Flower

Call to Worship December 17 2017

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 8:16-21

“We learn, secondly, from these verses — the great importance of right hearing. The words of our Lord Jesus Christ ought to impress that lesson deeply on our hearts. He says, “Take heed how you hear!”

The degree of benefit which men receive from all the means of grace — depends entirely on the way in which they use them.

Private PRAYER lies at the very foundation of religion. Yet the mere formal repetition of a set of words, when “the heart is far away” — does good to no man’s soul.

Reading the BIBLE is essential to the attainment of sound Christian knowledge. Yet the mere formal reading of so many chapters as a task and duty, with out a humble desire to be taught of God — is little better than a waste of time.

Just as it is with praying and Bible reading — so it is with hearing the Word preached. It is not enough that we go to Church and hear sermons. We may do so for fifty years, and “be nothing bettered, but rather worse.” “Take heed,” says our Lord, “how you hear!”

Would anyone know how to hear aright? Then let him lay to heart three simple rules:

For one thing, we must hear with FAITH — believing implicitly that every word of God is true, and shall stand forever. The Word in old time did not profit the Jews, “not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” (Hebrews 4:2.)

For another thing, we must hear with REVERENCE — remembering constantly that the Bible is the book of God. This was the habit of the Thessalonians. They received Paul’s message, “not as the word of men — but the Word of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13.)

Above all, we must bear with PRAYER — praying for God’s blessing before the sermon is preached, and praying for God’s blessing again when the sermon is over.

Here lies the grand defect of the hearing of many. They ask no blessing — and so they have none. The sermon passes through their minds like water through a leaky vessel, and leaves nothing behind!

Let us bear these rules in mind every Sunday morning, before we go to hear the Word of God preached. Let us not rush into God’s presence in a careless, reckless, and unprepared manner — as if it did not matter in what way such work was done. Let us carry with us faith, reverence, and prayer. If these three are our companions — then we shall hear with profit, and return with praise.”

Proper Praise in the Gospel of Luke

Call To Worship December 10 2017

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 8:4-15

“The parable of the sower, contained in these verses, is reported more frequently than any parable in the Bible. It is a parable of universal application. The things it relates are continually going on in every congregation to which the Gospel is preached. The four kinds of hearts it describes are to be found in every assembly which hears the word. These circumstances should make us always read the parable with a deep sense of its importance. We should say to ourselves, as we read it — “This concerns me. My heart is to be seen in this parable. I, too, am here.”

The passage itself requires little explanation. In fact, the meaning of the whole picture is so fully explained by our Lord Jesus Christ, that no exposition of man can throw much additional light on it. The parable is preeminently a parable of caution, and caution about a most important subject — the way of hearing the word of God. It was meant to be a warning to the apostles, not to expect too much from hearers. It was meant to be a warning to all ministers of the Gospel, not to look for too great results from sermons. It was meant, not least, to be a warning to hearers, to take heed how they hear. Preaching is an ordinance of which the value can never be overrated in the Church of Christ. But it should never be forgotten, that there must not only be good preaching, but good hearing.”

A Baby or a King?

Call To Worship December 3 2017

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 7:40-50

We see in this passage that men may show some outward respect to Christ, and yet remain unconverted. The Pharisee before us is a case in point. He showed our Lord Jesus Christ more respect than many did. He even “desired Him that He would eat with him.” Yet all this time he was profoundly ignorant of the nature of Christ’s Gospel. His proud heart secretly revolted at the sight of a poor contrite sinner being allowed to wash our Lord’s feet. And even the hospitality he showed appears to have been cold and [miserly]…It is quite possible to have a decent form of religion, and yet to know nothing of the Gospel of Christ — to treat Christianity with respect, and yet to be utterly blind about its cardinal doctrines — to behave with great correctness and propriety at Church, and yet to hate justification by faith, and salvation by grace, with a deadly hatred. Do we really feel affection toward the Lord Jesus?…Are we willing to enter heaven side by side with the chief of sinners, and to owe all our hopes to free grace?

We see, lastly, in this passage, that a sense of having our sins forgiven is the mainspring and life-blood of love to Christ. This, beyond doubt, was the lesson which our Lord wished Simon the Pharisee to learn, when He told him the story of the two debtors. “One owed his creditor five hundred pence, and the other fifty.” Both had “nothing to pay,” and both were forgiven freely. And then came the searching question — “Which of them will love him most?” Here was the true explanation, our Lord told Simon, of the deep love which the penitent woman before Him had displayed….Her love was the effect of her forgiveness — not the cause — the consequence of her forgiveness, not the condition, the result of her forgiveness, not the reason — the fruit of her forgiveness, not the root. Would the Pharisee know why this woman showed so much love? It was because she felt much forgiven. Would he know why he himself had shown his guest so little love? It was because he felt under no obligation — had no consciousness of having obtained forgiveness — had no sense of debt to Christ….Forever let the mighty principle laid down by our Lord in this passage, abide in our memories, and sink down into our hearts. It is one of the great corner-stones of the whole Gospel.

Test Of Faith

Call To Worship, November 26 2017

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 7: 24-30

“The first point that demands our notice in this passage, is the tender care which Jesus takes of the characters of His faithful servants. He defends the reputation of John the Baptist, as soon as his messengers were departed. He saw that the people around him were apt to think lightly of John, partly because he was in prison, partly because of the inquiry which his disciples had just brought. He pleads the cause of His absent friend in warm and strong language. He bids His hearers dismiss from their minds their unworthy doubts and suspicions about this holy man. He tells them that John was no wavering and unstable character, a mere reed shaken by the wind. He tells them that John was no mere courtier and hanger-on about king’s palaces, though circumstances at the end of his ministry had brought him into connection with king Herod. He declares to them that John was ‘much more than a prophet,’ for he was a prophet who had been the subject of prophecy himself. And he winds up his testimony by the remarkable saying, that ‘among those that are born of woman there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist.’”

Attack The Messenger!

Call To Worship November 19 2017

Luke 7:1-10
“We should notice, secondly, in this passage, the HUMILITY of the centurion. It appears in his remarkable message to our Lord when He was not far from his house — ‘I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof — neither thought I myself worthy to come unto you.’ Such expressions are a striking contrast to the language used by the elders of the Jews. ‘He is worthy,’ said they, ‘for whom you should do this.’ ‘I am not worthy,’ says the good centurion, ‘that you should enter under my roof.’

Humility like this is one of the strongest evidences of the indwelling of the Spirit of God. We know nothing of humility by nature, for we are all born proud. To convince us of sin, to show us our own vileness and corruption, to put us in our right place, to make us lowly and self-abased — these are among the principal works which the Holy Spirit works in the soul of man. Few of our Lord’s sayings are so often repeated as the one which closes the parable of the Pharisee and Tax-collector — ‘Every one that exalts himself shall be abased, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.’ (Luke 18:14.) To have great gifts, and do great works for God, is not given to all believers. But all believers ought to strive to be clothed with humility.”

J. C. Ryle Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

Psalms

“Many of the Fathers have loved and praised the book of Psalms above all other books of the Bible. No books of moral tales and no legends of saints which have been written, or ever will be, are to my mind as noble as the Book of Psalms; and if my purpose were to choose the best of all the edificatory books.. and to have them assembled and presented in the best possible way, my choice would inevitably fall on our present Book.

“In it we find what all saints do — their attitude to God, to their friends, to their foes; and their manner of life and behavior in face of manifold dangers and sufferings. Above all this, the book contains divine and helpful doctrines and commandments of every kind. It should be precious to us if only because it most clearly promises the death and resurrection of Christ, and describes his kingdom, and the nature and standing of all Christian people. It could well be called a “little Bible” since it contains, set out in the briefest and most beautiful form, all that’s to be found in the whole Bible, a book of good examples from among the whole of Christendom and from among the saints, in order that those who could not read the whole Bible through would have almost the whole of it in summary form.

“The Book of Psalms has other excellencies: it preserves, not the trivial and ordinary things said by the saints, but their deepest and noblest utterances, those which they used when speaking in full earnest and all urgency to God.It not only tells what they say about their work and conduct, but also lays bare their hearts and the deepest treasures hidden in their souls: and this is done in such a way which allows us to contemplate the causes and the sources of their words and works.

“The human heart is like a ship on a stormy sea driven about by winds blowing from all four corners of heaven. The Book of Psalms is full of heartfelt utterances made during storms of this kind. Where can one find nobler words to express joy than in the Psalms of praise or gratitude? In them you can see into the hearts of saints as if you were looking at a lovely pleasure-garden, or were gazing into heaven. How fair and charming and delightful and the flowers you will find there..

“It is therefore easy to understand why the Book of Psalms is the favorite book of all the saints. For every man on every occasion can find in it Psalms which fit his needs, which he feels to be as appropriate as if they had been set there just for his sake. In no other book can he find words to equal them, nor better words… Place the Book of Psalms in front of you; you will see your own self in it, for here is the true “know thyself,” by which you can know yourself as well as the God who created all things.

“To this end, may we be helped by the Father of all grace and mercy through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be praise and thanks, honor and glory.”

from Martin Luther, 1528 Preface to the Psalms.