If Satan cannot take a Christian away from duty, he will put him too far in duty. Humiliation is a duty, but Satan suggests that the soul is not humble enough: and indeed he never thinks it humbled enough till it despairs. Satan comes thus to a man: "Your sins have been great, and your sorrow should be proportionable." But is it so? Can you say you have been as great a mourner as you have been a sinner? What is a drop of sorrow to a sea of sin? This is laid only as a snare--the subtle enemy would have a Christian weep himself blind, and in a desperate humour throw away the anchor of hope. And if Satan has such fallacies, and as a decoy draws away so many millions into his snares, is there not cause of jealous fear lest we should be trapped? The fear of God will make us fear hell's stratagems. Satan's snares are worse than his darts.
Monday, June 29
Sunday, June 28
Three Well-Known Deaths
This past week, three celebrities died—Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, & Michael Jackson. They grabbed the headlines which is to be expected. As far as ability goes, each added to his own industry in unique ways which will never be forgotten by this generation . . . or beyond, I suspect. The tragedy multiplies infinitely IF they did not know Jesus Christ as their Savior. There seems no evidence that they professed such faith in Christ. So, again this is the real tragedy, not that a musician died, or that a ‘70's icon pass on or that an octogenarian late night side kick finally breathed his last. Oh, folks will make much of their accomplishments, gifts & talents and contributions to the glitz industry and to humor. They may even point to some redeeming quality about each which is (it seems) supposed to offset a completely God-denying life, but which nonetheless qualifies them for heaven!? This is a very common practice among those without hope, desperate to declare it for another. After all, "what is to become of us," they say, "when we die?" Understandable. Yet, salvation through Jesus is possible for them as well, but not via peer declaration. Question is: was that ever in their sights? I hope that it was. I fear that it was not.
Here in upstate New York, near the NY thruway on route 19 another man died this past week, an 84 year old retired minister. He, contrary to the previous three, is not well known. He earned a pastor’s salary commensurate with a rural community, and did not even have a retirement fund to carry him into his last years. Back in those days, that wasn’t uncommon. Rather he had to work to keep up his subsistence laboring in the field of electricity, and pastoring a small body of believers in the town of Stafford, NY. He died probably from a diabetes reaction which caused him to swerve into oncoming traffic, killing both himself and a 62 year old gentleman. He wasn’t that well known except around here. But he WAS well known to God. Ray Sissel was a lovely man, gentle, an avid hunter and fisherman, affable in every way. We mourn his home going, but not his entrance into glory!! Oh, no. THAT we celebrate, as does he! But be sure of this, Ray did not enter into glory because he was a pastor; he pastored because that glory was too dear to keep to himself! God, through Christ, saves those who cry out to him. He further transforms them and puts his Holy Spirit into their hearts filling them with comfort and strength and joy! Truly, “Precious in his sight is the death of one of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). Precious indeed. We look forward to the day when we shall see Ray Sissel again. But more importantly, we anticipate walking with Jesus. Ah, that will be glory!
It is not how MANY mourn your loss, but WHO WELCOMES YOUR DEATH! Ray is looking at Jesus NOW. I'll take that! Praise God, all who cry out to God may have such hope. "For the Son of Man [Jesus] has come to seek and to save those who are lost" (Luke 19:10).
Thursday, June 25
Lose all rather than lose your integrity, and when all else is gone, still hold fast a clear conscience as the rarest jewel which can adorn the bosom of a mortal. Be not guided by the will-o’-the-wisp of policy, but by the pole-star of divine authority. Follow the right at all hazards. When you see no present advantage, walk by faith and not by sight. Do God the honour to trust him when it comes to matters of loss for the sake of principle. See whether he will be your debtor! See if he doth not even in this life prove his word that “Godliness, with contentment, is great gain,” and that they who “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, shall have all these things added unto them.” Should it happen that, in the providence of God, you are a loser by conscience, you shall find that if the Lord pays you not back in the silver of earthly prosperity, he will discharge his promise in the gold of spiritual joy.
Wednesday, June 24
Rise up, O men of God! Have done with lesser things;give heart and soul and mind and strength to serve the King of kings.Rise up, O men of God! His kingdom tarries long;bring in the day of brotherhood and end the night of wrong.Rise up, O men of God! The Church for you doth wait,her strength unequal to her task; rise up, and make her great!Lift hight the cross of Christ! Tread where his feet have trod;as brothers of the Son of Man, rise up, O men of God.--William P. Merrill, 1911
Monday, June 22
"The test of real character is to be sought in each man's experience. He who has never exercised faith, repentance, love, humility, hope, and joy, cannot be profited by his theories and speculations on these subjects. All knowledge which is unfelt and inoperative puffs up the mind and hardens the heart. It is better to have the workings of gracious affections than to be able to define them,or to speak ever so learnedly respecting them. The great use of a large part of divine truth is rightly to affect our minds and hearts, and so to control our practice."
Thursday, June 18
Here, then, is the sovereign power with which the pastors of the church, by whatever name they be called, ought to be endowed. That is that they may dare boldly to do all things by God's Word; may compel all worldly power, glory, wisdom, and exaltation to yield to and obey his majesty; supported by his power, may command all from the highest even to the last; may build up Christ's household and cast down Satan's; may feed the sheep and drive away the wolves; may instruct and exhort the teachable; may accuse, rebuke, and subdue the rebellious and stubborn: may bind and loose; finally, if need be, may launch thunderbolts and lightenings; but do all things in God's Word. (Calvin's Institutes, Book IV, Ch. VIII. 9)Now that's powerful!! Lord, evermore give us this authority.
Friday, June 12
You can be an advocate of Christianity without being a Christian. You can be an advocate of these things without experiencing them. If you have intelligence, if you have been rightly trained, you can understand the Scriptures in a sense, and you can lay them out before others. You can present all the arguments, you can put the case for a kind of Christian philosophy. And it may sound wonderful. But you may be standing outside the true experience of it the whole time. You may be talking about something which you do not really know, about Someone you have never met. You are an advocate, perhaps even a brilliant advocate. But note what the Lord said to the apostles: "You shall be my witnesses."
Thursday, June 11
There are clearly advantages to having immediate access to such an incredibly rich store of information, inasmuch as this hyper-access to people, news, and facts assuredly has far-reaching effects on cognition, as well as the way we see, or don’t see, the world. Speaking decades before the debates over Twitter or the wonders of Google, Malcolm Muggeridge seemed to foresee the possibilities of too much information. “Accumulating knowledge is a form of avarice and lends itself to another version of the Midas story,” he wrote. “Man is so avid for knowledge that everything he touches turns to facts; his faith becomes theology, his love becomes lechery, his wisdom becomes science. Pursuing meaning, he ignores truth.” In other words, Muggeridge saw that it was possible to see so many news clips that we are no longer seeing, to hear so many sound-bites that we are no longer hearing, to seek so many “exclusives” that we are no longer understanding.
Wednesday, June 10
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.
Saturday, June 6
Children of God, whatever you have not got, you have a God in whom you may greatly glory. Having God you have more than all things, for all things come of him; and if all things were blotted out, he could restore all things simply by his will. He speaketh, and it is done; he commandeth, and it stands fast. Blessed is the man that hath the God of Jacob for his trust, and whose hope Jehovah is. In the Lord Jehovah we have righteousness and strength; let us trust in him for ever. Let the times roll on, they cannot affect our God.