He puts the burden on and at His own time will remove it

rainbow-valley

When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:14-16)

No rainbow of promise in the “dark and cloudy day” shines more radiantly than this. God, my God, the God who gave Jesus — orders all events, and overrules all for my good! “When I,” says He, “send clouds over the earth.” He has no wish to conceal the hand which shadows for a time earth’s brightest prospects. It is He alike who “brings the cloud,” who brings us into it, and in mercy leads us through it! His kingdom rules over all. “The lot is cast into the lap — but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” He puts the burden on, and keeps it on — and at His own time will remove it.

John MacDuff, The Rainbow in the Clouds (Monergism Books edition)

We have sailed into the new year of grace

surrey2

This is the first day of a new year, and therefore a solemnly joyous day. Though there is no real difference between it and any other day, yet in our mind and thought it is a marked period, which we regard as one of the milestones set up on the highway of our life. It is only in imagination that there is any close of one year and beginning of another; and yet it has most fitly all the force of a great fact. When men “cross the line,” they find no visible mark: the sea bears no trace of an equatorial belt; and yet mariners know whereabouts they are, and they take notice thereof, so that a man can hardly cross the line for the first time without remembering it to the day of his death.

We are crossing the line now.

We have sailed into the [new] year of grace…therefore, let us keep a feast unto the Lord. If Jesus has not made us new already, let the new year cause us to think about the great and needful change of conversion; and if our Lord has begun to make us new, and we have somewhat entered into the new world wherein dwelleth righteousness, let us be persuaded by the season to press forward into the center of his new creation, that we may feel to the full all the power of his grace.

Adapted from Charles Spurgeon, “Sermon for New Year’s Day.”

Has not God revealed himself unto them?

George_Whitefield_preaching

How foolishly then do the disputing infidels of this generation act, who are continually either calling for signs from heaven, or seeking for outward evidence to prove the truth of divine revelation? Whereas, what they so earnestly seek for is nigh unto, nay, within them. For let them but consult their own hearts, they cannot but feel what they want. Let them but consult the lively oracles of God and they cannot but see a remedy revealed for all their wants and that the written word does as exactly answer the wants and desires of their hearts, as face answers to face in the water. Where then is the scribe, where is the wise, where is the solidity of the reasoning of the disputers of this world? Has not God revealed himself unto them, as plain as their own hearts could wish? And yet they require a sign. But there shall no other sign be given them. For if they believe not a revelation which is every way so suited to their wants, neither will they be persuaded though one should rise from the dead.

George Whitefield, “The Duty of Searching the Scriptures,” The Sermons of George Whitefield (Kindle Edition)

Christmas and our union with Christ

bethlehem star

We are plainly taught in the word of God that as many as have believed are one with Christ: they are married to him, there is a conjugal union based upon mutual affection. The union is closer still, for there is a vital union between Christ and his saints. They are in him as the branches are in the vine; they are members of the body of which he is the head. They are one with Jesus in such a true and real sense that with him they died, with him they have been buried, with him they are risen, with him they are raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places. There is an indissoluble union between Christ and all his people: “I in them and they in me.” Thus the union may be described:–Christ is in his people the hope of glory, and they are dead and their life is hid with Christ in God. This is a union of the most wonderful kind, which figures may faintly set forth, but which it were impossible for language completely to explain.

Oneness to Jesus is one of the fat things full of marrow. For if it be so, indeed, that we are one with Christ, then because he lives we must live also; because he was justified by his resurrection, we also are justified in him; because he is rewarded and for ever sits down at his Father’s right hand, we also have obtained the inheritance in him and by faith grasp it now, and enjoy its earnest. Oh, can it be that this aching head already has a right to a celestial crown! That this palpitating heart has a claim to the rest which remaineth for the people of God! That these weary feet have a title to tread the sacred halls of the New Jerusalem! It is so, for if we are one with Christ, then all he has belongs to us, and it is but a matter of time, and of gracious arrangement when we shall come into the full enjoyment thereof. Truly, in meditation upon this topic, we may each of us exclaim, “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.”

Charles Spurgeon, “Good cheer for Christmas,” The Sermons of Charles Spurgeon, Sermons 401-600 (Vol 3)

Christmas and the gift of adoption

bethlehem star

It is plainly revealed to us, that as many as have believed in Christ Jesus unto the salvation of their souls, are the sons of God. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” Here, indeed, is a fat thing.

What, shall a worm of the dust become a child of God? A rebel be adopted into the heavenly family? A condemned criminal not only forgiven, but actually made a child of God? Wonder of wonders! “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God!” To which of the kings and princes of this earth did he ever say, “Thou art my son”? He has not spoken thus to the great ones and to the mighty, but God hath chosen the base things of this world and things that are despised, yea, and things that are not, and made these to be of the seed royal. The wise and prudent are passed over, but babes receive the revelation of his love.

Lord, whence is this to me? What am I and what is my father’s house, that thou shouldst speak of making me thy child? This gloriously fat thing is also “full of marrow.” There is an inner richness in adoption, for, “if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Well does the apostle remind us that if children, then heirs, for we are thus assured of our blessed heritage. “All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Here are royal dainties of which the Word has said most truly, “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house.”

Charles Spurgeon, “Good cheer for Christmas,” The Sermons of Charles Spurgeon, Sermons 401-600 (Vol 3)

The hour is coming…

I have, in my imagination, looked on all whom I know on the earth, and I have said, they are dying creatures. This is always true, but we often forget it. Yet when a precious one is taken, we begin to realize this truth. Thinking about this, I seem to see a passing procession. I remember many who have passed—a long array of my Master‘s servants—some carrying His banner high, others marching with swords drawn, and some weak and feeble being helped by sturdy champions. They are gone, and I will never see them here again. Some of you are also passing away. More are coming, but they are also going.

I said that I was looking at this procession. But that is incorrect, for I am in the procession. I am passing with the rest. What shadows we are! What fleeting things! What mists! What paintings on a cloud! We can scarcely say that we live; for the moment we begin to live, we begin to die. This earth is not the land of the living. This is a dying world. The living world is beyond death‘s cold river. Here graves are innumerable, and death rules all.

No! That is not true. For there is One who rules death. Death has no power over the living God. Death is His servant. It is through death that we pass into life. By the death of our redeeming Lord, we have been rescued from destruction. From everything that wears the aspect of death, we can turn to Him, Jesus Christ, who is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Heb.13:8).

HT: C.H. Spurgeon Quotes: In light of what happened in Conneticut

Christmas and the gift of election

bethlehem star

Every child of God is the object of eternal love without beginning and without end. This is one of the fat things full of marrow. Is it so, that I, a believer in Jesus, unworthy as I am, am the object of the eternal love of God? What transport lies in that thought! Long before the Lord began to create the world, he had thought of me. Long ere Adam fell or Christ was born, and the angels sung their first choral over Bethlehem’s miracle, the eye and the heart of God were towards his elect people. He never began to love them, they were always “a people near unto him.” Is it not so written, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore, with lovingkindness have I drawn thee”? Some kick at the doctrine of election, but they are ill advised, since they labour to overturn one of the noblest dishes of the feast; they would dam up one of the coolest streams that flow from Lebanon; they would cover over with rubbish one of the richest veins of golden ore that make rich the people of God.

Charles Spurgeon, “Good cheer for Christmas,” The Sermons of Charles Spurgeon, Sermons 401-600 (Vol 3)

Christmas and the provision of the gospel

bethlehem star
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. (Isaiah 25:6)

God, in the verse before us, has been pleased to describe the provisions of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Although many other interpretations have been suggested for this verse, they are all flat and stale, and utterly unworthy of such expressions as those before us. When we behold the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose blood is drink indeed–when we see him offered up upon the chosen mountain, we then discover a fulness of meaning in these gracious words of sacred hospitality, “The Lord shall make a feast of fat things, of fat things full of marrow.” Our Lord himself was very fond of describing his gospel under the selfsame image as that which is here employed. He spoke of the marriage-supper of the king, who said “My oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready;” and it did not seem as if he could even complete the beauty of the parable of the prodigal son without the killing of the fat calf and the feasting and the music and dancing. As a festival on earth is looked forward to and looked back upon as an oasis amid a desert of time, so the gospel of Jesus Christ is to the soul its sweet release from bondage and distress, its mirth and joy.

Charles Spurgeon, “Good cheer for Christmas,” The Sermons of Charles Spurgeon, Sermons 401-600 (Vol 3)

“As thou raises thy hand, may each of us mourn”

praying

“Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as we are so dull and slothful, that though often admonished, we yet consider not our sins, yea, though chastised by thy hand, we yet return not immediately to a right mind, – O grant, that we may hereafter profit more under thy rod, and not he refractory and untractable; but as soon as thou raises thy hand, may each of us mourn, know our own evils, and then, with one consent, surrender ourselves to be ruled by thee; and may we, in the meantime, patiently and calmly endure thy chastisements, and never murmur against thee, but ever aspire to the attainment of true repentance, until, having at length put off all the vices and corruptions of our flesh, we attain to the fulness of righteousness, and to that true and blessed glory which has been prepared for us in heaven by Jesus Christ. Amen.”

John Calvin, “Prayers of John Calvin from his Commentary on Hosea.” (Monergism)

Every sin lodges the seed of punishment

There is never an evil thing which—knowing it to be evil—we commit, which does not rise up to testify against us. As surely as (in the words of our great philosopher poet) ‘lust dwells hard by hate,’ and as surely as to-night’s debauch is followed by to-morrow’s headache, so surely—each after its kind, and each in its own region—every sin lodges in the human heart the seed of a quick-springing punishment, yea, is its own punishment. When we come to grasp the sweet thing that we have been tempted to seize, there is a serpent that starts up amongst all the flowers. When the evil act is done—opposite of the prophet’s roll—it is sweet in the lips, but oh! it is bitter afterwards. ‘At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder!’

Alexander Maclaren, “1 Kings 21:20 Ahab and Elijah,” Sermons on 1 & 2 Kings (Monergism Books)

“Faith reads it all, and gratitude accepts it all”

Jesus-Reaching-Out

The path along which our heavenly Father is conducting us homeward, is a chequered and a varied path. It is paved with stones- precious stones- of many shapes and hues. But faith reads it all, and gratitude accepts it all, as resolved into God’s eternal and unchangeable love. There can be nothing but love in the conduct of Him- mysterious and painful though that conduct may be- who laid our sins, and curse, and condemnation on His beloved Son, wounding, bruising, and putting Him to grief and to death for us. In this light, then, we are to read all His dealings with us, whether they be of judgment or of mercy. Is it judgment? Is the discipline of God with you a discipline of trial, of sorrow, of suffering? Still is He the God of love, and from His love all this discipline of trial springs; and love will control the furnace, and temper the flames, and conduct the whole to so salutary and holy a result as will cause the desert to ring, and heaven to resound with the music of your thanksgiving and praise. “Those whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.”

Octavius Winslow, “The God of Love,” The Works of Octavius Winslow

The fear of death enslaves us, even as we try to ignore it

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

The Bible tells us that in this life and world there is no such thing as final security apart from the message of the gospel. So if we are relying for our final, ultimate happiness upon anybody or anything in this world alone, then we are certain to be disappointed. If our quietness of heart depends—oh, let me put it with almost brutal realism—if we are depending for happiness and joy and a quiet heart, in a final sense, upon any individual human being, upon our family, our home, our profession, our money, our health and strength, we are doomed to experience disappointment.

Every one of these things one day will be taken from us. . . . We come, we go, things come to pass, everything is moving. “Change and decay in all around I see.” Everything is moving and is going to pass.

The Bible also tells us why all that is true. It is true because of sin. It was not meant to be like that, but that is exactly what sin has done. Sin makes us try to be independent of God. It sees to it that we turn our backs upon him and forget him, and as we think we are going to make life in this world last forever, we think we can do without him. But God comes in and says, “Thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17) because of our sin. Then we are afraid! If only we could abolish death, then we would make a perfect world. But the fear of death is the thing that holds all of mankind in its thralldom, even as we try to ignore it.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Let Your Heart Not Be Troubled (Kindle Edition)

Vanity of the world

Jesus-Reaching-Out

God gives his mercies to be spent; your hoard will do your soul no good. Gold is a blessing only lent, repaid by giving others food.

The world’s esteem is but a bribe, to buy their peace you sell your own; the slave of a vainglorious tribe, who hate you while they make you known.

The joy that vain amusements give, oh! sad conclusion that it brings! The honey of a crowded hive, defended by a thousand stings.

‘Tis thus the world rewards the fools that live upon her treacherous smiles: she leads them blindfold by her rules, and ruins all whom she beguiles.

God knows the thousands who go down from pleasure into endless woe; and with a long despairing groan blaspheme the Maker as they go.

Oh fearful thought! be timely wise; delight but in a Saviour’s charms, and God shall take you to the skies, embraced in everlasting arms.

William Cowper

We are moving through, pilgrims and strangers

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Whether we like it or not, life itself has a way of forcing us all to consider what lies beyond it. Perhaps in earlier times life was so leisurely and complacent and quiet that men and women really regarded it as something almost permanent and everlasting. So all their energies and attention were directly to living life in this world, and if you talked about death and the life beyond, that was really unnecessary. But we, in our folly, have turned our backs upon God and the spiritual world, and we are trying to settle down in this earthly life. Suddenly came the world wars that destroyed everything, forcing us to think of the beyond. I cannot but think that such events have been a judgment that we have brought upon ourselves. We are beginning to see some point in considering the whole transitory nature of life in this world.

Now the Bible has always invited us to do that; it has always asked us to start in that way. So let me expound to you now what the Bible has to say about life in this world. It is temporary and transitory. It is nothing but a great journey; the world is something through which we are passing. We, according to the Bible, are but pilgrims and strangers in this world, sojourners. This is put in a classic phrase in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “Here have we no continuing city” (13:14). That is the message of the Bible from beginning to end. We are moving through; we are pilgrims and strangers, travelers.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Let Your Heart Not Be Troubled (Kindle Edition)