To Be Fit for God

He came to us, sent by the Father. But was mankind ready? This time of year we begin to take an account of our life in this past year. We look back, and consider who we are, and Who He is. Those of us who are his children must consider our life of following. And this coming year, we must ask ourselves if we are ready in this year to follow the prayer of the Puritans in this prayer…To Be Fit for God. Blessings to all of you as you seek Him out because he has sought us out.

To Be Fit for God

Thou Maker and Sustainer of All Things,
Day and night are thine, heaven and earth
declare thy glory: but I, creature of thy power
and bounty, have sinned against thee by resisting
the dictates of conscience,
the demands of thy law,
the calls of thy gospel;
yet I live under the dispensation of a given hope.
deliver me from worldly dispositions, for I am
born from above and bound for glory.
May I view and long after holiness as the beauty
and dignity of the soul.
Let me never slumber, never lose my assurance, never
fail to wear armor when passing through enemy land.
fit me for every scene and circumstance; Stay my mind upon thee
and turn my trials to blessings, that they may draw out my
gratitude and praise as I see their design and effects.
Render my obedience to thy will holy, natural, and delightful.
Rectify all my principles by clear, consistent, and
influential views of divine truth.
Let me never undervalue or neglect any part of thy revealed will.
May I duly regard the doctrine and practice of the gospel,
prizing its commands as well as its promises.
Sanctify me in every relation, office, transaction and condition
of life, that if I prosper I may not be unduly
exalted, if I suffer I may not be over-sorrowful.
Balance my mind in all varying circumstances and help me to
cultivate a disposition that renders every duty a spiritual
privilege.
Thus may I be content, be a glory to thee and an example to
others.

Amen

The Infinite and the Finite

Here is a wonderful prayer from The Valley of Vision:

Thou Great I Am,
Fill my mind with elevation and granduer at the thought of a Being
with whom one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,
A mighty God, who, amidst the lapse of worlds,
And the revolutions of empires,
feels no variableness,
But is glorious in immortality,
May I rejoice that, while men die, the Lord lives; that while all creatures are
broken reeds, empty cisterns, fading flowers, withering grass, he is the Rock
of Ages, the Fountain of living waters.
Turn my heart from vanity, from dissatisfactions, from uncertainties of the
present state, to an eternal interest in Christ.
Let me remember that life is short and unforeseen, and is only an opportunity
for usefulness;
Give me a holy avarice to redeem the time, to awake at every call to charity and
piety, so that I may feed the hungry, clothe the naked, instruct the ignorant,
reclaim the vicious, forgive the offender, diffuse the gospel, show neighbourly
love to all.
Let me live a life of self-distrust, dependence on thyself, mortification, crucifixion,
prayer.

A Reminder: Read Old Books

Derek Brown is surveying some old classics that I have enjoyed over the years and I believe you will enjoy.  The book he focuses on is The Bruised Reed, by Richard Sibbes. Here is a small quote from Sibbes,

We will only prolong our depression and deepen our hesitancy to obey if we give up on doing good whenever we wrestle with our motives—or when godly affections appear to dissipate as we set about some service for Christ.

Read Old Books!

Read Old Books

old books

 

The language is too archaic. They talk funny. It doesn’t make sense today. It’s not for me. Just like history being forgotten, people do not read old books as much anymore. And they are missing so much. Old books, well written books, remind us of a time and place when God was honored, and men feared their sin.
Whether the Puritans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, or Spurgeon and Hodge in the nineteenth century, the content of the books was focused on God, and our relationship to Him. We need books that remind us of the tragedy of sin, and, as R. C. Sproul states, the cosmic treason that is sin. We do not look on sin as those who went before us did. We do not weep and lament at our purposeful separation from a God who calls us to himself. The church today is disconnected from the church of a hundred, two hundred, five hundred years ago, and we are suffering because of it. We need to learn biblical repentance that was taught and practiced for hundreds of years. Charles Spurgeon said this in the late nineteenth century,
Repentance may be and is a change of mind; but what a change it is! It is not an unimportant change of mind such as you may have concerning whether you will take your holiday this week or the next, or about some trifling matter of domestic interest; but it is a change of the whole heart, of the love, of the hate, of the judgment, and the view of things taken by the individual whose mind is thus changed.

It is a deep, radical, fundamental, lasting change; and you will find that, whenever you meet with it in Scripture, it is always accompanied with sorrow for past sin. And rest you assured of this fact, that the repentance which has no tears in its eye and no mourning for sin in its heart, is a repentance which needs to be repented of, for there is in it no evidence of conversion, no sign of the existence of the grace of God.[^1]

“A deep, radical, fundamental, lasting change…accompanied with sorrow. Were individual christians and the church to begin practicing and living out this   kind of repentance it would change the face of our lives and witness of the church. John Owen, writing in the seventeenth century, produced multiple volumes of theological works, including a seven volume study of the book of Hebrews. John Bunyan wrote the Pilgrim’s Progress, read widely even today by millions. One could even go as far back to the church fathers of the early second through sixth centuries. Augustine, Origen, Eusebius, and others. Athanasius, in his “Statement of Faith” discussing the relationship of the Father and Son, says this

For it would be inconsistent with His deity for Him to be called a creature. For all things were created by the Father through the Son, but the Son alone was eternally begotten from the Father, whence God the Word is ‘first-born of all creation,’ unchangeable from unchangeable.[^2]

These writers discuss deep theological thoughts and ideas. They are passionate about the things of God, and about sharing the things of God with the people they teach. We lose so much when we forget. To use Sir Isaac Newton’s famous phrase, “we are able to see further because we stand on the shoulders of giants.” We need to stand on the shoulders of these giants in theology, and follow their passion for God and His Word. In this modern era we need to see clearly and far, and we cannot do that if we forget. Please, read old books.

 

 

[1] The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 43, sermon number 2,510, “Apart.”
[2] Athanasius of Alexandria. “Statement of Faith.” St. Athanasius: Select Works and
Letters. Ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Trans. Archibald T. Robertson. Vol. 4. New York: Christian Literature Company, 1892.

The Nicene Creed

The church has a history. The problem is too many Christians do not know it, and are not really inclined to learn it. And this is one of many problems with the modern church today. We have forgotten, we know we have forgotten, but it is not important. It happened hundreds of years ago, and it doesn’t affect me today.

The Nicene Creed is one such forgotten and unimportant historical document. Never mind that it focused the church on the Trinity, set the foundation for theology within the church, and argued against the heresies of the day. If you really believe that it is irrelevant to our life as Christians, and to the life of the church, read it. You will see the necessity of the thoughts involved, and the theology stated. We need this theology today. We cannot emphasize it enough in our worship services, and in our own daily lives. Yes, the Bible is always primary, but the creeds are taken from the scriptures. We need the creeds to remind us of God’s Word, our history, and our ties to that history. For hundreds of years the church has recited this creed in worship, and we need to remember who we are, and from where we have come.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Journeying On

Our blog takes its name from a prayer in the Valley of Vision. We wanted to share that prayer with you today:

Lord of the cloud and fire,
I am a stranger, with a stranger’s indifferences;
My hands hold a pilgrim’s staff,
My march is Zionward,
My eyes are toward the coming of the Lord,
My heart is in thy hands without reserve.
Thou has created it,
redeemed it,
renewed it,
captured it,
conquered it,

Keep from it every opposing foe,
crush in it every treacherous passion,
annihilate every earthborn desire.

All faculties of my being vibrate to thy touch;
I love thee with soul, mind, body, strength, might,
spirit, affection, will, desire, intellect, understanding.
Thou are the very perfection of all perfections;
All intellect is derived from thee;
My scanty rivulets flow from thy unfathomable fountain.
Compared with thee the sun is darkness, all beauty deformity,
all wisdom folly, the best goodness faulty.

Thou art worthy of an adoration greater than my dull
heart can yield:
Invigorate my love that it may rise worthily to thee,
tightly entwine itself round thee,
be allured by thee.
Then shall my walk be endless praise.

Amen.