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31 July, 2013

Saving Souls!

James Smith, 1860 excerpt from: Fruit From the Tree of Life
Food and Medicine for the Soul

It is the bounden duty of every believer to seek to save souls from eternal death. For this we should live. At this we should habitually aim. Our hearts should be set upon it, and all our talents should be employed with a view to it. But, alas! we are cold and careless - selfish and indifferent - and sinners all around us perish without any regarding it. It is not enough that we subscribe to Societies, that we help to support ministers; we should labor ourselves. 

We pay to support the fire brigade in the town - but whenever there is a fire, we run to render all the assistance we can personally. It is not enough that the engine, the fire-hose, and the fire-men are present; we help, and in every way endeavor to save property and life. Just so, though we have our Societies, our ministers, and other agencies, as sinners are perishing all around us, every Christian should lend his help. May the Lord help me to pen a few lines on this subject, which may stir some up to engage in this important work.

 Consider then,
1. WHAT sinners are. They are immortal beings, and must live forever. They are capable of enjoying the highest happiness - or of suffering the deepest misery. They are unfit for Heaven, and are traveling in the road to Hell. If saved at all, they must be saved now. It will soon be too late. They must glorify God's mercy in the highest Heavens - or endure his wrath in the lowest Hell.

2. WHO sinners are. They are our kindred, our family. Every sinner around me is my brother or sister, for we are all one man's sons. God made of one blood all nations to dwell upon the face of the earth. If, therefore, I am accessory to the ruin of a soul, I am accessory to the ruin of the soul of a brother or a sister; and if I can do this, where is my humanity, let alone my Christianity?

3. The DANGER sinners are in. And this danger cannot be exaggerated - it is so dreadful, so fearful, so imminent. They are in danger of falling into Hell, into that lake of fire, that place of wrath - where the worm never dies and the fire is never quenched. They are in danger of this every moment of their lives, and may plunge into it suddenly, without any notice. Yes, the lost sinner you have just spoken to, may be in Hell in two minutes - and if he should, and you never warned him of his danger, never tried to lead him to Jesus, how will you feel?

4. The MEANS by which sinners are saved. God works by means, and most generally by the living voice. Souls are saved by a word spoken in love; it may be a warning word, or a word of invitation, or a word about Jesus, or about Heaven, or about Hell.

Souls are saved by prayer. O how many have been led to seek salvation through hearing others pray for them!

Souls are saved by a simple address, delivered in dependence on the Lord, with a view to do them good.

Souls are saved by reading tracts, good books, or God's Word, presented to them. Let us therefore speak to sinners, to every sinner we can. Let us pray and pray much for sinners. Let us give tracts and good books to sinners, and urge them to read God's Word.

5. The HONOR of saving sinners. To save a fellow-creature from the flames of a burning house, or to rescue a fellow-creature from drowning - is considered an honor, and it is an honor. But to save a soul from Hell - what an honor is this. Jesus considers it his highest honor to save souls, and what then should we consider it? To save souls on earth, with whom we shall dwell eternally in Heaven, and who will forever look upon us, and feel towards us, as the instruments of their salvation - what can compare with this? Even to be in Heaven, and not see one, and never to meet with one, that we have been the means of bringing there - would seem to leave a blank in a loving heart. But to be in Heaven, and to be constantly seeing souls there whom we have been the means of saving, O what thrilling pleasure, what ecstatic joy it must impart! Besides which, it is testified in God's Word, that such shall be distinguished, and "shall shine as the stars forever and ever."

6. The WAY to save sinners. Not by suffering for them, as Jesus did; nor by working in them, as the Holy Spirit does; they save meritoriously and efficiently, we only instrumentally. If we would save souls, we must set the heart upon it, and keep the heart set upon it. We must plead with God for it, that he would give us wisdom to win them, power that will impress them, and love that will conquer them. We must beseech him to put this honor upon us, and teach us to glorify him by doing it. 

We must look out for opportunities, and embrace them whenever they offer. We must speak to all we can about their souls, about Jesus, about sin, about salvation, about Heaven, and about Hell. And we must speak to them with a view to impress them, and if possible, to save them. We must expect results, as the gardener when he sows his seed expects it will spring up, and looks forward to a harvest; just so should we expect that under God's blessing, glorious results will follow.

7. OBJECTIONS will be raised to your saving souls. Your carnal heart will object. Even some believers may discourage you.Satan will endeavor to his utmost to divert your attention from the work. Some of the doctrines of the gospel may be perverted, or some passages of scripture may be misapplied to dishearten you. For a time you may meet with no success to stimulate you. 

But it is for you to persevere, looking to the Lord for strength, and wisdom, and courage. Say not, "I am not the person" - you are. Say not, "I have not the power" - God can give it you. Say not, "I cannot succeed, for I am not qualified" - you can succeed, and God can give you all the needful qualifications. There is no lion in the way, unless you place one there. There is no reason why you may not save some; yes, save many, if your heart is right with God, and your eye single to his glory. Excuses you may make, and plenty of them - but scriptural reasons to exempt you from this work, or to justify you in the neglect of it, you can find none.

How shall it be then? Will you make it the grand business of your life to save souls from death? Will you with Paul, become all things to all men, if by any means you may save some? Will you adapt yourself to persons and circumstances, that you may save the more? Nothing is of so much importance, after your own salvation, as seeking to save others. Nothing is so noble, so honorable, so Christ-like - as saving souls!

O that we had always and everywhere kept this in view! But we have not: let us repent and be sorry for this our sin, and now let us remember:
that we are surrounded with perishing sinners,
that those sinners are our brothers and sisters,
that they are in danger of Hell-fire,
that the means by which they may be saved are in our hands,
that to save souls is to win the highest honors, and
that we shall save souls . . .
if our hearts are set upon it,
if we plead with God for it,
if we speak with all we can with a view to it,
and if in faith we expect results.

O Lord, fill us with the Spirit of love, power, and sympathy for souls, and let us live, labor, plead, and pray to save souls from death!

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30 July, 2013

If God is For Us Who Can Be Against us!

James Smith, 1860 excerpt from: Fruit From the Tree of Life
Food and Medicine for the Soul

Every Christian is exposed to foes. Every believer must expect opposition. In the world, we must have tribulation. But the consolations held out to us by the gospel, afford a stimulus and an encouragement to press forward, notwithstanding all. Our resources are greater than our needs - and our strength is equal to our day. God is with us. God is for us. Therefore we may ask with the Apostle, "If God is for us - who can be against us?" Romans 8:31. Here is,

A Point to Be Ascertained. "If God is for us."

Are we for God?
Are we for his cause - doing all we can to support it?
Are we for his truth - doing all we can to spread it?
Are we for his people - showing kindness and love to them?
Are we for his glory - seeking by all means to advance it?
If so - God is for us.

He is for all whom he has called by grace, and introduced into the fellowship of his Son. He is for all who have the Spirit of adoption, who cry unto him, "My father, my father, the guide of my youth." He is for the poor in Spirit, who hunger and thirst after righteousness. He is for those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for whom he has prepared the kingdom of Heaven. Are we then made partakers of the Heavenly calling? Have we received the Holy Spirit? Are we poor and needy? Are we hated, opposed, and persecuted for Christ's sake? If so - then God is for us.

Look we then at, The Question. "If God is for us - who can be against us?" That is, who can justly be against us, or be justified in vilifying and ill-treating us? Who can successfully be against us - so as to prevail, and finally injure and harm us? Who can reasonably be against us - if God takes our part, and sanctions us? Who can be against us, so as to bring us under condemnation? Who can be against us, so as to separate us from Christ - or, from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus? Who can be against us - so as really to hurt us?

Who can bring us into condemnation? What, when we are in Christ Jesus!

Who can separate us from Christ? What, when we are members of his body!

Who can separate us from the love of God? What, when that love is eternal, and like his nature immutable! If God is our Ally, if God is our Shield, if God is our Strong Tower - who can succeed against us?

Can Satan? He is conquered, spoiled, and reduced to be the vassal and slave of Him who loves us, and who gave himself for us.

Can man? Man, who is less than nothing, and vanity in the sight of God! No, blessed be God, let there be what there may, there shall be no condemnation, to those who are in Christ Jesus! There shall be no separation from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God is engaged for his people. By covenant, by promise, and by oath, he is engaged to be with them, to be for them, and to defend them. He is their light and their salvation, he is their refuge and strength, he is their Father and Friend - therefore they need not fear. He sacredly keeps his engagement. The strength of Israel is not a man, that he should change his mind. He is in one mind, and who can turn him? What he was when he made the engagement - he is now. What he thought, when he pledged himself by promise to us - he thinks now. The love he had, when he swore that he would not be wroth to us - he has now. He is without variableness, or the shadow of a turning.

He allows their foes to try them. In this way he proves and improves them.

Their faith is tried - and being tried is strengthened.

Their courage is tried - and being tried is increased.

Their fortitude is tried - and being tried they become steadfast, immovable, and they abound more and more in the work of the Lord. Thus they are benefitted by their trials, and the Lord being with them, and for them, they come off conquerors, and more than conquerors through him who loved them.

He appears in them, to them, and for them - in answer to prayer. Yes, the Lord is in his people, as well as with them - and he appears in them, strengthening them with all might by his Spirit in the inner man. He appears to them, and comforts, encourages, and assures them of their final victory. And appears for them, scattering their foes, sanctifying their troubles, and giving them the victory over all that opposed their progress. God IS for us!

And this privilege, no unbeliever can claim, no one who indulges in any sin, has any right to. If God is not for us - then he is against us! There is a sense, in which he is against every impenitent sinner, and is bound to oppose and punish every willful transgressor. He cannot be against the poor broken-hearted sinner, or against the poor tried and timid believer; but against the man who loves sin, and lives in sin, he is against - he must be.

If God is for us - who can be against us? But, if God is against us - who can be for us? Who can be for us, to any good purpose? Not one! Not any! Let us therefore, by faith in Jesus, by prayer to God, and by decision for Christ - make sure that God is for us, and so all will be well.

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28 July, 2013

Prayer - When Coping with Mental Illness or Addictions - Free Kindle Days

An excerpt from my new book: How To Pray Through Depression & Loneliness

Free Kindle on  August 2, 3, & 4, 2013
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A Prayer for Drinking Addiction 

Father God, I know enough about you to know that my uncontrollable drinking is a sin. I keep convincing myself I do not have a drinking problem, but deep within me, I know I have a problem. I need your help savior to give up this lifestyle because that is not your will for me. You do not want me to be filled with wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit. I need to clean up, face up and get right with you. But I do not have the strength or the willingness to get there. All things are possible with you. I need you to rescue me from my addiction that is putting a wedge between my family, and my life with you. There is so much at stake savior and I do not know how to stop, but I am going to trust that you know my weaknesses and can protect me from falling. Help me, and strengthen me as I surrender my life to you for your glory and your purpose. Keep me at the altar of surrender that I might live in your presence daily. As I seek for help in the community, lead me to find the proper support group.
Help me put down all those vain thoughts and opinions of myself and allow me to return to you in humility and trust as I learn to walk steadfastly with you. Give me strength to humble myself and surround myself with other loving Christians who would walk with me and encourage me in my quest to serve you sober. Teach my heart to remain patient and take it one day at the time with you my Lord and Savior.

Where are You God? Where is Your Love? 

Lord, I keep being told you love me, but I do not understand. If indeed you love me how can you let me be in a vegetative state? How can you let my family suffer so much because of my illness? Where are you? How do I get hold of you? Why aren’t’ you helping me? Why is it I keep feeling like life is not worth living? Why so much darkness in the world and in me? I do not feel your love; I am isolated, and lonely. Why should I believe in you? I feel unworthy and unrighteous, I feel I deserve hell, I am no good and this life is not worth living. If you truly exist, please make yourself real to me. Give me the opportunity to know for myself if indeed you are real.
See me through the pain, love me and let me feel your presence. Show me how to shut down all other people and all the negative advise I have been getting about you and show yourself to me. Take my torments away and save me. I want to break free. I am tired of life itself and I feel like a prisoner in my own mind. If indeed you exist, forgive me for doubting you, but I need your help to know for sure you are there. Save me please, rescue me I am drowning in a sea of uncertainties. In a world where I feel unwanted and a world that ask way too much of me, I am tired of not knowing what is true and untrue. Tired of knowing what to approve and reject. Open up my own heart to me and help me see and understand. Rescue me and help me get to you. Lord, help me in my unbelief.

A Prayer for Couples
Gracious father, you have given us the sacrament of marriage which represents the union of Christ with His Church. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us through the pain of dealing with our child afflictions. I pray you would protect our marriage. We would not turn on each other because we are worn down by this situation, but instead we would find strength in you to continue together as we grow stronger in our marriage and in you.

Use our child illness to fortify our marriage and sanctify us through it. I pray you would go ahead of us in our interactions with doctors and the brethren of the community and we would find service, willingness to help, understanding and support. I pray when dealing with the doctors, they would not see us, but you my ascended Christ. I pray they would be more compassionate and find the right MEDs combination for our child’s needs. I pray for your protection around us and that the evil one would not take advantage of us while we are weak. I know in you we have ample strength. Give us peace and patience in our sufferings and subside our pain through the process my Lord. Teach us how to talk to our son/daughter, put words in our mouth to comfort him/her with words of healing, love and hope. May you be by his/her side and never let go as he/she goes through this illness. May you be his/her God, and may you light up his/her heart to feel your presence and see you. Above all else I pray that we would be a family, that in spite of the circumstances we learn to live in the embrace of the Holy Spirit and in the bosoms of my Lord Jesus. May you be glorified through us my Lord. 

27 July, 2013

Loneliness and the Single Parent - Free Kindle August 2, 3, & 4

An excerpt from my new book: How To Pray Through Depression & Loneliness

Pause to ponder on the word of God

Isaiah 54:5-8  “ For your Maker is your husband the Lord Almighty is his name-the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit-a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God. For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.

1 Timothy 5:5 “She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day,”

1 Thessalonians 4:4 “That each one of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor,” 

1 Thessalonians 4:3 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;”

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

Stop and read 

Being a single parent brings loneliness to the soul in more ways than one. Often times, the Church, where you are supposed to be accepted, and love become your biggest obstacles. It feels as though you are in a hospital where they do not accept patients in any shape or form. It could be so discouraging to continue your walk with God along with trying very hard not to be discouraged. To make matters worse, you still have to deal with the loneliness of the reality that has become your life and you have to face those long periods of times where you are alone in the house. You have lots of questions about what the future holds for you and whether or not you will ever find someone to journey with. 

In order to cope with life you need to first let go of the finger pointing, the judgement, gossip and lack of acceptance you find in your Church. If you try to be better acquainted with what your future is going to look like, you are in for a major depression, anxieties and, before you know it, sadness will be your companion. Since being a single parent is already hard, this is the last thing you need. Learn to take things one day at the time. Join groups where you can interact with other people in similar situations. Don’t focus on your loneliness, but focus on God’s plan for your life while you put your energy into living for Him and your children. 

As you learn to focus on your God and your children, it will help you to let go of guilt and shame that you might be experiencing. Find all your strength in Him because, as you do, you will realize even though you are alone, you are not lonely. If you have a good Church where you are accepted, please enjoy the fellowship with your brothers and sisters. But, if you are not accepted, know that, for sure, God might have bigger and better things waiting for you in heaven than those who are judging you. So, do not let anyone use your situation against you to affect your walk with Him. Remember that He came not for those who are well, but for those who need Him-and that includes you.  

Pray to God  

Father God it is so hard to be a single parent in the Church and in the world today. I am plagued by all kinds of fear. I am lonely, tempted, misunderstood, irritated, and impatient and the list goes on. You know me better than I know myself, then I know there is no need to hide the resentment, bitterness and hurt that I am experiencing in my heart. I can’t seem to shake the self pity of this hopeless situation of my life right now. I am also angry because so much is expected of me I do not even have time for myself. I confess that sometimes I don’t have the will to live.

Father I pray for a special dose of grace to help me through. I pray that you would become all that I need through this lonely journey. I pray you would heal my heart and guard me from succumbing to temptations. Father, I am not sure how I am going to survive without a partner, I am torn between honouring you and my sexual desires that are constantly with me. You do not want sin to reign in my body because I am your temple. Father, I truly believe you created those sexual desires as a gift to us, but right now, I do not quite know how to handle mine without sinning against you. No amount of counselling, self-control and willingness not to sin can help me with this one father. I don’t know how to abstain from sexual gratification if you do not help me God. I failed you today (or yesterday, or this week) I know that I have done wrong and sinned against you. I pray for your forgiveness and the restoration of my fellowship with you. Father until I can find someone to marry, I pray you would give me the gift of self-control like Paul, so that I can dedicate my body to you alone. 

Father, I have to raise my children without the support of a spouse. I pray that you would give me the strength, ability and grace required to raise them in the knowledge of you and they would grow up being people after your heart. I pray for your protection upon them. I pray you would fill them up with the spirit and put your arms around them when they are in need of their mother or father. 

Father, help me arrange my schedule to find time to be with you. You are my spouse, my provider, the lover of my soul and you are my dad. I don’t want to miss out on you. Sustain me, stay by my side heal my heart. Lord, I can’t afford to be fragmented, please make me whole and help me remain in your will for my life. Help me live an obedient life full of love for you. Help me be totally committed to you, for your glory.

Free Kindle on  August 2, 3, & 4, 2013
Get it for you or a friend on Free Kindle Days
Get it for you or a friend on Free Kindle Days