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.

Category: faith (Page 1 of 2)

David’s Digest: Do We Have Our Own Gourd?

Jonah 4:5-11:

5 So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

6 And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.

7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.

8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

10 Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:

11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

As I read this recently, something struck me: This temporary thing made Jonah “exceeding glad.” Is there something in my life that I think is missing that would make me “exceeding glad”? Or rather what came to mind personally, is there something in my life that I wish wasn’t, and that being gone would make me “exceeding glad”?

Do I have my own form of “Jonah’s Gourd”?

Do we truly trust God in His providences in our lives, especially in the difficult times of trial and affliction? Do we do well to be angry at God for them, or the lack of something we think we should have?

Or better, do we thank the Lord for these things, or the lack of something we think we should have, in our lives, as the guiding hand of a loving Father?

1 Thess 5:18 – “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Heb 12:8 – “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

And then, what does the Bible say should make us “exceeding glad”?

First and foremost, the Lord Himself:

Psalm 21:6 – “For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance.

But further, not only thankful for His afflicting hand but:

Matt 5:11-12 – “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

1 Pet 4:12-13 – “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

And so, there we have it…it’s the trial and afflictions themselves that are to make us “exceeding glad”, not some temporal thing in our lives, or difficulties being removed. In fact, removing them might not only be evidence of losing the loving chastisement of a Father that makes us better followers of Him, but also the losing of the thing itself in which we are to be exceeding glad!

May the Lord Christ Himself be our greatest joy! And then, may His trials and afflictions, in the not having things we think we want, or the not removing of things we want removed, make us exceeding glad, and always thankful!

— David

David’s Digest: Can We Offer Up Our Issac?

James 2:21 – “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Abraham’s Issac was his only son — the son of the promise, and yet God would have Abraham offer Isaac as a literal sacrifice on an alter. I would assume this caused Abraham at least a little angst of heart and mind. However, he was quickly obedient.

What has God required of us that causes us pause by way of reason or feelings? How are we to approach obedience to God? Are we willing to offer up our “Issacs”?

Puritan Thomas Manton in his most excellent work “A Practical Commentary, or an Exposition with Notes, on the Epistle of James” applies Abraham’s experience in a practical way to our lives in this verse.

You can listen to all of verse 21 here:


or download it:
Download

The entire book is available here: https://ia800904.us.archive.org/2/items/apracticalcomme01mantgoog/apracticalcomme01mantgoog.pdf#page=246, and this section starts on PDF page 246 (in the print, page 227), or you can get it in other formats here

…or you can listen to the entire book on this page:
Thomas Manton – James Commentary

From Thomas Manton:

Verse 21. – Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Obs 4. From that Offered Isaac upon the altar He brings this as the great argument of the truth of Abraham’s faith. It is not for faith to produce every action, unless it produce such actions as Abraham’s. Such as will engage you to self-denial, are troublesome to the flesh. David scorned such service as [that] cost nothing. There — where we must deny our own reason, affections, interest — that is an action fit to try a believer.

Let us see what is observable in this action of Abraham, that we may go and do likewise.

(1.) Observe the greatness of the temptation. It was to offer his own son, the son of his love, his only son, a son longed for, and obtained when ‘his body was dead’, and ‘Sarah’s womb dead’; nay, ‘the son of the promise’. Had he been to contend only with natural affection, it had been much — descensive love [I believe, love of a descendant, like a child] is always vehement; but for love to Isaac there were special endearing reasons and arguments.

But Abraham was not only to conflict with natured affection, but reason; not only with reason, but faith. He was, as it were, to execute all his hopes; and all this was to be done by himself; with his own hand he was at one stroke to cut off all his comforts. The execution of such a sentence was as harsh and bitter to flesh and blood, as to be his own executioner.

Oh! go and shame yourselves without, you that can so little deny yourselves for God, that attempt duties only when they are easy and obvious, never care to recover them out of the hands of difficulty and inconvenience. Public duties, if well done, are usually against carnal interests; private duties against carnal affections. Can you give up all that is near and dear to you? Can you offer up your Isaac? your ease and pleasure, for private duties? your interests, for public? Every action is not a trial of faith, but such as engages to self-denial.

(2.) Consider the readiness of his obedience. As Abraham is the pattern of believing, so of obeying. He received the promises, as a figure of our faith; he offered up his son, as a figure of our obedience (Heb. xi. 17).

(1st.) He obeyed readily and willingly: ‘Abraham rose early in the morning’ (Gen. xxii. 3). In such a service some would have delayed all the time they could; but he is up early. Usually we straiten [confine, make narrow] duty, rather than straiten ourselves: we are not about that work early.

(2nd.) Resolutely: he concealed it from his wife, servants, from Isaac himself, that so he might not be diverted from his pious purpose. Oh! who is now so wise to order the circumstances of a duty, that he may not be hindered in it?

(3rd.) He denied carnal reason. In difficult cases we seek to elude the command; dispute how we shall shift it off, not how we shall obey it. If we had been put upon such a trial, we would question the vision, or seek some other meaning; perhaps offer the image of Isaac, or some youngling of the flock, and call it Isaac; as now we often pervert a command by distinctions, and invent shifts to cheat our souls into a neglect of duty; as the heathens, when their gods called for a man, they offered a candle; or as Hercules offered up a painted man instead of a living.

But Abraham does not so, though he had a fair occasion; for he was divided between believing the promise and obeying the command. God tried him in his faith; his faith was to conflict with his natural reason, as well as his obedience with his natural affection. But he ‘accounted that God was able to raise him from the dead’ (Heb. xi. 19), and he reconciled the commandment with the promise. How easily could we have slipped out at this door, and disobey out of pretences and reasons of religion! But Abraham offered Isaac.

May God grant us to be able to see the “Isaacs” in our lives that we might not be willing to easily let go of;

… may we not lessen duty because it goes against carnal selves in some way;

… may He grant us the faith and trust in Him to not hold on to any things of this temporal world;

… may we see ourselves only as stewards of anything we have, with God as the actual owner of them;

… may we cheerfully and obediently surrender and submit ourselves to whatever His pleasure is in the retrieving of these things from us at any moment, even those things most dear to us and least pleasing to our carnal selves;

… and may the Lord grant that He be our only portion, now and always!

Psa 16:5- “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.

Psa 119:57 – “Thou art my portion, O Lord: I have said that I would keep thy words.

Psa 73:25-26 – “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

— David

David’s Digest: Seeing Your Loved One in Heaven

I have heard often how wonderful it will be to see our families and friends, or those loved ones we’ve lost, once again in heaven.

And while I believe we will see them, and that would surely be a wondrous occasion, especially after grieving the loss of them here, is that really what heaven is about? Are they on whom our eyes should mainly be focused when considering the joys of heaven?

Puritan Thomas Manton discusses the true joy and satisfaction of the saints in heaven — seeing their loved One — the Lord Christ Jesus — instead of by faith alone, now by sight, forever, and being like Him!

From his sermons upon 1 John iii, sermon iii, which you can read here:

But we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. – 1 John iii. 2

Thirdly, The third thing is satisfaction, not mentioned in the text, but implied and supplied from a parallel place; for we having the sight and presence of God, must needs be ravished with it: Ps. xvi. 11, ‘In thy presence,’ or face, ‘is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.’ The fruition of God’s immediate presence must needs exceed all the joy which the heart of man is capable of. If this breedeth not true contentment and felicity, what will?

So our admission into the everlasting estate is called ‘an entering into the joy of our Lord,’ Mat. xxv. 41. There must needs arise an incredible delectation from the vision of God, as also from our fruition of him, or being like unto him, and our possession of the whole estate of happiness thence resulting. Our great business will be to love what we see, and our great happiness to have what we love. This will be a full, perpetual, and never-failing delight to us. The vision hath an influence upon this joy. If the light of the sun be pleasant, how comfortable will it be to see the Sun of righteousness shining forth in all his glory?

Now, when the mind is a little raised in the thoughts of God, what a delightful thing is it! Ps. civ. 34, ‘My meditation of him shall be sweet; I will be glad in the Lord.’ Yet how tasteless to our souls are thoughts of God now in comparison of what they will be then? There is something in us [now] which carrieth us off from God, which liketh not to retain God in our knowledge. Now, when our hearts are more suited and prepared for that sight, our thoughts must needs be glorious and ravishing.

Again, this likeness conduceth to this satisfaction. Take it for holiness, God himself is ‘glorious in holiness,’ Exod. xv. 11. Now to have the beauty of our God upon us is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon us. When there was a debate in Ahasuerus’s court, ‘What should be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Esther vi. 8, it was resolved, ‘Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head.’ Or take it for glory and immortality: 1 Peter iv. 13, ‘That when his glory shall be revealed, we may be glad with exceeding joy.’

This is the soul’s rest in God, as satisfied with the full and perfect demonstration of his love; it is the best estate we can be in, for we are not capable of a better. It is the end [purpose] of our faith, and hope, and labours. Of our faith, 1 Peter i. 5 ; the end of our hope, Acts xxvi. 7. Now when a man hath obtained his end, then he is satisfied, as being in his perfect estate.

2. It is the utmost period of perfection men can be advanced unto, to enjoy God and be like him. Beyond God and above God nothing can be enjoyed ; with God nothing can make us miserable, and without God nothing can make us happy. If a man should enjoy all the world, there is something without [external to] him and above him that can make him miserable; if the world smileth and God frowneth, what will you do? Ps. xxxix. 11, ‘When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity.’ None can obstruct God’s vengeance, or stop his wrath; as when the sun is gone, all the candles and torches in the world cannot make it day.

3. If a glimpse of God’s love be so precious to the saints, what will the sight of his face be? Ps. iv. 6, 7, ‘Who will show us any good ? Lord, lift up the light of thy countenance upon us: thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and wine increased.’ If imperfect holiness be so precious, what will complete holiness be?

If you are currently grieving, I am truly sorry for your loss. But I do hope you’ll consider the words above, in this concern with your walk with the Lord.

May Christ be our all now and forever, may our true joy in this life be in seeing Him as He is revealed in Scripture, His loveliness and beauty (in who He is and what He did), and may we desire to be like Him now and in eternity!

— David

Hymn – I Long for God, The Living God

With the addition of our cat Tuscan, and God granting little melodies for many of our other animals, He did so again for Tuscan, a little tune with the lyrics:

Tuscanosis, Tuscanosis, Tuscano-o-o-sis

(I had “Little Mimi” for Mimi’s song, “Williaminator” for William’s, and “Brodey-so-squodey” and “Nessa-bo-bessa” for their’s, so I went with a little something different. 😀 )

And then once again, it was just a matter of trying to find some words. This one was a little difficult, because the meter for the melody is really 4-4-6, which looking around on the internet for hymns like that produced few results. And so, with there being many with 8-6 meter (common meter), I set out to find one that was 8-6 but sounded 4-4-6.

After a lot of searching and collecting four possibilities, I narrowed it down to the one I liked best, which was I Long for God, The Living God, by Thomas MacKellar, which I found here.

And with just a minor tweak of one line, and futzing with the melody a little to make it work better with how the words sounded, here are the results!

I Long for God, The Living God

Here’s a PDF:
I Long for God, The Living God PDF

And this is an instrumental audio of the arrangement:


I Long for God, The Living God (instrumental) MP3

And a vocal one of just the melody with the music:


I Long for God, The Living God (vocal) MP3

These lyrics have a little more extra meaning to me, which is partially why I chose them…

To me, there is nothing more important in this life, and all eternity, than having God — having the Lord Christ, having His Spirit indwelling in us, abiding in Him, having all our life and existence in Him.

But the difficulties of this life and the temptations of the devil, can spurn us to enter the slough of despond, where we might wish to have this life end and go to be with Christ now.

Ps 55:4-8 – “4 My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. 5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. 6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. 7 Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah. 8 I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.

Not only do I believe despondently desiring the end of this life is sin and self-seeking, for which I am responsible and must seek repentance, but we are called to be His servants here on this earth for as long as He sees fit, and we must strive to the end, with His help and by His graces.

Ps 55:22 – “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

2 Cor 12:9 – “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

May we be found in obedience to Him and doing our duty toward Him all our days, for His glory, and we pray for His strength and faith to do so!

Ps 73:25-26 – “25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

— David

David’s Digest: Worthy to Suffer for His Name

Acts 5:41 – “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

This has seemed odd to me, almost oxymoronic — worthy to suffer. If I’m a child of God, why would I be worthy to suffer? Shouldn’t I be worthy (by adoption and grace) to not suffer? Wouldn’t a king protect his child so he wouldn’t suffer, thinking he is surely not worthy of suffering, being the king’s child?

Ah, the great pride and reasonings of the carnal mind and heart. 🙂

Thankfully, the Lord does not think as we do, and in His great wisdom has a better way — there is worth in suffering for Him.

But why? Or how does that work?

Here is Puritan Dr. John Gill on the above verse:

And they departed from the presence of the council
Having been threatened and beaten by them:

rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name;
Beza’s ancient copy, and others; the Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions read, “for the name of Jesus”; in which name they were forbid to speak, and for speaking in it they were beaten; the Alexandrian copy, and the Syriac version read, “for the name”: that is, for God, for the glory of God, and in the cause of God; “the name” is often used in Jewish writings for God:

the shame they suffered for him was by being scourged with forty stripes save one; which was reckoned an infamous and ignominious punishment, and which was inflicted on persons guilty of very scandalous crimes: but this gave the innocent minds of the apostles no uneasiness; they accounted it an honour conferred on them to be called to suffering for the sake of God and Christ, and in so good a cause; they did what Christ exhorted them to, (Matthew 5:11) which shows they had much of the presence of God, and large measures of grace communicated to them, by which they were supported; and thus cheerfully bore all indignity and reproach, for the name of Christ, which was exceeding dear and precious to them.

The following are several things I’ve collected regarding this topic as I’ve been going through the writings of Thomas Manton:

From Manton’s “A Treatise of Self-Denial”, which you can read here or listen to here. (BTW, I highly recommend this treatise):

5. Whatever God doth to his children, it is with aims of good; he is goodness itself, more apt to do us good than the fire to burn or the sun to shine. Consider, God’s nature is most alien from other courses, he doth not ‘willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.’ It is for our sakes that he puts on this rigour; the scripture speaks of it as a forced dispensation. If a friend should undertake a business that is contrary to his nature and disposition to pleasure us, we are the more obliged to him: so it is God’s great condescension that he should take the rod in his hand, and that he should use it to our profit, we are
bound to acknowledge it
.

If God doth punish, it is not that he delighteth in punishment; but he doth punish us here that he may not punish us for ever. Who would not rejoice, that, if when he owed a debt of a thousand pound, the creditor should require but twenty shillings? It is God’s mercy that we shall suffer in this world, that we may not suffer in the world to come: 1 Cor. xi. 32, ‘When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.’

There is often a great deal of mercy in affliction. After the sin of Adam, there could not be a more gracious nor more wise invention than affliction to wean our affections from the delight of the senses, and to meeken the spirit.

And if God should not deal thus with us, we had cause to complain, as if he were too gentle; as we have cause to complain of that physician that lets his patient die, because he will not put him to the trouble of physic; or as Eli’s children had cause to complain of their father, because he was so indulgent; and Amnon of David.

It is a great judgment to be let alone. When God was angry with Ephraim, what is his sentence? Hosea iv. 17, ‘Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.’

It is an honour that God is mindful of us, that he will give us suitable corrections. If a man see a serpent creeping upon another while he is asleep, though he give him a great blow, yet it is a courtesy to him to kill that serpent that would destroy him; so God does but kill that serpent that would kill us. We are chastised, but it is only to destroy and kill sin.

But suppose we could see no good in the affliction, yet we are bound to believe there is good in it, and not to have hard thoughts of God. Alexander, when his physician was accused that he would poison him in such a potion, takes the letter in one hand, and shows it his physician, and drinks off the potion in confidence of his trust and fidelity. Distrust will make lies of God, as if he meant to hurt and wrong us; but we should say as Christ did, ‘The cup that my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?’ We should trust God’s potion.

We are dearer to God than we can be to ourselves; he is more solicitous for our good, than we are for our own. God loves the lowest saint infinitely more than the highest angels love God.

From Manton, sermons on Phil 3, sermon vi, which you can read here:

Secondly, The fellowship of his sufferings, ‘that I may be conformable to his death.’ Here is the second privilege, conformity to the death of Christ; so the apostle accounts it in this place. Here take notice,

1. Those that would be partakers of Christ must not fancy to themselves an easy life free from all sufferings, but such a condition as they may be conformable to the death of Christ: Rom. viii. 17, ‘If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.’ We must be partakers of his sufferings if we would be partakers of his kingdom. If we be dead with him, and suffer with him, ‘we shall also reign with him,’ 2 Tim. ii. 12. The way to eternal salvation is to tread in Christ’s steps, by the cross to come to the crown.

2. These sufferings for Christ should not seem grievous to God’s children, and they should be so far from shunning sufferings when God calls them to it, or from any repining or heartless discouragement, that they ought rather to think it their glory, and their great honour and happiness; for Paul reckons it among his advantages.

And elsewhere in scripture we are bidden to rejoice in it, if we suffer anything for Christ and his truth; for indeed there is great comfort and joy to be had in suffering for him and with him in his mystical body. They that have tasted this sweetness count all things but loss and dung in comparison of it; and so might we rejoice and be exceeding glad if we consult with the privileges of the Spirit rather than the interest of the flesh: James i. 2, ‘Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations’; Mat. v. 11, 12, ‘ Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name’s sake: rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.’

3. The two grand things which lighten all our afflictions and sufferings for Christ are those mentioned in the text — fellowship with him, and conformity to him.

[1.] Fellowship with him, ‘That I may know the fellowship of his sufferings’; 1 Peter iv. 13, ‘But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.’ How partakers of his sufferings? He suffereth with them, and communicateth his Spirit, and that in a larger measure of comfort than to the rest of his people. As a special measure of wisdom and strength, so a more liberal allowance of supports and comforts: Col. i. 24, ‘Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh’, the leavings.

The sufferings of christians are the sufferings of Christ, and the filling up of his sufferings. Not as if his personal sufferings for the redemption of sinners were imperfect and to be supplied by our sufferings; that cannot be, for ‘by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified’; but partly because such is the sympathy between Christ and believers, that their sufferings are his sufferings: Acts ix. 4, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?’ How persecute me? Christ was far enough out of his reach, but he persecuted him in his members. When the toe is trod upon the tongue will cry out, You hurt me. And partly because so strict is the union which is between them and Christ, that he and they make up but one
mystical Christ
: 1 Cor. xii. 12, ‘For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.’ That is not Christ personal, but Christ mystical; they are one; he partaketh of their sufferings, and they of his Spirit.

[2.] Conformity to Christ. We must be like him whom we have chosen for our head and chief. What do we with Christianity, if we refuse to be like Christ? Rom. viii. 29, ‘Whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son’; to be holy as he was holy, and to be afflicted as he was afflicted: 2 Cor. iv. 10, ‘Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.’ When name dies, and interests die and languish, when we are scorned, reproached, despitefully used, we carry up and down the sufferings of Christ.

Patient undergoing crosses for Christ is an evident resemblance of the cross of Christ; this maketh us like christians, yea, like Christ himself. And however this seem troublesome and disgraceful to those that are blinded with the delusions of the flesh, yet to a holy man and a believer this should make a bitter cross lovely, that thereby he may be more like his lord and master; as the apostle, ‘ That I may be conformable to the death of Christ.’

And finally, Manton’s sermons on 2 Thess 1, sermon xi (in the same volume as the link above):

2. There is a worthiness of meetness and suitableness, without any respect to merit and proper justice. So we are said to ‘walk worthy of God,’ Col. i. 10; ‘Worthy of the gospel’, We translate it ‘becoming the gospel.’ So ‘worthy of our calling,’ Eph. iv. 1, so as may beseem the duties and hopes of christians, that the life of Christianity may show forth itself in us.

In this sense God maketh us worthy, when we are made more holy and more heavenly, for this is becoming our calling. So 1 Thes. ii. 12, ‘Walk worthy of God, who hath called us to his kingdom and glory.’ God is a holy God, and the happiness we are called unto is a glorious estate; then we are worthy when we are made more suitable to this holiness and happiness. Both together are expressed, Col. i. 12, ‘Made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.’ It is the inheritance of saints, and therefore the meetness consists in sanctification. It is in light; by it I understand glory, or a happiness abstracted from those dreggy contentments wherein men usually seek their satisfaction. Therefore this meetness must consist in a heavenly frame of heart, that can forsake or deny all earthly things for Christ’s sake.

[1.] This meetness consists in holiness: 1 Peter i. 15, ‘As he that hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [behavior].’ The calling puts a holy nature into us, obliges us to live by a holy and perfect rule, offers us a pure reward, and all to engage us in the service of a God who is pure and holy, who will be sanctified in all that are near unto him.

Therefore to make his people such who were once sinners, he hath appointed means and ordinances, Gal. v. 26, and providences, Heb. xii. 10, and all accompanied with the almighty operation of a Holy Spirit: 2 Thes. ii. 13, ‘Through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.’ Therefore the more pure and holy, the more does God make us meet.

[2.] This meetness consisteth in heavenliness; for God by calling invites men, and draws them off from this world to a better; the more they obey this call, the more heavenly they are.

It is heaven they seek: Col. iii. 1, 2, ‘If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God: set your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth.’

Heaven they hope for: 1 Peter i. 3, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus. Christ, who hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.’

Heavenly things they savour and count their portion: Mat. vi. 20, 21, ‘Lay up treasures in heaven, &c.; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’

They count heaven their home and happiness: Heb. xi. 13, ‘These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on earth.’

Their work and scope: Phil. iii. 14, ‘I press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ.’

Their end, solace, and support: 2 Cor. iv. 18, ‘While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.’

Their course becomes their choice: Phil. iii. 20, ‘Our conversation is in heaven, from whence we look for the Saviour.’

These are worthy, or made meet.

3. There is dignitas dignationis, or worthiness of acceptance. So it is taken, Acts v. 41, ‘They went away, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Christ’; that this honour was put upon them. So we in common speech say, Such a one counted me worthy of his company or his presence, or conference with him, or to sit down at his table; by these phrases of speech, not ascribing any worth to ourselves, but condescension in the party vouchsafing the honour to us. So here the apostle prays that they may be accounted worthy of this calling; that is, that God would vouchsafe them to partake of his grace and glory.

This worthiness is nothing else but God’s gracious acceptation of a sinner through Jesus Christ, calling them to this grace by the knowledge of the gospel, and giving them eternal life because they are worthy; which notes liberality in the giver, but no worth in the receiver. So it is taken, Luke xxi. 36, ‘That ye may be counted worthy to stand before the Son of Man’; and Rev. iii. 4, ‘They shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy’; because in Christ they are accepted as worthy, having given them a right by his grace.

All is to be ascribed to God’s dignation [condescension]; for Christ’s sake God does take our carriage in good part, though many failings.

Wow, amen, and thanks to the Lord for His graces and mercies! May we never, ever murmur against God in His dealings with us; may we believe in His infinite goodness, wisdom and love; may we remember His ways are infinitely above ours; may He conform us to Christ’s image in all ways; may we think forward to being with Christ in heaven; and may He sanctify us and make us more meet to be with Him eternally!

— David

Susan’s Musin’s – Journey Into a Proper View of Christian Childlessness

While growing up it never occurred to me that I might be sitting here at the age of 49 with no children, or grandchildren for that matter. I always imagined I would get married in my early 20’s and start having children very soon afterward like most everyone else at that time. But I experienced “special bulletins” and “technical difficulties” over many years, and my life screen never got back to its regularly scheduled programming. Somehow the blueprint I had drawn up for my life early on had gotten some coffee stains on it or something. The word “give” had been smudged out of the word “caregiver” (give or take an “e”) at the top of the blueprint objectives, and off I went on a quest for a great “career” instead of what I should have been doing all along according to God’s word. Over time, I became a bit numb and suppressed my innate maternal desires.

Thankfully, the Lord brought my wonderful and godly husband into my life at age 38; and just a few weeks after I turned 40, the Lord brought us together in marriage–the first for both of us late bloomers.

My husband and I, Lord willing, will celebrate our 9th anniversary next week. Early on in our marriage, I thought the Lord might grant us to have a child; but it never happened. Before we got married, my husband and I had sat down for “the talk” and both agreed we were fine if the Lord brought us children or if we never had any. Looking back, I think I truly did feel that way but was secretly assuming and hoping that God would send us at least one child.

During the past several years in learning about God’s sovereignty, I began to study the Bible with regard to this subject. God was gracious to point out to me that throughout the Bible it was He and only He who opened and closed wombs, and that it is He and only He who opens and closes wombs today. After all these years of agrarianism and gardening, reciting 1 Cor. 3:6, where Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase,” it didn’t click that this applies to ALL provision from God, spiritual and temporal. There is no promise from God that He will provide what we want. It is His decision alone, for His glory. “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” – Romans 11:36. That should have shut me up right there, but my flesh was still asking why.

Note to self: Don’t ask why unless you are prepared for the answer. My mind wandered back through all those years of sewing seeds of sin and unrighteousness, my selfishness, and my oblivion to God’s sovereignty and ways. I realized that God has actually been MORE than gracious to me in protecting me from myself and all of the things that could and should have happened along the trajectory of the path I was walking. It is not mine to question the “whys” and “why nots” of God.

It was not until I started learning in the Bible about God’s intended role for women in being godly helpmeets to their husbands (Genesis 2:18-25) and godly mothers to their children (Psalm 127:1-5), the roles for which we were created, that repentance and regret hit me HARD. I had wasted and sinned away all those precious child-bearing and rearing years in selfish pursuits, with nothing of spiritual value to show for it. I had offended God infinitely with my sin. I had put the spotlight on myself as the victim through my eyes, but God now allowed me to see myself through His eyes. It’s embarrassing and shameful to look back and see all my “boo-hoos” and “why mes” and what a rebellious sinner I was (and still am, but I pray Christ in His faithfulness is still working to conform me into His image). I am eternally grateful to God for His forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray that God, in His mercy in showing me my sin and extending forgiveness, brings glory to Himself, and moreover that He glorifies Himself through me in whatever way He pleases.

It would be untruthful if I said my flesh does not still yearn to love, nurture and rear a child with my husband in the way of the Lord, bringing glory to Him; but now Dave and I can TRULY say in this regard that we want what the Lord wants for whatever reason He in His infinite counsel has for us. We know there are adoption and foster care agencies out there tied to worldly systems, but we choose to trust in God completely for all provision, including this. And it has also been encouraging to see all of the faith-building situations in our lifestyle that have translated into maturing our trust in this area.

I pray God may use my journey into a proper view of childlessness to help someone who may be struggling with the same issue. Now, this blog post could have read a little differently, in that, I could have grown up living in obedience to God’s word and been married at a young age with no known impediment to having children, yet my womb could still have been closed. But the conclusion I pray would have been the same: that God, with all of His attributes, is sovereign, which needs to be enough, regardless of the situation.

I’ve purposely tried to stay more objective and less emotional with this post because it truly is not about me. I was/am not seeking pity or encouraging words, but I wrote this in case God might see fit to use it for His glory, and I pray He blesses it to the spiritual benefit of the reader.

Susan

David’s Digest: Lest Any Man Should Boast

I heard a minister ask something similar to this once on the radio…

Quick question:

If you consider yourself a Christian, and that you made a free-will decision to have faith in God…

Think of a person you know who has heard the same Gospel you have but has rejected it…

Assuming that making a decision to believe in Christ is a better one than rejecting Him, what about you allowed you to make that better decision? It had to be something about you that caused you to choose that way. And it had to be something better than the person choosing against. Was it your better intelligence? Your better analytic capabilities? Your better ability to understand things, even though you both heard the same gospel message? Something had to be better about you…what was it?

Hmmmmmm……..

That’s why the Bible declares that God’s sovereign will is the cause of the gracious gifts of faith and belief in Him, not a person’s “free will” — lest any man should boast (of himself over the glory that is only due God):

John 1:12-13 – “12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 6:29 – “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

John 6:44 – “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:65 – “And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

Eph 2:8-9 – “8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Phil 1:29 – “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Jam 1:18 – “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

— David

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