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Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

Call to Worship October 14 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 19:11-27

“The occasion of our Lord speaking the parable before us, is clear and plain. It was intended to correct the false expectations of the disciples on the subject of Christ’s kingdom. It was a prophetic sketch of things present and things to come — which ought to raise solemn thoughts in the minds of all professing Christians.

We see, for one thing, in this parable — the present position of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is compared to ‘a certain nobleman, who went into a far country, to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return.’

When the Lord Jesus left the world, He ascended up into Heaven as a conqueror, leading captivity captive. He is there sitting at the right hand of God, doing the work of a High Priest for His believing people, and ever making intercession for them. But He will not sit there always. He will come forth from the holy of holies to bless His people. He will come again with power and glory — to put down every enemy under His feet, and to set up His universal kingdom on earth.

At present ‘we do not see all things subjected to Him.’ The devil is the ‘prince of this world.’ (Hebrews 2:8; John 14:30.) But the present state of things shall be changed one day. When Christ returns — the kingdoms of the world shall become His!

Let these things sink down into our minds. In all our thoughts about Christ — let us never forget His second coming. It is well to know that He lived for us, and died for us, and rose again for us, and intercedes for us. But it is also well to know that He is soon coming again for us!

We see, for another thing, in this parable — the present position of all professing Christians. Our Lord compares them to servants who have been left in charge of money by an absent master, with strict directions to use that money well. They are to ‘Put this money to work, until I come back.’

The countless privileges which Christians enjoy, compared to the heathen, are ‘pounds’ given to them by Christ, for which they must one day give account. We shall not stand side by side in the judgment day with the African and Chinese — who never heard of the Bible, the Trinity, and the crucifixion. The most of us, it may be feared, have little idea of the extent of our responsibility. To whoever much is given — of them, much will be required.

Are we living like men who know to whom they are indebted, and to whom they must one day give account? This is the only life which is worthy of a reasonable being. The best answer we can give to those who invite us to plunge into worldliness and frivolity — is the Master’s commandment which is before us. Let us tell them that we cannot consent, because we are looking for the coming of the Lord. We desire to be found working when He comes.

We see, for another thing, in this parable — the certain reckoning which awaits all professing Christians. We are told that when the master returned, he ‘sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.’

There is a day coming when the Lord Jesus Christ shall judge His people, and give to every one according to His works. The course of this world shall not always go on as it does now. Disorder, confusion, false profession, and unpunished sin — shall not always cover the face of the earth. The great white throne shall be set up. The Judge of all shall sit upon it. The dead shall be raised from their graves. The living shall all be summoned to the judgment bar. The books shall be opened. High and low, rich and poor, gentle and simple — all shall at length give account to God, and shall all receive an eternal sentence.

Let the thought of this coming judgment exercise an influence on our hearts and lives. Let us wait patiently when we see wickedness triumphing in the earth. The time is short. There is one who sees and notes down all that the ungodly are doing!

Above all, let us live under an abiding sense, that we shall stand one day at the judgment seat of Christ. Let us ‘judge ourselves’ — that we be not condemned by the Lord. It is a weighty saying, ‘And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books!’ (Revelation 20:12.)

We see, for another thing, in this parable — the certain reward of all true Christians. Our Lord tells us that those who are found to have been faithful servants, shall receive honor and dignity. Each shall receive a reward proportioned to his diligence. One shall be placed ‘over ten cities,’ and another ‘over five.’

The people of God receive little apparent recompense in this present time. Their names are often cast out as evil. They enter the kingdom of God through much tribulation. Their good things are not in this world. The gain of godliness does not consist in earthly rewards — but in inward peace, and hope, and joy in believing. But they shall have an abundant recompense one day. They shall receive wages far exceeding anything they have done for Christ. They shall find, to their amazement — that for everything they have done and borne for their Master, their Master will pay them a hundred-fold!

Let us often look forward to the good things which are yet to come. The ‘sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed.’ (Romans 8:18.) Let the thought of that glory — cheer us in every time of need, and sustain us in every dark hour. Many, no doubt, are ‘the afflictions of the righteous.’ One great remedy for bearing afflictions patiently — is to look forward, like Moses, to the reward. (Psalm 34:19. Hebrews 11:26.)

We see, lastly, in this parable — the certain exposure of all unfaithful professing Christians at the last day. We are told of one servant who had done nothing with his master’s money, but had laid it away in a piece of cloth. We are told of his useless arguments in his own defense, and of his final ruin for not using the knowledge which he confessedly possessed. There can be no mistake as to the people whom he represents. He represents the whole company of the ungodly; and his ruin represents their miserable end in the judgment day.

Let us never forget the final end to which all ungodly people are coming. Sooner or later, the unbeliever and the impenitent will be put to shame before the whole world, stripped of the means of grace and hope of glory — and forever cast down to Hell! There will be no escape at the last day. False profession and formal religion will fail to abide the fire of God’s judgment. Grace, and grace alone — shall stand. Men will discover at last, that there is such a thing as ‘the wrath of the Lamb!’

The excuses with which so many content their consciences now, shall prove unavailing at the judgment bar of Christ. The most ignorant shall find that they had knowledge enough to be their condemnation. The possessors of buried talents and misused privileges will discover at last that it would have been better for them to have never been born.

These are solemn things. Who shall stand in the great day when the Master requires an account of ‘His pounds?’ The words of Peter will form a fitting conclusion to the whole parable, ‘Seeing that you look for such things — be diligent that you may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.’ (2 Peter 3:14.)”

Call to Worship October 7 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 19:1-10

“These verses describe the conversion of a soul. Like the stories of Nicodemus, and the Samaritan woman — the story of Zacchaeus should be frequently studied by Christians. The Lord Jesus never changes. What He did for the man before us — He is able and willing to do for any one of ourselves.

We learn, firstly, from these verses — that no one is too bad to be saved, or beyond the power of Christ’s grace. We are told of a wealthy tax-collector becoming a disciple of Christ. A more unlikely event, we cannot well imagine! We see the ‘camel passing through the eye of a needle,’ and the ‘rich man entering the kingdom of God.’ We behold a plain proof that ‘all things are possible with God.’ We see a covetous tax-collector, transformed into a charitable Christian!

The door of hope which the Gospel reveals to sinners, is very wide open! Let us leave it as open as we find it Let us not attempt in narrow-minded ignorance, to shut it. We should never be afraid to maintain that Christ is ‘able to save to the uttermost’ — and that the vilest of sinners may be freely forgiven, if they will only come to Him. We should offer the Gospel boldly to the worst and wickedest, and say, ‘There is hope. Only repent and believe. Though your sins are like scarlet — I will make them as white as snow! Though they are red like crimson — I will make them as white as wool! (Isaiah 1:18.)

Such doctrine may seem to be foolishness and a license to sin, to worldly people. But such doctrine is the Gospel of Him who saved Zacchaeus at Jericho! Hospitals discharge many severe cases as incurable. But there are no incurable cases under the Gospel! Any sinner may be healed — if he will only come to Christ.

We learn, secondly, from these verses — how little and insignificant are the things on which a soul’s salvation often turns. We are told that Zacchaeus ‘wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.’ Curiosity, and nothing but curiosity — appears to have been the motive of his mind. That curiosity once roused, Zacchaeus was determined to gratify it. Rather than not see Jesus — he ran on before along the road, and ‘climbed up into a sycamore tree.’ Upon that little action, so far as man’s eyes can see — there hinged the salvation of his soul. Our Lord stopped under the tree, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ From that very moment ,Zacchaeus was an altered man. That very night he lay down a Christian.

We must never ‘despise the day of small things.’ (Zechariah 4:10.) We must never reckon anything little, which concerns the soul. The ways by which the Holy Spirit leads men and women to Christ, are astonishing and mysterious. He is often beginning in a heart, a work which shall stand to eternity — when an onlooker observes nothing remarkable.

In every work there must be a beginning, and in spiritual work that beginning is often very small. Do we see a careless person beginning to use means of grace, which in time past he neglected? Do we see him coming to Church and listening to the Gospel, after a long course of Sabbath-breaking? When we see such things, then let us remember Zacchaeus and be hopeful. Let us not look coldly on him, simply because his motives at present are very poor and questionable. Let us believe that it is far better to hear the Gospel out of mere curiosity — than not to hear it at all. Our friend is with Zacchaeus in the tree! For anything we know — he may go further. Who can tell, but that he may one day receive Christ joyfully?

We learn, thirdly, from these verses — Christ’s free compassion towards sinners, and Christ’s power to change hearts. It is impossible to conceive a more striking instance than that before us. Unasked, our Lord stops and speaks to Zacchaeus. Unasked, He offers Himself to be a guest in the house of a sinner. Unasked, He sends into the heart of a tax-collector — the renewing grace of the Spirit, and puts him that very day among the children of God! (Jeremiah 3:19.)

It is impossible, with such a passage as this before us — to exalt the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ too highly. We cannot maintain too strongly, that there is in Him an infinite readiness to receive sinners — and an infinite ability to save sinners. Above all, we cannot hold too firmly — that salvation is not of works, but of grace. If ever there was a soul sought and saved, without having done anything to deserve it — that soul was the soul of Zacchaeus.

Let us grasp these doctrines firmly, and never let them go. Their price is above rubies. Grace, free sovereign grace — is the only thought which gives men peace in a dying hour. Let us proclaim these doctrines confidently to every one to whom we speak about spiritual things. Let us bid them come to Jesus Christ, just as they are — and not wait in the vain hope that they can make themselves fit and worthy to come. Not least, let us tell them that Jesus Christ would come and dwell in their poor sinful hearts — if they would only receive Him. ‘Behold,’ He says, ‘I stand at the door and knock; if any man hears my voice and opens the door — I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me.’ (Revelation 3:20.)

We learn, lastly, from these verses — that converted sinners will always give evidence of their conversion. We are told that Zacchaeus replied, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I give to the poor — and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will restore four times as much.’

There was reality in that speech. There was unmistakable proof that Zacchaeus was a new creature. When a wealthy Christian begins to distribute his riches, and an extortioner begins to make restitution — then we may well believe that old things have passed away, and all things become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17.)

There was decision in that speech. ‘I will give,’ says Zacchaeus — ‘I will restore.’ He does not speak of future intentions. Freely pardoned, and raised from death to life — Zacchaeus felt that he could not begin too soon to show whose he was, and whom he served.

He who desires to give proof that he is a believer, should walk in the steps of Zacchaeus. Like Zacchaeus — let him thoroughly renounce the sins which have formerly most easily entangled him. Like Zacchaeus — let him follow the Christian graces which he has formerly most habitually neglected. In any case, a believer should so live — that all may know that he is a believer.

A faith that does not purify the heart and life — is not saving faith at all. Grace that cannot be seen — like light; and tasted — like salt — is not saving grace, but hypocrisy. The man who professes to know Christ and trust Him, while he cleaves to sin and the world — is going down to Hell with a lie in his right hand! The heart that has really tasted the grace of Christ — will instinctively hate sin.

Let us turn from the whole passage with the last verse ringing in our ears, ‘The Son of man came to seek and save those who are lost.’ It is as a Savior, more than as a Judge — that Christ desires to be known. Let us see that we know Him as such. Let us take heed that our souls are saved. Once saved and converted, we shall say, ‘What shall I render to the Lord, for all His benefits?’ (Psalm 116:12.) Once saved, we shall not complain that self-denial, like that of Zacchaeus, is a grievous requirement.”

Call to Worship September 30 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke
J.C. Ryle Luke 18:35-43
“The miracle described in these verses is rich in instruction. It was one of the great works which witnessed that Christ was sent by the Father. (John 5:36.) But this is not all. It contains also some lively patterns of spiritual things which deserve attentive study.
We see, for one thing, in this passage — the importance of diligence in the use of means. We are told of ‘a certain blind man who sat by the wayside begging.’ He sought the place where his pitiful condition was most likely to attract notice. He did not sit lazily at home, and wait for relief to come to him. He placed himself by the road-side — in order that travelers might see him and give him help.
The story before us, shows the wisdom of his conduct. Sitting by the wayside, he heard that ‘Jesus was passing by.’ Hearing of Jesus — he cried for mercy, and was restored to sight. Let us mark this well! If the blind man had not sat by the wayside that day — he might have remained blind to the hour of his death.
He who desires salvation, should remember the example of this blind man. He must attend diligently on every means of grace. He must be found regularly in those places where the Lord Jesus is especially present. He must sit by the wayside, wherever the Word is read and the Gospel preached, and God’s people assemble together.
To expect grace to be put into our hearts, if we sit idling at home on Sundays, and go to no place of worship — is presumption and not faith. It is true that ‘God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy’ — but it is no less true that He ordinarily has mercy, on those who use the means of grace. It is true that Christ is sometimes ’found by those who seek Him not’ — but it is also true that He is always found by those who really seek Him. The Sabbath breaker, the Bible-neglecter, and the prayerless man — are forsaking their own mercies, and digging graves for their own souls. They are not sitting ‘by the wayside.’
We see, for another thing, in this passage — an example of our duty in the matter of prayer. We are told that when this blind man heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, he ‘he cried out: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ We are told further, that when some rebuked him and told him to be quiet — he would not be silenced, ‘He shouted all the more!’ He felt his need, and found words to tell his story. He was not to be stopped by the rebukes of people who knew nothing of the misery of blindness. His sense of wretchedness, made him go on crying out. And his importunity was amply rewarded. He found what he sought. That very day he received sight.
What the blind man did on behalf of his bodily ailment — it is surely our bounden duty to do on behalf of our souls. Our need is far greater than his. The disease of sin — is far more grievous than the lack of sight. The tongue that can find words to describe the necessities of the body — can surely find words to explain the needs of the soul.
Let us begin praying — if we never prayed before. Let us pray more heartily and earnestly — if we have prayed in times past. Jesus, the Son of David, is still passing by — and He is not far from any of us. Let us cry to Him for mercy, and allow nothing to hinder our crying out. Let us not go down to the pit speechless and silent, without so much as a cry for help. None will be so excuseless at the last day — as baptized men and women who never tried to pray.
We see, for another thing, in this passage — an encouraging instance of Christ’s kindness and compassion. We are told that when the blind man continued crying for mercy, our Lord ‘stopped, and ordered the man to be brought unto Him.’ He was going up to Jerusalem to die, and had weighty matters on His mind — but He found time to stop to speak kindly to this poor sufferer.
Then Jesus asked the man, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord,’ he pleaded, ‘I want to see!’ We are told, ‘Jesus said unto him, receive your sight — your faith has saved you.’ That faith perhaps was weak, and mixed with much imperfection. But it had made the man cry to Jesus, and go on crying in spite of rebukes. So coming with faith — our blessed Lord did not cast him out. The desire of his heart was granted, and ‘immediately he received his sight.’
Passages like these in the Gospels, are intended for the special comfort of all who feel their sins and come to Christ for peace with God. Such people may be sensible of much infirmity in all their approaches to the Son of God. Their faith may be very feeble — their sins may be many and great — their prayers may be very poor and stammering — their motives may be far short of perfection. But after all, do they really come to Christ with their sins? Are they really willing to forsake all other trusts — and commit their souls to Christ’s hands? If this is so — then they may hope and not be afraid. That same Jesus still lives — who heard the blind man’s cry, and granted his request. He will never go back from His own words, ‘Him who comes unto me, I will never cast out.’ (John 6:37.)
We see, lastly, in this passage — a striking example of the conduct which befits one who has received mercy from Christ. We are told that when the blind man was restored to sight, ‘He followed Jesus, glorifying God.’ He felt deeply grateful. He resolved to show his gratitude, by becoming one of our Lord’s followers and disciples. Pharisees might cavil at our Lord. Sadducees might sneer at His teaching. It mattered nothing to this new disciple. He had the witness in himself, that Christ was a Master worth following. He could say, ‘I was blind — and now I see!’ (John 9:25.)
Grateful love is the true spring of real obedience to Christ! Men will never take up the cross and confess Jesus before the world, and live for Him — until they feel that they are indebted to Him for pardon, peace, and hope. The ungodly are what they are — because they have no sense of sin, and no consciousness of being under any special obligation to Christ. The godly are what they are — because they love Him who first loved them, and washed them from sin in His own blood. Christ has healed them — and therefore they follow Christ.
Let us leave the passage with solemn self-inquiry. If we would know whether we have any part or lot in Christ — then let us look at our lives. Whom do we follow? What are the great ends and objects for which we live? The man who has saving faith in Jesus — will always be known by the general bent of his life.”

The Weary Dove Found Rest

Does the gospel-word proclaim
Rest for those who weary be?
Then, my soul, put in thy claim;
Sure that promise speaks to thee.
Marks of grace I cannot show;
All polluted is my breast;
Yet I weary am, I know,
And the weary long for rest.

Burdened with a load of sin;
Harassed with tormenting doubt;
Hourly conflicts from within;
Hourly crosses from without;
All my little strength is gone;
Sink I must without supply;
Sure upon the earth there’s none
Can more weary be than I.

In the ark the weary dove
Found a welcome resting-place;
Thus my spirit longs to prove
Rest in Christ, the Ark of grace.
Tempest-tossed I long have been,
And the flood increases fast;
Open, Lord, and take me in,
Till the storm be overpast.

Gadsby’s Hymns #356
Newton 7s

Call To Worship September 23 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke, J.C. Ryle – Luke 18:18-27

“We learn, secondly, from these verses — what harm one master-sin may do to a soul. The desires which the rich ruler expressed were right and good. He wanted ‘eternal life.’ There seemed at first sight no reason why he should not be taught the way of God, and become a disciple. But there was one thing, unhappily, which he loved better than ‘eternal life.’ That thing was his money. When invited by Christ, to give up all that he had on earth, and seek treasure in Heaven — he had not faith to accept the invitation. The love of money was his master-sin!

Shipwrecks like this are sadly common in the Church of Christ. Few are the ministers who could not put their finger on many cases like that of the man before us. Many are ready to give up everything for Christ’s sake — excepting one darling sin, and for the sake of that sin — they are lost forevermore.

When Herod heard John the Baptist, he ‘heard him gladly and did many things.’ But there was one thing he could not do. He could not part with Herodias. That one thing, cost Herod his soul. (Mark 6:20.)

There must be no reserve in our hearts, if we would receive mercy at Christ’s hands. We must be willing to part with anything, however dear it may be — if it stands between us and our salvation. We must be ready to cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye, to make any sacrifice, and to break any idol. Life, we must remember — eternal life is at stake!

One leak neglected — is enough to sink a mighty ship. One besetting sin, obstinately clung to — is enough to shut a soul out of Heaven. The love of money, secretly nourished in the heart — is enough to bring a man, in other respects moral and irreproachable — down to the pit of Hell!”

Call to Worship September 16 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 18:9-17

“Let us notice, firstly — the sin against which our Lord Jesus Christ warns us in these verses. There is no difficulty in finding this out. Luke tells us expressly, that ‘He spoke this parable to some who were confident of their own righteousness, and looked down on everybody else.’ The sin which our Lord denounces, is ‘self-righteousness.’

We are all naturally self-righteous. It is the family-disease of all the children of Adam. From the highest to the lowest — we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. We secretly flatter ourselves, that we are not as bad as some, and that we have something to merit the favor of God.

We forget the plain testimony of Scripture, ‘We all stumble in many ways.’ ‘Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.’ ‘What is man — that he could be pure; or one born of woman — that he could be righteous?’ ‘There is no one righteous — not even one!’ (James 3:2, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Job 15:14, Romans 3:10)

The true cure for self-righteousness, is self-knowledge. Once let the eyes of our understanding be opened by the Spirit, and we will no longer talk of our own goodness. Once let us see what there is in our own hearts, and what the holy law of God requires — and self-conceit will die. We shall lay our hand on our mouths, and cry with the leper, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ (Leviticus 13:45.)

Let us notice, secondly, in these verses — the prayer of the Pharisee, which our Lord condemns. We read that he said, ‘God, I thank you that I am not as other men are — extortioners, unjust, adulterers — or even as this tax-collector. I fast twice in the week. I give tithes of all I possess.’

One great defect stands out on the face of this prayer — a defect so glaring that even a child might mark it. It exhibits no sense of sin and need. It contains no confession and no petition — no acknowledgment of guilt and emptiness — no supplication for mercy and grace. It is a mere boasting recital of imagined merits, accompanied by an uncharitable reflection on a brother sinner. It is a proud, high-minded profession — destitute alike of penitence, humility, and love. In short, it hardly deserves to be called a prayer at all.

No state of soul can be conceived so dangerous as that of the Pharisee. Never are men’s bodies in such desperate plight — as when disease and insensibility set in. In the same way, never are men’s hearts in such a hopeless condition — as when they are not sensible of their own sins.

He who would not make shipwreck on this rock, must beware of measuring himself by his neighbors. What does it signify that we are more moral than ‘other men?’ We are all vile and imperfect in the sight of God. ‘If we contend with Him — we cannot answer him one in a thousand.’ (Job 9:3.) Let us remember this.

In all our self-examination, let us not test ourselves by comparisons with other men. Let us look at nothing but the requirements of God. He who acts on this principle, will never be a Pharisee.

Let us notice, thirdly, in these verses — the prayer of the tax-collector, which our Lord commends. His prayer was in every respect, the very opposite of that of the Pharisee. We read that he ‘stood afar off, and smote upon his bosom, and said: God be merciful to me, a sinner!’ Our Lord Himself stamps this short prayer with the seal of His approbation. He says, ‘I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other.’

The excellence of the Tax-collector’s prayer consists in five points, each of which deserves attention.

1. For one thing, it was a real petition. A prayer which only contains thanksgiving and profession, and asks nothing — is essentially defective. It may be suitable for an angel — but it is not suitable for a sinner.

2. For another thing, it was a personal prayer. The tax-collector did not speak of his neighbors — but himself. Vagueness and generality are the great defects of most men’s religion. To get out of ‘we,’ and ‘our,’ and ‘us’ — into ‘I,’ and ‘my,’ and ‘me’ — is a great step toward Heaven.

3. For another thing, it was a humble prayer — a prayer which put self in the right place. The tax-collector confessed plainly that he was a sinner. This is the very starting point of saving Christianity. We never begin to be good — until we can feel and confess that we are bad.

4. For another thing, it was a prayer in which mercy was the chief thing desired — and faith in God’s covenant mercy, however weak, was displayed. Mercy is the first thing we must ask for, in the day we begin to pray. Mercy and grace must be the subject of our daily petitions at the throne of grace, until the day we die.

5. Finally, the Tax-collector’s prayer was one which came from his heart. He was deeply moved in uttering it. He smote upon his bosom, like one who felt more than he could express. Such prayers are the prayers which are God’s delight. A broken and a contrite heart, He will not despise. (Psalm 51:17.)

Let these things sink down into our hearts. He who has learned to feel his sins — has great reason to be thankful. We are never in the way of salvation — until we know that we are lost, ruined, guilty, and helpless sinners. Happy indeed is he who is not ashamed to sit by the side of the tax-collector! When our experience tallies with his — we may hope that we have found a place in the family of God.

Let us notice, lastly, in these verses — the high praise which our Lord bestows on humility. He says, ‘Everyone who exalts himself — shall be abased; and he who humbles himself — shall be exalted.’

The principle here laid down is so frequently found in the Bible, that it ought to be deeply engraved in our memories. Three times we find our Lord using the words before us in the Gospels — and on three distinct occasions.

Humility, He would evidently impress upon us — is among the first and foremost graces of the Christian character. It was a leading grace in Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Job, Isaiah, and Daniel. It ought to be a leading grace in all who profess to serve Christ. Not all the Lord’s people have money to give. Not all are called to preach, or write, or fill a prominent place in the church. But all are called to be humble. One grace at least, should adorn the poorest and most unlearned believer. That grace is humility.

Let us leave the whole passage with a deep sense of the great encouragement it affords to all who feel their sins, and cry to God for mercy in Christ’s name. Their sins may have been many and great. Their prayers may seem weak, faltering, unconnected, and poor. But let them remember the tax-collector — and take courage. That same Jesus who commended his prayer — is now sitting at the right hand of God to receive sinners. Then let them hope and pray on.”

Call To Worship September 9 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 18:1-8

“The object of the parable before us, is explained by Christ Himself. To use the words of an old divine, ‘The key hangs at the door.’ ‘Jesus told His disciples a parable, to show them that they should always pray and not give up.’ These words, be it remembered, are closely connected with the solemn doctrine of the second coming, with which the preceding chapter concludes. It is perseverance in prayer, during the long weary intervals between the first and second comings, which Jesus is urging His disciples to keep up. In that interval, we ourselves are standing. The subject therefore is one which ought to possess a special interest in our eyes.

These verses teach us firstly — the great importance of perseverance in prayer. Our Lord conveys this lesson by telling the story of a friendless widow, who obtained justice from a wicked magistrate — by force of sheer importunity. ‘Though I do not fear God, nor regard man,’ said the unjust judge, ‘yet because this widow troubles me, I will see that she gets justice, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’

Our Lord Himself supplies the application of the parable, ‘And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay in helping them?’ If importunity obtains so much from a wicked man — then how much more will it obtain for the children of God — from the Righteous Judge, their Father in Heaven!

The subject of PRAYER ought always to be interesting to Christians. Prayer is the very life-breath of true Christianity. It is in prayer, that true religion begins. It is in prayer, that true religion flourishes. It is in prayer, that it decays. Prayer is one of the first evidences of conversion. (Acts 9:11.) Neglect of prayer, is the sure road to a fall. (Matthew 26:40, 41.) Whatever throws light on the subject of prayer, is for our soul’s health.

Let it then be engraved deeply in our minds, that it is far more easy to begin a habit of prayer, than it is to keep it up. The fear of death, or some temporary piercings of conscience, or some excited feelings — may make a man begin praying, after a fashion. But to go on praying, requires saving faith. We are apt to become weary, and to give way to the suggestion of Satan, that ‘it is of no use.’ And then comes the time when the parable before us ought to be carefully remembered. We must recollect that our Lord expressly told us ‘always to pray — and never give up.’

Do we ever feel a secret inclination to hurry our prayers, or shorten our prayers, or become careless about our prayers, or omit our prayers altogether? Let us be sure, when we do — that it is a direct temptation from the devil. He is trying to sap and undermine the very citadel of our souls, and to cast us down to Hell.

Let us resist the temptation, and cast it behind our backs. Let us resolve to pray on steadily, patiently, perseveringly — and let us never doubt that it does us good. However long the answer may be in coming — still let us pray on. Whatever sacrifice and self-denial it may cost us — still let us pray on. ‘Pray always.’ ‘Pray without ceasing.’ ‘Continue in prayer.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17, Colossians 4:2.) Let us arm our minds with this parable, and while we live, whatever else we make time for — let us make time for prayer.

These verses teach us, secondly — that God has an elect people upon earth, who are under His special care. The Lord Jesus declares that God will ‘avenge His own elect, who cry day and night unto Him.’ ‘I tell you,’ He says, ‘that He will avenge them speedily.’

Election is one of the deepest truths of Scripture. It is clearly and beautifully stated in the seventeenth Article of the Church of England. Election is ‘the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid — He has decreed by His counsel, secret to us — to deliver from curse and damnation, those whom He has chosen in Christ out of mankind — and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation.’ This testimony is true. This is ‘sound speech which cannot be condemned.’ (Titus 2:8.)

Election is a truth which should call forth praise and thanksgiving from all true Christians. Unless God had chosen and called them — they would never have chosen and called on Him. Except He had chosen them of His own good pleasure, without respect to any goodness of theirs — there would never have been anything in them to make them worthy of His choice. The worldly and the carnal-minded may rail at the doctrine of election. The false professor may abuse it, and turn the ‘grace of God into a license for sin.’ (Jude 4.) But the believer who knows his own heart, will ever bless God for election. He will confess that without election — there would be no salvation.

But what are the marks of election? By what tokens shall a man know whether he is one of God’s elect? These marks are clearly laid down in Scripture.

Election is inseparably connected with faith in Christ, and conformity to His image. (Romans 8:29, 30.) It was when Paul saw the working ‘faith,’ and patient ‘hope,’ and laboring ‘love’ of the Thessalonians — that he knew their ‘election of God.’ (1 Thessalonians 1:3, 4.)

Above all, we have a plain mark described by our Lord, in the passage before us. God’s elect are a people who ‘cry unto Him night and day.’ They are essentially a praying people.

No doubt there are many people whose prayers are formal and hypocritical. But one thing is very clear — a prayerless man must never be called one of God’s elect. Let that never be forgotten!

These verses teach us, lastly — that true faith will be found very scarce at the end of the world. The Lord Jesus shows this, by asking a very solemn question, ‘When the Son of Man comes — shall He find faith on the earth?’

The question before us is a very humbling one. It shows the uselessness of expecting that all the world will be converted before Christ comes again. It shows the foolishness of supposing that all people are ‘good,’ and that though differing in outward matters — they are all right at heart, and all going to Heaven. Such notions find no approval in the text before us.

Where is the use, after all, of ignoring facts under our own eyes; facts in the world — facts in the churches — facts in the congregations we belong to — facts by our own doors and firesides?

Where is faith to be seen? How many around us really believe what the Bible contains? How many live as if they believed that Christ died for them — and that there is a coming judgment, a Heaven, and a Hell? These are most painful and serious inquiries. But they demand and deserve an answer.

Have we faith ourselves? If we have — then let us bless God for it. It is a great thing to believe all the Bible. It is matter for daily thankfulness — if we feel our sins, and really trust in Jesus. We may be weak, frail, erring, short-coming sinners — but do we believe? That is the grand question. If we believe — then we shall be saved. But he who does not believe — shall not see life, and shall die in his sins, under God’s wrath. (John 3:36; 8:24.)”

Call To Worship September 2 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 17:22-37

“The subject of these verses is one of particular solemnity. It is the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. That great event, and the things immediately connected with it — are here described by our Lord’s own lips.

We should observe, for one thing, in these verses — what a fearful picture our Lord gives of the state of the professing Church at His second coming. We are told that as it was in the days of Noah, and in the days of Lot — so shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

We are not left to conjecture the character of those days. We are told distinctly, that men were entirely taken up with eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting, building — and would attend to nothing else.

The flood came at last in Noah’s day, and drowned all except those who were in the ark! The fire fell from Heaven at last in Lot’s day — and destroyed all except Lot, his wife, and his daughters. And our Lord declares most plainly, that similar things will happen when He comes again at the end of the world. ‘When they shall say, Peace and safety — then sudden destruction comes upon them!’ (1 Thessalonians 5:3.)

It is hard to imagine a passage of Scripture which more completely overthrows the common notions that prevail among men about Christ’s return. The world will not be converted when Jesus comes again. The earth will not be full of the knowledge of the Lord. The reign of peace will not have been established. The millennium will not have begun. These glorious things will come to pass after the second coming, but not before.

If words have any meaning, the verses before us show that the earth will be full of wickedness and worldliness in the day of Christ’s appearing. The unbelievers and the unconverted will be found to be very many. The believers and the godly, as in the days of Noah and Lot, will be found to be very few.

Let us take heed to ourselves, and beware of the spirit of the world. It is not enough to do as others — and buy, and sell, and plant, and build, and eat, and drink, and marry — as if we were born for nothing else. Exclusive attention to these things may ruin us — as thoroughly as open sin does! We must come out from the world, and be separate. We must dare to be singular. We must escape for our lives, like Lot. We must flee to the ark, like Noah. This alone is safety. Then, and then only — we shall be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger, and avoid destruction when the Son of man is revealed. (Zephaniah 2:3.)

We should observe, for another thing, in these verses — what a solemn warning our Lord gives us against unsound profession. He says to us, in immediate connection with the description of His second coming, ’Remember Lot’s wife!’

Lot’s wife went far in religious profession. She was the wife of a ‘righteous man.’ She was connected through him with Abraham, the father of the faithful. She fled with her husband from Sodom, in the day when he escaped for his life by God’s command. But Lot’s wife was not really like her husband. Though she fled with him — she had left her heart behind her. She willfully disobeyed the strict injunction which the angel had laid upon her. She looked back towards Sodom — and was at once struck dead. She was turned into a pillar of salt, and perished in her sins! Remember her — says our Lord, ‘Remember Lot’s wife!’

Lot’s wife is meant to be a beacon and a warning to all professing Christians. It may be feared that many will be found like her, in the day of Christ’s second coming. There are many in the present day, who go a certain length in religion. They conform to the outward ways of Christian relatives and friends. They speak the ‘language of Canaan.’ They use all the outward ordinances of religion. But all this time, their souls are not right in the sight of God. The world is in their hearts — and their hearts are in the world. And by and bye, in the day of sifting — their unsoundness will be exposed to all the world. Their Christianity will prove rotten at the core. The case of Lot’s wife will not stand alone.

Let us remember Lot’s wife, and resolve to be real in our religion. Let us not profess to serve Christ — for no higher motive than to please husbands, or wives, or masters, or ministers. A mere formal religion like this — will never save our souls. Let us serve Christ for His own sake. Let us never rest until we have the true grace of God in our hearts — and have no desire to look back to the world.

We should observe, lastly, in these verses — what a dreadful separation there will be in the professing Church when Christ comes again. Our Lord describes this separation by a very striking picture. He says, ‘I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken — and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken — and the other left.’

The meaning of these expressions is clear and plain. The day of Christ’s second coming, shall be the day when good and evil, converted and unconverted — shall at length be divided into two distinct bodies. The visible Church shall no longer be a mixed body. The wheat and the tares, shall no longer grow side by side. The good fish and the bad fish, shall at length be sorted into two bodies. The angels shall come forth, and gather together the godly, that they may be rewarded; and leave the wicked behind to be punished!

‘Converted — or unconverted?’ — will then be the only subject of inquiry. It will matter nothing that people have worked together, and slept together, and lived together for many years. They will be dealt with at last, according to the reality of their religion. Those members of the family who have loved Christ, will be taken up to Heaven — and those who have loved the world, will be cast down to Hell. Converted and unconverted shall be separated forevermore, when Jesus comes again.

Let us lay to heart these things. He who loves his relatives and friends, is especially bound to consider them. If those whom he loves are true servants of Christ — then let him know that he must cast in his lot with them, if he would not one day be parted from them forever.

If those whom he loves are yet dead in trespasses and sins — then let him know that he must work and pray for their conversion — lest he should be separated from them for all eternity.

This present life is the only time for such work. Life is fast ebbing away from us all. Partings, and separations, and the breaking up of families — are at all times painful things. But all the separations that we see now — are nothing compared to those eternal separations which will be seen when Christ comes again!”

The Weary Dove

Does the gospel-word proclaim
Rest for those who weary be?
Then, my soul, put in thy claim;
Sure that promise speaks to thee.
Marks of grace I cannot show;
All polluted is my breast;
Yet I weary am, I know,
And the weary long for rest.

Burdened with a load of sin;
Harassed with tormenting doubt;
Hourly conflicts from within;
Hourly crosses from without;
All my little strength is gone;
Sink I must without supply;
Sure upon the earth there’s none
Can more weary be than I.

In the ark the weary dove
Found a welcome resting-place;
Thus my spirit longs to prove
Rest in Christ, the Ark of grace.
Tempest-tossed I long have been,
And the flood increases fast;
Open, Lord, and take me in,
Till the storm be overpast.

Gadsby’s Hymns #356
Newton 7s

Call to Worship August 26 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 17:11-21

“Let us mark, firstly, in this passage — how earnestly men can cry for help, when they feel their need of it. We read that as our Lord entered into a certain village — ten men who were lepers met Him. It is difficult to conceive any condition more thoroughly miserable, than that of men afflicted with leprosy. They were cast out from society. They were cut off from all society with their fellows. The men described in the passage before us appear to have been truly sensible of their wretchedness. They ‘stood afar off’ — but they did not stand idly doing nothing. They called out in a loud voice: ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’

They acutely felt the deplorable state of their bodies. They found words to express their feelings. They cried earnestly for relief, when a chance for relief appeared in sight.

The conduct of the ten lepers is very instructive. It throws light on a most important subject in practical Christianity, which we can never understand too well. That subject is PRAYER.

How is it that many never pray at all? How is it that many others are content to repeat a form of words — but never pray with their hearts? How is it that dying men and women, with souls to be lost or saved — can know so little of real, hearty, sincere prayer?

The answer to these questions is short and simple. The bulk of mankind have no sense of sin. They do not feel their spiritual disease. They are not conscious that they are lost, and guilty, and hanging over the brink of Hell! When a man finds out his soul’s ailment — then he soon learns to pray. Like the leper, he finds words to express his need. He cries for help.

How is it, again, that many true believers often pray so coldly? What is the reason that their prayers are so feeble, and wandering, and lukewarm — as they frequently are?

The answer once more, is very plain. Their sense of need is not as deep as it ought to be. They are not truly alive to their own weakness and helplessness — and so they do not cry fervently for mercy and grace. Let us remember these things. Let us seek to have a constant and abiding sense of our real necessities. If saints could only see their souls, as the ten afflicted lepers saw their bodies — then they would pray far better than they do.

Let us mark, secondly, in these verses — how help meets men in the path of obedience. We are told that when the lepers cried to our Lord — He only replied, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ He did not touch them and command their disease to depart. He prescribed no medicine, no washing, no use of outward material means. Yet healing power accompanied the words which He spoke. Relief met the afflicted company as soon as they obeyed His command. ‘As they went — they were cleansed of their leprosy.’

A fact like this is doubtlessly intended to teach us knowledge. It shows us the wisdom of simple, childlike obedience to every word which comes from the mouth of Christ.

It does not befit us to stand still, and reason, and doubt — when our Master’s commands are plain and unmistakable. If the lepers had acted in this way — then they would never have been healed.

We must read the Scriptures diligently. We must try to pray. We must attend on the public means of grace. All these are duties which Christ requires at our hands, and to which, if we love life — we must attend, without asking vain and critical questions. It is just in the path of unhesitating obedience — that Christ will meet and bless us. ‘Whoever has My commands and obeys them — he is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father — and I too will love him and show Myself to him.’ (John 14:21.)

Let us mark, lastly, in these verses — what a rare thing is thankfulness. We are told that of all the ten lepers whom Christ healed, there was only one who turned back and gave Him thanks. The words that fell from our Lord’s lips upon this occasion are very solemn, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?’

The lesson before us is humbling, heart-searching, and deeply instructive. The best of us are far too like the nine lepers. We are more ready to pray — than to praise; and more disposed to ask God for what we have not — than to thank Him for what we have.

Murmurings, and complainings, and discontent abound on every side of us. Few indeed are to be found who are not continually hiding their mercies under a bushel — and setting their needs and trials on a hill. These things ought not so to be — but all who know the ways of mankind, must confess that they are true. The wide-spread thanklessness of Christians is the disgrace of our day. It is a plain proof of our little humility.

Let us pray for a daily thankful spirit. It is the spirit which God loves and delights to honor. David and Paul were eminently thankful men. It is the spirit which has marked all the brightest saints in every age of the church. It is the spirit which is the very atmosphere of Heaven. Angels and ‘just men made perfect’ are always praising God. It is the spirit which is the source of happiness on earth. If we would not be anxious — then we must make our requests known to God — not only with prayer and supplication, but with thanksgiving. (Philippians 4:6.)

Above all, let us pray for a deeper sense of our own sinfulness, guilt, and undeserving. This, after all, is the true secret of a thankful spirit. It is the man who daily feels his debt to grace, and daily remembers that in reality, he deserves nothing but Hell — this is the man who will be daily thanking and praising God. Thankfulness is a flower which will never bloom well — except upon a root of deep humility!”