THE FALLING SPARROW  – A MEDITATION

THE FALLING SPARROW  – A MEDITATION

John Marshall

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?” [Matt 10:29]
Jesus, sending forth the Twelve to do ministry and missions, here takes time to encourage them. Their involvement in kingdom work entails danger. To depict God’s tender loving care for them, our Master used sparrows as an object lesson.

Sparrows, the smallest and least valuable of edible birds, were cheap finger food. They could be purchased live, if a buyer wanted to cook them fresh at home, or could be bought plucked and stuck on skewers, ready to be eaten like kebabs.

The price was right, two for a penny, five for two pennies (Luke 12:6). By paying extra, a sparrow was thrown in free to make a bargain. Sparrows were cheap, not valuable, in people’s eyes a trifle, but in God’s eyes, not trivial. Even the free fifth sparrow, the one thrown in to close a deal, was not forgotten by God.

“And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” [Matt 10:29]

Few things in nature seem less significant than a dying sparrow plummeting to the ground. Nevertheless, God attends the funeral of every fallen sparrow.

Our text does not say a sparrow falls without His knowing about it. This is a valid and accurate observation, but does not convey the precise intent of our text.

God knows, but also somehow vitally interacts, with a sparrow’s fall. Even seemingly callous, capricious laws of nature are not outside Father’s involvement.

What appear to us to be accidents of nature are never off God’s radar screen. He tracks each fowl on the wing, logging every mile they fly. Though birds are as numerous as stars, none of them, not one, is ever lost track of by God. Even birds of no value to people, including the free fifth sparrow, are never forgotten by God.

When gravity draws a dying bird to the ground, God descends in the fall, accompanying the flight as a constant active presence in the moment. In a very real way, God is with dying sparrows. When a bird fulfils its purpose, God gives it a nest in which to die, and the nest is His own soft, infinite presence (Morgan).

Well, this is all interesting and good for ornithologists and bird watchers, but what does it have to do with you and me? EVERYTHING!! If God is engaged in every small incident in a sparrow’s life, He is also intimately involved in OUR LIVES.

God is aware of every incident, however little, in our lives. They are not outside His knowledge, nor are they outside His care and involvement. Whatever minutia hurts us grieves the Father, draws Him near, and engages His intervention.

I desperately need this truth branded deep in me. In worship last Sunday we wrote on cards what we feel keeps us from growing in Christ. I wrote on my card “Distrust. I need to trust Jesus more.” To these verses about God’s interest in us I come with a profound spirit of humility. I approach them more as student eager to learn than as accomplished teacher. I must make progress in trusting Christ more.

My personal quest is not primarily focused on gaining increased knowledge about God’s ways, though this is a worthy goal. My chief objective is increased faith in God’s ways. Facts alone do not provide answers adequate for our frailties.

“If I understood God, he could not be the true God. . . .When I cannot climb, I kneel. Where I cannot build an observatory, I set up an altar” (Spurgeon).

We do want increased knowledge, but along with it we crave deeper peace, stronger confidence. We want to trust God more in every part, every inch, of life.

We yearn to draw closer to this One whose involvement in our lives is punctual and particular, whose omnipotence and omniscience make His interaction with us universal. Finite minds fumble with Infinity, yet long to love it anyway.

Our Father does not flit (move swiftly) in and out of lives, stopping by only on occasions when He thinks He has time, and feels a need to deal with some matter of huge importance. God does not take care of big things and leave little things to chance.

The two are in fact indistinguishable. What we deem important often fizzles into being trivial. What we see as insignificant may change the course of history.

The Bible records two events that occurred at Dothan (Gen 37:17; 2 Kin 6:13). Here Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, and Elisha’s scared servant saw the mountain filled with God’s protecting horses and chariots of fires. The latter, a huge miracle, is often told to inspire confidence in God. Joseph being sold into slavery isn’t as exciting a story, but God used it to save the whole nation of Israel.
From our limited viewpoint, we can’t predict if an event, however trivial or important it seems to us, will prove huge or not. In high school, I rode horses one Sunday afternoon. I so chafed the insides of my thighs that I preached that night with my legs bowed to keep my pants from galling my skin. You may laugh it off as insignificant, but due to this, months later I did not go ride horses on a Sunday afternoon with a college revival team. One other student also chose not to go, for reasons I don’t know. We two were put in an elderly couple’s home that afternoon and fell in love. Ruth and I are wed today because we chose not to go horse back riding one afternoon in Ellington MO. Let us rejoice in serving a God engaged in each moment, each detail, each incident, of life. We must come to trust Him in all.

We need this blessed assurance, for tough times await us. God watches and cares, but sparrows still fall. Even in the Lord’s holy work itself, troubles dog our steps. Sometimes God wills His servants to suffer and yea to die. The Lord said of Saul of Tarsus, “I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (AC 9:16). It helps us to know in all of life, but especially in doing ministry and missions, nothing bad can happen to us without our Father knowing about it in advance, allowing it to come, and accompanying it to us with His own dear presence. Harm can befall us only if God sees good reason for it to come our way.

In our text, Jesus was sending the Twelve on a dangerous mission, a microcosm of what their life work would become. In later years, they all were hurt, and most died, for their dear Savior’s cause. Come life or come death, they needed to know Jesus would be engaged with them. We too need to know this.

To prove His involvement even in these situations, Jesus appeared at the death of the first martyr in Acts (7:55). As Stephen died a martyr’s death, the Master STOOD in respect and LET HIS STANDING BE SEEN. The sight speaks comfort into our darkest hours. If we believe God is with us in situations this inexplicable, we can believe He is with us in EVERY difficulty. Amen!

THE COMFORTS OF GOD DELIGHT MY SOUL!

THE COMFORTS OF GOD DELIGHT MY SOUL!

Susannah Spurgeon (1898)

‘In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy comforts delight my soul.” [Psalm 94:19]

“Thy comforts delight my soul!” Blessed Lord, how sweet is this text in my mouth! The taste of it is “like wafers made with honey.” It is both food and drink to my heart, for every word has joy and refreshing in it; so that, like the “best wine” of the Canticles, it “goes down sweetly.”

The first of Thy comforts, gracious God, is this — that You have said unto my soul, “I am Thy salvation!” He SAVES us, not because of any merit in us, or any deservings of our own; but because sovereign grace CHOSE us, and Divine compassion REDEEMED us. And when we were afar off, infinite pity brought us back, and made us near by the precious blood of Christ. This may well comfort our hearts — coming as it does directly from “our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace!” A saved and pardoned sinner can truly say, “THY COMFORTS DELIGHT MY SOUL!”

The next thought is that, having SAVED us — He KEEPS us. “We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” Comparatively few Christians put GOD’S KEEPING POWER fully to the test. If we would trust Him for the KEEPING, as we do for the SAVING — our lives would be far holier and happier than they are. “I will keep it every moment,” is one of those grandly unlimited promises which most of us are afraid of; and we store them away in the background because we dare not believe them, and bring them out into the light of our DAILY PRACTICE. O foolish and unbelieving hearts, how much of soul-delighting comfort do we thus miss!

Then comes another thought — He CARES for us. Dear friends, if you are His, you know the exceeding comfort of CASTING ALL YOUR CARE UPON HIM — and being quite sure that He will “undertake” for you. Have we not often come to Him oppressed and burdened with an INTOLERABLE WEIGHT OF ANXIETY AND DISTRESS — and been enabled to roll the whole mass of it on Him, leaving it all at His feet, and returning to our work with a lightened and restful heart? Some of us have had burdens and sorrows, which would have crushed the very life out of us — if we had not been enabled to look up and say, “You, O Lord, have helped and comforted me!” Yes, truly, God’s care for us is one of the sweetest comforts of our mortal life!

Closely linked with this, is the thought that He KNOWS all about us. Our enemies — sometimes, even our friends — misunderstand and malign us; they misconstrue our words and actions, and impute to us motives which never actuated us. But our God knows the THOUGHTS and INTENTS of our heart, and never makes a mistake in the judgment He passes on us. The comfort of this knowledge on the Lord’s part, to those who are “suffering wrongfully,” is inexpressibly precious. They can lift up their heads with joy, and say, “The Lord is good. He knows those who trust in Him.” I have known this comfort to so delight my soul, that trials and temptations had no power to vex or annoy it, for my soul was hidden “secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.”

Lastly (though there are many, many more), one of the multitude of thoughts which stand out prominently from the rest, as a comfort which delights the soul — is that He LOVES us. This truth has been running through the fields of previous thought, as a silver streamlet glides through the meadows — here, it would deepen and expand to a broad and fathomless ocean, had I the power to speak of its height, and depth, and length, and breadth, and to tell of the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge! But my pen utterly fails here. You who love Him, and know that He loves you — must each one say to himself what that “comfort of His love” is to your own heart. This will be a better commentary than any I can offer.

And, if some poor distressed soul is mourning the loss of the sweet consolation which Christ’s love alone can give — let him call to remembrance a tenderly precious promise which the Lord put into the lips of the prophet Isaiah, “I have seen his ways — but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him!” Isaiah 57:18

GOD’S CARE FOR HIS ELECT

GOD’S CARE FOR HIS ELECT

C.H. Spurgeon

“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” [Luke 12:27]

So that God cares not only for things that have necessities, as ravens have, but for things that have luxuries, as lilies have! When God does anything, He does it well. He is a grand Housekeeper! He does not measure out so many ounces of bread per diem, as if we were in a workhouse, but, “they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” The lilies might do as well without their golden hues. They might ripen their seed without the lengthened stems that lift them where they can be observed, but God takes more care of them, even, than Solomon did of himself, for, “Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Now, dear children of God, if you trust your Heavenly Father, He will see that you have no cause for care. If you trust Him with your souls, He will not give you a bare salvation, but a rich robe of righteousness to cover all your nakedness! When He does any work, He does it after a better fashion than the wisest of men could do it and, Nature herself, working as she does for the lilies, is only God working in another way! But when God, Himself, without the intervention of the laws of Nature, works in the Kingdom of His Grace, He does it perfectly—He does it gloriously!

If, then, God so clothes the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? Your life is not like that of the grass, or the flower of the field that fades on a summer’s day. God will take care of you and the everlasting things shall have from Him a care greater than He gives to the temporal. Yet how much God really does for flowers—flowers that only open their cups in the morning and shut them in death at night! How much of skill and wisdom there is, even, about them! Shall there not be greater skill and wisdom employed upon you who, when you have once begun to bloom in the Light of God, shall go on blooming, flowering and shedding your perfume throughout the endless ages?

IT IS GOD WHO ASSURES OUR SLEEP

IT IS GOD WHO ASSURES OUR SLEEP

 A.W. Pink

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so He giveth His beloved sleep”.  [Psalm 127:2]

How often is it now lost sight of that the Lord cares for the bodies of His saints as well as for their souls. This is more or less recognized and owned by believers in the matter of food and clothing, health and strength, but it is widely ignored by many concerning the point we are here treating of.

SLEEP is as imperative for our physical well-being as is food and drink, and the one is as much the GIFT of our heavenly Father as is the other.

We cannot put ourselves to sleep by any effort of will, as those who suffer with insomnia quickly discover. Nor does exercise and manual labour of itself ensure sleep: have you ever lain down almost exhausted and then found you were “too tired to sleep”?

Sleep is a DIVINE GIFT, but the nightly recurrence of it blinds us to the fact.

When is so pleases Him, God withholds sleep, and then we have to say with the Psalmist, “Thou holdest mine eyes waking” (77:4). But that is the exception rather than the rule, and deeply thankful should we be that it is so. Day by day the Lord feeds us, and night by night He “giveth His beloved sleep.” Thus in this little detail—of Elijah’s sleeping under the juniper tree—which we are likely to pass over lightly, we should perceive the gracious hand of God ministering in tenderness to the needs of one who is dear unto Him.

Yes, “the Lord pitieth them that fear Him,” and why? “for He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14). He is mindful of our frailty, and tempers His winds accordingly; He is aware when our energies are spent, and graciously renews our strength. It was not God’s design that His servant should die of exhaustion in the wilderness after his long, long flight from Jezreel, so he mercifully refreshes his body with sleep. And thus compassionately does He deal with us.

Alas, how little are we affected by the Lord’s goodness and grace unto us. The unfailing recurrence of His mercies both temporally and spiritually inclines us to take them as a matter of course. So dull of understanding are we, so cold our hearts Godward, it is to be feared that most of the time we fail to realize WHOSE loving hand it is which is ministering to us. Is not this the very reason why we do not begin really to value our health until it is taken from us, and not until we spend night after night tossing upon a bed of pain do we perceive the worth of regular sleep with which we were formerly favored?

And such vile creatures are we that, when illness and insomnia come upon us, instead of improving the same by repenting of our former ingratitude, and humbly confessing the same to God, we murmur and complain at the hardness of our present lot and wonder what we have done to deserve such treatment. O let those of us who are still blessed with good health and regular sleep fail not daily to return thanks for such privileges and earnestly seek grace to use the strength from them to the glory of God.

[Quoted from A.W. Pink’s ‘Life of Elijah’]

I CAN’T PAY YOU BACK LORD!

I CAN’T PAY YOU BACK LORD!

C.H. Spurgeon

“What shall I render unto the LORD for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the Name of the LORD.” [Psalm 116:12,13]

I will take the cup of salvation. “I will take” is a strange answer to the question, “What shall I render?” and yet it is the wisest reply that could possibly be given.

“The best return for one like me,
So wretched and so poor,
Is from His gifts to draw a plea
And ask Him still for more.”

To take the cup of salvation was in itself an act of worship, and it was accompanied with other forms of adoration, hence the Psalmist says, and call upon the name of the LORD. He means that he will utter blessings and thanksgivings and prayers, and then drink of the cup which the Lord had filled with His saving grace. What a cup this is! Upon the table of infinite love stands the cup full of blessing; it is ours by faith to take it in our hand, make it our own, and partake of it, and then with joyful hearts to laud and magnify the gracious One who has filled it for our sakes that we may drink and be refreshed.

We can do this figuratively at the sacramental table, and we can do it spiritually every time we grasp the golden chalice of the covenant, realizing the fulness of blessing which it contains, and by faith receiving its divine contents into our inmost soul. Beloved reader, let us pause here and take a long and deep draught from the cup which Jesus filled, and then with devout hearts let us worship God.

Let God’s afflictions be what they can be, yet I will always acknowledge they can never be in any degree so great as His benefits: and oh, that I could think of something that I might render to Him for all his benefits: for shall I receive such great, such infinite benefits from Him, and shall I render nothing to Him by way of gratefulness? But, alas, WHAT HAVE I TO RENDER? ALL MY RENDERING TO HIM WILL BE BUT TAKING MORE FROM HIM: for all I can do is but to take the cup of salvation, and call upon His Name, and what rendering is there in this taking?

If I could take the cup of tribulation, and drink it off for His sake, this might be a rendering of some value; but this, God knows, is no work for me to do. It was His work, who said, “Can ye drink of the cup, of which I shall drink?” Indeed, HE drank of the cup of tribulation, to the end that WE might take the cup of salvation; but then in taking it we must call upon His name; UPON HIS NAME AND UPON NO OTHER; or else we shall make it a CUP OF CONDEMNATION, seeing there is NO OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN, IN WHICH WE MAY BE SAVED, BUT ONLY THE NAME OF JESUS!

I AM A PERVERSE AND UNRULY PATIENT!

I AM A PERVERSE AND UNRULY PATIENT!

(Letters of John Newton)

I am bound to speak well of MY PHYSICIAN – He treats me with great tenderness, and bids me in due time to expect a perfect cure. I know too much of Him (though I know but little) to doubt either His skill or His promise.

It is true, I HAVE SUFFERED SAD RELAPSES since I have been under His care. Yet I confess that the fault has not been His – but my own! I AM A PERVERSE AND UNRULY PATIENT! I have too often neglected His prescriptions, and broken the regimen He appoints me to observe. This PERVERSENESS, joined to the EXCEEDING OBSTINACY OF MY DISORDERS, would have caused me to be turned out as AN INCURABLE long ago–had I been under any other hand but His! Indeed – there is none like Him! When I have BROUGHT MYSELF very low–He has still helped me. Blessed be His name – I am yet kept alive only by means of His perfect care.

Though His medicines are all BENEFICIAL–they are not all PLEASANT. Now and then He gives me a PLEASANT cordial; but I have many severe disorders, in which there is a NEEDS-BE for my frequently taking His BITTER and UNPALATABLE medicines!

We sometimes see published in the newspapers, ACKNOWLEDGMENTS OF CURES RECEIVED. Methinks, if I were to publish my own case, that it would run something like this:
“I, John Newton, have long labored under a multitude of grievous disorders:
a fever of ungoverned passions,
a cancer of pride,
a frenzy of wild imaginations,
a severe lethargy, and
a deadly stroke!

In this deplorable situation, I suffered many things from many physicians, spent every penny I had – yet only grew worse and worse!

In this condition, Jesus, the Physician of souls, found me when I sought Him not. He undertook my recovery FREELY, without money and without price – these are His TERMS with all His patients! My FEVER is now abated, my SENSES are restored, my FACULTIES are enlivened! In a word, I AM A NEW MAN! And from His ability, His promise, and the experience of what He has already done – I have the fullest assurance that He will infallibly and perfectly heal me – and that I shall live forever as A MONUMENT OF HIS POWER AND GRACE!”

Hallelujah!

FAITH THE ‘TITLE-DEED’ OF THE BELIEVER

 

 

FAITH THE ‘TITLE-DEED’ OF THE BELIEVER

“Now faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” [Heb 11:1]

Kenneth Wuest has the following to say about Hupostasis in Hebrews 11:1 in his Wuest Word Studies

THE TITLE-DEED TO ANSWERED PRAYER – “FAITH is the substance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1 ). The Greek word translated “substance” had a technical meaning in the business world of the first century. It referred to one’s property or effects. It was used in such expressions as “Out of this ESTATE I declare that my husband owes me,” or, “more land than I actually POSSESS,” the capitalicized words being the translation of the word. It was also used to refer to “the whole body of documents bearing on the ownership of a person’s property, deposited in the archives, and forming the evidence of ownership.” Moulton and Milligan in their “Vocabulary of the Greek Testament” say of these uses, “These varied uses are at first sight somewhat perplexing, but in all the cases there is the same central idea of something that underlies visible conditions and guarantees a future possession.” Thus, they translate “Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for.”

To substantiate this usage, there is in “Living Yesterdays,” a delightful brochure by H. R. Minn, the story of a woman named Dionysia. She is described as “a woman of set jaw and grim determination.” It seems that she had lost a case in a local court over a piece of land to which she laid claim. Not satisfied with the decision of a lower court, she determined to take her case to a higher court in Alexandria. She sent her slave to that city, with the legal documents safely encased in a stone box. On the way, the slave lost his life in a fire, which destroyed the inn where he had put up for the night. For 2,000 years, the sands of the desert covered the ruins of the inn, the charred bones of the slave, and the stone box.

Archaeologists have recently uncovered these remains. In the box, they found the legal documents. They read the note, which this woman had sent to the judge in Alexandria, “In order that my lord the judge may know that my appeal is just, I attach my HUPOSTASIS.” That which was attached to this note, she designated by the Greek word translated “substance” in Heb. 11:1. The attached document was translated and found to be the title-deed to the piece of land, which she claimed as her own possession, the evidence of her ownership.

What a flood of light is thrown upon this teaching regarding faith. The act of exercising true faith as one prays, or as one leans on the resources of God, is itself the title-deed or evidence of the sure answer to our prayer or the unfailing source of the divine supply. It is God’s guarantee in advance that we already possess the things asked for. They may still be in His hands, awaiting the proper time for their delivery, but they are ours. If the answers to our prayers are not forthcoming at once, let us rest content with the title-deed, which God has given us, namely, a Holy Spirit energized act of faith. We may be absolutely certain that our God will honor this title-deed at the right moment.

When you own property, you are given a ‘title-deed’ to prove your ownership . . . it is yours, and no-one can take it from you. Your God given ‘faith,’ is a title-deed that God holds on your behalf, His promised land. No-one can take this from you . . . there is no persuasion or pressure that can change your ‘stance.’. . . because of its ‘substance’ . . . He stands under you. You can own something that you do not see, and it is no less yours.

“Now faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” [Heb 11:1]

GOD ORDAINS AND PURPOSES ALL THINGS!

GOD ORDAINS AND PURPOSES ALL THINGS!

God is not a fortuneteller, a soothsayer, a mere predictor. He doesn’t have a crystal ball. He knows what’s coming because He plans what’s coming and He performs what He plans. In Isaiah 46:10 He says “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all My purpose!” He does not form purposes and wonder if someone else will take responsibility to make them happen. “I will accomplish all My purpose!”

So, based on this text, here’s what I mean by the sovereignty of God: God has the rightful authority, the freedom, the wisdom, and the power to bring about everything that He intends to happen. And therefore, everything He intends to come about does come about. Which means, God plans and governs all things.

When He says, “I will accomplish all My purpose,” He means, “Nothing happens except what is My purpose.” If something happened that God did not purpose to happen, He would say, “That’s not what I purposed to happen.” And we would ask, “What did You purpose to happen?” And He would say, “I purposed this other thing to happen which didn’t happen.” To which we would all say, then, “But You said in Isaiah 46:10, ‘I will accomplish all My purpose.’” And He would say, “That’s right.” Therefore, what God means in Isaiah 46:10 is that nothing has ever happened, or will ever happen that God did not purpose to happen. Or to put it positively: Everything that happened or will happen is purposed by God to happen.

“God worketh ALL THINGS after the counsel of His own will!” [Eph 1:11]

Hallelujah!

[Quoted from desiringgod.org]

THE GOD WHO TEACHES YOU TO FLY

THE GOD WHO TEACHES YOU TO FLY

C.H. Spurgeon

“Underneath are the Everlasting Arms.” [Deut 33:27]

This short passage is found in the midst of a mass of gold—sentences containing the richest treasures of the Truth of God. All this spiritual wealth is the heritage of the people of God—not only of His typical people to whom these words were spoken, but to His real people, the true seed of Abraham, those who are the believing children of the Father of all Believers.

If you are trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, you may take these precious words home to yourself—and you may live upon them—you may eat the fat, drink the sweet and rejoice in all the refreshment that they bring to your spirit! In the four verses, from the 26th to the 29th, notice how near God is said to be to His people. He is described as being above us, arching us over with His Divine Power—“There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in His excellency on the sky. .” Faith can hear the trump of the celestial cavalry above our heads!

We who trust in the Lord are always safe, for the angels of God are looking down upon us from the battlements of Heaven, ready to show themselves strong on our behalf as soon as their presence is needed by us. Then, our text tells us of God beneath us. As He is above us in the heavens, so underneath us are the everlasting arms. The next sentence shows us God before us—“and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.”

And the remaining verses of the chapter represent Him as being all around us, so that we are encompassed with God—not only with His Presence, with which He fills Heaven, earth and all deep places—but with the glorious Presence of His mighty love. He is above, beneath, before, and all around us! He never forsakes us, for in Him we live, move, and have our being. Let us rejoice, therefore, in our Lord’s nearness!

IT’S A GOOD THING WHEN YOU FEEL UTTERLY UNWORTHY

IT’S A GOOD THING WHEN YOU FEEL UTTERLY UNWORTHY

C.H. Spurgeon

“All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.” [Proverbs 16:2.]

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. It is this: let us come my brethren, all of us, to the place of confession of sin and acknowledge that we have broken God’s law, and deserve his just displeasure. Let us go by the help of his Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of supplication, and let us confess the depravity of our nature and the error of our hearts.

Let us pray that instead of thinking our ways clean, we may know them to be foul, may mourn over them, and may learn to see them as God sees them, as crooked ways and wrong ways in themselves not to be boasted of, but to be remembered with shame and confusion of face. Blessed is he who is delivered from any rejoicing in himself. Happy is that man who can see no speck of soundness in his own flesh, but who feels that the leprosy of sin hath covered him without and within from head to foot.

And brethren, if we come to such deep humiliation of spirit, the next word is this: let us go together to the great salvation which God has provided in the person of Christ Jesus. Come, linking hand in hand, saint and sinner, now all sinners consciously, let us stand and see where sin has pierced the body of the blessed Substitute with yonder bleeding wounds. Let us read the lines of grief written upon that blessed face; let us gaze into the depth of His soul filled with an ocean of anguish, lashed to a tempest of suffering; let us believe that He suffered in our stead and so roll our sin and our sinfulness on him. Jesus, accept a sinner, a poor sinner still; though these twenty years I have known Thy name, yet still a sinner I come to Thee, the chief of sinners!

Ah, brethren and sisters, we are never safer I am sure, never healthier, never in a better frame than when we are right flat down on the ground before the cross.

WHEN YOU FEEL YOURSELF TO BE UTTERLY UNWORTHY YOU HAVE HIT THE TRUTH.

When you think you are doing something and are rich and flourishing, you are poor, and naked, and miserable; but when you are consciously weak and sinful, then you are rich. When you are weak you are strong; but O God, save us from letting our ways seem clean in our own sight, but may we weigh our spirits by the help of thy Spirit, and condemn ourselves that we may not be condemned of the Lord.

The Lord bless you richly and freely for His Name’s sake. Amen.