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Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

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!”

Call to Worship August 19 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke, J.C. Ryle – Luke 17:5-10

“Let us notice, in these verses — the important request which the apostles made. They said unto the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’

We do not know the secret feelings from which this request sprang. Perhaps the hearts of the apostles failed within them, as they heard one weighty lesson after another fall from our Lord’s lips. Perhaps the thought rose up in their minds, ‘Who is sufficient for these things? Who can receive such exalted doctrines? Who can follow such a lofty standard of practice?’ These, however, are only conjectures. One thing, at any rate, is clear and plain. The request which they made was most deeply important, ’Increase our faith!’

Faith is the root of all saving religion. ‘He who comes unto God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.’ (Hebrews 11:6.) Faith is the hand by which the soul lays hold on Jesus Christ, and is united to Him, and saved. Faith is the secret of all Christian comfort, and spiritual prosperity. According to a man’s faith — will be his peace, his hope, his strength, his courage, his decision, and his victory over the world. When the apostles made request about faith, they did wisely and well.

Faith is a grace which admits of degrees. It does not come to full strength and perfection as soon as it is planted in the heart by the Holy Spirit. There is ‘little’ faith — and ‘great’ faith. There is ‘weak’ faith — and ‘strong’ faith. Both are spoken of in the Scriptures. Both are to be seen in the experience of God’s people. The more faith a Christian has — the more happy, holy, and useful will he be. To promote the growth and progress of faith — should be the daily prayer and endeavor of all who love the Savior. When the apostles said, ‘increase our faith’ — they did well.

Have we any faith at all? This, after all, is the first question which the subject should raise in our hearts. Saving faith is not mere repetition of the creed, and saying, ‘I believe in God the Father, and in God the Son, and in God the Holy Spirit.’ Thousands are weekly using these words — who know nothing of saving faith. The words of Paul are very solemn, ‘Not everyone has faith.’ (2 Thessalonians 3:2.) True faith is not natural to man. It comes down from Heaven — it is the gift of God.

If we have any faith, then let us pray for more of it. It is a bad sign of a man’s spiritual state when he is satisfied to live on old stock, and does not hunger and thirst after growth in grace. Let a prayer for more faith form part of our daily devotions. Let us covet earnestly the best gifts. We are not to despise ‘the day of small things’ in a brother’s soul — but we are not to be content with it in our own soul.

Let us notice, for another thing, in these verses — what a heavy blow our Lord gives to self-righteousness. He says to His apostles, ‘So when you have done everything you were told to do — you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’‘

We are all naturally proud and self-righteous. We think far more highly of ourselves, our deserts, and our character — than we have any right to do. Self-righteousness is a subtle disease, which manifests itself in a hundred different ways. Most men can see it in other people — but few see it in themselves. Seldom will a man be found, however wicked — who does not secretly flatter himself that there is somebody else worse than he is. Seldom will a Christian be found, who is not at seasons tempted to be satisfied and pleased with himself. There is such a thing as a pride — which wears the cloak of humility. There is not a heart upon earth which does not contain a piece of the Pharisee’s character!

To give up self-righteousness, is absolutely needful to salvation. He who desires to be saved, must confess that there is no good thing in him — and that he has no merit, no goodness, no worthiness of his own. He must be willing to renounce his own righteousness, and to trust in the righteousness of another — even Christ the Lord.

Once pardoned and forgiven, we must travel the daily journey of life under a deep conviction that we are ‘unprofitable servants.’ At our best — we are only doing our duty, and have nothing to boast of. And even when we do our duty, it is not by our own power and might that we do it — but by the strength which is given to us from God. We have no claim upon God — we have no right to expect anything good from God. We have no worthiness to deserve anything from God. All the good that we have — we have first received. Anything good that we are — we owe to God’s sovereign, distinguishing grace!

What is the true cause of self-righteousness? How is it that such a poor, weak, erring creature as man — can ever dream of deserving anything at God’s hands? It all arises from ignorance. The eyes of our understandings are naturally blinded. We see neither ourselves, nor our lives, nor God, nor the law of God — as we ought. Once let the light of grace shine into a man’s heart — and the reign of self-righteousness is over! The roots of pride may remain, and often put forth bitter shoots. But the reign of pride is broken when the Spirit comes into the heart — and shows the man himself and God.

The true Christian will never trust in his own goodness. He will say with Paul, ‘I am the chief of sinners!’ ‘God forbid that I should glory — except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!’ (1 Timothy 1:15; Galatians 6:14.)”

Call to Worship August 12 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 16:19-31

“We learn, firstly, from this parable — that a man’s worldly condition is no test of his state in the sight of God. The Lord Jesus describes to us two men — of whom one was very rich, and the other very poor. The one ‘fared sumptuously every day.’ The other was a mere ‘beggar,’ who had nothing that he could call his own. And yet of these two, the poor man had grace — and the rich man had none. The poor man lived by faith, and walked in the steps of Abraham. The rich man was a thoughtless, selfish worldling — dead in trespasses and sins.

Let us never give way to the common idea that men are to be valued according to their income, and that the man who has most money is the one who ought to be the most highly esteemed. There is no authority for this notion in the Bible. The general teaching of Scripture is flatly opposed to it. ‘Not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble — are called.’ (1 Corinthians 1:26.) ‘Let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him who glories glory in this — that he knows and understands me.’ (Jeremiah 9:24.)

Wealth is no mark of God’s favor. Poverty is no mark of God’s displeasure. Those whom God justifies and glorifies — are seldom the rich of this world. If we would measure men as God measures them — then we must value them according to their grace.

We learn, secondly, from this parable — that death is the common end to which all classes of mankind must come. The trials of the ‘beggar,’ and the sumptuous faring of the ‘rich man’ — alike ceased at last. There came a time when both of them died. ‘All go to one place.’ (Ecclesiastes 3:20.)

Death is a great fact that all acknowledge — but very few seem to ponder. Most men eat, and drink, and talk, and plan — as if they were going to live upon earth forever. The true Christian must be on his guard against this spirit. ‘He who would live well,’ said a great divine, ‘should often think of his last day, and make it his company-keeper.’ Against murmuring, and discontent, and envy — in the state of poverty; and against pride, and self-sufficiency, and arrogance — in the possession of wealth — -there are few better antidotes, than the remembrance of death. ‘The beggar died’ — and his bodily needs were at an end. ‘The rich man died’ — and his feasting was stopped for evermore.

We learn, thirdly, from this parable — that the souls of believers are especially cared for by God in the hour of death. The Lord Jesus tells us that when the beggar died he ‘was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom.’

There is something very comforting in this expression. We know little or nothing of the state and feelings of the dead. When our own last hour comes, and we lie down to die — we shall be like those who journey into an unknown country. But it may satisfy us to know that all who fall asleep in Jesus, are in good keeping. They are not houseless, homeless wanderers between the hour of death and the day of resurrection. They are at rest in the midst of friends — with all who have had like faith with Abraham. They have no lack of anything. And, best of all, Paul tells us that they are ‘with Christ.’ (Philippians 1:23.)

We learn, fourthly, from this parable — the reality and eternity of Hell. The Lord Jesus tells us plainly, that after death the rich man was ‘in Hell — tormented with fire.’ He gives us a fearful picture of his longing for a drop of ‘water to cool his tongue,’ and of ‘the gulf’ between him and Abraham, which could not be passed.

There are few more dreadful passages perhaps in the whole Bible, than this one. And let it be remembered, that He from whose lips it came, was one who delighted in mercy!

The certainty and endlessness of the future punishment of the wicked, are truths which we must hold fast and never let go. From the day when Satan said to Eve, ‘You shall not surely die!’ there never have been lacking men who have denied them. Let us not be deceived. There is a Hell for the impenitent — as well as a Heaven for believers. There is a wrath to come for all who ‘do not obey the Gospel of Christ.’ (2 Thessalonians 1:8.) From that wrath — let us flee to the great hiding-place, Jesus Christ the Lord. If men find themselves ‘in torment’ at last — it will not be because there was no way to escape.

We learn, fifthly, from this parable — that unconverted men find out the value of a soul, after death — when it is too late. We read that the rich man wanted Lazarus to be sent to his five brethren who were yet alive, ‘lest they also should come to the place of torment.’ While he lived, he had never done anything for their spiritual good. They had probably been his companions in worldliness — and, like him, had neglected their souls entirely. When he is dead he finds out too late — the folly of which they had all been guilty, and desires that, if possible, they might be called to repentance.

The change that will come over the minds of unconverted men after death, is one of the most fearful points in their future condition. They will see, and know, and understand a hundred things to which they were obstinately blind while they were alive. They will discover that, like Esau, they have bartered away eternal happiness — for a mere bowl of stew. There is no infidelity, or skepticism, or unbelief — after death! It is a wise saying of an old divine, that ’Hell is nothing more than truth known too late!’

We learn, lastly, from this parable — that the greatest miracles would have no effect on men’s hearts, if they will not believe God’s Word. The rich man thought that ‘if one went to his brethren from the dead — they would repent.’ He argued that the sight of one who came from another world must surely make them feel their need of forgiveness — though the old familiar words of Moses and the prophets had been heard in vain. The reply of Abraham is solemn and instructive, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets — then neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.’

The principle laid down in these words, is of deep importance. The Scriptures contain all that we need to know in order to be saved — and a messenger from the world beyond the grave could add nothing to them. It is not ‘more evidence’ which is needed in order to make men repent — but more heart and will to make use of what they already know.

If the ‘dead’ rose from their graves to instruct us — they could tell us nothing more than the Bible already contains. After the first novelty of their testimony was worn away — we would care no more for their words, than the words of any other.

This wretched waiting for something which we have not, and neglect of what we already have — is the ruin of thousands of souls. Faith, simple faith in the Scriptures which we already possess — is the first thing needful to salvation. The man who has the Bible, and can read it, and yet waits for more evidence before he becomes a decided Christian — is only deceiving himself. Unless he awakens from his delusion, he will die in his sins, and be forever in the torments of Hell.”