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.

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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.

Vital Signs?

God's Words

 

When Jesus said, ‘You must be born again’ (John 3) Nicodemus asked the obvious question. Jesus replied that this is not a problem we are left to solve on our own. God Himself works our re-generation in us, by his Spirit. How do we know when He has? This first of three brief posts on the theme signs of Life comes from Dr. J. I. Packer…

J I Packer writes: “The signs whereby a regenerate person may be known correspond to the natural actions of the newborn child. First, the baby cries, instinctively; and the born-again person instinctively prays, crying to God in dependence, hope and trust as a child to his father.

The gospel which he received and to which he responded by embracing Christ as Saviour and lord promised him adoption into God’s family (Galatians4:4 f.), and now it is his nature to treat God as his Father, bringing to him all his own felt needs and desires. We (regenerate believers) “received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:15).

The new Christian’s prayers are honest and heartfelt, as children’s cries for help always are, and though as he matures prayer may become harder (this does happen) it never ceases to be the most natural activity in which he engages. Constantly to look up to God as your Father in heaven and to talk to him from your heart is thus a sign of being regenerate.”

From J I Packer in God’s Words.

Rise and Shine?

Utmost

 

Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
Ephesians 5:14 ESV

‘Apart from me you can do nothing,’ Jesus said. ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’ said Paul. Jesus was reminding sinners, like us, that, apart from Himself, we would be forever unfruitful. Paul was reminding sinners, like himself, but in whom Christ Himself now lived, that anything God willed, they could do, overcoming every obstacle and bearing much fruit. This first of three brief posts on the theme of Overcoming Life comes from Oswald Chambers…

Oswald Chambers writes…  “All initiative is not inspired. A man may say to you – ‘Buck up, take your disinclination by the throat, throw it overboard, and walk out into the thing!’ That is ordinary human initiative. But when the Spirit of God comes in and says, in effect, ‘Buck up,’ we find that the initiative is inspired. We all have any number of visions and ideals when we are young, but sooner or later we find that we have no power to make them real. We cannot do the things we long to do, and we are apt to settle down to the visions and ideals as dead, and God has to come and say – ‘Arise from the dead.’

When the inspiration of God does come, it comes with such miraculous power that we are able to arise from the dead and do the impossible thing. The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that the life comes after we do the ‘bucking up.’

God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome.

When the inspiration of God comes, and He says, ‘Arise from the dead,’ we have to get up; God does not lift us up. Our Lord said to the man with the withered hand – ‘Stretch forth thy hand,’ and as soon as the man did so, his hand was healed, but he had to take the initiative. If we will do the overcoming, we shall find we are inspired of God because He gives life immediately.”

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest.

No one ever told me?

A Grief Observed
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve
as others do who have no hope.
1 Thess 4:13 ESV

Paul knew that we Christians are not exempt from grief.
After affirming our hope in Christ; that we will surely be reunited with all the others who know Christ too, he reminds us that we are able to comfort one another in  our grief until then, so he concludes in 1 Thess 4:18:
‘Therefore encourage one another with these words.’

That isn’t to say that grief won’t be a struggle. Otherwise, why would we need comfort?
This second brief post on the theme of grief comes from C S Lewis who shares his own struggle through grief to faith after the death of his wife, in his book A Grief Observed.

‘No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.

There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don’t really mind so much, not so very much, after all. Love is not the whole of a man’s life. I was happy before I ever met H. I’ve plenty of what are called ‘resources.’ People get over these things. Come, I shan’t do so badly. One is ashamed to listen to this voice but it seems for a little to be making out a good case. Then comes a sudden jab of red-hot memory and all this ‘common sense’ vanishes like an ant in the mouth of a furnace.’

From C S Lewis in A Grief Observed

More special than I know?

Mere cover
I wonder, if we each were able to choose one thing; a gift, a talent, a quality in which we might excel, in which we might be Truly Special, what would we choose? And how long would it be before we wished we had chosen differently?
But what if we are already Truly Special, in fact more special than we know?
This is the second of three short posts on the idea of our specialness. It comes from C S Lewis.

 

‘Niceness’—wholesome, integrated personality—is an excellent thing.
We must try by every medical, educational, economic, and political means in our power to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up ‘nice’; just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls.
A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world—and might even be more difficult to save.

For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature.

Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game. But there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so: and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders—no one could tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings—may even give it an awkward appearance.

From C S Lewis Mere Christianity

Will God…..?

UtmostFirst 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. On that basis alone it keeps its place in my library.

Here are some excerpts from June1’s reading titled ‘The Staggering Question’ (‘Can these bones live?’ Ezekiel 37:3).

 

‘It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we mistake panic for inspiration.That is why there are so few fellow-workers with God and so many workers for Him.’

‘We would far rather work for God than believe in Him.’

‘Am I quite sure that God will do what I cannot do?’

I despair of men in the degree in which I have never realised that God has done anything for me. Is my experience such a wonderful realization of God’s power and might that I can never despair of anyone I see? Have I had any spiritual work done in me at all? The degree of panic is the degree of the lack of personal spiritual experience.’

‘When God wants to show you what human nature is like apart from Himself, He has to show it you in yourself. If the Spirit of God has given you a vision of what you are apart from the grace of God (and He only does it when His Spirit is at work), you know that there is no criminal who is halfso bad in actuality as you know yourself to be in possibility.’

‘God’s Spirit continually reveals what human nature is like apart from His grace.’

From Oswald Chambers ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ June 1st.