From Heaven Itself

God made you alive with Christ, and he forgave all your sins. He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. COLOSSIANS 2:13–14

All the world religions can be placed in one of two camps: legalism or grace. Humankind does it or God does it. Salvation as a wage based on deeds done—or salvation as a gift based on Christ’s death.

A legalist believes the supreme force behind salvation is you. If you look right, speak right, and belong to the right segment of the right group, you will be saved. The brunt of responsibility doesn’t lie within God; it lies within you.

The result? The outside sparkles. The talk is good and the step is true. But look closely. Listen carefully. Something is missing. What is it? Joy. What’s there? Fear. (That you won’t do enough.) Arrogance. (That you have done enough.) Failure. (That you have made a mistake.) …

Spiritual life is not a human endeavor. It is rooted in and orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. Every spiritual achievement is created and energized by God.

He Still Moves Stones

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GO WITH YOUR HEART

After Mary saw Jesus, she went and told his followers, who were very sad and were crying. MARK 16:10

Tears represent the heart, the spirit, and the soul of a person. To put a lock and key on your emotions is to bury part of your Christlikeness! Especially when you come to Calvary.

You can’t go to the Cross with just your head and not your heart. It doesn’t work that way. Calvary is not a mental trip. It’s not an intellectual exercise. It’s not a divine calculation or a cold theological principle.

It’s a heart-splitting hour of emotion. Don’t walk away from it dry-eyed and unstirred. Don’t just straighten your tie and clear your throat. Don’t allow yourself to descend Calvary cool and collected.

Please … pause. Look again.

Those are nails in those hands. That’s God on that cross. It’s us who put him there.

from NO WONDER THEY CALL HIM THE SAVIOR

The Obedience of Christ

“I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30)

Christ is our great example in all things–even in that of obedience to the Father and His will. As the perfect Son, He obeyed His Father in all things. “I do nothing of myself,” He said, “but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:28-29).

There are three specific references in the epistles to the obedience of Christ. One of the most profound passages in the Bible is Hebrews 5:8: “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” How could the omniscient Son of God have to learn anything? There are some things that cannot be learned in books but only by experience, and obedience in hard circumstances is surely one of these. Jesus learned obedience by actual experience.

Christ obeyed His Father even after praying that the bitter cup might be taken away. “Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).

Had He been disobedient, as was Adam, we could never have known salvation. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). Jesus was, indeed, always perfectly obedient to His Father’s word, “leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps”(1 Peter 2:21).

As our text emphasizes, His obedience consisted simply of seeking and following the will of His Father in all things. “Not my will, but thine” (Luke 22:42). HMM

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church.” Ephesians 5:25

What a golden example Christ gives to His disciples! Few masters could venture to say, “If you would practice my teaching, imitate my life;” but as the life of Jesus is the exact transcript of perfect virtue, He can point to Himself as the paragon of holiness, as well as the teacher of it.

The Christian should take nothing short of Christ for his model. Under no circumstances ought we to be content unless we reflect the grace which was in Him. As a husband, the Christian is to look upon the portrait of Christ Jesus, and he is to paint according to that copy. The true Christian is to be such a husband as Christ was to His church. The love of a husband is special.

The Lord Jesus cherishes for the church a peculiar affection, which is set upon her above the rest of mankind: “I pray for them, I pray not for the world.” The elect church is the favorite of heaven, the treasure of Christ, the crown of His head, the bracelet of His arm, the breastplate of His heart, the very center and core of His love.

A husband should love his wife with a constant love, for thus Jesus loves His church. He does not vary in His affection. He may change in His display of affection, but the affection itself is still the same. A husband should love his wife with an enduring love, for nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” A true husband loves his wife with a hearty love, fervent and intense. It is not mere lip-service.

Ah! beloved, what more could Christ have done in proof of His love than He has done? Jesus has a delighted love towards His spouse: He prizes her affection, and delights in her with sweet complacence.

Believer, you wonder at Jesus’ love; you admire it—are you imitating it? In your domestic relationships is the rule and measure of your love—”even as Christ loved the church“?

Sorrowful yet always rejoicing

“As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” (2 Cor. 6:10.)

THE stoic scorns to shed a tear; the Christian is not forbidden to weep. The soul may be dumb with excessive grief, as the shearer’s scissors pass over the quivering flesh; or, when the heart is on the point of breaking beneath the meeting surges of trial, the sufferer may seek relief by crying out with a loud voice. But there is something even better.

They say that springs of sweet fresh water well up amid the brine of salt seas; that the fairest Alpine flowers bloom in the wildest and most rugged mountain passes; that the noblest psalms were the outcome of the profoundest agony of soul.

Be it so. And thus amid manifold trials, souls which love God will find reasons for bounding, leaping joy. Though deep call to deep, yet the Lord’s song will be heard in silver cadence through the night. And it is possible in the darkest hour that ever swept a human life to bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Have you learned this lesson yet? Not simply to endure God’s will, nor only to choose it; but to rejoice in it with joy unspeakable and full of glory.—Tried as by Fire.

I will be still, my bruised heart faintly murmured,
As o’er me rolled a crushing load of woe;
The cry, the call, e’en the low moan was stifled;
I pressed my lips; I barred the tear drop’s flow.

I will be still, although I cannot see it,
The love that bares a soul and fans pain’s fire;
That takes away the last sweet drop of solace,
Breaks the lone harp string, hides Thy precious lyre.

But God is love, so I will bide me, bide me—
We’ll doubt not, Soul, we will be very still;
We’ll wait till after while, when He shall lift us—
Fes, after while, when it shall be His will.

And I did listen to my heart’s brave promise;
And I did quiver, struggling to be still;
And I did lift my tearless eyes to Heaven,
Repeating ever, “Yea, Christ, have Thy will.”

But soon my heart upspake from ‘neath our burden,
Reproved my tight-drawn lips, my visage sad:
“We can do more than this, O Soul,” it whispered.
“We can be more than still, we can be glad!”

My beloved is mine and I am His

“My beloved.” Song 2:8

This was a golden name which the ancient Church in her most joyous moments was wont to give to the Anointed of the Lord. When the time of the singing of birds was come, and the voice of the turtle was heard in her land, her love-note was sweeter than either, as she sang, “My beloved is mine and I am His: He feedeth among the lilies.” Ever in her song of songs doth she call Him by that delightful name, “My beloved!” Even in the long winter, when idolatry had withered the garden of the Lord, her prophets found space to lay aside the burden of the Lord for a little season, and to say, as Esaias did, “Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching His vineyard.”

Though the saints had never seen His face, though as yet He was not made flesh, nor had dwelt among us, nor had man beheld His glory, yet He was the consolation of Israel, the hope and joy of all the chosen, the “beloved” of all those who were upright before the Most High. We, in the summer days of the Church, are also wont to speak of Christ as the best beloved of our soul, and to feel that He is very precious, the “chiefest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely.” So true is it that the Church loves Jesus, and claims Him as her beloved, that the apostle dares to defy the whole universe to separate her from the love of Christ, and declares that neither persecutions, distress, affliction, peril, or the sword have been able to do it; nay, he joyously boasts, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

O that we knew more of Thee, Thou ever precious one!

My sole possession is Thy love;
In earth beneath, or heaven above,
I have no other store;
And though with fervent suit I pray,
And importune Thee day by day,
I ask Thee nothing more.