Passing Pleasure or Lasting Gain

All that grieves is but for a moment;
All that pleases is but for a moment;
Only the Eternal is important.

Most is  of us know these facts, but I want to remind us of them. The Eternal in anything is the unseen, the spiritual. A trial comes and it will then pass. In a few days, months, or years, we will have forgotten it. But the way we meet that trial– our inner attitude toward it– belongs to the things that are eternal. It will matter ten thousands years from now if we conquered or were conquered by that temptation to impatiencefaithlessness or worry which came when the trial rushed upon us.
It does not seem so now. We feel “If only I could have that— that joy on which my heart is set– then I would be happy.” But these words remind us of something we know is true, and yet often forget– the pleasure will pass; it is temporal. There is nothing abiding in pleasure, but there is something abiding in our attitude toward that pleasure. If we say, “I must have it; I will not be happy if I cannot have it”, then even if we did have it, there would be no lasting, eternal gain, but only a dreadful and eternal loss.
There is a verse about this in the Bible: “He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” (Psalm 106:15) Let us ask that this word may never be true of us.

– Amy Carmichael

Avoid Foolish Questions

Titus 3:9

Our days are few and are far better spent in doing good than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance, and our churches suffer much from petty wars over confusing and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than it promotes love.
It is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points where Scripture is silent, upon mysteries which belong to God alone, upon prophecy’s doubtful interpretation, and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonies are all foolish, and wise men avoid them. Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether, and if instead we observe the apostle’s precept to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings.
There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly deal with, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace and does my lifestyle adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should who expects his Master to come? What more can I do for Jesus?
Such inquiries as these urgently demand our attention, and if we have been at all given to arguing over trivial matters, let us turn our critical abilities to a service more profitable. Let us be peacemakers and endeavor to lead others, both by our teaching and example, to avoid foolish questions.

– C. H. Spurgeon

The Wisdom of John Bunyan

To go back is nothing but death: to go forward is fear of death, and life everlasting beyond it. I will yet go forward.

– Pilgrim’s Progress

He has his back to the world, his face toward heaven, and a Book in his hand.

– Pilgrim’s Progress

The devil is nimble; he can run, is light of foot and hath overtaken many. Therefore, they that would have heaven must run for it.

– Pilgrim’s Progress

This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;

The difficulty will not me offend.

For I perceive the way to life lies here.

Come, pluck up, heart; let’s neither faint nor fear.

Better, though difficult, the right way to go,

Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.

– Pilgrim’s Progress


Prayer and the Holy Spirit

Before the great revival in Gallneukirchen, Austria broke out, Martin Boos spent days and nights in prayer. Afterwards, when he preached, his words were as a flame and the hearts of people as grass.
– D. M. McIntyre

Prayer was pre-eminently the business of his life.
– Biographer of Edward Payson

All spiritual decays begin in the closet; no heart thrives without much secret converse with God, and nothing will make up for the lack of it.
– John Berridge

If Christ waited to be anointed by the Spirit before He went to preach, no young man ought to preach until he also has been anointed by the Holy Ghost.
– F. B. Meyer

Victory over Death

Death is the great leveler. We all have to face death; none are exempt. What you saw as headlines in your newspapers about people dying will be soon said of you. The day is coming when someone will turn to someone else and tell them that you have died. Death is the great leveler that brings us all to the same position. We are all equal at that point. The great questions is not how do we face this life and this world, but how do we face death and eternity, how do we face God and stand in the presence of His Majesty?

We are reminded that there is only one way. The King of Heaven came down to earth in order that you and I might be delivered from our sins, in order that the terrors of hell and of God with us might have nothing to do, in order that the books of heaven might be cleared toward us and we might become the children of God, delivered from every fear, the fear of death and of judgment, fear of God’s law and the terrifying fear of God, in order that we might live in His presence.

Thank God that as we, therefore, look into the face of death, we can do so without terror and alarm because we know the King of kings is our Lord and Saviour, and He has opened up a new and living way, even through His broken body and shed blood, into heaven for us.

– D. M. Lloyd-Jones

Loving Christ

The Scriptures are clear that our heart remains central in loving God and Christ. We must ‘keep our heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Prov. 4:23). Those who are good will have goodness stored up in their hearts (Luke 6:45). God requires this purity of heart of those who love and worship Jesus. Indeed, only these pure ones will see God in the face of Christ, whether in this life by faith or in the life to come by sight.

We are to love Jesus, not only with all our hearts, but also with all our soul. In our devotion to Christ, our soul is responsible for our highest spiritual exercises. It is the seat of our emotional activity. Our Savior’s obedience was nowhere tested more than in the Garden of Gethsemane, where his soul was ‘very sorrowful, even to death.’ The soul expresses the sorrow and joy that inevitably accompany the life of faith. Thus, though we cannot press the distinction too far, it appears that the ‘heart’ relates to the will and the ‘soul’ to the emotions. To know Christ involves our will and emotions.

To love with our whole mind involves the seat of our intellectual life. However, this also means loving him with the right dispositions and attitude that places our intellect in submission to Christ’s revelation about himself, not only by thinking about him, but also by subjecting our thinking to his revelation. Moreover, because of our finiteness, we shall never reach a point where we have no need to learn more about Jesus.

God gave the ‘servant’ of Isaiah 50:4 (Jesus) ‘the tongue of those who are taught.’ Morning by morning God awakened the servant to teach him. The servant’s love for God meant that he applied not only his heart and soul, but also his mind. If it was necessary for Jesus to receive instruction so that he could love God with his mind, how much more is it necessary for us as his people?

Loving Jesus with all our strength brings together all of the various elements. Our heart, soul, and mind remain distinct in the words of Christ, but in reality they should not be over-analyzed to the point that we think of them as three separate parts of who we are. To love God with all our strength, then, is to do so with all of our being, which involves the whole person, both body and soul.

– Mark Jones

Wisdom from Above

When you go to worship today, make sure you truly worship.

– Mack Tomlinson

The difference between study and meditation–the end of study is information and the end of meditation is practice or the truth working on our affections; study is  like the sun in winter that shines, but does not warm; meditation is like increasing the fire where we have the blaze and the heat.
– Thomas Manton

God seldom lights a candle unless he has some lost coin to seek.
– Thomas Manton

Be WATCHFUL–the world is the devil’s chessboard; you can hardly move backward or forward without him being ready to attack you with a temptation.
– Thomas Manton

What is Man?

What is Man?

Lord, what is man, that you take knowledge of him?  Or the son of man, that you are mindful for him? Man is like a breath; his days are alike a passing shadow.

The mystery and wonder of man is exclaimed three times in Scripture (Job. 7:17, Ps. 8:4, Heb. 2:6), each with the question ‘What is this?’  These questions do not arise over meditations on the excellency of this creation of God, as in Psalm 139:14.  Rather, why God bothered to make him and to convey upon him such favor, power and dominion.  Indeed, when compared with the greater glories and powers of all creation, their size, number, power, excellence and permanence, man, in his fleeting temporal existence, seems a surprising steward under whom to put the whole of the created universe.

Man is the most helpless of all born creatures.  He is born stupid, ignorant, naked, toothless, unable to find his food, to protect himself from the elements, or to do the least things necessary for his care.  Everything must be brought to him and done for him.  Whereas most other new-born creatures can immediately undertake survival action, an infant left to himself would surely perish.  A week-old baby calf can outrun a man in his prime.  Man is dwarfed by a tree, a fish is more consistent, and a hummingbird more skillful.  A goose is a better traveler.  Unencumbered with luggage and provision, he can precisely navigate thousands of miles to his destination, finding food, water, lodging and shelter along the route.  A pig is a better provider, a house cat a better hunter, a spider a better engineer, a worm more efficient, and the clucking of a hen to her chicks more effective that the most impassioned preaching.  Ten square feet of good earth is more productive that Thomas Edison himself.  Inventors and industrialists only discover things, then die and are no more; the good earth actually coaxes to life and nourishes over and over, continually renewing itself generation after generation.

Man’s single excellence over all other creatures, his brain, in his greatest liability.  It is what gets him into all his trouble.  Devoid of practical sense, he has to be taught everything he knows, and so is vulnerable to every lie in the universe.  He has the distinction of being ‘the fool’ of all God’s creation.

Why has God set this impotent, helpless, stupid, feckless, temporal creature over all his creation, indeed made him to bear the image of the Almighty?  Psalm 8:2 tells us that he has ordained power and strength ‘out of the mouths of babes’, the helpless and impotent, in order to silence the enemy and avenger.  It is all for the excellence of God’s name.  Satan, lifted up with pride over his beauty, excellence and station, led a rebellion in the heavenlies, and sought to overthrow the Almighty.  God deliberately chooses to crush this serpent’s head under the heel of one born a helpless babe.  It is to his glory, and the humiliation of his enemies to make the weak and inferior to rule the mighty and the excellent. (I Cor. 1:27:31)

God has effectually robbed the great and mighty of any grounds of boasting and exaltation, deliberately put the weightiest of responsibilities in the hands of the weak, foolish and ignorant men, so that all that is done may accrue, not to created flesh, but the Almighty hand of the Creator himself.  If man is to glory, it can be nothing but the knowledge and favor of God (Jer. 9:23-24).

– Conrad Murrell

The Only Refuge There Is

Look on my right hand and see, for there is no one who acknowledges me; Refuge has failed me; No one cares for my soul.  I cried unto You, O Lord: I said, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the Land of the living. – Psalm 142:4-5

‘No man cares for my soul’ is the phrase often lifted out of this text as a ploy to motivate people to become ‘soul winners.’  We are told that we need to learn to weep for souls, to show ourselves compassionate and anxious about the soul of the lost person.  Presumably, this earnest alarm and tender compassion will be the most powerful, if not the deciding factor in their conversion.

Our text, however, does not leave that impression.  The psalmist has indeed found God to be the sole refuge for his soul, but the care of someone for his soul has not spurred him to seek the Lord.  On the contrary, it is in the absence of anyone’s care for him that has driven him to the Lord!  If there had been help or sympathy from the sons of men, this man would have never cried unto the Lord.

Now this is an astounding fact.  If men have any other option, any other place of refuge other than the Almighty, they will happily choose the alternative to the Almighty.  Is that not amazing?  Men are weak, fickle, unstable, untrustworthy, selfish, devious, deceptive, and mortal.  If they do no betray you and let you down before they die, they will surely leave you hanging and helpless when they have to leave this earth.  The best and most loving of them, your own father and mother, can only be your refuge until they die.  And notwithstanding the advances made by the health-care community, deadly disease is still rampant, old age is incurably fatal, and a thousand possible unpredictable circumstances can kill you any time on any day.

This is not to say that we should be careless about souls.  If we believe the Scriptures, know ourselves sinners, and that eternal death is the penalty for sins, then we cannot but mourn and cry out to God for the awakening of the souls of our loved ones, before they perish without hope.  But we must not give people any false hope by the earnestness of our pursuit of their salvation.  No one loves souls any more than the Lord Jesus Christ.  He made no bones about the cost of being His disciples.  Watching the rich young ruler walk away still lost, rather than lose his fortune, Jesus loved him.  But He didn’t ‘care’ enough to lower the price.  ‘Easy believism’ is the hard doctrine that gives people a false hope.  People who preach and practice it do not love the souls they are deceiving.  If they truly loved them they would tell them the truth.

It is terrifying experience to look around and find yourself alone and not a mortal on earth to rescue you from peril.  But it is also a most wonderful and blessed time when you lift up your eyes above the ‘land of the living’ (all of whom shall very soon die) to the eternal God who ever lives, and find Him to be your everlasting refuge.

– Conrad Murrell