Look where you’re going!

john baptist
Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you!

I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
like an owl of the waste places;
I lie awake;

I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
Psalm 102:1, 6-7 ESV

 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, …
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:1, 5 ESV

‘Look where you’re going!’ was one of many helpful bits of advice my father gave me; it became most memorable on the occasion (aged three) that I stepped into a tin of red roofing paint, up to my knee. My feet still tend to follow my eyes; I end up going where I am looking. So who is to blame if I find myself in the desert? And how do I find my way out? This final brief post on the theme Owl or Eagle? also comes from Charles Spurgeon…

Charles Spurgeon said… “The Lord alone can change spiritual sadness into spiritual gladness. No hand can heal a broken heart save the divine hand that made it. ….. The only true (cure) comes from Calvary! … He alone can turn the owl into an eagle, but He can do it! He understands your case, for He has passed through an experience exactly similar to yours. He has not only walked the hospitals – that is an essential thing for a physician to do – but … Christ took upon Himself our sicknesses, and bore our sorrows – and even our sins…

So … look to Him! If you have only an owl’s eyes, yet turn them to Christ, and He will change them into an eagle’s eyes. If you are only as the owl of the desert, resolve that you will see no light but His light, for, then, His light will surely soon come to you!  

… As Christ has redeemed us, so the Holy Spirit comforts us… And the Holy Spirit uses the very best medicine …. Do you ask, ‘What is that?’ Christ said to His disciples, “He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you.” What medicine can ever be equal to the things of Christ? O poor owl of the desert, if the Spirit of God shall come and visit you, as He will, and reveal the things of Christ to your soul, you will then spread your wings, like an eagle, and mount aloft into the heavenlies in Christ Jesus!

From a sermon by Charles Spurgeon Owl or Eagle, preached on Sunday, March 10th, 1872

14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:14-15 ESV

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Satisfaction!

Chagall David

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you!
I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
like an owl of the waste places; I lie awake;
I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
Psalm 102:1, 6-7 ESV

 

 


Bless the
Lord, O my soul,

… who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:1, 5 ESV

That our taste for satisfaction sometimes leads us to choose to sin is sadly ironic when to choose submission to God will bring a taste of heaven and satisfaction too. This second of three brief posts on the theme Owl or Eagle? also comes from Charles Spurgeon…

Charles Spurgeon said:Here is a man under a sense of sin. He … cries, ‘I am like an owl of the desert.’ … But look what happens when the Lord Jesus Christ manifests Himself to that poor guilty sinner! He looks at Christ upon the cross …honestly and sincerely, and trusts Him with his soul! Have you not seen the change that such an experience works in men?

Now he is not like an owl any longer. His sin is completely forgiven. In a moment he has passed from darkness into marvelous light, from bondage into liberty, from death unto life!

“… Ask him whether he is like an owl, now, and he will say, “God forbid! Why should I be?”

See how the man walks now? Before, his feet seemed like lead. Now, they appear almost as if they were winged, like the feet of the fabled messenger of the gods. Now, the man runs along the path of duty! He delights in his God. He loves Him! He adores Him! He triumphs in Him, and boasts of the Lord Jesus Christ as His Savior.

All this change is sometimes worked in a single hour—yes, in a single moment the sackcloth and ashes are taken away, (he is) girded with the garments of praise—and sorrow is changed into overflowing bliss!”

From a sermon by Charles Spurgeon Owl or Eagle? preached on Sunday, March 10th, 1872.

Owl or eagle?

David again
Hear my prayer, O
Lord;
let my cry come to you!
I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
like an owl of the waste places; I lie awake;
I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
Psalm 102:1, 6-7 ESV



Bless the
Lord, O my soul,
… who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:1, 5 ESV

After thirty years of reading the Psalms (almost) daily, and several of sharing them at Singing in Babylon (WordPress) my gratitude to God for them keeps growing. That, soon, I will have no such need of them, staggers me; that, in heaven, the pain that drove me to them will not just be gone from experience, but from memory too; that the owl will be, forever, an eagle. This first of three brief posts on the theme Owl or Eagle? comes from Charles Spurgeon…

Charles Spurgeon said: “(Without the Psalms) we might have supposed that these gracious men of the olden time were not subject to the same infirmities as ourselves. And we might have concluded that we were not the Lord’s people, ‘for, surely,’ we would have said, ‘God’s true people never wandered as we wander, never failed as we fail, were never downcast as we are, and were never on the borders of despair as we sometimes are.’ 

But we turn to this blessed Book, and we find that the saints of God described in it were very much like the saints of the present time! The sea of life is rough to us, and it was rough to them. Their vessels leaked, then, and ours leak now. The winds sometimes blow a hurricane just as they did then, and spiritual navigation was, in their day, very much what it is today.

This must always be a cause of consolation to us, and also a means of direction, for, seeing that they fought and struggled as we do, we can examine their methods to discover how they gained their victories. And, having the same sort of enemies to deal with, and the same divine assistance at our disposal, we flee for help and strength where they fled, and use the same means which they used so well in overcoming their adversaries.

If God had changed, that would have altered matters for us, but, since He is still the same, and deals with His children after the same rule of grace, we are both comforted and instructed as we read how He delivered His ancient people.”

From a sermon by Charles Spurgeon Owl or Eagle, p
reached on Sunday, March 10th, 1872.

Hard pressed?

John Piper31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;  we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’
33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
Luke 7:31-34 ESV

Jesus wasn’t shocked by the opposition that his gospel aroused (John 2). Our perversity towards Him, our stubborn rejection of the truth about ourselves, came as no surprise to Him, and it never for a moment diminished His love for us. Our opposition was powerless to prevent His purpose being fulfilled. This final brief post on the theme of opposition also comes from John Piper.

John Piper wrote: “And if there is enough conflict and hostility that those who speak the gospel are even imprisoned, that very moment of bad press may be the occasion of gospel triumph. Why? Because, Paul said, ‘I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal [for the gospel]. But the word of God is not bound!’(2 Timothy 2:9). In fact, it may be that when God and truth are loved enough that we are willing to take stands that incur slander and hostility, the Spirit may move more powerfully than in times of peace and popularity.

“Sometimes Christians have favor with society and sometimes we ‘are spoken against everywhere.’ In either case, God can, and often does, pour out His power for effective witness. Both peace and slander can be the occasion of blessing.

“Therefore let us not embrace the assumption that times of social ridicule must be times of weakness and fruitlessness for Christianity. They may be a sign of faithfulness and occasions of great harvest. The church was ‘spoken against everywhere,’ and ‘the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.’ (Acts 19:20).

From John Piper in Pierced by the Word.

Anything for a quiet life?

John Piper

We need not be discouraged that either controversy inside the Church, or persecution from outside, will prevent the Body of Christ in the Twenty-first century from experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit, and the (perhaps stunning) growth that He intends to bring about. This second of three brief posts on the theme of opposition also comes from John Piper.

 

John Piper writes: “This seems to be Luke’s view, because, even though he portrayed Christianity as ‘spoken against everywhere,’ he also portrayed relentless growth throughout the book of Acts.

‘The Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved’ (Acts 2:47).

‘The disciples were increasing in number’ (Acts 6:1).

‘The word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly’ (Acts 6:7).

‘The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord’ (Acts 11:21).

‘The word of God increased and multiplied’ (Acts 12:24).

‘The churches…increased in number daily’ (Acts 16:5).

‘All the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord’ (Acts 19:10).

‘The word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily’ (Acts 19:20).

“Therefore, we must not think that controversy and conflict keep the church from experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit and dramatic growth. We are taught in Romans12:18, ‘If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.’ But we are not taught to sacrifice truth for peace. So Paul said, ‘Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed’ (Galatians 1:8).”

From John Piper in Pierced by the Word.

Hated for His name’s sake?

John Piper

When you suffer, writes Peter (1 Peter 3) better to suffer ‘for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.’ The Church is more and more spoken against, sometimes deservedly, but often not so. How does this affect our role as witnesses to Christ? This first of three brief posts on the theme of opposition comes from John Piper.

 

John Piper writes: “Can the gospel spread and thousands be converted, and churches grow, and love abound where Christianity is continually spoken against? Yes. It not only can; it has.

“… How do we know this? Consider the way Luke reports the state of the church in the book of Acts. When Paul finally gets to Rome near the end of his life, he invites the ‘local leaders of the Jews’ to come and hear his gospel. What these leaders say about the ‘sect’ of Christians is very significant. They say, “With regard to this sect we know that it is spoken against everywhere.” (Acts 28:22).

“This is not surprising to disciples who knew that Jesus said, You will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake’ (Matthew 24:9). And: ‘Woe to you, when all men speak well of you’ (Luke 6:26). And: ‘If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!’ (Matthew 10:25).

“The early church was an embattled church. Yes, there were seasons of calm (Acts 9:31); but that was the exception. Most of the time there were slanders and misunderstandings and accusations and persecutions, not to mention internal disputes about ethics and doctrine. Virtually all of Paul’s letters reflect controversy in the church as well as affliction from outside. The point is not that this is desirable, but that it need not hinder great power and growth. In fact, it may be the occasion and reason for great power and growth.”

From John Piper in Pierced by the Word.

16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 1Peter3:16-17 ESV

Jesus said, “Unless…”.

God's Words

Childlikeness towards God, said Jesus – meaning simple trust, responsiveness, and dependence – is the spirit in which alone we enter the divine kingdom and live its life (Matthew 18:3 f.)” So says Dr. J. I. Packer commenting on the similarities between our physical life as newborns, and our spiritual life when we, by Grace, through faith, are born again. This final brief post on the theme signs of Life also comes from Dr. J. I. Packer…

Dr Packer writes: “Third, the baby moves, turning its head, flexing its limbs, later on rolling, crawling, tottering, toddling, exploring; and similarly the born-again person moves in the spiritual realm into which he has now come, sorting out priorities, reshaping his life in the light of his new allegiance, exploring Christian relationships and ways of worship, using enterprise for the Lord in many kinds of work and witness. Constantly to be ‘zealous for good deeds’ (Titus 2:14) and to be wanting and trying to do more and more for God’s kingdom is thus a third sign of being regenerate.

“Fourth, the baby rests, relaxing completely and sleeping soundly in adult arms and wherever else feels firm; and in the same way the born-again person rests in the knowledge that God’s everlasting arms are underneath him (Deuteronomy 33:27) ‘I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast’ (Psalm 131:2). Constantly to rest in quiet contentment, concerned only to be faithful in obedience and leaving it to God to overrule the outcome, is thus a fourth sign of being regenerate.”

From J I Packer in God’s Words.