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Archive for June, 2015

How Wolves Change Rivers

God’s Surprising Plans for Your Good | Desiring God
http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-s-surprising-plans-for-your-good

Take Heed by Nicholas Batzig | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org
http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/take-heed/

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If all things work for good, hence learn that there is a providence. Things do not work of themselves, but God sets them working for good. God is the great Disposer of all events and issues, He sets everything working. “His kingdom ruleth over all” Psalm 103:19. It is meant of His providential kingdom. Things in the world are not governed by second causes, by the counsels of men, by the stars and planets, but by divine providence. Providence is the queen and governess of the world. There are three things in providence: God’s foreknowing, God’s determining, and God’s directing all things to their periods and events.

Source: Thomas Watson, A Divine Cordial (1633) Republished All Things For Good, Puritan Paperback, 55.

Note: God foreknows the future because he has determined ends and directs the bringing about of those ends c.f. Isaiah

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Thomas Brooks, The Strength Of Christ Illustrated In The Weakness Of His People.
Two Sermons Preached on a Sacramental occasion at Galashiels, July 31, and August 1, 1731.
2 Cor. xii. 9. For my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Source

Of sinful natural weakness; not that he brought them under such weakness, but he suffers them to lie under it. There are remains of the corruption of nature in them all, which makes them a company of poor groaning weaklings, Rom. vii. 24. Grace has got in indeed, but corruption is not yet quite got out. The Canaanites are left in the land, and they are not able to clear the land of them. And this corruption of nature hath a strong bias, in each of them, to some particular evil, according to their various tempers and circumstances, "the sin that easily besets them," Heb. xii. 1.

Why the Lord leaves sin in the regenerate? Why though they pant, long, and breathe after perfection, yet they cannot reach it; though they would buy their freedom from sin with ten thousand worlds if they had them, and the bondage of a body of sin cleaving to them makes them long for cold death, to set them free, yet they must wrestle on with it? See what may satisfy. It is that the power of Christ may be illustrated in your weakness; therefore it is that the "wheels of his chariot tarry."

This bids us,

1st, Stoop to the dispensation, and not quarrel; and after he has thus far discovered to us the design of it, to crucify all our hows and whys on the matter; and that both with respect to our spiritual and bodily weaknesses.

2dly, Resolutely to keep up the struggle, to get forward in the way the Lord calls us. What though we be weak? the works of the Christian life are not to be laid aside, but we are to stretch out the withered hand, that his strength may be perfected in our weakness.

Whoso thus struggle resolutely, and yet stoop humbly to the dispensation, shew their concern for his honour, insomuch that they are pleased his strength should be displayed in their weakness. Thus honouring him here, he will honour them in the other world.


 

Thomas Boston, The Christian Weak, Yet Strong.
2 Cor. xii. 10, For when I am weak, then am I strong.
source

You will get enough of strength in Christ, if you take this way to it, living and going out of yourselves, under a sense of utter weakness, to the Lord Christ, as the head of strengthening influences. If you ask, What is that? I answer. It is the soul’s discerning an utter inability in itself for any spiritually good action, but withal believing that God has treasured up sufficient strength in the Mediator, to be communicated to those that are his, and therefore embracing a full Christ for all, as held forth in the everlasting covenant; and then venturing on duties, watching against temptations, and taking up the cross, upon the faith and credit of the promises of the covenant, trusting that they shall be made out to him; which trust may be weaker or stronger, but according to the strength of it, so is the income of strength to the soul. In this way the weak go from strength to strength. Thus shall you be helped to go through the most difficult duties acceptably, though not perfectly, to stand against the strongest temptations, to mortify the most powerful lusts, and to bear the heaviest crosses. This has made Christians attain to an eminent pitch of holiness, joyfully to embrace a prison, banishment, a gibbet, a fire, and the most cruel torments enemies could invent. The more you are emptied of yourselves, placing confidence in the Lord, the more will you be strengthened with might in the inner man; and when you shall be perfectly unselfed, if we may so express ourselves, so that there shall be no more of it to marr the communication betwixt Christ and you, then you shall be perfectly holy, and set above the reach of all evil; but because we are not properly divested of self-confidence in this world, therefore we do not arrive here at perfect strength. But all the saints, however, will give their testimony, that "when they are weak, then they are strong." Amen.

 

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"Blessings"

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Writers: Laura Story, Liz Story © Story Duke Music, Laura Stories, New Spring Publishing Inc., Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

http://laurastorymusic.com/music/ 
(Click on her Blessing album and then the song called ‘Blessings’)

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Guido de Brès was one of the Reformers in Holland and the author of the Belgic Confession. This is a letter written in 1567 to his wife before his martyrdom.

The grace and mercy of our good God and heavenly Father, and the love of His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, be with you, my dearly beloved.

Catherine Ramon, my dear and beloved wife and sister in our Lord Jesus Christ: your anguish and sadness disturbs somewhat my joy and the happiness of my heart, so I am writing this for the consolation of both of us, and especially for your consolation, since you have always loved me with an ardent affection, and because it pleases the Lord to separate us from each other. I feel your sorrow over this separation more keenly than mine. I pray you not to be troubled too much over this, for fear of offending God. You knew when you married me that you were taking a mortal husband, who was uncertain of life, and yet it has pleased God to permit us to live together for seven years, giving us five children. If the Lord had wished us to live together longer, he would have provided the way. But it did not please him to do this and may his will be done.

Now remember that I did not fall into the hands of my enemies by mere chance, but through the providence of my God who controls and governs all things, the least as well as the greatest. This is shown by the words of Christ, “Be not afraid. Your very hairs are numbered. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And not one of them shall fall to the ground without the will of your Father. Then fear nothing. You are more excellent than many sparrows.” These words of divine wisdom say that God knows the number of my hairs. How then can harm come to me without the command and providence of God? It could not happen, unless one should say that God is no longer God. This is why the Prophet says that there is no affliction in the city that the Lord has not willed.

Many saintly persons who were before us consoled themselves in their afflictions and tribulations with this doctrine. Joseph, having been sold by his brothers and taken into Egypt, says, “You did a wicked deed, but God has turned it to your good. God sent me into Egypt before you for your profit.” (Genesis 50). David also experienced this when Shimei cursed him. So too in the case of Job and many others.

And that is why the Evangelists write so carefully of the sufferings and of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, adding, “And this was done that that which was written of Him might be accomplished.” The same should be said of all the members of Christ.

It is very true that human reason rebels against this doctrine and resists it as much as possible and I have very strongly experienced this myself. When I was arrested, I would say to myself, “So many of us should not have traveled together. We were betrayed by this one or that one. We ought not to have been arrested.” With such thoughts I became overwhelmed, until my spirits were raised by meditation on the providence of God. Then my heart began to feel a great repose. I began then to say, “My God, you have caused me to be born in the time you have ordained. During all the time of my life you have kept me and preserved me from great dangers and you have delivered me from them all – and if at present my hour has come in which I will pass from this life to you, may your will be done. I cannot escape from your hands. And if I could, I would not, since it is happiness for me to conform to your will.” These thoughts made my heart cheerful again.

And I pray you, my dear and faithful companion, to join me in thanking God for what he has done. For he does nothing that is not just and very equitable, and you should believe that it is for my good and for my peace. You have seen and felt my labours, cross, persecutions, and afflictions which I have endured, and have even had a part in them when you accompanied me in my travels during the time of my exile. Now my God has extended his hand to receive me into his blessed kingdom. I shall see it before you and when it shall please the Lord, you will follow me. This separation is not for all time. The Lord will receive you also to join us together again in our head, Jesus Christ.

This is not the place of our habitation – that is in heaven. This is only the place of our journey. That is why we long for our true country, which is heaven. We desire to be received in the home of our Heavenly Father, to see our Brother, Head, and Saviour Jesus Christ, to see the noble company of the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and many thousands of martyrs, into whose company I hope to be received when I have finished the course of my work which I received from my Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray you, my dearly beloved, to console yourself with meditation on these things. Consider the honour that God has done you, in giving you a husband who was not only a minister of the Son of God, but so esteemed of God that he allowed him to have the crown of martyrs. It is an honour the like of which God has never even given to the angels.

I am happy; my heart is light and it lacks nothing in my afflictions. I am so filled with the abundance of the richness of my God that I have enough for me and all those to whom I can speak. So I pray my God that he will continue his kindness to me, his prisoner. The One in whom I have trusted will do it, for I have found by experience that he will never leave those who have trusted in him. I would never have thought that God would have been so kind to such a poor creature as I. I feel the faithfulness of my Lord Jesus Christ.

I am practicing now what I have preached to others. And I must confess that when I preached I would speak about the things I am actually experiencing as a blind man speaks of colour. Since I was taken prisoner I have profited more and learned more than during all the rest of my life. I am in a very good school: the Holy Spirit inspires me continually and teaches me how to use the weapons in this combat. On the other side is Satan, the adversary of all children of God. He is like a boisterous, roaring lion. He constantly surrounds me and seeks to wound me. But he who has said, “Fear not, for I have overcome the world,” makes me victorious. And already I see that the Lord puts Satan under my feet and I feel the power of God perfected in my weakness.

Our Lord permits me on the one hand to feel my weakness and my smallness, that I am but a small vessel on the earth, very fragile, to the end that he would humble me, so that all the glory of the victory may be given to him. On the other hand, he fortifies me and consoles me in an unbelievable way. I have more comfort than the enemies of the gospel. I eat, drink and rest better than they do. I am held in a very strong prison, very bleak, obscure and dark. The prison is known by the obscure name “Brunain.” The air is poor and it stinks. On my feet and hands I have irons, big and heavy. They are a continual hell, hollowing my limbs up to my poor bones. The chief constable comes to look at my irons two or three times a day, fearing that I will escape. There are three guards of forty men before the door of the prison.

I have also the visits of Monsieur de Hamaide. He comes to see me, to console me, and to exhort me to patience, as he says. However, he comes after dinner, after he has wine in the head and a full stomach. You can imagine what these consolations are. He threatens me and says to me that if I would show any intention of escaping he would have me chained by the neck, the body and legs, so that I could not move a finger; and he says many other things in this order. But for all that, my God does not take away his promises, consoling my heart, giving me very much contentment.

Since such things have happened, my dear sister and faithful wife, I implore you to find comfort from the Lord in your afflictions and to place your troubles with him. He is the husband of believing widows and the father of poor orphans. He will never leave you – of that I can assure you. Conduct yourself as a Christian woman, faithful in the fear of God, as you always have been, honouring by your good life and conversation the doctrine of the Son of God, which your husband has preached.

As you have always loved me with great affection, I pray that you will continue this love toward our little children, instructing them in the knowledge of the true God and of his Son Jesus Christ. Be their father and their mother, and take care that they use honestly the little that God has given you. If God does you the favour to permit you to live in widowhood with our children after my death, that will be well. If you cannot, and the means are lacking, then go to some good man, faithful and fearing God. And when I can, I shall write to our friends to watch over you. I think that they will not let you want for anything. Take up your regular routine after the Lord has taken me. You have our daughter Sarah who will soon be grown. She will be your companion and help you in your troubles. She will console you in your tribulations and the Lord will always be with you. Greet our good friends in my name, and let them pray to God for me, that he may give me strength, speech, and the wisdom and ability to uphold the truth of the Son of God to the end and to the last breath of my life.

Farewell, Catherine, my dearly beloved. I pray my God that he will comfort you and give you contentment in his good will. I hope that God has given me the grace to write for your benefit, in such a way that you may be consoled in this poor world. Keep my letter for a remembrance of me. It is badly written, but it is what I am able to do, and not what I wish to do. Commend me to my good mother. I hope to write some consolation to her, if it pleases God. Greet also my good sister. May she take her affliction to God. Grace be with you.

At the prison, April 12, 1567.

Your faithful husband, Guy de Brès, minister of the Word of God at Valenciennes, and presently prisoner for the Son of God at the aforesaid place.

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