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Archive for January, 2011

John Newton:

I am not what I ought to be. Ah, how imperfect and deficient!

I am not what I wish to be. I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good!

I am not what I hope to be. Soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection.

Yet, though I am not what I ought to be,
nor what I wish to be,
nor what I hope to be,
I can truly say, I am not what I once was;
a slave to sin and Satan;
and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge,
‘By the grace of God I am what I am.’

HT: Spurgeon

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Praying through good times

At the end of Mark 6, Jesus is at the height of his “popularity.”  He has just feed thousands of people. The crowds are at their peak. In fact, there is serious talk of making him king with the hope of throwing the yoke of Rome off Israel’s back.  So what does Jesus do?

He intentionally and persuasively dismisses the crowds, sends his best followers away, and goes to a mountain alone to pray all night.

What was Jesus praying?  Well, it’s likely he was praying along two lines. First, offering Himself to the Father again, reaffirming His calling as the Son, as the Servant of Yahweh, rather than as would-be freedom fighter against Rome.  He is communing with the Father and drawing strength for this opportune time that Satan may be setting this trap―the trap of popularity. When at the height of his fame, Jesus knows he needs to stay on his knees.

A famous Old Testament scholar of past years, George Adam Smith, once climbed the Weisshorn above the Zermat Valley in Switzerland with his guide on a stormy day. They made the ascent on the sheltered side, and when they reached the top, exhilarated by the thought of the view before him and the triumph of having attained the summit, but forgetting about the gale, Smith sprang to the top of the peak and was almost blown over the edge by the wind. His guide grabbed him and pulled him down. “On your knees!” he shouted. “You are only safe here on your knees!” (James Hastings, ed. The Speaker’s Bible).

Just so! Though Christ was one with the Father, he lived in constant prayer, and in times of crisis he took to the mountain or the garden―and to his knees. We can reverently say it was the only “safe” place for Christ, and indeed for us. For what did Jesus pray? He prayed he would live out his mission.

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“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

–Theodore Roosevelt, 26th U.S. President, 1901-1909

 

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O for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free,
A heart that always feels Thy blood
So freely shed for me.

A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer’s throne,
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.

A humble, lowly, contrite, heart,
Believing, true and clean,
Which neither life nor death can part
From Christ who dwells within.

A heart in every thought renewed
And full of love divine,
Perfect and right and pure and good,
A copy, Lord, of Thine.

Thy tender heart is still the same,
And melts at human woe:
Jesus, for thee distressed I am,
I want Thy love to know.

My heart, Thou know’st, can never rest
Till Thou create my peace;
Till of mine Eden repossest,
From self, and sin, I cease.

Fruit of Thy gracious lips, on me
Bestow that peace unknown,
The hidden manna, and the tree
Of life, and the white stone.

Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart;
Come quickly from above;
Write Thy new name upon my heart,
Thy new, best name of Love.

–Charles Wesley

 

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He saw them!

“And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them.” (Mark 6:47)

Jesus is on the mountain praying to His Father, a prayer of consecration and a prayer of intercession. He is praying no doubt for his disciples who are out in the middle of a storm on the Sea of Galilee.  “He saw them!”  How?  Was it mere physical sight?  How could this be if it was storming out on the lake, if the winds were blowing so furiously?  If it were the middle of the night? If they were some three or four miles offshore?   I believe this is omniscience.  Divine knowledge of all things.  He saw them!  What a comfort! And He sees us as we encounter the headwinds of life as well.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. ” (Psalm 139:11–12).

“Wherever we might be or whatever our circumstances are, the LORD Jesus sees them.  Alone or in company―in sickness or in health―by sea or by land, in perils in the city in the country,  the same eye which saw the disciples tossed on the lake, is ever looking at us. We are never beyond the reach of His care. Our way is never hidden from Him. He knows the path that we take, and is still able to help. He may not come to our aid at the time we like best, but He will never allow us utterly to fail. He who walked upon the water never changes. He will always come at the right time to uphold His people. Though He tarry, let us wait patiently. Jesus sees us, and will not forsake us.”–J. C. Ryle

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No more boasting

No more, my God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done;
I quit the hopes I held before,
To trust the merits of Thy Son.

Now, for the love I bear His Name,
What was my gain I count my loss;
My former pride I call my shame,
And nail my glory to His cross.

Yes, and I must and will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus’ sake:
O may my soul be found in Him,
And of His righteousness partake!

The best obedience of my hands
Dares not appear before Thy throne;
But faith can answer Thy demands
By pleading what my Lord has done.

–Issac Watts

 

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What does God want?

“Do you realize that God wants to own the affections of your heart?”–Brian Hedges

Many of us will go to worship this day with the people of God, with Christ’s church.  As we do, let’s remember God doesn’t just want our time, our attention, our service, or our singing. He wants our hearts!

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