Monthly Archives: January 2013

Life comes to us in such little bits


acorn

(J.R. Miller)

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11

“As your days–so shall your strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25

We should be thankful that life comes to us in such little bits.

We can always live one day well enough.
We can always carry one day’s burdens.
We can always do one day’s duties.
We can always endure one day’s sorrows.

It is a blessing that one day is all that God ever gives us at a time. We should be thankful for the nights that cut off our tomorrows from our view, so that we cannot even see them until they dawn. The little days, nestling between the nights like quiet valleys between the hills, then seem so safe and peaceful.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own!” Matthew 6:34

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Humanism vs Truth


 broken chains

Humanism in all it’s tarnished glory. 

This poem, often read at Graduations gives us the idea that our souls are unconquerable, our personal best is not only possible, the  attainment of it brings happiness and joy. But even the lost know in their hearts what a bitter lie that often is. Climbing higher and higher, searching for earthly success and the feeling of contentment, we build on pride, self centered accomplishment and vain glories.

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Hensley

Truth on the other hand sets the record straight. All that hard work, earthly success and personal fulfillment is reduced to mere kindle before a Holy God. 
Ephesians 2:1-9 “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
So we end in Truth in all it’s everlasting glory. It transcends circumstance, cuts right through the marrow of pride and in eternity takes the sting of death, tears and pain. Dorthea Day’s poem pretty much says it all. 
My Captain

Out of the night that dazzles me,
Bright as the sun from pole to pole,
I thank the God I know to be
For Christ the conqueror of my soul.
Since His the sway of circumstance,
I would not wince nor cry aloud.
Under that rule which men call chance
My head with joy is humbly bowed.
Beyond this place of sin and tears
That life with Him! And His the aid,
Despite the menace of the years,
Keeps, and shall keep me, unafraid.
I have no fear, though strait the gate,
He cleared from punishment the scroll.
Christ is the Master of my fate,
Christ is the Captain of my soul.

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Old heads on young shoulders


Image

(J.C. Ryle)

Let us settle it in our minds, that grace must have a beginning in every believer’s heart; and that we have no right to say a person has no grace, because it does not come to full ripeness at once. We do not expect a child to do the work of a full-grown man — though he may one day, if he lives long enough. Just so, we must not expect a new Christian to show the faith, and love, and knowledge of an old soldier of the cross. He may become a mighty champion of the truth by and by. But at first we must give him time. There is great need of wisdom in dealing with all young disciples.

Kindness, and patience, and gentleness, are of the first importance. We must not try to pour in the new wine too quickly, or it will run over. We must take them by the hand and lead them on gently. We must beware of frightening, or hurrying them, or pressing them on too fast. If they have only got hold of the main principles of the Gospel — let us not set them down as godless, because of a few lesser matters. We must bear with much weakness and infirmity — and not expect to find old heads on young shoulders, or ripe Christian experience in those who are only babes.

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Fighting the good fight


fistfight

From the letters of John Newton

“As you are likely to be engaged in controversy, and your love of truth is joined with a natural warmth of temper, my friendship makes me solicitous on your behalf. . . . I would have you more than a conqueror and to triumph not only over your adversary but over yourself.  If you cannot be vanquished, you may be wounded.  To preserve you from such wounds as might give you cause of weeping over your conquests, I would present you with some considerations . . . .

As to your opponent, I wish that before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing.  This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him, and such a disposition will have a good influence on every page you write.

If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab concerning Absalom are very applicable: ‘Deal gently with him for my sake.’  The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him or treat him harshly.  The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should show tenderness to others from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself.  In a little while you will meet in heaven.  He will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now.  Anticipate that period in your thoughts.  And though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever.

But if you look upon him as an unconverted person, in a state of enmity against God and his grace (a supposition which, without good evidence, you should be very unwilling to admit), he is a more proper object of your compassion than of your anger.  Alas!  ‘He knows not what he does.’  But if God, in his sovereign pleasure, had so appointed, you might have been as he is now, and he, instead of you, might have been set for the defense of the gospel.  If you attend to this, you will not reproach or hate him, because the Lord has been pleased to open your eyes, not his.

Of all people who engage in controversy, we who are called Calvinists are most expressly bound by our own principles to the exercise of gentleness and moderation.”

John Newton, writing to a young minister, The Works of John Newton (Edinburgh, 1988), I:268-270.

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The debt of a Christian


foot washing

We are in debt to everybody!

(J. R. Miller, “The Building of Character” 1894)

“Little children, we must not love in word or speech—but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:18

“Do not owe anyone anything—except to love one another.” Romans 13:8

We are in debt to everybody! Love is a debt which never can be altogether settled. You may pay it all off today—but tomorrow you will find it as heavy as ever. It is a debt which everybody owes to everybody. Nor can it be paid off with any mere sentimental love. It cost Paul a great deal, to settle his obligations and pay his debts to others.

There is a sort of philanthropic sentiment which some people have, which does not cost them very much. But to pay his debts of love, Paul gave up all he had, and then gave himself up to service, suffering, and sacrifice to the very uttermost. True love always costs! Love’s essential quality, is unselfish helpfulness, the carrying of the life with all its rich gifts and powers in such a way—that it may be a blessing to every other life which it touches.

As Christians, we owe love to everyone—and love always serves. Serving is an essential quality of love. The true standard of greatness—is service. It is not what our life is in gifts, in culture, in strength—but what we do with our life, which is the real test of character. Our Lord taught this truth when he said, “Whoever wants to become great among you—must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first—must be slave of all.” Mark 10:43-44. He who serves the most fully and the most unselfishly, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Love seeks to give, to minister, to be of use, to do good to others. The true Christian desires to serve others, to minister to their comfort, to be a help and a blessing to them. It is thus, that we should relate ourselves to every person who comes within our influence. Love will lead us to ask concerning everyone who passes before us, “What can I do to help this brother of mine, to add to his happiness, to relieve his trouble, to put him in the way of holiness, to comfort his sorrow?” If this were the habitual attitude of our love, paradise would soon be restored. It would put an end to all our miserable pride, to all our petty tyrannies and despotisms.

Love works most effectively—when it works unconsciously, almost instinctively, inspired from within. That is the best service, which flows out of the heart and life—as light from the sun, as fragrance from a flower. There is no other way of paying our debt of love to others, which is so Christlike as this. We are to be to others—what Jesus would be, if He were in our place!

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