Monthly Archives: March 2017
“This is my infirmity!” – Psalm 77:10
The best of men–are but men at best! We all have many remaining corruptions–we are all encompassed with many infirmities. And what effect should the consideration of this humiliating but undoubted truth, produce? Ought it not, among other results, to excite in us a spirit of constant watchfulness?
We are frail creatures–ever liable to fall! And being exposed, in addition, to the wiles of our spiritual adversaries–our danger is considerably greater. It is on our indwelling corruptions that Satan works–and often, alas, with sad success!
In addition to our general infirmities, it is probable that there is some one, or more besetting sins–to which we are particularly liable; in which case it befits us to be doubly on our guard!
“If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts–then rid yourselves of the foreign gods–and the Ashtoreths; and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve Him only–and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” – 1 Samuel 7:3
Samuel exhorts them to rid themselves of the foreign gods–and the Ashtoreths. But was not Ashtareth simply one of the many idols–an idol like all the rest? Would not one specification, therefore, do for all? It appears not. And why? It was because Ashtareth was their favorite idol, after whom they were specially liable to go! So that while they were to put away all their foreign gods–they were to put away their Ashtoreths in particular.
And just so with us. We all have our Ashtareth, of whom, by reason of . . .
the temper of our minds,
or the constitution of our bodies,
or our circumstances in life–
we are in especial danger! And while we are to be on our guard against every sin–our spiritual forces must be mustered against this besetting sin with more than ordinary energy and decision. We are to “lay aside every weight–and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us–looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
Compassed about, then, as we are, with infirmities–some of a more special, and others of a more general nature–we should continually be on our watch-tower! Let us never dream that we are free from danger; for when we imagine that there is the least danger–there may be the greatest!
Reader, remember therefore, and that continually, the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, “Watch and pray–lest you enter into temptation!”
– From “Brief Thoughts for the Followers of Jesus” (1855) by John MacDuff
Without faith, it is impossible to please God. – Hebrews 11:6
I was told that this is the only verse that I need to remember. No matter what my condition is, have faith. The situations may look bleak, but have faith in God. That is the only way to please God. Even if you have faltered, have faith in God – that would be pleasing to God and soon, He will deliver you from your failures. Even in sin, have faith in God. HE may hate your sin, but because you have faith in Him, He will be pleased with you and He will forgive your sins.
Initially such a preaching was very soothing for me. For, I had trouble controlling the lusts of my flesh. Whether it was pride, gluttony, lust of the flesh, arrogance,… okay, it looks like it is going to take a while to end this list, so I am just stopping here… I hope you get the picture. So, this concept of having faith in God, no matter how I live my life, was very pleasing.
Yes, I had sinned, but I have faith in God, so He is pleased with me. That was the argument. Now, looking back at this argument, it sounds so stupid that I had believed in this concept for so long. Oh, please don’t misunderstand me. I still believe that without faith, it is impossible to please God. I may lead the most upright life that a man can live, but if I lead that life without faith in the True and Living God, then I won’t be pleasing Him.
However, the Lord did not lead my life as such. There were moments, despite my faith in Him, I realized that the Lord was not pleased with me. Though my faith was very strong, instead of seeing His smiling face, I saw only the displeased frown of my Father in heaven. It made no sense to me. Yes, yes, I am that naive, trust me. Then the Spirit of the Lord moved me to read this verse.
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:8
Oops… so, I must have faith, but that faith must manifest in the way I live my life in the flesh. Okay, somewhere I missed it in the translation. So, how did I miss this verse for so long? Two mistakes. One, when I read my Bible, I had already filled my mind that, as long as I have faith, I will be pleasing to God. So, when I read that if I am living by flesh, I cannot please God, it never occurred to me, that it is meant for me. Second, I attended a church where the pastor talked for nearly an year about living a life that is pleasing to God. But he would never mention such verses. And for that one year, he never even mentioned the word “faith” in his sermons. It has been always, “Do you honour the Day of God? Do you give your tithes and offering? Do you honour the servants of God? Unless you do these things, God will not be pleased with you.” Now, I get all those three right, so… you see.
But at the end, all these were excuses and excuses. For I was the loser in all these things. Now, I have faith that is pleasing to God, but by the same faith, I also slay the deeds of my flesh. I belong to Christ and hence by faith, I have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). Oh, may the Spirit of God lead me in all truth. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Few days back, I had to endure some severe pain in my body. No medication, no pain killer, nothing worked. I was in tears because of the intensity of the pain. My entire family did not know how to deal with the situation. Though some suggested that I should be admitted to the hospital right away, I was in no condition to travel.
In such a severe pain, I wanted to divert my mind and opened my email, and there was this email I receive daily from gracegems.org, with the title, “HE cannot love you more – and He will not love you less.” As soon as I saw the heading, to be honest, my mind thought that it is going to be a devotional, where it says, God loves you so much and He would deliver you from this affliction… apparently, my mind has become so tuned to this century Christian teaching. But it was a devotional from Spurgeon and it was exactly opposite to what I thought… and it brought tears into my eyes… tears of joy and tears of love. And I surrendered myself, with all the pain and affliction, to the love of God and soon, the pain became tolerable. This is the devotional.
He cannot love you more–and He will not love you less! – Charles Spurgeon
“Having loved His own who were in the world–He loved them to the very end!” – John 13:1
Christian, God’s love to you is always the same. He cannot love you more–and He will not love you less!
Never, when afflictions multiply, when terrors frighten you or when your distresses abound–does God’s love falter or flag. Let the rod fall ever so heavily upon you–the hand that moves, like the heart that prompts the stroke, is full of love! Judge not the Lord by feeble sense–but trust Him for His grace. Whether He brings you down into the depths of misery, or lifts you up into the seventh Heaven of delight–His faithful love never varies or fluctuates–it is everlasting in its continuity!
“His faithful love endures forever!” – Psalm 136:1
“I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love!” – Jeremiah 31:3
“The faithful love of the Lord never ends!” – Lamentations 3:22
Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. – Romans 5:20
Many years back, I was talking to a pastor and when we were talking about the grace of God, he looked straight at me and made a startling statement: “Patrick, I care a lot about my congregation. I don’t want them to go to eternal damnation. So, I never preach them about grace.”
Okay, “startling” is a mild word to express what I felt. Even today, when I think about it, I am not sure if I know the exact word to express how I feel about this statement. Preaching Christ without any mention of grace, at least IMHO, is an impossible task. And isn’t it by grace, we receive salvation?
Anyways, I asked him to explain and he used the above verse, Romans 5:20, to explain why Christian preachers must not speak about grace. Apparently, there are certain “Christian” preachers who say that since grace abounds much more than sin, it is okay for a Christian to continue sinning. Actually there are some preachers who encourage their church members to sin more, so that the grace of our Lord abounds much more. So, this pastor hates the concept of grace, since it leads to a sinful life, and hence does not preach about grace.
Honestly, it left me at a loss of words. Later I came to know about the false doctrine of “hyper-grace”, but that was the first time, I have ever heard that the grace of our Lord was being abused to continue in sin. It is wrong, but it is also wrong not to teach about grace. All both the preachers have to do is to read further. Because the first two verses of the 6th chapter in the Epistle to Romans clearly contradicts the “hyper-grace” doctrine.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? – Romans 6:1-2
If a Christian received the grace of the Lord at Calvary, when he or she realized that while grace is freely given, it cost our Saviour Jesus Christ so much suffering, then they will not continue to sin. Let us go back to Calvary. Let us look at the sufferings and afflictions of our Lord and let us grow in the true grace of our Redeemer, so that we live a holy life – by His grace. Amen.
But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. – Romans 5:20
As I look at Calvary, as I look at the Cross on which my Saviour Jesus Christ was hanging crucified, my first reaction is to turn my face away in abhorrence. Just like how repulsive the Israelites felt when they had to look at the bronze serpent, raised on the stake.
But the more I look at the suffering Servant, the Son of Man who knew grief, I realize what caused all these. My sins. My disobedience. My rebellious nature. My lustful heart. I must be the one who was punished like that. I must be the afflicted one. Then it dawns me, yes, it is true, that I must be the one… but it serves only one purpose. It serves only the Divine Justice. For I richly deserve that punishment. It would have told the world that the Lord our God is righteous.
The more I meditate on the sufferings and death of my Redeemer, suddenly the Holy Spirit whispers in me… it is not just for the “sins” I have committed… but for the “sin” that indwells in me. Jesus Christ did not just carry my “sins”, He became “sin” for me (2 Corinthians 5:21) on the Cross. Sin abounded; the Cross became an emblem of sin – the most repugnant sight on the world.. Yet, the One Who was suffering there was not guilty. Not guilty of anything. Innocence personified. Oh, the Cross is not only about Lord our God is righteous, but it also tells me that He is gracious.
In the obedience of Jesus Christ, the grace of God abounds much more. Much more than I can comprehend. All I can do is humbly bow my head before God our Loving Father, and Jesus Christ, His Son and my Saviour for the grace that abounded. Amen.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away–may the name of the LORD be praised!” – Job 1:21
“Shall we accept good from God–and not trouble?” – Job 2:10
Let the Lord do as He wills to us! He will never be unkind to us! He has always been our friend–He will never be our foe!
He will never put us into the furnace–unless He means to purge the dross out of us. Nor will there be one degree more heat in that furnace than is absolutely necessary–there will always be mercy to balance the misery–and strength supplied to support the burden to be borne.
Oh, children of God, your Father knows best! Leave everything in His hands and be at peace–for all is well.
“I was silent; I would not open my mouth–for You are the one who has done this!” – Psalm 39:9
“He is the LORD; let him do what is good in His eyes!” – 1 Samuel 3:18
“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty–yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” – Habakkuk 3:17-18
– Charles Spurgeon, from gracegems.org
LORD, You have never forsaken those who seek You! – Psalm 9:10
The promise of the Lord never to forsake the soul that trusts in him, looks familiarly and kindly forth upon us, from many a page of Scripture, old and new. But we have here an historical statement to the effect that he has never forsaken them that seek him. This is a bold averment. History is a very large affair. Ten thousand volumes were but a small part of its library. It is startled by the challenge contained in our text; and takes down volume after volume, saying, ” I will easily, with my voluminous records, levy an army of many thousand facts to confound this statement.” Unbelief nods assent, saying, ” The statement needs modification: We have often been forsaken of the Lord.”
The promise is not that we shall always have a sensible manifestation of the Lord. – That we shall always have a soul-gladdening consciousness of his presence. – That we shall always be able to understand his dealings with us. – That we shall be kept from disappointments, and from anguish of spirit.
The promise is not that we shall never be cast into a den of lions; – never into a fiery furnace, – never be a fugitive by the brooks Cherith, or under the juniper tree – never be brought before Nero. Look for the token that the Lord hath not forsaken you, in the right place. Look for it in the den of lions, and you will find it in the form of an angel. Look for it in the burning fiery furnace, and find it in the form of the Son of God. Look at Elijah under the juniper tree. He seems to have been surprised into a loss of faith, when he heard that the queen had sworn to take his life; to have imagined that the Lord had forsaken him; to have fled in dishonourable alarm; and to have cast himself, way-worn and anguish stricken, under the juniper tree, with a feeling that it was about as well to die, seeing that no degree of intimacy with the Lord would secure a man from being forsaken of him. But it was not the Lord that had forsaken him; it was he that had forsaken himself; and this he now discovered. Afterwards the still small voice came, saying, ” The Lord is in me, but thou canst not hear me nor discern
Him, if thou hearken to the voice of an angry queen; it is the privilege of faith to hear me even amid the thunders of God’s most agitated providence.”
– From “Daily Meditations” by George Bowen.
It puzzles me; but, Lord, Thou understandest,
And wilt one day explain this crooked thing.
Meanwhile, I know that it has worked out Thy best–
Its very crookedness taught me to cling.
Thou hast fenced up my ways, made my paths crooked,
To keep my wand’ring eyes fixed on Thee;
To make me what I was not, humble, patient;
To draw my heart from earthly love to Thee.
So I will thank and praise Thee for this puzzle,
And trust where I cannot understand.
Rejoicing Thou dost hold me worth such testing,
I cling the closer to Thy guiding hand.
” Looking unto Jesus” is the secret triumph over the fascinations of the world. And if we habitually so look, then the sweetness that we shall experience will destroy all the seducing power of lesser and earthly sweetness, and the blessing, the light of the sun will dim and all but extinguish the deceitful gleams that tempt us into the swamps where we shall be drowned. Turn away, then, from these things; cleave to Jesus Christ; and though in ourselves we may be as weak as a humming-bird before a snake, or a rabbit before a tiger. He will give us strength, and the light of His face shining down upon us will fix our eyes and make us insensible to the fascinations of the sorcerers. So we shall not need to dread the question, “Who hath bewitched you?” but ourselves challenge the utmost might of the fascinators with the triumphant question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? ”
Help us, O Lord! we beseech Thee, to live near Thee. Turn away our eyes from beholding vanity, and enable us to set the Lord always before us, that we be not moved.
– From “Music For The Soul”, devotion by Alexander MacLaren