Tag Archive | Poverty

Are You Ready?

Colorful 2017 sticker sign

Are You Ready?

by J. C. Ryle

“Be also ready.” Matthew 24:44

Reader, I ask you a plain question at the beginning of a New Year. Are you ready? It is a solemn thing to part company with the old year. It is a still more solemn thing to begin a new one. It is like entering a dark passage. We know not what the may meet before the end. All before us is uncertain. We know not what a day may bring forth, much less what may happen in a year. Reader, are you ready? Are you ready for sickness? You cannot expect to be always well. You have a body fearfully and wonderfully made. It is awful to think how many diseases may assail it. “Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long!” Pain and weakness are a hard trial. They can bow down the strong man, and make him like a child. They can weary the temper and exhaust the patience, and make men cry in the morning, “Would God it were evening, and in the evening, would God it were morning.” All this may come to pass this very year. Your reason may be shattered. Your senses may be weakened. Your nerves may be unstrung. The very grasshopper may become a burden. Reader, if sickness comes upon you, are you ready? “Man,” says the Scripture, “is born to sorrow.” This witness is true. Your property may be taken from you. Your riches may make themselves wings and flee away. Your friends may fail you. Your children may disappoint you. Your servants may deceive you. Your character may be assailed. Your conduct may be misrepresented. Troubles, annoyances, vexations, anxieties, may surround you on every side like a host of armed men. Wave upon wave may burst over your head. You may feel worn, and worried, and crushed to the dust. Reader, if affliction comes upon you, are you ready?

Are you ready for bereavements? No doubt there are those in the world whom you love. There are those whose names are engraved on your heart, and round whom your affections are entwined. There are those who are the light of your eyes, and the very sunshine of your existence. But they are all mortal. Any one of them may die this year. Before the daisies blossom again, any one of them may be lying in the tomb. Your Rachel may be buried. Your Joseph may betaken from you. Your dearest idol may be broken. Bitter tears and deep mourning may be your portion. Before December you may feel terribly alone. Reader, if bereavement comes upon you, are you ready?

Are you ready for death? It must come some day. It may come this year. You cannot live always. This very year may be your last. You have no freehold in this world. You have not so much as a lease. You are nothing better than a tenant at God’s will. Your last sickness may come upon you and give you notice to exit. The doctor may visit you and exhaust his skill over your case. Your friends map sit by your bed-side, and look graver and graver every day. You may feel you own strength gradually wasting, and find something saying within, “I shall not come down from this bed, but I shall die.” You may see the world slipping from beneath your feet, and all your schemes and plans suddenly stopped short. You may feel yourself drawing near to the coffin, and the grave, and the worm, and an unseen world, and eternity, and God. Reader, if death should come upon you, are you ready?

Are you ready for the second coming of Christ? He will come again to this world one day. As surely as He came the first time, 1800 years ago, so surely will He come the second time. He will come to reward all His saints who have believed in Him and confessed Him on earth. He will come; to judge all His enemies, the careless, the ungodly, the impenitent, and the unbelieving. He will come very suddenly, at an hour when no man thinks, as a thief in the night. He will come in terrible majesty, in the glory of His, Father, with the holy angels. A flaming fire shall burn before Him. The dead shall be raised. The judgment shall be set. The books shall be opened. Some shall be exalted into heaven. Many, very many, shall be cast down to hell. The time for repentance shall be past. Many shall cry, “Lord, Lord, open to us,” but find the door of mercy shut forever. After this there will be no change. Reader, if Christ should come the second time this year, are you ready? Oh! reader, these are solemn questions. They ought to make you examine yourself. They ought to make you think. It would be a terrible thing to be taken by surprise. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

But shall I leave you here? I will not do so. Shall I raise searchings of heart, and not set before you the way of life? I will not do so. Hear me for a few moments, while I try to show you THE MAN THAT IS READY. He that is ready has a ready Savior. He has Jesus ever ready to help him. He lives the life of faith in the Son of God. He has found out his own sinfulness, and fled to Christ for peace. He has committed his soul, and all its concerns, to Christ’s keeping. If he has bitter cups of affliction to drink, he knows they are mixed by the hand that was nailed to the cross for his sins. If he is called to die, he knows that the grave is the place where the Lord lay. If those whom he loves are taken away, he remembers that Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother, and a husband who never dies. If the Lord should come again, he knows that he has nothing to fear. The Judge of all will be that very Jesus who has washed his sins away. Happy is that man who can say with Hezekiah, “The Lord is ready to save me!” (Isaiah xxxviii. 20.)

He that is ready has a ready heart. He has been born again, and renewed in the spirit of his mind. The Holy Spirit has shown him the true value of all here below, and taught him to set his affections on things above. The Holy Spirit has shown him his own deserts, and made him feel that he ought to be thankful for everything, and satisfied with any condition. If affliction comes upon him, his heart whispers, “there must be a needs-be. I deserve correction. It is meant to teach me some useful lesson.” If bereavement comes upon him, his heart reminds him that the Lord gave and the Lord must take away, whenever he sees fit. If death draws near, his heart says, “My times are in your hand; do as you will, when you will, and where you will.” If the Lord should come, his heart would cry, “This is the day I have long prayed for- the kingdom of God is come at last.” Blessed is he who has a ready heart!

He who is ready, has a home ready for him in heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ has told him that He is gone “to prepare a place” for him. A house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, awaits him. He is not yet come to his full inheritance. His best things are yet to come. He can bear sickness, for yet a little time he shall have a glorious body. He can bear losses and crosses, for his choicest treasures are far beyond the reach of harm. He can bear disappointments, for the springs of his greatest happiness can never be made dry. He can think calmly of death. It will open a door for him from the lower house to the upper chamber, even the presence of the King. He is immortal until his work is done. He can look forward to the coming of the Lord without alarm. He knows that they who are ready will enter in with Him to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Happy is that man whose lodging is prepared for him in the kingdom of Christ! Reader, do you know anything of the things I have just spoken of? Do you know anything of a ready Savior, a ready heart, and a ready home in heaven? Examine yourself honestly. How does the matter stand? Oh! be merciful to your own soul. Have compassion on that immortal part of you. Do not neglect its interests for the sake of mere worldly objects. Business, pleasure, money, politics, will soon be done with forever. Do not refuse to consider the question I ask you. ARE YOU READY? ARE YOU READY?

Reader, if you are not ready, I beseech you to make ready without delay. I tell you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that all things are ready on God’s part for your salvation. The Father is ready to receive you. The Lord Jesus is ready to wash your sins away. The Spirit is ready to renew and sanctify you. Angels are ready to rejoice over you. Saints are ready to hold out the right hand to you. Oh! why not make ready this very year? Reader, if you have reason to hope you are ready, I advise you to make sure. Walk more closely with God. Get nearer to Christ. Seek to exchange hope for assurance. Seek to feel the witness of the Spirit more clearly and distinctly every year. Lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily besets you. Press towards the mark more earnestly. Fight a better fight, and war a better warfare every year you live. Pray more. Read more. Mortify self more. Love the brethren more. Oh! that you may endeavor so to grow in grace every year, that your last things may be far more than your first, and the end of your Christian course be better than the beginning.

Source: http://www.gracegems.org/23/Ryle_ready.htm

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As They Are Used For His Honour, They Are Good

The Rev. Stephen Charnock (Works, Vol. 1, p. 34):

Teodoe Axentowicz Pod brzemieniem nieszczęściaAdversity cannot be called absolutely an evil, as prosperity cannot be called absolutely a good. They are rather indifferent things, because they may be used either for the honour or dishonour of God. As they are used for his honour, they are good, and as used for his dishonour, they are evil. The only absolutely bad thing in the world is sin, which cannot be, in its own nature, but a dishonour to God. The only absolutely good thing in the world is holiness, and a likeness to God, which cannot be, in its own nature, but for his glory. As for all other things, I know no true satisfaction can be in them, but as they are subservient to God’s honour, and give us an advantage for imitating some one or other of his perfections. Crosses in the Scripture are not excluded from those things we have a right to by Christ, when they may conduce to our good. 1 Cor. 3.22, ‘ Life and death, things present, and things to come, are yours, and you are Christ’s.’ Since the revelation of the gospel, I do not remember that any such complaint against the providence of God fell from any holy man in the New Testament; for our Saviour had given them another prospect of those things. The holy men in the Old Testament comforted themselves against this objection by the end of the wicked which should happen, and the rod cease, Ps. 73. In the New Testament we are more comforted by the certain operation of crosses to our good and spiritual advantage, Rom. 8. Our Saviour did not promise wealth and honour to his followers, nor did he think it worth his pains of coming and dying, to bestow such gifts upon his children. He made heaven their happiness, and the earth their hell; the cross was their badge here, and the crown their reward hereafter; they seemed not to be a purchase congruous to so great a price of blood. Was God’s providence to Christ the more to be questioned because he was poor? Had he the less love to him becauso he was ‘ a man of sorrows,’ even while he was a God of glory? Such groundless conceits should never enter into Christians, who can never seriously take up Christ’s yoke without a proviso of afflictions, who can never be God’s sons without expecting his corrections.

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/90789-Adversity-amp-Prosperity-Neither-Absolute-Good-or-Evil, Comment #1

Image: Theodor Axentowicz: “Under the burden of adversity”

How To Be Full

C.H. Spurgeon, Morning & Evening, February 10:

“I know how to abound.”
Philippians 4:12

Job-restored-to-prosperityThere are many who know “how to be abased” who have not learned “how to abound.” When they are set upon the top of a pinnacle their heads grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall. The Christian far oftener disgraces his profession in prosperity than in adversity. It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial to the Christian than the refining pot of prosperity. Oh, what leanness of soul and neglect of spiritual things have been brought on through the very mercies and bounties of God! Yet this is not a matter of necessity, for the apostle tells us that he knew how to abound. When he had much he knew how to use it. Abundant grace enabled him to bear abundant prosperity. When he had a full sail he was loaded with much ballast, and so floated safely. It needs more than human skill to carry the brimming cup of mortal joy with a steady hand, yet Paul had learned that skill, for he declares, “In all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry.” It is a divine lesson to know how to be full, for the Israelites were full once, but while the flesh was yet in their mouth, the wrath of God came upon them. Many have asked for mercies that they might satisfy their own hearts’ lust. Fulness of bread has often made fulness of blood, and that has brought on wantonness of spirit. When we have much of God’s providential mercies, it often happens that we have but little of God’s grace, and little gratitude for the bounties we have received. We are full and we forget God: satisfied with earth, we are content to do without heaven. Rest assured it is harder to know how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry-so desperate is the tendency of human nature to pride and forgetfulness of God. Take care that you ask in your prayers that God would teach you “how to be full.”

“Let not the gifts thy love bestows
Estrange our hearts from thee.”

 

Deliverance From Sin Is Never Hurtful To Us

Nebuchadnezzar, gone mad, grovels like a beast of the earth; Wellcome V0034349

Thomas Manton on Acts 3:26:

Let me lay down this, that those blessings that are most proper to the Mediator are spiritual blessings. We forfeited all by sin, but especially the grace of the Spirit, whereby we might be made serviceable to God. Other mercies run in the channel of common providence, but spiritual blessings are the discriminating graces and favours that are given us by the Mediator: Eph. 1:3, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.’ Christ came not to distribute honours, and greatness, and worldly riches to his followers, but to turn away every one of us from our sins, to reduce us to God, that we may love him, and be beloved of him. He came as a spiritual Saviour, to give us grace rather than temporal happiness. Most men have a carnal, Jewish notion of Christ, they would have a temporal safety and happiness, they would have deliverance from affliction, rather than deliverance from sin. To be ‘delivered from every evil work’ is more than to be ‘delivered from the mouth of the lion.’ This is most proper to the Mediator, 2 Tim. 4:18. A sanctified use of troubles is more than an exemption from them; a carnal man may have exemption from them, but not a sanctified use of them. Poverty, lameness, blindness, are not as bad as ignorance, unruly lusts, and want of grace. Moral evils are worse than natural. Daniel was cast into a lion’s den, you would think that was a misery; but it was a greater misery when Nebuchadnezzar was thrust out among the beasts, being given up to a brutish heart. Exemption from trouble may be hurtful to us, but deliverance from sin is never hurtful to us.

~Works, II:207-208

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/88525-To-reduce-us-to-God, Comment #1

Remembrance of the Cross will Sweeten the Crown

Sverchkov TroykaZimoy8059

Thomas Boston, Works, 6:222:

Certainly meat can never be so sweet as to a hungry man; nor can one so much esteem wealth as he that has been pinched with poverty. The best view of the stars is from the bottom of a deep narrow pit. Surely the remembrance of the cross will sweeten the crown; and the memory of the wilderness will put an additional verdure on the fields of glory, when the saints shall be walking through them in their white robes, remembering the mournful blacks in which they were wont to appear. Let us not cast at our blessings, nor grudge to sow the seeds of glory.

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/f25/remembrance-cross-will-sweeten-crown-84628/, Comment #1

Faith Commits the Future to a Faithful God

My friend, if you have money enough today for your daily needs and something for God’s treasury, don’t torment yourself with the idea that you or your family may yet get into a poor-house. If your children cluster around your table, enjoy them, train them, trust them to God, without racking yourself with a dread that the little ones may some time be carried off by the scarlet fever, or the older ones may yet be ill-married or may fall into disgrace. Faith carries present loads and meets present assaults and feeds on present promises—and commits the future to a faithful God.

~ God’s Light on Dark Clouds by Theodore Cuyler

Source: http://www.surphside.blogspot.ca/2014/07/comfort-in-parenting.html

Does God Really Want All Christians To Be Rich?

Since God can only give good gifts to His people, we must assume that those of us who suffer deep need are doing so at the command of a loving and benevolent God. Perhaps He wants us to learn humility through our poverty, perhaps He wants us to learn to be served so that we may one day humbly serve others; perhaps He wants those around us to learn a lesson our poverty can teach them. Whatever it is, we must always take the issue of poverty back to Scripture and back to the Cross. Poverty, like everything, is, at its core, about God. So our response to it must please Him, must honor Him.

Read more:  http://annawood.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/a-christians-response-to-poverty-by-anna-wood/