Flower

John Permitted Jesus’ Purpose

Jesus Arrived For Baptism – Matthew 3:13-17

Call To Worship April 15 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 11:37-54

“Let us notice, secondly, in this passage — the foolishness which accompanies hypocrisy in religion. We are told that the Pharisee with whom our Lord dined, marveled that our Lord “had not first washed before dinner.” He thought, like most of his order — that there was something unholy in not doing it, and that the neglect of it was a sign of moral impurity. Our Lord points out the absurdity of attaching such importance to the mere cleansing of the body — while the cleansing of the heart is overlooked. He reminds His host that God looks at the inward part of us — the hidden man of the heart, far more than at our skins.

And He asks the searching question, “Did not He who made the outside — make also that which is inside?” The same God who formed our poor dying bodies — is the God who gave us a heart and soul.

Forever let us bear in mind that if we would know what we are in religion — the state of our hearts is the principal thing that demands our attention. Bodily washings, and fastings, and gestures, and postures, and self-imposed mortifications of the flesh — are all utterly useless, if the heart is wrong. External devoutness of conduct, a grave face, and a bowed head, and a solemn countenance, and a loud amen — are all abominable in God’s sight — as long as our hearts are not washed from their wickedness, and renewed by the Holy Spirit. Let this caution never be forgotten.

The idea that men can be devout before they are converted, is a grand delusion of the devil, and one against which we all need to be on our guard. There are two Scriptures which are very weighty on this subject. In one it is written, “Out of the heart are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23.) In the other it is written, “Man looks on the outward appearance — but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7.) There is a question which we should always ask ourselves in drawing near to God, whether in public or private. We should say to ourselves, “Where is my heart?”

Let us notice, thirdly, in this passage — the gross inconsistency which is often exhibited by hypocrites in religion. We read that our Lord says to the Pharisees, “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs — but you neglect justice and the love of God.” They carried to an extreme, their zeal to pay tithes for the service of the temple — and yet they neglected the plainest duties towards God and their neighbors. They were scrupulous to an extreme about small matters in the ceremonial law — and yet they were utterly regardless of the simplest first principles of justice to man and love toward God.

In the one direction, they were rigidly careful to do even more than was needful. In the other direction, they would do nothing at all. In the secondary things of their religion, they were downright zealots and enthusiasts. But in the great primary things, they were no better than the heathen!

The conduct of the Pharisees in this matter, unhappily, does not stand alone. There have never been lacking religious professors who have exalted the secondary things of Christianity, far above the primary things. And in their zeal for the secondary things — they have finally neglected the essential things entirely. There are thousands at the present day who make a great ado about daily services, and keeping Lent, and a gorgeous ceremonial, and other religious rituals — but never get any further. They know little or nothing of the great practical duties of humility, charity, meekness, spiritual-mindedness, Bible reading, private devotion, and separation from the world. They plunge into every gaiety with greediness. They are to be seen at every worldly assembly and amusement — at the race, the opera, the theater, and the ball. They exhibit nothing of the mind of Christ in their daily life. What is all this but walking in the steps of the Pharisees?

Well says the wise man, “There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9.) The generation which tithed mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs — but neglect justice and the love of God — is not yet extinct!

Let us watch and pray that we may observe a scriptural proportion in our religion. Let us beware of putting the secondary things out of their place — and so by degrees, lose sight of the essential things entirely. Whatever importance we attach to the ceremonial part of Christianity — let us never forget its great practical duties. The religious teaching which inclines us to pass over the great practical duties of the Gospel — has something about it which is radically defective.”

Regeneration & Retribution

Call to Worship April 8 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke
J.C. Ryle Luke 11:14-20

“Let us notice, secondly, in these verses — the amazing power of prejudice over the hearts of unconverted men. We read, that when our Lord cast out the mute spirit, there were some who said, “He casts out devils through Beelzebub, the chief of the devils!” They could not deny the miracle. They then refused to allow that it was wrought by divine power. The work before their eyes was plain and indisputable. They then attempted to discredit the character of Him who did the miracle, and to blacken His reputation by saying that he was in league with the devil.
The state of mind here described is a most formidable sin — and sadly, it is very common. There are never lacking people who are determined to see no good in the servants of Christ, and to believe all kind of evil reports about them. Such people appear to throw aside their common sense. They refuse to listen to evidence, or to attend to plain arguments. They seem resolved to believe that whatever a Christian does must be wrong — and whatever he says must be false! If he does right at any time — then it must be from corrupt motives! If he speaks truth — then it must be with sinister views! If he does good works — then it is from selfish reasons! If he casts out devils — then it is through the power of Beelzebub!

Such prejudiced people are to be found in many a congregation. They are the severest trials of the ministers of Christ. It is no wonder that Paul said, “Pray that we may be delivered from unreasonable as well as wicked men.” (2 Thessalonians 3:2.)

Let us strive to be of a fair, and honest, and candid spirit in our judgment of men and things in religion. Let us be ready to give up old and cherished opinions, the moment that anyone can show us a “more excellent way.” The honest and good heart is a great treasure. (Luke 8:15.)

A prejudiced spirit is the very jaundice of the soul. It affects a man’s mental eyesight, and makes him see everything in an unnatural color. From such a spirit, may we pray to be delivered!”

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke
J.C. Ryle Luke 11:20-26
“Let us observe in these verses — what a fearful picture our Lord draws of Satan’s power. There are four points in His description, which are peculiarly instructive.

Christ speaks of Satan as a “STRONG man.” The strength of Satan has been only too well proved by his victories over the souls of men. He who tempted Adam and Eve to rebel against God, and brought sin into the world — he who has led captive the vast majority of mankind, and robbed them of Heaven — that evil one is indeed a mighty foe! He who is called the “Prince of this world” — is not an enemy to be despised. The devil is very strong.

Christ speaks of Satan as a “strong man, fully ARMED.” Satan is well supplied with defensive armor. He is not to be overcome by slight assaults, and feeble exertions. He who would overcome him, must put forth all his strength. “This kind only goes out by prayer and fasting.” And Satan is also well supplied with offensive weapons. He is never at a loss for means to injure the soul of man. He has snares of every kind — and devices of every description. He knows exactly how every rank, and class, and age, and nation, and people — can be assailed with most advantage. The devil is well armed.

Christ speaks of man’s heart as being Satan’s “palace.” The natural heart is the favorite abode of the evil one, and all its faculties and powers are his servants, and do his will. He sits upon the throne which God ought to occupy, and governs the inward man. The devil is the “spirit that works in the children of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:2.)

Christ speaks of Satan’s “goods being at PEACE.” So long as a man is dead in trespasses and sin — so long is his heart at ease about spiritual things. He has no fear about the future. He has no anxiety about his soul. He has no dread of falling into Hell.”

All this is a FALSE PEACE no doubt. It is a sleep which cannot last, and from which there must be one day a dreadful waking. But there is such a peace beyond question. Thoughtless, stolid, reckless insensibility about eternal things — is one of the worst symptoms of the devil reigning over a man’s soul.

Let us never think lightly of the devil. That common practice of idle jesting about Satan which we may often mark in the world, is a great evil. A prisoner must be a very hardened man, who jests about the executioner and the gallows. The heart must be in a very bad state — when a man can talk with levity about Hell and the devil.

Let us thank God that there is One who is stronger even than Satan. That One is the Friend of sinners — Jesus the Son of God. As mighty as the devil is — he was overcome by Jesus on the cross, when He triumphed over him openly. As strong as the devil is — Christ can pluck his captives out of his hands, and break the chains which bind them. May we never rest until we know that deliverance by experience, and have been set free by the Son of God!

awakening

Call to Worship April 1, 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke
J.C. Ryle Mark 15:39-47
“Let us notice, lastly in this passage, what honor our Lord Jesus Christ has placed on the grave, by allowing Himself to be laid in it. We read that he was “laid in a sepulcher hewn out of a rock,” and a “stone rolled unto the door.”

This is a fact that in a dying world we should always remember. It is appointed unto men once to die. We are all going to one place, and we naturally shrink from it. The coffin and the funeral, the worm and corruption, are all painful subjects. They chill us, sadden us, and fill our minds with heaviness. It is not in flesh and blood to regard them without solemn feelings. One thing, however, ought to comfort believers, and that is the thought, that the grave is “the place where they Lord once lay.” As surely as He rose again victorious from the tomb, so surely shall all who believe in Him rise gloriously in the day of His appearing. Remembering this, they may look down with calmness into the “house appointed for all living.” They may recollect that Jesus himself was once there on their behalf, and has robbed death of his sting. They may say to themselves, “the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law — but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:56, 57.)

The great matter that concerns us all, is to make sure that we are spiritually buried with Christ, while we are yet alive. We must be joined to Him by faith, and conformed to His image. With Him we must die to sin, and be buried by baptism into His death. (Rom. 6:4.) With Him we must rise again and be quickened by His Spirit. Except we know these things, Christ’s death and burial will profit us nothing at all.”

Turn, Turn!

Call To Worship March 25 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 11:5-13

“In these verses, our Lord Jesus Christ instructs us about prayer. The subject is one which can never be too strongly pressed on our attention. Prayer lies at the very root of our practical Christianity. It is part of the daily business of our Christian life. We have reason to thank God, that upon no point has our Lord Jesus Christ spoken so fully and frequently, as upon prayer.

We learn for one thing, from these verses — the importance of perseverance in prayer. This lesson is conveyed to us in the simple parable, commonly called the ‘Friend at Midnight.’…The application of the parable is clear and plain. If importunity succeeds so well, between man and man — then how much more may we expect it to obtain mercies, when used in prayer to God….The lesson is one which we shall do well to remember. It is far more easy to begin a habit of prayer, than to keep it up.

The secret thought comes stealing over men’s minds, that ‘it is no use to pray.’ They see no visible benefit from it. They persuade themselves that they get on just as well without prayer. Laziness and unbelief prevail over their hearts, and at last they altogether ‘diminish prayer before God.’ (Job 15:4.)

Let us resist this feeling, whenever we feel it rising within us. Let us resolve by God’s grace, that however poor and feeble our prayers may seem to be — we will pray on. It is for a very good reason that the Bible tells us so frequently — to ‘watch unto prayer,’ to ‘pray without ceasing,’ to ‘continue in prayer,’ to ‘pray always, and not to faint,’ to be ‘constant in prayer.’ These expressions all look one way. They are all meant to remind us of a danger, and to quicken us to a duty.

The time and way in which our prayers shall be answered, are matters which we must leave entirely to God. But we need not doubt that every petition which we offer in faith, shall certainly be answered. Let us lay our matters before God again and again, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. The answer may be long in coming, as it was in the cases of Hannah and Zachariah. (1 Samuel 1:27; Luke 1:13.) But though it tarries, let us pray on and wait for it. At the right time, it will surely come and not tarry.

We learn, for another thing, from these verses — how wide and encouraging are the promises which the Lord Jesus holds out to prayer. The striking words in which they are clothed are familiar to us if any are in the Bible, ‘Ask — and you shall receive; seek — and you shall find; knock — and it shall be opened unto you.’ The solemn declaration which follows, appears intended to make assurance doubly sure, ‘Everyone who asks — receives, and he who seeks — finds, and to him who knocks — it shall be opened.’ The heart-searching argument which concludes the passage, leaves faithlessness and unbelief without excuse, ‘If you being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children — then how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.’

There are few promises in the Bible so broad and unqualified as those contained in this wonderful passage. The last in particular, deserves special notice. The Holy Spirit is beyond doubt the greatest gift which God can bestow upon man. Having this gift, we have all things — life, truth, hope and Heaven. Having this gift — we have God the Father’s boundless love, God the Son’s atoning blood, and full communion with all three Persons of the blessed Trinity. Having this gift — we have grace and peace in the present world — and glory and honor in the world to come. And yet this mighty gift is held out by our Lord Jesus Christ, as a gift to be obtained by prayer! ‘Your heavenly Father shall give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.’”

Brood Of Vipers