Call for Candles

Let’s get on with the work of being His witness in these dark days.

Reading Spurgeon’s commentary on 1 Peter, I came across an illustration drawn from an event in American history. It’s a strong encouragement in “dark days” to be faithful.

On May 19, 1780, New England was thrown into complete darkness in the middle of the day. It was so dark that farm animals began nighttime routines, frogs and crickets began their songs, people had to abandon their outdoor work and those inside required candlelight. There were signs of the coming darkness in the skies for days before the event. Even George Washington made note of the “heavy and uncommon… clouds,” in his diary for May 18th. Today, scientists have a pretty good idea of what caused the blackout but for many New Englanders in that day it portended the arrival of divine judgment.

There was growing confusion and fear throughout the day. One clergyman wrote of people rushing “to the nearest church to confess their sins and say a prayer. Some even hunted down their local parson and demanded an impromptu sermon.” (1) The less religious folks began casting caution to the wind and urged debauchery as it seemed the world was ending.

In Connecticut, a number of the Governor’s Council were so shaken by the blackness around them that they proposed adjourning the meeting. Abraham Davenport, a colonel of Connecticut militia, refused to do so. He said: “The Judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjourning; and if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish, therefore, that candles may be brought.” (2)

John Greenleaf Whittier, a Quaker poet and abolitionist, recalled the event in a poem entitled with Davenport’s name:

Meanwhile in the old State House, dim as ghosts,
Sat the lawgivers of Connecticut,
Trembling beneath their legislative robes.
‘It is the Lord’s Great Day! Let us adjourn,’
Some said; and then, as if with one accord,
All eyes were turned to Abraham Davenport.
He rose, slow cleaving with his steady voice
The intolerable hush. ‘This well may be
The Day of Judgment which the world awaits;
But be it so or not, I only know
My present duty, and my Lord’s command
To occupy till He come. So at the post
Where He hath set me in His providence,
I choose, for one, to meet Him face to face, –
No faithless servant frightened from my task,
But ready when the Lord of the harvest calls;
And therefore, with all reverence, I would say,
Let God do His work, we will see to ours.
Bring in the candles.’ And they brought them in.

(2) – From “Abraham Davenport”

Spurgeon used this incident as an illustration regarding 1 Peter 1:13. He was urging believers to faithful determination in their walk with Christ. “The teaching necessary for today is this: ‘Prepare your minds for action’ (1 Pet 1:13). Brace yourselves up; pull yourselves together; be firm, compact, consistent, determined. Do not be like quicksilver, which keeps on dissolving and running into fractions. Do not fritter away life upon trifles, but live to purpose, with undivided heart and decided resolution.” (Spurgeon, C. (2014). Spurgeon Commentary: 1 Peter. (E. Ritzema & J. Strong, Eds.)

Spurgeon turned to the account of Abraham Davenport to illustrate his point and concluded it with a paragraph that echoes down the years to the day we find ourselves in:

“It is dark. But whatever is going to happen, or whatever is not going to happen, let us be found girded, sober, and hopeful. In these dark political times, these dark religious times, I call for candles. For we mean to go on working.”

Yes indeed. Call for candles. Let’s continue to faithfully be salt and light. Let’s get on with the work of being His witness in these dark days.

8 Reasons You Need Weekly Communion

Why would we not receive these benefits week by week?

Samuel Bolton by William Faithorne, print, published 1657

Samuel Bolton (1606-1654), in his work The Guard of the Tree of Life (Discourse on the Sacraments), presents compelling reasons for the diligent pursuit of spiritual discipline in our lives. Bolton, as many writers of his day, refers to it as our “duty” but it’s not the cold and unfeeling idea of duty, rather it is the call to embrace with our whole being the means of grace provided by our loving Father. In this book, Bolton focuses on the Lord’s Table as one of the regular disciplines of the Christian life. In the same way that we receive grace and spiritual strengthening from prayer, meditating on scripture, fellowship and loving service, we likewise receive the same from feeding upon our Savior’s body and blood through faith at the table. We should no more reject weekly attention to the supper than we would our daily prayer or time in God’s Word. It is a means of God’s gracious benefits flowing afresh into our lives. All neglect of spiritual discipline diminishes our progress in holiness. Bolton states:

“Neglect of duty breeds strangeness, strangeness distance, distance falling off. A good caveat in these days, when so many do cry down duty; shall we look on that as our burden which is our glory, our bondage which is our privilege? What is the happiness of a glorified saint, but only that he is always under the line of love, ever in the contemplation and converses with God? And shall that be thought our burden here, which is our glory hereafter?”

It is our glory, our privilege to come boldly before the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:16) How do we come to the throne of grace? How do we access this grace and need? By the means appointed by our Father. Bolton lists 8 benefits of this sacred “duty”:

“By this, first, you come to see the face of God; secondly, you have conversations with him; thirdly, you get new quickening’s; fourthly, new encouragements; fifthly, fresh strength against sin; sixthly, new supplies against the temptations of Satan and the world; seventhly, fresh strength to walk with God; eighthly, armor against our lusts.”

Look at these again:

  1. See the face of God. (As John Owen said, the table of the Lord is God’s love on display)
  2. We have conversation with Him. (Just as prayer is a two-way street, so is communion.
  3. Quickenings. (We receive fresh power! “Be being filled with the Spirit…” Eph. 5:18)
  4. New encouragement. – We receive fresh motivation.
  5. Fresh strength against sin. We are pointed a new toward holiness, our armor is buffed, our weapons are reset.
  6. “New supplies.” – grace that makes the Lord more precious to us and makes Satan and his kingdom more odious to us.
  7. Fresh strength. – we mount up with wings as eagles.
  8. Armor. – most especially our helmet of salvation and our shield of faith. Here the cross is put before us, the price of our redemption is evident, our assurance is strengthened, our faith is brought between us and our lusts.

Why would we not receive these benefits week by week?

The Ever New Mercies of God

Paul Tripp reminds us that God's mercy never fails us.

grace-and-mercy-road-sign-1024x716One of the stunning realities of the Christian life is that in a world where everything is in some state of decay, God’s mercies never grow old.

They never run out. They never are ill timed. They never dry up. They never grow weak. They never get weary. They never fail to meet the need.

They never disappoint. They never, ever fail, because they really are new every morning.

Form-fitted for the challenges, disappointments, sufferings, temptations, and struggles with sin within and without are the mercies of our Lord. Sometimes they are:

Awe-inspiring mercies
Rebuking mercies
Strengthening mercies
Hope-giving mercies
Heart-exposing mercies
Rescuing mercies
Transforming mercies
Forgiving mercies
Provision-making mercies
Uncomfortable mercies
Glory-revealing mercies
Truth-illumining mercies
Courage-giving mercies.

God’s mercies don’t come in one color; no, they come in every shade of every color of the rainbow of his grace. God’s mercies are not the sound of one instrument; no, they sound the note of every instrument of his grace.

God’s mercy is general; all of his children bask in his mercy. God’s mercy is specific; each child receives the mercy that is designed for his or her particular moment of need.

God’s mercy is predictable; it is the fountain that never stops flowing. God’s mercy is unpredictable; it comes to us in surprising forms.

God’s mercy is a radical theology, but it is more than a theology; it is life to all who believe.

God’s mercy is ultimate comfort, but it is also a call to a brand-new way of living. God’s mercy really does change everything forever, for all upon whom this mercy is bestowed.

–Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014), “Introduction.”

This post appeard first on the marvelous Tolle Lege blog.

A Song in My Heart

Thou Art Worthy (Rev.4:11) and I Offer My Life to You

Thou Art Worthy

Thou art worthy Thou art worthy
Thou art worthy O Lord
To receive glory glory and honor
Glory and honor and pow’r

For Thou hast created
Hast all things created
For Thou hast created all things
And for Thy pleasure they are created
Thou art worthy O Lord

Spurgeon on the Trinity

"How unwisely do those young believers talk, who make preferences in the Persons of the Trinity..."

C.H. SpurgeonMARK, beloved, the union of the Three Divine Persons in all their gracious acts. We believe that there is one God, and although we rejoice to recognize the Trinity, yet it is ever most distinctly a Trinity in Unity, Our watch-word still is—“Hear O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD.”

How unwisely do those young believers talk, who make preferences in the Persons of the Trinity; who think of Christ as if he were the embodiment of everything that is lovely and gracious, while the Father they regard as severely just, but destitute of kindness; and how foolish are those who magnify the decree of the Father, or the atonement of the Son, so as to depreciate the work of the Spirit. In deeds of grace none of the Persons of the Trinity act apart from the rest. They are as united in their deeds as in their essence. In their love towards the chosen they are one, and in the actions which flow from that great central source they are still undivided.

Specially I would have you notice this in the case of sanctification. While we may without the slightest mistake speak of sanctification as the work of the Spirit, yet we must take heed that we do not view it as if the Father and the Son had no part therein. It is correct to speak of sanctification as the work of the Father, of the Spirit, and of the Son. Still doth Jehovah say, “Let us make man in our own image after our likeness,” and thus we are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Spurgeon, C. H. (1862). Threefold Sanctification. In The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (Vol. 8, p. 85). London: Passmore & Alabaster.

A Statement Trump Needs to Make

Somebody get this to Trump. It might stop the bloodshed, if he's sincere.

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If anyone has access to Trump or his campaign staff, I would like to offer the following statement to him. I submit that it would go further to getting him elected than anything he is currently saying. If it’s sincere.

My Fellow Citizens,

I come to you today with a genuine humility. I want you to know that in the past I have behaved very poorly. As a younger man I allowed my wealth and fame to go to my head resulting in me looking at women more as objects than people deserving of every respect. I said and did things in line with that way of thinking that I now deeply regret. I was prideful, cavalier, often mean and spiteful. The remnants of some of that behavior has followed me even till now. But here it stops. Some of these things you have already heard about and in all likelihood there will be more to come before this election. I find it all a sad reminder of a past I no longer want to be associated with. Many women have been offended by my words and actions. I want to say to you that I apologize – not “if” you are offended but because I know I was wrong. My dear wife and daughter are helping me to see just how painful many of my words and actions have been. Let me use a word from the Bible that I am learning. Repentance. To repent is to “turn around” and I am repenting. I’m turning away from my juvenile and vulgar attitudes regarding women. My friends, I want to be a champion for every American regardless of gender, race or creed. I know full well that not one of us is perfect and I have no desire to dwell in the gutter of personal attacks any longer. I will no longer bring up the indiscretions and sins of other men to defend my poor behavior. I will speak only of my ideas and goals as I believe they are better in the long run for this great land. This election is a crossroads. The Supreme Court is on the line, religious liberty is in danger, small businesses are being strangled by over regulation, jobs are fleeing our shores, our inner cities are suffering, and we face the cruel reality of those who want to bring terror and destruction to the world in the name of a radical ideology. We must act now or we risk losing so much. I offer you no excuses. I simply dedicate myself to being a different kind of man. A man you can be proud of. I ask you to pray for me, for this great land, and be sure to vote in this election. Thank you.

Psalms of the Day

Psalm 42

psalmsoftheday

This in one of my favorite Psalms. I love the honesty, the roller coaster of emotion , the depths and the heights. Many is the day when I have to instruct myself more than once to “bless the Lord, O my soul!”

Psalm 42

S)  Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:11 ESV)

H) The Psalm is attributed to the Sons of Korah. Who was Korah? A great gandson of Levi, we read about him being put to death for his rebellion against Yahweh (Num. 16). His boys escaped the judgment (Num. 16:11) and later became doorkeepers and then leaders of worship in the sanctuary of God. It contains one of the most beloved (and most sung) passages of Scripture:

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. (Ps 42:1 ESV)

This Psalm and Psalm 43 were separated but likely make up one song. Throughout the Psalm there is great distress. The singer is weeping, crying out for help, taunted and oppressed by adversaries. He wonders when he will ever be able to once again lead the throngs of worshipers into God’s house. Repeatedly, rather than let despair overtake him, he instructs his soul to bless the Lord. (Twice in this psalm, v.5, 11 and once in the companion Psalm 43:5)

A) As John Piper has remarked, “Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback.” Saints will always experience great heights of joy but, just as certain, great depths of suffering. I am so grateful that God knows our frame. He knows that we are but dust and He holds in His heart a Father’s pity for our weaknesses and our often faithless responses to trials. The psalmist is reminding himself of God’s faithfulness and everlasting promises. So often I have had to do this. My dark nights of the soul have not been as tortuous as many others have been but they are still mine and they are real. Thankfully, the Spirit has comforted me and prompted me again and again to count on the promises of the Father. I love this verse and chorus of a song we are singing in church:

When I fear my faith will fail,
Christ will hold me fast;
when the tempter would prevail,
He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;
for my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.

He will hold me fast,
He will hold me fast;
for my Savior loves me so,
He will hold me fast.

P) Father, I pray that I would know ever more deeply your keeping power in my life. You can surely be trusted and my heart is safe in your hands. In Jesus name, Amen.

E) He will hold you fast! 

 

The Psalms of the Day for 10/12 are: 12, 42, 72, 102, 132

Reading the Psalms of the Day is a very helpful way to energize and broaden your prayers. You can learn more about praying the psalms here. You can download a chart of the daily readings here. Learn about the S.H.A.P.E. Method of engaging with scripture here.

Psalms of the Day

Psalm 135

psalmsoftheday
Idolatry is the act of trusting in anything or anyone to bring satisfaction to the deepest desire of our longing hearts. Our God speaks to that deep desire. The idols of any age “have no breath within them.” God offers to breathe life into our hearts with a vision of His glory. If we insist on our idols, we risk becoming like them: deaf, blind, mute and lifeless. Jesus offers so much more!

Psalm 135

S)  “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them.” (Psalm 135:15-18 ESV)

H) In this Psalm, God is celebrated as the Creator and the Lord of all history. The Psalm consists of 4 sections:

V.1-4 All of God’s servants are urged to give Him great praise

V. 5-14 Reasons to give God praise. Focus is on His creative power and His acts of redemption toward Israel

V. 15-18 The uselessness of idols and the danger of becoming like them.

V. 19-21 A return to the call to praise. Blessing the Lord is exhorted 5 times.

Are you familiar with cover bands? They are music groups that “cover” the songs of popular artists. They may put their own spin on them but the lyrics remain the same. Sometimes they will do a medley, covering  pieces of several songs and presenting them as one piece. The unknown author of this Psalm has done just that. He has his own take on things but the psalm is largely the content of other scriptures woven into a new piece.

A) The characteristics of idols in the OT is that they are deaf, dumb and blind. The main idea was that they were dead. “…nor is there any breath in their mouths.” The idols of any age are only empty dead ends.  The scriptures tell me that Jesus is a living “life-giver.” (John 5:21; John 6:33; John 6:39-40; John 6:54; John 6:57; Romans 8:2; Romans 8:10) My instinct for self-preservation is not simply a desire to not die but is rooted in my deepest desire to be fully alive and united to Jesus in His eternal life. So why do I so often trust in things that cannot give me life? I feel the tension that is always with me – “this will satisfy you more than prayer…this is more vital than your Bible…this will give you immediate pleasure, why wait for some pie in the sky?” Variations of these fiery darts seem to always be assaulting my shield of faith in one form or another.  I am reminded in this Psalm of two things. 1) God’s reputation is good. He has a track record. He will deliver those who trust Him. 2) Praise is a means to keeping my heart anchored to God’s faithfulness. When I drift from the cross, when my praise turns to complaining and I begin to doubt God’s faithfulness, I am ripe for idolatry. The more I bow before whatever that idol may be I will become more like it. Deaf to God’s voice, blind to God’s truth, muted instead of giving thanks, and ultimately courting death. I want to choose daily to direct my affections toward God and trust in His faithfulness.

P)  O God, you are my life! I bless You for are true and faithful. You are the great creator of all things and the sovereign over all of life. There is nothing in this world that can breathe life into me other than you. Keep me alert to the snares of death. Help me to cooperate with Your Spirit’s promptings and set my heart continually upon You. Give me an ever growing desire to feast on Your truth so that my shield of  faith may stand strong against the lies of the enemy of my soul. In Jesus name, Amen!

E) God’s reputation is good! He is worthy of your trust and praise.

 

The Psalms of the Day for the 15th are: 15, 45, 75, 105, 135

Reading the Psalms of the Day is a very helpful way to energize and broaden your prayers. You can learn more about praying the psalms here. You can download a chart of the daily readings here. Learn about the S.H.A.P.E. Method of engaging with scripture here.