31 January, 2009

Satisfaction and Happiness Complete

"...The religion of Jesus possesses this remarkable characteristic in the experience of its disciples: there is more true holiness in the heart's thirst for sanctification, more solid happiness in a passing thought of God, more real life in one believing look at the Savior, more perfect rest in one single promise of God's Word, and more of the reality of heaven in a glance within the veil than this world could ever give or its religion could ever inspire. If it were possible to empty the whole world into the soul, the inquiry of mankind would still be, 'Who will show me any good?'....But let one devout, holy, loving thought of God in Christ enter that soul and its satisfaction is full, its happiness complete...."

-Octavious Winslow, "Our God" p. 51 (RHB)

26 January, 2009

How can the consideration of the depths of sin bring anything but greater misery?

~John Owen, from "The Nature of Mortification" as published in "Overcoming Sin and Temptation," p. 105

"Bring your lust to the gospel - not for relief, but for further conviction of its guilt (!); look on him whom you have pierced [Zech. 12:10; John 19:37], and be in bitterness. Say to your soul:

What have I done? What love, what mercy, what blood, what grace have I despised and trampled on! Is this the return I make to the Father for his love, to the Son for his blood, to the Holy Ghost for his grace? Do I thus requite the Lord? Have I defiled the heart that Christ died to wash, that the blessed Spirit has chosen to dwell in? And can I keep myself out of the dust? What can I say to the dear Lord Jesus? How shall I hold my head up with any boldness before him? Do I account communion with him of so little value, that for this vile lust's sake I have scarce left him any room in my heart? How shall I escape if I neglect so great a salvation? In the meantime, what shall I say to the Lord? Love, mercy, grace, goodness, peace, joy, consolation -- I have despised them all, and esteemed them as a thing of naught, that I might harbor a lust in my heart. Have I obtained a view of God's fatherly countenance, that I might behold his face and provoke him to his face? Was my soul washed, that room might be made for new defilements? Shall I endeavor to disappoint the end of the death of Christ? Shall I daily grieve the Spirit whereby I am sealed to the day of redemption?

Entertain your conscience daily with this treaty. See if it can stand before this aggravation of its guilt. If this make it not sink in some measure and melt, I fear your case is dangerous."


**A personal note, dear reader: I have been challenged by some of my well-meaning friends to consider that such an aggressive, and dare I say BRUTAL assault on my own sin, lust, and inclination toward the idol of my Self would otherwise lead me to despair. And I will readily confess, I have a tendency towards "depression." In truth, the reading of this book [Overcoming Sin and Temptation] with all of its brutal honesty about the unwavering intensity of sin - which does still rise up against its enemy God in the heart of the believer - has had the effect of leading me into a greater FREEDOM in Christ. You may think this ironic - but it is not as though the above kind of instruction inspires a person to WALLOW in their despair. Rather it is the intentional cultivating of a godly sorrow which leads to REPENTANCE and revives again for the soul the consideration of Him, Christ - who is lovely to behold! More to be desired; this Desire of Nations! - and because, precisely, he has made an END to all my sin, and I stand RIGHTEOUS in him before the Father.

In truth, too WEAK a view of the vileness and pervasiveness of our sin, I think, leaves us with too WEAK a view of our Savior and the grace that he has poured out on his own to redeem us from the mastery of this evil enemy! And an enemy which is by nature implanted in our own hearts and souls and so we can never escape it! We MUST be "rescued" from ourselves! (It is true - I am my own worst enemy!) But praise be to God, in Christ Jesus, because he has established the means of my redemption, he has anchored it in the blood of Jesus from before the foundations of the world; and he has set his affection on me in Christ, having numbered my days before, as yet, there was even one of them!

So I am learning to wash Jesus' feet with my tears - to be QUICK to cry out "God, have mercy on me, a sinner!" My "depression" is only usually evidence that I am reverting again to a "works-based" theology, somehow trying in myself to bring God pleasure when in truth that very relying on my own self effort is what brings him such grief.

It is only when I finally yield myself up - God help me, I would do it in every breath! but I cannot! - so that at every moment I am truly abiding IN him, walking WITH him, pleading TO him, resting and depending ON him - that I THEN experience not merely true "freedom" from my sin, but my JOY and DELIGHT in my Savior is so magnified as to be veritably rapturous to my soul!

It is not as though meanly pursuing the understanding of the depths of the wickedness of my own soul (left to its own nature and devices) brings me greater sorrow - except that it, by God's grace, leads me into greater repentance, and therefore makes me fit - because it has made me empty of myself, and humble! - to finally receive God's forgiveness and grace. Ultimately, this brings me immeasurable pleasure as I am made, at last, to Rejoice in God my Savior - for he has poured out of himself to bring me righteousness, because he has brought ME to the Gospel, to the cross of Christ, and I can boast in no other!

so help me God.**

23 January, 2009

All that I can Possibly Want!

All that I can possibly want!
(Octavius Winslow, "The Witness of the Spirit")

"From the fullness of His grace--we have all received one blessing after another." John 1:16

Child of God, all that can possibly want is treasured up in Christ! You have . . . no cross--but Christ can bear it, no sorrow--but Christ can alleviate it, no corruption--but Christ can subdue it, no guilt--but Christ can remove it, no sin--but Christ can pardon it, no need--but Christ can supply it!

Lift up your heads, you who are poor, needy and disconsolate! Lift up your heads, and rejoice that Christ is ALL to you! All you need in this valley of tears. All you will need in the deepest sorrow. All you need under the heaviest affliction. All you need in sickness. All you will need in the hour of death. All you will need in the day of judgment.

Indeed, Christ is IN ALL too. He is in all your salvation. He is in all your mercies. He is in all your trials. He is in all your consolations. He is in all your afflictions.

What more can you want? What more do you desire? A Father who loves you as the apple of His eye! A full Savior to whom to go, moment by moment!

"Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with confidence--so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16

**Oh my God - today though I am well acquainted with my own shortcomings and my griefs, the loss of that which I desire, the prospect of enduring the suffering of this loss for some long time, how merciful that you have given me a fresh glimpse of my Christ through something so simple as a word from this brother who has long been in your presence, now, realizing the fullness of the things of which he tasted while he walked with you below. How merciful - this reminder of the transient nature of this life - and the recollection that ALL we experience here, whether for our immediate happiness or to our sorrow, all are nevertheless to our greater joy because all are for YOUR greater glory and according to your unsearchable wisdom! Please cause me to abide in Christ, in his love, throughout today - so that any sorrow may seem SO small because it IS indeed so small - you have given me MUCH for which I can rejoice, and I need your grace to train me so that I may in truth "turn back to praise" ANYTHING that I receive from your hand, so that I may "give thanks in all circumstances," and again I say, "rejoice in the Lord always." My precious Lord and Savior, let me drink deeply from YOUR goodness and be satisfied.**

22 January, 2009

We love to hear that voice....

**Are you a favored child of God?**

"... We are not afraid, for we hear our Father’s voice. And what favored child ever quaked at his Father’s speech. We love to hear that voice; although it is deep, bass, sonorous—yet we love its matchless melody, for it issues from the depths of affection. Put me to sea, and let the ship be driven along—that wind is my Father’s breath! Let the clouds gather—they are the dust of my Father’s feet! Let the waterspout appear from heaven—it is my Father dipping his hand in the laver of his earthly temple. The child of God fears nothing. All things are his Father’s! And divested now of everything that is terrible, he can look upon them with delight, for he says, "The clouds are the dust of his feet."

'He drives his chariot through the sky,

Beneath his feet his thunders roar;

He shakes the earth, he veils the sky,

My soul, my soul, this God adore—

He is your Father, and your love.'

Fall down before his feet and worship him, for he has loved you by his grace. You know there are many fearful events which may befall us; but we are never afraid of them, if we are believers, because they are the dust of his feet! Pestilence may ravage this fair city once again; the thousands may fall, and the funeral march be constantly seen in our streets. Do we fear it? No! The pestilence is but one of our Father’s servants, and we are not afraid of it, although it walks in darkness. There may be no wheat, the flocks may be cut off from the herd and the stall; nevertheless, famine and distress are our Father’s doings—and what our Father does we will not view with alarm. There is a man there with a sword in his hand—he is an enemy, and I fear him! But my father has a sword, and I fear him not; I rather love to see him have a sword, because I know he will only use it for my protection...."

(C. H. Spurgeon, August 19, 1855 - "What are the Clouds?")

**Are you a favored child of God? How can you know? How can you be sure? If you do not know, or fear that you cannot know, please comment on my post and I will be humbly glad to share with you how you can have assurance of God's grace in Christ Jesus.**

Beloved, there is comfort....

"... Consider, that the greatest things with man, are little things with God. We call the mountains great, but what are they? They are but 'the small dust of the balance.' We call the nations great, and we speak of mighty empires, but the nations before him are but as 'a drop in the bucket.' We call the islands great and talk of England boastingly—yet God’s Word declares that 'He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.' We speak of great men and of mighty—yet 'the inhabitants of the earth in his sight are but as grasshoppers.' We talk of ponderous orbs moving millions of miles from us—yet in God’s sight they are but little atoms dancing up and down in the sunbeam of existence!....

... You often will hear two Christians talk. One of them will say, 'O my troubles, and trials, and sorrows—they are so great I can hardly sustain them! I do not know how to bear my afflictions from day to day.' The other says, 'Ah! my troubles and trials are not less severe, but, nevertheless, they have been less than nothing. I could laugh at impossibilities, and say they shall be done.' What is the reason of the difference between these men? The secret is, that one of them carried his troubles, and the other did not. It does not matter to a porter how heavy a load may be, if he can find another to carry it all for him. But if he is to carry it all himself, of course he does not like a heavy load. So one man bears his troubles himself and gets his back nearly broken; but the other cast his troubles on the Lord.

Ah! it does not matter how heavy troubles are—if you can cast them on the Lord. The heavier they are so much the better, for the more you have got rid of, and the more there is laid upon the Rock. Never be afraid of troubles. However heavy they are, God’s eternal shoulders can bear them. He, whose omnipotence is verified by upholding revolving planets, and systems of enormous worlds—can well sustain you! Is his arm shortened, that he cannot save? Or is he weary, that he cannot uphold you? Your troubles are nothing to God, for the very 'clouds are the dust of his feet'.....

...Beloved, there is comfort, 'for the clouds are the dust of his feet.' He can scatter them in a moment. He can raise up his chosen servants, who have only to put their mouth to the trumpet, and one blast shall awaken the sleeping sentinels, and startle the sleeping camp. God has only to send out again some evangelist, some flying angel, and the churches shall wake up once more, and she who has been clothed in sackcloth, shall doff her garments of mourning and put on a garment of praise, instead of the spirit of heaviness. The day is coming, I hope, when Zion shall sit, not without her diadem, crownless; but with her crown on her head, she shall grasp her banner, take her shield, and, like that heroic maiden of old who roused a whole nation, shall go forth conquering and to conquer. We hope thus much, because 'the clouds are the dust of his feet.'.... "

(C. H. Spurgeon, August 19, 1855 - "What are the Clouds?")

**Does the fact that God can scatter the clouds in a moment bring you comfort or fear? Or are you indifferent to his power and authority? How can you be considered by God to be among his "Beloved" so that you might take COMFORT from that character of God which might otherwise inspire FEAR? Be comforted, or be afraid and SEEK comfort - but, I beg of you, please do NOT be indifferent....**

21 January, 2009

May I be Entirely Yours

"Reign, blessed Jesus, in my heart—reign supreme, and without a rival. I would sincerely love You above all things in heaven or earth. I see that You are infinitely glorious in Yourself, and worthy of my highest esteem and love. You are the only all-sufficient good—the overflowing spring of grace and blessedness. All things beneath and besides you—are vanity and emptiness. In comparison with you, they are less than nothing. You have drawn my heart towards Yourself, and made me willing to make choice of You, as my Savior, and my Portion. I would renounce all that the world calls good or great—that I may be entirely Yours. Be my everlasting inheritance, and I shall desire nothing that the whole world can bestow. Whom have I in heaven but You? There is nothing on earth that I desire in comparison of You! What can the present world afford—to tempt me to relinquish You? I would therefore bid 'adieu' to the gaudy pomps and empty vanities of life—and give my heart supremely to You. O may all the alluring trifles and vain delights of this world stand aloof from my heart—for I have devoted it to my Redeemer for His habitation. Keep your distance, O captivating delusions, from the gates of my heart, where You alone should dwell. There may You reign alone, over all my desires forever!"

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")