PRAYER

MEDITATE UPON THE LORD

“…Make me know the way I should go…Teach me to do your will, for you are my God!  Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Ps 143:8,10 ESV).

“…thinking right thought about God…that is essential to praying good prayers” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p9).

“…take more time to be still before God without saying one word….We are not ready to offer our petition until we are fully conscious of having secured the attention of God” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p48).

“It is difficult to steadfastly and unweariedly persevere in prayer….as fuel must frequently be added to preserve a fire, so prayer requires helps so that it will not languish and at length be extinguished….by meditating on…truth” John Calvin (ref#164, Feb 13th).

“A short, unhurried meditation on some fragment of Scripture and then silence quickens the spirit of devotion” William E. Sangster (ref#212, p157).

“We must meditate upon Him [CHRIST], upon what He is, what He has done, His love to us, and God’s care for us who are His people….we must look at ‘these things’ (John 17:13) that He speaks of, these truths that He unfolded.  Let us meditate upon them, contemplate them, dwell upon them, revel in them, and I will guarantee that as we do so, either in our own personal meditation or in reading books about them, we will find ourselves experiencing a joy we have never known before” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, March 13th, brackets mine).

PRAYER

PRAYER IS ESSENTIAL

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6 ESV).

“Prayer opens our eyes to God’s glory, our hearts to His will, and our needs to His perfect provision.  It reveals, solidifies, and confirms the unity of the Spirit that we share with other Christians.  And it keeps us alert to the wiles of the Enemy.  Prayer is essential to a walk worthy of our high calling in Christ” J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p5).

“…in asking we must always truly feel our wants, and seriously considering that we need all the things which we ask, accompany the prayer with a sincere, no, ardent desire of obtaining them” John Calvin (ref#113, p567).

“Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath….Poverty of spirit enters into true praying.  ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’  ‘The poor’ means paupers, beggars, those who live on the bounty of others, who live by begging.  Christ’s people live by asking” E.M. Bounds (ref#54, p32).

“’Ask’ means beg….We will never receive if we ask with an end in view; if we ask, not out of our poverty but out of our lust.  A pauper does not ask from any other reason than the abject panging condition of his poverty, he is not ashamed to beg.—Blessed are the paupers in spirit” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, June 9th).

“The real beggar entreats in good earnest; he cries, he weeps, he heeds not the playing of the children, not the barking of the dogs; his wants pinch him, his stomach craves, nothing but food will please him….So it is the same with the upright and serious heart; he is really and deeply pressed down with sin, and needy of grace and comfort….and therefore let the devil or the world disturb what they can, or suggest what they will, he plies his business, he must have pardon and grace…” Richard Steele (ref#225, Sept 20th).

 “…’prayer is the falling of a tear’…Prayers are instantly noticed in heaven….Often a poor, brokenhearted one bends his knees, but can only utter his wailing in the language of sighs and tears….that tear has been caught by God and is treasured in heaven.  ‘Put thou my tears into thy bottle’ (Ps 56:8) implies that they are caught as they flow.  The suppliant, whose fears prevent his words, will be well understood by the Most High” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 3rd AM).

PRAYER

WHY PRAY—TO GET AND NOT TO GIVE

“Two men went up into the temple to pray…The Pharisee…prayed thus…God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publician” (Luke 18:10-11 KJV).

“boasting” before God of what we are and of what we have done, is abominable in his sight. This spoils everything, even if the life “should be” tolerably blameless, and if there should be real piety” Barnes’ Notes (ref#16, [Luke 18:12]).

“When you come to the throne of grace, come to receive out of Christ’s fullness, and come not to bring grace with you to add to Christ’s store.  He loves to give, and glories in giving; but He scorns to receive grace from you; and in truth you have none to give but what He gives you.  Bring your wants to Him to supply, but bring not your fullness to brag about” Robert Traill (ref#225, Oct 6th).

“The publician…came to the throne of grace, like a man that would carry something away” Robert Traill (ref#225, Oct 6th).

“he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Luke 1:53 ESV).

“…it is very much for our interest to be constantly supplicating him…although it is true that while we are listless or insensible to our wretchedness, he wakes and watches for us and sometimes even assists us unasked” John Calvin (ref#20, section 3).

“…he [GOD] does not answer, because of…pride…” (Job 35:12 ESV, brackets mine).

 

PRAYER

WHEN TO PRAY

“…pray without ceasing,” (1 Thes 5:17 ESV).

“…God wills that men should pray everywhere, but the place of His glory is in the solitudes, where He hides us in the cleft of the rock, and talks with man face to face as a man talks with his friend” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p35).

“…watching and praying is always necessary…we can never…overcome our old nature on our own.  The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak; therefore we must watch and pray” John Calvin (ref#164, July 10th).

 “Come overwhelmed with life.  Come with a wandering mind.  Come messy.  So, instead of being frozen by your self-preoccupation, talk with God about your worries.  Tell him where you are weary…We are often so busy and overwhelmed that when we slow down to pray, we don’t know where our hearts are.  We don’t know what troubles us.  So, oddly enough, we might have to worry before we pray” Paul E. Miller (ref#62, p33).

“God has willed that the working of His Spirit shall follow the prayer of His people.  He waits for their intercession because that is evidence of their preparation of heart—revealing to what extent they are ready to yield to His Spirit’s control.” Andrew Murray

“…the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom 8:26 ESV).

HEAVEN

AN EXPERIENCE OF HEAVEN

“If heaven is our country, what can the earth be but a place of exile?  If departure from the world is entrance into life, what is the world but a sepulcher, and what is residence in it but immersion in death?  If to be freed from the body is to gain full possession of freedom, what is the body but a prison?  If it is the very summit of happiness to enjoy the presence of God, is it not miserable to want it?  But ‘whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord’ (2 Cor 5:6)” John Calvin (ref#113, p467).

“And if the distant, sporadic glimpses of the glorified Christ are so ravishing, what will be the ecstatic and overpowering effect of the full unclouded vision, when we shall see Him face to face” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, June 24th).

“Thus when the earthly is compared with the heavenly life, it may undoubtedly be despised and trampled under foot.  We ought never, indeed, to regard it with hatred, except insofar as it keeps us subject to sin; and even this hatred ought not to be directed against life itself.  At all events, we must stand so affected toward it in regard to weariness or hatred as, while longing for its termination, to be ready at the Lord’s will to continue in it, keeping far from everything like murmuring and impatience.  For it is as if the Lord had assigned us a post, which we must maintain till he recalls us” John Calvin (ref#113, p467).

John Burke, in his book, Imagine Heaven, quoted George Ritchie who encountered a near-death experience.  See below:

“I have no idea what the next life will be like.  Whatever I saw was only—from the doorway, so to speak.  But it was enough to convince me totally of two things from that moment on.  One, that our conscience does not cease with physical death—that it becomes in fact keener and more aware than ever.  And two, that how we spend our time on earth, the kind of relationships we build is vastly, infinitely more important than we can know” George Ritchie (ref#297, p24).

HEAVEN

A FINAL REST

“…we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thes 4:17 ESV).

“…eternity…is…called a perpetual now.  Christ’s presence now where we are, is a choice blessing.  Believers wish for it, when they are without it; and would wish to have more of it.  But they cannot always have His presence when they would; nor can they always keep it, when they have got it.  It may please Him to awake and leave them,(Canticles 3:5, 8:4) even when they are best pleased with His company….But in the state of glory above, when we shall be with Him where He is, no fears, no ground or suspicion of any such thing, shall ever enter into the heart of any of the glorified” Robert Traill (ref#225, p124).

“…departing to the Christian is not to die, but to sleep…In view of this truth, how chastened and cheered should be our sorrow when visiting the graves of the holy dead.  No wave disturbs their calm repose.  No painful sufferings, no convulsive throes, no affrighting dreams, no mental wanderings, no confused sounds, no imaginary thoughts disturb their peaceful slumber…The body rests in the tomb, the soul in the paradise of God…” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Oct 19th).

“…the souls of the righteous, after their warfare is ended, obtain blessed rest where in joy they wait for the fruition of promised glory, and that thus the final result is suspended till Christ the Redeemer appear.  There can be no doubt that the reprobate have the same doom as that which Jude assigns to the devils, they are ‘reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day’ (Jude 5-6)” John Calvin (ref#113, p659).

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan 12:2 ESV).

“…Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival.  The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we’ll hardly notice.  We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness” (2 Pet 3:11-13 MSG).

HEAVEN

FIRM UNTIL THE END

“The one whom God has exonerated…is not him who has merely ‘believed,’ but is the man who continues‘ believing,’…” AW Pink (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol XI, July, 1932, No. 7, p8).

“…Christ was faithful as a loyal son in the household of the founder, his own Father. And we are members of this household if we maintain our trust and joyful hope steadfast to the end” (Heb 3:6 Phillips).

The letter of Hebrews was written “to encourage earnest perseverance until the end.  This demands hope, which is closely allied with faith…and enduring patience…” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2370, [Heb 6:11-12]).

“The constant exercise of faith…is as essential to…final salvation as it was to…initial salvation….we can only be delivered…by a steady and persistent walking by faith” AW Pink (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol XI, July, 1932, No. 7, p8-9).

“…each of you…extend…intensity toward a full-bodied hope, and keep at it till the finish. Don’t drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them”(Heb 6:11 MSG).

“Hebrews warns against allowing the unbelief of a hardened, sinful heart to cause one to fall away…His counter to this danger is both to encourage personal commitment…and to call on the church to walk together in mutual encouragement…” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2365, [Heb 3:12-13]).

“…in order to have a scripturally grounded assurance of God’s taking pleasure in us, we must continue cleaving closely unto Him” J. Calvin (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol XI, July, 1932, No. 7, p9-10).

“It is only they who persevere in believing that obtain the salvation of the soul.  Nothing but a persevering faith can enable a person…to obtain…the Gospel promises” John Brown (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol XI, August, 1932, No. 8, p5).

“…dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life” (Jude 21 MSG).

“…sufferings you have sustained…will all go for nothing if you endure not unto the end” AW Pink (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol XI, June, 1932, No. 6, p11).

ELECTION

ELECTION

Two theologies of Salvation: “One speaks of a God who saves; the other speaks of a God who enables man to save himself.  One view presents the three great acts of the Holy Trinity for the recovering of lost mankind—election by the Father, redemption by the Son, calling by the Spirit—as directed towards the same persons, and as securing their salvation infallibly.  The other view gives each act a different reference [the objects of redemption being all mankind, of calling, those who hear the gospel, and of election, those hearers who respond], and denies that any man’s salvation is secured by any of them.  The two theologies thus conceive the plan of salvation in quite different terms.  One makes salvation depend on the work of God, the other on the work of man; one regards faith as part of God’s gift of salvation, the other as man’s own contribution to salvation; one gives all the glory of saving believers to God, the other divides the praise between God, Who, so to speak, built the machinery of salvation, and man, who by believing operated it” J. I. Packer (Introduction to The Death of Death by John Owen, p4).

“We shall never feel persuaded as we ought that our salvation flows from the free mercy of God as its fountain, until we are made acquainted with his eternal election” John Calvin (ref#113, p607).

“And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom 8:30 ESV).

Romans 8:30 can be summarized:

“I believe, therefore I am justified;

I am justified, therefore I am sanctified;

I am sanctified, therefore I am called;

I am called, therefore I am elected;

I am elected, therefore I shall be saved” Thomas Adams (ref#225, March 29th)

“’…those who are justified will be glorified’ (Rom 8:30), so that all the conditions laid down for glorification will be met by the power of God’s grace….Election… guards against the error of thinking that we can earn our way into God’s favor through ‘works of the law.’” John Piper (ref#220, p151).

“…faith is not a condition of election.  Election is a condition for faith.  It is because God chose us before the foundation of the world that he purchases our redemption at the cross and quickens us with irresistible grace and brings us to faith”  Dan Cummings (sermon, God’s Sovereign Election).

“…whoever believes has eternal life” (John 6:47 ESV).  “‘…everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Rom 10:13 ESV).

 

ELECTION

GOD CALLS A PEOPLE

“’Your sins have made you disgustingly ugly.  But I love you anyway, not because you are attractive, but because it is my nature to love.’  And in the case of the elect, God adds, ‘I have set my affection on you from before the foundation of the universe, not because you are wiser or better or stronger than others but because in grace I chose to love you…’” D.A. Carson (The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, p61).

“…he does not ‘fall in love’ with us; he sets his affection on us. D.A. Carson (The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, p61).

“…it is only when…salvation…is ascribed to gratuitous election, we arrive at the knowledge that God saves whom he wills of his mere good pleasure…” John Calvin (ref#113, p607).

“…to extend the pleasure that God has in his own name, he calls out a people to enjoy and praise and proclaim that name” John Piper (ref#220, p125).  “…The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession…because the LORD loves you…” (Deut 7:6,8 ESV).

“God’s electing love is absolutely free.  It is the gracious overflow of his boundless happiness guided by his infinite wisdom.  Deut 10:14-15 describes the delight God had in choosing Israel from all the peoples of the earth” John Piper (ref#220, p128-129).

“Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.  Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose…you above all people…” (Deut 10:14-15 ESV).

“…the way God decided to make a name for his glorious grace in the Old Testament was to choose a people for himself from all the peoples of the earth and to make that people the showcase of his redeeming work….In other words, in order to extend the pleasure that God has in his own name he chooses a people to enjoy and praise and proclaim that name to all the peoples.  And so God has pleasure in election” John Piper (ref#220, p132).

REDEMPTION

SABBATH RENEWAL

“…we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16 ESV).

“…the Spirit’s quickening is only the beginning of God’s work of grace in the soul.  This does not wholly renew the heart at once: no indeed, the inner man needs to be ‘renewed day by day’…” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p65).

“…the Sabbath…God is not satisfied by the people’s merely resting from their weekly labors; rather, inward sanctification is the primary purpose of the Sabbath…Sabbath is a sacrament of regeneration…” John Calvin (ref#164, May 10th).

“…though spiritual things always remain the same, yet we do not experience their effect or perceive their value unless we are careful that our lack of faith does not profane what God has consecrated to our salvation….Merely taking time off from work and going to church perfunctorily may be missing the most crucial benefit of all: the blessing of the Spirit in our inward sanctification.  By faith we must observe the wondrous grace of the sacraments, including this sacrament of regeneration” John Calvin (ref#164, May 10th).

FATHER, I learn keeping the Sabbath is just as important as following Your commands for You always link Sabbath-keeping with a call for obedience. One example:  “…they rejected my rules and did not walk in my statutes and profaned my Sabbaths…” (Ezek 20:16 ESV).

I ask that You fulfill my need for day to day regeneration by forever reminding me to keep the Sabbath so that I might not “lose the blessing of the Spirit” John Calvin (ref#164, May 10th).