Through Broken Vessels

“It has been well-said that before God uses a man greatly He must first break him breakly. God works best through broken vessels who have been crushed by the hammer blows of the devil. The more we desire to be used by God the greater must be our willingness to suffer for Him. There are no easy paths in ministry. Every assignment is a killing place.

This quote and brief sermon jam comes from Dr. Steve Lawson’s ministry during the 2010 Shepherds’ Conference in California at Dr. John MacArthur’s church.

During this time of trial and troubles, I would be remiss if I did not admit that I struggle with fears of my own. I fear for family, for friends, and for churches. Yet, down through the ages of church history, persecution has always given the church wings to grow and be refined as the Bride of Christ.

If you also have fears, look to Jesus and be a broken vessel fit for the Master’s use.

Christ Exalted is Our Song

The news today will not exalt Christ. It will not promote the kingdom of heaven. The news is only intent on reporting on the vile depravity that oozes out of the hearts of men and women around this world.

Today, I encourage you to turn off the news and focus on Jesus Christ. Do not keep your eyes on that which will not edify your soul and make you more like the Savior.

The Glorious Christ

Today, June 14th is Flag Day in America. Many are celebrating with flags being waved, displayed on their cars, or being flown in front of their homes.

For millennium, flags or banners have been waved for many different reasons. But this beautiful hymn from Sovereign Grace reminds me that the banner of Jesus Christ will always wave across His kingdom. As Solomon wrote, “His banner over me is love.”

Truly, our Lord, our King, our Saviour, our Redeemer, our Messiah, our Prince of Peace is worthy of praise. He is glorious above all things.

Glorious
Lord, You are glorious
Shepherd and King, forever You’ll be glorious
Holy and here with us
Let every heart declare that You are glorious

Kneel to God Alone

As true believers, we kneel before God alone. He alone is worthy of our worship, our honor, and the One we seek when we need to ask forgiveness.

The world can demand all they want, but our allegiance is to the King of Kings.

In case, you have forgotten today with all that is happening, then Behold Our God!

How to Awaken a Dead & Unregenerate Church

In this brief video, Dr. Steve Lawson shares how to awaken a dead and unregenerate church. Church leaders need to be fully assured that they indeed have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and then they need to give consideration to the message they declare to every person who enters their places of worship.

What Sweet Peace!

(Letters of William Romaine, 1714-1795)

When the Holy Spirit takes of the things of Christ and preaches them to the heart–oh, what a sweet peace follows! For the believer then finds himself saved from all the miseries of sin, and entitled to all the blessings of eternal glory.

Being thus persuaded of his safety by believing in the sin-atoning blood of our Great High Priest, the Holy Spirit then teaches him how to live upon Christ, and how to make use of Christ’s fullness.

On our learning this lesson depends our comforting walk heavenward. For Christ does not give us a stock of grace and expect us to improve it by being faithful to grace given. No, no, that is not His way. Our souls must depend upon Him, just as our bodies do upon the elements of this world. Every moment we must live by faith upon His fullness, and be every moment receiving out of it grace upon grace.

And this is our happiness–to have all in Christ!

A beggar in myself, but rich with unsearchable eternal riches in Him.

Ignorant still in myself, but led and taught by His unerring wisdom.

A sinner still, but saved by His blood and righteousness.

Weak and helpless still, but kept by His Almighty love.

Nothing but sorrow in myself, nothing but joy in Him.

Oh, this is a blessed life!

No tongue can tell what a Heaven it is, thus to live by faith upon the Son of God. Thanks be to Him, that I do know a little of it. Surely I could not have thought, some years ago, that there was such a Heaven upon earth as I now find. May you find it more and more! Sweet Jesus keep you, my dear friend!

Yours,
William Romaine

Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah

This beautiful hymn is a wonderful reminder of the Creator whom we serve with joy and gladness.

Four times in Psalm 107, we are told these words by the Psalmist David.

Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31 – “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! … 15 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! … 21 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! … 31 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!”

God Cares For You!

 

It’s hard time right now. Many of us are facing uncertainty with our health, our lives, our finances…but one thing we must always realize is this: God cares for us. God has orchestrated all this for our good and His glory. He will walk us through this and be with us on the other side.

Be encouraged over the fact that God is sovereign and is not some sort of powerless spectator.

Choose God for Your Portion

the-end“Death blows away all vain deceits.  Then carnal men begin to perceive their error.  When their portion comes to be taken away from them, then what indignation they have upon themselves for the folly of their choice, how the world has deceived them!  A godly man hath the beginning here; then he comes to have a consummate and most perfect enjoyment of it.  Death cannot separate us from our portion.  Indeed, it separates us from all things that withhold us from it; but it is a means to perfect our union with God, and make way for our full fruition of him. …we should choose God for our portion.”  –Thomas Manton “Psalm 119 Vol. 1, p. 561 (Banner of Truth)

Will He Feed His Birds and Starve His Children?

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(Letters of John Berridge, 1716-1793)

Alas! how little do we possess of that love which bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. We grow more like Jesus, only as we grow up into Him in love; and this grace purifies, and sweetens the affections, banishing selfishness, so far as it prevails. It is the temper of Heaven, and the nature of God; for God is love.

And can a God of love allow His children to lack anything needful? Does He feed His birds, and will He starve His babes? Has He given us bodies to be fed and clothed; and will He withhold food and clothing? If you happen to feel anxiety about these matters, remember the sweet, quieting word, which Jesus has dropped to hush your heart, “Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of these things!”

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:25-26

Like Dust in the Wind

6d84a2f11faaeece5ed0256704c7a4cf(Octavius Winslow, “This God is Our God”)

“For this God is our God forever and ever–He will be our guide even to the end.” Psalm 48:14

“The world passes away.”

Everything here in this present world is changing.

Life is like a painted dream,
Like the rapid summer stream,
Like the fleeting meteor’s ray,
Like the shortest winter’s day,
Like the fitful breeze that sighs,
Like the waning flame that dies,
Darting, dazzling on the eye,
Fading in eternity.”

A rope of sand,
a spider’s web,
a silken thread,
a passing shadow,
an ebbing wave,
are the most fitting and expressive emblems of all things belonging to this present time’s state.

The homes that sheltered us in childhood we leave.

The land which gave us birth we leave.

The loved ones who encircled our hearths pass away.

The friends of early years depart.

And the world that was so sunny, and life that was so sweet, is all beclouded and embittered; the whole scenery of existence changed into wintry gloom.

Such are the saddening, depressing effects of life’s vicissitudes.

But in the midst of all, “This God is our God FOREVER AND EVER!”

All beings change, but God.

All things change, but Heaven.

The revolutions of time revolve, the events of earth go onward–but He upon whom all things hang, and by whom all events are shaped and controlled, moves not.

“I, the Lord, do not change.”

Our affairs may alter.

Our circumstances may change.

Our relations and friends may depart one by one.

Our souls in a single day pass through many fluctuations of spiritual feeling.

But He who chose us to be His own, and who has kept us to the present moment, is our covenant God and Father forever and ever, and will never throw us off and cast us away.

“For this God is our God forever and ever–
He will be our guide even to the end!” Psalm 48:14

The Humble Coronation of King Jesus

Regardless of the situation in the world, this time of year should be a beautiful reminder that Spring is coming. With the Spring, comes what the world calls Easter. However, for true believers, we are preparing to celebrate Resurrection Sunday!

Matt 21:1-11 records the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ the Messiah into Jerusalem. This is the lead-up to Passion Week where we remember what Christ suffered and that culminated in His death and burial.

1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

In this short message, John MacArthur brings this passage in Matthew to the forefront of our hearts and minds.

A Fountain of Unfailing Happiness!

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(George Everard, 1884)

“He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ” Ephesians 1:5

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus!” Galatians 3:26

Here is one of the sweetest privileges of the Christian life. The Christian is God’s beloved child, and shares all the love and tenderness of the Father’s heart!

This one thought is a fountain of unfailing happiness!
“I am at home with God!
Once I was far off–but now I am near.
Once I was a stranger–but now His beloved child!
Once the thought of His presence was fear and dread–but now it is life, and joy, and peace.
He is my Father, and in this Name all heart-joys meet.
He knows me by name, and cares for me in all my cares.
He pities me, and in tender compassion marks each tear I shed, and each sorrow that weighs upon my heart.
He opens His hand, and each day gives me all that I need.
He bows down His ear and hearkens to each prayer I offer.
I have boldness and liberty to go at all times into His presence-chamber, and may tell Him every desire and ask of Him whatever is for my good.”

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

The Temple of God

Was reading in 1 Corinthians 3 this week and this passage was before me:
1 Corinthians 3:16-17: Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
This should resonate for the Christian, though we are far removed from the heavily Jewish flavor of the 1st century in Palestine. Jewish Christians hearing this from Paul would likely have connected what he said here with cherished promises they had heard all their lives. But the apostle reveals that the true fulfillment of all of God’s promises are found in Christ, not in a parcel of dirt in the middle east.
Here’s what the 1st century Jews were holding onto:
Abram. Genesis 12:2 & 3: I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Jacob. Genesis 27:29: Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!
Israel. Numbers 24:8 & 9: God brings him out of Egypt and is for him like the horns of the wild ox; he shall eat up the nations, his adversaries, and shall break their bones in pieces and pierce them through with his arrows. He crouched, he lay down like a lion and like a lioness; who will rouse him up? Blessed are those who bless you, and cursed are those who curse you.
Blessing and curses. God loves His people! Yes, He does. And note: not only does Paul apply this same blessing curse to the body of Christ, he also told us that all who believe on Jesus are true children of Abraham according to the promise. And Matthew told us that when Israel was called out of Egypt (as we see in Num 24, above and in Hosea 11), that this was a shadow of Jesus coming out of Egypt (Matt 2:15).
1 Corinthians 3:11 (HCSB) For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (HCSB) 16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.
Yes, God loves His people. He sent His Son to redeem us from sin and hell and death. He did this so that we would shine like lights in a dark place, heralding the gospel to a world that consuming itself. Fear not, God is giving His kingdom to His children. Go forth, now and tell people that Jesus saves sinners from a certain doom that is far worse than any “hell” they imagine.

Why then the law?

I’m sure you have run across those who claim Paul was speaking to us in the present tense in  Galatians 3:24 when he wrote that the law was our nanny until we came to faith in Christ. There is a two-fold problem with this understanding: First, the context from the middle of chapter 2 through chapter 5 aligns with the passage in chapter 3 which provides explicit language to clarify Paul’s rhetorical question in verse 19 of chapter 3: why, then, the law? Second, a misunderstanding of the answer to this question can lead to believing just what Paul argued against in this letter.

First, does verse 24 in chapter 3 tell us the law was our nanny until we came to faith in Christ? Here’s how the KJV reads: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” In case the formatting doesn’t show up, the phrase “to bring us” is in italics, meaning it was added in by the translation team. Read the verse without that phrase: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” The law did not, does not, bring anyone to Christ – the Spirit does that through the proclamation of the gospel! But that phrase was added to make it appear the law carried people to the Lord.

It is clear from the context that Paul is speaking of the Mosaic Law here. As is the case in all the New Covenant passages, the Mosaic Law is spoken of as a unit. We don’t read about this part or that division of the law. Simply the law. We read in Exodus that before Moses went up Mt Sinai to get the second set of tablets, he “came and told the people all the commands of the Lord and all the ordinances. … He then took the covenant scroll and read it aloud to the people.” (Ex 24:3 & 7) And in verse 12 we see YHWH telling Moses “Come up to Me on the mountain and stay there so that I may give you the stone tablets with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.” All the law and commandments, not just the Decalogue nor everything other than the Decalogue; all the law and commandments. This is what Paul was referring to.

The word interpreted “schoolmaster” is the Greek word from which we get our word “pedagogue.” While modern definitions, such as used by the KJV, claim that word means tutor, the ancient definition referred to one who was a slave guardian of his master’s child, to make sure the child was where he needed to be, when he was supposed to be there. He was NOT a tutor or schoolmaster, but one charged with the safety of his charge.

Here’s how several other translations render that verse: “The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith.” (HCSB) The law of Moses was “our guardian” – whose guardian? Go back to chapter 2 and verse 15: “We who are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners”” The law of Moses was a guardian for the Jews by birth – national, ethnic Israel, and not to “Gentile sinners.” Some of the folk in the assembly of saints at Galatia wanted to retreat from the milk of the gospel and embrace the heavy yoke that the council in Acts 15 would overthrow. These were called “foolish Galatians” (3:1), followed up by “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?” (vs 3) If the law brings people to Christ, why would Paul call people foolish who wanted to live under it?

This brings us to verse 19 and the question – Why, then the law? And the answer: “It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come.” Even the KJV agrees with this. The law of Moses was given because of transgressions and only until the promised Seed came. Jesus came and did His work of redemption and is with the Father on high. The law as it was given to national Israel, as a binding legal code with sanctions for violations, was only until Christ came. Paul sums up the condition of his kinsmen of the flesh in verse 23: “Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed.” Some translations do not have “this” before “faith.” No matter – the apostle is restating his message from verse 19, explaining why and when the law was given.

The law was added – had not been given before this, not to Adam, not to Abraham – to remain in place until the promised Seed came. And until faith came, for the law granted faith to nobody, Jews were in chains under the law. But when faith came, when the Messiah was glorified, verse 25 tells the good news to those who were in bondage – “we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” (verse 26)

Now back to verse 22: “But the Scripture has imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” This verse does not say “the law has imprisoned everything under/in sin’s power” – it says Scripture has. Scripture tells us the entire creation was cursed when Adam fell. Scripture tells us there is no salvation except in Christ. Scripture tells us creation groans in anticipation of its new birth, when Christ returns to gather His saints on the new earth. We know that everything IS under sin’s power because of sin. Sickness and death stalk each of us. But the promise given to Abraham, that he would be the father of many nations, is incrementally consummated every time one of God’s elect is raised up to new life in Christ Jesus.

This message is given different views in chapters 4 & 5 but the message is the same: present day (in Paul’s day) Jerusalem represented the slavery of the Mosaic Law; freedom from sin comes only in Christ, the heavenly Jerusalem. The law was added until the promised Seed came. Hebrews tells us the religious rites given through Moses served as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (Heb 8:5). When the fullness of time came, the promised Seed came and conquered sin and death and the shadows, those types found in the law, came to their end.

Why, then, the law? To show the nation of stiff-necked, loop-hole finding, law-loving Jews how wicked they were; to keep them as a nation to display God’s holiness to them and the pagan nations; to make sure they were around when the fullness of time came and the promised Seed arrived. The law was Israel’s guardian until faith came, because Israel could not keep itself. Their history shows that, if left themselves, they were every bit as wicked as the Syrians, or you and me before we were redeemed.

Once the promised Seed came, the guardian is no longer needed. Faith and the promise do not depend on fleshly procreation. By faith we become children of Abraham. Now that Christ has come, the Spirit keeps His people. The law fulfilled its role, its time is past. The covenant based on shadows and types, with fire and threats of punishment for violations of its law has ended. Faith has come in the person of the promised Seed. The law and all the other shadows of the Old Covenant no longer bind anyone with chains but, as the Spirit gives the light of understanding, serve to instruct us about our innate weakness and need for humility before God and fellow man. Just as we read with New Covenant clarity from Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John.

No need to “un-hitch” the Old Testament from our faith – all of it is from God for us. We belong to heavenly country which has different laws; given by the same God but intended for a people with hearts of flesh, not stone; people who, having been loved by God can and will love Him and one another. No need to tell one another, “know the Lord” for we all know Him. The Mosaic Law was chains for a people who needed to be told “know the Lord.” We in the New Covenant are not that people. We can see the law did not restrain national Israel from doing evil. So God gave His Spirit to will and equip us to do what is pleasing to Him.

Not under the yoke of law, which could not save nor can it lead us to Christ; it can only condemn. Therein is the danger of wrongly interpreting this passage.

New heart, new mediator, new priesthood, new covenant, new law from the new Lawgiver.  That’s the difference being in the New Covenant makes.

Till He Bids, I Cannot Die!

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(Samuel Davies, “The Nature and Universality of Spiritual Death”)

Psalm 121
“My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber.
The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter right by your side.
The sun will not strike you by day, or the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all harm; He will protect your life.
The Lord will protect your coming and going, both now and forever!”

God is the guardian and deliverer of His people!
From how many dangers has He preserved us!
From how many calamities has He delivered us!

Dangers, distresses and deaths crowd upon us–and surround us in every age and every place! The air, the earth, the sea, and every element–are pregnant with numberless inlets of pain and death ready to seize and destroy us!

Sickness and death swarm around us! Nay, they lie in ambush in our own constitution, and are perpetually undermining our lives–and yet our divine Guardian preserves us for months and years unhurt, untouched. And how many ‘salvations’ of this kind has He wrought for us! Salvations . . .
from accidents,
from sicknesses,
from pains,
from sorrows,
from death!
Salvations from seen and unseen dangers!
Salvations in infancy, in youth, and in maturer years!

These things we cannot deny, without the most stupid ignorance, and an atheistic disbelief of divine Providence.

Sovereign Ruler of the skies,
Ever gracious, ever wise,
All my times are in Your hand,
All events at Your command!

His decree, who formed the earth,
Fixed my first and second birth;
Parents, native place, and time,
All appointed were by Him.

He who formed me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb.
All my times shall ever be,
Ordered by His wise decree!

Times of sickness, times of health;
Times of poverty, and of wealth;
Times of trial, and of grief,
Times of triumph, and relief.

Plagues and death around me fly;
Till He bids, I cannot die!
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit!

(John Ryland)

Psalm 91:3-7
“Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear . . .
the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you!”

Dusty Bibles Lead To Dark Souls

bible-dust-read-me-6-29-15(“Pleasant Readings for the Home” Author unknown)

A traveler one day called at a cottage to ask for a drink of water. Entering, he found the parents cursing and quarreling, with the children trembling and crouched in a corner. Wherever he looked, he saw only marks of degradation and misery. Greeting the family, he asked them, “Dear friends, why do you make your house like Hell?

“Ah, Sir,” said the man, “you don’t know the life and trials of a poor man! Do what I can–everything goes wrong!”

The stranger drank the water, and then said softly (as he noticed a Bible in a dark and dusty corner), “Dear friends, I know what would help you, if you could find it. There is a treasure concealed in your house–search for it.”

And so he left them.

At first the cottagers thought it a jest, but, after a while they began to reflect. The whole family tried to find the “treasure”–but in vain. Increasing poverty brought only more quarrels, discontent, and strife.

One day, as the woman was thinking upon the stranger’s words–her eye fell on the old Bible. It had been a gift from her mother, but since her death long ago–it had been unheeded and unused.

A strange foreboding seized her mind. Could the stranger have meant the Bible? She took it from the shelf, opened it, and found the verse inscribed on the title-page, in her mother’s handwriting, “The law of your mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” It cut her to the heart. “Ah!” thought she, “this is the treasure which we have been seeking!” How her tears fell fast upon the pages!

From that time she read the Bible every day, and taught the children to pray–but without her husband’s knowledge. One day he came home, as usual, quarrelsome and in a rage. Instead of meeting his angry words with angry replies–she spoke to him kindly and with gentleness. “Husband,” said she, “we have sinned grievously. We have ourselves to blame for all this misery, and we must now lead a different life.”

He looked amazed. “What are you talking about?” was his exclamation.

She brought the old Bible, and, sobbing, cried, “Here is the treasure. See, I have found it!”

The husband’s heart was moved. She read to him of the Lord Jesus, and of His love. She continued to read the Scriptures daily, as she sat with the children around her, thoughtful and attentive.

So time went on.

It was a year later that the stranger returned that way. Seeing the cottage, he remembered the circumstances of his visit, and thought he would call and see this family again. He did so, but he would scarcely have known the place–it was so clean, so neat, so well ordered. He opened the door, and at first thought he was mistaken, for the family came to meet him so kindly, with the peace of God beaming upon their faces.

“How are you, my friends?” said he.

Then they recognized the stranger–and for some time they could not speak. “Thanks, thanks, dear Sir–we have found the treasure which you spoke of! Now the blessing of God dwells in our house–and His peace in our hearts!”

So they said–and their entire condition, and the happy faces of their children, declared the same more plainly!