Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Take the Test if you dare

2 Corinthians 13: 5
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?

One early church leader expressed his love for Christ in this way: "If my father were weeping on his knees before me, my mother hanging on my neck behind me, my brethren, sisters, and kinsfolk - howling on every side to retain me in a sinful course, I would fling my mother to the ground, run over my father, despise all of my kindred and tread them under my feet, that I might run unto Christ".

What follows could be considered a "questionnaire", useful for testing your own love for Christ. It comes to us from the Puritan pen of Thomas Vincent, from his book The True Christian's Love to The Unseen Christ:
First, allow me to speak a word of reproof to those who have no sincere love to Christ. To you I would say: What?! Are you creatures made by Christ and made for Christ, and yet have no love to Him? Are you rational creatures? Do you have souls capable of knowing Him and loving Him, and yet have no love to Him? Are you Christians and not love Christ? Are you baptized in Christ's name and yet have you no love to Christ's person? Do some of you profess to be Christians and yet do not love Christ? Do you make a show of devotion, and yet without any true affection to the object of your worship? And those of you who are admitted unbelievers, though you have not seen Christ - yet have you not heard of Him, and have you not heard enough already - to engage and draw forth your love unto Christ? What do you think, is there such a person as Jesus Christ, or is there not? Have you no bibles, and if you have, have you not read therein the history concerning Jesus Christ? And what do you think of that history, is it true or is it false? Do you think the Gospel is a cunningly devised fable? Are not the scriptures, which contain the Gospel, the very word of the true God who cannot lie? Is there not a divine aspect to the scriptures that sufficiently prove their divine origin to any who search into them, and who do not willfully shut their eyes against the light which shines in them? And if it is so, that there is such a person as Jesus Christ, as there is nothing more true, how is it that you have no love unto him?
Do not the scriptures reveal and set forth Christ as the most excellent and love-worthy person alive? And yet you still do not love Him. Can you love persons and things that are but imperfectly lovely, and not love Jesus Christ who is altogether lovely? And consider this as well, all you who do not sincerely and truly love Christ are still under a divine curse. Not only under the curse of the law, for your breach of the law, but also under the curse of the Gospel. For even the Gospel proclaims: "If anyone does not love the Lord, a curse be on him" (1 Corinthians 16:22).And when the Lord comes, will He take off the curse from you? No. He will come in flaming fire to take vengeance upon you, having threatened in the scriptures that bear his truth - to punish all without love to Him with an everlasting destruction. And what then is likely to become of you? Sodom and Gomorrah, those wicked cities will then be punished dreadfully with a worse fire than that which was rained down from heaven and consumed their persons and habitations together, I mean - with the fire of Hell, which will be kindled and kept alive unto eternity by the breath of the almighty. But you, who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ, not withstanding all discoveries of Him, invitations to Him, and offers of kindness by Him - you will be punished more dreadfully than even the wicked Sodomites of Sodom and Gomorrah. It will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for them than for you. The torments of Hell will be intolerable by any, but they will be most intolerable by Gospel-sinners. The fire of Hell will burn upon you most fiercely, and the scourge of conscience will lash you the most furiously.
Consider this all you who have no love to Christ, otherwise - when He comes to judgment he will tear you to pieces; there will be none to deliver you. If you do not have the sweet fire of love to Christ kindled hearts here, you will be thrown into the dreadful fire of Hell, which will burn you everlastingly. Scripture says: "Kiss the Son lest He be angry, and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare-up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him" (Psalm 2:12).Second, allow me to speak a word of reproof to those of you who have some love, but it is very little love, to Jesus Christ. You that love Christ, is not your love very small? Not only in comparison with his love to you, but also in comparison to the love which other Christians have attained unto. For example:
How strong was the love of the Apostles unto Christ when they left all and followed Him? Especially after the resurrection of Christ and his ascension into heaven, when the Holy Spirit was sent down and sat in the likeness of fiery tongues upon them. Oh what a fire of love unto Christ was there then enkindled within them. Hence that bold profession which they made of Christ, before the chief priests and elders in Acts chapter 4:
"Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied 'judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For when can not help speaking about what we have seen and heard".
And another example is when they rejoiced, counting themselves worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ, and to be beaten for their owning and preaching of Him in Acts chapter 5:
"They called the Apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The Apostles left the Sanhedrin rejoicing because they had been counted worth of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day in the temple courts, and from house to house they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ".
But where is such love now to be found?
I might speak also of the love of some ancient fathers, Ignatius, Polycarp, Jerome, and others. Take one instance of Jerome, who once expressed his love unto Christ in these words:
"If my father were weeping on his knees before me, my mother hanging on my neck behind me, my brethren, sisters, and kinsfolk - howling on every side to retain me in a sinful course, I would fling my mother to the ground, run over my father, despise all of my kindred and tread them under my feet, that I might run unto Christ".
Accounts of martyrs:
Thomas Haukes
John Hooper
And how little is your love, in comparison to the love of those famous heroes. I mean those imminent martyrs who have despised the flames and endured the rack, in torture deaths of fire, for the love which they bore unto Jesus Christ. The fire of their love burning stronger within them, than the fire around them, in which their bodies were consumed. Is not your love also small, in comparison with the love of our late Reformers, which fired them with such courage and resolution as to withstand a whole world of anti-Christian fury and opposition?
And is your love comparable to even that of many imminent pastors and private Christians, of the age immediately going before ours, who are now asleep in their graves? How few are there that have come up in their place.
It is observed, and it is greatly to be lamented that there is of late - a great decay in the power of godliness among those who are sincere. And is not this decay most evident in the great decay of love, even in true Christians unto Jesus Christ? Are you not dwarfs in comparison to others from past generations, or even in your own generation? Are you not babes in Christ and weaklings in your love to Christ? Is it not evident that you have but little love to Christ, when he is but little in your thoughts and meditations? Does not your lack of thoughts of Christ prove your lack of love? The 'thoughts' are the handmade of love. Where love is strong and ardent, there - many thoughts will be attending upon it. But will not your hearts tell you that your thoughts of Christ are very few. You can think often of your food, but how little do your thoughts feed upon Christ who is the bread of life. You can often think of your clothing and what to wear, but how little do you think of the robes of Christ's righteousness? You can think often of your earthly friends, but how little do you think of Jesus Christ - your friend in Heaven? Objects of sense are often not only in your eyes, but also in your thoughts. But how little is Christ entertained in your thoughts, who is the object of faith?
Moreover, does it not argue of little love to Christ that you speak so little of Him, and for Him, in your conversations? If you had much love to Christ, would not this love breath forth more in your conversations? You can readily speak of yourselves, and you often speak directly or more subtly about yourselves, which reveals your great self-love. But how little to you commend your Lord and Master and extol his excellencies with your lips? Is this not evidence that you have but little love for him in your hearts? You can readily discourse of news and public occurrences (which is lawful and needful as long as due limits are observed), but when you leave Christ quite out of your conversation, it shows that you have not an abundance of love to Him, because "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks". Such as have much love to pleasures; we are often speaking of that subject. Such as love their friends; much will often be speaking of and commending them, when you are not in their company. Which is why, when you speak such little of Christ, it is a sign that you love Him but little.
And likewise, does not the small amount of zeal which you have for Christ's honor in the world, argue that you have but little love to Him? Where is your activity for Christ to promote his interest among those relations and friends that you have made acquaintance with? Do you labor all you can to bring others into the way of God and into acquaintance with Christ? If you truly loved Christ, you would be like the disciple Phillip who sought out his brother Nathaniel, found him and said: "we have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, and about whom the prophets also wrote, Jesus of Nazareth - the son of Joseph".And in the same way, does not the fact that you spend very little time in private bible reading and devotion - argue your small affection unto Christ? Will not your closets or other retiring places witness how little you are in secret prayer and conversation with Christ? Brief and straightened prayer in secret, argues a heart that is brief and straightened in love to Jesus Christ. Does not your backwardness to the exercise of this love to Christ show the weakness of your love?
How slow of heart are you to the love of Christ; how hard to be persuaded. You need not be persuaded to love your wives if they are kind and helpful. You need not be persuaded to love your children if they are pretty and show potential. You need not be persuaded to love your friends if they are friendly and faithful, and yet whatever attractions of love there are, the most strong of any are in Jesus Christ. Yet, you are backward to this love.
Need I say more to convince you that you have but little love to Christ? Will not your own conscience from these clear evidences sufficiently witness the thing? And now Christians, think what a sin, what a shame, what a folly it is, that you should have so little love to Jesus Christ. If it is so great a sin for such as are strangers unto Christ to have no love at all to Him, so that it brings them under the most dreadful curse, surely it cannot be a small sin that you who are His true disciples should have but little love unto Him. Is it not very displeasing unto the father that you should have but little love to his son? If he does not hate you because of your relation unto Christ, yet is He not angry with you for the lukewarmness of your affection unto Christ, which sin is aggravated by the nearness of your relation? Is it not dishonorable to Christ that you should have so little love to Him?
Do you not say by your feelings and actions, in effect - that there is little worth loving in Christ, when you have no great love unto Him? Are you not hereby ungrateful unto Christ, beyond what could be paralleled by any ingratitude unto the most deserving earthly friend? Is it not your shame that you should have so little love to Christ, especially when He so much deserves your love? Besides the infinite excellencies and perfections that are in His person, does not His infinite kindness unto you call for not only the truth, but also the strength of your love? Think what He has done for you. Think what He has suffered for you. Think what He has purchased for you. Think what he has promised to you. Think what He has laid out for you. Think what He has laid up for you. And yet to have but little love to Christ, and to make such poor returns.
Moreover, is it not to your own folly to have but little love to Christ? Do not you here rob yourselves, debarring yourselves of such a peace as passes all understanding, of such sweetness and comfort, both in the strength of your love, and in the sense of His love, as is inconceivable? Is not injury and hurt unto yourselves the consequence of your little love unto Christ? Must you not draw on heavily in the ways of God, as Pharaoh when his chariot wheels were taken off, when you try to serve Christ without love to Christ? Love to Christ is like wheels in your motion; like oil to the wheels which makes you ready unto any good work which he calls you unto. But when you have but little love unto Christ, you will automatically be more slow in your motions, more sluggish in Christ's service. You will not, and you cannot take those pains in the work of the Lord and be as zealous as you might, and should be, for your Master's glory. To conclude, if you have but little love to Christ, you will be apt to faint in the day of adversity, to shrink when you are called to take up his Cross and suffer for His sake. Lesser sufferings will discompose you, greater sufferings will frighten and amaze you, and you will be in danger of turning into fearful apostates in times of great trials. There is need of great love to Jesus Christ, as well as great faith to carry you through sufferings with courage, that you may persevere unto the end.

Now that we are hopefully realing in anguish over the lack of Love that we show towards our Lord I myself will put down somethings that I struggle with and that if anyone who reads this wishes to hold me accountable you have full authority to ask forward, to the point questions about how am I doing.

1. I will resolve to put in a full hard days work, seeking to always stay on target with my bosses business and not my own desires.

2. I will resolve to get my food addiction under control bringing this body into submission for the Glory of God.

3. I will resolve to serve everyone as Jesus showed us how to in the upper room in as much as I am able to do.

4. I resolve to pursue patience, kindness, and will not strive with others to win an argument, but will remain under control as much as I can by the grace of God.

Thank You for taking the time to read this and may you find the words of Thomas Vincent's words encouraging in the sense that they spur you along, and if they fall on deaf ears please repent and throw yourself on God's grace.


Monday, February 20, 2006

What will you buy???????

Then I saw in my dream, that when they were got out of the wilderness, they presently saw a town before them, and the name of that town is Vanity; and at the town there is a fair kept, called Vanity Fair. It is kept all the year long. It beareth the name of Vanity Fair, because the town where it is kept is lighter than vanity, Psa. 62:9; and also because all that is there sold, or that cometh thither, is vanity; as is the saying of the wise, "All that cometh is vanity." Eccl. 11:8; see also 1:2-14; 2:11-17; Isa. 40:17.

This fair is no new-erected business but a thing of ancient standing. I will show you the original of it.

Almost five thousand years ago there were pilgrims walking to the Celestial City, as these two honest persons are: and Beelzebub, Apollyon, and Legion, with their companions, perceiving by the path that the pilgrims made, that their way to the city lay through this town of Vanity, they contrived here to set up a fair; a fair wherein should be sold all sorts of vanity, and that it should last all the year long. Therefore, at this fair are all such merchandise sold as houses, lands, trades, places, honors, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures; and delights of all sorts, as harlots, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not.
And moreover, at this fair there is at all times to be seen jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues, and that of every kind.
Here are to be seen, too, and that for nothing, thefts, murders, adulteries, false-swearers, and that of a blood-red color.
And, as in other fairs of less moment, there are the several rows and streets under their proper names, where such and such wares are vended; so here, likewise, you have the proper places, rows, streets, (namely, countries and kingdoms,) where the wares of this fair are soonest to be found. Here is the Britain Row, the French Row, the Italian Row, the Spanish Row, the German Row, where several sorts of vanities are to be sold. But, as in other fairs, some one commodity is as the chief of all the fair; so the ware of Rome and her merchandise is greatly promoted in this fair; only our English nation, with some others, have taken a dislike thereat.

Now, as I said, the way to the Celestial City lies just through this town, where this lusty fair is kept; and he that will go to the city, and yet not go through this town, "must needs go out of the world." 1 Cor. 4:10. The Prince of princes himself, when here, went through this town to his own country, and that upon a fair-day too; yea, and, as I think, it was Beelzebub, the chief lord of this fair, that invited him to buy of his vanities, yea, would have made him lord of the fair, would he but have done him reverence as he went through the town. Yea, because he was such a person of honor, Beelzebub had him from street to street, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a little time, that he might, if possible, allure that blessed One to cheapen and buy some of his vanities; but he had no mind to the merchandise, and therefore left the town, without laying out so much as one farthing upon these vanities. Matt. 4:8,9; Luke 4:5-7. This fair, therefore, is an ancient thing, of long standing, and a very great fair.

Now, these pilgrims, as I said, must needs go through this fair. Well, so they did; but behold, even as they entered into the fair, all the people in the fair were moved; and the town itself, as it were, in a hubbub about them, and that for several reasons: for,
First, The Pilgrims were clothed with such kind of raiment as was diverse from the raiment of any that traded in that fair. The people, therefore, of the fair made a great gazing upon them: some said they were fools; 1 Cor. 4:9,10; some, they were bedlams; and some, they were outlandish men.

Secondly, And as they wondered at their apparel, so they did likewise at their speech; for few could understand what they said. They naturally spoke the language of Canaan; but they that kept the fair were the men of this world: so that from one end of the fair to the other, they seemed barbarians each to the other. 1 Cor. 2:7,8.
Thirdly, But that which did not a little amuse the merchandisers was, that these pilgrims set very light by all their wares. They cared not so much as to look upon them; and if they called upon them to buy, they would put their fingers in their ears, and cry, "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity," Psa. 119:37, and look upward, signifying that their trade and traffic was in heaven. Phil. 3: 20,21.

One chanced, mockingly, beholding the carriage of the men, to say unto them, "What will ye buy?" But they, looking gravely upon him, said, "We buy the truth."

Are we buying truth or are we chasing after vanity? Jesus told us:

Revelations 3:14-21
14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

Now before someone accuses me of saying that worldly possessions are evil please consider this:

2 Chronicles 1:7-12
7 On that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask! What shall I give you?” 8 And Solomon said to God: “You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place. 9 Now, O LORD God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. 10 Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?” 11 Then God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life—but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king— 12 wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.”

You see God is not opposed to someone being rich, or having an abundance of anything. God Himself says He would grant these things to Solomen because he sought wisdom. The issue was his heart. What was Solomen seeking?

So like Christian and Faithful in the story above when they were asked what will you buy they responded:

We buy Truth.

John 4:24
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 17:17
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

Jesus stands at the door and knocks. What are you going to buy today?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Do You Really Love

Luke 13 :23 23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.

I laid in bed last night and had many topics I wanted to address but this is the one I felt God prompting me to write for the simple fact that Jesus will be exhalted, we will hopefully be stirred and our relationship will grow closer to His Son.

When you hear someone say they have a "personal" relationship with Christ what images does that conjur up in your mind? Someone who walks and talks to Jesus through the day? Maybe it means that we go to church and live a good life trying to let our light shine. Or how about daily readings of our Bibles and lot's of service work. I wish to challenge this thinking a little bit. In the above text we see the disciple whom Jesus loved leaning on His bosom. Now my contention that while service to the King is commanded we are also instructed in the following:

1 Thessalonians 5 : 16-18 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Rejoice means to be fully calm and full of cheer
Pray without ceasing means to supplicate or worship continually
In everything give thanks is to include all manners or things good or bad regardless os situation
For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

While I am in no way trying to downplay any situation we may find ourselves in we must remember to fulfill 1 Thes. 5:16-18.

So what does this have to do with love you ask, well let me illustrate it this way. The disciple that Jesus loved in the above passage is John. What I find great about John is that he is right in Jesus' lap like a little child listening to the Savior's heartbeat. He so loved Jesus that he had to be close to Him. I thought about this passage last night and I thought that although I may seek to serve Jesus in every capacity there comes times when we need to go into our prayer closet's and humble ourselves and lay our heads on Jesus bosom and just weep and worship and praise him with all our being. See the story below.

Luke 10 38Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
40But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Did Jesus love Mary more than Martha? Certainly not but Mary like John needed the savior more than she needed anything else. Mary did not care if the house was dirty or her stomach was hungry she was loving Jesus. Martha was not cast aside nor scorned she was simply reminded to choose the better thing. So my challenge to you today is this. Choose Christ. Love Him, praise Him, listen to his heartbeat and see what He wants. I think you will find that He wants you.

May you throw off those troubles, those busy schedules, and everything that hinders and Worship the King today.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My first rantings

I felt compelled the other day after reading various blogs , that I should likewise jump on the bandwagon and start blogging. The purpose of this blog will be a place where I can spout my 2 cents on life, the church, and bringing God glory in everything. Now as I get to typing and sharing my views I would encourage comments. I am not infallible and therefore I will, I am sure rub some people the wrong way as as I lay out my views in light of Scripture. If you wish to comment on a particular view I ask that you use the Word, rightly divided to correct error. In doing so God's Holy Scripture will be held up and Jesus will be exhalted. I adhere to the following principles.

1.sola fide- justification by faith alone

2. sola Scriptura-Scripture as the only sufficient and infallible rule of faith and practice for the church.

3. sola gratia- salvation solely by divine grace

4. solo Christo-Christ alone as the Head of the church and the sole mediator between God and man

5. soli deo  gloria- Glory to God alone

As I go I will share my testimony as well as others. I want this to be a place where others can come and read how God has moved in my life. So until then welcome, kick back, read on, and hopefully be encouraged.