Not everyone will love you!

There is a third way in which men despise the chastening of the Lord, that is — we may think it dishonourable to be chastened by God. How many men have thought it to be dishonourable to be persecuted for righteousness sake! A young man for instance is in a situation in business where he has a large number of fellow workmen with him. They are accustomed to jeer him, to call him pretty titles — Methodist, dissenter, Presbyterian, or some other kind of name most common among the worldly; this young man for a time bears it, but still thinking it a kind of disgrace to him. He does not know how to endure it. So, after a while, teeing beaten by these jeers, and overcome by these insults, he leaves it off, because he discovers that the reproach of Christ is dishonourable to him. My son, if thou dost thus, thou despise the chastening of the Lord. If thou think that reproach for Christ’s sake is a dishonour, thou judges wrongly of it, for it is the greatest honour that can possibly happen to thee. There are many of you who count that religion is very honourable while you can be respectable in it, while you can walk in respectable society, but if the cause of God brings you into tribulation, if it engenders the laugh and jeer of the worldling, the hiss and scorn of the world, then you think it a dishonour. But my son thou dost not weigh the blessing rightly. I tell thee once again, it is the glory of a man to be chastened for God’s sake. When they say all manner of evil against us falsely, we put that down not in the book of dishonour but in the scroll of glory. When they call us by opprobrious titles, we write not that down for loss, but for gain. We accept their jeers as honours, we count the vile things they cast at us in the pillory of scorn to be a donation of pearls and diamonds: we take their evil speaking, we read it by the light of the Word of God, and we discover that in it lie music, notes of honour and chords of glory to us for ever. Now you who faint under a little trouble, and despise the chastening of the Lord, let me encourage you in this way. My son, despise not the persecution. Remember how many men have borne it. What an honour it is to suffer for Christ’s sake! because the crown of martyrdom has been worn by many heads better than thine. Oh! methinks it would be the greatest dignity I could ever attain to, if the enemy would place the blood-red crown of martyrdom around this brow! We in these gentle times cannot suffer for Christ’s sake. God has put us in evil times because we cannot encounter so much as we wish for him. These times are not good for us. We almost wish for different ones, when we might be more partakers with Christ in his sufferings. We would almost envy those blessed men of yore, who had the opportunity of showing their courage and faith to all men, by enduring more for Christ; and if any of you are in a peculiar place of trouble, where you have more persecution than others, you ought to glory in it, and should be glad of it. He that stands in the thickest part of the battle shall have the highest glory at last. The old warriors would not stand and skirmish a little on the outside of the army; but what would they say? “To the centre, men! to the centre!” And they cut through thick and thin till they reached the place where the standard was, and the hotter the battle, the more glory the warrior felt. He could glory that he had been where shafts flew the thickest, and where lances were hurled like hail. “I have been near the standard,” he could say, “I have smitten the standard-bearer down.” Count it glory to go into the hottest part of the field. Fear not, man, thine head is covered in the day of battle; the shield of God can easily repel all the darts of the enemy. Be bold for his name’s sake. Go on still rejoicing. But, mark thee, if thou turn back thou art guilty of the sin of despising the cross, and despising the chastening of the Lord. Do not do so, but rather write it down for an honour and glory to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

Woe unto you when all men speak well of you!  Prune B.T.woe unto you

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All things working for good!

Secondly, we despise the chastening of the Lord when we say there is no use in it. There are certain things that happen to us in life, which we immediately set down for a providence. If a grandfather of ours should die and leave us five hundred pounds, what a merciful providence that would be! If by something strange in business we were suddenly to accumulate a fortune, that would be a blessed providence! If an accident happens, and we are preserved, and our limbs are not hurt, that is always a providence. But suppose we were to lose five hundred pounds, would not that be a providence? Suppose our establishment should break up, and business fail, would not that be a providence? Suppose we should during the accident break our leg, would not that be a providence? There is the difficulty. It is always a providence when it is a good thing. But why is it not a providence when it does not happen to be just as we please? Surely it is so; for if the one thing be ordered by God, so is the other. It is written, “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil. I, the Lord, do all these things.” But I question whether that is not despising the chastening of the Lord, when we set a prosperous providence before an adverse one, for I do think that an adverse providence ought to be the cause of as much thankfulness as a prosperous one. And if it is not, we are violating the command, “In everything give thanks.” But we say, Of what use will such trial be to me?; cannot see that it can by any possibility be useful to my soul. Here I was growing in grace just now, but there is something that has damped all my ardour and overthrown my zeal. Just now I was on the mount of assurance, and God has brought me to the valley of humiliation. Can that be any good to me? A few weeks ago I had wealth, and I distributed it in the cause of God; now I have none. What can be the use of that? All these things are against me.” Now, you are despising the chastening of the Lord, when you say that is of no use. No child thinks the rod of much value. Anything in the house is of more use than that rod in his opinion. And if you were to ask the child which part of the household furniture could be dispensed with, he would like chairs, tables and everything else to remain but that; the rod he does not think of any good whatever. He despises the rod. Ah! and so do we. We think it cannot benefit us; we want to get rid of the rod and turn it away. “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord.” Let me show thee how wrong thou art. What! doth thine ignorance affect to say that God is unwise? I thought it was written that he was too wise to err; and I did think that thou was a believer, that he was too good to be unkind. And doth thy little wisdom arrogates to itself the chair of honour? Doth thy finite knowledge stand up before thy Maker and tell him he is unwise in what he doth? Wilt thou dare to say that one of his purposes shall be unfulfilled, that he does an unwise act? O then, thou art impudently arrogant I thou art impudently ignorant if thou wilt thus speak. Say not so, but bend meekly down before his superior wisdom, and say. “O God I believe that in the darkness thou art brewing light, that in the storm-clouds thou art gathering sunshine, that in the deep mines thou art fashioning diamonds, and in the beds of the sea thou art making pearls. I believe that however unfathomable may be thy designs, yet they have a bottom. Though it is in the whirlwind and in the storm, thou hast a way, and that way is good and righteous altogether. I would not have thee alter one atom of thy dispensations, it shall be just as thou wilt. I bow before thee, and I give my ignorance the word to hold its tongue, and to be silenced while thy wisdom speaketh words of right.” “My son despise not thou the chastening of the Lord” by thinking that it can be of no possible service to thee.

All things work together for good-so keep trusting!  Prune B.T.

all-things-for-together-for-good-2

No grumbling please!

A word with thee, O murmurer! Why should thou murmur against the dispensations of thy heavenly Father? Can he treat thee more hardly than thou deserve? Consider what a rebel thou were once, but he has pardoned thee. Surely if he chooses now to lay the rod upon thee, thou needs not cry out. Hast thou not read, that amongst the Roman emperors of old it was the custom when they would set a slave at liberty, to give him a blow upon the head, and then say, “Go free?” This blow which thy Father gives thee is a token of thy liberty, and dost thou grumble because he smites thee rather hardly? After all, are not his strokes fewer than thy crimes, and lighter than thy guilt? Art thou smitten as hardly as thy sins deserve? Consider the corruption that is in thy breast, and then wilt thou wonder that there needs so much of the rod to fetch it out? Weigh thyself, and discern how much dross is mingled with thy gold, and dost thou think the fire too hot to get away so much dross as thou hast? Why, thou hast not the furnace hot enough, methinks. There is too much dross, too little fire; the rod is not laid on hardly enough, for that proud spirit of thine proves that thy heart is not thoroughly sanctified; and though it may be right with God, thy words do not sound like it, and thine actions do not portray the holiness of thy nature. It is the old Adam within thee that is groaning. Take heed if thou murmurs, for it will go hard with murmurers. God always chastises his children twice if they do not bear the first blow patiently. I have often heard a father say, “Boy, if you cry for that you shall have something to cry for by-and-by.” So, if we murmur at a little God gives us something that will make us cry. If we groan for nothing, he will give us something that will make us groan. Sit down in patience; despise not the chastening of the Lord, be not angry with him, for he is not angry with thee; say not that he deals so hardly with thee. Let humility rise up and speak — “It is well, O Lord! Just art thou in thy chastising, for I have sinned, righteous art thou in thy blows, for I need them to fetch me near to thee, for if thou dost leave me uncorrected and unchastised, I, a poor wanderer, must pass away to the gulf of death, and sink into the pit of eternal perdition.” There is the first sense in which we may despise the chastening of the Lord: we may murmur under it.

 

God is at work so we must not grumble or complain! Prune.B.T.Grumbling-

God only disciplines us in love and for our good!

The first evil to which the chastened Christian is liable is this: he may despise the hand of God. The second is, that he may faint when he is rebuked. We will begin with the first: “My son despise not thou the chastening of the Lord.”
I. This may be done in five ways, and in discussing the subject, I shall propose the remedy for each of these as we pass along.
First, a man may despise the chastening of the Lord when he murmurs at it. Ephraim is like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke; when a son of God first feels the rod, he is like a bullock — he kicks at it, he cannot bear it. He is an unbroken colt, and when he first feels the collar put upon his shoulders, he rears in the air, and by all manner of ways expresses his aversion thereunto. The first time a child of God receives a blow from his Father’s hand he may possibly turn around upon his own tender Father and murmur at him: “Why ought I to have this? Why am I thus punished and afflicted? Why should I be chastised? What have I done to be afflicted and chastened? “You will wonder, perhaps, that a man who has grace in his heart should talk like this; but in reality, we do say so — not with the words of our lips, but with the thoughts of our hearts, for we sit down and say, “I am the man who hath seen affliction — I am the man more tried and troubled than others. No one is ever chastened as I am.” And we look around with the eye of jealousy exclaiming, “That man is happier than I — that man has less sorrow and suffering.” We are too apt to put our own condition in the worst place and describe ourselves as being the most afflicted of all God’s people. Though we blush to say it, it is true. There are murmurers in the midst of Israel now, as well as in the camp of Israel of old; there are people of God who, when the rod falls, cry out against it, who, instead of kissing the Son lest he be angry, turn around upon him, and speak against the afflictive dispensations of God. We know ourselves what it is when we have a little sickness to be so cross, that hardly anybody dares to speak to us, and if we have a little pain, perhaps in our head, we know what it is to think all the world is going wrong, and to be grieved, and vexed, and melancholy on that account. Many of you have been foolish enough when bereaved of your property, to cry out, “Ah! God takes everything away. He smites me with one stroke upon another. Surely he is an unkind God.” And you have felt when you have lost your friends that you could not say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” You have thought, “Oh! wherefore this? Simon is not, and Joseph is not, and now ye would take Benjamin away. All these things are against me “We have murmured, now listen to the exhortation: “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord.” That is despising God’s chastening, when we murmur at it. Patience is the only way to receive it. A want of resignation shows we despise God’s chastening hand.

God always disciplines us for our good!  Prune B.T.Discipline

Humble ourselves under His mighty hand!

Peradventure this morning I may have some within these walls who are passing under the chastising hand of God. It is to them that I shall have to speak. You are not all of you in trial, I know no father chastises his whole family at once. It is so seldom that God afflicts people, after all, compared with their faults, that we must not expect to find in this congregation, perhaps, one-half of the children of God passing under the rod of the covenant; but if you are not under it now, you will have to pass under it sometime or other in your life, so that what we may say, if it be not profitable to you in present circumstances, yet if treasured up and recollected, it shall be fetched out in some future time, when the wine will not have lost its flavour by keeping, but have improved thereby, and you will find it a bottle of cordial to your spirit, useful to your heart.
There are two dangers against which a person under the chastising hand of God ‘should always be very careful to keep a strict look-out. They are these: “My son despise not thou the chastening of the Lord.” That is one. On the other hand: “Neither faint when thou art rebuked of him.” Two evils: the one is despising the rod and the other is fainting under it. Evils always hunt in couples; sins always go in a leash. It is a marvellous thing that there are always to be found two evils, side by side. We have said sometimes, extremes are dangerous, and for this reason, that one evil has its opposite, which is equally a hurtful thing. Take this: there is a haughty pride which laughs at the rod. On the other hand there is a foolish faintness which faints under it. I have found through life that there is always a Scylla and a Charybdis; a rock on the one side and a whirlpool on the other, between which it is dangerous to steer. On the one hand we are tempted to feel that we can do something, and to trust in our works, and if we try to shun that, we run into sloth and leave off doing anything. At times we get proud of what we have accomplished; and in seeking to avoid that, we become despairing and desponding. There are always two evils on the opposite side of one another. The way of righteousness is a difficult pass between two great mountains of error; and the great secret of the Christian life is to wind his way along the narrow valley. God help us so to do! We will point out the two this morning.

Humble yourselfHumble ourselves under the mighty hand of God!  Prune B.T.

The Lord disciplines those He loves!

“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.” — Hebrews 12:5.
GOD’S PEOPLE CAN never by any possibility be punished for their sins. God has punished them already in the person of Christ, Christ, their substitute, has endured the full penalty for all their guilt, and neither the justice nor the love of God can ever exact again that which Christ has paid. Punishment can never happen to a child of God in the judicial sense, he can never be brought before God as his Judge, as charged with guilt, because that guilt was long ago transferred to the shoulders of Christ, and the punishment was exacted at the hands of his surety. But yet, while the sin cannot be punished, while the Christian cannot be condemned, he can be chastised, while he shall never be arraigned before God’s bar as a criminal, and punished for his guilt, yet he now stands in a new relationship — that of a child to his parent: and as a son he may be chastised on account of sin. Folly is bound up in the heart of all God’s children, and the rod of the Father must bring that folly out of them. It is essential to observe the distinction between punishment and chastisement. Punishment and chastisement may agree as to the nature of the suffering: the one suffering may be as great as the other, the sinner who, while here is punished for his guilt, may suffer no more in this life than the Christian who is only chastised by his parent. They do not differ as to the nature of the punishment, but they differ in the mind of the punisher and in the relationship of the person who is punished. God punishes the sinner on his own account, because he is angry with the sinner, and his justice must be avenged, his law must be honoured, and his commands must have their dignity maintained. But he does not punish the believer on his own account, it is on the Christian’s account, to do him good, He afflicts him for his profit, he lays on the rod for his child’s advantage; he has a good design towards the person who receives the chastisement. While in punishment the design is simply with God for God’s glory, in chastisement, it is with the person chastised for his good, for his spiritual profit and benefit. Besides, punishment is laid on a man in anger. God ‘strikes him in wrath, but when he afflicts his child, chastisement is applied in love, his strokes are, all of them, put there by the hand of love. The rod has been baptized in deep affection before it is laid on the believer’s back. God doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve us for nought, but out of love and affection, because he perceives that if he leaves us unchastised, we shall bring upon ourselves misery ten thousand-fold greater than we shall suffer by his slight rebukes, and the gentle blows of his hand. Take this in the very starting, that whatever thy trouble, or thine affliction, there cannot be anything punitive in it, thou must never say — “Now God is punishing me for my sin.” Thou hast fallen from thy steadfastness when thou talkest so. God cannot do that. He has once for all done it. “The chastisement of our peace was upon HIM, and by HIS stripes we are healed.” He is chastising thee, not punishing thee; he is correcting thee in measure, he is not smiting thee in wrath. There is no hot displeasure in his heart. Even though his brow may be ruffled, there is no anger in his breast; even though his eye may have closed upon thee, he hates thee not, he loves thee still. He is not wroth with his heritage, for he seeth no sin in Jacob, neither iniquity — in Israel, considered in the person of Christ. It is simply because he loves you, because ye are sons, that he therefore chastises you.

Bless for the Lord for His love and discipline!  Prune B.T.Discipline by the Lord

Keep looking to Jesus!

“A”I’m a poor sinner and nothing at all
But Jesus Christ is my all in all”
Home he went, repeating these words, he put his trust in a crucified Saviour, and was really converted. Well, he soon came to the church, and although he was a pedlar, and always travelling about, he said, “I want to join your church.” They, remembering his sinful way of life, required some great evidence of a change before they received him, “O!” says he, “I must come in,” “But you have been such a great sinner, and you are unconverted,” added the elders. “Well,” said poor Jack, “I don’t know if I’m unconverted, and I confess I am a great sinner — but
“I’m a poor sinner, and nothing at all;
But Jesus Christ is my all in all.”
They could not get from him any other testimony save this. He would only say —
“I’m a poor sinner, and nothing at all;
But Jesus Christ is my all in all.”
They could not refuse him, and therefore accepted him for fellowship. After this he was always happy. When a Christian man said to him “But you always seem so happy and pleased, John; how is it?” “Well” said he, ” I ought to be happy, for —
“I’m a poor sinner, and nothing at all;
But Jesus Christ is my all in all.”
“Well but,” said the gentleman, “I can’t see how you can be always so happy and sure. I sometimes lose my evidences.” “I don’t,” said Jack,
” I’m a poor sinner, and nothing at all;
But Jesus Christ is my all in all.”
“Ah,” said a friend, “I am at times miserable because I remember my sad sinfulness even since conversion.” “Ah!” said Jack, “you have not begun to sing,
“I’m a poor sinner, and nothing at all.
But Jesus Christ is my all in all.”
“Oh!” said the friend, “how do you get rid of your doubts and fears? My faith frequently fails, and I miss my sure hope in Christ. My frames are so variable and feelings so contrary, what do you think of that?” “Think,” said poor Jack, ” why master I have no good things to care about —
“I’m a poor sinner and nothing at all,
But Jesus Christ is my all in all.'”
Well, then, if there is any one here who is “a poor sinner, find nothing at all,” — where is he? in the gallery” or sitting down below? If he cannot say all that poor man said; if he can say the first line, he need not fear to say the second. Never mind if he can’t say,
“Jesus Christ is my all in all.”
If he can say,
“I’m a poor sinner, and nothing at all,’
He is most assuredly on the right road.
“Oh! but,” says one, “I am sinful, vile, worthless.” All right! you’re “a Poor sinner and nothing at all,” and Jesus Christ is willing to be your “all in all.” “But I have blasphemed God, departed from his ways, and greviously transgressed.” Well, I believe that, and a great deal more, and am very glad to hear it; for thus I see you are
“A poor sinner, and nothing at all.”
I am very glad if you will hold that opinion of yourself. “Ah! but I am afraid I have sinned too much. When I try I cannot do anything. When I try to mend my ways; when I try to believe in Christ, I cannot.” We are glad, very glad of it brother, that you are
poor sinner, and nothing at all.”
If you had a single particle of goodness; if you had a little bit not big enough to cover the top of your little finger, we should not be glad. But if thou art
“A poor sinner, and nothing at all,
Jesus Christ is thy all in all.”
Come! wilt thou have him? Thou art “nothing at all.” Wilt thou have Christ? There he stands. Ask: it is all he wants, for thou art the object of his regard. There are only three steps. One is to step out of self, the second is to step upon Jesus, the third is to step into heaven. You have taken one step. I am sure you will take the others. God never makes you feel you are
“A poor sinner, and nothing at all;”
But, sooner or later, he gives
“Jesus Christ as your all in all.’
O poor sinner, do not be doubtful of my Master’s power. Do but touch the hem of his garment, and thou shalt be made whole. Like the poor woman in the crowd, do but get at it and touch it, and he will surely say unto thee, “Thou art saved.” If thou wilt go to him with this cry,
I’m a poor sinner, and nothing at all,
And Jesus Christ is my all in all,”
Then you will see the blessed reason why Jesus interceded thus; “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world.”

For every look at yourself take ten looks at Jesus! Bless His name -Prune B.T.Clothed in His righteousness