Thursday, January 29, 2015

Well Said!

"How often do we hear about the discipline of the Christian life these days?  How often do we talk about it?  How often is it really to be found at the heart of our evangelical living?   There was a time in the Christian church when this was at the very center, and it is, I profoundly believe, because of our neglect of this discipline that the church is in her present position.   Indeed, I see no hope whatsoever of any true revival and reawakening until we return to it." -   D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Power of Gospel Music

Edward Payson Scott (1832-1869) was an America  missionary  to  India during the Civil War.   The following excerpt comes from Thomas Ray at the The Baptist Bible Tribune.
“After seven years of diligent and faithful service, Scott became convinced God had called him to take the gospel to the unevan­gelized Naga tribes. The Naga were brutal and cruel head­hunters. Before a young man was allowed to marry he had to kill at least 30 of his enemies, after which he would shrink their heads and wear them around his neck as a token of his bravery. Only after accomplishing this feat would he be con­sidered brave enough to defend a wife.
The British military commander, upon hearing of Scott’s plans, warned him that any attempt to enter the Naga terri­tory would certainly cost him his life. Scott was undeterred. Armed with only his Bible and violin and prayer for the suc­cess of his mission, he entered Naga territory. Suddenly he was surrounded by 12 savage warrior chiefs; their spears were raised and death seemed imminent. Scott demonstrated no fear, placed his violin on his shoulder, and began to play and sing “Am I a Soldier of the Cross.” The Naga, mesmerized by the beautiful music, slowly lowered their spears. Scott, sens­ing he had gained their attention, explained he had come to tell them about the one true God. He asked the chiefs for their permission to live among them. They agreed to his request but only if he would bring his violin. 
Scott’s ministry among the Naga produced amazing results. In fact, the Naga would become one of the most evangelized people groups in India. Tragically, in 1869, Asi­atic cholera struck the Naga and thousands died from this dreaded disease, including missionary Edward Scott. The last words he spoke were in response to his wife’s question, “Do you have peace?” He responded, “Yes, perfect peace.” 
Other accounts attribute the song that won the hearts of the Naga people to  "All Hail the Power of Jesus Name".  However,  it appears there is  stronger support  for Isaac Watt's  "Am I a Soldier of the Cross".   Either way, the  fact that God used  Gospel music and a fearless missionary to reach an otherwise unreachable tribe is amazing.

Am I a Soldier of the Cross
Lyrics:  Isaac Watts – 1721
Music: Thomas A. Arne, 1762
arr. by Ralph Harrison,  pub.1784

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follow’r of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His name?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flow’ry beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord;
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.
Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faith’s discerning eye.
When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of vict’ry through the skies,
The glory shall be Thine.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Wrath of God Revealed: Romans 1:18

 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." Romans 1:18
"The wrath of God is revealed. — The declaration of the wrath of God is a fit preparation for the announcement of grace, —   
... It is the universal voice of nature, and is also revealed in the consciences of men.   It was revealed when the sentence of death was first pronounced, the earth cursed, and man driven out of the earthly paradise, and afterwards by such examples of punishment as those of the deluge, and the destruction of the Cities of the Plain by fire from heaven, but especially by the reign of death throughout the world.   It was proclaimed in the curse of the law on every transgression, and was intimated in the institution of sacrifice, and in all the services of the Mosaic dispensation.  
   In the eighth chapter of this Epistle, the Apostle calls the attention of believers to the fact that the whole creation has become subject to vanity, and groaneth and travaileth together in pain.   The same creation which declares that there is a God, and publishes His glory, also proves that He is the enemy of sin and the avenger of the crimes of men.    So that this revelation of wrath is universal throughout the world, and none can plead ignorance of it.   
  But, above all, the wrath of God was revealed from heaven when the Son of God came down to manifest the Divine character, and when that wrath was displayed in His sufferings and death, in a manner more awful than by all the tokens God had before given of His displeasure against sin. Besides this, the future and eternal punishment of the wicked is now declared in terms more solemn and explicit than formerly.   Under the new dispensation, there are two revelations given from heaven, one of wrath, the other of grace. "1
1. Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans by Robert Haldane;  pg. 55-56;  Forgotten Books 2012; originally published 1874
Who was Robert Haldane?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hope for Women Grieving Abortion

   On January 22, 1973 the US Supreme Court  made  the landmark decision to  allow a woman to abort her unborn child.  (Roe v. Wade).    Research has shown that a large percentage of women have deeply regretted making that decision and  many  have suffered psychological trauma and depression as a result.
  If you are one of those women  and have   wondered if  it's even possible to be  forgiven and enjoy peace again,    God has made  a  gracious provision  for   you.   He has sent His only Son Jesus Christ,  who was literally God  Himself  manifest  in the flesh (John 1:1-3).    Jesus Christ was without sin and lived  a perfect life for the express purpose  of dying to save  sinners.    He   willingly gave his life (John 10:18)  as a ransom for all who turn away from their sins and  by faith  put their trust in Him (Matthew 20:28).    Whether our sin is great or small,  his sacrifice was a sufficient  payment for every  sin we  have ever or  will ever commit. 
   No matter who we are or what we have done, there is nothing we  can do to merit God's forgiveness except to believe in Christ  (John 6:28-29).    Salvation  is a free gift from God that  cannot be earned (Ephesians 2:8-9).     Christ   rose from the dead three days later as proof that he was who he claimed to be.  (I Corinthians 15:3-4)     He is alive today (Matthew 28:20) and has promised to  cleanse you from every  sin,  free you from   your burden of guilt  and comfort you   through his Holy Spirit.   (Matthew 11:28)
 " God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.   Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God."  Romans 5:8
 Maybe you are already a Christian and know  that you are forgiven and  you are still grieving the loss of your baby.    You are probably  familiar with  Psalm 139  so please take a fresh look at  verse 16.      
" Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; 
in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
   Dear sister,  this verse applies  to  both  you and  to your child.     It  reveals  that every moment  of our existence from the time  of our conception  was  pre-ordained by God.      Even though   a woman who has aborted her child must take full responsibility for her actions by confessing it to God  and repenting of it,   it is still God  who ultimately has predetermined  how long each person lives, even  if they are still in the womb.     God is sovereign over all things, both good and evil,  even though this has always been a great mystery.
 When you   meditate on this beautiful  Psalm  I pray it  brings you much comfort through  knowing that God  is intimately involved in   every detail of your life.   He loves you and cares for you.    May you sleep peacefully tonight  knowing that  He has forgiven you because of what Christ did  on the cross  on  your behalf.   

Performed by The Sons of Korah
 PSALM 139: 1-18 
O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

                  Photo by Katie Tegtmeyer, Creative Commons license

Monday, January 19, 2015

Keeping On the Sunny Side of Life

Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed can sure be depressing.   The world is filled with so much trouble.   The church is full of troubles too.     Robert and I were talking about this over coffee this morning  and I posed the question  “How much attention should Christians be giving to things that are  so “negative”?   In his own inimitable way he said,  “As much as Christ and the Apostles did in the New Testament”.    
  We discussed how Romans  chapters 1-3  are clearly a  downer when we read the long list of indictments against  humanity : 

“Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”  Roman 3:13-14

But then Paul switches gears with all those wonderful  BUT GOD’s and we see that God has given us Christ to redeem us and give us hope, and  an inheritance of eternal  blessing:

“Blessed are those
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
 Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”  Romans 4:7-8

  It’s unrealistic to expect Christians to go around grinning like a Cheshire cat.   But it’s also  unhealthy  to  allow ourselves  to become miserable  over  the state of things.     There is a  monumental  difference between  joy and the superficial  kind of “happiness” that is solely contingent upon circumstances.     True or genuine happiness is the kind that comes from God.   It is that “peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, [which] will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4:7

I’ve title this post after a Bluegrass Song by the Carter family that I’ve loved since I was young.    I hope this quick  little blogpost gets a lot of hits today because I think it's a message Christians could use as we witness the world and the church deteriorating around us.  
How many of those things that  bring us low would be lifted off our shoulders by simply resting in what Christ has done and will continue to do for us?

Let us greet with the song of hope each day
Tho' the moment be cloudy or fair
Let us trust in our Saviour alway
Who keepeth everyone in His care”