Tuesday, May 05, 2020

J.C. Ryle on Why You Should Read Your Bible and Pray (and not expect to grow otherwise!)

In his remarkable book, Holiness, J.C. Ryle refutes the idea that some Christians are just lucky or get really spiritual because of some special gift. He robs us of excuses, in other words. It is a great section that everyone should read, but especially in a pandemic where you likely have more time on your hands and fewer distractions to battle with. Give him a listen..


From, Holiness, p. 124-125.

God has ordained means as well as ends. He that would grow in grace must use the means of growth.

This is a point, I fear, which is too much overlooked by believers. Many admire growth in grace in others and wish that they themselves were like them. But they seem to suppose that those who grow are what they are by some special gift or grant from God and that, as this gift is not bestowed on themselves, they must be content to sit still. This is a grievous delusion and one against which I desire to testify with all my might. I wish it to be distinctly understood that growth in grace is bound up with the use of means within the reach of all believers and that, as a general rule, growing souls are what they are because they use these means.

Let me ask the special attention of my readers while I try to set forth in order the means of growth. Cast away forever the vain thought that if a believer does not grow in grace it is not his fault. Settle it in your mind that a believer, a man quickened by the Spirit, is not a mere dead creature, but a being of mighty capacities and responsibilities. Let the words of Solomon sink down into your heart: “The soul of the diligent shall be made fat” (Prov. 13:4).

(a) One thing essential to growth in grace is diligence in the use of private means of grace. By these I understand such means as a man must use by himself alone, and no one can use for him. I include under this head private prayer, private reading of the Scriptures, and private meditation and self–examination. The man who does not take pains about these three things must never expect to grow. Here are the roots of true Christianity. Wrong here, a man is wrong all the way through! Here is the whole reason why many professing Christians never seem to get on. They are careless and slovenly about their private prayers. They read their Bibles but little and with very little heartiness of spirit. They give themselves no time for self–inquiry and quiet thought about the state of their souls.

It is useless to conceal from ourselves that the age we live in is full of peculiar dangers. It is an age of great activity and of much hurry, bustle and excitement in religion. Many are “running to and fro,” no doubt, and “knowledge is increased” (Dan. 12:4). Thousands are ready enough for public meetings, sermon hearing, or anything else in which there is “sensation.” Few appear to remember the absolute necessity of making time to “commune with our own hearts, and be still” (Ps. 4:4). But without this, there is seldom any deep spiritual prosperity. Let us remember this point! Private religion must receive our first attention, if we wish our souls to grow.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

What God Ordains is Always Good

This is a wonderful hymn that has brought fresh encouragement to me during the Covid-19 Pandemic. It is, in essence, an extended rumination on Romans 8:28 and other passages.

There are several English translations from the German (my fave below) and a few versions of the "Gastorius" melody (again, my fave below).

You can find modern settings of this hymn by my friends, Mark Altrogge or Matt Merker (neither of whom uses this exact English translation).

I think this is the best English translation (below). So many others are forced to leave out important bits in order to keep the metre. You can find the melody for this version here. We plan to sing this melody to the English version below on Sunday.

What God Ordains is Always Good
What God ordains is always good; His will abideth holy.
As He directs my life for me, I follow meek and lowly.
My God indeed… In every need…
Doth well know how to shield me; to Him, then, I will yield me.

What God ordains is always good. He never will deceive me;
He leads me in His own right way, and never will He leave me.
I take content… What He hath sent…
His hand that sends me sadness will turn my tears to gladness.

What God ordains is always good. His loving thought attends me;
No poison can be in the cup that my Physician sends me.
My God is true… Each morn anew…
I'll trust His grace unending, My life to Him commending.

What God ordains is always good. He is my Friend and Father;
He suffers naught to do me harm, though many storms may gather.
Now I may know… Both joy and woe…
Some day I shall see clearly, that He hath loved me dearly.

What God ordains is always good. Though I the cup am drinking
Which savors now of bitterness, I take it without shrinking.
For after grief… God grants relief…
My heart with comfort filling and all my sorrow stilling.

What God ordains is always good. This truth remains unshaken.
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine, I shall not be forsaken.
I fear no harm… For with His arm…
He shall embrace and shield me; so to my God I yield me.

Words: Samuel Rodigast, 1676 (Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan); translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth, 1863, and others.

Rodigast wrote this hymn to cheer his friend Gastorius, precentor at Jena, who had become seriously ill. Gastorius not only recovered, but went on to write the tune for Rodigast’s words.  

Music: “Gastorius,” Severus Gastorius, 1675.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Love of God in Christ - A 2019 Good Friday Sermon

2019 Toronto Gospel Alliance Good Friday Service 
St. Paul’s Bloor St.


Have you ever wondered what God was doing before He made everything?

Put aside for a moment when He made everything…. whether thousands or billions of years ago… 

What was He doing, in eternity past? Long before there was light and matter and people and planets….

Was He just there. Perhaps thinking? Existing?

What was He up to?

Jesus told us what His Father was doing…

John 17:24 [24] Father… you loved me before the foundation of the world. 

Before He was a Creator or Ruler or Judge… God was the Father. And as Father He was loving His Son.

This is part of the reason John could write: “God is love.” Notice he did not write, “Love is God.” That is an entirely different thing. As if love itself was somehow the deity. No, what He correctly wrote was, “God is love.”’ That in His essential nature, in the core of who He was, is and shall be — God is love.

God is, in fact, the very source of all love. 

I once came upon a natural spring hiking in California. Up out of the ground bubbled all this fresh water! In the same way, all love in the universe has its origin in God.

1 John 4:7–8 [7] Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God,

We all wonder and think about God at times. And there are basically only two ways of coming to conclusions about God.
  1. Depend on your own life experiences and reason in the 60-80 years you get and draw your own conclusions.
  2. Depend on what God has said about Himself. What He has revealed.
I prefer option two. As Christians, we take what God has said about Himself in the Holy Bible. It is God’s Word — what He says about Himself.

And the consistent message of the Bible is that the proof of God’s love is what He has given, what He has sent. For love, in its essence is a giving to another.
Not only His giving us life and a planet on which to live.
But more precisely, in the giving to us of His Son.

1 John 4:9–10 [9] In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world….

1 John 4:[10] In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins…

John 3:16 [16] “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…

God sent, God gave His Son. It is clear to see that the very essence of love is giving. Giving to the other. 

There is one part of Bible speaks very directly to this. 

Spend a few minutes considering it with you… you will find it on the back of your song sheet…

Romans 5:6–11 [6] For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. [7] For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—[8] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [9] Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. [10] For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. [11] More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. 

I wonder if you would take a few moments to consider with me the words of the 8th verse?

[8] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Let’s be investigative reporters and go all W5 on this sentence.

We will start with the WHO….

I. Who is the subject? Who is this about?

The answer is, “GOD.”

“God” shows His love for us.

And I think that is a good thing to observe. 

Some people have read bits of the Bible, here and there or had things told to them about what the Bible says, and they get this notion in their head that God, the Father, is a really angry, mean-spirited, ticked off Greek demi-god kind of thing and that Jesus had to come along to pacify the Big Grump upstairs.

But read that line again in verse 8.

“God shows His love…” It is God’s love and He displays it. 

As we said earlier. God is love. It is His very nature to love. God is just being Himself when He loves. He has always been The Father to His Son. There never was a time when He was not. To not be Father, would be to not be God. Therefore love has always been a defining characteristic of God.

And one gets the sense when reading the Bible that God couldn’t help Himself. He had to show us that love… because that is Who He is.

So, we are speaking here about the Father. 

And this takes us to our second investigative question….

II. What does God the Father do?

[8] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

He shows His love.

This word, “shows” has been translated different ways in our English Bibles. 
  • Commends
  • Demonstrates
  • Proves — to prove by showing…
Here is what the Father does… He proves His love. He demonstrates His love. He had to — because that is the very nature of love. 

If I said I loved you then stood idly by while you were accosted and robbed, you would have good grounds to suspect the sincerity of my words!

But God proves His love.

John got at this when he wrote:

1 John 3:16–18 [16] By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us…

Love, by definition, requires action. If God was merely in heaven painting with big letters in the sky, I love you… and that is it. And He did nothing for us… then we would rightly question the sincerity of that love.

But God has done something. One main thing. That in no uncertain terms PROVES His love!

So, God, the Father, proved His love.

This takes us to the third investigative question.

III. How did God prove His love?

[8] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God proved His love by the death of His Son, Jesus Christ.

It is helpful here to remember the love God has for His Son. And the love His Son has for Him…

Does God love Jesus? Of course!

John 3:35 [35] The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 

Does Jesus love His Father? Jesus once said…

John 14:31 “… I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.”

So here you have the Father loving the Son. The Son loving the Father. And in this blissful union of love, the Father asks the Son to come and die… to prove the Father’s love by being the ultimate GIVE. 

And Jesus willingly agrees. 

In fact, it is Christ’s love for His people that is part of His motivation. Yes, he loves the Father and does all that the Father asks of Him, but Jesus Himself could say, 

John 15:9 [9] As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. [the people He died for]

And Paul would write of Jesus…

Ephesians 5:2 [2] …Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…

There is a remarkable event from the life of Abraham where God asked Him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. The language of that request was so specific…

Genesis 22:2 [2] [God the Father] said [to Abraham], “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 

This was a test designed to strengthen Abraham’s faith in God. And it worked. Abraham obeyed in faith then, at the last minute, God intervened and stopped the sacrifice!

But part of the purpose of this event was to provide us a little picture of what it was like for God Himself… to give up His Son, His only Son, the Son whom He loved… 

The Father told Jesus, at His baptism…

Luke 3:22 “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” 

And yet it was out of love for those He would save, God asked the Son He loved, to become their substitute, their sacrifice. Their “Isaac.”

This was amazing love.

Several weeks ago Susan and I drove along the edge of the Pacific.
As we drove along that coast, casting our eyes our over the endless sea, we sang this together this old hymn pondering the love of God…

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Nothing more vividly displays God’s love than this… He gave what was most precious to Him.

He could have given us 
  • more money
  • more world peace
  • shorter winters
  • more Stanley Cups than one every 52 years!

But God knows what we need — not just what we want

And  He gave so much more than this… He gave what was without question the most costly to Him personally… He gave His Son to die for us.

Now that forces us to our last investigative question.

IV. Who is the “us?” Who did God love?

[8] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The answer might surprise you. Verse 8 is the end of a sentence that started in verse 7. In it, the author noted…

[7] For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die…

The Righteous Person — think of a boss that pays you were wage, but no more. Does not care about you as a person. Not a cheat, but not your best friend. 
— very rare anybody would take a bullet for him.

The Good Person — think of a boss who makes sure you get paid, but takes a deep interest in your life. Cares for you when you are sick. Looks after your kids’ future. Has your best interests in mind all the time. 
— someone might dare to take a bullet for her. Maybe.

But who does God love?
  • Not the only-fair kind of people…
  • Not the even the really good kind of people…
Who does God love? Who is the “US?”

There are three words used in this paragraph to describe the objects of His love. They are not very flattering.

:6 — The Weak - in this context, the spiritually paralyzed. The people who were not able to lift themselves up or make themselves clean. Those incapable of doing things that would impress God.

:6b — The Ungodly - in this context, the irreverent. The people who (even if they give verbal assent to God) live like God is not real and like they are the only thing that matters. 

:10 — The Sinners - in this context, the line-crossers. The people who deliberately break God’s prohibitions and commandments. 

The weak, ungodly sinners. That is who God loved. In other words, the unloveable.

You see, this was our great problem. We were not able to do anything about our sorry condition. There was no way to clean ourselves up in order to draw God’s attention. There was no way to warrant His love… to deserve it. 

Sin works like a Sharpie.
It is an indelible ink that no amount of washing can erase. 
  • Worse, just when you start to think you are getting one stain to fade a little bit, you add another. 
  • Just when we seem to be conquering our anger, we get proud about our patience!
  • Just when we stop sleeping around, we discover a world of internal, raging lust!
If you are honest about yourself, to yourself, you will admit that you are a weak, ungodly sinner.

Bad news. For which we have the best news!

[8] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Did you spot that word, “while?”
  • While we were sinners.
  • While we were ungodly.
  • While we were weak.
It was then… when we were most helpless and hopeless and incapable of doing anything to fix our state, that Christ died for us. 

What a love. 
What a cost.
We stand forgiven at the cross. 

It is important you don’t get tricked by one word in this verse, that word “us.” Paul is writing to Christians when he uses it. He is not talking about everyone.

[8] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

People who are now, FORMERLY weak, ungodly sinners. But they have been changed. They have come to understand the love of God. They have come to understand the significance of Good Friday.

Our service tonight has had a sombre feel. There is a reason for that. For those of us who already know God through Jesus Christ… we are aware, almost painfully aware… of what it cost God to love us. 

It cost Him His Son. Mark 10:45: “ …the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The proof of God’s love is the sacrifice of God’s Son.

But, we also know that God raised His Son from the dead! That’s why we look so happy on Easter!

But tonight we reflect on His death. And yet even in that death, since it is so motivated by and immersed in love… we cannot help but smile and offer to you the Saviour. Jesus Himself said,

John 15:13 [13] Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 

God in His great love has done everything necessary for you to have a real relationship with Him. 

But that relationship won’t go anywhere until you admit what you really are… in the words of this text… a godless, weak sinner. 
But it is just this admission that grabs the attention of God. For He is love. And He is eager to set His love upon you. 

He is not asking you to clean yourself up, then come to Him. In fact, He demands the opposite. Come just as you are. There is no point hiding from God. And you will need all the help and grace and strength only He can give for that clean up!

And if you do, and agree with God that you are weak and need His help… and if you turn and accept His Son, Jesus, as the source of that help… you will say with all the other Christians here…

1 John 4:19 [19] We love because he first loved us. 

In fact, you will be able to personalize the words of this verse even more to say…

[8] ...God shows his love for me in that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me.

More than that, you will go to sleep tonight with the glorious confidence that this love of God for you will never end.  That you will be loved by God forever.

Romans 8
[35] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 

[37] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 
[38] For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, [39] nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

He has proven His love in Christ. And now it is ours to enjoy in Him forever. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

Some Free Advice for Churches on Video Production, Authenticity and Staying in Your Lane in a Pandemic

Maybe I think about things too much, but here are a couple of ideas to consider as you plan an online worship service or something similar. 

One of the best pieces of advice I read suggests pastors should stay in their lanes. If you are suddenly videoing yourself, don’t act like you’ve got the full production studio working behind you. Just… be normal. Few things are worse to watch than somebody acting like they are pro when they are quite clearly not. You were not hired to be a reporter or newsreader or game show host. Be you.

Another free piece of advice, this one just from me, is this: Don’t make it too good. Read some Neil Postman before you shoot. Think about the effect of the medium itself. We committed to a no-rehearsal, no-edit version of a stripped down Sunday worship service for the first two weeks of the pandemic. This was intentional. I would argue that as production quality increases, authenticity diminishes. In fact, we shot the whole thing on one iPhone with zero edits. And, in my opinion, it was fine. Listen, I used to work a little in this field. The bad lighting, bad sound and one-shot filming did everything wrong in one sense, but everything as close to right in another. We were not filming this service to send out to the world. It was for our members. They know us, so they know fake. 

All of us understand this intuitively. Does anyone really believe reality television is real? What does your heart do when someone points a camera at you? I doubt you act all normal… or real. (If you want authentic reality television, sit at your window and watch people walk by. Or simply watch people in a crowded room when they think nobody is looking at them.) 

I get it. There is a sense in which I am different when I stand in front of my church family and lead a service. I am projecting my voice, so speaking differently. I am choosing suitable words for the occasion, so my vocabulary is more considered. I am standing in front of a whole bunch of people looking at me, so my self-awareness is different. That is what it is. I am simply suggesting that if you are going to do something online, be that guy. The guy you normally are on Sundays. 

One last thought for you. We taped all of our services on the Saturday before they were broadcast. This may sound like the opposite of what I was saying above and that we were somehow less authentic because we were not live. But I would argue the opposite was true. Once you do anything live, there is a whole other level of stressors to deal with that tend to distract from the one thing you need most in order to not be fake. That thing? You have to actually be worshiping God in your heart. You can do that on a Saturday and have it be just as real when it is posted on a Sunday. 

For what it is worth, we have decided (for other reasons) to move away from providing a weekly worship service. This has nothing to do with production or being real and everything to do with our understanding of what a church is. But, in order to serve our folks, we will record a weekly chapel service and we will hold to the principles above. May God give us all much wisdom.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

THE CHOLERA YEAR IN LONDON - And the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020...

Here is some prudence from the Prince of Preachers on how to navigate an epidemic pastorally.  This extended quotation is taken from C.H Spurgeon Autobiography, Volume 1. Pages 272-274.
In the year 1854, when I had scarcely been in London twelve months, the neighbourhood in which I laboured was visited by Asiatic cholera, and my congregation suffered from its inroads. Family after family summoned me to the bedside of the smitten, and almost every day I was called to visit the grave. At first, I gave myself up with youthful ardour to the visitation of the sick, and was sent for from all corners of the district by persons of all ranks and religions, but soon I became weary in body, and sick at heart. My friends seemed falling one by one, and I felt or fancied that I was sickening like those around me. A little more work and weeping would have laid me low among the rest; I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it.
I was returning mournfully home from a funeral, when, as God would have it, my curiosity led me to read a paper which was wafered up in a shoemaker's window in the Great Dover Road. It did not look like a trade announcement, nor was it, for it bore, in a good bold handwriting, these words:
"Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling."

The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own; I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying, in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm. The Providence which moved the tradesman to place those verses in his window, I gratefully acknowledge, and in the remembrance of its marvellous power I adore the Lord my God.

[In a pamphlet entitled, "The Best Refuge in Times of Trouble", published about the time of Spurgeon's "home-going", Mr. W. Ford, of 19H, Peabody Buildings, Orchard Street, Westminster, wrote:
"In the year 1854, the first year of Mr. Spurgeon in London, cholera raged in the locality of his church, and the neighbourhood where he resided. The parochial authorities were very thoughtful for the poor, and caused bills to be placed at the corners of the streets headed CHOLERA--in large type--informing the public where advice and medicines would be supplied gratis. At that time, I lived in the Great Dover Road, and Mr. Spurgeon lived a little further towards Greenwich, in Virginia Terrace. Seeing the bills above-named at every turning, I was forcibly impressed that they were very much calculated to terrify the people With the concurrence of a friend, I procured one, and wrote in the centre these words: 'Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.' This bill I placed in my shop-window, hundreds read it, and I am not aware of one jeer or improper remark--so subdued and solemnized were the people by the awful visitation. Among the readers of the bill, was Mr. Spurgeon."]

During that epidemic of cholera, though I had many engagements in the country, I gave them up that I might remain in London to visit the sick and the dying. I felt that it was my duty to be on the spot in such a time of disease and death and sorrow. One Monday morning, I was awakened, about three o'clock, by a sharp ring of the door-bell. I was urged, without delay, to visit a house not very far from London Bridge. I went; and up two pairs of stairs I was shown into a room, the only occupants of which were a nurse and a dying man. "Oh, sir!" exclaimed the nurse, as I entered, "about half-an-hour ago, Mr. So- and-so begged me to send for you." "What does he want," I asked. "He is dying, sir," she replied. I said, "Yes, I see that he is; what sort of a man was he?" The nurse answered, "He came home from Brighten, last night, sir; he had been out all day. I looked for a Bible, sir, but there is not one in the house . I hope you have brought one with you." "Oh" I said, "a Bible would be of no use to him now. If he could understand me, I could tell him the way of salvation in the very words of Scripture." I stood by his side, and spoke to him, but he gave me no answer. I spoke again, but the only consciousness he had was a foreboding of terror, mingled with the stupor of approaching death. Soon, even that was gone, for sense had fled, and I stood there, a few minutes, sighing with the poor woman who had watched over him, and altogether hopeless about his soul. Gazing at his face, I perceived that he was dead, and that his soul had departed.

That man, in his lifetime, had been wont to jeer at me. In strong language, he had often denounced me as a hypocrite. Yet he was no sooner smitten by the darts of death than he sought my presence and counsel, no doubt feeling in his heart that I was a servant of God, though he did not care to own it with his lips. There I stood, unable to help him. Promptly as I had responded to his call, what could I do but look at his corpse, and mourn over a lost soul? He had, when in health, wickedly refused Christ, yet in his death-agony he had superstitiously sent for me. Too late, he sighed for the ministry of reconciliation, and sought to enter in at the closed door, but he was not able. There was no space left him then for repentance, for he had wasted the opportunities which God had long granted to him. I went home, and was soon called away again; that time, to see a young woman. She also was in the last extremity, but it was a fair, fair sight. She was singing--though she knew she was dying--and talking to those round about her, telling her brothers and sisters to follow her to Heaven, bidding good-bye to her father, and all the while smiling as if it had been her marriage day. She was happy and blessed. I never saw more conspicuously in my life, than I did that morning, the difference there is between one who feareth God and one who feareth Him not.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Quotes from the Life and Ministry of Robert Murray M’Cheyne

These are quotations from a Foundations Class I taught at Grace Fellowship Church on March 08, 2020. 

"Oh, to have Brainerd's heart for perfect holiness - to be holy as God is holy - pure as Christ is pure - perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect."

“It is a good thing to be shown much of the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of your heart, provided it lead you to the Lord Jesus, that He may pardon and subdue it.”

“Now do not look so long and so harassingly at your own heart and feelings.  What will you find there but the bite of the serpent?... Look to Christ… Look to Him and live. You need no preparation, you need no endeavours, you need no duties, you need no strivings, you only need to look and live… Do not take up your time so much with studying your own heart as with studying Christ’s heart.  ‘For one look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ!’” 

“Only believe. Give unlimited credit to our God.”

“I sometimes think that a great blessing may come to my people in my absence.  Often God does not bless us when we are in the midst of our labours, lest we shall say, ‘My hand and my eloquence have done it.’  He removes us into silence, and then pours ‘down a blessing so that there is no room to receive it;’ so that all that see it cry out, ‘It is the Lord!’  This was the way in the South Sea Islands. May it really be so with my dear people!”

1. The Gospel, properly applied, is the only way to deal with our sin.

“I often pray, ‘Lord, make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be made.’”

“I am persuaded that I shall obtain the highest amount of present happiness, I shall do the most for God’s glory and the good of man, and I shall have the fullest reward in eternity, by maintaining a conscience always washed in Christ’s blood…”

“I feel, when I have sinned, an immediate reluctance to go to Christ.  I am ashamed to go. I feel as if it would do no good to go – as if it were making Christ a minister of sin, to go straight from the swine-trough to the best robe – and a thousand other excuses; but I am persuaded they are all lies, direct from hell. John argues the opposite way – ‘If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father;’ Jeremiah 3:1 and a thousand other scriptures are against it. I am sure there is neither peace nor safety from deeper sin, but in going directly to the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is God’s way of peace and holiness. It is folly to the world and the beclouded heart, but it is the way.”

2. The Gospel, properly applied, is a wrecking ball to pride.

“A minister will make a poor saviour in the day of wrath.  It is not knowing a minister or loving one or hearing one… that will save.  You need to have your hand on the head of the Lamb for yourselves… I fear I will need to be a swift witness against many of my people in the day of the Lord, that they looked to me, and not to Christ, when I preached to them.”

“I really believed that my Master had called me home, and that I would sleep beneath the dark green cypresses of Bouja till the Lord shall come… and my most earnest prayer was for my dear flock, that God would give them a pastor after his own heart.”

3. The Gospel, properly applied, will make God more important than sleep.

“Do everything in earnest; if it is worth doing, then do it with all your might. Above all, keep much in the presence of God. Never see the face of man till you have seen His face who is our life, our all.”

"Rose early to seek God and found Him whom my soul loves. Who would not rise early to meet such company?”

“I must first see the face of God before I take on any duty.”

“We must be drinking the living water from the smitten rock or we cannot speak of its refreshing power.”

“It is not great talents that God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.”

4. The Gospel, properly applied, will make you pray.

“No person can be a child of God without living in secret prayer; and no community of Christians can be in a lively condition without unity in prayer.”

“What would my people do if I were not to pray?”

“If you do not pray, God will probably lay you aside from your ministry, as He did me, to teach you to pray.”

“I have been often brought very low, but it has been always good for me…”

“When I was laid aside from the ministry, I felt it was to teach me the need of prayer for my people. I used often to say, Now God is teaching me the use of prayer…”

“Pray to be taught to pray.  Do not be content with old forms that flow from the lips only. Most Christians have need to cast their formal prayers away, to be taught to cry, Abba.”

“Alas, we do not weary God now with our wrestlings, but with our sins.”

"If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million of enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference; He is praying for me."

5. The Gospel, properly applied, will make all people precious in your sight — even the least of these.

“Think this, little children, you are the pride of your mother’s heart, but have gone astray from the womb, speaking lies. Little children who are fond of your plays, but are not fond of coming to Jesus Christ, who is the Saviour of little children, the sword will come on you also.”

“It is high time you seek the Lord. The longest lifetime is short enough… Oh, if you had to stand as often as I have beside the dying bed of little children – to see their wild looks and outstretched hands, and to hear their dying cries – you would see how needful it is fly to Christ now. It may be your turn next.  Are you prepared to die?  Have you fled for refuge to Jesus? Have you found forgiveness?”

“The greatest want in the religion of children is generally sense of sin…; we are so often deceived by promising appearances in childhood.”

"Use a few spare half-hours in seeking after the lambs on the weekdays."

6. The Gospel, properly applied, will make you an evangelist, or at least cause you to do the work of one.

“Do not be satisfied without conversion.”

“What has the world done for you, that you love it so much? Did the world die for you? Will the world blot out your sins or change your heart? Will the world carry you to heaven? No, no!  You may go back to the world if you please, but it can only destroy your poor soul… Have you not lived long enough in pleasure? Come and try the pleasures of Christ – forgiveness and a new heart. I have not been at a dance or any worldly amusement for many years, and yet I believe I have had more pleasure in a single day than you have had all your life.  In what? You will say. In feeling that God loves me – that Christ has washed me – and feeling that I shall be in heaven when the wicked are cast into hell. ‘A day in thy courts is better than a thousand [elsewhere]’ (Psalm 84:10)… If you die without Christ, you cannot come back to be converted and die a believer – you have but once to die. Oh, pray that you may find Christ before death finds you!”

"The world will say you are an innocent and harmless girl; do not believe them. The world is a liar. Pray to see yourself exactly as God sees you…"
"Every wave of trouble has been wafting you to the sunny shores of a sinless eternity.  Only believe.  Give unlimited credit to our God.”

“If our neighbour’s house were on fire, would we not cry aloud and use every exertion… Oh, shall we be less earnest to save their never-dying souls, than we would be to save their bodies?”

7. The Gospel, properly applied, will make a good pastor

 “I see a man cannot be a faithful minster until he preaches Christ for Christ’s sake, until he gives up striving to attract people to himself and seeks only to attract them to Christ.”

“Few people know the deep wells of anxiety in the bosom of a faithful pastor.”

“But oh, study universal holiness of life! Your whole usefulness depends on this. Your sermon on Sabbath lasts but an hour or two, – your life preaches all the week.  Remember, ministers are standard-bearers. Satan aims his fiery darts at them. If he can only make you a covetous minister, or lover of pleasure, or a lover of praise, or a lover of good eating, then he has ruined your ministry forever. ‘Ah! Let him preach on fifty years, he will never do me any harm.’ Dear brother, cast yourself at the feet of Christ, implore His Spirit to make you a holy man. ‘Take heed to thyself and to thy doctrine.’”

“See how Paul laid out his strength in confirming the disciples. Be a helper of their joy. Do not rest till you get them to live under the pure, holy rules of the gospel.”