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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Heading for Heaven # 21

The Sure Hope

But we may not linger here. We read, "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more." They shall have no more wants and necessities; they shall no longer stand in need of daily application for the bread of life, and find their souls starving in the wilderness of this world; they shall not walk as pilgrims trembling lest their spiritual food should not support them, and thirsting after a fuller draught of the water of life; but they shall find that prophecy made good, "When I awake up after Thy likeness, I shall be satisfied." But again, "the sun shall not light on them, nor any heat." There shall be no more trial and persecution. There shall not be one reviling tongue nor one ensnaring temptation. The mockers and the flatterers and the scoffers shall be silent for ever, the fiery darts of the wicked will all be quenches; there will be nothing to mar and disturb the Christian's peace. The time will have come at last when he may rest; he will be far above the scene of his old conflicts, and the strife shall never be renewed.

But what is the crowning privilege? "the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." The Lord Jesus Christ Himself shall minister to their comforts; the same kind hand which raised them from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, which healed their spiritual diseases, and brought them health and peace, and made them new creatures upon earth, the same hand shall welcome them in heaven, and conduct them as highly favored guests to a banquet of happiness, such as eye hath not seen, neither can it enter into the heart of man to conceive. Time was when He sought them out as wandering sheep in the wilderness of this world, and made them members of His little flock by the renewing of the Holy Spirit, and refreshed their weary, heavy laden souls with the water of life. And the same Jesus who began the good work in the days of the  tribulation upon earth, the same Good Shepherd shall complete the work in heaven. Here they have tasted something of the steams, a little trembling company, from north and south, east and west, but there they will be gathered around the fountain itself, and there will be one fold and one shepherd, one heart and one mind, and none shall make them afraid. And then there shall be no more weeping, for "God Himself shall wipe away all tears." A dwelling-place in which there shall be no weeping! I know no part of heaven more difficult to imagine. We live in a world of sorrow, a very vale of tears; tears for ourselves and tears for others, tears over our own shortcomings, tears over the unbelief of those we love, tears over disappointed hopes, tears over the graves of those on whom our affections are set, and all because of sin: there would have been no sorrow if Adam had never fallen, but our very weeping is a proof of sin.

Yet it shall not always be so: a day is still to come when sadness shall flee away, and God Himself shall say, Refrain thy voice from weeping, for the former things are passed away. There shall be no sadness in heaven, for there shall be no sin; the days of our tribulation shall be forgotten; we shall be able at last to love our God without coldness, to reverence His holiness without torment, to trust Him without despair, to serve Him without weariness, without interruption, without distraction; the days of weakness and corruption will be past, and we shall be like unto our Lord in holiness as well as happiness, in purity as well as immortality.

And now, beloved, let me ask you what is the purpose for which the Church of God has been established upon earth, and ministers have been appointed to watch for your souls? What is the object of Bibles and Sacraments, and prayer and preaching? Is it not simply this, that you may be numbered with the saints in glory everlasting, that you may enjoy those blessings you have heard described?

Then search and see what solemn questions spring out of my text. Have you taken up the Cross? Are you denying yourself? Do you know anything of this spiritual tribulation? be very sure except you will declare yourself decidedly on the Lord's side, and fight His battle with the fashion of the world, and the lusts of the flesh, and the wiles of the devil; you will never stand before the throne in robes of white an carry the palm of victory in your hand.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 22)


"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12

Does God work miracles today, or did all miracles cease with the last of the apostles? This is a question that has occupied theologians for many years. I counter with my own question: "Is God dead?" A miracle is a supernatural happening. If God is still alive and still working, then there will be supernatural happenings. Therefore, the days of miracles cannot be over.

Salvation is a miracle. The rich young ruler, who came to Jesus seeking the way of salvation, finally went away sorrowful. Jesus turned to His disciples and said, "It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." The puzzled disciples replied, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus answered, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:23-26).

If a miracle is achieving something that is humanly impossible, then salvation is a miracle because it is humanly impossible for man or woman to save himself or herself. So to say that the days of miracles are over would be to deny that people can be saved today. Let’s thank God that the days of miracles are not over; He is still in the business of working miracles.
Do you believe that God is the same today, yesterday and forever? If so, then pray for the impossible and believe that Jesus is still working miracles today. Put your faith in action and ask the Lord to use you in amazing ways.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Heading for Heaven # 20

The Sure Hope

This is the way you must walk in, if you would ever stand with them in glory. You must lay aside all pride and self-dependence, you must use the publican's prayer, you must believe yourself a miserable undeserving sinner, you must lay hold on the Cross of Christ with a simple childlike faith, and pray that you may be washed in His blood and pardoned for His name's sake. Show me another way of salvation which will bring you peace at the last; I cannot find one in the Bible. I hear of men who live on many a long year without a thought about this precious washing in Christ's blood, this precious garment of Christ's righteousness, and yet can tell us they trust it will be all right with them at last; but I never hear that it is right, and if the Bible be true it is impossible. I see many who profess a belief in their need of this fountain for sin and uncleanness, but I fear they do no more than talk about it, they do not count all things loss until they are forgiven. But whether men will receive the doctrine or not, the foundation of God standeth sure, and though the saints of God do form a multitude which none can number, I cannot read of one who had not washed his robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

III. The third and last part of my text is that which describes the reward of the redeemed: "they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Here is a list of privileges; you have heard of tribulation, but it leads, you see, to comfort; you have heard of the Cross, but the end is indeed a crown.

Now we can tell you something of the affliction of God's children, for we are able to speak that we know; but when we have to treat of the glory which shall be revealed, we are on ground which human eye hath not seen, and we must be careful not to go beyond what is written.

The saints "shall serve God day and night." There  shall be no weariness in heaven; there shall be no earthly labors to distract our attention. Her, alas! the cares of the world are continually breaking in, and these poor frail bodies of ours do often tie us down to the earth by their weakness, even when the spirit is willing. We may be on the mount for a short season sometimes, but our powers are soon exhausted; but there we shall have no wandering thoughts, no distractions, no bodily wants, we shall never faint. How little indeed do we worship God in spirit and in truth; at our very best moments, how cold and dull we feel towards our blessed Redeemer, how willing to allow any excuse for shortening our prayers and diminishing our communion with our Father which is in heaven; but they that stand before the throne of God shall feel no fatigue, they will require no repose, they will count it their highest privilege to be continually singing the song of Moses and the Lamb, and saying, "Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."

But let us read on. "He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them". They shall no longer walk by faith, and see through a glass darkly, they shall see face to face the God in whom they have believed, and behold His countenance as that of a familiar friend. They shall have no more dark seasons, they shall never feel that their beloved Lord is at a distance, they shall never tremble lest they compel Him to withdraw Himself by their lack of service, but they shall see Him as He is, and be for ever at His side. And if, while groaning in their body of sin, the Christian finds such peace and comfort in drawing nigh to God in prayer - if even in the flesh he has tasted that it is a joyful thing to pour out his heart before the  throne of mercy - oh! who shall describe his blessedness when he shall find himself for ever in his Redeemer's presence, and shall be told, It is finished, thou shalt no more go out? It is a pleasant thing to have the company of those we love: our very earthly happiness is incomplete while those who have the keys of our affection, the husband, the wife, the brother, the sister, the friends who are as our own souls, are far away; but there shall be no such incompleteness in heaven; there we shall have the presence of our glorious Lord before our eyes, who loved us and gave Himself for us, and paid the price of our salvation, even His own blood, and the Scripture shall be fulfilled which saith, "In Thy presence there is fullness of joy, and at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 21)

Drawing From the Source

For us as believers, contentment should be governed by inner attitude and the decisions we make rather than by external circumstances. Because Paul had learned this secret, he was able to experience joy and peace in any kind of situation--whether he was surrounded by friends or isolated in a Roman prison; whether he had plenty or was in great need.

The apostle understood what it meant to live in Christ and to have Christ living in him (John 15:1-9; Gal. 5:22-23). He had made a simple but profound faith decision to draw his life from the Lord and, as a result, had the calm assurance that what he possessed inside could never be stolen. He was confident in his identity as a child of the Almighty, with full access to the abundant life Jesus offers.

I want to challenge you--this week, when something threatens to steal your contentment, choose to draw from God; decide to stop drawing from other sources and trying to be in control. When you find yourself becoming flustered, anxious, or angry, stop and say, "Lord, You are my source, and I draw from You the capacity to be kind. I draw from You the forgiveness I need to extend right now. I draw from You the love I need to express." This decision is a matter of simple trust.

Watch and see how God will quiet your spirit and provide confidence when you draw only from Him as your source. You'll be surprised at your own attitude: when you respond from within--rather than from the flesh--Jesus will give you the ability to respond as He would.

~Charles Stanley~

Friday, June 28, 2013

Heading for Heaven # 19

[This is the most interesting explanation of trials and suffering that I have ever seen. I pray that you will all read this carefully and understand thoroughly. Thank you! The Shepherd's Disciple]

The Sure Hope - Revelation 7:14-17

This seems a hard saying, but I would have you know these trials are laid on us for the most wise and merciful purposes. We live in such a fair and pleasant world, we are so surrounded with so much that is smiling an gay, that if we were not often obliged to taste of sickness an trial or disappointments, we should forget our heavenly home, and pitch our tents over against this Sodom. Therefore it is that God's people pass through great tribulations; therefore it is they are often called upon to suffer the sting of affliction and anxiety, or weep over the grave of those whom they have loved as their own soul. It is their Father's hand which chastens them; it is thus He weans their affection from things below and fixes them on Himself; it is thus He trains them for eternity, and cuts the threads one by one which bind their wavering hearts to earth. No doubt such chastening is grievous for the time, but still it brings many a hidden grace to light, and cuts down many a secret seed of evil; and we shall see those who have suffered most shining among the brightest stars in the assembly of heaven. The purest gold is that which has been longest in the refiner's furnace. The brightest diamond is often that which has required the most grinding and polishing. But our light affliction endureth but for a moment, and it worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; the saints are men who have come out of great tribulation, they are never left to perish in it; the last night of weeping will soon be spent, the last wave of trouble will have rolled over us, and then we shall have a peace which passeth all understanding; we shall be at home for ever with the Lord.

I repeat, this seems at first sight a hard saying; and yet t is a true one. Count up the enemies which encompass the children of God, - the world with its unkindnesses or its snares and seductions, the flesh with its unceasing backwardness and indifference to the Lord's service, the devil with his arts and devices, - and see whether you could give a more correct picture of the saints' experience than may be found in the words, "these are they which came out of great tribulation." An unconverted man may not understand this, and a thoughtless man may not consider it; they neither know nor care about this spiritual conflict; it is foolishness to them, but they that are born again, and have learned the value of their own souls, can set to their seals that it is all true.

II.  The second question rising out of the text is this: "How did these shining ones reach that blessed place where John saw them?" Think not it was their own righteousness which brought salvation, and their own strength which upheld them: the cross will surely lead to the crown, but the cross will never deserve it; not all the tears which they had shed, not all the patience they have shown in tribulation, could ever avail to make atonement for transgression, or wash away one single sin. What says the apostle? "They have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." They have not been ashamed to acknowledge their iniquities, and they have laid them all before the Lord Jesus Christ, and for His Cross and passion, and for His righteousness' sake they have sought a free forgiveness, and they have found it. Lay this to heart, all ye that are wise in your own eyes and holy in your own sight. No doubt there were prophets and righteous men of old, men who had wrought miracles and given their bodies to be burned, men who had been valiant for the truth even unto death, in that great multitude which John beheld; but none came boasting of his own attainments and clothed in his own apparel, - they were all washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb.

And lay this well to heart, all ye that are pressed down with the burden of your sins, if any such there be, and dare not lift up your eyes to heaven. No doubt there were sinners before God exceedingly in that company, many who had been publicans and harlots, the very filth of the earth and offscouring of all things, and yet they found a place of forgiveness and, behold they are washed, and white as the driven snow. They were in a world of tribulation like yourselves, but they found time to listen to the report of God's ministers, and when they listened they believed; they did not thing scorn of the goodly land before them; they did not make light of their Master's invitations, but they loathed themselves for their past transgressions and forgetfulness, and with earnest supplication and prayer sought to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world, and no sooner did they knock than the door was opened. They were not content with hearing of this fountain for sin and uncleanness, like many of yourselves, and talking of it as a thing to be admired, and very useful for others; they did not sit beside the pool of Bethesda without endeavoring to step in, but they cried, "Lord, have mercy, wash me, even me also," and so they were washed, they were sanctified, they were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God; they obtained a free pardon, and their iniquities were all taken out of the way. By nature they were as weak and timid and sinful and shortcoming as any among yourselves, - there is not a danger or an obstacle or a doubt or a discouragement  in any of your minds with which they were not familiar, - and yet they were all saved by the free grace of God, they were washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb, they were more than conquerors through Him that loved them. Around that throne you would find many who used to be the vilest of the vile. Go up, and ask them, every one, "How did you come hither? whence got you that white robe?" They will answer you, "We were once a generation without God in the world, without light and without hope, we cared for nothing but fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind, we were known as drunkards and revilers and fornicators; many a time we hardened our hearts against advice; many a careless neighbor did we follow to the grave, and tempted God to cut us off by continued impenitence; but at last our conscience spoke so loudly that we dared no longer delay; we tried to keep God's law, but we could not answer it one in a thousand, it brought us to flat despair; we made a great profession, and men said we were converted; but it would not do - sin lay upon us like a mountain, all unatoned for, and we were miserable. But we heard a voice, saying, 'If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink,' - He that believeth on Me, though he were dead yet shall he live. 'Come unto Me and I will give you rest,' and when we heard it, we went at once to the Lord Jesus Christ, we waited for nothing, we laid all our sorrows and all our wickedness before Him, and, behold, that very day we were healed and made whole, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing." Such is the answer you would get from many in that company which the apostle saw.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 20)

The Secret of Contentment

In today's reading, the apostle Paul says he has learned the secret of experiencing contentment in all circumstances, good or bad. Does it surprise you that he wrote this when he was in prison, unsure of his future?

We're often discontent even when all is going well. Consequently, we wonder how it's possible to be truly content during our most difficult trials, especially when there's no end in sight. So what is genuine contentment? Paul is speaking of a freedom from worry and frustration about everything in life--even unfulfilled desires.

It's usually when we cannot control or change our situation that we feel discontentment. As long as our satisfaction depends on whether certain things actually work out, we'll allow circumstances to cheat us out of peace. I'm not saying there's some spiritual stage where you will never again experience anxiety or frustration. But what matters is how we respond when those feelings grip us.

This is something that the apostle had to learn. Paul endured amazing suffering, from shipwrecks and hunger to unjust imprisonment and beatings (2 Cor. 11:24-30). He had gone through countless situations that were uncertain, extraordinarily painful, and seemingly hopeless. But he finally discovered that contentment could not be dependent upon his circumstances.

How do you respond when circumstances are out of your control? Do you get angry? Do you try to escape? Does despair make you want to give up? Paul chose to give his anxieties to Jesus in exchange for peace that "surpasses all comprehension" (Phil. 4:7). That same peace is available to you!

~Charles Stanley~

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Heading for Heaven # 18

The Sure Hope

Revelation 7:14-17

This is a very glorious account, and yet we need not wonder, for it was a vision of heavenly things: you may call it a short glimpse within the veil which separated this world from the world to come. We read in the verses before our text, that the apostle John saw in the spirit a great multitude which no man could number, clothed with white robes, and bearing palms in their hands, standing before the throne and before the Lamb: and not knowing himself who or what these might be, he received information from one of the elders or chief angels, and was told in the words you have heard, that these were the blessed company of all faithful people, the redeemed out of every nation and kindred and tongue, the true children of God, the heirs of everlasting salvation.

I propose this morning to consider fully the account which this elder gave. I counsel you, beloved, to search and see what you know of it in your own selves. The  day shall come when the sun shall become black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon shall become as blood, and the stars of heaven shall fall unto the earth, and they who are strangers to the character described in our text shall find it had been better for them if they had never been born. Blessed are they who are not ashamed to confess that they seek a more abiding city than this world, even a heavenly one, and count all things loss if they can only win Christ and be found in Him.

Now there are three points to be examined in our text.

I. First, where did these saints come from whom John saw.

II. Second, how they had been able to reach the place where he saw them.

III. Third, and last, what was their reward.

I. First, then, we learn that God's saints have come out of great tribulation - that is, they have come out of a world full of sin and danger, a world in which they have so much to encounter which is hurtful to their souls that you may truly call it a place of great tribulation. How strange that seems! This earth so fair and lovely as it appears, is full of everything to make life enjoyable, this earth on which millions do set all their affections and have not a thought beyond it, is a wilderness beset with trials and difficulties to every true believer. Write this down on the tablet of your memory, that if you make up your mind to follow Christ and have your soul saved, you will sooner or later have to go through tribulation.

Brethren why are these things so? Because the world you live in is a fallen world, the devil is the prince of it, and by far the greater part of the men and women on it have shut their eyes and given themselves up to his service. Once become a follower of Christ, you will see iniquity abounding on every side, you will see your blessed Saviour's laws trampled under foot, you will find the immense majority of those around you to be spiritually dark, sleeping and dead - some altogether thoughtless, some resting on a form of godliness without the power; and if you love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, to see your Redeemer thus despised will make the world a place of tribulation.

But this is not all. The earthly-minded, the thoughtless, will never let you hold on your way in peace. Oh no! You are condemning their practices and fashions, you are a witness against their deadness and neglect of religion; and so if you set your face towards Zion they will try to turn you back. Perhaps it will be laughter, perhaps it will be hard words; one day they will accuse you of pride, another of self-conceit; sometimes they will annoy you with arguments, sometimes they will avoid your company; but, one way or another, you will soon discover that the worldly-minded will never let you go quietly to heaven. You cannot please them. You may exercise yourself like Paul to have a conscience void of offence towards all men; it matters not, you cannot serve the Lord and Mammon, and if you walk with God, you will find your way is spoken against by nearly all.

And then there is your own heart - deceitful, treacherous, and cold - the flesh lusting against the spirit and the spirit warring with the flesh; your readiness to make excuses, your deadness in the use of means, your wandering thought in prayer, your lack of faith in sorrow, your presumptuous self-confidence in joy. O Christian, you have an enemy within which needs your constant watchfulness; you have a fountain of trials in your own breast; you will have daily occasion to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts. And add to this those cares which you have in common with all children of Adam - sickness, disease and pain, the loss of property, the unkindness of friends, the daily toil for a livelihood, the fear of want, the many nameless causes of anxiety which every week almost brings around, and say whether it be not true that all God's people come out of great tribulation. They must deny themselves, they must take up the cross, they must reckon on many a trial, if they would enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Mark well, beloved, this truth - the path to glory has been always filled with thorns; it is the experience of all those holy men and women who have left us an example that we should walk in their steps: Abraham, and Jacob, and Moses, and David, and Job, and Daniel, there was not one of them who was not perfected through sufferings.

We are all too much disposed to think a time may come when we shall have a season of repose and not be harassed with these vexations and disappointments. Almost every one supposes he is tried more than his neighbors; but let us not be deceived - this earth is not our rest; it is a place for working, not for sleeping. Here is the reason that so many run well for a time, and seem to have the love of Christ in their hearts, and yet, when persecution or affliction ariseth for the word's sake, they are offended. They had not counted the cost; they had reckoned on the reward without the labor; they had forgotten this most important point in the character of God's saints - "they are men and women who have come out of great tribulation."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19)

Seeking God's Kingdom First

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. - Matthew 6:33

When Christians think like the world and crave things in the world, they will worry like the world, because a mind not focused on God is a mind that has cause to worry. The faithful, trusting, and reasonable Christian is “anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [lets his] requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).

The antidote to worry that results in contentment is to make God and His kingdom your priority. Jesus is saying, “Rather than seeking and worrying about food, drink, and clothing like unbelievers do, focus your attention and hopes on the things of the Lord, and He will take care of all your needs.”

Seeking God’s kingdom means losing ourselves in obedience to the Lord and pouring out our lives in the eternal work of our heavenly Father. To seek God’s kingdom is to seek to win people into that kingdom that they might be saved and God might be glorified.

We are also to seek His righteousness. Instead of longing after the things of this world, we ought to hunger and thirst for the things of the world to come, which are characterized above all else by God’s perfect righteousness and holiness. We not only are to have heavenly expectations but also holy lives: “What sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:11–12).

Ask Yourself

Seeking first the kingdom can be little more than a mental slogan for us until we define what this means in real-life, everyday terms. Spend some time today focusing on what a kingdom priority looks like at home, at work, at church, at the gym, at the market, in all the places your routine takes you.

~John MacArthur~

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Heading for Heaven # 17

Ready and Waiting

And now, brethren, it only remains for me to close this sermon by three words of application, which seem to me to arise naturally out of the parable of which I have been speaking. I heartily pray God to bless them to your souls, and to make them words in season.

1. My first word of application shall be a question. I take the parable of the ten virgins in my hands, and I address that question to everybody here present. I ask, "Are you ready?" Remember the words of the Lord Jesus: "they that were ready went in with the bridegroom to the marriage," - they were ready and none else. Now here, in the sight of God, I ask you every one, "Is this your case?" "Are you ready?"

I do not ask whether you are a Churchman and make a profession of religion; I do not ask whether you sit under an evangelical ministry, and like evangelical people, and can talk of evangelical things. All this is the surface of Christianity, and may be easily attained. I want to search your heart more deeply by far. I want to know whether grace is in your heart, and the Holy  Spirit. I want to know whether you are ready to meet the Bridegroom, ready for Christ's return. I want to know, if the Lord should come this week, whether you could lift up your head with joy, and say, "This is our God; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation."

Ah! some will be saying, "This is far too high a standard. This is requiring far too much. This is extravagance. This is a hard saying: who can bear it?" I cannot help it. I believe it is the standard of the Bible; I believe it is the standard Peter sets before us when he tells us to be "looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God"; I believe it is the mark at which every believer should be continually aiming, to be found ready to meet Christ.

I want no man to become a hermit and cease to do his duty in the world; I call on no one to leave his lawful calling or neglect his earthly affairs. But I do call on every one to live like one who expects Christ to return, to live like a pilgrim and stranger, to live ever looking unto Jesus and leaning on Jesus, to live like a good servant with his loins girded and his lamp burning, to live like one whose treasure is in heaven and best things yet to come, with his heart packed up and ready to be gone. Now, is this too much to ask? I say decidedly that it is not.

Now, are you ready in this way? If not, I would like to know what good your religion does you. A religion that does not make a man ready for anything is a religion that may well be looked on with suspicion. If your religion does not make you ready, its source is not derived from the Bible.

2. My second word of application shall be an invitation. I address it to every one who feels in his conscience that he has no grace in his heart, - to every one who feels that the character of the foolish virgin is his own. To all such I give an invitation this day: I invite you to "awake."

You know, many of you, that your hearts are not right in the sight of God. In the broadest, fullest sense you are asleep - not merely asleep about the doctrine of Christ's second advent, but asleep about everything that concerns your souls. You are wide-awake perhaps about temporal things; you read the newspapers, it may be, and have your head stored with earthly wisdom and useful knowledge. But you have no heart-felt sense of sin, no peace and friendship with God, no experimental acquaintance with Christ, no delight in the Bile and prayer; and what is all this but being asleep?

How long is this to go on? When do you mean to arise and live as if you had a soul? When will you cease to hear as those who hear not? When will you give up running after shadows and seek something substantial? When will you throw up the mockery of a religion that cannot satisfy, cannot comfort, cannot sanctify, cannot save, and will not bear a calm examination? When will you give up having a faith which does not influence your practice - having a book which you say is God's word, but do not use - having the name of Christian, but knowing nothing of Christ? Oh! when shall it once be?

Why not this very year? Why not this very day? Why not awake and call upon your God, and resolve that you will sleep no longer? I set before you an open door. I set before you Jesus the Saviour who died for sinners on the Cross, Jesus able to save to the uttermost, Jesus willing to receive. God to Him first and foremost if you would know what step to take. Go to Him in prayer and cry, "Lord, save me or I perish; I am weary of sleeping - I would fain sleep no longer." Oh! "awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."

Sun and moon and stars are all witnessing against you; they fill their place in creation, and you do not. Sabbaths and ordinances are witnessing against you: they are all proclaiming there is a God, there is a judgment, and you are living as if there were none. The tears and prayers of godly relations are witnessing against you: others are sorrowfully thinking you have a soul, though you seem to forget it. The very gravestones you walk past are witnessing against you; they are silently whispering, "Life if short and death is near," all, all are saying, "Awake! awake! awake!" Oh, brethren, the time past may surely suffice you to have slept. Awake to be wise, awake to be safe, awake to be happy. Awake, and sleep no more.

3. My last word of application shall be an exhortation to all who have the oil of grace in their hearts. I draw it from he words of our Lord at the end of the parable. I exhort you to "watch."

I exhort you to watch against everything which might interfere with a readiness for Christ's appearing. Watch against inconsistencies of walk, watch against besetting sins, watch against the harm of false doctrine, watch against formality in the use of spiritual things, watch against slothfulness about the Bible and private prayer. Backsliding begins from within. Watch against bitterness and uncharitableness: a little love weighs more than many gifts. Watch against pride and self-conceit: Peter said, "Though all men deny Thee, yet will not I"; and presently fell. Watch against the sin of Galatia, Ephesus, and Laodicea: believers may run well for a season, then lose their first love, and then become lukewarm. Watch against the sin of Jehu: a man may have great zeal from false motives. It is a much easier thing to oppose antichrist than to follow Christ.

Brethren, believers, let us all watch, and watch more every year we live.

Let us watch for the world's sake. We are the book they chiefly read; they watch our ways. Oh! let us strive to be plain epistles of Christ.

Let us watch for our own sakes. As our walk is, so will be our peace; as our conformity to Christ's mind, so will be our sense of Christ's atoning blood. If a man will not walk in the full light of the sun, how can he expect to be warm?

And, not least, let us watch for our Lord's sake. Let us live as if His honor was concerned in our behaviour; let us live as if every slip and fall was a wound to our Head. Oh! let us exercise a godly jealously for thought, word, and action - motive, manner, and walk. Never never let us fear being too strict. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples."

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 18 - "The Sure Hope")

Rejoicing In God's Mercy

We all are familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son. After he had wasted his inheritance, he came to his senses and returned home, hoping he could just be a servant to his father.
His father wouldn't even consider it. He put the best robe on him, put a ring on his finger, sandals on his feet, and then had the fatted calf killed for a party. The father delighted in showing mercy to his son!

But what about the older brother? He stood outside the party and wouldn't come in to celebrate. He was so angry! He had never messed up and yet his father had never thrown him a party!

Sometimes, if we are not careful, we can have the attitude of that older son. We can look at the lives of others and think, "That is not fair.  I know he's been messing up, and God is blessing him. What's up with that?  I haven't been as bad as him!"

We need to remember that God delights in showing mercy to the guilty when, from a sincere heart, they seek that mercy. He delights when you and I ask for His mercy when we have blown it.

Micah 6:7-8 says,

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil?  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

God delights in showing mercy.  So be a person of mercy, and rejoice when God shows mercy to someone who needs it.

~Bayless Conley~

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Heading for Heaven # 16

Ready and Waiting

But there is a time coming when prayer shall be heard no longer. There is a time when the door by which Saul of tarsus and Magdalen entered in shall be shut forever. There is a time when men shall know the folly of sin, but, like Judas, too late for repentance; when they shall desire to enter into the promised land, but, like Israel at Kadesh, not be able; when they shall see the value of God's favor and covenant blessing, but like Esau, when they can no longer procure it; when they shall believe every jot and tittle of God's revealed word, but, like the miserable devils, only to tremble. Yes! beloved brethren, many come o this, and many will come to this in the day of Christ's reappearing. They will ask and not receive, they will seek and not find, they will knock and the door shall not be opened to them. Alas, indeed, that it should be so! Woe to the man who puts off seeking his manna till the Lord's day of return! Like Israel of old, he will find none. Woe to the man who goes to buy oil when he ought to be burning it! Like the foolish virgins, he will find himself shut out from the marriage supper of the Lamb.

But as Christ's coming will be a mighty change to the ungodly, so also will it be a mighty change to the godly.

They shall be placed in a position of perfect safety. "The door shall be shut." They shall no longer be vexed by temptations, persecuted by the world, warred against by the devil. Their conflicts shall all be over. Their strife with the flesh shall for ever cease. They shall be where there is no satan, no world, and no sin. Ah! brethren the second Eden shall be better far than the first. In the first Eden the door was not shut; but in the second the Lord shall shut us in.

Furthermore the godly shall be placed in a position of perfect blessedness. They shall go in with the Bridegroom to the marriage; they shall be with Christ. Faith shall be swallowed up in sight, hope shall become certainty, knowledge shall at length be perfect, prayer shall be turned into praise, desires shall receive their full accomplishment, fears and doubtings shall not rise to mar their comforts, the thought of parting shall not spoil the pleasure of meeting; the company of saints shall be enjoyed without hurry and distraction, and weariness shall be all unknown. Thus shall they understand the meaning of the text, "In Thy presence is fullness of joy, and at Thy right hand are pleasures for evermore." Then shall they experience the truth of that beautiful hymn which says:

"Let me be with Thee where Thou art,
My Saviour, My eternal rest;
Then only shall this longing heart
Be fully and for ever blest.

Let me be with Thee where Thou art,
Thy unveiled glory to behold;
Then only will this wand'ring heart
Cease to be false to Thee and cold.

Let me be with Thee whee Thou art,
Where none can die, where none remove,
Then neither death nor life shall part
Me from Thy presence and Thy love."

Is there a single man or woman here that can laugh at true vital religion? Is there any one who persecutes and ridicules true godliness, and talks of people being over-particular and righteous overmuch? Beware what you are doing! Again I say beware. You may live to think differently; you may live to alter your opinion, - but perhaps too late. Ah! there is a day coming when there will be no infidels, - no, not one! "Before the name of Jesus every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord." Remember that day, and beware.

Is there any dear child of God here who is mocked and despised for the gospel's sake, and feels as if he stood alone? Take comfort; be patient: wait a little - your turn shall come. When the spies returned from searching Canaan, men talked of stoning Caleb and Joshua. A few days passed away, and all the assembly confessed that they alone had been right. Strive to be like them. Follow the Lord fully, and sooner or later all men shall confess that you did well. Men seem to be afraid of going too far, men seem to be afraid of being too holy. Millions will lament in the day of Christ's return that they had not religion enough; not one will be heard to say that he had too much!

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 17)

Hoping In God's Mercy

In our last devotional, Psalm 147:10-11 showed us how important fearing God is to pleasing Him. 
He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man.  The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.

In today's devotional, I want to look at the second thing that pleases God, according to this psalm, those who hope in God's mercy.

You have to wonder why the Lord put those two things together, the fear of Him and hoping in His mercy.  At first blush, they do not seem to go together, but they do.

They show how God truly understands our nature.  That even those who reverence Him, and truly fear Him, and try to live for Him, sometimes fall short.  And in those moments of failure, they need the mercy of God.

In fact, we are told in the Book of Proverbs that the righteous man falls seven times, but gets up again.

You know, I love God, and I do my best to serve Him and walk with Him.  But I'm super grateful for His mercy!  Thank God He is a merciful God!  Because there are times when I so desperately need it, And I am sure you do, too!

My friend, if you have stumbled and today feel like you are a million miles away from God, do not despair.  God finds pleasure in those who hope in His mercy.  He is delighted when you ask for His mercy.  He will not be angry.

Remember, only the guilty need mercy. And God finds pleasure when in your guilt you call out to Him, and hope in His mercy.

~Bayless Conley~

Monday, June 24, 2013

Heading for Heaven # 15

Ready and Waiting

See here what solemn thoughts the Lord Jesus Christ's return should raise in every mind. Think for a moment how little prepared the world is for such an event. Look at the towns and cities of the earth, and think of them. Mark how absorbed are men in the business of their callings. Banks, shops, law, medicine, commerce, railways, banquets, balls, theaters, - all and each are drinking up hearts and souls, and thrusting out the things of God. Think what a fearful shock would be the stoppage of all these things, - the sudden stoppage which will be in the day of Christ' appearing. Yet one day it shall be.

Look at the rural parishes of such a land as ours, and think of them. See how the minds of the majority are buried in farms and allotments, in cattle and corn, in rent and wages, in digging and sowing, in buying and selling; and then fancy the awful effect of a sudden cessation of all these things, - the final cessation which must be when Christ comes again to finish all things. Yet remember one day it shall be. Picture these things to your mind's eye; picture your own home, your own family, your own fireside, - picture, above all, your own feelings, your own state of mind. And then remember that this is the end to which the world is hastening; this is the way in which the world's affairs will be wound up. This is an event which might possibly happen in your own time; and surely you cannot avoid the conclusion that this second coming of Christ is no mere curious speculation, but is of vast importance to your soul.

Ah! some will say, I have no doubt: "This is all mere  foolishness and nonsense. This is all extravagant fanaticism. Where is the likelihood, where is the probability of all this?"

Do not say so. Men said the same in the day of Noah and Lot; but they found to their cost that Noah and Lot were right. Do not say so. The apostle Peter foretold that men would talk so in the latter days. Do not fulfill his prophecy by your unbelief.

Where is the foolishness and fanaticism of that which I have been saying? I calmly say the present state of things will come to an end one day. Will any one deny that? Will any one say we are to go on as we do now for ever? I calmly say that Christ's coming will be the ending of the present state of things. I have said so because the Bible says it. I have calmly said that Christ's coming will be a sudden event, whenever it may be, and might possibly be in our own time. I have said so because thus and thus I find it written. If you do not like it, I am sorry for it. One thing only you must remember: you are finding fault with the Bible, not with me.

4. Learn, in the last place, that Christ's coming will make an immense change to all members of Christ's Church, both good and bad.

I draw that from the concluding portion of the parable, from the discovery of the foolish virgins that their lamps were gone out, from their anxious address to the wise, "Give us of your oil," from their vain knocking at the door when shut, crying, "Lord, Lord, open to us," from the happy admission of the wise who were ready to the marriage supper, in company with the bridegroom. All these points are food for thought. But I have no time to dwell on them particularly. I can only take one single broad view of all. To all who have been baptized in the name of Christ, - converted or unconverted believer or unbeliever, holy or unholy, godly or ungodly, wise or foolish, gracious or graceless, - to all, the second coming of Christ shall be an immense change.

It shall be an immense change to the ungodly, to the mere nominal Christian.

They will see the value of real heart-religion if they never saw it before; - "Give us of your oil," they will cry to the godly, "for our lamps are gone out."

Who does not know that spiritual religion never brings a man the world's praise? It never has done, and it never does. It entails the world's disapprobation, the world's persecution, the world's ridicule, the world's sneers. The world will let a man go to hell quietly, and never try to stop him. The world will never let a man go to heaven quietly - they will do all they can to turn him back. Who has not heard of nicknames in plenty bestowed on all who faithfully follow Christ? - Pietist, Methodist, saint, fanatic, enthusiast, righteous overmuch, and many more? Who does not know the petty family persecution which often goes on in private society in our own day. Let a young person go to every ball and theater and racecourse, and utterly neglect his soul, and no one interferes; no one says "Spare thyself," no one says "Be moderate - remember your soul." But let him begin to read his Bible and be diligent in prayers, let him decline worldly amusement and be particular in his employment of time, let him seek an evangelical ministry and live as if he had an immortal soul, - let him do this, and the probability is all his relations and friends will be up in arms. "You are going too far," "You need not be so very good," "You are taking up extreme lines," - this is the least that he will hear. Alas that it should be so, but so it is. These are ancient things. As it was in the days of Cain and Abel, as it was in the days of Isaac and Ishmael, even so it is now. They that are born after the flesh will persecute those that are born after the Spirit. The Cross of Christ will always being reproach with it. If a man will become a decided evangelical Christian he must make up his mind to lose the world's favors; he must be content to be thought by many a perfect fool.

But, brethren, all this will be at an end when Christ returns. The light of that day will show everything in its true colors; the scales will fall from the poor worldling's eyes. The value of the soul will flash on his astonished mind; the utter uselessness of a mere nominal Christianity will burst upon him like a thunderstorm. The blessedness of regeneration and faith in Christ and a holy walk will shine before him like "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Peres" on the wall. The veil will fall from his face; he will discover that the godly have been the wise, and that he has played the fool exceedingly; and just as Saul wanted Samuel when it was too late, and Belshazzar sent for Daniel when the kingdom was departing from him, so will the ungodly turn to the very men they once mocked and despised, and cry, "Give us of your oil, for our lamps have gone out."

But again, the ungodly will seek salvation earnestly when Christ returns, but not find it. They will find that opportunities once let slip shall never be regained. They will seek the oil of grace, they will knock at the door for admission, they will cry, "Lord, Lord, open to us," but all in vain.

Who does not know that thousands are urged to pray now, who never attempt it? They mean to do so one day, perhaps; they fancy it will never be too late to seek the Lord.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 16)

Things That Cannot Be Shaken

As a rule, people like security. We seek what is comfortable. Yet the reality of our world is that much instability exists. For example, finances, health, and even a country’s ability to survive are not guaranteed.

When our foundation is shaken, we often feel overwhelmed.  Sometimes
Satan causes the difficulty—with God’s permission, of course. At other times, challenging circumstances are brought about by the Lord’s hand. Regardless of the source, we have the promise in Romans 8:28 that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” And in either case, the Almighty’s purpose remains: to glorify Himself in our world and in our lives.

There are different reasons the Lord permits turmoil, but for now, let’s focus on one: He won’t allow anything that enables man to seem self-sufficient in his own eyes. Therefore, God may lovingly allow enough trouble for us to realize our need of Him. Consider the trials the Israelites faced each time they turned away from Jehovah to worship other gods. In many ways, we do the same thing today. Individually, in our churches, and as a nation, we often glorify “gods” like money or status. But the One who created us will not tolerate this.

In our pride, we tend to think we’re able to manage without God. But out of love, He may stir up our lives to reveal our dependence upon Him. If you are basing your security on anything except Jesus Christ—even something as seemingly innocent as comfort—it will prove to be sinking sand.

~Charles Stanley~

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Heading for Heaven # 14

Ready and Waiting

Who is there here that receives the doctrine? Try to realize it more. Alas! how little do we feel it at the very best! Be gentle in argument with those what differ. Remember that a man may be mistaken on this subject and yet be a bright child of God. It is not the slumbering on this subject that ruins souls, but the want of grace. Above all avoid dogmatism and  positiveness, and especially about symbolical prophecy. It is a sad truth, but a truth never to be forgotten, that none have injured the doctrine of the second advent so much as over-zealous friends.

3. Learn, thirdly, that whenever Christ does come again it will be a very sudden event. I draw that from the verse in the parable: "At midnight there was a cry made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him."

I do not know when Christ will come. I am no prophet, though I love the subject of prophecy. I dislike date-fixing, and I think it has done great harm. I only assert positively that Christ will come again one day in person to set up His kingdom, and that whether the day be near, or whether it be far off, it will take the Church and world exceedingly by surprise.

It will come on men suddenly. It will break on the world all at once. It will not have been talked over, prepared for and looked forward to by everybody. It will awaken men's minds like a cry of fire at midnight. It will startle men's hearts like a trumpet blown by their bedsides in their first sleep. Like Pharaoh and his host, men will know nothing till the very waters are upon them. Before they can recover their breath and know where they are, they shall find that the Lord is come.

I suspect there is a vague notion floating in men's minds that the present order of things will not end quite so suddenly. I suspect men cling to the idea that there will be a kind of Saturday night in he world - a time when all will know the Lord's day is near, a time when all will be able to cleanse their consciences, look up their best garment, shake off their earthly business, and prepare to meet the Lord. If any one here has got such a notion  I charge him to give it up for ever. If anything is clear in unfilled prophecy, this one fact seems clear, that the Lord's coming will be sudden, and take men by surprise; and any view of prophecy which destroys the possibility of its being a sudden event, appears to carry about with it a fatal defect.

Everything which is written in Scripture on this point confirms the truth that Christ's second coming will be sudden. "As a snare shall it come on the face of all them that dwell on the earth," says one place: "As a thief in the night," says another; "As the lightning," says a third; "In an hour when no man thinketh," says a fourth; "At a time when they shall be saying Peace and safety," says a fifth.

Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself uses two most striking comparisons when dwelling on this point. He says in one, that as it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be in the days when the Son of man is revealed. Do you remember how it was? In the days when Lot went out of Sodom the men of Sodom were eating and giving in marriage. The sun rose as usual. They thought of nothing but worldly things; they saw no sign of danger. But all at once the fire of God fell upon them and destroyed them.

He says in another place, "As it was in the day of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." Do you remember how it was in the days of Noah? Sty a little, and let me remind you.

When the flood came on the earth there was no appearance beforehand of anything so awful being near. The sun rose and set as usual; the day and night followed each other in regular succession. The grass and trees and crops were growing; the business of the world was going on; and though Noah preached continually and warned men of coming danger, no one believed him.

But at last one day the rain began and did not cease; the waters ran and did not stop. The flood came and the flood swelled; the flood went on and covered one thing after another, and all were drowned who were not in the ark. Everything in which was the breath of life perished.

Now, as the flood took the world by surprise, just so will the coming of the Son of man. It will come on men like a thunderclap. In the midst of the world's business,when everything is going on just as usual, in such an hour as this the Lord Jesus Christ will return.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 15)

The Arm of Flesh

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles." 2 Chronicles 32:7-8 

Hezekiah was a king who helped focus God’s people back to the pure and true worship of God. He restored the temple, tore down the high places built to other gods, reinstated God’s feasts and celebrations and was known as a king who led people to celebrate the one and only true God. But now, another nation came up to war against him. Hezekiah knew that this other king had the strength and ability to overcome the Israelites in battle. This king also caused a lot of conflicts for King Hezekiah.

Hezekiah could have just surrendered to the fear caused by the tactics and overconfidence of the king of Assyria but he didn’t. Instead, Hezekiah started building up his military defenses, working hard on repairing broken parts of the walls around the city and making more weapons. Then he spoke the words of these verses that encouraged the people. These words, however, were not just bursts of intimidation as with the king of Assyria, but came from a heart of passion and purpose from the Lord. By verse 20 of the story, Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah were crying out to the Lord, knowing that He has the power to fight the battle for them. And He did. Verse 22 says, “So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them on every side.”

We worship a God who takes care of us on every side. It was good that Hezekiah prepared for battle, but it was better that Hezekiah prepared His heart to turn to the Lord. The arm of flesh is limited. We need to be prepared to fight as we use the weapons God has given us. The strongest weapon is a tender heart that knows the Scriptures and how to turn to the Lord on our knees. No battle is too great for the Lord.

If you are in a situation today in which you need to see the Lord on your side, get on your knees and start asking for help. God is waiting to show His power no matter what circumstance you are facing.

~Daily Disciples~

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Heading for Heaven # 13

Ready and Waiting

I must speak my mind on this subject, now that I am upon it. I do so at the risk of giving offence and rubbing against prejudices. But speak I must.

I submit, then, that the Church has gone too long not seeing that there are two personal advents of Christ spoken of in the Old Testament - an advent in humiliation and an advent in glory too, an advent to suffer and an advent to reign. We have got into a vicious way of taking all the promises spiritually and all the curses and denunciations literally. The curses on Jews and Babylon and Edom and Egypt we have been content to take literally; the blessings on Zion, Jerusalem, Jacob, Israel, and so forth, we have taken spiritually and comfortably applied to the Church of Christ. No man can read sermons or commentaries and not be aware of this. I believe it has been a wrong system of interpreting Scripture. I believe that prophetical denunciations and prophetical promises in their primary sense are always to be taken literally. That primary sense we have sadly lost sight of, and by so doing I think we have got into a slumbering and sleeping state about the second advent of Christ.

But I say further, that the Church has gone on too long putting a strange sense on the passage which speaks of the coming of the Son of man in the New Testament. Some tell us that this expression always means death. No man can read the thousands of epitaphs on tombstones in which the Son of man's coming is thrust in, and not observe how widespread this view is. Some tell us it means the conversion of the world. Some tell us it means the destruction of Jerusalem. That also is a very common way of interpreting the expression with many. They find Jerusalem everywhere in the New Testament prophecies, and, like Aaron's rod, they make it swallow up everything else. Now, I have no desire to underrate the importance of death, the conversion of the world, or the destruction of Jerusalem; but I must express my own firm belief that the coming of the Son of man is an entirely distinct subject from any of the three I have mentioned. And the acceptance they have met with I hold to be one more proof that in the matter of Christ's second advent the Church has slumbered and slept.

The plain truth of Scripture, I believe, is as follows: When the number of the elect is accomplished, Christ shall come again to this world, with power and great glory. As He came the first time in person, so He shall come the second time in person; as He went away visibly, so He shall return visibly. Then shall be fulfilled those words of Acts: "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven"; and the words of Zechariah 14: "The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee"; and the words of Enoch in Jude: "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints." And the grand shortcoming of the Church these days has been and is this: that we ministers do not preach enough about this second advent, and private believers do not think enough about it. There are a few, but what are they? Many do not. We none of us live on it, feed on it, act on it, work from it, take comfort in it, as God intended us to do. In short, the Bridegroom tarries, and we all slumber and sleep.

It proves nothing against the true doctrine that it has sometimes been fearfully abused. I should like to know what doctrine has not. Salvation by grace has been made a pretext for licentiousness; election an excuse for all manner of unclean living; and justification by faith a warrant for antinomianism. But if men will draw wrong conclusions we are not obliged to throw up good principles. We do not give up the gospel because of the extravagances of those who don't preach it.

Nor yet does it prove anything against the doctrine that it is attended with many difficulties. I do not think there are half so many difficulties as those connected with the first coming, and yet those difficulties were all overcome. I am satisfied there are far more difficulties upon any other system of interpretation, whatever it may be. And after all, what have we to do with the "how" and "in what manner" prophecies are to be fulfilled? Our only question is, "Has God said a thing?" If He has, no doubt it will be done.

For myself, I can only give my individual testimony; but the little I know experimentally of the doctrine makes me regard it as most practical and precious, and makes me long to see it more generally received.

I find it a powerful spring to holy living; a motive for patience, for moderation, for spiritual-mindedness; a test for employment of time - "would I like my Lord to find me so doing?"

I find it the strongest argument for missionary work. The time is short. The Lord is at hand. The gathering out from all nations of a witnessing people will soon be accomplished, and then the King shall come.

I find it the best answer to infidels. I tell them it proves nothing that all the world is not holy after eighteen hundred years; that it was never said it would be in the present order of things; that the King will come one day and then make all bow before Him.

I find it the best argument with the Jew. If I do not take all the prophecy of Isaiah literally, I know not how I can persuade him that the fifty-third chapter is fulfilled. But if I do, I have a resting place for my lever which he cannot shake.

Who is there that cannot yet receive the doctrine of Christ's second personal advent? I invite you to consider the subject calmly. Dismiss from your mind traditional interpretation; separate the doctrine from the mistakes and blunders of many who have held it; do not reject the foundations because of the wood, hay and stubble; do not condemn it because of injudicious friends. Only examine the texts which speak of it in the same calm way that you weigh texts in the Romish and Socinian controversy, and I am hopeful as to the result on your mind.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 14)

Worry Is A Sin

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? -Matthew 6:25

For Christians to worry is to be disobedient and unfaithful to God. Nothing in our lives, internal or external, justifies our being anxious when God is our Master.

Worry is basically the sin of distrusting the promise and providence of God, and yet it is a sin Christians commit perhaps more frequently than any other. In the Greek, the tense of Jesus’ command includes the idea of stopping what is already being done. We are to stop worrying and never start again.

The English term worry comes from an old German word meaning to strangle, or to choke. That’s exactly what worry does—it’s a type of mental and emotional strangulation that probably causes more mental and physical afflictions than any other single cause.

The substance of worry is nearly always extremely small compared to the size it forms in our minds and the damage it does in our lives. It’s been said that worry is a thin stream of fear that trickles through the mind that, when encouraged, will cut a channel so wide that all other thoughts will be drained out.

If worrying is a pattern in your life—stop now. In the days to follow you’ll learn why you should trust your Father and stop worrying.

Ask Yourself

Would you categorize yourself as a worrier? If so, what do you think has driven you to choose the perceived relief of worry over the actual relief of trust in God? If not, what has tipped your heart in favor of less worry and more confidence and contentment?

~John MacArthur~