PASTORS AND THEIR RESPONSIBILITY

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A.W. Pink:

“Many of those who are paid to stand in our pulpits and defend the Truth of God are now the very ones who are engaged in sowing the seeds of unbelief and destroying the faith of those to whom they minister.”

HT: http://calvinisticquotes.blogspot.ca/2013/08/the-seeds-of-unbelief.html

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How To Be Full

C.H. Spurgeon, Morning & Evening, February 10:

“I know how to abound.”
Philippians 4:12

Job-restored-to-prosperityThere are many who know “how to be abased” who have not learned “how to abound.” When they are set upon the top of a pinnacle their heads grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall. The Christian far oftener disgraces his profession in prosperity than in adversity. It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial to the Christian than the refining pot of prosperity. Oh, what leanness of soul and neglect of spiritual things have been brought on through the very mercies and bounties of God! Yet this is not a matter of necessity, for the apostle tells us that he knew how to abound. When he had much he knew how to use it. Abundant grace enabled him to bear abundant prosperity. When he had a full sail he was loaded with much ballast, and so floated safely. It needs more than human skill to carry the brimming cup of mortal joy with a steady hand, yet Paul had learned that skill, for he declares, “In all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry.” It is a divine lesson to know how to be full, for the Israelites were full once, but while the flesh was yet in their mouth, the wrath of God came upon them. Many have asked for mercies that they might satisfy their own hearts’ lust. Fulness of bread has often made fulness of blood, and that has brought on wantonness of spirit. When we have much of God’s providential mercies, it often happens that we have but little of God’s grace, and little gratitude for the bounties we have received. We are full and we forget God: satisfied with earth, we are content to do without heaven. Rest assured it is harder to know how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry-so desperate is the tendency of human nature to pride and forgetfulness of God. Take care that you ask in your prayers that God would teach you “how to be full.”

“Let not the gifts thy love bestows estrange our hearts from thee.”

https://paddlingupcreek.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/how-to-be-full/

HELL IS PREPARED FOR YOU

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The Puritans tell a story of a woman convinced of sin on her death-bed, who lived near Cambridge, who was visited by several ministers, all of whom had great skill in comforting seeking souls. When five or six of them had spoken gently and comfortingly to her, she opened her eyes upon them with a glare, and all she said was this, “Call back the time, call back the time, for otherwise I am damned.” And so she died.

~Charles Spurgeon

Are You Discontented with God?

Phare du Petit Minou
The Phare du Petit Minou is a lighthouse in the roadstead of Brest in the commune of Plouzané in Brittany (Bretagne). It is located near the Minou fort that was built in 1697 by Vauban. The lighthouse was switched on in 1848 and automated in 1989. The light is visible 35km away.

Grumble, Grumble

In Exodus 15, the Israelites camped by the springs of Elim for several weeks, lingering under the palm trees and taking long drinks of cool water. Then it was time to move on. They were on a spiritual journey—a pilgrimage that reveals the pattern of the Christian life.

The spiritual geography of Israel’s exodus from Egypt can be mapped onto the experience of our own souls. Although there are times of refreshing, usually they do not last for long. Soon it is time to head back into the desert, which is a place of testing and spiritual growth.

The Israelites headed deeper into the wilderness. Soon they were tired and hungry, and once again they started to complain. Whining was Israel’s besetting sin. It started when Moses first went to Pharaoh and people complained that he was making their job harder instead of easier (Ex. 5:21). They grumbled at the Red Sea, where they accused Moses of bringing them out into the desert to die. The grumbling continued more or less for 40 years, as they became a nation of malcontents.

Discontent With God

Our own complaints are not caused by our outward circumstances; rather, they reveal the inward condition of our hearts. Really, the Israelites had nothing to complain about. They were not running out of food, but were confusing what they wanted with what they needed. This is often the source of our discontent: thinking that our “greeds” are really our needs.

The Israelites also exaggerated the advantages of their former situation. “Remember the good old days?” They said. Looking back with longing on their time in Egypt, they imagined themselves bellying up to Pharaoh’s buffet. Yet it is doubtful that, as slaves, they were ever treated so lavishly.

Israel’s attitude is a warning against the great sin of complaining. Although they complained to Moses, they were really grumbling against God. By saying that it would have been better for God to let them die back in Egypt, they were really saying that they wished they had never been saved.

We need to be honest about the fact that all of our dissatisfaction is discontent with God. Usually we take out our frustrations on someone one else. But God knows that when we grumble, we are finding fault with him. A complaining spirit indicates a problem in our relationship with God.

The irony, of course, is that God always gives us exactly what we need. For the Israelites, this meant manna in the wilderness. For us it means the true Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.

Advice for the Pilgrim

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“The Christian life is a pilgrimage.  (Heb. 4:1).  The figure here is not of a race as some suppose, but of a journey through the wilderness.  To bring that pilgrimage to a happy end, take these directions:
A.  When the pillar of cloud stands still, stand thou still; when it moves, move thou.  Eye God’s providence in all things.
B.  Obey your leader.  Whenever Israel rejected the word of God sent them by Moses, it was ill with them.
C.  Look forward, not backward–to Canaan, not to Egypt.  Remember Lot’s wife.  Remember those who fell in the wildersness,
D.  Be intent upon your work and your journey.  Be not slothful.
E.  Beware of unholy alliances. Heathenish men and heathnish thoughts will pour in like a flood.  Resist them.
F.  Encumber not yourself with needless worldly goods.  They will but prove impediments.
G.  Be of good courage. Cowardice is a great foe to progress.  It kept Israel wandering forty years, when forty days should have been enough for their journey.
H.  Never flag till you reach the promised land and have your inheritance among the redeemed.
I.  Guard continually against every form and degree of unbelief.  Take God at his word.  Distrust yourself ever so much.  Distrust God not at all.

–William S. Plumer “Hebrews” p. 162

https://stilltheyspeak.wordpress.com/2016/05/28/the-christian-life-is-a-pilgrimage/

No Sense of God’s Presence

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“The greatest (and most honest) saints have always confessed that they had to walk through many valleys with no sense of God’s presence.  [But] just because you feel that God is absent doesn’t mean He actually is.  Just because you can’t track His footprints doesn’t mean He’s not walking beside you.  If you’re a believer, that feeling of being alone is always an illusion.  Yes, always… [For] Jesus faced the full measure of our aloneness in our place and put it away forever.  By His death, He reconciled us to God, so that we can know He will never leave us or forsake us…  So when you can’t ‘feel’ God, be assured, He’s there.  The cross assures you that He is.  Nothing can ever separate you from His love.  He has united Himself, through His Spirit, inextricably to you.  And just as He has done in the great saints of old, the Spirit is likely doing His best work in you in those dark times.”

~J.D. Greear, October 2015 TableTalk

https://paddlingupcreek.wordpress.com/2016/05/26/no-sense-of-gods-presence/

Should Christians Keep the Sabbath?

220px-AugsburgConfessionArticle7OftheChurchThere are many things about Puritan/Reformed theology I whole-heartedly agree with, but keeping the Sabbath is not one of them. This is a good article to explain my position on this issue.

In Colossians 2:16-17, the apostle Paul declares, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” Similarly, Romans 14:5 states, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” These Scriptures make it clear that, for the Christian, Sabbath-keeping is a matter of spiritual freedom, not a command from God. Sabbath-keeping is an issue on which God’s Word instructs us not to judge each other. Sabbath-keeping is a matter about which each Christian needs to be fully convinced in his/her own mind.
In the early chapters of the book of Acts, the first Christians were predominantly Jews. When Gentiles began to receive the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Jewish Christians had a dilemma. What aspects of the Mosaic Law and Jewish tradition should Gentile Christians be instructed to obey? The apostles met and discussed the issue in the Jerusalem council (Acts 15). The decision was, “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood” (Acts 15:19-20). Sabbath-keeping was not one of the commands the apostles felt was necessary to force on Gentile believers. It is inconceivable that the apostles would neglect to include Sabbath-keeping if it was God’s command for Christians to observe the Sabbath day.

A common error in the Sabbath-keeping debate is the concept that the Sabbath was the day of worship. Groups such as the Seventh Day Adventists hold that God requires the church service to be held on Saturday, the Sabbath day. That is not what the Sabbath command was. The Sabbath command was to do no work on the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8-11). Nowhere in Scripture is the Sabbath day commanded to be the day of worship. Yes, Jews in Old Testament, New Testament, and modern times use Saturday as the day of worship, but that is not the essence of the Sabbath command. In the book of Acts, whenever a meeting is said to be on the Sabbath, it is a meeting of Jews and/or Gentile converts to Judaism, not Christians.

When did the early Christians meet? Acts 2:46-47 gives us the answer, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” If there was a day that Christians met regularly, it was the first day of the week (our Sunday), not the Sabbath day (our Saturday) (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). In honor of Christ’s resurrection on Sunday, the early Christians observed Sunday not as the “Christian Sabbath” but as a day to especially worship Jesus Christ.

Is there anything wrong with worshipping on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath? Absolutely not! We should worship God every day, not just on Saturday or Sunday! Many churches today have both Saturday and Sunday services. There is freedom in Christ (Romans 8:21; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Galatians 5:1). Should a Christian practice Sabbath-keeping, that is, not working on Saturdays? If a Christian feels led to do so, absolutely, yes (Romans 14:5). However, those who choose to practice Sabbath-keeping should not judge those who do not keep the Sabbath (Colossians 2:16). Further, those who do not keep the Sabbath should avoid being a stumbling block (1 Corinthians 8:9) to those who do keep the Sabbath. Galatians 5:13-15 sums up the whole issue: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

http://www.gotquestions.org/Sabbath-keeping.html

If He Wasn’t Watching…

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“So numerous are the dangers which surround us, that we could not stand a single moment, if his eye did not watch over our preservation. But the true security for a happy life lies in being persuaded that we are under divine government.”

~John Calvin

https://paddlingupcreek.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/the-true-security-for-a-happy-life/