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Archive for June, 2011

Old age

Charles Spurgeon writes:

Some are like the sun going down in the we set; they will be gone soon. Serve them, dear brethren. You that are in health and vigour, comfort them, strengthen them, and help them all you can. Be a joy to that dear old man, who has been spared to you even beyond the allotted threescore years and ten, and praise God for the grace that has upheld him through his long pilgrimage. Look on his grey hairs as a crown of glory; make his descent to the grave as easy as you can. He once was as young as you are; he once had the vigour that you have. Console him, cheer him, give him the respect that is due to his many years. Do not let him feel that you consider him an old fogey who lingers, superfluous, on the stage; but learn from his experience, imitate his perseverance, and ask God to be with you in your old age, as he is with him.

Source: Charles Spurgeon’s Own Funeral Sermon.

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A God who …

We believe in a God who pardons iniquity, transgression and sin.

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Puritan Pastor, Matthew Henry, having thoughtfully considered his having been robbed of his wallet wrote the following words in his diary:

I thank Thee

first because I was never robbed before;

second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life;

third, because although they took my all, it was not much;

and fourth because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed.

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Contentment is a disposition of the heart that freely and joyfully submits to God’s will, whatever that will may be. (p.28)

Contentment and idolatry don’t mix well. Putting off idolatrous is the first step toward contentment. It’s impossible to be content in God and worship something other than God at the same time. It just can’t happen. And so the first step in finding joy is to kill the things that are killing you. It’s never easy and is usually excruciating. But the sweet fruit of contentment can only blossom after you have ripped out the weeds. (p.44)

You have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it rests in you.            source: Augustine’s Confessions

In the gospel we have full, free, open access to God. This isn’t “come once a year, kill a lamb, and hope you don’t die” access to God. We don’t need to whip ourselves into a twirling religious frenzy or to light sticks of incense. There’s no need to walk ten miles with broken glass in our shoes or wash ourselves clean in a sacred river. We can come into the presence of God at all times and at all places.

This is the greatest benefit of the gospel. Forgiveness of sins, a new heart, and eternal life are only a means to this magnificent end. Jesus Christ ushers us into the presence of God, and it’s in the presence of God that we find our soul’s deepest satisfaction. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

A speedboat, job promotion, or beautiful, loving spouse who likes long walks on the beach can’t bring fullness of joy. Eternal pleasures can’t be purchased with a platinum credit card. Full, overflowing, eternal joy and pleasure are found only in the presence of God, and in the gospel we have access to his joyful presence. …

If we want contentment we need to spend time, much time, lingering in the presence of God. We need to go to the place where contentment is found, to regularly drink from the fountain of joy. We need to let our eyes pour over the pages of sacred Scripture and to listen closely as God speaks to our hearts. … If we’re not consistently spending time in the presence of God, we won’t be content. Period. (pp.65-66)

When we complain, we’re loudly saying that the blessings of the gospel aren’t enough. We’re saying that the death of Christ isn’t enough.  We’re saying that eternal fellowship with God, purchased at great cost to God, isn’t enough to satisfy our souls. … The only way to cut the nerve of complaining is to regularly and actively remember and savor and apply the gospel. (p.72)

Contentment happens when I realize that I have so much more than I deserve. (p.112)

Contentment happens when, through faith, you see the treasure waiting for you. (p.126)

Your futile house projects are a reminder that you’re not home yet. Your constant battle with depression is a reminder that soon the gloom will lift. You’re frustration with your job is a reminder that soon you’ll be able to enjoy work as you were always meant to do. … We can be content now because we know that very soon all our longings will be satisfied. (pp.137-138)

 

Source: Stephen Altrogge, The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence (Crossway, 2011)

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The pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means of doing both; for he who is deeply skilled in it will be able both to govern those who are teachable, and to refute the enemies of the truth.

Source: John Calvin on Titus 1:9 “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. ”

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When God decrees that I be permitted to do some sinful action, he does so without coerision and for his own glory and with an interest in my ultimate good.

When I voluntarily act out what is within my heart, in opposition to God’s glory and to my own harm, then what I do is sin.

God does not sin in his decree but I sin in my act.

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Elisha Coles (1678)

 

The great act of sovereignty was God’s decree for making the world, and of doing, or permitting to be done, whatever should be in it, to the folding of it up. The heavens and the earth, and all the hosts of them, as yet had no being: it was at his pleasure, whether he would make them or not: and if he would, what being be would give them; to what end, and how that end should be accomplished. … The scheme and substance [of God’s decree] … may be drawn to this effect:

 

That the great God,

most high and holy,

being infinitely good, happy and blessed in himself,

was also infinitely prompt and well pleased to communicate thereof to others;

 

to which end,

he designed to raise up creatures, angels and men:

 

that for the manifestation of his sovereignty,

he would confirm a certain number of those angels in their primitive state;

leaving the rest to themselves;

who falling from that state,

should be cast down,

and “reserved in chains of darkness,

to the judgment of the great day”,

 

that in this lower world,

he would set up the first man to be the head and representative of all that should come of him;

that this single person should be created in the image of God,

fit to enjoy communion with him,

and endued with power to abide therein:

 

that to manifest the weakness of creatures,

and their perpetual dependence on God,

he would thus leave him to his first stock,

with a perfect freedom of will,

to retain, or lose at his own choice;

but not without set­ting before him the happiness

or ruin that would certainly follow his well or ill using that freedom;

and, being so left,

the fallen angel tempting him to disobedience, and also prevailing,

both himself and all his posterity should by this revolt fall under the curse:

 

that, for the declaration of his sovereign grace,

he would, and accordingly did,

choose a certain number of Adam’s posterity (in themselves all alike depraved and lost),

and ordain them to eternal life;

 

and to make known the power of his wrath,

and his just displeasure against sin,

he would leave the rest in that state of perdition they would bring themselves into:

 

that of those vessels of wrath,

Satan himself (whom they chose to follow) should be the head and ruler:

as also over them that were elected, for a time,

namely, until the Messiah, their true and proper Head,

and into whom he had chosen them,

should rescue them out of his power;

 

that to this end,

and that he might be known to be just,

as well as merciful, in justifying of them,

the Son of God should take on him the place of a second Adam,

and come into the world with a human body;

in which he should fulfill all righteousness,

and, by the infinite virtue and merit of his death,

should satisfy the law in all its demands,

destroy the devil,

dissolve his works,

and reconcile the elect to God:

that he should be raised again from the dead,

and invested with all power befitting the Captain of their salvation;

so that he might effectually minister to them

whatsoever should be requisite for bringing his sons to glory.

 

This I take to be the sum of God’s decree; the great ensign or standard royal of sovereignty, of which all the others are but consequents, and to which they are sub­ordinate.

 

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