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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 99

Worship

Take heed of drowsiness in hearing; drowsiness shows much irreverence. How lively are many when they are about the world, but in the worship of God how drowsy. In the preaching of the Word, is not the bread of life broken to you; and will a man fall asleep at his food? Which is worse, to stay from a sermon, or sleep at a sermon? (Thomas Watson)

I deny not but that a child of God may sometimes through weakness and indisposition of body drop asleep at a sermon, but it is not voluntary or ordinary. The sun man be in an eclipse, but not often; if sleeping be customary and allowed, it is a very bad sign and a profaning of the ordinance. A good remedy against drowsiness is to use a spare diet upon this day. Such as indulge their appetite too much on a Sabbath, are fitter to sleep on a couch than pray in the temple. (Thomas Watson)

Thou must be an attentive hearer; he that is awake, but wanders with his eye or heart, what doth he but sleep with his eyes open? (William Gurnall)

Be not only attentive in hearing, but retentive after hearing. (Thomas Watson)

Many come to the Word only to feast their ears; they like the melody of the voice, the mellifluous sweetness of the expression, the newness of the notion (Acts 17:21). This is to love the garnishing of the dish more than the food; this is to desire to be pleased rather than edified. Like a woman that paints her face, but neglects her health. (Thomas Watson)

Even when the Christian through weakness of memory cannot remember the very words he hears, to repeat them; yet then he keeps the power and savor of them in his spirit, as when sugar is dissolved in wine, you cannot see it, but you may taste it... so you may taste the truths the Christian heard, in his spirit, see them in his life. (William Gurnall)


Don't Lose Out


In 1 Samuel 15:18-19, 24-26, Samuel, the prophet, comes to King Saul, and this is what he says,

"Now the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.'  Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD?  Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?"…  Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.  Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD."  But Samuel said to Saul, "I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel."

Saul disobeyed God and then lied about it, tried to cover it, and tried to shift the blame to the people.  Did you notice that part?  Why?  Because he feared the people.

Because of the fear of man, Samuel said to him, "You have lost your place."  Later on he says, "God has found a man better than you, a man after His own heart."  And He chose David to replace Saul as the king of Israel.

I want you to think about this:  God had promised Saul that his seed would sit on the throne, but it was a conditional promise God gave to him.

Saul lost out because of his disobedience caused by the fear of man, and so did his offspring!  And David, a better man than Saul, ended up on the throne of Israel, through whom our Savior came.

If the fear of man can rob us of our destiny and affect our offspring, just think what faith in God can do! 

~Bayless Conley~

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 98

The World (continued)

Pleasures come like oxen, slow and heavily, and go away like post-horses, upon the spur. (Joseph Hall)

Thorns will not prick of themselves, but when they are grasped in a man's hand they prick deep. So this world and the things thereof are all good, and were all made of God for the benefit of His creatures, did not our immoderate affection make them hurtful. (Richard Sibbes)

All the danger is when the world gets into the heart. The water is useful for the sailing of the ship; all the danger is when the water gets into the ship; so the fear is when the world gets into the heart. "Thou shalt not covet." (Thomas Watson)

Let us use worldly things as wise pilgrims do their staves and other necessities convenient for their journey. So long as they help us forward in our way, let us make use of them, and accordingly esteem them. But if they become troublesome hindrances and cumbersome burdens, let us leave them behind us, or cast them away. (George Downame)

Some are not made better by God's gifts; yea, many are made worse. Give Saul a kingdom, and he will tyrannize; give Nabal good cheer, and he will be drunk; give Judas an apostleship, and he will sell his Master for money. (Thomas Adams)

Temporal good things are not the Christian's freight, but his ballast, and therefore are to be desired to poise, not load the vessel. (William Gurnall)

Let us use the world, but enjoy the Lord. (Thomas Adams)

Seek not great things for yourselves in this world, for if your garments be too long, they will make you stumble; and one staff helps a man in his journey, when many in his hands at once hinders him. (William Bridge)

Little do they think that worldliness is a most guiltful sin in respect of God, and most hurtful in respect of men. Hark what the Word of God saith of it (Ephesians 5:5) - it is idolatry, and idolatry is the first sin of the first table. (Richard Capel)

Times are bad, God is good. (Richard Sibbes)

The Gospel mentions not riches, honors, beauty, pleasures; it passes these over in silence, which yet the Old Testament everywhere makes promise of. They were then children, and God pleased them with the promise of these toys and rattles, as taking with them. But in the Gospel He has shown us He has provided some better things for us; things spiritual and heavenly. (Thomas Goodwin)


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~

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 97

Witness (continued)

The saints are to bear a threefold testimony to, and for Christ and His truths: Breath testimony, Life testimony, and Blood testimony. (Vavasor Powell)

One eye-witness is better than ten ear-witnesses. (Thomas Adams)

The upright soul is constant in his profession, and changes not his behavior according to his companions. Oh, that I might never through shame or fear disown Him who has already acknowledged me! (George Swinnock)

The World

Pleasure, profit, preferment are the worldling's trinity. (John Trapp)

A sea of glass, a pageant of fond delights, a theater of variety, a labyrinth of error, a gulf of grief, sty of filthiness, a vale of misery, a state of deceit, a cage full of owls, a den of scorpions, a wilderness of wolves, a cabin of bears, a whirlwind of passions, a feigned comedy, a detestable frenzy [is the world]. (Arthur Dent)

Let us not foolishly imagine that our minds can be satisfied and filled with worldly vanities, nor greedily affect and seek after a greater measure, when we are not satisfied with a less, supposing that the access of quantity may bring contentment; seeing the hunger which we feel in our hearts proceeds not from want of earthly abundance, but because it is unnatural nourishment for the mind of man, so that it can no more satisfy our souls' hunger, than it can satisfy our bodies to feed upon the wind. (George Downame)

Men that are in the valley think, if they were at the top of such a hill, they should touch the heavens. Men that are in the bottom of poverty, or disgrace, or pain, think if they could get up to such a mountain, such a measure of riches, and honors, and delights, they could reach happiness. Now Solomon had got to the top of this hiss, and seeing so many scrambling and laboring so hard, nay, riding on one another's necks, and pressing one another to death, to get foremost, doth seem thus to bespeak them: "Sirs, ye are all deceived in your expectations! I see the pains ye take to get up to this place, thinking that when you come hither, ye shall touch the heavens, and reach happiness: but I am before you at the top of the hiss - I have treasures, and honors, and pleasures in variety and abundance (Ecclesiastes 2:11-12), and I find the hill full of quagmires instead of delights, and so far from giving me satisfaction, that it causeth much vexation; therefore be advised to spare your pain, and spend your strength for that which will turn to more profit; for, believe it, you do but work at the labor in vain." "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity," saith the Preacher. (George Swinnock)

A godly man preferreth grace before goods, and wisdom before the world. (Richard Bernard)

(Pleasures) Prisoners' pittance, which neither keeps alive nor suffers to die. (John Trapp)

When the race is ended, and the play is either won or lost, and ye are in the utmost circle and border of time, and shall put your foot within the march of eternity, all the good things of your short nightdream shall seem to you like ashes of a blaze of thorns or straw. (Samuel Rutherford)

The world is therefore a purgatory, that it might not be our paradise. (George Swinnock)

Satiated they were, but not satisfied. (John Trapp)

We do not hold worldly things during our life, nor as long as we shall behave ourselves well in our places; but only as long as God pleases. (Thomas Manton)

I cannot but look upon all the glory and dignity of this world, lands and lordships, crowns and kingdoms, even as on some brain-sick, beggarly fellow, that borrowing fine clothes, and plays the part of a king or lord for an hour on a stage, and then comes down, and the sport is ended, and they are beggars again. (Richard Baxter)

He gives often more of the world to those that shall have no more hereafter. (Robert Leighton)


Surrender in Thanks


In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:1
8
What do you do when nothing but uncertainty and insecurity fill your mind? How do you overcome the sensation that your entire body is burning as a result of fear and panic? Whether we admit it or not, all of us will have to deal at times with circumstances that overwhelm us. We all go through problems that take us by surprise, come out of nowhere and make us feel trapped that we have to surrender to its way. It has been in these times that I have cried out to God from the depths of my heart, “Why?” My thoughts range from “What have I done wrong to deserve this?” to “Where is God?” My mind sorts through the circumstance until I am exhausted, while my body burns like a fire that melts my insides. For some of us, we share the pain we are suffering because we are searching for answers and trying to sort through our thoughts and emotions. For others, we attempt to control and mask the thoughts and emotions so no one will suspect the struggles we face.

Regardless of how we look or feel in a time of crises, we need to learn how to get through those times with the Lord. The circumstances may seem to trap us, but getting and keeping control are not the answers. The only way to find freedom when life has pinned you down and chained you in is through surrender.
The word “surrender” has mixed connotations. It is an easier word to accept than “submit” but it really does have the same meaning. During those times that our mouth is praying out of panic, our inward soul needs to learn to surrender and submit to the sovereign, all powerful, ever present God. In other words, your heart needs to speak words of praise and thanksgiving even though your flesh (including your mind) is pleading for God to rescue you. It is in this place of praise that an overwhelming peace begins to cover your heart, mind, soul and quenches the fire within you. To give thanks in everything is a hard action to apply. The Christian who can truly apply this principle to his or her life demonstrates a real maturity in their walk. It is in this place that the chains of oppression will be broken, setting the captive free.

Pray about itOh Lord, teach me how to sincerely praise You in the good times so that a wellspring of thanks may truly overflow from my heart during those frightening, overwhelming trials. I want to walk in power and peace. I know that they stem from a heart of praise. Help me to have that heart of thanksgiving for everything You are doing in my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Monday, April 27, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 96

Wicked (continued)

Many sinners who seem so jocund in our eyes, have not such merry lives as you think for. A book may be fairly bound and gilded, yet have but sad stories writ within it. Sinners will not tell us all the secret rebukes that conscience from the Word gives them. If you will judge of Herod by the jollity of his feast, you may think he wanted no joy; but at another time we see that John's Spirit walked in his conscience; and so doth the Word haunt many a one, who to us appear to lay nothing to heart; in the midst of their laughter their heart is sad; you see the lightning in their face, but hear not the thunder the rumbles in their conscience. (William Gurnall)

In all their jollity in this world, they are but as a book fairly bound, which when it is opened is full of nothing but tragedies. So when the book of their conscience shall be opened, there is nothing to be read but lamentations and woes. (Richard Sibbes)

An unbeliever shall have a double condemnation; one from the law which he hath transgressed, and another from the gospel, which he hath despised: as a malefactor, that being condemned and dead in law, rejecteth his prince's pardon. But it is otherwise with these that are in Christ Jesus. The law cannot condemn them, because they have appealed; the gospel cannot because they have believed. (John Trapp)

It is no miracle if he that lives like a beast dies like a beast. (Francis Cheynell)

The Will

In the state of innocence the will was the weakest, but in regeneration God has made it the firmest and best. God has provided that the hedge should be stronger where it was broken. ( John Cotton)

As to the will of God, it falls under a twofold consideration of His secret and revealed will. The distinction if found in that Scripture: "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but these things which are revealed belong unto us" (Deuteronomy 29:29). The first is the rule of His own actions: the latter of ours. (John Flavel)

This revealed will of God is either manifested to us in His Word, or in His works. The former is His commanding will, the latter His "affecting" or "permitting" will. (John Flavel)


Living Wisely


BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
When men built the Temple in the Old Testament, the Bible tells us that God gave them a spirit of wisdom. Some translators have called this the spirit of “skill” because these words are tightly linked.

Do you know what wise living is? It is living skillfully and making the most out of your life. You become an artist, a practitioner, a cabinet maker, an accountant, a teacher, or a mother. You live your life with skill.
ACTION POINT:
Now, don’t fail to study and gain knowledge, but remember this: All our knowledge is but splendid ignorance apart from the wisdom of God.

______________________________________________





The Wisdom You Need Is There For the Asking

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.” Proverbs 2:7

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
In Christ there is soundness, strength, security, and satisfaction. When you come to Him with urgency, fervency, persistency, and expectancy, you will hear from Him. He is not going to think you are pestering Him; He is pleased when you ask Him for His wisdom.Annie Johnson Flint, that blessed hymn writer, wrote: “His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto man; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again.” 
ACTION POINT:
Ask Him, “Lord, I need to make a decision. What college do I choose? Should I marry this man or not? Is this the job You want me to have? What mechanic do I use to repair my car? Where do you want me to live? Do I rent or own?” Cast all your cares upon Him today, for He longs to fill you with Himself.

~Adrian Rogers~

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 95

War

Sin, satan and war all have all one name; evil is the best of them. The best of sin is deformity, of satan enmity, of war misery. (John Trapp)

War makes both less meat and fewer mouths. (Thomas Fuller)

In war, none are permitted to err twice. (John Trapp)

Watchfulness

Set a strong guard abut thy outward senses: these are satan's landing places, especially the eye and the ear. (William Gurnall)

Be careful, Christian, after extraordinary prayer, as a man would be after taking strong physic; a little disorder in thy walking may be of sad consequence. (William Gurnall)

satan tempts after some discoveries of God's love. As a pirate sets on a ship that is richly laden, so when a soul hath been laden with spiritual comforts the devil will be shooting at him, to rob him of all. The devil envies to see a soul feasted with spiritual joy. (Thomas Watson)

The Wicked

No marvel if the worldling escape earthly afflictions. God corrects him not. He is base born and begot. God will not do him the favor to whip him. The world afflicts him not, because it loves him: for each man is indulgent to his own. God uses not the rod where He means to use the Word. The pillory or scourge is for those malefactors that shall escape execution. (Joseph Hall)

They have earth in their hands (John 9:24), who have nothing of heaven in their hearts; they bear sway in the world who are slaves to the world; they govern and order others at their will who are led captive by satan at his will. Be not offended and troubled to see the reins of government in their hands who know not how to govern themselves, or to see them rule the world who are unworthy to live in the world. (Joseph Caryl)


God's Strong Hand

By strength of hand the Lord brought us out - Exodus 13:14 


FOUR times over in this chapter Moses lays stress on the strong hand with which God redeemed His people from the bondage of Egypt; and we are reminded of "the exceeding greatness of His power, which is to us-ward who believe'' (Eph 1:12-20).
 
God's strong hand reaches down to where we are. - It would have been useless if Israel had been bidden to help itself up to a certain point, whilst God would do the rest. The people were so broken that they could only lie at the bottom of the pit, and moan. God's hand reached down to touch and grasp them at their lowest. So God's help is not conditional on our doing something, whilst He will do the rest. When we are without strength, when we have expended our all in vain, when heart and flesh fail - then God comes where we are, and becomes the strength of our heart and our portion forever.
 
God's strong hand is mightier than our mightiest adversaries. - Pharaoh was strong, and held the people as a child may hold a moth in its clenched fist. But a man's hand is stronger than a child's, and God's than Pharaoh's. So Satan may have held you in bondage; but do not fear him any more, look away to the strength of God's hand. What can it not do for you?
 
We must appropriate and reckon on God's strong hand. - It is there toward them who believe, as a locomotive may be next a line of carriages; yet there must be a coupling-iron connecting them. So you must trust God's strength, and avail yourself of it, and yield to it. Remember that His arm is not shortened, nor His · hand paralyzed, except our unbelief and sin intercept and hinder the mighty working of His Power.

~F. B. Meyer~

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 94

Unity (continued)


Ah, were their souls fully assured that God had loved them freely, and received them graciously, and justified them perfectly, and pardoned them absolutely, and would glorify them everlastingly, they could not but love where God loves, and own where God owns, and embrace where God embraces, and be one with every one that is one with Jesus. (Thomas Brooks)

When I have communion with a saint, I must not look so much whether he be of such an opinion, or whether he have taken the covenant, or to have been baptized once or twice or ten times, but see if he have fellowship with the Father, and with Jesus Christ. (Walter Craddock)

Labor mightily for a healing spirit. Away with all discriminating names whatever that may hinder the applying of balm to heal your wounds. Discord and division become no Christian. For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder, but for one lamb to worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous. (Thomas Brooks)

Take away union and there can be no communion. (John Flavel)

What cannot warrant a breach where there is union, that cannot warrentably be the ground to keep up a division. (James Durham)

There may and ought to be uniting when the evils that follow division or schism, are greater and more hurtful to the church than the evils that may be supposed to follow on union. (James Durham)

There is but one God, and they that serve Him should be one. There is nothing that would render the true religion more lovely, or make more proselytes to it, than to see the professors of it tied together with the heart-strings of love. (Thomas Watson)

Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy. (John Trapp)


Patience and Trust

Be thou there till I bring thee word (Matt. 2:13).

I'll stay where You've put me;
I will, dear Lord, Though I wanted so badly to go;
I was eager to march with the 'rank and file,'
Yes, I wanted to lead them, You know.
I planned to keep step to the music loud,
To cheer when the banner unfurled,
To stand in the midst of the fight straight and proud,
But I'll stay where You've put me.
I'll stay where You've put me; I'll work, dear Lord,
Though the field be narrow and small,
And the ground be fallow, and the stones lie thick,
And there seems to be no life at all.
The field is Thine own, only give me the seed,
I'll sow it with never a fear;
I'll till the dry soil while I wait for the rain,
And rejoice when the green blades appear;
I'll work where You've put me.
I'll stay where You've put me; I will, dear Lord;
I'll bear the day's burden and heat,
Always trusting Thee fully; when even has come
I'll lay heavy sheaves at Thy feet.
And then, when my earth work is ended and done,
In the light of eternity's glow,
Life's record all closed, I surely shall find
It was better to stay than to go;
I'll stay where You've put me.

Oh restless heart, that beat against your prison bars of circumstances, yearning for a wider sphere of usefulness, leave God to order all your days. Patience and trust, in the dullness of the routine of life, will be the best preparation for a courageous bearing of the tug and strain of the larger opportunity which God may some time send you.

~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, April 24, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 93

Truth (continued)

Take no truths upon trust, but all upon trial (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1; Acts 17:11). It was the glory of that church, that they would not trust Paul himself - Paul, that had the advantage above all for external qualifications - no, not Paul himself. Take no truth upon trust; bring them to the balance of the sanctuary. (Thomas Brooks)

God hath but three things dear unto Him in this world, His saints, His worship, and His truth; and it is hard to say which of these is dearest unto Him. (Thomas Goodwin)

Unbelief

For no sin whereof men can be guilty in this world is of so horrible a nature, and so dreadful an aspect, as is this unbelief, where a clear view of it is obtained in evangelical light. (John Owen)

Unbelief is the shield of every sin. (William Jenkyn)

It is common for men to make doubts when they have the mind to desert the truth. (Samuel Rutherford)

Generally, it is taken for granted by all that Christ is able to save us if He will; yea, who shall question His ability to save us, though we live in sin and unbelief? And many expect that He will do so because they believe He can if He will. But indeed Christ hath no such power, no such ability: He cannot save unbelieving, impenitent sinners; for this cannot be done without denying Himself, acting contrary to His Word and destroying His own glory. Christ is able to save all those, and only those, who come to God by Him. While you live in sin and unbelief, Christ Himself cannot save you. (John Owen)

What faith can do to a prophecy of judgment, the same can unbelief to a promise of mercy; overthrow it. (Joseph Caryl)

Unity

I do verily believe that when God shall accomplish it (unity), it will be the effect of love, and not the cause of love. It will proceed from love, before it brings forth love. (John Owen)

But never shall all the saints unite, and come to one in love, till wrath be poured forth on all their forms and flesh. Then the Spirit shall come from on high, and gather up all the saints and men in God. (William Erbery)

And if ever we intend to take one step towards any agreement or unity, it must be by fixing this principle in the minds of all men - that it is of no advantage to any man whatever church or way in Christian religion he be of, unless he personally believes the promises, and live in obedience unto all the precepts of Christ: and that for him who doth so, it is a trampling of the whole Gospel under foot to say that his salvation could be endangered by his not being of this or that church or way, especially considering how much of the world hath immixed itself into all the known ways that are in it. Were this once well fixed on the minds of men, and did they practically believe that men shall not be dealt withal at the last day by gross, as of this or that party or church, but that every individual must stand upon his own bottom, live by his own faith, o perish for want o it... we should quickly find their keenness in promoting and contending for their several parties taken off. (John Owen)

Articles or rules for doctrine or practice in matters of religion to be imposed upon men, should be as few as may be; there is very great danger in the unnecessary multiplying them. This in all ages has caused division and exceeding disturbances in the churches of Christ. (Jeremiah Burroughs)


The Sorrows of Life Cause Us to Rise Towards God


The people kept their distance, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was. 


God has still His hidden secrets, hidden from the wise and prudent. Do not fear them; be content to accept things that you cannot understand; wait patiently. Presently He will reveal to you the treasures of darkness, the riches of the glory of the mystery. Mystery is only the veil of God’s face.

Do not be afraid to enter the cloud that is settling down on your life. God is in it. The other side is radiant with His glory. “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.” When you seem loneliest and most forsaken, God is nigh. He is in the dark cloud. Plunge into the blackness of its darkness without flinching; under the shrouding curtain of His pavilion you will find God awaiting you

“Hast thou a cloud?
Something that is dark and full of dread;
A messenger of tempest overhead?
A something that is darkening the sky;
A something growing darker bye and bye;
A something that thou fear’st will burst at last;
A cloud that doth a deep, long shadow cast,
God cometh in that cloud.
Hast thou a cloud?
It is Jehovah’s triumph car: in this
He rideth to thee, o’er the wide abyss.
It is the robe in which He wraps His form;
For He doth gird Him with the flashing storm.
It is the veil in which He hides the light
Of His fair face, too dazzling for thy sight.
God cometh in that cloud.
Hast thou a cloud?
A trial that is terrible to thee?
A black temptation threatening to see?
A loss of some dear one long thine own?
A mist, a veiling, bringing the unknown?
A mystery that unsubstantial seems:
A cloud between thee and the sun’s bright beams?
God cometh in that cloud.
Hast thou a cloud?
A sickness—weak old age—distress and death?
These clouds will scatter at thy last faint breath.
Fear not the clouds that hover o’er thy barque,
Making the harbour’s entrance dire and dark;
The cloud of death, though misty, chill and cold,
Will yet grow radiant with a fringe of gold.
GOD cometh in that cloud.”


As Dr. C. stood on a high peak of the Rocky Mountains watching a storm raging below him, an eagle came up through the clouds, and soared away towards the sun and the water upon him glistened in the sunlight like diamonds. Had it not been for the storm he might have remained in the valley. The sorrows of life cause us to rise towards God.

~L. B. Cowman~

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 92

The Trinity (continued)

It is rashness to search, godliness to believe, safeness to preach, and eternal blessedness to know the Trinity.  (Thomas Adams)

A mystery which my faith embraces as revealed in the Word, but my reason cannot fathom. (John Arrowsmith)

Truth

Such is the immutability of truth, the patrons of it make it not greater, the opposers make it not less; as the splendor of the sun is not enlarged by them that bless it, nor eclipsed by them that hate it. (Thomas Adams)

Should (we) think ourselves obliged to throw away gold or diamonds, because an impure hand has touched them, or to deny Christ, because the devil's confessed Him? (John Howe)

News may come that Truth is sick, but never that it is dead. (William Gurnall)

When men have orthodox judgments and heterodox hearts, there must needs be little love to truth. (William Gurnall)

Truth reforms as well as informs. (William Jenkyn)

If I speak what is false, I must answer for it; if truth, it will answer for me. (Thomas Fuller)

We stand at better advantage to find truth, and keep it also, when devoutly praying for it, than fiercely wrangling and contending about it. Disputes roil the soul, and raise the dust of passion; prayer sweetly composeth the mind, and lays the passions which disputes draw froth; for I am sure a man may see further in a still clear day, than in a windy and cloudy. (William Gurnall)

Truth must be spoken however it be taken. (John Trapp)

There is due in a penny, as well as in a pound; therefore we must be faithful in the least truth, when season calleth for it. (Richard Sibbes)

Truth seldom goes without a scratched face. (John Trapp)

Serve Christ; back Him; let His cause be your cause; give not an hairbreadth away, for it is not yours but God's. (Samuel Rutherford)


What Do You Boast In?


Some boast in chariots, and some in horses; But we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God. - Psalm 20:7


My friend had a blood test that came back questionable. I asked her mother about the doctor and the following steps that would be taken. Her mom’s answer ended in explaining to me the credibility of the doctor.

Intelligence, money and strength are three attributes that we love to measure in ourselves and others. Our intelligence can be measured by how hard one studied and the grades one received. We form an instant opinion when we hear certain colleges were attended with the credentials that were earned. Money tends to reflect our success. If someone is wealthy and manages their money well, we give credence as well as our respect. And strength is the last characteristic that helps us to form an opinion about someone. Are they athletic? Do they have high energy to get important things done? Do they have a disciplined body to maintain stressful positions and self control? These three things we assume we can boast about. These three things others boast about for someone else.

God does not value our intelligence, wealth or strength. God values a person who trusts and boasts in Him. All three of those characteristics are gifts—God given gifts. In light of eternity, they mean nothing and each one could be taken away in an instant through illness alone. It is great that we have good doctors to attend to us, but God is the Author and Sustainer of life. I would rather boast in the name of the Lord, my God than to put my trust in any person, despite their credentials. Turn to the Lord and seek His face. Know that you serve a God who gives gifts to men and the greatest gift given was Jesus. Do we really trust in Jesus each day?  And do we boast in His name?

Pray about it: Lord, let me not boast in my wisdom, nor in my strength, nor in my riches. I want to boast in knowing You, believing in You and understanding Your ways. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 92

Temptation (continued)

There is a great deal of difference between falling into a temptation, and running into a temptation. The falling into a temptation, shall work for good, not the running into it.

He that falls into a river is capable of help and pity, but he that desperately turns into it is guilty of his own death. (Thomas Watson)

Temptation is like a knife, that may either cut the meat or the throat of a man; it may be his food or poison. (John Owen)

The Tongue

We know metals by their tinkling, and men by their talking. (Thomas Brooks)

He may not be accounted an honest man of life that is an evil man in tongue. (Nicholas Byfield)

An unbridled tongue is the chariot of the devil, wherein he rides in triumph. The course of an unruly tongue is to proceed from evil to worse, to begin with foolishness, and go on with bitterness, and to end in mischief and madness (Ecclesiastes 10:13). The Jew's conference with our Saviour began with arguments: "We be Abraham's seed," saith they, etc.; but proceeded to blasphemies: "Say we not well that thou art  Samaritan, and hast a devil?" (Edward Reyner)

Some care not what they say in their passion; they will censure, slander, and wish evil to others. How can Christ be in the heart, when the devil has taken possession of the tongue? Passion disturbs reason, it is brevis insania, a short frenzy. Let them whose tongues re set on fire, take heed that they do not one day in hell desire a drop of water to cool them. (Thomas Watson)

The Trinity

"Baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: there are three distinct persons, in the Name, not names; there is one essence. (Thomas Adams)

The Trinity is purely an object of faith, the plumbline of reason is too short to fathom this mystery; but where reason cannot wade, there faith must swim. This sacred doctrine, though it be not against reason, yet it is above reason. (Thomas Watson)


The Fullness of God in You



Have you ever wondered if you are a "whole person"? We all have struggles in life that could make us feel incomplete, but the apostle Paul says we can be "filled up to all the fullness of God" (v. 19). What does that look like?

A "whole person" is generally satisfied with life. He feels loved and is able to love others in return. Difficulties and hardships don't devastate him, because he is able to go through them with confidence in God. He isn't a complainer or someone who is quick to blame others. A positive attitude guards his mind since he knows that the Lord will work everything out for good (Rom. 8:28).

Being a Christian doesn't automatically make us feel complete. Fullness comes only when we experience God's love for us. For many years, I knew theologically that the Lord loved me. I even preached about it, but I didn't really feel it. Only after I took a deep look at my life and started dealing with events that had fractured my soul in childhood did I begin to experience His love in an intimate way. Once I felt the security of His love for me, I discovered great joy in walking in obedience to His will. The reason was that I knew I could trust Him to meet all my needs in His time and way.

Do you feel God's love, or is it just a biblical fact to you? If you long for wholeness, the key is to experience an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. This is possible only when you're willing to open up and let the Lord search your heart. He'll reveal what's holding you back from accepting His love.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 91

Temptation (continued)

He does not say, Watch and pray, that you be not tempted; but "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." It is one thing for temptation to knock at the door, and another thing to come in, when temptation enters you, you enter into temptation: take heed of that. (William Gurnall)

The Christian's safety lies in resisting. All the armor here provided is to defend the Christian fighting, none to secure him flying. (William Gurnall)

satan gives Adam an apple, and takes away Paradise. Therefore in all temptations let us consider not what he offers, but what we shall lose. (Richard Sibbes)

Think of the guilt of sin, that you may be humbled. Think of the power of sin, that you may seek strength against it. Think not of the matter of sin ... lest you be more and more entangled. (John Owen)

Temptations, when we meet them at first, are as the lion that reared upon Samson; but if we overcome them, the next time we see them we shall fin a nest of honey within them. (John Bunyan)

The way to avoid temptation is not always to apply a salve directly pertinent to the temptation; but turn off your mind and your thoughts to some other good object, and by that time your mind is settled upon other objects, you will be easily able to meet with temptation. (William Bridge)

There can be no victory where there is no combat. The victory lieth not upon us but upon Christ, who hath taken upon Him, as to conquer for us, so to conquer in us. Let us not look so much who are our enemies, as who is our judge and Captain; not what they threaten, but what He promiseth. (Richard Sibbes)

The cause why our oppressors prevail oft against us is, because we trust too much in our own wits, and lean too much upon our own inventions; opposing subtility to subtility, one evil device to another, matching and maintaining policy by policy, and not committing our cause to God. (Abraham Wright)

satan does not tempt God's children because they have sin in them, but because they have grace in them. Had they no grace, the devil would not disturb them. Though to be tempted is a trouble, yet to think why you are tempted is a comfort. (Thomas Watson)

If God were not my friend, satan would not be so much my enemy. (Thomas Brooks)

God sometimes permits satan to assail His dear children, the more to strengthen them in His spiritual graces, and to confirm them more fully in the assurance of His love and their salvation.

For as a city which has been besieged and not saked will ever after be more strong to hold out if it be assaulted by the like danger... so those who are besieged and assaulted by their spiritual enemies will ever after more carefully arm themselves against them with the graces of God's Spirit, that they may not be overcome nor foiled by them. (George Downame)

The devil tempts, that he may deceive; but God suffers us to be tempted, to try us. Temptation is a trial of our sincerity. (Thomas Watson)

Temptations are rather hopeful evidences that thy estate is good, that thou art dear to God, and that it shall go well with thee for ever, than otherwise. God had but one Son without corruption, but He had none without temptation. (Thomas Brooks)

None can better discover satan's sleights and policies, than those who have been long in the fencing-school of temptation. (Thomas Watson)

Reading maketh a full man, prayer a holy man, temptation an experienced man. (John Trapp)


How Do We Know If We Have the Fruit of the Spirit?


As believers, we all want the fruit of the Spirit, but how can we know if we truly have it? Even unbelievers can display these qualities when conditions are positive. This nine-fold fruit of the Spirit is not what we do, but who we are, and it is primarily on display in Christians when circumstances are unfavorable. Two characteristics help us recognize these traits in our lives.

Fruitful believers are not controlled by their environment. Everyone experiences trials and pain, but those who are filled with the Spirit do not lose His fruit because of their situations. They keep their joy even when difficulties overwhelm. If someone speaks harshly, they respond with kindness. Because the Holy Spirit is in control, He is free to produce His fruit no matter what the circumstances are. Even though such believers may feel pain, anger, or a desire for revenge, they choose to trust the Lord to protect them and direct the outcome.

Fruitful Christians recover quickly after a fall. These believers are not perfect, but they are sensitive to the Spirit's conviction and are quick to return to the Lord in repentance. In fact, they are actually grateful for the correction and praise God, not only for revealing their weakness but also for drawing them back to obedience.

No one produces these amazing qualities in himself. Trying harder to be godly will never work. Character transformation occurs when we submit to God, giving Him complete control of our lives. Only then will the Spirit be free to produce fruit that remains even in the deepest, darkest storms.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Monday, April 20, 2015

Puritan Nuggets of Gold # 90

Temptation (continued)

If you yield to satan in the least, he will carry you further and further, till he has left you under a stupefied or terrified conscience: stupefied, till thou hast lost all thy tenderness. A stone at the top of a hill, when it begins to roll down, ceases not till it comes to the bottom. Thou thinkest it is but yielding a little, and so by degrees are carried on, till thou hast sinned away all thy profession, and all principles of conscience, by the secret witchery of his temptations. (Thomas Manton)

We must also pray that the Lord give not out that measure of leave to the devil which we give out to sin...but that He would rather make satan a surgeon to show us our sins than a sergeant to confound us for them. (Richard Greenham)

We may have leaders into temptation, but it is our fault if we follow them. Nay, to come closer home, do not we tempt ourselves? satan is not the sole cause of evil. The fowler sets his glass, spreads his net, whistles like the bird; yet cannot all this make the fowl come into his net whether she will or no. If we had not pliable ears and flexible affections, the sirens might sing in vain. (Thomas Adams)

satan can never undo a man without himself; but a man may easily undo himself without satan. (Thomas Brooks)

There is a secret disposition in the heart of all, to all sin. Mark! "Tis satan tempts, but our own lust draws us. (William Gurnall)

Temptations and occasions put nothing into a mam, but only draw out what was in him before. (John Owen)

There is no way to kill a man's righteousness but by his own consent. (John Bunyan)

To want temptations is the greatest temptation of all. (Samuel Rutherford)

If thou hast fallen into sin through violent temptations, seek speedily for repentance for it, recovery out of it, and reformation from it. (Vavasor Powell)


Assurance of Faith is Better than "Feelings"


But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I take no pleasure in him. (Heb 10:38)

Seemings and feelings are often substituted for faith. Pleasurable emotions and deep satisfying experiences are part of the Christian life, but they are not all of it. Trials, conflicts, battles and testings lie along the way, and are not to be counted as misfortunes, but rather as part of our necessary discipline.

In all these varying experiences we are to reckon on Christ as dwelling in the heart, regardless of our feelings if we are walking obediently before Him. Here is where many get into trouble; they try to walk by feeling rather than faith.
One of the saints tells us that it seemed as though God had withdrawn Himself from her. His mercy seemed clean gone. For six weeks her desolation lasted, and then the Heavenly Lover seemed to say:

“Catherine, thou hast looked for Me without in the world of sense, but all the while I have been within waiting for thee; meet Me in the inner chamber of thy spirit, for I am there.”

Distinguish between the fact of God’s presence, and the emotion of the fact. It is a happy thing when the soul seems desolate and deserted, if our faith can say, “I see Thee not. I feel Thee not, but Thou art certainly and graciously here, where I am as I am.” Say it again and again: “Thou art here: though the bush does not seem to burn with fire, it does burn. I will take the shoes from off my feet, for the place on which I stand is holy ground.” —London Christian

Believe God’s word and power more than you believe your own feelings and experiences. Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock which ebbs and flows, but your sea.
—Samuel Rutherford

Keep your eye steadily fixed on the infinite grandeur of Christ’s finished work and righteousness. Look to Jesus and believe, look to Jesus and live! Nay, more; as you look to him, hoist your sails and buffet manfully the sea of life. Do not remain in the haven of distrust, or sleeping on your shadows in inactive repose, or suffering your frames and feelings to pitch and toss on one another like vessels idly moored in a harbor. The religious life is not a brooding over emotions, grazing the keel of faith in the shallows, or dragging the anchor of hope through the oozy tide mud as if afraid of encountering the healthy breeze. Away! With your canvas spread to the gale, trusting in Him, who rules the raging of the waters. The safety of the tinted bird is to be on the wing. If its haunt be near the ground—if it fly low—it exposes itself to the fowler’s net or snare. If we remain grovelling on the low ground of feeling and emotion, we shall find ourselves entangled in a thousand meshes of doubt and despondency, temptation and unbelief. “But surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of THAT WHICH HATH A WING” (marginal reading Prov. 1:17). Hope thou in God.
—J. R. Macduff

When I cannot enjoy the faith of assurance, I live by the faith of adherence.

~L. B. Cowman~