Christmas in May

Photography by Kalle Gustafsson -source-

I am reading a wonderful book, Heaven Misplaced by Douglas Wilson. It is a short book about Eschatology, and more specifically about postmillennialism -or “historical optimism”-. And no matter what your beliefs are on this matter, if you are uncertain on what exactly postmillennialism is and would like to study it, this is the book you need to read. Wilson does a fantastic work in explaining a difficult topic in such a way that you find yourself inside the narrative, immersed in it. And in a moment you find yourself saying, “Wouldn’t it be glorious if this really were true?” 

I would love to share with you some quotes from chapter seven, What the Angels Said; Goodwill Toward Men,  that have found its way deep into my heart:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:8-14


“Think of this book as a small effort to get Christians to believe their Christmas carols year-round.
We have trouble with this because Christmas is about grace, and grace is one of the most difficult things in the world for sinners to grasp. And as soon as we realize that it is difficult, we turn the “grasping of it” into a contest, giving those with the “right answer” a “best in show” award. But grace doesn’t follow our rules. Grace means that some who have the wrong answers will be saved and others who have the right answers won’t be.”


“We have trouble with something as straightforward as “goodwill toward men.” We are afraid of grace getting carried away, and so we want to slap some conditions on it.”


“Grace has a backbone and knows how to define itself. Grace is not the word that we use as the “open, sesame” of the Church. Grace is not something we do. Grace is not something we can control. Grace is not something that we can manage. And this means that we in the Church need to recognize that the guardians of grace are frequently its most dangerous enemies. Grace is God’s declared intention of favor for the whole world, whether we like it or not.”


“We know our Bibles well enough to know that grace, properly understood, does not lead to a life of moral outrage. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? (Rom.6:1). Of course not. We know the Scriptures in this, but I am afraid that we do not know our own hearts. God’s grace is a tsunami that will carry us away and deposit us in places we would not have anticipated -and all of it good. We analyze this carefully and say that  we want our grace to be true and pure water, just like the tsunami, but we want it to be a placid pond on a summer day that we can inch across gingerly, always keeping one pointed toe on what we think is the bottom of our own do-gooding morality. “

“Christ was born at night, and His birth was the arrival of the morning star.”

Waiting in Him,



>A Solid Ground for Expecting Good Things to Come

>Thursday of Borrowed words is here and this month we have been meditating on Heaven; today the borrowed words come from one of my favorite writers, J.C. Ryle. 

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”       John 14:3

“A solid ground for expecting good things to come.

The evil heart of unbelief within us is apt to rob us of our comfort about heaven. “We wish we could think it was all true.” – “We fear we shall never be admitted into heaven”- Let us hear what Jesus says to encourage us.

One cheering word is this -“I go and prepare a place for you”. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people: a place which we shall find Christ Himself has made ready for true Christians. He has prepared it by procuring a right for every sinner who believes to enter in. None can stop us, and say we have no business there. He has prepared it by going before us as our Head and Representative, and taking possession of it for all the members of his mystical body. As our Forerunner He has marched in, leading captivity captive, and has planted His banner in the land of glory. He has prepared it by carrying our names with Him as our High Priest into the Holy of Holies, and making angels ready to receive us. They that enter heaven will find they are neither unknown nor unexpected”

Day by Day with J.C.  Ryle
A New Daily Devotional  of Ryle’s Writings

>Heaven, "Let Me Tell You About the Manner of this Place"

>J.C. Ryle (1816- 1900) wrote a tract about heaven, which I love. Here it is, all of it for you to read on this Thursday of Borrowed Words. Take your time and read it slowly, lest you miss the treasure.

There is a glorious dwelling place provided by Jesus Christ for all His believing people. The world that now is, is not their rest: they are pilgrims and strangers in it. Heaven is their home.

There will be a place in heaven for all sinners who have fled to Christ by faith, and trusted in Him : for the least as well as the greatest. Abraham took care to provide for all his children, and God takes care to provide for His. None will be disinherited; none will be cast out; none will be cut off. Each shall stand in his lot, and have a portion in the day when the Lord brings many sons to glory. In our Father’s house are many mansions.

Reader, I want you to go to heaven, after this life is over. I want heaven to be very full, and I want you to be one of its inhabitants. Listen to me for a few moments, while I tell you something about the manner of the place.

I can tell you a little of the blessedness of heaven, but not all. What mortal man can explain the full nature of the inheritance of the saints in light? Who can describe the glory which is yet to be revealed and given to the children of God? Words fail, language falls short. Mind cannot conceive fully, and tongue cannot express perfectly, the things which are comprised in the glory yet to come upon the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. Oh, it is indeed a true saying of the Apostle John “It doth not yet appear what we shall be” (1 John iii. 2).

The very Bible itself only lifts the veil a little, which hangs over this subject. How could it do more? We could not thoroughly understand more, if more had been told us. Our constitution is as yet too earthly, Our understanding is as yet too carnal to appreciate more if we had it. The Bible generally deals with the subject in negative terms, and not in positive assertions. It describes what there will not be in the glorious inheritance, that thus we may get some faint idea of what there will be. It paints the absence of certain things, in order that we may drink in a little the blessedness of the things present. It tells us that the inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away. It tells us that the devil is to be bound,-that there shall be no more night and no more curse,-that death shall he cast into the lake of fire,-that all tears shall be wiped away, and that the inhabitant shall no more say, “I am sick.” And these are glorious things indeed! No corruption!-No fading!-No withering!-No devil! No curse of sin!-No sorrow!-No tears!-No sickness!-No death! Surely the cup of the children of God will indeed run over!
But reader, there are positive things told us about the glory yet to come upon the heirs of God, which ought not to be kept back. There are many sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comforts in their future inheritance, which all true Christians would do well to consider. There are cordials for fainting pilgrims in many words and expressions of Scripture, which you and I ought to lay up against time of need.

Is knowledge pleasant to us now? Is the little that we know of God, and Christ, and in the Bible, precious to our souls, and do welong for more? We shall have it perfectly in glory. What says the Scripture?-Then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Cor. xiii.12). Blessed be God, there will be no more disagreements among believers! Episcopalians and Presbyterians, Calvinists and Arminians, Millenarians and Anti-Millenarians, friends of Establishments and friends of the Voluntary system, advocates of infant baptism and advocates of adult baptism,-all will at length be of one mind. The former ignorance will have passed away. We shall marvel to find how childish and blind we have been.

Is holiness pleasant to us now? Is sin the burden and bitterness of our lives? Do we long for entire conformity to the image of God? We shall have it perfectly in glory. What says the Scripture?-“Christ gave Himself for the Church, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Eph. v. 27). Oh, the blessedness of an eternal good-bye to sin! Oh, how little the best of us do at present! Oh, what unutterable corruption sticks, like birdlime, to all our motives, all our thoughts, all our words, all our actions! Oh, how many of us, like Naphtali, are godly in our words, but, like Reuben, unstable in our works! Thank God, all this shall be changed!

Is rest pleasant to us now? Do we often feel faint though pursuing? Do we long for a world in which we need not be always watching and warring? We shall have it perfectly in glory. What saith the Scripture?- “There remaineth therefore a rest for the people of God” (Heb. iv. 9). The daily, hourly conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil, shall at length be at an end: the enemy shall be bound; the warfare shall be over;the wicked shall at last cease from troubling; the weary shall at length beat rest. There shall be a great calm.

Is service pleasant to us now? Do we find it sweet to work for Christ, and yet groan, being burdened by a feeble body? Is our spirit often willing, but hampered and clogged by the poor weak flesh? Have our hearts burned within us when we have been allowed to give a cup of cold water for Christ’s sake; and have we sighed to think what unprofitable servants we are? Let us take comfort. We shall be able to serve perfectly in glory, and without weariness. What saith the Scripture?-“They serve Him day and night in His temple” (Rev. vii. 15).

Is satisfaction pleasant to us now? Do we find the world empty? Do we long for the filling up of every void place and gap in our hearts? We shall have it perfectly in glory. We shall no longer have to mourn over cracks in all our earthen vessels, and thorns in all our roses, and bitter dregs in all our sweet cups. We shall no longer lament, with Jonah, over withered gourds. We shall no longer say, with Solomon, “All is vanity and vexation of spirit.” We shall no longer cry, with aged David, “I have seen an end of all perfection.” What saith the Scripture?-“I shall be satisfied,when I awake, with Thy likeness” (Psalm xvii. 15).

Is communion with the saints pleasant to us now? Do we feel that we are never so happy as when we are with the excellent of the earth? Are we never so much at home as in their company? We shall have it perfectly in glory.What saith the Scripture?-“The Son of man shall send His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which work iniquity.” “He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds” (Matt. xiii. 41; xxiv. 31). Praised be God, we shall see all the saints of whom we have read in the Bible, and in whose steps we have tried to walk.

We shall see apostles, prophets, patriarchs martyrs, reformers,missionaries, and ministers, of whom the world was not worthy. We shall see the faces of those we have known and loved in Christ on earth, and over whose departure we shed bitter tears.

We shall see them more bright and glorious than they ever were before. And, best of all, we shall see them without hurry and anxiety, and without eeling that we only meet to part again. In glory there is no death, no parting, no farewell!

Is communion with Christ pleasant to us now? Do we find His name precious to us? Do we feel our hearts burn within us at the thought of His dying love? We shall have perfect communion with Him in glory. “We shall ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. iv. 17). We shall be with Him in paradise:we shall see His face in the kingdom. These eyes of ours will behold those hands and feet which were pierced with nails, and that head which was crowned with thorns. Where He is, there will the sons of God be. When He comes, they will come with Him: when He sits down in His glory, they shall sit down by His side.

Blessed prospects indeed! I am a dying man in a dying world; all before me is unseen: the world to come is a harbour unknown! But Christ is there, and that is enough. Surely if there is rest and peace in following Him by faith on earth, there will be far more rest and peace when you see Him face to face. If we have found it good to follow the pillar of cloud and fire in the wilderness, we shall find it a thousand times better to sit down in our eternal inheritance with our Joshua, in the promised land.

Ah, reader, if you are not yet among the heirs of glory, I do pity you with all my heart. How much you are missing! How little true comfort you are enjoying! There you are, struggling on, and toiling in the fire, and wearying yourself for mere earthly ends,-seeking rest and finding none,-chasing shadows and never catching them-wondering why you are not happy, and yet refusing to see the cause,-hungry, and thirsty, and empty, and yet blind to the plenty within your reach,-your expectations all perishing, and none to look forward to beyond the grave. Oh, that you were wise! Oh, that you would hear the voice of Jesus, and learn of Him.

Reader, if you are one of those who are heirs of glory, you may well rejoice and be happy. You may well wait, like the boy Patience in Pilgrim’s Progress : your best things are as yet to come.-You may well bear crosses without murmuring: your light affliction is but for a moment; the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which is to be revealed. When Christ our life appears, then you also shall appear with Him in glory.-You may well not envy the transgressor and his prosperity: you are the truly rich.

Well said a dying believer, in my own parish, “I am more rich than I ever was in my life.” You may say, as Mephibosheth said to David, “Let the world take all: my King is coming again in peace.” You may say, as Alexander said when he gave all his riches away, and was asked what he kept for himself: “I have hope.” You may well not be cast down by sickness: the eternal part of you is safe, and provided for, whatever happens to your body. You may well look calmly on death: it opens a door between you and your inheritance. You may well not sorrow excessively over the things of the world,-over partings and bereavements,-over losses and crosses: the day of gathering is before you; your treasure is beyond reach of harm. Heaven is becoming every year more full of those you love, and earth more empty. Glory in your inheritance. It is all yours by faith, if you are a son of God : it shall soon be yours in possession.


It is my prayer that I may start enjoying heaven today, as I live these 24 hours ahead of me aware of His Omnipresence and Omnipotence, as I walk under the shadow of his wings, and as I serve my family and hold them in my arms.

>Octavius Winslow’s Book -Help Heavenward- Chapter 8

>We are now on chapter 8 of this wonderful book, Help Heavenward by Octavius Winslow. (we still have three more chapters to go.)

Chapter 8
Chapter 8: Self Communion

“…Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still”—Psalm 4:4

This chapter asks hard questions; the same questions that Winslow thought necessary to ask in the 1800’s when he said these words which not only describe his days but ours as well,

“We are fallen upon times of great religious, as well as worldly activity and excitement. So strong and rushing, indeed, is the tide, that there exists a fearful and fatal liability in those who profess to walk with God, as did Noah and Enoch, to neglect entirely one of the most essential and effectual helps heavenward—the due, faithful, and constant examination of the spiritual state and condition of their own hearts.”

There is nothing new under the sun, the heart of men is the same since the fall, I read Winslow’s words and it seems that he is describing our days,

“With everything but themselves the great mass of human beings by whom we are surrounded are in the closest communion. Man is in communion with nature in its glories, with science in its wonders, with art in its triumphs, with intellect in its attainments, with power in its achievements, with the creation in its attraction. There is but one object with which he holds no rational, sacred, and close communion,—from which, though the nearest and the most important, he seems the most widely isolated; that object is—himself! He studies not the wonders of his being, the spirituality of his nature, the solemnity of his relations, the accountability of his actions, the immortality of his destiny. He thinks not of himself, and of death, and judgment, and eternity at the same moment.”

We need to recover the disposition and the discipline to commune with our heart upon our bed and be still, and Winslow encourages us to this, by asking us hard questions concerning the true spiritual state before God, about the existence and condition of the love of God in our own heart, about our heart’s feelings for the Lord Jesus, about the ruling principles of our actions, about the heavenly tendencies of our own heart questions about our real and habitual fellowship, about our progress in the Divine life,  with God, about our thanksgiving and praise to God, about the certainty of our possession of heart’s religion; questions “which we must weigh…  personal and serious questions, which must not, which cannot, be evaded without imperilling all that is most dear and precious to your everlasting well-being.”

Have I passed from death unto life? 
Has my heart been convinced of sin? 
Am I a subject of the new birth? 
…{A}nd from a state of insensibility to objects,
and feelings, and hopes that are spiritual, eternal, 
and divine, 
have I been quickened by the regenerating Spirit to walk with God, 
and before the world, 
in newness of life? 
{A}re you sensible that within you all things have been made new?
(Are you sensible )that your heart is in sympathy with objects that are spiritual, 
with enjoyments that are holy, 
with engagements that are heavenly?
—in a word, that your views of sin and self, of God and of Christ and of the gospel, 
are radically, essentially changed, 
and that you seem to yourself the subject of a new-born existence, 
and the occupant of a new-created world?
Do you love God because He is holy?
(Do you love) His law, because it is righteous? 
His government, because it is divine and just? 
His ways, because they are wise, and right, and sure? 
Do you love Him for sending His Son into the world to save sinners? 
Do you love Him as a Father, as a Friend, as a God in covenant relation? 
How stands your heart, O believer! 
with God as to its love? 
What is the warmth and vigour and ardour of your affections? 
Do you so love God in Christ as, under its constraining influence, 
to do what He commands, 
to yield what He asks,
to go where He bids, 
to hate what He hates, 
and to love what He loves; 
yea, to embrace Him with an affection simple, 
single, and supreme, oblivious, if need be, 
of every other claimant, and satisfied, if so He willed it, with Him alone?
Oh, what is the state of your love to Jesus
—frigid, selfish, inconstant; 
or, glowing, self-denying, fixed? 
You ask how your love to Christ may be tested and increased? 
Test it by obedience; 
“If you love me, keep my commandments.”

“Your love to Christ will never increase by feeding upon itself. You must light your torch of affection at the altar of Calvary. You must go there, and learn and believe what the love of Jesus is to you: the vastness of that love,—the self-sacrifice of that love,—how that love of Christ laboured and wept, bled, suffered, and died for you. Can you stand before this love—this love so precious, so great, so enduring, so self-consuming, so changeless, and know that for you was this offering, for you this cross, for you this agony, for you this scorn and insult, for you this death, and feel no sensibility, no emotion, no love? Impossible!”

The questions keep on coming, we still have hard questions to answer in the solitude, on our bed.

What think you of Christ?
Is it with you a reality that Christ died for sinners? 
Do you fully credit the promise by which God has engaged to accept through His sacrifice and intercession all who believe in His name? 
Do you believe Him to be divine, 
accept His obedience as justifying, 
and His death as sacrificial? 
Has it pleased God to reveal His Son in you? 
Is He precious to your heart? 
And do you receive Him, 
trust in Him, follow Him, and hope to be with Him for ever, 
as all your salvation and all your desire? 
Do I love Jesus?
Is He the object of my supreme admiration and delight? 
Is He the chosen, the preferred, 
the supreme Being of my warmest affection? 
Is He precious to my soul? 
And am I trusting believingly, and exclusively, and without mental reservation, 
as a sinner utterly undone, 
self-abhorred, and self-condemned, 
to His atoning sacrifice? 
Upon what ground do you base this hesitation and justify this self-exemption from the great salvation?

“It is not for your worth that you are saved, but for Christ’s worth. It is not on the ground of your personal merit that you are justified, but on the ground of Christ’s merit alone. It is not upon the plea of your fitness, your tears, your confessions, your prayers, your duties, that God forgives and accepts you, but simply and exclusively upon the one plea of the Saviour’s sacrifice. The BLOOD of Christ pardons, the RIGHTEOUSNESS of Christ justifies you, and this is all that you require, or that God demands. The great work is all done—it is not to be done. It is complete, finished, accepted, sealed. And you, as a lost sinner, without holiness, without strength, without one plea that springs from what you are, have nothing to do. Believe, and you are saved. Believing is not doing, it is not meriting, it is TRUSTING—it is the simple exercise of a faith in Christ which God gives, and which the Holy Ghost produces in the heart; so that your salvation, from beginning to end, is entirely out of yourself, in another.”

What is the ruling principle of your heart? 
Have you examined yourself to know?
Commune with your own heart as to its real and habitual fellowship with God. Do we pray? 
What is the character of our prayers? 
Do we pray in the Spirit? 
Is our prayer communion? 
Do we walk with God as a Father, and with Christ as our best Friend? 
And is the throne of grace the sweetest, holiest, dearest spot to us on earth?
“Oh, how needed and wholesome and precious is self-communion now! Never, perhaps, before has your heart been laid open to such inspection, subjected to such scrutiny, submitted to such tests. Never have you been brought into such close contact with yourself; never has self-communion appeared to you so needed, so solemn, and so blessed as in this quiet chamber. Ah, much-abused, much-neglected heart! how have I allowed thee to wander, to be enanmoured, enchained, won, and possessed by others! How has thy spiritual verdure withered, how have thy fresh springs dried, thy beauty faded, and thy strength decayed! How cold, how inconstant, how unfaithful, how unkind hast thou been to thy best, thy dearest, thy heavenly Friend! But for the restraints of His grace and the constraints of His love, and the checks of His gentle corrections, whither, oh, whither wouldst thou have gone? I thank thee, Lord for Thy discipline—for the shaded path, the severed tie, the lonely sorrow, the loving, lenient correction that recalls my heart to Thee!”

Examine yourself by these tests:

Do I know that my sins are pardoned through Christ?  

Have I peace with God in Jesus? 
Am I living in the enjoyment of the Spirit of adoption? 
Have I in my soul the happiness, the joy, the consolation, the hope which heart-religion imparts? 
Or—solemn thought!
—am I endeavouring to quiet my conscience, 
to stifle self-reflection, to divert my thoughts from my unsatisfactory, 
unhappy condition and state of mind by the religious substitutes and subterfuges with which the present age so profusely abounds, 
and which, with those who are ensnared by them, 
pass for real spiritual life?

This chapter is so important;  I wish you could take some time to read it (no need to read the previous ones to understand this one); there are so many riches in it! And what a better time to examine ourselves than today? What a better season than Lent, when we are considering all that it means that Jesus willingly set his face to go to Jerusalem to be hanged on a cross?

Matthew Blair, the host of this reading group wrote an excellent summary of this chapter here.

>Heaven, My Awaited Hope

>This month I am sharing borrowed words, quotes that nourish, about Heaven. May our heart be stirred to meditate upon Heaven.

If you want to know what heaven is,
you can spell it in five letters, and when
you put the five letters together they look
like this:

“J E S U S.”

That is heaven. It is all the heaven
the angels round the throne desire to
know. They want nothing better than
this- to see his face, to behold his glory,
and to dwell in it world without end.
(from Spurgeon’s sermon, “Christ the
Glory of His People” #826. Luke 2:32.)

When we get to heaven, 
what joy will it be torehearse the events of the journey, 
and to see how the path was strewn all along with mercies.
How blessed will be . . .
rest after toil,
safety after peril,
victory after conflict.
Jesus will still lead us into fresh pastures,
to higher and yet higher regions of . . .
purity, and
No carnal desires will drag us down. 
No sinful habits will cling to and entangle us. 
The flesh will no longer lust against the spirit. 
No enemies will beset the road, to allure
us from it, or check our advance. 
We shall forever follow Jesus . . . 
“forever beholding fresh beauties in His countenance,
forever discovering new glories in His character,
forever experiencing fresh raptures in His love! 

May we long for Heaven and nothing less.

>Meditate on Heaven

>Today is Thursday of Borrowed words, it is a day in which I enjoy sharing with you some findings from my reading corner.

This month I will be sharing with you quotes about Heaven; Oh how we need to live with our eyes fixed on Jesus and our heart longing for our eternal home in Heaven! It is so easy to get caught up in the temporary things, in the to do list and the calendar that we must remind our souls that we are pilgrims here, that we our citizenship in in Heaven. We must remind ourselves that even though we live in the frame of time, we are destined to live eternally. I pray that these wise words that I’ll be sharing here may help you long to draw nearer to the only One who can lead you to Heaven: Jesus Christ.

Meditate upon HEAVEN. 
Heaven is the quintessence of all blessedness. 
There the saints shall have all their holy hearts can desire! 
We shall behold the King in His beauty!
What a glorious place will this be! In heaven
“God will be all in all” beauty to the eye, music to the ears, 
joy to the heart; and this He will be to the poorest saint, 
as well as the richest. 
O Christian, who is now at your hard labor,
perhaps following the plough—you shall sit on the throne
of glory! The poorest believer shall be taken from his
laboring work, and set at the right hand of God, having
the crown of righteousness upon his head!
“For our momentary light affliction is producing for us
an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory!”
2 Corinthians 4:17
Meditation on heaven would excite and quicken
OBEDIENCE. It would put spurs to our sluggish hearts,
and make us “abound in the work of God, knowing that
our labor is not in vain in the Lord!” 
The weight of glory would not hinder us in our race—
but cause us to run the faster! 
This weight would add wings to duty!
Meditation on heaven would make us strive after heart
PURITY, because only the “pure in heart shall see God.”
Meditation on heaven would be a pillar of SUPPORT under
our sufferings.
Heaven will make amends for all. 
One hour in heaven will make us forget all our sorrows!
The sun dries up the water; just so—one beam of God’s
glorious face will dry up all our tears!
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no
more death or mourning or crying or pain!” Rev. 21:4