The Christian Hope

The Lord’s portion

(Charles Spurgeon)
“The Lord’s portion is His people.” Deuteronomy 32:9

How are they His portion?
First, by His own sovereign election. He chose them, and set His love upon them. He chose them altogether apart from any goodness in them at the time, or any goodness which He foresaw in them. He had mercy on whom He would have mercy, and ordained a chosen company unto eternal life.Therefore, are they His by His unconstrained election.
They are not only His by choice–but by purchase. He has bought and paid for them to the utmost farthing–hence there can be no dispute about His title to them. The Lord’s portion has been fully redeemed, not with corruptible things, as with silver and gold–but with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ! See the blood-mark upon all the elect, invisible to human eye–but known to Christ, for “the Lord knows those who are His!” He forgets none of those whom He has redeemed! He counts the sheep for whom He laid down His life, and well remembers the people for whom He gave Himself.
They are also His by conquest. What a battle He had in us–before we would be won! How long He laid siege to our hearts! How often He sent us terms of surrender! But we barred our gates, and fortified our walls against Him. Do we not remember that glorious hour–when He conquered our hearts? When He placed His cross against the wall, and scaled our ramparts, planting the blood-red flag of His omnipotent mercy on our strongholds? Yes, we are, indeed–the conquered captives of His omnipotent love!

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A Tender Heart

By G. D. Watson

Without tenderness of spirit the most intensely righteous, religious life is like the image of God without His beauty and attractiveness. It is possible to be very religious, and stanch, and persevering in all Christian duties, even to be sanctified, and be a brave defender and preacher of holiness, to be mathematically orthodox, and blameless in outward life, and very zealous in good works, and yet to be greatly lacking in tenderness of spirit, that all-subduing, all melting love, which is the very cream of Heaven, and which streamed out from the eyes and voice of the Blessed Jesus.

Many Christians seem loaded with good fruits, but the fruit tastes green; it lacks flavor and October mellowness. There is a touch of vinegar in their sanctity. Their very purity has an icy coldness to it. Their testimonies are straight and definite, but they lack the melting quality. Their prayers are intelligent and strong and pointed, but they lack the heart-piercing pathos of the dying Jesus. The summer heat in them is lacking. They preach eloquently and explain with utmost nicety what is actual and original sin and what is pardon and purity, but they lack the burning flame, that interior furnace of throbbing love, that sighs and weeps and breaks down under the shivering heat of all-consuming love.

Divine tenderness of spirit has a behavior to it which is superhuman and heavenly. It instinctively avoids wounding the feelings of others by talking on unpleasant things, wrangling in an argumentative way, by referring to painful and mortifying subjects. It carries its point by ceasing to contend and wins its opponent by seeming to let him have his way. It cannot scold, or scowl, or threaten; it has lost the power of quarreling. Tenderness of spirit makes its home in the bosom of Jesus, and from that Holy Castle, looks out upon all other creatures, good and bad, through the hopeful, pleading medium of the Heart that was pierced on the cross. It feels all things from God’s standpoint, and lives but to receive and transmit the spotless sympathies and affections of Jesus. It understands the words of the Holy Ghost, “Be ye tender hearted, forgiving one another.” Tenderness must be in the very nature, and forgiveness is but the behavior of that nature.

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J.C. Ryle On The Power Of The Bible

In this excerpt from, How Readest Thou? (Moscow ID: Charles Nolan Publishers, 2001), J. C. Ryle (1816–1900) recalls the world-altering transformation accomplished by men of God armed only with Scripture, good theology, and Spirit-filled preaching.

Many centuries have now passed away since God sent forth a few Jews from a remote corner of the earth to do a work which according to man’s judgment, must have seemed impossible. He sent them out at a time when the whole world was full of superstition, cruelty, lust, and sin. He sent them out to proclaim that the established religions of the earth were false and useless, and must be forsaken. He sent them out to persuade men to give up old habits and customs, and to live different lives. He sent them out to do battle with the most perverted idolatry, with the vilest and most disgusting immorality, with a bigoted priesthood, with sneering philosophers, with an ignorant population, with bloody-minded emperors, with the whole influence of Rome. Never was there an enterprise for all appearances more unrealistic and less likely to succeed!

And how did He arm them for this battle? He gave them no worldly weapons. He gave them no worldly power to compel agreement, and no worldly riches to bribe belief. He simply put the Holy Spirit into their hearts, and the Scriptures into their hands. He simply commanded them to expound and explain, to require compliance and to publish the doctrines of the Bible. The preacher of Christianity in the first century was not a man with a sword and an army to frighten people, or a man with a license to be sensual, to allure people, like the priests of the shameful idols of the Hindus. No, he was nothing more than one holy man with one holy book.

And how did these men of one book prosper? In a few generations they entirely changed the face of society by the doctrines of the Bible. They emptied the temples of the heathen gods. They starved out idolatry and left it high and dry like a stranded ship. They brought into the world a higher condition of morality between man and man. They raised the character and position of woman. They altered the standard of purity and decency. They put an end to man’s cruel and bloody customs, such as the gladiatorial fights—there was no stopping the change. Persecution and opposition were useless. One victory after another was won. One bad thing after another melted away. Whether men liked it or not, they were slowly affected by the movement of the new religion and drawn within the whirlpool of its power.

The earth shook, and their rotten shelters fell to the ground. The flood rose, and they found themselves obliged to rise with it. The tree of Christianity swelled and grew, and the chains they had thrown around it to arrest its growth, snapped like string. And all this was done by the doctrines of the Bible! Talk about great victories! What are the victories of Alexander, and Caesar, and Napoleon, compared with those I have just mentioned? For magnitude, for completeness, for results, for permanence, there are no victories like the victories of the Bible . . .

This is the book upon which the well-being of nations has always hinged, and with which the best interests of everyone in Christendom at this moment are inseparably tied. By the same proportion that the Bible is honored or not, light or darkness, morality or immorality, true religion or superstition, liberty or tyranny, good laws or bad, will be found in a nation.

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OTHERS MAY: YOU CANNOT–by G. D. Watson (1845-1924).


Taken from Friday, June 29, 2007 post by Sage at Saving A Generation Endangered blog.

If God has called you to be really like Jesus He will draw you into a life
of crucifixion and humility, and put upon you such demands of obedience,
that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by
other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other people do
things which He will not let you do.

Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful, may
push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans,
but you cannot do it, and if you attempt it, you will meet with such
failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their successes, of
their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such
thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification
that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy
left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor, because He wants
you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence
upon Him, that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by
day out of an unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden
in obscurity, because He wants to produce some choice fragrant fruit for
His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade. He may let
others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him
and get the credit for it, but He will make you work and toil on without
knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more
precious He may let others get credit for the work which you have done,
and thus make YOUR REWARD TEN TIMES GREATER WHEN JESUS COMES.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and
will rebuke you for little words and feelings or for wasting your time,
which other Christians never feel distressed over. So make up your mind
that God is an Infinitely Sovereign Being, and has a right to do as He
pleases with His own. He may not explain to you a thousand things which
puzzle your reason in His dealings with you, but if you absolutely sell
yourself to be His love slave, He will wrap you up in Jealous Love, and
bestow upon you many blessings which come only to those who are in the
inner circle.

Settle it forever, then that you are to DEAL DIRECTLY WITH THE HOLY
SPIRIT, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or
chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that He does not seem
to use with others. Now, when you are so possessed with the living God
that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this
PECULIAR, PERSONAL, PRIVATE, JEALOUS GUARDIANSHIP AND MANAGEMENT
OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OVER YOUR LIFE, then you will have found the vestibule
of Heaven.
_______________________________________
(-from Faith, Prayer, & Tract League:
Tract #76; Grand Rapids, MI 49504)

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Our Identity Is In Christ

Scripture Verse

Luke 14:26-27-” If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also,he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his  cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (NKJV)

Quote

“When Jesus asks you to deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Him, what do you think it means? Whatever else it means, I think it means to be identified with Christ, not only when it’s popular but when it’s unpopular. Not only when it’s the thing to do but when it seems as if it’s not the thing to do. I like the way the New English Bible puts Revelation 1:9. John writes, “I was on the island called Patmos because I had preached God’s Word and borne my testimony to Jesus.” (Lorne Sanny, 1920-2005)

Lorne Sanny headed The Navigator ministry in Seattle, Washington, served as vice-president of The Navigators, and worked closely with Billy Graham. Mr. Sanny became president of The Navigators in 1956, after the death of Dawson Trotman, the founder. Mr. Sanny served in that position until 1986.  Mr. Sanny went to be with our Lord in 2005.He had extensive discipling experience and generously passed it on to others. We can learn from him how we too can become an effective disciplemaker.

Mr. Sanny shares the following  story about being identified with Christ, not only when it’s popular but when it’s unpopular:

A Follower Of Jesus

A friend of mine traveling by train from Finland to Moscow tried to smuggle in three suitcases full of Bibles. But the Russian colonel at the border took rather unkindly to this idea. In fact, he was a little upset. My friend Jack asked him, “Well, what are you so worried about? Why do you get so upset about someone bringing a Bible into your country?”

“It’s a fairy story, nothing but fairy tales,” the colonel replied.

“Don’t you have fairy story books in Russia?” Jack asked.

“It’s a fairy story, nothing but fairy tales,” the colonel replied.

“Don’t you have fairy story books in Russia?” Jack asked.

“Oh, yes.”

“Well, what’s the matter with another one?”

“Ay,” said the colonel, “if they believe that Bible, they won’t believe in communism.”

So after warning him not to preach and scaring him a little bit, Jack said they let him go on his way.

A few hours later a couple of conductors came by and began to sell them on the merits of communism. It wasn’t long before Jack couldn’t stand it any longer. He began to preach back to them. After he’d preached to them  for a while, one of the conductors pointed to another conductor at the other end of the car and said, “Now, he’s one of yours. That conductor, he’s one of your kind.”

Later Jack talked to this conductor. Sure enough, he was a born-again Christian. They asked him if he had a Bible. He replied, “No, the last Bible in our town was owned by my grandmother. She tore it up into segments and distributed it to Christians around the town so it couldn’t be confiscated all at once.”

They asked if he’d like a Bible. (The colonel had confiscated only two of the suitcases of Bibles they had with them.) When they handed him a Bible, he wept and kissed it. Then he wrapped it in newspaper to take it off the train so it wouldn’t be taken away from him.

I believe the striking thing about this story is that not only was there a Christian conductor on that train, but the other conductors knew he was a Christian. There was a disciple, identifying himself with the Person of Jesus Christ.

Do you take an opportunity to admit that you are a follower of Jesus Christ? Why not determine that at the first opportunity this week you will quietly, graciously, but openly identify yourself with Jesus Christ? I believe this is a mark of a disciple.

(Taken from Readings on Discipleship (Session 1)By: Emery Nester)

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Sunday School Lesson 2/21/10

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Ancient Colossae - panoramic view from north

Ancient Colossae


Ephesus-School Of Tyrannus

Ephesus Theater

Ephesus Theater

Ephesus Church

The final time Paul met the leaders of the church in Ephesus, he warned the Ephesus church leaders, “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch…” (Acts 20:29-31)A few decades after this warning to Ephesus church leaders, Apostle John records Jesus commending Ephesus church for having heeded the warning about false teachers, but warning in turn that unless the Christians of Ephesus repent and return to loving God as they first did, the lampstand – church – will be taken from them (Revelation 2:1-5):

“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.’”

They failed to heed Jesus, who made good on His words. The weed-covered desolation of Odeum, the smaller theater in Ephesus, above symbolizes the state of Christianity today in Turkey, where Ephesus is located. Turkey, once the heart of Paul’s ministry to Asia Minor, is 99% Muslim and devoid of Bible-based Christianity. That’s too bad for Turkey, but can it happen to Europe or North America?

Europe is already a spiritual wasteland where Bible-believing Christians are a miniscule percentage of the population. North America, meanwhile, has mixed materialism and self-help psychology with the Bible to concoct a deviant form of Christianity that sees God not as God to worship and serve but as a genie who produces health and wealth on demand. Savage wolves indeed have ransacked the flock and spoken perverse things to draw away the disciples.

Please take another look at the photo. That’s what happened to a church that didn’t return to its first love but did manage to keep out false apostles. What do you think will happen to churches that can’t do either? The lampstand already is being removed from North America, and unless we repent and return to our first love, Christ – Word of God – we will not be spared the weed-covered desolation above

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Get To Know Jesus

PHILIPPIANS 3:8 “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” ESV


Devotion: SPURGEON – MORNING AND EVENING

Spiritual knowledge of Christ will be a personal knowledge. I cannot know Jesus through another person’s acquaintance with him. No, I must know him myself; I must know him on my own account. It will be an intelligent knowledge—I must know him, not as the visionary dreams of him, but as the Word reveals him. I must know his natures, divine and human. I must know his offices—his attributes—his works—his shame—his glory. I must meditate upon him until I “comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” It will be an affectionate knowledge of him; indeed, if I know him at all, I must love him. An ounce of heart knowledge is worth a ton of head learning. Our knowledge of him will be a satisfying knowledge. When I know my Saviour, my mind will be full to the brim—I shall feel that I have that which my spirit panted after. “This is that bread whereof if a man eat he shall never hunger.” At the same time it will be an exciting knowledge; the more I know of my Beloved, the more I shall want to know. The higher I climb the loftier will be the summits which invite my eager footsteps. I shall want the more as I get the more. Like the miser’s treasure, my gold will make me covet more. To conclude; this knowledge of Christ Jesus will be a most happy one; in fact, so elevating, that sometimes it will completely bear me up above all trials, and doubts, and sorrows; and it will, while I enjoy it, make me something more than “Man that is born of woman, who is of few days, and full of trouble”; for it will fling about me the immortality of the ever living Saviour, and gird me with the golden girdle of his eternal joy. Come, my soul, sit at Jesus’ feet and learn of him all this day.


Prayer

Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach.
Help me chastely to flee it and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be Thine alone.
Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in Thee, the ground
of my rest, the spring of my being. Give me a deeper knowledge of Thyself as saviour,
master, lord, and king. Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in Thy
Word, more steadfast grip on its truth. Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought,
action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from Thee.
Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly husbandman, that my being may be a
tilled field, the roots of grace spreading far and wide, until Thou alone art seen in me,

Thy beauty golden like summer harvest, Thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.
I have no master but Thee, no law but Thy will, no delight but Thyself, no wealth
but that Thou givest, no good but that Thou blessest, no peace but that Thou bestowest.
I am nothing but that Thou makest me. I have nothing but that I receive from Thee. I can
be nothing but that grace adorns me. Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to
overflowing with living water

Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions.

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