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Sun and Shield



Musings on science, the Bible, and fantastic literature (and sometimes basketball and other stuff). God speaks to us through the Bible and the findings of science, and we should listen to both types of revelation. The title is from Psalm 84:11. The Wi



Updated: 2018-01-22T07:12:24.748-05:00

 



The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 11

2018-01-21T03:38:16.659-05:00

2. It [The idea that a gracious spirit is a contented spirit] is of universal extent, it concerns all. 1st. It concerns rich men. One would think it needless to press those to contentment whom God hath blessed with great estates, but rather persuade them to be humble and thankful; nay, but I say, be content. Rich men have their discontents as well as others! When they have a great estate, yet they are discontented that they have no more; they would make the hundred talents a thousand. A man in wine, the more he drinks, the more he thirsts; covetousness is a dry dropsy; an earthly heart is like the grave, that is “never satisfied;” therefore I say to you, rich men, be content. Rich men, if we may suppose them to be content with their estates, which is seldom; yet, though they have estate enough, they have not honour enough: if their barns are full enough, yet their turrets are not high enough. They would be somebody in the world, as Theudas, “who boasted himself to be somebody.” (Ac. 5. 36) They never go so cheerfully as when the wind of honour and applause fills their sails; if this wind be down they are discontented. One would think Haman had as much as his proud heart could desire; he was set above all the princes, advanced upon the pinnacle of honour, to be the second man in the kingdom; (Es. 3. 1) yet in the midst of all his pomp, because Mordecai would not uncover and kneel, he is discontented, and full of wrath, and there was no way to assuage this pleurisy of revenge, but by letting all the Jews’ blood, and offering them up in sacrifice. The itch of honour is seldom allayed without blood; therefore I say to you rich men, be content. Rich men, if we may suppose them to be content with their honour and magnificent titles, yet they have not always contentment in their relations. She that lies in the bosom, may sometimes blow the coals; as Job’s wife, who in a pet would have him fall out with God himself; “curse God, and die.” Sometimes children cause discontent. How often is it seen that the mother’s milk doth nourish a viper? and that he that once sucked her breast, goes about to suck her blood? Parents do often of grapes gather thorns, and of figs thistles. Children are sweet-briar; like the rose, which is a fragrant flower, but hath its prickles. Our relative comforts are not all pure wine, but mixed; they have in them more dregs than spirits, and are like that river Plutarch speaks of, where the waters in the morning run sweet, but in the evening run bitter. We have no charter of exemption granted us in this life; therefore rich men had need be called upon to be content. 2dly. The doctrine of contentment concerns poor men. You that do suck so liberally from the breasts of providence, be content; it is an hard lesson, therefore it had need be set upon the sooner. How hard is it when the livelihood is even gone, a great estate boiled away almost to nothing, then to be contented. The means of subsistence is in Scripture called our life, because it is the very sinews of life. The woman in the gospel spent “all her living upon the physicians;” (Lu. 8. 43) in the Greek it is, she spent her whole life upon the physicians, because she spent her means by which she should live. It is much when poverty hath clipped our wings then to be content; but, though hard, it is excellent; and the apostle here had “learned in every state to be content”. God had brought St Paul into as great variety of conditions as ever we read of any man, and yet he was content; else sure he could never have gone through it with so much cheerfulness. See into what vicissitudes this blessed apostle was cast: “we are troubled on every side,” (2 Cor 4. 8) there was the sadness of his condition; “but not distressed,” there was his content in that condition: “we are perplexed,” there is his affliction; “but not in despair,” there is his contentation. And, if we read a little further, “in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults,” (2 Cor 6. 4,5) &c. there is his t[...]



The magnificence of Christ, creator and sustainer

2018-01-18T18:03:04.308-05:00

God the Son was important in the creation, and in sustaining that which He created!John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him. Without him, nothing was made that has been made. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world didn’t recognize him. 12a But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God’s children . . .Colossians 1:14 in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created in the heavens and on the earth, visible things and invisible things, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things are held together.Hebrews 1:3 His Son is the radiance of his glory, the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, who, when he had by himself purified us of our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high ...(Although the passages above indicate that God the Son was the most important agent in the creation, there are scriptural indications that God the Father and God the Holy Spirit were also involved.) Perhaps you and I don't fully appreciate the magnificence of creation, and, therefore, we may not fully appreciate the magnificence of Christ.Creation shows that God the son loves diversity. There are about 400,000 species of beetles, and probably at least a million yet to be discovered. (Psalm 104:24 Yahweh, how many are your works! In wisdom, you have made them all. The earth is full of your riches. 25 There is the sea, great and wide, in which are innumerable living things, both small and large animals.)Creation is unimaginably large. “Recent estimates of the number of galaxies in the observable universe range from 200 billion [(2×10 to the 11th power) to 2 trillion (2×10 to the 12th power)] or more, … containing more stars than all the grains of sand on planet Earth.” (Wikipedia) And that’s only the observable universe.Creation shows the power of God the Son. Most of the energy on earth comes from the sun. In the sun, Hydrogen nuclei bombard each other at several million degrees, and turn into Helium nuclei, releasing energy by e =m c-squared. The sun is about 93 million miles away. Since it is emitted in all directions, the vast majority of the sun’s emitted energy goes off into space, never hitting the earth, or any other body in the Solar System. But it’s warm enough for life on earth, and light enough for photosynthesis, just from the tiny fraction of the sun’s emitted energy that strikes it. We can scarcely imagine the power of the sun, and it’s a fairly small star.Creation shows that God the Son likes beauty. He didn’t have to make the universe so that rainbows, or fall foliage, or butterflies, or eclipses, exist. But He did. Using scientific tools, such as microscopes and telescopes, we have found that there is amazing beauty, even in things we can’t get to, or can’t see with the naked eye. The Creation is sustained by God the Son. How? By laws, like gravity, and created properties, such as that water can exist in three different forms at reasonably normal temperatures. The laws of gravity ensure, for example, that the planets continue to orbit the sun. The properties of water make rain possible, among many other things. God also sustains by processes, like erosion, plate tectonics, and natural selection. We can’t be sure if God is intimately involved in making every raindrop, or lets nature take its course to make each one, but He could make each and every one carefully and magnificently. God the Son can, and, at least sometimes, does, change the “normal” course of nature. We call that a miracle.God, the Son’s, creation is beyond our imagination! He created time and space! God created matter [...]



The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 5

2017-12-03T03:08:23.540-05:00

2. You have heard much of Christ: have you learned Christ? The Jews, as Jerome saith, carried Christ in their Bibles, but not in their heart; their sound “went into all the earth; (Ro. 10.18) the prophets and apostles were as trumpets, whose sound went abroad into the world: yet many thousands who heard the noise of these trumpets, had not learned Christ, “they have not all obeyed.” (Ro. 10.16) 
(1.) A man may know much of Christ, and yet not learn Christ: the devils knew Christ. (Mat. 1.24) (2.) A man may preach Christ, and yet not learn Christ, as Judas and the pseudo-apostles. (Ph. 5.15) (3.) A man may profess Christ, and yet not learn Christ: there are many professors in the world that Christ will profess against. (Mat. 7. 22, 23)

Q. What it is then to learn Christ?
1. To learn Christ is to be made like Christ, to have the divine characters of his holiness engraven upon our hearts: “we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image.” (2 Cor. 3.18) There is a metamorphosis made; a sinner, viewing Christ’s image in the glass of the gospel, is transformed into that image. Never did any man look upon Christ with a spiritual eye, but he went away quite changed. A true saint is a divine landscape picture, where all the rare beauties of Christ are lively portrayed and drawn forth; he hath the same spirit, the same judgment, the same will, with Jesus Christ.

2. To learn Christ, is to believe in him; “my Lord, and my God,” (John 20.28) when we do not only believe God, but in God, which is the actual application of Christ to ourselves, and as it were the spreading of the sacred medicine of his blood upon our souls. You have heard much of Christ, and yet cannot with an humble adherence say, “my Jesus;” be not offended if I tell you, the devil can say his creed as well as you.


3. To learn Christ, is to love Christ. When we have Bible-conversations, our lives like rich diamonds cast a sparkling lustre in the church of God, and are, in some sense, parallel with the life of Christ, as the transcript with the original. So much for the first notion of the word.


Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, God willing, will post excerpts from his The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11, over a number of weeks, on Sundays. My source for the text is here, and I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this text (and many others) available. The previous excerpt is here.



Sunspots 654

2017-11-29T03:54:32.744-05:00


Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:


The Arts: Listverse on 10 really unique church buildings.


Computing: Relevant gives us 5 questions we should ask ourselves before posting to social media.

Education: Grammarphobia on when to use commas with lists of things, and when not to.

Finance: (sort of) Wired on the importance of efficient use of curb space, in and by cities.

Food: (sort of) National Public Radio reports that today's dishwashing appliances are much more efficient, in water use, than such devices used to be.

Health: Scientific American on the dangers of marijuana use by teens.

Humor: (or Finance) Listverse reports on some truly strange lawsuits.


Politics: National Public Radio reports on a poll of 38 economists, who agree unanimously that the Republican tax plan will cause the US debt to rise, and that it will not lead to increased economic growth.

Science: National Public Radio reports on studies that pinpoint which ice areas, melting, will affect which cities, causing sea levels to rise. The results are not what we might have thought.

Listverse shows us videos of 10 shape-shifting organisms.

Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)



The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 4

2017-11-26T03:39:07.099-05:00

Let me put you upon a serious trial. Some of you have heard much, — you have lived forty, fifty, sixty years under the blessed trumpet of the gospel, — what have you learned?

You may have heard a thousand sermons, and yet not learned one. Search your consciences.
1. You have heard much against sin: are you hearers; or are you scholars? How many sermons have you heard against covetousness, that it is the root, on which pride, idolatry, treason do grow? One calls it a metropolitan sin; it is a complex evil, it doth twist a great many sins in with it. There is hardly any sin, but covetousness is a main ingredient of it; and yet are you like the two daughters of the horse-leech, that cry, “give! give!” How much have you heard against rash anger, that is a short frenzy, a dry drunkenness; that it rests in the bosom of fools; and upon the least occasion do your spirits begin to take fire? How much have you heard against swearing: It is Christ’s express mandate, “swear not at all.” (Mat. 5. 34) This sin of all others may be termed the unfruitful work of darkness. It is neither sweetened with pleasure, nor enriched with profit, the usual vermillion wherewith Satan doth paint sin.


Swearing is forbidden with a subpaena. While the swearer shoots his oaths, like flying arrows at God to pierce his glory, God shoots “a flying roll” of curses against him. And do you make your tongue a racket by which you toss oaths as tennisballs? do you sport yourselves with oaths, as the Philistines did with Samson, which will at last pull the house about your ears?


Alas! how have they learned what sin is, that have not learned to leave sin! Doth he know what a viper is, that will play with it?


Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, God willing, will post excerpts from his The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11, over a number of weeks, on Sundays. My source for the text is here, and I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this text (and many others) available. The previous excerpt is here.



Gratitude, from St. Augustine

2017-11-23T03:44:06.201-05:00

Gratitude, 15 centuries or so ago, and still pertinent. 

Thanks for looking!