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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 42

Holy Spirit (continued)

Christ is the door that opens into God's presence and lets the soul into His very bosom, faith is the key that unlocks the door; but the Spirit is He that makes this key. (William Gurnall)

God is able to interpret His own Word unto thee. Indeed none can enter into the knowledge thereof but he must be beholden unto His Spirit to unlock the door. He that hath not the right key is as far from entering the house as he that hath none, yea, in some sense further off; for he that hath none will call to him that is within, while the other, trusting to his false key, stands pottering without to little purpose. (William Gurnall)

The natural man may have excellent notions in divinity, but God must teach us to know the mysteries of the Gospel after a spiritual manner. A man may see the figures upon a dial, but he cannot tell how the day goes unless the sun shines; so we may read many truths in the Bible, but we cannot know them savingly, till God by His Spirit shines upon our souls. He not only informs our mind, but inclines our will. (Thomas Watson)

It is not the work of the Spirit to tell you the meaning of Scriptures, and give you the knowledge of divinity, without your own study and labor, but to bless that study, and give you knowledge thereby. To reject study on pretense of the sufficiency of the Spirit, is to reject the Scripture itself. (Richard Baxter)

Fire is quenched by pouring on water or by withdrawing fuel; so the Spirit is quenched by living in sin, which is like pouring water on a fire; or by not improving our gifts and graces, which is like withdrawing fuel from the hearth. (Thomas Manton)

What a sad difference is there in the same person, as to what he is when the Spirit leads him, and as to what he is when the Spirit leaves him! (Thomas Jacombe)

God Means for Good

When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him." So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, "Before your father died he commanded, saying,  'Thus you shall say to Joseph: "I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you." ' Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father." And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.  Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, "Behold, we are your servants." Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?  But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.  Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. - Genesis 50:15-21

One of my favorite Bible stories is the story of Joseph. Joseph was one of twelve brothers, all born to Jacob (Israel). From these brothers came the nation of Israel, God's chosen people. God had a plan from the beginning to raise up a nation of His people, a people set apart to be holy and dedicated to Him. The fulfillment of God's plan of redemption, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would come from this line of people. But early on, attempts would be made to thwart this plan. One such attempt came in the life of Joseph. Jealousy and selfishness led his brothers to sell him to a foreign people where Joseph would eventually end up as a prisoner in Egypt. But God's hand was upon Joseph and through the years of his captivity he found much favor with his superiors, being entrusted ultimately with governing the land of Egypt.  But the day would come when the family would be reunited. How would Joseph receive his brothers who had done such an evil thing to him so many years earlier?

The brothers were afraid that Joseph would avenge their wrongdoing, but instead he forgave them. Verse 20 sums it up: what they meant for evil against Joseph, God meant for good so that many would be saved. God had a plan and that plan was carried out through Joseph. If Joseph had not been in Egypt, the famine that engulfed the land would have killed the entire family. Joseph was the one who would make sure there was enough grain to sustain the land. It was God's plan to spare this family. They were to become His chosen people. It was God's plan to use Joseph. It was God's plan to work for good the evil that Joseph had endured. For us today, God has a plan. Regardless of the evil that comes against us, God can work it together for good. Look to the Lord and ask Him to work all things together for good.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Friday, February 27, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 41

Holiness (continued)

O Christians! you must look as well to your spiritual wants as to your spiritual enjoyments; you must look as well to your layings out as to your layings up; you must look as well forward to what you should be, as backward to what you are. Certainly that Christian will never be eminent in holiness that hath many eyes to behold a little holiness, and never an eye to see his further want of holiness. (Thomas Brooks)

It is no small advantage to the holy life to "begin the day with God." The saints are wont to leave their hearts with Him over night, that they may find them with Him in the morning. Before earthly things break in upon us, and we receive impressions from abroad, it is good to season the heart with thoughts of God, and to consecrate the  the earthly and virgin operations of the mind before they are prostituted to baser objects. When the world gets the start of religion in the morning, it can hardly overtake it all the day. (Thomas Case)

Say not that thou hast royal blood in thy veins, and act born of God, except thou canst prove thy pedigree by daring to be holy. (William Gurnall)

He leads none to heaven but whom He sanctifies on the earth. This living Head will not admit of dead members. (John Owen)

Perfect holiness is the aim of the saints on earth, and it is the reward of the saints in Heaven. (Joseph Caryl)

For every sanctified man being a self-denying and a God-advancing man, his God is his center. (Simeon Ash)

What greater crime than holiness, if the devil may be one of the grand jury! (Thomas Watson)

Holy Spirit

We preach and pray, and you hear; but there is no motion Christ-ward until the Spirit of God blows upon them. (John Flavel)

O such a one doth great things, he prays, and hears, and reads, and disputes much; Aye but hath he the Spirit, or no? The greatest difference (that I know) in all the Book of God, between saints and sinners is, that the one hath the Spirit, and the other hath not. (Walter Craddock)

To plead Christ' merits in prayer, and not by the Spirit, is to bring right incense but strange fire, and so our prayers are but smoke, offensive to His pure eyes, not incense, a sweet savor to His nostrils. (William Gurnall)

Sorrow Is Better Than Laughter

Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better (Ecclesiastes 7:3).

When sorrow comes under the power of Divine grace, it works out a manifold ministry in our lives. Sorrow reveals unknown depths in the soul, and unknown capabilities of experience and service. Gay, trifling people are always shallow, and never suspect the little meannesses in their nature. Sorrow is God's plowshare that turns up and subsoils the depths of the soul, that it may yield richer harvests. If we had never fallen, or were in a glorified state, then the strong torrents of Divine joy would be the normal force to open up all our souls' capacities; but in a fallen world, sorrow, with despair taken out of it, is the chosen power to reveal ourselves to ourselves. Hence it is sorrow that makes us think deeply, long, and soberly.

Sorrow makes us go slower and more considerately, and introspect our motives and dispositions. It is sorrow that opens up within us the capacities of the heavenly life, and it is sorrow that makes us willing to launch our capacities on a boundless sea of service for God and our fellows.

We may suppose a class of indolent people living at the base of a great mountain range, who had never ventured to explore the valleys and canyons back in the mountains; and some day, when a great thunderstorm goes careening through the mountains, it turns the hidden glens into echoing trumpets, and reveals the inner recesses of the valley, like the convolutions of a monster shell, and then the dwellers at the foot of the hills are astonished at the labyrinths and unexplored recesses of a region so near by, and yet so little known. So it is with many souls who indolently live on the outer edge of their own natures until great thunderstorms of sorrow reveal hidden depths within that were never hitherto suspected.

God never uses anybody to a large degree, until after He breaks that one all to pieces. Joseph had more sorrow than all the other sons of Jacob, and it led him out into a ministry of bread for all nations. For this reason, the Holy Spirit said of him, "Joseph is a fruitful bough…by a well, whose branches run over the wall" (Gen. 49:22). It takes sorrow to widen the soul.
--The Heavenly Life

The dark brown mould's upturned
By the sharp-pointed plow;
And I've a lesson learned.
My life is but a field,
Stretched out beneath God's sky,
Some harvest rich to yield.
Where grows the golden grain?
Where faith? Where sympathy?
In a furrow cut by pain.

--Maltbie D. Babcock

Every person and every nation must take lessons in God's school of adversity. "We can say, 'Blessed is night, for it reveals to us the stars.' In the same way we can say, 'Blessed is sorrow, for it reveals God's comfort.' The floods washed away home and mill, all the poor man had in the world. But as he stood on the scene of his loss, after the water had subsided, broken-hearted and discouraged, he saw something shining in the bank which the waters had washed bare. 'It looks like gold,' he said. It was gold. The flood which bad beggared him made him rich. So it is ofttimes in life."
--Henry Clay Trumbull

~L. B. Cowman~

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 40

Holiness (continued)

What health is to the heart, that holiness is to the soul. (John Flavel)

Nothing else but the habitual and predominant devotion and dedication to soul, and body, and life, and all that we have to God; and esteeming, and loving, and serving, and seeking Him, before all the pleasures and prosperity of the flesh. (Richard Baxter)

I do not mean by holiness the mere performance of outward duties of religion, coldly acted over, as a task; not our habitual prayings, hearings, fastings, multiplied one upon another (though these be all good, as subservient to a higher end); but I mean an inward soul and principle of divine life (Romans 8:1-5), that spiriteth all these. (Ralph Cudworth)

Some would have moral virtue to be holiness, which (as they suppose) they can understand by their own reason and practice in their own strength. Gospel truth is the only root whereon Gospel holiness will grow. (John Owen)

Pray not only against the power of sin, but for the power of holiness also. A haughty heart may pray against His sins, not out of any inward enmity to them, or love to holiness, but because they are troublesome guests to his conscience. His zeal is false that seems hot against sin, but is key-cold to holiness. A city is rebellious that keeps their rightful Prince out, though it receives not his enemy in. (William Gurnall)

Holiness hath in it a natural tendency to life and peace. (Elisha Coles)

Will you say that godliness is unpleasant, because it makes a man sorry for his ungodliness? Would you wish a man that hath lived so long in sin and misery, to have no sorrow for it in his return- especially when it is but a healing sorrow, preparing for remission, and not a sorrow joined with despair, as theirs will be that die impenitently? (Richard Baxter)

Thou hast an art above God Himself, if thou canst fetch any true pleasure out of unholiness. (William Gurnall)

There is a beauty in holiness as well as a beauty of holiness. (George Swinnock)

Here is the Christian's way and his end. His way is holiness, his end happiness. (John Whitlock)

God would not rub so hard if it were not to fetch out the dirt that is ingrained in our natures. God loves purity so well He had rather see a hole than a spot in His child's garments (William Gurnall)

When thou trustest in Christ within thee, instead of Christ without thee, thou settest Christ against Christ. The bride does well to esteem her husband's picture, but it were ridiculous if she should love it better than himself, much more if she should go to it rather than to him to supply her wants. Yet thou actest thus when thou art more fond of Christ's image in thy soul than of Him who painted it there. (William Gurnall)

It is absurd to imagine that God should justify a people and not sanctify them, He should justify a people whom He could not glorify. (Thomas Watson)

Developing Convictions

An acorn needs nutrients and time to grow into a tall, sturdy oak tree. Likewise, men and women of conviction develop gradually through committed Bible study and prayer. Ready to get planted firmly in biblical truth? Here’s how:

Make a list of issues for which you need to form a conviction. Here are questions to help you get started: Do you consider the Bible true and trustworthy? Do you think that believing in Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved? What is the Holy Spirit’s role in the lives of believers and unbelievers? Are we to forgive others in every situation? How should Christians approach finances? What’s your purpose in life? What is your role in the church and at work? How should you think and act regarding social issues like capital punishment, abortion, and racism?

It is my hope that these questions will open the eyes of those who haven’t contemplated how their personal philosophies have developed. It’s time to change that. Study the Bible and make God’s Word the cornerstone of your thinking. A concordance will point you to scriptures that relate to the above topics. Evaluate what the Bible says rather than looking at an issue through the lens of personal preference. Ask, What does God say? rather than What does this mean to me?

Once you know what God says, you have a choice to make: Believe Him and commit to living according to your conviction, or continue being tossed by waves of doubt and indecision (James 1:6). Root yourself in God’s Word and be called one of His oaks of righteousness (Isa. 61:3).

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 39

Heaven (continued)

The more we grow in grace, the more we shall flourish in glory. Though every vessel of glory shall be full, yet some vessels hold more. (Thomas Watson)

Some have asked whether we shall know one another in heaven? Surely, our knowledge will not be diminished, but increased. The judgment of Luther and Anselm, and many other divines is, that we shall know one another; yea, the saints of all ages, whose faces we never saw; and, when we shall see the saints in glory without their infirmities of pride and passion, it will be a glorious sight. (Thomas Watson)

We are like little children strayed from home, and God is now fetching us home; and we are ready to turn into any house, stay and play with everything in our way, and sit down on every green bank, and much ado there is to get us home. (Richard Baxter)

There is a great deal of difference between the desires of heaven in a sanctified man an an unsanctified. The believer prizeth it above earth, and had rather be with God than here (though death that stands in the way, may possibly have harder thoughts from him). But to the ungodly, there is nothing seemeth more desirable than his world; and therefore he only chooseth heaven before hell, but not before earth; and therefore shall not have it upon such a choice. (Richard Baxter)


Heaven is aptly compared to a hill, hell to a hole. (John Trapp)

Hell is the center in which all the lines of sin and of misery meet; the common shoal into which they all disgorge themselves, as rivers do their streams into the vast ocean; and as rivers, when they are fallen into the sea, lose their several names in one that comprehends them all - the ocean; - so all the evils of this life, when resolved into this, forget their private names - sickness, pains, poverty, etc. - and are called HELL. (William Gurnall)

The Scripture tells us that in hell there are these three things: there is darkness, there is fire, and there are chains. (Thomas Watson)

Hell is an abiding place, but no resting place. (Thomas Watson)

Hell is full of purposes, heaven of performances. (John Rogers)

The damned shall live as long in hell as God Himself shall live in heaven. (Thomas Brooks)

Thus it is in hell: they would die, but they cannot. The wicked shall be always dying but never dead; the smoke of the furnace ascends for ever and ever. Oh! who can endure thus to be ever upon the rack? This word "ever" breaks the heart. Wicked men now thing the Sabbaths long, and think a prayer long; but oh! how long will it be to lie in hell for ever and ever! (Thomas Watson)

When a curious inquisitor asked Austin what God did before He created the world, Austin told him He was making hell for such busy questionists, for such curious inquirers into God's secrets. Such handsome jerks are the best answers to men of curious minds. It concerns us but little to know where hell is. Certainly they are the best and wisest of men, who spend most thoughts, and time, and pains how to keep out of it, than to exercise themselves with disputes about it. (Thomas Brooks)

Are there not millions of us who would rather go sleeping to hell, than sweating to heaven? (Thomas Watson)


What health is to the heart, that holiness is to the soul. (John Flavel)

There is nothing destroyed by sanctification but that which would destroy us. (William Jenkyn)

Our Convictions Our Defense

A person of conviction has become convinced, by either evidence or argument, that his beliefs are true. Today, most men and women would rather live by preference than conviction. They choose to believe something based on certain conditions and circumstances. When the situation changes, so does their loyalty. 

In other words, a lot of people vacillate on issues that require a firm resolve.

Contrast this wishy-washy approach with the mindset of the great men and women of Scripture. Despite many years of unfair treatment, Joseph never wavered in his commitment to godly principles . As a result, he was in the right place at the right time to ensure Israel’s survival (Gen. 50:20). Daniel, another righteous man in an idolatrous land, earned the trust of foreign kings by standing firm in his beliefs (Dan. 1:20). When his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego also refused to compromise their beliefs, they influenced a king to recognize Jehovah as the one true God (3:29).

As these biblical heroes show, godly convictions can withstand the changing winds of opinion and the persuasive arguments of opponents. If we are grounded in the Word and trust what God has said, we can stand firm in our beliefs. Confidence breeds the courage to remain strong amid conflict.

Instead of following your own preferences, choose to live by godly conviction. The Bible has much to say about the most important aspects of your life. See if God’s principles and promises hold true. Through prayer and study, allow Him to firmly root you in solid biblical convictions.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 38

Guidance (continued)

The manner of God's revealing His will to men is (also) very different. Some have had special, personal, and peculiar discoveries of it made to them. So had Samuel about the choice of the person whom he should anoint king. But now, all are tied up to the ordinary standing rule of the written Word. The way we now have to know the will of God concerning us in difficult cases, is to search and study the Scriptures, and where we find no particular rule to guide us in this or that particular case, thee we are to apply general rules.

If therefore, in doubtful cases, you would discover God's will, govern yourselves in your search after it by these rules:

1. Get the true fear of God upon your hearts; be really really afraid of offending Him.

2. Study the Word more, and the concerns and interests of the world less.

3. Reduce what you know into practice, and you shall know what is your duty to practice.

4. Pray for illumination and direction in the way that you should go.

5. And this being done, follow Providence as far as it agrees with the Word, and no further. [Always follow the leading of the Holy Spirit! - added by me, a Disciple of Christ.] (John Flavel)

Take God into thy counsel. Heaven overlooks hell. God at any time can tell thee what plots are hatching there against thee. (William Gurnall)


John Bunyan was once asked a question about heaven which he could not answer, because the matter was not revealed in the Scriptures; and he thereupon advised the inquirer to live a holy life and go and see. 

In heaven is no warfare, but all well-fare. (John Boys)

 [Heaven] Where the unveiled glories of the Deity shall beat full upon us, and we for ever sun ourselves in the smiles of God. (Ezekiel Willan)

Heaven begins where sin ends. (Thomas Adams)

The sea enters into the rivers before the rivers can run into the sea. In like manner, God, comes to us before we go to Him; and heaven enters into our souls before we can enter into heaven. (Peter Drelincourt)

Love puts a man upon the full use of all means to enjoy the thing loved. He that loves the world, how active is he! He will break his peace and sleep for it. He that loves honor, what hazards will he run! He will swim to the throne in blood. Love heaven, and you cannot miss it; love breaks through all opposition - it takes heaven by storm. (Thomas Watson)

Heaven must be in thee before thou canst be in heaven. (George Swinnock)

Heaven is large but the way to heaven must be narrow. (Henry Smith)

In the way to heaven, there are three narrow and hard passages, the entrance into the new birth; herein a man must leave behind him sinful self; the entrance into assurance; therein a man must leave and deny religious self; and lastly, the gate of death, then a man must part with natural self, religious self, and sinful self. The first two I have experienced, the last I expect. (Vavasor Powell)

He that keeps earth by wrong, cannot expect heaven by right. (William Gurnall)

He that  will be knighted must kneel for it, and he that will enter in at the strait gate must crowd for it - a gate made so on purpose, narrow and hard in the entrance, yet, after we have entered, wide and glorious, that after our pain our joy may be the sweeter. (Thomas Adams)

Nothing is more contrary to a heavenly hope than an earthly heart. (William Gurnall)

God Will Never Fail You

O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee? (Daniel 6:20).

How many times we find this expression in the Scriptures, and yet it is just this very thing that we are so prone to lose sight of. We know it is written "the living God"; but in our daily life there is scarcely anything we practically so much lose sight of as the fact that God is the living God; that He is now whatever He was three or four thousand years since; that He has the same sovereign power, the same saving love towards those who love and serve Him as ever He had and that He will do for them now what He did for others two, three, four thousand years ago, simply because He is the living God, the unchanging One. Oh, how therefore we should confide in Him, and in our darkest moments never lose sight of the fact that He is still and ever will be the living God!

Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. An older brother who has known the Lord for forty-four years, who writes this, says to you for your encouragement that He has never failed him. In the greatest difficulties, in the heaviest trials, in the deepest poverty and necessities, He has never failed me; but because I was enabled by His grace to trust Him He has always appeared for my help. I delight in speaking well of His name.
--George Mueller

Luther was once found at a moment of peril and fear, when he had need to grasp unseen strength, sitting in an abstracted mood tracing on the table with his finger the words, "Vivit! vivit!" ("He lives! He lives!"). It is our hope for ourselves, and for His truth, and for mankind. Men come and go; leaders, teachers, thinkers speak and work for a season, and then fall silent and impotent. He abides. They die, but He lives. They are lights kindled, and, therefore, sooner or later quenched; but He is the true light from which they draw all their brightness, and He shines for evermore.
--Alexander Maclaren

"One day I came to know Dr. John Douglas Adam," writes C. G. Trumbull. "I learned from him that what he counted his greatest spiritual asset was his unvarying consciousness of the actual presence of Jesus. Nothing bore him up so, he said, as the realization that Jesus was always with him in actual presence; and that this was so independent of his own feelings, dependent of his deserts, and independent of his own notions as to how Jesus would manifest His presence.
"Moreover, he said that Christ was the home of his thoughts. Whenever his mind was free from other matters it would turn to Christ; and he would talk aloud to Christ when he was alone -- on the street, anywhere -- as easily and naturally as to a human friend. So real to him was Jesus' actual presence.

~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, February 23, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 38


For what is grace but the beams of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. (Richard Sibbs)

"Grace" is more than mercy and love, it super adds to them. It denotes, not simply love, but the love of a sovereign, transcendly superior, one that may do what he will, that may wholly choose whether he will love or no. There may be love between equals, and an inferior may love a superior; but love in a superior, and so superior as he may do what he will, in such a one love is called grace: and therefore grace is attributed to princes; they are said to be gracious to their subjects, whereas subjects cannot be gracious to princes. Now God, who is an infinite Sovereign, who might have chosen whether ever He would love us or no, for Him to love is, this is grace. (Thomas Goodwin)

It argues more grace to grieve for the sins of others than for our own. We may grieve for our own sins out of fear of hell, but to grieve for the sins of others is from a principle of love to God. (Thomas Watson)

Grace does not pluck up by the roots and wholly destroy the natural passions of the mind, because they are distempered by sin. That were an extreme remedy, to cure by killing, and to heal by cutting off. No; but it corrects the distemper in them. It dries not up the main stream of love, bu purifies it from the mud it is full of in its wrong course, or calls it to its right channel, by which it may run into happiness, and empty itself in the ocean of goodness. (Robert Leighton)

It is a rule of divinity, that grace takes not away nature; that is, grace comes not to take away a man's affections, but to take them up. (William Fenner)

Grace is young glory. (Alexander Peden)

The Kingdom of grace is nothing but the beginning of the Kingdom of glory; the Kingdom of grace is glory in the seed, and the Kingdom of glory is grace in the flower; the Kingdom of grace is glory in the daybreak, and the Kingdom of glory is grace in the full meridian; the Kingdom of grace is glory militant, and the Kingdom of glory is grace triumphant. The Kingdom of grace leads to the Kingdom of glory. (Thomas Watson)

Grace and glory differ very little; the one is the seed, the other is the flower; grace is glory militant, glory is grace triumphant. (Thomas Brooks)

It is a greater work of God to bring men to grace, than being in the state of grace, to bring them to glory; because sin is far more distant from grace than grace is from glory. (John Trapp)

The friends of free-will are the enemies of free-grace. (John Trapp)

There is no reason to be given for grace but grace. (Ralph Venning)

Growth in grace doth not always consist in doing of other works for the kind, but in doing the same works over and over again better than before. (Thomas Bridge)

Young Christians perform more duties, and withal spoil more duties; young carpenters make many chips. (But the more spiritual your performances grow, the more fruit there is to be esteemed.) It is not the bigness of the fruit, or juiciness of them, for then crabs were better than apples, but the relish it is that gives the commendation. (Thomas Goodwin)

The growth of grace is the best evidence of the truth of it; things that have no life will not grow. (Thomas Watson)

All grace grows as Love to the Word of God grows. (Philip Henry)

The right manner of growth is to grow less in one's own eyes. (Thomas Watson)

Weak grace may do for God, but it must be strong grace that will die for God. (William Secker)

To Him Who Overcomes

To him who overcomes I will give the privilege of sitting down with Me on My throne, as I also have overcome and have sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation3:21 WNT)

We all have resurrection Life if we are joined to Christ as Resurrection, but there is something more than that; there is resurrection power, which carries us eventually (if it has its full outworking) to the Throne, and not all will come to the Throne. It is: “to him that overcomes.” Caleb, like Paul, and Paul, like Caleb, stood against the more general course of things amongst the Lord’s people. The majority were content with going so far as to the inheritance, possessing so much, and there staying and settling down. An unfinished course, a curtailed spiritual advance, an accepting of something less than what God had appointed and intended. The majority took that course, but Caleb was never content and he stood against the majority just as he had always stood against a majority that did not represent God’s full mind....

Spiritual leadership always involves loneliness. That is the cost of it. The overcomers will always be, so far as the larger Christian world is concerned, a lonely company, having to go on, with few able to follow. Caleb could not accept the popular voice, his heart was too set upon the Lord. He wholly followed the Lord, not the popular and general standard of Christian life. We may say that Caleb was the very embodiment of all that God meant the whole people to be. When you see Caleb you see what God wished all Israel to be, but all Israel did not come to the standard of Caleb. But the Lord gets in a Caleb the satisfaction of His heart. The Lord realizes His full thought in a Caleb, in the same way as He does in a Paul.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 37

God (continued)

Mercy pleaseth Him. It is no trouble for Him to exercise mercy. It is His delight: we are never weary of receiving, therefore He cannot be of giving; for it is a more blessed thing to give than to receive; so God takes more content in the one than we in the other. (Robert Harris)

My brethren, God's mercies are from everlasting; and it is a treasure that can never be spent, never exhausted, unto eternity. In Isaiah 64:5 we read, "In thy mercy is continuance." If God will but continue to be merciful to me, will a poor soul say, I have enough. Hath God pardoned thee hitherto? but hast thou sinned again? Can He stretch His goodness and mercy a little further? Why, He will stretch them out unto eternity, unto everlasting; and if one everlasting be not enough, there are twenty-six everlastings in this one psalm (Psalm 136) (Thomas Goodwin)

It is a far happier thing to be pitied of God, than to be envied of men. (Sir Richard Baker)

As water is deepest where it is the stillest, so where God is most silent in threatening and patient in sparing, there He is most inflamed with anger and purpose of revenge; and, therefore, the fewer the judgments be that are poured forth upon the wicked in this life, the more are reserved in store for them in the life to come. (Daniel Cawdray)

God's anger, like the house that Samson pulled upon his own had, falls not upon us but when we pull it upon ourselves by sin. (Sir Richard Baker)

God has in Himself all power to defend you, all wisdom to direct you, all mercy to pardon you, all grace to enrich you, all righteousness to clothe you, all goodness to supply you, and all happiness to crown you. (Thomas Brooks)

Good Works

All our works before repentance are dead works (Hebrews 6:1). And these works have no true beauty in them, with whatsoever gloss they may appear to a natural eye. A dead body may have something of the features and beauty of a living, but it is but the beauty of a carcase, not of a man. Since man, therefore, is spiritually dead, he cannot preform a living service. As a natural death does incapacitate for natural actions, so a spiritual death must incapacitate for spiritual actions. (Stephen Charnock)

Naked faith is no faith. (Thomas Manton)

The want of good works makes faith sick, evil works kill her outright. (Thomas Adams)

Faith is full of good works. It believes as if it did not work, and it works as if it did not believe. (Thomas Watson)

The course of thy life will speak more for thee than the discourse of thy lips. (George Swinnock)

Faith justifies the person, and works justify his faith. (Elisha Coles)

As the apple is not the cause of the apple tree, but a fruit of it: even so good works are not the cause of our salvation, but a sign and a fruit of the same. (Daniel Cawdray)

We are not justified by doing good works, but being justified we then do good. (William Jenkyn)

The saints of God are sealed inwardly with faith, but outwardly with good works. (John Boys)

God loves adverbs better than nouns; not praying only but praying well; not doing good but doing it well. (Thomas Brooks)

When Christ shall say, "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of these, ye did it not to Me", it will be a poor excuse to say, Lord I was forbidden by the law. (Richard Baxter)

Seek that your last days may be your best days, and so you may die in a good old age, which may be best done when you die good in old age. (Ralph Venning)

Developing a Vibrant Faith

The apostle Paul had a strong commitment to know and serve Jesus Christ. His passion and love for the Lord was obvious—Jesus was always central in his thinking, whether he was working as a tent maker, preaching to the crowd, or even sitting in chains at prison. What fueled his love for the Lord?

Paul's conversion experience on the Damascus Road was a motivating force in his life. Grateful for the gift of grace he had received at salvation, the apostle told many people about his encounter with the resurrected Christ and its impact on him. We, too, have a story to tell of God's mercy in saving us and of the new life we have in Him.

Paul's zeal also came from his firm conviction that the gospel message was true and available to everyone (John 3:16). On the cross, Jesus took all our sins—past, present, and future—upon Himself (1 Pet. 2:24). He suffered our punishment so that we might receive forgiveness and be brought into a right relationship with God. Through faith in Christ, we've been born again, and the indwelling Holy Spirit helps us every day (John 14:26). The more we understand what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf, the greater will be our passion to share the gospel.

Developing a vibrant faith requires time and energy plus a commitment to obey God. Regularly studying the Bible will strengthen your beliefs and give you courage to speak. Caring about the spiritual welfare of others will move you into action. Do you have a passion to serve Jesus wherever He leads?

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Renew Your Mind

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. - Romans 12:1-2

Have you ever found yourself humming or singing a song that is in your mind but you are not sure where it came from? So often, I will walk out of a store with a familiar tune playing in my head. The same thing happens when we watch television. Images from movies and television shows repeatedly play over and over in our minds. The power of sound and visual imagery can dominate us and yet, in many ways, we are somewhat immune to their influence. The entire marketing industry knows that repetitive marketing slogans will lead us to desire and purchase them. Our minds are well-trained in the ways of the world.

As Christians, we need to be aware of the worldly influences that infiltrate our minds. Thoughts tend to build upon each other and that can lead us into ungodly habits and patterns. The devil will tell us that whatever is in our minds is just for us; no one will get hurt, and no one will ever know. But in time, out thoughts will begin to change our behaviors and ultimately, some of those hidden things in our minds will be exposed in our lives. We must guard against these influences from the start. We must be on the offensive at all times. The apostle Paul tells us that we are not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Our minds must be renewed daily, moment by moment, and this training begins by keeping certain things out. Make a conscious choice to avoid watching certain programs or movies. Turn off the noise in the car and replace it with music of praise and worship. We need to put things in our minds that glorify our Lord, for He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world.

Is it a sacrifice? Yes. We must present our bodies and minds to be a sacrifice unto God. The best part is that our sacrifice is greatly rewarded in the blessings that come from having a sound mind filled with peace and joy. Ask the Lord to help you today, and pray for His power to overcome the enticing activities of the world. Retrain your mind and your life will change.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Friday, February 20, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 36

God (continued)

The righteousness of God, whereby He justifieth sinners, and sanctifieth the justified, and executeth judgment for His reconciled people, is the sweetest object of the church's joy. (David Dickson)

God was but six days in making the whole world, yet seven days in destroying one city. (John Trapp)

God's forbearance is no acquittance. (John Trapp)

Though the patience of God be lasting, yet it is not everlasting. (William Secker)

As God did not at first choose you because you were high, so He will not forsake you because you are low. (John Flavel)

Man's faith may fail him sometimes, but God's faithfulness never fails him. (William Greenhill)

The only ground of God's love is His love. The ground of God's love is only and wholly in Himself. There is neither portion nor proportion in us to draw His love. There is no love nor loveliness in us that should cause a beam of His love to shine upon us. (Thomas Brooks)

He is called the "Father of mercy," as who should say, He begets mercy, even a generation of mercies, from day to day. (Thomas Hooker)

You now know the reason why God stands so long waiting on sinners, months, years, preaching to them; it is that He may be gracious in pardoning them, and in that act delight Himself. Princes very often pardon traitors to please others more than themselves, or else it would never be done; but God doth it chiefly to delight and glad His own merciful heart. Hence the business Christ came about (which is no other but to reconcile sinners to God) is called "the pleasure of the Lord" (Isaiah 53:10). (William Gurnall)

God is not wasted by bestowing. (Thomas Manton)

God is ever giving to His children, yet hath not the less. His riches are imparted, not impaired. (Thomas Watson)

If the end of one mercy were not the beginning of another, we were undone. (Philip Henry)

Impossible it is, that He should reject any poor penitent sinner, merely for the greatness of the sins he hath committed. It is the exaltation of His mercy (saith faith) that God hath in His eye when He promised pardon to poor sinners. (William Gurnall)

He is righteous to reward according to deserts; He is gracious to reward above deserts; yea, He is merciful to reward without deserts; and how, then, can I doubt of His will to help me? (Sir Richard Baker)

A Believer's Peace

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things where with one may edify another. - Romans 14:19

Today, believers and unbelievers alike are looking for peace. But how do we follow after the things of peace?  Since everyone is longing and searching for peace, let’s first define the difference between the peace of the unbeliever with the peace of the believer.

The unbeliever is looking for peace in the outer circumstances of their lives. “If only the world was a peaceful place to be, if only we had a leader that would establish peace, if only everyone else would be kind to one another….then we would have peace” are the hopes and thoughts of the unbelievers. So, they look for leaders who could bring this kind of peace to their environment. We all agree with this kind of thinking to some extent. Wouldn’t we all be happy with world peace and conflict free circumstances? But Jesus tells us that in this world you will have tribulation and the Bible teaches that the only leader who will bring world peace is the spirit of the antichrist. World peace cannot last under his reign for Satan is the master of division, destruction, disaster and death.

A believer’s peace is different. Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you.” The kind of peace Jesus gives is peace of heart.Christians should have great peace knowing that they are unconditionally loved and that God has a purpose for them. There is great peace seeing prayers answered and understanding the things of God. As a believer begins to meditate upon the things of God, the peace they receive in their hearts starts training their minds to think differently. We start hearing praise songs going through our minds and thanking God for His lovingkindness and goodness towards us. Finally, this peace of Christ is lived out through the believers’ behaviors. Their attitude is not negative and they smile for no reason. They are focused but not self centered. And their behavior starts reflecting a trust in God that all things will work together for good because they love God and know God loves them. A believer understands that it is not about conflict-free circumstances that bring peace but about Jesus who brings peace in the midst of all kinds of circumstances. So, we follow after the things of peace leading us to follow the Author of perfect peace Himself.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 35

God (continued)

The titles of God are virtually promises, when He is called a sun, a shield, a strong tower, a hiding place, a portion. The titles of Christ: light of the world, bread of life, the way, the truth, and life; the titles of the Holy Spirit: the Spirit of truth, of holiness, of glory, of grace, of supplication, the sealing, witnessing Spirit - faith may conclude as much out of these as out of promises. (David Clarkson)

There can be but one Infinite. (Elisha Coles)

You may know God, but not comprehend Him. (Richard Baxter)

How should finite comprehend infinite? We shall apprehend Him, but not comprehend Him. (Richard Sibbs)

We know God but as men born blind know the fire: they know that there is such a thing as fire, for they feel it warm them, but what it is they know not. So, that there is a God we know, but what He is we know little, and indeed we can never search Him out to perfection; a finite creature can never fully comprehend that which is infinite. (Thomas Manton)

It is visible that God "is", but is invisible "what" He is. (Stephen Charnock)

Thomas acknowledged the divinity he did not see, by the wounds he did see. (John Boys)

No bodily eye hath ever, or can possibly see Him. Neither can the eye of the understanding perfectly reach Him. (Thomas Hodges)

God is the cause of causes. (Christopher Neese)

God's foreknowledge of what He will do doth not necessitate Him to do. (Stephen Charnock)

God reveals His glorious majesty in the highest heavens, His fearful justice in the hell of the damned; His wise and powerful providence is manifest throughout the whole world; but His gracious love and mercy in, and unto His Church here upon earth. (John Robinson)

All things (but lying, dying, and denying Himself) are possible to God. (Christopher Nesse)

One Almighty is more than all mighties. (William Gurnall)

God's center is everywhere, His circumference nowhere. (Thomas Watson)

God is neither shut up in nor shut out of any place. (George Swinnock)

The carnal mind sees God in nothing, not even in spiritual things. The spiritual mind sees Him in everything, even in natural things. (Robert Leighton)

A heathen philosopher once asked: "Where is God?" The Christian answered: "Let me first ask you, where is He not?" (John Arrowsmith)

The Saint Must Walk Alone

Most of the world's great souls have been lonely. Loneliness seems to be one price the saint must pay for his saintliness.

In the morning of the world (or should we say, in that strange darkness that came soon after the dawn of man's creation), that pious soul, Enoch, walked with God and was not, for God took him; and while it is not stated in so many words, a fair inference is that Enoch walked a path quite apart from his contemporaries.

Another lonely man was Noah who, of all the antediluvians, found grace in the sight of God; and every shred of evidence points to the aloneness of his life even while surrounded by his people.

Again, Abraham had Sarah and Lot, as well as many servants and herdsmen, but who can read his story and the apostolic comment upon it without sensing instantly that he was a man "whose soul was alike a star and dwelt apart"? As far as we know not one word did God ever speak to him in the company of men. Face down he communed with his God, and the innate dignity of the man forbade that he assume this posture in the presence of others. How sweet and solemn was the scene that night of the sacrifice when he saw the lamps of fire moving between the pieces of offering. There, alone with a horror of great darkness upon him, he heard the voice of God and knew that he was a man marked for divine favor.

Moses also was a man apart. While yet attached to the court of Pharaoh he took long walks alone, and during one of these walks while far removed from the crowds he saw an Egyptian and a Hebrew fighting and came to the rescue of his countryman. After the resultant break with Egypt he dwelt in almost complete seclusion in the desert. There, while he watched his sheep alone, the wonder of the burning bush appeared to him, and later on the peak of Sinai he crouched alone to gaze in fascinated awe at the Presence, partly hidden, partly disclosed, within the cloud and fire.

The prophets of pre-Christian times differed widely from each other, but one mark they bore in common was their enforced loneliness. They loved their people and gloried in the religion of the fathers, but their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their zeal for the welfare of the nation of Israel drove them away from the crowd and into long periods of heaviness. "I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children," cried one and unwittingly spoke for all the rest.

Most revealing of all is the sight of that One of whom Moses and all the prophets did write, treading His lonely way to the cross. His deep loneliness was unrelieved by the presence of the multitudes.

'Tis midnight, and on Olive's brow
The star is dimmed that lately shone;
'Tis midnight; in the garden now,
The suffering Savior prays alone.

'Tis midnight, and from all removed
The Savior wrestles lone with fears;
E'en the disciple whom He loved
Heeds not his Master's grief and tears.
- William B. Tappan

He died alone in the darkness hidden from the sight of mortal man and no one saw Him when He arose triumphant and walked out of the tomb, though many saw Him afterward and bore witness to what they saw. There are some things too sacred for any eye but God's to look upon. The curiosity, the clamor, the well-meant but blundering effort to help can only hinder the waiting soul and make unlikely if not impossible the communication of the secret message of God to the worshiping heart.

Sometimes we react by a kind of religious reflex and repeat dutifully the proper words and phrases even though they fail to express our real feelings and lack the authenticity of personal experience. Right now is such a time. A certain conventional loyalty may lead some who hear this unfamiliar truth expressed for the first time to say brightly, "Oh, I am never lonely. Christ said, `I will never leave you nor forsake you,' and `Lo, I am with you alway.' How can I be lonely when Jesus is with me?"

Now I do not want to reflect on the sincerity of any Christian soul, but this stock testimony is too neat to be real. It is obviously what the speaker thinks should be true rather than what he has proved to be true by the test of experience. This cheerful denial of loneliness proves only that the speaker has never walked with God without the support and encouragement afforded him by society. The sense of companionship which he mistakenly attributes to the presence of Christ may and probably does arise from the presence of friendly people. Always remember: you cannot carry a cross in company. Though a man were surrounded by a vast crowd, his cross is his alone and his carrying of it marks him as a man apart. Society has turned against him; otherwise he would have no cross. No one is a friend to the man with a cross. "They all forsook Him, and fled."

The pain of loneliness arises from the constitution of our nature. God made us for each other. The desire for human companionship is completely natural and right. The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share inner experiences, he is forced to walk alone. The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.

The man who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. A certain amount of social fellowship will of course be his as he mingles with religious persons in the regular activities of the church, but true spiritual fellowship will be hard to find. But he should not expect things to be otherwise. After all he is a stranger and a pilgrim, and the journey he takes is not on his feet but in his heart. He walks with God in the garden of his own soul - and who but God can walk there with him? He is of another spirit from the multitudes that tread the courts of the Lord's house. He has seen that of which they have only heard, and he walks among them somewhat as Zacharias walked after his return from the altar when the people whispered, "He has seen a vision."

The truly spiritual man is indeed something of an oddity. He lives not for himself but to promote the interests of Another. He seeks to persuade people to give all to his Lord and asks no portion or share for himself. He delights not to be honored but to see his Savior glorified in the eyes of men. His joy is to see his Lord promoted and himself neglected. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and overserious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none, he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.

It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else. He learns in inner solitude what he could not have learned in the crowd - that Christ is All in All, that He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that in Him we have and possess life's summum bonum.

Two things remain to be said. One, that the lonely man of whom we speak is not a haughty man, nor is he the holier-than-thou, austere saint so bitterly satirized in popular literature. He is likely to feel that he is the least of all men and is sure to blame himself for his very loneliness. He wants to share his feelings with others and to open his heart to some like-minded soul who will understand him, but the spiritual climate around him does not encourage it, so he remains silent and tells his griefs to God alone.

The second thing is that the lonely saint is not the withdrawn man who hardens himself against human suffering and spends his days contemplating the heavens. Just the opposite is true. His loneliness makes him sympathetic to the approach of the brokenhearted and the fallen and the sin-bruised. Because he is detached from the world, he is all the more able to help it. Meister Eckhart taught his followers that if they should find themselves in prayer and happen to remember that a poor widow needed food, they should break off the prayer instantly and go care for the widow. "God will not suffer you to lose anything by it," he told them. "You can take up again in prayer where you left off and the Lord will make it up to you." This is typical of the great mystics and masters of the interior life from Paul to the present day.

The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their effort to achieve restful "adjustment" to unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent to protest. The world recognizes them and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are they saints.

~A. W. Tozer~