The Calling of a Soldier of Jesus Christ

“Remember your high calling,
you are a minister and ambassador of Christ,
you are entrusted with the most honorable and important employment
that can engage and animate the heart of man.
Filled and fired with a constraining sense
of the love of Jesus and the worth of souls;
impressed with an ardor to carry war into Satan’s Kingdom —
to storm his strongholds and rescue his captives,
you will have little leisure to think of anything else.
How does the love of glory stimulate the soldier —
make him forget and forego a thousand personal tendernesses
and prompt him to cross oceans, to traverse deserts, to scale mountains,
and plunge into the greatest hardships and the thickest dangers?
They do it for a corruptible crown, a puff of smoke, an empty fame.
We likewise are soldiers,
we have a Captain and a Prince who deserves our all.”

John Newton

A Simple Prayer through Psalm 23

shepherd-sheep-10Gracious Father,
at birth we are all launched into a world
that is ringed with terror –
conflicts, accidents, assaults, disease, violence and death.

How easy it is to allow fear to dominate our lives:
The fear of rejection, failure, condemnation, pain and death.
Thank You that Your sword was awakened
against our Good Shepherd who laid down His life for us
so that we might experience
the certainty of your care.

Your lamb was slain to save wayward, stubborn sheep like us.
Grant us grace to trust
that everything is necessary that You send into our lives
and nothing is needful that You withhold.
May all our days be full of praise and delight in You
our Shepherd, King and God.
For we make our prayer in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Two Alternate Paths to Take in Life

thoreau_1050x700Henry David Thoreau, in his classic Walden, sets forth two alternate paths that lie before each of us: One is broad, common and natural. The other is narrow, uncommon and supernatural:

 

” The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation
and go to the grave with the song still in them.
What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.
A stereotyped but unconscious despair
is concealed under what are called the games and amusements of mankind.
However, I would fain improve every opportunity
to wonder and worship as a sunflower welcomes the light.”

Advent is a season to “improve every opportunity to wonder and worship” our Savior who is Christ the Lord!

A Psalm Prayer for an Election Year

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-7-04-39-amPsalm 2 teaches believers how to counter the bullying world that intimidates them to retreat and hide.  We learn that the LORD’s Anointed One (Messiah) is personally and powerfully involved in this world, rescuing and ruling it for His glory and His people’s good.

How is Jesus Christ the LORD’s King? He is the Son who rules for his Father (2:7-8). There is a twofold kingdom of God committed to Jesus Christ: First, a spiritual kingdom by which he rules in the hearts of His people; and, second, a providential kingdom by which he rules the affairs of this world. During an election year, it is very important for us to remember His providential rule.

Psalm 2 paints an exalted picture of Jesus Christ. This heavenly prince rules all the kings of the earth, judges all the nations, crushes all of God’s enemies, defends and protects all of God’s people, marries His Bride – the Church, and fulfills the promised hope of David’s eternal throne. No wonder this Royal Psalm ends with the exclamation, “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Ps. 2:12).

A Psalm Prayer:

Gracious Father, thank you for the future hope
that all the nations that rage against You
will become the inheritance of the Messiah.
You have given to Your Son our Savior
the ends of the earth as His possession.
He declares triumphantly
that all authority in heaven and on earth is rightfully His.
Based upon that authority,
we pray that you would supernaturally cause a massive ingathering of souls
who would come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Have mercy upon them,
open blind eyes like you did long ago,
pour the wine of your love and Word on calloused, stony hearts.
Raise up a group of young people throughout the world
who devotedly kiss Your Son as Savior.
May they serve You with fear and rejoice with trembling
as they contemplate your loving reign in their hearts as King,
but also as a just judge who will come again with a rod of iron
to break all those who resist Your reign. AMEN.

Gazing Upon True Beauty

Religious people find God useful for obtaining things in life. Christians find God beautiful and knowing Him is the chief good they seek.

The Psalmist declares in Psalm 27:4 –

“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

  • May we see and sense in new ways today how beautiful and lovely our Lord is.
  • May we not settle for little glimpses of His majesty.
  • May He give us the gift of gazing – a sustained focus of His beauty.
  • May we all come to the place where we can’t keep our eyes off of Him!
  • May the Lord so work in all of our hearts today that we find Him beautiful.

Friends, this is not just a nice, little sentimental exercise. It is a spiritual lifeline that will keep you from giving your heart to lesser loves and other beauties that will ultimately lead you into bondage, misery, and despair. True beauty always leads to liberation and lasting joy!

When You Face a Desperate Situation

Psalm 11 teaches us to find our refuge in the Lord.

God of Refuge, how easy it is to pursue safety, security, and deliverance in our own ways and methods as we “flee to the mountains.” However, you are the only refuge. As you look down from heaven and see the foundations of our society being destroyed, LORD have mercy on us. The foundations of justice, truth, duty, honesty, marriage, vows faithfully performed, holiness, and family are being assaulted on all fronts. A fortress mentality and a spirit of discouragement and cynicism can so frequently plague us.

Help us to remember today that:
1. You are not absent from our lives and our country. You are in your throne room of glory where all angels, arch-angels, and saints worship you with joyful and awe-struck hearts (v.4)
2. You are not only there, you reign. Your throne is in heaven and you sit upon it and nothing is outside of your sovereign control (v.4).
3. You are the God who sees. Nothing is hidden from your sight (v.4). You especially see and test Your righteous ones (saints).
4. You are a God who judges those who love violence. Your judgment is spoken in terms descriptive of Sodom and Gomorrah.
5. You are a God whom the righteous alone will see (v.7). We will behold your face.

What a wonderful day that will be. Throughout redemptive history, no one was able to see Your face and live. This future prospect instills hope and anticipation in us. Thank you for purifying us by the blood of Your son so that we might savor the prospect of seeing You face to face (Matthew 5:8). AMEN.

How to face temptation – Sage Counsel from Thomas Brooks

Thomas Brooks, a Puritan pastor, counsels believers to confront all temptations (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the boastful pride of life) with the words of the Psalmist: “The LORD is my portion” (16:5; 73:26; 119:57; 142:5). He exhorts:

Luther counsels every Christian to answer all temptations with the short saying, ‘I am a Christian’ and I would counsel every Christian to answer all temptations with this short saying, ‘The Lord is my portion.’

  • O Christian, when Satan or the world shall tempt thee with honors, answer, ‘the Lord is my portion,’
  • when they shall tempt thee with riches, answer, ‘the Lord is my portion;’
  • when they shall tempt thee with preferment, answer, ‘the Lord is my portion;’
  • and when they shall tempt thee with the favors of great ones, answer, ‘the Lord is my portion;’
  • yea and when this persecuting world shall threaten thee with the loss of thy estate, answer ‘the Lord is my portion;’
  • and when they shall threaten thee with the loss of thy liberty, answer, ‘the Lord is my portion;’
  • and when they shall threaten thee with the loss of friends, answer, ‘the Lord is my portion;’
  • and when they shall threaten thee with the loss of life, answer, ‘the Lord is my portion;.
  • O sirs! If Satan should come to you with an apple, as once he did to Eve, tell him the “the Lord is your portion;”
  • or with a grape, as once he did to Noah, tell him that “the Lord is your portion;
  • or with a change of raiment, as once he did to Gehazi, tell him that ‘the Lord is your portion;
  • or with a wedge of gold, as once he did to Achan, tell him that “the Lord is your portion;”
  • or with a bag of silver, as once he did with Judas, tell him that “the Lord is your portion.”[1]

[1] Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, vol 2, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh, Scotland: James Nichol, 1666), 114.