Tuesday, October 20, 2015

We Often Spoil Our Appetite...

... for righteousness.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Matthew 5:6
I suggest that if we are truly hungering and thirsting after righteousness we shall not only avoid things that we know to be bad and harmful, we shall even avoid things that tend to
dull or take the edge off our spiritual appetites. There are so many things like that, things that are quite harmless in themselves and which are perfectly legitimate. Yet if you find that you are spending much of your time with them, and that you desire the things of God less, you must avoid them. This question of appetite is a very delicate one. We all know how, in the physical sense, we can easily spoil our appetite, dull its edge, so to speak, by eating things between meals. Now it is like that in the spiritual realm. There are so many things that I cannot condemn in and of themselves. But if I find I spend too much of my time with them, and that somehow I want God and spiritual things less and less, if I am hungering and thirsting after righteousness, I shall avoid them.

--Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p.76

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Should It Really Surprise Us?

And God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of people shall come from her." Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, "Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?"
Genesis 17:15-17
The following is an imaginative reflection of part of what Abraham might have said to Sarah after this encounter with the Lord.
I know, Sarah. We are powerless to have children, now more than ever. But if we've learned anything these twenty-five years, it's that our hope doesn't rest on our power to do anything. Our hope rests on the Lord's power. Our entire lives are built on what he's promised. And the lives of our descendants must be built on his promises for generations before they ever occupy this land. Their survival will depend on them trusting the Lord's promises and not their own power. Should it really surprise us that the first descendant the Lord gives us is a reminder of this?
--Jon Bloom, Things Not Seen: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Trusting God's Promises

As those living on this side of history, it shouldn't surprise us. Through all their waiting and believing against hope (Romans 4:18), God was forging in Abraham and Sarah the faith that they would bequeath to their descendants ... including us.
When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man,
And skill a man
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;

When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!

How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him

Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!

How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And which every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out-
God knows what He’s about.

– Anonymous
He knows what He's about.
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
Galatians 3:7

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fruit Becoming the Vineyard of God

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.
Luke 13:6
The Lord expects fruit becoming the vineyard of God. ‘The vineyard,’ saith he, ‘in a very fruitful hill’: witness the fruit brought forth in all ages (Isa 5:1). The most barren trees that ever grew in the wood of this world, when planted in this vineyard by the God of heaven, what fruit to Godward have they brought forth! ‘Abel offered the more excellent sacrifice’ (Heb 11:4). Enoch walked with God three hundred years (Heb 11:5). Noah, by his life of faith, ‘condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith’ (Heb 11:7). Abraham left his country, and went out after God, not knowing whither he went (Heb 11:8). Moses left a kingdom, and run the hazard of the wrath of the king, for the love he had to God and Christ. What shall I say of them who had trials, ‘not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection? They were stoned; they were sawn asunder; were tempted; were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented’ (Heb 11:35-37). Peter left his father, ship, and nets (Matt 4:18-20). Paul turned off from the feet of Gamaliel. Men brought their goods and possessions (the price of them) and cast it down at the apostle’s feet (Acts 19:18-20). And others brought their books together, and burned them; curious books, though they were worth fifty thousand pieces of silver. I could add how many willingly offered themselves in all ages, and their all, for the worthy name of the Lord Jesus, to be racked, starved, hanged, burned, drowned, pulled in pieces, and a thousand calamities. Barren figtree, the vineyard of God hath been a fruitful place. What dost thou there? What dost thou bear? God expects fruit according to, or becoming the soil of the vineyard.

--John Bunyan, The Barren Fig Tree, p.13-14
What dost thou there? What dost thou bear?