Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Does Christ live in the parlour of your heart?

"Rest assured, Christ will not live in the parlour of our hearts if we entertain the devil in the cellar of our thoughts."

(Charles H. Spurgeon, commenting on Psalm 5:6, in The Treasury of David, I.47)

"Lord Jesus, please make yourself at home in the living-room, and indeed every room, of my heart. Please forgive me for every time I have ever entertained sinful thoughts. Root out any pernicious thought in the cellar of my mind. Thank You, sweet Jesus. Amen."

Flattery is Fatalistic

"A clerical sycophant is only fit to be a scullion in the devil's kitchen."

(Charles H. Spurgeon, commenting on Psalm 2:10, in The Treasury of David, I.18)

"Heavenly Father, may I, as clergy, not be guilty of trying to curry favor from others. Deliver us from flattery and fawning before famous people in order to procure personal pleasantries. Please spare me from stooping to such a slavish spot in Satan's kitchen."

Application of Yourself and the Text

"Apply yourself wholly to the text,
Apply the text wholly to yourself."

--J. A. Bengel

"Lord, aid me in applying myself totally to the biblical text and applying the biblical text totally to myself. Help me avoid the perilous pitfalls of, on the one hand, applying myself only partially and half-heartedly to the biblical text and, on the other hand, of applying the biblical text hypocritically and only to others who seem to need it more than I do. Amen."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Are God's Children Starving Even While Seated at His Table?

"There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy. I trust I speak in charity, but the lack in our pulpits is real. Milton's terrible sentence applies to our day as it did to his: 'The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed'. It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the kingdom, to see God's children starving while actually seated at the Father's table"

- A.W. Tozer

"Lord, as the hungry sheep stare up, use me to serve them scrumptuous and satisfying portions from Your delectable word. Help Your preachers faithfully feed Your flock as we feast at the Father's fine table. Surely, if we gorge ourselves on God's good word then we would not be guilty of gluttony. May we taste Your savory sweetness and see that the Lord is good. In Jesus' Name. Amen."

Pilgrim, Are You Progressing in Piety?

"Young converts are prone to depend too much on joyful frames, and love high excitement in their devotional exercises; but their heavenly Father cures them of this folly, by leaving them for a season to walk in darkness and struggle with their own corruptions. When most sorely pressed and discouraged, however, He strengthens them with might in the inner man. He enables them to stand firmly against temptation; or, if they slide, he quickly restores them, and by such exercises they become much more sensible of their entire dependence than they were at first. They learn to be in the fear of the Lord all the day long, and to distrust entirely their own wisdom and strength, and to rely for all needed aid on the grace of Jesus Christ. Such a soul will not readily believe that it is growing in grace. But to be emptied of self-dependence, and to know that we need aid for every duty, and even for every good thought, is an important step in our progress in piety. The flowers may have disappeared from the plant of grace, and even the leaves may have fallen off, and wintry blasts may have shaken it, but now it is striking its roots deeper, and becoming every day stronger to endure the rugged storm."

-Archibald Alexander

"Heavenly Father, when the storms of life assail, may Your gracious will prevail. When You are growing us in grace, give us faith to trust You, even when we cannot see Your beautiful face. Rid us of self-reliance and root us in God-dependence. In Jesus' name. Amen."

Sermonettes or "sweet but substanceless snacks"

“Much of what emanates from modern pulpits would not be recognized by history’s great preachers as being Bible-based and glorifying to God. Rather than the spiritual meat the Body of Christ needs–marked by doctrinal clarity, a sense of gravity, convincing argument, and a proper focus on Christ–entire churches are being administered a sweet but substanceless snack by their pastors. Consequently, congregations leave the sanctuary malnourished and ill-prepared to stand firm when their faith is challenged.” - Alistair Begg

Sermonettes produce Christianettes. (I heard one preacher add: "who smoke cigarettes" to this sad but true axiom.)

"Lord Jesus, please help me consistently prepare and regularly present a full-course meal through the whole counsel of God from the inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God in order to equip the saints of God to do the work of God by the Holy Spirit of God for the glory of God the Father. Amen."

Preacher, What Is Your Biggest Problem?

“A preacher’s biggest problem is how to toughen his hide without hardening his heart.”

—Vance Havner

While in seminary I remember hearing this little ditty: "A Preacher should have the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child, and the hide of a rhinoceros." In other words, he should be thoughtful, tender-hearted, and thick-skinned.

Unfortunately, too many preachers (and Christians) have the mind of a child, the heart of a rhinoceros, and the hide of a child. In other words, they are shallow, jaded, and touchy.

"Holy Spirit, cultivate in me the proper balance of head, heart, and hide. In Jesus' name. Amen."

Do You Need A Vacation?

"A vacation is what you take when
you can no longer take what you've been taking."

--Earl Wilson

Preacher, Are You a People-Pleaser?

The Man, His Son, and the Ass
(A fable by Aesop)

A man and his son were driving an ass to market, where it was to be sold. “Have you no more sense,” said a passer-by, “than to trudge along, letting your ass go without a load?” So the man put his son on the ass, and they went on. “You lazy young rascal,” said the next person they met; “aren’t you ashamed to ride, and let your poor old father go on foot?” The man lifted off his son, and got on himself. Two women passed, one saying to the other, “Look at that selfish old fellow, riding while his little son follows on foot!” The man then took the boy up behind him. The next traveller they met asked the man whether the ass was his, and on being told that it was, he said, “No one would think so, from the way you use it. Why, you are better able to carry the ass than he is to carry both of you.” So the man tied that ass’s legs to a pole and, staggering under the weight, they carried it into the town. There they were greeted with so much laughter that the man, infuriated, threw the ass into the river and, seizing his son by the arm, set off home.

Moral: He who tries to please everybody pleases nobody.

J. Harold Smith said it this way: “Every preacher who trims himself to suit everybody will soon whittle himself away.”

What is Preaching?

“Preaching is not the art of making a sermon and delivering it. Preaching is the art of making a preacher and delivering him.”

—Bishop Quayle

Hast Thou No Scar ?

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die: and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I
Hast thou no wound?

No wound, no scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And, pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole: can he have followed far
Who has no wound nor scar?

—Amy Carmichael