“Where be all His miracles which our fathers told us of?”
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?
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.
What is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth
for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
These words are most frequently used to warn sinners of the urgent necessity for them to get right with God. They certainly should make every careless soul think of the brevity of life, the certainty of death, and the solemnity of eternity. If you come to this day still in your sins, you should stop and consider this word from God. You know the gospel. You know you should call upon the Lord to have mercy upon you. You know that tomorrow it may be too late for you to call. Call upon Him today and you will find that He will have mercy and will abundantly pardon (Isa. 55:7).
Yet James originally directed these words to Christians. They had become very careless about spiritual things. They were consumed with the here and now, this life with its pleasures and profits. They took time for granted and made their plans as if they wore certain to be around for a long time.
Is that not how all too many of us live? We need to take James’s rebuke seriously and personally. We need to grasp again some basic facts. First, our hold on life is very tenuous. Second, at best our life will be brief. Third, in this brief life what matters is not where we have travelled or what we have gained, but how we have responded to the will of God.
In the light of these things, how does your life measure up? What is your life? What motivates it? What has it accomplished? ‘The Lord asks the questions, and He will have honest answers.
Rev Alan Cairns
(From ‘Eagles’ Wings’– Daily Devotions)
The business of our lives is not to
please ourselves but to please God.
(I Timothy 6:12)
By: J. C. Ryle
Extract from ‘A Call to Holiness’, chapter 4 ‘The Fight’
True Christianity is a fight!
True Christianity! Let us mind that word ‘true.’ There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. It passes must; it satisfies sleepy consciences; but it is not good money. It is not the real thing which was called Christianity eighteen hundred years ago. There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday and call themselves Christians. Their names are in the baptismal register. They are reckoned Christians while they live. They are married with a Christian marriage service. They mean to be buried as Christians when they die; but you never see any ‘fight’ about their religion! Of spiritual strife, and exertion, and conflict and self-denial, and watching, and warring, they know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded and His Apostles preached. It is not the religion which produces real holiness. True Christianity is a ‘fight.’
The true Christian is called to be a soldier and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death. He is not meant to live a life of religious ease, indolence and security. He must never imagine for a moment that he can sleep and doze along the way to Heaven, like one travelling in an easy carriage. If he takes his standard of Christianity from the children of this world, he may be content with such notions; but he will find no countenance for them in the Word of God. If the Bible is the rule of his faith and practice, he will find his course laid down very plainly in this matter. He must ‘fight.’
(I Timothy 6:12)- Part 2
By: J. C. Ryle
Extract from ‘A Call to Holiness’, chapter 4 ‘The Fight’
(Part 1 reminded us that true Christianity is ‘a fight’ against the flesh, the world and the Devil. Part 2 shows how Christians are to fight.)
True Christianity is the fight of faith
In this respect, the Christian warfare is utterly unlike the conflicts of this world.It does not depend on the strong arm, the quick eye, or the swift foot. It is not waged with carnal weapons, but with spiritual. Faith is the hinge on which victory turns. Success depends entirely on believing.
A general faith in the truth of God’s written Word is the primary
foundation of the Christian soldier’s character. He is what he is, does what he does, thinks as he thinks, acts as he acts, hopes as he hopes, behaves as he behaves, for one simple reason – he believes certain propositions revealed and laid down in Holy Scripture. “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).
(I Timothy 6:12)
By: J. C. Ryle Extract from ‘A Call to Holiness’, chapter 4 ‘The Fight’
(Part 1 reminded us that true Christianity is ‘a fight’ against the flesh, the world and the Devil. Part 2 explained how Christians are to fight and Part 3 shows that it is a “good fight”.)
“Good” is a curious word to apply to any warfare. All worldly war is more or less evil. No doubt it is an absolute necessity in many cases – to procure the liberty of nations, to prevent the weak from being trampled down by the strong – but still it is an evil. It entails an awful amount of bloodshed and suffering. It hurries into eternity myriads who are completely unprepared for their change. It calls forth the worst passions of man. It causes enormous waste and destruction of property. It fills peaceful homes with mourning widows and orphans. It spreads far and wide poverty, taxation and national distress. It disarranges all the order of society. It interrupts the work of the Gospel and the growth of Christian Missions. In short, war is an immense and incalculable evil and every praying man should cry night and day, “Give peace in our time.” And yet there is one warfare which is emphatically “good” and one fight in which there is no evil. That warfare is the Christian warfare. That fight is the fight of the soul.
So the people of Nineveh believed God. Jonah 3:5
The ancient city of Nineveh was the scene of an amazing revival in the ninth century B.C. This vast city, which had a huge population, was so full of sin that God said its wickedness had come up before Him. The Ninevites were so evil they almost seem to have compelled God to take notice of them. And yet there was revival in Nineveh—Nineveh, of all places!
Now, if God could send revival to Nineveh, He can surely send it to the place where we live and work. Some people are far too pessimistic. They are so taken up with the end-time apostasy that they would feel somewhat let down if God were to send a spiritual awakening. Let us not be like that! Christians should be positive in their outlook; they should be looking for a harvest of souls. The man who hid his talent in the earth did so because he thought his lord was a mean man who could hardly be pleased. Christ is not mean. He died to save a vast multitude, and He will have that multitude with Him in heaven, out of “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (Rev. 7:9).
The revival in Nineveh affected all classes of society, all age groups, and all types of people. It led to a thorough reformation of the lives and manners of the people. The Ninevites turned from their sin to God, and God looked down from heaven approvingly and blessed them.
As we read of what happened in Nineveh, we should long to see revival in our district. The devil has been blinding our neighbours and friends for far too long. Let us pray for a mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God.
Rev Gordon Ferguson
(From ‘Eagles’ Wings’– Daily Devotions)
We cannot organise a revival but we can set
our sails to catch the wind from heaven when
God chooses to blow upon His people once again.
G. CAMPBELL MORGAN
By: J. C. Ryle
(1816 – 1900)
First published as a ‘Helmingham Series’ Tract in Helmingham, Suffolk
What do you think about the cross of Christ? The question may be one that you consider of little importance: but it deeply concerns the everlasting welfare of your soul.
Eighteen hundred years ago, there was a man who said that he “gloried” in the cross of Christ. He was one who turned the world upside down by the doctrines he preached. He was one who did more to establish Christianity than any man that ever lived. Yet what does he tell the Galatians? – “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14).
Reader, the “cross of Christ” must needs be an important subject, when an inspired Apostle can speak of it in this way. Let me try to show you what the expression means. Once know what the cross of Christ means and then you may be able, by God’s help, to see the importance of it to your soul.
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time.
We believe that whatever the Bible says is true. Yet sometimes experiences cause us to question whether certain things are personally relevant. The tension between doctrine and experience is a common test of faith. Solomon’s conclusion that God has made every time beautiful and appropriate is one of those great statements easy to believe in good times and easy to apply to others in their bad times. The key is to believe it during our own bad times. Believing that God has a purpose that embraces everything in life and that His plan is beautiful regardless of its manifestation is the secret to enjoying the life that God has given us.
Solomon leads up to this all-embracing statement by setting forth all the times ordered and ordained by God. Ecclesiastes 3 begins with a list of fourteen pairs of defined times that together represent all possible times in life. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens by chance, accident, or fate. Everything, absolutely everything, happens according to God’s design. Our efforts and worries cannot alter His eternal plan for us. Whereas unbelievers may regard themselves as the masters of their fate or the captains of their souls, we as believers know that our times and destinies are not only in God’s good hand, they are part of His infinitely wise plan. Our life is a privilege; our life is God’s purpose. In the good times, we should humbly acknowledge that God has made all times beautiful. In the hard times, we should confidently rest in that beauty. That God is sovereign over the affairs of life is true whether we believe it or not. Believing it is the only thing that gives sense to life.
Dr Michael P. V. Barrett
We must believe in the grace of sovereignty
as well as the sovereignty of grace.
Augustus H. Strong
by JOSEPH IRONS
“Beware of men.” (Matthew 10:17)
This is the caution which the Son of God gave to His disciples, when He ministered among them on earth, and the Holy Ghost caused it to be penned, that the true Church of God might use it as a watchword to the end of time; and never since this caution dropped from the lips of Jesus, has it been needed than now; for men seem to vie with the prince of darkness who shall most effectually oppose the kingdom of Christ and the spiritual interests of His blood-bought family.
“Beware of men!” – Not merely of profane men, open infidels; but little caution is necessary respecting them, because “the show of their countenance does witness against them, and they declare their sin as Sodom – they hide it not;” (Isa. 3:9) but the men who assume the profession of Christianity, without possessing its vital principle, are the men of whom the Saviour’s watchword is, “Beware!” – The men who put on the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof – whose carnal minds and carnal interests have always warred against the pure truth of God, and perverted the whole plan of salvation by lying fables and human traditions, seducing the souls of millions to utter destruction.