Thoughts on Contentment – William Plummer

Are you ambitious for the things of this world_

When we become lifted up with pride, and think we deserve something good at God’s hands–it is impossible to satisfy us. But with the humble is wisdom, quietness, gentleness, and contentment. He who expects nothing, because he deserves nothing, is sure to be satisfied with the treatment he receives at God’s hands.

The proud man is like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. He is turbulent and fiery. He alienates friends; he makes enemies. He has much trouble and sorrow–where the humble man passes quietly along. Pride and contentment do not go together. Neither do contentment and carnal ambition.

“Do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not!” (Jeremiah 45:5)

Our actual needs are not many; but the ambitious create a thousand desires and demands, which are hard, if not impossible to meet.

He who is carnally ambitious, will not be content with whatever he gains, because each elevation widens his horizon, and gives him a view of something else which he greatly longs for. And so he is tossed from vanity to vanity–a stranger to solid peace.

Are you ambitious for the things of this world?
Then you are your own tormentor!

-William Plummer

Boasting of Weakness

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Boast of my Weaknesses? If you want to turn the wisdom of the world on its head completely, this is it. Weakness is the last thing in which we would ever boast. Instead, we boast of accomplishments, skills, talents, and abilities, but biblical wisdom says if we do that, we have it wrong.

Weaknesses, we all have them. From illnesses to physical handicaps. From weak minds to weak knees. Some have speech impediments, anxiety disorders, melancholy, and poverty. There is not a single believer who does not deal with something, but when was the last time we boasted in it?

Chronic illness, you continuously bring me low, but I have seen the Lord work through you to draw me close to His side. Some days, I have been so weak that I trembled as I stood to handle my responsibilities, and I have seen greater success in those moments than in my health as the Lord gave me strength. Anxiety, you plague me every time I try to speak for Christ, but the Lord has used you to make my voice tremble into the hearts of the hearers.

Jacob limped for the rest of his life after meeting with God at the Jabbock, and that limp signified the power of God for generations to come. Therefore, I will boast of my weaknesses because God makes no mistakes in His providences. Many a Christian has been able to speak life into the soul of the hurting because they too have felt a similar pain, and in that pain have been comforted by the power of God.

Thank you, Lord, for the sovereignly designed weaknesses in my life. Not one of them is a mistake. It is in these fissures and cracks in this jar of clay that the treasure within begins to be seen by the world. Help me to see them as your gifts.

The Weapons of Righteousness

The WeaponsWith the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left.– 2 Corinthians 6:7

There are weapons of righteousness for each of our hands. The phrase, “weapons of righteousness,” sometimes translated as, “armor of righteousness,” has been interpreted many ways, from the plausible to the ludicrous. These weapons are often linked to our spiritual armor found in Ephesians 6. Though I do believe there is likely some link to the armor of God, I believe John Calvin was closer to the mark when he linked these weapons to holy conduct and a clear conscience. Understanding it in this way, we can see them as both armor and weapons.

Nothing can hinder us in our work for the Lord more than sin and a troubled conscience. In both of these things, we find ourselves exposed to the attacks of Satan and unable to work to advance the kingdom of God. However, with a righteous life and a clear conscience, we can stand in the midst of adversity and persecution.

The real problem is that in and of ourselves, we have neither. We are guilty and we know it, but in Jesus we find our forgiveness and acceptance in the Beloved. Jesus is the foundation of our armor and weapons of righteousness. None of us have any ability or right to stand in truthful speech and the power of God unless we are in Christ, but with him we can stand with our conscious clear, justified by His blood.

From there we must grow in sanctification. This means we are not only declared righteous, but we also begin to be conformed to His image. If we plan to stand against the prince and the power of the air and the patterns of this world, both justification and sanctification are necessary.

As we grow in the Lord, we become able to work to advance the kingdom of God without any fault being found in our work. We must put aside underhanded ways (2 Cor. 4:2). In this way we can press on in the face of any mistreatment, knowing that we have conducted ourselves according to the word of God.

It is only with these weapons of righteousness that we can stand as servants of God and commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love;  by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. Treated as impostors, and yet true; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything with our hearts wide open (2 Cor. 6:4-11).

Book Review: Voices From The Past – Puritan Devotional Readings

Book Review_Voices from the Past

A good devotional is like a spiritually-minded friend who turns your eyes away from the things of the world and sets them on things above whenever you spend time with them; both are extremely rare. There are too many devotionals these days that are like poorly made junk food. Not only do they lack nourishment, but they also leave a bad taste in your mouth. Since good devotionals are so limited, when you find one you want to hold onto it for a lifetime.  An obvious example is Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening.

A little over a year ago I received Voices from the Past, edited by Richard Rushing, as a gift, and what a gift it was. This devotion is a collection of writings from great Christian writers like John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, and Thomas Watson et. al. If you are looking for substance in your daily reading, this is the book for you. Rarely will a day go by where you are not given something that spurs you on in godliness. It will comfort you where you need to be comforted, and it will convict you where you need to be convicted.

If you are looking for a new devotional, I highly recommend this one. There is a second volume as well, which I will also be purchasing. If you would like to read a sample entry from this book, click the link below.

How to resist the Devil – William Gurnall

What are your favorite devotionals? Let us know in the comments.

We Are the Lepers

With hearts as black as drossFilled with the obsceneAll paid for on the crossHe_ll there pronounce us clean

Then the priest shall look, and if the leprous disease has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean of the disease; it has all turned white, and he is clean. Lev. 13:13

This verse may seem strange to many of today’s readers, but if leprosy had only covered part of the body and not all of the flesh was white, that man would be pronounced unclean. On the other hand, if the disease covered his entire body, the man would be pronounced clean. This is because the flesh that was not yet white was still contagious, but if his flesh was completely white, the disease was no longer transmittable.

As interesting as this is, this text teaches us something much deeper for leprosy in scripture is often a representation of sin. We are the lepers. We are diseased with sin and completely full of guilt, but in our natural state, we strive to deny that truth. We go to great lengths to deny our unworthiness before God, thinking that we can somehow justify ourselves. Even if we admit that we are somewhat sinful, we still tend to think that God owes us something. In that condition, as we stand before the true high priest Jesus Christ, we are pronounced unclean. It is not until we stand before him in complete poverty of spirit, knowing we have nothing to offer Him, admitting that we are completely sinful saying, “you have every right to pour your wrath upon me, but I plead the merits of your sacrifice on the cross,” does Christ say to us, “you are clean.”

Though we have nothing to offer
We must go to the High Priest
To present our empty coffer
With self-righteousness deceased

With hearts as black as dross
Filled with the obscene
All paid for on the cross
He’ll there pronounce us clean

How Many Scripture References Can You Find?

How many Scripture References can you find_Charles Spurgeon once said of John Bunyon “prick John Bunyan…he will bleed Bible.” I am currently reading through Pilgrims Progress for my umpteenth time, and, as always, I am amazed at how many nods to verses of scripture can be found on every page. So with that in mind here is the opening paragraph from when Christian meets Faithful. How many bible verses can you find alluded to in this passage?

“As Christian went on his way, he came to a hill which was cast up on purpose that pilgrims might see before them. Up Christian went; and looking forward, he saw Faithful before him upon his journey. Then said Christian aloud, “Ho, ho! So-ho! stay, and I will be your companion.” At that Faithful looked behind him, and Christian cried again, “Stay, stay, till I come up to you.” But Faithful answered, “No, I am fleeing for my life, and the avenger of blood is behind me.” At this Christian was somewhat moved; and putting forth all his strength, he quickly got up with Faithful, and outran him: so the last was first. Then did Christian boastfully smile, because he had gotten in front of his brother; but, not taking good heed to his feet, he suddenly stumbled and fell, and could not rise again until Faithful came up to help him.”

How to Resist the Devil

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

Satan always seeks to your usurp our territory. By yielding in one temptation we let the devil into our trench and give him a fair advantage to do us more mischief. The angry man, while he is raging and raving, thinks he will only say so much, but alas while his fury and wrath are rallying, the devil finding the door open, enters and hurries him farther than he ever dreamt of.

The best way to never give him a foothold. Never venture near the door where sin dwells, lest you are dragged in. If you do not wish to be burned, don’t walk upon the coals of temptation. Do not think that you can yield to Satan in one thing and make believe that you will not yield in another. You cannot sit with drunkards and pretend you will not become one. You cannot lend your eyes to unchaste object and yet be chaste. These are strong delusions. If a man does not have the power to resist the devil in small temptations, what ground does he have that he can in great ones?

When a captain directs his soldiers to fight in their ranks, he bid them to stand. Military discipline allows no one to stir from their place without special warrant. Every Christian needs to stand where God has placed him. The devil’s method is first to route and then ruin. We must stay with our own duty and contentiously attend to it so God will bring us safely to our journey’s end.

Paul charged Timothy to give himself wholly to the discharge of his duty. The power of godliness lies in this. It is a contradiction to profess to know God but in your works to deny him. This can never be reconciled. He that is not a Christian in his shop is not a Christian in his closet, and is a hypocrite at church. Wound religion in one part and it is felt in every part. Stand firm!

William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour

From Voices from the Past, Edited by Richard Rushing

What Does it Mean to be Spiritually-Minded?

This morning I had the privilege of preaching at Bethel Grace Baptist Church. The title of the sermon was “Looking on Things Unseen.” The focus of the message was on the importance of being spiritually minded.

The sermon has four main parts.

Why This Sermon? – It is here that I tell a little about a recent experience and why I believe this sermon was needed.

What Does it Mean to be Spiritually-Minded? – Here we look at the topic scripturally and lay out a few definitions and thoughts about the topic.

Are We Spiritually-Minded? This is the self-examination. We put ourselves to four tests to see if we are truly looking on things unseen.

Final Instructions – This is the shortest of the sections, and we quickly cover a list of 10 things we need to remember to be spiritually-minded.

You can download the sermon here, or you can listen to the audio through the Youtube video below.

 

 

Seek the Lord and His Strength

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! -Psa 105_4

Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His presence continually! – Psalm 105:4

Lord, Your word gives me this invitation, so I come. I came yesterday, and You provided the strength I needed, so here I am again, seeking You.

I know Your strength is the result of Your presence, so I seek that first and foremost. You are the One I want. If I could have Your power without having You, I would instead remain weak with You, but I know Your presence and strength cannot be separated.

I seek Your presence, not in this moment only, but through the entirety of my day. If at any moment I begin to feel independent of You, remind me of my need. You are my all in all, Jesus. You are my everything.

Be with me through this day, and let Your strength be seen in all that I need to face. For I know, in that way, all that needs to be accomplished will be accomplished. In that way, may I glorify You and enjoy You forever.

He Stands Between the Mighty and the Weak

He stands between the mighty and the weak!

O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. – 2 Chronicles 14:11

I am weak, oh Lord, and you are mighty. Today, I have been brought low, and in my weakness, I must face the day. The work and responsibilities ahead of me seem daunting. In light of my limited strength, they are mighty, yet You stand between the mighty and the weak. You are my strength.

I know this because the most significant contrast between might and strength that I have experienced was when I stood before You in my sinfulness. The Omnipotent One at enmity against His defiant and foolish creature. The Lord of all of heaven against mere dust.

First, You devastated my defiance by showing me my sinfulness. Then you let me lay prostrate in the mire so that I could see what I rightly deserved from Your hand. In Your justice, your bow was bent, arrows waiting, and I had no defense. Yet even there, You stood between the mighty and the weak by sending Your Son.

Jesus stepped in, and You took the arrows of Your wrath, directed them at Him and without mercy, let them fly. He willingly, without a word took the full brunt of what I deserved; satisfying Your righteousness and justice. With your quiver empty and your bow at rest, You gathered me up and called me Your own. Oh, what manner of love it is that we should be called sons and daughters of God.

Now, as I go out in my weakness to face the full strength of this day, I know all will be well. In my deficiency, You will be my abundance, and the mighty will fall. When the day comes that You allow the mighty to overtake me, it will be because you will be delivering me in the most profound way yet. You will be setting me free from this fallen world to live with You for all eternity.