Spurgeon on Dealing with Temptation

C.H. Spurgeon“It is easier to crush the egg–than to kill the serpent!”

It is prudent to break up all the eggs we can find, before the reptiles are hatched!

Just so, far greater wisdom will be shown in early dealing with a temptation, than in allowing it time to make headway. It is best to correct ourselves early and unhesitatingly to stamp out the first sparks of evil desire, before passion rises to a flame! 

A child can crush a serpent’s egg–but who will contend with the venomous creature which may be hatched from it, if it is left unbroken? 

So is it with that vice which stings like a viper! The first glass can readily be refused; it is quite another matter to stop when the wine has entered the brain. The first lust we may readily avoid; but when unchaste desires are fully aroused, who shall bridle them?

O Lord, teach me to crush sin early, lest it should gather strength and crush me!

 

(Charles Spurgeon, “Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden” 1883)
Many thanks to Grace Gems for the above post)

Tullian Tchividjian on Worship

Tullian.JPGWe ought to experience God with the totality of our being in worship. Worship services ought to inform the mind intellectually, engage the heart emotionally, and bend the will volitionally. God wants thoughtful worshippers who believe, emotional worshippers who behold, and obedient worshippers who behave. God-centered worship produces people who think deeply about God, feel passionately for God, and live urgently in response to God. Therefore, when we meet God in worship, we should expect a combination of gravity and gladness, depth and delight, doctrine and devotion, precept and passion, truth and love.
 
- Tullian Tchividjian


Worship by Tullian Tchividjian taken from Don’t Call it a Comeback, edited by Kevin DeYoung, copyright 2011, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, p. 219-220.

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Jesus the Bridegroom by Brant Pitre (Image)

pitre-jesus-the-bridegroom-cover-w350The themes in scripture that are woven into its tapestry from Genesis to Revelation, are, in part, what give the Bible both its authority and beauty. Years ago I read a work by the late J. Sidlow Baxter called The Master Theme of the Bible in which he traced the theme of the Lamb of God throughout the scripture. I remember being both deeply encouraged and filled with wonder at this singular thread that stretched the breadth of God’s Word. I had that same experience reading Jesus the Bridegroom by Brant Pitre as he explores the theme of the God who wants to marry His people. Dr. Pitre is Professor of Sacred Scripture at Notre Dame Seminary, in New Orleans, Louisiana.  With a Ph.D. in New Testament and ancient Judaism, Pirte’s passion is to help people “see” the message of scripture through the lens of ancient Jewish eyes. He makes use of a wide range of extrabiblical Jewish writings (which he is careful to insist are not “inspired”) and quotes heavily from these Rabbinic sources to add color and insight to the New Testament.

This world is the betrothal… the wedding will be in the days of the Messiah. – Exodus Rabbah 15:31

Pitre endeavors to present Yahweh not only as the creator but as the One who desires to be “united to His creatures in an everlasting relationship that is so intimate, so permanent, so sacrificial, and so life-giving that it can only be described as a marriage between Creator and creatures, between God and human beings, between YHWH and Israel.”  Pitre traces this idea beginning with the “divine wedding” covenant at Mount Sinai, through the spiritual adulteries of Israel and into the moment when John the Baptist describes himself as the “friend of the Bridegroom.” (Jn. 3:29) The Bridegroom is Jesus, the Incarnate One, who has come to win the redemption of His bride. Pitre works through the accounts of the wedding at Cana, the woman at the well, the last supper and the passion of Christ, showing the remarkable connections between them, the prophets and the Jewish traditions. (The observations on the wedding at Cana and the Samaritan woman are more than worth the price of the book.) The story finds its culmination in the marriage supper of the Lamb and a vision of the glorious bride of Christ.

For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. - Isaiah 54:5

Pitre’s Roman Catholicism is quite evident in some of his application but there is a wealth of insight here that any Protestant would be rewarded by and I found a great deal of the language not often used in Protestant literature to be refreshing. Roman Catholic thought is most evident in the chapter called “The Bridal Mysteries” in which the subjects of baptism, Eucharist, marriage and virginity are discussed. Even though there is much that I would disagree with Pitre on, I found an enhancement of my own views of baptism and the Lord’s Supper while the material on marriage and virginity were outstanding. Pitre’s illumination of marriage from Paul’s letters and the Jewish sources is very instructive and interprets the union in a remarkable way. As we face the current onslaught of support for gay marriage, there is much here that explains why that aberration is the complete antithesis of God’s design for marriage. Pitre doesn’t mention gay marriage but he so elevates the mystery of marriage (Eph. 5:32) that it insists only on the union of man and woman. Furthermore, and I say this with compassion and understanding the sacrifice involved, the section on virginity or “consecrated celibacy” is a positive and holy direction for those Christians who struggle with same sex attraction.

Pitre concludes the book with a meditation on the  Samaritan women. He highlights Jesus, the bridegroom, waiting for this woman to ask her for a drink. Jesus “thirst” was a prelude to the moment in which he would offer her the gift of living water. This quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church is, frankly, one of the most  lovely things I have ever read:

“‘If you knew the gift of God!’ The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.”

I know some of my more reformed friends will not be able to crawl out of their anti-catholic shells far enough to appreciate this but that would be their loss. The notion of prayer as an encounter between God’s thirst and ours? That is priceless.Jesus is ever at the well, wooing his bride and inviting us to partake of the living water he alone can offer.

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The Christian Priesthood – C. H. Mackintosh

chmThe Christian Priesthood.

C. H. Mackintosh.

“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”   1 Peter 2:9.

He, blessed be His name, grants to His people, in this the time of His absence, to anticipate the day when He shall come forth as a Royal Priest, and sit upon His throne, and send forth the benign influence of His dominion to the ends of the earth. We are called to be the present expression of the kingdom of Christ — the expression of Himself.

We want the reader to open his bible and read 1 Peter 2:1-9. In this lovely scripture he will find three words on which we shall ask him to dwell with us for a little. They are words of weight and power — words which indicate three great branches of practical Christian truth — words conveying to our hearts a fact which we cannot too deeply ponder, namely, that Christianity is a living and divine reality. It is not a set of doctrines, however true; a system of ordinances, however imposing; a number of rules and regulations, however important. Christianity is far more than any or all of these things. It is a living, breathing, speaking, active, powerful reality — something to be seen in the every-day life — something to be felt in the scenes of personal, domestic history, from hour to hour — something formative and influential — a divine and heavenly power introduced into the scenes and circumstances through which we have to move, as men, women, and children, from Sunday morning till Saturday night. It does not consist in holding certain views, opinions, and principles, or in going to this place of worship or that.

Christianity is the life of Christ communicated to the believer — dwelling in him — and flowing out from him, in the ten thousand little details which go to make up our daily practical life. It has nothing ascetic, monastic, or sanctimonious about it. It is genial, cordial, light some, pure, elevated, holy, heavenly, divine. Such is the Christianity of the New Testament. It is Christ dwelling in the believer, and reproduced, by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the believer’s daily practical career. This is Christianity — nothing else, nothing less, nothing different.

But let us turn to our three words; and may the Eternal Spirit expound and apply their deep and holy meaning to our souls!

And first, then, we have the word “living.” “To whom coming as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as living stones, are built up.”

Here we have what we may call the foundation of Christian priesthood. There is evidently an allusion here to that profoundly interesting scene in Matthew 16 to which we must ask the reader to turn for a moment.

Job: Where God Sees But a Little Grace

rememberjobGrace Gems regularly supplies jewels (pun intended!) like this for which I am very grateful. This comes from the Puritan writer Thomas Brooks. Enjoy. Be affirmed!


“Remember the patience of Job” James 5:11

It is not: 
“Remember the murmuring of Job,
 the cursing of Job,
 the complainings of Job,
 the impatience of Job,”  but 
“Remember the patience of Job.” 

God looks upon the pearl–and not upon the spot that is in it!

Just so, in Hebrews 11:30, 31, there is mention made of Rahab’s faith, love, and kind behavior towards the spies–but no mention is made of her lie or immorality. The Lord overlooks her weakness–and keeps His eye upon her virtues.

Where God sees but a little grace, He does, as it were, hide His eyes from those circumstances that might seem to deface the glory of it.

He who painted Alexander, drew him with his finger over the scar on his face.

Just so, when the Lord comes to look upon a poor soul, He lays His finger upon the scar, upon the infirmity–that He may see nothing but grace, which is the beauty and the glory of the soul.

“You are altogether beautiful, My love; there is no flaw in you!”  Song of Songs 4:7 

C.S. Lewis: No Mere Mortals

CS-LewisIt may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor.

The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.

All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.

It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.

There are no ordinary people.

You have never talked to a mere mortal.

Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.

But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn.

We must play.

But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.

And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.

Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.

The Weight of Glory (HarperOne, 2001), pp. 45-46.
C.S. Lewis: No Mere Mortals