold; we must come in by Jesus Christ as the Door. By faith in him as the great Mediator between God and man. Also, we have precious promises to those that observe this direction. Christ has all that care of his church, and every believer, which a good shepherd has of his flock; and he expects the church, and every believer, to wait on him, and to keep in his pasture.
Christ is a good Shepherd; many who were not thieves, yet were careless in their duty, and by their neglect the flock was much hurt. Bad principles are the root of bad practices. The Lord Jesus knows whom he has chosen, and is sure of them; they also know whom they have trusted, and are sure of Him. See here the grace of Christ; since none could demand his life of him, he laid it down of himself for our redemption. He offered himself to be the Saviour; Lo, I come. And the necessity of our case calling for it, he offered himself for the Sacrifice. He was both the offerer and the offering, so that his laying down his life was his offering up himself. From hence it is plain, that he died in the place and stead of men; to obtain their being set free from the punishment of sin, to obtain the pardon of their sin; and that his death should obtain that pardon. Our Lord laid not his life down for his doctrine, but for his sheep. (MHCC)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Spurgeon Devotionals for the day

Morning

“Ask, and it shall be given you.”

- Matthew 7:7

We know of a place in England still existing, where a dole of bread is served to every passerby who chooses to ask for it. Whoever the traveller may be, he has but to knock at the door of St. Cross Hospital, and there is the dole of bread for him. Jesus Christ so loveth sinners that he has built a St. Cross Hospital, so that whenever a sinner is hungry, he has but to knock and have his wants supplied. Nay, he has done better; he has attached to this Hospital of the Cross a bath; and whenever a soul is black and filthy, it has but to go there and be washed. The fountain is always full, always efficacious. No sinner ever went into it and found that it could not wash away his stains. Sins which were scarlet and crimson have all disappeared, and the sinner has been whiter than snow. As if this were not enough, there is attached to this Hospital of the Cross a wardrobe, and a sinner making application simply as a sinner, may be clothed from head to foot; and if he wishes to be a soldier, he may not merely have a garment for ordinary wear, but armour which shall cover him from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. If he asks for a sword, he shall have that given to him, and a shield too. Nothing that is good for him shall be denied him. He shall have spending-money so long as he lives, and he shall have an eternal heritage of glorious treasure when he enters into the joy of his Lord.

If all these things are to be had by merely knocking at mercy’s door, O my soul, knock hard this morning, and ask large things of thy generous Lord. Leave not the throne of grace till all thy wants have been spread before the Lord, and until by faith thou hast a comfortable prospect that they shall be all supplied. No bashfulness need retard when Jesus invites. No unbelief should hinder when Jesus promises. No cold-heartedness should restrain when such blessings are to be obtained.

Evening

“And the Lord shewed me four carpenters.”

- Zechariah 1:20

In the vision described in this chapter, the prophet saw four terrible horns. They were pushing this way and that way, dashing down the strongest and the mightiest; and the prophet asked, “What are these?” The answer was, “These are the horns which have scattered Israel.” He saw before him a representation of those powers which had oppressed the church of God. There were four horns; for the church is attacked from all quarters. Well might the prophet have felt dismayed; but on a sudden there appeared before him four carpenters. He asked, “What shall these do?” These are the men whom God hath found to break those horns in pieces. God will always find men for his work, and he will find them at the right time. The prophet did not see the carpenters first, when there was nothing to do, but first the “horns,” and then the “carpenters.” Moreover, the Lord finds enough men. He did not find three carpenters, but four; there were four horns, and there must be four workmen. God finds the right men; not four men with pens to write; not four architects to draw plans; but four carpenters to do rough work. Rest assured, you who tremble for the ark of God, that when the “horns” grow troublesome, the “carpenters” will be found. You need not fret concerning the weakness of the church of God at any moment; there may be growing up in obscurity the valiant reformer who will shake the nations: Chrysostoms may come forth from our Ragged Schools, and Augustines from the thickest darkness of London’s poverty. The Lord knows where to find his servants. He hath in ambush a multitude of mighty men, and at his word they shall start up to the battle; “for the battle is the Lord’s,” and he shall get to himself the victory. Let us abide faithful to Christ, and he, in the right time, will raise up for us a defence, whether it be in the day of our personal need, or in the season of peril to his Church.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Promise

“Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

1st Advent Sunday

“ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-2, 14)

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