Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Resurrection-- Not About Eggs and Rabbits

". . . which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord . . . (Rom. 1:2-4).

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The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the one single historical event that all of Christianity turns on -- and for good reason; two to be exact: First, Christ's bodily resurrection from the dead -- and it must be a physical body in order for it to be true (Jn. 20:12; 1 Cor. 15:3-8) -- is a testifying event. It validates that His every thought, word, and deed was acceptable to God the Father. It's one thing for the Apostles to preach that He's a lamb without blemish or defect and committed no sin (1 Pet. 1:19; 2:22), or his enemies to not be able to accuse him of sin (Jn. 8:46; 18:38), or even for Christ Himself to say ". . . I always do the things that are pleasing to Him" (Jn. 8:29). But it's another thing altogether for God to authenticate it's true via the resurrection. The resurrection is reward/proof of Christ's authenticity in person and work. If death is the ultimate penalty for sin (1 Cor. 15:26; Rev. 20:14), then life -- the opposite of death, is the ultimate verification.


Second, Christ's bodily resurrection from the dead is an authorizing event. He was "declared" the Son of God -- an achieved status that bestows all power and authority (Matt. 28:18). We enter heaven separate from our bodies when we die -- a testament to death's power. But He ascended bodily, having no separation (Acts 1:9-11). He has authority to destroy and nullify -- be it the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8; Rev. 12:10ff.), sin (Rom. 6:10), or the works of the law (Col. 2:13-14). He has authority to create, empower, and establish (Jn. 1:3-4 ; Heb. 1:2-4). His rule extends over the greatest and the least in nature, the course of human history, determining the eternal fates of all (2 Cor. 5:10), causing every knee to bow (Phil. 2:9-11) -- being the very God of heaven receiving all worship (Rev. 5:13-14). His inheritance empowers Him to have a people for Himself, perfectly identified with Him in all things.

Something to think about this Sunday -- a man is now at the center of the worship of the entire universe of all creation, testifying to every man's conscience through His resurrection -- God’s "road sign" in history for all to see and "kiss the Son" before it’s too late (Psa. 2:12). A far cry from Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies.

- Mark Lacour

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Book You are Writing

"You ought to live holy and godly lives." - 2 Peter 3:11

The only way to have a stainless and beautiful year at its close is to keep the days, as they pass, all pure and sweet, with the loveliness of holy, useful living. It is thus, in little days, that our years come to us. We have but the one small fragment to fill and beautify at a time. The year is a book and for each day, one fair white page is opened before us. And we are artists, whose duty it is to put something beautiful on the page. Or we are poets, and are to write some lovely thought, some radiant sentence, on each leaf as it lies open before us.

"That we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." - 1 Timothy 2:2

- J. R. Miller

Christ the Great Healer

"This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." - Luke 4:21

These words had been written seven hundred years before. Now Jesus reads them and says, "I am the One to whom these golden sentences refer. This scripture is fulfilled before your eyes. I am the anointed One and this is the mission on which I came to this world."

The whole Old Testament was full of Christ. There were a thousand fingers along its pages, every one pointing to Him. All its types, prophesies, and promises were fulfilled when He came, lived, died, and was raised again, and then was glorified.

It is very interesting to take up Christ's whole public life. and ministry and show how perfectly He lived out the wonderful mission which the prophet had outlined for Him centuries before He came. He preached the gospel to the poor; He was the friend of the poor. He healed the broken-hearted. Wherever He went, the sorrowing and the troubled came flocking around Him, as a magnet draws steel filings to itself from the rubbish. There was something in Him that drew the sad and broken to Him.


There are two classes of the broken-hearted: 1) those whose hearts are broken because of sin; 2) those who are crushed by affliction. Both these classes of people came to Christ. Sinners came and found in Him, not a stern Judge, but a tender and compassionate Saviour. The afflicted came to Him and found true comfort. He loved all men and sympathized with them, and was able to help them.

Then He also brought deliverance to sin's captives, setting them free, breaking their chains. He opened blind eyes, not only the physical eyes of people, but their spiritual eyes as well, to behold the things of heaven and everlasting life. Then He lifted the yoke of the crushed and oppressed, inviting all the weary to Himself to find rest for their souls.

- J. R. Miller

Thursday, March 25, 2010

With or Against?

"He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathers not with me scatters abroad." - Matthew 12:30

It is not correct to ask, "What will you do with Jesus?" Rather, the issue is, "What are you doing about Him now?" There is no neutral ground. We are with Him or we are against Him. We are gathering or we are scattering.

There are no inactive church members. A pastor, whose church had about a hundred people in it, was asked how many active members the church had. He said, "One hundred-- fifty are actively for me and fifty are actively against me."

It is not possible to be inwardly and secretly for Christ, without being active for Him. Someone says, "Well, I never take my religion too seriously, but of course, I am not against Christ." Yes, you are. If you are not gathering, then you are scattering. If you are not really working with the great Gatherer, then you are an instrument of division, opposed to the only true unifying Power in the universe.

Gatherers and scatterers--it comes down to the fact that there are only two kinds of people. The first half of the verse sets forth the real issue today. "With me or against me", Christ or anti-Christ; Are you with Him or against Him? If you are not fully with Him, then you are against Him and are not gathering, but are scattering abroad.

- Vance Havner

When Earth's Wine Runs Out

"When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to Him: They have no more wine." John 2:3

This incident is a very fitting illustration of the failure of all this world's joys. The wine gave out at a wedding feast. There was not enough of it to last through to the end of the feast. It is just so with all earth's pleasures. It comes in cups, not in fountains; and the supply is limited and soon exhausted. It is especially so with sin's pleasures. The prodigal son soon ran out of money, and began to be in need. A poet compared the pleasures of sin to a snowflake on the river, "a moment white--then gone forever!"

But it is true in a sense also of pure pleasures. Even the sweetness of human love is but a cupful which will not last forever. The joy which so fills us today tomorrow is changed to sorrow. Amid the gladness of the marriage altar there is the knell of the end, in the words "until death do us part." One of every two friends must hold the other's hand in farewell at the edge of the valley of the shadow of death and must stand by the other's grave, and walk alone for part of the way.

The best wine of earthly life and of love will fail. If there were nothing better in this world, how sad it would be! But it is here that we see the glory of Christ's gospel. Jesus comes when earth's wine fails and gives heaven's wine to supply the lack. How beautiful and how true is the picture here: of the failing wine, and then Jesus coming with power and supplying the need!

That is what He is doing continually. He takes lives which have drained their last drop of earthly gladness and He satisfies them with spiritual good and blessing, so that they need nothing more.

When human joy fails, Jesus gives new joy, better than the world's, and in unfailing abundance. How sad it is for those who have not taken Christ into their lives, and who have nothing but the empty cup when earth's wine runs out!

- J. R. Miller

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Obtaining Help from God

"I have had God's help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike." Acts 26:22

When Paul stood before Agrippa, it was twenty-five years after his conversion. They had been years of toilsome life, amid enemies and dangers; but the heroic old apostle had never given up, never faltered, never turned aside. It was a great record, but he takes no praise to himself. The help came from God for all these years of faithful witnessing.

Many Christians fear that they will not be able to stand faithful and true to the end. Here is an encouraging word for all such: You shall obtain help from God for every duty, for every hour of danger, for every struggle. We need only to be faithful day by day, doing the day's duty quietly, and trusting God. This help will come from Him, silently, secretly, just as it is needed, always sufficient grace, so that we shall be able to stand faithful year after year. God never puts a burden on us, without giving us the strength we need to carry it. The way to obtain the help of God is to go faithfully and promptly forward in the way of duty, asking for the help, and being sure of getting it. It will not come if we wait to get it before we set out to do His will.

"I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

- J. R. Miller

Saturday, March 20, 2010

David Livingstone

This week is David Livingstone's birthday. He was born March 19, 1813. He gave his life to serve Christ in the exploration of Africa for the sake of the access of the gospel. On December 4, 1857, he spoke the sentence that has made the greatest impact on me. It is one of the clearest applications I have seen of Jesus' words in Mark 10: 29-30. Jesus said,

"Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life."

Here is what Livingstone said to Cambridge students about his "leaving" the benefits of England:

"For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa . . . Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather that it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life--these may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.

- John Piper

Friday, March 19, 2010

All for Jesus

All for Jesus, all for Jesus,
All my being’s ransomed powers:
All my thoughts and words and doings,
All my days and all my hours.

Let my hands perform His bidding,
Let my feet run in His ways;
Let my eyes see Jesus only,
Let my lips speak forth His praise.

Worldlings prize their gems of beauty,
Cling to gilded toys of dust,
Boast of wealth and fame and pleasure;
Only Jesus will I trust.

Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus,
I’ve lost sight of all beside;
So enchained my spirit’s vision,
Looking at the Crucified.

Oh, what wonder! how amazing!
Jesus, glorious King of kings,
Stoops to call me His belov├Ęd,
Lets me rest beneath His wings.

All for Jesus! All for Jesus!
All my days and all my hours;
All for Jesus! All for Jesus!
All my days and all my hours.

- Mary James

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Becoming like Christ

The art of photography is now so advanced, that a whole page of a newspaper can be taken in miniature so small, as to be carried on a little button, and yet every letter and point be perfect.

Just so, the whole life of Christ is photographed in this one little phrase, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28

He did not come to be served--if this had been His aim, He would never have left heaven's glory, where He lacked nothing, where angels praised Him and ministered unto Him. He came to serve. He went about doing good. He altogether forgot Himself. He served all He met, who would receive His service. At last He gave His life in serving--He gave it to save others and to redeem lost souls.

You say that you want to be like Christ. You ask Him to print His own image on your heart. Here then, is the image: "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."

It is not a vague dream of human greatness which we are to think of when we ask to be like our Master.

The old monks thought that they were becoming like Christ when they went into the wilderness, away from men, to live in cold cells. But surely, such a dream of uselessness is not the thought which this picture suggests. "To serve--to give our life" that is the Christ-like thing! Instead of fleeing away from people, we are to live with others, to serve them, to live for them, to seek to bless them, to do them good, to give our lives for them--that is the meaning of the prayer for Christ-likeness.

- J. R. Miller

Monday, March 15, 2010

Contentment

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11

Contentment is being satisfied with the sovereign dispensations of God's providence. It is the opposite of murmuring, which is the spirit of rebellion--the clay saying to the Potter, "Why have You made me thus?" Instead of complaining at his circumstances, a contented man is thankful that his condition and circumstances are no worse than they are.

Discontent! Was there ever a time when there was so much discontent and restlessness in the world as there is today? Despite our boasted progress, the vast increase of wealth, the time and money expended daily in pleasure, discontent is everywhere! No class is exempt. Everything is in a state of flux, and almost everybody is dissatisfied. Many even among God's own professing people are affected with the evil spirit of this age.

Contentment! Is such a thing realistic and reachable, or is it nothing more than a beautiful ideal, a mere dream of the poet? Is it attainable on earth or is it restricted to the inhabitants of heaven? If feasible here and now, can it be maintained consistently or are a few brief moments or hours of contentment the most that we may expect in this life?

The force of Paul's statement will be better appreciated if his condition and circumstances at the time he made it, are kept in mind. When the apostle wrote the words, he was not luxuriating in a special suite in the Emperor's palace; he was in prison in chains. The contentment which Paul enjoyed was not the result of congenial and comfortable surroundings. Most people suppose that contentment is impossible, unless one can have the desires of the carnal heart gratified. A prison is the last place to which they would go if they were seeking a contented man. This much, then, is clear--contentment comes from within not without; it must be sought from God, and not in earthly comforts.

Now, there is a vast difference between precept and practice, between the ideal and the realization. But in the case of Paul, contentment was an actual experience! It was something he had learned in the school of Christian experience.

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said--Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

- A. W. Pink

Friday, March 12, 2010

Middle East Evangelism

The following is a new report from Israel by one of the Heartcry workers who is in Jerusalem. It provides a real sense of the work they do regularly in outreach and evangelism. Please pray for him, his co-workers, and their church, including the prayer requests he gives here. [Mack Tomlinson]

We had initially planned to go to Ethiopia for a week, but the prices for the tickets arose too much. After two days in the trip, we were able to understand the providence of God for why we did not end up going to Ethiopia. We went to Tel Aviv Friday evening to do our weekly evangelism in spite of the rain (an answered prayer). The Lord has blessed us with much rain this winter and the Kinneret- Israel's number one water source- is rising. So we returned a little earlier to Jerusalem and traveled to Eilat to the Taba border crossing on our way to Egypt.

I had a full car. One of the students from our church brought with her two friends; one was an agnostic and the other seemed to be uninterested in spiritual matters. So I thought I would be speaking with the agnostic during the four plus hours it takes to drive down to the border. We didn t end up speaking a whole lot, but they said that they want to come with us on one of our desert trips. We left each other in Cairo. Upon arriving to Cairo, we had to arrive at the Bible Society to get some literature for distribution and also find a certain hotel. We took the metro without knowing the specific address and ended up at the right place. We went to the Bible Society and purchased New Testaments and Luke's gospel and then checked in at the hotel. We then visited a church in the area where we received more literature and they informed us about a major book fair in Cairo. We then went to the book fair; it was great being lost and asking for directions. We met so many people on the way- the bus, taxi, bus stop, and distributed literature. Some people even paid for our fares.

At the book fair we found the Christian section upstairs and out of the way. Not many good books in Arabic. There is a great need to translate good theological books. We did a little evangelism there; it was difficult because most of the stands were very Islamic, but we still managed to give out some literature.

Not many people speak English and my Arabic is not so good so we ended up getting lost many times. On one occasion we went on the metro and were misdirected so we ended up meeting a south Sudanese refugee who is soon to return to Sudan because there is now calm in his country.

We gave out literature to many taxi drivers. Taxis in Egypt are cheap so we actually paid more than we should and tipped them with a New Testament. On the streets we would ask for directions. Many times we were sent the wrong way. Our intentions were not necessarily to get the right directions and arrive to our destination but to interact with the locals and distribute literature to them. We gave literature to people that we would never have met had we not been lost.

A couple of years ago, I heard about the garbage city in Cairo on BBC. We decided to visit the area and look for a church. On our way to the garbage dump one of the girls gave a New Testament to a local lady and immediately began to read it until she got of the bus. We also rode on a small caravan with 17 people that fit 8 people. Taxis driver in Egypt don't drive according to the rules of the road and many of them drive very fast. The driver sideswiped another car and we witnessed a brawl over small damage to the vehicle. We had to leave the scene and on our way to the Garbage city we met with many Muslims who directed us. As we made our entrance into the Garbage dump there were trucks going inside to unload materials to be recycled. The stench was so strong that it was difficult to breath. When we found the church we met three elders who greeted us warmly and spoke to us in Arabic. We later met a brother who spoke some English and interpreted for us. We were invited to return and preach at one of their midweek services. The garbage city is predominantly Christian and while they live in such horrible conditions they are a light in that place and it is evident when one meets and interacts with them because they have the same hope that we have in Jesus.

In another one of our ventures we searched for a hostel that we had heard about before near the embassies. When we arrived, we met a Chinese student studying in England who shared with us that he is seeking to become spiritual and he took a bible from us. We also spoke with the manager, a Coptic Christian, and encouraged him to proclaim the gospel. We also visited the pyramids in Giza. Some people went inside and while I waited outside, I met a man and witnessed to him. He refused to take a New Testament because he didn t want his father to see him bring it home. The metro in Cairo has a separate cart for women only. In one of our trips the girls from our group rode with the Muslim women and gave New Testaments to two extremist Muslims that were completely covered. When they got off the train the women invited the girls over for dinner but due to our commitment with the church visitation were unable to take the offer. In Cairo, one of our group members nearly got run over. Crossing the street in Cairo is difficult - there are no traffic lights and cars do not yield to pedestrian and you need to trust the Lord every time. This was also an opportunity to give the driver a new testament. We had to get a taxi to the border and one from our group asked the reception about reserving a taxi to get from Cairo to Taba. From this we met Mohammed in the lobby who arranged a taxi for us. Then we met Hussein, an Iranian, who is living in Sweden. We were able to speak about the gospel to them. His wife is Polish and one of the ladies from our group spoke with her and gave her a New Testament in English. Every time and everywhere we went we met people and gave them gifts and sometimes other people also wanted to receive the gifts. Tourism evangelism is so important and we must seize every opportunity that we have to share the gospel.

We also visited the pyramids in Giza. Some people went inside and while I waited outside, I met a man and witnessed to him. He refused to take a New Testament because he didn't want his father to see him bring it home.

The metro in Cairo has a separate cart for women only. In one of our trips the girls from our group rode with the Muslim women and gave New Testaments to two extremist Muslims that were completely covered. When they got off the train the women invited the girls over for dinner but due to our commitment with the church visitation were unable to take the offer.

In Cairo, one of our group members nearly got run over. Crossing the street in Cairo is difficult - there are no traffic lights and cars do not yield to pedestrian and you need to trust the Lord every time. This was also an opportunity to give the driver a new testament. We had to get a taxi to the border and one from our group asked the reception about reserving a taxi to get from Cairo to Taba. From this we met Mohammed in the lobby who arranged a taxi for us. Then we met Hussein, an Iranian, who is living in Sweden. We were able to speak about the gospel to them. His wife is Polish and one of the ladies from our group spoke with her and gave her a New Testament in English. Every time and everywhere we went we met people and gave them gifts and sometimes other people also wanted to receive the gifts. Tourism evangelism is so important and we must seize every opportunity that we have to share the gospel.

Jordan Trip Report

We returned to Jerusalem, and three days later we were en route to Amman, Jordan.
We visited West Baptist Church in Amman where we received Bibles, DVDs, and literature in Arabic. We also met with a pastor from a local church in Madaba. After the service in Madaba we were able to spend time with the pastor's family and some people in the congregation. They were very gracious and hospitable towards us, and we had a very nice time of fellowship. They talked about the difficulties of being believers in Jordan and what it would mean if a Muslim converted to Christianity (death). They said for this reason those who convert usually have to leave the country. Many of the believers from this congregation grew up as nominal Christians in a Greek Orthodox or Catholic tradition and later came to faith. One woman asked us to pray that she would be bolder with the gospel before her family and that she would take a greater interest in their eternity. She spoke honestly and said that many believers like her were discouraged.


We met two brothers Paul and Peter, who converted from Islam to Christianity three years ago. They grew up in a religious family, their father had two wives, and they spent most of their childhood living in the mosque.


They were seeking entertainment inside a church- by mocking Christians. They were told that if they wanted to have fun and see good comedy they needed to visit a church. The brothers were captivated when the pastor spoke Jesus words, Love your enemies. Soon after the twins began to question their faith in Islam. Eventually, in the room that they shared, the twins would sit beside each other and read the Bibles that they had acquired. One day, Peter was reading the Bible while his brother Paul read the Quran. Peter asked Paul if he would kill him if he converted to Christianity. Paul said yes. They began to fight with each other over religion, and they fought until they couldn t fight anymore. Three days later Paul also accepted the Lord. When we were in Jordan we introduced the brothers, now twenty-three years old, to my friend George who offered to help and train the twins. I also contacted my friend from Lebanon who is currently corresponding with them and trying to find a way to help the twins move to Lebanon.
After our initial meeting, we spent some time on the promenade where people gather. There we met a couple of girls from the university and they took New Testaments from us. We walked back to the bookstore and the twins shared more of their testimony. They told us of their struggles of living in secret, of trying to leave the country, and of their past in Islam. Afterwards, as the sun was setting we went to the promenade again, and we saw two women that were smoking. I told them that smoking is not healthy for them, and they said that they needed something to take that desire away. I told them that I had medicine for them and gave them a New Testament. One of the ladies from our group talked to them and found out that they were Palestinians and that they shared hatred towards Israel. One of the Muslim women gave our group member her husbands phone number who is well known as a businessman in Nablus.

The lady from our group then moved on to speak with three Muslim women. They also started talking politics, but they accepted New Testaments. Peter and Paul, despite the danger, came over and ended up talking with the three women. The dialogue intensified; the women didn't believe that the men had left Islam, and as the twins quoted the Quran and compared the words of the Quran to the words of the Bible, the women were not happy. The women told us that the Quran taught basically the same principles as the Bible. The Muslim women agreed that people should love their enemies, but they continued that while that was true, it was right for them to hate and kill people that had stepped on their honor. In this way, they defended their open hatred for the Jews and they spoke out of the overflow of their heart. Please pray that they would see the risen Lord who is able to give us new hearts.

Some things to pray for

Trip to Egypt next week 14th-21st
Evangelism with the students at the Hebrew University several times a week
We printed 4000 evangelistic book and 2000 bibles plus we also bought some English NTs which we distribute every Friday to the refugees and the foreign workers in Tel Aviv
April 1-3 we will be at the New Age festival evangelizing to youth
For the two brothers (Muslim converts) in Jordan that they will be able to go to a safe country
Our free evangelistic tours
Visitation and follow up
Woman's house
Volunteers
Needs
Dvd disc printer for the discs that we distribute in various languages for evangelism
Bibles in various languages Nepalese,( which we will try and print Johns gospel here ) Tagalog and various language from south Sudan , Turkish , Sinhalese, Tamil and Malayalam.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Things God Wants Us to Know

I have never liked superficial literature, whether books, tracts, or pamphlets that deal with deep and eternal subjects in a shallow way, such as

"Five Things God Wants You to Know" or

"How to Know God's Will in an Hour" or

"God Loves You and Has a Wonderful Plan for your Life"

Even as a new Christian of one month in 1973, I read a book given to me entitled "Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth" by a very well-known evangelical author. Even in my spiritual infancy, though I would not have known any difference between Benny Hinn and John Calvin, I somehow knew instinctively that book was not good. After reading two chapters, I threw it away. It was unclean, cheap, and felt dirty.

As I was increasingly exposed to literature more and more, I began to know there had to be much more than what was being said, and that it seemed questionable and wrong to simplify and cheapen great truths with human cleverness or humor.

Some things never change. After 37 years as a Christian, I feel that way more deeply than ever. To use the name of God, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit in a clever way just to sell a book or even with a motive that it will attraction attention is utterly wrong. To use clever language in a cheapened way about eternal realities just doesn't cut it, if we want to honor the Lord, who is worthy of infinite honor.

All that being said, it is still true that there are some things "God wants us to know". Here are just a few:

- the true saving knowledge of God

- true communion with the Lord Jesus Christ

- intimacy and fellowship with the Holy Spirit

- the Bible deeply

- God's glory and attributes

- the ways and purposes of His kingdom

- the love of HIs people

- compassion for sinners

- His decrees

- the fellowship of His suffering

- knowing and doing the full will of God in all things

- the love of Christ, which passes knowledge

- the fullness and control of the Holy Spirit daily

- joy regardless of any circumstances

- the sufficiency of His grace daily

"That I may know Him . . . "

These things the Lord most assuredly wants us to know. And He wants us to know them experientially, increasingly, and daily. We must desire this, be diligent in seeking God for these things, all the times realizing that we are utterly cast upon Him to give us grace to know them. No wonder the hymn writer said:

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on heaven's table land,
A higher plane than I have found,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

- Mack Tomlinson

Learn from Me

[Correction from yesterday-- I wrongly said that Iain Murray had a book entitled Studies in the Sermon on the Mount-- that is by D. M. Lloyd-Jones; the other books are Iain's and he has quite a number of others as well, including the 2 volume Life of Lloyd-Jones. - Mack T.]

"Learn from Me--for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29

All of Christian life is a school. "Learn from Me," said the Master. We are only beginners when we first become Christians, and enter Christ's school. We begin at the lowest grade. We do not have to wait until we know a great deal before we begin to attend school. School is not for finished scholars--but for the most ignorant. We may come to Christ when we know almost nothing. He is the teacher and all believers are learners.

"Learn from Me--for I am gentle." Gentleness is a lesson which we are to learn. It will probably take us a good long while to learn this lesson--but we must learn it because it is in Christ's curriculum for all His students.

Contentment is another lesson which we must learn. When he was well along in life, Paul said, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation." It was a long and difficult lesson for him to learn.

Patience is a lesson that has to be learned. An impatient person is not a complete Christian.

Thoughtfulness is a necessary lesson. There are a great many thoughtless Christians. They are always blundering in their interactions with others. They say the wrong word, they do the wrong thing. They are always hurting other people's feelings, giving pain to gentle hearts. Yet it is all from thoughtlessness. "I didn't mean to offend him. I didn't mean to be unkind. I just never thought!" There are few lessons in Christian life that more people need to learn, than this of thoughtfulness.

We have to learn to trust. Worry is a sin. It is probably as great a sin as dishonesty or profanity or bad temper. Yet a good many Christian people worry--and one of the most important lessons in Christ's school, is to learn not to worry.

Kindness is a lesson we must learn. It takes many years to learn the one little lesson of kindness.

Joy is a lesson to be learned.

Peace is another.

Humility is another necessary lesson.

Praise is a great lesson.

All of life is a school, and it is in learning these lessons that Jesus says we shall find rest for your souls. Christ Himself is our teacher, and with Him we should never fail to learn, though it be only slowly. Then as we learn our lessons, our lives will grow continually more and more into quietness, peace and Christlikeness.

- J. R. Miller

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Iain Murray from Scotland

This is for those of you who know of and appreciate Iain Murray from Scotland; if you do not know him as an author, please get acquainted; his numerous books published by Banner of Truth Trust are available widely, even at a discount; one of the best authors of the 20th and 21st century;

Some of the things he mentions in his letter here will not be familiar to you but it is still good reading to hear the thoughts and comments of one of the finest Christian leaders of the 20th and 21st centuries.


A good place to begin reading Iain Murray would be these books:

- Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

- A New Biography on Jonathan Edwards

- Life of A. W. Pink

- Pentecost Today? Understanding Revival

here is his letter from Australia this week:

Sydney, as from 1 Carnethy Avenue, Edinburgh EH13 ODL
9 March 2010

Dear Friends,

Some of you were remembering in prayer our conference here of last week. I am thankful to say that prayer was indeed heard. We had two and a half very good days – better numbers (116), more young men, and all the speakers helped. But the friendships formed or maintained at these gatherings are no small part of their importance. The venue has been described as the best conference centre in Australia, and I can well believe it. It overlooks about 180 degrees of ocean and the rising sun to the east was a sight not to be forgotten in the mornings (you see what Australia does to one to be a witness of the sunrise!). Three missionaries and a Sudanese Christian, previously unknown to us, were also at the conference and their presence contributed much. Our main speaker, David Jones, had to withdraw shortly before the event, an accident having injured his leg which required surgery. It is now healing but requires him to keep off his feet for a few weeks. Thankfully, John McCallum, of St George’s, Sydney, was able to take the three addresses needed, which he did on our Lord’s Temptation. This proved a most appropriate and helpful subject for us all. Surely we too commonly survey current problems as though there were no invisible powers at work! Other speakers included Allan Blanch on the life of Marcus Loane and Leo de Vos preaching. All the conference addresses will be available on one MP3 CD at $20 (Australian) including postage, from ptcmedia@presbyteriancollege.org. Fax 03 9898 9872. Orders from overseas would need to use credit cards.

Autumn was supposed to have started here on March 1 but today is about as hot as any day since we came; yet there has also been highly valued rain. We have never seen the inland so green as we saw it a few weeks ago when we drove out to see family at Dubbo – a day’s drive from Sydney.

We have been enjoying seeing a number of old friends and I valued being back in my old pulpit at Hurstville Presbyterian one Sunday. We are to have a ‘book launch’ of Graham Miller’s autobiography, A Day’s March Nearer Home next week. There is a lot of interest in the book here and I believe there will be elsewhere. I believe it is not dissimilar in value to Andrew Bonar’s Diary; such books are a rarity. Our office staff were all at their best in producing a volume which has to be among the top in appearance!

The spiritual problems here are much the same as in other parts of the English-speaking world. What I wrote about ‘expository’ preaching in the February Banner of Truth describes much that happens here in the way of preaching. Save at last week’s conference, we have not heard a sermon from a text since we came early last month. This is not to say we have not heard good sermons on passages of Scripture, but, as I said in that article, it is the near eclipse of announcing a text and preaching it that is so regrettable. Those who think that orthodox preaching means addressing passages of Scripture in serial form from Sunday to Sunday need to read again the words of the Westminster divines ‘Of Preaching the Word’ in that too-little- read document, The Directory for the Public Worship of God (usually attached to most copies of the Westminster Confession): ‘Ordinarily, the subject of his sermon is to be some text of scripture, holding forth some principle or head of religion, or suitable to some special occasion emergent; or he may go on in some chapter, psalm, or book of the holy scripture as he sees fit.’ Note the order in which these alternatives are put. If I remember rightly, W.G. Blaikie in his Scottish Preachers (a valuable Banner book) had good comments on this subject, and on the ‘sermon’ and the ‘lecture’. On the same subject, have you noticed that Banner has reprinted in attractive and cheap form, Ryle’s Simplicity in Preaching? Let us trust it will have wide circulation. The reviving of the church does not depend on any of the latest contemporary modes of building churches but on the instrument that God has used since Pentecost (with praying churches supporting the preacher).

Some of you will have noticed a subject still more controversial in the March Banner of Truth magazine, namely, my review of the book on J.I. Packer and the Evangelical Future (Baker Academic). My main criticism was of Carl Trueman’s chapter where, on the testimony of an alleged friend of Lloyd-Jones, he connects the parting of Lloyd-Jones and Jim Packer to the charge that ‘Lloyd-Jones could not stand competition and could not bear not to be in overall control … Packer was the only man within Lloyd-Jones’s orbit who could pose a serious challenge to his leadership’ (p.123) I called this allegation a ‘slander’, which I believe it is. Dr Trueman, ignoring the book which brought the break in 1970, disagrees, and you may read him on the web site Reformation 21. This issue has to be set in context, and the conclusions people reach are commonly determined by what they think the real issue was. Those who present the issue as ‘Church-based Christianity v. Separatism’ see Dr Lloyd-Jones as wrong. While those who believe the issue was, ‘Historic Protestant Evangelicalism v. the Ecumenical Objective’, believe his understanding of the situation was right. This is no small issue and one hopes it will receive much fuller examination.

I have been doing some reading in Calvin’s magnificent commentary on the Book of Acts, and been regretting not reading him more (try him on Acts 20:28-32 if you can). I have also been stimulated by two Roman Catholic books, The Knox Brothers, Penelope Fitzgerald (Anchor Press, 1977), and The Wine of Certitude: A Literary Biography of Ronald Knox (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2009). These books show why and how the son of an evangelical bishop in the Church of England became a Roman Catholic. Before I close I must explain that there is no real sense to who receives this irregular letter and who does not. The truth is my list of e mail addresses is out of hand, and I am not helped by the fact that too many addresses do not identify their owner! If you are wearied with too much mail you have my sincere sympathy and, letting me know, I should be able to remove you from the list!

We hope to be back in Scotland by the beginning of April, and look forward to the Youth Conference, April 16-18, to be followed by the Leicester Ministers’ Conference. Faith in the promises of God will assure is all that the work of Christ is going forward in all the world. Even now it is true,

‘From earth’s wide bounds, from oceans’ furthest coasts,
Through gates of pearl stream in the countless hosts…’

With our warm greetings,
Iain and Jean Murray

PS. Jean adds, I have been reading Calvin on 1 Corinthians and am amazed at his simplicity and clarity.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

No Compromise

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king: O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king--that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up! - Daniel 3:16-18

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were all young men who were in peculiar circumstances. They were away from home, out from under parental influence and restraints, and exposed to very strong temptation. They had now their choice between duty and the fiery furnace! We should study this lesson for its example of heroic devotion to duty, regardless of consequences. Even yet, the world's promotion is obtainable ofttimes only at the price of a trampled conscience!

There are several things to note in these young men.

Note their calmness; they displayed no excitement, no heat of passion. The peace of God ruled in their hearts.

Note also their sublime courage. They had a contempt of death. They feared only one thing--sin!

Note also their trust in God. They committed the matter utterly into His hands. They did not know what He would do--but they were sure it would be the right thing.

The king wanted to give them another chance, as he preferred not to burn such useful servants; but they told him there was no need for a second opportunity. They would have no other answer to give. They could make no possible change in their decision. The thing that was demanded of them was contrary to the plain law of their God--and that settled it forever. There was no room for discussion or deliberation or persuasion when it was the law of God that was concerned. They could burn, but they could not turn!

It would save many people a great deal of weighing, balancing, and discussing of fine points if they would act always on this principle--that the Word of God is final in all matters of duty. When a thing is forbidden in the Word, that should be the end of it.

But too many people bargain with such matters and usually end in yielding to sin. It is never safe to bargain with temptation!

It would be well if all Christians today had the moral courage of these three Hebrew young men.

- J. R. Miller

Saturday, March 6, 2010

From one of Leonard Ravenhill's Evangelistic Messages in England in 1939

O, that every unconfessed, hidden or forgotten sin of your life might just now have a thousand tongues to sing a painful dirge of condemnation. Let your iniquities be given speech and hiss and torment you until you repent, let every transgression purposely or carelessly forgotten have a resurrection. As you lie in bed tonight, let the ghost of everyone of those sins tramp your bedroom, call your name, and with a sepulchral voice and skeleton fingers point and claim you as their parents. Better for you to have one sleepless night on earth than millions in hell. Men toss on their beds in perdition just now for less than you have done ! Defoe tells us that Robinson Crusoe stood aghast when he saw the first foot print on his island. You did, too, after telling your first lie; but it’s easy now ! Your soul seemed pierced as with a hot iron the first time you stole; now you laugh about it.

Fools scorn innocence; idiots alone laugh at chastity--would to God that the cord which is broken may vibrate once more, and you feel and own your own leprosy before Him! If you own and accept your guilt, then why try to remove it yourself? Bodies of beasts which, if they could be amassed together, would be higher than mount Everest, have been offered on Jewish altars, and from underneath those altars rivers of blood have poured. But they have been fruitless and unavailing efforts to eradicate sin.

- Leonard Ravenhill

Friday, March 5, 2010

Why is the Discipline of Reading Difficult for some Professing Christians?

Why does today's Christian find the reading of great books always beyond him? Certainly intellectual powers do not wane from one generation to another. We are as smart as our fathers, and any thought they could entertain, we can entertain if we are sufficiently interested to make the effort. The major cause of the decline in the quality of current Christian literature is not intellectual but spiritual. To enjoy a great Christian book requires a degree of consecration to God and detachment from the world that few modern Christians have. The early Christian fathers, the Mystics, and the Puritans are not hard to understand, but they inhabit the highlands where the air is crisp and rarefied, and none but the God-enamored can come.

- A. W. Tozer