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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 70

Promises of God

The being of  God may as well fail as the promise of God. (Timothy Cruso)

Promises, though they be for a time seemingly delayed, cannot be finally frustrated ... the heart of God is not turned though His face be hid; and prayers are not flung back, though they be not instantly answered. (Timothy Cruso)

Three things are called precious in the Scripture: the blood of Christ is called "precious blood," (1 Peter 1:19); and faith is called "precious faith," (2 Peter 1:1); and the promises are called "precious promises," (2 Peter 1:4). (Thomas Brooks)

Christ's performances outstrip His promises. (Nehemiah Rogers)

"Peter was in prison, but prayer was made without ceasing of the church to God for him" (Acts 12:5). What greater happiness than to have God's promises and the saints prayers! (Thomas Watson)

It is better to be as low as hell with a promise, than in Paradise without one. (John Flavel)

For the most part we live upon successes, not promises: unless we see and feel the print of victories, we will not believe. (John Owen)

Prosperity

As men cherish young plants at first, and fence them about to keep them from hurt, but when they are grown, they remove them, and then leave them to the wind and weather, so God bests His children first with props of inward comforts, but afterwards exposes them to storms and winds, because they are better able to bear it. Therefore let no man think himself the better because he is free from troubles. It is because God sees him not fit to bear greater. (Richard Sibbes)

Where one thousand are destroyed by the world's frowns, ten thousand are destroyed by the world's smiles. The world, siren-like, sings us and sinks us. (Thomas Brooks)

And as men's diversions increase from the world, so do their entanglements from satan. When they have more to do in the world than they can well manage, they shall have more to do from satan than they can well withstand. (John Owen)

David could bear persecution without murmuring, but when he came to prosperity he could not turn away his eyes from vanity. (Sir Richard Baker)

Build your nest upon no tree here; for you see God has sold the forest to death. (Samuel Rutherford)


Let Patience Have Her Perfect Work


Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him (Psalms 37:7).

Have you prayed and prayed and waited and waited, and still there is no manifestation? Are you tired of seeing nothing move? Are you just at the point of giving it all up? Perhaps you have not waited in the right way? This would take you out of the right place the place where He can meet you.

"With patience wait" (Rom. 8:25). Patience takes away worry. He said He would come, and His promise is equal to His presence. Patience takes away your weeping. Why feel sad and despondent? He knows your need better than you do, and His purpose in waiting is to bring more glory out of it all. Patience takes away self-works. The work He desires is that you "believe" (John 6:29), and when you believe, you may then know that all is well. Patience takes away all want. Your desire for the thing you wish is perhaps stronger than your desire for the will of God to be fulfilled in its arrival.

Patience takes away all weakening. Instead of having the delaying time, a time of letting go, know that God is getting a larger supply ready and must get you ready too. Patience takes away all wobbling. "Make me stand upon my standing" (Daniel 8:18, margin). God's foundations are steady; and when His patience is within, we are steady while we wait. Patience gives worship. A praiseful patience sometimes "long-suffering with joyfulness" (Col. 1:11) is the best part of it all. "Let (all these phases of) patience have her perfect work" (James 1:4), while you wait, and you will find great enrichment.
Hold steady when the fires burn,
When inner lessons come to learn,
And from this path there seems no turn
"Let patience have her perfect work."

~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, March 30, 2015

strength In Jesus


Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10


The Bible is filled with stories and teachings that go completely contrary to the views of the world. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus warned us that we could not serve both God and mammon (money). Later, the apostle John would write: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."  (1 John 2:15)  But today's Scripture verse seems to go even a step farther. Paul tells us to "take pleasure" in the things in our lives that make us weak, such as sickness and all other types of distresses. How many of us can truly say that we find pleasure in being sick, having financial problems, family struggles or even persecution from various sources?

As Christians, we are told not only to believe in Jesus, but to follow Him. In Luke 14:27-28, Jesus speaks of those who choose to follow Him, that they must leave everything else behind. He tells them to count the cost before they make their decision. We live in a world today that promotes "self" and all of the accolades that go along with self gratification and self satisfaction. We want to be comfortable, we do not want to suffer. Even the weather can dampen our spirits. We have our days so well-planned, so tightly-scheduled, that even one deviation from our plan can send us into a frenzy. Add sickness or some other types of problems and we soon find out where our strength is based. If our strength is not in Christ, then we are headed for a fall. Some of us fall several times a day. Jesus says that when we are weak, He is strong. When we truly follow Jesus, we discover just how weak we really are. It is in the weakness of our lives that He is able to show His power and might. Paul learned to glory in his weaknesses because that is when he saw the Lord work in a more powerful way through him.

We will have troubles in this world, despite our efforts to avoid them. We will have sickness, needs, and distresses, but contrary to the world's teachings, we can take pleasure in these times of weakness. Why? Because Jesus will show us His strength and power in glorious ways. Sin brings these bad things into our world, but Jesus has made a way for us to live through them with peace and joy. Today, instead of complaining about your circumstances, regardless of how painful they may be, ask the Lord to give you His strength through them. Allow yourself to be weak and dependent on Jesus. And, finally, give Him thanks for all that is happening in your life. Look up and see the glory of the Lord, for He is above and controls the activities of this world.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 69

Preaching

It was by the ear, by our first parents listening to the serpent, that we lost paradise; and it is by the ear, by hearing of the Word, that we get to heaven. "Hear, and your souls shall live." (Isaiah 55:3) (Thomas Watson)

Once we had golden ministers and wooden vessels, now we have wooden ministers and golden vessels. (John Trapp)

When the fire is stirred up and discovered it giveth more heat than when it is not, so the Word of God by preaching and interpreting maketh a great flame in the hearts of the hearers than when it is read. (Thomas Cartwright)

If a hardened heart be to broken, it is not stroking but striking that must do it. (Richard Baxter)

Rhetorical flowers and flourishes, expressions with impressions in praying or preaching, are not true bread, but a tinkling cymbal to it. (Christopher Nesse)

I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men. (Richard Baxter)

Pride

Pride loves to climb up, not as Zaccheus to see Christ, but to be seen. (William Gurnall)

This is certainly pride, for it is a lifting up of the heart above God and against God and without God. (Thomas Manton)

A proud faith is as much a contradiction as a humble devil. (Stephen Charnock)

The more godly a man is, and the more graces and blessings of God are upon him, the more need he hath to pray, because satan is busiest against him, and because he is readiest to be puffed up with conceited holiness. (Richard Greenham)

I may say of pride, many sins have done wickedly, but thou surmountest them all; for the wrathful man, the prodigal man, the lascivious man, the surfeiting man, the slothful man, is rather an enemy to himself than to God; the envious man, the covetous man, the deceitful man, the ungrateful man, is rather an enemy to men than to God; but the proud man sets himself against God, he maketh himself equal with God; he exalteth himself above God (because he will have his own will). (Henry Smith)

As death is the last enemy; so pride the last sin that shall be destroyed in us. (John Boys)

Pride is the shirt of the soul, put on first and put off last. (George Swinnock)

And if God spared not the angels, whom He placed in the highest heavens, but for their pride threw them down headlong to the nethermost hell, how much less shall He spare the proud dust and ashes of the sons of men, but shall cast them from the height of their earthly altitude to the bottom of that infernal dungeon! "Humility makes men angels; pride makes angels devils." Oh let us be humbled by our repentance, that we may not be brought down to everlasting confusion: let us be cast down upon our knees, that we may not be cast down upon our faces. For God will make good His own Word, one way: "A man's pride shall bring him low." (Joseph Hall)

When the devil cannot stay us from a good work, then he laboreth by all means to make us proud of it. (Henry Smith)

Men are more unwilling to part with their righteousness than with their sins. (Stephen Charnock)

Our father was Adam, our grandfather dust, our great-grandfather nothing. (William Jenkyn)

Only a Christian of strong grace can bear the strong wine of commendation without the spiritual intoxication. (William Jenkyn)

For the avoiding of this vice (pride), God suffereth man to fall into other vices, which men abhor and punish, as theft and fornication, and drunkenness, to make them ashamed by these vices, which were not ashamed of pride. (Henry Smith)


The Comforted Heart Cried, "No!"


And every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit (John 15:2).

A child of God was dazed by the variety of afflictions which seemed to make her their target. Walking past a vineyard in the rich autumnal glow she noticed the untrimmed appearance and the luxuriant wealth of leaves on the vines, that the ground was given over to a tangle of weeds and grass, and that the whole place looked utterly uncared for; and as she pondered, the Heavenly Gardener whispered so precious a message that she would fain pass it on:

"My dear child, are you wondering at the sequence of trials in your life? Behold that vineyard and learn of it. The gardener ceases to prune, to trim, to harrow, or to pluck the ripe fruit only when he expects nothing more from the vine during that season. It is left to itself, because the season of fruit is past and further effort for the present would yield no profit. Comparative uselessness is the condition of freedom from suffering. Do you then wish me to cease pruning your life? Shall I leave you alone?"

And the comforted heart cried, "No!"
--Homera Homer-Dixon

It is the branch that bears the fruit,
That feels the knife,
To prune it for a larger growth,
A fuller life.
Though every budding twig be lopped,
And every grace
Of swaying tendril, springing leaf,
Be lost a space.
O thou whose life of joy seems reft,
Of beauty shorn;
Whose aspirations lie in dust,
All bruised and torn,
Rejoice, tho' each desire, each dream,
Each hope of thine
Shall fall and fade; it is the hand
Of Love Divine
That holds the knife, that cuts and breaks
With tenderest touch,
That thou, whose life has borne some fruit

May'st now bear much.
--Annie Johnson Flint

~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 68

Prayer (continued)

Though God be not changed by it (prayer) in Himself, yet the real change that is made by it on ourselves, doth infer a change in God by mere relation or extrinsical denomination; He being, according to the tenor of His own covenant, engaged to punish the unbelieving, prayerless, and disobedient, and to pardon them that are faithfully desirous and obedient. So that in prayer, faith and fervency are so far from being useless, that they as much prevail for the thing desired by qualifying our selves for it, as if indeed they moved the mind of God to a real change; even as he that is in a boat, and by his hook layeth hold of the bank, doth as truly by his labor get nearer the bank, as if he drew the bank to him. (Richard Baxter)

God can pick sense out of a confused prayer. (Richard Sibbs)

Set prayers are prescript forms of our own or others composing; such are lawful for any, and needful for some.

Lawful for any. Otherwise God would not have appointed the priests a form of blessing the people. Nor would the Saviour have set His prayer, which is both a prayer in itself, and a pattern or platform of prayer.

Needful for some. Namely, for such who as yet have not attained to pray extempore by the Spirit. But as little children are so ambitious of going  alone, that they scorn to take the guidance of a form or bench to direct them, but will venture by themselves ... so many confess their weakness, in denying to confess it, who, refusing to be beholden to a set form of prayer, prefer to say nonsense, rather than nothing, in their extempore expressions. More modesty, and no less piety, it had been for such men to have prayed longer with set forms that they might pray better without them. (Thomas Fuller)

Is it lawful to pray in a set form of words? Nothing but very great ignorance can make you really doubt it. Hath God anywhere forbid it? You will say that it is enough that He hath not commanded it. I answer, That in general He hath commanded it you you all be done to edification; but He hath given to you no particular command or prohibition. No more hath He commanded you to pray in English, French, or Latin; nor to sing psalms in this tune or that; nor after this or that version or translation. (Richard Baxter)

Hath it not the show of error to say that no man may use any set prayer, seeing there be many set prayer, and psalms, and blessings in the Holy Scripture, which were used in the same form? (Henry Smith)

Overvalue not therefore the manner of your own worship, and over vilify not other men's of a different mode. (Richard Baxter)


Already Judged



As a society, Americans are fond of their rights. We're very protective of our liberties, even when they might bring harm rather than good. That can be true of spiritual matters as well. For example, exercising the "right" to reject God's plan of salvation leaves a person in a condemned condition.

I have heard the following phrase often in my years of ministry: "I don't believe God is going to condemn me to hell." I agree, but not with the comment's intended meaning--that a person is worthy of heaven on the basis of his own merit. You see, it is true that the Lord doesn't condemn people to hell. He allows them to opt for that eternal destination themselves. They have a right to choose.

God says that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ have been judged already (v. 18). In other words, by rejecting--or politely ignoring--their need for a Savior, unbelievers have chosen to remain unsaved and unforgiven. Scripture teaches that there will one day be a judgment, but God has already determined that those who trust in Christ will stand with Him while the rest will be sent away (Matt. 25:34-46). An unrepentant man or woman is not condemned by God but, rather, has chosen to remain in the company of all those condemned by their own free will.

God desires that everyone come to a saving knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:9). To that end, He has granted each person the right to decide whether or not to follow in obedience. However, those who reject the Savior are forewarned that they have settled for condemnation.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Friday, March 27, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 67

Prayer (continued)

To an effectual prayer there must concur the intention of the mind and the affections of the heart; else it is not praying but parroting. (John Trapp)

We must join our endeavor in the use of all means with our prayers, whether they be put up for spiritual or temporal blessings. We must pray with our hand at the pump, or the ship will sink in sight of our prayers. Is it temporal subsistence thou prayest for? Pray and work, or pray and stave. Dost thou thing to set God at work, while thou sittest with thy hand in thy bosom? (William Gurnall)

Do not any day, upon any pretense, omit to offer up thy morning and evening sacrifices. Remember, so often as thou neglectest morning prayer, so often thou art all the day naked, destitute of thy spiritual guard, and exposed to all manner of evils and enemies, and dost forespeak thyself an evil day; and so often as thou omittest evening prayer tho presumest upon sleep, and rest, and safety, without God's leave, and forespeakest thyself an evil night. (George Swinnock)

When thou prayest, rather let thy heart be without words, than thy words without a heart. (John Bunyan)

Pray often rather than very long at a time. It is hard to be very long in prayer, and not slacken in our affections. (William Gurnall)

I have been benefited by prayer for others; for by making an errand to God for them I have gotten something for myself. (Samuel Rutherford)

When you do not hear as much and so often from God in preaching, let God hear the more and oftener from you in prayer. Ply the throne of grace. Give God no rest til He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (John Whitlock)

One way to get comfort is to plead the promise of God in prayer, show Him His handwriting; God is tender of His Word. (Thomas Manton)

A praying man can never be very miserable, whatever his condition be, for he has the ear of God; the Spirit within to indite, a Friend in heaven to present, and God Himself to receive his desires as a Father. It is a mercy to pray, even though I never receive the mercy prayed for. (William Bridge)

Ah! How often, Christians, hath God kissed you at the beginning of prayer, and spoken peace to you in the midst of prayer, and filled you with joy and assurance upon the close of prayer! (Thomas Brooks)

How can I know that my prayers are prompted by the Spirit?

When they are not only vocal, but mental; when they are not only gifts, but groans. (Thomas Watson)


The Power of the Holy Spirit



The principle we will explore today is basic but so powerful that it determines whether we experience victory in our lives.

You are probably familiar with the book The Little Engine That Could, in which a small engine keeps repeating the words "I think I can." By using sheer willpower, she pulls an entire train over the mountain. That's a nice children's story, but the truth of the Christian life is very different. In the real world, our efforts and determination often fall short. Only by walking in the power of the Holy Spirit can the godly life be achieved.

Throughout the Old Testament, God's Spirit would temporarily come upon saints for a particular work. However, after Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Spirit to dwell permanently within each believer. Consider what this means: If you're a Christian, God is living inside of you, available to help all through life by providing guidance, comfort, and empowerment.

Obedience to Christ is too difficult for anyone relying on his own strength. And discerning what to do in every situation is far too complicated for a fleshly mind. For some reason, though, Christians often try to live life by depending on their own energy and reasoning. Defeat and failure are unavoidable without His power in our lives.

Do you recognize your need for the Lord? Begin each day confessing your dependence upon Him. Ask to be filled with His Spirit so that all you think, do, and say will be an overflow from Him. Then trust Him to work in mighty ways through you. Watch what almighty God can do.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 66

Prayer (continued)

Israel prevailed with God in wrestling with Him, and therefore it is that he prevails with men also. If so be that we will wrestle with God for a blessing, and prevail with Him, then we need not to fear but we shall wrestle the enemies out of it also. (Alexander Henderson)

Misbelief doth seek many ways for delivery from trouble; but faith hath but one way - to go to God, to wit, by prayer, for whatsoever is needful. (David Dickson)

When people do not mind what God speaks to them in His word, God doth as little mind what they say to Him in prayer. (William Gurnall)

Christ went more readily ad crucem, than we to the throne of grace. ( Thomas Watson)

God looks not at the excellency of your prayers, to see how neat they are; nor yet at the geometry of your prayers, to see how long they are; nor yet at the arithmetic of your prayers, to see how many they are; nor yet at the music of your prayers, nor yet at the sweetness of your voice, nor yet at the logic of your prayers; but at the sincerity of your prayers, how hearty they are. There is no prayer acknowledged, approved, accepted, recorded, or rewarded by God, but that wherein the heart is sincerely and wholly. The true mother would not have the child divided. God loves a broken and a contrite heart, so He loathes a divided heart. God neither loves halting nor halving. (Thomas Brooks)

Be very particular in secret prayer, both as to sins, wants and mercies. Be not ashamed to open out all thy necessities. Before God we may speak out our minds fully, and name the persons that afflict, affront, and trouble us; and woe to them that a child of God upon a mature judgment names in prayer! I find not that such a prayer in Scripture ever returned empty. A great reason why we reap so little benefit in prayer is, because we rest too much in generals. (Samuel Lee)

(The hypocrite) when he hath got what he hath a mind to in prayer, he hath no more mind to pray. (Joseph Caryl)

Prayer that is faithless is fruitless. (Thomas Watson)

It is a sweet saying of one, "O Lord; I have come to Thee; but by Thee, I will never go from Thee, without Thee." (Thomas Brooks)

"Ask ..." (Matthew 7:7). If we don't receive by asking, then let us seek; if we don't receive by seeking, then let us knock. (Thomas Manton)

A Christian should shut both the door of his closet and the door of his lips so close, that none should hear without what he says within. (Thomas Brooks)

Furnish thyself with arguments from the promises to enforce thy prayers, and make them prevalent with God. The promises are the ground of faith, and faith, when strengthened, will make thee fervent, and such fervency ever speeds and returns with victory out of the field of prayer. The mightier any is in the Word, the more mighty he will be in prayer. (William Gurnall)

Cold prayers always freeze before they reach heaven. (Thomas Brooks)

Observe whether thy fervency in prayer be uniform; a false heart may seem very hot in praying against one sin, but he can skip over another, and either leave it out of his confession, or handle it very gently, as a partial witness, that would fain save the prisoner's life he comes against, will not speak all he knows, but minceth his evidence; thus doth the hypocrite deal with his darling lust. (William Gurnall)

Take heed of carrying purposes of going on in sin with thee to the throne of grace! This were a horrible wickedness indeed. Is it not enough to sin, but wouldst thou make God accessary to His own dishonor also? (William Gurnall)


Spiritual Fruit: A Labor of Love?


Faith and works go hand in hand. A Christian is one whom Christ uses to carry out His work on earth. Therefore, serving God is more than just something we do; working for the Lord also defines who we are.

After joining God’s family, believers are recognizable by their fruit, which includes the services they perform for Him and for others. In fact, the Lord rescues people from sin so that they can do the work He has planned (Ephesians 2:10). It has often been said that we are God’s hands and feet in this world.

The same Father who calls us to work in His name also provides the necessary resources. As Paul said, the Lord makes grace abound to His children so that they have an abundance for every good deed (2 Corinthians 9:8). Moreover, we are equipped by His Word and strengthened and guided by His Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16–17). From these sources, Christians learn lessons about relating to others so they can help, encourage, and give to them.

Let’s be clear that works have nothing to do with salvation. We are saved by grace alone through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Period. After that happens, a believer is motivated to do good in the Lord’s name in order to please Him.

We are called to act out our faith every day. God works through us to reach those who may never otherwise open the Bible or enter a church. What’s more, He borrows our voice to tell His story and uses our life to demonstrate His grace and glory. Good deeds are a believer's labor of love.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 65

Prayer

Prayer is the soul's breathing itself into the bosom of its heavenly Father. (Thomas Watson)

Praying is the same to the new creature as crying is to the natural. The child is not learned by art or example to cry, but instructed by nature; it comes into the world crying. Praying is not a lesson got by forms and rules of art, but flowing from principles of new life itself. (William Gurnall)

You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed. (John Bunyan)

Prayer is nothing but the promise reversed, or God's Word formed into an argument, and retorted by faith upon God again. (William Gurnall)

I had rather learn what some men really judge about their own justification from their prayers than their writings. (John Owen)

Words are but the body, the garment, the outside of prayer; sighs are nearer the heart work. A dumb beggar getteth an alms at Christ's gates, even by making signs, when his tongue cannot plead for him; and the rather, because he is dumb. Tears have a tongue, and grammar, and language, that our Father knoweth. Babes have no prayer for the breast, but weeping: the mother can read hunger in weeping. (Samuel Rutherford)

Many dumb beggars have been relieved at Christ's gate by making signs. (William Secker)

I had rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous. (Thomas Lye)

Good prayers never come weeping home. I am sure I shall receive, either what I ask or what I should ask. (Joseph Hall)

The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer fetched the angel. (Thomas Watson)

Prayer is putting the promises into suit. (John Trapp)

God never denied that soul anything that went as far as heaven to ask it. (John Trapp)

Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer. (John Bunyan)

God may deny your wantonness, but not your wants. (John Flavel)

Pray often; for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for satan. (John Bunyon)

That which begins not with prayer, seldom winds up with comfort. (John Flavel)

An Idol In Your Life?


Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:4


When we think of idols, most of us do not think of worshiping some molded statue. Today, some religions do bow down to gods with the image of a man, woman or creature, but certainly not Christians. We know that an idol is anything that we prioritize over God, not necessarily a literal man-made god that we worship. But then again, we do have the “Oscars.” Each year Hollywood gives out these little gold statues to its most honored artists. The evening gowns, the jewelry and the parties are also a big part of this night of awards and acclamations. However, it is not just for those who attend the event and are nominated for the golden honor…it seems that many of us get caught up in the excitement as well.

As Christians, what are our responsibilities in supporting or not supporting this industry?  How much should we care about the movies and about these little golden statues? For some, it is harmless entertainment. For others, it is a continuing sign of moral decay in our society. Where are the lines for us as Christians? The answers to these questions are based upon a personal conviction for each one of us. If we somehow are choosing these idols over our Lord, then maybe we should really pray about our level of interest.

The bigger issue is that God warned His people to turn from their idols and false gods because He knew where it would lead them…to destruction. The same is true for us today. When we focus on things outside of Jesus, our focus is marred with images that are not healthy. No greater place breeds false images than Hollywood. Think about your level of interest. If you feel a nudge in your spirit, ask the Lord to show you areas that need refocusing. We must also remember that our minds tend to replay images over and over in our minds, so be careful of the content in those images. If you find yourself thinking on things of the world too much, ask the Lord to change your focus.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 64

Perfection

God is perfectly good. All the perfection we can arrive at in this life is sincerity. We may resemble God a little, but not equal Him; He is infinitely perfect. (Thomas Watson)

This is the sum of all; for he which can abstain not only from evil, but from the appearance of evil, is so perfect as a man can be in this sinful life. (Henry Smith)

This life was not intended to be the place of our perfection, but the preparation for it. (Richard Baxter)

O good God, guide me by Thy holy hand, that I may keep myself within the lists of Christianity, being modest in apparel, moderate in diet, chaste and temperate in speech, sober in fashion and my ordinary deportment, respective to my superiors, amiable to my equals, without pride and insolency towards these that are below me, courteous and affable and yet without vanity and popularity towards all. Amen (Samuel Hierson)

Persecution

God examineth with trials, the devil examineth with temptations; the world examineth with persecutions. (Henry Smith)

Much grace exercised, brings persecution: for the sweeter and better the fruit is, the more slinging there will be at the tree. (Vavasor Powell)

It much more concerned us, to be sure that we deserved not suffering, than that we be delivered from it. (Richard Baxter)

He that liveth the life of the persecutor dieth also the death of the bloody man. (John Penry)

Praise

Praise is a soul in flower. (Thomas Watson)

Praise shall conclude that work which prayer began. (William Jenkyn)

Alas, for that capital crime of the Lord's people - barrenness in praises! Oh, how fully I am persuaded that a line of praises is worth a leaf of prayer, and an hour of praises is worth  a day of fasting and mourning. (John Livingstone)

The servants of the Lord are to sing His praises in this life to the world's end; and in the next life, world without end. (John Boys)

Praising God is one of the highest and purest acts of religion. In prayer we act like men; in praise we act like angels. (Thomas Watson)

Self-love may lead us to prayers, but love to God excites us to praises. (Thomas Manton)


Accepting God's Gift of Love



Many people simply can't believe that the Lord loves them. Others believe that He loves them, but only when they are pleasing Him in some way. Why is it so hard for us to accept His unconditional love?

One reason is that we have a hard time loving others without condition. We might say the words "I love you" to our spouse, children, friends, co-workers, or fellow believers but all too often are calculating in our mind whether or not they've lived up to our standard. We sometimes excuse ourselves from loving certain people because their behavior upsets or annoys us. The fact that we place restrictions on extending favor causes us to wrongly assume that the Lord does likewise.

Another reason is poor self-image. Considering ourselves unworthy, we refuse to accept God's love. You know what? None of us are worthy of the heavenly Father's goodness and mercy—so you can let go of that excuse once and for all. We're not coming to Him based on our worth. Rather, we're coming to Him based on His grace, and our position is secure in Christ. To put yourself down as "beneath His grace" is to trample on His loving, generous gift. God arranged an awesome divine way for us to be reconciled to Him, and His greatest desire is for relationship with each of us.

If you feel unloved or struggle to accept yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of our heavenly Father's love for you—and to sink it deep into your heart. Receive the truth that He reveals. It will be a completely different story about your value as an individual.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Monday, March 23, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 63

Patience

Patience to the soul is as bread to the body... we eat bread with all our meats, both for health and relish; bread with flesh, bread with fish, bread with broths and fruits. Such is patience to every virtue; we must hope with patience, and pray in patience, and love with patience, and whatsoever good thing we do, let it be done in patience. (Thomas Adams)

The patient man is merry indeed. The jailers that watch him are but his pages of honor, and his very dungeon but the lower side of the vault of heaven. He kisseth the wheel that must kill him; and thinks the stairs of the scaffold of his martyrdom but so many degrees of his ascent to glory. The tormentors are weary of him, the beholders have pity on him, all men wonder at him; and while he seems below all men, below himself, he is above nature. He hath so overcome himself, that nothing can conquer him. (Thomas Adams)

They who are wicked, although they cannot see the goodness of other virtues, yet can see the goodness of patience, and perceive when they see a patient man and an impatient man both sick of one disease; yet both are not troubled alike, but that he who has most patience has most ease, and he who is most impatient is most tormented, like a fish which strives with the hook. (Henry Smith)

To lengthen my patience is the best way to shorten my troubles. (George Swinnock)

Patience must not be an inch shorter than affliction. (Thomas Adams)

Who cares for Caesar when he is dead? But what more efficacious than Christ when He died? He was most practical when He seemed to do nothing. In patience He reigned and triumphed; He subjected the greatest enemies to Himself, satan, and death, and the wrath of God, and all. In the same manner all things are ours, the worst thing that befall God's children, death, and afflictions, and persecutions. There is a kingdom of patience set up in them. The Spirit of God subdues all base fears in us, and a child of God never more triumphs than in his greatest troubles. (Richard Sibbes)

Mercy hath a heaven, and justice a hell, to display itself to eternity, but long-suffering hath only a short-lived earth. (Henry Smith)

Peace

God the Father is called the "God of peace' (Hebrews 13:20). God the Son, the "Prince of peace" (Isaiah 9:6). God the Holy Spirit, the "Spirit ... of peace" (Ephesians 4:3). (Thomas Watson)

The godly man, when he dies, "enters into peace" (Isaiah 57:2); but while he lives, peace must enter into him. (Thomas Watson)

And therefore you who think so basely of the Gospel and the professors of it, because at present their peace and comfort are not come, should know that it is on the way to them, and comes to stay everlastingly with them; whereas your peace is going from you every moment, and is sure to leave you without any hope of returning to you again. Look not how the Christian begins, but ends. (William Gurnall)

The Hill Country Shall be Thine

The hill country shall be thine (Joshua 17:18, RV).

There is always room higher up. When the valleys are full of Canaanites, whose iron chariots withstand your progress, get up into the hills, occupy the upper spaces. If you can no longer work for God, pray for those who can. If you cannot move earth by your speech, you may move Heaven. If the development of life on the lower slopes is impossible, through limitations of service, the necessity of maintaining others, and such-like restrictions, let it break out toward the unseen, the eternal, the Divine.

Faith can fell forests. Even if the tribes had realized what treasures lay above them, they would hardly have dared to suppose it possible to rid the hills of their dense forest-growth. But as God indicated their task, He reminded them that they had power enough. The visions of things that seem impossible are presented to us, like these forest-covered steeps, not to mock us, but to incite us to spiritual exploits which would be impossible unless God had stored within us the great strength of His own indwelling.

Difficulty is sent to reveal to us what God can do in answer to the faith that prays and works. Are you straitened in the valleys? Get away to the hills, live there; get honey out of the rock, and wealth out of the terraced slopes now hidden by forest.
Got any rivers they say are uncrossable,
Got any mountains they say "can't tunnel through"?
We specialize in the wholly impossible,

Doing the things they say you can't do.

~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 62

Parents

If it be the usual method of Divine Providence to visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, see then what great reason parents have to beware that they do not lay up a stock of plagues and curses for their posterity; nor clog the estate which they leave them, with so many debts to be paid to the justice of God as will certainly unto them. (Ezekiel Hopkins)

You are the instrumental causes of all their spiritual misery; and that, 1. by generation, 2. imitation. (John Flavel)

If parents would have their children blessed at church and at school, let them beware they give their children no corrupt examples at home by any carelessness, profaneness, or ungodilness. Otherwise, parents will do them more harm at home than both pastors and schoolmasters can do them good abroad. For the corrupt example of the one fighteth with the good instruction of the other, which is so much the more dangerous because that corrupt walking is armed with nature, and therefore more forcibly inclineth the affections of the children to that side. (Richard Greenham)

Let them (children) go untaught and they will grow so headstrong that they will sooner be broken than bended. (Richard Greenham)

Let me take heed therefore that I do not over-love them, that I do not pamper by indulgence him, and as it were mar and kill his soul by over-cherishing his body. (William Whately)

As for those parents who will not use the rod upon their children, I pray God He useth not their children as a rod for them. (Thomas Fuller)

Some parents, like Eli, bring up their children to bring down their house. (George Swinnock)

If you neglect to instruct them in the way of holiness, will the devil neglect to instruct them in the way of wickedness? No; if you will not teach them to pray, he will to curse, swear, and lie; if ground be uncultivated, weeds will spring. (John Flavel)


No Greater Love



Perhaps the most intense love and protective instinct in the experience of mankind is that of parents toward their children. There is little that most mothers or fathers wouldn't do for a baby. If a truck posed a threat to the little one, it wouldn't surprise us if they jumped in front of the moving vehicle without a second thought.

Wouldn't you like to be cared for with this kind of intensity? You are. In fact, the Lord's love toward you is far deeper and more secure than that of even the most caring, tuned-in human parent. And what God did for us is proof. Romans 5:8 says that while we were living in disobedience, He sent His only Son to die on the cross for us.

Think about a father giving up his child for people who choose to rebel against him. What a tremendous sacrifice and cost! Jesus' death took the place of the punishment that we deserved. If we accept this gift and decide to follow God, He no longer sees us as guilty. Rather, He justifies us, makes us righteous, and changes our ultimate destiny: instead of facing everlasting separation from Him, we will enjoy His presence eternally. What's more, almighty God adopts us as His children forever. Our heavenly Father guides, protects, and counsels us as we walk through life—and promises us that we are secure in Him throughout eternity.
How incredible that the Creator of the universe would love you and me in this way! Do you know and experience the security and sweetness of His care? 

Gratitude and praise should flow from your heart. In turn, love others deeply out of thankfulness for the love that you have received.  

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 61

Obedience (continued)

Some will obey partially, obey some commandments, not others; like a plough which, when it comes to a still piece of earth, makes a balk. But God that spake all the words of the moral law, will have all obeyed. (Thomas Watson)

This is the true obedience, whether to God or man, when we look not so much to the letter of the law, as to the mind of the law-maker. (John Trapp)

True obedience hath no lead at its heels. (Thomas Adams)

Sacrifice without obedience is sacrilege. (William Gurnall)

I had also this consideration, that if I should now venture all for God, I engaged God to take care of my concernments; but if I forsook Him and His ways for fear of any trouble that should come to me or mine, then I should not only falsify my profession, but should count also that my concernments were not so sure. This was a smarting consideration, and was as spure unto my flesh. (John Bunyan)

After thou hast prayed, observe what God doth towards thee; especially how He doth guide thy feet and heart after prayer; there is much in that. That which was the spirit of supplication in a man when he prayed, rests upon him as the spirit of obedience in his course. (Thomas Goodwin)

Judas heard all Christ's sermons. (Thomas Goodwin)

It is a sure sign of hypocrisy to be unrighteous and careless in civil dealings, how conscientious soever thou mayest seem to be in sacred duties. He that seems righteous towards men, and is irreligious towards God, is but an honest heathen; and he that seems religious towards God, and is unrighteous towards men, is but a dissembling Christian. (George Swinnock)

Ordinances

Till the Kingdom of grace be in our hearts, ordinances do not purify us, but we pollute them. Even the prayer of an ungracious person becomes sin. (Proverbs 15:8).  In what a sad condition is a man before God's Kingdom of grace is set up in his heart! Whether he comes or comes not to the ordinance, he sins. If he does not come to the ordinance, he is a contemnor of it; if he does come, he is a polluter of it. (Thomas Watson)

A man may go to hell with baptismal water upon his face! (John Trapp)

The more a saint tastes of God in an ordinance, the more are his desires raised and whetted, and the more are his teeth set on edge for more and more of God. A little mercy may save the soul, but it must be a great deal of mercy that must satisfy the soul. (Thomas Brooks)

The manna of the Spirit doth usually fall down in the dews of ordinances.  (George Swinnock)

The ordinances of God are the marts and fairs whereat Christians must trade for grace. (George Swinnock)

Take care that these holy things be administered only to those who are meet and worthy, according unto the rule of the gospel. Those who impose on pastors the promiscuous administration of these divine ordinances, or the application of the seals unto all without difference, do deprive them of their ministerial office and duty. (John Owen)

To live above the ordinances is to live below a saint. (George Swinnock)


Friday, March 20, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 60

The Moralists

God can love nothing but Himself and what he finds of Himself in the creature. All services without something of God's image and Spirit in them are nothing. As the product of a million of cyphers: though you still add to them, signifies nothing; but add one figure, an unit, the Spirit, grace, it will make the product to be many millions of high account with God. All the significancy depends upon the figure without which, if absent, the rest would be nothing. All moral perfections, without a new nature, are but cyphers in God's account: "Without faith it is impossible to please Him." (Stephen Charnock)

Dost thou not think that thou needest Christ as much as any other? There is a generation of men in the world who because their corruptions have not left such a brand of ignominy upon their name, as some others lie under, but their conversations have been stewed with some flowers of morality, whereby their names have kept sweet among their neighbors, therefore they do not at all listen to the offers of Christ, neither do their consciences much check them for this neglect. Oh, remember, proud man, who thou art, and cease thy vain attempt. Art not thou of Adam's seed? Hast thou not traitor's blood in they veins? If "every mouth be stopped" how darest thou open thine? If "all the world become guilty before God, that by the deeds of the law, no flesh can be justified in His sight;" where then shalt thou stand to plead thy innocency before Him who sees thy black skin under thy white feathers, thy foul heart through thy fair carriage? It is faith in Christ that alone can purify thy heart, without which thy washed face and hands will never commend thee to God. (William Gurnall)

Works make not the heart good, but a good heart makes the works good. (Stephen Charnock)

Morality and Christianity differ specifically: the moralist works from nature, a little refined by education; the Christian from nature, thoroughly renewed by the Holy Spirit. (George Swinnock)

Obedience

God commands nothing but what is beneficial. "O Israel, what doth the Lord require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, and to keep His statutes, which I command thee this day, for thy good?" To obey God, is not so much our duty as our privilege. (Thomas Watson)


Extraordinary Prayer


"God heeded the voice of man" Joshua 10:14 

There are numerous scriptures and stories throughout the Bible that encourage us to pray. Prayer is so important in our lives as Christians, yet it often gets reduced to either 911-type cries for help or routine words that we are accustomed to praying. In the case of Joshua and the battle with the Amorites, he asked the Lord for a miracle of major proportions. Joshua dared to ask God that the sun would not set until their enemies were defeated. Not only did God answer Joshua's prayer but verse 14 further states that "there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel." The Lord listened and responded to the voice of man.

Does God heed the voice of man today? James 5:16 says that the effective fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much. Jesus tells us to ask, seek and knock and that whatever we ask in His name will be given. The key to answered prayers, however, is in praying God's will. Because we have the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, we can know how to pray God's will for our lives (I should add "better know" because there are still times when we all struggle to truly understand how to pray the will of God.) But regardless of what we know or how we pray, the point is that we need to pray to the Lord for everything. We should not hold back from asking the Lord for anything we want. It is up to Him to decide if or how He answers.

This day in Joshua's life was extraordinary to say the least. God gave him extra daylight time to completely destroy the five kings who had fled from him. God not only answered Joshua's prayer, but He divinely intervened in this battle Himself. When God has a plan, no one can thwart or hinder what He is going to do. Sometimes we need to pray just for peace in the situation we are in, knowing that the Lord will have His way no matter what we do or do not do. God kept His promises to Joshua and the Israelites and He demonstrated His faithfulness to them in amazing ways.

Is this the same God in our lives today? Absolutely! Do not stop praying and do not allow the enemy to hinder your faith in your prayers. The Lord may not extend our days by keeping the sun from setting, but there are miracles that He does perform in our lives that hold just as much impact. Has God given you promises? Believe in faith that He will fulfill them in your life, maybe not in your timing or by your methods, but in His. He is the same God today as He was to Joshua. Are you expecting the same of Him?

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 59

The Ministry (continued)

A Minister's self-examination:

1. You have heaven to win or lose yourselves. A holy calling will not save an unholy man.

2. You have sinful inclinations as well as others.

3. You have greater temptations than most men.

4. The tempter will make his first and sharpest onset upon you. If you will be leaders against him, he will spare you no further than God restrains him.

5. Many eyes are upon you, and therefore there will be many to observe your falls.

6. Your sins are more aggravated than those of other men. They have more of hypocrisy in them.

7. The honor of your Lord and Master, and of His holy truth, doth lie more on you than other men.

8. The souls of your hearers and the success of your labors, do very much depend upon your self-examination. (Richard Baxter)

The Christian's life should put his minister's sermon in print. (William Gurnall)

Miracles

We have the full use and benefit of the Holy Spirit which was given then, that seal that was then set to the Christian doctrine and Scriptures stands there still. When Christ hath fully proved to the world the truth of His mediatorship, office, and doctrine, must He still continue the same actions. Is it not enough that He sealed it up once, but must He set a new seal for every man that requireth it in every age? Then miracles would be no miracles. Must your landlord seal your lease anew every time you will causelessly question his former seal? Then, if Christ had done miracles among a thousand, every man that was not present should come and say, "Do the like before me also, or I will not believe." Will you put God to this, that either He must work constant miracles in every age, and before every man, or else He must not be believed in? (Richard Baxter)

The rising a dead body to life would astonish us, but we are unaffected that every day so many living men and women are born. (Owen Bates)


Lord, I Love You, but ...



Most of us are quick to declare our love for God, but at times our reluctance to serve Him tells a different story. Honestly consider whether you have ever found yourself saying or thinking, I love you, Lord, but don't call me to do that! Or perhaps you served Him, but with a flawed attitude: If no one else will do it, then I guess I will. What causes us to be reluctant servants?

Busyness: Sometimes our schedules are so full that there's no space to follow the Lord when we hear Him calling us to minister in a certain area. We all need "margins" in our lives if we want to abide in God's will.

Inadequacy: Perhaps you feel unqualified to serve, and you're thinking, Surely there's someone more gifted who could do that job. But that's just an excuse; the Lord promises to equip those He calls (2 Cor. 3:4-6).

Selfishness: Sacrificial service is never convenient. It may require that we change our plans, give up our comforts, or even make financial sacrifices.

Lack of love: This is the hardest for us to admit—that we just don't care enough. Our reluctance to serve others reveals a lack of devotion to the Lord. Those who love Christ with all their heart will joyfully serve Him by ministering to those in their families, workplaces, communities, and churches.

Are you quick to follow the Lord's leading when a need arises, or are you a reluctant servant who's preoccupied with your own plans and desires? Any service we offer in Jesus' name will not be in vain. You'll experience the joy of giving and the assurance that the Lord won't forget your sacrifice.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~