This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Month: February 2017

David’s Digest: It’s Not Easy Being Saved, Part 2 – Doubt at Difficulty, but Generally Proved

This is Part 2 of Puritan Thomas Manton’s excellent case showing that it is no easy thing to be saved. It comes from his sermon on Mark 10:26.

I am editing these sections down, but I hope you will take the time to read the entire thing, as it has many more examples and Scripture references, and you can find it here:;view=fulltext

And here are the previous blog posts:
Part 1 – Astonishment at Rich Men’s Difficulty

From Thomas Manton:

Mark 10:26 – “And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?”

The second effect is, a doubt moved among themselves privately, ‘Who then can be saved?’ This question may be looked upon either,

(1.) As a question of anxious solicitude: Alas! how is it that any can be saved! Or,

(2.) Of murmuring and secret dislike; why, if it be so, who is able to receive this severe doctrine, or to enter upon this strict course? Now which of these shall we take it to be? Either for a question of anxious solicitude; or a question of murmuring and secret repining? I answer:

(1.) I suppose this question expresseth their anxious solicitude, and so for the main it is a good question: When we hear strict doctrine, it is good to be moved with it, and fall a questioning. Many hear it over and over again, yet are slight, no wonder, no astonishment in their hearts; therefore it is good when it is weighed and laid to heart. This question of the apostles brings to mind a saying of one, when he heard Christ’s sermon in the mount read to him, he cried out, ‘Either this is not true Gospel, or we are not true Christians’.

(2.) There might be something of weakness, mixtures of infirmity; I cannot say there was nothing of murmuring and dislike; the muttering, or saying this among themselves seems to infer it; they durst not make Christ conscious to the question, for it is in the text, ‘They said among themselves’; that is, they muttered privately, and so it argues there was something of dislike.

(3.) This weakness was not to a prevalent degree, so as to make them take offence, and depart from Christ, as we find others did upon the like occasion, when Christ had preached something strict and contrary to their humour, John 6.60, 61. ‘Many of the disciples when they heard this, said, This is a hard saying, who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if you shall see the son of man ascend up where he was before,’ etc. ‘And from that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him’, ver. 66. Now these [the disciples in Mark 10:26], though they were astonished at the strangeness of the doctrine of Christ, yet they did not reject, or refuse the belief of it. There was more of anxious solicitude, but somewhat of muttering, ‘Who then can be saved’.

Doctrine: When the difficulties of salvation are sufficiently understood, and laid forth, we shall wonder that any are, or can be saved?

I shall prove,

1. That it is a difficult thing to be saved.
2. Wherein the difficulty of salvation doth lie.
3. Show how this ought to be seriously minded and regarded by us, that it is such a difficult thing to go to heaven.

I. That it is a difficult thing to be saved. Christ showeth that, Matt. 7.14, ‘Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’ The way to heaven is somewhat like that which is described, 1 Sam. 14.4, ‘And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side’: So is our way to heaven a strait way, between rock and rock; here is the rock of vain presumption, and there the rock of despairing fears. Indeed the text tells us of two things, the gate strait, the way narrow.

The gate is strait, the entrance into religion hard; there must be repentance, and bewailing our former sins; the working up the heart to a fixed resolution against sin, and a serious dedicating ourselves to God: O how hard is it to pass through this gate!

And then there’s a narrow way, full of difficulties to corrupt nature; our lusts [sinful desires] are impatient of any restraint, and we are loth entirely to give up ourselves to do and suffer God’s will: So Matt. 11.12, ‘The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force’. It is no wonder that earthly kingdoms are surprised by violence, but it is strange that the kingdom of heaven should suffer violence; how shall we understand this? Violence doth not signify unlawful attempts, but earnest diligence. It is not an injurious violence, such as snatches at earthly crowns, but the industrious violence, a resolution to break through all impediments, and take no ‘Nay’, no discouragements can much abate our edge, and take us off from our pursuit of the heavenly kingdom: So 1 Pet. 4.18, ‘A righteous man is scarcely saved’; with much ado he gets to shore, he makes a hard shift to get to heaven.

This is enough to intimate the general truth, that there is difficulty to get to heaven.

May God grant us this earnest diligence!

Stay tuned for part 3, if the Lord wills!

— David

David’s Digest: It’s Not Easy Being Saved, Part 1 – Wonder at Rich Men’s Difficulty

It seems to me a common thought in Christianity today is just how easy it is to be saved, or that Christianity is an easy or light thing. “Say this prayer and you’re going to heaven! That’s it!”

I believe the Bible shows otherwise, and I believe Puritan Thomas Manton makes an excellent case showing that it is no easy thing to be saved, what a true Christian walk entails, and why it is important to understand this. It comes from his sermon on Mark 10:26, which says,

And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?

Now, what they were astonished at was the saying from Christ in the previous verse,

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

I plan to break this sermon up into multiple parts and post here on our blog edited down versions from the sermon, but I hope you will take the time to read the entire thing, as it has many more examples and Scripture references, and you can find it here:;view=fulltext

May God grant us eyes to see and ears to hear, and true desire for Christ, now and in eternity.

From Thomas Manton:

Mark 10:26 – “And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?”

In this verse you have the entertainment of Christ’s doctrine concerning the difficulty of rich men’s being saved: the effects of it are two. (1.) A great wonder or deep sense of this difficulty, ‘They were astonished out of measure’. (2.) An anxious question, ‘And they said among themselves, Who then can be saved?’

For the first branch, their great wonder, they were struck at heart, astonished out of measure: we meet with it before at the first proposal of this difficulty, ‘They were astonished at his words’; but now when Christ had rendered the reason, and reassumed the former difficulty, ‘It is easier for a Camel, &c.’ This doth increase the astonishment, and it is not barely said, they were astonished, but out of measure so. Let us a little inquire into the reason of this wonder, why should the disciples be so troubled at this speech? They were poor, or however had left all and followed Christ, as it is in the next words.

(1.) Some say, it was for others, to see so great a part of the world cut off from all hopes of salvation. Though all have not wealth, yet there are few but do desire it, and that desire may hinder as well as the enjoyment, therefore they being solicitous for the salvation of others, they were astonished, and said, ‘Who then can be saved?’ Certainly it is good, not only to work out our own salvation, but to affect the salvation of others. … This is the Disposition of God’s People, when they have found any comfort and benefit by Christ themselves they desire others should share with them, and be partakers of the same grace, and heirs of the same promises. … Carnal things are possessed with envy: they that are rich and great in the world would shine alone, and when they are gotten to the top themselves, they are loth to teach others the way to climb up after them. But it is not so with spiritual things, grace is charitable and communicative. Indeed where any take up religion out of faction and carnal aims, they would enclose the common salvation, and envy the profession and hope of it to others, that they may be the better esteemed and respected themselves. … Those that have really tasted of the sweetness of Christ themselves are glad of company, and it is a great satisfaction to them, to hear that others are in a towardly or hopeful way of salvation.

(2.) The former [point (1.)] reason was good, and argued a gracious disposition in them; but this that I shall now give, is of a worser alloy, and argues weakness: and yet I cannot but think that this had an influence upon them, viz. the hopes of an earthly kingdom, and the great emoluments and preferments they expected thence. Christ’s own disciples were deeply leavened with a conceit of an earthly kingdom which the Messiah should set up. And though they had left all, and followed him in his poor estate, yet they expected greatness, and honour, and the confluence of all worldly blessings, when the kingdom of the Messiah should begin; and therefore when they heard Christ again and again expressing himself concerning the difficulty of rich men’s entering into the kingdom of God, ‘They were astonished out of measure’; as finding all their carnal hopes dashed at once. I cannot but think this was one cause of their astonishment, because in all their converses with Christ, they bewrayed a spice of this humour [state of mind]. Two instances I shall give as a pregnant proof of it: one when they were at the Sacrament, a little before the death of Christ; ‘There was a strife amongst them, which of them should be accounted the greatest’, Luk. 22.24. … Nay, you shall see after Christ had suffered such ignominious things at Jerusalem, this conceit abode with them; and therefore after his resurrection, they come to him with this question, Acts 1.6. ‘Lord! wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?’ They thought the Messiah would set up a temporal kingdom over all nations, and that they should at least be princes and lords under him, in the exercise of his dominion and sovereignty. … We see hence, that the best are too carnal, and too apt to mind earthly things, and please themselves with the dreams of an happy estate in the world. The appetite of temporal dominion, and wealth, and honour, and peace, is natural to us, and we think God doth us wrong, if he doth not make us flourish here. All God’s children find something of this disposition in themselves, even whilst they are under the cross, they do too little to comfort themselves with the meditation of the glory of the world to come; but are always feeding themselves with desires and hopes of an earthly happiness, and of turning the tide and current of affairs that seem to be against them, that the world may more smile upon them, and befriend them more, and when they are frustrated and disappointed of this hope, their soul faints, and they are astonished out of measure. O this is a sign that our conversation is not in heaven, and that we do not seek the things that are above, and are not perfectly subdued to the will of God, who many times sees the cross to be necessary and profitable for us: and therefore to please ourselves still with carnal hopes and dreams of a commodious and comfortable condition in the world, is not for a Christian.

(3.) The sense of this difficulty might revive the thoughts of other difficulties. Other things besides riches might obstruct them, and hinder their passage to heaven; and therefore even those that had left all, and followed Christ, were astonished out of measure, when they understood the way to heaven to be much harder than they formerly conceited. … When we hear strict doctrine pressed, we should not put it off to others, but fear for ourselves. The poor disciples were astonished out of measure when Christ spake to the rich how hard it was for them to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

(4.) Possibly this astonishment might arise from fear of the success of the Gospel, wherein they were to be employed as instruments, when they heard that rich men were not likely to prove friends, but rather enemies to the kingdom of God: alas, what should they do that had parted with all, and were like to be left destitute to the mercy of an unkind world! If the great and mighty men of the world, who should be their props and supports, should so hardly be gained; alas then how should they go abroad and preach with any efficacy for the saving of souls!

Now whether this, or that, or all caused the wonder, I will not now determine; all these have an influence upon it, and for these reasons they were astonished out of measure. This is the first effect, their wonder.

Stay tuned for part 2, if the Lord wills!

— David

Turkey Update Fall & Winter 2016-2017

After the Lord granted a Black Turkey heritage breed female to just show up on our homestead one day, and granting we be able to find her a mate, and then granting some turkey chicks to hatch (I called them “turklets”), by His graces they have continued to grow, and are making their presence known around the homestead. At times, they act like they own the place! 🙂

With Hank, which is brown and name starts with the letter “H”, we decided to name the brown male Lil Hank and the brown female Haddie; and with Trina, which is black and name starts with the letter “T”, we decided to name the black female Tasha.

Here is a video update of them over the last several months, from when we let them out of their cage area in the summer kitchen for their first day of free ranging around the homestead to just this past Lord’s day. It’s a little long, but they’re also fun and fascinating to watch, especially when they fly up on our house porch roof and look in the upper windows! 🙂 The high jinks really start about half way through, although we cover time before that, as letting them out was a big deal for us since we didn’t really know what was going to happen once they got free, but the Lord has been gracious in their health and safety and granting they stick around! 🙂

We are thankful to God for granting the continued health and safety of these unexpected gifts, and we ask for guidance with our turkey raising!

— David