Archive for the ‘Reforming Reflections’ Category

Having a Thankful Heart by Thomas Watson

‘Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name’ (Psalm 29:2).

Let us prove our godliness by gratefulness:

1. ‘It is a good thing to be thankful:‘It is good to sing praises unto our God’ (Psalm 147:1).  It is bad when the tongue (that organ of praise) is out of tune and jars by murmuring and discontent.  But it is a good thing to be thankful.  It is good, because this is all the creature can do to lift up God’s name; and it is good because it tends to make us good.  The more thankful we are, the more holy.  While we pay this tribute of praise, our stock of grace increases.  In other debts, the more we pay, the less we have; but the more we pay this debt of thankfulness, the more grace we have. (more…)

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Psalm 55

“But I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 55:23) …The value of a word and the power that it has over our hearts depends largely upon the man who speaks it and on the circumstances of its utterance. When Paul said to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say rejoice,” how inexpressibly these words are deepened by the circumstances of the Apostle—no longer young nor free, but a prisoner in a Roman cell with his life-work seemingly shattered at his feet. Living words have the quality of life. They are born and bear the fashion of their birth. They may be robbed of meaning, or may be filled with meaning, by the hour in which the spirit utters them. So it seems to me the only way to enter into the grandeur of our text is to learn the circumstances of the Psalm. What kind of man was this who said so confidently: “But I will trust in thee?” What were his circumstances? Was he happy? Was everything going very well with him? A study of the psalm will show us that. (more…)

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The Great Birthday

Charles Spurgeon

“The angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” — Luke 2:10

There is no reason upon earth beyond that of ecclesiastical custom why the 25th of December should be regarded as the birthday of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ any more than any other day from the first of January to the last day of the year; and yet some persons regard Christmas with far deeper reverence than the Lord’s day.  You will often hear it asserted that “The Bible and the Bible alone is the religion of Protestants,” but it is not so.  There are Protestants who have absorbed a great deal besides the Bible into their religion, and, among other things, they have accepted the authority of what they call “the Church” and by that door all sorts of superstitions have entered.  There is no authority whatever in the word of God for the keeping of Christmas at all, and no reason for keeping it just now except that the most superstitious section of Christendom has made a rule that December 25th shall be observed as the birthday of the Lord, and the church by law established in this land has agreed to follow in the same track.  You are under no bondage whatever to regard the regulation.  We owe no allegiance to the ecclesiastical powers which have made a decree on this matter, for we belong to an old-fashioned church which does not dare to make laws, but is content to obey them. (more…)

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“Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me?” – John 21:17


This is a pointed question, which demands a personal answer and should, therefore, stir up full and frequent self-examination.  “Lovest thou me?”  It is a probing question that is likely to excite much grief when pressed home to the sensitive, tender-hearted disciple, even as Peter was grieved because the Lord said unto him the third time, “Lovest thou me?”  Yet it is a pleasing and profitable question to so many of us as can give a like solemn and satisfactory response to that of Simon Peter, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” (more…)

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“My times are in thy hand.” — Psalm 31:15


David was sad: his life was spent with grief, and his years with sighing.  His sorrow had wasted his strength, and even his bones were consumed within him.  Cruel enemies pursued him with malicious craft, even seeking his life.  At such a time, he used the best resource of grief; for he says in verse 14, “But I trusted in thee, O Lord.”  He had no other refuge but that which he found in faith in the Lord his God.  If enemies slandered him, he did not render railing for railing; if they devised to take away his life, he did not meet violence with violence; but he calmly trusted in the Lord.  They ran hither and thither, using all kinds of nets and traps to make the man of God their victim; but he met all their inventions with the one simple defense of trust in God.  Many are the fiery darts of the wicked one; but our shield is one.  The shield of faith not only quenches fiery darts, but it breaks arrows of steel.  Though the javelins of the foe were dipped in the venom of hell, yet our one shield of faith would hold us harmless, casting them off from us.  Thus David had the grand resource of faith in the hour of danger.


Note well that he uttered a glorious claim, the greatest claim that man has ever made: “I said, Thou art my God.”  He that can say, “This kingdom is mine,” makes a royal claim; he that can say, “This mountain of silver is mine,” makes a wealthy claim; but he that can say to the Lord, “Thou art my God,” hath said more than all monarchs and millionaires can reach.  If this God is your God by his gift of himself to you, what can you have more?  If Jehovah has been made your own by an act of appropriating faith, what more can be conceived of?  You have not the world, but you have the Maker of the world; and that is far more.  There is no measuring the greatness of his treasure who hath God to be his all in all.


Having thus taken to the best resource by trusting in Jehovah, and having made the grandest claim possible by saying, “Thou art my God,” the Psalmist now stays himself upon a grand old doctrine, one of the most wonderful that was ever revealed to men.  He sings, “My times are in thy hand.”  This to him was a most cheering fact: he had no fear as to his circumstances, since all things were in the divine hand.  He was not shut up unto the hand of the enemy; but his feet stood in a large room, for he was in a space large enough for the ocean, seeing the Lord had placed him in the hollow of his hand.  To be entirely at the disposal of God is life and liberty for us.


The great truth is this — all that concerns the believer is in the hands of the Almighty God.  “My times,” these change and shift; but they change only in accordance with unchanging love, and they shift only according to the purpose of One with whom is no variableness nor shadow of a turning.  “My times,” that is to say, my ups and my downs, my health and my sickness, my poverty and my wealth — all those are in the hand of the Lord, who arranges and appoints, according to his holy will, the length of my days and the darkness of my nights.  Storms and calms vary the seasons at the divine appointment.  Whether times are reviving or depressing remains with him who is Lord both of time and of eternity; and we are glad it is so.


We assent to the statement, “My times are in thy hand,” as to their result.  Whatever is to come out of our life is in our heavenly Father’s hand.  He guards the vine of life, and he also protects the clusters which shall be produced thereby.  If life be as a field, the field is under the hand of the great Husbandman, and the harvest of that field is with him also.  The ultimate results of his work of grace upon us and of his education of us in this life are in the highest hand.  We are not in our own hands, nor in the hands of earthly teachers; but we are under the skillful operation of hands which make nothing in vain.  The close of life is not decided by the sharp knife of the fates; but by the hand of love.  We shall not die before our time; neither shall we be forgotten and left upon the stage too long.


Not only are we ourselves in the hand of the Lord, but all that surrounds us.  Our times make up a kind of atmosphere of existence; and all this is under divine arrangement.  We dwell within the palm of God’s hand.  We are absolutely at his disposal, and all our circumstances are arranged by him in all their details.  We are comforted to have it so


How came the Psalmist’s times to be thus in God’s hand?  I should answer, first, that they were there in the order of nature, according to the eternal purpose and decree of God.  All things are ordained of God and are settled by him according to his wise and holy predestination.  Whatsoever happens here happens not by chance, but according to the counsel of the Most High.  The acts and deeds of men below, though left wholly to their own wills, are the counterpart of that which is written in the purpose of heaven.  The open acts of Providence below tally exactly with that which is written in the secret book, which no eye of man or angel as yet has scanned.  This eternal purpose superintended our birth.  “In thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”  In thy book, every footstep of every creature is recorded before the creature is made.  God has mapped out the pathway of every man who traverses the plains of life.  Some may doubt this; but all agree that God foresees all things; and how can they be certainly foreseen unless they are certain to be?  It is no mean comfort to a man of God that he feels that, by divine arrangement and sacred predestination, his times are in the hand of God.


But David’s times were in God’s hand in another sense; namely, that he had by faith committed them all to God.  Observe carefully the fifth verse: “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.”  In life, we use the words which our Lord so patiently used in death: we hand over our spirits to the hand of God.  If our lives were not appointed of heaven, we should wish they were.  If there were no overruling Providence, we would crave for one.  We would merge our own wills in the will of the great God, and cry, “Not as we will, but as thou wilt.”  It would be a hideous thought to us if any one point of our life-story were left to chance or to the frivolities of our own fancy; but with joyful hope we fall back upon the eternal foresight and the infallible wisdom of God, and cry, “Thou shalt choose our inheritance for us.”  We would beg him to take our times into his hand, even if they were not there.


Moreover, beloved brethren, our times are in the Lord’s hands, because we are one with Christ Jesus.  “We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”  Everything that concerns Christ touches the great Father’s heart.  He thinks more of Jesus than of all the world.  Hence it follows that when we become one with Jesus, we become conspicuous objects of the Father’s care.  He takes us in hand for the sake of his dear Son.  He that loves the Head loves all the members of the mystical body.  We cannot conceive of the dear Redeemer as ever being out of the Father’s mind; neither can any of us who are in Christ be away from the Father’s active, loving care: our tines are ever in his hand.  All his eternal purposes work towards the glorifying of the Son, and quite as surely they work together for the good of those who are in his Son. The purposes which concern our Lord and us are so inter-twisted as never to be separated.


To have our times in God’s hand must mean not only that they are at God’s disposal, but that they are arranged by the highest wisdom.  God’s hand never errs; and if our times are in his hand, those times are ordered rightly.  We need not puzzle our brains to understand the dispensations of Providence: a much easier and wiser course is open to us; namely, to believe the hand of the Lord works all things for the best.  Sit thou still, O child, at thy great Father’s feet, and let him do as seems him good!  When thou canst not comprehend him, know that a babe cannot understand the wisdom of its sire.  Thy Father comprehends all things, though thou dost not: let his wisdom be enough for thee.  Everything in the hand of God is where it may be left without anxiety; and it is where it will be carried through to a prosperous issue.  Things prosper which are in his hand.  “My times are in thy hand,” is an assurance that none can disturb, or pervert, or poison them.  In that hand, we rest as securely as rests a babe upon its mother’s breast.  Where could our interests be so well secured as in the eternal hand?  What a blessing it is to see by the eye of faith all things that concern you grasped in the hand of God!  What peace as to every matter which could cause anxiety flows into the soul when we see all our hopes built upon so stable a foundation, and preserved by such supreme power!  “My times are in thy hand!”


Come, let each man take to himself this doctrine of the supreme appointment of God and believe that it stands true as to his own case, “My times are in thy hand.”  The wings of the cherubim cover me.  The Lord Jesus loved me and gave himself for me, and my times are in those hands which were nailed to the cross for my redemption.

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