The below reflections come from studying Isaiah 56:1-8.
God wants his gathered people to seek him for Himself, not merely for His blessings, great though they are. He wants us “to minister to Him, and to love His name, and to be His servants” (Isaiah 56:6). Then, he promises to “make us joyful” in his house of prayer for all nations. He’s the one who is calling the nations to Himself. He wants us to know that we are never stronger than when we are most aware of our weakness, and therefore most dependent on Him.
– David Jackman
God values a heart for Christ. That’s how he defines spiritual authenticity… We draw lines of exclusion that God wants to erase. He throws the doors wide-open to all alike who will take Christ as their legitimacy.
What matters in church is what matters to God, especially the gathering in of outsiders (John 10:16), and nothing else matters. When we accept that and implement the implications in our churches, we move toward revival.
– Ray Ortlund, Jr.
Try and make ourselves kings and we find only shame;
bow to become his slaves for love and we find ourselves wearing crowns.
– John Oswalt
“Gaze on that helpless object of endless adoration!
Those infant hands
shall burst our bands
and work out our salvation;
Strangle the crooked serpent;
destroy his works forever,
And open set the heavenly gate
to every true believer.”
– Charles Wesley
Augustine: “You made us for yourself, and our hearts find no peace till they rest in you.”
“He loves Thee too little who loves anything together with Thee, which he loves
not for Thy sake.”
“If the things of this world delight you, praise God for them but turn your love
away from them and give it to their Maker, so that the things that please you
may not displease Him.”
Are we in bondage to the pleasures of this world so that, for all our talk about the glory of God, we love television and food and sleep and sex and money and human praise just like everybody else? If so, let us repent and fix our faces like flint toward the Word of God. And let us pray: ‘O Lord, open my eyes to see the
sovereign sight that in your presence is fullness of joy and at your right hand are pleasures forevermore’ (Psalm 16:11).
— The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther and Calvin
Behold, Lord, I am an empty vessel
that needs to be filled.
My Lord, fill it.
I am weak in faith; Strengthen me.
I am cold in love; Warm me and make me fervent
that my love may go out to my neighbor.
I do not have a strong and firm faith;
at times I doubt and am unable to trust You altogether.
O Lord, help me. Strengthen my faith and trust in Thee.
In You I have sealed the treasures of all I have.
I am poor; You are rich and came to be merciful to the poor.
I am a sinner; You are upright.
With me there is an abundance of sin;
In You is the fullness of righteousness.
Help and forgive me, O Lord,
for my only hope is in You. Amen.
Robert Murray Mc’Cheyne
Learn much of your own heart;
And when you have learned all you can,
Remember you have seen but a few yards
into a pit that is unfathomable.
“The heart if deceitful above all things and desperately wicked:
Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Learn much of the Lord Jesus.
For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.
He is altogether lovely. Such infinite majesty,
And yet such meekness and grace, and all for sinners, even the chief!
Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in His beams.
Feel His all-seeing eye settled on you (not in judgment) but in love,
and rest in His almighty arms.
Cry after divine knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding.
Seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasure,
according to the word in Proverbs 2:4.
See that v. 10 be fulfilled in you.
Let wisdom enter into your hearts and knowledge be pleasant to your soul; so you will be delivered from the snares mentioned in the following verses. Let your soul be filled with a heart-ravishing sense
of the sweetness and excellency of Christ
and all that is in Him.
Let the Holy Spirit fill every chamber of your heart;
And so there will be no room for folly, or the world, or Satan, or the flesh.
– Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne
The people of God gather on the Lord’s Day to worship Him.
We do this in the power of the Holy Spirit,
out of gratitude to our Almighty God
as He is revealed himself in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
We humble ourselves before Him by declaring His worth,
confessing His lordship,and rendering to Him honor and glory
according to His Word.
There are many reasons to do this.
None is more compelling than grace.
God’s grace is unmerited favor from an unobligated giver.
God owes us nothing yet gives us His all —
the indescribable gift of His Son.
John Newton, who wrote the beloved hymn “Amazing Grace,”
summarizes the essence of grace
in his simple yet profound testimony in his latter years:
“My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things:
That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!”
May we embrace Newton’s testimony as our own and delight to cherish this grace ourselves and commend it to others!
Henry 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!