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: mercy (Page 1 of 2)

Wildfire!

With the extreme drought happening here, everything is very dry. And, around here, that often makes for severe fire potential.

Well, recently one got very, very close to our “backyard”, and it was a little unnerving to say the least.

Above, and these following, is what it looked like from a road about 1/4 mile (maybe a little more) behind the south end of our overall land area. It was pretty windy, which made things difficult. Apparently, 9 fire departments were called in:

Grissom Fire 2022 - From Road Behind Us
Grissom Fire 2022 - Wide Angle

And from our homestead:

Grissom Fire 2022 - From Homstead

And from the roof of our house that first night (the flames are not on the ridge directly behind us; it’s probably the next ridge back). So, you maybe see why we were a little concerned. It did slowly dwindle as the evening rolled on, and I sat on the roof until 2:25am, and by that time thankful the glow essentially could not be seen:

Grissom Fire 2022 - From Roof

By the next day though, with more winds, the fire picked up again. And by the time we got back from Lord’s Day services, the forestry service had a helicopter working on it, one that could suck up water from ground-water tanks and dump it, and by later in the afternoon, multiple planes flying over dropping bright red, we believe, flame retardant.

Their goal was to keep it from jumping that back road I was on when I took the above pictures. I went back there again and asked one of the firefighters if he thought they could keep it from jumping the road, and he said it was iffy. For us, if it jumped the road, it was nothing but forest up the hill, over the ridge behind us, and then down the hill to the back of the land, where there are multiple homesteads.

They worked on it all afternoon, and were still working on it into the evening. Everyone here had already prepped for evacuation if necessary. With all that continued firefighting effort, I was pretty worried.

However, as I watched the smoke billows from the windy roof of our house through the evening, I spent some time with the Lord in His presence in prayer, not just asking for His mercies, especially for the homesteads in the back, which were most vulnerable, and working through making sure I was submitted to His complete will in this situation (especially if it was to be that everything burned down), but just spending it in His presence…just a time alone with Him, even with the winds howling at times and fire somewhat bearing down on us. It was a special time with Him, and one I pray I won’t forget.

As the evening continued, one of the volunteer firefighters from a nearby town who we know some was able to contact our county’s fire chief, and he indicated that they were able to get it settled down for the night, and that it apparently wasn’t going to advance at that point. And so, we didn’t have to evacuate.

The next day, the winds picked up again, but from then on, the crews were able to keep it from moving any further. While we continued to smell smoke, and I think I saw smoke flare up at one point, the Lord mercifully granted it essentially to come to an end. And we are not aware of any loss of human life, most thankfully.

Later that week, we drove by to see how close it got to the road, and you could see burned trees not far in from the road. And here’s a map showing just how close it got, the top of the fire heading toward us. I think part of the reason they were able to contain it was because the forested area actually narrowed down between two fields, which probably helped them isolate it:

Finally, here’s a video of some of the events, including a little more from that Lord’s day evening, and drop aircraft (please forgive the wind noise):

We thank the Lord for His mercies to the firefighters, to other folks, and to us. May we always be submitted to His will in all things.

— David

David’s Digest: Lovest Thou Me?

This….

“Man,” said a thoughtless, ungodly English traveller to a North American Indian convert, “Man, what is the reason that you make so much of Christ, and talk so much about Him? What has this Christ done for you, that you should make so much ado about Him?”

The converted Indian did not answer him in words. He gathered together some dry leaves and moss and made a ring with them on the ground. He picked up a live worm and put it in the middle of the ring. He struck a light and set the moss and leaves on fire. The flame soon rose and the heat scorched the worm. It writhed in agony, and after trying in vain to escape on every side, curled itself up in the middle, as if about to die in despair. At that moment the Indian reached forth his hand, took up the worm gently and placed it on his bosom.

“Stranger,” he said to the Englishman, “Do you see that worm? I was that perishing creature. I was dying in my sins, hopeless, helpless, and on the brink of eternal fire. It was Jesus Christ who put forth the arm of His power. It was Jesus Christ who delivered me with the hand of His grace, and plucked me from everlasting burnings. It was Jesus Christ who placed me, a poor sinful worm, near the heart of His love. Stranger, that is the reason why I talk of Jesus Christ and make much of Him. I am not ashamed of it, because I love Him.”

If we know anything of love to Christ, may we have the mind of this North American Indian! May we never think that we can love Christ too well, live to Him too thoroughly, confess Him too boldly, lay ourselves out for Him too hearty! Of all the things that will surprise us in the resurrection morning, this, I believe, will surprise us most: that we did not love Christ more before we died.

So humbling, so Christ-elevating and adoring!

May we forever, from now to eternity, be thankful for God’s mercies and so great salvation toward us, in the Father’s great love, the Son’s great atoning work and sacrifice, and the Holy Spirit’s great work of application in our hearts and lives!

We are all this poor worm — full of sin and not far from God’s eternal wrath — without Christ. If you are not affected yet by God’s work of salvation, come to Him recognizing your sin, ask Him this day to save you — to grant you repentance from all your sins and to forgive you, and to cleanse you from the dirtiness of sin, and keep asking Him until He does, to save you from that everlasting ring of fire all men are in until brought out by His gracious hand into His bosom. Please, seek Him now, while you still have today, as tomorrow — even the next heartbeat — is not guaranteed.

Consider this promise:

John 6:37 – “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

May God grant us understanding of who we are without the Lord Christ Jesus, who He is and what He has done, and may He apply His salvific work to our hearts! Amen!


The above quote was from JC Ryle’s book “Holiness” (chapter 15) from Chapel Library, which you can get various e-versions for free or order a hardcopy for free here:
JC Ryle’s “Holiness” from Chapel Library

Also, you can listen to our audio recordings of chapter 15 entitled “Lovest Thou Me?”:

Or listen to the whole audio book here:
JC Ryle – Holiness

— David

David’s Digest: Satan’s Devices & Biblical Remedies: Misery is Mercy

I’ve been through an excellent book from Puritan Thomas Brooks called “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”, where he identifies the various ways Satan goes about his work, and offers remedies to help against those devices.

I believe it’s important we are aware of these things, as the Bible says:

1 Peter 5:8 – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

And we are to resist…

James 4:7 – “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Ephesians 6:11 – “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

…but only with God’s help:

Psalm 28:7 – “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

Below is another device of Satan to draw a person to sin, sin being something we should hate in ourselves since sin is against God and hated by God as well. The device is to get us to shy away from afflictions and difficulties of life, but the remedy is to understand and welcome the loving, chastising hand of our heavenly Father!

And the worst thing possible for a man is to be left to himself to commit sin:

Rom 1:18-32:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Ps 81:10-16:

10 I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

11 But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.

12 So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.

13 Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!

14 I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.

15 The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever.

16 He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.

I’ve included the other remedy points below for context, but for this blog post am just focusing on Remedy 3. However, you can listen to the whole section in this audio reading (it starts with Device 7):


or download it:
Download

The entire book is scanned in here: https://archive.org/stream/completeworksoft01broo/completeworksoft01broo_djvu.txt

…or you can listen to the entire book on this page:
Thomas Brooks – Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices

From Thomas Brooks:

The eighth device that Satan hath to draw the soul to sin, is,

Device (8). By representing to the soul the outward mercies that vain men enjoy, and the outward miseries that they are freed from, while they have walked in the ways of sin.

Says Satan, Do you see, O soul, the many mercies that such and such enjoy, that walk in those very ways that your soul startles to think of, and the many crosses that they are delivered from, even such as makes other men, that say they dare not walk in such ways, to spend their days in sighing, weeping, groaning, and mourning, and therefore, says Satan, if ever you would be freed from the dark night of adversity, and enjoy the sunshine of prosperity, you must walk in their ways.

[Footnote: It was a weighty saying of Seneca, there is nothing more unhappy than he who never felt adversity. Some of the heathens would be wicked as their gods were, counting it a dishonour to their god to be unlike him. – Lactantius.]

By this stratagem the devil took those in Jer. xliv. 16-18, ‘As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee: but we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth of our mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.’

This is just the language of a world of ignorant, profane, and superstitious souls in London, and England, that would have made them a captain to return to bondage, yea, to that bondage that was worse than that the Israelites groaned under. Oh, say they, since such and such persons have been put down, and left off, we have had nothing but plundering and taxing, and butchering of men, etc.; and therefore we will do as we, and our kings, and nobles, and fathers have formerly done, for then had we plenty at home, and peace abroad, etc., and there was none to make us afraid.

[Footnote: It is said of one of the emperors, that Rome had no war in his days, because it was plague enough to have such an emperor. You are wise, and know how to apply it. [The allusion, no doubt, is to Charles I., and the agitation for the Restoration of Charles II. Cromwell died Sept. 3. 1658. – Editor]]

Remedy (1). That no man knows how the heart of God stands by his hand. [ie. people cannot know how God feels about them just by how things are happening in their lives]
Remedy (2). That there is nothing in the world that does so provoke God to be wroth and angry, as men’s taking encouragement from God’s goodness and mercy to do wickedly.
Remedy (4). That the wants [lacks] of wicked man, under all their outward mercy and freedom from adversity, is far greater than all their outward enjoyments.
Remedy (5). That outward things are not as they seem and esteemed.
Remedy (6). Consider the end [purpose] and design of God is heaping up mercy upon the heads of the wicked, and in giving them a rest and quiet from those sorrows and sufferings that others sigh under.
Remedy (7). That God does often most plague and punish [with spiritual judgements] those whom others think he does most spare and love [because of their temporal ease].
Remedy (8). Dwell more upon that strict account that vain men must make [on judgement day] for all that good that they do enjoy.
Remedy (3). The third remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider,

That there is no greater misery in this life, than not to be in misery; no greater affliction, than not to be afflicted.

Woe, woe to that soul that God will not spend a rod upon! This is the saddest stroke of all, when God refuses to strike at all: Hos. iv. 17, ‘Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.’ ‘Why should you be smitten any more? you will revolt more and more,’ Isa. i. 5.

When the physician gives over the patient, you say, ‘Ring out his knell, the man is dead.’ So when God gives over a soul to sin without control, you may truly say, ‘This soul is lost’, you may ring out his knell, for he is twice dead, and plucked up by the roots.

Freedom from punishment is the mother of security, the step-mother of virtue, the poison of religion, the moth of holiness, and the introducer of wickedness. ‘Nothing,’ said one, ‘seems more unhappy to me, than he to whom no adversity hath happened’.

Outward mercies ofttimes prove a snare to our souls. ‘I will lay a stumbling-block,’ Ezek. iii. 20. Vatablus’ note there is, ‘I will prosper him in all things, and not by affliction restrain him from sin.’

Prosperity has been a stumbling-block, at which millions have stumbled and fallen, and broke the neck of their souls for ever.

[Footnote: Religion brought forth riches, and the daughter soon devoured the mother, said Augustine.]

May the God of infinite mercies never leave us to ourselves, to walk in our own ways! And may we be thankful to Him for His loving, chastising hand!

Heb 12:6 – For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Rev 3:19 – As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

— David

David’s Digest: Satan’s Devices & Biblical Remedies: God is Full of Mercy, Part 3

This is the final part continuing from part 1 and part 2 from Puritan Thomas Brooks’ book “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”, where the devil entices people to sin and remedies to fight off that attack approach.

The entire book is scanned in here: https://archive.org/stream/completeworksoft01broo/completeworksoft01broo_djvu.txt.

From Thomas Brooks:

The fifth device that Satan hath to draw the soul to sin is,

Device (5). To present God to the soul as one made up all of mercy.

Oh! saith Satan, you need not make such a matter of sin, you need not be so fearful of sin, not so unwilling to sin; for God is a God of mercy, a God full of mercy, a God that delights in mercy, a God that is ready to shew mercy, a God that is never weary of shewing mercy, a God more prone to pardon his people than to punish his people; and therefore he will not take advantage against the soul; and why then, saith Satan, should you make such a matter of sin?

Now the remedies against this device of Satan are these:

Remedy (1). The first remedy is, seriously to consider, That it is the sorest judgment in the world to be left to sin upon any pretence whatsoever.

Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That God is as just as he is merciful.

Remedy (3). The third remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That sins against mercy will bring the greatest and sorest judgments upon men’s heads and hearts.

Remedy (4). The fourth remedy against this device of Satan, is seriously to consider, That though God’s general mercy be over all his works, yet his special mercy is confined to those that are divinely qualified.

So in Exodus xxxiv. 6, 7, ‘And the Lord passed by before me, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.’ Exodus xx. 6, ‘And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.’ Ps. xxv. 10, ‘All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, unto such as keep his covenant, and his testimonies.’ Ps. xxxii. 10, ‘Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.’ Ps. xxxiii. 18, ‘Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy.’ Ps. ciii. 11, ‘For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.’ Ver. 17, ‘But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him.’

When Satan attempts to draw thee to sin by presenting God as a God all made up of mercy, oh then reply, that though God’s general mercy extend to all the works of his hand, yet his special mercy is confined to them that are divinely qualified, to them that love him and keep his commandments, to them that trust in him, that by hope hang upon him, and that fear him; and that thou must be such a one here, or else thou canst never be happy hereafter; thou must partake of his special mercy, or else eternally perish in everlasting misery, notwithstanding God’s general mercy.

Remedy (5). The fifth remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That those that were once glorious on earth, and are now triumphing in heaven, did look upon the mercy of God as the most powerful argument to preserve them from sin, and to fence their souls against sin, and not as an encouragement to sin.

Ps. xxvi. 3-6, ‘For thy loving-kindness is before mine eyes, and I have walked in thy truth; I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil-doers, and will not sit with the wicked.’ So Joseph strengthens himself against sin from the remembrance of mercy: ‘How then can I,’ saith he, ‘do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ Gen. xxxix. 9. He had fixed his eye upon mercy, and therefore sin could not enter, though the irons entered into his soul; his soul being taken with mercy, was not moved with his mistress’s impudence.

Satan knocked oft at the door, but the sight of mercy would not suffer him to answer or open. Joseph, like a pearl in a puddle, keeps his virtue still. So Paul, ‘Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?’ Rom. vi. 1,2. There is nothing in the world that renders a man more unlike to a saint, and more like to Satan, than to argue from mercy to sinful liberty; from divine goodness to licentiousness. This is the devil’s logic, and in whomsoever you find it, you may write, ‘This soul is lost.’

A man may as truly say, the sea burns, or fire cools, as that free grace and mercy should make a soul truly gracious to do wickedly. So the same apostle, ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service,’ Rom. xii. 1. So John, ‘These things I write unto you, that ye sin not,’ 1 John ii. 1, 2. What was it that he wrote? He wrote, ‘That we might have fellowship with the Father and his Son; and that the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin, and that if we confess our sin, he is just and faithful to forgive us our sins; and that if we do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ These choice favours and mercies the apostle holds forth as the choicest means to preserve the soul from sin, and to keep at the greatest distance from sin; and if this won’t do it, you may write the man void of Christ and grace, and undone for ever.

May we pray to the Lord for help against Satan’s wiles, may He grant us strength and direction to resist, and we thank Him for His promises and remedies against this foe of God and our souls!

— David

David’s Digest: Satan’s Devices & Biblical Remedies: God is Full of Mercy, Part 2

This is continuing from part 1 from Puritan Thomas Brooks’ book “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”, where the devil entices people to sin and remedies to fight off that attack approach.

The entire book is scanned in here: https://archive.org/stream/completeworksoft01broo/completeworksoft01broo_djvu.txt.

From Thomas Brooks:

The fifth device that Satan hath to draw the soul to sin is,

Device (5). To present God to the soul as one made up all of mercy.

Oh! saith Satan, you need not make such a matter of sin, you need not be so fearful of sin, not so unwilling to sin; for God is a God of mercy, a God full of mercy, a God that delights in mercy, a God that is ready to shew mercy, a God that is never weary of shewing mercy, a God more prone to pardon his people than to punish his people; and therefore he will not take advantage against the soul; and why then, saith Satan, should you make such a matter of sin?

Now the remedies against this device of Satan are these:

Remedy (1). The first remedy is, seriously to consider, That it is the sorest judgment in the world to be left to sin upon any pretence whatsoever.

Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That God is as just as he is merciful.

Remedy (3). The third remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That sins against mercy will bring the greatest and sorest judgments upon men’s heads and hearts.

Mercy is Alpha, Justice is Omega. David, speaking of these attributes, placeth mercy in the foreward, and justice in the rearward, saying, ‘My song shall be of mercy and judgment’, Ps. ci. 1. When mercy is despised, then justice takes the throne. God is like a prince, that sends not his army against rebels before he hath sent his pardon, and proclaimed it by a herald of arms: he first hangs out the white flag of mercy; if this wins men in, they are happy for ever; but if they stand out, then God will put forth his red flag of justice and judgment; if the one is despised, the other shall be felt with a witness.

See this in the Israelites. He loved them and chose them when they were in their blood, and most unlovely. He multiplied them, not by means, but by miracle; from seventy souls they grew in few years to six hundred thousand; the more they were oppressed, the more they prospered. Like camomile, the more you tread it, the more you spread it; or to a palm-tree, the more it is pressed, the further it spreadeth; or to fire, the more it is raked, the more it burneth. Their mercies came in upon them like Job’s messengers, one upon the neck of the other: He put off their sackcloth, and girded them with gladness, and ‘compassed them about with songs of deliverance;’ he ‘carried them on the wings of eagles;’ he kept them ‘as the apple of his eye,’ etc.

But they, abusing his mercy, became the greatest objects of his wrath. As I know not the man that can reckon up their mercies, so I know not the man that can sum up the miseries that are come upon them for their sins. For as our Saviour prophesied concerning Jerusalem, ‘that a stone should not be left upon a stone,’ so it was fulfilled forty years after his ascension, by Vespasian the emperor and his son Titus, who, having besieged Jerusalem, the Jews were oppressed with a grievous famine, in which their food was old shoes, old leather, old hay, and the dung of beasts. There died, partly of the sword and partly of the famine, eleven hundred thousand of the poorer sort; two thousand in one night were embowelled; six thousand were burned in a porch of the temple; the whole city was sacked and burned, and laid level to the ground; and ninety-seven thousand taken captives, and applied to base and miserable service, as Eusebius and Josephus saith. And to this day, in all parts of the world, are they not the off-scouring of the world? None less beloved, and none more abhorred, than they.

And so Capernaum, that was lifted up to heaven, was threatened to be thrown down to hell. No souls fall so low into hell, if they fall, as those souls that by a hand of mercy are lifted up nearest to heaven. You slight souls that are so apt to abuse mercy, consider this, that in the gospel days, the plagues that God inflicts upon the despisers and abusers of mercy are usually spiritual plagues; as blindness of mind, hardness of heart, benumbedness of conscience, which are ten thousand times worse than the worst of outward plagues that can befall you. And therefore, though you may escape temporal judgments, yet you shall not escape spiritual judgments: ‘How shall we escape, if neglect so great salvation?’ Heb. ii. 3, saith the apostle. Oh! therefore, whenever Satan shall present God to the soul as one made up all of mercy, that he may draw thee to do wickedly, say unto him, that sins against mercy will bring upon the soul the greatest misery; and therefore whatever becomes of thee, thou wilt not sin against mercy, etc.

Go on to Remedies 4 and 5!

— David

David’s Digest: Satan’s Devices & Biblical Remedies: God is Full of Mercy, Part 1

Satan is a cunning foe, and sadly quite good at what he does. And he is the enemy of Christ, and thus God’s people, ready to do what he can to destroy the souls of men.

1 Peter 5:8 – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Thankfully though, God is greater:

1 John 4:4 – “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

However, we also have duties to perform in this arena…

James 4:7 – “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Ephesians 6:11 – “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

…but only with God’s help:

Psalm 28:7 – “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

Psalm 144:1 – “Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:

Puritan Thomas Brooks wrote an excellent book called “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”, where he identifies the various ways Satan goes about his work, and offers remedies to help against those devices. With this we can know our enemy better, and pray and work to resist him and sin, which hopefully we want to do because we hate sin as it is an act of rebellion and an offense to the One we love:

2 Corinthians 2:11 – “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

The following is one of those devices, where the devil entices people to sin and remedies to fight off that attack approach.

The entire book is scanned in here: https://archive.org/stream/completeworksoft01broo/completeworksoft01broo_djvu.txt.

From Thomas Brooks:

The fifth device that Satan hath to draw the soul to sin is,

Device (5). To present God to the soul as one made up all of mercy.

Oh! saith Satan, you need not make such a matter of sin, you need not be so fearful of sin, not so unwilling to sin; for God is a God of mercy, a God full of mercy, a God that delights in mercy, a God that is ready to shew mercy, a God that is never weary of shewing mercy, a God more prone to pardon his people than to punish his people; and therefore he will not take advantage against the soul; and why then, saith Satan, should you make such a matter of sin?

Now the remedies against this device of Satan are these:

Remedy (1). The first remedy is, seriously to consider, That it is the sorest judgment in the world to be left to sin upon any pretence whatsoever.

O unhappy man! when God leaveth thee to thyself, and doth not resist thee in thy sins. Woe, woe to him at whose sins God doth wink. When God lets the way to hell be a smooth and pleasant way, that is hell on this side of hell, and a dreadful sign of God’s indignation against a man; a token of his rejection, and that God doth not intend good unto him. That is a sad word, ‘Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone,’ Hosea iv. 17; he will be uncounsellable and incorrigible; he hath made a match with mischief, he shall have his bellyful of it; he falls with open eyes, let him fall at his own peril.

And that is a terrible saying. ‘So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lusts, and they walked in their own counsels,’ Ps. lxxxi. 12. A soul given up to sin, is a soul ripe for hell, a soul posting to destruction. Ah Lord! this mercy I humbly beg, that whatever thou givest me up to, thou wilt not give me up to the ways of my own heart; if thou wilt give me up to be afflicted, or tempted, or reproached, etc., I will patiently sit down, and say, It is the Lord; let him do with me what seems good in his own eyes. Do anything with me, lay what burden thou wilt upon me, so thou dost not give me up to the ways of my own heart.

Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That God is as just as he is merciful.

As the Scriptures speak him out to be a very merciful God, so they speak him out to be a very just God. Witness his casting the angels out of heaven, 2 Peter ii. 4-6, and his binding them in chains of darkness till the judgment of the great day; and witness his turning Adam out of paradise, his drowning of the old world, and his raining hell out of heaven upon Sodom; and witness all the crosses, losses, sicknesses, and diseases, that be in the world; and witness Tophet, that was prepared of old; witness his ‘treasuring up of wrath against the day of wrath, unto the revelation of the just judgments of God; but above all, witness the pouring forth of all his wrath upon his bosom Son, when he did bear the sins of his people, and cried out, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ Mat. xxvii. 46.

Go on to Remedy 3!

— David

David’s Digest: Coming Boldly to the Throne

Heb 4:16 – “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

It seems to me this verse can be used to approach God in ways that we might approach just anyone, or in any way we might feel. And while the Bible declares God to be the friend and father of saints, I believe it cannot be forgotten that He is almighty God, holy King and majestic Lord! Would we approach an earthly king or even a civil magistrate just however we felt like it? I think not.

The following are some gleanings that I believe accurately reflect how we should and should not approach God, and for what reasons most importantly:

First, how did Esther approach her king and husband no less? Here is from Esther 4:15-5:2:

15 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer,

16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

17 So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.

1 Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.

2 And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.

Esther recognized the authority of her king over her in that she knew she was transgressing the law and that he could punish her to death for it, and she came in proper apparel fit for the presence of a king showing reverence. She and her people had also prepared themselves beforehand in humility.

I believe these show us we need to be dressed in Christ’s righteousness to approach God, and only this way dressed shows reverence to His holiness and respect for His declared order (John 14:6 – “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.“), and that approaching God belligerently or in pride (“God I have something to say to you!” under the guise that “Oh, God is big enough to handle it!”) could very well bring down the King’s wrath upon us.

The following is from JC Ryle on prayer, which you can read in full here, that discusses improper and proper prayer boldness:

(g) I commend to you, in the next place, the importance of boldness in prayer. There is an unseemly familiarity in some men’s prayers, which I cannot praise.

But there is such a thing as a holy boldness, which is exceedingly to be desired. I mean such boldness as that of Moses, when he pleads with God not to destroy Israel: “Wherefore,” says he, “should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains…Turn from thy fierce wrath” (Exo 32:12). I mean such boldness as that of Joshua, when the children of Israel were defeated before Ai: “What,” says he, “what wilt thou do unto thy great name?” (Jos 7:9).

This is the boldness for which Luther was remarkable. One who heard him praying said, “What a spirit—what a confidence was in his very expressions! With such a reverence he sued, as one begging of God, and yet with such hope and assurance as if he spake with a loving father or friend”.

Here also I fear we sadly come short. We do not sufficiently realize the believer’s privileges. We do not plead as often as we might, “Lord, are we not Thine own people? Is it not for Thy glory that we should be sanctified? Is it not for Thine honor that thy gospel should increase?

Finally, here is what Puritan commentator Dr. John Gill says about Heb 4:16, indicating the main reasons for coming before the throne of God:

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace
Either to Christ, who is before spoken of as an high priest, and who was typified by the mercy seat, to which there seems to be an allusion; and coming to him as a priest upon his throne is very proper: to him saints come for pardon and cleansing, and for a justifying righteousness, for the acceptance of their persons, and the presentation of their services, and for every supply of grace; and to him they may come “boldly”, since he stands in the relations of a Father, husband, and brother, and from him they may expect receive mercy, since it is kept for him, and with him, and is only dispensed through him; and in him they may hope to find grace, since all fulness of it dwells in him; and help in every time of need, since their help is laid on him.

Or else to God the Father, since Christ, the high priest, is the way of access to God, and it is by him the saints come unto the Father; who is represented as on a “throne”, to show his majesty, and to command reverence; and as on a “throne of grace”, to encourage distressed souls to come unto him; and to express his sovereignty in the distribution of his grace:

And this coming to him is a sacerdotal act, for every believer is a priest; and is not local, but spiritual, and with the heart, and by faith; and chiefly regards the duty of prayer, and a drawing nigh to God in that ordinance with spiritual sacrifices to offer unto him:

And this may be done “boldly”; or “with freedom of speech”; speaking out plainly all that is in the heart, using an holy courage and intrepidity of mind, free from servile fear, and a bashful spirit; all which requires an heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, faith, in the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, a view of God, as a God of peace, grace, and mercy, and a holy confidence of being heard by him;

And such a spirit and behaviour at the throne of grace are very consistent with reverence of the divine Majesty, with submission to his will, and with that humility which becomes saints. …

The end of coming hither is,

that we may obtain mercy;
the sure mercies of David, the blessings of the everlasting covenant; particularly pardoning mercy, and the fresh application of it, and every other blessing of grace that is needful: and there is reason to expect it, since there is mercy with God; and it is with Christ, as the head of the covenant; and it is ready for those that ask it; and it has been obtained by many, and is everlasting.

And find grace to help in time of need;
the Syriac version renders it, “in time of affliction”; which is a time of need, as every time of distress is, whether from the immediate hand of God, or through the persecutions of men, or the temptations of Satan: and help at such times may be expected; since not only God is able to help, but he has promised it; and he has laid help on Christ; and gives it seasonably, and at the best time; and it springs from grace, yea, it is grace that does help; by which may be meant, the discoveries of God’s love, and the supplies of grace from Christ: which may be hoped for, seeing God is the God of all grace; and he is seated on a throne of grace; and all fulness of grace dwells in Christ: to find grace often, signifies to find favour with God, to be accepted by him, as well as to receive grace from him.

May God grant us a holy awe, fear, and reverence of Him, for who He is, and what He has done, His great works throughout time, the salvation of sinners, the revelation of Himself through Christ, Christ’s righteousness, His infinite graces, mercies and love, and the gift of His Spirit; and may these bring us to humility before Him and cause us to love Him in return!

— David

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