The Word

We Do Not Lose Heart

2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 5-6 “Therefore, since we have received this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. … For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” …

My flesh never sleeps. It never takes a break. My struggles never end; if I fought on my own, the flames of sin would consume me in an instant. I echo the words of Paul in Romans 7“For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. … Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” I join with him in joyful thanks to God for the sacrifice of Christ Jesus who redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with lovingkindness and compassion (Psalm 103:4). His sacrifice is the only thing allowing me to persevere through the trials that assail me. Without Him, I would have been forever encompassed in the temptations weighed against my soul.

Those who have repented of their sins and trusted in Christ’s atoning work on the cross know this fact well. How often do we forget, though? How many times do the worries of this world lay hold of our hearts, causing anxiety and fear? These sins are so fundamentally opposed to the truth we claim, yet I see myself and many other Christians continually fall by their hands! Anxiety, namely, is a multi-faceted sin, but one of its severest encroachments upon truth is its expression of unbelief. When I become anxious, I show off a lack of faith in God; the same God who always has been and always will be. The God who told Moses in Exodus 3:14, “I AM WHO I AM,”; the One who created the heavens and the earth, made man and controls all things. When Moses tried to run from the will of God, He rebuked Moses, saying “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” (Exodus 3:11, 12) More than these, anxiety contradicts our faith in the One who made us alive together with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions! (Ephesians 2:5) We know that if He has the power and love to deliver us from His all-consuming wrath, He has the strength to uphold us through any circumstance we encounter.

Anxiety is ultimately pride, for when we attain this form of doubt, our actions are screaming that we are not content with God’s sovereignty in our circumstances. 1 Peter 5:6, 7 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you.” We must humble ourselves to receive our circumstances in a godly manner, offering all of our worries up to the Lord, because out of care, He will comfort us.

Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” 

Isaiah 35: 3, 4 “Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will have His vengeance; the recompense of God will come, but He will save you.”

On a closely related topic, the Lord has lately been teaching me what it means to persevere through trials I have brought about my own sin of idolatry. I have had to battle my flesh as it has risen within me time and time again. By His grace, I have been able to overcome and persevere through this temptation. I have been comforted throughout this time by Jesus’ words in John 14:1, 3, 15-16; 15:4-5, 9-11 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. … If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also. … If you love Me you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, the He may be with you forever. … 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. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. … Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be made full in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

The Greek word for “abide” is also translated as “remain”, “endure”, and others. Jesus has told us that apart from Him, in our flesh, we can do nothing of eternal value. I persevere because of the cross. He has sacrificed Himself for my debt, and calls me to abide in His love. He calls me to serve Him no matter how difficult life becomes, no matter how much pain, heart-brake, trials and persecutions I must endure. Paul served as a perfect example of this, as he endured more than any of us will ever know for the sake of Christ. Concerning the thorn in the flesh that the Lord gave Paul, he wrote “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with  distresses,  with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul suffered so much for the sake of the gospel, yet he endured it all! I should be ashamed if I complain or become anxious about any struggle I might have, for Paul did not become anxious but endured all forms of persecution! Never should I say that a specific situation or setting caused me to sin, for Christ has given me the power to persevere. Romans 8:37 “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

His grace is sufficient; for this reason I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, knowing that the testing of my faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that I may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing  (Philippians 3:14, James 1:3,4 emphasis added). I persevere because I know it pleases my Lord, and He will bless me for it. (James 1:12) I must become a man and do away with childish things, as I persevere in Christ through my life on this earth (1 Corinthians 13:11, 12). I must bear my yoke as a son of God, as in Lamentations 3:27-32 “It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone and be silent since He has laid it on him. Let him put his mouth in the dust, perhaps there is hope. Let him give his cheek to the smiter, let him be filled with reproach. For the Lord will not reject forever, for if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to his abundant lovingkindness.”

In the end, I must imitate Paul as he imitated Christ. Since I have the ministry of furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ for the sake of His Kingdom and His rule, I will endure. I finish by quoting the ever faithful Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.”

Advertisements
Standard
Puritan Prayers - The Valley of Vision

God And Myself – The Valley Of Vision

A couple mornings ago, I ended my devotions with a prayer from The Valley Of Vision. This prayer, like many other Puritan works, switches in focus between our depravity and praise for the Lord. Many times when reading the writings of the Puritans, all I can do is ask the Lord to grant me sincerity in my walk with Him. Grant me a love that is and remains true; a 2 John 6 love- And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments.  If I do not obey my God and Father consistently, I cannot say I love Him. If others cannot examine my life and grasp an assurance of Christ’s existence – and moreover, His love – I should not claim His name. Yet, it is by God’s grace alone, that He enables me and others to present this very image with our lives. Praise be to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for His grace, love, and continual faithfulness!

God And Myself

 Lord God Almighty,

Thy understanding is unsearchable and infinite,

Thy arm cannot be stayed,

Thy agency extends through limitless space,

All works hang on thy care,

With thee time a present now.

Holy is thy wisdom, power, mercy, ways, works.

How can I stand before thee

with my numberless and aggravated offences?

I have often loved darkness,

observed lying vanities,

forsaken thy given mercies,

trampled underfoot the beloved Son,

mocked thy providences,

flattered thee with my lips,

broken thy covenant.

It is of thy compassion that I am not consumed.

Lead me to repentance, and save me from despair,

Let me come to thee renouncing, condemning,

loathing myself, (my sin)

but hoping in the grace that flows

even to the chief of sinners.

At the cross may I contemplate the evil of sin,

and abhor it,

look on Him whom I pierced,

as one slain for me, and by me.

May I never despise His death by fearing

its efficacy for my salvation.

And whatever cross I am required to bear,

let me see Him carrying a heavier.

Teach me in health to think of sickness,

in the brightest hours to be ready for darkness;

in life prepare me for death.

Thus may my soul rest in thee, O immortal

and transcendent One,

revealed as thou art in the Person and work

of thy Son,

the Friend of sinners.

Standard
Struggles, The Word

I was going to make a post on this same subject, but I agree with everything Sierra has said. I have very little to add, as this is basically an echo of my own thoughts. J.C. Ryle spoke well in reference to pride and humility – “Remember how often Scripture sets before us the excellence of a humble spirit. How strongly we are warned “not to think of (ourselves) more highly than (we) ought to think!” (Rom. 12:3) How plainly we are told, “If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know!” (1 Cor. 8:2). How strict is the command, “Put on humbleness of mind!”(Col. 3:12). And again, “Be clothed with humility” (1 Pet. 5:5). Sadly, this is a garment of which many seem not to have so much as a scrap.” – J.C. Ryle was very insightful in regards to pride. So, we know we are to practice humility; how do we do this? Where should we look? Christ Himself was the perfect example of humility. It was His defining characteristic when He was on earth. In Philippians 2:3-8, Paul speaks to this, saying: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” The glorious Lord Jesus Christ, whose image we are to always be conforming to, is the complete and perfect example of selflessness, obedience, and humility. We cannot honor God without humility, for actions seemingly God-glorifying will only be tainted by impure motives of self-righteousness; pride, the very sin that cast Lucifer from the presence of God.

As Sierra said, when the Lord blesses us, we are to boast in Him, and Him alone. It is our responsibility to do so, and we should at all times, especially in suffering. Paul speaks of this in 2 Corinthians 11:21-33. In verse 30, he says, “If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.” Boast only of the sufferings and trials Christ has placed in your life, and by His grace, allowed and strengthened you to conquer. Please read and consider Sierra’s post. Examine yourself; where does pride exist in your heart? In what ways does it manifest itself in your life? For it does, the reader can be sure of that.

Anchored Soul

Psalm 34:1b-3, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul will make its boast in the Lord; the humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”

2 Corinthians 10:17-18, “But He who boasts is to boast in the Lord. For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.”  

Who am I, a sinner ravaged by selfishness and pride, that God would look upon me with grace and magnanimous favor? All that I am, God has given. And yet, have I learned to boast in Him for His blessings? When will my heart glory in the only One worth bragging about? Boasting. My heart will always boast. But in whom is the question to be answered…

God is reminding me that He is the only…

View original post 414 more words

Standard
Puritan Prayers - The Valley of Vision

The Love of Jesus – The Valley of Vision

I have recently begun to read Puritan prayers from the collection, The Valley of Vision, and I have been greatly encouraged by them.  The Puritans who truly believed in Christ, those who had truly repented, lived mildly ascetic lifestyles, dedicated to glorifying God in thoughts and actions. This prayer in particular shook me to the very core, as it illustrated the beautiful love relationship I have with my Savior.  I desire to love Him so much more, and this prayer words that desire in a completely elegant way.

The Love of Jesus

 

O Father of Jesus,

Help me to approach thee with deepest reverence,

not with presumption,

not with servile fear, but with holy boldness.

Thou art  beyond the grasp of my understanding,

but not beyond that of my love.

Thou knowest that I love thee supremely,

for thou art supremely adorable, good, perfect.

 

My heart melts at the love of Jesus,

my brother, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh,

married to me, dead for me, risen for me;

He is mine and I am His,

given to me as well as for me;

I am never so much mine as when I am His,

or so much lost to myself until lost in Him;

then I find my true manhood.

 

But my love is frost and cold, ice and snow;

Let His love warm me,

lighten my burden,

be my heaven;

May it be more revealed to me in all its influences

that my love to Him may be more fervent

and glowing;

Let the mighty tide of His everlasting love

cover the rocks of my sin and care;

Then let my spirit float above those things

which had else wrecked my life.

 

Make me fruitful by living to that love,

my character becoming more beautiful every day.

If traces of Christ’s love-artistry be upon me,

me He work on with His divine brush

until the complete image be obtained

and I be made a perfect copy of Him,

my Master.

 

O Lord Jesus, come to me,

O Divine Spirit, rest upon me,

O Holy Father, look on me in mercy,

for the sake of the well-beloved.

Yes, Father, perfect me into a perfect copy of Him, my Master.

Standard
Psalms, The Word

Psalm 145

Psalm 145 has recently become one of my favorite psalms, as it was written to praise God, and does so elegantly. This psalm extols the Lord for His attributes, His acts, His power, and His blessings. This is the conclusion of the 73 psalms of David, and grand it is. A couple of my favorite verses are:  “6 Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, and I will tell of Your greatness. 7 They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness and will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.”

Psalm 145

1 I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.

2 Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.

3 Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.

4 One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.

5 On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.

6 Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts,
And I will tell of Your greatness.

7 They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness
And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.

8 The LORD is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.

9 The LORD is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.

10 All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD,
And Your godly ones shall bless You.

11 They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom
And talk of Your power;

12 To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts
And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.

14 The LORD sustains all who fall
And raises up all who are bowed down.

15 The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time.

16 You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.

17 The LORD is righteous in all His ways
And kind in all His deeds.

18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.

19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.

20 The LORD keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.

Standard