Going home

“Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:1-2

Jesus is heard to say “you will be going home.” The spiritual author Octavius Winslow reflects on these verses in his Morning & Evening Thoughts for December 31st….
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GOING home! what a soothing reflection! what an ecstatic prospect! The heart throbs quicker—the eye beams brighter—the spirit grows elastic—the whole soul uplifts its soaring pinion, eager for its flight, at the very thought of heaven. “I go to prepare a place for you,” was one of the last and sweetest assurances that breathed from the lips of the departing Savior; and though uttered eighteen hundred years ago, those words come stealing upon the memory like the echoes of by-gone music, thrilling the heart with holy and indescribable transport. Yes! He has passed within the veil as our Forerunner; He has prepared heaven for us, and by His gentle, wise, and loving discipline He is preparing us for heaven.”

Enough that God is my Father, my Sun, and Shield; that He will give grace and glory, and will withhold no good and needed thing. Enough that Christ is my Portion, my Advocate, my Friend, and that, whatever else may pass away, His sympathy will not cease, His sufficiency will not fail, nor His love die. Enough that the everlasting covenant is mine, and that that covenant, made with me, is ordered in all things, and sure. Enough that heaven is my rest, that towards it I am journeying, and that I am one year nearer its blessed and endless enjoyment.”

Excerpt From: “The Works of Octavius Winslow” iBooks (ePub) edition*

*Available free (on 12/31/13) in ePub or .mobi formats at Monergism.

The temporal trumps the eternal?

Thomas Manton writes:

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“Alas, in general, things temporal work more upon us than things eternal, and the things visible than things invisible. A small matter will prove to be a temptation, and a little pleasure or profit will greatly motivate us. We do not have half the seriousness in spiritual things as in earthly. Surely men do not cherish heaven, since they labor and care for it so little. Alas! They live as if they have never heard of such a thing, or do not believe what they hear, since every toy and trifle is preferred before it. If a poor man understood that some great inheritance was bequeathed to him, would he not often think of it, and rejoice in it, and long to take possession of it? The promise of eternal life is left with us in the gospel, but who puts in for a share? Who longs for it? Who takes hold of it? Who gives all diligence to make it sure? Who desires to go and see it? O, that I might be dissolved, and be with Christ! If these hopes have so little an influence on us, it is a sign we do not cherish them more in our hearts.”

Thoughts on the Presidential Election

Like so many I was stunned and saddened by the election results on Tuesday night. And I am terribly sad not because my choice for office lost but because of the awful repercussion the re-election of such a liberal administration will bring to our land. Actions have consequences; elections have consequences.

Insightful analysis is made by Dr Al Mohler here; let me share a few excerpts with you (emphasis added).

Evangelical Christians must see the 2012 election as a catastrophe for crucial moral concerns. The election of President Obama returns a radically pro-abortion President to the White House, soon after he had endorsed same-sex marriage. President Obama is likely to have the opportunity to appoint one or more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, and they are almost sure to agree with his constitutional philosophy. …
Clearly, we face a new moral landscape in America, and huge challenge to those of us who care passionately about these issues. We face a worldview challenge that is far greater than any political challenge, as we must learn how to winsomely convince Americans to share our moral convictions about marriage, sex, the sanctity of life, and a range of moral issues. This will not be easy. It is, however, an urgent call to action.

Christians must now pray for our President, he also reminds us, citing 1 Timothy 2:1-2. You can read all of Dr Mohler’s thoughts here. (Some have labeled the election in even stronger spiritual terms, such as Tom Chantry at his blog).

Wednesday night at our church prayer meeting, I wanted to address these concerns, and move beyond political language and context. So I shared two verses from the Bible, from Isaiah 3:10-11. This was the text chosen by the puritan Thomas Watson for his farewell sermon, when hundreds of “non-conformist” pastors were ejected from their churches in 1662. This passage of Scripture gives clear words of encouragement for the righteous, and, words of woe for the wicked.

“10 Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them,
for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds.
11 Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him,
for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.”

Those who are walking uprightly, by the mercy and grace of the Lord, have much for which to be thankful! And horrible circumstances around us cannot change that. Our God also gave us Romans 8:28 in the New Testament, to emphasize His sovereignty and His good designs for His people in all circumstances. Yet, evidently, believers must be told these things. Repeatedly.

This text from Isaiah 3 also puts forward a warning to the wicked, to those who do not walk rightly with their God – such as those who destroy life in the womb, and who boldly promote immorality as marriage, etc. Things will not go well for you, says the Lord. There will be an accounting.

The New Testament text to keep in mind here, for Americans and people everywhere, is from Galatians 6:7-10

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Amen.
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UPDATE: Further post-election help for Christians (“Dear Post-Election Self, Reading this letter, you know which man will reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next four years….”) can be found from Colin Hanson here.

Do not poison your concept of Heaven

Is your understanding of Heaven poisoned by self-centeredness? In one of the most helpful books on Heaven and Hell, Edward Donnelly writes that

“Heaven does not exist primarily for our sake. Its main purpose is not to make us happy, to offer us a selection of pleasures, or to provide for us an eternity of well-being. It will do all these things… but that is not why God created heaven and it is not why he will bring heaven to its glorious consummation at the return of Christ. Heaven exists for God’s own glory. It is essential that this be absolutely clear before we move on. If it is not, our whole concept of heaven will be poisoned by self-centeredness. We will have a degraded perspective, interested in heaven only for what we hope to get our of it. And that is profoundly wrong.”

Amen.

Quoted from:
Edward Donnelly, HEAVEN AND HELL,
Banner of Truth Trust, 2001,
page 77 (emphasis added).

Ryle: Do not be cast down over sickness

You need not be cast down by sickness. The eternal part of you is safe and provided for, whatever happens to your body. You may well look calmly on death. It opens a door between you and your inheritance. You may well not sorrow exclusively over the things of the world – over partings and bereavements – over losses and crosses. The day of gathering is before you. Your treasure is beyond reach of harm. Heaven is becoming every year more full of those you love, and earth more empty. Glory in your inheritance. It is all yours if you are a children of God. “If we are children, then we are heirs.”

~ J.C. Ryle

Life without dismay

The venerable old J. C. Ryle observed,

The person who has Christ, has life. They can look around them on the temporary things and see change and decay on every side without dismay. They have got treasure in heaven, which neither rust nor moth can corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal. They can look forward to the things eternal and feel calm and composed. Their Savior has risen, and gone to prepare a place for them. When they leave this world they shall have a crown of glory, and be forever with their Lord. They can look down even into the grave, as the wisest Greeks and Romans could never do, and say, “Oh, death, where is your sting? Oh, grave, where is your victory?”

We shall thank God for every storm

“If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other men. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory to the end – all this our Savior has promised to give. But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. He loves us too well to promise that.

By affliction He teaches us many precious lessons, which without it we should never learn. By affliction He shows us our emptiness and weakness, draws us to the throne of grace, purifies our affections, weans us from the world, makes us long for heaven. In the resurrection morning we shall all say, ‘it is good for me that I was afflicted.’ We shall thank God for every storm.”

~ J.C. Ryle
in Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Mark 4:35-41), Banner of Truth Trust

My Memorial Day Prayer

Almighty God, our Father in heaven — 
As we gather on this Memorial Day, we bow our heads and thank you, Lord, for pouring out your great mercy and your amazing grace upon America. We have been blessed, perhaps more than any other nation in the history of world — and we acknowledge Your hand in all of this.

Yet these blessings — of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — have not been received or maintained without a price, a price so often paid by members of our armed forces with their blood and with their lives. We gather this day to remember their sacrifice, to honor their service and to cherish our legacy of freedom.

Lord, may Your grace and peace be with every family that has lost loved ones in the service of our country. May we support them, and stand with them.

Lord protect and preserve each & every American soldier, sailor, marine and airman serving our country at this dangerous hour of world history.

Finally, remind us Lord, that freedom must still be guarded, and that each generation much share in paying its price. May we be sobered and challenged by the words of George Washington (from his first inaugural address): “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are … deeply, perhaps finally staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the the American people.”

On this Memorial Day, Lord, we humbly ask for Your blessing upon all gathered here, and upon our great country.

This I pray, in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

The Return of Jesus Christ!

God’s Word, the Bible, clearly says that no man knows the time of the return of Jesus (verses below, linked to their ESV context). Thus it is folly, rebellion and sin to declare a date for the Second Coming of Jesus. I fear the shameful pronouncements of men who set dates will only serve to increase the skepticism of unbelievers, seduce (and later shame) those who are duped, and, discourage many Christians striving to spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus.

But TRUTH will prevail. It is not derailed by mischievous men. THE TRUTH: Jesus will return. The Bible clearly says (for all to read, without secret formulas), that the same Jesus who once walked this earth will return here, as King and Lord of all. And every knee will bow to Him.

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only…. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. — Jesus, in Matthew 24:36, 44

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.Acts 1:7

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.1 Thess. 4:16

…so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:28

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14

While on this day, May 21st, I shake my head in sadness, my heart is steadfast in the truth. And I long for Jesus to return, end the folly and sin — and then make all things new! If you are a true Christian, one who loves Jesus and His Word, then you too must long for that day, though we know not its date.

~ pdb

Christians as sojourners on earth…

Fellow believer, this world is not our home. The psalmist declares, “I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!” (Ps. 119:19). Puritan Thomas Manton’s sermon on this text lists several reasons for this “strangers on earth” mindset by Christians. Let me summarize them for you…

(1) They are born elsewhere — born from above, by the Spirit of God! 1st John 5:4a says, For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And 2nd Peter 1:4 says, …he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. Heaven, not the USA, is our native country.

(2) Their inheritance lies in heaven. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” declares Eph. 1:3. The best that our heavenly Father has for His spiritual children is held for us there, not here. In somewhat coarse language Manton tells us why, “Here God will show his bounty to all his children; it is a common inn, where sons and bastards are entertained; a place of trial, not of recompense, God’s footstool, not His throne (Isa. 66:1).”

(3) All our spiritual kindred are there in heaven. Manton writes, “There is our Father, it is His house… and there is our elder brother [Christ].” And, there are our spiritual brothers and sisters who have gone on ahead. See Col. 3:1; Matt. 8:11.

(4) There they abide the longest. All the time we spend here on earth is “but a night” compared to the time we will spend there in heaven. This place is not our final resting place (Micah 2:10); rather — like saints of old — we seek a continuing city, a heavenly city (Heb. 11:16). See also James 4:14.

There is more to say, but this should suffice for us to hold fast the title of pilgrim and press on to our true home — where, because of Jesus Christ, our Father will welcome us as His own! ” Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Heb 11:16b).

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