Tag Archives: Joy

Such a god should be derided!

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Such a god should be derided!

(William S. Plumer, “A Treatise on Providence” 1865)
The unrenewed heart is atheistic in its inclinations.

“They say: The Lord doesn’t see it. The God of Jacob doesn’t pay attention.” Psalm 94:7″The wicked say to themselves: ‘God isn’t watching! He will never notice!’
 Arise, O Lord! Punish the wicked, O God!” Psalm 10:11-12

Nothing more derogatory to the character of God can possibly be said, than that He does not rule the world. 

God reigns is a logical conclusion from God is. To deny God’s providence is as atheistic as to deny His existence! A god, who neither sees, nor hears, nor knows, nor cares, nor helps, nor saves–is a vanity, and can never claim homage from intelligent men. Such a god should be derided, not worshiped! He might suit the mythology of Paganism, or meet the demands of an infidel heart–but could never command the allegiance, or win the confidence of an enlightened and pious man! 

The world may as well be without a god–as have one who is incompetent to rule it, or, who, wrapping Himself in a mantle of careless indifference, abandons creation to the governance of puny mortals, to the rule of devils, or to the sway of blind chance! Such conduct may well comport with the character of false gods–but is wholly abhorrent to the nature of Jehovah! God’s tender mercies are over all His works. His kingdom rules over all!

“Our God is in Heaven and does whatever He pleases!” Psalm 115:3 

“For I know that the Lord is great; our Lord is greater than all gods. The Lord does whatever He pleases in Heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the depths!” Psalm 135:5-6″Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!” Revelation 19:6

The result has been . . .

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The result has been . . .

(Arthur Pink, “An Exposition of the Gospel of John”)
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you!” John 15:18-19 

“Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you!” 1 John 3:13 

The professing Church has boasted that it would convert the world. To accomplish this aim, it has sought to “popularize” religion. Innumerable devices have been employed to attract the ungodly–many of which even a sense of propriety should have suppressed! 

The result has been that the world has converted the professing Church! 

But notwithstanding this, it still remains true that the world hates the true followers of the Lamb. And nowhere is this more plainly evident, than in those who belong to what we may term the religious world!

If you resolve that by Divine grace you will live godly in Christ Jesus, then know that persecution must be your portion. And that persecution will come upon you not from atheists and infidels, but from those bearing the name of Christians. It will issue from those who still keep up a form (or semblance) of godliness, but who are strangers to its living power. It will come to you from empty professors whose compromising ways are condemned by your refusal to conform thereto; whose worldliness and carnality is rebuked by your spirituality. 

Remember, it was the religious leaders who hounded the Savior to His death!

 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted!” 2 Timothy 3:12 

But he was a leper!

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But he was a leper!

(Arthur Pink, “Gleanings from Elisha”)
“Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man . . . but he was a leper!” 2 Kings 5:1 

Naaman was a great man . . . but he was a leper! He was the victim of a loathsome and incurable disease. He was a pitiful and repulsive object, with no prospect whatever of any improvement in his condition.

Yes, my reader, the highly-privileged and honored Naaman was a leper–and as such he portrays what you are and what I am by nature. God’s Word does not flatter man. It lays him in the dust, which is one reason why it is so unpalatable to the great majority of people. It is the Word of truth, and therefore instead of painting flattering pictures of human nature–it represents things as they actually are.
 
Instead of lauding man–it abases him.

Instead of speaking of the dignity and nobility of human nature, it declares it to be leprous–sinful, corrupt, depraved, defiled!

Instead of eulogizing human progress–it insists that “every man at his best state is altogether vanity!” (Psalm 39:5)

And when the Holy Scriptures define man’s attitude toward, and relationship with God–they insist that “There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God” (Romans 3:10-11). They declare that we are His enemies by our wicked works (Colossians 1:21), and that consequently we are under the condemnation and curse of God’s law, and that His holy wrath abides on us! (John 3:36)

The Word of truth declares that by nature all of us are spiritual lepers–foul and filthy, unfit for the divine presence, “being alienated from the life of God.” (Ephesians 4:18) 

You may occupy a good position in this world, even an eminent station in the affairs of this life. You may have made good in your vocation, and wrought praiseworthy achievements by human standards. You may be honorable in the sight of your fellows–but how do you appear in the eyes of God? You are a leper–one whom His law pronounces unclean, one who is utterly unfit for His holy presence! As it was with Naaman, so it is with you: “He was a great man–but a leper!”

We would not be faithful to our calling were we to glide over that in God’s Word which is distasteful to proud flesh and blood. Nor would we be faithful to our readers if we glossed over their frightful and fatal natural condition. It is in their souls’ interests that they should face this humiliating and unpleasant fact: that in God’s sight, they are spiritual lepers!

But we must personalize it. Have you, my reader, realized this fact in your own case? Have you seen yourself as you are in God’s sight? Are you aware that your soul is suffering from a disease that neither you nor any human being can cure? It is so, whether you realize it or not. The Scriptures declare that from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head, there is no soundness in you. Yes, that in the sight of the holy God, you are a mass of “wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores!” (Isaiah 1:6) Only as you penitently accept that divine verdict, is there any hope for you.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!” 1 Timothy 1:15

Two Filthy Rooms!

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Two Filthy Rooms!

(Arthur Pink)
“And when the Spirit comes, He will convict the world of sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.” John 16:8

One of the principle things which distinguishes a regenerate person from an unregenerate one, may be likened unto two filthy rooms:

In one room, the blinds are raised and the sunlight streams in, exposing the filth all around. 

In the other room, the blinds are lowered, and one walking through the room would be unable to discern its real condition.

Thus it is in the case of one who has been renewed by the Spirit: his eyes have been opened to see the awful filthwhich lurks in every corner of his heart.

But in the case of the unregenerate, though they have occasional twinges of conscience when they act wrongfully, they are very largely ignorant of the awful fact that they are a complete mass of corruption in the pure eyes of the thrice holy God.

Abraham acknowledged, “I am dust and ashes!” Genesis 18:27

Job said of himself, “I am vile!” Job 40:4

David admitted, “I am a worm!” Psalm 22:6

Isaiah confessed, “Woe is me! I am ruined!” Isaiah 6:5

Peter affirmed, “I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Luke 5:8

Paul considered himself, “The chief of sinners!” 1 Timothy 1:15

Lost

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LOST!

(Arthur Pink, 1951)
“But if our gospel is hid–it is hid to those who are LOST! The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers!” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 

What multitudes of people there are who have no concern over, in fact, no consciousness of, their woeful condition! While they do not regard themselves as perfect, yet they are not aware that there is anything seriously wrong with them. They are respectable people, law-abiding citizens, and nothing particular ever troubles their conscience. They consider that they are certainly no worse than their religious neighbors, and though they scarcely ever read the Bible or enter a church, they fully expect to go to Heaven when they die. 

Some of them will indeed admit that they are sinners, but imagine that their good works far outnumber their bad ones. Some of them were sprinkled as infants, attended a Sunday school class as children, said their prayers each night, and later joined the church. Nevertheless, to this moment, they have never realized that they are the enemies of God, an abomination in the eyes of His holiness, and that Hell is their just desert! They see no beauty or glory in the Gospel, no suitableness in it unto their case–and therefore do they despise and reject it.

Though Satan rules in their hearts and lives (Ephesians 2:2), yet it is by their own free consent. They voluntarily obey him and submit to his will. His dominion over them is maintained by . . .
  keeping their minds in darkness,
  deceiving and deluding them,
  blinding them by pride, prejudice, and the workings of their own corruptions. 

Nowhere but in the Scriptures, can we learn what is the real condition of the natural man. There his case is diagnosed with unerring precision by the divine Physician. Many are the terms used therein by the Holy Spirit to describe the solemn and direful state to which the fall has reduced every descendant of Adam; and among them probably none is more pointed and awesome than is the term LOST! How dismal is its sound! How much is summed up in that single word! It signifies . . .
  that the natural man is in a sinful, wretched, and perilous state, 
  that he is far astray from God,
  that he has willfully and wantonly forsaken the path of duty. 

Lost! A traveler from time to eternity, treading the road that leads to certain and everlasting destruction! 

Lost! A creature who has forfeited the approbation and favor of his Maker, and is now an outcast from Him!

Lost! One who has squandered his substance in riotous living, and is now a spiritual bankrupt and pauper. He is out of the way of eternal peace and blessing, and utterly incapable of finding his way back to it! 

Fearful beyond words, is the condition of fallen man. His case is as hopeless as that of a dying person whose disease is incurable. A lost child is a pitiful object–but what mind can estimate, or pen depict, the tragedy of a lost soul? Lost now, lost forever–unless a sovereign God intervenes and performs a miracle of mercy for its recovery! 

Man is lost positively, in that he is not what he should be. He is . . .
  a defiled creature,
  a guilty criminal, 
  a child of disobedience!

Lost judicially, under the curse of God’s broken Law, sentenced to death, “condemned already” (John 3:18), the wrath of God now abiding on him! (John 3:36)

Lost meritoriously, for his transgressions deserve eternal death, which is the wages of sin–and fully has he earned them. 

Lost experientially in point of ability or power to recover himself, he is “not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can he be” (Romans 8:7). The moral impotency of man is such that he is utterly incapable of performing a single spiritual act: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good, who are accustomed to doing evil! (Jeremiah 13:23)

None will know how utterly man is lost, until they experience God’s wrath in Hell, and can then measure the fearful distance they have departed from Him!

Thus man is lost in every way, and in every sense! 
Federally, by the imputation to him of the guilt of his representative’s offence. 
Effectually, by the transmission of a corrupt nature from his parents. 
Actually, by his own evil conduct, “you have destroyed yourself” (Hosea 13:9). 
Practically, by the forming of evil habits, so that now he is “held with the cords of his sins” (Proverbs 5:22). 

Lost to God, for He has no love, no service, no glory from the unregenerate; so that they deprive Him of the honor of their creation. 

Man is lost to himself . . .
  to all reason and rational inducements, 
  to right conceptions and perceptions, 
  to every consideration of God’s claims upon him. 

Lost to all sense of shame for his horrible condition in the eyes of the Holy One. 

So lost as to have “delight in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12). 

Lost to piety and true happiness. 

Out of the way of holiness, peace, and security. 

Lost in sin, in ignorance, and error. 

Lost irretrievably, like a sheep that wanders farther and farther astray, until it perishes. Man is utterly unable to find his way back to God, for he is in total darkness–a wanderer in a pathless desert, perishing in a howling wilderness. What makes man’s case yet worse, is that he has no desire to be recovered! He has perversely set himself up to be his own master, and stubbornly determines to please himself and carve out his own career. 

Rather than return unto God, the unregenerate would take any road which leads farther away from Him. They resent His expostulations and resist the strivings of His Spirit. If not with their lips, with their hearts, they say unto God: “Depart from us, for we have no desire to know Your ways!” (Job 21:14). Yes, they would much prefer to be annihilated than yet meet God face to face, and have to give an account of themselves to Him (Romans 14:12). They hate His holiness and dread His justice, while despising His goodness and abusing His mercies! 

An unerring chart by which to steer through the dangerous sea of life!

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An unerring chart by which to steer through the dangerous sea of life!

(Arthur Pink, “The Attributes of God“)

God has placed His Word in our hands for an intensely practical purpose; namely, to direct our walk and to regulate our deportment. The primary purpose for which God gave the Scriptures, is to make a practicaluse of them–ordering the details of our lives by its rules and regulations.

“Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105. The metaphor used here is taken from a man walking along a dangerous road on a dark night, in urgent need of a lantern to show him where to walk safely and comfortably, to avoid injury and destruction. 

God, in His infinite condescension and transcendent grace, has given us His Word for this very purpose, so that we need not stumble along blindly, ignorant of what pleases or displeases Him–but that we might know His mind. That divine Word is not given to us simply for information, but . . .
  to regulate our conduct,
  to enlighten our minds,
  and to mold our hearts.

The Word supplies us with an unerring chart by which to steer through the dangerous sea of life. If we sincerely and diligently follow, it will deliver us from disastrous rocks and submerged reefs; and direct us safely to the heavenly harbor. That Word has all the instructions we need for every problem, and every trouble we may be called upon to face. That Word has been given to us “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:17. How thankful we should be, that God has favored us with such a Word!

This world is a dark place, and it is only as we take heed to the Word, to the light God has given us–that we shall be able to perceive and avoid “the broad road which leads to destruction,” and discern the narrow way which alone “leads unto eternal life.”

Our first duty, and our first aim, must be to take up the Scriptures to ascertain what is God’s revealed will for us–what are the paths He forbids us to walk, what are the ways pleasing in His sight.

The Scriptures are not given us, primarily for our intellectual gratification, nor for emotional admiration, but for life’s regulation. Nor are the precepts and commands, the warnings and encouragements contained therein, simply for our information. They are to be reduced to practice; they require unqualified obedience. He who treasures the divine precepts in his heart, and diligently seeks to walk by their rule, will escape those evils which destroy his fellows.

Thus the great business of the Christian is to regulate his life by, and conform his conduct to–the precepts of the written Word, and the example left us by the Incarnate Word. As he does so, and in proportion as he does so, he is . . . 
  emancipated from the darkness of his natural mind,
  freed from the follies of his corrupt heart,
  delivered from the mad course of this world,
  and escapes the snares of the devil.

Correcting in love–not smiting in wrath!

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Correcting in love–not smiting in wrath!

(Arthur Pink, “Comfort for Christians“)

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“Whom the Lord loves, He chastens.” Hebrews 12:6

The Father’s wise and loving discipline is in view here.

It is of first importance that we learn to draw a sharp distinction between Divine punishment and Divine chastisement. The distinction is very simple, yet is it often lost sight of. 

God’s people can never by any possibility be punished for their sins, for God has already punished them at the Cross. The Lord Jesus, our Blessed Substitute, suffered the full penalty of all our guilt; hence it is written “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” Neither the justice nor the love of God, will permit Him to again exact payment of what Christ discharged to the full. The difference between punishment and chastisement lies not in the nature of the sufferings of the afflicted. There is a threefold distinction between the two: 

First, the character in which God acts. In the former, God acts as Judge; in the latter, as Father. Sentence of punishment is the act of a judge–a penal sentence passed on those charged with guilt. Punishment can never fall upon the child of God in this judicial sense, because his guilt was all transferred to Christ, “Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree.”

But while the believer’s sins cannot be punished, while the Christian cannot be condemned (Romans 8:3)–yet he may be chastised. The Christian occupies an entirely different position from the non-Christian; he is a member of the Family of God. The relationship which now exists between him and God is that of parent and child; and as a son he must be disciplined for wrongdoing. Folly is bound up in the hearts of all God’s children, and the rod is necessary to rebuke, to subdue, to humble.

The second distinction between Divine punishment and Divine chastisement lies in the recipients of each.

The objects of the former are His enemies
The subjects of the latter are His children

As the Judge of all the earth, God will yet take vengeance on all His foes. 
As the Father of His family, God maintains discipline over all His children. 

The one is judicial; the other parental.

A third distinction is seen in the design of each.

The one is retributive–the other remedial. 

The one flows from His anger–the other from His love. 

Divine punishment is never sent for the good of unrepentant sinners–but for the honoring of God’s law and the vindicating of His government. 
But Divine chastisement is sent for the well-being of His children: “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.” (Hebrews 12:10)

When the believer is smarting under the rod let him not say, “God is now punishing me for my sins!” That can never be! That is most dishonoring to the blood of Christ. God is correcting you in love–not smiting in wrath! 

Chastisement proceeds from God’s goodness and faithfulness, and is one of the greatest blessings for which we have to thank Him. Chastisement evidences our Divine sonship. It is designed for our good, to promote our highest interests. Look beyond the rod–to the all-wise hand which wields it!

Some of the saintliest of God’s people, some of the most obedient of His children–have been, and are the greatest sufferers. 

Oftentimes, God’s chastenings are corrective. They are sent to empty us of self-sufficiency and self-righteousness. They are given to discover to us hidden transgressions, and to teach us the plague of our own hearts. 

Or again, chastisements are sent to strengthen our faith, to raise us to higher levels of experience, to bring us into a condition of usefulness. 

Still again, Divine chastisement is sent as a preventative, to keep under pride, to save us from being unduly elated over success in God’s service. 

Remember, your afflictions are among the “all things” which work together for good. Learn, then, to look upon trials as proofs of God’s love–purgingpruning, and purifying you.

What is most needed today

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(Arthur Pink, “Eternal Punishment”)

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It is my deepening conviction that what is most needed today, is a wide proclamation of those truths which are the least acceptable to the flesh.

What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the character of God:
His absolute sovereignty,
His ineffable holiness,
His inflexible justice,
His unchanging veracity.

What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the condition of the natural man:
his total depravity,
his spiritual insensibility,
his inveterate hostility to God,
the fact that he is “condemned already” and that
the wrath of a sin-hating God is even now abiding upon him!

What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the alarming danger which sinners are in; the indescribably awful doom which awaits them; the fact that if they follow their present course only a little further–they shall most certainly suffer the due penalty of their iniquities!

What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the nature of that dreadful punishment which awaits the lost:
the awfulness of it,
the hopelessness of it,
the unendurableness of it,
the endlessness of it!
Excepting the Cross of Christ, nothing else so manifests the heinousness of sin–as the doctrine of eternal punishment.

It is just because these truths have been withheld so much from public ministry to the saints–that we now find so many backboneless, sentimental, lop-sided Christians in our assemblies!

A clearer vision of the awe-inspiring attributes of God, would banish much of our levity and irreverence.

A better understanding of our depravity by nature, would humble us and make us see our deep need of using the appointed means of grace.

A facing of the alarming danger of the lost sinner, would cause us to “consider our ways” and make us more diligent to make our “calling and election sure.”

A realization of the unspeakable misery which awaits the lost (and which each of us has fully merited) would immeasurably deepen our gratitude, and bring us to thank God more fervently–that we have been snatched as brands from the burning, and delivered from the wrath to come! It would also make us far more earnest in our prayers, as we supplicate God on behalf of the unsaved.

Where are you going?

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(Charles Orr, “How to Live a Holy Life”)

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We have only one life to live–only one! Think of this for a moment. 

Here we are in this world of time, making the journey of life. Each day we are farther from the cradle, and nearer to the grave! Solemn thought!

See the mighty concourse of human lives; hear their heavy tread in their onward march. 
Some are just beginning life’s journey, 
some are midway up the hill, 
some have reached the top, and 
some are midway down the western slope. 

But where are we all going? 

Listen, and you will hear but one answer, “Eternity!” Beyond the fading, dying gleams of the sunset of life–lies a boundless, endless ocean called Eternity! There, you and I are daily traveling.

Time is like a great wheel going its round. On and on it goes. Some are stepping on, and some are stepping off. But where are these latter stepping? Into eternity! 

See that old man with bent form, snow-white locks, and tottering steps–his has been a long round, but he has reached his end at last. 

See the middle-aged man–his round has not been so long, but he must also step off. 

See the youth–he has been on only a little while, but he is brought to the stepping-off place. He thought his round would be much longer. He supposed that he was just getting started–when that icy hand was laid upon him and the usher said, “Come, you have made your round, and you must go!” 

The infant that gave its first faint cry this morning, may utter its last feeble wail tonight!

And thus they go. But where? Oh, where? ETERNITY!

If you were to start today and ask each person you met the question, “Where are you going?” and, if possible, you were to travel the world over and ask each one of earth’s inhabitants–there could be but one correct answer, “Eternity!”

“Oh, eternity, Long eternity! 
 Hear the solemn footsteps of eternity!”

Only one life to live! Only one life–and then we must face vast, endless eternity! We shall pass along the pathway of life but once. Every step we take, is a step that can never be taken again. 

This world is not a play-ground–or a place to trifle with time
Life is not given us to squander nor fritter away. 
To trifle away time, is indeed, to be the greatest of spendthrifts. 
If you squander a dollar, you may regain it; but a moment wasted, can never be regained. God gives us all the time we need to accomplish all that He purposes us to accomplish–but He does not give us one moment to trifle away.

We have only one life to live–only one!”So teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 

The miserable dregs of self!

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(J.C. Philpot, “Meditations on Matters of Christian Faith & Experience”)

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“To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He  has made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:6

We are ever looking for something in self to make ourselves acceptable to God. 
We are often sadly cast down and discouraged when we cannot find in ourselves . . .
  that holiness,
  that obedience,
  that calm submission to the will of God,
  that serenity of soul,
  that spirituality and heavenly-mindedness, 
which we believe to be acceptable in His sight. 

Our crooked tempers,
our fretful, peevish minds,
our rebellious thoughts,
our coldness and barrenness,
our alienation from good,
our headlong proneness to evil,
with the daily feeling that we get no better, but rather worse, 
make us think that God views us just as we view ourselves. And this brings on great darkness of mind and bondage of spirit, and we seem to lose sight of our acceptance in Christ, and get into the miserable dregs of self–almost ready to quarrel with God because we are so vile, and only get worse as we get older.

Now the more we get into these dregs of self, and the more we keep looking at the dreadful scenes of wreck and ruin which our heart presents to daily view–the farther do we get from the grace of the gospel, and the more do we lose sight of the only ground of our acceptance with God. It is “in the Beloved” that we are accepted, and not for any . . .
  good works,
  good words,
  good thoughts,
  good hearts, or
  good intentions of our own.

If our acceptance with God depended on anything in ourselves, we would have to believe we might be children of God today, and children of the devil tomorrow.

What, then, is to keep us from sinking altogether into despair, without hope or help? Why, a knowledge of our acceptance in the Beloved, independent of everything in us, good or bad. 

“You are complete in Him!” Colossians 2:10

“Their righteousness is from Me, says the Lord.” Isaiah 54:17

“He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of His mercy.” Titus 3:5

Even your own relatives think you are almost insane!

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(J.C. Philpot, “The Abiding Comforter” 1858)

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“The Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.” John 14:17

The world–that is, the world dead in sin, and the world dead in profession, men destitute of the life and power of God–must have something that it can see. And, as heavenly things can only be seen by heavenly eyes, they cannot receive the things which are invisible.

Now this explains why a religion that presents itself with a degree of beauty and grandeur to the natural eye, will always be received by the world; while a . . .
  spiritual,
  internal,
  heartfelt and
  experimental 
religion will always be rejected.

The world can receive a religion that consists of . . .
  forms, 
  rites, and 
  ceremonies. 
These are things seen.

Beautiful buildings,
painted windows,
pealing organs,
melodious choirs,
the pomp and parade of an earthly priesthood,
and a whole apparatus of ‘religious ceremony’, 
carry with them something that the natural eye can see and admire. The world receives all this ‘external religion’ because it is suitable to the natural mind and intelligible to their reasoning faculties.

But the . . .
  quiet, 
  inward, 
  experimental, 
  divine religion,
which presents no attractions to the outward eye, but is wrought in the heart by a divine operation–the world cannot receive this, because it presents nothing that the natural eye can rest upon with pleasure, or is adapted to gratify their general idea of what religion is or should be.

Do not marvel then, that worldly professors despise a religion wrought in the soul by the power of God. Do not be surprised if even your own relatives think you are almost insane, when you speak of the consolations of the Spirit, or of the teachings of God in your soul. They cannot receive these things, for they have no experience of them; and being such as are altogether opposed to the carnal mind, they reject them with enmity and scorn.

Joy

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“Joy is a choice. It’s a matter of attitude that stems from one’s confidence in God- that He is at work, that He is in full control, that He is in the midst of whatever has happened, is happening and will happen. Either we fix our minds on that and determine to laugh again, or we wail and whine our way through life. We determine which way we will go.” – Chuck Swindoll

🎄 #23 The Glorious Incarnation ~ Meaning Of Christmas

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 “This is the meaning of Christmas. Oh, that God would waken your heart to your deep need for mercy as a sinner! And then ravish your heart with a great Savior, Jesus Christ. And then release your tongue to praise him and your hands to make his mercy shine in yours.”

John PiperThe Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent

 

🎄 #12 The Glorious Incarnation ~ Mission Of God

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 “Advent is a season for thinking about the mission of God to seek and to save lost people from the wrath to come. God raised him from the dead, “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). It’s a season for cherishing and worshiping this characteristic of God—that he is a searching and saving God, that he is a God on a mission, that he is not aloof or passive or indecisive. He is never in the maintenance mode, coasting or drifting. He is sending, pursuing, searching, saving. That’s the meaning of Advent.”

John Piper, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent

 

🎄 #6 The Glorious Incarnation ~ Glad Tidings

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 Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people; for there is born to you this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. In these words you clearly see that he is born for us. He does not simply say, Christ is born, but to you is born; neither does he say, I bring glad tidings, but to you I bring glad tidings of great joy. Furthermore, this joy was not to remain in Christ, but it shall be to all people.

Sermons of Martin Luther

 

Christian joy!

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Christian joy!

Author unknown, 1872)

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 

Just so, “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing,” says Paul, speaking of his own experience. 

The believer’s joy does not exclude sorrow, but . . .
  attends it,
  sustains under it,
  and raises above it. 

Joy in the Lord should be constant–for He is the same. 
There is as much ground for joy in Him in the winter of adversity–as in the summer of prosperity
He is as good when he chides us–as when He comforts us. 
He is as gracious when He lays us low–as when He raises us up. 
He is as kind when He takes away–as when He gives. 

If our joy springs chiefly from creature good and agreeable circumstances–then it must be fluctuating at the best, and at times it will entirely dry up. But if our chief joy is in God, then the spring of it never fails!

“When all created streams are dried,
 His fullness is the same!”

Observe, my soul, that joy in the Lord is not only encouraged–but commanded
After once giving the admonition, the apostle says, “Again I say, Rejoice.” 

The Lord would have His children . . .
  happy in His love, 
  restful under the shelter of His wings, 
  and peaceful in the midst of storms. 

Seek then to know more of Him, live upon His fullness, dwell on His unchanging grace–and so will you be joyful in Him even in the midst of tribulation!

The religion of JOY

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The religion of JOY 
(Octavius Winslow, “The Sympathy of Christ”) 
The religion of Christ is the religion of JOY. Christ came to take away our sins, to roll off our curse, to unbind our chains, to open our prison house, to cancel our debt; in a word, to give us the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Is  not this joy? Where can we find a joy so real, so deep, so pure, so lasting? There is every element of joy; deep, ecstatic, satisfying, sanctifying joy in the gospel of Christ. The believer in Jesus is essentially a happy man. The child of God is, from necessity, a joyful man. His sins are forgiven, his soul is justified, his person is adopted, his trials are blessings, his conflicts are victories, his death is immortality, his future is a heaven of inconceivable, unthought of, untold, and endless blessedness. With such a God, such a Savior, and such a hope, is he not, ought he not, to be a joyful man? 
  

The Life-Boat Of Free Grace!

The life-boat of free grace!

(James Smith, “The Complaint!” 1864)

“I am cast down!”

And why are you cast down?

“My heart is burdened with a sense of my short-comings! Every duty I perform is so imperfect. Every purpose I form is so soon frustrated. Every hope of seeing better days is so soon beclouded.

My heart is so fearfully depraved.
My life is so unlike the life of Jesus.
My temper is so unholy.
My prayers are so brief and heartless.
My praises are so feeble and fitful.
I do so little good.
I live to so little purpose.
My evidences are so dim.
My prospects are so overcast.
I am harassed sometimes with the fear of death.
I cannot realize the glories of Heaven.
I am dissatisfied with the world — and yet glued to it!
I hate sin — and yet fall into it!
I am a riddle, a mystery, a mass of inconsistency!
Is it, then, any wonder that I am cast down?”

No, if you look at yourself, and pore over the things you have named — then it is no wonder that you are cast down! They are enough to cast anyone down! But if you carry them to the throne of grace, if you there confess them before God, if you look to Jesus to save you from them — then, in spite of them — you will not long be cast down.

I know it is difficult to do this. There is a natural proneness to pore over such things. One feels at times a secret liking to indulge in gloomy thoughts.

But we must look away from self — for if we do not, we shall become anxious, doubting and gloomy! We must run the race, not looking at our imperfections, short-comings, and failures — but looking unto Jesus. He knows what we are. He knew what we would be — before He called us by His grace; yes, before He shed His blood for us!

He loved us, as sinners.
He died for us, as sinners.
He called us, as sinners.

He saves us, as sinners. He will have all the glory of saving us, and He will get great glory by doing so, because we are such great sinners; and do not, cannot, do anything to repay Him for His wondrous love! Salvation is by free grace — from first to last! Believe this, and it will raise up your drooping mind!

The life-boat of free grace has put you on board the vessel of salvation, and that will convey you safely to the port of glory! Do not look at your spiritual destitution, or feebleness, or incapacity, or imperfections — but trust in your Pilot, rely on your Captain, and expect His mercy and merit to land you safe in Heaven at last!

As imperfect as you now are, and as imperfect you will be — your dying prayer will still be, “God be merciful unto me — a sinner!”

Hope in God!
His mercy is great unto the heavens,
His grace is as free as the air,
His love is as changeless as His nature,
His promise is as immutable as His love.

Hope in God, for you shall yet praise Him. He will save you for His own sake, and present you before assembled worlds as a monument of His mercy, and a trophy of His grace!

Grow old sweetly and beautifully

Grow old sweetly and beautifully

(J. R. Miller, “Devotional Hours with the Bible” 1908)

It takes a great deal of grace to grow old sweetly and beautifully. It is not possible to carry the alertness and energy of young manhood, into advanced years. Yet if we live wisely and rightly all our lives—old age ought to be the best of life. We certainly ought to make it beautiful and godly, for our life is not finished until we come to its very last day.

We ought to be wiser when we are old—than ever we have been in any former years. We ought to have learned by experience. We ought to be better in every way—with more of God’s peace in our hearts, with more gentleness and patience. We ought to have learned self-control, and to be better able to rule our own spirit. We ought to have more love, more joy, more thoughtfulness, to be more considerate, to have more humility.

Old age never should be the dregs of the years, the mere cinder of a burnt-out life. One may not have the vigor and strenuousness of the mid-years—but one should be every way truer, richer-hearted, holier. If the outward man has grown weaker and feebler—the inner man should have grown stronger and Christlier.

🎄 The Glorious Incarnation #23 ~ Meaning Of Christmas

“This is the meaning of Christmas. Oh, that God would waken your heart to your deep need for mercy as a sinner! And then ravish your heart with a great Savior, Jesus Christ. And then release your tongue to praise him and your hands to make his mercy shine in yours.”

John Piper, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent

🎄 The Glorious Incarnation #12 ~ Mission Of God

“Advent is a season for thinking about the mission of God to seek and to save lost people from the wrath to come. God raised him from the dead, “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). It’s a season for cherishing and worshiping this characteristic of God—that he is a searching and saving God, that he is a God on a mission, that he is not aloof or passive or indecisive. He is never in the maintenance mode, coasting or drifting. He is sending, pursuing, searching, saving. That’s the meaning of Advent.”

John Piper, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent

🎄 The Glorious Incarnation #6 ~ Glad Tidings

Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people; for there is born to you this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. In these words you clearly see that he is born for us. He does not simply say, Christ is born, but to you is born; neither does he say, I bring glad tidings, but to you I bring glad tidings of great joy. Furthermore, this joy was not to remain in Christ, but it shall be to all people.

Sermons of Martin Luther

Made For Spirituality

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“Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamor for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment. But new creation has already begun. The sun has begun to rise. Christians are called to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus Christ, all that belongs to the brokenness and incompleteness of the present world … That, quite simply, is what it means to be Christian: to follow Jesus Christ into the new world, God’s new world, which he has thrown open before us.”

N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

Conversation In The Womb

Baby 1: And you, you believe in life after birth?

Baby 2: Absolutely. It’s obvious that life after birth exists. We are here to become stronger and to get ready for whatever awaits us next.

Baby 1: This is absurd. There is nothing after birth! What would life look like outside the womb!

Baby 2: Well, there are many stories about the other side. I’ve heard there is a blaze of light there, an intense and profound feeling of joy with deep emotions, thousands of things to live for… For example, I’ve heard that we’ll eat with our mouth there.

Baby 1: That’s silly. We have an umbilical cord and that is how we eat. Everyone knows that we don’t use our mouth to eat! And, on top of that, no one has ever come back from the other world. Those stories are all coming from naive people. Life just ends at birth. Period. That’s the way it is and we must accept it.

Baby 2: Alright, then allow me to think differently. That’s for sure, I have no idea what life after birth looks like, and I can’t prove anything to you. But I like to believe that in the next world, we’ll be able to see our mother and that she will take care of us.

Baby 1: “Mother”? You mean that you believe in “Mother”? Oh! So where is she?

Baby 2: Everywhere, don’t you see it! She is everywhere, all around us. We are part of her and it’s thanks to her that we are living right now. Without her, we wouldn’t be here.

Baby 1: This is ridiculous! I’ve never seen any mother so it’s obvious that she doesn’t exist.

Baby 2: I don’t agree. That’s your way of seeing things. Because sometimes when everything quiets down a little bit, we can hear her sing. We can feel her hugging our world! I’m pretty sure that our life will start after birth.

Be Joyful & Do Good

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Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 The Voice

What good comes to anyone who works so hard, all to gain a few possessions? I have seen the kinds of tasks God has given each of us to do to keep one busy, and I know God has made everything beautiful for its time. God has also placed in our minds a sense of eternity; we look back on the past and ponder over the future, yet we cannot understand the doings of God. I know there is nothing better for us than to be joyful and to do good throughout our lives; to eat and drink and see the good in all of our hard work is a gift from God. I know everything God does endures for all time. Nothing can be added to it; nothing can be taken away from it. We humans can only stand in awe of all God has done. What has been and what is to be—already is. And God holds accountable all the pursuits of humanity.

The contrast between God and humanity could not be starker. The teacher drives this point home by reminding his reader that human lives and earthly accomplishments are fleeting. Nothing tangible is permanent. No work lasts. It all slips away and vanishes into thin air. Compare that to God. Everything God does is substantial. Everything God accomplishes lasts forever. Every word God speaks makes a difference. And so, God places within every person a sense of eternity to know yet not understand Him. This world with all its goodness and beauty is not as good as it gets. There is more, so much more, and we are made for that reality too. But not now, not yet.

✞ Music “My Life Is An Offering by Sovereign Grace Music

“My Life Is An Offering”
[Based on Romans 12:1-2]

VERSE 1
This life is an altar
Where I want to offer
My soul, and my mind, and strength
Cleansed by Your mercy to live a life worthy
Of the One Who called my name

CHORUS
Jesus, be glorified
Jesus, be magnified
Let me be a pleasing sacrifice
Jesus, be glorified
Jesus, be magnified
Here on the altar
My life is an offering

VERSE 2
How could I not love You?
You authored my rescue
Raised me up from death to life
Your Spirit is in me, revealing Your glory
Oh what joy as I give my life

BRIDGE
I choose to lose my life, Lord
And find it in You

“Only One Life” by Charles Studd

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Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgment seat;
Only one life,’ twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its days I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore, When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn, And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say, “Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say ’twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’ twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

✞ Music “Yearn” by Shane & Shane

holy design
this place in time
that I might seek and find my God
my God

Lord I want to yearn for You
I want to burn with passion
over You and only You
Lord I want to yearn

Your joy is mine
yet why am I fine
with all my singing and bringing grain
in light of Him

oh You give life and breath
through Him You give all things
in Him we live and move
that’s why I sing

In His Hands

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Those who put themselves in His hands will become perfect, as He is perfect- perfect in love, wisdom, joy, beauty, health, and immortality. The change will not be completed in this life, for death is an important part of the treatment. How far the change will have gone before death in any particular Christian is uncertain.

C. S. Lewis

Praise To The Sound Of Strings

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Psalm 92:1-4 (VOICE)

How good it is to give thanks to the Eternal and to praise Your name with song, O Most High; To speak of Your unfailing love in the morning and rehearse Your faithfulness as night begins to fall.
How good it is to praise to the sound of strings—lute and harp—the stirring melodies of the lyre. Because You, O Eternal One, thrill me with the things You have done, I will sing with joy in light of Your deeds.

In Perfect Sync With God’s Spirit

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Galatians 5:13-26 (VOICE)

Brothers and sisters, God has called you to freedom! Hear the call, and do not spoil this gift by using your liberty to engage in what your flesh desires; instead, use it to serve each other as Jesus taught through love. For the whole law comes down to this one instruction: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” so why all this vicious gnawing on each other? If you are not careful, you will find you’ve eaten each other alive!

Here’s my instruction: walk in the Spirit, and let the Spirit bring order to your life. If you do, you will never give in to your selfish and sinful cravings. For everything the flesh desires goes against the Spirit, and everything the Spirit desires goes against the flesh. There is a constant battle raging between them that prevents you from doing the good you want to do. But when you are led by the Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law.

It’s clear that our flesh entices us into practicing some of its most heinous acts: participating in corrupt sexual relationships, impurity, unbridled lust, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, arguing, jealousy, anger, selfishness, contentiousness, division, envy of others’ good fortune, drunkenness, drunken revelry, and other shameful vices that plague humankind. I told you this clearly before, and I only tell you again so there is no room for confusion: those who give in to these ways will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul has been preaching about the call of God to freedom, and so he now spells it out: we are done with the demands of the law; now we are free to live in the Spirit and to be truly right with God. As free people, the Spirit gives us the characteristics of Jesus; we, too, can freely love in joy and peace. We can have patience along with kindness and faithfulness that can only come from the Father. We can reflect the goodness of God while being gentle in operating with self-control. For those who follow Him and live in the Spirit, these characteristics or fruits are a gift from God. As we grow in the faith, we find that we belong to God and can walk daily in the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this. Those of us who belong to the Anointed One have crucified our old lives and put to death the flesh and all the lusts and desires that plague us.

Now since we have chosen to walk with the Spirit, let’s keep each step in perfect sync with God’s Spirit. This will happen when we set aside our self-interests and work together to create true community instead of a culture consumed by provocation, pride, and envy.

Ask God For It!

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James 1:2-11 (VOICE)
Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing. If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking.

Wisdom, as James understands it, is the ability to live life well and make good decisions. Wisdom doesn’t come from old age or hard knocks. Wisdom begins with knowing and depending absolutely on God, who is never stingy when it comes to wisdom for those who seek it. He supplies all the wisdom we need when we ask. But when we try to go it alone—without God—trouble is around the corner.

The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused.

Daily Prompt: From the Gut

Today’s Daily Prompt ~ “Photographers, artists, poets: show us JOYFUL

Psalm 118:24 (NASB)
This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Sarah on Wedding Day PNG

Sarah on wedding day part 2 PNG

 Sarah’s joy overflowing on our wedding day  

Sarah Joyful

⇧ Joyful on our honeymoon too! 

Steve  Sarah Photo Booth

 Joy in our marriage as best friends 

Sarah Smiling

 Joy in the everyday 

Sarah s Gran PNG

 Sarah’s joyful Gran 

Sarah's Dad

 Sarah’s joyful Dad 

Bruce running alone on the beach

 Bruce finding joy on an empty beach 

Bruce Jumping with joy

 Bruce jumping for joy! ⇧

Joy cannot be pursued. It comes from within. It is a state of being. It does not depend on circumstances, but triumphs over circumstances. It produces a gentleness of spirit and a magnetic personality.
Billy Graham

Check out “Steve & Sarah” on the “Weddings”  page

There’s No Ceiling To Hope

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This is a post for all of my sisters & brothers out there who are struggling at the moment. I just wanted to try and inspire you with some of the Songs/Poems i’ve posted on here. Some will have already read them, but its really on my heart to try and help you as you fight with your day to day struggles. Peace be with you.

page links for my Songs/Poems: 

I Hope these songs/poems will reach out to people who can relate to some of the feelings i went through on my Journey! But i want you to know that you are never alone and a new Life of Love, Joy & inner Peace are waiting for you. Check out my “About” page to read a little more about my journey.


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