To Ponder:

The import of the whole is this: “Though neither the figs, nor the vines, nor the olives, produce any fruit, and though the field be barren, though no food be given, yet I will rejoice in my God;” that is, our joy shall not depend on outward prosperity; for though the Lord may afflict us in an extreme degree, there will yet be always some consolation to sustain our minds…for we are fully persuaded, that our salvation is in God’s hand, and that He is its faithful guardian. We shall, therefore, rest quietly, though heaven and earth were rolled together, and all places were full of confusion; yea, though God fulminated from heaven, we shall yet be in a tranquil state of mind, looking for His [gracious] salvation…We may hence gather a most useful doctrine: that whenever signs of God’s wrath meet us in outward things, this remedy remains to us: to consider what God is to us inwardly; for the inward joy, which faith brings to us, can overcome all fears, terrors, sorrows, and anxieties…[Let us] not estimate His love by external things, but strengthen [ourselves] by embracing the promise of His mercy. John Calvin, Commentary on
Habakkuk 3

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To Ponder:

The Lord reigns! “The Lord reigns! He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength!” Psalm 93:1. “The Lord reigns! Let the nations tremble!” Psalm 99:1. The Lord reigns! He who once bore our sins and carried our sorrows–is seated upon a throne of glory and exercises all power in heaven and on earth! Thrones, principalities and powers bow before Him. Every being and event are under His rule. His providence pervades and manages the whole, and is as minutely attentive to every part–as if there were only that single object in His view. From the tallest archangel, to the most irritating ant or fly–all depend on Him for their being, their preservation and their powers! He directs the sparrows where to build their nests, and to find their food. He overrules the rise and fall of nations; and bends, with an invincible energy and unerring wisdom–all events! So that, while many intend otherwise–in the outcome their designs all concur and coincide in the accomplishment of His holy will. He restrains with a mighty hand the still more formidable efforts of the powers of darkness; and Satan with all his hosts cannot exert their malice a hair’s breadth beyond the limits of His permission. Satan may rage–but he is a chained enemy! This is He, who is the Redeemer and Husband of His believing people. How happy are those whom it is His good pleasure to bless! How safe are those whom He has engaged to protect! How honored and privileged are those whom He enables and warrants to claim Him as their friend and their portion! Having redeemed them by His own blood–He sets a high value upon them! He esteems them His treasure, His jewels! He guards them as the pupil of His eye. They shall not lack, and they need not fear! His eye is upon them in every situation, His ear is open to their prayers, and His everlasting arms are under them for their sure support. On earth, He guides their steps, controls their enemies, and directs all His dispensations for their good! While, in Heaven, He is pleading their cause, preparing a place for them, and communicating down to them reviving foretastes of the glory that shall shortly be theirs! “The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 146:10 (Letters of John Newton)

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To Ponder:

“The Lord reigns!” Psalm 97:1. The Bible lays a solid ground for our comfort when it assures us that all things are under the government of God. He superintends the affairs of this world, both as the provident parent and as the moral governor of His creatures. The Bible declares that God created them, and that whatever beings He deigned to create–He does not disdain to care for. It assures us that no being is so great as to be exempt from His control–and none are so little as to be beneath His regard. And, in like manner, that His eye is directed to every event which may befall any one of His creatures–with no event being either so momentous, or so insignificant–as to be beyond His management or unworthy of His notice. The sparrow which falls to the earth–is not less an object of His regard than the seraph that stands before His throne! That all His creatures in this world, and all the events of human life, of whatever kind they may be–are under God’s regulation and control–is, of itself, fitted to banish that feeling of uncertainty and hopelessness which the aspect of events might otherwise awaken. And how important to know that nothing happens by chance, that everything is ordained and appointed according to certain divine principles which are fixed and stable, and that these principles will continue to be developed, until the grand end of God’s government shall have been attained! (James Buchanan)

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To Ponder:

Valley of Vision, “The Saviour”

Thou God of all grace, Thou hast given me a Savior: produce in me a faith to live by him, to make him all my desire, all my hope, all my glory. May I enter him as my refuge, build on him as my foundation, walk in him as my way, follow him as my guide, conform to him as my example, receive his instructions as my prophet, rely on his intercession as my high priest, obey him as my king. May I never be ashamed of him or his words, but joyfully bear his reproach, never displease him by unholy or imprudent conduct, never count it a glory if I take it patiently when buffeted for a fault, never make the multitude my model, never delay when thy Word invites me to advance. May thy dear Son preserve me from this present evil world, so that its smiles never allure, nor its frowns terrify, nor its vices defile, nor its errors delude me. May I feel that I am a stranger and a pilgrim on earth, declaring plainly that I seek a country, my title to it becoming daily more clear, my meetness for it more prefect, my foretastes of it more abundant; and whatsoever I do may it be done in the Saviour’s name.

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To Ponder:

John Calvin, commenting on 2 Tim. 4:17: “But the Lord assisted me. He adds this, in order to remove the scandal which he saw might arise from that base desertion of his cause. Though the church at Rome had failed to perform its duty, he affirms that the gospel had suffered no loss by it, because, leaning on heavenly power, he was himself fully able to bear the whole burden, and was so far from being discouraged by the influence of that fear which seized on all, that it became only the more evident that the grace of God has no need of receiving aid from any other quarter. He does not boast of his courage, but gives thanks to the Lord; that, when reduced to extremities, he did not give way nor lose heart under so dangerous a temptation. He therefore acknowledges that he was supported by the arm of the Lord, and is satisfied with this, that the inward grace of God served for a shield to defend him against every assault.”

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To Ponder:

God’s salvation, in its entirety, is for His elect people, who are identified in the Scriptures as “the people of God.” All that the Lord Jesus did, does, and will do–is, has always been, and will always be for His chosen people. He came into this world, was born of a virgin, lived under the law, was in all points tempted like as we are, and perfectly obeyed the will of God in all things for one reason–that He might save His elect people with an everlasting salvation. He loved them, chose them, and gave Himself for them–them, and only them. He was born for His people. He kept the law for His people. He suffered for His people. He was made sin for His people. He died for His people. He arose from the dead for His people. He ascended into glory for His people. He rules all things for His people. He intercedes for His people. He is coming again for His people. Listen to the reverberation of God’s distinguishing grace as the apostle Paul sounds the gospel trumpet: “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her . . . to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless!” Ephesians 5:25-27

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To Ponder:

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. In giving Christ to die for poor sinners, God gave the richest jewel in His cabinet; a mercy of the greatest worth, and most inestimable value. Heaven itself is not so valuable and precious as Christ is! Ten thousand thousand worlds–as many worlds as angels can number, would not outweigh Christ’s love, excellency and sweetness! O what a lovely One! What an excellent, beautiful, ravishing One–is Christ! Put the beauty of ten thousand paradises, like the garden of Eden, into one; put all flowers, all fragrances, all colors, all tastes, all joys, all sweetness, all loveliness into one; O what a lovely and excellent thing would that be! And yet it should be less to that loveliest and dearest well-beloved Christ–than one drop of rain compared to all the seas, rivers, lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths! Now, for God to bestow the mercy of mercies, the most precious thing in heaven or earth, upon poor sinners; and, as great, as lovely, as excellent as His Son was–what kind of love is this! “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1. (John Flavel 1627-1691)

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To Ponder:

“He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.” Ephesians 1:4. “His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ephesians 3:11. “Who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” 2 Timothy 1:9. “He was chosen before the creation of the world” 1 Peter 1:20. “The blood of the eternal covenant” Hebrews 13:20. We may thus suppose the Father dialoging with His Son in the eternal covenant: FATHER: “My son, here is a company of poor miserable souls who have utterly undone themselves, and now lie open to My justice! Justice demands satisfaction for them, or will satisfy itself in their eternal ruin. What shall be done for these wretched souls?”

SON: “O my Father, such is My love to, and pity for them, that rather than they shall perish eternally, I will be responsible for them as their Surety. I choose to suffer Your wrath in their place, than they should suffer it. Upon Me, My Father, upon Me be all their sin.”

FATHER: “But, my Son, if You undertake for them, You must reckon to pay the last mite, expect no abatements. If I spare them, I will not spare You.”

SON: “Father, let it be so. Charge it all upon Me, I am able to discharge it. Though it impoverishes all My riches and empties all My treasures, yet I am content to undertake it.”

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich!” 2 Corinthians 8:9. (John Flavel, 1628-1691)

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To Ponder:

All our pompous show of holiness without sincerity, is but folly set forth in its embroidery; it is but going to hell in a more devout way than others. . . Men are ambitious of credit, and would gain repute in the world, therefore they will dress themselves in the garb and mode of religion, that others may write them down for saints. But alas, what is one the better to have others commend him, and his conscience condemn him? What good will it do a man when he is in hell, that others think he is gone to heaven? Counterfeit piety is double iniquity. The hypocrite deceives others while he lives, but he deceives himself when he dies. The hypocrite is abhorred by all. Wicked men hate him because he makes a show, and God hates him because he doth but make a show: the wicked hate him because he hath so much a show of godliness, and God hates him because he hath no more. (Thomas Watson)

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To Ponder:

He has made us kings and priests to our God.” Revelation 5:10. The Lord Jesus infinitely excels all earthly kings, in that He makes all His subjects kings! He has a crown of glory for every subject. Oh, what a glorious King is this. Oh sirs, it is better to be a poor member of Christ, than the head of a nation. Oh, how infinitely happy are all Christ’s subjects. They are all kings, all heirs, all favorites, all sons. Alas, where is there such a king to be found, who makes all His subjects kings? There are many kings who undo their subjects, but Christ makes His subjects kings. There are many kings who make their subjects beggars, but Christ makes His subjects kings. There are many kings who put their subjects to death, but Christ died that His subjects might live. There are many kings who give their subjects titles, but Christ gives all His subjects Heaven. Now, beloved, here is the excellence of our King: He makes all His subjects kings and gives them all crowns of glory! “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne!” Revelation 3:21. Jesus Christ is an Enthroned King! But, beloved, this is not all; Christ not only sits there Himself, but He has promised that all who overcome, shall sit down with Him upon His throne. Now, I wonder where there is any king but Christ, who allows his subjects to sit upon his throne with him. Alas! this would be treason for a man to attempt it. Oh, what a glorious King is Jesus. Every one of His poor subjects shall sit upon the throne with Him. One would think this very promise would draw the whole world after Christ. Oh, what great offers, and privileges, and honors Christ bestows upon all His poor followers. He not only makes them kings, but He brings them to sit upon His very throne with Him! O believer, you say that it would be an honor indeed, if could you but look into heaven, and merely to see Christ sit upon His throne. But this honor have all His saints; yes, much more–He makes them all kings, and grants to them to sit down with Him upon His throne! (William Dyer, “Christ’s Famous Titles”)

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