Daily thoughts from our minister.
March 25, 2023
John Chrysostom (347-407) was a prolific writer and preacher. We will be reading several of his thoughts over the next few months. He is well-known in the Eastern Churches, but not so much in the west. Unlike many others, many of his works have survived the centuries, probably because of his status and the quality of his preaching. These are the concluding sentences from one of his sermons on Ephesians 5:22-24. (Homily 20)
For generally the servants also have their characters formed after their master’s, and are fashioned after their humors, love the same objects, which they have been taught to love, speak the same language, and engage with them in the same pursuits. If thus we regulate ourselves, and attentively study the Scriptures, in most things we shall derive instruction from them. And thus shall be able to please God, and to pass through the whole of the present life virtuously, and to attain those blessings which are promised to those that love Him, of which God grant that we may all be counted worthy, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, together with the Holy Ghost, be unto the Father, glory, power, and honor, now, and ever, through all ages. Amen.
March 24, 2023
Here is another thought about study from Charles Spurgeon’s “Daily Meditations”. This one is titled “Evening, November 16.”
“Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty.”
The more you know about Christ the less will you be satisfied with superficial views of him; and the more deeply you study his transactions in the eternal covenant, his engagements on your behalf as the eternal Surety, and the fulness of his grace which shines in all his offices, the more truly will you see the King in his beauty. Be much in such outlooks. Long more and more to see Jesus. Meditation and contemplation are often like windows of agate, and gates of carbuncle, through which we behold the Redeemer. Meditation puts the telescope to the eye and enables us to see Jesus after a better sort than we could have seen him if we had lived in the days of his flesh. Would that our conversation were more in heaven, and that we were more taken up with the person, the work, the beauty of our incarnate Lord. More meditation, and the beauty of the King would flash upon us with more resplendence. Beloved, it is very probable that we shall have such a sight of our glorious King as we never had before, when we come to die. Many saints in dying have looked up from amidst the stormy waters and have seen Jesus walking on the waves of the sea, and heard him say, “It is I, be not afraid.” Ah, yes! when the tenement begins to shake, and the clay falls away, we see Christ through the rifts, and between the rafters the sunlight of heaven comes streaming in. But if we want to see face to face the “King in his beauty” we must go to heaven for the sight, or the King must come here in person. O that he would come on the wings of the wind! He is our Husband, and we are widowed by his absence; he is our Brother, dear and fair, and we are lonely without him. Thick veils and clouds hang between our souls and their true life: when shall the day break and the shadows flee away? Oh, long-expected day, begin!
March 23, 2023
A great message from the wisdom books in the Old Testament (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) is balance. Each one of these books of poetry has a message for us and they balance each other. The conclusion of Ecclesiastes is a reminder that study for the sake of study can be tiring.
It is important that we know what we are studying, why we are studying it, and learn how to apply it. Study must also be grounded on a good foundation. This is what study of the wisdom poems gives to us. The end of Ecclesiastes is not an excuse not to study – it is an encouragement to study the right things with understanding.
The Preacher sought to find pleasing words, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. The sayings of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings which are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
March 22, 2023
Here is a poem from “Kept for the Master's Use” by Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879) about the patient teaching of God.
The Turned Lesson.
‘I thought I knew it!’ she said,
‘I thought I had learnt it quite!’
But the gentle Teacher shook her head,
With a grave yet loving light
In the eyes that fell on the upturned face,
As she gave the book
With the mark still set in the self-same place.
‘I thought I knew it!’ she said;
And a heavy tear fell down,
As she turned away with bending head,
Yet not for reproof or frown,
Not for the lesson to learn again,
Or the play hour lost;—
It was something else that gave the pain.
She could not have put it in words,
But her Teacher understood,
As God understands the chirp of the birds
In the depth of an autumn wood.
And a quiet touch on the reddening cheek
Was quite enough;
No need to question, no need to speak.
Then the gentle voice was heard,
‘Now I will try you again!’
And the lesson was mastered,—every word!
Was it not worth the pain?
Was it not kinder the task to turn,
Than to let it pass,
As a lost, lost leaf that she did not learn?
Is it not often so,
That we only learn in part,
And the Master’s testing-time may show
That it was not quite ‘by heart’?
Then He gives, in His wise and patient grace,
That lesson again
With the mark still set in the self-same place.
Only, stay by His side
Till the page is really known.
It may be we failed because we tried
To learn it all alone,
And now that He would not let us lose
One lesson of love
(For He knows the loss),—can we refuse?
But oh! how could we dream
That we knew it all so well!
Reading so fluently, as we deem,
What we could not even spell!
And oh! how could we grieve once more
That Patient One
Who has turned so many a task before!
That waiting One, who now
Is letting us try again;
Watching us with the patient brow,
That bore the wreath of pain;
Thoroughly teaching what He would teach,
Line upon line,
Thoroughly doing His work in each.
Then let our hearts ‘be still,’
Though our task is turned to-day;
Oh let Him teach us what He will,
In His own gracious way.
Till, sitting only at Jesus’ feet,
As we learn each line
The hardest is found all clear and sweet!
March 21, 2023
Here is an encouragement from Dwight L. Moody that all of us needed (or need) to hear at some point in our lives. This is from his book, “Pleasure and Profit in Bible Study.”
The quicker you learn to feed yourself the better. I pity down deep in my heart any men or women who have been attending some church or chapel for, say five, ten, or twenty years, and yet have not learned to feed themselves.
You know it is always regarded a great event in the family when a child can feed itself. It is propped up at table, and at first perhaps it uses the spoon upside down, but by and by it uses it all right, and mother, or perhaps sister, claps her hands and says, “Just see, baby’s feeding himself!” Well, what we need as Christians is to be able to feed ourselves. How many there are who sit helpless and listless, with open mouths, hungry for spiritual things, and the minister has to try to feed them, while the Bible is a feast prepared, into which they never venture.
There are many who have been Christians for twenty years who have still to be fed with an ecclesiastical spoon. If they happen to have a minister who feeds them, they get on pretty well; but if they have not, they are not fed at all. This is the test as to your being a true child of God—whether you love and feed upon the Word of God. If you go out to your garden and throw down some sawdust, the birds will not take any notice; but if you throw down some crumbs, you will find they will soon sweep down and pick them up. So, the true child of God can tell the difference, so to speak, between sawdust and bread. Many so-called Christians are living on the
world’s sawdust, instead of being nourished by the Bread that cometh down from heaven. Nothing can satisfy the longings of the soul but the Word of the living God.
March 20, 2023
The following is from “T.B. Larimore (1843 – 1929), Letters and Sermons edited by F. D. Srygley” (1903). Larimore moved from East Tennessee to Hopkinsville, KY during the Civil war. He was baptized on July 10, 1864, on his 21st birthday. He spent the rest of his life preaching and teaching. He is an example of one who reflected his time and place of birth, but continued to change and grow throughout his life.
“Man is so constituted that he must have rules, regulations, discipline, government, in all the relationships of life. Every school must have its rules, regulations, government, discipline. It is true that there are arbitrary rules, as there are arbitrary teachers; but the existence of arbitrary rules no more argues against the importance of rules than the existence of arbitrary teachers argues against the importance of teachers. Every school must have its rules, regulations, discipline, government; and they must be properly administered and properly respected, that the school may be a blessing to the community in which it is. and, it may be, a blessing to mankind -to the human race.
The church of the living God is a school, all Christians being pupils, scholars, or disciples, in that school; and the sixty-six volumes of the Bible are the textbooks for these pupils to study, that they may grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. Jesus is the great Teacher the Teacher of teachers. God is the supreme head over this divine, spiritual institution; and he has, by the Holy Ghost, revealed all the divine lessons constituting our inspired textbooks, that, thus blessed by Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we may know and do his holy will, and be forever blessed.”
March 19, 2023
What follows are three sections from Psalm 119. There are
conditions that make study and learning possible. Three of those things are
attitude, experience, and understanding of who we are (where we come from).
In the texts here we can learn that the goal of the study of God’s word, his “righteous ordinances” is to learn how to have a good and upright heart. Second, study of the Bible helps us learn how to deal with difficult parts of life. Overcoming challenges involves humility and faith. When the Psalmist says “It is good for me that I was afflicted,” it is clear that whatever the affliction was it proved to be a time of learning more the value of God’s will for us. Third, the Psalmist understands that they are a creation of God. That understanding is a healthy lens through which we can look at our lives.
Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
Thou hast commanded thy precepts
to be kept diligently.
O that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping thy statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all thy commandments.
I will praise thee with an upright heart,
when I learn thy righteous ordinances.
I will observe thy statutes;
O forsake me not utterly!
Thou hast dealt well with thy servant,
O LORD, according to thy word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in thy commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray;
but now I keep thy word.
Thou art good and doest good;
teach me thy statutes.
The godless besmear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep thy precepts;
their heart is gross like fat,
but I delight in thy law.
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn thy statutes.
The law of thy mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
Thy hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn thy commandments.
Those who fear thee shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in thy word.
I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right,
and that in faithfulness thou hast afflicted me.
Let thy steadfast love be ready to comfort me
according to thy promise to thy servant.
Let thy mercy come to me, that I may live;
for thy law is my delight.
Let the godless be put to shame,
because they have subverted me with guile;
as for me, I will meditate on thy precepts.
Let those who fear thee turn to me,
that they may know thy testimonies.
May my heart be blameless in thy statutes,
that I may not be put to shame!