Forgiven and Forgiving, Loving Little and Much

Jesus says: “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven- for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”  –ESV Luke 7:47

What is your estimation of yourself? I’m not speaking in terms of estimating your financial worth or estimating your value to others in this world. What is your estimation of yourself before God? Do you consider yourself “pretty good” or “a decent person” or “righteous compared with others”? Or are you sinful? Are you one who has been greatly forgiven?

We must remember that the Bible teaches us that all fall short of the glory of God. All of us are born and conceived in sin, and therefore we have no righteousness before God from our very conception (Psa. 51). Not only that, but we have no interest or desire for God in our sinful condition, and so we sin against God in our words, thoughts and deeds (Gen. 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Eph. 2:1-3).

We should never say that we realize that we have a few faults but nothing more. It is not just that when we fail now and then we see our faults, rather our faults reveal our true sinful condition. We are sinners not merely because we possess sinful faults, we have sinful faults because we are by nature sinners.

Our sinfulness is first a condition of how we fare before God’s holiness. Before God we do not measure up, although we might look the other way and try to measure ourselves by others (of course it will be those who are not as righteous as we are in our estimation). But the Bible tells us that our predicament is so sinful that even our best works of righteousness, our best prayers, our best goodness before God is as filthy rags worthy only of rejection before God’s holy face (Isa. 64:6).

If we are conceived in sin, and we constantly commit actual sins throughout our lives because we resist God and selfishly want to live for ourselves, and our best religious efforts are tainted by sin, and are never acceptable before God, what are we to do?

How can we ever love God and others, if we find ourselves in this sinful predicament?!

God demands perfection of all human beings (Matthew 5:48). Everyone says: “Nobody’s perfect!”

But that’s the problem. No one’s perfect and yet God demands perfection.

Good news! The righteous perfection God requires of us, He provides for us by faith alone in Jesus Christ. By faith alone, we receive Christ’s perfect righteousness to cover our sins. This is God’s gift (Eph. 2:6-10).

So there was One who was perfect: Jesus Christ the Righteous One, the Beloved Son of God.

Look to Jesus Christ who is the very righteousness of God! Jesus Christ is the full revelation of the righteousness God requires of all mankind, and Jesus Christ is the full and gracious revelation of the righteousness God provides for all who believe!

In Christ, by faith alone, we find the love of God and the forgiveness of sins.

This is why we must learn to estimate ourselves rightly before God. If we are ever to love Christ and others as we should, we need to estimate ourselves rightly. If we are ever to repent daily, in a manner consistent with our sinfulness, we need to estimate ourselves rightly before God.

As we understand the great love and mercy and forgiveness of God in Jesus Christ, so we learn how much we are forgiven of our sins in Him and for His sake, and we learn how to love.

In the passage from Luke 7 (36-50) that I quoted above, we see Jesus as the Savior of sinners, seeking and saving the lost. Jesus accepts an invitation to go to a Pharisee’s house to point out his pride and prejudice, and his dire need of a Savior from sinful self-righteousness.

A notoriously sinful woman (probably a prostitute) enters into Simon the Pharisee’s home, rushing toward the only person who can and will forgive her, and makes her humble submission to Jesus, showing her faith and love for Christ in her actions.

This sinful woman knows that her only hope is found in the mercy of Jesus Christ; she desires only to worship Him who is worthy and to be a recipient of His grace alone.

Contrastly, the Pharisee Simon, with pride and prejudice, criticizes Jesus in his mind for not being a good prophet (v. 39) because he thinks Jesus is unaware of her sinful position and actions in the world.

Simon the Pharisee is unaware of His need of the righteousness of God found in Christ alone. He compares himself with a notoriously sinful woman to puff himself up, and to find through comparison with another sinner a righteousness of his own making.

Because of this woman’s humility and right estimation of herself before a holy Christ, her “many sins” will be forgiven by Jesus because she recognized her sinfulness and came to him alone for forgiveness.

The woman is not seeking to compare herself with other sinners who may be more wicked than her. Rather, she is concerned first with her own heart before God; this is true faith and repentance in Jesus Christ!

Jesus uses this story to show that all sinners are debtors to God, and if one truly understands their condemnation under God’s holy law, that is if they have a right estimation of themselves before God, then they will be humbled and realize their great debt to God that they cannot pay back.

Simon the Pharisee understands that the woman is showing great love for her debt being forgiven, but he doesn’t understand his own debt to God as a Law-breaker- -that he too, is a debtor with a large debt.

Because of his pride and prejudice against Jesus and his teaching (and not to mention the sinful woman), Simon doesn’t feel the weight of his debt before God; nor does he understand that debts before God are only cancelled in Christ Jesus through faith alone!

It is important to note in Jesus’ story that it is not the love in action that brings the forgiveness, but it is the cancellation of the debt or the forgiveness that brings forth love and gratitude.

Jesus is not teaching that we are saved and forgiven by our love, but that our love for Christ and others shows that we have truly been forgiven!

Our love reveals and demonstrates through praise and worship of Christ, and the love of others, that we have a right estimation of ourselves before God, and that we realize we have been recipients of God’s grace and mercy- -apart from any works, or anything good that we have done.

The woman does not merit her forgiveness through her loving actions toward Jesus. Rather, she shows that she has been forgiven and because of the forgiveness she has already received by God’s grace through faith in Christ, she shows forth this forgiveness in true love.

Jesus says:

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven- for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” – v. 47.

People of God: If we daily remembered how much we have been forgiven by God for our many sins, we would be more loving toward others, more worshipful before God, more humble, more serving, more forgiving, less proud, less critical of others, less judgmental.

We would consider others more significant than ourselves, and we would experience deeper repentance before God. Do you find yourself growing in your understanding of just how much you have been forgiven? Do you find yourself seeing Christ as more lovely and beautiful as a Savior as you grow in understanding the depths of your sinful heart?

The Christian life is not about becoming more like Simon the Pharisee: full of self-righteousness and self-importance.

Rather, the Christian life is about growing in our understanding of the sovereign and amazing grace of God that saved a wretch like me, and that helps us to realize that before God we have all been worse than sinful prostitutes in our words, thoughts and evil deeds!

And yet God has grace and mercy upon us in Jesus Christ!!

It is important to ask yourself if you are more like Simon than the sinful woman here in this passage.

Do you separate yourself from sinners (in the wrong way) because you believe you are more righteous, not understanding the forgiveness that you have received from God? Do you engage in constant comparison of yourself with others? Are you always needing to prove your righteousness before others?

Or do you worship and serve Christ like the sinful woman, and being humble like Jesus, do you extend a hand of forgiveness to even the most wretched sinner whose sins are many?

Jesus does not say: “For he who has loved little, has only received little forgiveness.” He says: “For he who is forgiven little, loves little,” implying that we must have a right estimation of ourselves before God and understand our great debt, realizing the wickedness of our own sins before we truly show forth genuine Christian charity in our lives for God and our neighbor.

The Pharisee in his own presumptuous self-righteousness considered before God that he only needed forgiveness for a few sins in his estimation, and for that reason his love for God was so slight in demonstration and action. In fact, I would say that the Pharisee’s best prayers, righteous works in his own strength and flesh were abhorrent, and as filthy rags before God’s holy face!

What is your estimate of your own sins?

Do you truly realize how desperately wicked your sinful heart is before God (cf. Jeremiah 17:9-10)? Do you consider yourself to be a “pretty good person” and not comparatively as bad as others?


Come to Jesus; he will give you rest and relieve you from your slavery to sin! If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed! (John 8:32).

And you who are forgiven much will love much!

Love in Christ,

Pastor Charles

“Redeeming the Time”- Time and Wisdom- Part 2

We learned in part one of the vital importance of Christians seeking God for wisdom on our use of time (see: Here for first part).

Ephesians 5:15-17 teaches us:

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.“- ESV

As Christians, we are called to see every moment of time as a new opportunity to serve and glorify God in our life, because God has shown His loving grace and mercy to us in Jesus Christ.

In Christ, we have a new and living hope in Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead (1 Peter1 :4ff). We have wisdom in Christ Jesus, and we can be confident that because He will never leave us nor forsake us, He will help us to redeem our time for God’s glory.

Christ gave up every moment of time that He was given to live and die for God’s beloved children. Christ redeemed His time where we had constantly failed. Only Christ has lived in time perfectly, loving God and neighbor as Himself, fully glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.

As new creations in Christ, we can seek to do just the same with the grace He has granted to us by the Spirit. The Spirit creates; the Spirit re-creates, renews, and gives new hope and opportunities.

Seeking to understand how we spend our time is getting wisdom:

ESV Ephesians 5:15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise…

How are we to “walk”? Ephesians 4:1: “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received…”

This is to walk wisely with regard to our time in this world.

We are to do this “carefully” (5:15): Peter O’ Brien writes: “The adverb rendered ‘carefully’ signifies something done accurately, precisely, or after close attention has been given.” (O Brien, PNTC, Letter to the Ephesians, 380).

If we do not concern ourselves with our time, then we are fools.

From Screwtape to Wormwood: “In modern Christian writings, though I see much (indeed more than I like) about Mammon, I see few of the old warnings about Worldly Vanities, the Choice of Friends, and the Value of Time. All that, your patient would probably classify as ‘Puritanism’—and may I remark in passing that the value we have given to that word is one of the really solid triumphs of the last hundred years?” (Screwtape Letters, pgs. 50-51).

Do you understand this? Fools do not think about their use of time; fools waste their time.

So how do we get this wisdom? One way is to understand how we waste time, then to consider how God teaches us to redeem it.

Time Wasted

God is to be served using our time wisely, but we can so easily waste time!

How do we waste time? What are our “time robbers”?

The Notorious BIG Time-Robbers of History

  • Sloth and idleness
  • Excess of sleep
  • Inordinate adorning the body with clothes and health
  • Possessions and entertainment
  • Needless parties and feastings and gluttony
  • Idle talk; “chatting”
  • Bad company; “vain and sinful company”
  • Excessive worry about earthly cares and business
  • Ungoverned sinful thought-life
  • The “Master-Robber”: An unsanctified, ungodly heart!

Why is this THE master? The BIG ROBBER?!

We must remember that wasting time, acting foolishly in relation to our time reveals deeper problems of our heart.

Remember that behavior is merely the fruit; the heart is the actual root.

Too busy too pray; too busy to take time away to rest; to busy to meditate on the LORD?

Something deeper is wrong.

What you’re spending your time doing may be idolatrous –and probably is- -you are most likely doing it more for yourself than for God and others.

If you find yourself filled with anger,anxiety, worry, busy-ness, exhaustion, bitterness, envy, and self-pity- -these are produced by the flesh and by folly. These are not results or fruits of time well-spent.

Wasted time will produce the works of the flesh; we are seeking and never finding what we’re truly looking for and need in Jesus alone.

As Richard Baxter in his Christian Directory wisely warned parents (and all in positions of authority) about redeeming the time for ourselves, and seeking by God’s grace to teach our children and others under our care how to redeem their time; he wrote:

“Time must be redeemed from smaller duties, which in their season must be done, as being no duties, when they hinder greater duty which should then take place…

…It is a duty in its time and place to show respect to neighbors and superiors, and to those about us, and to look to our family affairs; but not when we should be at prayer, to God, or when a minister should be preaching, or at his necessary studies! Private prayer and meditation, and visiting the sick, are duties; but not when we should be at worship, or about any greater duty which they hinder” (Part 1, Chapter V).

Baxter is teaching us to remember wisely to make the distinction between what is important and what is urgent. Every morning we have much urgency: a busy schedule, emails to answer, calls to make, places to go, etc. But what is most important? How do you make the distinction prayerfully between the important (seeking God, prayer, bible reading and meditation, and service for others), in the midst of urgency?

If you haven’t made the distinction, then perhaps you are already exhausted, and your life feels very meaningless at times, even as a Christian.

The first step is realizing that there is a difference between the important of seeking and knowing Christ Jesus in the midst of a busy world, and knowing the urgent that can probably wait!

In other words, if we are not making time to worship God; to seek him in prayer and meditation each day; or whatever spiritual duty we must have, because we are busy and overly scheduled in other activities, then we are ultimately wasting time!

Your busy-ness- -your exhaustion is not from Christ! Christ promises rest for the weary; he encourages you to come to him and he will give you rest.

I have heard a wise man tell me, and I will try not to forget it:

“God could not and would not give you more in a day than you could do; if you do have more than you can do, then God could not nor would not have given to you.”

Others may have given it to you; you may have given it to you; but God has not given it to you.

In Jesus we find rest from all the other things we so desperately and foolishly pursue.

Like Martha, there is one thing that is needed or truly necessary for you to do.

ESV Luke 10:40-41: But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things…

Prayerfully ask each day: “What is the one thing needed, O Father? Grant me the wisdom to discern things that I don’t really have to accomplish; help me to serve you wholeheartedly in all I do while resting in Jesus Christ.”

Lest you be driven by something or some desire that is greater than your desire and love for God.

God will grant you wisdom to know the difference between what he has given to you and what you and others have given to you that will overwhelm and exhaust you (James 1:5ff).

Modern Time Robbers:

Biggest time wasters according to website ‘Productivity 501’:

Surfing the web. Maybe that doesn’t count, though, since most folks actually do know they’re wasting time. Biggest time waster without knowing it is being chatty. For real. Chattiness is a total time sink! (be wise and careful my Facebookers friends! :-))

Top ways to waste time (not necessarily sins, but unwise and can be huge time-wasters): BIG 5 [TV,TEXTING, GAMES, INTERNET, and OVERSLEEPING].

Watching Television; texting; video games; internet; oversleeping; Not having specific plans for a day (organization- “Teachers without daily plans will not teach” is what I was told); procrastination; worry; being busy but not accomplishing anything (no agenda, etc); Not learning from mistakes.

Read more: http://www.productivity501.com/interview-biggest-time-waster/257/#ixzz0pc3Zmilx

One of the big problems that has not been taught to young people today is a good use of time, and all who are parents, teachers, and examples, need to consider this. Have we taught those in our care to ask these questions:

“How do I manage my time? How should I think about my time?”

Since I was young, I have been haunted by the song “The Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin.

It has always made me think about time, but worry about it as well. The song is an important reminder of how we live our lives will most likely be our heritage, our legacy left to our children:

Are we too busy with our time to invest it as we should in the proper relationships with younger people?

“My child arrived just the other day.
He came to the world in the usual way.
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while I was away.
He was talking before I knew it, and as he grew
He said, “I’m going to be like you, Dad.
You know I’m going to be like you.”

My son turned ten just the other day.
He said, “Thanks for the ball, now come on let’s play.
Can you teach me to throw?” I said, “Not today,
I’ve got a lot to do.” He said, “That’s OK.”
And he walked away and he smiled and he said
“You know I’m going to be like you, Dad,
You know I’m going to be like you.”

The final verse says:
I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, “I’d like to see you, if you don’t mind.”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I could find the time.
You see, my new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu,
But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad.
It’s been real nice talking to you.”
And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me,
He’d grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.

Did I show my children the importance of their time?

Did I pray for them and others in my congregation and family to know the importance of being wise with their time?

Did I keep show them the importance of wisdom with my time in both work and my rest?

Did I make a distinction between the urgent and the important?

“You know I’m going to be like you, Dad, You know I’m going to be like you.”

God wants us to live with an urgency regarding out time; we must make the most use of it by his grace.

How do we “redeem” exagorazo the time? How do we make the most use of the time?

The Apostle Peter says “The end is at hand”. Same sense here:

Live as if it is your last day; it may just be!

ESV 1 Peter 4:7-11: The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

ESV 1 Corinthians 7:29-31: This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

One translation of “make the most use of the time” (Eph. 5:16): “…Buying up the present opportunity.”

ESV Colossians 4:5 Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.

“Buying time”; we speak sometimes with those trying to get some more time; we say: “He or she’s just buying time” (this is the gist here and in Daniel 2:8).

The idea on “buying time” is based on the fact that we know we live on “borrowed time” as we also popularly say.

We use the term “buying time” to say that we would like to have more time to make decisions, respond, etc. (Incidentally, we also use the term “killing time” which means to waste it!).

“Buying time” has to do with using the time that God has given us- -and using it wisely.

Wisely using our time is pleasing to the LORD (Eph. 5:10- “…And  try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord”).

Let me say it this way: Jesus has bought us time. God’s grace has bought us or given us the time we call our life.

We can use it for Him and others, or we can waste it on ourselves.

“Buying time” means as ESV: “making the best use of time” or taking advantage of the time we have.

But how?

  • Know God’s “dream” and goal for your life: Christ-likeness. Don’t waste the time he has graciously given you.
  • Know that God has called you to serve him faithfully. Don’t waste the time he has graciously given you.
  • Know the brevity of your existence and yet the great legacy you can leave behind (mediate on Psalm 90).
  • Know your end and destination.

ESV 2 Corinthians 5:6-10: So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Acts 17:26-31: And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’;1 as even some of your own poets have said, “‘ For we are indeed his offspring.’2 29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

We will all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ

Heaven or hell?

Know the comfort that will come from being wise about your time, especially in your time of death.

Leave a legacy of Christ-centered love and service to your family and friends.

Prayer and meditation on God’s Word: What keeps you from it? What distracts you? UNPLUG to the best of your ability.

Seek to learn the difference between the needed and the “urgent”: Do not become a slave to the urgent (You’ve heard of the “tyranny of the urgent”?). The urgent is usually a disguised demon who is yelling 🙂 in your ear that you “MUST” do this or that (but it is because it means too much to you).

The Holy Spirit calls you near, to share with you the gifts and grace of God deep within the quietness of your soul.

We cannot be fully delivered from the busy-ness of our time; but we can be delivered from the awesome tiredness of our souls by resting in Christ!

I think Paul would tell moderns to UNPLUG if done in excess. Quit your texting; turn off your cell phone and your PC now and then; try just sitting quietly with bible open before God,seeking God for wisdom, and allowing the peace that passes all understanding to come to you by God’s Spirit.

We live at the end of all things; let us live like Christ will return today.

The “No-Nonsense-ness” of Solomon:

He “had it all”- -wisdom and riches and long life- -and it tempted him to be foolish. He realized that all of what we have is but additions to our burden of the brevity of life.

Oh, that we might get to the “No-nonsense” of Solomon and see clearly what truly matters:

ESV Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13-14: Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them” ….The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Not for our sake, but for the sake of our Lord.

We have been redeemed from this present age to live for Christ.

He has redeemed us by His blood in order that we might make known the coming salvation and judgment of the world.

We are not our own; our time is not our own; time is not on our side; Jesus is!!

Fear of God should motivate us; but what should really motivate us is the love of Jesus Christ!

We should remember that our time is given to us NOT to live for ourselves, but ultimately by love, we are to live for Christ and others.

How can we best please him?

ESV 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Richard Baxter wrote: “However it be now, I can tell you, at death, it will be an unspeakable comfort, to look back on a well-spent life; and to be able to say in humble sincerity, My time was not cast away on worldliness, ambition, idleness, or fleshly vanities or pleasures; but spent in the sincere and laborious service of my God, and making my calling and election sure, and doing all the good to men’s souls and bodies that I could do in the world; it was entirely devoted to God and his church, and the good of others and my soul” (Part I. Chapter V).

What if you knew you only had one year to live?

How would you live?

What if you knew you only had one week to live?

How would you live?

What if you knew you only had one day to live?

How would you live?

What if within the next hour you were dead?

How would you live?

How would you live?

The end is at hand…Christ stands ready to receive, forgive; he will return.

He has redeemed you; now go in His grace and redeem the time you have left.

The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of Heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for—the fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Charles

“Are You Humble?”- Drawing Near to God

Wisdom on humility from Thomas Charles and Richard Baxter.

The Bible describes humility as a character that the Holy Spirit develops as well as a response to God that is commanded (see James 4:6ff; 1 Peter 5:6-9).

Here is wisdom from two great teachers of Christ’s Church to encourage us to seek humility by God’s grace in Christ alone!

Thomas Charles

“While the truly humble looks to everyone for assistance, the spiritually proud, instead of showing the humble deportment of a disciple who wants instruction, is swift to speak, and slow to hear, as if everybody wanted his teaching. Whatever deference is paid to him, he looks upon all as his undoubted right: and those who acknowledge not his merits, he treats as weak and ignorant fools.” – Thomas Charles

Richard Baxter asks some penetrating questions to help us to discover hidden pride within our hearts.

These questions are not in order to discourage or condemn us, but to show us of our great need of Jesus as a Great Savior. Let us worship God that He has given to us our Lord Jesus who is committed to us and will never leave us nor forsake us. When we confess our sins, Jesus gently and tenderly embraces us and forgive us of all of our unrighteousness. Won’t you go to him?

The Psalmist wrote that it is good to draw near to God (Psalm 73:28). You and I will only draw near to God as we understand our pride, confess it, and move toward God in humility. What kind of sacrifice does God require: Humility, and contrite, dependent hearts.

Read carefully:

Richard Baxter:

“Are you a person of worth in your own eyes, and very sensitive about your esteem with others?

Are you one that values much the applause of the people, and feels your heart tickled with delight when you hear of your great esteem among others, and are you much dejected when you hear men slight you?

Do you love those best who most highly honor you, and does your heart bear a grudge at those that you think undervalue you, and entertain mean thoughts of you, though they be otherwise people of godliness and honesty?

Are you one who always must be right?

Are you ready to quarrel with every person that lets fall a word in derogation of your honor; one who has the presumption to disagree with you?

Are your passions kindled, if you or your words are criticized?

Are you one that honors the godly that are rich, and think of yourself highly, if they value or honor you, but look down at those who are the godly poor, and find yourself ashamed to be their companion?

Are you one that cannot serve God in a low, as a well as a high place, and think yourself fit for offices and honors, and loves God’s service best when you get preferment?

Are you unacquainted with the deceitfulness and wickedness of your own heart, or know yourself to be vile only by reading or by hearsay, and not by experience and feeling of your vileness?

Are you ready to defend yourself, and maintain your innocency, than to accuse yourself, and confess your faults to God and man?

Can you hardly bear a reproof, correction or criticism from others?

Are you readier in your discourse and conversation to teach rather than to learn,–to dictate to others than to hearken to their instructions?

Are you bold and confident of your own opinions, and not suspicious of the weakness of your understanding?

Is your spirit more disposed to command and govern, than to obey and be ruled by others?

Are you ready to censure the doctrines of teachers, the actions of your rulers, and the character of your brethren, and to think, that if you were a judge, you would be more just, or if you were a minister, you would be more faithful in doctrine, and more faithful in overseeing, or if you had had the management of other men’s business, you would have carried it more wisely and honestly?

If these symptoms be undeniably in your heart, beyond doubt you are a proud person; pride has seized your heart, which is the principal fort of your person.

There is too much of hell abiding in you, for you to have any acquaintance with the grace of heaven; your soul is too much like the Devil, for you to have any familiarity with God.” – “Saints Everlasting Rest”

What do you do when you see this diabolical pride within you (James 3:14ff)?

When you recognize this, call out for grace from God through the Lord Jesus Christ:

“…[God] gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” – James 4:6-10

What else should you do? Let Christ’s mind rule you; look to the Incarnation of Jesus Christ; Christ laid aside His glory to consider you and your salvation more significant that his glory so that he might submit humbly to death for you, even death on a hideous cross (Phil. 2:5-8):

Do you consider others more important than yourself?

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”- Philippians 2:1-4

Praise to God that he gives more grace when in humility we can recognize this devilish pride in our hearts and cry out to him in helplessness to the Lord Jesus Christ who will come to our aid, commune with us, and teach us the way of humility because He loves us.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Charles

The Apostle Paul’s Prayer of Power- Ephesians 1:15-23

The Apostle Paul’s Prayer of Power

The prayers of the Apostle Paul teach us a lot of truth about who we are in Jesus Christ.  After Paul speaks in Ephesians chapter 1, verses 3-14 concerning the great Trinitarian work of God in our salvation, he begins to pray specifically for the Ephesian Christians that their knowledge of Christ might be a powerful life-changing knowledge of God’s truth.

Pastor John Owen once said that he desired above all things not merely to know the truth of God’s Word, but truly to know the power of the truth of God’s Word. This should be the same for all of Christ’s people.

In Ephesians 1, Paul begins his prayers based upon the truth of how God has called a people to himself and the deep and precious truth of how he saved us all.  In fact, Paul ends his theological praise in verses 3-14 with the profound truth that believers are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.  We have a portion of the Spirit now and know Christ, but we await our full inheritance, so in the meantime, Paul prays for the Christians so that they will know Christ — better!  That is, he prays that Christians may know not merely the truth of Christ, but the power of this truth in their lives.

Ephesians 1:13-23 13 In [Christ] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Notice a few important things about Paul’s prayer here in Ephesians 1.

First of all, he “never ceases to give thanks and remember the congregation in his prayers”.  Paul put into practice what he preached.  He prayed unceasingly for others!  Oftentimes we find only the time to pray for ourselves (if we find the time to pray at all).  Secondly, he prays specifically for the Christians to grow in particular ways.  He doesn’t merely say: “Lord, bless the Ephesians”, or “Lord, be with the Ephesians”, or other famous generic prayers for others.

Rather, the Apostle Paul prays specifically that the same Father of glory who has graciously saved them will give the believers a spirit of wisdom and revelation in their knowledge of Christ (v. 17).  That is, Paul wants the Christians to know how God saved them (vv. 3-14), but also how God is saving them, or presently and powerfully making them more like Christ as he gives to them all they need for life and godliness.

Thirdly, Paul wants the Christians to know their hope to which he has called them (v. 18a), the immeasurable greatness of his resurrection power in us who believe (vv. 19-20), and the power of Christ in their lives as the Head of the Body, the Church for whom he died (vv. 20-22).  There is a good weakness and a bad weakness.  A good weakness is the kind Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 12, where through this weakness that God has brought into our lives, we know we can still say “though I am weak, yet I am strong”.  In this good weakness, we know that it is through our weakness that God’s strength is perfected.

However, the bad(sinful) weakness that we have as Christians is to fail to know who we are in Christ.  That is, it is weakness of a lack of true understanding of the power we have because of the Spirit of God who indwells us.  The Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, dwells within us! (vv. 19-20).  Christ has been raised above all authority defeating all of our our enemies sin, hell, and the Devil!  When Christ sat down at God’s right hand he sent to us His Spirit to be with us and to transform us all.

Paul wants the Ephesian Christians and Christians today, to know the immeasurable greatness of God’s power to us who believe (v. 19).  Because of the victory of Christ over sin, hell and the Devil in his resurrection and ascension, we have the same victory.

The power of Christ is given to us and we respond by faith and gratitude in the daily dying to sin, wrestling against the sinful tendencies that constantly want to lure us off the path in our walk with Christ, and knowing that we have the ability truly to resist and to stand firm in the victory of Christ over sin and the Devil (notice Paul’s development of this in chapters Ephesians 4-6, when he speaks of “walking in the Spirit”, “keeping in step with the Spirit”, “putting on our new man”, “resisting the Devil”, and “standing firm in the full armor of God”.

As Christians, we should pray for one another.  Additionally, we should pray specifically for each other.  Even when we do not know other’s specific prayer requests, we do know that we all struggle with “bad, sinful weakness” and so we all need truly to know the power of God’s truth in our lives.  Also, we should pray this prayer of Paul for ourselves so that we might really know the power of God’s Word, the power of what it means for us to be raised from death to life in Christ.

Our greatest enemies, sin, death and the Devil have been defeated.  In fact, Christ has led these in a triumphant procession, publicly showing to all the world that his resurrection and ascension has placed him high above all authority, power and dominion, not only in this age, but also in the age to come (vv. 21-22; cf. 4:8-10).  Because we are Christ’s people, we can be assured that we have been raised from the dead (John 5:24) and that we have a great power of resisting sin and the influences of the Devil that lead us all to death.

We are seated with Christ in a truly victorious position (Eph. 2:5-6)!  We have been seated with Christ in the heavenly places and although we do not fully see our inheritance, we have a great hope as we all await patiently and expectantly the return of our glorious Savior!

As Christians, we have so much to be thankful for!  God’s immeasurably great power should be exerted toward us who are sinners, deserving only of God’s wrath!  Yet because Jesus Christ took the powerful blows of God’s wrath because of our sin, in order to defeat death and the Devil, and to offer a satisfaction to God for our sins; because of this grace shown to us while we were yet sinners, God’s power is given as a blessing to help us, to raise us to life, and by His Holy Spirit he powerfully lives within us so that we can resist sin NOW, and gratefully and obediently live for Christ!  This truth should lead us from a “bad weakness” of falling into sinful patterns to a “good weakness” of humility, awe and reverence because our God, who is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:28), has come to dwell within us who are united to Jesus Christ!

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Charles

R. C. Sproul on Abortion

R.C. Sproul & R.C. Sproul, Jr. discuss the topic of abortion—its place in the culture, in the church, and where it has come since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. They discuss Christian ethics, what they believe the church should do about abortion, and how they feel the church can make an impact to protect unborn children. Dr. Sproul’s book, Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue is being re-released 20 years after the original edition.

R.C. Sproul Discusses the Issue of Abortion from Ligonier on Vimeo.

“Redeeming the Time”-Time and Wisdom- Part 1


There was a popular song in the 60s that boasted: “Time is on my side- -yes, it is!” (We should ask the aging singer now if this is still true). Is time really on our side?

ESV Ephesians 5:15 says (paraphrase) “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the most use of your time, or redeeming your time wisely.”

In our culture, how easy it is for us to waste time, yet we are called as the dearly loved children of God to walk wisely making sure to use your time wisely.

We live in a time where time is greatly wasted. Perhaps technology and our ability to be “everywhere” in so many places at once- -mobile networks, handheld devices, iPads, iPods, iPhones, “i-need another one!” etc.

We live in a world where time is not measured by age as much as by the next edition, the next operating system, the next generation of network, or iPod, or Play station, or whatever.

We await the “next, best thing!” The “next version”- -we long to be “upgraded” “rebooted” and “reconfigured”- -but time is ticking…

Not THE END as our goal- -but the “next best thing”.

We await the next model, next generation of iPod, next mp3 download, next television show, next computer, next movie release, next…

There is a great need to understand the rhythms of life- -and our time:

Our time is short.

We don’t have a lot of time.

We need to think about the use of our time.

We are commanded to be good stewards of our time (Re-read Ephesians 5:15-17).

But how can we rightly use wisdom about using our time wisely and in a godly manner as Christians?

This too, is part of getting discernment, and shining our lights before the dying world that is passing away (Ephesians 5:7-14).

Seeking to understand how we spend our time is getting wisdom:

ESV Ephesians 5:15 says “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise…”

From Screwtape to Wormwood: “In modern Christian writings, though I see much (indeed more than I like) about Mammon, I see few of the old warnings about Worldly Vanities, the Choice of Friends, and the Value of Time. All that, your patient would probably classify as ‘Puritanism’—and may I remark in passing that the value we have given to that word is one of the really solid triumphs of the last hundred years?” (Screwtape Letters, pgs. 50-51, my emphasis).

Do you understand this? Fools do not think about their use of time; fools waste their time.

The wise in Christ seek to use their time wisely.

Richard Baxter wrote: “Time being man’s opportunity for all those works for which he lives, and which his Creator does expect from him, and on which his endless life depends, the redeeming or well improving of it must needs be of most high importance to him; and therefore it is well made by holy Paul the great mark to distinguish the wise from fools” (Christian Directory, Part I, Chapter V).

Are you wise or foolish with your time?

We should understand:

God is the Giver and Governor of All Time

What is time?

A gift from our God.

“In the beginning, God…” God created time.

God created man to live his time for the glory of God.

Man was tempted and fell and his time was now cursed:

“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) teaches.

The Psalmist wanted to be wise.

There are a certain number of days that God has granted to each of us:

ESV Ecclesiastes 9:12 For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.

A reminder of our short lives: Psalm 90:12

ESV Psalm 90:5-6, 9-12: You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: 6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers…. For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? 12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

How long will you live?

168 days?

5,475 days? (15 years old?)

9, 125 days? (25 years old?)

14,600 days? (40 years old?)

21,900 days? (60 years old?)

25,550 days? (70 years old?)

Or more…?

That’s not really much when you think about it! Even at 70 years, you only have 70 birthdays (65 you can remember, the first two and the last two are blurred!).

70 trips around the sun; 70 New Year’s Eve celebrations (maybe 60 you remember because of age, and too much champagne!)

You would hate and regret losing $5,000 or$25,000 perishable dollars to a robber in a mask. Why then do we allow 5,0000 0r 25,000 precious imperishable days to be so easily robbed without the slightest hate or regret?!

Do you think we might have been duped?

Have we been played as the fool?

God is the Giver and Governor of All Time- -in Jesus Christ, God entered time as a man to redeem us and reconcile us to Himself so that our time would be redeemed!

Let us as Christians…

Consider each moment precious as a gift from God….

To seek to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:9-11) in the time we have been given…

…To seek to become more and more like Christ each day with the time we have…

…To consider on how, by God’s grace to do our best, and to do the greatest good we can with our gifts and abilities, knowing the time is short:

ESV Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Let us learn with our time…

…To prayerfully watch for special opportunities and/or seasons that God has granted to us:

Time with our children when they are young, and the most eager to learn about Christ…

…To cherish the time you have with aging parents…

…Cherish the time you have left with aging spouses…

…Cherish the time you have with all of your loved ones- -you don’t know when they will be called home.

Perhaps NOW is your special time for something…what is it?

Remember that if you are not a Christian, you will never redeem your time as you should with the glory of God in mind. As Christians, we are called because God has shown His loving grace and mercy to us, to see new opportunities to glorify Him with our lives.

In Christ, we have a new and living hope in Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead (1 Peter1 :4ff). We have wisdom in Christ Jesus, and we can be confident that because He will never leave us nor forsake us, He will help us to redeem our time for God’s glory.

Christ gave up every moment of time that He was given to live and die for God’s beloved children. Christ redeemed His time where we had constantly failed. Only Christ has lived in time perfectly, loving God and neighbor as Himself, fully glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.

As new creations in Christ, we can seek to do just the same with the grace He has granted to us by the Spirit. The Spirit creates; the Spirit re-creates, renews, and gives new hope and opportunities.

Won’t you start now?

Is this a special time for you right now?




To be continued…

IN Christ’s love,

Pastor Charles

John Owen’s ‘Meditations on the Glory of Christ’

John Owen was a faithful pastor and theologian who lived in the 17th century in England (1616-83).  He was a prolific writer and a master theologian of God’s grace.  His complete works are available as a sixteen volume set by Banner of Truth Trust.  The two volumes to begin with if you are interested in reading Owen (and you should be!!) are ‘Sin and Temptation’ (Vol. 6), ‘The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (Vol. 10). 

 Below is a quotation from John Owen’s excellent volume entitled ‘Meditations on the Glory of Christ’.  Owen died as this book was being printed.  As Owen believed and has taught many Christians after him:

 “A continual view of the glory of Christ will have the blessed effect of changing us more and more into the likeness of Christ.  Perhaps other ways and means have failed to make us Christ-like.  Let us put this way to the test.” 

 John Owen: “Let us now consider the love of the Son, which is full of compassion.  Although sinful creatures, we were capable of being recovered.  God chose us as a way to express his divine goodness and love.  Christ took our flesh and blood, not the nature of angels (Heb. 2:14-18).  He looked forward with great delight to the salvation of mankind which would bring such glory to God.

 His willingness and delight in taking human nature were not lessened by the knowledge of the great difficulties he would have to face.  In order to save us, he would have to continue until his soul was sorrowful to death.  But this did not deter him.  His love and mercy rose like the waters of a mighty stream, for he says: ‘Behold, I come; I delight to do your will, O my God’ (Psa. 40:7, 8).  So a body was prepared for him, to give effect to the immeasurable grace and fervent love he had for mankind.

Now when we think of the glorious love of Christ, we find there is in his divine nature the love of God the Father.  But there is more, because when he exercised his love he was human also.  The love in the two natures is quite distinct and yet comes from the one person, Christ Jesus.  It was an act of inexpressible love when he took our human nature, but it was an act of his divine nature only.  His death was only an act of his human nature.  But both were truly his acts, as we read in 1 John 3:16: ‘By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us’.”

 I would encourage you to prepare your minds continually for heavenly things by meditating seriously on the glory of the love of Christ.  This cannot be done if the mind is always full of earthly thoughts.  Do not be satisfied with general thoughts of the love of Christ but think of it in a more detailed way.”

 In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Charles


“Hear, O Israel”: The Importance of Preparing for Worship

People of God: Remember to prepare for worship prayerfully and to be ready to worship the Living God and to hear His Word as it is read and preached to you.

Pray for your ears to be opened, your heart to be ready to receive, your mind to be fresh, our worship to be full of the Holy Spirit, and my preaching and proclamation of the Gospel to be clear! Our Larger Catechism instructs us helpfully:

WLC 160  What is required of those that hear the word preached? A. It is required of those that hear the word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence,(1) preparation,(2) and prayer;(3) examine what they hear by the scriptures;(4) receive the truth with faith,(5) love,(6) meekness,(7) and readiness of mind,(8) as the word of God;(9) meditate,(10) and confer of it;(11) hide it in their hearts,(12) and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives.(13) (1)Prov. 8:34 (2)1 Pet. 2:1,2; Luke 8:18 (3)Ps. 119:18; Eph. 6:18,19 (4)Acts 17:11 (5)Heb. 4:2 (6)2 Thess. 2:10 (7)James 1:21 (8)Acts 17:11 (9)1 Thess. 2:13 (10)Luke 9:44; Heb. 2:1 (11)Luke 24:14; Deut. 6:6,7 (12)Prov. 2:1; Ps. 119:11 (13)Luke 8:15; James 1:2

Pastor Phil Ryken says very insightfully: “Most churchgoers assume that the sermon starts when the pastor opens his mouth on Sunday. However, listening to a sermon actually starts the week before. It starts when we pray for the minister, asking God to bless the time he spends studying the Bible as he prepares to preach. In addition to helping the preaching, our prayers create in us a sense of expectancy for the ministry of God’s Word. This is one of the reasons that when it comes to preaching, congregations generally get what they pray for.”

Are you remembering to pray for the worship and preaching every week? This is so very important. Let me remind you to pray for the worship and preaching as if you were the one to lead worship and to preach! What needs more preparation the hard ground or the farmer who sows the seed?  Listen to the wisdom of the great Charles Spurgeon:

“We are told men ought not to preach without preparation. Granted. But we add, men ought not to hear without preparation. Which, do you think needs the most preparation, the sower or the ground? I would have the sower come with clean hands, but I would have the ground well-plowed and harrowed, well-turned over, and the clods broken before the seed comes in. It seems to me that there is more preparation needed by the ground than by the sower, more by the hearer than by the preacher.”

I think it is extremely important to remember to prepare our hearts to listen. Remember that hearing in the Bible is not merely to hear auditory sounds, but to “listen and to be obedient”; we are to hear “from our hearts”; see Deut. 4; Psalm 78; Proverbs 2:1-7; “Hear, O Israel” is the Shema, and it means “Hear!” (imperative with the meaning of “listen and obey); our Lord often says: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” meaning that he who has received this in one’s heart and will obey (see also the Spirit’s work in Revelation 2-3: “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches”).

To hear takes due preparation of one’s hearts, not merely one’s ears. Our hearts are the soil. The soil of our hearts must be prepared and tilled like ground to prepare for seeding. The seed is the Word of God makes its way to the heart through the ear. All of us know how we can listen and hear someone and yet not truly HEAR THEM.

Remember our Lord’s teaching in Luke 8:4-15?

And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard. Then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

ESV Jeremiah 4:3 For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.

Pastor Ken Ramey in Expository Listening (Kress Press, 2010) writes that Christians can better prepare themselves to hear God’s Word read and preached each Lord’s Day if they will seek to do this each day (here are his helpful suggestions):

  • Read and meditate upon God’s Word every day.
  • Pray often throughout the week.
  • Confess your sins daily before God.
  • Reduce your media intake.
  • Plan ahead, and schedule your week around the ministry of the Word: try to be home on Saturday nights; be careful not to watch or listen to anything that might cause lingering distractions in your mind during worship; get things ready on Saturday to avoid the inevitable Sunday morning rush; get a good night’s sleep because you’ll be doing the hard work of listening; get a good breakfast that will hold you over until lunch; as you’re getting ready and traveling as a family to worship seek to sing and pray together; arrive for worship at least 10 minutes early to get everything done (even the unexpected things), and sit down ready to receive.
  • Be consistent in worship attendance.
  • Go to worship with a humble, teachable, expectant heart (it is not the preacher who is on trial before you; you are on trial before God’s word as to whether you will hear and receive what is spoken if Biblical truth.
  • Worship with all you heart: sing enthusiastically because you believe what you’re singing; follow along in Bible when read; listen attentively to prayers when prayed and respond with hearty “amen”; during the sermon follow along in the Bible; take notes).
  • Fight off distractions
  • Listen with diligent discernment so that you can determine humbly if what you heard was biblical and presented Christ and His Gospel to you and your family.

Let’s remember to pray unceasingly for one another that we will prepare ourselves better for hearing specifically, and worship in general, and that our worship services would be more excellent to God, and more helpful and transformative to us! Let us prepare our hearts for worship, and particularly for hearing the Word of God preached, and expect great things from our Great and Faithful God! (1 Thess. 5:18; Ephesians 6:18-20; 3:20-21).

Let us pray together to seek the best worship services we have ever had in the new year! Let us pray that God would send forth His Spirit upon us in such a way that we will all declare together: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the LORD!”

Here is a devotion to consider prayerfully before worship this week by Charles Spurgeon:

“These have no root.”- Luke 8:13

“My soul, examine thyself this morning by the light of this text. Thou hast received the word with joy; thy feelings have been stirred and a lively impression has been made; but, remember, that to receive the word in the ear is one thing, and to receive Jesus into thy very soul is quite another; superficial feeling is often joined to inward hardness of heart, and a lively impression of the word is not always a lasting one. In the parable, the seed in one case fell upon ground having a rocky bottom, covered over with a thin layer of earth; when the seed began to take root, its downward growth was hindered by the hard stone and therefore it spent its strength in pushing its green shoot aloft as high as it could, but having no inward moisture derived from root nourishment, it withered away. Is this my case? Have I been making a fair show in the flesh without having a corresponding inner life? Good growth takes place upwards and downwards at the same time. Am I rooted in sincere fidelity and love to Jesus? If my heart remains unsoftened and unfertilized by grace, the good seed may germinate for a season, but it must ultimately wither, for it cannot flourish on a rocky, unbroken, unsanctified heart. Let me dread a godliness as rapid in growth and as wanting in endurance as Jonah’s gourd; let me count the cost of being a follower of Jesus, above all let me feel the energy of his Holy Spirit, and then I shall possess an abiding and enduring seed in my soul. If my mind remains as obdurate as it was by nature, the sun of trial will scorch, and my hard heart will help to cast the heat the more terribly upon the ill-covered seed, and my religion will soon die, and my despair will be terrible; therefore, O heavenly Sower, plough me first, and then cast the truth into me, and let me yield thee a bounteous harvest.”

If you would like a book on how to listen better to sermons, I will provide you one upon request at no charge. The book is entitled “Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word” by Ken Ramey (Highly recommended by John MacArthur Joel Beeke, and Jay Adams).

I have come to learn and to believe that if the preacher prepares himself in heart and soul before he prepares his sermon, the sermon will prepare itself; the sermon will flow forth from the heart that is devoted to Jesus by His Spirit. In the same way, if the listener to the sermon prepares himself in heart and soul before he comes to worship, the worship will prepare itself; the worship and hearing of the person will flow forth from the heart that is devoted to Jesus by His Spirit.

Love you!

In Christ,

Pastor Charles