Remember Who Are and Who Christ Is

“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there!” Deuteronomy 24:18

“Remember your sins–and Christ’s pardoning; your deserts–and Christ’s merits; your weakness–and Christ’s strength; your pride–and Christ’s humility; your many infirmities–and Christ’s restorings; your guilt–and Christ’s new applications of His blood; your failings–and Christ’s assistance; your needs–and Christ’s fullness; your temptations–and Christ’s tenderness; your vileness–and Christ’s righteousness!”

– Thomas Wilcox, Honey Out of the Rock

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Live Near to God

Prayer is the link that connects earth with Heaven! Live near to God, and all things will appear little to you in comparison with eternal realities!

When you gaze upon the sun–it makes everything else dark. When you taste honey–it makes everything else tasteless. Likewise, when your soul feeds on Jesus–it takes away the sweetness of all earthly things–pride, pleasure, fleshly lusts, all lose their sweetness.

‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus!’ (Hebrews 12:2). Keep a continued gaze! So will the world be crucified to you–and you unto the world!”

– Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Directions for Reading Christian Books

“Because God has made the excellent, holy writings of his servants, the singular blessing of this land and age; and many may have a good book, even any day or hour of the week, who cannot at all have a good preacher — I advise all God’s servants to be thankful for so great a mercy, and to make use of it, and be much in reading. For reading, with most, does more conduce to knowledge than hearing does, because you may choose what subjects and the most excellent treatises you please; and may be often at it, and may peruse again and again what you forget, and may take time as you go to fix it on your mind. And with very many, reading does more than hearing also to move the heart — because lively books may be more easily accessed than lively preachers.

Especially these sorts of men should be much in reading:

1. Masters of families, who have more souls to care for than their own.

2. People who live where there is no preaching; or bad preaching — which is worse than none!

3. Poor people, and servants, and children, who are forced on many Lord’s days to stay at home, while others have the opportunity to hear the Word preached.

4. And non-working persons that have more leisure than others have.

To all these, but especially masters of families, I shall here give a few directions.

Direction 1. I presuppose that you keep the devil’s books out of your hands and house. I mean cards, and idle tales, and play-books, and romances or love-books, and false, bewitching stories, and the seducing books of all false teachers, and the railing or scorning books which the men of several sects and factions write against each other, on purpose to teach men to hate one another, and banish love. For where these are allowed to corrupt the mind — all grave and useful writings are forestalled; and it is a wonder to see how powerfully these poison the minds of children, and many other empty heads.

Also refrain from books that are written by the sons of Korah, to breed distastes and discontents in the minds of the people against their governors, both magistrates and ministers. For there is something in the best rulers, for the tongues of seditious men to fasten on, and to aggravate in the people’s ears; and there is something even in godly people, which tempts them too easily to take fire and be distempered before they are aware; and they foresee not the evil to which it tends.

Direction 2. When you read to your family, or others, let it be seasonably and gravely, when silence and attendance encourage you to expect success; and not when children are crying or talking, or servants bustling to disturb you. Distraction is worst, in the greatest businesses.

Direction 3. Choose such books as are most suitable to your state, or to those you read to. It is worse than unprofitable, to read books for comforting troubled minds, to those that are blockishly secure, and have hardened, obstinate, unhumbled hearts. It is as bad as to give medicines or remedies contrary to the patient’s need, and such as nourish the disease. So is it to read books of too high a style or subject, to dull and ignorant hearers. We use to say: That which is one man’s meat, is another man’s poison. It is not enough that the matter is good — but it must be agreeable to the case for which it is used.

Direction 4. To a common family begin with those books, which at once inform the judgment about the fundamentals, and awaken the affections to entertain them and improve them. Such as are treatises of regeneration, conversion, or repentance.

Remember that they are not the most learned, who read most — but those who read that which is most necessary and profitable.

Direction 5. Next these, read over those books which are most suited to the state of young Christians for their growth in grace, and for their exercise of faith, and love, and obedience, and for the mortifying of selfishness, pride, sensuality, worldliness, and other the most dangerous sins.

Direction 6. At the same time labor to methodize your knowledge; and to that end read first and learn some short catechism, and then some larger catechism. And let the catechism be kept in memory while you live, and the rest be thoroughly understood.

Direction 7. Next read (to yourselves or families) the larger expositions of the Creed, Lord’s Prayer, and Ten Commandments; such as Thomas Watson on the Commandments; that your understanding may be more full, particular, and distinct, and your families may not stop in generals, which are not understood.

Direction 8. Read much those books which direct you in a course of daily communion with God, and holy ordering your daily life.”

Richard Baxter, Christian Directory

God’s Word Does Not Flatter Man

“Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man . . . but he was a leper!” (2 Kings 5:1)

“Naaman was a great man . . . but he was a leper! He was the victim of a loathsome and incurable disease. He was a pitiful and repulsive object, with no prospect whatever of any improvement in his condition.

Yes, my reader, the highly-privileged and honored Naaman was a leper–and as such he portrays what you are and what I am by nature. God’s Word does not flatter man. It lays him in the dust, which is one reason why it is so unpalatable to the great majority of people. It is the Word of truth, and therefore instead of painting flattering pictures of human nature–it represents things as they actually are.

Instead of lauding man–it abases him. Instead of speaking of the dignity and nobility of human nature–it declares it to be leprous–sinful, corrupt, depraved, defiled! Instead of eulogizing human progress–it insists that ‘every man at his best state is altogether vanity!’ (Psalm 39:5)

And when the Holy Scriptures define man’s attitude toward and relationship with God, they insist that ‘There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God’ (Romans 3:10-11). They declare that we are His enemies by our wicked works (Colossians 1:21), and that consequently we are under the condemnation and curse of God’s law, and that His holy wrath abides on us! (John 3:36)

The Word of truth declares that by nature all of us are spiritual lepers–foul and filthy, unfit for the divine presence, ‘being alienated from the life of God.’ (Ephesians 4:18)

You may occupy a good position in this world, even an eminent station in the affairs of this life. You may have made good in your vocation, and wrought praiseworthy achievements by human standards. You may be honorable in the sight of your fellows–but how do you appear in the eyes of God? You are a leper–one whom His law pronounces unclean, one who is utterly unfit for His holy presence! As it was with Naaman, so it is with you: ‘He was a great man–but a leper!’

We would not be faithful to our calling were we to glide over that in God’s Word which is distasteful to proud flesh and blood. Nor would we be faithful to our readers if we glossed over their frightful and fatal natural condition. It is in their souls’ interests that they should face this humiliating and unpleasant fact–that in God’s sight, they are spiritual lepers!

But we must personalize it. Have you, my reader, realized this fact in your own case? Have you seen yourself as you are in God’s sight? Are you aware that your soul is suffering from a disease that neither you nor any human being can cure? It is so, whether you realize it or not. The Scriptures declare that from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head, there is no soundness in you. Yes, that in the sight of the holy God, you are a mass of ‘wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores!’ (Isaiah 1:6) Only as you penitently accept that divine verdict, is there any hope for you.”

Arthur W. Pink

Can’t Go Back to a Life of Selfishness

“The historical manifestation of God’s love in Christ not only assures us of his love for us, but lays upon us the obligation to love one another. No-one who has been to the cross and seen God’s immeasurable and unmerited love displayed can go back to a life of selfishness. Indeed, the implication seems to be that our love should resemble his love: since God so loved, we also ought – in like manner and to a like degree of self-sacrifice – to love one another. Cf. 3:16, where the duty of Christian self-sacrifice is deduced from the self-sacrifice of Christ.”

– John Stott, The Letters of John, p.166

Worry and Stress Reek of Arrogance

“Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.

“Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.

“Basically, these two behaviors communicate that it’s okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry and stress reek of arrogance. They declare our tendency to forget that we’ve been forgiven, that our lives are brief, that we are headed to a place where we won’t be lonely, afraid, or hurt ever again, and that in the context of God’s strength, our problems are small, indeed.”

– Francis Chan, Crazy Love, p.42