Sermon. A Call to Prayer, by J.C.Ryle

A Call to Prayer, by J.C.Ryle

I found this on The Christian Mind Website (Copied here because so many sites seem to disappear after a while). Ryle’s writings are all in the Public Domain now.

This is an extract from a sermon by J.C.Ryle (1816 – 1900), a nineteenth-century preacher and Anglican bishop of the city of Liverpool.

I ask again whether you pray, because a habit of prayer is one of the surest marks of a true Christian.

All the children of God on earth are alike in this respect. From the moment there is any life and reality about their religion, they pray. Just as the first sign of the life of an infant when born into the world is the act of breathing, so the first act of men and women when they are born again is praying.

This is one of the common marks of all the elect of God, “They cry unto him day and night.” Luke 18:1. The Holy Spirit who makes them new creatures, works in them a feeling of adoption, and makes them cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15. The Lord Jesus, when he quickens them, gives them a voice and a tongue, and says to them, “Be dumb no more.” God has no dumb children. It is as much a part of their new nature to pray, as it is of a child to cry. They see their need of mercy and grace. They feel their emptiness and weakness. They cannot do otherwise than they do. They must pray.

I have looked carefully over the lives of God’s saints in the Bible. I cannot find one whose history much is told us, from Genesis to Revelation, who was not a person of prayer. I find it mentioned as a characteristic of the godly, that “they call on the Father,” that “they call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I find it recorded as a characteristic of the wicked, that “they call not upon the Lord.” 1 Peter 1:17; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Psalm 14:4.

I have read the lives of many eminent Christians who have been on earth since the Bible days. Some of them, I see, were rich, and some poor. Some were learned, and some were unlearned. Some of them were Episcopalians, and some were Christians of other names. Some were Calvinists, and some were Arminians. Some have loved to use liturgy, and some to use none. But one thing I see they all had in common. They have all been people of prayer.

I have studied reports of missionary societies in our own times. I see with joy that lost men and women are receiving the gospel in various parts of the globe. There are conversions in Africa, in New Zealand, in India, in China. The people converted are naturally unlike one another in every respect. But one striking thing I observe at all the missionary stations: the converted people always pray.

I do not deny that a person may pray without heart and without sincerity. I do not for a moment pretend to say that the mere fact of a person’s praying proves everything about their soul. As in every other part of religion, so also in this, there may be deception and hypocrisy.

But this I do say, that not praying is a clear proof that a person is not yet a true Christian. They cannot really feel their sins. They cannot love God. They cannot feel themselves a debtor to Christ. They cannot long after holiness. They cannot desire heaven. They have yet to be born again. They have yet to be made a new creature. They may boast confidently of election, grace, faith, hope and knowledge, and deceive ignorant people. But you may rest assured it is all vain talk if they do not pray.

And I say furthermore, that of all the evidences of the real work of the Spirit, a habit of hearty private prayer is one of the most satisfactory that can be named. A person may preach from false motives. A person may write books and make fine speeches and seem diligent in good works, and yet be a Judas Iscariot. But a person seldom goes into their closet and pours out their soul before God in secret, unless they are in earnest. The Lord himself has set his stamp on prayer as the best proof of conversion. When he sent Ananias to Saul in Damascus, he gave him no other evidence of his change of heart than this, “Behold he prayeth.” Acts 9:11.

I know that much may go on in a person’s mind before they are brought to pray. They may have many convictions, desires, wishes, feelings, intentions, resolutions, hopes, and fears. But all these things are very uncertain evidences. They are to be found in ungodly people, and often come to nothing. In many a case they are not more lasting than the morning cloud and dew that passes away. A real hearty prayer, moving from a broken and contrite spirit, is worth all these things put together.

I know that the Holy Spirit, who calls sinners from their evil ways, does in many instances lead them by very slow degrees to acquaintance with Christ. But the eye of man can only judge by what it sees. I can not call anyone justified until they believe. I dare not say that anyone believes until they pray. I cannot understand a dumb faith. The first act of faith will be to speak to God. Faith is to the soul what life is to the body. Prayer is to faith what breath is to the body. How a person can live and not breathe is past my comprehension, and how a person can believe and not pray is past my comprehension too.

Never be surprised if you hear ministers of the gospel dwelling much on the importance of prayer. This is the point they want to bring to you. They want to know that you pray. Your views of doctrine may be correct. Your love of Protestantism may be warm and unmistakable. But still this may be nothing more than head knowledge and party spirit. They want to know whether you are actually acquainted with the throne of grace, and whether you can speak to God as well as speak about God.

A Call To Prayer: Expanded upon by J.C. Ryle in a Pamphlet he wrote after preaching to encourage Christians into a deeper prayer life and a closer walk with Jesus.

via A Call to Prayer, by J.C.Ryle | The Christian Mind.

Let Your Light Shine: Tabernacle

Daily Spirit & Word. 187: Let Your Light Shine

The Tabernacle Furniture: The Golden Lampstand.

 

Exodus 25:31-40 (NIV) 31 “Make a lampstand of pure gold and hammer it out, base and shaft; its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms shall be of one piece with it. 32  Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. 33  Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. 34  And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. 35  One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. 36  The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold. 37  “Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. 38  Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. 39  A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories. 40  See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

 

Oh my friends, this is really wonderful today. I’m fascinated with all the details that have gone into the making of the Tabernacle furniture; The Ark, the Cover (Mercy Seat or Throne of God), the Table of Presence and now the Golden Lampstand with seven lamps.

 

From many others places in God’s Word we discover more about the function of this Lampstand, but surely the most significant is for us to remember that the Tabernacle is just a shadow or mirror of the real Tabernacle in Heaven; Jesus said, “I AM the Light of the world.” It is also said in Isaiah and John “The LIGHT shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome the light”. “The People walking in DARKNESS have seen a great light” Remember when the Israelites moved camp the Lord went ahead of them in a special revelation of His presence with them; A Pilar of Cloud by day and a Pilar of Fire by night. So that when they walked in darkness they’d see the great light. Ah my friends this is such a comforting word.

 

Let’s look a little at the significance of the way the Golden Lampstand was made;

The Golden Lampstand was to be made from one solid lump of gold. In the book of Revelation 1:9-20,  we observe that our Lord stands in the midst of seven lampstands, these represent the seven churches of Asia Minor in the Apostle John’s day. In the Tabernacle, there was just one lampstand, beaten out of one talent of pure gold, representing the one nation of Israel and its witness to the world. However, the Lampstand was inside the Holy Place and only the Priests and the LORD God could see it burning. Though the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is one people, we spread the light through many individual assemblies and gatherings in many places all over the world.

 

Oil for the Lamps: 

“Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning, give me oil in my lamp I pray”

 

The lights in the seven lamps on the lampstand were fed by oil that was specially prepared for that purpose (Ex. 27:20-21). Just as the people brought the fine flour for the baking of the loaves to be put on the Golden Table of Presence, so they brought clear oil for the maintaining of the lights on the Golden Lampstand (Ex. 25:27-28; 35:10, 14).

 

Zechariah 4:1-4 informs us that this oil in the Lampstand symbolises the Holy Spirit of God,

Zechariah 4:1-6 (NIV)

1 Then the angel who talked with me returned and wakened me, as a man is wakened from his sleep. 2  He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. 3  Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.” 4  I asked the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5  He answered, “Do you not know what these are?” “No, my lord,” I replied.

6  So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.

 

WOWzer! Don’t you know that without the Holy Spirit within us and His power we can’t glorify Christ (John 16:14) or effectively witness of Him (Acts 1:8). “Without Me,” said Jesus, “you can do nothing” (John 15:5, nkjv). or “Apart from me, you can do nothing” We need the oil in our lamps to keep burning, we need to keep being filled and refilled with God’s Holy Spirit every day. It’s an ongoing walk with the Lord, as His Holy Priests today, it’s our duty to be so filled with His Spirit that we’ll shine the light automatically wherever we go. 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV) “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

 

What was done by the priests in secret the sanctuary, the people could never see them doing it, it was done for the Lord (Ex. 28:1, 3-4, 41; 29:1) and before the Lord (Exodus 27:21; 40:25; Leviticus 24:4). It didn’t matter that the people in the camp were unaware of what the priests were doing inside, because God saw it all, and their task, their duty, their privilege and joy was to please Him.

 

Keep your LIGHT Shining, be continually full of the Holy Spirit my friends, because the most important part of a Christian’s life is the part that only the LORD God Almighty sees. If God is pleased by what He sees you doing in your private life, and your conscience is clean before Him, then you don’t have to worry about what people think or say about you (1 Cor. 4:1-5). He will accept your ministry and bless it. Be filled afresh with the anointing oil of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit today and you’ll be shining for Jesus Christ bringing Him glory by the good things that you do. God’s got so much good planed for you today. Enjoy the day in His mighty power.

 

Don.

 

P.S. Someone asked me the other day; “Don, you keep saying be filled with the Holy Spirit, I get that, but can you please tell me how to do it?”

 

Oh my friends, God’s longing to give you the Holy Spirit, we just need to claim what He longs to give. All we do need to ASK to be filled. God will not give you anything extra unless you ask Him for it. Here’s how to begin: Pray: O Heavenly Father, please send the Holy Spirit into my life and fill me up as much as I need, fill me until I overflow with His presence and power. In the name of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ I ask you Father. Amen” Your Heavenly Father longs to fill you my friend. Receive the Holy Spirit in faith and watch what He does in and through you throughout the day. Keep a journal and make notes of your prayers and petitions and your encounters throughout the day. You’ll be amazed what God will do in and through you. He’s longing to get you all fired up today.

 

 

Must look into: Almond flowers, buds and blossoms. = Any ideas what these signify on the Lampstand ????

 

P.P.S Julie and I could hear the cheering from the football match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool last night and we’re over three miles away from the stadium. We found out today that Palace were 3-1 down, but scored another two goals towards the end of the match to equalise with Liverpool. Awesome! Imagine how loud the cheer will be throughout the earth when the Lord Jesus Christ returns in all His glory.