Wonder-filled

Hundreds gathered at historic Symphony Hall in Boston on a Sunday afternoon this past May. They came to hear some of the finest musicians in the nation perform, but what many won’t soon forget happened, not during a thundering rendition of one of their favorite songs, but in a quiet moment at the conclusion of Mozart’s Masonic Funeral Music.

9-year-old Ronan Mattin was at the concert that day with his grandfather, Stephen Mattin. Ronan is autistic and considered non-verbal.

As the piece from Mozart concluded and the moment before applause was appropriate, the concert hall was suddenly filled with little Ronan’s one-word exclamation,”Wow!” There was a bit of restrained laughter. It was followed by applause as the crowd recognized what had just happened.

Ronan sat before that collection of musicians and something very special happened: the music of Mozart spoke to his heart. His response was a sense of wonder.

You and I – early in the morning, in the quiet of the evening, and other times too – have an opportunity for an infinitely greater wonder-filled moment. We can sit, not before a collection of musicians, but before a collection of holy truths and, by God’s grace, something special happens: the God of Heaven speaks to our hearts. It’s as if He leans down and through His Word whispers things like:

“I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.”

“[F]ear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

“Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you.”

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

“Be still and know that I am God.”

I encourage you to take time to study God’s Word and listen as your Father speaks to you.


Click here for a quick listen to Ronan’s “Wow!” moment.

I first saw this story when it was featured on CBS.

 

Midway Walkway

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You’ve likely seen the moving walkways they have in airports. Alice and I take advantage of the walkway at the Chicago Midway Airport on our travels to see the grandchildren. Once on board it’s easy to start “people watching” or talking to your fellow traveller and forget that you’re moving forward. You just glide along.

If we’re not careful, we as Christians can go through life like that. We can become so distracted by what’s around us that we forget that we’re moving forward. We lose sight of the fact that with each tick of the clock we’re moving closer to a point when our “ride” will come to an end.

In Psalm 90, we find reason to resist living like that. The plea of Moses was that God would “teach us to number our days.” There’s no day that shouldn’t carry kingdom significance for the believer.  

British pastor Charles Simeon (1759-1836) preached to his congregation from Colossians 1 about the preeminence of Christ. Here are a few thoughts he shared that I believe can help us as we think about making the most of each day.

O! humble yourselves before [Christ]; and now set yourselves with all diligence to honour and to glorify His name.

Let it no longer be a doubt, either in your own minds or in the minds of any that behold you, who has the preeminence in your souls.

Give yourselves wholly to Him: live altogether for Him: let your daily and hourly inquiry be, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’

We have a limited time on the walkway. May God help us to make wise use of it.


The sermon I quoted from is titled The Glory of Christ and it can be found when you click here. You’ll have to scroll past 2 other sermons.

Charles Simeon, a friend of John Newton, served for 49 years as the pastor of Trinity Church in Cambridge, England. Read or listen to Dr. John Piper’s meditations on this faithful believer’s life by clicking here.

God’s Handwriting

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Did you read the story about the surprising discovery made by Cathy McAllister, an Arizona book sale volunteer? While helping out with a big fundraiser, she opened a copy of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to find that someone had hollowed out the book and hidden $4000 in it. She first thought it was Monopoly money, according to the television report. To her credit, she tracked down the gentleman who donated the book and gave him his money back. How’s that for good character?

Ms. McAllister’s story reminded me of a sermon I came across from Charles Spurgeon. Reverend Spurgeon went into inspiring detail to describe a book he’d discovered years before. God had given him eyes to recognize that the book was a priceless treasure. It was, of course, that book of all books, the Bible.

Here are a few sentences I pulled from the transcript of that sermon from 1855. Maybe it will stir you to prize the Bible even more than you already do.

“This volume is the writing of the living God; each letter was penned with an Almighty finger; each word in it dropped from the everlasting lips; each sentence was dictated by the Holy Spirit.

[It] is God’s voice, not man’s; the words are God’s words, the words of the Eternal, the Invisible, the Almighty, the Jehovah of this earth.

This Bible is God’s Bible, and when I see it, I seem to hear a voice springing up from it, saying, ‘I am the book of God; man, read me. I am God’s writing; open my leaf, for I was penned by God; read it, for He is my author, and you will see Him visible and manifest everywhere.’ ‘I have written to him the great things of my law.’ Hosea 8:12 (KJV).

If these words were written by a man, we might reject them; but O let me think the solemn thought, that this book is God’s handwriting—that these words are God’s!

Let me look at its date; it is dated from the hills of heaven.

Let me look at its letters; they flash glory on my eye.

Let me read the chapters; they are big with meaning and mysteries unknown.

Let me turn over the prophecies; they are pregnant with unthought-of wonders.

Oh, book of books!”


“I rejoice at your Word as one who finds great treasure.” Psalm 119:162 (NKJV).

Simply Pleasing God

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I find it helpful knowing I can move through the duties of the day with one front-and-center goal and that goal is simply to please God.

Pleasing God should be a priority for His children. To align all the day’s plans with that singular goal gives even the most menial project eternal purpose. We can pick up a scrap of trash… for His pleasure.

Brother Lawrence in the 17th-century classic, The Practice of the Presence of God, pressed his readers to “think often that our only business in this life is to please God. Perhaps all besides is but folly and vanity.”

Our dear Savior came to earth as a servant, a teacher, a preacher and a perfect pattern for His followers. Despite all the sin-laden attitudes and actions of those He encountered, our elder brother always thought, spoke, and did the things that pleased His Father. And it was always with the right attitude.

Consider these thoughts from Christ: “And He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” John 8:29 (emphasis added). What a wonderful example the incarnate Son of God was for us.

The apostle Paul urged believers in Thessalonica to keep up the good work of pleasing their heavenly Master. “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1.

Our passion to please God is often stirred when we spend time in the Bible. Saturating our hearts with the truths of Scripture causes believers to love God more and to want to do what matters most to Him. Our hearts become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading when we are continually exposed to both the ways and the wonder of our glorious King.

Pleasing God flows not just from a determination to please our Father, but also from a dependence on Him to show us His will and to give us the spiritual strength to do what He calls us to do.

Paul understood that. His prayer for the church in Colossae was that they would be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to, the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. …” Colossians 1:9-13 (emphasis added).

May God give us grace to please Him more and more in the minutes, hours, days and months of this new year!

 

Unbroken Communion

I’ve been reading a small book about prayer that my pastor has quoted from recently. It’s called The Hidden Life of Prayer and it was written by Scottish pastor David McIntyre.

Reverend McIntyre talks about believers continually communicating with God throughout the course of the day. It’s that “pray without ceasing” life that the Bible promotes.

Here are a couple nuggets – old language and all – that benefited me. Hopefully, God will use them to help you as you think about what it means to visit with your Father throughout the day.

“The soil in which the prayer of faith takes root is a life of unbroken communion with God, a life which the windows of the soul are always open towards the City of Rest.

We do not know the true potency of prayer until our hearts are so steadfastly inclined to God that our thoughts turn to Him, as by a Divine instinct, whenever they are set free from the consideration of earthly things.

The saints of the Middle Ages allowed each passing incident to summon them to intercession – the shadow of the dial, the church bell, the flight of the swallow, the rising of the sun, the falling of a leaf.

One whose life is spent in fellowship with God will constantly seek and find opportunities for swift and frequently-recurring approaches to the throne of grace.”

 ~David McIntyre, 1859-1938

What an incredible privilege it is to be able to talk with the one true God as we navigate the moments that make up each day. We ask Him for help. We acknowledge our dependence on Him. We intercede for those in need. There’s praise and thanksgiving. And that’s just our side of the conversation. Surely He will give us spiritual ears to hear all the things that He has to say to us.

Abounding Grace

 

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency, in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

~2 Corinthians 9:8 (ESV)

Susannah Spurgeon was married to Reverend Charles Spurgeon for thirty-six years. During her lifetime she wrote several devotional books including A Cluster of Camphire: Words of Cheer and Comfort for Sick and Sorrowful Souls. Hopefully, you’ll find much encouragement from these thoughts taken from her chapter titled Grace Abounding.

“‘He is able!’ Say it over and over again to yourself until till you learn its blessed music; it will encourage your souls against every sort of despair.

You are very sinful; yes, but, ‘He is able to save to the uttermost.’

You are weakest of the weak. True, but, ‘He is able to keep you from falling.’

You are subject to fierce temptations, but, ‘He is able to succour [help] them that are tempted.’

You tremble lest you should not endure to the end; ah but, ‘He is able to present you faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy.’

Is not this enough? Listen, dear soul, the Master Himself says to thee, ‘Believe ye that I am able to do this?’ See to it that thy heart answers, ‘Yea, Lord,’ and then His sweet response will be, ‘According to your faith, be it unto you.'”

~Susannah Spurgeon, 1832-1901

Praise God that He is not only able to make is grace abound toward us, but that He delights to make His grace abound to sinners like us!

Christ like a River

Here are some wonderful thoughts about Christ picked from an 18th century sermon by American evangelist and theologian Jonathan Edwards.

“It is said that Christ is a river of water, because there is such a fulness in Him, so plentiful a provision for the satisfaction of the needy and longing soul.

When one is extremely thirsty, though it is not a small draught (the act of drinking) of water that will satisfy him, yet when he comes to a river, he finds a fulness, there he may drink full draughts.

Christ is like a river, in that He has a sufficiency not only for one thirsty soul, but by supplying him the fountain is not lessened; there is not the less afforded to those who come afterwards. A thirsty man does not sensibly lessen a river by quenching his thirst.

Christ is like a river in another respect. A river is continually flowing, there are fresh supplies of water coming from the fountain-head continually, so that a man may live by it, and be supplied with water all his life. So Christ is an ever-flowing fountain; He is continually supplying His people, and the fountain is not spent.

They who live upon Christ, may have fresh supplies from Him to all eternity; they may have an increase of blessedness that is new, and new still, and which never will come to an end.”

~Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1758

“O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1 (ESV)


You can hear Iain Murray’s biographical sketch of Jonathan Edwards by clicking here. It’s well worth a listen. And you can read Reverend Edwards’ entire sermon here.