Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Sunday Sweetness

Maybe you're like me.  On a daily basis I am frequently reminded of my own deficiencies.  Always driven off-track by my own selfish desires, while they promise to provide me with contentment.  Yet as I walk with the Lord, all these things, in fact, only lead to a theft of my joy and contentment in Him.  The evil one is in constant cooperation with the sin left within me, in an effort to torment me and steal that joy.  So great is that power that without some help, I would be overcome with its evil.  Praise God for His love for us, His desire for mercy towards us, and glorious graces He gives to us, to those who believe in His name.

Again, another quick word from Owen on this same subject (Overcoming Sin and Temptation, p194).  Paraphrasing:
One method that the Lord preserves us from sin and temptation:  Apart from God's grace to us, we have no strength to resist temptation, and will pursue its sin, when it comes to us with its propositions.  We have no power or wisdom to keep ourselves from following after these temptations. As a result, we must be, and can be, kept by His power and wisdom only - being preserved by His grace, while sin abounds all around (1 Peter 1:5).  We are "protected by the power of God." The Lord directs us to this, not only in the Lord's prayer by asking to not be led into temptation (Mat 6:13), but also by His own prayer for us, that we may be kept:  " I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one" (John 17:15).
How great and wonderful is the grace and mercy of our God to save us from such a persistent and powerful enemy.  Let us not forget, but instead be grateful of the many mercies He has given to us.  "For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47)

Praise Him and rest in His Glory.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Sands of Time are Sinking

One band we really enjoy listening to is Indelible Grace.  Gabby and I were given a CD of theirs while in college those many years ago, and it's still one of our favorites.  The only albums of theirs that we have are still the first two; well worn, and burned, and re-burned several times to various hard drives.  The songs on these albums are modern arrangements of some great old hymns from Church history that may or may not be well known.  The band is from Nashville, and they play with a bit of acoustic, folksy, and sometimes bluegrass sound.

There's one particular song that I wanted to share with everyone today called "The Sands of Time are Sinking", also known as "Immanuel's Land", with words originally written by Anne Cousin in 1854.  She credits the words to be inspired by the writings of Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661).  Some sources specifically note "Letters" as the source of inspiration.

The hymn describes the glorious joy of heaven, or Immanuel's Land.  This is one of those songs that are best sung with your eyes closed tight and your voice raised high, but only once you know the words of course!  Thoughts of being with the Lord have become more frequent for our family recently with the passing of Gabby's beloved step-dad.  Knowing how much he loved the Lord makes songs like this all the more sweet to our souls.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

This video (audio only) is from their latest live album:

The Sands of Time Are Sinking

1. The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for -
The fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark had been the midnight
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

2. The king there in His beauty,
Without a veil is seen:
It were a well-spent journey,
Though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with His fair army,
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land

3. O Christ, He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I’ve tasted
More deep I’ll drink above:
There to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

4. The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.

5. O I am my Beloved’s
And my Beloved is mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner
Into His house of wine
I stand upon His merit -
I know no other stand,
Not e’en where glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

©2001 Phillip Palmertree Music.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Four Powers of the Gospel, For the Battle Against Temptation

A brief paraphrase of John Owen (1616-1683) from his book on Temptation. (Overcoming Sin and Temptation p.210-11)

To not be overcome by temptations we must become well acquainted with the Word of Christ, the Gospel.  There are four Powers of the Gospel, if known, that will enable us to effectively battle temptation and not be overcome by it:

Grace and Mercy - is able to save us: "it is the power of God for salvation" (Rom 1:16), "the grace of God... bringing salvation" (Titus 2:11), "the word implanted, which is able to save your souls." (James 1:21) When the soul comes to know the Grace and Mercy of the Word, its ability to pardon, and its eternal inheritance, it will fight to protect the Word and keep it close.

Holiness and Purity - is able to sanctify us: Jesus says, "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you." (John 15:3) And He prays this way for us, saying, "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth." (John 17:17).  Those who don't know the Word as a sanctifying and cleansing power over themselves, they don't know the Word nor do they keep it. The empty professing of Christ of our day (Owen's day) knows nothing of how to do this, and therefore they are overcome by the power of temptations.

Liberty and Power - is able to exalt us and set us free.  Not only does the Gospel set us free from the guilt of sin and wrath, done by Grace and Mercy; not only does it also set us free from the power of sin, done by Holiness and Purity; but it also sets us free from the opinions of man and the world that might entangle and enslave us.  It declares us to be free in Christ (John 8:32), and in bondage to no one (1 Cor 7:23).  However, we are not free from subjection to superiors nor free to sin (1 Pet 2:16).  But it is a freedom from bondage in respect to conscience in our worship of God (Gal 5:1), and in respect of enslavement to man and the things of this world.  The Gospel gives us a free and noble spirit, in subjection to God and no one else.  It is a spirit not "of timidity, but of power, love, and discipline." (2 Tim 1:7).  Those who rightly know the Word as Liberty and Power are freed from many great temptations.

Consoling - is able to support us in every condition, and to be our full portion when we are in need.  It is "joy inexpressible and full of glory." (1 Pet 1:8).  It is able to give us relief, peace, joy, and glory in every condition possible.  So, rightly knowing the power of His Word to Console us enables us to battle temptation, and not be overcome by its power.

The Beginning...

So here I am with a blog.  How unique.

I decided to start this project out of a desire to share with everyone, and hopefully encourage some of you, with ideas and thoughts that I come across in books that I read - on occasion.  I enjoy learning new things and talking about them with friends.  However, as a dad of 3 little ones, I don't get as many chances to do this as I'd like to anymore, but you can read about them on Gabby's blog, MamaGab.

So my hope here is to post on topics that are worth readying and are helpful for keeping our focus on things above (Col 3:2).  May there be plenty of things to share and good conversations to go with them.  And please excuse my poor grammar.  Run-ons are my life.