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From the pen of Catherine Brown



Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward:  they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee:  if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.  Psalm 40:  5




 

*Scroll down for new blossom and petals . . . .


   BLOSSOMS OF GOLD


      Within God’s Holy Word     



     Spiritual Food for Thought:  Think on This . . .



  King David was a man after God’s own heart, who was guilty of many sins, yet he was not void of God’s love. (I Samuel 13:14; 16: 12-13; 18:14)  He was a man likened to all of us, and his psalms give us insight into his trials, his pleas before God, his personal, deep love for God, his trust in God’s mercy, and his joy and comfort in the grace that God so lovingly bestowed upon him. 


  David’s inspired psalms demonstrates to the people of God spiritual walking, and shows the Sovereign God extending His love and His Sovereign will upon His people.  Thus, let us take a spiritual walk through this garden enjoying the beauty of God’s blossoms of love, mercy, comfort, and chastening upon a man like us -  yes, we, without his kingly riches, but with the same infirmities and like spiritual desires.


  For me, a psalm a day is like a vitamin a day which nourishes a weak physical body, for a psalm a day feeds the soul and prepares and nourishes it for another day of facing trials and afflictions, all for the spiritual growth of the soul.  The apostle Peter said it like this:  “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:  whom having not seen, ye love; in whom,  though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:  Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”  (I Peter 1: 7-9)


And now, Blossom 1 . . .        When Your Strength Fails, God's Does Not

        Psalms 39


  On those occasions when sin besets you, and gets you down, you need consoling and encouragement.  Psalm 39 ministers that to such a soul.  David said in this psalm that he would take heed of his ways, that he should not sin with his tongue.  Surely, the tongue is a great instrument of sin when it is not bridled!  This writer knows that for a certainty, and, oh, the cries to contain it that others are not hurt by its sharpness, and yet strength fails to do so.  David said he “was dumb with silence” and he held his peace  from even doing good.  Yes, he was sorrowful (v. 2).  His heart burned from within as a known sin burdened his soul.  Can the tongue speak any good, perhaps, you ask?  Of course, David appealed to God’s mercy with his bridled tongue and said, “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.”  (v. 4) 


  It is human nature to not want to know our end, but it is good for the soul to remember that life on earth is like the picture, David paints of it in Psalm 103: 15-16: “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.  For the wind passeth over it and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.”  It is to show our frailty that we not take life so for granted.  We are frail physically as we are appointed once to die (Hebrews 9: 27), and we are also frail in our souls.  We need daily spiritual nourishment to ward off all the attacks of our enemies:  Satan, the world, and our flesh!


 It is good for our soul to admit its frailty.  In the presence of God, we are nothing as our “best state is altogether vanity” (v. 5) before Him.  We are so prone to thinking so highly of ourselves that we leave God out of the picture!  The Psalmist states that, “surely every man walketh in a vain shew.” (v. 6) To a spiritual man, he recognizes and accepts his nothingness without Christ.  He is not interested in popularity with the world and gaining riches.  Rather, his plea is, “And now, Lord, what wait I for?  My hope is in thee.”  (v. 7) Though his strength fails him, and he is frail, the Lord is not!  The Lord delivers; the Lord removes His stroke that chastens and destroys; and the Lord rebukes and corrects the spiritual man whose sin consumes his spiritual beauty.  He admits that he and all men are vanity!


Only the soul taught by God is humbled to admit his vanity and nothingness.  He knows he is a sinner and always prone to sin and wandering from the flock, but he also sees Jesus, his Saviour and guide throughout all of life!  This is the prayer of the soul that desires to walk spiritually and not in his sins:  “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears:  for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.  O spare me, that I may recover strength before I go hence, and be no more.”  (v. 12-13)  Thus, the soul recovers strength to walk before his Lord daily; that is, acknowledging Him and His Lordship over him and seeking God’s will daily that He works within him a spirit of love and remembrance towards Him.  Thus, the soul’s daily walk becomes an humble walk before God and always wants God's glory to been seen,  and the flesh never to have the preeminence!   A spirit-filled soul reckons that without God, he can do nothing for his own strength fails him!


May God guide you, dear reader, in desiring to walk spiritually and to feed upon His Word. 



   Blossom #2  . . . .                When Your Heart Cries, God hears


                        Psalm 61


 


  Does your soul cry in agony carrying a burden much too heavy?  Do you tire of the burden that afflicts your soul?  Do you want and need relief?  Do you lift up your heart unto God like the psalmist who cried out, “Hear my cry, O God:  attend unto my prayer.” (Psalm 61: 1)  Do you wonder if He heard, and whether or not He will “attend unto” your prayer, or do you feel your affliction is despised by Him?  Yet, in spite of all, led by the “treasure within”, you hope in His mercy and you cry out even harder, and as the psalmist again proclaimed, “. . . He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, He heard! (Psalm 22: 24) 


  Ah, you sigh, but my heart is yet overwhelmed; yet, like the psalmist, “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed:  lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”  (Psalm 61: 2)  Yea, “. . . in the time of trouble . . . he shall set me up upon a rock.  (Psalm 27:5)  You rejoice in your soul, for it is the “rock that is higher than” you that comforts your soul.  You gladly confess that “. . . thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.”   (Psalm 31: 3) The soul now confidently proclaims as the psalmist, “. . . thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy”; thus, I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever:  I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.”(Psalm 61: 3-4) 


  Now, the soul is assured that indeed his prayer was heard for he says, “For thou, O God, hast heard my vows:  thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.” (v.5)  What is that heritage you ask?  It is that of God’s elect, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; . . . .  (Psalm 103: 3 – 5)  King David, himself, was promised prolonged life. (v. 6)


  As King David, the soul desires to abide before his God forever, and leaning upon the Spirit’s work in his life, the soul humbly bows as the psalmist proclaims, “O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him [me].  So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.  (v. 7 - 8)   


May you, dear reader, enjoy the comfort that God does indeed hear our prayers for the psalmist proclaimed, “In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.” (Psalm 86:7)



 

             Blossom #3 . . . .       When You Are Helpless, God Is a Present Help

               Psalm 121

 

Do you feel exasperated and helpless when things seem to go wrong?   Have your plans failed you?  Perhaps, you’ve always been self-sufficient, never needing a lot of help.  In fact, you are always the one others have come to for help and advice.  So, now, you are in a quandary.  What’s wrong you ask yourself?  Why do I feel so helpless . . . and yes, afraid?  Afraid of what you ponder?  You can’t even explain what you really feel, and from whence it came.  You are truly in a dilemma for which you have no answer. Perhaps, you convince yourself that it will just go away - “so just hang in there” you tell your soul.  Truly, you are perplexed, but pride keeps you from the Throne of Grace.  That, dear Reader, is something to fear.


          Had it not been for the mercy of the Lord, dear Saint of God, your soul would sink in despair, deep into the miry pit.  It is He who lifts you up and gives you utterance to call upon Him.  “In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me”!  (Psalm 120:1)  “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings”!  (Psalm 40: 2)  Now joyfully you say, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” (Ps. 121: 1) You boldly confess, “My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” (v.2)  Now your soul experiences the comfort that the “God of all comfort” bestows upon you.  When we are down, He does His marvelous works in our soul enabling us to see our sin that stood in the way of our communion with the Sovereign God.  He grants us repentance, and we now know with assurance that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (I John 1: 9) Thus, we understand that “He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:  he that keepeth thee will not slumber”!  (v.3) You now pause and reflect upon such grace.  Surely you are comforted, “Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”  (v. 4)


         Oh, soul, are you still weary?  Does your comfort fade?  Do you feel as the Psalmist, “Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger:  thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.”  Have you forgotten that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Ps. 46:1)  “The Lord is thy keeper:  the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.  The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:  he shall preserve thy soul.  The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore”!  (Ps. 121: 5 – 8)


         Be comforted, dear one, for it is the Lord who is always faithful.  Remember, it is always of Him, and never of us.  May we be ever humble before our Sovereign Lord, and may “we . . . commit the keeping of their {our} souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”  (I Peter 4: 19)  May peace be with you in Christ Jesus our Lord.

     


 

 



  Petals From the Golden Blossoms

      Petal 1 . . . .When you lack understanding, God enlightens . . . .        


  Psalm 18: 28


          “For thou wilt light my candle:  the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.”


 


      There is this paradox that as we mature and grow in Christ, we begin to realize that we don’t have all spiritual understanding in scripture or in God’s dealings with us or in the spiritual walk itself.     This is quite perplexing and discouraging at times.  When God led me to the above verse, I rejoiced as it spoke volumes to me.  I was glad that God would “enlighten my darkness.”!   Surely, I mused to myself, there is much more to learn in this spiritual walk on earth than I have thus learned.  I am reminded that scripture clearly states, “. . . lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  (Proverbs 3: 5-6)  These are verses most of us know, but do we really, at least, do we really apply them to our hearts?  If not, why not?


   Like the Psalmist then, my prayer is that God will “deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes.” If “I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies” (Psalm 119: 124-125) that I might teach others.   I pray, Lord, “light my candle” and “enlighten my darkness”!  Then as my own darkness is enlightened, I realize that this growth in spiritual understanding and walking in the Spirit is not without humility for it is clearly stated in the book of Micah, “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”  (Micah 6 8)   In addition, Jesus said in John 15: 5, that without Him, we can do nothing.  That’s a humbling thought.  What about my intellect and my own abilities some might ask?  Do they not count?  Are they not sufficient?  The Son of God emphatically says, “Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye except ye abide in me.”  (John 15: 4)  


Again, a searching, yet sincere soul asks, “how do we abide, and what is the fruit we are to bear?   Galatians lists them as the fruit of the Spirit:   love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.  All desirable, but often lacking outwardly in most of the godly.  Galatians warns that the flesh lusts against the Spirit, yet we are to walk in the Spirit.  Darkness clouds the mind with confusion.  Yet God promises to enlighten the darkness.  If we desire to live spiritually, then there is a desire to walk spiritually.


I found this commentary of Robert Hawker in his THE POOR MAN’S COMMENTARY-BOOK OF EPHESIANS quite enlightening.  Hawker states that “while the Spirit is thus holy in Christ; and the flesh unholy, and nothing but corruption in nature; those opposite principles are perpetually producing  those effects the children of God all feel, from such a conflict, and of which they continually complain, Romans 7:21, &c. Galatians 5: 17.  But most evident it is, that such, more or less, will continue through the whole time-state of the Church here below; and that this competition, in every child of God’s own person, from the moment of regeneration, never ceaseth, neither can cease, until the body returns to its original dust, and the spirit joins the spirits of just men made perfect.” That ministered to me!


Thus, as I am enabled to walk in the light of the candle lit by my Lord, I am led to this verse in Psalm:  “I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.”  (Psalm 57: 2)  That is a relief to my soul that God performs for me.  It is not by my power, but by His that I walk in His truths and bear the fruit of the Spirit.


  Jesus said in John 14, that He would pray the Father to give to us another Comforter, the Spirit of Truth!  He would dwell in us and be in us, and the fruits are His, and because “he dwelleth with you [us], and shall be in you [us]”, His fruits are in all of God’s elect.  As my darkness is enlightened, I realize what it means that without Christ, I can do nothing!  It is all of Christ and none of us.  God is our sufficiency, and it is He who is our judge.  Let our candle shine to the glory and praise of the Triune God!



   Petal 2 . . . When your soul is cast down, God is the health of your countenance . . .

    Psalm 42: 11

    “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? . .. For I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance. . . .”


   There are days when the soul is cast down, disquieted, and discouraged.  Children of God often find this puzzling as no reason is apparent.   Knowing with surety that God is the answer to an uplifted countenance, children of God still become perplexed, sinking deeper into disparagement wondering how their soul plowed to such depths.  
   At first, perhaps, there is an effort to try to ignore the fallen countenance, yet,
to great dismay, the soul steadily sinks lower and lower.  Should God withhold His marvelous grace, the despairing soul would find no relief, but the God of all comfort ministers to the soul cast down and disparaged.   Scripture testifies that all of God’s people are tried this way, that it is a lesson of growing in grace, “. . . speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)   In addition, the apostle Peter said, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ . . . .” (II Peter 3: 18)    Without trials, the soul does not experience the spiritual blessings intended for it. The Psalmist said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.“ (Psalm 119: 71)
    As the afflicted soul makes its journey through the trial of being cast down, it soon learns that it is God Who has brought the affliction often revealing unrecognized sin within which the scripture calls a "secret fault".  Whether it is a lack of obedience to God's commands, or a self-centered attitude, or an unwilling spirit to put God first in all things, it is the love of God that brings affliction to the soul that it might grow in His marvelous grace giving all glory to the all wise and merciful God.  Indeed, scripture testifies "that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me."  (Psalm 119: 75)
   It is such a comfort when God assures the soul,  that as the Psalmist proclaimed, " . . . hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."  (Psalm 42: 11)  Thus, the uplifted soul, enabled by the Holy Spirit now has hope in God and praises Him for the affliction and the restoration. Truly, that is the desired outcome of the trial of a cast down soul.



   


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      "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth   not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."           II Timothy 2: 15



 Ladies Bible Study




        We ladies meet every Wednesday for Bible study.  It is our intent to do as Scripture exhorts:   "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."  II Timothy 2: 15     We will endeavor to study topics within Scripture as the Spirit leads. 

      Previously, we studied  what it means to “grow in grace.” Scripture exhorts the child of God to “grow in grace,” and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 3:18).  In addition to the Word of God, we used  J.C. Philpot’s sermon, “Winter Afore Harvest,” also known as “The Soul’s Growth in Grace,” found in Volume II of his works. Philpot teaches that growing in grace is like the seasons of the year, only that the spiritual season begins with spring and ends with Harvest.  After a spiritual summer of growing in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, spiritual winter comes with its trials and afflictions testing one’s faith in Christ, then, the bountiful spiritual Harvest!

      We are now embarking upon a new study, God's Providence in daily living.  We will be using the  book, THE MYSTERY OF PROVIDENCE by John Flavel.  I personally studied this book when my husband, the pastor of Grace Particular Baptist Church, had open heart surgery.  He suffered  great blood loss and was to our dismay and fear, returned to surgery.  Needless-to-say, it was a very difficult time, yet God ministered to me through this marvelous book.  Now by His grace and for His glory, I wish to study it with you.  May God's blessings be upon us as we endeavor to rightly divide His Word on this most important and uplifting topic of Providence.


 Ladies Bible Study:  Colossians  2:7 Study

         A child of God is rooted in Christ by the Holy Spirit, and of this rooting comes spiritual understanding given by the Holy Spirit. He establishes us in the faith of Christ to believe on Him and what He has done for our souls through His life, death, and resurrection. Even now, He is seated on the right hand of God in heaven ruling. God has taught us from a babe and is teaching and instructing us daily on the spiritual walk. Furthermore, a thankful heart has fuller, richer, deeper thanksgiving to the Lord daily. All this we have, being rooted in Christ and quickened by the Holy Spirit.

by Melissa Ridgway



         God's Providence in Daily Living


   Text:  The BIBLE and THE MYSTERY OF PROVIDENCE by John Flavel



      Theme Verse:  "I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.:  Psalm 57: 2


        We will begin this study with the Introduction on page 15.  As we begin, let us take note of three remarkable words:  glorious, unsearchable, and condescension.  Our God iRooted in Christ A child of God is rooted in Christ by the Holy Spirit, and of this rooting comes spiritual understanding given by the Holy Spirit. He establishes us in the faith of Christ to believe on Him and what He has done for our souls through His life, death, and resurrection. Even now, He is seated on the right hand of God in heaven ruling. God has taught us from a babe and is teaching and instructing us daily on the spiritual walk. Furthermore, a thankful heart has fuller, richer, deeper thanksgiving to the Lord daily. All this we have, being rooted in Christ and quickened by the Holy Spirit. s glorious, that is, He is splendid and noble.  There is none like Him!  The true and living God is unsearchable, that is, there is no end to God.  He was, He is, and He will always be!  Our God came down from heaven's bliss to dwell among us, to be the Propitiation for our sins - our Savior and  our Lord!  Flavel states, "The condescension of the most high God to men is also a profound mystery.  Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly."  (Psalm 138: 6)  (15)  This "most high God performs all things for a poor distressed creature."  (15) If you are a true saint, that is you.  You are the "poor distressed creature."  That is not shameful.  It is very comforting for an all wise God is controlling all that befalls the saints.  There is nothing that can happen to them that God has not ordained.  Romans 8: 28 states that, ". . . all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."   Flavel states that it is not worth while to live in a world devoid of God and Providence."  (15)   We, too, will one day utter the same.

        Flavel uses the Psalmist, David, to illustrate God's Providential care over His saints.  David was pursued by Saul and Saul would  have ended David's life had it been the will of God.  David knew his danger and cried out for mercy.   "Be merciful unto me:  for my soul trusteth in thee:  yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast."  (Psalm 57: 1)    Is our faith such?  Do we cry  out for mercy in our distresses?  Do we believe God will perform for us, or do we not have need for such mercy?  Are we unchallenged in day to day living?  Are we always at peace or is our peace of mind often disturbed?  The performing God will keep us in peace if our minds are stayed upon Him.  (Isaiah 26: 3) 

        Sometimes, I think, we live as though God is "up there"  and we are down here, and we think that God is not concerned with His saints.  With so little teaching of an active God who daily interacts with His saints, we are prone to live life as though we are in complete charge and have no need for an intervening God  - that is, until distress, calamities make their appearance in our lives.  We often call these afflictions, and we regard them with little joy if any and would fall under the weight of them if God was not a faithful Creator who designed the affliction to draw us to Him.  God  sends the affliction to teach us of His providential will in our lives.  This is a new concept to many saints of God because they have not been schooled in such matters.  With so much to take our time and attention away from God, we rely more upon ourselves that ever upon our merciful and loving, glorious God.  Yet, the design of these afflictions are to make us less dependent upon ourselves and more if not completely dependent upon our Sovereign God.    "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me:  give me understanding that I may learn thy commandments" (Psalm 119: 73) , and His commandments are not grievous!

        Providence simply put, is "nothing else but the performance of God's gracious purposes and promises to His people."  (18)   Flavel also states that Providence "not only has its hand in this or that, but in all that concerns them [the saints].  It has its eye upon every thing that relates to them throughout their lives, from first to last.  Not only the great and more important, but the most minute and ordinary affairs of our lives are transacted and managed by it.  It touches all things that touch us, whether more nearly or remotely."  (19)  Now, the question is, do you believe that?  Are you willing to have such trust in the living God, or do you prefer having control?  Are you as dependable as our great God?  Think on this, dear saint, for true joy and happiness is yours in Christ even in distresses. 

        Flavel also states, that "Providence not only undertakes but perfects what concerns us.  It goes through with its designs, and accomplishes what it begins."  (19)  Is that not good news, saints of God?  Do you want God to perform all things for you?  ". . .  Providence neither does nor can do any thing that is really against the true interest and good of the saints.  For what are the works of Providence but the execution of God's decree and the fulfilling of His Word?"  (19)  It is also good to think upon this verse, " Lord, thou also hast wrought all our works in us."  (Isaiah 26: 12)  Sometimes, we resist leaning upon God.  We have not yet experienced  enough distress to cause us to want God to intervene, but this gracious God loves His saints and will work out His will in each.  Because He has designed our being, He will work according to the design and plan He ordained for each of us before the world began.  That should be good news!

        Let us then want to learn more about Providence, and how it relates to the lives we live here upon earth.  What are its advantages?   Do we really have an option?  Is this too hard a doctrine for us to accept?  Flavel in drawing this introduction to a close states, "It is certainly a highway of walking with God in this world, and a soul may enjoy as sweet communion with Him in His providences as in any of His ordinances."  (22)    May God be glorified!


    Peculiar  Providence


  In the first chapter of Flavel's book on the MYSTERY OF PROVIDENCE, the saints are given assurance that their affairs in this world are "conducted by the wisdom and care of special Providence." (27) This is a wonderful truth for us to think upon; yet, I doubt most of us rarely consider Providence in our lives.  Most of us consider that we or others are tending to our affairs, and that it is just a human work naturally expected.   Most of us have not contemplated or even given much thought that God is working in all our affairs and that without our even noticing it! Indeed, it is an awesome thought to have our minds opened to such a great truth!    

Having acknowledged our lack of thinking upon Providence in our daily lives, let us probe what Providence truly means for our daily living.  Perhaps, we should first define what Providence is.  For a meaningful and satisfying definition, let us quote the definition given by Noah Webster in his 1828, AMERICAN DICIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.  "In theology, the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures. He that acknowledges a creation and denies a  providence, involves himself in a palpable contradiction; for the same power which caused a thing to exist is necessary to continue its existence. Some persons admit a general providence, but deny a particular providence, not considering that a general providence consists of particulars. A belief in divine providence is a source of great consolation to good men.  By divine providence is often understood God himself."  Next, let us establish that the "God of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church."  (Eph, 1: 22)   That means that "the Church is His special care and charge. He rules the world for its good . . . ." (27)  He works all things for the good of His chosen people.  That includes many daily mercies without which we would utterly fall!  The Psalmist attests that God's mercies "endureth forever", and Jeremiah claims they are "new every morning". (Lam. 3: 23)  So often, without our notice, God often protects His people from harmful events and from enemies that would oppress them hiding them in the shadow of His wings. (Ps. 57:1)  In addition, Flavel states that "Good men have been going along the way to their own ruin, and did not know it; but Providence has met them in the way and preserved them by strange diversions, the meaning of which they did not understand till the event revealed it."   Just think of what you didn't know was going on in God's Providence in your life!  "But I am poor and needy; yet, the Lord thinketh upon me ". . . . ! (Ps. 40: 17)  What a glorious God! 







For the full study of these topics, you can listen to the Bible study on http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Cathy_Brown.  We do hope you will listen in, and that God will minister unto you these precious truths.

 

Contact: cathy@graceparticularbaptist.com





SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDINGS


-fruit from the Vine

“I am the vine, ye are the branches:  He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit:  for without me ye can do nothing.”  John 15: 5


Articles


I Wonder?

Have You Asked God to Search Your Heart Lately?

Poem:  Magnify Thy Name. O Lord

"Lovest Thou Me?"
 


I WONDER?

          by Cathy Brown


Do you ever wonder?  Well, I wonder.  I wonder if I know what spiritual understanding really is?  I wonder if I rightly divide God’s Word?  I wonder how and if anyone  can truly learn  these biblical truths?  I wonder if I am able to discern spiritual truths when I hear them?  I wonder if  I can really walk a spiritual walk?   I wonder how such a sinner as I could possibly be an elected vessel, saved by the redeeming work of Christ.   I wonder how God thinks on me?  I wonder if I am truly God’s child?  In fact, I wonder, how do I know if I have real faith?  I even wonder if it is okay to wonder?  Oh yes, in spite of all, I wonder!


Does your wondering draw you to the Word of God?  Does it bring you to the throne of Grace ?  Does it cause you to think upon Jesus and His goodness?  Does  it make you feel finite and God infinite?  Is your wondering satisfied by what you read in the Word of God?  Do you find hope and assurance there?  Perhaps, your wondering is a pricking of the Holy Spirit upon your soul to draw you even nearer to Christ and to cause you to explore God’s Word  more deeply.  Such has been the effect of my wondering, and that’s a good thing!  It causes me to examine myself more closely, and that’s biblical, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith . . .  .”  (II Corinthians  13: 5)


If such be the case, then it’s time to put aside the things that steal your time away from spiritual endeavors.  It’s time to truly put God first in your life as only what is spiritual will last.  All else is for the moment and will pass away.  Get serious then about your relationship with Christ.  Is He or is He not the most important relationship in your life?  Do you really want to miss out on all the spiritual food God has to feed your soul that will bring true joy and real peace?   Thus said, “. . . it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”  (Philippians 2: 13)


Perhaps, you think that God isn’t interested in what you do day to day, that only the teachers and ministers of God ‘s Word have  His  attention, and you are too insignificant for God to think much upon?  Then you have not learned much about the spiritual walk and God’s interaction among His saints.  Perhaps, you’ve not really had a teacher; that is, an earthly teacher who has spiritual understanding  and who points to the Holy Spirit as our real Teacher, who leads us into all Truth.  “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. . . . “ (John 16: 13)  This loving God , “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.  For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”  (Psalm 103: 13-14)   This loving God thinks upon His elected saints.  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”  (Jeremiah 29: 11)  And this loving God “. . . hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.”  (Psalm 103: 10)  Oh, yes, dear saint of God, He thinks upon you day and night.  “But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: . “ (Psalm  40:17)


Dear Saint, does this cause you to wonder more about this loving and gracious God?  Does it cause you to desire to know about Him and His ways more than that of yourself?  Do you feel an excitement greater than what excites you in the world?  Do you feel spiritually hungry? Then pray to the gracious God who hath stirred up these desires  in you for it is His will that you do learn about Him.  He has provided all that is needed in His precious Word.  Your concern begins with this:  “He hath shewed thee, O man what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”  (Micah 6: 8)


There is an ocean, no oceans of spiritual wealth laying before you.  Jesus gives this promise, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:  for they shall be filled.”  (Matthew 5: 6)


I’m sure you must feel like I have felt and still  often do.  Where do I begin?  There’s so much to learn, so much to grasp.  Dear Saint, God will provide even this.  He will guide you.  He will give you understanding  for He knows you.  He created you, and He has designed your life.  Sometimes, it is as easy as just opening the Bible and the Lord ministers His Word to you.  You receive revelation you did not once have, and you marvel at God’s teaching.  What rejoicing takes place in your heart.  You have communed with your God, and more importantly, He has communed with you.  This is indeed humbling.


Be assured, dear Saint, that God will not leave you hungry for spiritual understanding if you surely desire it.  It is His will “That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge.”  (ICorinthians 1: 5)  It is His will that  “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.”  (Ephesians 1: 18)


This He grants to every saint of God, “according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”   (Ephesians 3: 16-19)


Do you yet wonder?  Dear Saint, lay aside all earthly concerns standing in the way, and desire  this spiritual journey to begin.  “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  (Philippians 1: 6)


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”  (Ephesians 1: 3)



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Have You Asked God To Search Your Soul Lately?

  by Cathy Brown

“Search me, O God, and know my heart:  try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there by any wicked way in me . . . . Psalm 139:  23-24

 

          Have you asked God to try your soul whether or not you love Him with your whole heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22: 37), and whether or not you truly put Him first in your life?  Have you asked Him whether or not you sincerely desire Him in your heart and whether your heart is set more upon Him than upon anything else?  Have you asked Him to guard your heart lest it stray from your first love, Jesus Christ, your Savior?  Have your asked God if you seek Him with all your heart as scripture testifies that if you do, you shall surely find Him?  (Jeremiah 29: 13) 

          The Psalmist cries out sincerely for God to know his thoughts, though he knows already that He does.  Do you know that God knows your thoughts already, too, and do you know your own thoughts that God sees everyday?  Is your soul truly fulfilled in the Lord?  Does your soul hunger and thirst after His righteousness?   Scripture teaches that if you seek after these things, you shall surely find them and be filled!  (Matthew 5: 6)   So, is your soul joyful in the Lord?  (Psalm 35: 9) Does your soul pant after Him, as the deer “panteth after the water brook”?  (Psalm 42: 1)  When cast down, does your soul hope in God?  Scripture testifies that thou, O Lord, are “the health of my countenance?  (Psalm 42: 11)  Oh, dear child of God, do you wait only upon God?  Is your expectation from Him only?  (Psalm 62: 5)  Is God your strength, your rock, and your salvation?  Do you trust in Him at all times?  (Pslam 62: 6-8)   Is Jesus Christ the anchor of your soul?

Does it matter that you keep your mind stayed upon Christ?  Does it matter that you walk in the company of those whose mind isn’t?  Do the thoughts of your mind stay upon Him, or do your thoughts stray, thinking on things that give you pleasure or on the injustices perhaps you have experienced in daily living upon which you often moan?  Does your mind rationalize that being the sinner that you are, who art thou to judge others?  Do you reason in your soul that you are prone to wander, and that all human alliances do nothing to mature your soul spiritually.  Ponder what you can learn spiritually in the things or pleasures that you so often undertake in your daily living?  Do you care about learning spiritual things and growing in grace? Is this the state of your mind?  Scripture teaches that, “they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”  (Romans 8: 5-6)

Do you ponder in the depths of your soul, that you cannot possibly keep such a high calling?  Though you understand scriptural demands, do you find it almost impossible to place Christ in such a lofty place, though you sincerely desire it? The Psalmist cries, “I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.”  (Psalm 57:2)  Dear Saint, embrace Him and His Word and do not strive to please men lest “I should not be the servant of Christ”!  (Galatians 1: 10)  Cry out like the Psalmist, “Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord:  give me understanding according to thy Word.”  (Psalm 119: 169) Truly without the Lord, you can do nothing!  Perhaps, you cry out, “work in me, my God, that which I cannot do for according to Scripture, you are a ‘faithful Creator’ (I Peter 4: 19) and faithful are you ‘who also will do it’”!  Also, boast not in works, but humbly accept and rejoice that it is “by Grace are you saved through faith; and not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2: 8)  Be assured that “being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”!  Now, dear Saint, rest in God, “for he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”  (Hebrews 4: 10)  All Glory be to thee, Oh, God, all glory be to Thee!  For great things thou hast done!



Magnify Thy Name, O Lord! 

by Cathy Brown


O Lord, there is none like you

Neither is there any God, but you

There is no Savior but you, O Lord

             There is no other God, no not one!    II Samuel 7: 22; Is. 45:18


Before you, there was no God formed

Neither shall there be any after you

You are the first and the last

 You are the great "I AM". Alpha and Omega  Exodus 3: 14, Rev. 1: 8


Before the day was, you were already

For you established and formed the earth

All your pleasures you will do

    For your counsel shall always stand!    Is. 45: 12, 18


You do all things well, for you are God

Your Word shall not return unto you void

It shall accomplish that which you please

For you are the One, True, Triune God!     Is. 55: 11


Magnify thy Name, O Lord

For you only reign as God

None can stand, but thee, O Lord

Magnify thy Name, thy great Triune God

Magnify thy Name!





          

       


PONDERINGS



              GOD IS CONSTANT AND NEVER- CHANGING


                Humbly penned by Catherine Brown under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit


 


What does a constant and never-changing God mean to the souls of God’s saints?    With so many changes in life, most of them bad, and few that are good, we are often so perplexed and sometimes fall in despair especially when we look within ourselves for understanding and comfort.  Amid the confusion and perplexity, the righteous soul enabled by the Spirit cries out “but God is a faithful, unchanging God” for the Scriptures attest to it!  In Deuteronomy 7:9, we are told, “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God . . . , and again in Hebrews 13:8, that “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.   The faithfulness of God the Holy Spirit, soothes the discomforted soul to remember God’s faithfulness Who is a constant presence in the soul of all the saints of God, and that they were called to the “fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ” by He Who is faithful (I Corinthians 1: 9) and unchanging.   Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”  (I Thessalonians 5: 24)


As our soul is always under attack by Satan, the world, and yes, our own flesh, it is consoling to know that our faithful Lord establishes us in the faith and keeps us from these evil influences.  (II Thessalonians 3: 3)    Even as we are tempted to doubt Him, God abides faithful  (II Timothy 2: 13) and with complete assurance the saints of God are enabled to “. . . commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” (I Peter 4: 19)


  As we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we appreciate more and more that the God of the Bible is constant in His forgiving of our sins that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1: 9), a familiar verse, yet one so needed to be remembered by the saints.  We are told in Scripture what God requires of His people and that it is, “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”  (Micah 6: 8)  What can be more humbling than to recognize our sins that are a constant in our lives, and to know that daily, a constant and never-changing God forgives us in Christ Jesus?  Unforgiven sin would cast us into the very fires of hell, but forgiveness in Christ Jesus puts us at the throne of Grace and one day in Heaven itself.  And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.”  (Revelation 19:11)  God does not say one day, “thy sins be forgiven” and another day, “depart from me for I have changed my mind.”  No, God is constant and never-changing for He is “Faithful and True.”  Let the soul rejoice to have such a God watching over it!


  God is also constant and never-changing in His mercy that He has so richly and bountifully bestowed upon the saints of God.  They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness”!  (Lamentations 3:23)  Without His mercies, we would be consumed, but our Faithful Creator has compassions that never change or fail!  (Lamentations 3: 22)  The Psalmist claims that His mercy “is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.”  (Psalm 36: 5)   How can we resist so great a God!


  Oh, dear Saint of God, we have a loving and kind God who watches over us faithfully never wanting us to stray or leave the comfort of His abiding Grace; yet, we are unfaithful never deserving of such rich grace and mercy!    Our God’s testimony stands strong, and He has given it for our comfort and peace for He says of Himself, “Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.”  (Psalm 89:33)  Take it in, dear Saint.  God’s love, mercy, kindness, and grace never fails for His Little Ones!  Yet, even in times of trial, God’s faithfulness prevails.  The Psalmist testifies, “I know, O Lord, that thy judgements are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.  (Psalm 119: 75)  Yes, “Before I was afflicted I went astray . . . . “  (Psalm 119: 67), and that “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes.” (Psalm 119: 71)  Our God knows the needs of our soul, for the Psalmist proclaims that His “hands have made me and fashioned me. . . .”  (Psalm 119:73)  As the Psalmist cries out, He knows “my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off” (Psalm 139: 2), for “O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me.  (Psalm139: 1) Yet, in all our unfaithfulness, the Psalmist humbly exclaims, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God!  How great is the sum of them!”  (Psalm 139: 17)  Who, but a Faithful and True Creator could be so constant and never-changing?  May all praise be to a most Glorious and Faithful God!



NEW ARTICLES

 MUSINGS ABOUT CHRISTIAN AUTHORS AND THEIR WORKS 
 AND CHRISTIAN COUNSEL

 by Catherine Brown


Question:  Since there are so many Christian authors and counselors who have spiritual points-of-view that capture the hearts of those they counsel and the hearts of their readers, what responsibility do Christians have in listening to their counsel and in reading their works?

Perhaps, the following should be considered in answering the above question.  Does the counselor and the author’s work exalt the Lord Jesus Christ?  Is He the center of the counselor and author’s work?Does the counselor and author’s expounding of spiritual things include Christ and His pleasure over His creation?  Is the doctrine of the counselor and of the author the doctrine of Christ and His truths? Is the Word of God “rightly divided”?

In all innocence and sincerity you may ask, why should that matter? Matter, it does, dear reader.  Let us ardently examine God’s Word for the answer.  First of all, the Word of God instructs the child of God to be sound in doctrine.

    “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.” Titus 2:1;  “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”  Eph. 4: 14

If we, the one counselled and the Christian reader, ought to be sound in doctrine, then the counselor and author to whom we give our time and attention must most assuredly be doctrinally sound; therefore, it is indeed, the responsibility of both the one counselled and the reader to know the religious background of the counselor or author.  I would confess that those ministers and teachers of God’s Word who have the responsibility to guard and watch over the souls placed under their care do have the responsibility to know opposing views that they are better able to warn and caution the saints of God.  It is for that reason only that these read those not in harmony with sound doctrine.  For those reading for their own spiritual growth,
sound doctrine is a must!

We, ladies, perhaps, need the strongest admonition.  We often seek for spiritual guidance in books and authors of whom we have respect.  We also seek personal counsel from those we deem spiritually mature.  This gives rise to the question of whether or not Christ is the center of our focus.  Daily life alone presents so many obstacles to walking spiritually that we ladies look for encouragement and guidance from others among us who seem spiritually wise; that is most often found in books we gladly read and sometimes in personal counsel. For our encouragement, the Bible does state that God “gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”Eph. 4: 11-12   For us ladies, let us examine whether or not we exalt Christ rather than the author of the spiritual enlightenment found in our reading or counseling.  We must always remember that our “adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” I Pet. 5:8   We are told to be sober and vigilant.  Satan, indeed, is very sly and very capable of bringing deception into the writings and counsels of man that seem so spiritual.  Scripture teaches us that “the counsels of the wicked are deceit.”  Proverbs 12: 5  It is best that we compare what entices us in these authors’ writings and counsel with scripture that we be not deceived or find ourselves exalting the author or counselor more than Christ. It is very easy to do unintentionally.  Even our Lord cautioned us that there were those who were guilty of “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matt. 15: 9   Titus also tells us assertively that there were those who were ”teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” Titus 1: 11

In regard to reading, the sum of the matter is that we glean from what we read.  We may not
entirely be in agreement with the author, but a spiritual point made by the author may be a great spiritual truth to be gleaned. Of course, what is gleaned must be in agreement with the Word of God, and it is the duty of the reader to ascertain that either by having been taught it or investigating the Word for him or herself.  In addition, let us not be afraid of only a single point or two that is spiritually worthy that we should not give the book any consideration.  We are growing in Christ and do not in and of ourselves have all knowledge or spiritual understanding.  It may be that these single points are what we need for that time in our journey.  This does not okay reading authors who are adamantly doctrinally unsound; that is, not adhering to the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ and His truths.  Furthermore, let us not let any book to be more our Bible than that which is the true Bible!

So, in conclusion, let us take counsel and reading with caution and prayerfully so, that we are not deceived, and if the counsel of others and our reading illumines and uplifts our soul to spiritual needs we have in our lives and are spoken in words that we are able to grasp and
understand, let us remember that in all spiritual quests and learning that “a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” John 3: 27  Though we thank our God that He provided counselors and writers with great spiritual wisdom and the ability to communicate in a way that meets our soul’s needs and our own understanding, that all glory belongs to Christ and to Him alone. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!