Showing the state of our nation in the light of God’s Holy Word

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SPIRITUAL DECLENSION

Solemn words by J. C. Philpot in 1853 – based upon Joel 1

Where in our day, with all this material prosperity, is real religion and vital godliness, which are the evidence of grace? Does it flourish? Is the church, the Lamb’s wife, growing in grace and in knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do ministers preach with power and savour? Is God deeply feared, are His promises firmly believed, are His precepts carefully obeyed and His ordinances highly prized. Is His Word dearly loved, His honour and glory earnestly sought? Are those who profess the truth humble, prayerful, watchful and spiritually minded? Are they walking as living witnesses for God and testifying to an ungodly world that they are children and servants of the Most High? Is the line of separation between the church and the world clear and distinct? And does she shine forth, “fair as the moon, clear as the sun and terrible as an army with banners”(S of S 6:10)?

Who can say it is so? Who can say of the church that she is flourishing and that her prosperity runs parallel with that of the world? We may rather take up Joel’s lament in verses 10 – 12 of the chapter we read, “The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted; the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl O ye vine dressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished. The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree even all the trees of the field are withered”.

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THE MIDDLE YEARS

O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years.

Habakkuk 3:2

The middle of anything is generally its weakest point, and middle years are years of particular danger. More and more, society has turned its attention to the problems people face in their middle years. The work of God faces its own peculiar difficulties in its middle years, and Habakkuk was led to pray that it might be revived at that time. The trouble with the middle years is that zeal tends to diminish while worldliness creeps in. Prosperity can lead to complacency, and God’s people lose the vision of a world perishing in sin.

Habakkuk shows us that the work is still God’s in the midst of the years. He prays, “Revive thy work in the midst of the years.” Because the work is still God’s, it demands the same level of faithfulness as at the beginning. Many people support the work when it is in its exciting initial stages and then lie back and become discouraged when it settles down.

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LONGING FOR REVIVA

“Where be all His miracles which our fathers told us of?”

Judges 6:13

Christians should never despise the day of small things. We tend to look for the extraordinary and discount the ordinary, but this is wrong. God’s ordinary dealings in and through His people are worthy of our deepest gratitude. People saved here and there through the normal ministry of the church are just as truly saved as those saved in revival, and their salvation is just as much a miracle of grace.

Yet we cannot be indifferent to the need for revival. We have read in Scripture and in church history of the great outpourings of the Holy Spirit. We have thrilled at the record of the powerful revelation of the majesty of God, causing men to fall under great conviction of sin and to cry for mercy through Christ. As we have read, we have yearned to see the working of His Spirit. We are grateful for every token of the Lord’s presence as we worship and serve, but we long to see greater things than we have yet seen. Where are the mighty works of grace our fathers have described?

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“STAND THEREFORE”

By: Mr. B. A. Ramsbottom

It seems remarkable that when the Lord describes the Heavenly armour, He mentions the girdle before anything else. “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth” (Eph. 6:14). Why should this be so?
The purpose of the girdle was to fasten up long-flowing garments. Before anything of effort or importance (e.g. Israel on the Passover night), it was necessary to “gird up the loins” – otherwise you might trip, or stumble, or fall, certainly not stand. Hence the exhortation before breastplate, shield, sword, to “bind the golden girdle round thee” (as Hart expresses it).
So this expression of “girding up the loins” is often used in a figurative way in Scripture. For instance:
“Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning. And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately” (Luke 12:35,36).
“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13).
The golden girdle is truth. Apart from this there can be no “girding up the loins” and no “standing.” There must be a vital, personal acquaintance with the truth.

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