Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Farewell, friends and earthly comforts!: words of David Brainerd (1718-1747)


For to me, to live is Christ,, Phil.1:21
 
from the Diary of David Brainerd
 
22 May, 1746

But now these thoughts seem to be wholly dashed to pieces; not by necessity, but of choice: for it appeared to me, that God's dealings towards me had fitted me for a life of solitariness and hardship; and that I had nothing to lose, nothing to do with earth, and consequently nothing to lose by a total renunciation of it.


It appeared to me just right, that I should be destitute of house and home, and many comforts of life, which I rejoiced to see others of God's people enjoy.
 
And at the same time, I saw so much of the excellency of Christ's kingdom, and the infinite desirableness of its advancement in the world, that it swallowed up all my other thoughts; and made me willing, yea, even rejoice, to be made a pilgrim or hermit in the wilderness, to my dying moment, if I might thereby promote the blessed interest of the great Redeemer.

And if ever my soul presented itself to God for his service, without any reserve of any kind, it did so now. The language of my thoughts an disposition now was, `Here I am, Lord, send me; send me to the ends of the earth; send me to the rough, the savage pagans of the wilderness; send me from all that is called comfort in earth, or earthly comfort; send me even to death itself, if it be but in thy service, and to promote thy kingdom.'
 
 

 ,,and sure I am, that although the comfortable accommodations of life appeared valuable and dear to me, yet I did surrender and resign myself, soul and body, to the service of God, and promotion of Christ's kingdom: though it should be in the loss of them all.

And I could not do any other, because I could not will or choose any other. I was constrained, and yet chose, to say,

`Farewell, friends and earthly comforts, the dearest of them all, the very dearest, if the Lord calls for it; adieu, adieu; I will spend my life, to my latest moments, in caves and dens of the earth, if the kingdom of Christ may thereby be advanced.' I found extraordinary freedom at this time in pouring out my soul to God, for his cause;
 
 
Prayer:
Lord, let me burn out for Thee and Thy Kingdom! In Jesus' name. Amen.
 

How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!: Singing and meditating on Psalm 84:1-7


 
How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! Psalm 84:1-7
 
The biblical practice of Christian headcovering (1 Cor.11) is just remarkable in many senses. (I am sure our fellow headcovering sisters agree with me!) He has guided me to a deeper path ever since I obeyed this Bible command. Now I testify to you that I have been transformed by Him so drastically that what I am today is almost totally different from what I was two years ago.
 
Discovery of the depth and beauty of Psalmody is one such example. All I had known in my church experiences were Contemporary Christian Music and I am just grateful for His gentle and providential guidance. Since sisters' prayer veil is deeply connected with celestial and earthly worship, I am now pondering that the discovery of the spiritual blessedness of Psalmody might be part of the work of the Spirit who is groaning and interceding for the recovery of worship.
Today, I'd like to sing Psalm 84:1-7 with you and meditate on these celestial verses together. May our heavenly King Jesus be manifested and adored as we ponder over these verses.
 
 
 
Psalm 84:1-7  (Psalter 227)
 
Verse 1
O Lord of Hosts, how lovely
Thy tabernacles are;
For them my heart is yearning
In banishment afar.
My soul is longing, fainting,
Thy sacred courts to see;
My heart and flesh are crying,
O living God, for Thee.

Verse 2
Beneath Thy care the sparrow
Finds place for peaceful rest;
To keep her young in safety
The swallow finds a nest;
Then, Lord, my King Almighty,
Thy love will shelter me;
Beside Thy holy altar
My dwelling place shall be.
 
Verse 3
Blest they who dwell in Zion,
Whose joy and strength Thou art;
Forever they will praise Thee,
Thy ways are in their heart.
Tho' tried, their tears like showers
Shall fill the springs of peace,
And all the way to Zion
Their strength shall still increase.
 
 
 

Excerpts from Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! Which were erected in the wilderness by Moses at the command of God, and brought into the land of Canaan, where the Lord took up his dwelling: here he was worshipped, and sacrifices offered to him; here he granted his presence, and commanded his blessing;

here it was in David's time; for as yet the temple was not built: it is called "tabernacles", in the plural number, because of its several parts: hence we read of a first and second tabernacle, Hebrew 9:2, there was the holy place, and the holy of holies, besides the court of the people;

unless it can be thought to refer to the tabernacle David had built for the ark in Zion, and to the old tabernacle which was at Gibeon, 2 Samuel 6:17, the whole was a representation of the church of God, and the ordinances of it;

which is the dwelling place of God, Father, Son, and Spirit, where he is worshipped, his presence enjoyed, his word is preached, ordinances administered, and the sacrifices of prayer and praise offered up; on account of all which it is very "amiable":

what made the tabernacle of Moses lovely was not the outside, which was very mean, as the church of God outwardly is, through persecution, affliction, and poverty; but what was within, having many golden vessels in it, and those typical of things much more precious: moreover, here the priests were to be seen in their robes, doing their duty and service, and, at certain times, the high priest in his rich apparel;


here were seen the sacrifices slain and offered, by which the people were taught the nature of sin, the strictness of justice, and the necessity and efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ; here the Levites were heard singing their songs, and blowing their trumpets:

but much more amiable are the church of God and its ordinances in Gospel times, where Christ, the great High Priest, is seen in the glories of his person, and the fulness of his grace; where Zion's priests, or the ministers of the Gospel, stand clothed, being full fraught with salvation, and the tidings of it; where Christ is openly set forth, as crucified and slain, in the ministry of the word, and the administration of ordinances;
 
here the Gospel trumpet is blown, and its joyful sound echoed forth, and songs of love and grace are sung by all believers: besides, what makes these tabernacles still more lovely are, the presence of God here, so that they are no other than the house of God, and gate of heaven;

Let us incline our ears to Robert M‘Cheyne (1813-1843) : Reading through the Word of God in a year

beautiful Scotland source

 When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ on high,
Looking o’er life’s history;
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe.

I think most of our readers know this beautiful hymn, composed by a heavenly Scottish saint, Robert Murray M‘Cheyne (1813 - 1843). Today, I am happy to share with you his letter, addressing to his flock who desire to read through the whole Bible in a year.
 
 
DAILY BREAD
BEING A CALENDAR FOR READING THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD IN A YEAR
"Thy Word is very pure; therefore Thy servant loveth it."

by Robert Murray M‘Cheyne.
December 1842

 
MY DEAR FLOCK,

The approach of another year stirs up within me new desires for your salvation, and for the growth of those of you who are saved. "God is my record how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ."

What the coming year is to bring forth who can tell? There is plainly a weight lying on the spirits of all good men, and a looking for some strange work of judgment upon this land. There is a need now to ask that solemn question -- "If in the land of peace wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?"

Those believers will stand firmest who have no dependence upon self or upon creatures, but upon Jehovah our Righteousness. We must be driven more to our Bibles, and to the mercy-seat, if we are to stand in the evil day.

Then we shall be able to say, like David – “The proud have had me greatly in derision, yet have I not declined from Thy law.” “Princes have persecuted me without a cause, but my heart standeth in awe of Thy word.”
 
 

It has long been in my mind to prepare a scheme of Scripture reading, in which as many as were made willing by God might agree, so that the whole Bible might be read once by you in the year, and all might be feeding in the same portion of the green pasture at the same time.
 I am quite aware that such a plan is accompanied with many.

 

DANGERS.

 

(1.) Formality. – We are such weak creatures that any regularly returning duty is apt to degenerate into a lifeless form. The tendency of reading the Word by a fixed rule may, in some minds, be to create this skeleton religion. This is to be the peculiar sin of the last days – “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” Guard against this. Let the calendar perish rather than this rust eat up your souls.

 
(2.) Self-righteousness. – Some, when they have devoted their set time to reading of the Word, and accomplished their prescribed portion, may be tempted to look at themselves with self-complacency. Many, I am persuaded, are living without any Divine work on their soul – unpardoned and unsanctified, and ready to perish – who spend their appointed times in secret and family devotion. This is going to hell with a lie in their right hand.


 
(3.) Careless reading. – Few tremble at the Word of God. Few, in reading it, hear the voice of Jehovah, which is full of majesty. Some, by having so large a portion, may be tempted to weary of it, as Israel did of the daily manna, saying – “Our soul loatheth this light bread;” and to read it in a slight and careless manner. This would be fearfully provoking to God. Take heed lest that word be true of you – “Ye said,also, Behold what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of Hosts.”

 
(4.) A yoke to heavy to bear. Some may engage in reading with alacrity for a time, and afterwards feel it a burden, grievous to be borne. They may find conscience dragging them through the appointed task without any relish of the heavenly food. If this be the case with any, throw aside the fetter, and feed at liberty in the sweet garden of God. My desire is not to cast a snare upon you, but to be a helper of your joy.

 
If there be so many dangers, why propose such a scheme at all? To this I answer, that the best things are accompanied with danger, as the fairest flowers are often gathered in the clefts of some dangerous precipice. Let us weigh.

 

THE ADVANTAGES.

 

(1.) The whole Bible will be read through in an orderly manner in the course of a year. – The Old Testament once, the New Testament and Psalms twice. I fear many of you never read the whole Bible; and yet it is all equally Divine, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect.” If we pass over some parts of Scripture, we shall be incomplete Christians.

 
(2.) Time will not be wasted in choosing what portions to read. Often believers are at a loss to determine towards which part of the mountains of spices they should bend their steps. Here the question will be solved at once in a very simple manner.


(3.) Parents will have a regular subject upon which to examine their children and servants. – It is much to be desired that family worship were made more instructive than it generally is.The mere reading of the chapter is often too like water spilt on the ground. Let it be read by every member of the family before-hand, and then the meaning and application drawn out by simple question and answer. The calendar will be helpful in this.

Friends, also, when they meet, will have a subject for profitable conversation in the portions read that day. The meaning of difficult passages may be inquired from the more judicious and ripe Christians, and the fragrance of simpler Scriptures spread abroad.

 
(4.) The pastor will know in what part of the pasture the flock are feeding. – He will thus been abled to speak more suitably to them on the Sabbath; and both pastor and elders will be able to drop a word of light and comfort in visiting from house to house, which will be more readily responded to.

 
(5.) The sweet bond of Christian love and unity will be strengthened. – We shall be often led to think of those dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, here and elsewhere, who agree to join with us in reading those portions. We shall oftener be led to agree on earth, touching something we shall ask of God. We shall pray over the same promises, mourn over the same confessions, praise God in the same songs, and be nourished by the same words of eternal life.

 
by Robert Murray M‘Cheyne. December 1842

 
* You can obtain his Bible Reading Calender here.



Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Meditating on the glory and beauty of Christ: Psalm 50:1-6


This morning, I received a loving message from our dear sister Ruthie;

We talked about glory this past Sunday in our worship service in how the Father glorified the Son in 2 Peter 1:17-18. This was Jesus' positional glory as God's Son. Then we looked at 1 Peter 1:21 where God gave Jesus glory through the resurrection. This was Jesus' redemptive glory. Hebrews 1:3 & 2:9 show us Jesus' radiant and exalted glory. Lastly, one brother took us to Psalms 50:15, and what he drew our attention to in that verse is how when we call upon God, He will deliver us, and we will glorify Him. I'm just amazed at the different facets of the word glory! I had never thought of it in this way before.

While meditating on the above verses, I was captivated by the glory and beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ, which are shining on and through every single Bible page like twinkling stars. Aren't our hearts enraptured by meditating on Psalm 50:1-6, for example? Here is a beautiful Psalmody of these verses.
 
 
 

Psalm 50:2
 
excerpts from Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
 
"the perfection of the beauty of God hath shined out of Zion" ; that is, Christ; he is the perfection of beauty; he is fairer than the children of men; he is more glorious than the angels in heaven: as Mediator, he is full of grace and truth, which makes him very lovely and amiable to his people:

he is the express image of his Father's person; and the glory of all the divine perfections is conspicuous in his work of salvation, as well as in himself: now as he was to come out of Zion, Psalm14:7;



that is, not from the fort of Zion, or city of Jerusalem; for he was to be born at Bethlehem; only he was to be of the Jews, and spring from them; so he shone out, or his appearance and manifestation in Israel was like the rising sun; see Malachi 4:2;

and the love and kindness of God in the mission and gift of him appeared and shone out in like manner, Titus 3:4; or else the Gospel may be meant, which has a beauty in it: it is a glorious Gospel, and holds forth the beauty and glory of Christ.

All truth is lovely and amiable, especially evangelical truth: it has a divine beauty on it; it comes from God, and bears his impress; yea, it is a perfection of beauty: it contains a perfect plan of truth, and is able to make the man of God perfect; and this was to come out of Zion, Isaiah 2:3; and which great light first arose in Judea, and from thence shone out in the Gentile world, like the sun in all its lustre and glory, Titus 2:11;

Monday, December 28, 2015

My soul desires to behold Thee. I cry to Thee from the dust: A prayer of A.W.Tozer



source
 
 
 
Majesty unspeakable,
my soul desires to behold Thee.
I cry to Thee from the dust.

Yet when I inquire after Thy name it is secret.
Thou art hidden in the light which no man can approach unto.
 
What Thou art cannot be thought or uttered,
for Thy glory is ineffable.

Still, prophet and psalmist,
apostle and saint have encouraged me to believe that
I may in some measure know Thee.
 
Therefore, I pray,
whatever of Thyself Thou hast been pleased to disclose,
help me to search out as treasure more precious than rubies
or the merchandise of fine gold:
 
for with Thee shall I live
when the stars of the twilight are no more
and the heavens have vanished away
and only Thou remainest.
 
Amen.
 
 
 
-A.W.Tozer




A Little Maiden's Wilderness: Allured Into The Desert


source


I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness…And I will give her her vineyards from thence (Hosea 2:14-15).

A strange place to find vineyards--in the wilderness! And can it be that the riches which a soul needs can be obtained in the wilderness, which stands for a lonely place, out of which you can seldom find your way? It would seem so, and not only that, but the "Valley of Achor," which means bitterness, is called a door of hope. And she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth!
--Crumbs

 
Allured into the desert,
With God alone, apart,
There spirit meeteth spirit,
There speaketh heart to heart.
Far, far on that untrodden shore,
God's secret place I find;
Alone I pass the golden door,
The dearest left behind.

There God and I
none other;
Oh, far from men to be!
Nay, midst the crowd and tumult,
Still, Lord, alone with Thee.
Still folded close upon Thy breast,
In field, and mart, and street,
Untroubled in that perfect rest,
That isolation sweet.

O God, Thou art far other
Than men have dreamed and taught,
Unspoken in all language,
Unpictured in all thought.
Thou God art God
he only learns
What that great Name must be,
Whose raptured heart within him burns,
Because he walks with Thee.

Stilled by that wondrous Presence,
That tenderest embrace,
The years of longing over,
Do we behold Thy Face;
We seek no more than Thou hast given,
We ask no vision fair,
Thy precious Blood has opened Heaven,
And we have found Thee there.

O weary souls, draw near Him;
To you I can but bring
One drop of that great ocean,
One blossom of that spring;
Sealed with His kiss, my lips are dumb,
My soul with awe is still;
Let him that is athirst but come,
And freely drink his fill.
 
---Gerhard Tersteegen

 

 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A letter of encouragement for those who spend Christmas alone

source

Dear friend, I may or may not know you but tonight, the Spirit urged me to write a letter to you. For some reasons, you are spending these Christmas days alone. Or you may have some friends around but your inner loneliness and a sense of detachment are so overwhelming that you feel even worse when you are among people.

Lord, from the depths to Thee I cried:
My voice, Lord, do Thou hear;
Unto my supplication’s voice
Give an attentive ear.

I pray to our Lord that He will come down to your "depths" where your inner sanctum exists and give you a kind of consolation which you've just longed for, -probably for years.

 
When my world falls apart
And all's crashing in
When I'm overwhelmed
By the depth of my sin
When doubts seem to crowd
And fear closes in
I know where to go
To find renewal within

When all of my hope
Lies shattered and broken
And the comforts of friends
Seem no more than a token
I quickly retreat
To the Word He has spoken
And find contained there
The Christ I have hope in.
 
-Vicki Baird
 
Human words are powerless but His Word not.
My dear friend, I invite you to look up the cross, where the Man of Sorrow tasted the most terrifying loneliness and pains for the sake of saving you from the worse kind of loneliness--, the eternal detachment from your Father.

 
Upon that cross of Jesus
mine eye at times can see
the very dying form of One
who suffered there for me;
and from my stricken heart with tears
two wonders I confess:
the wonders of redeeming love
and my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow
for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than
the sunshine of his face;
content to let the world go by,
to know no gain nor loss,
my sinful self my only shame,
my glory all the cross.

 
My friend, I sincerely wish you a blessed new year. 
 
from your fellow sister,
Kinuko
 
 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Little Maiden's Valley




A little maiden has one simple desire; that is

to see her Father be respected and honored, and
to hear the name of her beloved Jesus be uttered
with love and affection from His people's mouth.

But alas, this plain desire frightened her family and friends.

So she decided to withdraw herself,
went down to a deep valley.

There she sat and started to sing her song;

Take my love, my Lord, I pour.
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be,
Ever, only, all for Thee.
Ever, only, all for Thee.

Then in her solitude, she remembered the prayer of the ancient saint;

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;
let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

"Oh Thy glory in my valley!" she exclaimed.
"So is this the place where I can behold Thy glory, Father?"

"Go hide thyself," He said. "Then hide in the wounds of my Son."

There she looked up and behold, the wondrous cross,
on which the Prince of glory died.
where sorrow and love flow mingled down.

Drawn to the merciful eyes of the Man of Sorrow, she whispered with adoration.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever!

The Lord said; "Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to Me in prayer!
In My arms I’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace here."

"O what a friend I have in Thee,
All my sins and griefs to bear!" sighed she with joy and tears.

Then she wandered through the woods, and forest glades,
And heard the birds sing sweetly in the trees.


 "Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee," she praised,  
"O How great Thou art, How great Thou art!"

Worship and laud and praise Thee evermore;
Look up in wonder and behold a door

Opened in heaven, and One set on a throne:
Stretch out a hand, and touch Thine own,

O Christ, our King, our Lord
whom I adore.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Oh, let His seal be on my heart!


 

 
 
Pure essence! Spotless Fount of Light,
That fadeth never into dark!
O Thou, whose eyes more clear and bright
Than noonday sun are quick to mark
 
Our sins; lo, bare before Thy face
Lies all the desert of my heart,
My once fair soul in every part
Now stained with evil foul and base.
 
 
 
Since but the pure in heart are blest
With promised vision of their God,
Sore fear and anguish fill my breast,
Rememb'ring all the ways I trod;
  
Mourning I see my lost estate,
And yet in faith I dare to cry,
Oh let my evil nature die,
Another heart in me create!
 
 
 
Enough, Lord, that my foe too well
Hath lured me once away from Thee;
Henceforth I know his craft how fell,
And all his deep-laid snares I flee.
 
 
Lord, through the Spirit whom Thy Son
Hath bidden us in prayer to ask,
Arm us with might that every task,
Whate'er we do, in Thee be done.
 
 
  
Unworthy am I of Thy grace,
So deep are my transgressions, Lord,
And yet once more I seek Thy face;
My God, have mercy, nor reward
 
My sins and follies, dark and vain;
Reject, reject me not in wrath,
But let Thy sunshine now beam forth,
And quicken me with hope again.
 
 
 
The Holy Spirit Thou hast given,
The wondrous pledge of love divine,
Who fills our hearts with joys of heaven,
And bids us earthly joys resign;
  
Oh let His seal be on my heart,
Oh take Him nevermore away,
Until this fleshly house decay,
And Thou shlt bid me hence depart.
 
 
  
But ah! my coward spirit droops,
Sick with the fear that enters in
Whene'er a soul to bondage stoops,
And wears the shameful yoke of sin;
 
Oh quicken with the strength that flows
From out the Eternal Fount of Life,
My soul half-fainting in the strife,
And make an end of all my woes.
 
 
  
I cling unto Thy grace alone,
Thy steadfast oath my only rest;
To Thee, Heart-searcher, all is known
That lieth hidden in my breast;
 
Thy joy, O Spirit, on me pour,
Thy fervent will my sloth inspire,
So shall I have my heart's desire,
And serve and praise Thee evermore.
 
 
 
1 John 3:3 
O reines Wesen, lautre Quelle,
Freylinghausen, 1713
 

 
 
 
 
 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Rediscovery of the depth and beauty of Psalmody (Part 3): pouring out our sorrow in front of Him



Toscana, Italy  source

 
The Bible-believing Christians should rejoice in the Lord always (Phil.4:4), for this is what He commands us. We also know well that one of the important fruits of the Spirit is joy (Gal.5:22).

What impressed me and comforted me, however, is that He also allows us to pour out our sorrow in front of Him as we read Psalm 88, for example.

 
Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.
Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves.
 
Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me;
thou has made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.
 
Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: Lord, I have called daily upon thee,
I have stretched out my hands unto thee.
Psalm 88:6-9

 
Isn't it so comforting that He allows us to express our inner pains, lament and anguish? Isn't it such a consolation that He is willing to listen to our heart cry and embrace it? By singing, listening and meditating on Psalmody, He has brought such a deep healing effect on my soul.

So if you are in distress now, come with me and listen to Psalm 88 together. Upon meditating on the verses, you can freely express your inner cry to Him. He is so merciful and full of love. Come to Him and talk to Him.
 
 
 

Psalter Number 240.  Psalm 88
An Outpouring of Sorrow
 
1. Lord, the God of my salvation,
Day and night I cry to Thee;
Let my prayer now find acceptance,
In Thy mercy answer me.
 
Full of troubles and affliction,
Nigh to death my soul is brought
Helpless, like one cast forever
From Thy care and from Thy thought.
 
2. Thou hast brought me down to darkness,
'Neath Thy wrath I am oppressed;
All the billows of affliction
Overwhelm my soul distressed.
 
Thou hast made my friends despise me,
And companionless I go,
Bound, and helpless in my bondage,
Pining in my bitter woe.
 
3. Unto Thee with hands uplifted
Daily I direct my cry;
Hear, O Lord, my supplication,
Hear and save me ere I die.
 
Wilt Thou wait to show Thy wonders
And Thy mercy to the dead?
Let me live to tell Thy praises,
By Thy lovingkindness led.
 
4. Still, O Lord, renewed each morning
Unto Thee my prayer shall be;
Cast me not away forever,
Let me now Thy favor see.
 
All my life is spent in sorrow,
Grief and terror always nigh,
Waves of wrath have surged about me;
Show Thy mercy ere I die.
 
5. Friend and lover are departed,
Dark and lonely is my way;
Lord, be Thou my friend and helper,
Still to Thee, O Lord, I pray.
 
Lord, the God of my salvation,
Day and night I cry to Thee;
Let my prayer now find acceptance,
In Thy mercy answer me.