Wednesday, July 31, 2013


We declare how we value God as much by our actions, by the way we treat other people, by the manner in which we do our work, as by anything we say. If my actions are wrong or wrongly motivated prayer cannot make them right. If however, despite my failures and inconsistencies, I do on the whole want to put God above all things then prayer will help to purify my motives and clarify my judgement.

Christopher Bryant, from The River Within

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Satan's lies

From the additional notes to Charles Spurgeon's The Treasury of David, on Psalm 119, verse 86. 

All thy commandments are faithful. David sets down here three points. The one is that God is true; and after that he adds a protestation of his good conduct and guidance, and of the malice of his adversaries: thirdly, he calls upon God in his afflictions. Now as concerning the first, he shows us that although Satan [intends] to shake us, and in the end utterly to carry us away, subtly and cunningly goes about to deceive us, we must, to the contrary, learn how to know his ambushes, and to keep us from out of them. So often then as we are grieved with adversity and affliction, where must we begin? See Satan how he pitches his nets and lays his ambushes to induce and persuade us to come into them, what saith he? Dost thou not see thyself forsaken of thy God? Where are the promises whereunto thou didst trust? Now here thou sees thyself to be a wretched, forlorn creature. So then thou right well sees that God hath deceived thee, and that the promises whereunto thou trusts appertain nothing at all unto thee. See here the subtlety of Satan. What is now to be done? We are to conclude with David and say, yet God is true and faithful. Let us, I say, keep in mind the truth of God as a shield to beat back whatsoever Satan is able to lay unto our charge. When he shall go about to cause us to deny our faith, when he shall lie about us to make us believe that God thinks no more of us, or else that it is in vain for us to trust unto his promises; let us know the clean contrary and believe that it is very plain and sound truth which God saith unto us. Although Satan casts at us never so many darts, although he have never so exceeding many devices against us, although now and then by violence, sometimes with subtlety and cunning, it seems in very deed to us that he should overcome us; nevertheless he shall never bring it to pass, for the truth of God shall be made sure and certain in our hearts. — John Calvin.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fairy tales

Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies, that these strong enemies of man have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.
G. K. ChestertonTremendous Trifles

Forsyth on the Gospel

[The Gospel] is not a projection of [our] innate spirituality. It is revealed, not discovered, not invented. It is of grace, not works. It is conferred, not attained. It is a gift to our poverty, not a triumph of our resource. It is something which holds us, it is not something that we hold. It is something that saves us, and nothing that we have to save. Its Christ is a Christ sent to us and not developed from us, bestowed on our need and not produced from our strength, and He is given for our sin more than for our weakness.

....Now of these two tendencies one means the destruction of preaching. If it cease to be God’s word, descending on men and intervening in history, then it will cease as an institution in due time. It may become lecturing, or it may become oratory, but as preaching it must die out with a positive Gospel. People cannot be expected to treat a message of insight from man to man as they do a message of revelation from God to man. An age cannot be expected to treat a message from anoth
er age as they treat a message from Eternal God to every age. Men with the passion of the present cannot be expected to listen even to a message from humanity as they would to one from God. And if humanity redeem itself you will not be able to prevent each member of it from feeling that he is his own redeemer.

P T Forsyth, as quoted in Jason Goroncy's forthcoming book:Descending on Humanity and Intervening in History’: Notes from the Pulpit Ministry of P.T. Forsyth, to be published soon by Pickwick Publications.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The limit of afflictions

From the additional notes to Charles Spurgeon's The Treasury of David, on Psalm 119:84

Verse 84. — How many are the days of thy servant? When will thou execute judgement on them that persecute me?
Some read the two clauses apart, as if the first were a general complaint of the brevity of human life, such as is to be met with in other Psalms, and more frequently in the book of Job; and next, in their opinion, there follows a special prayer of the Psalmist that God would take vengeance upon his enemies. But I rather prefer joining the two clauses together, and limit both to David's afflictions; as if it had been said, Lord, how long hast thou determined to abandon thy servant to the will of the ungodly? when wilt thou set thyself in opposition to their cruelty and outrage, in order to take vengeance upon them? The Scriptures often use the word "days" in this sense... By the use of the plural number is denoted a determinate portion of time, which, in other places, is compared to the "days of an hireling": Job 14:6Isaiah 16:14. The Psalmist does not, then, bewail in general the transitory life of man, but he complains that the time of his state of warfare in this world had been too long protracted; and, therefore, he naturally desires that it might be brought to a termination. In expostulating with God about his troubles, he does not do so obstinately, or with a murmuring spirit; but still, in asking how long it will be necessary for him to suffer, he humbly prays that God would not delay to succour him. — John Calvin.

Monday, July 22, 2013


From the additional notes to Charles Spurgeon's The Treasury of David, on Psalm 119, verse 82
When wilt thou comfort me? The people of God are sometimes very disconsolate, and need comforting, through the prevalence of sin, the power of Satan's temptations, the hiding of God's face, and a variety of afflictions, when they apply to God for comfort, who only can comfort them, and who has set times to do it; but they are apt to think it long, and inquire, as David here, when it will be. — JohnGill.