Extend the Kingdom

“This is my only joy and the desire of my heart, that I may extend the borders of the kingdom of God, make known the truth, reprove sin, teach righteousness, feed the hungry souls with the Word of the Lord, lead the stray sheep into the right path, and win many souls for the Lord through His Spirit, power and grace.”
(Menno Simons)

I Give Up!

Lord, I give up
All my own plans and purposes,
All my own desires and hopes
And accept Thy will for my life.
I give myself, my life, my all,
Utterly to Thee
To be Thine forever.
Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit.
Use me as Thou wilt,
Send me where Thou wilt,
Work out Thy whole will in my life
At any cost,
Now and forever.
Amen.

(Betty Scot Stam, missionary martyr to China)

Build on the Rock

Continuing with the subject of yesterday’s post, J.C. Ryle also wrote:

“On whom must we build our souls if we would be accepted with God?  We must build on the rock, Christ.  From whom must we draw that grace of the Spirit which we daily need in order to be fruitful?  We must draw from the vine, Christ.  To whom must we look for sympathy when earthly friends fail us or die?  We must look to our elder brother, Christ.  By whom must our prayers be presented, if they are to be heard on high?  They must be presented by our advocate, Christ.  With whom do we hope to spend the thousand years of glory, and the after eternity?  With the King of kings, Christ.  Surely we cannot know this Christ too well!  Surely there is not a word, nor a deed, nor a day, nor a step, nor a thought in the record of His life, which ought not to be precious to us.  We should labour to be familiar with every line that is written about Jesus.”

The Gospels Reveal Christ

Speaking of the first four books of the New Testament (the Gospel according to Matthew, the Gospel according to Mark, the Gospel according to Luke, and the Gospel according to John), these words were written by the Bishop J.C. Ryle:

“Now the Gospels were written to make us acquainted with Christ.  The Holy Ghost has told us the story of His life and death,—His sayings and His doings, four times over.  Four different inspired hands have drawn the picture of the Saviour.  His ways, His manners, His feelings, His wisdom, His grace, His patience, His love, His power, are graciously unfolded to us by four different witnesses.  Ought not the sheep to be familiar with the Shepherd?  Ought not the patient to be familiar with the Physician?  Ought not the bride to be familiar with the Bridegroom?  Ought not the sinner to be familiar with the Saviour?  Beyond doubt it ought to be so.  The Gospels were written to make men familiar with Christ, and therefore I wish men to study the Gospels.”

Who do you say that I am?

“Now it happened that as he (Jesus) was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”  And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?  For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:18-26 ESV)

Who do I say that Jesus is?  It does not matter what the crowds say – it matters what I say.  Jesus makes this question about his identity a very personal one.  Jesus gives us his mission statement, and then tells us what our mission statement as his followers should be.  He was willing to suffer for me; am I willing to suffer for him?

Request for Transfer

Today I am posting two imaginary letters.  The author of this work is unknown, but the spiritual lesson is profound.  

Title: Request for Transfer

To: Commander in Chief, Spiritual Armed Forces, Jesus Christ

Dear Lord:
I am writing this to You to request a transfer to a desk job.
I herewith present my reasons:

I began my career as a private, but because of the intensity of the
battle You have quickly moved me up in the ranks.  You have made
me an officer and given me a tremendous amount of responsibility.
There are many soldiers and recruits under my charge.  I am
constantly being called upon to dispense wisdom, make judgments,
and find solutions to complex problems.  You have placed me in a
position to function as an officer, when in my heart I know I have
only the skills of a private.  I realize that you have promised to
supply all I would need for the battle.  But Sir, I must present You
a realistic picture of my equipment.

My uniform, once so crisp and starched, is now stained with the tears
and blood of those I have tried to assist.  The soles of my boots are
cracked and worn from the miles I have walked trying to enlist and
encourage the troops.  My weapons are marred, tarnished
and chipped from constant battle against the enemy.  Even the Book
of Regulations I was issued has been torn and tattered from
endless
use.  The words are now smeared.

You have promised You would be with me throughout, but when
the noise of the battle is so loud and the confusion is so great,
I can neither see nor hear You.  I feel so alone.  I’m tired.
I’m
discouraged.  I have Battle Fatigue.  I would never ask you for a
discharge.  I love being in Your service.  But I humbly request a
demotion and transfer.  I’ll file papers or clean latrines.
Just get me out of the battle — please, Sir.
Your Faithful, but tired soldier.

 Shortly after, the soldier received this letter from the Commander in Chief:

To: Faithful, but Tired Soldier, Spiritual Armed Forces
Location: The Battlefield
Subject: Transfer

Dear Soldier:
Your request for transfer has been denied.
I herewith present My reasons:
You are needed in this battle.
I have selected you, and I will keep My Word to supply your need.
You do not need a demotion and transfer.
(You’d never cut it on latrine duty.)
You need a period of “R and R” — Renewal and Rekindling.
I am setting aside a place on the battlefield
that is insulated from all sound
and fully protected from the enemy.
I will meet you there and I will give you rest.
I will remove your old equipment and “make all things new.”

You have been wounded in the battle, My soldier.
Your wounds are not visible,
but you have received grave internal injuries.
You need
to be healed.
I will heal you.
You have been weakened in the battle.
You need to be strengthened.
I will strengthen you and be your strength.
I will instill in you confidence and ability.
My Words will rekindle within you a renewed love, zeal and enthusiasm.
Report to Me tattered and empty.
I will refill you.
Compassionately,
Your Commander-in-Chief,
Jesus Christ