It does us good to consider the return of Jesus Christ. When times are difficult, when life is sorrowful, when we are just plain weary, it does us good to shift our hearts from our circumstances to Christ’s sure and certain return. That’s the purpose of this sweet poem by Reginald Heber. “The Lord shall come,” he assures us…
The Lord will come: the earth shall quake,
The mountains to their centre shake;
And, withering from the vault of night,
The stars shall pale their feeble light.
The Lord shall come! but not the same
As once in lowliness He came,
A silent Lamb before his foes,
A weary man and full of woes.
The Lord shall come! a dreadful form,
With rainbow-wreath and robes of storm,
On cherub wings and wings of wind,
Appointed Judge of all mankind.
Can this be He, who wont to stray
A pilgrim on the world’s high way;
Oppressed by power, and mocked by pride,
The Nazarene—the crucified?
While sinners in despair shall call,
“Rocks hide us; mountains on us fall;”
The saints, ascending from the tomb,
Shall joyful sing, “The Lord is come!”
You Might also like
By Tim Challies — 2 years ago
Good morning, my friends. Grace and peace to you today.
(Yesterday on the blog: The Last (Melodramatic) Hymn)
Into the Metaverse
Samuel James: “Facebook recently announced it is changing its name to Meta—short for ‘metaverse.’ As it rebrands, it continues its movement toward posthuman ambition that has been evident for many years. For nearly a decade, Facebook has been shifting the company away from an ethos of connecting real people and toward a kind of permanent digital habitation, the contraction of life so as to fit inside algorithms.”
Is Violent Crime Under God’s Providence?
John Piper answers an urgent and important question here.
When Angels Aren’t Enough to Make You Believe
“Zacharias couldn’t believe his ears when the lot was cast and it landed on him. As a priest, he had performed thousands of animal sacrifices, but he had never had the honor of offering incense in the Holy Place. Over 20,000 priests served at the temple, and most would never set foot inside. To have your name drawn was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Zacharias took a deep breath as he stepped inside the hallowed chamber.”
The Simple Life
This is an important distinction. “Simplicity is one thing, scarcity another. One is a lifestyle you choose, and the other a lifestyle forced on you.”
The Life we Cannot Live
This is a helpful explanation of the active obedience of Christ–a key theological term.
9 Things To Know About T. B. Joshua
“In June 2021, prominent Nigerian born religious leader T.B. Joshua died, leaving a large contingent of mourning followers in Africa and around the world. With an acclaimed status as a “great man of God”, the wealthy megachurch pastor earned popularity as well as notoriety.” Here is a “snapshot of the man behind the miracles.”
Flashback: God Is Not More, Cannot Promise More, or Do More…
Why do Christians make such a big deal of Jesus? Here’s why…
The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. —John Stott
By Tim Challies — 1 year ago
One of the most intimidating things Jesus taught was that, as his followers, we should expect to be persecuted. And one of the most surprising things he taught was that, when we encounter such persecution, we should face it with joy. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12). In Dustin Benge’s book The Loveliest Place, I read a brief explanation of what Jesus means by these words, and in that explanation an interesting application: True persecution will lead to true rejoicing.
Benge says, “There is a paradoxical mystery within the words ‘Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.’ Rejoice while suffering? Be glad amid ridicule? How can this be? This mystery is unveiled in the depth of our unyielding assurance that being with Jesus in glory will far more than reward us for any suffering we have faced in this life.” This was what Paul meant to communicate to the church in Corinth when he wrote his famous words of assurance: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18).
It is our faith that sustains us in these times of persecution and our faith that gives us joy.
Our rejoicing and gladness proceed from faith in the unseen realm of eternity. The same faith that accepts Jesus Christ as Lord. The same faith that transforms us from one degree of glory to another. The same faith that stares our persecutors in the face and prays, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” These persecutions are “preparing for us” or “bringing about” an “eternal weight of glory.” The reward is out of this world, for Jesus is preparing it. To “be glad” is to enjoy a state of utter happiness and well-being. “Rejoice” is similar in meaning to being glad but is more intense. This denotes extreme gladness and extreme joy. Both these verbs in the Greek are present tense. Jesus is commanding his followers to be consistently and continually joyful and glad amid suffering and persecution.
We can rejoice even in terrible persecution because we have the faith to look ahead—to look ahead to see an eternity that, when compared to the minuscule amount of time we are called to suffer, is vast and boundless. We set our hearts and our hope on what is unseen yet completely certain.
Benge continues with an important application: “Jesus’s command to rejoice in the face of persecution leaves no room for the church to stagger into self-pity and dejection. Far too many of us are known more for our whining and complaining than for our rejoicing and gladness. Self-pity spoils the garments of Christ’s bride and defaces her beauty. The only acceptable responses to persecution are joy and celebration, with the firm assurance that our treasure resides in heaven, not in this temporal world.”
God never permits us to sink into self-pity or to shake our fists to the skies. He does not permit us to whine and complain when we face circumstances that have been decreed by his providence. Rather, he calls us to be joyful even in suffering. “Paul shows us that our joy, as believers yet in this world, is always mingled with sorrow. Believers should be ‘sorrowful, yet always rejoicing’ (2 Corinthians 6:10). We are sorrowful at the condition of the hearts of our persecutors while rejoicing that we are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”
Here is what I think we ought to consider: If we are experiencing some kind of trial, we may be able to judge whether we are being persecuted for our Christian faith by our response. If we respond to our trial with whining and griping, we are either facing persecution wrongly or perhaps not actually facing persecution at all. It could be that we are suffering the consequences of sin or being punished because of our rebellion against authority. It could be that we are provoking unbelievers to anger because of our poor behavior. It could be that God is chastising us for our unrepentant sin. It could be that we are not being persecuted at all.
However, if we experience hardship at the hands of men—suffering, trials, injustices—and find our hearts rejoicing rather than embittered, thankful rather than spiteful, satisfied rather than grumbly, we may well take this as evidence that we are suffering persecution and being filled with God’s Spirit to endure it well, to endure it for his glory. In that way, we can know we are being persecuted by our joyful response.
By Tim Challies — 2 years ago
God makes us to be different from one another. He makes us to have different gifts and talents, to have different dispositions and personalities. He even makes us to relate to him in different ways, so that some of us most feel God’s pleasure when we are deeply engaged in a worship service and others when we are deeply engaged in serving God by serving others. It takes many parts to make one unified, functioning body.
I have observed as well that God makes some people to have a faith that is very simple and others to have a faith that is very complex. Some people come to faith and enter into a lifelong battle to believe some of the Bible’s most basic promises about forgiveness and assurance and perseverance. They may spend their entire Christian life, from new birth to death, scouring Scripture and reading good books and listening to sermons and lectures, all to help them better understand such matters.
Meanwhile, other people come to faith and never seem to have to wrestle with much at all. They take God at his word and feel little need to wade out into the deep theological waters. Their attitude is, “God says it, therefore it’s true and I’ll believe it.” Their personalities are such that they don’t suffer the deep doubts or even ask the big questions.
But here’s the thing: People of complex faith are prone to see apathy in those of simple faith, and people of simple faith are prone to see obsessiveness in those of complex faith. Both can grow weary and suspicious of the other.
Consider a woman who has a complex faith—who is committed to studying, wrestling, laboring with doctrine. She loves to read good books. She loves to go deep into Scripture. She loves to attend Christian conferences. Well and good. But she can easily grow frustrated with her husband who has a much simpler faith. It is a faith that is no less real, no less tested, no less tenacious—just much less complicated. Yet to that wife, this husband can look indifferent, apathetic, and perhaps concerningly unspiritual.
Meanwhile, the husband is prone to grow weary with his wife and to see her faith as obsessive. Because he doesn’t wrestle with the big questions, he doesn’t naturally understand why anyone would. Because he derives little joy and benefit from constantly reading Christian books, he can grow weary with his wife when she does.
In this scenario, both the husband and wife are making their own faith normative, then judging the other not by any divine standard, but by their own. In this scenario both husband and wife are failing to honor the faith of their spouse—failing to honor the way God has made them.
I was once chatting with one of the older women from our church. Each of us was recounting the giant stack of books we had read in the past year—each one an attempt to better understand God, each one an attempt to address a weakness, each one an attempt to increment our growth in sanctification. And along the way we realized our spouses may have read three or four between them. We paused to laugh at ourselves and to consider this simple fact: There is no evidence that we are any holier than our spouses. There is no evidence that they are languishing while we are thriving. They are just different from us—different in their spiritual make-up, different in the way they love and honor God, perhaps different in the depth of the pit God has to dig us out of. We agreed we would choose to honor that difference instead of striving against it, to celebrate it instead of lamenting it.
And so, as husbands relate to wives and wives to husbands, I urge the simple to honor the complex and the complex the simple. As parents relate to their children and attempt to foster their young faith by instilling spiritual habits and patterns of devotion, I urge them to get to know their children as they are, not as them wish them to be. As members of a local church relate to one another, I urge the complex to set aside a sense of superiority and the simple to set aside a sense of frustration. We are different precisely because God has chosen to make us different. And vive la différence, I say!