The Victorian Doll

The ad in the magazine looked inviting!  A Victorian doll for $4.98.  I’d seen the ad before.  She was dressed like a lady with a straw-rimmed hat.  It made me think of my mother.

Mother’s weakness for dolls was not new.  I could not remember a Christmas when she didn’t dress a doll for someone.  She stitched and sewed and took delight in creating every detail.  Then she filled its heart with love for some deserving soul.

Mother handed me the ad.  “Look, Sissy,” she said.  “Isn’t she sweet?  And she’s 17 inches tall.”  Here eyes sparkled with encouragement.  The day had been for Christmas plans but Mom had a plan of her own.  I smiled to myself.

“Is this what you want for Christmas?” I asked.  It didn’t seem like much.  I thought of the beautiful dolls downtown.  They were wonderfully dressed and very expensive–a much more suitable gift.  But Mother insisted she wanted that particular doll.  I could see my persuasion would not prevail.  I agreed to order the doll.

When the box arrived, I was skeptical.  It was packed in two outer cartons that didn’t look large enough to hold a doll.  I unpacked the contents.  The item had definitely been folded, spindled and mutilated.  Taiwan and Japan had never seen anything like this!  It was of very poor quality and had been badly damaged in shipment.  What a disappointment!

I laid the doll on the table.  All day I glanced back and forth at the doll as I went about my housework.  It looked like a waif or an orphan.  My mother’s Christmas gift!  What would I do?

I studied the alternatives.  I could throw it in the trash or return it to the sender and demand my money back–plus shipping and handling.  I could call the Better Business Bureau.  It was certainly not like the advertisement.

I thought and thought and thought.  God must have a purpose in giving it to me.

I finally called my mother.  She would be coming to town for Christmas.  She bubbled with enthusiasm.  She was looking forward to this doll. What could I possibly say?

“Mother,” I began, “your DOLL arrived. . .and I think she’s awfully lucky to have a mother like you.”

I went on to explain that the doll had a few things wrong with her–her right leg was broken just below the knee–her little “china” leg.  But not beyond repair.  I thought it could be glued. Then, the whole left side of her chest was caved in.  She’d need a little stuffing in about half of her body.  Her hair was matted and ugly.  A comb and some ribbons would do.  And her hat was smashed beyond repair.  She’d need a brand new hat.  The dress could use a little trim–perhaps some lace on the faded gauze would change her whole appearance.  I waited for a response.

“Oh, Sissy!” she said willingly, “I can make her a hat.  We’ll make her a brand new hat.  And we’ll glue her leg and sew a dress and I can fix her hair.”  Her voice was all aglow.

In a few short sentences, the Victorian Doll was adopted, restored and greatly loved.  My eyes fill with tears as I hung up the phone.

“Oh, God,” I cried.  “Teach me to love with that kind of love, the kind of love that You would have; to see value and worth in common things; to restore and to touch and revive things in this world for You.”  Sherry_Victorian_Doll_with_Hat_Reduced[2]

by Sherry Goodwin

(This is a vintage tract I wrote over 30 years ago about my mother who is now 93.  God is still using this story today for His glory!)



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The Grace of Being Obliging

There is a great difference in people in the matter of obligingness. Some are always ready to do a good turn, to be of service, to be accommodating. Others are always lacking in this grace. They never show a relish to confer a favor, to do a kindness, or to go out of their way in the slightest degree to be helpful to anyone.

Obligingness is a Christian grace. It is one of the manifestations of love. It belongs, therefore, among the essential qualities of a beautiful life. Perhaps one may be a Christian, and be disobliging; just as one may be disagreeable or discontented or fretful or ungentle — and yet be a Christian. We may not say at how many points one may be lacking in beauty of character, and yet be a Christian. Christ sets a very high standard for his followers — but he is very patient with beginners, in the stumbling of their early steps. A disciple is a pupil, and a pupil may enter school at the lowest grade. They are pupils when they first enter, though it may be years before they have completed their course.

Hence one may lack altogether the quality of obligingness when one begins the Christian life — but this is one of the lessons that must be taken up at once, one of the graces in which we must grow from the first. Love cannot be disobliging. Love is kind. Love seeks not its own. The very central quality in love, is the desire to serve. If we have the love of Christ in our heart, we will wish to be helpful to every human being we meet or see — this will be our attitude toward all. This feeling will lead us to accept every opportunity to be useful, not only in cases of great need, when large service may be required — but also when only some simple, common kindness is called for.

The training of one’s self in obligingness is, therefore, an important part of Christian culture. It is easy to allow selfishness to hold back the hand from kindness. “Every man for himself” is one of the world’s maxims, and it is easy to become so absorbed in thinking of one’s self, and one’s own affairs — that the heart shall grow cold toward all others.

But selfishness is always most unlovely and most un-Christlike. The only beautiful life, is one which love inspires and controls. The Christian rule is, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests — but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

This does not mean that we shall meddle in other people’s affairs. There is another spiritual injunction which puts the meddler in other men’s matters, in the same black list with the murderer, the thief, and the evil-doer. One of the last things a Christian should consent to be, is a busybody. The way Christians are to look at the things of others — is in interest, sympathy, and helpfulness, ready always to lend a hand, to do anything in their power to lighten a burden or help along.

Obligingness is a good word. When we say that a man is of an obliging disposition, we mean that he is always ready to do what he can to assist others. If we are in some trouble — he comes with his kindly help. If we are carrying a heavy load — he offers to share it. If we need assistance, in any way — he is eager to give it.

There is a great deal of this obliging spirit among the poor. The rich are more independent of each other, for they have in themselves nearly all they need, so that there is not the same necessity for mutual help that there is among the poor. Consequently, even when the relations are entirely friendly, there is less opportunity among the wealthy for rendering helpful services. But the poor, having fewer resources of their own, need more the kindly aid of each other, and the need draws out the practical ministry. In many instances, the relations between neighbors among the poor, are very beautiful indeed. They share with each other, what they have of conveniences and comforts. When there is sickness in a home, all the families near by make the troubles their own. The women help each other in nursing. When there is sorrow, the whole little community sympathizes not in a sentimental way, merely — but in most practical ways. If disaster comes to one household, all the others contribute their part in seeking to repair the loss.

We all have it in our power to do a great deal for the comfort of others, simply by striving always to be obliging. It usually does not require much self-denial, nor involve the giving of large gifts — what is needed is only the warmth of heart that will make us quick to see needs and ways of helping, and then the readiness to do the little services, to show the common kindnesses. It may be to give a classmate help with his lessons, when he cannot quite master them himself; or to lend a boy or girl the book you have greatly enjoyed; or to help a friend with his work when you have leisure and he is a little behind.

The ways of being obliging are numberless. If only we have the spirit and are ready to put ourselves out a little or to give up some comfort or ease to help another — we shall find plenty of opportunities. The lesson is worth learning, too. It makes us far more useful. An obliging person brightens the way for many others. He makes life easier for every one he meets. It is a great thing to have a genius for helping others. When we begin to get this beautiful grace into our life — we have begun to be like the Master!

J. R. Miller, 1913

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The Advantage of Keeping One’s Temper

Some people will scarcely admit that bad temper is sinful. They call it an infirmity, and apologize for it or seek to excuse it on the ground that they cannot help it. This, however, is a too self-indulgent view. Bad temper is sinful. It is an infirmity which even charity is not a wide enough cloak to cover. Or if we do have patience with it in others — we have no right to condone it in ourselves. It is a miserable fault, and one to which we should never consent to give hospitality. It grieves God. It hurts our friends. It is one of the unseemly things which Paul tells us love does not do; one of the childish things which we ought to put away when we become men.

It may be well to look at bad temper from its practical side. There are advantages in good temper which should commend it to every one who desires to get the best out of life.

For example, there is one’s standing among one’s fellows. We all like to have others think that we are at least fairly good. One has reached a rather low depth of degeneracy, when he really no longer cares what people think of his character. There are many who have not the fear of God before their eyes, who are dominated in their conduct, at least in external ways, by the fear of men. It certainly is an advantage to have people think one sweet-tempered, and in order to have such a reputation, where one is intimately known — one must have at least fair measure of control of one’s feelings and words. Good temper is a quality which cannot well be simulated. One cannot always time the outbursts of an ungoverned spirit, so that nobody will know of them. It would seem, therefore, to be worth while to acquire self-mastery, and to discipline one’s self into reasonably good temper, if for nothing else, in order that one may be well spoken of among one’s fellows and daily associates.

Another advantage of keeping good temper, is in the comfort it gives to one’s self. We are always ashamed of ourselves when we have given way to anger, and have spoken or acted in an unseemly fashion. A bit of bad temper in the morning, spoils the whole day for us. We do not feel like looking anyone in the face for hours afterward. It leaves a sort of moral or spiritual malaria in our blood, which casts a miserable hue over all fair and lovely things. We can scarcely even pray after a fit of bad temper, certainly not till we have passed through a season of penitence and have wooed back again, the grieved Spirit of God and the sweet peace which this holy Guest alone can restore.

Certainly the cost of uncontrolled temper is too great to be indulged in, by any one who loves happiness. It brings too much self-reproach. It darkens too many hours. It takes too much out of life. It is well worth while to learn to control one’s spirit, if only for the sake of the peace it keeps in one’s heart.

Good temper also plays a very important part in friendship. A bad-tempered man cannot make close friends, neither can he keep the friends he has made. Love is very patient. It bears all things. It covers a multitude of sins. But even love cannot grow to its sweetest and best, if it is subjected continually to violent outbursts of anger, and to harshness, and bitterness of speech. Not many people care to expose themselves to such humiliating experiences, for the sake of continuing a friendship. The home loved ones are almost the only ones whose friendship is equal to such sore testing.

“A man who has friends — must himself be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24. If a man is to have friends with whom he can enter into close and familiar relations, and whose friendship he can hold securely through the years — he must be friendly himself; he must at least refrain from words and acts and moods which would pain the hearts of those whose love he would cherish. We must be prepared to give as we would receive. Only gentleness will draw out gentleness. Only thoughtfulness and honor will win thoughtfulness and honor in return. No man can know much of the sacredness of friendship — who has not achieved such self-mastery, as will enable him always to be sweet-tempered and kindly in act and speech.

Good temper is an essential quality in all true manliness. No doubt there are those who think that to be a man one must be ready to strike back at every offense, to resent every insult, to resist every wrong, to stand up for one’s rights at whatever cost. But is that Christian manliness? Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek.” He himself illustrated his own beatitude. “When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not.” He never lost his temper. Christlike manhood is not the world’s ideal — but it pleases Heaven. The thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, certainly sets an ideal which it is not easy to follow — but when one has mastered it — one is living the noblest life possible in this world.

Is it not worth while to strive to attain “whatever things are lovely” in manly spirit and character? It may not be easy to do it. It may be easier to let our natural feelings have sway — but we should be willing to deny ourselves the indulgence of temper, in order to grow into noble strength of character.

These are suggestions of the advantages of gaining self-control. We have the highest authority for saying that he who rules his own spirit, is greater than he who takes a city. The victory is not an impossible one. With the help of Christ, we may win it, and in winning it, take our place in the ranks of the noble and worthy.

J. R. Miller, 1913

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A Talk about Disposition

 You are a Christian. You have confessed Christ before the world. You say that Christ is the dearest Friend you have. You say he is the noblest in his character, the fairest in his beauty, the sweetest in his spirit, the gentlest in his disposition, the richest in his beauty — of all things in the universe. But the people around you, the world’s people, those who do not know him — have no thought of his beauty. They have not seen him as you have. And you want them to see him as he appears to you, for you want them to love him and trust him and follow him.

Now, have you thought that about the only way you can show others the beauty of your friend Jesus Christ, is in your own life? When astronomers want to let you look at some wonderful star through a great telescope, they have you put your eye to an aperture where you see the star brought down close to you. Just so, people cannot see Jesus, way up in his glory; but you are a telescope in which his beauty is reflected. He shines in your heart, and then your neighbors look at you and see his image in you — just as the astronomer sees the image of the star in his telescope.

Surely, Christians with bad dispositions do not think how repulsive their bad disposition appears in the eyes of others — or they would spare no pains to cure themselves of the fault which so mars their character. Cannot someone invent a looking-glass in which men and women can look at their souls, so as to learn what beings they make of themselves when they allow their old evil nature to show itself in fits of anger, irritability, quarrelsomeness, sulkiness, and other moods of unamiability?

Surely if we love Christ truly, we will not allow ourselves to continue to do him dishonor, in life so unworthy of his dear name. We ought to dread giving any false representation of our Lord, and to strive in all our life to show his gentle love. Whatever we may do for Christ, in gifts to his cause or work in his service — if we fail to live out his life of sweet patience and forbearance, then we fail in an essential part of our duty as Christians.

Now we come to the most important matter. How can we cure our bad dispositions? Or can they be cured at all? Bad disposition is not to be regarded as a mere unfortunate infirmity, over which we may weep bitter tears of sorrow — but which we cannot help. It must be regarded in its true light, as a grievous sin, part of the old bad nature, which is not to be condoned nor allowed to stay in the new life — but which must be cast out. It is just as essential in a Christian life, that one become amiable and sweet-dispositioned, as that one become truthful, honest, pure, just. If a man who has been in the habit of lying, is converted and becomes a Christian, you expect him to put away lying and speak truth. If he has been dishonest, you expect him to become honest. So if he has been bad-dispositioned, he ought to be expected to become good-dispositioned.

Here is what Paul says about it: “Put away all these: anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth. . . . Put on . . . as God’s elect, holy and beloved — a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do you.”

Bad disposition is just as unchristian, as lying or stealing — and we are to strive just as earnestly to get rid of it. No doubt the lesson of good disposition is a hard one to learn, one that cannot be learned in a day. Nevertheless, it is one that we must set ourselves to learn at whatever cost, if we would be worthy disciples of our Lord, worthy children of our Father. It is a lesson, too, that can be learned.

There are many human lives that are like instruments with jangled strings and most discordant keys. None but God could ever have made any music at all on them. But he has taken them in hand, has repaired the broken strings and put the keys in tune — and then sweet music has breathed from them.

There are some who say, “I never can live a truly sweet and gentle life. My disposition is hasty, and my tongue is sharp, and I cannot control either my temper or my tongue. I want to be always kindly and loving — but I cannot.” True, so far as you yourself are concerned — but God can take the poor jangled chords and put them all in tune. You remember that sweet word in the Psalm — “He restores my soul.” You know what “restore” means; it is taking the broken instrument, all out of tune, giving out only harsh discords when any fingers touch the keys — and putting it in perfect repair, so that it yields the sweet music it was first made to yield. “He restores my soul.” That is, the worst dispositioned people may be made gentle and loving in all speech, act and manner, by the renewing and transforming power of divine grace. God can take the jangled keys and put them in tune, if we will but put them into his hand.

But we have something to do ourselves in this work. God does not take out the old nature and put in a new one — as a watchmaker might replace the worn-out works in your watch with new works. He works in us and through us. He shows us the pattern that he wants us to reach. Then he puts into our hearts the desire to be like the pattern. Then as we strive to become like it, he helps us. But we must strive ourselves to be sweet-dispositioned. We must watch the rising anger, and choke it back. We must keep down the ugly dispositions. We must learn to control ourselves, our dispositions, our feelings, our passions, our tongues. We must seek to develop the gentle things — and crowd out the nettles.

You have a little garden spot beside your house. The natural growths for that patch of soil in the spring days, are weeds. Just let it alone — and it will soon be filled with rank noxious weeds. But unless you are a very indolent gardener, you will not let it alone. You will dig out the weeds, and by the summer days, you will have your little garden filled with lovely flowers.

Just so, your heart is a patch of garden-soil. Naturally there grow in it weeds, nettles, briers, thorns. But do you intend to let it yield nothing better than these noxious growths? I hope not. It is your business to cultivate that bit of garden, to dig out the weeds and nettles and briers — and to have sweet flowers blooming there.

Do not blame your religion for your ugly dispositions; your religion will do its part, if you will do yours. But religion is not intended to save us from effort, from striving, from struggle. Religion binds us to God and insures us God’s help; but we must help too. We must fight against the ugly dispositions; we must put on the beautiful gentleness, patience, meekness, and kindness of Christ’s own life. We must very earnestly try to be Christlike.

Let us not forget that we have but such a little time to be together, and that the things in others that vex and try us so — will seem very small when we stand by the coffins of our friends. Surely, too, the memory of our surly dispositions and our irritable feelings and our sharp words, will give us added pain when all we have left of our dear ones shall be their cold clay or their newly made graves. Let us be earnest, friends, in our effort to put off our bad dispositions, and be like our Master.

J.R. Miller, 1913

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Launch Out – Luke 5:1-11

Luke 5:1-11
There is little to attract anyone to a rusting hulk of metal having outlived its usefulness, resembling only by its shape, a ship. Lying on its side, ne-glected rusting on the beach, home only for strange and various kinds of critters. No longer with any purpose but to take up space. Over time she will simply disappear into the darkness of history. There was a time when first launched she was the pride of the seven seas. Her Captain steers her no more. Her first mate and crew dismissed. Her purpose unfulfilled.
This reminds me of churches that once held a fine reputation, known far and wide for their preaching the gospel of salvation, for their love for the Lord, for their love for the souls of men, and where the members were song singing, soul loving, spirited and sweet she stood faithfully and firmly on the doctrine of the Sovereign Grace of God. But it was not to last. Her failure to repent of the things the Lord held against her caused her candlestick removed—one more ship removed from service—placed in dry-dock.
There are, sad to say, many such still standing, yet not in full service, having lost their first love and left their first works, not even half filled, grounds overgrown, sidewalks and parking areas sporting pot holes and long crooked cracks dissecting great parking arenas once filled areas for parking the cars filled with families now sprouting up with weeds. Windows broken, doors open to squirrels, rats, and other unpleasant sorts using the buildings as their homes.
These are churches that stopped loving and serving Christ. Their foundations crumbing; their pillars fallen, preaching the gospel of salvation no longer their primary reason for existence. Their light gone out darkening suffocating the air of their once bright lamp – extinguished, wick dry, no oil,– Ichabod [the Lord hath departed] written on her lintels and door posts. Her ship’s rudder long since lost. She no longer able to steer a course even if she could Launch out once again into the deep! Useless, pitiful, terrible witnesses to the world. The earth is littered with ruined, rusted hulks of once great vessels broken on the rocks, crumbling into dust, leaking out sludge and poison into the sea..
The causes? Many! Modernism, Formalism, Hyper Calvinism, Hard-shellism. Arminianism, Mystical Pentecostalism, Universal Catholicism, He-retical Cultism, Science falsely so called such as the theory of Evolution and the Big bang.
Sloth on the part of first mate and crew, their heart for the work turned to stones, frozen in selfishness, ungratefulness, prejudice, sin! All resulting in unwillingness to Launch out into the deep where the fish are! Preferring to stay close to shore where the water is shallow, void of life.
To avoid this happening to us we are launching out into the deep, leaving the confines of the near shore, cutting the ropes tying us to the dock, reach-ing out instead of looking in! Trusting instead of doubting! Working instead of worrying! Relying on prayer more than Relating to culture! Preaching the Word of God rather than doctrines of men.
Being positive instead of being negative. Thinking of others more than we think of ourselves. Going instead of sitting. Singing instead of sobbing. Being will-ing to including rather than excluding. Accepting the challenge of the work before rather than finding excuse for why we are not going, growing, and glowing!
We Launch Out!
When Christ had done preaching, he told Peter to get busy, never minding the apparent futility remembered earlier. At the moment they were but a few feet off shore allowing space between the Lord and his message from the crowds, but when he had left speaking, he said to Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. Jesus ordered Peter to push off from shore taking the boat to deeper waters.
I have, not recently, but often in earlier years, fished all night for a lowly catfish without success and by dawn I am ready for to retire to a nice warm fire on the bank, a cup of coffee…and rest. Weary, I am not ready to go out again, at least for a while. Net fishing is hard work. We called in seining for fish. The net was clumsy to handle as the borders of the net are weighted with lead pellets to allow the net to sink whereby fish swimming as fish often do run into the submerged net and are trapped as the net folds around them. A full net may weigh as much as 100 pounds requiring all the strength an angler can mus-ter to get the net, and the fish into the boat.
Peter, the expert fisherman was I suppose, thinking himself being the wiser countered, Master, we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing: but too weary to argue with resignation said, nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net—expecting nothing but more hours of unproductive hard work. And besides they had just finished washing the nets and hanging them to dry lest they rot had readied them for another days’ efforts.
Normally, the fish that were sought in shallow water at night and having escaped the net would migrate during the daylight hours to outer waters too deep to reach easily with nets, which is why Peter fished at night. And it was at night when, by experience, Peter knew that it was at night the hungry and bigger fish would come to the shallow waters seeking food, and once fed would turn about and head for the safer and deeper waters far off shore.
Simon’s vocation was dangerous, back-aching; bone-tiring, work that often times more than not ended with nothing to show for it. But there were occasions when the fishing was well rewarded with nets full.
Peter, no doubt, thought Jesus’ directive made little sense, but he obeyed anyway, and was rewarded for his obedience.
The time most Christians spend during the week in the work of the Lord a dozen eggs could be boiled. The saying while well used is still true that We have only one life that will soon be past, only what we do for Jesus will last!
For most of us the time we take out of our day for the Lord is truly minimal. Rarely, do we allow the Lord’s work to interfere with our daily pur-suits. With cheerfulness we ought to go about the duties of our calling.
If we do what we should having spent necessary seasons with God in prayer, then what we do for ourselves is sanctified and acceptable to God.
We must always be ready to be about the business of our calling—one never knows when a tug of the line or the sudden movement of the water engulfing the nets would signal a great harvest of fish.
WE LAUNCH OUT INTO THE DEEPER WATERS REWARDED FOR OUR EFFORTS – Verse 6 And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake!
In truth the Lord always rewards the work done for His sake –the workman is worthy of his hire! Work without reward is misery. Work with re-ward is pure joy. It is unthinkable and dishonoring the Lord to think he will not reward faithfulness. He knows how difficult the work of evangelism can be. He also knows the joy of a job well done. Though we are bond-slaves [slaves bought with a price to serve], we are never forced at the point of being whipped to do anything.
In Exodus 21:5-6 we read: if the servant shall plainly say, [having served his time of bondage] I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: 6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.
We who love Christ want to stay in his service and be known as people of the Book. We have had our ear lobes bored through preferring to live as bond-slaves to Christ to being slaves to sin whose only reward is death.
Are you Aboard? Are you Ready to Launch Out Into The Deep? Let Down Your Nets? Partners All? The Great Gospel ship is ready to sail!
In closing, I will take the liberty as your preacher to liken our church not to a luxury liner where all cabins are first class, where our passengers are coddled, mulled over, massaged, served fine wine and delicacies and encouraged to lounge on the deck soaking up the sun.
Our church, this ship of state, is a Tanker, a working vessel, her crew must be toughened by labor, not softened by sloth; Her crew must be strong in faith and resolve, nothing doubting; in personality sensitive to the needs of other; in spirit jubilant; in soul fully animated with life; Serving with sleeves rolled up, armor on, fit and fully furnished for the Master’s use. We have on board precious cargo–sacks of precious seed– the Word of God!
I Christen this ship The HMS Sovereign Grace — His Majesty’s Service—I acknowledge we are her caretaker and that she is being built not by my hands or yours but by the hands of the Great Carpenter Himself! This Vessel was launched 2000 years ago prior to Pentecost and given the orders to Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20 — Then on the day of Pentecost she was empowered by the Holy Spirit with all filled by with the Holy Ghost.
The ship, this tanker, has, since he began to build her continues to stand in perpetuitous service and will continue to sail to the uttermost part of the earth, but only as long as she continues under our Lord’s Command! Her Captain has ordered all ropes hindering her service to be loosed from the dock freeing her to sail.
Ever so tactfully yet in no timidity, Captain Jesus will guide her through the narrow straights of the harbor, pointing her bow toward the vast open seas where in every harbor, some of the crew disembarks knowing that, He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed , shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him…, then casting it discriminately throughout the land and populace being careful not to Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. Matthew 7:6
Her destination is set being preordained from eternity with Divine purpose. Her log in perfect order, her crew trained and in place, her strategies planned and on-going, Her course set, fixed, immutable!.
Breaking free from the calm of the narrows she cuts like a sharp two edged sword out into the raging seas heading due East and gliding gallantly on waves of glory.
The ears of our Captain and Commander are tuned sharply to the Scriptures by which she is guided. He rejects but does not ignore the seductive song of the Sirens who in vocal desperation desire only to lure him, ship, crew, and cargo to the shallow shoals and unseen rocks beneath. Our Captain stands tall, spirit confident, feet planted, eyes vigilant, strong hands firmly ahold the helm, steering on purpose, never doubting, dead-reckoning on course, always on schedule. We hear him declaring in a voice clear and like thunder: “Steady As She Goes Mates! Steady as she goes!”
She sails onto all the seven seas of the earth – to the North Atlantic to the South Pacific, to the Artic Oceans to the warm waters of the Mediterra-nean and to all the waters of the world.
She sails ever onward, her cargo, the Great Gospel of Justification by faith alone—Forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life, secure in her hold reserved to supply salvation for as many as are ordained to eternal life await her-for God has much people in every port.
Jesus Christ is in command of this great ship and he by wisdom directs her with awesome and undeniable force, so much so that though the Gates of hell might suddenly loom in front of her with powerful broadsides smoking, threating to sink her, they will not prevail.
He has said: All power in heaven and earth is given unto me! Hell itself will soon sink into the depths of eternal darkness in short order.
Meanwhile, Jesus has assigned to the members of his crew certain and several duties all according to each one’s gifts and abilities. All the crew and accompanying passengers have the task and privilege to serve and all are given a share in the work of evangelizing the world. All as work happily sing-ing the message of their own salvation:
“Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am. Redeemed, Redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am. Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus, No language my rap-ture can tell; I know that the light of His presence With me doth continually dwell. I think of my blessèd Redeemer, I think of Him all the day long: I sing, for I cannot be silent; His love is the theme of my song. I know there’s a crown that is waiting, In yonder bright mansion for me, And soon, with the spirits made perfect, At home with the Lord I shall be.”
No crew member seeks special attention or exemption from duty and no special attention is given and no exemption is offered relieving anyone from his or her duty. Stowaways when found are treated lovingly knowing how uncomfortable it is to have hidden oneself from fellowship. Every courtesy will be extended them and every effort shall be made to bring them to Christ and when they willingly come seeking his forgiveness, having receive full pardon from the Master’s own hand, they will be welcomed as partners enlisted into service, have been given gifts to use for the Master. Deep and foreboding indeed is the ‘deep abyss’’ over which she sails. In journeying’s often, in perils of waters many, but they must be traversed because her Captain and crew are on board and seek and to save that which is lost. In seeking Jesus finds; in finding Jesus saves, in losing…Jesus loses NONE!
She by Divine and infallible compass, sails onward to the Macedonian harbors from where…
the call comes ringing o’er the restless wave…send the light, the blessed gospel light; there are souls to rescue, there are souls to save, send the light, send the light. Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; Weep o’er the erring one, Lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus the Mighty to save.
This great ship sails unswervingly on, closer and closer to the shore of the uttermost! The lookout cries Land Ho! Dead ahead. The Master com-mands, All hands on deck, make ready to let down the nets!
We that sail under this able Captain do so in reverent willingness obeying his every command. And do so, grateful to be a member of His crew, hanging on his every word. Jesus, the Desire of all nations as our Captain, our strength, are hope, we voyage with him by Grace so rich and free and by unending faith. We sail with Him where ever –how far he has predestined us to go…
The Royal Banners forward go,
The Cross shines forth in mystic glow;
Where He in flesh, our flesh Who made,
Our sentence bore, our ransom paid.
2 There, whilst He hung, His sacred Side
By soldier’s spear was opened wide,
To cleanse us in the precious flood
Of Water mingled with His Blood.
3 O tree of glory, tree most fair,
Ordained those Holy Limbs to bear,
How bright in purple robe it stood,
The purple of a Saviour’s Blood!
4 Upon its arms, like balance true,
He weighed the price for sinners due,
The price which none but He could pay,
And spoiled the spoiler of his prey.
5 To Thee, Eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done:
As by the cross Thou dost restore,
So rule and guide us evermore.
[John M. Neal]
All on board move in unison sing: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that be-lieveth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Be-cause that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.” Romans 1:16-19

Sail on, Sovereign Grace, Sail on!

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The God Who Remembers

The God Who Remembers
I am ashamed of the recent Supreme Court decision to make same sex marriage the law of the land– I will speak to their decision when I have clearly thought through all the ramifications of this unprecedented, but not entirely unexpected action, on the part of the high court’s mandate. When a nation turns from the clear teachings of God’s breathed out word for the pitiful reason of being ‘politically’ correct – I will have plenty to say about this soon. This is not the time! Today, I hope to encourage you and speak to a subject that I believe he would prefer addressed.
A preacher called of God is called as was Jeremiah, often referred to as the “weeping prophet,” to whom God directed saying: gird up your loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I commanded thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.
Not only was Jeremiah commanded to speak in behalf of God but commanded to speak what saith the Lord! Jeremiah 2:1-2 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.
God is not a cruel despot! He is not like a Nero mad with tyrannical power exercising unreasonable authority over the people over which he governs. God is love [1 John 4:8,16].
When the chastening rod of God is wielded on his people its design is to correct and restore, never to punish and destroy. He is our heavenly Father; the Holy Magistrate who is justified in His requirement that His people not only be holy but that they live holy lives before men –for their good and for His own glory – When Christians live lives that reflect shame upon the One they profess to be their God, God is offended. Those who practice sinful living God will chasten but always as an expression of his deep love and always for the benefit of His people.
We are fortunate that God remembers us! Even when we act as disobedient and rebellious children God remembers the times when we lived otherwise holy, godly, lives. His great heart is softened toward us as he recalls the times when our behavior was meant to please and honor His name. His great wrath no longer a possibility.
First, a word of introduction about the times when we play the fool, act as a rebellious child, that is to say, the times of our backsliding – To fall off; to apostatize; to turn gradually from the faith and practice of Christianity.
Asaph, a writer of some of Psalms admitted saying in Psalms 73:1-2; Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. 2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked!
Israel was and continues to be a backslidden nation: Jeremiah 2:19-21 Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts. 20 For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot. 21 Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?

The only people who will and do backslide are, believe it or not, are God’s people! God’s people backslide! I do not imply that “some” backslide, but to state that all of God’s people will at one time or another backslide if by to backslide is meant that they can regress into a period of spiritual dullness or disobedience–1 John 1:6-10 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Our backslidings will bring God’s discipline. That’s because God disciplines those who are truly His people. How should a person who has placed his faith in the only One worthy of such faith, be described?
2 Peter 1:4-11 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
But, if you are thinking of backsliding as defining a meandering Christian, you would be right. But is you are saying that such a person will finally and perpetually fall into perdition and hell remaining unto death in state of willful rebellion or ungodly indifference – you would be incorrect.
A natural man, unforgiven, unsaved does not backslide. This speaks of people who have never known God or who have made a false profession of faith in God. A person whom Christ does not know as His own, or a people who do not know Christ as their own, cannot backslide for his actions are naturally sinful. One cannot backslide upward only downward! Peter confirms by saying: But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
This is the reason we are commanded to examine ourselves to be sure we are in the faith prior to observing the Lord’s Supper. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall. 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We must forestall any negect in ensuring we have cleared our way before our dear Lord before partaking of His Supper!!!
Hebrews 12:6-8– For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards , and not sons.
And though we often play the role of Jeremiah 2:24 A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure we must turn from our wickedness and to the Lord in repentance.
Our Lord Jesus says: Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten : be zealous therefore, and repent. And 1 John 2:18-20 –Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 19 They went out from us , but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. (unction—‘special endowment,’ ‘anointing.’)
A true Christian may slip but never will he completely slide-back into perdition. He may trip but never will he fall ultimately into hell. Jesus said that all who come to Him in faith he will never lose…no, not one!
For this hour I want only to encourage each of you with the knowledge that despite your wanderings from God; despite the times when you forget Him; despite times when you turn from Him and refuse to acknowledge Him and give Him the honor due only to Him; and despite your often irreligious thoughts and deeds, You are always at the forefront of His thoughts; God never forgets us. He says in Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you’re an expected end.
First: My remarks this morning come from Jeremiah 2:2 Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.
I. God remembered Israel who backslid.
1. He remembers the kindness of Israel youth – By youth we should understand as Israel who were the first fruits who followed Moses out of Egypt and terrible bondage. They remembering how that God with a strong hand brought them out of their suffering.
God put Israel, though continually an unruly lot, in remembrance by assuring them that he remembered their love when God first formed Israel into a people, peculiar, precious.
He remembered their love when he led them into the wilderness, and ‘married’ them, he remembered when they sung songs of praise and love for Him. He remembers how the followed after the Pillar of Cloud, trusting Him for the promised land that would be theirs—a land in which a great harvest would be theirs even though that land had yet to feel a plow or receive a seed, the land was theirs by proxy.
They were the first fruits of a new people; forgiven – known of God and loved– brought out of Egypt, bought with a mighty hand! They, if somewhat reluctantly, followed him into a desert of drought, storms, scorpions, and many enemies on their way to a promised land of milk and honey. Surely, they brought with them great expectations of a new life replacing the old – They were “holiness unto the Lord,” that is they would be known to all nations of that age as His people.
2. He remembers the kindness of His people’s youth and love of their espousals when thou wentest after me in the wilderness—God remembered their act of pledges and mutual promises as a man and woman to each other in their marriage vows.
Remember reading in Exodus 19:8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.
Israel tho’ still not totally convinced yet obediently if not totally as to where they were being led, followed Moses being commanded by God to lead them into a vast unknown territory, a dark and foreboding wilderness, a desert known for its grassless drought and harsh conditions, yet they followed.
3. God remembers Israel when they went after Him in the wilderness in a land that was not sown – though they knew not where he would lead them they were eager to leave the cruel bondage of a despot Pharaoh and believe that he would supply their every need, teaching them as they would walk through the valley of the shadow of death –protect them from every enemy, clothe them, feed them, guide and direct them, and all the while teaching them of his righteous laws and most importantly of himself. To Israel who followed him out of Egypt, He remembered that they belonged to him and that he delivered them from the strong task masters who demanded their slavish servitude –
4. God remembered Israel as a delivered people–holiness unto the Lord and the first fruits of his increase: all that devour him (Israel) shall offend: evil shall come upon them –When first brought out of Egypt into the wilderness, by the Lord’s choice and separation of them to be a holy people to him above all others (Israel was the first fruits of a people to be set apart as belonging exclusively to God); by their covenant with him, and their profession of him; and by his giving them holy laws, and placing a sanctuary among them; and by their high priest, who represented them in the most holy place; and had on the front of his mitre written, Holiness unto the Lord (John Gill).
Robert Hawker shows us the graciousness of God’s dealings with his people, even when he is about to reprove them. He puts them in mind of their past affection, and when matters were different with them, from what they now are: and this serves to heighten to their view his grace, and the unreasonableness of their backsliding. Mark how the Lord takes notice of the smallest affections of his people. What could the Lord say more sweet and gracious than what is here said: I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals. Oh! thou gracious Lord! Should any poor backslider of thine, read this blessed scripture; oh give the poor soul grace to discover here from, how the bowels of thy love yearn over precious souls, in their wanderings, and that thou lost remember them still. (See Jeremiah 31:18-20.)
In all of God’s kindness and grace toward his people Israel, they offended God many times and though He through much grace and endless warnings to them, found evil in Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel. Notice in verses 5-8 God’s reason for anger and demand for rebate, repentance, and recompense…
God asked Israel: What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?
This was not entirely a theoretical inquiry! God demanded their acknowledgement with the charge to declare what it was they found reason to abandon God and turn to lesser gods and became arrogant and willfully disrespectful of God. They had not learned that though one begins well, but does not persevere God will chastise them not to destroy but to remind them of His filial relationship to them – God was their Father! He, in his parental role desires only their welfare. He will remind the rebellious child of the danger of deserting the ranks. At the judgment seat they will have no excuse. His plea is always: Return! Repent! And be Restored. When one forgets God’s blessings and seeks to find joy and happiness elsewhere, I have found that they are the ones who oppose God even more than those who never knew Him.
Secondly: The nation nor her priests no longer sought out God through prayer and supplication forgetting altogether what He has done for them: Notice—Who was it that brought them out of Egypt? Who was it that for forty years led them through the wilderness, deserts, pits, drought, and the shadow of death into and through a land where no had previously passed through or had ever habited?
They had forgotten that it was by God’s mighty arm that brought them into a land of plenty where good fruit abounded only to violate the land with their sinful living, and brought upon themselves hatred of other nations openly ridiculing God?
Even the priests (verses 8-9) charged with the care of holy things, and given the obligation to speak to the people in behalf of God and to speak to God in behalf of the people, sinned grievously and along with the people played the harlot preferring to bed with the devil.
Thirdly: verse nine: God had every right to destroy that nation, but to do so would make his promises to them null and void – this He could not do! Instead, they who should have pleaded with God for forgiveness, God condescended to them and pleads with them to repent and return to Him.
II. In the Second Place: God remembers you! — And in doing so God has married Himself to you and you to Him. You are His espoused; He is your heavenly Father! If you have felt His rod of correction due to your backsliding know that you are His and His purpose is not to destroy you but to correct you and bring you back to him, to repentance and full restoration. You are married to Christ, by grace through faith, and it is now you whom He remembers. He remembers you, even if you have forgotten Him. He remembers the day you became His. He has never forsaken you, although you may have forsaken Him.
He remembers the covenants and pledges you make for the loving kindness and gratitude you had toward Him as His new Bride.
He remembers the first blush of your youth, the first bloom of your new life in Him when with a renewed mind you first trusted and continued to abide in Him, all the while growing in grace and knowledge of Him. You knew that you had been delivered from death into new life and your love for Him.
He remembers your joy when you at the first you loved the One who first loved you. He remembers the joy you felt when you learned that you are protected by a man of strength, bonded by His word, guide and ruled by Him authority.
Jesus remembers how eagerly you followed after him seeing by faith the land of His promise, your heavenly home, and he remembers how you, with opportunity learned of Him. You, in your joy loved him and covenanted with him and became willing to put yourself under His yoke knowing that his yoke was easy and His burden light.
The Lord remembers the first emotions you felt toward Him…Does Jesus love you any less today than he did then?
Has He forgotten any of His promises he made to you.
The question is not has He forgotten you but have you forgotten Jesus?
Is He as willing to forgive and restore you today as he did when you first were born into his family?
Is he able to forgive your backsliding? Is he able Cleanse you? Make you whiter than wool? Restore unto you the joy of His salvation? Yes, he is able…!
Has your conscience been seared to where you excused your sins and recused yourself from His rule? Has your love grown cold? Is your heart hardened against Him? Remember backsliding Israel and what God said to them: I will remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not yet sown.
If this describes you today –Examine yourself and if you’ve wandered far from Him, you may come home! Remember if you are Prodigal, if you are given to extravagant expenditures; expending money or other things without necessity; profuse, lavish; wasteful; not frugal or economical; as a prodigal child.
If it is your desire to be remembered by the Lord then as the Psalmist prays in Psalms 28:3 Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbors, but mischief is in their hearts. And, Solomon pleaded: Draw me , we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.
Will you pray this morning for God to bring you near to Himself?; to His everlasting kindness and embrace you as did the Father to the prodigal; Will you run to Christ, your Beloved Lord?; Will he not as the Potter to the clay, re-mold you, repair you restore you?; Will He not renew again your mind conforming you again to Himself? He will not refuse the penitent believer. He will receive you afresh and place you as a vessel of fine wine on the nail of his heavenly abode – he will remember you dear Christian…today!
III. I appeal to you who have made many false professions and by nature do that which offends God– The Lord will upon your repentance, save you. If you shall believe in your heart that He has been raised from the dead you shall be born again; If you have been born again you will do as did Paul the apostle to the Gentiles, confess Jesus before men! You will be compelled to do so – Compelled by His Holy Spirit who will abide in you. Do so today – He receiveth sinners! You stand on the threshold of eternal life.

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The Preeminence of Christ –Colossians 1:14-19

The Preeminence [Supremacy] of Jesus The Christ
Colossians 1:14-19
Robert Hawker: Col. 1:14 –At this verse we enter upon one of the most sublime subjects which God the Holy Ghost hath thought proper to bring before the Church, in his whole inspired writings.
This letter suggests three churches: 1. Colossae – was about 100 miles east of Ephesus, and near Laodicea and Hierapolis [4:13]. Colossae was and ancient but declining commercial center. The gospel may have been taken there during Paul’s ministry at Ephesus [Acts 19:10], though it was Epaphras who played the major role in the evangelism and growth of the Colossian assembly. Paul was personally unacquainted with the believers there [2:1], but Epaphras either visited Paul in prison, while either imprisoned himself [Philemon 23] and reported to Paul on the condition of the church at Colossae. Today, I want us to look at this letter intently because it focuses on One whose name is above every name that at that name, one day, every knee will bow in humble reverence and every mouth will declare Him preeminent over all, something he
is whether declared by some or not, Paul knew him to be over all, before all, Superior over all — preeminent!
Churches are prime targets of radicalism of all sorts. There are always ‘splendid’ men who know not Christ that Satan sends to infiltrate our Lord’s church. By using the adjective of a ‘splendid’ is meant a decent, law-abiding, socially populist in his politic, liberal thinking and tolerant of all other beliefs, he is a man who renders unto Caesar, supports the churches ministries, , generous to the poor and so on but one is not necessarily a regenerated man. Many ‘splendid’ men do indeed ‘creep into churches unawares’ like we read of one who John describes in 3 John 9 as Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth not. They come with ashes in their mouth and their teaching is like the poison of asps. The ground of the church is fertile for such men. These are people who are not necessarily opposed to Christ but bring with them deviate doctrines that attach themselves to Christian beliefs like sucker
fish that attach themselves to great whales while drawing strength to themselves while weakening the vital integrity of church doctrine.
The Colossian heresy: J.C. Ryle writes: “From Paul’s suggestions on the epistle, we can discern some of the features of the false teaching at Colossae. It was a syncretistic, fusing Jewish legalism, Greek philosophic speculation, and Oriental mysticism. Specifics included dietary and Sabbath observances and circumcision rites [2:11, 16], the worship of angels [2:18], and the practice of asceticism, which stemmed from the belief that the body was inherently evil [2:21-23]. In combating this heresy, Paul emphasizes the cosmic significance of Christ as Lord of creation and Head of the church. Any teaching, practice, or intermediary that detracts from the uniqueness and centrality of Christ, is against the truth.”
Martin Luther, the Reformer, was without doubt a brilliant man. His ‘head’ knowledge of Scripture was beyond question. His life was spent in obtaining knowledge from the word of God. He knew, for example, all about Justification by faith. His head was right, but his heart wasn’t. He was miserable. He had no real love for God, in fact he admitted that he hated God. He felt that he was condemned. He labored under the depression of guilt. He was not happy. He knew that one had to be righteous if he was to be saved, and he knew he was not righteous, therefore not saved. The Spirit of God opened Luther’s heart to receive what his mind had known all along. Though he had studied the great letter of Paul, the epistle to the church in Rome, especially, Romans 1:17 the Spirit of God had yet to enable him to comprehend its meaning: For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
However when the Spirit so enabled him to do so, he admitted: “At last meditating day and night, by the mercy of God, I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith. Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open.” Luther came to understand that a works salvation is simply a heavy bag carried on his back. The load was lightened when he understood that by faith in the shed blood of Calvary’s Cross, Christ bought and paid for his sin. From this point he was moved from despair to joy in the Lord. Christ became preeminent in this German monk’s heart! Next stop? The Reformation! A movement fueled by the concept of Justification by faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone.
The Bible clearly states that salvation comes by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ [Acts 4:12] Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
The prophet Isaiah wrote [Isaiah 5:21] Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes , and prudent in their own sight!
Paul condemned those who knew God in mind, but did not honor God him in their heart, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. Romans 1:21-22
John Wesley on his own conversion wrote: On this day, May 24th, 1738 I opened my Bible at about five in the morning and came across these words in 2 Peter 1:4: “There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, even that ye should be partakers of the divine nature.” He read similar words in other places.
That evening he reluctantly attended a meeting in Aldersgate, England, his birthplace. Someone read from Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to Romans [Romans 1:1-17]. About 8:45 p.m. “while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” Christ, at that moment became preeminent in the heart of Wesley, wrote: Then let us adore and give Him His right–All glory and power and wisdom and might, All honor and blessing with angels above, And thanks never ceasing, and infinite love.
John Henry Jowett, the great English preacher, liked to tell about the time he attended the coronation of Edward VII. Westminster Abbey was filled with royalty. Jowett said, “Much bowing and respect was shown as nobility of high rank entered the cathedral.” When the king arrived, however, a hush came over the audience. Every eye was on him, and no longer did the dignitaries of lower status receive the gaze and interest of the people. All the subjects fixed their attention on their royal leader.
This is the way it should be in the mind and life of every Christian–Jesus is the King of kings, and He deserves the place of highest prominence. Naturally we love and respect our families, friends, associates, and those who serve the Lord. But the Lord Jesus must have the preeminence even over them all! Our primary devotion is always to be centered on Him. With all the activities that compete for our time–even the work and program of our church–it’s so easy to take our eyes off the Savior.
In chapter three of this letter, verse one-three, Paul adamantly states: If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on thing on the earth. For ye are dead, and you life is hid with Christ in God!
R W De Haan: May we never lose sight of King Jesus who deserves our praise and worship. Let us join the heavenly voices and say, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor” (Rev. 4:11). Yes, Christ is the preeminent One! –
Paul wrote of Christ’s preeminence in Philippians 2:6 declaring of him, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Of Himself Christ said: Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
The preeminence of Jesus Christ is prevalent throughout the Bible. MacArthur writes: In the Old Testament there is the preparation for Jesus’ coming. In the Gospels there is the presentation of Christ; In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, there is the proclamation; the message of salvation in Christ is announced. In the Epistles we study the personification, that is, ‘for me to live is Christ’ and in the Revelation there is the predomination, or the Christ on the Throne, the reign of the King, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!
He is preeminent because he is the eternal Son of God. He pre-existed over all spiritual, organic, ethereal, or biological matter whether in the heavens or on the earth or under it. That covers a lot of area.
Consider the basis for His Preeminence!
I. Vs. 15 a—He is preeminent because of His relationship with the Father! He is the image of the invisible God –
Here again the relationship of Christ with the Father. Who [going before all things] is the image of the invisible God. This is expanded in Hebrews 1:1-4…
II. Vs. 15 b He is Preeminent on the basis of His relationship with all Creation: Jesus is the first born of every creature [of all creation] –
The Greek word for firstborn can refer to one who was born first chronologically, but most often refers to preeminence in position, or rank (see note on Heb. ; cf. Rom_8:29). In both Greek and Jewish culture, the firstborn was the ranking son who had received the right of inheritance from his father, whether he was born first or not. It is used of Israel who, not being the first nation, was however the preeminent nation (cf. Exo_4:22; Jer_31:9).
This declares Him PRE-IMMINENT BEFORE EVERY OTHER PERSON. John 1:3 states: All things were made by him ; and without him was not anything made that was made. And in Colossians 1:16-17 we read: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him , and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
He is only begotten. Jesus was not derived from any other being; He was neither brought into being by, nor did He issue from a human father, He was born of a virgin, conceived by God. The Son is begotten of the Father. Jesus, is God’s only begotten Son upon whom is the manifested glory of the Eternal Father in human likeness. He is the only Son of whom it is said, “God has many sons but only one only begotten. All others who become sons of God do so by coming to Him through His Eternal Preeminent Son, Jesus Christ.
III. Vs. 18 a—Jesus is the head of the body, the church, Here we see His Preeminence on the basis of His relationship with the body of Christ, the Church!
Paul uses the metaphor of the body to mean the Church, granted there are many churches branched into many particular areas of the world, yet with one head, all branches of the same vine. This is to refer to only churches who adhere to the doctrines as delivered or taught by the apostles. All such assemblies since, wherever located are His churches. He is the Head of the Body, the Church! There is no other head. Our church answers directly to him. No man stands before Christ Jesus in eminence! No man shares His eminence! No man is authorized to stand in Christ’s stead in heaven or on earth. Christ is the only Potentate! He alone is the Chief Corner Stone, the Foundation of the Christian faith; the author and finisher of the faith once delivered; chief Operating Officer; the principal person; The Leader; The commander in chief ; the LORD of hosts; The General marching at the head of his troops; the Great God and Savior, the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls; He is alone at the top and holds the first in rank or place, to whom all things in heaven and in earth are subordinate. [Romans 8:29] speaks of Christians For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he [Jesus Christ] might be the firstborn among many brethren. He is over the whole election of grace, the multitude of redeemed souls, His ‘peculiar people.’ The elect number who by his blood have, He has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
IV. Vs. 18 b – We understand the basis of his preeminence in His relationship with all who die in the Lord. Jesus is the first born from the dead,
This is not to mean that He was the first to be resurrected from the dead, but the first raised in power from the dead never to die again!
V. Vs. 19 – Finally, we see the basis of His preeminence in his relationship to the Godhead! For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell! [We see this again in chapter 2:9].
This was God’s primary purpose in sending his Son… to be Preeminent in all things– it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell…whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Folks, is Jesus Christ the preeminent one in your life, or is he to you being supported by something else? Reject any and all philosophical opinion that would attach itself to Him as a means of salvation. Reject any and all types of mysticism, worship of angels, after the things taught by the worldly elements and ‘science, so called.’ Reject any doctrine of salvation that connects itself with Christ or cannot be proven by Scripture. He alone is preeminent. There cannot be two who are preeminent over another. How can two beings be preeminent? Only Jesus Christ is superior to all other persons or things. He IS PREEMINENT.
VI. CLOSE AND SUMMATION: Spurgeon writes: The apostle John was privileged to look within the gates of heaven, and in describing what he saw, he begins by saying, “I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!” This teaches us that the chief object of contemplation in the heavenly state is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.” Nothing else attracted the apostle’s attention so much as the person of that Divine Being, who hath redeemed us by His blood. He is the theme of the songs of all glorified spirits and holy angels. Christian, here is joy for thee; thou hast looked, and thou hast seen the Lamb. Through thy tears thine eyes have seen the Lamb of God taking away thy sins. Rejoice, then. In a little while, when thine eyes shall have been wiped from tears, thou wilt see the same Lamb exalted on His throne. It is the joy of thy heart to hold daily fellowship with Jesus; thou shalt have the same joy to a higher degree in heaven; thou shalt enjoy the constant vision of His presence; thou shalt dwell with Him for ever. “I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!” Why, that Lamb is heaven itself; for as good Rutherford says, “Heaven and Christ are the same thing;” to be with Christ is to be in heaven, and to be in heaven is to be with Christ. That prisoner of the Lord very sweetly writes in one of his glowing letters–“O my Lord Jesus Christ, if I could be in heaven without thee, it would be a hell; and if I could be in hell, and have thee still, it would be a heaven to me, for thou art all the heaven I want.” It is true, is it not, Christian? Does not thy soul say so?
“Not all the harps above Can make a heavenly place, If God His residence remove, Or but conceal His face.” All thou needest to make thee blessed, supremely blessed, is “to be with Christ.” HE IS PREEMINENT!

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Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats?

Spurgeon[1]An evil is in the ‘professed’ camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most short-sighted Christian can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years this evil has developed at an alarming rate. It has worked like leaven, until the whole lump ferments! 

The devil has seldom done a more clever thing, than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out the gospel, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony–then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses! 

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work, then why did not Christ speak of it? “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature–and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.”
No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to Him. Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people–or because they confronted them? The ‘concert’ has no martyr roll. 

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all His apostles. What was the attitude of the apostolic Church to the world? “You are the salt of the world”–not the sugar candy; something the world will spit out–not swallow.
Had Jesus introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into His teaching, He would have been more popular. When “many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him,” I do not hear Him say: “Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow; something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it! Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow!” 

No! Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them–but never sought to amuse them!
In vain will the epistles be searched to find any trace of the ‘gospel of amusement.’ Their message is, “Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves from them… Don’t touch their filthy things…” Anything approaching amusement is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel, and employed no other weapon. 

After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the Church had a prayer meeting, but they did not pray, “Lord, grant unto your servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are!”
No! They did not cease from preaching Christ. They had no time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world upside down–that is the only difference from today’s church. 

Lastly, amusement fails to effect the end desired. Let the heavy-laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment had been God’s link in the chain of their conversion, stand up! There are none to answer! The mission of amusement produces no converts!
The need of the hour for today’s ministry is earnest spirituality joined with Biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire. 

Lord, clear the Church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her, and bring us back to apostolic methods! 

C. H. Spurgeon

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No Wonder Obama Won’t Let Us Read TPP

On Friday, Congress disrupted President Obama’s plan for a sweeping transfer of U.S. sovereignty to an unaccountable group of foreign busybodies. Hurray for the stalwart Americans who resisted the demands of Obama, the Republican leadership, and the big-donor claque, but Speaker Boehner plans to give Congress another chance this week to make this dangerous mistake.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would turn over to globalists the power to issue regulations about U.S. trade, immigration, the environment, labor and commerce. It’s called a “living agreement” which means the globalists can amend and change the text of the so-called agreement after it has gone into effect.

That reminds me of our supremacist judges who invented the term of a “living” Constitution, which they can rewrite to comport with their own updated ideology. The globalists claim that this “living” document (TPP), now called Obamatrade, has all the powers of a treaty to commit the U.S. to new foreign obligations, although it certainly did not comply with any U.S. constitutional provisions for treaty ratification.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has frankly warned about this giveaway of U.S. sovereignty. Not only would Congress give up its powers to negotiate and write the terms of a treaty, but Congress also gives up its power to debate and amend the deal, to apply a cloture vote in the Senate, and to require a two-thirds vote in the Senate.

The secrecy wrapped around TPP is appallingly un-American. Whatever happened to Obama’s promise of “transparency”? TPP was negotiated and agreed to by Obama’s trade representative and a bunch of foreigners in a secret room, and the American people are not allowed to know the details until after it’s a done deal.

TPP puts us in a new political and economic union before a single private citizen is told about it and with public opinion running five to one against it. Remember when Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass Obamacare in order to find out what is in it?

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) warns, “TPP calls for the formation of a permanent political and economic union known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission, which will have power to issue regulations impacting not only trade but immigration, the environment, labor and commerce. He added, Congress “will have surrendered its legislative prerogatives. Before a word, line, paragraph, or page of this plan is made public, Congress will have even agreed to give up its treaty powers.”

Senator Sessions made it even more emphatic, saying that Fast Track “authorizes the President to form a new transnational governance structure…. it confers the power to both compel and restrict changes to U.S. policy, to commit the U.S. to international obligations, and to cede sovereign authority to a foreign body.” This new global body could even add new member countries (such as China).

Senator Sessions continued: “Congress would be pre-clearing a political and economic union before a word of that arrangement has been made available to a single private citizen. This has the earmarks of a nascent European Union,” and Americans certainly don’t want to belong to a European union (that’s why we fought the American Revolution).

Rep. Hunter also warns that the new global governance institution would be “authorized to issue policies and regulations affecting our economy, our manufacturers, our workers, our immigration procedures, as well as current, labor and environmental practices.”

TPP is separating us from the U.S. Constitution and from national sovereignty and replacing both with a global governance superstructure. TPP has wrapped its audacious global governance plan in the mantle called “free trade,” which is a misnomer if there ever was one.

“Free trade” means Americans must obey a bunch of rules written by foreigners (which we can’t veto), but China can ignore those rules. TPP didn’t even touch the subject of currency manipulation against us by Asian countries.

While the American people are denied the right to read TPP, thanks to leaks from WikiLeaks we have learned that Obamatrade includes ten pages to unilaterally alter our current U.S. immigration law. Senator Sessions says TPP will give Obama a backdoor to increase immigration, and the same lobbyists who are pushing for Obamatrade are demanding open borders.

Republicans need a bold program to bring back jobs that have been lost to Asian countries. Michele Bachmann summed up a pro-American verdict on TPP: “I hate it. It would empower the president, cut out congressional influence, and lead to American jobs leaving the U.S.”

By Phyllis Schlafly

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Dead Sea Crabs on California Beach

Newport Beach Independent, Feb 26, 2015: Thousands of tiny crabs that look like mini lobsters washed up on the shores of Balboa Island this week, covering the sand with a sea of red… They appeared on Balboa Island several weeks ago and then disappeared, but have reappeared. Most appear to have washed ashore dead, but many are still swimming in… crews have been scooping up [remains].

LA Times, Jan 22, 2015: [T]housands of candy-red crabs rarely seen in coastal Southern California have washed ashore in Newport Beach… this marks the first time in years that [Southern California Marine Institute director Daniel Pondella] has heard of them being seen in Southern California. “This is the first warm year we’ve had in quite awhile,” he said. “It could just be a sign of the warm water we’re currently experiencing.”… “I’ve never seen these things before,” [Newport Beach resident Darren Zinter] said. “It’s incredible.”

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