ASSURANCES

THE SPIRIT BEARS WITNESS WITH OUR SPIRIT

…FATHER, if I grieve the HOLY SPIRIT, I loose the sense of Him. Without sensing Him I loose my assurance of salvation.

“’The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.’ Rom 8:16…Your minister, your friend, schooled as they may be in the evidences of godliness, cannot assure your spirit that you are born of God. Only God the Eternal Spirit can do this….His first step is to work repentance and faith in the heart; then follows the sealing and witnessing operation” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 9th).

“How do we have knowledge about God?…The answer is, ‘because he hath given us of his Spirit,’…How do I know I have received God’s Spirit?…Are you concerned about these things…I assure you that if you are, the Holy Spirit is in you, for people apart from God ‘mind earthly things’ (Philippians 3:19)—carnal, fleshly things. Are you concerned about immortality and the things invisible and eternal?…that is proof that the Holy Spirit is in you” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Nov 18th).

“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; lets practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves” (1 John 3:18-20 MSG).

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ASSURANCES

THE HOLY SPIRIT CONVINCES AND CONVICTS

“No Christian has a right to be uncertain about his or her salvation; the Holy Spirit has been given in order that we might be certain…” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Feb 14th).

FATHER, Your HOLY SPIRIT grants me an interest in reading the Bible as well as revealing it in such a way that I spiritually understand it. If I am not a true Christian I will not possess the SPIRIT and therefore cannot ever know beyond a shadow of doubt whether I am going to heaven.

And the scary part is that without the SPIRIT I can will myself to read Scripture and assimilate its truth into my life. But my actions will flow out of my human desires without having any idea what would be Your desires.

I must have the SPIRIT for He convicts me of sin. “Seek the inward witness of the Spirit…that your heart has been convinced of sin, that you have renounced your own righteousness and have fled to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that your soul is breathing after personal holiness” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Feb 3rd).

“We come to Christ for salvation after the Spirit has convinced us of sin…” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Feb 14th). “…if He has not done it for you, if you value your own soul, ask Him to do it” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Feb 14th).

ASSURANCES

TEST YOURSELVES

“Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay…” (2 Cor 13:5-9 MSG)

The Apostle Paul said to Timothy, “I know whom I have believed…” (2 Tim 1:12 ESV). The Apostle couldn’t be surer of his salvation.

I need solid assurance that I am a child of GOD; it will give me boldness. Take Martin Luther:

“It was because he knew he had eternal life that he could defy all those enemies the way he did, and all those who have this hope in them can say the same thing” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Dec 19th).

So let me test myself. On this year’s blog posts will pose questions taken from GOD’s Word. They will consist of activities where GOD demands a “Yes” answer.

Of course, since I am a sinner I will not score all “Yeses,” but as the year goes on I’ll slowly surmise whether CHRIST is active in my life—whether I enjoy obeying or whether I find the questions more and more irritating (revealing my lack of relationship with CHRIST). Before the year ends I should firmly know if I am a true Christian or faux Christian.

SUPPLICATION

CHRISTIAN

[Because we are Christians and live in the world we will always need prayer for our walk and for witnessing to others about CHRIST. Here’s an opportunity to pray for others or even ourselves. Fill their name or your name in the blanks.]

SEPARATING THE SHEEP FROM THE GOATS

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-1-23-56-pm

…FATHER, hold ____ back from ever saying to an unbeliever, “GOD loves you.” A. W. Pink (ref#152, p160). Allow (him/her) a lesson from the words of Your Son. CHRIST spoke in such a way that His followers were drawn to Him but unbelievers were repelled. Nothing in His words or actions caused an unbeliever to feel secure in his sins—nothing to “cauterize his conscience” A.W. Pink (ref#152, p160). Entreat ____ to not speak in such a way that (he/she) inoculates the unsaved with encouraging words that do not save.

CHRIST came to “cleanse His threshing floor” (Matt 3:12)—gathering the grain and burning the chaff. Place in ____’s mouth truthful words that will cause (his/her) listeners to be for or against CHRIST.

“’Always preach,’ said Luther, ‘in a way that if the people do not come to hate their sin, they will instead hate you’” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#159, p43).

Urge ____ to use words that will trigger rejoicing or disgruntlement. The truth will always cause CHRIST-rejecters to find something that they disapprove of hindering them from acknowledging CHRIST’s authority (Matt 15:12).

Give ____ a burden to show the unregenerated their need for CHRIST. Provide the words to tell them of their absolute ruin and lost condition—“their imminent and awful danger of suffering the wrath to come, the fearful guilt resting upon them in the sight of God” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon (ref#150, p161).

“That which sinners need to have brought before them is, the ineffable holiness, the exacting righteousness, the inflexible justice and the terrible wrath of God” A.W. Pink (ref#152, p160).

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

REAL OR FAUX CHRISTIAN

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-4-21-43-pmNOTE: This post is directed to all my sisters and brothers that have at least at one point in their life questioned their salvation. If you sit in the pew and never question GOD’s saving grace to you then I would question your Christianity. The enemy only puts stumbling blocks in the path of believers.

7/17/2016

A thought has become clear enough that I can form the words into questions: Am I puling myself up to GOD with my bootstraps? Does my attempt to draw close to Him come solely from my effort? Am I more a faux Christian than real? This line of thought began a few days ago while reading this quote:

“…the very nature of love…is always active…the real trouble with the person who is seated there in his study reading beautiful…books about love and who feels that he is…a fine Christian is this: What is really happening to that person is that he is simply in love with himself, because he appreciates these elevating thoughts” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p116).

I earmarked page 116 and went back to it later and seriously asked GOD if I was sinning in this way. (I really do love to create at my desk and do not enjoy so much being active out in the madding crowd.) At that time He convinced me that I was okay, but now in my reading today I am again asking. The questions reoccurred as I read:

“Worship is the submission of all our nature to God:

The quickening of conscience by His holiness

The nourishment of mind with His truth

The purifying of imagination by His beauty

The opening of the heart to His love

The surrender of the will to His purpose” Will Metzger (ref#79, p156).

“Yes, Yes,” I thought, “I want to submit all of me to GOD.” I want to, but am I? Is it really happening? Or am I only wishing it so? Am I just sitting at my desk dreaming I’m a good Christian?

Is GOD quickening my conscience by His holiness? Is He nourishing my mind by His truth? Is He purifying my imagination by His beauty? Is He opening my heart by His love? Is He…or am I pretending He is—do I just finding joy in dreaming that I’m like that?

My thoughts continue. I have a precious 1984 vision of me worshipping GOD with abandon burned in my mind and I have been seeking its fulfillment ever since. Am I allowing Him, in His time, to bring it about or am I attempting to self-fulfill it on my own?

These past few day the questions drive me further and further from my FATHER into my own conclusions that I really am, all these years, been a faux Christian! I have made a case for my failure as a lover of GOD. But…

But, the disappointment of it all drove me back to the beginning. What am I living for? What am I seeking? I sat in my prayer closet this Sabbath afternoon and wept while writing—my pen expressing my heart:

“I want to find the fulfillment of flat-out expressions of wonder toward GOD—of absolutely letting my heart define, to its capacity, the joy of being adopted by GOD. What a longing I have to exalt Him uninhibitedly—to possess total concentration on the object of my worship and make habits of various ways to magnify the TRIUNE GOD Who for some reason, chose, before the foundations of the world, to plant His very nature in me.

“This alone is all I live for—all I covet. There is no plan B or other options; I will entertain nothing else. This is the only prayer for myself—that I might find contentment with continual praise.

“And, FATHER, this is a prayer You will answer for You have put the desire in my heart (no matter what my thoughts tell me), and You, in Your time, will bring to fruition that request.

“JESUS, I shadow You—may I routinely confess my sin so I am prepared to let You infuse my brain with practical ideas of holiness. I now tell myself to be fervent, diligent and disciplined—keeping my body armed and ready for a sudden deployment to praise. Here I am—LORD, here—show me, show me righteousness that I might respond with abandon.”

I am not a faux Christian!

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

DRIFTING

7/9/2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 3.13.25 PMThe SPIRIT has set me straight again. So easily I drift. “Drift” is such a good word; it conjures up an image of unnoticed moving—like fishing in a huge lake without an anchor—like falling asleep in a moving vehicle on the Interstate.

I have ended up back to my default, earthy nature—so unnoticed. I could have tried harder to end the drift—stayed awake, paid more attention, but, speaking from experience, it could not have been prevented.

Without the intervention of GOD I am just as lost today as I was the moment before it was His pleasure to regenerate me. I cannot control myself any more now than I could as a blatant sinner. Folks who believe they need JESUS one time only to forgive their sins and welcome them into heaven are deceiving themselves. The need for Him is perpetual.

I realized my drift in a commentary on 1 John. I became more and more contrite as I read the words. For the umpteenth time the SPIRIT laid out His plan for my earthly sanctification—how to become a partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet I:4).

“…what accounts for most of our failures in Christian living is our failure to realize what we are. It is our failure to realize what God has done to us….We must think less and less of doing and more and more of being. If we only are what we ought to be, then the doing will more or less look after itself” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p87, underlining mine).

How earthy nature strives to be righteous; it’s all about doing. In my natural state I work hard to accomplish something impossible and get exhausted and cranky in the attempt. When my focus centers on trying to succeed I can be assured that I am drifting.

The SPIRIT ended my drift by revealing the following truth: I am a partaker in the divine nature. My activities reflect my family heritage; I’m a child of GOD! I’m either living like CHRIST or want to be living like CHRIST. This is who I am regardless of my failure or success at spiritual activities.

Today I praise GOD for making me who I am and, with pleasure, I’ll keep my ears open for suggestions from Him. My eyes are off my activities and on Him. It seems like accomplishing nothing but praise, accomplishes everything else.

So, today no more earthy nature strivings—at least until I get lulled into another drift.

SABBATH

FINDING GOD’S PRESENCE

“It is man’s sinful nature which makes the Sabbath and its proper observance so hateful to him. The Sabbath calls upon us to discipline our lives” C. E. Hunter (ref#171).

GOD sometimes helps us get into His presence but we have to look for Him. Bishop J. C. Ryle suggests, “Arrange your time on Sunday so that you may have leisure for quiet, sober meditation on eternal things. Avoid the company that would lead you to talk only of this world” (ref#167).

It helps immensely to remind ourselves of how truly in desperate need of GOD’s help we are. All during each day we can pray without ceasing, knowing He is there to help us fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants, but Sunday affords opportunity to evaluate our last week’s activities.

There are weekly activities that cause barriers between our FATHER and us. It is our first Sabbath duty to crash through these obstacles.

“…there are certain things that will stand between us and the fellowship that in turn leads to joy. First of all, there is sin—unrighteousness….If we recognize and confess sin, then there is the blood that cleanses, and God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (1 John 1:7,9). The second hindrance that John talks about in 1 John 2:3 is lack of love for the brethren….You lose contact with the brethren, and you lose contact with God…The third hindrance is a love of the world,…You cannot mix light and darkness. The last thing that interrupts fellowship with God, he tells us at the end of 1 John 2, is false teaching about the person of Jesus Christ. Obviously if the only way to God is through Christ, if I am in any way wrong about my teaching or doctrine concerning Him, then automatically I sever the communion, and again I lose my joy” Marytn Lloyd-Jones, (ref#189, Sept 18th).

SABBATH

THE TIME REQUIREMENT FOR SABBATH KEEPING

What motivates me to action is remembering a previous joy of similar activities. I have never moved myself into the LORD’s presence and been sorry I did. So each remembrance is sweeter. But time is required to get into His presence.

Preparing to take mushroom pictures is easy, however sometimes it is not pleasant doing it. While getting into GOD’s presence is difficult, once there it becomes the greatest joy. The hard part is moving myself into His presence.

“We must rest entirely, in order that God may work in us; we must resign our own will, yield up our heart, and abandon all the lusts of the flesh. In short, we must desist from all the acts of our own mind, that God working in us, we may rest in him…” John Calvin (ref#187).

“God’s rest is the rest of contemplation on the work that He has made, with all the penetrating influence, and sustaining power, and blessed oversight, that the divine contemplation must involve” R. A. Finlayson (ref#188).

“The worship due to the great Creator requires time for the contemplation of his attributes, as revealed in his glorious works. It requires time, also, to recollect all the manifestations of his wisdom and goodness in the dispensations of his Providence, and to give vocal expression to feelings of gratitude for the benefits received, and the happiness bestowed” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).

“If you are…in need of a spiritual tonic, go to the book of Acts, and there you will find this irrepressible joy that these people had in confirmation of the Lord’s promise” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Sept 16th).

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

SABBATHING-UP

4/10/2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 4.38.31 PMGOD does as He pleases but until I see His obvious moves, I go along day by day, or I should say, Sabbath by Sabbath following His prompting on my heart. Lately my mind has been selecting activity options to fill these Sabbaths. 24-hours is a lengthy period to have to fill with spiritual activity living in a physical world.

Lists prepared for Sabbath pursuit sound a bit legalistic—law centered, instead of faith centered. And GOD has given me an experience on this Sabbath that proves list making is a mistake.

As I was at a time of private reading this LORD’s Day, He caused the words in the book to penetrate my heart and fill it to almost bursting. It was a similar experience D. L Moody had as he sought the fullness of the HOLY SPIRIT:

“…one day, walking down a street in New York…suddenly God overwhelmed him with this mighty blessing. It was so mighty that Moody felt he would be killed by it, and he held up his hand and said, ‘Stop, God’” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#194, November 20th)!

I can identify with “Stop, God!” I’ve had enough of His spiritual truth to certainly last me until next Sabbath just in my private reading today.

I am familiar with reaching a point in public or private prayer where I know I am finished. There is nothing more my heart wishes to say to the LORD. I have a friend that calls such a phenomenon, “praying up.”

GOD has just caused me to experience, “Sabbathing up.” Even though there are hours left before Sabbath’s end, I have taken in all that I can assimilate today.

I have to smile, I am like those who are fearful about impeding retirement wondering if they’ll be able to find satisfying activity to replace the job hours. Most surprise themselves by finding their days fuller than before. Sabbath living is the same.

Leaving the workweek behind, I’ll watch the LORD fill my Sabbaths with purposeful activities that will give me great spiritual joy and strength whether it take 24 hours or one. He knows my needs and desires.

SABBATH

THE SABBATH AND ITS LENGTH

“There is a threefold rest or Sabbath spoken of in Scripture: (1) temporal; (2) spiritual, which is an internal soul-rest in ceasing from sin (Heb 4:3); (3) eternal, celebrated in heaven (Heb 4:9, 11), where the saints rest from their labors. It is the first of these, the weekly Sabbath that is here meant” Thomas Boston (ref#179).

“It was designed to meet the physical, moral, spiritual, and social wants of men’ to afford a suitable time for the public moral and religious instruction of the people and the public and private worship of God; and to afford a suitable period of rest from the wear and tear of secular labor” Archibald A. Hodge (ref#181).

“Our duty with respect to the Sabbath is to keep it holy. God has made it holy, set it apart for holy exercises, and we must keep it holy, spending it in holy exercises” Thomas Boston (ref#179).

“The quantity of time to be observed as a Sabbath of rest [is] a day—a whole day of twenty-four hours, and one day in seven….Our Sabbath is held in memory of Christ’s resurrection, and it is certain that Christ rose early in the morning of the first day of the week…the day to be kept holy is one whole day—not a few hours, while the public worship lasts, but a whole day” Thomas Boston (ref#179).

“I once heard a man say about the observance of the Lord’s Day. He said he had come to the conclusion that the Lord’s Day, like the Lord Himself, was in danger of dying between two thieves, the two thieves being Saturday night and Monday morning! He said that, increasingly, Saturday night was extended and extended and blended into Sunday, and then people started their Monday morning quite early on Sunday evening. Sunday becomes just a few hours during the morning, and then we think, ‘Well, that is enough now; we have been to church once.’ Thus, our Lord’s Day has been lost between two thieves” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#185).

“Rise early, and let your first thoughts and aspirations be directed to heaven. Meditate much and profoundly on divine things, and endeavor to acquire a degree of spirituality on this day which will abide with you through the whole week” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).

“My advice to all Christians is to contend earnestly for the whole day against all enemies, both without and within. It is worth a struggle…” J. C. Ryle (ref#178).