Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How Long is the Love of Christ?

“Sometimes a man of God is, as he apprehends, so far off from God, that He can neither help him nor hear him. . . . He thinks himself beyond the reach of His mercy. In answer to this conceit, the LORD asks, ‘Is My arm too short to ransom you?’ (Isaiah 50:2).”

David had times when he supposed that for and by sin he was driven from God’s love: ‘O LORD, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God.’ (Psalm 38:21). Yet, the great shepherd king came to know the infinite presence of his God: ‘If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.’ (Psalm 139:9-10).

“O the length of the saving arm of God! . . . do not even attempt to compare arms with God . . . I mean, do not conclude that, because you cannot reach God with your short stump, therefore He cannot reach you with His long arm. Look again! Do you have an arm like God, an arm like His for length and strength? It is good for you, when you cannot perceive that God is within the reach of your arm, then to believe that you are within the reach of His; for it is long, and no one knows how long.”

Excerpts from John Bunyan’s All Loves Excelling.

Monday, September 28, 2009

How Wide is God's Love?

John Bunyan's work, The Saint's Knowledge of Christ's Love (All Loves Excelling), is an exposition of Ephesians 3:18-19. This is a prayer of the apostle Paul that we may know the unknowable love of Christ. That which is incomprehensible (Christ's love) may be understood to some degree as God reveals it to us. He mentions four dimensions of Christ's love: width, length, depth, and height.

How wide is God's love for me? "God is all over, everywhere, spreading his wings, stretching out his goodness to the uttermost bounds, for the good of those who are his people." God's love spreads out wide enough to cover the great expanse of my sin. "Blessed is he whose sin is covered, whose spreading sin is covered by the mercy of God through Christ."

For online works by John Bunyan check out these links: acacia.pair.com; Christian Classics Ethereal Library; johnbunyan.org

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rejoice in the Lord!

With the journey of faith sadness is mingled with joy. All grief and sorrow over sin misses the whole point of God's grace: that we might be joined in union to Christ for God's glory. Thomas Watson reminds me to find daily joy in the Lover of my soul.

"Let me tell you, it is a sin not to rejoice. You disparage your Husband, Christ. When a wife is always sighing and weeping, what will others say? 'This woman has a bad husband.' Is this the fruit of Christ's love to you, to reflect dishonour upon Him? A melancholy spouse saddens Christ's heart. I do not deny that Christians should grieve for sins of daily occurrence, but to be always weeping (as if they mourned without hope) is dishonouring to the marriage relationship. 'Rejoice in the Lord always' (Philippians 4:4). Rejoicing brings credit to your husband. Christ loves a cheerful bride, and indeed the very purpose of God's making us sad is to make us rejoice. We sow in tears, so that we may reap in joy. The excessive sadness and contrition of the godly will make others afraid to embrace Christ. They will begin to question whether there is that satisfactory joy in religion which is claimed. Oh, you saints of God, do not forget consolation, let others see that you do not repent of your choice in pursuing Christ. It is joy that puts liveliness and activity into a Christian: 'The joy of the LORD is your strength' (Nehemiah 8:10). The soul is swiftest in duty when it is carried on the wings of joy."

Excerpt from "The Godly Man's Picture" by Thomas Watson.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Smoking Flax He Will not Quench

The smoking flax is a picture of God's grace mingled with our own corruption. With a little bit of God's grace there may be much personal corruption. There are, in the best saints, interweavings of sin and grace: dark side with the light; much pride mixed with humility; much earthliness with heavenliness. No, in many of the regenerate there is more corruption than grace. Nevertheless, He will not snuff out His gracious work in our lives. That little spark in the smoking flax is a ray and beam of God's own glory. And He will fan that spark into a flame until it prevails over the corruption and reveals His glory.

There are two enemies of God's grace: the malice of Satan and the world of corruption in our hearts. The devil, with the wind of temptation, tries to blow out the spark of grace in our hearts. The heart swarms with sin. Grace conflicting with sin and temptation is like a ship tossed and beaten by the waves, yet it weathers the storm and at last gets to the desired haven. How? By the mighty working of the Spirit of God. He is at work in the believer every day! He is the ballast in the hull of the ship and the Captain who navigates the storm. Our ship will surely arrive at His desire destination.

The flame of God will not be quenched, but we must blow it up with the breath of our effort. What I have written is to encourage faith, not to indulge sloth. Do not think God will do our work for us while we sit still. Love God! Seek Him with all the grace that is in you! (Psalm 31:23). How God's people should long for heaven, when it will be their constant work to breath out love and sound out praise.

Reflections from The Godly Man's Picture, chapter 11, "Comfort to the Godly" by Thomas Watson.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Old and the New

Trucking2 & Family 08, 2009 004
Originally uploaded by paul&denisedegraaf

This is the new truck we were given upon returning to our Opperating Centre. The first black Schneider National truck in Canada. Maybe the moose will not see us coming next time.

The Old and the New

Moose accident
Originally uploaded by paul&denisedegraaf

We never know what challenges each day holds in store for us. We are constantly faced with a series of incredible opportunities brilliantly disguised as impoosible situations. Here's what's happened to us the the past four days summarized in two photos. This is the old. Denise has a new handle: DWM (Dances With Moose).

Sunday, September 06, 2009

On Being a Thankful Person

Finding it difficult to be thankful these days. Been reflecting on Thomas Watson's exhortation in The Godly Man's Picture.

First, if you wish to be thankful, get a heart deeply humbled with the sense of your own vileness. A broken heart is the best pipe to sound forth God's praise. He who studies his sins wonders that he is anything and that God should shine on such a dunghill (1 Timothy 1:13). A proud man will never be thankful. Pride stops the current of gratitude.

Second, strive for sound evidences of God's love to you. God's love poured in will make the vessels of mercy run over with thankfulness (Revelation 1:5-6). The deepest springs yield the sweetest water. Hearts deeply aware of God's love yield the sweetest praises.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Enduring Loss and Difficulty

How can we endure loss and pain in our lives? Keep your eye on the end of the story. This is illustrated vividly in the film, Strnager Than Fiction, where actor Will Ferrell portrays a tax auditor who lives a very predictable life. Every minute is controlled by his watch. Until one day he hears a voice narrating the thoughts and actions of his life. He eventually discovers that his life is being written by a neurotic, self-absorbed, chain-smoking novel author; he is not truly in control of his life. Furthermore, this author is famous for writing tragedies. Harold is beside himself with frustration and grief. To add tension to the story, Harold's life begins to get better: he falls in love and lives out his dream of playing the guitar. Harold doesn't find any peace until the author gives him a transcript of the story and he is reads the whole narrative, right to the end. There he discovers that his life, yes, even his death has great significance. Only then is he able to accept his destiny, as painful as it may seem, and live out the story of his life with peace and joy.

In this life we will experience all kinds of trouble, pain and loss. But there is a hope that is beyond our ability to control the events and outcomes of our lives. God has written the last chapter of the story. It is a good practice for me to read this chapter regularly. I need to be reminded that my life is not my own, that my destiny is not in the hands of feeble human beings or a neurotic, self absorbed deity. The eternal Father holds my life in his loving hands and has sealed my destiny by the sacrifice of His own dear Son, Jesus Christ. Now that's stranger than fiction.