Self-examination


Is Jesus absent, and is your soul troubled because your Beloved has departed? Does your soul melt as you think of former times when you were able to pray, weep, wait, yearn, and long; when you were able to lean upon Him in such a delightful manner, when you lost yourself in mutual love and requested everyone neither to disturb nor awake your love until it would please Him; when He kissed you with the kisses of His mouth, His left hand was under your head, He embraced you with His right hand, you were sick with love, and found delight under the shadow of His favor? Do you miss all this? Have numerous sinful and grievous afflictions come in their place? Is your life consumed by sorrow and your years with sighing? Come, and attentively give ear to the promises. “For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul” (Jer. 31:25); “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me…to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isa. 61:1-3); “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Mat. 5:4) [II: 627].

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What will you answer upon the question, “Do you fear God?” Is your focus in your walk of life upon the Lord? Does reverence for His majesty arise within when you think about Him, speak of Him, or hear mention made of Him? Do you reverently bow before Him, and do you tremble if you are about to address Him in prayer? If a sinful thought or motion arises within you, does the fear of God motivate you to suppress it? Does the fear of God prevent you from all sinful association with men, fornication, unrighteousness, lies, backbiting, cursing, wrath, and other sins? Does reverence for God motivate and urge you to the practice of religion and to do whatever the Lord has enjoined you to do as being pleasing unto Him? Or do you love the things of this world? Are all your concerns related to the acquisition and preservation of these things? Do you look to people as if they were able to give or withhold them from you? Do you seek to please them even if it displeases God, and are they the measure of your fear? (III: 295-296).

Today in my class on the Historical Books we were discussing the incident where Saul’s advisors have him get David to soothe soul. We called this a ‘worldly solution’ because what Saul needed to do was to repent and to seek the Lord. Instead Saul drowned out his pain with the lovely melody of a harp.

This great quote by John Calvin was shared which shows the absolute power of music. Music has the ability to be profitable to our lives and it also has the ability to keep us from doing that which needs to be done. He calls it a funnel to the heart- for good or for ill.

Although music serves our enjoyment rather than our need, it ought not on that account to be judged of no value; still less should it be condemned… music can be made profitable to men if only it be free from that foolish delight by which it seduces men from better employments and occupies them in vanity… There is scarcely anything in this world which can more turn or bend hither and thither the ways of men…and in fact we know by experience that music has a secret and almost incredible power to move hearts…When melody goes with it, every bad word penetrates more deeply into the heart…Just as a funnel conveys the wine into the depths of the decanter, so venom and corruption are distilled into the very bottom of the heart by melody. -John Calvin

When will the church start being the church? This is a question that many in evangelical circles are asking. The context of the question is the fact that many view church as one or two services a week and then a mind-your-own-business-spirituality the rest of the week.

This was not the practice of the Lord Jesus and his disciples, the early Church, the Reformation church, the Puritans, or even Victorian Christianity. There have been great periods of the church doing ministry and living out her faith to a degree that changed lives for the sake of the Gospel. This is our duty. I think of the words of Wesley: the world is my parish! We have a duty to mankind to bring the Gospel and its life changing message. This begins in our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities, and extends to all spheres of life with which we have contact. Most importantly, this is done in Word and in deed.

1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

The Lord has been showing me this more and more and I know that there are many saints in the Reformed churches that are seeing the need for Jesus Christ to break into our lives and to make a people that are more than ‘Sunday Christians’. It is sad to see the Emergent Church and the Evangelicals doing more- and with less Truth. There is much work to do. The Lord Jesus said,

Matthew 9:37-38 The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

He also said concerning those who claimed to be Christians, but did not do these works that the Gospel requires of them:

Matthew 25:42-46 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

We have much to reform in the Reformed churches; much of which does have to do with doctrine, but with practice. Our heritage is filled with men and women who lived for the sake of advancing the Gospel; many of us are but consumers. My pastor has challenged his congregation with this.

What should be done from? Should we continue with individualistic consumerism, or be the Church?

We find ourselves to be so important. We find our ‘rights’ to be of great concern to those around us. We desire vengeance on those who make us suffer, hurt, and cry. How often do we think in terms of what Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God, suffered for his elect. How do you compare when it comes to your trials and afflictions?

Is there any among you that are impatient under your own personal trials and troubles, apt to howl under common afflictions from the hand of God, or swell with revenge under injuries from the hands of men! To such I would say, Behold the Lamb of God! Was Christ a lamb for meekness, and you are a lion for fierceness? Was he silent, not once opening his mouth, when he suffered most vile things from the hands of sinners and can you bear nothing? He suffered patiently, and deserved it not; you suffer impatiently, and have deserved infinitely more. O that you would learn to be more Christ-like in all your trials and afflictions! Let it not be said, that Christ carried it as a lamb when he was tried, and we like swine, grumbling or howling when we are tried. O get a Christ-like temper! -Flavel, Sacramental Meditations vi. volume 6, p.416-7

The most important part of Christ’s suffering experientially, is that he suffered for us! Christ interceded on our behalf on the cross and he lives to make intercession for us in heaven. Jesus Christ prays for us! He prays for our conformity to his image. This should bring us great hope as we come to the Lord’s table tomorrow. Christ intercedes for us. He who has begun a good work in you will bring it to completion!

Isaiah 53:11-12 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

For he IS the intercessor, and he that procured your entering in the way, will carry you on in it. He that procured a sanctified conviction to come in, will complete it! He that procured your justification, and pardon of sin, will also apply it to your conscience, and forth an intimation of it, when he thinks fit and sanctify you thoroughly. And this is indeed a great consolation to a sinner, that he who has begun a great work will perfect it; and he will not leave it; till it be at such a height of perfection, as it can be desired to be no higher! -Durham

Yesterday I talked about reflecting on what Christ did for us. Today spend some time in meditation about the submissive spirit of Jesus Christ as he secured our salvation. Are we as submissive to him, as he was for us?

Isaiah 53:7-8 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

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