The Way of the Cross

Following Jesus seemed easy enough at first, but that was because they had not followed him very far. It soon became apparent that being a disciple of Christ involved far more than a joyful acceptance of the Messianic promise: it meant the surrender of one’s whole life to the Master in absolute submission to his sovereignty….This was strong teaching. Not many people could take it. They liked to be numbered among his followers when he filled their stomachs with bread and fish, but when Jesus started talking about the true spiritual quality of the Kingdom and the sacrifice necessary in achieving it (John 6:25-29), many of his disciples “went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66). As they put it, “This is a hard saying: who can hear it?” (John 6:60). The surprising thing is that Jesus did not go running after them to try to get them to stay on his membership roll. He was training leaders for the Kingdom, and if they were going to be fit vessels of service, they were going to have to pay the price.

Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism (pgs. 50-51).

Angel Ministers

Does the way seem long and lonely?
Does the silence whisper fear,
as if enemies were watching,
and no loving eye were near?
On each side are unseen friends;
every step an angel tends.

Angel-legions all about thee,
death and danger to repel;
angels o’er thee and before thee,
what are all the hosts of hell?
Perils thicken, tempests chafe,
fiends assail thee; thou art safe.

Angel-guards, how near and gracious;
angel-shields, how broad and bright;
angel-eyes, how quick and tender;
angel-hands, how full of might!
What a wondrous company,
pilgrim, waiteth upon thee!

Not the thousand times ten thousand
of man’s proudest war array,
not the steel of bannered squadrons
could thee shield so well as they,
sent from heaven as ministers
of the kingdom’s blessèd heirs.

Hopeless oft may seem the ventures
of the pilgrim-march below;
never will thy guards desert thee,
never fear to face thy foe;
caring for thee day and night,
in the journey or the fight.

Gabriel, Michael – who I know not –
may be leader of the host;
named or unnamed, they will keep thee,
fearing, fainting, danger-tossed;
wounded oft and battle-worn,
thou canst never be o’erborne.

Yet ’tis not angelic legions,
with their skill, and care, and might,
that can guard thee from the perils
of the darkness or the light.
‘Tis the King of angels who
can conduct thee safely through.

Lean on him to whom the legions
of the angelic host belong,
Captain of the heavenly army,
true and faithful, wise and strong.
Hands may slacken, eyes grow dim;
only, only lean on him.

Horatius Bonar, Until the Day Break: And Other Hymns and Poems Left Behind (pg. 6-8).

The Excellency of Christ’s Kingdom

I was in the foregoing part of this week. But now these thoughts seemed to be wholly dashed to pieces; not by necessity, but of choice: for it appeared to me, that God’s dealings towards me had fitted me for a life of solitariness and hardship; and that I had nothing to lose, nothing to do with earth, and consequently nothing to lose by a total renunciation of it. It appeared to me just right, that I should be destitute of house and home, and many comforts of life, which I rejoiced to see others of God’s people enjoy. And at the same time, I saw so much of the excellency of Christ’s kingdom, and the infinite desirableness of its advancement in the world, that it swallowed up all my other thoughts; and made me willing, yea, even rejoice, to be made a pilgrim or hermit in the wilderness, to my dying moment, if I might thereby promote the blessed interest of the great Redeemer.

David Brainerd, The Life and Diary of David Brainerd

A (Joyfully) Ordinary Life

He who lives in obscurity will live an ordinary life without complaint, so that he won’t be found guilty of deserting his divinely appointed post. Indeed, in the midst of troubles, hardships, annoyances, and other burdens, he will find great relief when he remembers that God is his guide in all these matters. The magistrate will more gladly attend to his duties. The father will more gladly commit himself to his responsibilities. Each person, in whatever station in life, will endure and overcome troubles, inconveniences, disappointments, and anxieties, convinced that his burden has been placed upon him by God. Great consolation will follow from all of this. For every work performed in obedience to one’s calling, no matter how ordinary and common, is radiant–most valuable in the eyes of our Lord.

John Calvin, A Little Book on the Christian Life (pg. 125-126).

Good and Ill from the Hand of God

Indeed, the believer should accept whatever comes with a gentle and thankful heart, because he knows that it is ordained by the Lord. Moreover, he must not stubbornly resist the rule of God into whose power he has placed himself and all his affairs.

So let the Christian make it his priority to drive from his breast that foolish and unfortunate comfort of pagans, who, in order to bolster their spirits against all adverse events, credit those events to fortune. They think it’s silly to be angry at fortune, since she is reckless, aimless, and blind – inflicting her wounds equally on the deserving and undeserving. In contrast, the rule of godliness is to recognize that God’s hand is the sole judge and governor of every fortune, and because His hand is not recklessly driven to fury, it distributes to us both good and ill according to His orderly righteousness.

John Calvin, A Little Book on the Christian Life (pgs. 53-54)

Fear Not Devils

I have often sat down with wonder and delight, and admired how God made the very schemes which his enemies contrived, in order to hinder, become the most effectual means to propagate his gospel… The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head. Fear not men. Be not too much cast down at the deceitfulness of your hearts. Fear not devils; you shall get victory even over them. The Lord has engaged to make you more than conquerors over all.

From a sermon from George Whitfield
Quoted in The Lamb Wins, by Richard Bewes (pg. 82).