Tag Archive | Christian

Everywhere and Yet Forgotten

 

“Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:9,10

Suggested Further Reading: Deuteronomy 8:11-20

This forgetfulness of God is growing upon this perverse generation. Time was, in the old puritanic days, when every shower of rain was seen to come from heaven, when every ray of sunshine was blessed, and God was thanked for having given fair weather to ingather the fruits of the harvest. Then, men talked of God as doing everything. But in our days where is our God? We have the laws of matter. Alas! Alas! That names with little meaning should have destroyed our memory of the Eternal One. We talk now of phenomena, and of the chain of events, as if all things happened by machinery; as if the world were a huge clock which had been wound up in eternity, and continued to work without a present God. Nay, not only our philosophers, but even our poets rant in the same way. They sing of the works of nature. But who is that fair goddess, Nature?

Is she a heathen deity, or what? Do we not act as if we were ashamed of our God, or as if his name had become obsolete? Go abroad wherever you may, you hear little said concerning him who made the heavens, and who formed the earth and the sea; but everything is nature, and the laws of motion and of matter. And do not Christians often use words which would lead you to suppose that they believed in the old goddess, Luck, or rested in that equally false deity, Fortune, or trembled before the demon of Misfortune? Oh for the day when God shall be seen, and little else beside! Better, my brethren, that philosophical discoveries were lost, than that God should be concealed behind them. Better that our poets had ceased to write, and that all their flaming words were buried with their ashes, than that they should serve as a cloud before the face of the eternal Creator.

For meditation: When men replace Father God by mother nature, God leaves them to behave in ways which are unnatural and opposed to their false new deity (Romans 1:21-27).

Sermon no. 326
29 July (1860)

 

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The faultless assembly

 

“They are without fault before the throne of God.” Revelation 14:5

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-22

We need not go far without seeing that there is, among Christians, a want of love to one another. There is not too much love in our churches; certainly, we have none to give away. We have heard that:

“Whatever brawls disturb the street,
There should be peace at home.”

But it is not always as it should be. We have known churches where the members can scarcely sit down at the Lord’s table without some disagreement. There are people who are always finding fault with the minister, and there are ministers finding fault with the people; there is among them “a spirit that lusteth to envy,” and “where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” We have met with people among whom it would be misery to place ourselves, because we do not love war; we love peace and charity. Alas! How continually do we hear accounts of disputings and variance in churches! O beloved, there is too little love in the churches!

If Jesus were to come amongst us, might He not say to us, “This is My commandment, that ye love one another; but how have you kept it when you have been always finding fault with one another? And how ready you have been to turn your sword against your brother!” But, beloved, “they are without fault before the throne of God.” Those who on earth could not agree, are sure to agree when they get to heaven. There are some who have crossed swords on earth, but who have held the faith, and have been numbered amongst the saints in glory everlasting. There is no fighting amongst them now; “they are without fault before the throne of God.”

For meditation: The very best of Christians may have fallen out with one another (Acts 15:39), but the Bible entreats disputants to agree in the Lord (Philippians 4:2). It is beautiful when brothers dwell in unity (Psalm 133:1), but perplexing when they wrong each other (Acts 7:26). May God help us to do “on earth as it is in Heaven.”

2nd sermon at New Park St.
28 July (Preached 18 December 1853)

 

Are You Really Bible Based?

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. JOHN 15:1

This may seem like a shocking thing to say, but I firmly believe that most Christian marriages are actually patterned after the world, with a few threads of Christianity woven in. Couples know certain Bible verses, but few really practice the Word of God and use it as the defining standard for their lives.

Here is a litmus test: Could you lead a group of couples through a Bible study for several hours on what the Scriptures have to say about marriage and family issues—everything from raising children to God’s blueprints and purposes for marriage? Most churchgoers couldn’t last more than a few minutes.

But the very fact that you’re reading this book today at all is a testimony to your desire to know more of God’s Word and apply it to your lives. If you want your marriage to become all that God intended, then I hope this inspires you to keep digging deeply to His truth and let it become the “source” of your lives together.

Jesus painted the picture when He declared Himself the vine, with us as the branches. He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4). The word “abide” here is used to describe drawing the source of life from Jesus, like a branch draws its life from the vine. It means to make Jesus Christ and His Word the source of your convictions, decisions and mission in life. Just as branches draw their nutrients from the vine, so too we are only able to grow spiritually when we’re firmly attached to Christ, drawing our life from the source of all truth.

DISCUSS

Talk honestly about your values, convictions and mission. How much are these shaped by abiding in Christ and His Word? Talk about how you can help one another do a better job of abiding in the Word.

PRAY

Pray for one another that you will grow spiritually together as a couple by abiding in Christ.

Islands of Clarity

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. PSALM 27:13

Barbara and I have long enjoyed the benefits of carving out time together as a couple. It was something we committed to early in our marriage. Even with six kids and all the natural activity that ensued, we pretty much stuck to our guns, and everybody reaped the benefits.

For us, these became islands of clarity—stolen moments when we chose to set aside the rush, distractions and noise of life long enough to reflect and hear from God. Here are three tips for finding uninterrupted time to help you regain perspective in the midst of the family circus:

Do it daily. The mere fact that you’re reading this book tells me you understand your need for at least a few minutes each day to square up and seek the Lord together.

Do it weekly. I’ve been telling people for years about Barbara’s and my selecting Sunday night as our sacred time to grab a booth at our favorite cozy little restaurant, The Purple Cow, and sync up our schedules. We have seen God supply answers as we talked about the children’s school needs, various discipline issues, major purchases and other elements of our marriage relationship.

Do it twice a year. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but we found that squirreling ourselves away without the kids helped us clear our heads and renew our sense of partnership and purpose. Many couples use the Weekend to Remember as an annual getaway to refresh and refuel their relationship.

Marriage often resembles a shootout between Siamese twins—two people joined together at the hip but fighting to control the direction they go. Islands of clarity are good places for the two of you, not just to sign peace treaties, but also to chart a course for the future and build romantic fires as well.

DISCUSS

What has been your favorite getaway as a couple? What made it so memorable? Schedule your next one.

PRAY

Pray that God will help you never to lose the ability to set aside some time away together as a couple to seek Him and one another.

The Lord’s Care for His Own

Matthew 18:10–14 “It is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (v. 14).

After a brief interlude in which Jesus warns us to separate ourselves from those things that tempt us, our Savior returns in today’s passage to a discussion of how the children of the kingdom must treat one another. Matthew 18:10 records His warning that we not “despise one of these little ones.” Given that chapter 18 has thus far emphasized our need for humility (vv. 1–9), Christ is telling us that we must not become puffed up with self-pride and look down on other Christians. Despising another believer means to treat him with disrespect, refusing to receive him as our equal in God’s eyes (see v. 5).

Dr. John MacArthur gives a fine summary of what we are to learn from verses 10–14, namely, that to treat “any fellow believer with contempt is extremely serious since God and the holy angels are so concerned for their well-being” (The MacArthur Bible Commentary, p. 1,157). First of all, the angels in heaven dwell continually before our Creator, beholding His face (Matt. 18:10), which probably means in this context that they are attentive to the Father’s will and always ready to obey His commands. Should He release them, these angels will move at His order to minister to His children (Heb. 1:14). Fear of reprisal from these creatures should be enough to make any of us treat our fellow Christians well.

Secondly, and far more significant, God’s “care extends itself to every particular member of the flock, even the lowest” (Matthew Henry). He shepherds His people, working to keep errant believers from finally perishing (Matt. 18:12–14). Since we are called to imitate God (Eph. 5:1), to some degree we all must minister to one another. Of course, the elders of the church are the primary shepherds of the Lord’s flock (1 Peter 5:1–5). Nevertheless, we must still bear the burdens of one another (Gal. 6:2) and love wandering brothers and sisters back into the fold. Oftentimes, we will not reach out to others who are stuck in sin or who have harmed us because we think they are beyond redemption. Such an attitude betrays an arrogance that believes we who live holy lives are more deserving of God’s love than others. Such an attitude is not the mark of our Father’s humble children, who alone will inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:1–4).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

God is not willing that any of His own should perish (Matt. 18:14), and so He shepherds us, using His staff to discipline us if that is what is necessary to keep us in the fold. One way in which the Lord exercises this shepherding is through the love of Christians one for another. We must all grieve when we see brothers or sisters stumble and do all that we can to rescue them. Especially if you are a church leader, do not abandon your sheep.

For further study:  2 Samuel 5:1–5

The Bible in a year:  Psalms 56–58

Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Children brought to Christ, not to the font

 

‘Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.’ Mark 10:14

Suggested Further Reading: Deuteronomy 6:4–7

We can say with the apostle John, ‘I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.’ We continue, therefore, to bring them to Christ by daily, constant, earnest prayer on their behalf. As soon as they become of years capable of understanding the things of God, we endeavour to bring them to Christ by teaching them the truth. Hence our Sabbath schools, hence the use of the Bible and family prayer, and catechizing at home. Any person who shall say, ‘Do not teach your children; they will be converted in God’s own time if it be his purpose; therefore leave them to run wild in the streets,’ will certainly both ‘sin against the child’ and the Lord Jesus.

We might as well say, ‘If that piece of ground is to grow a harvest, it will do so if it be God’s good pleasure; therefore leave it, and let the weeds spring up and cover it; do not endeavour for a moment to kill the weeds, or to sow the good seed.’ Why, such reasoning as this would be not only cruel to our children, but grievously displeasing to Christ. Parents! I do hope you are all endeavouring to bring your children to Christ by teaching them the things of God. Let them not be strangers to the plan of salvation.

Never let it be said that a child of yours reached years in which his conscience could act, and he could judge between good and evil, without knowing the doctrine of the atonement, without understanding the great substitutionary work of Christ. Set before your child life and death, hell and heaven, judgment and mercy, his own sin, and Christ’s most precious blood; and as you set these before him, labour with him, persuade him, as the apostle did his congregation, with tears and weeping, to turn unto the Lord.

For meditation: Christian parents should bring their children up ‘in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4). This may be harder in non-Christian marriages when only one of the partners becomes a Christian, but it is not hopeless (1 Corinthians 7:14); Timothy was proof (Acts 16:1; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15).

Sermon no. 581
24 July (1864)