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Geeks

geeks

“Geeks are people who love something so much that all the details matter.”

~Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO

praise

God has been faithful to teach us many, many things during our ten-year trial (see post).  There are three who share in our family business – Dana, his dad, and his brother, Larry.  It has been an unforeseen blessing that each has a vital Christian walk and each has placed himself under the teaching of God’s Word – when one of the three has been particularly harassed, one of the others seem able to draw from what God is teaching him and to bring a healing balm at the needed time.

Not all of God’s words to us have been soothing and re-assuring; more than our share have brought conviction and sorrowful repentance.  A couple of these verses, given early on in our trial, brought us face-to-face with our independence and a murmuring spirit which we know now to be dishonoring and grievous to our Maker.

One of the passages of which I speak is Deuteronomy 28:47-48 where the nation of Israel is being reprimanded.  Why? “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you.”  The NIV translates verse 47 “…you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity…”

There’s a scene in the movie The Hiding Place where Corrie ten Boom is being dished up a thin broth in the Nazi concentration camp where she and her sister, Betsie, were imprisoned in the last year of World War II.  The film shows previous scenes, times of prosperity, flash through Corrie’s mind as she recalls the feasts and fellowship which she had known before the war.

A similar thought was mine when I encountered Deuteronomy 28:47.  Scenes of past abundance flitted across my mind, days in which I was not careful to respond to God’s lavish goodness with “joyfulness and gladness of heart.”  I’ve written of this before, probably because it is a recurring theme in Dana’s and my training, but a thankful heart honors the loving care of our sovereign Father.   The ungodly and unrighteous are accused of this very thing in Romans 1:21 “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Because of our continued temptation to despair as we wonder if there will ever be a change to our present circumstances (a.k.a. failure to trust in the goodness of God’s purposes), Dana and I are trying to remind each other to look for every small grace that we encounter. I am praying for Dana that God would be the lifter of his head and he would raise his focus to see the gifts that surround us.

It’s a bit like Brother Lawrence’s book Practicing the Presence of God, though.  I’m convinced it would be life-giving, but in my frailty I seem only to be able to sustain the practice for short periods of time.  I pray that with use and Holy Spirit reminders, I might grow my capacity to see better my Father’s hand in the world around me.

To this end, I was particularly challenged by a prayer shared by Ravi Zacharius recently.  The prayer was written by Michel Quoist, a 20th century French Catholic priest and writer, as part of his book Prayers of Life.  Oh, that I might become by God’s grace an old woman who delights in the evidences of God’s care around me and my default way to walk through this world would be that of thanksgiving and gratitude. I pray that Quoist’s prayer will inspire you this Thanksgiving 2016 to similarly pray throughout your day.

– – – – –

Thank you, Lord, for all the gifts you’ve given to me today.

Thank you for all I have seen, heard, and received.

Thank you for the water that woke me up, the soap that smells so good, the toothpaste that refreshes.

Thank you for the clothes that protect us, for their color and their style.

Thank you for the newspaper so faithfully there, for the comics, for my morning smile.

Thank you for useful meetings, for justice done, and for the big games won.

Thank you for the street cleaning truck and the men who run it, for their morning shouts and all the early morning noises.

Thank you for my work, the tools, and my efforts.

Thank you for the metal in my hands, for the whine of the steel biting into it, and for the satisfied look of the foreman for the load of finished pieces.

Thank you for Jim, my friend, who loaned me his file, for Danny who shared his lunch with me, for Charlie who held the door open for me.

Thank you for the welcoming street that led me here, for the shop windows, the cars, and the passers-by, for all the life that flowed swiftly between the windowed walls of the houses.

Thank you for the food that sustains me, for the glass of water that refreshes me.

Thank you for the car that weekly took me where I wanted to be, for the fuel that made it go, for the wind that caressed my face, for the trees that nodded to me on the way.

Thank you for the boy I watched on the foot-path opposite, thank you for his roller skates, thank you for his comical grin when he fell.

Thank you for the morning greetings I received and all the smiles.

Thank you for my mother who welcomes me at home and for her tactful affection, for her silent presence.

Thank you for the roof that shelters me, for the lamps that light me, for the radio that plays, for the news, for music, and for singing.

Thank you for the bunch of flowers so pretty on my table.

Thank you for the tranquil night.

Thank you for the stars, Lord, and thank you, too, for silence.

Thank you for the time you’ve given me, Lord, for life, for grace, and for just being there.

Thank you, now, for listening to me, and taking me seriously, for gathering my gifts in your hands to offer them to your Father.

Thank you, Lord, thank you.

The God-Shaped Hole

black-hole-ii

There are actually two God-designed holes which the soul longs to have filled –
one, a God-shaped hole; the second, an eternity-shaped hole.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless,
until they can find rest in you.” ~ Augustine

– – – – –
The God-Shaped Hole:

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, …though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”

~ Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII (425)

That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, and that you… may be able to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

– – – – –
An Eternity-Shaped Hole:

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

~ C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, New York, Macmillan, 1960), p. 119

“…He has put eternity into man’s heart…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

grave-i

Folks don’t often make death a ready topic, even among Christians who claim that Earth is not our home and we await the better country of heaven (Hebrews 11:16).  The agrarian society of our ancestors lived a lot closer to death than we do today and most of us are quite removed from much exposure to it.  Even the glut of violent media we consume does not prepare us for the illness and death of those for whom we actually care.  Our dear pastor, Walt Barrett, is taking about a month and a half to preach on what happens after we die.  As he has said, it is a bit of an elephant in the room.

 

In opening up the Scriptures to us regarding our eternal hope and home, Pastor Walt shared a deeply introspective poem about one man’s desire to finish his earthly assignment well.  This has reminded me of two other poems, one of which was set to music by Robert Lowry in the 19th century; the other, I am told, was one Abraham Lincoln’s favorite poems.

 

This latter poem, Mortality, written by William Knox (who himself died at the age of 36 years), is a bit Ecclesiastes-like.  It provides no Christian hope, but certainly speaks to the brevity of life and the proximity of death as Pastor Walt puts it.  There is an inescapable conclusion: The grave is a sure end for all who breathe this Earth’s air.  That there is anything of substance after the grave is never addressed, but perhaps seeing the frailness of life is a good first step to awakening the hope that our lives might have meaning past our Earthly existence.

– – – – –

Mortality
by William Knox, 1789-1825

O why should the spirit of mortal be proud?
Like a fast-flitting meteor, a fast-flying cloud,
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave,
He passes from life to his rest in the grave.

The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade,
Be scattered around, and together be laid;
And the young and the old, and the low and the high,
Shall moulder to dust, and together shall lie.

The child that a mother attended and loved,
The mother that infant’s affection that proved;
The husband that mother and infant that blessed,
Each, all, are away to their dwelling of rest.

The maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye,
Shone beauty and pleasure,—her triumphs are by;
And the memory of those that beloved her and praised
Are alike from the minds of the living erased.

The hand of the king that the scepter hath borne,
The brow of the priest that the miter hath worn,
The eye of the sage, and the heart of the brave,
Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave.

The peasant whose lot was to sow and to reap,
The herdsman who climbed with his goats to the steep,
The beggar that wandered in search of his bread,
Have faded away like the grass that we tread.

The saint that enjoyed the communion of heaven,
The sinner that dared to remain unforgiven,
The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just,
Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.

So the multitude goes, like the flower and the weed
That wither away to let others succeed;
So the multitude comes, even those we behold,
To repeat every tale that hath often been told.

For we are the same that our fathers have been;
We see the same sights that our fathers have seen,—
We drink the same stream, and we feel the same sun,
And we run the same course that our fathers have run.

The thoughts we are thinking, our fathers would think;
From the death we are shrinking, they too would shrink;
To the life we are clinging to, they too would cling;
But it speeds from the earth like a bird on the wing.

They loved, but the story we cannot unfold;
They scorned, but the heart of the haughty is cold;
They grieved, but no wail from their slumber may come;
They enjoyed, but the voice of their gladness is dumb.

They died, ay! they died! and we things that are now,
Who walk on the turf that lies over their brow,
Who make in their dwellings a transient abode,
Meet the changes they met on their pilgrimage road.

Yea! hope and despondence, and pleasure and pain,
Are mingled together like sunshine and rain;
And the smile and the tear, and the song and the dirge,
Still follow each other, like surge upon surge.

‘Tis the wink of an eye, ‘tis the draught of a breath,
From the blossom of health to the paleness of death,
From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud,—
O why should the spirit of mortal be proud?

– – – – –

The poem to follow is the one shared by Pastor Walt, titled Let Me Get Home Before Dark.  I’m given to understand that the author, Robertson McQuilken, had watched his wife succumb to early on-set Alzheimers.   McQuilken was forced to resign his position as president at Columbia International University to care for her.  His resignation speech regarding his intentions is an ode in itself to love, loyalty, and sacrifice.  As he was growing old, he began to be concerned that he was not going to finish his earthly mission well.  He did not want to ruin Christ’s reputation by making shipwreck of his faith in the end.  This is a topic to which Dana and I return for ourselves – we want to be found faithful when we meet the Lord.  It is the very language I hear Joni Eareckson Tada use as she struggles with her 50+ years of paraplegia after a diving accident in her teens.

Let Me Get Home Before Dark

It’s sundown, Lord.
The shadows of my life stretch back
into the dimness of the years long spent.
I fear not death, for that grim foe betrays himself at last,
thrusting me forever into life:

Life with You, unsoiled and free.
But I do fear.
I fear the Dark Specter may come too soon
– or do I mean, too late?
That I should end before I finish or finish, but not well.
That I should stain Your honor, shame Your name,
grieve Your loving heart.

Few, they tell me, finish well . . .
Lord, let me get home before dark.

The darkness of a spirit grown mean and small,
fruit shriveled on the vine,
bitter to the taste of my companions,
burden to be borne by those brave few who love me still.
No, Lord.  Let the fruit grow lush and sweet,
A joy to all who taste;
Spirit- sign of God at work,
stronger, fuller, brighter at the end.
Lord, let me get home before dark.

The darkness of tattered gifts,
rust-locked, half-spent or ill-spent,
A life that once was used of God now set aside.
Grief for glories gone or
Fretting for a task God never gave.
Mourning in the hollow chambers of memory,
Gazing on the faded banners of victories long gone.
Cannot I run well unto the end?
Lord, let me get home before dark.

The outer me decays –
I do not fret or ask reprieve.
The ebbing strength but weans me from mother earth
and grows me up for heaven.
I do not cling to shadows cast by immortality.
I do not patch the scaffold lent to build the real, eternal me.
I do not clutch about me my cocoon,
vainly struggling to hold hostage
a free spirit pressing to be born.

But will I reach the gate
in lingering pain, body distorted, grotesque?
Or will it be a mind wandering untethered
among light phantasies or grim terrors?

Of Your grace, Father, I humbly ask. . .
Let me get home before dark.

– – – – –

The last poem I share is the brightest of the mix.  It was penned by the beloved hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, who was blinded at six weeks of age.  In her life she is said to have written over 8,000 hymns.  Regarding her blindness, Fanny said:

“It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.”

Her hymn All the Way My Savior Leads Me has long given Christian believers the words to declare their eternal hope.  All the way – through life, death, and life after death – our Savior will lead us.  What’s more?  Whatever may befall us on our journey… Jesus doeth all things well.

All the Way My Savior Leads Me

All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living bread.
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.

All the way my Savior leads me
O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way.

Life Imitates Art

3-fictional-characters

A light, little romp today… a bleed over from a currently popular Facebook meme:  “Name three fictional characters with whom you identify.”  I pass this along here because someday my posterity may not know or remember me, but they will surely be able to find these three characters in literature to piece together a fairly accurate sketch of me.

My choices?  Miss Bates (from Jane Austen’s Emma), Puddleglum (from C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair), and Miss Caroline Bingley (from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice).  I desperately wanted Joe Gargery (from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations) for his simpleness, but alas, I know I am not that good.

My reasoning?
1) Miss Bates for her social awkwardness;
2) Puddleglum for his rare mix of pessimism and faith; and
3) Miss Bingley because, well… Hamlet expresses my thoughts in all ways but one; unlike me, he seems unable to answer his own question:

“I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me. I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offenses at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven?”

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25).

Digging Deep

christians-burden

“I never, ever in my wildest dreams, thought I would one day be going through chemo.”  The world of a professional acquaintance of mine (I’ll call her R) came crashing down mid-August when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

We were in pretty regular email contact last spring when R helped me in a professional capacity.  I happened to email her before school started just as a hi, how are you doing contact.  At that very time she had just received a professional opinion of breast cancer and was awaiting the official results of her diagnostic labs. In a few days, she wrote back and said that the cancer had been confirmed.  She was understandingly reeling from the news and said she needed time to process it all.  I let her know how sorry I was for her troubles.

In God’s providence, I pass by R’s house every day on my way to work.  The Lord has often laid it on my heart to pray for her.  I don’t know what her religious convictions are, so I have just prayed that God would use this great affliction to impress upon her the brevity of our time on earth and her need to answer one of the universal questions of life, namely, Is this all there is?  I asked God to use this crisis in her life to draw her to him.

This week I thought to encourage R by letting her know that I have been praying for her often as I pass her home.  I expressed my hope that her treatments have not been too grueling and she is feeling encouraged and sustained by those around her.  I closed with “peace” and that’s really all I wrote.  Although she knows I teach at a Christian school, she and I have had no conversations of a spiritual nature so I thought it best not to cast pearls.

Her reply has grieved me:

Hi Kim.  I’m here at work at the moment, but barely hanging on by my fingernails.  I am trying to push it until 3:00.  Yesterday was my first day back and I lasted about three hours.  Chemo is horrible.  I’m one week out from my first chemo, three treatments left to go, each spaced three weeks apart.  I have lost 19 pounds.  I have to dig very deep.

I am open to having you pray for me whenever you drive by.  The only thing I’m extremely not open to is when people suggest that this is God’s will for me.  I will not tolerate any of that nonsense.  Thank you for checking on me.

I was reminded of an Isaac Watts hymn to which I’ve very recently been introduced: “How Sweet and Aweful is the Place” (note: Aweful is different than awful), especially these lines:

…Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?

“Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?”

So much is revealed by her reply.  Firstly, there seems to be a glaring disconnect to the human condition in her statement, “I never, ever in my wildest dreams, thought I would one day be going through chemo.”  Really???  I found that statement shocking since I think of that sort of thing all the time (probably my scale tips too far in the other direction).

You see, I know I live in a world where not only humanity is fallen and under a curse (hopelessly separated from the one, true, holy, living God if it were not for our rescue by said God), but all of creation is victim to this curse as well. True, God has given mankind dominion over his creation – an ability to seek and discover the uses and purposes of the treasures God has scattered throughout his universe, but I also know that this very creation has been “subjected to futility” along with mankind and is in “bondage to corruption” (Romans 8:19-21).  It, like I, await with “eager longing” our freedom from this bondage when Christ returns for his children.

I know that all of creation has experienced this decay from its original glory and is no longer as reliable as it once was.  It’s the reason why I don’t eat chocolate with abandon, or rich pasta, or pizza, or boxes of Good & Plenty, or (wait… I digress).  It’s what makes me get on the treadmill or pick up light weights periodically; not because I’m one of those endorphin addicts, but because I experience and confirm the Second Law of Thermodynamics:  “While quantity [of energy] remains the same (the First Law), the quality of matter/energy deteriorates gradually over time.”  Beyond a doubt, my matter is gradually deteriorating over time, as is that of my universe.  I know that given enough time, the resources I might currently rely upon for health (medicine or supplements, movement, heredity, treatments, etc.) will eventually fail me.  One day I will break down completely and die (with further deterioration occurring in the grave).

Beyond shock though, the rest of R’s message just plain makes me sad.  It is a window into how those with no hope beyond their own material resources deal with issues of life and death like cancer.  Her rejection of God’s sovereignty in her affairs is a rejection of that one thing which is my keel in rough seas and affords me peace in times of trial and suffering.  As the hymn writer Annie Flint has put it:  “To added afflictions, He addeth His mercy; to multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.”  In exchange for this, R is left to dig very deep.  And what will she find there, I wonder?

She is “open” to my praying for her, but I wonder to what god she assumes I will pray.  Her sense of god seems to be a very small god who, if he exists at all, is not in control of his universe.  In condescending to allow me to pray for her, she is either allowing me my prayers but believing them to be useless, or she believes that this god’s main role is to help us out when we get into trouble or make us feel better so we can be happy.  She will not tolerate any nonsense which hints at this god having a greater purpose for her life than mere well being.

In Sunday School today, I couldn’t help think of R and her darkened understanding as we studied 2 Peter 1:1-4.  Peter writes to those in the faith, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (v2).  Peter knew what I have proven in my life… as I grow in my knowledge and understanding of God, my peace is multiplied.  It does not diminish my peace to know God as sovereign over every aspect of my life, it multiplies my peace.  This is because I know him to be as He has declared:  “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” (Exodus 34:6).  It is a great peace to me and comfort in times of distress to know as Abraham Kuyper has declared: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”

For her own good and before it’s too late, I pray that R will dig very deep and come to the end of herself; that her finite resources exhausted, she will seek and find rest for her soul as only Jesus can give.  There have been tougher cases than R’s who have eventually bent their knees to the one, true God, Yahweh.   An encouragement to some is a warning to others:  One day “every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).  May R confess Jesus as Lord before that great and terrible day when the destinies of all will be fixed, even as many are suddenly made aware of their gross error in rejecting this mighty, sovereign God.

The Fruit of Love to God

cherry

“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

– – – – –

I live in a part of the country that has not so honestly come to terms with its rejection of Christ’s rule in the lives of many of its people, not so honestly as perhaps many on the coasts did years and years ago.  Many here, out of tradition or sentimentality, claim an alliance, if not with Christ himself, at least with a local church or sometimes just the mere title “Christian” (like when asked to fill out a form, etc.).  They have some past echo or rhythm or tie to the Christian faith, but in reality, there aren’t too many ties that bind anymore and they live like practical atheists.

Forgive me my bluntness.  I used to think that I was a “glass half empty” person until someone told me they see me more as a realist.  That sounds a lot better to me, so I claim that title when I wish to relate sobering observations without coming off depressingly down… right?

As mentioned before, I’ve been making my way through the Puritan Thomas Watson’s book All Things for Good.  Many will recognize his title as taken from Romans 8:28 (above).  In this relatively short book (127 pp), Watson breaks down the verse and exhaustively examines each phrase.

Thomas Watson set out to comfort his readers by assuring them that “nothing hurts the godly; that ALL things which fall out shall co-operate for their good.”  The snag, though, is that “all things work together for good to them that love God.”  It appears this promise is not for all humanity, but those who bear a love to God.  To help his readers examine themselves in this regard, Watson puts forth fourteen signs or fruits of love to God by which we might impartially test ourselves.

In our weakness, these fruits may bear imperfections.  They may be a bit bruised.  However according to Watson, the test is not in their perfection, but in their appearing and steady growth since they are not native to the natural man, but born of the Spirit: “Happy are they who can find these fruits, so foreign to their natures, growing in their souls.”

– – – – –

The Tests of Love to God (chapter five)

 

A.  The first fruit of love to God is the musing of the mind upon God.

He who is in love, his thoughts are ever upon the object.  He who loves God is ravished and transported with the contemplation of God.  A sinner crowds God out of his thoughts.

B.  The next fruit of love to God is desire of communion.

“My heart and flesh crieth out for the living God (Ps. 84:2) – King David breathes after God and in a holy pathos of desire, cries out for the living God.  By this, let us examine our love to God.  Do we desire intimacy of communion with God?  Lovers cannot be long away from each other.  Those who have a holy affection toward God can bear the want of anything but his presence – they can do without health and friends and without a full table, but they cannot be happy without God.  Sinners shun acquaintance with God.  They count his presence a burden and are these lovers of God?  Does that woman love her husband who cannot endure to be in his presence?

C.  Another fruit of love to God is grief.

Where there is love to God, there is a grieving for our sins of unkindness against Him.  Oh! That I should abuse the love of so dear a Savior!  Did not my Lord suffer enough upon the cross, but must I make him suffer more?  Shall I give him more gall and vinegar to drink?  How have I grieved his Spirit, trampled upon His royal command, slighted His blood!   By this let us test our love to God.  Do we shed the tears of godly sorrow?  Do we grieve for our unkindness against God, our abuse of his mercy, our non-improvement of talents (Mt. 25:14-30)?

D.  Another fruit of love to God is magnanimity.

Love is valorous, it turns cowardice into courage.  He that loves God will stand up in his cause and be an advocate for him.  “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).  Does he love God that can hear his blessed truths spoken against and be silent?  He who loves his friend will stand up for him and vindicate him when he is reproached.  Love animates a Christian; it fires his heart with zeal and steels it with courage.

E.  The fifth fruit of love to God is sensitiveness.

If we love God our hearts ache for the dishonor done to God by wicked men.  To see, not only the banks of religion, but morality, broken down and a flood of wickedness coming in, to see God’s Sabbaths profaned, his oaths violated, his name dishonored; if there be any love to God in us, we shall lay these things to heart.  Did men love God, they would grieve to see his glory suffer and religion itself become a martyr.

F.  The sixth fruit of love to God is hatred against sin.

He that loves God will have nothing to do with sin unless to give battle to it. Sin strikes not only at God’s honor, but his being.  The love of God and the love of sin cannot dwell together.  He who has any secret sin in his heart allowed, is as far from loving God as heaven and earth are distant, one from the other.

G.  Another fruit of love to God is crucifixion.

A lover of God is dead to the world, to its honors and pleasures.  “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).  Love to God swallows up all other love so when a man’s heart is raised above the world in the admiring and loving of God, how poor and slender are the set things below!  What is there in the earth that we should so set our hearts upon it!  Only the devil makes us look upon it through a magnifying glass.  The world has no real intrinsic worth; it is but paint and deception.

H.  The next fruit of love to God is fear.  In the godly, love and fear do kiss each other.  There is a double fear arises from love.

  1. A fear of displeasing arises from our love to God. The more we love God, the more fearful we are of grieving his Spirit, making one shake and tremble and not dare willingly to offend God.  “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9).
  2. A fear mixed with jealousy arises from our love to God. He that loves God is full of fear lest it should go ill with the church, lest God should go from his people.  The presence of God in his ordinances is the beauty and strength of a nation.  So long as God’s presence is with a people, so long they are safe; but the soul inflamed with love to God fears lest the visible tokens of God’s presence should be removed.  Let us test our love to God by this – many fear lest peace and trading go, but not lest God and his gospel go.  If the Sun of righteousness remove out of our horizon, what can follow but darkness?

I.  If we are lovers of God, we love what God loves.

  1. We love God’s Word – the sweetness of it, above honey, and the value of it, above gold (Ps. 119: 103, 72). Well may we love the Word; it is the lode-star that directs us to heaven, it is the field in which the Pearl is hid.
  2. We love God’s day. “If thou call the Sabbath a delight” (Is. 58:13).  The house of God is the palace of the great King; on the Sabbath God shows himself there through the lattice.  If we love God we prize his day above all other days.  All the week would be dark if it were not for this day; on this day manna falls double.  Now, if ever, heaven-gate stands open and God comes down in a golden shower.  How does a gracious heart prize that day which was made on purpose to enjoy God in!
  3. We love God’s laws which check our sinful excesses. The heart would be ready to run wild in sin if it had not some blessed restraints put upon it by the law of God – the law of repentance, the law of self-denial.  Many say they love God but they hate his laws; they pretend to love Christ as a Savior, but hate him as a King.  He were a strange king that should rule without laws.
  4. We love God’s image shining in the saints. “He that loves Him that begat, loves him also that is begotten of Him” (1 John 5:1).  To love a saint as he is a saint, this is a sign of love to God in the communion of the saints.  Do they love God who hate them that are like God? If we love a saint for his saintship, as having something of God in him, then we love him in these four cases:

a.  We love a saint though he be poor. Though a saint be in rags, we love him because there is something of Christ in him.

b.  We love a saint though he has many personal failing. There is no perfection here.  A saint is like a fair face with a scar; we love the beautiful face of holiness, though there be a scare in it.  You that cannot love another because of his infirmities, how would you have God love you?

c.  We love the saints though in some lesser things they differ from us. Perhaps another Christian has not so much light as you and that may make him err in some things, will you presently un-saint him because he cannot come up to your light?

d.  We love the saints though they are persecuted. Those marks were like the soldier’s scars, honorable.  We must love a saint as well in chains as in scarlet.  If we love Christ, we love his persecuted members.

J.  Another blessed sign of love to God is to entertain good thoughts of God.

“Love thinketh no evil” (1 Cor. 13:5).  He that loves God has a good opinion of God.  Though He afflicts sharply, the soul takes all well – this severe dispensation is either to mortify some corruption or to exercise some grace.  How good is God that will not let me alone in my sins, but smites my body to save my soul!

K.  Another fruit of love to God is obedience.

“He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (John 14:21).  If we love God, we shall obey him in those things which cross flesh and blood – in things difficult and in things dangerous.

  1. We shall obey him in things difficult. One difficult obedience is mortifying sin.  There are some sins which are not only near to us as the garment, but dear to us as the eye.  If we love God, we shall set ourselves against these, both in purpose and practice.  Another difficult obedience is in forgiving our enemies.  This is hard; it is crossing the stream.  We are apt to forget kindnesses and remember injuries, but if we love God, we shall pass by offenses.  When we seriously consider how many talents God has forgiven us (Mt. 25:14-30), how many affronts and provocations He has put up with at our hands, this makes us endeavor rather to bury an injury than to retaliate it.
  2. We shall obey him in things dangerous. When God calls us to suffer for him, we shall obey.  It is true that every Christian is not a martyr, but he has the spirit of martyrdom in him.  He says as Paul, “I am ready not only to be bound, but to die for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).  He has a disposition of mind to suffer if God call.  If love to their country will make men suffer, much more should love to Christ.  By this, let us test our love to God.  Have we the spirit of martyrdom?  Many will not forego the least comfort or undergo the least cross for his sake, yet how did divine affection carry the early saints above the love of life and the fear of death (ex: Stephen’s stoning, Luke, hung on an olive tree, and Peter, crucified with his head downwards)!  These divine heroes were willing to suffer rather than by their cowardice to make the name of God suffer.

L.  He who loves God will endeavor to make him appear glorious in the eyes of others.

If we love God, we shall spread abroad his excellences that so we may raise his fame and esteem and may induce others to fall in love with him.

M.  Another fruit of love to God is to long for Christ’s appearing.

“Henceforth, there is a crown of righteousness laid up for me,
and not for me only, but for them also which love Christ’s appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).

His appearing now is very comforting, when He appears for us as an Advocate (Heb. 9:24).  But his second appearing will be infinitely more so, when He shall appear for us as our Husband!  Such as love Christ are joyful to think of his coming in the clouds.  They shall then be delivered from all their sins and fears; they shall be acquitted before men and angels; and shall be forever translated into the paradise of God.

N.  For the sake of love to God, we will stoop to the meanest offices.

Love is a humble grace and will creep upon its hands; it will stoop and submit to anything whereby it may be serviceable to Christ.  If we love God, we shall not think any work too mean for us, by which we may be helpful to Christ’s members.  Love is not squeamish; it will visit the sick, relieve the poor, wash the saints’ wounds.