Everything and Everyone Changes, Except God

Everything and Everyone Changes, Except God

Everything and Everyone Changes, Except God
Hugh Binning (1627–1653) was a young minister who also taught philosophy at the University of Glasgow. He was a prolific author and popular preacher with a gift for clear teaching.
5 Apr, 2019

Events, strategies, commitments, principles. Everything seems to be subject to change in human affairs, especially politics. An even more changeable future seems inevitable as uncertainty increases. It’s a world of tumultuous, relentless and constant change. Technological, social and moral change in particular, seem to be speeding up. Things we never expected to see are now considered normal. Some change is deeply troubling and other change is good. All this makes us less confident and optimistic in predicting the future. But there is no real reason to fear if we are connected to the unchanging reality of the eternal God.

Hugh Binning points out that the most profound thing that we can say about God is also the simplest. “The Lord gives a definition of Himself”. It is short and we may not think it says much—”I AM” (Exodus 3:14). When people seek to exalt themselves they want to be described in grand and majestic ways to flatter themselves. But there is more majesty in this simple title “I AM” than in all others. This is spiritually discerned.

To compare God with others and say that He is best gives too great significance to the things which we use for comparison. Thus, the Lord calls Himself “I AM”, meaning “I am as if nothing else were”. Not, “I am the highest, the best and most glorious that is”. This assumes other things have some being and glory that is worth taking account of. Rather it is “I am, and there is none else; I am alone”. Nothing else can say, “I am, I live, and there is nothing else”. Everything else is dependent on God. Thus, nothing besides God, can say, “I am”. All things are only borrowed drops of this self-sufficient fountain. If anything comes between the stream and the fountain it is cut off and dried up.

See the profound mystery of God’s absolute self-sufficient perfection enfolded in these three letters, I AM. If you ask what is God? There is nothing better than this, “I AM,” or, He that is. If I would say He is the almighty, the only wise, the most perfect, the most glorious, it is all contained in this, “I am that I am”. He is all those perfections simply, absolutely, and solely.

 

1. Our God is Eternally Unchanging

He never was nothing and never will be nothing and may always say, “I am.”  God is eternally unchanging (Psalm 90:2). Now this is properly to be; and this only deserves the name of being. All the generations past; where are they now? They were, but they are not. And we then were not, and now are; for we have come in their place and in a little time, which of us can say, “I am.” No, we “fly away as a dream” (Job 20:8). We “are like a tale that is told,” (Psalm 90:9) that makes a noise in the present and then it is past. Within a few years this generation will pass, and no one will make mention of us. Our place will not know us, no more than we do now remember those who have been before (Psalm 103:16).

Christ said of John the Baptist, “he was a burning and shining light” (John 5:35); “he was,” but now he is not. But Christ may always say, “I am the light and life of men” (see John 1:4). Man is; but look backwards a little, and he was not; you will find his origin. Go forwards a little and he will not be, you will find his end. But God is “Alpha and Omega…the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). Who can find the beginning and end in such a being who is the beginning and end of all things, yet without all beginning and end? The soul is enclosed between infiniteness before and infiniteness behind. It is between two everlastings; whichever way it turns, there is no way out. Whichever way it looks, it must lose itself in an infiniteness round about it.

We change in our days and are not today what we were yesterday. But “he is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). Every day we are dying, some part of our life is taken away. We leave one more day behind us, it is gone and cannot be recovered. Though we vainly please ourselves in the number of our years and the extent of our life, the truth is that we are losing much of our being and time as it passes. First, we lose our childhood, then we lose our adulthood. Then we leave our old age behind us also and there is no more before us.

But when God moves all things, He remains immoveable. Though days and years are in a continual flux and motion around Him and they carry us down with their force yet He abides the same forever. Even the earth and heavens that are established so sure grow old but He is the same, and “his years have no end” (Psalm 102:26-27). He is the beginning without any beginning; the end without an end: there is nothing past to Him, and nothing to come. He is all, before all, after all, and in all. He beholds all the changes of the creatures out of eternity. There is no change in His knowledge, as there is in ours (Acts 15:18). He can declare the end before the beginning; for He knows the end of all things, before He gives them beginning. He is never driven to make consultations in any emergency as the wisest of men are, who could not foresee all events. “He is in one mind”; He had it from everlasting and “who can turn Him?” (Job 23:13).

 

2. Our Response to the Unchanging God

Job’s response to knowing God as He is was to humble himself and repent (Job 42:5-6).  Here is the true knowledge of God’s majesty, which uncovers within you a mystery of iniquity. Here is the knowledge of God indeed, which abases all things besides God, not only in opinion but in affection. It attracts and unites your soul to God, and draws it from yourself and all created things. This is a right revelation of divine purity and glory, that stains the pride of all glory. True knowledge empties a soul of itself and humbles a soul in itself, that it may be full of God. He that thinks he knows any thing, knows nothing as he ought to know.

This then is the first evidence of the saving knowledge of God. It removes all grounds for empty confidence so that a soul cannot trust in itself. The purpose of this is that a soul may trust in God and depend on Him in all things. For this purpose the Lord has called Himself by many names in Scripture which correspond to our various needs and difficulties. This is so that He might make known to us how all-sufficient He is, so that we may turn our eyes and hearts towards Him. This was the purpose of this name, I AM; that Moses might have support for his faith (Exodus 3:14). “I AM;” I, who give all things a being, will give a being to my promise. I will make Pharaoh listen and the people obey.

What is there that this name of God will not answer? It is a creating name—a name that can bring all things out of nothing by a word. If He is what He is, then He can make what He wishes from us. It is a name that brings us comfort (Isaiah 41:12). If we believed this how we would submit to His blessed will. If we believed this would we not make Him our dwelling-place?  Would we not be assured of our own stability and the stability of His church because of His unchangeable eternity? (Psalm 89:1; Psalm 102:27-28). How can we think of such a fountain-Being without acknowledging ourselves to be shadows of His goodness? We owe to Him what we are, and so must dedicate ourselves to His glory. How can we consider such a self-Being, independent and creating Goodness without a desire to cleave to Him and confidence to trust in Him? This is to know Him.

 

3. Ourselves Compared to the Unchanging God

When we think on His unchangeableness let us consider our own vanity. Our glory and perfection is like a summer flower, or like a vapour ascending for a little time, our best estate is altogether vanity. Our plans are soon broken off and made of no effect, our resolutions change. This is mortality, we are not always the same. To be one thing now and then another thing is a characteristic of sinful and wretched man. Therefore let us “cease from man whose breath is in his nostrils” (Isaiah 2:22).  Do not trust in princes who will die, far less in ourselves who are less than the least of men (Psalm 146:3). Let us put our trust in God who does not change and we will not be consumed (Malachi 3:6).

We will never be ashamed of any hope we have in Him. There is nothing else you trust in which will not, without doubt disappoint you. Whatever you hear or know of God is vain and empty, unless it descends into the heart to shape it with fear and love to Him. It must extend into the outward actions and conform it to obedience. Otherwise when you “know God” you “do not glorify Him as God” and that knowledge will be worse to you than ignorance. It will only harden you and ultimately be your solemn accuser and witness (Romans 1: 21-24). The true knowledge of Jesus Christ is never unfruitful. The things that spring from its root are humility, self-abasing confidence in God, patience in tribulations, meekness in provocations, temperance and sobriety in lawful things (2 Peter 1:5-8).

 

Conclusion

It is a source of wonder as well as comfort to contemplate a God whose being, plans and promises never change. This should draw us to God again and again. He can keep our hearts steadfast. Whatever else and whoever else may change, let us seek to have an unwavering devotion, obedience and love to Him by His grace.

FURTHER READING

Read more articles from Hugh Binning

REFORMING YOURSELF

How Do I Know if I’m Putting Christ’s Interests First?

Half-committed Christians fail to seek Christ’s interests first and foremost. The Church suffers as a consequence. Here’s how to get our priorities straight.

The Questions We Ask When Others Leave the Faith

When we hear of others leaving the faith we may have many questions. But the most urgent questions concern ourselves and Jesus Christ. George Hutcheson explains what these are from Scripture.

What Does it Mean to Have a Fulfilling Life?

Everyone is pursuing fulfilment but what does that mean? James Fergusson identifies the necessary aspects of a fulfilling life as defined by God.

How Do I Know if My Repentance is Genuine?

James Durham explains the different ways we can be impacted by the sense of sin forgiven and hope of future mercy.

The Irreconcilable Instincts of the Human Heart

Politics makes for a poor functional saviour. James Fergusson gets to the heart of the war on sin.

Recovering True Empathy in a Fractured World

Empathy seems to be in serious decline today. James Fergusson shows how the apostle Paul highlights the need for true empathy.

How Far Should Reformation Go?

Reformation is not merely an event in the past; it is a present imperative.

How Does Faith Help Love?

This question matters a lot; especially if your love has grown colder. Faith works by love but how does love work by faith? To love God is to know and trust Him. How does deepening our faith influence the strength of love?

The Christian’s Spiritual Dress Code

There is something that should be worn by every Christian. It identifies them. We’re not talking about fashions and uniforms–the garment is humility. Are you wearing it?

Why Face-to-Face Communication is a Biblical Priority

Technology has had a negative effect on both the quality and quantity of face-to-face communication. But it’s more than a social problem, because the Bible gives considerable emphasis to face-to-face communication.

REFORMING YOUR FAMILY

Is There a False Religion in Your Home?

Covetousness rebranded itself. Consumerism has become a world view where choice and freedom are the absolutes. Some wisdom from James Fergusson exposes the idolatry.

Helping Your Child Not to Become an Atheist

“Do as I say, not as I do!” Not a good enough maxim for Christians parents, says James Fergusson.

A Family Day…of Worship

James Durham shows how the Lord’s Day provides a golden opportunity for parents to orient their family towards eternal realities.

What’s Missing from Your Home?

The most important interaction is increasingly missing from many Christian homes–interacting about spiritual things.

Are Evangelicals Redefining Marriage?

Biblical marriage is not fully intact amongst evangelicals just because they oppose same-sex marriage. A more subtle and less publicised redefinition of marriage is prevailing in society: where do we stand?

No to the Named Person Scheme But Yes to What?

Matthew Vogan explains the three positive values our society has lost to arrive at this extent of State interference.

How to Define Not Redefine Marriage

Marriage has been redefined–will it be redefined further. How do we know that group marriage is wrong?

REFORMING YOUR CHURCH

How Do I Know if I’m Putting Christ’s Interests First?

Half-committed Christians fail to seek Christ’s interests first and foremost. The Church suffers as a consequence. Here’s how to get our priorities straight.

The Questions We Ask When Others Leave the Faith

When we hear of others leaving the faith we may have many questions. But the most urgent questions concern ourselves and Jesus Christ. George Hutcheson explains what these are from Scripture.

The Headship of Christ in His Church in China

What we see in Chinese now is what we saw in Scotland then.

Ordinary Means of Extraordinary Grace

Christian growth? Church growth? The Westminster Standards offer a different perspective on what really works.

Christ’s Intercession Answers Your Fears About the Church

We have genuine, justified fears for the Church. What can we do? Our answer is in looking beyond confidence in our own activities to the activity that is taking place in heaven.

Confessionalism and a Flourishing Church

A full confession of faith invites Christians to explore and value the panorama of God’s truth and become mature in their understanding. A Confession helps the Church fulfil its commission to make spiritually mature disciples.

Uncovering the Secrets of Christ’s Kingdom

Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom not of this world, so those who are of this world find it incomprehensible. Alexander Henderson explained the necessary duty to study the nature and search into the mysteries and secrets of this kingdom.

What Should We Do if God is Hiding His Face?

When God hides His face there is a lack of His presence and blessing in the life of the Church. Why would God do this? And if this is the case, is there anything we can do? Consider what Jame Renwick has to say.

What Do We Forget in Forgetting the Church’s History?

We forget vital things about God, His Church and His promises when we forget Church history. We need to make use of it to inform, encourage and steel ourselves for serving God in our own generation.

The Ultimate Test for a Sermon

James Durham brings us back to the One whose words are Spirit and life and who is able to use the words of those whom He has sent. This is an encouragement for preachers who are discouraged.

Making the Best Use of Time in the Worst of Times

Making the Best Use of Time in the Worst of Times

Making the Best Use of Time in the Worst of Times
James Fergusson (1621-1667) ministered in Kilwinning, Ayrshire. He published a number of expositions of books of the Bible and preached faithfully against the domination of the Church by the civil government.
1 Mar, 2019

For many of us it seems like time equals pressure. We’re “pressed for time” because there’s less available than what we need to fulfil our “pressing priorities”. It seems like time gets away from us and there’s never enough to achieve everything. Appreciating its value only seems to add to the pressure we feel in relation to it. Of course we all have exactly the same time, 24 hours in a day. Its limitations and value call for wise stewardship. How should we go about that?

The great challenge is to live wisely in relation to time. After speaking about living wisely, the apostle Paul goes on to identify one particular area; our use of time. We must “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:15-16). But what does that mean? And what is it to redeem the time during days that are described as “evil”? In the following updated extract James Fergusson gives a helpful explanation and application of this verse. There are some key principles here for how we use our time.

The apostle illustrates the previous instruction (v15) by pointing out one main way of walking wisely. He exhorts them to redeem the time. This means, make use of every opportunity and fitting occasion for doing good. The word translated “time” literally means the moment of time which is fitting and opportune for doing anything (Galatians 6:10). It means to use it with more diligence than usual. This may mean denying themselves their own pleasures, ease and worldly profit. In this way they regain the time previously lost by negligence. They should do as much in the present opportunity as they might have done in the past if time had been used with diligence rather than being misspent.

They are to be like merchants (the word “redeem” relates to that) who buy their commodities while the fit time of buying lasts. Perhaps they have had great losses, or previously spent their time idly. They deny themselves their own pleasures and ease and by greater diligence than usual seek to redeem and buy back again the time which is lost. He enforces this duty of redeeming time in view of the evil of the present times due to the wickedness of men. He also refers to various troubles in those times that were hanging over the heads of churches. Every opportunity of doing good might be taken from them shortly (Ecclesiastes 11:2; John 9:4).

 

1. Identify the Best Time

Some times and periods are more fit and opportune than others for doing something in the service of God or others.  A great part of  spiritual wisdom and accurate living consists in fulfilling the duties God requires at the right time in a diligent and timely way. Those who misspend their time out of love for personal ease, profit, pleasure and reputation ignore this. They neglect the one good thing which God’s glory and their own salvation require to be done at a particular time. They are like fools since wise living consists in redeeming the time.

 

2. Identify How to Proportion Time

We are naturally prodigal and lavish in misspending time. It is a great part of divine wisdom to regain misspent time by double diligence. We can buy it back again, so far as is possible, by reducing our comforts such as our time in sleep, and weaning ourselves from ordinary and lawful recreations at other times. This command to redeem the time, implies this.

 

3. Identify How to Live in the Worst Times

We must not comply with the evils of the times in order to gain the favour of wicked men and avoid their hatred (Hosea 5:10-11). The way in which sin and wickedness abounds in our time should make us more conscientious and diligent in spending time profitably.  We should be even more focused on accurate and circumspect living by keeping at a great distance from anything sinful in the times in which we live (Revelation 3:4). Evil times not only threaten to remove all opportunity of doing good (Ecclesiastes 11:2) but are also accompanied with many temptations from evil examples, trials and persecutions (Matthew 24:24). This requires greater circumspection. The dishonour which God gets from many in such times should make us honour Him all the more, (Psalm 119:136). Paul makes the evils of the times a motive, not only to redeem the time but also to walk circumspectly.

 

4. Identify How to Use the Worst Times to the Best Advantage

No matter how evil the times may be, God’s children can and will make best use of them. They can even use the evil of those times for God’s honour and their own spiritual advantage. The worse that the times are, they able all the more to find a way to make the best of them for these purposes. Paul makes the evil of the times a spur to incite the godly to do their duty. He speaks of “redeeming the time, for the days are evil”.

 

Conclusion

Perhaps we feel that there are ever greater demands on our time in a generation in which there is decline and even hostility in relation to the gospel. There are challenges not faced in past generations that witnessed greater spiritual prosperity. The encouragement that the apostle Paul gives is that this actually provides an opportunity for the wise use of time to the maximum glory of God. It needs wisdom and discernment to identify what we are called to do and how we are to serve God not just with our lives but also in this particular time of our lives. We often feel that we have squandered time or simply did not have enough but Paul encourages us that we can buy that time back again with such discernment. We need to identify the opportunities we have now for the glory of God that we will not always have. It is a significant challenge but we know where to go to receive such wisdom.

FURTHER READING

Read more articles from James Fergusson

REFORMING YOURSELF

How Do I Know if I’m Putting Christ’s Interests First?

Half-committed Christians fail to seek Christ’s interests first and foremost. The Church suffers as a consequence. Here’s how to get our priorities straight.

The Questions We Ask When Others Leave the Faith

When we hear of others leaving the faith we may have many questions. But the most urgent questions concern ourselves and Jesus Christ. George Hutcheson explains what these are from Scripture.

What Does it Mean to Have a Fulfilling Life?

Everyone is pursuing fulfilment but what does that mean? James Fergusson identifies the necessary aspects of a fulfilling life as defined by God.

How Do I Know if My Repentance is Genuine?

James Durham explains the different ways we can be impacted by the sense of sin forgiven and hope of future mercy.

The Irreconcilable Instincts of the Human Heart

Politics makes for a poor functional saviour. James Fergusson gets to the heart of the war on sin.

Recovering True Empathy in a Fractured World

Empathy seems to be in serious decline today. James Fergusson shows how the apostle Paul highlights the need for true empathy.

How Far Should Reformation Go?

Reformation is not merely an event in the past; it is a present imperative.

How Does Faith Help Love?

This question matters a lot; especially if your love has grown colder. Faith works by love but how does love work by faith? To love God is to know and trust Him. How does deepening our faith influence the strength of love?

The Christian’s Spiritual Dress Code

There is something that should be worn by every Christian. It identifies them. We’re not talking about fashions and uniforms–the garment is humility. Are you wearing it?

Why Face-to-Face Communication is a Biblical Priority

Technology has had a negative effect on both the quality and quantity of face-to-face communication. But it’s more than a social problem, because the Bible gives considerable emphasis to face-to-face communication.

REFORMING YOUR FAMILY

Is There a False Religion in Your Home?

Covetousness rebranded itself. Consumerism has become a world view where choice and freedom are the absolutes. Some wisdom from James Fergusson exposes the idolatry.

Helping Your Child Not to Become an Atheist

“Do as I say, not as I do!” Not a good enough maxim for Christians parents, says James Fergusson.

A Family Day…of Worship

James Durham shows how the Lord’s Day provides a golden opportunity for parents to orient their family towards eternal realities.

What’s Missing from Your Home?

The most important interaction is increasingly missing from many Christian homes–interacting about spiritual things.

Are Evangelicals Redefining Marriage?

Biblical marriage is not fully intact amongst evangelicals just because they oppose same-sex marriage. A more subtle and less publicised redefinition of marriage is prevailing in society: where do we stand?

No to the Named Person Scheme But Yes to What?

Matthew Vogan explains the three positive values our society has lost to arrive at this extent of State interference.

How to Define Not Redefine Marriage

Marriage has been redefined–will it be redefined further. How do we know that group marriage is wrong?

REFORMING YOUR CHURCH

How Do I Know if I’m Putting Christ’s Interests First?

Half-committed Christians fail to seek Christ’s interests first and foremost. The Church suffers as a consequence. Here’s how to get our priorities straight.

The Questions We Ask When Others Leave the Faith

When we hear of others leaving the faith we may have many questions. But the most urgent questions concern ourselves and Jesus Christ. George Hutcheson explains what these are from Scripture.

The Headship of Christ in His Church in China

What we see in Chinese now is what we saw in Scotland then.

Ordinary Means of Extraordinary Grace

Christian growth? Church growth? The Westminster Standards offer a different perspective on what really works.

Christ’s Intercession Answers Your Fears About the Church

We have genuine, justified fears for the Church. What can we do? Our answer is in looking beyond confidence in our own activities to the activity that is taking place in heaven.

Confessionalism and a Flourishing Church

A full confession of faith invites Christians to explore and value the panorama of God’s truth and become mature in their understanding. A Confession helps the Church fulfil its commission to make spiritually mature disciples.

Uncovering the Secrets of Christ’s Kingdom

Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom not of this world, so those who are of this world find it incomprehensible. Alexander Henderson explained the necessary duty to study the nature and search into the mysteries and secrets of this kingdom.

What Should We Do if God is Hiding His Face?

When God hides His face there is a lack of His presence and blessing in the life of the Church. Why would God do this? And if this is the case, is there anything we can do? Consider what Jame Renwick has to say.

What Do We Forget in Forgetting the Church’s History?

We forget vital things about God, His Church and His promises when we forget Church history. We need to make use of it to inform, encourage and steel ourselves for serving God in our own generation.

The Ultimate Test for a Sermon

James Durham brings us back to the One whose words are Spirit and life and who is able to use the words of those whom He has sent. This is an encouragement for preachers who are discouraged.

Too Busy to Read the Bible?

Too Busy to Read the Bible?

Too Busy to Read the Bible?
David Dickson (c.1583–1662) was a Professor of Theology at the University of Glasgow and Edinburgh who wrote commentaries on many different books of Scripture. He opposed the unbiblical worship and church government foisted on the Church in Scotland by Charles II and this cost him his position.
11 May, 2018

“Busy” is something of a status symbol for success currently. Everyone is busy, it’s a stock response. But is it the best way to measure importance and productivity? We feel overwhelmed but the research tells us that on average we actually have more free time. It’s a case of how we use our time. It seems like many are chasing ever-inflating expectations from society and themselves that they will never achieve. Are we trying to do everything in order to project an image of a perfect life? Wouldn’t it be more sensible and satisfying to prioritise the essentials (not forgetting what is of eternal significance)? Without rehashing the statistics, we are familiar with Christians claiming they are “too busy” to read the Bible. What is the remedy?

We need to reassess our use of time in the light of our priorities. We make time for what we either want to do or must do. If we value God and His Word and believe that it must shape our lives and hearts then we have to make time for it. The person who delights in God’s Word and wants their mind to be transformed by it makes time for it each day (Psalm 1:2-3). David Dickson gives some brief counsel on this. He was so committed to helping with this that he wrote many expositions of Bible books.

1. Time is Scarce

There should be daily set time for private reading of the Lord’s Word. Everyone is not set apart for the Word and doctrine (as ministers are). Most have, by God’s appointment, everyday callings and necessary employments about the matters of this life. Each calling and employment has its own work and each work requires its own time so that many have little time remaining besides these.

2. Set Aside Time Daily

The person who does not daily redeem as much time as the necessary duties of being exercised in the Word and prayer require is too busy. They are too busy in temporal affairs and more involved in the world then they can justify. There may be secret spontaneous prayer to God mixed in with his outward affairs. His conscience also needs to examine each action like a builder using a level and the eye to see if it conforms to the rule of the Word.

3. Even the Most Important Have Time

Suppose someone was as full employed as a king with so many realms to govern as were under David King of Israel. Yet he could not be excused because of this from neglecting God’s Word and prayer. David oftener than once a day and even in the night found time to call on God, praise His name, and verse himself in His Word (Psalm 119:55, 62, 164).

4. Delight in God’s Word not Worldly Pleasures

Let the men of this world neglect reading the Scriptures and all serious religious duties.  They have their portion in this life and have set up in their hearts the filthy idols of worldly profit, pleasure and promotion. In order to gain and keep these, they make use not only of all men but also of God and religion only as far as they serve these debased purposes.

Let such (I say) neglect reading the Scriptures, but let not the children of God do so. They hold their standing here and the hopes of eternal life to come by faith in Christ. In order to advance His cause and kingdom, they are resolved to bear His cross even to the doors of heaven if that is God’s will. They would lay it down on the threshold with thanks and praise that ever they were counted worthy to suffer for His name. Let not these blessed souls walk in the way of the ungodly, but rather delight themselves in the law of God and meditate in it night and day (Psalm 1:2-3).

5. Make Use of Helps

Brief explanations of the Bible are helpful.  These should not only show the overall meaning and aim of each book and chapter but also the connection between verses and the meaning of the words. They should also expound the key doctrines taught in each place. By this means people might see the whole basis of Christian doctrine in the text of Scripture. They would then be guarded against all damnable errors (which easily ensnare those who know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God). This should be done with such brevity and clarity that men in their daily set reading of the Lord’s word, might during half an hour peruse a sufficient portion of Scripture, thus explained. [Dickson and others wrote many such expositions, for more information read 7 Reasons to Study the Bible with the Covenanters]

FURTHER READING

You may also find the following helpful in relation to this subject:

Find out more about David Dickson and read other articles featuring his work.

REFORMING YOURSELF

How Do I Know if I’m Putting Christ’s Interests First?

Half-committed Christians fail to seek Christ’s interests first and foremost. The Church suffers as a consequence. Here’s how to get our priorities straight.

The Questions We Ask When Others Leave the Faith

When we hear of others leaving the faith we may have many questions. But the most urgent questions concern ourselves and Jesus Christ. George Hutcheson explains what these are from Scripture.

What Does it Mean to Have a Fulfilling Life?

Everyone is pursuing fulfilment but what does that mean? James Fergusson identifies the necessary aspects of a fulfilling life as defined by God.

How Do I Know if My Repentance is Genuine?

James Durham explains the different ways we can be impacted by the sense of sin forgiven and hope of future mercy.

The Irreconcilable Instincts of the Human Heart

Politics makes for a poor functional saviour. James Fergusson gets to the heart of the war on sin.

Recovering True Empathy in a Fractured World

Empathy seems to be in serious decline today. James Fergusson shows how the apostle Paul highlights the need for true empathy.

How Far Should Reformation Go?

Reformation is not merely an event in the past; it is a present imperative.

How Does Faith Help Love?

This question matters a lot; especially if your love has grown colder. Faith works by love but how does love work by faith? To love God is to know and trust Him. How does deepening our faith influence the strength of love?

The Christian’s Spiritual Dress Code

There is something that should be worn by every Christian. It identifies them. We’re not talking about fashions and uniforms–the garment is humility. Are you wearing it?

Why Face-to-Face Communication is a Biblical Priority

Technology has had a negative effect on both the quality and quantity of face-to-face communication. But it’s more than a social problem, because the Bible gives considerable emphasis to face-to-face communication.

REFORMING YOUR FAMILY

Is There a False Religion in Your Home?

Covetousness rebranded itself. Consumerism has become a world view where choice and freedom are the absolutes. Some wisdom from James Fergusson exposes the idolatry.

Helping Your Child Not to Become an Atheist

“Do as I say, not as I do!” Not a good enough maxim for Christians parents, says James Fergusson.

A Family Day…of Worship

James Durham shows how the Lord’s Day provides a golden opportunity for parents to orient their family towards eternal realities.

What’s Missing from Your Home?

The most important interaction is increasingly missing from many Christian homes–interacting about spiritual things.

Are Evangelicals Redefining Marriage?

Biblical marriage is not fully intact amongst evangelicals just because they oppose same-sex marriage. A more subtle and less publicised redefinition of marriage is prevailing in society: where do we stand?

No to the Named Person Scheme But Yes to What?

Matthew Vogan explains the three positive values our society has lost to arrive at this extent of State interference.

How to Define Not Redefine Marriage

Marriage has been redefined–will it be redefined further. How do we know that group marriage is wrong?

REFORMING YOUR CHURCH

How Do I Know if I’m Putting Christ’s Interests First?

Half-committed Christians fail to seek Christ’s interests first and foremost. The Church suffers as a consequence. Here’s how to get our priorities straight.

The Questions We Ask When Others Leave the Faith

When we hear of others leaving the faith we may have many questions. But the most urgent questions concern ourselves and Jesus Christ. George Hutcheson explains what these are from Scripture.

The Headship of Christ in His Church in China

What we see in Chinese now is what we saw in Scotland then.

Ordinary Means of Extraordinary Grace

Christian growth? Church growth? The Westminster Standards offer a different perspective on what really works.

Christ’s Intercession Answers Your Fears About the Church

We have genuine, justified fears for the Church. What can we do? Our answer is in looking beyond confidence in our own activities to the activity that is taking place in heaven.

Confessionalism and a Flourishing Church

A full confession of faith invites Christians to explore and value the panorama of God’s truth and become mature in their understanding. A Confession helps the Church fulfil its commission to make spiritually mature disciples.

Uncovering the Secrets of Christ’s Kingdom

Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom not of this world, so those who are of this world find it incomprehensible. Alexander Henderson explained the necessary duty to study the nature and search into the mysteries and secrets of this kingdom.

What Should We Do if God is Hiding His Face?

When God hides His face there is a lack of His presence and blessing in the life of the Church. Why would God do this? And if this is the case, is there anything we can do? Consider what Jame Renwick has to say.

What Do We Forget in Forgetting the Church’s History?

We forget vital things about God, His Church and His promises when we forget Church history. We need to make use of it to inform, encourage and steel ourselves for serving God in our own generation.

The Ultimate Test for a Sermon

James Durham brings us back to the One whose words are Spirit and life and who is able to use the words of those whom He has sent. This is an encouragement for preachers who are discouraged.

14 Things that May be Spiritual Hindrances

14 Things that May be Spiritual Hindrances

14 Things that May be Spiritual Hindrances
James Fraser of Brea (1639-1698) was originally from the Black Isle, Ross-shire. He was imprisoned on the Bass Rock for ‘illegal’ field preaching but survived the times of persecution.
6 Oct, 2017

We need to lay aside every weight that hinders us in running the spiritual race. Previously, we considered what things help our spiritual progress. It is just as important to identify what holds us back, otherwise we will not make best use of the helps.

These are personal observations from James Fraser of Brea and reflect his own experience. It is helpful to learn from those that have been many years in the Christian life making particular effort in exercising themselves to godliness. Perhaps some of Fraser’s observations are surprising or disturbing to us – they will certainly make us think. We need to engage in our own self-examination to consider our own ways.

 

1. A legalistic spirit

Satan sometimes urges me violently and boastingly to engage in duties in my own strength, overdriving me with thunder and lightening and laying more upon me than I am able to bear. This is like putting new wine in old bottles, seeking such and such duties, and so much, exacting them by weight and measure. It weakens my hands, irritates me and makes me do nothing, seeing I cannot get what is urged done. It makes me act slavishly (Genesis 33:13; Romans 7:11; Hebrews 10:12-13; Luke 19:21).

 

2. Unspiritual company

The company of carnal, unregenerate people, and graceless, nominal professing Christians has been a hindrance. This has been especially the case if I have been familiar with them, living close to them, or have not challenged or instructed them. When near, they have dispersed their poison and infection and turned my heart carnal. It is like some diseases that are not contracted unless you come near those that have them (1 Corinthians 15:33).

 

3. Godly company with no spiritual benefit

When it has not been used to best spiritual advantage, I have even found godly company damaging, drawing away my heart from God and rendering it carnal. If we have not sought the Lord  through mutual prayer and have had no spiritual conversation or I have stayed too long with them. Hardening takes place when we are not exhorting one another (Hebrews 3:13).

 

4. Careless talk

I have had my spirit turned out of frame, and quite distempered by loud, violent, hasty and much talk even in good things. I have found “the talking of the lips tend to penury” (Proverbs 14:23) and a breach made in the spirit by perverse speaking (James 3:5-6; Proverbs 17:27; Matthew 15:8).

 

5. Being out and about too much

I have found going away from home and being in public too much to be damaging. These have been like the devil’s market-days. Let me prepare, pray and watch as much as I will, this still happens. My spirit has been put out of a spiritual condition, especially if I have gone out without great necessity. Going here and there is good for neither soul nor body.

 

6. Overindulging

I have found excess in the use of food, drink, and other recreations, very prejudicial, and to be the ordinary inlet of many evils. This makes the body is not in the right condition and the spirit utterly indisposed to any good exercise (Luke 21:34; Proverbs 25:27 and 23:20-21).

 

7. Carelessness about devotions

Omitting private duties or doing them in a careless way. This includes duties such as prayer, self-examination, meditation, and reading (Matthew 26:41; Proverbs 23:21).

 

8. Neglecting spontaneous silent prayer

Neglecting spontaneous silent prayer when conversing with others; for this is the fountain of waters that drops from heaven, and makes the heart fruitful (Matthew 26:41).

 

9. Vain thoughts

Vain thoughts in the morning, when riding, and in private spiritual exercises. Even though they are not bad thoughts, I have found these to put my spirit wrong as much as anything and to make me utterly unfit for duty (Jeremiah 4:14).

 

10. Not keeping the heart

Unwatchfulness and not keeping the heart while in the world. Not being “in the fear of God all the day long,” not keeping guard, or neglecting the continual oversight of my heart, tongue, and actions, but growing careless. I have found that when my heart is unwatched it runs away and engages in sins and temptations. There are many disorders in a city while there is no government  and this is the state of my heart at such times (Matthew 26:41). This has done extreme evil; through this I lose in public what I gain in private.

 

11. Unbelieving discouragements

Unbelieving discouragements arising from feeling of what I lack, sins and trials. These have weakened my hands (1 Samuel 12:20; Lamentations 1:9; Jeremiah 2:28; Hebrews 12:12-13). It was when Peter started to be afraid that he began to sink.

 

12. Being Too Absorbed in Temporal Things

Being highly engaged in outward affairs and business and eagerly pursuing them. These have distracted me and made me utterly unable to serve God (Luke 10:4 and 21:34).

 

13. Pride

Pride and thinking much of myself, self-boasting of myself, seeking the praise of men and seeking to exalt myself by being careful in duties. Seeking to share the glory with Christ in the matter of salvation. This has made the Lord reject me many times, withdrawing me from my resolution to “hide pride”. This made the Jews not obtain righteousness, because they sought it “as it were by the works of the law” (Romans 9:31-32).

 

14. Slothfulness

Slothfulness in sleeping too long and trifling away the time (especially in company) has “clothed me with rags”.

FURTHER READING

Read more articles from James Fraser of Brea

REFORMING YOURSELF

How Do I Know if I’m Putting Christ’s Interests First?

Half-committed Christians fail to seek Christ’s interests first and foremost. The Church suffers as a consequence. Here’s how to get our priorities straight.

The Questions We Ask When Others Leave the Faith

When we hear of others leaving the faith we may have many questions. But the most urgent questions concern ourselves and Jesus Christ. George Hutcheson explains what these are from Scripture.

What Does it Mean to Have a Fulfilling Life?

Everyone is pursuing fulfilment but what does that mean? James Fergusson identifies the necessary aspects of a fulfilling life as defined by God.

How Do I Know if My Repentance is Genuine?

James Durham explains the different ways we can be impacted by the sense of sin forgiven and hope of future mercy.

The Irreconcilable Instincts of the Human Heart

Politics makes for a poor functional saviour. James Fergusson gets to the heart of the war on sin.

Recovering True Empathy in a Fractured World

Empathy seems to be in serious decline today. James Fergusson shows how the apostle Paul highlights the need for true empathy.

How Far Should Reformation Go?

Reformation is not merely an event in the past; it is a present imperative.

How Does Faith Help Love?

This question matters a lot; especially if your love has grown colder. Faith works by love but how does love work by faith? To love God is to know and trust Him. How does deepening our faith influence the strength of love?

The Christian’s Spiritual Dress Code

There is something that should be worn by every Christian. It identifies them. We’re not talking about fashions and uniforms–the garment is humility. Are you wearing it?

Why Face-to-Face Communication is a Biblical Priority

Technology has had a negative effect on both the quality and quantity of face-to-face communication. But it’s more than a social problem, because the Bible gives considerable emphasis to face-to-face communication.

REFORMING YOUR FAMILY

Is There a False Religion in Your Home?

Covetousness rebranded itself. Consumerism has become a world view where choice and freedom are the absolutes. Some wisdom from James Fergusson exposes the idolatry.

Helping Your Child Not to Become an Atheist

“Do as I say, not as I do!” Not a good enough maxim for Christians parents, says James Fergusson.

A Family Day…of Worship

James Durham shows how the Lord’s Day provides a golden opportunity for parents to orient their family towards eternal realities.

What’s Missing from Your Home?

The most important interaction is increasingly missing from many Christian homes–interacting about spiritual things.

Are Evangelicals Redefining Marriage?

Biblical marriage is not fully intact amongst evangelicals just because they oppose same-sex marriage. A more subtle and less publicised redefinition of marriage is prevailing in society: where do we stand?

No to the Named Person Scheme But Yes to What?

Matthew Vogan explains the three positive values our society has lost to arrive at this extent of State interference.

How to Define Not Redefine Marriage

Marriage has been redefined–will it be redefined further. How do we know that group marriage is wrong?

REFORMING YOUR CHURCH

How Do I Know if I’m Putting Christ’s Interests First?

Half-committed Christians fail to seek Christ’s interests first and foremost. The Church suffers as a consequence. Here’s how to get our priorities straight.

The Questions We Ask When Others Leave the Faith

When we hear of others leaving the faith we may have many questions. But the most urgent questions concern ourselves and Jesus Christ. George Hutcheson explains what these are from Scripture.

The Headship of Christ in His Church in China

What we see in Chinese now is what we saw in Scotland then.

Ordinary Means of Extraordinary Grace

Christian growth? Church growth? The Westminster Standards offer a different perspective on what really works.

Christ’s Intercession Answers Your Fears About the Church

We have genuine, justified fears for the Church. What can we do? Our answer is in looking beyond confidence in our own activities to the activity that is taking place in heaven.

Confessionalism and a Flourishing Church

A full confession of faith invites Christians to explore and value the panorama of God’s truth and become mature in their understanding. A Confession helps the Church fulfil its commission to make spiritually mature disciples.

Uncovering the Secrets of Christ’s Kingdom

Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom not of this world, so those who are of this world find it incomprehensible. Alexander Henderson explained the necessary duty to study the nature and search into the mysteries and secrets of this kingdom.

What Should We Do if God is Hiding His Face?

When God hides His face there is a lack of His presence and blessing in the life of the Church. Why would God do this? And if this is the case, is there anything we can do? Consider what Jame Renwick has to say.

What Do We Forget in Forgetting the Church’s History?

We forget vital things about God, His Church and His promises when we forget Church history. We need to make use of it to inform, encourage and steel ourselves for serving God in our own generation.

The Ultimate Test for a Sermon

James Durham brings us back to the One whose words are Spirit and life and who is able to use the words of those whom He has sent. This is an encouragement for preachers who are discouraged.

Principles for Making Every Day the Best it Can Be

Principles for Making Every Day the Best it Can Be

Principles for Making Every Day the Best it Can Be
James Fraser of Brea (1639-1698) was originally from the Black Isle, Ross-shire. He was imprisoned on the Bass Rock for ‘illegal’ field preaching but survived the times of persecution.
2 Jun, 2017

Conventional inspirational wisdom tells us rather vaguely to “make each day count”. Personal productivity advice induces anxiety about using our time effectively. But we can’t do something effectively that in itself is not worth doing or is actually harmful. We must be doing the right things out of the right motives and principles with a right end in view. “Redeeming the time” is a biblical requirement. When we get our spiritual priorities right, the rest of our activities fall into their proper place.

James Fraser of Brea (1639-1698) in his autobiography gives an interesting account of his life and spiritual experience. It includes many valuable spiritual reflections. He tells us, for instance about, “rules I daily follow in my daily walk: or, some special rules for ordering my own particular conduct”. The rules are included in an updated form below. They are unique to Fraser in some aspects and set a high standard for ministers let alone other Christians whose time may be much more limited. The first five rules are applicable to every day, the following five deal with every week, month and year.

This was a subject on which many others wrote including Samuel Rutherford (Letter 159). There were classic books such as that by the Westminster divine Henry Scudder called The Christian’s Daily Walk. Other writers including William Perkins, Robert Bolton, Richard Baxter had much to say on the subject. Each day is an opportunity to glorify God to our utmost and though we may feel we have come far short at the end of a day, Rutherford’s counsel is worth heeding.

What ye do amiss in your life to-day, ye may amend it tomorrow; for as many suns as God maketh to arise upon you, ye have as many new lives

Fraser came from the Black Isle, Ross-shire and was ordained during the times of persecution. He refused to appear before the Privy Council when to answer for “illegal” preaching in the fields. Eventually captured he was sentenced to imprisonment on the Bass Rock. This is a very high rock in the sea off the Scottish coast which was purchased by the government expressly for imprisoning presbyterian ministers. Along with many others he suffered much in those fearful conditions. He was imprisoned at a later period in Blackness Castle but survived the times of persecution.

During his time of imprisonment he wrote a controversial book on the atonement but it should be remembered that he never himself published these views. Men like Thomas Boston held Fraser of Brea in high regard and spoke affectionately of him.

 

1. Rise in Good Time

In imitation of Christ and His apostles and to get good done, I purpose to rise timely every morning (Job 1:5; 2 Chronicles 36:15).

 

2. Plan the Day’s Work from the Start

To propose, when I am up, some work to be done, or the work of the day, and how and when to do it, and to engage my heart to do it (1 Timothy 4:7), and even call myself to account and mourn for failings.

 

3. Set Aside Times for Private Devotion

To spend a competent portion of time every day in prayer, reading, meditating, spiritual exercises, morning, midday, evening and before I go to bed.

 

4. Glorify God and Pursue Holiness Every Day

My ordinary and extraordinary works, which I strive to finish every day are:

  • to mortify sin,
  • to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord,
  • to glorify God,
  • to instruct others and do them good,
  • to attend on and walk closely with the Lord.

This I propose every day to myself to do and finish, and in the evening examine myself on my progress and diligence. This is my work and exercise.

 

5. Never Drop Your Guard Spiritually

To be always on my guard, in a watchful, fearing frame of mind.

 

6. Prepare for the Lord’s Day

To spend some time on Saturday evening for preparation for the Sabbath.

 

7. Set Aside Extra Time Every Week for Prayer

Once every week I spend four hours over and above my daily portion in private for some special causes relating either to myself or others, relating either to temporal or civil affairs.

 

8. Set Aside a Day Every Month for Being Humbled Before God for Others

Once in the month either at the end or in the middle of it, I keep a day to humble myself before God in relation to public affairs, the Lord’s people and their sad condition, for the work and people of God to be raised up.

 

9. Set Aside a Day Every Six Weeks for Being Humbled Before God for Oneself

Besides this once every six weeks, I spend one day of humbling myself for my own private condition, seeking conflict with spiritual evils, to get my heart more holy, or to get some special exercise completed.

 

10. Setting Aside Time Every Year for Spiritual Accounts

To spend six or seven days together once in a year, when I have greatest convenience, wholly and only on
spiritual accounts.

FURTHER READING

Read more articles from James Fraser of Brea

REFORMING YOURSELF

How Do I Know if I’m Putting Christ’s Interests First?

Half-committed Christians fail to seek Christ’s interests first and foremost. The Church suffers as a consequence. Here’s how to get our priorities straight.

The Questions We Ask When Others Leave the Faith

When we hear of others leaving the faith we may have many questions. But the most urgent questions concern ourselves and Jesus Christ. George Hutcheson explains what these are from Scripture.

What Does it Mean to Have a Fulfilling Life?

Everyone is pursuing fulfilment but what does that mean? James Fergusson identifies the necessary aspects of a fulfilling life as defined by God.

How Do I Know if My Repentance is Genuine?

James Durham explains the different ways we can be impacted by the sense of sin forgiven and hope of future mercy.

The Irreconcilable Instincts of the Human Heart

Politics makes for a poor functional saviour. James Fergusson gets to the heart of the war on sin.

Recovering True Empathy in a Fractured World

Empathy seems to be in serious decline today. James Fergusson shows how the apostle Paul highlights the need for true empathy.

How Far Should Reformation Go?

Reformation is not merely an event in the past; it is a present imperative.

How Does Faith Help Love?

This question matters a lot; especially if your love has grown colder. Faith works by love but how does love work by faith? To love God is to know and trust Him. How does deepening our faith influence the strength of love?

The Christian’s Spiritual Dress Code

There is something that should be worn by every Christian. It identifies them. We’re not talking about fashions and uniforms–the garment is humility. Are you wearing it?

Why Face-to-Face Communication is a Biblical Priority

Technology has had a negative effect on both the quality and quantity of face-to-face communication. But it’s more than a social problem, because the Bible gives considerable emphasis to face-to-face communication.

REFORMING YOUR FAMILY

Is There a False Religion in Your Home?

Covetousness rebranded itself. Consumerism has become a world view where choice and freedom are the absolutes. Some wisdom from James Fergusson exposes the idolatry.

Helping Your Child Not to Become an Atheist

“Do as I say, not as I do!” Not a good enough maxim for Christians parents, says James Fergusson.

A Family Day…of Worship

James Durham shows how the Lord’s Day provides a golden opportunity for parents to orient their family towards eternal realities.

What’s Missing from Your Home?

The most important interaction is increasingly missing from many Christian homes–interacting about spiritual things.

Are Evangelicals Redefining Marriage?

Biblical marriage is not fully intact amongst evangelicals just because they oppose same-sex marriage. A more subtle and less publicised redefinition of marriage is prevailing in society: where do we stand?

No to the Named Person Scheme But Yes to What?

Matthew Vogan explains the three positive values our society has lost to arrive at this extent of State interference.

How to Define Not Redefine Marriage

Marriage has been redefined–will it be redefined further. How do we know that group marriage is wrong?

REFORMING YOUR CHURCH

How Do I Know if I’m Putting Christ’s Interests First?

Half-committed Christians fail to seek Christ’s interests first and foremost. The Church suffers as a consequence. Here’s how to get our priorities straight.

The Questions We Ask When Others Leave the Faith

When we hear of others leaving the faith we may have many questions. But the most urgent questions concern ourselves and Jesus Christ. George Hutcheson explains what these are from Scripture.

The Headship of Christ in His Church in China

What we see in Chinese now is what we saw in Scotland then.

Ordinary Means of Extraordinary Grace

Christian growth? Church growth? The Westminster Standards offer a different perspective on what really works.

Christ’s Intercession Answers Your Fears About the Church

We have genuine, justified fears for the Church. What can we do? Our answer is in looking beyond confidence in our own activities to the activity that is taking place in heaven.

Confessionalism and a Flourishing Church

A full confession of faith invites Christians to explore and value the panorama of God’s truth and become mature in their understanding. A Confession helps the Church fulfil its commission to make spiritually mature disciples.

Uncovering the Secrets of Christ’s Kingdom

Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom not of this world, so those who are of this world find it incomprehensible. Alexander Henderson explained the necessary duty to study the nature and search into the mysteries and secrets of this kingdom.

What Should We Do if God is Hiding His Face?

When God hides His face there is a lack of His presence and blessing in the life of the Church. Why would God do this? And if this is the case, is there anything we can do? Consider what Jame Renwick has to say.

What Do We Forget in Forgetting the Church’s History?

We forget vital things about God, His Church and His promises when we forget Church history. We need to make use of it to inform, encourage and steel ourselves for serving God in our own generation.

The Ultimate Test for a Sermon

James Durham brings us back to the One whose words are Spirit and life and who is able to use the words of those whom He has sent. This is an encouragement for preachers who are discouraged.

True Priorities for Managing Your Time

True Priorities for Managing Your Time

True Priorities for Managing Your Time
Donald Cargill (1627 – 1681) was the minister of the Barony Church Glasgow who was dismissed for a protest against the celebration of the restoration of Charles II in 1662. He went on to preach in Covenanter field meetings until he was eventually captured and executed.
30 Dec, 2016

Effective use of time, getting things done and achieving goals are something of a current obsession. Like food diets, there are any amount of schemes and books on the subject of productivity. Everyone is “busy” but many are driven by the desire to be efficient. Our priorities shape the way we manage our time. What are your priorities? How do you know if they are the right ones?

We can learn a lot from a preacher who lived his life in constant expectation of capture and execution. Donald Cargill (1627–1681) did indeed eventually lay down his life for his Lord. In one of his sermons, Cargill had said, “If believers loved Christ as He loves them, they would be more in haste to meet Him.” “Death to the believer is just like putting off a worn suit of clothes, and putting on a new suit.” As he mounted the ladder to be hanged, he said, “The Lord knows, I go up this ladder in less fear and perturbed of mind that ever I entered the pulpit to preach… Farewell, all relations and friends in Christ; farewell all acquaintances and all earthly enjoyments; farewell reading and preaching, praying and believing, wanderings, reproaches and sufferings. Welcome joy unspeakable and full of glory. Welcome Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Into thy hands I commit my spirit.”

The following updated extract comes from one of his sermons preached in the fields during the times of persecution. He gives practical advice as well as highlighting the principles that should govern our use of time. Some ask how they can get more done or do things better.  Yet there is no point in doing more and doing it more efficiently unless we are persuaded that these are the right things to do. “Redeeming the time” is certainly a biblical priority.

Cargill says that it is important to manage our time well to the glory of God because time is uncertain. We lie down and do not know if we will ever rise up again. We must make best use of our time because we do not know how much we will have.

Time is short and the task is great, especially the task of best using it to our spiritual benefit such as putting sin to death. Nothing is more important than eternity; eternity is fast approaching and we must be prepared. This should stir us up to make best use of our time.

1. The Advantages of True Time Management

(a) It gives peace of conscience

It keeps us from many rebukes of conscience that we otherwise might have. Those who employ their time right, have great peace. They have much comfort and good spoken to them.

(b) It gives comfort at death

It gives comfort when we are about to launch out of time and enter eternity. You will then have nothing to do except step into your Master’s house. What sad thoughts they will have, who have employed their time otherwise!

(c) It makes everything sweet

It makes all your refreshments sweet. Your sleep is sweet, your waking is sweet and all is sweet. The wise man says, that the “rest of a labouring man is sweet,” but especially when he has been about his master’s work.

2. Directions for True Time Management

Now we shall give you some directions how you may employ your time aright.

(a) Organise your time

You ought to divide your work into tasks: setting so many hours apart for hearing, so many for reading, praying, meditating etc. and so many for your ordinary calling. It would be an excellent thing if we were tasking ourselves and saying, “Such a thing we resolve to do and such a thing we must do.” This would make a Christian’s work sweet to him!

(b) Employ your time well

You must have much heavenly and sweet prayer. With the psalmist, “Lord make me know mine end.” “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” If this were our main concern and petition there would not be so much misspent time amongst us as there is.

(c) How to spend the day

In the morning when we rise, we should be thinking on our last end, and in the evening we should take account of how we have spent the day, and mourn over what we have done amiss.

3. Manage Your Time in the Present

We should not trouble our thoughts with empty future prospects. Are there not many who have projected things for twenty years from now? And who knows if they will live that long? It is better to employ our time and cast off vain and foolish prospects. The apostle James speaks of those who make such plans, they “know not what shall be on the morrow.”

If we would consider the shortness of our time we would think the cares of every day enough for itself. But this is a burdening of ourselves with unnecessary cares, adding a load to a burden. Are not the cares of a day sufficient for itself? Why then are we anxious about tomorrow or for many days into the future? These unnecessary cares put your heart out of the right frame of spirit. They indispose the heart so that we cannot get our time as well spent as we ought.

They do not only indispose us for duty, but duties are jostled out. Things that are at hand are put far off, and things that are afar off, are brought near. Thoughts concerning the far-off future put death and eternity out of mind. Are there not many who when they put death, judgment, and eternity far out of mind, are suddenly overtaken by them? Now consider which of these is most necessary, and having found that which is most necessary, let your thoughts be employed about it.

Conclusion

We don’t need to attempt to “do it all” but rather spend our time well in the right things to the glory of God.  Cargill gives the biblical perspective of focussing on each day, managing the minutes and hours well so that our days are well spent.

Be moderate in all things, Cargill says, even in the use of all lawful enjoyments. It is strange that we, who seek after other things, should be so taken up with such frivolous things. It is strange to see even believers so much taken up with the world, and the cares of this life. This eats out the comfort of the soul, and where there is very much of this, there cannot be much prosperity in true godliness, and where there is much real godliness there cannot be much of this, these two are inconsistent with one another. We cannot serve God and mammon; for, as the thoughts of the one rise up, the other goes down. Is it not strange that we should be so much taken up with these things?

Cargill shows that we have much time to redeem when we consider how we have spent what has already been given us. In the short time we have to live, we ought to be as travellers who have sat until the day is far spent, and are obliged to run more in one hour than in three before. Let’s be spiritually productive.

Find out more about Donald Cargill and read other articles featuring his work.

REFORMING YOURSELF

How Do I Know if I’m Putting Christ’s Interests First?

Half-committed Christians fail to seek Christ’s interests first and foremost. The Church suffers as a consequence. Here’s how to get our priorities straight.

The Questions We Ask When Others Leave the Faith

When we hear of others leaving the faith we may have many questions. But the most urgent questions concern ourselves and Jesus Christ. George Hutcheson explains what these are from Scripture.

What Does it Mean to Have a Fulfilling Life?

Everyone is pursuing fulfilment but what does that mean? James Fergusson identifies the necessary aspects of a fulfilling life as defined by God.

How Do I Know if My Repentance is Genuine?

James Durham explains the different ways we can be impacted by the sense of sin forgiven and hope of future mercy.

The Irreconcilable Instincts of the Human Heart

Politics makes for a poor functional saviour. James Fergusson gets to the heart of the war on sin.

Recovering True Empathy in a Fractured World

Empathy seems to be in serious decline today. James Fergusson shows how the apostle Paul highlights the need for true empathy.

How Far Should Reformation Go?

Reformation is not merely an event in the past; it is a present imperative.

How Does Faith Help Love?

This question matters a lot; especially if your love has grown colder. Faith works by love but how does love work by faith? To love God is to know and trust Him. How does deepening our faith influence the strength of love?

The Christian’s Spiritual Dress Code

There is something that should be worn by every Christian. It identifies them. We’re not talking about fashions and uniforms–the garment is humility. Are you wearing it?

Why Face-to-Face Communication is a Biblical Priority

Technology has had a negative effect on both the quality and quantity of face-to-face communication. But it’s more than a social problem, because the Bible gives considerable emphasis to face-to-face communication.

REFORMING YOUR FAMILY

Is There a False Religion in Your Home?

Covetousness rebranded itself. Consumerism has become a world view where choice and freedom are the absolutes. Some wisdom from James Fergusson exposes the idolatry.

Helping Your Child Not to Become an Atheist

“Do as I say, not as I do!” Not a good enough maxim for Christians parents, says James Fergusson.

A Family Day…of Worship

James Durham shows how the Lord’s Day provides a golden opportunity for parents to orient their family towards eternal realities.

What’s Missing from Your Home?

The most important interaction is increasingly missing from many Christian homes–interacting about spiritual things.

Are Evangelicals Redefining Marriage?

Biblical marriage is not fully intact amongst evangelicals just because they oppose same-sex marriage. A more subtle and less publicised redefinition of marriage is prevailing in society: where do we stand?

No to the Named Person Scheme But Yes to What?

Matthew Vogan explains the three positive values our society has lost to arrive at this extent of State interference.

How to Define Not Redefine Marriage

Marriage has been redefined–will it be redefined further. How do we know that group marriage is wrong?

REFORMING YOUR CHURCH

How Do I Know if I’m Putting Christ’s Interests First?

Half-committed Christians fail to seek Christ’s interests first and foremost. The Church suffers as a consequence. Here’s how to get our priorities straight.

The Questions We Ask When Others Leave the Faith

When we hear of others leaving the faith we may have many questions. But the most urgent questions concern ourselves and Jesus Christ. George Hutcheson explains what these are from Scripture.

The Headship of Christ in His Church in China

What we see in Chinese now is what we saw in Scotland then.

Ordinary Means of Extraordinary Grace

Christian growth? Church growth? The Westminster Standards offer a different perspective on what really works.

Christ’s Intercession Answers Your Fears About the Church

We have genuine, justified fears for the Church. What can we do? Our answer is in looking beyond confidence in our own activities to the activity that is taking place in heaven.

Confessionalism and a Flourishing Church

A full confession of faith invites Christians to explore and value the panorama of God’s truth and become mature in their understanding. A Confession helps the Church fulfil its commission to make spiritually mature disciples.

Uncovering the Secrets of Christ’s Kingdom

Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom not of this world, so those who are of this world find it incomprehensible. Alexander Henderson explained the necessary duty to study the nature and search into the mysteries and secrets of this kingdom.

What Should We Do if God is Hiding His Face?

When God hides His face there is a lack of His presence and blessing in the life of the Church. Why would God do this? And if this is the case, is there anything we can do? Consider what Jame Renwick has to say.

What Do We Forget in Forgetting the Church’s History?

We forget vital things about God, His Church and His promises when we forget Church history. We need to make use of it to inform, encourage and steel ourselves for serving God in our own generation.

The Ultimate Test for a Sermon

James Durham brings us back to the One whose words are Spirit and life and who is able to use the words of those whom He has sent. This is an encouragement for preachers who are discouraged.

7 Benefits of Measuring Your One Brief Life

7 Benefits of Measuring Your One Brief Life

7 Benefits of Measuring Your One Brief Life
Andrew Gray (1633-1653) was a gifted young preacher who died after a ministry of only 27 months in Glasgow. His sermons were marked by deep spiritual experience. It was said of him, "...never in the history of our country did a man of his years make so deep a mark."
16 Dec, 2016

​In a 24/7 world, time is a precious commodity. We live our lives by the clock, assessing how much time we have till the next item on the schedule. It’s a 24/7 world because to many, this life and this world is all that matters. Time is short but there is an eternal world to come. This makes time precious in an altogether different way. True wisdom compels us to measure our lives for our enduring benefit.

As Moses shows, our lives are so short they can be compared to a single day (Psalm 90:6). Jacob lived longer than the oldest person now alive but he assessed his years as “few and evil” (Genesis 47:9). Andrew Gray gives valuable counsel on the benefit of measuring our days in order to know the brevity of time. He says that it would be desirable that “the thoughts of it were deeply engraven on our hearts, as with a pen of iron and the point of a diamond”. Thus, “they might rise with us in the morning and lie down with us at night, and be continually with us”.  It would be “a spur in our side” reminding us of what concerns our soul’s everlasting benefit. It is worth noting that Andrew Gray died very young, at the age of only 22 years. The following is an updated extract from one of his sermons.

 

1. Measuring Our Life Brings Heavenly-mindedness

It is clear that “we have here no continuing city”. What should this produce?  “Therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:14-15).  Considering the brevity of our life is good for the very same reason, to remind us of eternity. Since it is so, we should  set our affections and desires on things that are above. We should set our whole hearts on that glorious and precious pearl of our crown that shines so bright: when “we shall meet Christ in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). O long for that day and let your hearts covet more the excellent things that are above in heaven.

 

2. Measuring Our Life Makes Us Moderate in the Pleasures of this Life

It will cause great sobriety and moderation in pursuit after the worldly pleasures and delights of this present life. This is clear from that command given 1 Thessalonians 5:8, “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breast-plate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation”. If the thoughts of the brevity of our life were engraven on our hearts, why then should we vex ourselves with the torturing cares of this life, which does not profit us at all? O why do we weary ourselves in the fire, which is but vexation of spirit and surely vanity? O Christians, let  your moderation in the pursuit of the things in this world be made known to all men. For behold! The Lord is at hand, to take vengeance and revenge on the wicked, with furious rebukes of flaming fire, and eternal excommunication from the righteous Judge.

 

3. Measuring Our Life Makes Us Serious and Diligent in Duties

It makes us diligent and watchful in going towards that blessed rest that is prepared for all the redeemed of the Lord. Our blessed Lord Jesus reasoned, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4) Then, O Christians, while it is called today, stir up yourselves for working out the work of your salvation. We do not know how suddenly the shadows of that everlasting evening may be stretched out over us and we receive that summons from God to remove from here and be gone. Are you not afraid lest you be banished? Lest the night approach before your work is perfected? I am afraid that many will still not have begun that great work of their soul’s salvation when death summons them to appear before God’s terrible tribunal and judgment-seat.

Be afraid and stand in awe, lest the night is hard by and at hand. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die,” say the Epicureans. They make use of this argument to stir up delight in fulfilling their lusts; but let us be watchful and diligent for we do not know but it may be tomorrow that we must die.

Take more time to consider the things that are before you than the things that are behind. Think more on what is before than what is past: “press forward toward the mark, for the prize of the high-calling of God, in Christ Jesus”.

 

4. Measuring Our Life Makes Us Understand Why We Were Created

Adam was created according to the most blessed and glorious image of God. But having a woeful and cursed design to be as God and like Him, fell from that blessed condition and all his posterity in him. He made us and himself subject to God’s wrath and eternal indignation for evermore. But blessed be God eternally that He has found out that new and living way by which we may escape that curse on all mankind for sin.

 

5. Measuring Our Life is a Great Help to Put Idols to Death

Thoughts of the brevity of our life and appointed time would put to death the following great idols which have us so much under their power:

(a) It helps put to death the idol of false trust. This is when we trust in anything more than in God. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man” in whom there is no help (Psalm 146:3).
(b) It helps put to death the idol of false love. This is when we love anything more than God. We are to cease from man “whose breath is in his nostrils” (Isaiah 2:22).
(c) It helps put to death the idol of false fear. This is when we fear anything more than God. Particularly when we are “afraid of a man that shall die and of the son of man which shall be made as grass?” ( Isaiah 51:12)

 

6. Measuring Our Life Creates Wonder at the Love of Christ

One who measures their life may attain to a holy admiration and divine astonishment at the condescending love of Jesus Christ. “Man that is born of a woman, is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). What a wonder it is to see God delighting Himself in the dust of His feet. God makes those who dwell in the dust an object of His love! Surely this is a mystery which we cannot comprehend.

 

7. Measuring Our Life Makes Us Compassionate

God makes use of the brevity of our live to provoke Him to have compassion and mercy. Surely this is God’s way and we must wonder at it rather than inquire and debate why it is so. This is clear from Psalm 78:38-39: “But being full of compassion, he forgave their iniquities, and turned away his anger; for he remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.”

 

Conclusion

Gray notes that God has appointed our time and numbered our days (Job 14:14-16). God has done all things well. The brevity and shortness of our life declares the great love and matchless delight that God has to sinners. He is longing for the day when all the redeemed of the Lord shall be with Him, to remain there forever to enjoy all delights and all soul-pleasures. Long for that day, but be submissive to God’s will. Those who have made use of their life to enjoy communion and fellowship with God will rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Find out more about Andrew Gray and read other articles featuring his work.

REFORMING YOURSELF

How Do I Know if I’m Putting Christ’s Interests First?

Half-committed Christians fail to seek Christ’s interests first and foremost. The Church suffers as a consequence. Here’s how to get our priorities straight.

The Questions We Ask When Others Leave the Faith

When we hear of others leaving the faith we may have many questions. But the most urgent questions concern ourselves and Jesus Christ. George Hutcheson explains what these are from Scripture.

What Does it Mean to Have a Fulfilling Life?

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REFORMING YOUR FAMILY

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James Durham shows how the Lord’s Day provides a golden opportunity for parents to orient their family towards eternal realities.

What’s Missing from Your Home?

The most important interaction is increasingly missing from many Christian homes–interacting about spiritual things.

Are Evangelicals Redefining Marriage?

Biblical marriage is not fully intact amongst evangelicals just because they oppose same-sex marriage. A more subtle and less publicised redefinition of marriage is prevailing in society: where do we stand?

No to the Named Person Scheme But Yes to What?

Matthew Vogan explains the three positive values our society has lost to arrive at this extent of State interference.

How to Define Not Redefine Marriage

Marriage has been redefined–will it be redefined further. How do we know that group marriage is wrong?

REFORMING YOUR CHURCH

How Do I Know if I’m Putting Christ’s Interests First?

Half-committed Christians fail to seek Christ’s interests first and foremost. The Church suffers as a consequence. Here’s how to get our priorities straight.

The Questions We Ask When Others Leave the Faith

When we hear of others leaving the faith we may have many questions. But the most urgent questions concern ourselves and Jesus Christ. George Hutcheson explains what these are from Scripture.

The Headship of Christ in His Church in China

What we see in Chinese now is what we saw in Scotland then.

Ordinary Means of Extraordinary Grace

Christian growth? Church growth? The Westminster Standards offer a different perspective on what really works.

Christ’s Intercession Answers Your Fears About the Church

We have genuine, justified fears for the Church. What can we do? Our answer is in looking beyond confidence in our own activities to the activity that is taking place in heaven.

Confessionalism and a Flourishing Church

A full confession of faith invites Christians to explore and value the panorama of God’s truth and become mature in their understanding. A Confession helps the Church fulfil its commission to make spiritually mature disciples.

Uncovering the Secrets of Christ’s Kingdom

Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom not of this world, so those who are of this world find it incomprehensible. Alexander Henderson explained the necessary duty to study the nature and search into the mysteries and secrets of this kingdom.

What Should We Do if God is Hiding His Face?

When God hides His face there is a lack of His presence and blessing in the life of the Church. Why would God do this? And if this is the case, is there anything we can do? Consider what Jame Renwick has to say.

What Do We Forget in Forgetting the Church’s History?

We forget vital things about God, His Church and His promises when we forget Church history. We need to make use of it to inform, encourage and steel ourselves for serving God in our own generation.

The Ultimate Test for a Sermon

James Durham brings us back to the One whose words are Spirit and life and who is able to use the words of those whom He has sent. This is an encouragement for preachers who are discouraged.