Looking at Jesus

morning-and-evening-cover

“Looking to Jesus”

Hebrews 12:2 ESV

 

 

Here is a thought from Charles Spurgeon, adding to the previous post about the consequences of our contemporary obsession with ourselves and the notion that our truest ‘happiness’ is discovered by getting (and going) our own way.

It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.” All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.” Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument–it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “looking unto Jesus.” Keep thine eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to him; when thou liest down at night look to him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail thee.

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness:
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

From C.H.Spurgeon ‘Morning and Evening’

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What shall I say?

Utmost  “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”   John 12:27-28a ESV

First published in 1927, ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ has been a staple of daily readings for Christians ever since. Sometimes challenging to cherished theological views it is always, at least in my experience, equally challenging to cherished sins and struggling disciples. 

Here is June 25th’s reading, ‘Receiving One’s Self in the Fires of Sorrow’. I think it makes interesting reading in light of our contemporary obsession with ‘self-realization’.

‘My attitude as a saint to sorrow and difficulty is not to ask that they may be prevented, but to ask that I may preserve the self God created me to be through every fire of sorrow. Our Lord received himself in the fire of sorrow. He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour.
We say that there ought to be no sorrow, but there is sorrow, and we have to receive ourselves in its fires. If we try and evade sorrow, refuse to lay our account with it, we are foolish. Sorrow is one of the biggest facts in life; it is no use saying sorrow ought not to be. Sin and sorrow and suffering are, and it is not for us to say that God has made a mistake in allowing them.
Sorrow burns up a great amount of shallowness, but it does not always make a man better. Suffering either gives me my self or it destroys my self. You cannot receive your self in success, you lose your head; you cannot receive your self in monotony, you grouse. The way to find yourself is in the fires of sorrow. Why it should be so is another matter, but that it is so is true in the Scriptures and in human experience. You always know the man who has been through the fires of sorrow and received himself, you are certain you can go to him in trouble and find that he has ample leisure for you. If a man has not been through the fires of sorrow, he is apt to be contemptuous, he has no time for you. If you receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people.

From ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ by Oswald Chambers.

Bread and Circuses?

Bread and Circus colour
… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties…everything now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses…
Juvenal, Satire 10.77-81 c.200AD

 
Brazil Stadium
The television audience for the 2014 Football World Cup in Brazil may reach a new record (more than the 3.6 billion who watched the 2008 Beijing Olympics).    I will be one.

 

Few of us who watch, I imagine,  will be thinking about the cost involved, socially and in dollar terms (Brazilian ‘reals’- R$) to the people of Brazil, some of whom have been left at least temporarily homeless by the construction of new stadiums and are ruing delays to other, arguably more important, infrastructure developments though any criticism of what many would call the true ‘religion’ of Brazil, football, will likely find little support.

Karl M

 

Karl Marx (I doubt he was a football fan, though I may be wrong) was critical of what he called ‘religion’- “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”.

 

 

He looks so natural
Maybe, in this increasingly secular 21st Century, sport, or at least ‘entertainment’ has outpaced if not out-placed religion in this respect. Now, even the ‘religious’ among us seem willing to turn to sport and the media, including ‘social’ (unsocial?) media, to distract us in our discontent with our soulless, heartless, world.

 

 

Recently, I was explaining to a younger relative, that the ‘Economics’ I studied at High School was not Home Economics but something else entirely (though I have since wondered whether my choice of subjects was not in itself an opportunity missed.

Bread and CiceroOne key concept I still remember (after 45 years) is the notion of ‘opportunity cost’ defined as “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen” and in economics, as in life, the ‘opportunity costs’ we incur by our choices are not just financial  but may include ‘the cost of lost time, pleasure or any other benefit’.

 

Cicero (above) was on to something I think (I hope I am not just trying to justify to myself the hours I still intend to spend watching the World Cup). The evil is not (necessarily) in the sport, the films, the television or even in the ‘un-social’ media themselves but may well be in my willingness at times, to sell my rights, not just as a free man, but my rights as a child of God, for the belly-filling ‘pottage’ of entertainment that spoils my appetite for Him.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.’ Galatians 6:7-8 ESV