Thursday, November 9, 2017

THE TAXMAN COMES TO CHRIST

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

THE BLOODTHIRSTY ENEMY RAGED


"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


https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/ea/Saint_Augustine_by_Philippe_de_Champaigne.jpg


Monday, October 30, 2017

DO YOU FEAR DYING?


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

THE TESTIMONY OF PAUL


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

THE YOUNG WEALTHY MAN




Hoffman


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

TRIALS OF OUR FAITH


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 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Paul's Shipwreck and the Providence of God


Ludolf Backhuysen http://www.artbible.info/art/large/340.html


"In the morning they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned to run the ship ashore, if they could. So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea. At the same time they loosened the ropes that tied the steering-oars; then hoisting the foresail to the wind, they made for the beach. But striking a reef, they ran the ship aground; the bow stuck and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the force of the waves.

The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none might swim away and escape; but the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest to follow, some on planks and others on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land."  Acts 27:39-44

Paul the Apostle was headed to Italy to be brought before Caesar, along with other prisoners.  They set sail from Africa under beautiful soft billows of wind to carry them.  It was not long, however, that a great tumult, a northeaster of a storm, tossed the ship so violently that there was very little hope of surviving. When we read Acts 27, it is impossible to think that anything but the Hand of God saved everyone aboard the ship.
   
Following is an excerpt by Matthew Henry:

What encouragement they had at first to pursue their voyage. They set out with a fair wind, the south wind blew softly, upon which they should gain their point, and so they sailed close by the coast of Crete and were not afraid of running upon the rocks or quicksands, because the wind blew so gently. Those who put to sea with ever so fair a gale know not what storms they may yet meet with, and therefore must not be secure, nor take it for granted that they have obtained their purpose, when so many accidents may happen to cross their purpose. Let not him that girdeth on the harness boast as though he had put it off.
 
The ship in a storm presently, a dreadful storm. They looked at second causes, and took their measures from the favourable hints they gave, and imagined that because the south wind now blew softly it would always blow so; in confidence of this, they ventured to sea, but were soon made sensible of their folly in giving more credit to a smiling wind than to the word of God in Paul's mouth, by which they had fair warning given them of a storm. 

There arose against them a tempestuous wind, which was not only contrary to them, and directly in their teeth, so that they could not get forward, but a violent wind, which raised the waves, like that which was sent forth in pursuit of Jonah, though Paul was following God, and going on in his duty, and not as Jonah running away from God and his duty. 

This wind the sailors called Euroclydon, a north-east wind, which upon those seas perhaps was observed to be in a particular manner troublesome and dangerous. It was a sort of whirlwind, for the ship is said to be caught by it, v. 15. It was God that commanded this wind to rise, designing to bring glory to himself, and reputation to Paul, out of it; stormy winds being brought out of his treasuries. The ship was exceedingly tossed; it was kicked like a football from wave to wave; its passengers mount up to the heavens, go down again to the depths, reel to and fro, stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. The ship could not possibly bear up into the wind, could not make her way in opposition to the wind; and therefore they folded up their sails, which in such a storm would endanger them rather than to them any service, and so let the ship drive. 

They saw neither sun nor stars for many days. This made the tempest the more terrible, that they were all in the dark; and the use of the loadstone for the direction of sailors not being then found out (so that they had no guide at all, when they could see neither sun nor stars) made the case the more hazardous. Thus melancholy sometimes is the condition of the people of God upon a spiritual account. They walk in darkness and have no light. Neither sun nor stars appear; they cannot dwell, nay, they cannot fasten, upon any thing comfortable or encouraging; thus it may be with them, and yet light is sown for them. 

See what hardships those often undergo who are much at sea, besides the hazards of life they run; and yet to get gain there are still those who make nothing of all this; and it is an instance of divine Providence that it disposes some to this employment, notwithstanding the difficulties that attend it, for the keeping up of commerce among the nations, and the isles of the Gentiles particularly. Perhaps Christ therefore chose ministers from among seafaring men, because they had been used to endure hardness.

The next day they lightened the ship of its cargo, threw the goods and the merchandises overboard as Jonah's mariners did, being willing rather to be poor without them than to perish with them. Skin for skin, and all that a man has, will he give for his life. See what the wealth of this world is; how much soever it is courted as a blessing, the time may come when it will be a burden, not only too heavy to be carried safe of itself, but heavy enough to sink him that has it. 

Any man will rather make shipwreck of his goods than of his life; but many will rather make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience than of their goods. 

The third day they cast out the tacklings of the ship—the utensils of it, as if it were a ship of force. With us it is common to heave the guns over-board in the extremity of a storm; but what heavy artillery they had then which it was necessary to lighten the ship of I do not know; and I question whether it was not then a vulgar error among seamen thus to throw every thing into the sea, even that which would be of great use in a storm, and no great weight.

The despair which at last they were brought to: All hope that we should be saved was then taken away. The storm continued, and they saw no symptoms of its abatement; we have known very blustering weather to continue for some weeks. The means they had used were ineffectual, so that they were at their wits' end; and such was the consternation that this melancholy prospect put them into that they had no heart either to eat or drink. They had provision enough on board, but such bondage were they under, through fear of death, that they could not admit the supports of life. 

Why did not Paul, by the power of Christ, and in his name, lay this storm? Why did he not say to the winds and waves, Peace, be still, as his Master had done? Surely it was because the apostles wrought miracles for the confirmation of their doctrine, not for the serving of a turn for themselves or their friends.

We have here the issue of the distress of Paul and his fellow-travellers; they escaped with their lives and that was all, and that was for Paul's sake. We are here told what number there were on board—mariners, merchants, soldiers, prisoners, and other passengers, in all two hundred and seventy-six souls; this is taken notice of to make us the more concerned for them in reading the story, that they were such a considerable number, whose lives were now in the utmost jeopardy, and one Paul among them worth more than all the rest. We left them in despair, giving up themselves for gone. 

Whether they called every man on his God, as Jonah's mariners did, we are not told; it is well if this laudable practice in a storm was not gone out of fashion and made a jest of. However, Paul among these seamen was not, like Jonah among his, the cause of the storm, but the comforter in the storm, and as much a credit to the profession of an apostle as Jonah was a blemish to the character of a prophet.

The encouragement Paul gave them, by assuring them, in the name of God, that their lives should all be saved, even when, in human appearance, all hope that they should be saved was taken away. Paul rescued them from their despair first, that they might not die of that, and starve themselves in that, and then they were in a fair way to be rescued from their distress. After long abstinence, as if they were resolved not to eat till they knew whether they should live or die, Paul stood forth in the midst of them. During the distress hitherto Paul hid himself among them, was one of the crowd, helped with the rest to throw out the tackling, but now he distinguished himself, and, though a prisoner, undertook to be their counsellor and comforter.

They had given up the cause, and would use no further means, because all hope that they should be saved was taken away. Now Paul quickens them to bestir themselves yet in working for their own safety, by telling them that it they would resume their vigour they should secure their lives. He gives them this assurance when they were brought to the last extremity, for now it would be doubly welcome to them to be told that not a life should be lost when they were ready to conclude they must inevitably be all lost. He tells them they must count upon the loss of the ship. Those who were interested in that and the goods were probably those greater part that were for pushing forward the voyage and running the venture, notwithstanding Paul's admonition, and they are made to pay for their rashness. Their ship shall be wrecked. Many a stately, strong, rich, gallant ship is lost in the mighty waters in a little time... But  Not a life shall be lost. This would be good news to those that were ready to die for fear of dying, and whose guilty consciences made death look very terrible to them.

He tells them what ground he had for this assurance, that it is not a banter upon them, to put them into humour, nor a human conjecture, he has a divine revelation for it, and is as confident of it as that God is true, being fully satisfied that he has his word for it. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in the night, and told him that for his sake they should all be preserved, which would double the mercy of their preservation, that they should have it not only by providence, but by promise, and as a particular favour to Paul. 

The solemn profession Paul makes of relation to God, the God from whom he had this favourable intelligence: It is he whose I am, and whom I serve. He looks upon God as his rightful owner, who has a sovereign incontestable title to him, and dominion over him: Who I am. Because God made us and not we ourselves, therefore we are not our own but his. His we are by creation, for he made us; by preservation, for he maintains us; by redemption, for he bought us. We are more his than our own. As his sovereign ruler and master, who, having given him being, has right to give him law: Whom I serve. Because his we are, therefore we are bound to serve him, to devote ourselves to his honour and employ ourselves in his work. It is Christ that Paul here has an eye to; He is God, and the angels are his and go on his errands. 
  
Now this he tells the company, that, seeing their relief coming from his God whose he was and whom he served, they might thereby be drawn in to take him for their God, and to serve him likewise; for the same reason Jonah said to his mariners, I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who has made the sea and the dry land,  Jonah 1:9.

The account he gives of the vision he had: There stood by me this night an angel of God, a divine messenger who used formerly to bring him messages from heaven; he stood by him, visibly appeared to him, probably when he was awake upon his bed. Though he was afar off upon the sea on the uttermost parts of the sea, yet this could not intercept his communion with God, nor deprive him of the benefit of divine visits. Thence he can direct a prayer to God, and thither God can direct an angel to him. He knows not where he is himself, yet God's angel knows where to find him out. The ship is tossed with winds and waves, hurried to and fro with the utmost violence, and yet the angel finds a way into it. No storms nor tempests can hinder the communications of God's favour to his people, for he is a very present help, a help at hand, even when the sea roars and is troubled. We may suppose that Paul, being a prisoner, had not a cabin of his own in the ship, much less a bed in the captain's cabin, but was put down into the hold (any dark or dirty place was thought good enough for him in common with the rest of the prisoners), and yet there the angel of God stood by him.  Paul had this vision but this last night. He had himself been assured by a former vision that he should go to Rome, from which he might infer that he himself should be safe; but he has this fresh vision to assure him of the safety of those with him.

Fear not, Paul; fear not their fear, nor be afraid. He is assured that for his part he shall come safely to Rome: Thou must be brought before Cæsar. As the rage of the most potent enemies, so the rage of the most stormy sea, cannot prevail against God's witnesses till they have finished their testimony. Paul must be preserved in this danger, for he is reserved for further service. This is comfortable for the faithful servants of God in straits and difficulties, that as long as God has any work for them to do their lives shall be prolonged. That for his sake all that were in the ship with him should be delivered too from perishing in this storm: God hath given thee all those that sail with thee. The angel that was ordered to bring him this message could have singled him out from this wretched crew, and those that were his friends too, and have carried them safely to shore, and have left the rest to perish, because they would not take Paul's counsel. But God chooses rather, by preserving them all for his sake, to show what great blessings good men are to the world, than by delivering him only to show how good men are distinguished from the world.  The good people are hated and persecuted in the world as if they were not worthy to live in it, yet really it is for their sakes that the world stands.

If Paul had thrust himself needlessly into bad company, he might justly have been cast away with them, but, God calling him into it, they are preserved with him. And it is intimated that it was a great favour to Paul, and he looked upon it to be so, that others were saved for his sake: They are given thee. There is no greater satisfaction to a good man than to know that he is a public blessing.

He comforts them with the same comforts wherewith he himself was comforted: "Wherefore, Sirs, be of good cheer, you shall see even this will end well; for I believe God, and depend upon his word, that it shall be even as it was told me." He would not require them to give credit to that to which he did not himself give credit; and therefore solemnly professes that he believes it himself, and the belief of it makes him easy: "I doubt not but it shall be as it was told me."
Thus he staggers not at the promise of God through unbelief. Hath God spoken, and shall he not make it good? No doubt he can, no doubt he will; for he is not a man that he should lie. And shall it be as God hath said? Then be of good cheer, be of good courage. God is ever faithful.   Matthew Henry






Friday, July 28, 2017

O God,Teach Us to Number Our Days


Lately I have been thinking about how long I have until the Lord takes me Home.  It is not unusual for those of us who have crossed the threshold of our later years to think on such things.  We as believers should have no sorrow because we believe that  "absent from the body, present with the Lord". 

Now that I am almost 70, I think upon the glory of Christ, the Heavens, and eternal life that awaits me.  

At the evening hour I ask the LORD: 

O God, teach me to cherish every day as if it were my last.  

O God, give me a heart of wisdom and compassion.

O God, give me courage to unashamedly tell people where my hope lies, and where my trust is, and to always be prepared to give an answer how I endure this sorrowful, catastrophic life and still cling dearly to my faith in You.  (AL)

"People are uncomfortable talking or even thinking about death, yet it will happen to each of us at some point. Teaching from Psalm 90, Alistair Begg contrasts our brief lives with God's eternity and reminds us that we die because we rebel against His righteous ways. How can we prepare to meet a holy God? Only by trusting in the provision He has made in Christ. As believers rest in His mercy and grace, we gain wisdom to number our days aright."

 


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Le Bon Pasteur

"He told them this parable: 'What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance."  Luke 15:3-7
 
Christ Jesus, our Lord, adds His sublime touch to this allegory: His diligent pursuit of the wandering sinner. Previously He told His disciples and the multitude of followers,  "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep." 

Here is an accumulation of moving emotions: concern for the lost sheep that strayed, compassion toward this young animal because it is weak; tender care by placing it upon his shoulders to carry it home; and the inexplicable joy when announcing the recovery of his precious animal.

This is an image of the very heart of God. He sent His Son to seek and save the lost, even if it be until that very hour. The Good Shepherd calls to those whom the Father has given to Him.
 
There is a divine rejoicing among the angels with God when we repent, more joy over one who repents, than many righteous people who think have no need for repentance. (AL)

"Christ is said to gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in His bosom, denoting His pity and tenderness towards poor sinners; here He is said to bear them upon His shoulders, denoting the power wherewith He supports and bears them up; those can never perish whom He carries upon His shoulders.  The pleasure that God takes in repenting returning sinners.
He lays it on his shoulders rejoicing that He has not lost His labour in seeking; and the joy is the greater because He began to be out of hope of finding it; and the shepherd calls his friends and neighbours, the shepherds that keep their flocks about him, saying, Rejoice with me.
 
Observe, He calls it His sheep, though a stray, a wandering sheep. He has a right to it (all souls are mine), and He will claim His own, therefore He looks after it Himself: I have found it; He did not send a servant, but His own Son, the Great and Good Shepherd, who will find what He seeks."

Brooklyn Museum



Friday, June 23, 2017

"I Have Kept the Faith"

Rembrandt (1657)


“I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” 
2 Tim 4:6-8


Paul the Apostle wrote these words in his second letter to Timothy, while imprisoned under the Emperor Nero.

During the last year of his life, he suffered in a cold dungeon.  Because he was a Roman citizen, he was spared torture and death by crucifixion.  He was beheaded.

Here in his letter to Timothy, is the doctrine of the elect, and the assurance of our salvation through grace and faith in Christ alone.

Excerpts from J.C. Ryle on 2 Tim 4:6-8:

“I have fought a good fight.” There he speaks as a soldier. I have fought that good battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil, from which so many shrink and draw back.

“I have finished my course.” There he speaks as one who has run for a prize. I have run the race marked out for me: I have gone over the ground appointed for me, however rough and steep. I have not turned aside because of difficulties, nor been discouraged by the length of the way. I am at last in sight of the goal.

“I have kept the faith.” There he speaks as a steward. I have held fast that glorious Gospel which was committed to my trust. I have not mingled it with man’s traditions, nor spoiled its simplicity by adding my own inventions, nor allowed others to adulterate it without withstanding them to the face. “As a soldier,-a runner,-a steward,” he seems to say, “I am not ashamed.”

Let us hear the Apostle once more. He looks forward to the great day of reckoning, and he does it without doubt. Mark his words.

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” A glorious reward, he seems to say, is ready and laid up in store for me: even that crown which is only given to the righteous. In the great day of judgment the Lord shall give this crown to me, and to all beside me who have loved Him as an unseen Saviour, and longed to see Him face to face. My work on earth is over. This one thing now remains for me to look forward to, and nothing more.

Reader, observe that the Apostle speaks without any hesitation or distrust. He regards the crown as a sure thing: as his own already. He declares with unfaltering confidence his firm persuasion that the righteous Judge will give it to him. Paul was no stranger to all the circumstances and accompaniments of that solemn day to which he referred. The great white throne,-the assembled world,-the open books,-the revealing of all secrets,-the listening angels,-the awful sentence,-the eternal separation of the lost and saved,-all these were things with which he was well acquainted.

But none of these things moved him. His strong faith over-leaped them all, and only saw Jesus, his all-prevailing Advocate, and the blood of sprinkling, and sin washed away. “A crown,” he says, “is laid up for me.” “The Lord Himself shall give it to me.” He speaks as if he saw it all with his own eyes.

The Word of God appears to me to teach that a believer may arrive at an assured confidence with regard to his own salvation.

I would lay it down fully and broadly, that a true Christian, a converted man, may reach that comfortable degree of faith in Christ, that in general he shall feel entirely confident as to the pardon and safety of his soul,-shall seldom be troubled with doubts,-seldom be distracted with hesitation,-seldom be distressed by anxious questionings,-and, in short, though vexed by many an inward conflict with sin, shall look forward to death without trembling, and to judgment without dismay.

Now, such a statement as this is often disputed and denied. Many cannot see the truth of it at all.

The vast majority of the worldly among ourselves oppose the doctrine of assurance. It offends and annoys them to hear of it. They do not like others to feel comfortable and sure, because they never feel so themselves. That they cannot receive it is certainly no marvel.

But there are also some true believers who reject assurance, or shrink from it as a doctrine fraught with danger. They consider it borders on presumption. They seem to think it a proper humility never to be confident, and to live in a certain degree of doubt. This is to be regretted, and does much harm.

I frankly allow there are some presumptuous persons who profess to feel a confidence for which they have no Scriptural warrant. There always are some people who think well of themselves when God thinks ill, just as there are some who think ill of themselves when God thinks well.

There always will be such. There never yet was a Scriptural truth without abuses and counterfeits.

God’s election,-man’s impotence,-salvation by grace,-all are alike abused. There will be fanatics and enthusiasts as long as the world stands. But, for all this, assurance is a real, sober, and true thing; and God’s children must not let themselves be driven from the use of a truth, merely because it is abused.

My answer to all who deny the existence of real, well-grounded assurance is simply this,-What saith the Scripture? If assurance be not there, I have not another word to say.

Does not Paul say to the Romans, “I am persuaded that neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, not 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”? (Romans 8:38-39)

Does he not say to the Corinthians, “We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”? (2 Cor. 5:1.)

And again, “We are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:6.)

Does he not say to Timothy, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him”? (2 Tim. 1:12.)

And does he not speak to the Colossians of “the full assurance of understanding” (Col. 2:2), and to the Hebrews of the “full assurance of faith,” and the “full assurance of hope”? (Heb. 6:11, Heb 10:22)

Reader, you may be sure that Paul was the last man in the world to build his assurance on anything of his own. He who could write himself down “chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15 ) had a deep sense of his own guilt and corruption.

But then he had a still deeper sense of the length and breadth of Christ’s righteousness imputed to him.-He, who would cry, “O wretched man that I am” (Rom. 8:24), had a clear view of the fountain of evil within his heart. But then he had a still clearer view of that other Fountain which can remove “all sin and uncleanness.” -He, who thought himself “less than the least of all saints” (Eph. 3:8), had a lively and abiding feeling of his own weakness. But he had a still livelier feeling that Christ’s promise, “My sheep shall never perish”  could not be broken.

Paul knew, if ever a man did, that he was a poor, frail bark, floating on a stormy ocean. He saw, if any did, the rolling waves and roaring tempest by which he was surrounded. But then he looked away from self to Jesus, and was not afraid. He remembered that anchor within the veil, which is both “sure and steadfast.”

He remembered the word, and work, and constant intercession of Him that loved him and gave Himself for him. And this it was, and nothing else, that enabled him to say so boldly, “A crown is laid up for me, and the Lord shall give it to me”; and to conclude so surely, “The Lord will preserve me: I shall never be confounded.” 
Take my advice this day. Seek an increase of faith. Seek an assured hope of salvation like the Apostle Paul’s. Seek to obtain a simple, childlike confidence in God’s promises.
Seek to be able to say with Paul
“I know whom I have believed: I am persuaded that He is mine, and I am His.”