Peace … like the Chicago River?

A. H. Strong, in a 1905 sermon in London shared this:

How shall I, how shall society, find healing and Purification within? Let me answer by reminding you of what they did at Chicago.

In all the world there was no river more stagnant and fetid than was Chicago River. Its sluggish stream received the sweepings of the watercraft and the offal of the city, and there was no current to carry the detritus away. There it settled, and bred miasma and fever.

At last it was suggested that, by cutting through the low ridge between the city and the Des Plaines River, the current could be set running in the opposite direction, and drainage could be secured into the Illinois River and the great Mississippi. At a cost of fifteen millions of dollars the cut was made, and now all the water of Lake Michigan can be relied upon to cleanse that turbid stream.

What the Chicago River could never do for itself, the great lake now does for it. So no human soul can purge itself of its sin; and what the individual cannot do, humanity at large is powerless to accomplish.

Sin has dominion over us, and we are foul to the very depths of our being, until with the help of God we break through the barrier of our self-will, and let the floods of Christ’s purifying life flow into us. Then, in an hour, more is done to renew, than all our efforts for years had effected. Thus humanity is saved, individual by individual, not by philosophy, or philanthropy, or self-development, or self-reformation, but simply by joining itself to Jesus Christ, and by being filled in Him with all the fulness of God.

*Thanks to Tony Reinke for posting this great quote [and embedded link] a few weeks ago.

Limitless forgiveness

He who has fled for refuge to a Savior’s wounds looks out from his high watch-tower, and limitless forgiveness spreads before him.

This grace proceeds alone from God. All His acts are steeped in heavenly infinity. When then He forgives, He forgives like a God — fully, without measure, without restraining boundary.

Let it be granted that sins overtop the heights of heaven; forgiveness soars unspeakably above their summit. Let sins exceed the sea’s innumerable sands; forgiveness outnumbers the total mass.

Henry Law
Forgiveness of Sins

Languish no more

For a week or two now, a cold has been dampening my spirits (especially in the mornings). Yet, thankfully, in this morning’s devotional reading I was reminded how the redeeming work of the Lord is a great source of inner joy for His people, regardless of external circumstances. And so it is! My heart warms at the remembrance of what the Lord has done for me! Joy comes again!

Look with me at Jeremiah 31 (emphasis added) — 

10 “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’ 11 For the Lord has ransomed Jacob and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. 12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more. 13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. 14 I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the Lord.” (esv)

Do you know this joy of redemption? Has the Lord drawn you to Himself in a saving way? Then a response of praise should flow from your heart at the thought of all He has done for you!

pdb

“Peace in believing”

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing…”
(Romans 15:13a, ESV)

Peace is readily available to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. A fantastic analogy is given in an eloquent sermon by the great Thomas Chalmers

Should a powerful and offended neighbor, under the threats of whose resentment I had I had been living for months in fearful insecurity; should he send to my door an offer of reconciliation, it is not difficult to understand how, at the moment of my reliance upon the truth and honesty of this offer, I would be at rest. Nor would it at all disturb the peacefulness of my heart, that I were given to know that the proposed friendship was only yet mine in offer, and not mine in possssion, till I had perform certain conditions which I knew to be easily practicable. It would not, for example, abate the joy of the announcement, that I was told of an intended call on the part of my relenting adversary, and that I must give him a courteous reception, and stretch out my hand as the token of my having accepted his overture; and that then what was now mine in offer, would be come mine in possession also.

If I consented to all this, and felt not merely the possibility, but the perfect ease of it, I would not postpone my gladness till the hour of the expected visit. On my faith in the reality and integrity of the offer, I would consider my before formidable enemy to be now my placid and my attached friend. An instantaneous peace would arise in my bosom nor would I wait the coming formalities of reconciliation ere I threw aside the burden of my disquietude.

Thomas Chalmers, “Peace in Believing”
in Precious Seed: Discourses by Scottish Worthies

Read this again, slowly, and find profit for your own faith, and in believing find much joy!

pdb

Ash Wednesday anyone?

Today brings us Ash Wednesday — which is 40 days prior to Easter (not counting Sundays). It’s generally simply a Roman Catholic observance, and few other groups treat it as a holy day. I wonder how many RCC adherents understand what they are doing on such “holy days” and if they realize such behaviors create no saving merit before God. The Bible clearly points explains salvation comes to men by grace alone through faith alone — not by works, lest any should boast (see Eph. 2:8-9).

While I do NOT advocate any outward observance of Ash Wednesday, I do wonder what there is to learn from the day.

First some further explanation…. On Ash Wednesday, many folks go to a special service and receive the mark of the cross on their forehead, made with ashes. The ashes come from the burning of the Palm Sunday palms leaves. The mark is left there for the day.

Why do this? Most simply say “it’s the beginning of Lent” — the 40 days before Easter. Others know that (since the middle ages) the service and the ashes are about confession and repentance for sins. Typically, penitential psalms are read (ie, Psalm 51), and individuals are called to fast during the day, as they confess their sins before God.

Why use ashes? In the Bible, when one was truly repentant before God, they would dress in sackcloth and toss ashes on their head as symbols of spiritual sorrow, grief and repentance — ever since Job repented “in dust and ashes” (42:6), and as described in the preaching of Jesus (Matt. 11:21). Usually, such Scriptures are cited as the ashes are applied: “Remember, O man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” or “Repent, and believe the Gospel.” So ashes should remind men of their mortality (you are going to die), and the consequences of their sin.

What might we learn here?

First, know that these Ash Wednesday rituals are NOT prescribed for us in the Bible, and were not practiced in the early church. They are (by and large) the rituals of religious folk, who are trying to earn their way to heaven. Like most rituals, they can (and have) become traditions without much inward meaning, and usually just fuel superstition (the use of “special ashes”). I recommend you steer clear of such things! [If you see someone with ashes on their head, I hope you engage them in conversation, and discuss their understanding of what they’re doing and why!].

Yet… while we should avoid the ritual, we ought to ponder the original purposes behind it. God’s Word does command us to repent and take account of the wages of sin (death). Kingdom entrance as well as Christian living depends on your turning from sin (repentance), to the Savior, in faith. True Christians do their repenting daily: Take up your cross and follow Christ! (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23). We should “face our mortality” every day the Lord gives us life and breath (cf: Lam. 3).

I would see some spiritual profit in our finding occasions for extended introspection, confession and contrition. Perhaps we could (and should?) do some of this as Good Friday and Easter approach…

pdb

Foundation for peace

Without justification it is impossible to have real peace. Conscience forbids it. Sin is a mountain between a man and God, and must be taken away. The sense of guilt lies heavy on the heart, and must be removed. Unpardoned sin will murder peace. The true Christian knows all this well. His peace arises from a consciousness of his sins being forgiven, and his guilt being put away. His house is not built on sandy ground. His well is not a broken cistern, which can hold no water. He has peace with God, because he is justified.”

~ J.C. Ryle

Old Paths, “Justification”, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1999], 215.

Don’t be easily offended!

Kevin DeYoung’s post is worth reading in its entirety.
Here’s a snippet (prepared by Justin Taylor):

As Christians, we worship a victimized Lord. We should expect to suffer and should have particular compassion on those who hurt emotionally and physically. But we do not resemble the Suffering Servant when we take pains to show off our suffering. I’m not thinking of the Brit Hume ordeal now. I’m just thinking in general how we are tempted to gain the culture’s approval by playing the culture’s offense-taking game. If a law is broken or a legitimate right taken away, let us protest with passion. But if we are misunderstood or even reviled let’s not go after short-lived and half-hearted affirmation by announcing our offendedness for the world to hear. Every time we try to make hay out of misplaced calumnies, we hasten the demise of Christianity in the public square. As offendedness becomes the barometer of acceptable discourse, we can expect further marginalization of Christian beliefs.

(emphasis added)
pdb

Brit Hume offers Tiger Woods hope… in Christ

While the mainstream media spotlights Tiger Woods’ affairs and troubles, and while others “throw stones” here is Fox News commentator, and professing Christian, BRIT HUME discussing his advice to Tiger: flee to Christ for forgiveness. The video clip is HERE at YouTube.

Amen!
pdb

(Thanks to follow blogger Russ Gaippe for pointing me to this).