In This Issue:
From the Director
God is sovereign.
God is in charge of everything, including the little things.
Not a hair falls from our heads without God's divine will.
We must rest in God's grace, as we are totally unable to contribute to our salvation.
What word pops into people's minds when they hear Christians making the above statements? Calvinist. Usually these beliefs are associated with those of the Calvinist persuasion. However, Father de Caussade was a Roman Catholic Priest who taught that God is truly sovereign, and therefore our whole lives can be lived in the knowledge that all things are working for our good. We may not understand why God does things the way he does, or how our suffering can ultimately be for our good, but we can trust our benevolent Lord, who has decreed all things, is good and just. Reading Abandonment to Divine Providence will help the reader surrender to God's will. The result? Spiritual peace in the arms of a loving God.
Note: Abandonment to Divine Providence has recently made it into the top 12 in popularity at the CCEL.
"Facing, Not Fearing, the Future"
What is your strength and refuge? Where do you turn during troubled times? VanReken suggests that, "What's most important for us today is not to panic and so prepare for some future disaster, but to seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness. Let's not be anxious about tomorrow; each day has enough trouble of its own." While this article talks about a fear that no longer keeps us awake at night (Y2K), VanReken's article and advice are useful in whatever difficulties we face today.
What We're Reading
First Principles of the Reformation
"I, Martin Luther, Doctor, of the Order of Monks at Wittenberg, desire to testify publicly that certain propositions against pontifical indulgences, as they call them, have been put forth by me." This volume is a collection of several works by the father of the Reformation, Martin Luther, edited by Henry Wace. First is a series of introductory essays by Wace and others, and a synopsis of the theology of the Reformation in his famous 95 Theses. These Theses are, per the title, included in this work. The other three primary works in this publication are: "To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Respecting the Reformation of the Christian Estate," "Concerning Christian Liberty," and "On the Babylonish Captivity of the Church." All three are a collection of writings and letters Luther authored on each religious issue. All three pieces, as well as the Theses, are valuable works of literature written by one of the most important Christian figures ever, and should be studied and treasured.
-The Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Featured Hymn"A Mighty Fortess" by Martin Luther
This hymn is often referred to as “the battle hymn” of the Reformation. Many stories have been relayed about its use. Albert Bailey writes, “It was, as Heine said, the Marseillaise of the Reformation…It was sung in the streets…It was sung by poor Protestant emigres on their way to exile, and by martyrs at their death…Gustavus Adolphus ordered it sung by his army before the battle of Leipzig in 1631…Again it was the battle hymn of his army at Lutzen in 1632…It has had a part in countless celebrations commemorating the men and events of the Reformation; and its first line is engraved on the base of Luther’s monument at Wittenberg…An imperishable hymn! Not polished and artistically wrought but rugged and strong like Luther himself, whose very words seem like deeds” (The Gospel in Hymns, 316). As you can see, this is a hymn close to the hearts of Protestants and Lutherans, a source of assurance in times of duress and persecution. The text is not restricted, however, to times of actual physical battles. In any time of need, when we do battle with the forces of evil, God is our fortress to hide us and protect us, and the Word that endures forever will fight for us.
-Hymnary.orgView this Featured Hymn at Hymnary.org.
"Earthquake But Not Heartquake"
Spurgeon introduces this sermon based on Psalm 46:1-3 as well as anyone with these words taken from the sermon: "This Psalm is a song for all Israel—for all who are truly the chosen of God, called to be His own people—should exhibit a fearless courage. The peace of God which passes all understanding should keep the hearts and minds of all who rest in God. If, indeed, the Lord is our refuge and strength, we are entitled to seek after a spirit which shall bear us above the dreads of common men.
Spurgeon's three main points are as follows:
I. THE CONFIDENCE OF THE SAINTS.
II. THE COURAGE WHICH GROWS OUT OF IT.
III. THE CONFLICTS TO WHICH THIS FEARLESSNESS WILL BE EXPOSED.
This is one of Spurgeon's longer sermons (before starting the third point, he states "Time has fled and I must ask your patience while I now dwell for a little while upon the third point), but the sermon thoroughly examines Psalm 46 for anyone seeking strength in our lord.
“A very present help.” Psalm 46:1
Covenant blessings are not meant to be looked at only, but to be appropriated. Even our Lord Jesus is given to us for our present use. Believer, thou dost not make use of Christ as thou oughtest to do. When thou art in trouble, why dost thou not tell him all thy grief? Has he not a sympathizing heart, and can he not comfort and relieve thee? No, thou art going about to all thy friends, save thy best Friend, and telling thy tale everywhere except into the bosom of thy Lord. Art thou burdened with this day’s sins? Here is a fountain filled with blood: use it, saint, use it. Has a sense of guilt returned upon thee? The pardoning grace of Jesus may be proved again and again. Come to him at once for cleansing. Dost thou deplore thy weakness? He is thy strength: why not lean upon him? Dost thou feel naked? Come hither, soul; put on the robe of Jesus’ righteousness. Stand not looking at it, but wear it. Strip off thine own righteousness, and thine own fears too: put on the fair white linen, for it was meant to wear. Dost thou feel thyself sick? Pull the night-bell of prayer, and call up the Beloved Physician! He will give the cordial that will revive thee. Thou art poor, but then thou hast “a kinsman, a mighty man of wealth.” What! wilt thou not go to him, and ask him to give thee of his abundance, when he has given thee this promise, that thou shalt be joint heir with him, and has made over all that he is and all that he has to be thine? There is nothing Christ dislikes more than for his people to make a show-thing of him, and not to use him. He loves to be employed by us. The more burdens we put on his shoulders, the more precious will he be to us.
“Let us be simple with him, then,
Not backward, stiff, or cold,
As though our Bethlehem could be
What Sinai was of old.”Read this meditation at CCEL