Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Google Art Project

Romans 8:30-39
"Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?  

It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 

As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Commentary: Matthew Henry

What shall we then say to these things? What use shall we make of all that has been said? He speaks as one amazed and swallowed up with the contemplation and admiration of it, wondering at the height and depth, and length and breadth, of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. The more we know of other things the less we wonder at them; but the further we are led into an acquaintance with gospel mysteries the more we are affected with the admiration of them.

If Paul was at a loss what to say to these things, no marvel if we be. And what does he say? Why, if ever Paul rode in a triumphant chariot on this side of heaven, here it was: with such a holy height and bravery of spirit, with such a fluency and copiousness of expression, does he here comfort himself and all the people of God, upon the consideration of these privileges. In general, he here makes a challenge, throws down the gauntlet, as it were, dares all the enemies of the saints to do their worst: If God be for us, who can be against us? The ground of the challenge is God's being for us; in this he sums up all our privileges.

This includes all, that God is for us; not only reconciled to us, and so not against us, but in covenant with us, and so engaged for us—all his attributes for us, his promises for us. All that he is, and has, and does, is for his people. He performs all things for them. He is for them, even when he seems to act against them. And, if so, who can be against us, so as to prevail against us, so as to hinder our happiness? Be they ever so great and strong, ever so many, ever so might, ever so malicious, what can they do? While God is for us, and we keep in his love, we may with a holy boldness defy all the powers of darkness.

Let Satan do his worst, he is chained; let the world do its worst, it is conquered: principalities and powers are spoiled and disarmed, and triumphed over, in the cross of Christ. Who then dares fight against us, while God himself is fighting for us? And this we say to these things, this is the inference we draw from these premises.

More particularly. It is God that justifieth. Men may justify themselves, as the Pharisees did, and yet the accusations may be in full force against them; but, if God justifies, this answers all. This overthrows them all; it is God, the righteous faithful God, that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? Though they cannot make good the charge yet they will be ready to condemn; but we have a plea ready to move in arrest of judgment, a plea which cannot be overruled.
It is Christ that died...It is by virtue of our interest in Christ, our relation to him, and our union with him, that we are thus secured. His death: It is Christ that died. By the merit of his death he paid our debt; and the surety's payment is a good plea to an action of debt. It is Christ, an able all-sufficient Saviour. 

His resurrection: Yea, rather, that has risen again. This is a much greater encouragement, for it is a convincing evidence that divine justice was satisfied by the merit of his death. His resurrection was his acquittance, it was a legal discharge. Therefore the apostle mentions it with a yea, rather. If he had died, and not risen again, we had been where we were.

His sitting at the right hand of God: He is even at the right hand of God—a further evidence that he has done his work, and a mighty encouragement to us in reference to all accusations, that we have a friend, such a friend, in court. At the right hand of God, which denotes that he is ready there—always at hand; and that he is ruling there—all power is given to him.

What shall we say to these things? Is this the manner of men, O Lord God? What room is left for doubting and disquietment? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Some understand the accusation and condemnation here spoken of - that which the suffering saints met with from men. The primitive Christians had many crimes laid to their charge—heresy, sedition, rebellion, and what not? For these the ruling powers condemned them: "But no matter for that" (says the apostle); "while we stand right at God's bar it is of no great moment how we stand at men's. To all the hard censures, the malicious calumnies, and the unjust and unrighteous sentences of men, we may with comfort oppose our justification before God through Christ Jesus as that which doth abundantly countervail," ( 1 Cor 4:3-4 )
We have good assurance of our preservation and continuance in this blessed state to the end ( Rom 8:35 ). The fears of the saints lest they should lose their hold of Christ are often very discouraging and disquieting, and create them a great deal of disturbance; but here is that which may silence their fears, and still such storms, that nothing can separate them.

Image: Saint Paul by Diego Velaquez: Note that the fingers of his left hand timidly appear on the thick book that indicates his status as an apostle. Top, left, is the inscription S.PAVLVS, text that connects the person with the apostle,without showing the sword, his only known attribute.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7

"Come, cast your burden upon your Lord. You are staggering beneath a weight which your Father would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden, would be to Him but as the small dust of the balance.

O child of suffering, be thou patient; God has not passed thee over in His providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows, Matthew 6:25-26, will also furnish you with what you need.  

Sit not down in despair; hope on, hope ever. Take up the arms of faith against a sea of trouble, and your opposition shall yet end your distresses.
There is One who careth for you. His eye is fixed on you, His heart beats with pity for your woe, and his hand omnipotent shall yet bring you the needed help. 
The darkest cloud shall scatter itself in showers of mercy. The blackest gloom shall give place to the morning. 
He, if thou art one of His family, will bind up thy wounds, and heal thy broken heart. Doubt not His grace because of thy tribulation, but believe that He loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness.  
What a serene and quiet life might you lead if you would leave providing to the God of providence!"
Commentary~ Charles Spurgeon

Friday, December 15, 2017


Mary with Christ Child
Gospel of Luke 23:

3 And all went to be registered, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be registered with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, 
 Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day  in the city of David a Saviour, 
which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe 
wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, 
and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

Adoration of the Shepherds

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they who heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Friday, December 8, 2017



Luke 1:13-45

13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 

14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 

15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 
16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 

17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”

19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 
20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”

21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple. 
22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless.
23 So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. 
24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 
25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Gabriel Visits Mary

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 
28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 

30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus
32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 
33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God
36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 
37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 
40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 
41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 
42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 
Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph

43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 
44 Indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Thursday, November 30, 2017



The Apostle Peter wrote his second and final letter to his disciples when he was well aware of his imminent death.

In his first heart felt letter, He made reference to his "departure" revealed to him prior to Christ's Ascension.  John 21:18.

Now Peter implores the disciples to remember "if ye do these things, ye will never stumble."

Peter pleads for the disciples to be "all the more diligent".

Charles Spurgeon:
"If thou wouldest enjoy the eminent grace of the full assurance of faith, under the blessed Spirit's influence, and assistance, do what the Scripture tells thee, "Give diligence." Take care that thy faith is of the right kind—that it is not a mere belief of doctrine, but a simple faith, depending on Christ, and on Christ alone. Give diligent heed to thy courage. 
Plead with God that He would give thee the face of a lion, that thou mayest, with a consciousness of right, go on boldly. Study well the Scriptures, and get knowledge; for a knowledge of doctrine will tend very much to confirm faith. Try to understand God's Word; let it dwell in thy heart richly.  
When thou hast done this, "Add to thy knowledge temperance." Take heed to thy body: be temperate without. Take heed to thy soul: be temperate within. Get temperance of lip, life, heart, and thought.
Add to this, by God's Holy Spirit, patience; ask Him to give thee that patience which endureth affliction, which, when it is tried, shall come forth as gold. Array yourself with patience, that you may not murmur nor be depressed in your afflictions. When that grace is won look to godliness. Godliness is something more than religion."
2 Peter 1:5-12

Thursday, November 9, 2017


The Calling of Saint Matthew - Caravaggio   Matthew 9:9

There he was with the other publicans, making his profit. His parents were very religious people.  It may have troubled them that he chose this despicable profession.

Levi was a Jew essentially collecting taxes for the Romans, working for Herod Antipas, who was the tetrarch of  Galilee.

When Christ came to Capernaum, He saw Levi.  And Levi saw Him. 
After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” (Luke 5:27)

(When Matthew became a disciple, he was renamed by Christ, as were all twelve.)

When Christ spoke those commanding words to Levi, "Follow me", did he hesitate?

Scripture tells us, he arose and followed Him.  Not only did he follow him literally, he invited Christ to his home.

Matthew wrote Christ's teachings of The Great Day of Hiring parable, which is not in the other gospels.

The elements of this parable correspond to the agriculture and enterprises of Jewish vine-growers of that time.

A proprietor having vast land for vineyards would need many laborers; he would not be concerned with expense to hire workers for the evening.  The laborers in the vineyards during those times were working at all hours of the day, and there was always work in a vast land such as this landowner had.

He paid his workers very well: those working in the morning agreed to accept the wage of a denarius, a normal wage for the day.  Others worked without bargaining for their wages.

The last to come are paid in the presence of all the rest of the workers, and this was intentional so that everyone witnessed the Master's loyalty and fairness.

He made it clear to those who were tempted to think themselves more worthy than others, for being envious of their coworkers, and that they had no reason to speak against him.

(So, you may think, this entire parable is about hiring and wages.)

Matthew grasped the importance of what Christ taught His disciples: Christ spoke more about money than He did about hell.  (And who among the four evangelists knew more about money? Matthew.)

You may think, then, that this parable is about The Kingdom of Heaven.  
It is, and more.

If we see through the eyes of Matthew, what he wrote as Christ taught, we will understand that the denarius is eternal life.  The eleventh hour of hiring is the essence of Grace.
He recruits sinners at the eleventh hour.  Those individuals,chosen by the Father and given to the Son, at the end of the day have this opportunity, the miraculous moment of accepting His offer.  From the first to the last, all who have been called, and who respond to His call, will be given the day's wage.

Matthew has captured, in Christ's teaching, the doctrine of Grace.

Matthew 20:1-16

Matthew the elder

"There is hope for old sinners; for if, in sincerity, they turn to God, they shall doubtless be accepted; true repentance is never too late. There is hope of old sinners, that they may be brought to true repentance; nothing is too hard for Almighty grace to do, not as wages for the value of their work, but as the gift of God. Though there be degrees of glory in heaven, yet it will be to all a complete happiness. They that come from the east and west, and so come in late, that are picked up out of the highways and the hedges, shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, at the same feast. 
The giving of a whole day’s wages to those that had not done the tenth part of a day’s work, is designed to show that God distributes his rewards by grace and sovereignty, and not of debt. The best of the labourers, and those that begin soonest, having so many empty spaces in their time, and their works not being filled up before God, may truly be said to labour in the vineyard scarcely one hour of their twelve; but because we are under grace, and not under the law, even such defective services, done in sincerity, shall not only be accepted, but by free grace richly rewarded.Matthew Henry

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


"For to this earthly city belong the enemies against whom I have to defend the city of God.  Many of them, indeed, being reclaimed from their ungodly error, have become sufficiently creditable citizens of this city; but many are so inflamed with hatred against it, and are so ungrateful to its Redeemer for His signal benefits, as to forget that they would now be unable to utter a single word to its prejudice, had they not found in its sacred places, as they fled from the enemy’s steel, that life in which they now boast themselves. 

 Are not those very Romans, who were spared by the barbarians through their respect for Christ, become enemies to the name of Christ?
The reliquaries of the martyrs and the churches of the apostles bear witness to this; for in the sack of the city they were open sanctuary for all who fled to them, whether Christian or Pagan.  To their very threshold the blood-thirsty enemy raged; there his murderous fury owned a limit.
Thither did such of the enemy as had any pity convey those to whom they had given quarter, lest any less mercifully disposed might fall upon them.  And, indeed, when even those murderers who everywhere else showed themselves pitiless came to those spots where that was forbidden which the license of war permitted in every other place, their furious rage for slaughter was bridled, and their eagerness to take prisoners was quenched.

Thus escaped multitudes who now reproach the Christian religion, and impute to Christ the ills that have befallen their city; but the preservation of their own life—a boon which they owe to the respect entertained for Christ by the barbarians—they attribute not to our Christ, but to their own good luck.
They ought rather, had they any right perceptions, to attribute the severities and hardships inflicted by their enemies, to that divine providence which is wont to reform the depraved manners of men by chastisement, and which exercises with similar afflictions the righteous and praiseworthy,—either translating them, when they have passed through the trial, to a better world, or detaining them still on earth for ulterior purposes.
And they ought to attribute it to the spirit of these Christian times, that, contrary to the custom of war, these bloodthirsty barbarians spared them, and spared them for Christ’s sake, whether this mercy was actually shown in promiscuous places, or in those places specially dedicated to Christ’s name, and of which the very largest were selected as sanctuaries, that full scope might thus be given to the expansive compassion which desired that a large multitude might find shelter there.

Therefore ought they to give God thanks, and with sincere confession flee for refuge to His name, that so they may escape the punishment of eternal fire—they who with lying lips took upon them this name, that they might escape the punishment of present destruction.  For of those whom you see insolently and shamelessly insulting the servants of Christ, there are numbers who would not have escaped that destruction and slaughter had they not pretended that they themselves were Christ’s servants.

Yet now, in ungrateful pride and most impious madness, and at the risk of being punished in everlasting darkness, they perversely oppose that name under which they fraudulently protected themselves for the sake of enjoying the light of this brief life."

 City of God ~ St. Augustine

Monday, October 30, 2017


Truthfully, I do not.  The basis for my non-fear of dying, death, is this:  Christ, Lord and Savior, died for those who believe in Him.  I believe absolutely and completely in Christ alone for eternal life, which means that if I were to die today, I know without hesitation where I will wake up: in Heaven.

So, what does "believe" really mean?  Trusting that He and He alone paid the ransom for my life when I was dead in my sins.  I am redeemed. 

Some "believe" in Christ, but do not really know Him, and do not put their complete trust in Him.  Scripture tells us that even the devil believed. 

Many believe that Christ existed, but they do not believe His Deity.

Jesus Christ was truly wholly man, and truly wholly God.  

He is the second person of the Triune Godhead (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit).

Recently I read a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, "Fear of Death"
Here is an excerpt:

It is a very natural thing that man should fear to die, for man was not originally created to die. When Adam and Eve were first placed in the Garden of Eden, they were in such a condition that they might have remained there for a myriad years if they had kept their integrity. There was no reason why unfallen man should die—but now that we have sinned, the seeds of corruption are in this flesh of ours—and it is appointed unto men once to die. Yet, as if the body knew that it was not according to the first decree of Heaven that it should go to the earth and to the worms, it has a natural reluctance to return to its last bed. And this fear of death, so far as it is natural, is not wrong. 

In fact, it subserves a very high purpose in the economy of mankind, for there is many a man who might be tempted to end this mortal life were it not for the fear of death. And to end his life by his own hand would be a dreadful deed—it would prove that he was not the child of God, for "you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." 

I mean, of course, if such a deed were done by anyone in possession of his senses—I am not giving any judgment on those who are not in the possession of reason and who are not accountable for what they do. If any man in his sober senses were to commit suicide, we could entertain no hope of eternal life for him. Yet many would do so were it not that there is impressed upon them the fear of what would result from thus ending their being. 

So far, you see, the fear of death answers a good purpose and is, in itself, right. But it can very readily go beyond the point where it is right into the region wherein it becomes evil and I do not doubt that many godly persons have a fear of death about them which is very evil and which produces very evil effects. Some, no doubt, have been hindered from confessing Christ and following Him fully through fear of death...

If the fear of death made us dishonor Christ, we would be guilty of deadly sin. If any man resolves to follow Christ, he must not love his own life in comparison with his love to Jesus Christ, but he must be willing to lay it down for the sake of Him who gave up His life upon the Cross for us.

Fear of death also causes some Christian people to have to endure many needless sorrows. They are ill and likely to die and, instead of being in a calm and serene state of mind, as they ought to be, they are greatly perturbed and distressed. Even while they are well, if something happens that causes them to think upon their last hours, they are burdened and depressed. Now this sorrow is a sorrow of the flesh which ought to be avoided. We ought to seek for Divine Grace to conquer it so that we may not have the sorrow of the world which works death. 

This fear of death is very dishonoring to God. It looks as if you could trust Him in fair weather, but not in storms—could believe in Him while you are well and strong—but could not trust in Him when health and strength are failing you. Never forget what David said, "He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death."

Christ has taken away the fear of death from those who truly know Him by assuring us that our soul shall not die or become extinct. There is a vital principle within us, as He has said, "Because I live, you shall live also." 

One of His last solemn declarations was, "Father, I will that they, also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My Glory." 

Happy are the people who have such a blessed place to go to when they die!

Photo: Angelina Lenahan

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Paul the Apostle was miraculously converted on his way to Damascus.  His story is best described in his own words.

Acts 22:1-16
1“Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”
2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said:
3“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day.

4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished. 
6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 
7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’
9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me.
10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’
And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’
11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus. 
12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 
13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him.

14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 

16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’
Paul's story continues in the rest of Acts, chapters 22 and 23.

The apostle's life was an exemplary testimony of his faith in Christ. An extraordinary man of courage, Paul endured unimaginable suffering for his faith. 

Diego Velázquez

The fingers of the left hand timidly appear on the thick book that indicates his status as an apostle. Top, left, is the inscription S.PAVLVS, text that connects the person with the apostle, without showing the sword, his only known attribute.

Friday, October 13, 2017



Here is a young wealthy man, who is listening to the One they call Master and Teacher talking to His followers about the Kingdom of Heaven.  He understands this Kingdom is that of eternal life.  The young man approaches the Teacher, falling at His feet, and asks, "Good Master, what should I do in order to obtain eternal life?"
The Master responds kindly. 
Why do you call me good?  No one is good, no one except God, God alone.  Keep the commandments ~ do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your mother and father, and love your neighbour as yourself.
The young man appeals with sincerity, "But I've kept all of those ever since I was a young boy.  What else is there for me to do?"

The Teacher is taken by this and tells the young man what remains to be done.

If you wish to be perfect, sell all of your possessions, give to the poor, and by doing this you will have treasure in Heaven; then you must come, and follow me.
Glancing around him, the Master quips to his followers how difficult it is for those who are wealthy to make their entrance into the Kingdom of God.  The disciples are astonished at what He is saying. 

He emphatically repeats how difficult it is to enter the Kingdom of God, and declares that even a camel could pass more easily through the eye of a needle than a wealthy man enter the Kingdom of God!

Christ has two issues he must address: the interrogations of a sincere youth; and his disciples' reaction to their Master's response.

The young man does not appear to have perceived Christ's invitation to the mystery of eternal life, the Kingdom of God, Heaven. He is stirred up, perplexed. "The commandments? Which?" 
Christ offers to list the ancient Decalogue as inscribed in Exodus, the Old Book, and He is content to add the Greatest of all commandments: love your neighbour as yourself.

Impatiently, the youth interrupts. "All of these I have done since I was young! I have always done. What more do I lack?"
What remains to be done even after one has been faithful to the commandments? Because no one can be perfect, there is no necessity to seek perfection. However, this perfection to which the wealthy young man is summoned is precisely that which the most fervent of Christ's disciples are engaged.

It is in the perfection of the Beatitudes, those virtues to which they tend incessantly ~ taught and preached by Christ ~ a most simple perfection, beginning in the Commandments of the Old Book and connected to the Greatest among them. 

Christ defines the poverty's hidden significance, its secret value.  What is in one's heart is where his treasure is found ~ through this poverty a person acquires a treasure in HeavenMatthew 6:19-21

Disown the perishable in order to possess the imperishable.

We see here once more the lessons which are well known to the disciples, repeated often. They could not have any doubt about the true thoughts of the Master, who preaches simply a holy poverty, capable of abandoning oneself to God.
Christ knew what he asked from this young man: He asked the impossible. He knew the lad was a son of a wealthy property owner, spoiled by good fortune, and could not lay his riches aside.  Nevertheless, Christ well understood the fellow's inner turmoil.

The departure of the youth weighed upon Christ's disciples, and they were indeed exasperated. 

Scripture: Matthew 19:16-22, Matthew 19:23-26

Monday, September 25, 2017

"I Who Speak to You Am He."

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri

Let us remember when we were captive to our sinful nature. At that time, we had no idea of the One who intimately knows our hearts, convicts us of corruption, and breaks the bondage of our sinfulness.

No words describe how awe struck we feel, how grateful we are for His mercy! He pulled us out of the quagmire of filth and, by His grace, we are converted.

When we realized we were cleansed with His righteousness, what did we do? Did we keep this incredulous incident to ourselves? No! We shared His forgiveness and mercy to anyone who would listen! 
Here now is Christ on his way to Galilee from Judea. He and His disciples must pass through Samaria. He is fatigued, and rests at the well, instructing His disciples to go on their way.  
We see a woman of Samaria who comes to the water well. The Jewish people were adversaries of the Samaritans, thus her question to the Lord why, being a Jew, would he come to Samaria.
This was not a chance rendezvous. The Lord knew this woman would be here. He also knew about her sinful life before she spoke. 
His encounter with her is similar to His encounters with us, isn't it?
Christ knows our hearts and minds. He desires that we engage with Him, accept what He tells us, and then share this truth with others. 
There is no greater power than He, my friends.
"Christ took the occasion to teach her Divine things: he converted this woman, by showing her ignorance and sinfulness, and her need of a Saviour. By this living water is meant the Spirit. Under this comparison the blessing of the Messiah had been promised in the Old Testament. The graces of the Spirit, and his comforts, satisfy the thirsting soul, that knows its own nature and necessity. What Jesus spake figuratively, she took literally. 
Christ shows that the water of Jacob's well yielded a very short satisfaction. Of whatever waters of comfort we drink, we shall thirst again. But whoever partakes of the Spirit of grace, and the comforts of the gospel, shall never want that which will abundantly satisfy his soul. Carnal hearts look no higher than carnal ends. 
Give it me, saith she, not that I may have everlasting life, which Christ proposed, but that I come not hither to draw. The carnal mind is very ingenious in shifting off convictions, and keeping them from fastening. But how closely our Lord Jesus brings home the conviction to her conscience! He severely reproved her present state of life. The woman acknowledged Christ to be a prophet. The power of his word in searching the heart, and convincing the conscience of secret things, is a proof of Divine authority.
The woman was disposed to leave the matter undecided, till the coming of the Messiah. But Christ told her, I that speak to thee, am He. She was an alien and a hostile Samaritan, merely speaking to her was thought to disgrace our Lord Jesus. Yet to this woman did our Lord reveal himself more fully than as yet he had done to any of his disciples.
Two things affected the woman. 1. The extent of his knowledge. Christ knows all the thoughts, words, and actions, of all the children of men. 2. And the power of his word. He told her secret sins with power. She fastened upon that part of Christ's discourse, many would think she would have been most shy of repeating; but the knowledge of Christ, into which we are led by conviction of sin, is most likely to be sound and saving. 
Our Master has left us an example, that we may learn to do the will of God as he did; with diligence, as those that make a business of it; with delight and pleasure in it." 

John 4:7-30
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." 11 The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?"
13 Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." 15 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw."
16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." 17 The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly." 19 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship."
21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." 25 The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things."
26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He." 27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or, "Why are You talking with her?" 28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.

Image credit:   
Il Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) 1591 – 1666
Jesus and the Woman of Samaria
oil on canvas — c. 1619

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Perfect Peace

 Isa 26:3

Recently a friend asked me, "How do you remain content, always peaceful, in the most troubling circumstances?

Many times I have unashamedly shared with her my abiding faith and trust in the Lord.
I continue to remind her that my contentment comes from the Lord who has sustained me through profound grief, painful loss, and physical challenges.

Why, as a believer, is this woman unable to trust in the Lord?We have had numerous conversations about Scripture, especially the teachings of Christ.
So, what do we say to friends and family who tell us that they believe in God, and yet they do not trust in Him?
They do not really know nor do they believe in His sovereignty.
It is surely heartbreaking. 
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee."

Previously published on 3/12/16 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Ignorance of the Word of God

The Duty of Searching The Scriptures

George Whitefield

"Our blessed Lord, though he was the eternal God, yet as man, he made the scriptures his constant rule and guide. And therefore, when he was asked by the lawyer, which was the great commandment of the law, he referred him to his Bible for an answer, “What readest thou?”

And thus, when led by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil, he repelled all his assaults, with “it is written.”

When the Sadducees came to our blessed Lord, and put to him the question, “whose wife that woman should be in the next life, who had seven husbands in this,” he told them “they erred, not knowing the scriptures.”

And if we would know whence all the errors, that have over-spread the church of Christ, first arose, we should find that, in a great measure, they flowed from the same fountain, ignorance of the Word of God.

But how few copy after the example of Christ?

How many are there who do not regard the word of God at all, but throw the sacred oracles aside, as an antiquated book, fit only for illiterate men?
By the Scriptures, I understand the law and the prophets, and those books which have in all ages been accounted canonical, and which make up that volume commonly called the Bible.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ~ Four Evangelists

They are not of any private interpretation, authority, or invention, but holy men of old wrote them, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 

The fountain of God's revealing himself thus to man-kind, was our fall in Adam, and the necessity of our new birth in Christ Jesus. And if we search the scriptures as we ought, we shall find the sum and substance, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of them, is to lead us to a knowledge of these two great truths. 

All the threats, promises and precepts, all the exhortations and doctrines contained therein, all the rites, ceremonies and sacrifices appointed under the Jewish law; nay, almost all the historical parts of holy scripture, suppose our being fallen in Adam, and either point out to us a Mediator to come, or speak of him as already come in the flesh. 

Had man continued in a state of innocence, he would not have needed an outward revelation, because the law of God was so deeply written in the tables of his heart. But having eaten the forbidden fruit, he incurred the displeasure of God, and lost the divine image, and, therefore, without an external revelation, could never tell how God would be reconciled unto him, or how he should be saved from the misery and darkness of his fallen nature. 

That these truths are so, I need not refer you to any other book, than your own hearts.
For unless we are fallen creatures, whence those abominable corruptions which daily arise in our hearts?

We could not come thus corrupt out of the hands of our Maker, because he being goodness itself could make nothing but what is like himself, holy, just, and good. And that we want to be delivered from these disorders of our nature, is evident, because we find an unwillingness within ourselves to own we are thus depraved, and are always striving to appear to others of a quite different frame and temper of mind than what we are. 

Here then, God by his Word steps in, and opens to his view such a scene of divine love, and infinite goodness in the holy scriptures, that none but men, of such corrupt and reprobate minds as our modern deists, would shut their eyes against it.

What does God in his written word do more or less, than show thee, O man, how thou art fallen into that blindness, darkness, and misery, of which thou feelest and complainest? And, at the same time, he points out the way to what thou desirest, even how thou mayest be redeemed out of it by believing in, and copying after the Son of his love. 

As I told you before, so I tell you again, upon these two truths rest all divine revelation. It being given us for no other end, but to show our misery, and our happiness; our fall and recovery; or, in one word, after what manner we died in Adam, and how in Christ we may again be made alive. 

Hence, then arises the necessity of searching the scriptures: for since they are nothing else but the grand charter of our salvation, the revelation of a covenant made by God with men in Christ, and a light to guide us into the way of peace; it follows, that all are obliged to read and search them, because all are equally fallen from God, all equally stand in need of being informed how they must be restored to, and again united with him. 

Have always in view, the end for which the scriptures were written, even to show us the way of salvation, by Jesus Christ. 

“Search the scriptures,” says our blessed Lord, “for they are they that testify of me.” Look, therefore, always for Christ in the scripture. He is the treasure hid in the field, both of the Old and New Testament. 

In the Old, you will find him under prophesies, types, sacrifices, and shadows; in the New, manifested in the flesh, to become a propitiation for our sins as a Priest, and as a Prophet to reveal the whole will of his heavenly Father.

The Psalmist makes it the characteristic of a good man, that he “meditates on God's law day and night.”
Have Christ, then, always in view when you are reading the word of God, and this, like the star in the east, will guide you to the Messiah, will serve as a key to every thing that is obscure, and unlock to you the wisdom and riches of all the mysteries of the kingdom of God.

Search the scriptures, with a sincere intention to put in practice what you read.

A desire to do the will of God is the only way to know it; if any man will do my will, says Jesus Christ, “He shall know of my doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

As he also speaks in another place to his disciples, “To you, (who are willing to practice your duty) it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to those that are without (who only want to raise cavils against my doctrine) all these things are spoken in parables, that seeing they may see and not understand, and hearing they may hear and not perceive.” 

For it is but just in God to send those strong delusions, that they may believe a lie, and to conceal the knowledge of himself from all such as do not seek him with a single intention... to those who consult his word with a desire neither to know him, nor keep his commandments, but either merely for their entertainment, or to scoff at the simplicity of the manner in which he is revealed, to those, I say, he never will reveal himself, though they should search the scriptures to all eternity.

For whatever was written in the book of God, was written for our learning. And what Christ said unto those aforetime, we must look upon as spoken to us also: for since the holy scriptures are nothing but a revelation from God, how fallen man is to be restored by Jesus Christ: all the precepts, threats, and promises, belong to us and to our children, as well as to those, to whom they were immediately made known.

But perhaps you have no taste for this despised book; perhaps plays, romances, and books of polite entertainment, suit your taste better...

Search, therefore, the scriptures, my dear brethren; taste and see how good the word of God is, and then you will never leave that heavenly manna, that angel's food, to feed on dry husks, that light bread, those trifling, sinful compositions, in which men of false taste delight themselves: no, you will then disdain such poor entertainment, and blush that yourselves once were fond of it. 

The word of God will then be sweeter to you than honey, and the honey-comb, and dearer than gold and silver; your souls by reading it, will be filled as it were, with marrow and fatness, and your hearts insensibly molded into the spirit of its blessed Author. In short, you will be guided by God's wisdom here, and conducted by the light of his divine word into glory hereafter."

Friday, August 25, 2017


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter 1:3-9

"Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her: tempests are her trainers, and lightnings are her illuminators. 

When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbour; for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. 

No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. 

Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God's strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too."

 Commentary: Charles Spurgeon