Jesus is the one great theme both of the Old Testament and the New. The whole Bible is designed to testify of Christ, “The Scriptures point to Me!” John 5:39
In Christ the Messiah, in Jesus the Savior, in the Son of God the Redeemer all the truths of the Bible center.
To Him all the types and shadows point!
Of Him all the prophecies give witness!
All the glory of the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation culminates at the cross of Christ!
The Bible would be an inexplicable mystery apart from Christ, who unfolds and explains it all.
He is the golden Key which unlocks the divine treasury of Scriptural revelation!
Until He is seen, the Bible is, in a sense–a great mystery. But when He is found, it is a glorious revelation.
Every mystery is opened,
every enigma is explained,
every discrepancy is harmonized, and
every truth and page, sentence and word–is quickened with a life and glowing with a light flowing down from the throne of the Eternal God.
Christ is the substance of the Gospel.
All its divine doctrines,
all its holy precepts,
all its gracious instructions,
all its precious promises,
all its glorious hopes–
meet, center, and fill up their entire compass in Jesus!
He is the Alpha and the Omega of the Bible–from the first verse in Genesis, to the last verse in Revelation.
Oh, study the Scriptures of truth with a view of learning Christ.
Do not study the Bible as a mere history.
Do not read it as a mere poem.
Do not search it as a book of science.
It is all that, but infinitely more.
The Bible is the Book of Jesus!
It is a Revelation of Christ!
Christ is the golden thread which runs through the whole!
Blessed Lord Jesus! I will read and study and dig into the Scriptures, to find and learn more of You!
You, Immanuel, are the fragrance of this divine box of precious ointment.
You are the beauteous gem sparkling in this divine cabinet.
You are the Tree of life planted in the center of this divine garden.
You are the Ocean whose stream quickens and nourishes all who draw water out of this divine well of salvation.
The Bible is all about You!
We would soon hear all the dogs of Hell baying with all their might against us!
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:19
There would be much more persecution than there is if there were more real Christians. But we have become so like the world, that the world does not hate us as it once did. If we would be more holy, more true, more Christ-like, more godly – we would soon hear all the dogs of Hell baying with all their might against us!
Remember, my brethren, whoever you may be, that if there is no distinction between you and the world around you then you may be certain that you are of the world. For, there must always be some marks in the children of God to distinguish them from the ungodly. There is a something in them which is not to be found in the best worldling something which is not to be discovered in the most admirable carnal man. A something in their character which can be readily perceived and which marks them as belonging to another and higher race, the twice-born, the elect of God, eternally chosen by Him and, therefore, made to be choice ones through the effectual working of His grace.
“I have given them Your word and the world has hated them–for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.” John17:14
Lord, How Can We Know The Way?
(J.R. Miller, “Evening Thoughts” 1907)
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, how can we know the way?“ Jesus said to him, “I am the way” John 14:5-6
This is the first day of a new year. We are setting out on a journey of which we can have no knowledge in advance. The road is one on which we never have gone hitherto. We know not what any day will have for us . . .
what our duties will be,
what burdens shall be laid upon us,
what sorrows we shall have to endure,
what battles we shall have to fight.
We cannot see one step before us! How can we know the way?
As we sit in the quiet, this first evening, and ask the question, we hear an answer which is full of comfort. Jesus says to us, “I am the way!”
All we shall have to do, therefore, will be to follow Jesus. He has made a way through this dark world for us. He has gone over all the journey and opened a road for us at great cost. He went over the way Himself–we shall find His shoe-prints at every step.
He has a definite way for each one of us. Every mile of the journey He has chosen and every place where I pitch my tent He has selected for me!
“Leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps!” 1 Peter 2:21
A poem by Charles Spurgeon
When once I mourned a load of sin,
When conscience felt a wound within,
When all my works were thrown away,
When on my knees I knelt to pray,
Then, blissful hour, remembered well,
I learned Thy love, Immanuel!
When storms of sorrow toss my soul,
When waves of care around me roll,
When comforts sink, when joys shall flee,
When hopeless griefs shall gape for me,
One word the tempest’s rage shall quell,
That word, Thy name, Immanuel!
When for the truth I suffer shame,
When foes pour scandal on my name,
When cruel taunts and jeers abound,
When “Bulls of Bashan” gird me round,
Secure within Thy tower I’ll dwell,
That tower, Thy grace, Immanuel!
When hell, enraged, lifts up her roar,
When Satan stops my path before,
When fiends rejoice and wait my end,
When legion’d hosts their arrows send,
Fear not, my soul, but hurl at hell
Thy battle-cry, Immanuel!
When down the hill of life I go,
When o’er my feet death’s waters flow,
When in the deep’ning flood I sink,
When friends stand weeping on the brink,
I’ll mingle with my last farewell,
Thy lovely name, Immanuel!
When tears are banished from mine eye,
When fairer worlds than these are nigh,
When Heaven shall fill my ravish’d sight,
When I shall bathe in sweet delight,
One joy all joys shall far excel,
To see Thy face, Immanuel!
What a wonderful testimony of the Christian’s life and hope!
by Tim Harmon
The holiday season (which is well under way) seems to carry with it a sense of longing for something we call “home.” In the words of that ubiquitous holiday anthem popularized by Perry Como:
Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays Cause no matter how far away you roam If you want to be happy in a million ways For the holidays, you can’t beat home, sweet home
Now, being home, of course, is about something more than just being in a particular place. No, more than that, it’s about being with particular people.
This is illustrated perhaps no better than in that modern cinematic classic, where we find that being home for the holidays isn’t very happy at all, if one is Home Alone (even if it does afford one the opportunity to ward off robbers by building booby traps).
Out of a desire to be home for the holidays, over 90 million people travel to visit friends and family between Christmas and New Years. People are willing to endure long lines, and bad traffic, and flight delays all for the sake of being ‘home’. And it’s worth it, I think – especially when we consider that the opportunities we have to gather with our loved ones is finite.
One of my strongest holiday memories is of traveling each year to my grandmother’s house, to gather with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. My grandmother lived in a small, old-fashioned, rural home, set on a large plot of land.
A wood stove heated the house, and a blast of hot air would hit my face whenever I would walk through the front door. Inside, the wood floors were squeaky and the walls were covered with stoic photos of distant relatives who had passed away long before I was even born.
I’m glad that I spent the time that I did there at my grandmother’s house over holidays past, because my grandmother is no longer alive, and her property has long since been sold. That “home” does not exist anymore – neither the structure, nor many of the people who filled it.
When I think of this, I feel a small pang in my heart. It’s an ache that all of us know. It is a longing to be home . . . not just for a little while . . . but forever.
It is precisely this ache that is addressed in the true story that the Bible tells. The opening pages of this book describe an earthly home that is perfect in every way. It is a place of un-interrupted peace, love, and joy. It is a space where human relationships flourish, as they remain in fellowship with and under the wise care of the Creator.
But early on in this story, something tragic happens.
Humans reject the good order of the Creator, in effect choosing emancipation from the Heavenly Father’s household. As a result, these first humans were required to leave this glorious home. Ever since, all humans have been born estranged from God, and alienated from the one place that would ever truly feel like home.
And so, though we are each unique in many ways, at the core we are all the same. Our deepest longing – indeed our deepest need – is to find our way back home. But on our own, all of our efforts have fallen flat. There is simply no way, on our own, to get back what has been lost.
Today, we are still waiting for the day when Jesus comes again, to bring God’s people home forever.
And that’s precisely why this holiday season – the season that celebrates the advent of the Christ child – is so special. For, according to the Scriptures, the coming of Jesus was the coming of the Creator. And He came for this reason: to do what we, on our own, could not do.
He came to bring God’s people home.
In Jesus, God took on humanity, embarking on a mission to a far country. Because we could not find Him, He came and found us, and He made His home with us.
This involved a humbling of the highest order. It would be like the Queen of England giving up Buckingham Palace and entering the company of homeless street dwellers. And yet even this does not capture the degree of God’s condescension, as He came to live as and among us. For God not only took on humanity, but at the cross He also took upon Himself the just penalty for the rebellion of those He had come to bring home.
Regarding this home, before Jesus went to the cross, he spoke these words to his disciples: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (Jn. 14:3). And a bit later, after being questioned about the way to where Jesus was going, Jesus said the following: “I am the way” (Jn. 14:6).
There is one way home, and Jesus Christ is that way.
Today, we are still waiting for the day when Jesus comes again, to bring God’s people home forever. That’s why we, as Christians, celebrate Advent – a term that literally means, “coming.” As we look back to Jesus’ first coming, we also look forward to that day when he will come again.
On that day when Jesus returns, it will be a home-coming of epic proportions – for it will be a day when those who have turned from their rebellion, and have placed their trust in Jesus, will be home not just for the holidays, but home forevermore.
And so, this holiday season, whatever gladness is experienced as we enjoy the people and places that we identify with “home,” let us remember that these serve as but a small approximation of the infinite goodness of that coming day when the innermost yearnings of the human heart are met, when God’s people are called home, once and for all.
9 Lessons From God Concerning Sickness:
Sickness is meant…
- To make us think, to remind us that we have a soul as well as a body – an immortal soul, a soul that will live forever in happiness or in misery – and that if this soul is not saved we had better never have been born.
- To teach us that there is a world beyond the grave, and that the world we now live in is only a training place for another dwelling, where there will be no decay, no sorrow, no tears, no misery, and no sin.
- To make us look at our past lives honestly, fairly, and conscientiously.Am I ready for my great change if I should not get better? Do I repent truly of my sins? Are my sins forgiven and washed away in Christ’s blood? Am I prepared to meet God?
- To make us see the emptiness of the worldand its utter inability to satisfy the highest and deepest needs of the soul.
- To send us to our Bibles.That blessed Book, in the days of health, is too often left on the shelf, becomes the safest place in which to put a bank-note, and is never opened from January to December. But sickness often brings it down from the shelf and throws new light on its pages.
- To make us pray.Too many, I fear, never pray at all, or they only rattle over a few hurried words morning and evening without thinking what they do. But prayer often becomes a reality when the valley of the shadow of death is in sight.
- To make us repent and break off our sins.If we will not hear the voice of mercies, God sometimes makes us “hear the rod.”
- To draw us to Christ.Naturally we do not see the full value of that blessed Savior. We secretly imagine that our prayers, good deeds, and sacrament-receiving will save our souls. But when flesh begins to fail, the absolute necessity of a Redeemer, a Mediator, and an Advocate with the Father, stands out before men’s eyes like fire, and makes them understand those words, “Simply to Your cross I cling,” as they never did before. Sickness has done this for many – they have found Christ in the sick room.
- To make us feeling and sympathizing towards others.By nature we are all far below our blessed Master’s example, who had not only a hand to help all, but a heart to feel for all. None, I suspect, are so unable to sympathize as those who have never had trouble themselves – and none are so able to feel as those who have drunk most deeply the cup of pain and sorrow.
Summary: Beware of fretting, murmuring, complaining, and giving way to an impatient spirit. Regard your sickness as a blessing in disguise – a good and not an evil – a friend and not an enemy. No doubt we should all prefer to learn spiritual lessons in the school of ease and not under the rod. But rest assured that God knows better than we do how to teach us. The light of the last day will show you that there was a meaning and a “need be” in all your bodily ailments. The lessons that we learn on a sick-bed, when we are shut out from the world, are often lessons which we should never learn elsewhere.
~ J.C. Ryle ~
Tract: Christ in the Sick Room
The Minimum Christian!:
(C.H. Spurgeon, “Sword and the Trowel” 1876)
The minimum Christian! And who is he? The Christian who is going to heaven at the cheapest rate possible. The Christian who intends to get all of the world he can and not meet the worldling’s doom. The Christian who aims to have as little religion as he may without lacking it altogether.
The minimum Christian goes to worship in the morning; and in the evening also unless it rains, or is too warm, or too cold, or he is sleepy, or has the headache from eating too much at dinner. He listens most respectfully to the preacher, and joins in prayer and praise. He applies the truth very judiciously sometimes to himself, oftener to his neighbors.
The minimum Christian is very friendly to all good works. He wishes them well, but it is not in his power to do much for them. The Sunday-school he looks upon as an admirable institution especially for the neglected and ignorant. It is not convenient, however, for him to take a class his business engagements are so pressing during the week that he needs the Sabbath as a day of rest; nor does he think himself qualified to act as a teacher. There are so many persons better prepared for this important duty that he must beg to be excused. He is very friendly to home and foreign missions, and colportage, and gives his mite, but he is quite unable to aid in the management, for his own concerns are so excessively important. He thinks there are “too many appeals;” but he gives, if not enough to save his reputation, pretty near it at all events he aims at it, and never overshoots the mark.
The minimum Christian is not clear on a number of points. The opera and dancing, the theater and card-playing, and large fashionable parties give him much trouble. He cannot see the harm in this, or that, or the other popular amusement. There is nothing in the Bible against it. He does not see why a Christian may not dance or go to the opera. He knows several excellent persons who do so at least, so he says. Why should not he? He stands so close to the dividing-line between the people of God and the people of the world that it is hard to say on which side of it he is actually to be found.
Ah, my brother, are you making this attempt? Beware, lest you find at last that in trying to get to Heaven with a little religion you miss it altogether; lest without gaining the whole world you lose your own soul. True godliness demands self-denial and cross-bearing and if you have none of these, you are making a false profession!
Few and Fleeting and Uncertain!
(“Every Day!” Author unknown, 1872)
“Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Each man’s life is but a breath!” Psalm 39:4-5
“So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom!” Psalm 90:12
You alone, O Lord, can teach to profit help me to number my days aright!
Surely my days are few and fleeting and uncertain! Days past are gone beyond recall and my future days I cannot number. Let me then this day, and day by day, confide in You and look to You for the very help and grace I need.
Surely it is the highest wisdom to renounce self, to cleave to Christ, and to keep the great end of my being in view “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” This is an object worth living for, and which may well engage all the powers of my mind.
Nor let me suppose that it is needful to turn aside from the occupations of my daily life to honor the God of my salvation; for He teaches me that whether I eat or drink, or whatever I do I may do all to His glory. To this then may I apply my heart, with all diligence and constancy constrained by the love of Him who gave Himself for me!
“Every day I will bless You and I will praise Your name forever and ever!” Psalm 145:2
In That Time Before All Time!
(Charles Spurgeon, 1864)
Meditate, dear friends, upon the whole range of God’s works in Creation and Providence. There was a period when God dwelt alone and creatures were not. In that time before all time, when there was no day but “The Ancient of Days,” when matter and created mind were alike unborn, and even space was not – God, the great I AM, was as perfect, glorious, and as blessed as He is now.
There was no sun – and yet Jehovah dwelt in ineffable light.
There was no earth – and yet His throne stood fast and firm.
There were no heavens – and yet His glory was unbounded.
God inhabited eternity in the infinite majesty and happiness of His self-contained greatness. If the Lord, thus abiding in solemn solitude, should choose to create anything the first thought and idea must come from Him, for there was no other to think or suggest. All things must be of Him in design. With whom can He take counsel? Who shall instruct Him? There existed no other to come into His council-chamber, even if such an assistance could be supposable with the Most High.
In the beginning of His way, before His works of old, eternal wisdom brought forth from its own mind the perfect plan of future creations, and every line and mark therein must clearly have been of the Lord alone.
He ordained the pathway of every planet and fixed the abode of every star. He poured forth the sweet influences of the Pleiades, and girt Orion with its bands. He appointed the bounds of the sea, and settled the course of the winds. As to the earth, the Lord alone planned its foundations, and stretched His line upon it.
He formed in His own mind, the mold of all His creatures, and found for them a dwelling and a service. He appointed the degree of strength with which He would endow each creature, settled its months of life, its hour of death, its coming and its going.
Divine wisdom mapped this earth – its flowing rivers and foaming seas, the towering mountains, and the laughing valleys. The divine Architect fixed the gates of the morning and the doors of the shadow of death.
Nothing could have been suggested by any other, for there was no other to suggest. It was in His power to have made a universe very different from this if He had so pleased. That He has made it what it is, must have been merely because in His wisdom and prudence, He saw fit to do so.
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being!” Revelation 4:11