Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Wonderful and Sure Promise

"No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly." Psalm 84:11

This may seem to be a surprising statement at first glance. Does God withhold no good thing from His people? We must focus on the word "good". It is not merely the things which we want that God always gives. Nor is it not the things which we think are good that God gives. Perhaps they are not really 'good things', as God sees them. We must always leave to Him to decide whether they are good or not. He is wiser than we are and knows just what effect on us the things we crave would have. We must submit all our requests to Him for final revision and approval when we make them.

This is the teaching about prayer so prominent in the New Testament which bids us to add to all our most earnest pleadings: "Nevertheless not my will, but may Your will be done." If the thing we ask for does not come, we must therefore conclude that in God's sight, it is not a "good thing" for us. Thus it is that God's withholdings are as great a blessing to us as His bestowings!

There is another phrase here which we must see also. It is "those who walk uprightly" that God will withhold no good thing. It is only when we are walking obediently, in God's ways, that we have a right to claim this promise. For, "if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me!" Psalm 66:18

- J. R. Miller

Monday, February 22, 2010

Presumptuous Sins: Play with Fire and get Burned!

"Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression." Psalm 19:12-13

Here the Psalmist prays to be kept from committing presumptuous sins. He knows the danger there is in such sins, and so pleads to be held back from them, that is, from willful, conscious, high-handed sins.

Mark the teaching, too, that these presumptuous sins spring out of the minute hidden faults. From hidden, obscure, undiscovered faults come presumptuous sins.

A slight moral weakness grows into an evil tendency;
and the evil tendency indulged develops into a loathsome vice;
and the loathsome vice ripens into a presumptuous sin!

We need to guard against carelessness concerning 'little sins'. The hidden fault lurking in the nature may grow into a presumptuous sin!

sow a thought--and you will reap an act;
sow an act--and you will reap a habit;
sow a habit--and you will reap a character;
sow character--and you will reap a destiny!

The course of sin is terrible! The little beginnings of sin grow into appalling consequences! Be afraid of little sins and temptations.

There are some people who are always courting danger. Sin seems to have a fascination for them. One of the petitions of the Lord's Prayer is, "Lead us not into temptation." To expose ourselves needlessly to temptation, is presumption! Yet there are many who do this. They play with fire--and wonder why they are burned! They dally with 'little sins', and end in shameful degradation at the last! They pay the penalty in moral and spiritual ruin.

- J. R. Miller

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Very Personal and Life-Changing Prayer

We have a beautiful prayer at the close of Psalm 19: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." There could be no higher standard of life than is set for us in this prayer.

Our outward conduct may be blameless, while the thoughts are stained with sin. It is easier to keep our acts without fault than to keep our feelings, our desires, and our affections pure. We may do no outward act of cruelty or unkindness, while our hearts may be full of jealousies, envies, and all selfishness. We are to seek that our thoughts be so white and clean that they will be acceptable in God's sight.

This prayer covers our words, our thoughts, and our meditations, each a closer test than the one before. It is a great thing to be faultless in speech, but perfect grammar is not enough. Our words may be beautiful and graceful, and yet our thoughts may be full of hypocrisy, of deceit, of all evil! The prayer here is that our thoughts may please God. This is a higher spiritual attainment than merely faultless words.

Then, a still higher test of life is our meditation. Meditations are our deepest thoughts, the quiet ponderings of our hearts. Meditation is almost an obsolete word in these times of busyness. The word belongs rather to the days when men had much time to think deeply. We meditate when we are alone, when we are shut away from others. Our minds then follow the drift of our own desires, dispositions, and imaginations. If our hearts are clean and good, our meditations are pure and holy. But if our hearts are unclean, our meditations are of the same moral quality. Thus, our meditations are an infallible test of our real self. "As a man thinks in his heart--so is he." Proverbs 23:6

This prayer is, therefore, for a life of the highest character--one acceptable to God, not only in words and thoughts, but also in meditations. Such a life, everyone who loves God and would be like God--should seek to live!

- J. R. Miller

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Grow Older Sweetly and Beautifully

It takes a great deal of grace to grow older sweetly and beautifully. It is not possible to carry the alertness and energy of young manhood into advanced years. Yet if we live wisely and rightly all our lives, the older years ought to be the best of life. We certainly ought to make it beautiful and godly, for our life is not finished until we come to its very last day.

We ought to be wiser when we are old than ever we have been in any former years. We ought to have learned by experience. We ought to be better in every way, with more of God's peace in our hearts, and with more gentleness and patience. We ought to have learned self-control and to be better able to rule our own spirit. We ought to have more love, more joy, more thoughtfulness, to be more considerate, and have more humility.

Older age never should be the dregs of the years, the mere cinder of a burnt-out life. One may not have the vigor and strenuousness of the mid-years, but one should be in every way truer, richer-hearted, holier. If the outward man has grown weaker and feebler, the inner man should have grown stronger and more Christ-like.

- J. R. Miller

God's Name

"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, who takes His name in vain." Exodus 20:7

This commandment bids us to speak of God with that frame of spirit which is agreeable to His dignity, solemnity and majesty: that is, with the utmost sincerity, humility and reverence. O, what high thoughts ought we to entertain of such a Being! In what holy awe should we stand of Him!

Anything pertaining to God should be spoken of with the greatest sobriety.

God’s Name is taken in vain when we use it without due consideration and reverence. Whenever we make mention of Him before whom the seraphim veil their faces, we ought seriously and solemnly to ponder His infinite majesty and glory and bow our hearts in deepest prostration before that Name.

God's Name is not to be sported with and tossed to and fro upon every light tongue. O my reader, form the habit of solemnly considering whose name it is you are about to utter. It is the name of Him who is present with you, and who is hearing you pronounce it. He is jealous of His honor, and He will dreadfully avenge Himself upon those who have slighted Him!

It has become almost impossible to walk the streets or to enter mixed company without hearing the sacred name of God treated with blasphemous contempt. The novels of the day, the stage, radio, television, the cinema and the press, are terrible offenders, and without doubt this is one of the fearful sins against Himself, for which God is now pouring out His judgments upon us.

God is dreadfully incensed by this sin, and in the common commission of this Heaven-insulting crime, our country has incurred terrible guilt! "The Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His Name in vain." Sore punishment shall be his portion, if not in this life, then most assuredly so, eternally so, in the life to come!

- A. W. Pink

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Making Christ Known

This day Christ, the altogether lovely one, is dishonored: can you endure it? This day idols stand where he should be and men adore them; lovers of Jesus, can ye take it? This day God's Christ is still unknown to millions, and the precious blood cleanses not the nations; how long will ye have it so?

We, in England, with ten thousand Christian hearts, and as many tongues endowed with eloquence, and purses weighted with gold, shall we refuse our gifts, withhold our witness, and suffer the Lord to be dishonored? The church is doing next to nothing for her great Lord, she falls short both of her duty and of the grim need of a perishing world. O for a flash of the celestial fire! Oh, when shall the Spirit's energy visit us again! When shall men put down their selfishness and seek only Christ? When shall they leave their strifes about trifles to rally round his cross! When shall we end the glorification of ourselves, and begin to make him glorious, even to the world's end? God help us in this matter, and kindle in our hearts the old consuming heart-inflaming fire, which shall make men see that Jesus is all in all to us.

- C. H. Spurgeon

The True Application of Gospel Preaching to Sinners

Charles H. Spurgeon personally applying the gospel to the unconverted and appealing to them; this is true gospel preaching

Where are you this morning, you who are convinced of sin and want a Saviour, where have you crept to? Are you hidden away where my eyes cannot reach you? At any rate, let this sweet thought reach you. You need not be afraid to come to Jesus, for "he is altogether lovely." It does not say he is altogether terrible—that is your misconception of him; it does not say he is somewhat lovely, and sometimes willing to receive a certain sort of sinner; but "he is altogether lovely," and therefore he is always ready to welcome to himself the vilest of the vile.

Think of his name. It is Jesus, the Saviour. Is not this lovely? Think of his work. He is come to seek and to save that which was lost. This is his occupation. Is not that lovely? Think of what he has done. He hath redeemed our souls with blood. Is not that lovely? Think of what he is doing. He is pleading before the throne of God for sinners. Think of what he is giving at this moment—he is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins. Is not this lovely? Under every aspect Christ Jesus is attractive to sinners who need him. Come, then, come and welcome, there is nothing to keep you away, and there is everything to bid you come.

- C. H. Spurgeon

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Brethren, The Time is Short . . ."

So Paul told the Corinthians (1 Cor. 7:29). And that brief statement had huge implications for the way that believers in Corinth were to live. It would seem that much of the advice the Apostle gave them in this chapter, for instance, not to marry – was relevant to what he calls 'the present distress', some serious difficulties in their near future. We live in a different historical situation, but whatever difficulties the future may or may not bring, it should be clear – even if we are still relatively young – that the time we will be in this world is indeed short. And the way we live out the rest of our lives here should be profoundly influenced by the fact that time is short and eternity is long. John Calvin says:

"This life which we are now spending is . . . of short duration. Let us not therefore be . . . entangled by it. . . . All things that are connected with the enjoyment of the present life are sacred gifts of God, but we pollute them when we abuse them. If the reason is asked why Paul writes as he does, we shall find it to be this-- that we always dream of continuance in the world, for it is owing to this that those things which ought to be helps in passing through it become hindrances to hold us fast; Hence . . . the man who considers that he is a stranger in the world uses the things of this world as if they were another’s – that is, as things that are lent to us for a single day. The sum is this--the mind of a Christian ought not to be taken up with earthly things or to repose in them; for we ought to live as if we were every moment about to depart from this life. It is the duty of God's children to spend well the short period of time which is left to them before they enter heaven. But let us take a step back to consider the position of the unconverted; they too have only a short time before they enter the eternal world and yet they are running down the broad road to never-ending destruction. They only have a short time to prepare for eternity, and they do not know how soon that time may end."

Apart from divine power, sinners will continue to presume that they have plenty of time; they never feel any urgency to seek the Lord Jesus Christ and find forgiveness and new life in him. As one year passes into another – as, for instance, 2009 passes into 2010 – we should feel that death is coming increasingly near. We should feel a conviction that neither wives nor husbands, neither prosperity nor adversity, nor anything else in this world, whether good or bad, should be allowed to distract us from preparing for eternity, for the time is short. Even if the evidence is piling up which indicates that the remaining years of our life will most likely be few, do we face up to the urgency of preparing seriously for eternity? As illness afflicts us, as disabilities interfere with our lives, as the body grows weaker, and the mind also, do we go before God with increased urgency as poor guilty sinners who need to be forgiven? Do we go to him, in the name of Christ, pleading with him to do what we cannot do – to save our souls?

This world is full of distractions, and Satan is adept at using them to divert the attention of sinners from their souls and from the eternity which they will so soon enter. God gave his own Son to die in the place of sinners; he has given a clear revelation in the Scriptures of his gift; he has also made it plain that the time during which sinners may receive this gift is short. How great then is the force of these words: 'Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near' (Isa. 55:6)!

There are some who, having sought the Lord before it was too late and called upon him while he was near, have found him and are therefore sure of a place in heaven. Yet it is they, in particular, who are reminded that 'the time is short'. Why?

1. They are not yet ready for heaven. Yes, they have the fundamental preparation; they are justified; they have a right to the inheritance of the saints in light. Further, they have new hearts and are beginning to serve God. But it is only a beginning, and they need to make progress. They are in danger of being impeded, in their progress towards glory by many things which are in themselves perfectly legitimate. But their progress will be impeded if they allow an unconverted wife or husband to have too much influence over their lifestyle. They may indulge in activities which, if not obviously sinful, are at least questionable, and they may not give the time to prayer and Bible reading which they otherwise would.

2. The time to serve God in this world is short.Believers have already spent more than enough time in the service of the devil; they have good reason to confess,'The time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles' (1 Pet. 4:3). And why waste more of the precious resource of time, when there is so little of it left? Now their time ought to be focused on serving God in a world which is given over to wickedness, a world which is ready to perish.

Clearly ministers have a great work to do: to preach to dying sinners the glorious gospel message: of salvation through a crucified Redeemer who is now exalted to give repentance and forgiveness of sins. Ministers have only a few short years during which they may preach this gospel, and their hearers too have only a few short years before they must appear before their Maker. Thus every sermon must expound and apply the Word of God, and there ought to be a particular focus on the central point of the gospel message: Christ and him crucified. Whatever other activities may occupy the minister’s attention, he must not forget that his main duty is to preach the gospel, which requires proper preparation. At the same time, it should be remembered that the minister is not a machine; he needs, for instance, relaxation and sleep. And, it scarcely needs to be said, ministers as much as anyone else are under the authority of the command: 'Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it' (Eph. 5:25).

Rowland Hill had a clear sense of the shortness of time:
Some say we live in the land of the living; more properly it may be said we live in the land of the dying. For let us resist whatever diseases we may, I am witness that time brings on the diseases of old age, which are never to be resisted. Friends may surround you and tell you that you may yet see many days, but at last we must die.
Accordingly he wished to continue preaching as long as possible; he told a brother minister:
Old, very old, as I am, yet still I trust I find it not less my privilege than my duty to dedicate the very last of my declining strength to His glory in the accomplishment of the sacred work. Should a physician tell me that my life may be endangered if I continue to preach, I will answer him, ‘Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God’.
3. Believers have only a short time to live to God’s glory in this world. In heaven they will serve him perfectly, but however imperfect their service may be in this life, they perform it in the face of God’s enemies. Some of them may suffer much from mockery and even from outright persecution, and all of them are subject to the devil’s temptations and to the resistance of an imperfectly-sanctified heart. But as they follow on, more or less faithfully, towards heaven in such circumstances, they glorify God in a way that is not possible in heaven.

As Christians live out what may be very ordinary lives, they are – to the extent that these lives are consistent – showing that true godliness is possible. In various ways they live as lights in the world and act as salt in the earth. This is how they are directed to spend their short time in this world: 'Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God' (1 Cor. 10:31). And when their short time in this world is over, they will be brought home to the house of many mansions.

- Kenneth Macleod

The Cross in our Lives

"I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual act of worship." Romans 12:1

The godly life is not one of ease, pleasure and self-indulgence. We are taught to present our bodies, as a living sacrifice unto God. Ancient offerings were brought to the altar, and presented dead. But the Christian sacrifice, instead of being poured out in a bloody oblation, is to be a living sacrifice of service, of love, of devotion.

The great sacrifice of Christ is both the model for all Christian life, and also its inspiration. We look at His six hours on the cross as if that were its only act and expression. But the cross was not endured by Christ merely during those six hours on Calvary; it was in all His life, in every day and hour of it. Everything He did was in love, and love is always a living sacrifice. He was always sacrificing Himself. On Calvary, He only wrote the word out in capital letters!

The cross stands not merely for the sufferings of Christ endured in redeeming sinners, but also for the law of love and of sacrifice in every department of Christian living. It is not about having the cross on our churches as a symbol of redemption or to wear crucifixes as ornaments; the cross and the crucifix must be in the heart and manifested in the life!

We talk a great deal about the love of Christ, but we must strive to illustrate it and reproduce in our own lives the sweetness, the charity, the kindness and the helpfulness of Jesus Christ. The cross is everywhere. The more of the 'sacrificial' quality we get into our life, the more divine and the lovelier our life will be.

We do not have to be crucified on pieces of wood to bear a cross and make a living sacrifice. The cross must be in the lives of those who follow Christ; not branded on their bodies--but wrought into their character, their disposition, their conduct, their spirit! We cannot live a Christian life for a day, without coming to points of sacrifice. The cross of Christ does not take our own cross from us--Christ does not bear our cross for us. His cross becomes the law of our life, and makes it all sacrificial. Every sacrificial thing we do reveals the cross. The Beatitudes are all sacrificial. No one can live the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians and not crucify self continually.

All sacrifice at length blossoms into Christ-like beauty, sweetness, and joy.

- J. R. Miller

Friday, February 12, 2010

David Brainerd and the Pursuit of Holiness

"On my bed night after night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him but did not find him." (Song of Solomon 3:1)

David Brainerd was born in Haddam, Connecticut in April, 1718 and attended church regularly in the local Congregational Church, as almost everyone did in eighteenth century New England. However, when he was twenty years old, Brainerd came under a long and profound conviction of sin, being very fearful for the eternal destiny of his soul. Brainerd kept a journal and upon his early death from tuberculosis at the age of twenty-nine in October, 1747, his friend, Jonathan Edwards, whose family nursed him the last few months of his life, compiled his diary while making pertinent comments on his life. Brainerd’s diary has edified millions of believers for over two hundred years and countless missionaries have said that it inspired them to go to the mission fields of the world to publish the glad tidings of salvation through Christ.

While reading the life of Brainerd recently, I was struck with the intense nature of his relationship with the Lord Jesus. It took Brainerd a year or so to see, by God’s sheer grace, that his obedience and law-keeping could never save him. But after being born again, Brainerd’s own personal walk with Christ reads like a fervent love affair between a man and a woman. While at Lebanon, Connecticut in November, 1742, he says that God of late has been pleased to keep his soul hungry almost continually so that he was filled with a kind of pleasing pain. In preparing to go to the Kaunaumeek Indians, residing half way between Stockbridge, Massachusetts and Albany, New York, Brainerd said on November 27, 1742:
Surely I may well love all my brethren; for none of them is so vile as I; whatever they do outwardly, yet it seems to me none is conscious of so much guilt before God. O my leanness, my barrenness, my carnality, and past bitterness, and lack of a gospel temper! These things oppress my soul. Rode from New York thirty miles to White Plains, and most of the way continued lifting up my heart to God for mercy and purifying grace; and spent the evening much dejected in spirit.
But while feeling dejected and estranged from God, Brainerd was able to write on December 1:
My soul breathed after God, in sweet spiritual and longing desires of conformity to him, and was brought to rest itself on his rich grace, and felt strength and encouragement to do or suffer anything, that divine providence should allot me.
As he came to the Kaunaumeek in April of 1743 he wrote, 'I was greatly exercised with inward trials, and seemed to have no God to go to. O that God would help me.' A few days later he wrote, 'In the morning was again distressed as soon as I awaked.' Later Brainerd writes, 'In the morning I enjoyed some sweet repose and rest in God; felt some strength and confidence in him, and my soul was in some measure refreshed and comforted.'

Brainerd’s zeal for Christ is instructive in a number of ways. First, he came to understand that his salvation rested only on what Christ had done on the cross for him. He knew that he was in Christ. This, however, did not stop him from being deeply agitated when he felt that his sin had brought separation between him and the lover of his soul. He is like the bride in Song of Solomon who longs for her groom, yearning for him to come and make love to her, the one whom she loves with her whole being. She is grieved, agitated in her heart when she believes her behaviour has driven him from her. Our pursuit of Jesus ought to be marked with a similar intensity. We ought to be so sensitive to the Spirit’s presence that his absence immediately causes us to recognize this, to take great pains to restore our fellowship with him.

Consider this — before you were married, you pursued with great zeal the one whom you wished to marry. You read every letter carefully. You parsed every conversation, every note, wanting to discern the degree of love your special one had for you. If anything seemed to breach that love, then you were desperate to do what it took to remove the obstacle. Unfortunately, after you were married, if you are like most married people, this zeal to remove any offence to your spouse slowly dissipated. You began to take for granted your spouse’s love for you, and you took liberty with this love, perhaps going days or weeks without making overtures of forgiveness and restoration of a loving, affectionate relationship. You thought, 'I am married. I know I love my wife and she loves me. That ought to be good enough.' But that is a very poor marriage and one that will die if that assumption continues.

You, likewise, are married to Christ by virtue of his death and resurrection. Nothing can alter the eternal bonds of his covenant on your life and soul. How foolish, however, to take for granted that relationship, to assume that you can live any way you wish, neglecting him, flagrantly disobeying him. You will suffer the pains of estrangement, if you continue in your folly, when he deserts you — like the bride in Song of Solomon. You will long for him but not be able to find him. Has he left you eternally? No, if indeed you are in Christ; but persistent, wilful rebellion may eventually result in your apostasy from the faith, proving that you never had true faith in the first place.

The power of David Brainerd’s short life, the remarkable usefulness to God among the Indians of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut came from his intense love affair with Jesus. Brainerd would not settle for a mere relationship based on the grace of justification. Knowing his own vileness and perverse tendencies, he found it necessary to seek God daily, to draw near, to humble himself in the presence of God. He sought Christ in prayer until he found him.

This means a tender conscience, an abiding sensitivity when offending God, and a God-inspired resolve to make things right with him is something we need to develop. Our tendency is to treat God like we do our spouses — to presume upon our union, forgetting the beauty and necessity of a growing intimacy. What must you do to develop such an intimate intensity? It comes down to the same things I so often mention — you must distrust completely your own assessment of your spiritual condition. Instead you must look at what God’s Word says about your conduct, motives, and idols. And second you must also see the profound love of God in Christ for you. You must see the complete sufficiency of Jesus to justify, sanctify, and glorify you. You must draw near to God, believing that he will draw near to you. When you feel far from God, seek him until you find him.

- Allen Baker

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Loving Law of Christ

"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." - Romans 3:31

When the Christian is adopted into the Lord's family, his relationship to old Adam and the law ceases at once. Then he is under a new rule and a new covenant. Believer, you are God's child and it is your first duty to obey your heavenly Father. You are to have nothing to do with a spirit like unto that of a slave. You are not a slave, but rather a child and now, inasmuch as you are a beloved child, you are bound to obey your Father's faintest wish and the least illumination of His will.

Does He bid you fulfill a sacred ordinance? It is your own peril if you neglect it, for you will be disobeying your Father. Does He command you to seek the face of Jesus? Is it not your joy to do so? Does Jesus tell you, 'Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven, is perfect?' Then you will labor to grow in holiness, not because the law commands it, but because your Saviour does.

Does He bid his saints to love one another? Do it, not because the law says, 'Love your neighbor', but because Jesus says, 'If you love Me, keep My commandments'; this is the commandment He has given you, 'that you love one another'.

May the Holy Ghost make your heart obedient to the constraining power of Christ's love, that your prayer may be, 'Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments, for therein do I delight'. Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness and not the apologist of sin.

- C. H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Christian Never Dies

Some day you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment, I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have only gone up higher, out of this old clay tenement into a house immortal, a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned like unto His glorious body.

- D. L. Moody

The Deity of Christ

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him: "I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say.

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice.

Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

- C. S. Lewis

Monday, February 8, 2010

Love not the World

"Run for your lives! Do not stop anywhere in the plain. Do not look back! Escape to the mountain, or you will die!" Genesis 19:17

This is still the gospel message. We are in danger of God's judgment and must escape from it if we would live. We must not stay anywhere in all the plain of sin, for there is no safe spot, no shelter anywhere, no place where the fires of judgment will not fall.

Some people would like to compromise; they are willing to flee from some sin, but not from others. There are some professed Christians who like to stay on the borders of their old life. They are continually asking whether they can do this or that, go here or there and still be Christians. They want to keep just as near to Sodom as possible, so as not to be burnt up in Sodom's destruction! The answer to all such questions is, "Run for your lives! Do not stop anywhere in the plain. Do not look back! Escape to the mountain, or you will die!" Even the borders are unsafe! The only safe place is the mountain, the mountain where Christ's Cross stands!

Lot's wife looked back. There had been a specific command, "Do not look back!" Why she looked back is not explained. Was it curiosity to see the nature of the terrible destruction that she heard roaring behind her? Or was it her dismay as she thought of her beautiful home, with all its wealth of furnishing and decoration, and all her jewels and garments and other possessions, which were now being consumed in the great fire?

It would seem that she was appalled at the thought of leaving and losing all her beloved possessions, and paused in her flight and looked back, with the hope that possibly she might yet run back and snatch some of the ornaments or gems, something, at least, from the awful destruction. "But Lot's wife looked back--and she became a pillar of salt!"

"Remember Lot's wife!" (Luke 17:32). We should not miss the lesson which our Lord Himself teaches us from the tragic fate of this woman: we cannot have both worlds! Lot's wife could have escaped with her husband and her daughters, but she could escape only by resolutely and determinedly leaving everything she had in Sodom. Her love for her possessions, cost her her life!

Just so, there are thousands today to whom God's message comes, "Run for your lives! Do not stop anywhere in the plain. Do not look back! Escape to the mountain, or you will die!" They somewhat desire to follow Christ, but their love for the world is so intense that they cannot give it up or renounce it. They must decide, however, which they will renounce--Christ or the world. They cannot keep both!

In Lot's wife, we have an example of one who was almost saved, and yet lost! She was lost because she loved the world. "Remember Lot's wife!"

- J. R. Miller

Denton Conference, March 5-7

I had sent an email a couple of weeks ago, announcing our church's weekend conference with David Miller, March 5-7, for those who are near north Texas or have Christian friends here;

Though the conference is still on, David Miller will not be coming; His family truly needs your prayers; their 26 year old son, Joshua, who is a paraplegic from an auto accident several years ago, has some severe infections in his legs, which could lead to amputation, if not arrested in their advance. David has stopped his preaching ministry for the coming weeks to be home with Joshua.

Please do pray for Joshua Miller and his parents, brother and Mrs. Miller, and ask your church to pray; it is a serious situation, where God's mercy is greatly needed.

Pastor Don Johnson from Batesville, Arkansas will be preaching instead and we are greatly looking forward to Don being with us; please join us if you are able, beginning Friday evening, March 5, at 6:30 pm.

In the love of Christ,

- Mack T.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

No Pet Sins

"Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast." Genesis 4:5

"Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him!" Genesis 4:8

See here, the fearful growth of the evil feeling in Cain's heart. It was only a thought at first, but it was admitted into the heart and cherished there. Then it grew until it caused a terrible crime! We learn here the danger of cherishing even the smallest beginning of bitterness; we do not know to what it will grow!

Some people think lightly of bad temper, laughing at it as a mere harmless weakness; but it is a perilous mood to indulge, and we do not know to what it may lead.

"Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you!" In His reproof of Cain, the Lord likens his sin to a wild beast lying in hiding by his door, ready to leap on him and devour him. This is true of all sin which is cherished in the heart. It may long lie quiet and seem harmless--but it is only a wild beast sleeping!

There is a story of a man who took a young tiger and resolved to make a pet of it. It moved about his house like a kitten and grew up fond and gentle. For a long time its savage, blood-thirsty nature seemed changed into gentleness, and the creature was quiet and harmless. But the man kept it too long and was later killed by the tiger.

So it is, with the passions and lusts of the old nature, which are only petted and tamed and allowed to reside in the heart. They will crouch at the door in treacherous lurking and in some unguarded hour, they will rise up in all their old ferocity!

It is never safe to make pets of tigers!

It is never safe to make pets of little sins!

We never know what sin may grow into if we let it abide in our heart!

"Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him!" That is what came of the passion of envy in Cain's heart! It was left unrebuked, unrepented of, uncrushed--and in time it grew to fearful strength. Then in an evil moment, its tiger nature asserted itself!

We never know to what dreadful stature a little sin may grow!

- J. R. Miller

Friday, February 5, 2010

Motives in Ministry

Woe to the man that preaches only because he is a minister, and not because he loves Christ! I am afraid that in many cases our motives get mixed. Pure and simple at first in our service, we may get at last to serve Christ only because it is our office to do so. Woe to the man that preaches only because he is a minister, and does not preach because he loves Christ! We may get also to be self-reliant. It is a great mercy for God's ministers when they tremble on going into the pulpit, even though they have been accustomed to preach for twenty years.
Martin Luther declares that he never feared the face of man; and all who knew him could bear witness that it was even so; yet he said he never went up the stairs of the pulpit at Wittenburg but he felt his knees knock together with fear, lest he should not be faithful to God and his truth. When we begin to rely upon ourselves' and think we can do it, and our experience and our practice will suffice to bear us safely through the next discourse without help from on high, then the sun has looked upon us and blackened our face indeed, and the time of our usefulness draws to a close.

- Charles Spurgeon

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Doers of the Word: Living the Truth

"If you know these things--happy are you if you do them." John 13:17

A great many people know plenty of Scripture truth, but do not live it out. Yet the real test of knowing Scripture is obedience. We really know
only so much truth as we get into our experience and conduct. The only part of the Bible we have really learned is what we have learned to
live. It is a beautiful thing when a person has been well-taught; it is still more beautiful when he abides in the things which he has been taught, living out the lessons in daily life.

- J. R. Miller

Many Christians should probably call a moratorium on learning more truth, and instead concentrate for the next 6 months to apply and live what we already know. For many of us, we don't need more knowledge at this point--we need to apply and walk in light that we already have. The danger of trafficking in un-lived truth is always there. Why concentrate mainly on gaining more knowledge, when the best path to knowing Jesus more intimately is to endeavor to live the truth He has already given us. "If you know these things," Jesus says, "happy are you if you do them."

"Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."

- Mack Tomlinson