Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Check in With The Cloud

  • What have you been reading? What are you currently reading?
  • Have you finished anything for the challenge?
  • Have you read any new-to-you authors yet?
  • Have you found any new favorites?
  • Are you writing down favorite quotes? Have any to share?
  • Have you learned anything that you'd like to share?
  • Would you be interested in reading a book together? If so, what month would be good for you?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Godspeed

Godspeed: Voices of the Reformation. David Teems. 2017. Abingdon Press. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It was William Tyndale, with his 1526 English New Testament, who introduced the word godspeed into the English language. Tyndale lived in the shadows of death. Hounded by a very large, widespread, and oppressive religious body, he lived with the understanding that each day could be his last. Yet far from crippling his efforts or restraining his spirit, it gave him clarity and deepened his resolve. It sharpened his natural gifts as well as his aim, proving, as it did with most of the reformers, that Christianity is always at its best when under fire.

Premise/plot: Godspeed is a new year-long devotional by David Teems. The focus is on the Reformers and the Reformation: William Tyndale, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, John Wycliffe, Jan Has, Ulrich Zwingli, Anne Askew, Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Thomas Cranmer,  Girolamo Savonarola, etc. Teems writes, "This little book doesn’t pretend to be a history, and it doesn’t always behave like a devotional."

Each entry features a quote by a Reformer, a short devotional message, a prayer, and a scripture verse.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed reading this devotional book. Some entries I loved more than others. But overall, I'd say it is a thought-provoking, substantive choice for a devotional book. Perhaps this is of more interest to history-lovers and church-history lovers. But the Reformers can teach us all a little something. So don't be intimidated by the idea of reading "ancient" theologians.

I loved reading the quotes. I liked Teems' devotions and prayers. Some of the prayers were really compelling.

David Teems:

  • Being saturated with the gospel makes you vulnerable to an intimate fellowship not only with God but with life around you, the two not easily separated. It is love for love’s sake, not for reward or gain but simply because it is asked of me.
  • There is no divide, Tyndale writes, between the Christian and any living soul. Love has no division in it, and therefore no politics. It has a cross instead. The believer sees Christ in all of humanity, and serves accordingly. It refines perception. Clears the eye, so to speak.
  • “Let God worry” is an entire theology. Luther once told Philip Melanchthon, “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. Even if you should fall down the stairs or should suddenly expire while you are writing, it wouldn’t matter. Let it be!”
  • May the Word sustain you when the world has lost its mind, when truth cannot be determined from lies. May it be the earth beneath your feet. May you neither slip nor fall out of rhythm.
  •  I often use present tense when writing about Tyndale. His writing seems too alive, too present not to.
  • Lord, give me the courage to examine the way I love, how I invest myself in others, at what depths, how much of myself am I willing to give away for nothing in return. Leave your print in me. 
  • Did William Tyndale translate the Bible or did the Bible translate William Tyndale? When you read Tyndale, it takes very little work to detect the consistencies in him, the themes he gravitates to, that repeat themselves again and again. Everything he does, everything he thinks, is, like his very soul, tethered to the Word of God. Before he translated a single word from one language to the next, the Word was at work translating him. Feeding on the Word, saturating himself with the Word daily altered him. Improvement led to improvement, compounding along the way, even as the scripture says, “to everyone who has, more will be given.” 
  • Hypocrisy is little more than scorn disguised and polished. Truth is, who would shut up the kingdom of heaven before men has never truly tasted of the kingdom, has never been humble enough, or desperate enough, or in love enough to understand it. 
  • If William Tyndale or Martin Luther or any of the reformers, including those martyred, could somehow visit us presently, what would their reaction be? What would they see? A fat church? A heady, bloat and overfed, overindulged church, where the gospel is something to draw a fiery sermon from, point a few fingers, raise the voice a few decibels, take up a collection, then go on their way? Would they see the faithful exercising their faith, following the simple words of Christ? Would they think their work was not yet complete? Or worse, that reform had failed? 
  • “If I were addicted to God’s Word at all times alike,” Luther said, “and always had such love and desire thereunto as sometimes I have, I should account myself the most blessed man on earth. But the loving apostle, St. Paul, failed also, as he complains, with sighs, saying: ‘I see another law in my members warring against the law in my mind.’” Not to step too lightly around his moderately self-deprecating confession, but it is the Word in Luther that gives him (and Paul) a clear and intimate look at his own soul. Here it plays the mirror. Scripture, with its deep inward gaze. We will not achieve God or have his mind simply by the exercise of our wit. It is not something that can be taught, that submits to reason, or that we can do for ourselves. 
  • Tyndale inspired a new taste for scripture, a new taste for the English language itself. With this new school of thought, instruction was necessary. For Tyndale, behind the pursuit of scripture is the desire for God, unless it be of little effect. The scripture both inspires and nurtures this desire. The Word acts as medication to the ills of man, both psychological and spiritual. The closer one gets to the center, that is, from the superficial, the more powerful that medicine becomes, the closer one gets to the warm middle, or the pith, as the translator calls it, where the light is on and remains on.
  • May the Word of God be your shield, your strong and high tower, your refuge in a time of flight, your peace in a time of calamity. May it have access to your thought life, to the secrets you keep there. May it be the answer when you have none, when you are mute. May it embolden. May it give you courage in a desperate time, wisdom in a time of doubt and uncertainty. May everything you do, everything you set your hand to have the seal of God upon it. And may you rest peaceful at day’s end, content with your labor. Where you fail or fall short, may the Word comfort even as it corrects. May it be your confidence in this world, your backbone, your clear eye, the depository of all you do and hope. Amen.  
  • May worship be the strong motive in all you do, in all you consider, all you debate in the heart. May it help construct your sentences, adding tone, color, and something weightless. May it teach you how to choose. May it be attractive on you. And conspicuous. May it change you by day’s end, and in pleasant unexpected ways.
  • May your mind be overwhelmed with the goodness of God. May he sanctify your imagination, and inform your dreams. May he give you a clear eye, a mop and broom to refine your thought life. 
  • May reform never sleep in you or grow dull. May you find the courage to keep the engine running smoothly and consistently, even when the mirror says unflattering things. What reform seeks is you, the authentic, very you, nothing less. Let it work a lifetime.  

Martin Luther quotes:

  • No man understands the Scriptures unless he be acquainted with the cross. —Table Talk
  • Only spiritual trial teaches what Christ is. —Martin Luther 
  • A Christian lives not to himself, but in Christ and his neighbor. Otherwise he is not a Christian. He lives in Christ through faith, in his neighbor through love. By faith he is caught up beyond himself into God. By love he descends beneath himself into his neighbor. Yet he always remains in God and in his love, as Christ says in John 1:51, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” —The Freedom of a Christian Man
  • Mother love is stronger than the filth and scabbiness on a child, and so the love of God toward us is stronger than the dirt that clings to us. —Table Talk 
  • But you will know the gospel when you hear the voice which tells you that Christ Himself is yours, together with His life, teaching, work, death, resurrection, and everything he has, does, or can do. —The Freedom of a Christian Man
  • No greater mischief can happen to a Christian people, than to have God’s Word taken from them, or falsified, so that they no longer have it pure and clear. God grant we and our descendants be not witnesses of such a calamity. —Table Talk
  • There is no other way in which man can meet or deal with God but by faith. It is not man by any works of his, but God, who by His own promise is the author of salvation; so that everything depends, is contained, and preserved in the word of His power, by which He begot us, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of His creation. —On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church 
  • God styles himself, in all the Holy Scriptures, a God of life, of peace, of comfort, and joy, for the sake of Christ. I hate myself, that I cannot believe it so constantly and surely as I should; but no human creature can rightly know how mercifully God is inclined toward those that steadfastly believe in Christ. —Table Talk
  • Pray and let God worry. —Last letter to his wife, Katy von Bora, before his death
  • If I am to have no other God, then I must surely possess the only true God with my heart, that is, I must in my heart be affectionate to him, evermore cleave to him, depend upon him, trust him, have my desire, love and joy in him, and always think of him. Just as we say at other times when we delight in something, that it tastes good in our very heart. —The Two Greatest Commandments
  • He heard naked me, who am nothing, when I called, and this not because of my righteousness, which is His and which I received from His hand. But if he is the ‘God of my righteousness,’ He is, then, also the God of all my good things. —Lectures on the Psalms
  • My counsel is, that we draw water from the true source and fountain, that is, that we diligently search the Scriptures. He who wholly possesses the text of the Bible, is a consummate divine. One single verse, one sentence of the text, is of far more instruction than a whole host of glosses and commentaries, which are neither strongly penetrating nor armor of proof. —Table Talk 
  •  It is a great lesson, how mighty divine truth is, which presses through, though she be hemmed in ever so closely; the more she is read, the more she moves and takes possession of the heart. —Table Talk
  •  Oh! how great and glorious a thing it is to have before one the Word of God! With that we may at all times feel joyous and secure; we need never be in want of consolation, for we see before us, in all its brightness, the pure and right way. He who loses sight of the Word of God, falls into despair; the voice of heaven no longer sustains him; he follows only the disorderly tendency of his heart, and of world vanity, which lead him on to his destruction. —Table Talk
  • For to those who meditate on the Law the very rock of Scripture gushes forth abundant streams and flowing waters of knowledge and wisdom, and grace and sweetness besides. —Lectures on the Psalms
  • In my heart reigns this one article, faith in my dear Lord Christ, the beginning, middle and end of whatever spiritual and divine thoughts I may have, whether by day or by night. —Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians 
  • So a Christian who lives in this confidence toward God knows all things, can do all things, undertakes all things that are to be done, and does everything cheerfully and freely; not that he may gather many merits and good works, but because it is a pleasure for him to please God thereby, and he serves God purely for nothing, content that his service pleases God. —A Treatise on Good Works
  • Prayer is a powerful thing, if only one believes in it, for God has attached and bound himself to it [by his promises]. —A Simple Way to Pray, 1535
  • But where there is such an idle and grudging heart there can be no singing, or at least no singing of anything good. Cheerful and merry must we be in heart and mind, when we would sing. —4th Preface to Valentine Bapst’s Hymn-Book, 1545
  • He who loses sight of the Word of God, falls into despair; the voice of heaven no longer sustains him; he follows only the disorderly tendency of his heart, and of world vanity, which lead him on to his destruction. —Table Talk 
  • Think of the Scriptures as the loftiest and noblest of holy things, as the richest of mines which can never be sufficiently explored, in order that you might find divine wisdom which God here lays before you in such simple guise as to quench all pride. Here you will find the swaddling cloths and the manger in which Christ lies, and to which the angel points the shepherds. Simple and lowly are these swaddling cloths, but dear is the treasure, Christ, who lies in them. —Watchwords for the Warfare of Life 
  • When Jesus Christ utters a word, he opens his mouth so wide that it embraces all heaven and earth, even though that word be but in a whisper. The word of the emperor is powerful, but that of Jesus Christ governs the whole universe. —Table Talk
  • For some years now I have read through the Bible twice every year. If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of these branches because I wanted to know what it was and what it meant. —Table Talk
  • A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it. —Debate at Leipzig 
  • Christians pray without ceasing; though they pray not always with their mouths, yet their hearts pray continually, sleeping and waking; for the sigh of a true Christian is a prayer. In like manner, a true Christian always carries the cross, though he feel it not always. —Table Talk  
  • For the greatest and only consolation of Christians in their adversities, is the knowing that God lies not, but does all things immutably, and that His will cannot be resisted, changed, or hindered. —Bondage of the Will
  • The Holy Scripture is the highest and best of books, abounding in comfort under all afflictions and trials. It teaches us to see, to feel, to grasp, and to comprehend faith, hope, and charity, far otherwise than mere human reason can; and when evil oppresses us, it teaches how these virtues throw light upon the darkness, and how, after this poor miserable existence of ours on earth, there is another and an eternal life. —Table Talk 
  • This is real strength, to trust in God when to all our senses and reason he appears to be angry; and to have greater confidence in him than we feel. —A Treatise on Good Works 
  • Our Lord God must be a devout man to be able to love knaves. I can’t do it, although I am myself a knave. —Table Talk
  • Faith is not a quiet and idle, but a living, restless thing, that either retrogrades or advances, lives and moves; and where this does not occur, faith does not exist, but only a lifeless notion of the heart concerning God. For true, living faith, which the Holy Spirit pours into the heart, cannot be inactive. —What Is Faith, Sermon no. 107 (21st Sunday after Trinity)
  • The search after the Word has been, from the beginning of the world, the source of great danger; few people can hit it, unless God, through his Holy Spirit, teach it them in their hearts. —Table Talk 
  • To worship means to stoop and bow down the body with external gestures; to serve in the work. But to worship God in spirit is the service and honor of the heart; it comprehends faith and fear in God. The worshipping of God is two-fold, outward and inward—that is, to acknowledge God’s benefits, and to be thankful unto him. —Table Talk
  • A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing. —Table Talk
  • A fiery shield is God’s Word; of more substance and purer than gold, which, tried in the fire, loses naught of its substance, but resists and overcomes all the fury of the fiery heat; even so, he that believes God’s Word overcomes all, and remains secure everlastingly, against all misfortunes; for this shield fears nothing, neither hell nor the devil. —Table Talk 
  • When God’s word is not preached, one had better neither sing nor read, or even come together. . . . We can spare everything except the Word. —Concerning the Order of Public Worship

William Tyndale quotes:

  • If we be in Christ we work for no worldly purpose, but of love. —The Obedience of a Christian Man
  • But you, reader, think of the law of God how that it is altogether spiritual, and so spiritual that it is never fulfilled with deeds or works until they flow out of your heart with as great love toward your neighbor, for no deserving of his, though he be your enemy, as Christ loved you and died for you, for no deserving of yours, but even when you were his enemy. —Prologue to The Story of the Prophet Jonas 
  • If any man ask me, seeing that faith justifies me why I work? I answer love compels me. —“Prologue Showing the Use of the Scripture”
  • The scriptures spring out of God and flow unto Christ, and were given to lead us to Christ. Thou must therefore go along by the scripture as by a line, until thou come at Christ, which is the way’s end and resting place. —The Obedience of a Christian Man 
  • We should leave searching God’s secrets and give diligence to walk according to that he has opened unto us. —“Prologue into the Fifth Book of Moses Called Deuteronomy” 
  • Where love is not, there is nothing that pleaseth God. For that one should love another, is all that God requireth of us. —“Prologue to the Epistle of Paul to the Romans” 
  • He that loveth not my dog loveth not me. Not that a man should love my dog first, but if a man loved me, the love wherewith he loved me would compel him to love my dog, though the dog deserved it not. —Parable of the Wicked Mammon 
  • We are in eternal life already and feel already in our hearts the sweetness thereof, and are overcome with the kindness of God and Christ. —Parable of the Wicked Mammon
  • As thou readest therefore think that every syllable pertaineth to thine own self, and suck out the pith of the scripture, and arm thyself against all assaults. —“Prologue Showing the Use of the Scripture” 
  • God giveth no man his grace that he should let it lay still and do no good withal, but that he should increase it and multiply it with lending it to others, and with open declaring of it with the outward works, provoke and draw others to God. —Parable of the Wicked Mammon  
  • Love God, cleave to God, dread, serve, bow, pray, and call on God, believe and trust in God, and such like. . . . God is honored in his own person when we receive all things, both good and bad, at his hand; and love his law with all our hearts; and believe, hope, and long for all that he promiseth. —Tyndale’s Answer to Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue
  • Among Christian men, love makes all things common; every man is the other’s debtor, and every man is bound to minister to his neighbor, and to supply his neighbor’s lack of that wherewith God has endowed him. —The Parable of the Wicked Mammon 
  • Prayer is a mourning, a longing, and a desire of the man mourns and sorrows in his heart, longing for health. Faith ever prays. —Parable of the Wicked Mammon
  • God worketh with his word, and in his word. And as his word is preached, faith rooteth herself in the hearts of the elect, and as faith entereth, and the word of God is believed, the power of God looseth the heart from the captivity and bondage under sin, and knitteth and coupleth him to God, and to the will of God. —Parable of the Wicked Mammon 
  • First, he is our Redeemer, Deliverer, Solicitor, our Hope, Comfort, Shield, Protection, Defender, Strength, Health, Satisfaction and Salvation. His blood, his death, all that he ever did, is ours. And Christ himself, with all that he is or can do, is ours. —A Pathway Into the Holy Scripture
  • Cleave fast unto the naked and pure word of God. The promise of God is the anchor that saveth us in all temptations. If all the world be against us, God’s word is stronger than the world. If the world kill us, that shall make us alive again. —The Obedience of a Christian Man 
  • Neighbor is a word of love, and signifieth that a man should be ever nigh and at hand, and ready to help in time of need. —Parable of the Wicked Mammon
  • So now the Scripture is a light and shows us the true way, both what to do and what to hope. —Parable of the Wicked Mammon
  • No man verily can read it [scripture] too oft or study it too well: for the more it is studied the easier it is, the more it is chewed the pleasanter it is, and the more groundly it is searched the preciouser things are found in it, so great treasure of spiritual things lieth hid therein. —Prologue to the Epistle of Paul to the Romans 
  • It is not enough therefore to read and talk of it only, but we must also desire God day and night instantly to open our eyes, and to make us understand and feel wherefore [why] the scripture was given, that we may apply the medicine of the scripture, every man to his own sores, unless that we intend to be idle disputers, and brawlers about vain words, ever gnawing upon the bitter bark without and never attaining unto the sweet pith within, and persecuting one another for defending of lewd imaginations and fanstasies of our own invention. —“Prologue Showing the Use of the Scripture”
  • Except a man cast away his own imagination and reason, he cannot perceive God, and understand the virtue and power of the blood of Christ. —A Pathway into the Holy Scripture
  • Christ is with us until the world’s end. Let his little flock be bold therefore. For if God be on our side, what does it matter who is against us, be they bishops, cardinals, popes, or whatsoever names they will? Mark this also, if God sends you to the sea, and promises to go with you, and to bring you safe to land, he will raise up a tempest against you, to prove whether you will abide by his word, and that you may feel your faith, and perceive his goodness. For if it were always fair weather, and you were never brought into such jeopardy, when his mercy only delivered you, your faith should be but a presumption, and you should be ever unthankful to God and merciless unto your neighbor. . . . We are called to a kingdom that must be won with suffering only, as a sick man wins his health. . . . To cleave, therefore, fast unto Christ, and unto those promises which God has made us for his sake, is our wisdom. —The Obedience of a Christian Man
  • Now am I God’s only, and ought to serve nothing but God and his word. My body must serve the rulers of this world, and my neighbor, as God has appointed it, and so must all my goods; but my soul must serve God only, to love his law and to trust in his promises of mercy, in all my deeds. —Tyndale’s Answer to Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue
  • Faith is then a living and steadfast trust in the favor of God, wherewith we commit ourselves altogether unto God, and that trust is so surely grounded and sticks so fast in our hearts, that a man would not once doubt of it, though he should die a thousand times therefore. —“The Prologue to the Epistle of Paul to the Romans” 

John Calvin quotes:

  • He must be of a high and great spirit that undertakes to serve the people in body and soul, for he must suffer the utmost danger and unthankfulness. —Golden Booklet on the True Christian Life 
  • It is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself. —Institutes of the Christian Religion 
  • For, until men feel that they owe everything to God, that they are cherished by his paternal care, and that he is the author of all their blessings, so that nought is to be looked for away from him, they will never submit to him in voluntary obedience; nay, unless they place their entire happiness in him, they will never yield up their whole selves to him in truth and sincerity. —Institutes of the Christian Religion 
  • Doctrine is not an affair of the tongue, but of the life; is not apprehended by the intellect and memory merely, like other branches of learning; but is received only when it possesses the whole soul, and finds its seat and habitation in the inmost recesses of the heart. Let them, therefore, either cease to insult God, by boasting that they are what they are not, or let them show themselves not unworthy disciples of their divine Master. To doctrine in which our religion is contained we have given the first place, since by it our salvation commences; but it must be transfused into the breast, and pass into the conduct, and so transform us into itself, as not to prove unfruitful. —Golden Booklet on the True Christian Life 
  • A Christian ought to be disposed and prepared to keep in mind that he has to reckon with God every moment of his life. —Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life 
  • But it is foolish to attempt to prove to infidels that the Scripture is the Word of God. This it cannot be known to be, except by faith. Justly, therefore, does Augustine remind us, that every man who would have any understanding in such high matters must previously possess piety and mental peace. —Institutes of the Christian Religion
  • There is not one little blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make men rejoice. —Sermon 10, 1 Corinthians  


  • When God demands confession, he wills that our whole life be a confession. —Good Works, Philip Melanchthon
  • Let us reverently hear and read Holy Scripture, which is the food of the soul. Let us diligently search for the well of life in the books of the New and Old Testament, and not run to the stinking puddles of men’s traditions, devised by men’s imaginations, for our justification and salvation. —Homily on Scripture, Thomas Cranmer
  • Feed ye tenderly, with all diligence, the flock of Christ. Preach truly the word of God. Love the light, walk in the light, and so be ye the children of light while ye are in this world, that ye may shine in the world that is to come bright as the sun, with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; to whom be all honour, praise, and glory. Amen. —Sermon before parliament began, 9 June 1537, Hugh Latimer
  • It is better to die well, than to live wrongly . . . who is afraid of death loses the joy of life. —Letter to Christian of Prachaticz, Jan Has 
  • The human heart cannot be satisfied with partial knowledge, but always desires knowledge that is more complete. So the more the heart knows God, the more it desires to know Him completely. —Triumph of the Cross, Girolamo Savonarola 
  • Above all else, truth conquers. He conquers who is put to death because no adversity harms him if no iniquity has rule over him. —Letter to Christian of Prachaticz, 1413, Jan Has

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

My Summer with Psalm 119 #28

As a few of you know, I love, love, LOVE Psalm 119. I thought it would be great to spend a summer focusing on that psalm and what others have had to say about it. I'll begin with Thomas Manton's Exposition of Psalm 119. It may take all summer to read all 158 sermons. But they're so GOOD, so RICH, I think it will be worth it.

Sermon 36 (Psalm 119:32)

  • THE man of God had promised to run the way of God’s commandments; but being conscious of many swervings, beggeth God further to teach him. In the words two things are observable:— 1. A prayer for grace. 2. A promise made upon supposition of obtaining the grace asked. He promiseth— [1.] Diligence and accuracy of practice, I will keep it. [2.] Perseverance, unto the end.
  • First, In the prayer for grace observe— 1. The person to whom he prays, O Lord. 2. The person for whom, teach me. 3. The grace for which he prayeth, to be taught. 4. The object of this teaching, the way of God’s statutes. The teaching which he beggeth is not speculative, but practical; to learn how to walk in the way of God.
  • Divine teaching is necessary for all those that would walk in the way of God’s statutes. We have lost our way to true happiness. Adam lost it, and all mankind in him; ever since we have been wandering up and down: Ps. 14:3.
  • We can never find it of ourselves till God reveal it to us: He hath showed thee, man, what is good,’ Micah 6:8. It is well for man that he hath God for his teacher, who hath given him a stated rule by which good and evil may be determined.
  • As the book of the scriptures is necessary to expound the book of the creatures, so and much more is the light of the Spirit to expound the book of the scriptures. Others teach the ear, but God openeth the heart. The rule is one thing, and the guide is another. The means were never intended to take off our dependence upon God, but to engage it rather, that we may look up for his blessing.
  • The work of the Spirit is to take off the scales from our eyes, that we may see clearly what the scripture speaketh clearly.
  • The difference between the way of God and the way of sin. We have need of none to teach us to do evil—Vitia etiam sine magistro discuntur; we have that from nature; but in the way of God we must be taught and taught again; God must be our teacher and daily monitor.
  • 2. It informs us that as to knowledge and direction there must be much done.
  • [1.] That some doctrine should be revealed by God, by which he might understand how God stood affected towards him, and he ought to be affected towards God. [2.] That this doctrine being revealed by God, it should be kept safe and sound, free from oblivion and corruption, in some public and authentic record, especially in these last times, when not only the canon is enlarged, but the church propagated far and near, and ob noxious to so many calamities, and men are short-lived, and there are not such authentic witnesses to preserve the credit of a divine revelation. [3.] That this writing and record be known to come from God’s own hand by some infallible proof, to the end that it may be entertained with the more reverence. [4.] To own this authority, and discern God’s mind, we need a suit able faculty, or a heart disposed by the Holy Ghost to receive the proof which God offereth, namely, that we should be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and open our eyes. [5.] It is not enough to own our rule, but we must be continually excited to study it, that we may come to a saving measure of the knowledge of God’s mind in the word. [6.] After some knowledge our ignorance is apt to return upon us, unless the Holy Ghost do still enlighten us and warn us of our duty upon all occasions.
  • Use 2. In the sincerity of your hearts go to God for his teaching. God is pleased with the request.
  • 1. The way of God’s statutes is worthy to be found by all. 2. So hard to be found and kept by any. 3. It is so dangerous to miss it, that this should quicken us to be earnest with God. 
  • 1. It is so worthy to be found; it is the way to eternal life and to escape eternal death; and in matters of such a concernment no diligence can be too much: Prov. 15:24, The way of life is above to the wise, to depart from hell  beneath.’ It is the way that leadeth to life and true happiness. 
  • 2. It is so hard to find and keep; it is a narrow way: Mat. 7:13, 14, Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat; because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’ There is defect, here excess. A gracious spirit, that would keep with God in all things, is sensible of the difficulty; there are many ways that lead to hell, but one way to heaven. 
  • 3. It is so dangerous to miss it in whole or in part; in whole, you are undone for ever; in part, in every false religion such disadvantages, so little of God’s presence and the comforts of his Spirit: 1 Cor. 3:15, If any man’s work shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.’ A man should look after the most clear and safe way to heaven.
  • Doct. 2. That divine teaching is earnestly desired by God’s children.
  • Do we look after spiritual knowledge, such as will not only store the head with notions, but enter upon the heart?
  • Doct. 3. All that teaching that we expect or get from God must still be directed to practice: Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes, and I shall keep it unto the end.’
  • 1. This is God’s intention in teaching, therefore should be our end in learning. The end of sound knowledge is obedience: Deut. iv. 5, 6, Behold I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it: keep therefore and do them, for this is thy wisdom.’ Others do little more than learn them by rote, when they know them only to talk of them, or fashion their notions and plausible opinions that they may hang together.
  • 2. It is not the knowing, but obeying, will make us happy. We desire to know the way that we may come to the end of the journey; to inquire the way and sit still will not further us: Blessed are they that hear the word and keep it,’ Luke 11:28;’ He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction,’ Prov. 10:17. None but desire to be happy; walk in God’s way; he goeth on right that submitteth to the directions of the word.
  • 3. All the comfort and sweetness is in keeping: Ps. 19:11, In keeping thy commandments there is a great reward;’ many sweet experiences. Notions breed a delectation when they are right, but nothing comparable to practice.
  • 4. He that will do shall know: John 7:17, If any man will do his will, he shall know the doctrine whether it be of God.’ Such as truly fear God, and make conscience of every known duty in their practice, have God’s promise that they shall be able to discern and distinguish between doctrine and doctrine; others provoke God to withhold light from them. Not that the godly are infallible. Alas! the best men’s humours and fleshly passions do often mislead them, but this is the fruit of their careless walking.
  • Use 1. Is to reprove them that desire knowledge, but only to inform their judgments or satisfy their curiosity, not to govern their hearts in the fear of God, or to reform their practices.
  • Use 2. It directeth us in our desires of knowledge, what should be our scope. Come with a fixed resolution to obey, and refer all to practice. Knowledge is the means, doing is the end: Deut. 5:31, I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.’
  • Doct. 4. In this practice we must be sincere and constant. I will keep it’— 1. Having such a help as this continual direction. 2. Such an engagement as this condescension to direct and warn a poor creature. And to the end,’ that is to the end of my life; there is no other period to our obedience but death.
  • [1.] It is not enough to begin a good course, but we must go on in it, if we mean to reach the goal, else all our labour is lost; the end crowneth the work. [2.] God, that made us begin, doth also make us to continue to the end. Is the beginning from God, the end and perfection from us? This is to ascribe that which is less perfect to God, and that which is more perfect to us.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

My Summer with Psalm 119 #27

As a few of you know, I love, love, LOVE Psalm 119. I thought it would be great to spend a summer focusing on that psalm and what others have had to say about it. I'll begin with Thomas Manton's Exposition of Psalm 119. It may take all summer to read all 158 sermons. But they're so GOOD, so RICH, I think it will be worth it.

Sermon 35 (Psalm 119:32)

  • God only can enlarge the heart. We are sluggish, and loath to stir a foot in the ways of obedience, therefore God must enlarge.
  • From first to last God doth all in the work of grace; he gives the habit and act. He plants graces in the heart, knowledge, faith, love, and delight; and then excites and quickens them to act. The habit of grace is called the seed of God,’ 1 John 3:9; there it begins.
  • Before we can fly we must get wings, we must have grace before we can run the way of God’s commandments; and then quickening of the habits, the exciting of the soul to action; the deed as well as the will, Phil. 2:13; it is from God, the first inclination and actual accomplishment; he giveth to will, that is, the first inclination: 1 Kings 8:58, That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways,’ &c. And then the deed, the outward expression of our obedience, it is still from God: Acts 4:29, the apostle goes to God for that, Grant unto thy servants that, with all boldness, they may speak thy word;’
  • 1. It is your duty to engage and consent to give up yourselves to God’s service whatever comes of it:
  • As this is your duty, so, whether you resolve or no, you are already obliged by God’s command. This actual resolution of entering into covenant with God is only required as a means to strengthen us. Natural relations enforce duty without consent; a father is a father whether a child will own him in the quality of that relation, yea or nay. God’s right is valid whether you will consent or not. Actual consent or purpose in your heart doth not give God greater right, but makes duty more implicit and active upon your own hearts. We cannot make the bonds of duty stronger, for God’s authority is greater than ours, but we have a deeper sense when we own God’s authority by our own engagement. 
  • Make it, then keep it in God’s strength. Make it, but remember, your security lieth in God’s promises, not in your own. It is your duty to engage to God; but as to the event, you cannot say you can go through with it, unless the Lord put in with his grace.
  • Good purposes are the root of good works, and without the root there is no fruit to be expected. A true and inward purpose will not let us be idle, but still urging and soliciting us to that which is good, then we make a business of religion; whereas otherwise we make but a sport and recreation, that is, mind it only by the by.
  • Empty promises signify nothing unless they are the result of the heart’s determination.
  • When you have weighty reasons and considerations to bear you up, you are more likely to hold. Sit down and count the charges; if you resolve for God, see what it is like to cost you, and consider where it is likely to fail, what difficulties you are most likely to meet withal, what lusts are most apt to break your purpose.
  • Resolution is for the weighty things of Christianity, or cleaving to God in a course of obedience, not for some by-matters. Resolve on the most necessary work.
  • Again, this resolution is propounded universally, indefinitely, in the way of God’s commandments,’ whatever shall appear to be the will of God. When our consent is bounded with reservations, we do not come up to the mind of God, and that will bring you but half way to heaven. He that is half holy, half religious, will be but half saved.
  • There is an end for which man was appointed, and that was to seek after true happiness. All desire to be happy by an inclination of nature, for hereunto were we appointed by God.
  • This true happiness lieth in the enjoyment of God; that is the great end of reasonable creatures, angels and men, actively to glorify God, and to enjoy him: other creatures were made to glorify him objectively, but not to enjoy him.
  • We never come to ourselves till we consider the end why we were born and why God sent us into the world. Whence am I? why do I live here? To delight myself in the creature, to wallow in pleasures, or to look after communion with God? We live but as beasts, not as men, till we return and remember our creator, in the enjoyment of whom is our only happiness.
  • There should be a decree in our souls for God; God is my scope, Christ my way; I must take him; I will go about this work, walk in this way, that I may at length enjoy him.
  • Christ is running to you to snatch you out of the fire, and will you not run towards him?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, September 18, 2017

Music Review: Saints of Zion

Saints of Zion. Jeff Lippencott & R.C. Sproul. 2017. Ligonier. 67 minutes. [Source: Gift]

This is the second hymn collection Ligonier has done. The first was Glory to the Holy One. I loved, loved, loved it. The second album is similar in style to the first. So if you loved the first album, don't hesitate to buy the second. The music is beautiful--classical, orchestral. Jeff Lippencott is wonderful. Sproul does a good job as well in writing the lyrics.

Saints of Zion is a collection of fifteen new hymns for the church. Most of the lyrics are linked closely with specific Scripture texts. I've included those Scripture texts in parenthesis. I would say that "How Beautiful Your Songs of Praise" and "Alleluia" are inspired by the book of Psalms as a whole. These selections are wonderful. Here we have some of my absolute favorite Scriptures.

  1. Saints of Zion (Hebrews 11)
  2. Create, O God, A Pure, Clean Heart (Psalm 51)
  3. Grace of God (Ephesians 2)
  4. Psalm of the Shepherd (Psalm 23)
  5. Veni Domine (Luke 2)
  6. Magnificat (Luke 1)
  7. How Beautiful Your Songs of Praise 
  8. Ascension (Acts 1:8-11)
  9. The Word Made Flesh  (based on the Ligonier Statement on Christology)
  10. Ways of the Righteous (Psalm 1)
  11. Hear Me, Lord (Psalm 30)
  12. He Works His Will (Ephesians 1)
  13. Where He Is Now (John 14)
  14. The New Jerusalem (Revelation 21)
  15. Alleluia 
I hope you'll consider including "Veni Domine," "Magnificat," and "The Word Made Flesh" on your Christmas playlists. 

The album makes for easy listening. I'll be honest. The album makes for great napping. I don't mean that in an offensive way. I mean that in the best possible way. 

  • Few things are as theological as sleep. Show me your sleep pattern and I’ll show you your theology, because we all preach a sermon in and by our sleep. ~ David Murray
  • Question: Which of the Ten Commandments can you keep in your sleep? Answer: The sixth commandment, because, as the following statistics demonstrate, getting enough sleep is an act of loving your neighbor. ~ David Murray
  • If our schools substituted sleepology for algebra, our society would be much healthier, safer, and brighter. Despite sleep taking up a quarter to a third of our lives and having such an influence on the remainder, most of us leave school in total ignorance of the why and the how of sleep. ~ David Murray
  • We need to ask God to help us see this as a life priority, as a matter of obedience, and as a way of pleasing our Father and Creator. Let’s plead with him to give us the strength to do what we know we must do. ~ David Murray
  • By sleeping, we are relinquishing control and reminding ourselves—at least for a few hours—that God actually doesn’t need us. When we close our eyes each night, we are saying, “I don’t run the world, or the church, or even my own little life.” ~ David Murray
  • When and how long we sleep makes a huge statement about who we are and what we believe about ourselves and God. ~ David Murray
  • Ultimately, sleep, like everything else, should lead us to the gospel and the Savior. First, it prompts us to think about death, that we shall all close our eyes as in sleep, and wake up in another world (1 Thess. 4:14). It also teaches about our Savior. The fact that Jesus slept (Mark 4:38) is as profound as “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). It reminds us of Christ’s full humanity, that the Son of God became so frail, so weak, so human that he needed to sleep. What humility! What love! What an example! What a comfort! What a sleeping pill! It illustrates salvation. How much are we doing when we sleep? Nothing! That’s why Jesus used rest as an illustration of his salvation. “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). It points us toward heaven. There remains a rest for the people of God (Heb. 4:9). That doesn’t mean heaven is going to be one long lie-in. It means it will be a place of renewal, refreshment, comfort, and perfect peace.  ~ David Murray
The album isn't just for nap time however. Because of the style of the album, you'll probably need to read and review the lyrics while listening to the album a couple of times so you can actually hear what they're singing.

From "Create, O God, A Pure, Clean Heart"
In sin I was first made born.
In evil first conceived.
My broken heart can only mourn
'till pardon I receive.
Create, O God, a pure, clean heart
And make my spirit new.
Please let your wrath from me depart
Remove my sin from view. 
From "How Beautiful Your Songs of Praise"
In the stillness of my heart
I will wait for You.
I will speak Your name
With my voice I will proclaim.
How beautiful Your songs of praise
How true and steadfast are Your ways
Let all that is within me rise and sing.
How beautiful Your holy name.
How marvelous Your saving grace
That You would call me as Your own
How beautiful. 
From "He Works His Will"
He works His Will, His counsel true
Salvation we obtain.
He soon will make all things anew
For our eternal gain.
Through the Spirit we are sealed
Our God we soon shall see.
From sin and death we're surely healed
With Him we'll ever be.
From "Where He Is Now"
The Father's house has ample room
He'd tell us if it were not true.
His bride hears from her sacred groom
Truth that stands for me and you.
Where He is now, we will be
Called away from earthly strife.
His glory we shall surely see
Through His gift, eternal life.
Gone away to prepare a place
Our spirits still in silence groan.
The promise certain by His grace
Soon we'll see our heavenly home. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Bible Review: ESV Reformation Bible

ESV Reformation Study Bible. 2015. Edited by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust. 2560 pages. [Source: Gift/Bought]

Length of project: July 28, 2017 - September 14, 2017

My goal was to read the book introductions, the text of the Bible, and any in-text articles that appeared within the sixty-six books of the Bible. I knew that if my goal was too ambitious--to read every study note--that it would never, ever happen.

The translation I read was the ESV. This Bible is also available in the NKJV translation.

The text size was small. I'd say it was teeny tiny, except then how could I describe the font size of the study notes? (The study notes are so small I didn't even try to read them.) The in-text articles were black text printed on a gray background. This didn't make for the easiest of reads. But the information was usually good so it was worth the extra effort.

The 2015 Reformation Study Bible has had notoriously bad luck in printing quality according to reviews I've read. My copy did have smeared ink on a couple hundred pages. The smeared ink in addition to the extremely thin pages made for a challenging read at times.

This Bible is also HEAVY. Not just heavy with weighty theology or doctrine--if Amazon is to be believed, this one weighs about four pounds. Even if it is a fraction less, it still feels that heavy! It lays flat beautifully for the most part. But it is a bit cumbersome for reading anywhere and everywhere.

I really loved the contents of this one.

From the book introduction to Revelation:
Given that Revelation is full of symbolism, why did God use such a possibly confusing way to speak His message? The answer is that John’s use of symbols is very similar to Jesus’ use of parables, which itself is rooted in the visions, language, and signs of the OT prophets. The parables of Jesus served the same purpose as the language and signs of the OT prophets: He used them to get the attention of His believing listeners who had grown spiritually sleepy and might not have paid attention otherwise. But for unbelievers (including pseudo-believers), parables generally made no sense, and rejection of the parabolic message was simply a further evidence of the hardening of the heart that refuses to listen to God. The symbols of Revelation serve the same purpose as the words of the prophets and the parables of Jesus. In fact, the sevenfold admonition to the churches, “He who has an ear, let him hear” (2: 7, 11, 17, 29; 3: 6, 13, 22), is based on Is. 6: 9, 10 and its use in Matt. 13: 9– 16. The repeated use of this phrase in the seven letters, along with its repetition in 13: 9, shows that the symbolism of the visions functions in the same way as Jesus’ parables. By their powerful and often shocking imagery, the visions open the eyes of true believers while leaving hardened unbelievers in deeper darkness, though it is also true that some unbelievers are “shocked into faith” for the first time through hearing the parabolic visions read. In short, the message of Revelation does not merely concern the unfolding of future events. Instead, it uses present events, understood in a symbolic manner, to speak both a warning and an encouragement to believers to persevere in their commitment to Christ and divorce themselves from any allegiance to the world system, which expresses the rule of the kingdom of darkness.
From "Heaven" from the book of Revelation
What is most notable about heaven is what is absent from it as well as what is present in it. Things that will be absent include: (1) tears, (2) sorrow, (3) death, (4) pain, (5) darkness, (6) ungodly people, (7) sin, (8) temples, (9) the sun or moon, and (10) the curse from Adam’s sin (see Genesis 3: 14– 19). What will be present in heaven includes: (1) the saints, (2) the river of the water of life, (3) healing fruit, (4) the Lamb of God, (5) worship, (6) the wedding feast of the Lamb and His bride, (7) the unveiled face of God, and (8) the Sun of Righteousness. Heaven is where Christ is. It is the eternal bliss of communion with the God-man. Jonathan Edwards, in trying to give voice to the joy believers will find in heaven writes that the saints will swim in the ocean of love, and be eternally swallowed up in the infinitely bright, and infinitely mild and sweet beams of divine love; eternally receiving the light, eternally full of it, and eternally compassed round with it, and everlastingly reflecting it back again to its fountain. While the saints will delight in fellowship with their God and Savior, there is no reason to believe that they will not recognize and fellowship with saints they knew on earth. Heaven is the abode of all good things. There will be degrees of blessedness in heaven. Paul uses a metaphor of the stars of differing brilliance shining in the same heaven to describe this. There are, however, several clarifying points that need to be made. First, all the stars will shine. That is to say, there is no unhappiness in heaven. All are blessed beyond our most insightful imaginations. Second, the atoning work of Christ has the same saving efficacy for all saints. Finally, the “works” of the believer, which “merit” greater or lesser blessedness, are not good in themselves. Rather, it is the sovereign pleasure of God to regard these works as meritorious. He does so for Christ’s sake only. While the greatest horror of hell is its eternality, one of the greatest joys of heaven is the assurance that it will never end. The last enemy, death, will be no more. Luke 20: 34– 38 assures the believer that this reward of heaven is everlasting. The greatest joy of heaven is the beatific vision, seeing the face of God. This unspeakable joy, however, comes through the eyes of the soul. God is spirit, and in spirit the elect shall see Him. This is the reward, earned by Christ, enjoyed by His children.
From "Hope" from the book of Hebrews
Biblical hope is a firm conviction that the future promises of God will be fulfilled. Hope is not mere wish projection, but an assurance of what will come to pass. “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain” (Hebrews 6: 19). Hope takes its place alongside faith and love as one of the Christian virtues that the apostle Paul sets forth in 1 Corinthians 13: 13. Hope is faith directed toward the future. Hope is used in two ways in the Bible. The less common usage points out the object of our hope. Christ is our hope of eternal life. The more common usage is as an attitude of assurance regarding the fulfillment of God’s promises. The Christian is called to hope, that is, to have full assurance of the resurrection of God’s people and the coming of God’s kingdom. Hope is inextricably bound up with eschatology. Paul reminds Christians that until the kingdom comes in its fullness, believers can only have an assured hope; they must “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5: 7). This hope is neither unfounded nor groundless. Though the life of the Christian is marked more by suffering than triumph (1 Corinthians 4: 8– 13; 2 Corinthians 4: 7– 18), the foundation for hope is in the Godhead. First, the believer looks upon the death and resurrection of Christ. His death was the darkest hour for His disciples. The promised Messiah was dead, His kingdom apparently lost. With the Resurrection, that despair turned to hope. Alongside suffering, whether great or small, the Christian’s hope must endure. God is always sufficient and faithful. Second, the believer has the Holy Spirit as a down payment on the kingdom. His presence assures us that the kingdom will be fully consummated. The Spirit is not only a sign toward hope, but the sustainer of hope. He fulfills the role of Comforter, girding up the believer in strength and hope. It is the Spirit that encourages the believer to pray to the Father, “Your kingdom come.”

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

My Summer with Psalm 119 #26

As a few of you know, I love, love, LOVE Psalm 119. I thought it would be great to spend a summer focusing on that psalm and what others have had to say about it. I'll begin with Thomas Manton's Exposition of Psalm 119. It may take all summer to read all 158 sermons. But they're so GOOD, so RICH, I think it will be worth it.

Sermon 33 (Psalm 119:31)

  • If men would be constant, the next thing they must do is to practise that religion they choose, and live under the power of it. Holiness is a great means of constancy: 1 Tim. 3:9, Holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience.’
  • Those that have chosen the way of God, and begun to conform their practice thereunto, ought with all constancy to persevere therein.
  • We have the same reasons to continue that we had to begin at first. There is the same loveliness in God’s ways; Christ is as sweet as ever; heaven is as good as ever. If there be any difference, there is more reason to continue than there was to begin. Why? Because we have more experience of the sweetness of Christ. You knew him heretofore only by report and hearsay; but now, when you have walked in the way of holiness, then you know him by experience; and if you have tasted, 1 Peter 2:2, then certainly you should not fall off afterwards. Upon trial Christ is sweeter; and the longer you have kept to conscience, heaven is nearer; and would a man miscarry and be discouraged when he is ready to put into the haven? Rom. 8:11, Your salvation is nearer than when you first believed.’
  • If our hearts be upright with God, we will increase with zeal for his glory and love to his testimonies.
  • A sin after knowledge and profession of the right way is greater than a sin of bare ignorance; therefore their condition is far more deplorable than the condition of other sinners, for no men sin with such malice as they do; they have had greater conviction than others, not only external representations of the doctrine of Christ, but some taste, and have made some closure with it in their own souls; they are more given over by God than others; and so there are none persecute and hate profession and strictness so much as they that are fallen from it; and they are more oppressed and entangled by Satan, as the jailor that hath recovered the prisoner which ran from him, loads him with irons. Therefore we had need betimes look to it, and continue and persevere in the practice of the ways of God, which we have owned and taken up upon experience.
  • Use 1. Get grace, then look after perseverance. But what should we do to persevere? 
  • First, Be fortified against what may shake you from without; beware of being led away by offences and scandals. Three things are wont to give offence, and exceedingly shake the faith of some, viz., errors, persecutions, scandals.
  • Be not troubled when differences fall out about the truths of God, nor shaken in mind; the winds of error are let loose upon the floor of the church to sever the chaff from the solid grain: 1 Cor. 11:19, There must be heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest.’ Take heed of taking offence at errors.
  • Lazy men would fain give laws to heaven, and teach God how to govern the affairs of the world; they would have all things clear and plain, that there should be no doubt about it. But the Lord in his wise providence saw it fit to permit these things, that they which are approved may be made manifest.’
  • To excuse laziness, we pretend want of certainty. But God’s word is plain to one that will do his will, John 7:17, if we will use all the means God hath appointed, and unfeignedly and with an unbiassed heart come to search out the mind of God.
  • Persecutions, they are an offence: Mat. 11:6, Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me.’ When the people of God are exposed to great troubles when they are in the world, they have but a mean outside. What! are these the favourites of heaven? It makes men take offence. Christians, what religion is it you are of? Is it not the Christian religion, whose great interest and work it is to draw you off from the concernments of the present world unto things to come? The whole drift and frame of the Christian religion is to draw men’s hearts off from earthly things, and to comfort and support them under the troubles, inconveniences, and molestations of the flesh; therefore for a Christian to hope an exemption from them, is to make the doctrine of the gospel as incongruous and useless as to talk of bladders and the art of swimming to a man that never goes to sea, nor intends to go off from the firm land.
  • A great occasion to shake the faith of many is scandals, the evil practices of those that profess the name of God. Oh! when they run into disorder, especially into all manner of unrighteousness, and iniquity, and cruel things, and make no conscience of the duties of their relations as subjects, as children, and the like, it is a mighty offence; and we that have to do with persons and sinners of all sorts find it a very hard matter to keep them from atheism, such stumbling-blocks having been laid in their way.
  • Scandal is far more dangerous than persecution. There are many that have been gained by the patience, courage, and constancy of the martyrs, but never any were gained by the scandalous falls of professors.
  • Secondly, Be fortified within, by taking heed to the causes of apostasy, and falling off from the truth either in judgment or practice. What is there will make men apostates? A choice lightly made is lightly altered. When we do not resolve upon evidence, and have not taken up the ways of God upon clear light, we shall turn and wind to and fro as the posture of our interest is changed.
  • If we have not a clear and full persuasion of the ways of God in our own minds, we shall never be constant.
  • A sweet superficial taste may be lost, but a sound sense of the love of God in Christ will engage us to him.
  • The more experience you have, and the deeper it is, the more you will be confirmed. The most of us content ourselves but in a superficial taste. When we hear of the doctrine of salvation by Christ, we are somewhat pleased and tickled with it; but this is not that which doth establish us, but a deep sense of God’s grace, or feeling the blood of Christ pacifying our consciences; this is that which establisheth our hearts, and settleth us against apostasy.
  • If a man hath love to present things, if that be not subdued and purged out of his heart, he will never be stable, never upright with God.
  • There is an itch of novelty, when men are weary of old truths, and only rejoice in things for a season, John 5:35. There are many that look for all their virtue and their experience from their notions in religion. Thus they run from doctrine to doctrine, from way to way, so remain unmodified.
  • Thirdly, Take heed of the first decays, and look often into the state of your hearts. A man that never casts up his estate is undone insensibly; therefore look often into the state of your hearts, whether you increase in your affections to God, in the power of holiness, or whether you go backward. Evil is best stopped in the beginning.
  • Fourthly, Often review your first grounds, and compare them with your after experiences, and what fresh tastes you had then of the love of God to your souls: Heb. 3:14, We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.’
  • Use 2. If those that have chosen the way of God and begin to conform their practice ought with all constancy to persevere, then it reproveth—You should resolve upon all hazards; not take up religion for a walk, but for a journey. Not like going to sea for pleasure; if they see a storm coming, presently to shore again; but for a voyage to ride out all weathers.
  • A man that doth not stick to God’s testimonies, that is not zealous and constant, will be put to shame before God and man, and made a scorn by them, and lie under great reproach; therefore, Lord, prevent this reproach.
  • The fruit of sin is shame. Shame is a trouble of mind about such evils as tend to our infamy and disgrace. Loss of life is matter of fear; loss of goods is matter of grief and sorrow; but loss of name and credit is matter of shame; and therefore it is a trouble of mind that doth arise about such evils as tend to our infamy and disgrace. There are two things in sin, folly and filthiness, and both cause shame; it is an irrational act, and it hath a turpitude in it; therefore the fruit of sin is shame, and a fear of a just reproof. Shame is the striving of nature to hide the stain of our souls, by sending out the blood into the face for a covering; it labours most under this passion. And this shame accompanieth sin, not only when men are conscious of what we do, but it is a fear of a just reproof from God, nay, of a just reproof from themselves.
  • Though, you should be solitary and alone with yourselves, yet there is an eye sees and an ear hears all that you do.
  • When once we come out of our fears, and are possessed of the love of God, we think there needs not be such diligence as when we were doubtful, and kept in an. uncertain condition, and so carry the matter as if we were past all danger. Oh, no! sin many times breaks out of a sudden; and after the first labours of soul in regeneration and terrors of the law are gone, there is great danger of security, and secretly and silently things may run to waste in the soul.
  • God’s children have been in most danger when to appearance there was least cause of fear. 
  • Those that in a humble sense of their own weakness and fear of the mischief of being a blemish to religion, when they come to pray, they may be persuaded of God’s goodness, of whom they have such long experience, that he will not fail them at length.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, September 17, 2017

My Summer with Psalm 119 #25

As a few of you know, I love, love, LOVE Psalm 119. I thought it would be great to spend a summer focusing on that psalm and what others have had to say about it. I'll begin with Thomas Manton's Exposition of Psalm 119. It may take all summer to read all 158 sermons. But they're so GOOD, so RICH, I think it will be worth it.

Sermon 32 (Psalm 119:30)

  • Doct. When we have chosen the way of truth, or taken up the profession of true religion, the rules of it should be ever before us. Three reasons for this:— 
  • 1. To have a holy rule and not a holy life is altogether inconsistent. A Christian should he a lively transcript of that religion he doth profess. A Christian should be Christ’s epistle, 2 Cor. 3; a walking Bible: Phil. 2:15, 16, shining as lights, holding forth the word of life.’ How? Not in doctrine, but in practice. A suitable practice joined with profession puts a majesty and splendour upon the truth. If there are many doubts about the true religion, why they are occasioned by the scandalous lives of professors; we reason from the artist to the art itself. Look, as there is a correspondence between the stamp and the impress, the seal and the thing sealed, so should there be between a Christian’s life and a Christian’s belief; the stamp should be upon his own heart, upon his life and actions; his action should discover his opinion, otherwise he loseth the glory and the benefit of his religion; he is but a pagan in God’s account,’ Jer. 9:25; he makes his religion to be called in question; and therefore he that walks unsuitably, he is said to deny the faith,’ 1 Tim. 5:8.
  • To be a Christian in doctrine and a pagan in life is a temptation to atheism to others; when the one destroys the other, practice confutes their profession, and profession confutes their practice; therefore both these must be matched together. Thus the way of truth must be the rule, and a holy life must be suited.
  • 2. As to this holy life, a general good intention sufficeth not, but there must be accurate walking. Why? For God doth not judge of us by the lump, or by a general intention. It is not enough to plead at the day of judgment, you had a good scope and a good meaning; for every action must be brought to judgment, whether it be good or evil, Eccles. 12:14. When we reckon with our servants, we do not expect an account by heap, but by parcels; so a general good meaning, giving our account by heap, will not suffice, but we must be strict in all our ways, and keep close to the rule in every action, in your eating, trading, worship: Eph. 5:15, See that you walk circumspectly,’ &c. See that you do not turn aside from the line and narrow ridge that you are to walk upon.
  • 3. Accurate walking will never be, unless our rule be diligently regarded and set before us. Why? So accurate and exact is the rule in itself, that you may easily swerve from it; therefore it must always be heeded and kept in your eye, Ps. 19. You are not to walk according to the course of this world, but according to rule; and therefore you are not to walk rashly and in deliberately, and as you are led and carried on by force of present affections, but to walk circumspectly, considering what principle you are acted by, and what ends; and the nature and quality of our actions are always to be considered.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Week in Review: September 10-15

ESV Reformation Study Bible

  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
  • John
  • Acts
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Revelation

Living Bible

  • Isaiah 26-66
  • Ezekiel 1-21
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Philippians

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

My Summer with Psalm 119 #24

As a few of you know, I love, love, LOVE Psalm 119. I thought it would be great to spend a summer focusing on that psalm and what others have had to say about it. I'll begin with Thomas Manton's Exposition of Psalm 119. It may take all summer to read all 158 sermons. But they're so GOOD, so RICH, I think it will be worth it.

Sermon 31 (Psalm 119:30)

  • DAVID asserts his sincerity here in two things:— 1. In the Tightness of his choice, I have chosen the way of thy truth. 2. In the accurateness of his prosecution, thy judgments have I laid before me. First, For his choice, I have chosen the way of thy truth.’ God having granted him his law, he did reject all false ways of religion, and continued in the profession of the truth of God, and the strict observance thereof.
  • By the way of truth is meant true religion; as 2 Peter 2:2, By whom the way of truth is evil spoken of.’ It is elsewhere called the good way wherein we should walk,’ 1 Kings 8:36; and the way of God,’ Ps. 27:11; and the way of understanding,’ Prov. ix. 6; and the way of holiness,’ Isa. 35:8; and the way of righteousness,’ 2 Peter 2:21, Better they had not known the way of righteousness,’ that is, never to have known the gospel, which is called the way of righteousness. It is called also the way of life,’ Prov. 6:23, And reproofs of instruction are the way of life;’ and the way of salvation,’ as Acts 16:17, the Pythoness gave this testimony to the apostles, These are the servants of God, which show unto us the way of salvation.’ Now all these expressions have their use and significancy; for the way of truth, or the true way to happiness, is a good way, showed us by God, who can only discover it; and therefore called the way of the Lord,’ or the way of God,’ in the place before quoted; and Acts 28:25, 26, it is manifested by God, and leadeth us to God. The Christian doctrine was that way of truth revealed by him who is prima veritas, the first truth. The ways wherein God cometh to us are his mercy and truth; and the way wherein we come to God is the way of true religion prescribed by him; it is the way of understanding, because it maketh us wise as to the great affairs of our souls, and unto the end of our lives and beings; and the way of holiness and righteousness, as directing us in all duties to God and man; and the way of life and salvation, because it brings us to everlasting happiness.
  • Secondly, There follows the evidence of his sincerity, the accurate prosecution of his choice, Thy judgments have I laid before me.’ The Septuagint reads it, I have not forgotten thy judgments.’ By judgments is meant God’s word, according to the sentence of which every man shall receive his doom.
  • To have a holy rule and an unholy life is unconsonant, inconsistent. A Christian should be a lively transcript of that religion he doth profess. If the way be a way of truth, he must always set it before him, and walk exactly.
  • The points are two:— 1. That there being many crooked paths in the world, it concerns us to choose the way of truth. 2. That when we have chosen the way of truth, or taken up the profession of the true religion, the rules and institutions of it should ever be before us. There are two great faults of men— one in point of choice, the other in point of pursuit. Either they do not choose right, or they do not live up to the rules of their profession. Both are prevented by these points.
  • Doct. 1. That there being many crooked paths in the world, it concerns us to choose the way of truth. I shall give you the sense of it in these eight propositions or considerations. Prop. 1. The Lord in his holy providence hath so permitted it that there ever have been, and are, and, for aught we can see, will be, controversies about the way of truth and right worship. There was such a disease introduced into the world by the fall, that most of the remedies which men choose do but show the strength and malignity of the disease. They choose out false ways of corning to God and returning to him.
  • Thus there ever have been, and will be, contests about religion and disputes about the way of truth; yea, different opinions in the church, and among Christians themselves, about divine truths revealed in the scripture.
  • Prop. 2. True religion is but one, and all other ways false, noxious, and pestilent: Eph. 4:5, One Lord, one faith, one baptism.’ There are many ways in the world, but there is but one good and certain way that leads to salvation.
  • To make many doors to heaven is to set wide open the gates of hell. Many men think that men of all religions shall be saved, provided they be of a good life, and walk according to their light. 
  • The Christian religion is not only the most compendious way to true happiness, but it is the only way: John 17:3, This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.’ There is the sum of what is necessary to life eternal; that there is one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to be known, loved, obeyed, worshipped, and enjoyed; and the Lord Jesus Christ to be owned as our Redeemer and Saviour, to bring us home to God, and to procure for us the gifts of pardon and life; and this life to be begun here by the Spirit, and to be perfected in heaven. This is the sum of all that can be said that is necessary to salvation. Certainly none can be saved without Christ; for there is no other name under heaven whereby we can be saved but by Jesus Christ,’ Acts 4:12, and none can be saved by Christ but they that know him and believe in him.
  • No man can be saved without these two things— without a fixed intention of God as his last end, and a choice of Jesus Christ as the only way and means of attaining thereunto. 
  • Prop. 3. As soon as any begin to be serious, they begin to have a conscience about the finding out this one only true way wherein they may be saved.
  • They that have a sense of eternity upon them will be diligent to know the right way.
  • Prop. 4. When we begin to have a conscience about the true way, we must inquire into the grounds and reasons of it, that we may resolve upon evidence, not take it up because it is commonly believed, but because it is certainly true; not take it up by chance, but by choice; not because we know no other, but because we know no better.
  • It is not enough to stumble upon truth blindly, but we must receive it knowingly, and upon solid conviction of the excellency of it, comparing doctrine with doctrine, and thing with thing, and the weak grounds the adversaries of the truth have to build upon.
  • Object. But is every private Christian bound to study controversy, so as to be able to answer all the adversaries of the truth? I answer—No; it is a special gift, bestowed and required of some that have leisure and abilities, and it is a duty required of ministers and church guides to convince gainsayers and stop their mouths. Ministers must be able to hold fast the truth.
  • Consider the sad consequence of erring. There are damnable errors and heresies, 2 Peter 2:1. Vice is not only destructive and damnable to the soul, but error. Now eternal damnation and salvation are no small matters.
  • A man cannot please God in a false belief, how laudable so ever his life be; and they cannot put the fault upon others, that they are misled by them; for if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the ditch;’ not only the blind guide, but the blind follower.
  • It is almost as dangerous to love a truth ignorantly as to broach an error knowingly. The faith of Christians should not be conjectural or traditional. If a man should not have reasons to sway his choice, he will never be able to check temptations even in practical things.
  • The profit is exceeding great, for truth will have a greater force upon the heart when we see the grounds and reasons of it. We are exposed here in this lower world to great difficulties and temptations.
  • Prop. 5. After this inquiry into the grounds and reasons of the way of truth, then we must resolve and choose it, I have chosen the way of truth,’ as the way wherein we are to walk: Jer. 6:16, Ask where is the good way, and walk therein, and then ye shall find rest for your souls.’
  • You must not only so understand and form your opinions aright, not only see what is the good way, but walk therein; keep that way which you find to be the way of truth, renouncing all others.
  • Prop. 6. That no religion will be found fit to be chosen upon sound evidence but the Christian. How shall I be persuaded of this? Why, that religion which God hath revealed, that religion which suits with the ends of a religion, that is, with the inward necessities of mankind, and most commodiously provides for man, that is true religion.
  • The great ends of a religion are God’s glory and our happiness. God is glorified by a return of the obedience of the creature, and man is made happy by the enjoyment of God. All these ends are advanced by this way of truth.
  • First, That is the only religion which is revealed by God, for certainly so must a religion be if it be true; for that which pleaseth him must be according to his will; and who can know his will but by his own revelation, by some sign whereby God hath discovered it to us? Alas! if men were to sit brooding a religion themselves, what a strange business would they hatch and bring forth! If they were to carve out the worship of God, they might please themselves, but could never please God.
  • Secondly, Besides God’s revelation, it notably performs all that which a man would expect in a religion, and so suits the necessities of man as well as the honour of God. Why? That is the true religion, which doth most draw off the minds of men from things temporal and earthly to things celestial and eternal, that we may think of them and prosecute them. The sense of another world, an estate to come, is the great foundation upon which all religion is grounded. All its precepts and promises, which are like to gain upon the heart of man, they receive their force from the promise of an unseen glory, and eternal punishments which are provided for the wicked and contemners of the gospel. The whole design of this religion is to take us off from the pleasures of the flesh and the baits of this world, that we may see things to come.
  • The aim of that religion is to remedy the disease introduced by the fall. All other religions do but make up a part of the disease, and the gospel is the only remedy and cure; therefore this is the way of truth you should choose.
  • The Lord Jesus is our peace, and the ground of our peace; but we never find rest until we come under his yoke.
  • Consider altogether Christ’s renewing and reconciling grace, the whole evangelical truth, this gospel which was founded in the blood of Christ, his new covenant, and sealed with God’s authority, and doth so fitly state duties and privileges, and lead a man by the one to the other.
  • Prop. 7. Of all sects and sorts among Christians, the Protestant reformed religion will be found to be the way of truth. Why? Because there is the greatest suitableness to the great ends, the greatest agreement and harmony with God’s revelation, which they profess to be their only rule. I say, as to God’s worship, there is most simplicity, without that theatrical pomp which makes the worship of God a dead thing, and so most suitable to a spiritual being, and conducible to spiritual ends, to God who is a Spirit, and who will be worshipped in spirit and truth; for there God is our reward, and to be served by faith, love, obedience, trust, prayers, praises, and a holy administration of the word and seals; more suitable to the genius of the scripture, without the pageantry of numerous idle ceremonies, like flourishes about a great letter, which do rather hide religion than any way discover it; yea, betray it to contempt and scorn to a considering man.
  • Prop. 8. That in the private differences among the professors of the reformed Protestant religion, a man is to choose the best way, but to hold charity towards dissenters. In the true church, in matters of lesser moment, there may be sundry differences; for until men have the same degree of light, it cannot be expected they should be all of a mind.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review: Heart on the Line

Heart on the Line. (Ladies of Harper's Station #2) Karen Witemeyer. 2017. Bethany House. 329 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The cheerful tinkle of a bell alerted Grace Mallory to the arrival of a guest.

Premise/plot: Heart On the Line is the second in Karen Witemeyer's Ladies of Harper's Station series. Excepting the prologue, the book is set in Texas in the 1890s--1894, I believe. The heroine, Grace Mallory, is a telegraph operator with a past that's about to catch up with her. But she won't do battle alone, not in Harper's Station, and she even gets a little outside help from fellow telegraph operator, Amos Bledsoe. (He's from a neighboring town.)

My thoughts: Looking for something historical? something dramatic? something romantic? You should consider reading Heart On the Line. Karen Witemeyer is one of my favorite, favorite authors. And she's a favorite for a reason. I love her characters--her heroes and heroines. I love her stories--her settings, her plots. I love how it is oh-so-easy to get swept up into her novels. There are some definite thrills in this one. But in Witemeyer's hands, the dramatic does not become melodramatic.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, September 14, 2017

My Summer with Psalm 119 #23

As a few of you know, I love, love, LOVE Psalm 119. I thought it would be great to spend a summer focusing on that psalm and what others have had to say about it. I'll begin with Thomas Manton's Exposition of Psalm 119. It may take all summer to read all 158 sermons. But they're so GOOD, so RICH, I think it will be worth it.

Sermon 30 (Psalm 119:29)

  • THERE are two parts of Christianity—destructive and adstructive. The destructive part consists in a removing of sin; the adstructive part makes way for the plantation of grace; there is eschewing evil, and doing good. We are carried on in a forward earnestness in the way of sin, but there is a great backwardness and restraint upon our hearts as to that which is good. The one is necessary to the other; we must come out of the ways of sin before we can walk in the ways of God.
  • Here is— 1. The sin deprecated, remove from me the way of lying. 2. The good supplicated and asked, grant me thy law graciously.
  • Error is very natural to us, and man doth exceedingly please himself with the figments of his own brain. All practical errors in the world are but man’s natural thoughts cried up into a voluble opinion, because backed with defences of wit, and parts, and secular interests, and other advantages; they are but our secret and privy thoughts which have gotten the reputation of an opinion in the world; for we speak lies from the womb;’ even in this sense we suck in erroneous principles with our milk.
  • Nature carrieth us to wrong thoughts of God, and the ways of God, and out of levity and inconstancy of spirit we are apt to be carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men.’
  • We need not only pray against lesser sins or spiritual wickedness, but from gross sins carried on presumptuously against the light of conscience.
  • Man is strongly inclined to lying; it sticks close to our nature, so that God must remove it from us; as more fully afterwards. Thus for the object, a way of lying.
  • Sin is removed either in a way of justification, when the guilt of it is done away; this David might intend. But rather in a way of sanctification, when the fault or blot is done away. This is mainly intended, as appears by the antithesis or opposite request, and grant me thy law graciously;’ that is, let it be impressed upon my heart, that such a temptation may be prevented for the future. Let me observe—Doct. That lying, especially a way or course of lying, should be far from God’s people.
  • Examine— 1. What is lying? 2. Upon what grounds this should be far from a child of God? First, What is lying? Ans. Lying is when men wittingly and willingly, and with purpose to deceive, signify that which is false by gestures or actions, but especially by words. The matter of a lie is a falsehood; but the formality of it is with an intention to deceive; therefore a falsehood is one thing, a lie another. Then we lie when we not only do or speak falsely, but knowingly, and with purpose to deceive.
  • Promissorily we lie when we promise things we mean not to perform.
  • How do we lie to God? Partly when we put him off with a false appearance, and make a show of what is not in the heart, as if he would be deceived with outsides and vain pretences. God can see through and through all fair shows, and will not be mocked. We are said to lie to God when we perform not those professions and promises which we made in a time of trouble.
  • As to men, there are three sorts of lies—Mendacium jocosum, officiosum, et perniciosum: there is the sporting lie, tending to our recreation and delight; there is the officious lie, tending to our own and others’ profit; and there is the pernicious and hurtful lie, tending to our neighbour’s prejudice.
  • Where there is no truth, there can be no trust; where there is no trust, there can be no commerce; it makes men unfit to be trusted.
  • We resemble Satan in nothing so much as in lying, and we resemble God in nothing so much as in truth.
  • Truth is no small part of the image of God, for he is called the God of truth;’ and it is said of him, Titus 1:2, that he cannot lie;’ it is contrary to the perfection of his nature; nor command us to lie.
  • Let our words consent with our minds, and our minds agree with the thing itself.
  • In public worship, how often do you compass him about with lies! We show love with our mouths when our heart is at a great distance from God. Oh, how odious should we be to ourselves if our heart were turned inside outward in the best duty, and all our thoughts were turned into words! for in our worship many times we draw near to God with our mouths, when our heart is at a great distance.
  • Nay, in our private worship, we confess sin without shame; we pray as if we cared not to be heard. Conscience tells us what we should pray for, but our hearts do not go out in the matter, and we throw away our prayers as children shoot away their arrows, which is a sign we are not so hearty as we should be. We give thanks, but without meltings of heart. Custom and natural light tell us something must be done in this kind, but how hard a matter it is to draw near God with truth of heart?
  • Secondly, We now come to the blessing asked, Grant me thy law graciously.’ Where first the benefit itself, grant me thy law; secondly, the terms upon which it is asked, implied in the word graciously. The benefit asked, Grant me thy law.’ David had the book of the law already; every king was to have a copy of it written before him; but he understandeth it not of the law written in a book. But of the law written upon his heart; which is a privilege of the covenant of grace: Heb. 8:10, For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel in those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and write them in their hearts,’ &c.
  •  Doct. 1. Then is the law granted to us when it is written upon our minds and hearts; that is, when we understand it, and our hearts are framed to the love and obedience of it; otherwise it is only granted to the church in general, but it is not granted to us in particular.
  • We may have some common privilege of being trained up in the knowledge of God’s will, but we have not the personal and particular benefits of the covenant of grace till we find it imprinted upon our hearts. Well, then— 1. Press God about this, not only to grant his word unto the church, but to grant it unto you, unto your persons.
  • The law is an enemy to them that count it an enemy, and a friend to them that count it a friend. It is a rule of life to them that delight in it, and count it a great mercy to know it, and be subdued to the practice of it; but it is a covenant of works to them that withdraw the shoulder, count it a heavy burden not to be borne.
  • Doct. 3. That the law is granted to us or written upon our hearts out of God’s mere grace. Grant it graciously, saith David. I will do it, saith God; and God will do it upon his own reasons.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible