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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Charley Wesley is come to town"

Wed. 31 Aug 1743. I spoke severally with those of the society, who were about one hundred and twenty. Near an hundred of these had found peace with God. Such is the blessing of being persecuted for righteousness’ sake! As we were going to church at eleven, a large company at the market-place welcomed us with a loud huzza—wit as harmless as a ditty sung under my window (composed, one assured me, by a gentlewoman of their own town):
               Charley Wesley is come to town,
               To try if he can pull the churches down.
In the evening I explained ‘the promise of the Father’. After preaching, many began to be turbulent. But John Nelson went into the midst of them and spoke a little to the loudest, who answered not again but went quietly away.

Daily Devotions for Week 3 of Sermon on the Mount Wed


Week 3 Day 3 Devotions

The Quality of Mercy is not Strain'd

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
Matthew 5:7


What is the quality of your mercy towards others?

Reflect on the truth contained in the following quote from the ‘Merchant of
Venice’ by William Shakespeare:


“The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.”


Lord, may the mercy I show to others reflect the mercy You have shown to me.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Accept free forgiveness

Tue 30 Aug 1743: In the evening we reached St. Ives. About seven I invited all guilty, helpless sinners who were conscious they ‘had nothing to pay’, to accept of free forgiveness. The room was crowded both within and without. But all were quite and attentive. 

Daily Devotions for Week 3 of Sermon on the Mount Tues


Week 3 Day 2 Devotions

Go and Learn

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 9:12&13


This is one of two occasions in Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus quotes this verse from Hoseah: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” On this occasion it is in response to the Pharisees objection that Jesus is having a meal with tax collectors and sinners. The other occasion that He quotes this verse is when the Pharisees object to Him doing what they consider unlawful on the Sabbath. Some might say that Jesus took delight in shocking the Pharisees (and us), but that is nowhere near the truth. The truth is that Jesus took delight in showing mercy and would love us to do the same. If He could show mercy He did, if we can show mercy we should.

Wesley suggests that Jesus is saying here that when personal acts of mercy and personal acts of sacrifice interfere with each other, Jesus always prefers acts of mercy. He goes on: “yea, before all ceremonial institutions whatever; because these being only means of religion, are suspended of course, if circumstances occur, wherein they clash with love, which is the end of it.” In other words, love is one of the main reasons for religion, and sometimes one of the best ways to show love is to show mercy. It would seem that God prefers acts of mercy even more than sacrifice itself.

Hidden in the verse before us today is a command for us to consider: “Go and learn what this means.” In fact perhaps there are two commands, going and learning. The learning part includes understanding and believing that God requires us to be merciful and rejoicing in the fact that He has shown us mercy. The going part involves going out into the world, which might be the home, the school, the workplace, the shopping centre and looking for opportunities to be merciful. The going part might also mean picking up the daily newspaper or watching the news and considering how showing mercy today might change the news tomorrow. The going part really means taking what we have learnt and going out and putting it into practice.

Go and learn.

Let us rejoice in the God who has shown us mercy
Outcasts of men, to you I call,
Harlots, and publicans, and thieves! He spreads his arms t'embrace you all
Sinners alone his grace receives:
No need of him the righteous have;
He came the lost to seek and save. (29)


Monday, August 29, 2011

JW's cure for toothache

Mon 29 Aug 1757: We rode through vehement wind and many hard showers to Launceston. This gave me a violent fit of the toothache, which however did not hinder my preaching. Such a night I never remember to have passed before, but all is good which lies in the way to glory. On Tues we rode to Camelford, where my toothache was cured by rubbing treacle upon my cheek. At six I preached in the market-place. How are the lions in this town also become lambs!

Daily Devotions for Week 3 of Sermon on the Mount Monday


Week 3 Day 1 Devotions

You Have Great Power At Hand

“Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will
at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions
of angels?” Matthew 26:53


It is the night on which Jesus is being betrayed, and He has been praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas arrives with a crowd armed with swords and clubs and kisses Jesus. A number of events follows: some of the men with Judas step forward and arrest Jesus; one of Jesus companion's steps forward, draws his sword and chops off the high priest’s servant’s ear; and Jesus calls for calm. Each of these is doing what they think is right, but only one is exhibiting meekness. The people with Judas are probably just doing the job they have been given by the high priest, namely to seize Jesus and bring him to trial. The companion of Jesus (in John's Gospel he is named as Peter) who draws his sword and chops off the high priest’s servant’s ear probably thinks he is acting the way any friend should towards another person who is being treated unjustly. Perhaps you can identify with one of these responses.

And then there is the response of Jesus. In commenting on this verse, Wesley says of the angels that Jesus could call on: “twelve legions of angels - The least of whom, it is probable, could overturn the earth and destroy all the inhabitants of it.” A legion was a regiment of the Roman army, the number of men composing which differed at different times. It originally consisted of three thousand men, but in the time of Christ consisted of six thousand, exclusive of horsemen, who were in number a tenth of the foot-men. That is a vast amount of power to have at your disposal and the temptation to use it for His
own protection must have been great to Jesus the man. One marvels not only at His restraint, but at the restraint and obedience of the angels. Imagine how much they wanted to help Jesus, and imagine how they were just waiting to hear the command which would set them off in His defense. No such request from Jesus or command from God was forthcoming. Meekness balanced all the divine emotions and proved itself to be the real power that day.

We all have great power at our disposal. Sometimes it is power bestowed upon us because of our position or privilege in the workplace, in the home, or in society. As born-again Christians, we all have the power of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon us as well. Using the power we have to the glory of God and in obedience to Him, and resisting the temptation to use the power we have as the world would have us use it requires meekness. Pray for this meekness and then look for opportunities to be meek today.

The modest and meek The earth shall possess;
The kingdom who seek Of Jesus's grace,
The power of his Spirit Shall joyfully own,
And all things inherit In virtue of one. (483)


Sunday, August 28, 2011

JW visits clergyman under death sentence for rape

Sun. 28 Aug 1743. I preached at seven to a handful of people. The sermon we heard at church was quite innocent of meaning; what that in the afternoon was, I know not; for I could not hear a single sentence. From church I went to the Castle, where were gathered together (as some imagined) half the grown persons in the city. It was an awful sight. So vast a congregation in that solemn amphitheatre! And all silent and still, while I explained at large and enforced that glorious truth, ‘Happy are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.’
I went thence to poor Mr. V [hanged at Exeter for rape], the clergyman, lying under sentence of death. He had for some time acted the lunatic; but I soon put him out of his play, and he appeared to have wit enough in his anger. I designed to close in with him immediately; but two cruelly-impertinent gentlemen would needs come into the room, so that I could say no more, but was obliged to leave him in their hands.
The lad who was to die the next day was quite of another spirit. He appeared deeply affected while we were speaking, and yet more during our prayer. And no sooner were we gone than he broke out into a bitter cry. Who knows but he might be heard by him that made him?

Sermon on the Mount 3


Meekness, Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness and Showing Mercy

We continue our journey through the Sermon on the Mount, basing our series on John Wesley’s 13 sermons on the subject and our text today is Matthew 5: 5, 6 & 7 


Meekness
The Good News translation translates the second part of verse 5, “they will receive what God has promised”, and the second part of verse 6, “God will satisfy them fully.” As an introduction I would like to ask, who would like to receive, in this life, everything that God has promised? And who would like to be satisfied, filled, in this life? And, who would like to be shown mercy in this life, and of course, in the next? I can’t imagine saying no to any of these. So if we want these blessings, Jesus says the way to them is to be meek, to hunger and thirst for righteousness and to show mercy.  In these three beatitudes we are going to see why Jesus behaved the way he did, in this life.

As we seek to become like Jesus, and behave like Him, we will see the attitude, the heart condition that we need to have: We need to be meek. Now, because meekness is a primary condition for being in this kingdom, Satan has turned it into something that the world regards as foolish. It might well be that we believe, and perhaps even teach our children to stand up for themselves, don’t let anyone push you around,….if you get hit ….. you hit back! Did Jesus ever teach this? No, but people building their houses, their lives on sand, believe this with all their heart. So meekness [which in some translations is translated as gentleness], meekness, in the foolish eyes of foolish wisdom, is seen as weakness or spinelessness. But those who are spiritually poor and those who mourn, not only their own sin but the sin of the world, ………born-again Christians in other words,….. people Jesus calls wise, are people who want to be meek. It’s the desire of their hearts and as the Holy Spirit works with that desire in those who want to become like Jesus, they become meek.

In this kingdom we become everything that God wants us to become – if we really want to. Are you meek? Do you want to be meek? Meekness does not mean that we have no emotions. It is not resignation or apathy and it certainly does not mean that we become a doormat. Meekness does not destroy our emotions, our feelings, but rather it balances them. Because our emotions need balancing …..otherwise they lead us into dreadful sin.

When the word meekness is applied to animals, it means that they have become tame. A meek horse is a tamed horse with all the strength it ever had, but it is now controlled. Your and my emotions need to be controlled, not destroyed, but controlled, so that they can be used the way Jesus wants them to be used. So meekness balances our emotions.

Meekness is not weakness, but rather it is tremendous strength. But it is controlled or tamed strength. Meekness makes us master over our emotions, our passions, our feelings and it leads to contentment and patience with ourselves and mildness with others. Meekness helps us to direct our God-given emotions like anger, hatred and fear. Meekness helps us direct those in the right direction. For example, meekness directs our anger towards sin or towards injustice and then might hopefully lead us into social action. You see, anger, for example, is allowed but it needs to be directed. Meekness helps direct it. Without meekness we get angry for the wrong reasons.

We need especially to be meek towards bad and horrible people and towards our enemies. We need to be meek, Jesus tells us, towards people who hit us. Jesus teaches us this and he shows us how it works in his own life. He knows that if we are not meek we will try and overcome evil with evil, whereas the gospels and the New Testament teach that in this new dispensation, the kingdom of God on earth in you – we over come evil with good. The world, what Jesus calls the foolish, says this is madness. But when we are born again, when Jesus lives in you by his Spirit, then we begin to see that this is real wisdom.

Up until verse 5, Jesus has been talking about hindrances to true Christianity. Among these is pride, the greatest stumbling block in our spiritual growth. Pride is taken away by spiritual poverty. Likewise, anger, impatience, discontent hinder true Christianity until they are healed by Christian meekness.  When these things are removed from us, there is an emptiness in us because these things take up a great deal of space within us, in our spirit or in our soul. Let me give you an example: sometimes when people give up smoking, for example, they fill the space left with something else. They replace the craving for one thing with the craving for something else.  Jesus says when poverty of spirit, when mourning and meekness get rid of wrong emotions and wrong passions within us,…. He says, “fill the space with a hunger and a thirst for righteousness”. Righteousness is to do what God requires. It is to be holy, it is to have the mind of Christ within us. And Jesus says, be hungry for these things. Long for personal holiness, like a thirsty person cries out, “Water, water.” Cry out for righteousness and notice what Jesus says,…… He says,……. “you will be filled.” What with?..... Popcorn? ……No, with righteousness. Isn’t that Good News? That’s incredibly good news. The rest of the New Testament will teach that we can become filled, not with a righteousness of our own but with the righteousness of Christ. That’s part of the renewal, the rebirth, that Jesus says is absolutely essential.

Notice, it is not those who are righteous who God will satisfy – it is those who want to be. Too many try to be righteous rather than wanting to be righteous. We try to behave but we don’t really want to behave, which is why many of us  (this preacher included) struggle with sin instead of gaining victory over sin.

In Hebrews 12:14, we are told, “Be holy, for without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Who wants to see the Lord?........ Lots of us, I see. Well then, stop trying to be holy, because that’s something that comes from the head and start really wanting to be holy. That is something that comes from the heart. God will work a miracle in your life today. Listen to this wonderful good news. This is truly a blessing. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. One of the first results of a deep desire to become more like Jesus is–………. we become more like Jesus. More of his mind will be in our mind and one of the first manifestations of that work in our life is this: we become merciful. We show mercy to others because God has shown mercy to us. Because we are spiritually poor we know that we have offended God far more than anyone could ever offend us. No matter what they did to us, we know that it is nothing compared to what my sin has done to God. It killed his son. That’s what my sin did. And if God has shown mercy to me, I dare not refuse to show mercy to others.

We know what the world thinks of meekness. We know what the world thinks of hungering and thirsting for righteousness. We know what the world thinks of showing mercy. We know what wisdom is and we know what foolishness is. And we know as we read the Sermon on the Mount whether we are wise and building on the rock of His teaching or whether we are foolishly building on sand.

Are you wise or foolish?

If wise…..continue in the way of the Lord and be blessed.

If  foolish, Praise God,….. praise Him for His grace in showing us our foolishness while we still have time to change.

 Amen 

Discussion Questions/Biblestudy Sermon on Mount (3)


Meekness, Hunger and Thirst for ighteousness, Showing Mercy

Study Passage Matthew 5:5-7
Meekness

1.      What is meekness? How many of you have a word other than meekness in verse 5? Read the following verses in the King James Version and as many other translations as possible and compare the different words used to translate what the KJV translates as ‘meekness’: Isaiah 29:19; Psalm 22:26; Zephaniah 2:3; Galatians 5:23; Colossians 3:12 & James 3:13. Is it possible that the word is difficult to translate because the idea behind it is difficult to translate into our lives?
2.      Read Matthew 26:47-54. Who do you most easily identify with and why? Who should you identify with? Who is meek in this text and who is not? Who in this text is wise and who is foolish? Are you wise or foolish? 
3.      Consider the emotions anger, hatred and fear. Find at least one example where each of these is permissible and one example where each is sinful. Wesley suggests that meekness helps balance our emotions. How would this work in the sinful examples you’ve listed? How can we “become” meek?

Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

4.      What are people hungry and thirsty for today? Page through today’s newspaper with all its supplements and classifieds and from the adverts and stories make a list of the top ten hungers and thirsts. What type of satisfaction does each of these really bring?
5.      What is righteousness? Reflect on whether or not you are really hungry and thirsty for righteousness.
6.      Read Psalm 42:1&2. List ways of developing such a desire for righteousness. What is Christ’s promised blessing if we do?

Merciful

7.      Once again page through the newspaper or think of recent events in the news……..are there any stories where you feel mercy should be shown? Are there any stories where mercy should not be shown? (Don’t be afraid to be honest). What is mercy?
8.      Read Mathew 6:12 & 14-15. Discuss whether it is true to say that God’s offer of mercy to us is conditional.
9.      Read 2 Kings 6:8-23 and identify meekness and mercy in the story. Is it worth being meek and merciful?


Mission pillars

10.   Discuss how a lack of meekness, hunger and thirst for righteousness, and mercy affects each mission pillar.
Spirituality
Evangelism & Church growth
Justice & Service
Development & Economic Empowerment

Now discuss how the presence of meekness, hunger and thirst for righteousness, and mercy                affects each mission pillar.  What is present or lacking in your church?

© 2006 JohnWesleyProject.com 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Can one who has fallen away be renewed?

Sat 27 Aug 1743: I reached Exeter in the afternoon; but as no one knew of my coming I did not preach that night, only to one poor sinner at the inn; who, after listening to our conversation for a while, looked earnestly at us and asked whether it was possible for one who had in some measure known ‘the powers of the world to come’ and was ‘fallen away’ (which she said was the case) to be ‘renewed again to repentance’. We besought God in her behalf and left her sorrowing; yet not without hope.

Friday, August 26, 2011

JW saves a critic from severe beating

Fri 26 Aug 1743: I set out for Cornwall. In the evening I preached at the cross in Taunton, on ‘The kingdom of God is not meats and drinks, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.’ A poor man had posted himself behind, in order to make some disturbance. But the time was not come. The zealous wretches who ‘deny the Lord that bought them’ had not yet stirred up the people. Many cried out, ‘Throw down that rascal there! Knock him down! Beat out his brains!’ So that I was obliged to entreat for him more than once, or he would have been but roughly handled.

Daily Devotions for Week 2 of Sermon on the Mount Fri


Week 2 Day 5 Devotions

The Way Back to God

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17

The way back to God has always been and still is, through sacrifice. What can we bring as a sacrifice to our God who in Christ sacrificed Himself for us?

 In the context of the times when David wrote this Psalm, he was making the discovery that God is happier with a heart that mourns for sin than with a sinner’s perfect bull bleeding under the priest’s knife. Wesley says of this verse: “a broken spirit is of more value than many sacrifices.” God seems to use broken things. Someone has pointed out that it takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to produce rain, broken grain to give bread and broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is the broken Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns with greater power
than ever. But not only is our broken heart the way back to God, it is God’s way into us; God says through the prophet Isaiah: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”(57:15)

Our brokenness is the crack, the opening through which Jesus can enter into our situation. While this applies in all the areas and ways in which we can be broken in this life (draw comfort from this truth) our context is spiritual poverty and holy mourning. Psalm 51 is a model of holy mourning in a spiritually poor heart that seeks to return to the Lord. Verses 1-6 model honest and heartfelt sorrow for our sins, throwing ourselves at God’s loving and compassionate mercy. Verses 7-12 model pleading for forgiveness, as opposed to just asking for it. Verses 13-19 reflect a commitment to walking in God’s way in the future. The key to honest turning back is our text verse.

O that I could repent!
With all my idols part,
And to thy gracious eye present
An humble, contrite heart!
An heart with grief oppressed
For having grieved my God;
A troubled heart, that cannot rest
Till sprinkled with thy blood! (99)                                   © 2006 JohnWesleyProject.com

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Now the power of God is come indeed!

Thur. 25 Aug 1774. At eleven I preached within the walls of the old church at the Hay. Here and everywhere, I heard the same account of the proceedings at Llancrwys. The Jumpers (all who were there informed me) were first in the court, and afterwards in the house. Some of them leaped up many times, men and women, several feet from the ground; they clapped their hands with the utmost violence; they shook their heads; they distorted all their features; they threw their arms and legs to and fro in all variety of postures. They sung, roared, shouted, screamed with all their might to the no small terror of those that were near them. One gentlewoman told me she had not been herself since and did not know when she should. Meantime, the person of the house was delighted above measure and said, ‘Now the power of God is come indeed!’

Daily Devotions for Week 2 of Sermon on the Mount Thurs


Week 2 Day4 Devotions

Heart Religion

“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:10

This verse, in accordance with all of Scripture, reminds us that it is the heart that needs to be in our religion. Wesley comments: “for with the heart, not the understanding only, man believeth to righteousness - so as to obtain justification. And with the mouth confession is made - so as to obtain final salvation. Confession here implies the whole of outward, as believing does the root of all inward, religion.”

Eugene Petersen’s Message translation of the Bible conveys the exuberance of this verse: “with your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!" ” What Petersen calls “setting right” is what Wesley calls “justification.” Justification is the judicial act of God, by which He pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law and as conformed to all its demands. In addition to the pardon of sin, justification declares that all the claims of the law are satisfied in respect of the justified. The law is not relaxed or set aside, but is declared to be fulfilled in the strictest sense; and so the person justified is declared to be entitled to all the advantages and rewards arising from perfect obedience to the law. It involves the crediting to the believer by God Himself of the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. Justification is not the forgiveness of a person without righteousness, but a declaration that the person possesses a righteousness which perfectly and for ever satisfies the law, namely, Christ's righteousness. The sole condition on which this righteousness is imputed or credited to the believer is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Paraphrased from Easton’s Bible Dictionary)

Believing this good news, not with your head but with a spiritually poor and mourning heart is the beginning of inward, Sermon on the Mount type religion from which outward, Sermon on the Mount type religion cannot help but flow.

Who in heart on thee believes,
He th’ atonement now receives,
He with joy beholds thy face,
Triumphs in thy pard’ning grace (340)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

JW on unconditional election; irresistible grace; final perseverance.

Tue. 23 Aug 1743. Having found for some time a strong desire to unite with Mr. Whitefield as far as possible to cut off needless dispute, I wrote down my sentiments, as plain as I could, in the following terms:
There are three points in debate: (1) unconditional election; (2) irresistible grace; (3) final perseverance.
With regard to the first, unconditional election, I believe,
That God, before the foundation of the world, did unconditionally elect certain persons to do certain works, as Paul to preach the gospel;
That he has unconditionally elected some nations to receive peculiar privileges, the Jewish nation in particular;
That he has unconditionally elected some nations to hear the gospel, as England and Scotland now, and many others in past ages;
That he has unconditionally elected some persons to many peculiar advantages, both with regard to temporal and spiritual things;
And I do not deny (though I cannot prove it is so),
That he has unconditionally elected some persons, thence eminently styled, the elect, to eternal glory.
But I cannot believe,
That all those who are not thus elected to glory must perish everlastingly; or
That there is one soul on earth who had not nor ever had a possibility of escaping eternal damnation.
With regard to the second, irresistible grace, I believe,
That the grace which brings faith, and thereby salvation into the soul, is irresistible at that moment;
That most believers may remember some time when God did irresistibly convince them of sin;
That most believers do at some other times find God irresistibly acting upon their souls;
Yet I believe that the grace of God both before and after those moments, may be, and hath been, resisted; and
That, in general, it does not act irresistibly, but we may comply therewith or may not.
And I do not deny,
That in those eminently styled ‘the elect’ (if such there be) the grace of God is so far irresistible that they cannot but believe and be finally saved.
But I cannot believe,
That all those must be damned in whom it does not thus irresistibly work; or,
That there is one soul on earth who has not, and never had, any other grace than such as does in fact increase his damnation, and was designed of God so to do.
With regard to the third, final perseverance, I incline to believe
That there is a state attainable in this life, from which a man cannot finally fall; and
That he has attained this who is, according to St. Paul’s account, ‘a new creature’; that is, who can say, ‘Old things are passed away; all things’ in me ‘are become new.’
And I do not deny,
That all those eminently styled the elect will infallibly persevere to the end.

Well behaved gentlemen

Wednesday 24 Aug 1774: Arrived in  Brecon. In the evening, I preached in the town hall to most of the gentry in the town. They behaved well though I used great plainness of speech in describing the ‘narrow way’.

Daily Devotions for Week 2 of Sermon on the Mount Wed


Week 2 Day 3 Devotions

Know Yourself

“The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.” Luke 18:11

Just like the Pharisee, we often like to stand apart or to separate ourselves from others. Sometimes we are, like the Pharisee, aware of the sin in others and perhaps even thankful that we are “not like them.” But who or what are you like? What do others see in you that they are thankful they do not see in themselves? Read the last sentence again and spend some time in quiet and honest reflection.

One day, after a gospel meeting in a prison, the chief of chaplains of the prisons was discussing with the preacher the wonderful response by the prisoners to the message of the Gospel: "When you deal with prisoners, you do not need to persuade them that they are sinners. Their imprisonment is a proof of it. But there are many out of jail who should be in, and because they are out they argue all is well with them and they need no Savior."

Is everything well with you? “How goes it with your soul” is a question John Wesley encouraged the early Methodist people to ask of each other. Luke says that Jesus told this parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else and in his notes Wesley comments: “he spake this parable - not to hypocrites; the Pharisee here mentioned was no hypocrite, no more than an outward adulterer: but he sincerely trusted in himself that he was righteous, and accordingly told God so, in the prayer which none but God heard. The publican standing afar off would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven - touched with shame.”

Do you know yourself in the way the tax collector knew himself?

Might I in thy sight appear,
As the publican distressed,
Stand, not daring to draw near,
Smite on my unworthy breast,
Groan the sinner’s only plea,
God, be merciful to me! (98)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A preacher cursing the Methodists is struck down and dies

Tue. 23 Aug 1743. I came to Kingswood in the afternoon, and in the evening preached at Bristol. Wed. 24. I made it my business to inquire concerning the truth of a strange relation which had been given me. And I found there was no possibility of doubting it. The plain fact was this.
The Rev. Mr. Weston (I use the words of a gentleman of Bristol, whose manuscript lies by me) preached at two or three churches on these words, ‘Having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof’. After showing the different sorts of Dissenters from the Church of England, who (as he said) had only the form of godliness, he inveighed very much against the ‘novel sect’, the ‘upstart Methodists’ (as he termed them), which indeed he was accustomed to do, more or less, in almost all his sermons. ‘These are the men’, said he, ‘whom St. Paul foretold, who have the form, the outside show of holiness, but not the power; for they are ravening wolves, full of hypocrisy within.’ He then alleged many grievous things against them; but without all colour of truth; and warned his flock to ‘turn away from’ them, and not to bid them God speed, lest they should be partakers of their evil deeds.
Shortly after he was to preach at St. Nicholas Church. He had named the above-mentioned text twice, when he was suddenly seized with a rattling in his throat, attended with an hideous groaning. He fell backward against the door of the pulpit; burst it open, and would have fallen down the stairs but that some people caught him, and carried him away, as it seemed, dead, into the vestry. In two or three days he recovered his senses, and the Sunday following, died!
In the evening, the word of God was indeed quick and powerful. Afterwards I desired the men as well as women to meet. But I could not speak to them. The spirit of prayer was so poured upon us all that we could only speak to God.

Daily Devotions for Week 2 of Sermon on the Mount Tues


Week 2 Day 2 Devotions

Do You Want To?


“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears
will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Isaiah 30:21


Just as when we get married we surrender a certain lifestyle in favour of another, so too when we are born again we are invited to surrender our old lifestyle in favour of a new and better one, the one described in the Sermon on the Mount. The question is, do you want to live this way? Perhaps your answer is: “Yes, but how or where do I start?” That is certainly a spiritually poor way to begin this journey. Draw comfort from the idea that we don’t have to learn this lifestyle, so much as admit our need and desire for it and then listen for our Father’s guiding voice.

Commenting on the above verse, Wesley says: “Thou shalt hear the voice of God's word and Spirit behind thee - a metaphor borrowed from shepherds, who used to follow their sheep, and recall them when they go out of the way.” God will follow you and guide you as you seek to walk in His way.

A little boy came running to his mother, shouting, “Mother, I am nine feet tall.” His mother responded, “Don’t talk such nonsense.” “But,” he said, “I really am nine feet tall. I measured myself.” “Well, how did you measure yourself?” asked his mother. “I took off my shoe and measured myself with that. It is the same size as my foot, and I really am nine feet.”

 When we move from our standard to God’s standard (from our measure to God’s measure) regarding how we should live, and then seek to walk in it, this wonderful promise of Isaiah 30:21 can be fulfilled in our lives. In this way God, by His Spirit, makes us what Jesus teaches us to be.

O do thou always warn my soul of evil near;
When to the right or left I turn,
The voice still let me hear:
“Come back! This is the way! Come back and walk herein!”
O may I hearken and obey, and shun the paths of sin! (296)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stop cursing and swearing

Mon. 22 Aug 1743. After a few of us had joined in prayer, about four I set out and rode softly to Snow Hill, where the saddle slipping quite upon my mare’s neck, I fell over her head, and she ran back into Smithfield. Some boys caught her and brought her to me again, cursing and swearing all the way. I spoke plainly to them, and they promised to amend. I was setting forward when a man cried, ‘Sir, you have lost your saddle-cloth.’ Two or three more would needs help me to put it on; but these two swore at almost every word. I turned to one and another and spoke in love. They all took it well and thanked me much. I gave them two or three little books, which they promised to read over carefully.
Before I reached Kensington I found my mare had lost a shoe. This gave me opportunity of talking closely for near half an hour, both to the smith and his servant. I mention these little circumstances to show how easy it is to redeem every fragment of time (if I may so speak) when we feel any love to those souls for which Christ died.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The power of the Lord was unusually present, both to wound and to heal.

Sun. 21 Aug 1774. At nine, I began the service at St. Daniel’s and concluded a little before twelve. It was a good time. ‘The power of the Lord was’ unusually ‘present’, both to wound and to heal. Many were constrained to cry, while others were filled with speechless awe and silent love. After dinner, I went over to Haverfordwest but could not preach abroad because of the rain. Both here and at Pembroke, I found the people in general to be in a cold, dead, languid state. And no wonder since there had been for several months a total neglect of discipline. I did all I could to awaken them once more and left them full of good resolutions.

Discussion Questions/Biblestudy Sermon on Mount (2)

Week 2  Discussion Questions and Bible Study
Spiritual Poverty and Holy Mourning
Study Passage Matthew 5:1-4
1.      Who are these “crowds” that are mentioned in verse one…………..what sort of people were they, why were they following Jesus? In what ways do you think they were similar to you and in what ways different? What is it that Jesus “taught” them?

2.      Some English translations use the word “happy” or “fortunate” rather than “blessed”.  What does it mean to you to be blessed or happy? Do these two blessings (and the six that follow) sound like the normal path to happiness? How do you think the original hearers felt as this pathway to blessedness was described? Do you think this a “true path to happiness/blessedness” for your life? Have you taught, or will you teach these principles to your children? Is this a viable way of life for the third millennium?

3.      What does it mean to be poor in spirit? Discuss the five characteristics relating to spiritual poverty mentioned in the talk. What is the opposite of spiritual poverty? Why is poverty of spirit essential for receiving the Kingdom of God? In Luke’s gospel (read Luke 6:20-26) Jesus says: “Blessed are you who are poor” and then He has very strong words for the rich. Is material poverty essential for spiritual poverty? Can material wealth stand in the way of spiritual poverty? Discuss your answers to the last two questions in some detail.

4.      What is the “Kingdom of God” that Jesus says the poor in spirit inherit?

5.      Read Romans 14:17 and discuss Wesley’s comments on it: -“for the Kingdom of God that is, true religion, does not consist in external observances. But in righteousness - the image of God stamped on the heart; the love of God and man, accompanied with the peace that passeth all understanding, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Try and reach some agreement on what righteousness is, what joy is and what peace is. For personal reflection: Do you have this Kingdom within you?

6.      What is the dictionary definition of “mourn”? List some of the emotions that accompany such mourning. What does Jesus want us to mourn (three things were mentioned in the talk)? Should the list of emotions apply in these three areas as well? For personal reflection: Do you mourn?

7.      How are spiritual poverty and holy mourning connected?

8.      Discuss the various ways that God comforts us. Perhaps share how God has comforted you.

9.      Some case studies: Depending on time, read the following texts and identify spiritual poverty, holy mourning and God’s comfort: 2 Kings 22; Nehemiah 1; Job 2:11-13; Psalm 36:1&2; Luke 18:9-14; Luke 19:41-44; Luke 23:39-43; James 4:8-10 Reflect on recent news (locally, nationally and internationally) and identify spiritual poverty and spiritual pride in the newsmakers and talk about what has or is making you mourn.

10.   Mission Pillars
Spirituality: How can these two Beatitudes lead to a deepened spirituality in individuals and in societies? Evangelism & Church growth: How does holy mourning influence this pillar and motivate us to “save souls”?
Justice & Service: Is it possible for things like racism, sexism or any other form of  discrimination to co-exist with spiritual poverty and holy mourning? What are the injustices in your area (think especially in the area of HIV & AIDS and poverty) and are they causing you, as an individual and as a church, to mourn? Is spiritual pride preventing social service?
Development & Economic Empowerment: Do I need all the money I think I do and do my personal                finances reflect a spiritually poor, total trust in God for my present and future needs? Is my financial  support of the church and its mission sacrificial?

© 2006 JohnWesleyProject.com




Friday, August 19, 2011

Water scarce reaching above our horses’ knees

Fri. 19 Aug 1774. We rode on to Laugharne Ferry, and seeing a person just riding over the ford, we followed him with ease, the water scarce reaching above our horses’ knees. Between two and three, we came to Pembroke.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The great work of God, vulgarly called ‘Methodism’

Thur. 18 Aug 1785. I had a pleasant journey to Plymouth Dock, the rain having but just laid the dust. The late separation here seems to have done little hurt: a few turbulent men have left us, but men of a more quiet spirit are continually added in their stead. So that on the whole we are gainers by our loss. Such is the wisdom of God! Fri. 19. In the evening, I preached in the new house at Plymouth. This also was well filled. Sunday 21, I preached at the Dock at seven, and the house contained us pretty well. But in the evening, it was thought as many went away as got in. After preaching, I gave them a plain account of the beginning and progress of that great work of God, vulgarly called ‘Methodism’.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Work in Wales

Wed. 17 Aug 1774. At eleven I preached in the town hall at Cowbridge, the neatest place of the kind I have ever seen. Not only the floor, the walls, the ceiling, are kept exactly clean, but every pane of glass in the windows.
Hence I hasted on to Swansea and at seven preached in the castle to a large congregation. The next morning, I went on to Llanelli. But what a change was there! Sir Thomas Stepney, the father of the poor, was dead! Cut down in the strength of his years! So the family was broke up, and Wilfred Colley, his butler, the father of the society, obliged to remove. Soon after, John Deer, who was next in usefulness to him, was taken into Abraham’s bosom. But just then Col. St. Leger, in the neighbourhood, sent to Galway for Lieutenant Cook to come and put his house into repair and manage his estate. So another is brought, just in time, to supply the place of Wilfred Colley! I preached at five near Sister Deer’s door to a good company of plain, country people and then rode over to the old ruinous house, which Mr. Cook is making all haste to repair. It is not unlike old Mr. Gwynne’s house at Garth, having a few large handsome rooms. It is also situated much like that, only not quite so low. For it has the command of a well-cultivated vale and of the fruitful side of the opposite mountain.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Grand Jury appointed for Wesley's trial

Tue. 16 Aug 1737. Mrs. Williamson swore to and signed an affidavit, insinuating much more than it asserted; but asserting that Mr. Wesley had many times proposed marriage to her, all which proposals she had rejected. Of this I desired a copy. Mr. Causton replied, ‘Sir, you may have one from any of the newspapers in America.’
On Thursday or Friday was delivered out a list of twenty-six men who were to meet as a grand jury on Monday the 22nd. But this list was called in the next day, and twenty-four names added to it. Of this grand jury (forty-four of whom only met), one was a Frenchman who did not understand English, one a Papist, one a professed infidel, three Baptists, sixteen or seventeen others, dissenters, and several others who had personal quarrels against me, and had openly vowed revenge.
To this grand jury, on Monday the 22nd, Mr. Causton gave a long and earnest charge ‘to beware of spiritual tyranny, and to oppose the new illegal authority which was usurped over their consciences’. Then Mrs. Williamson’s affidavit was read; after which Mr. Causton delivered to the grand jury a paper entitled, ‘A List of Grievances, presented by the Grand Jury for Savannah this ---- day of Aug. 1737.’ This the majority of the grand jury altered in some particulars and on Thursday, September 1, delivered it again to the court, under the form of two presentments, containing ten bills, which were then read to the people.
Herein they asserted, upon oath,
That John Wesley, Clerk, had ‘broken the laws of the realm, contrary to the peace of our sovereign lord the King, his crown and dignity’,
1. By speaking and writing to Mrs. Williamson, against her husband’s consent;
2. By repelling her from the Holy Communion;
3. By not declaring his adherence to the Church of England;
4. By dividing the morning service on Sundays;
5. By refusing to baptize Mr. Parker’s child otherwise than by dipping, except the parents would certify it was weak, and not able to bear it;
6. By repelling Wm. Gough from the Holy Communion;
7. By refusing to read the Burial Service over the body of Nathanael Polhill;
8. By calling himself ‘Ordinary’ of Savannah;
9. By refusing to receive Wm. Aglionby as a godfather, only because he was not a communicant;
10. By refusing Jacob Matthews for the same reason; and baptizing an Indian trader’s child with only two sponsors.
(This, I own, was wrong; for I ought at all hazards to have refused baptizing it till he had procured a third.)