Bruised Reed: His tender care

Here is the last post in the Bruised Reed series:

We often find ourselves hiding from God when we feel bruised and rubbish. So far we have seen that Christ is our comfort in our bruising, that our bruising brings about some good and that Christ is a good physician and calls us to Him. And so what shall we do at this point in time? Sibbes suggests 3 things:

1. Go boldly to the throne of God, do not hide but find comfort in Christ! – “What should we learn from this, but to `come boldly to the throne of grace’ (Heb. 4:16) in all our grievances? Shall our sins discourage us, when he appears there only for sinners? “

Sibbes asks us – “Are you bruised? Be of good comfort, he calls you. Conceal not your wounds, open all before him and take not Satan’s counsel. Go to Christ, although trembling, as the poor woman who said, `If I may but touch his garment’ (Matt. 9:21). We shall be healed and have a gracious answer.”

2. Stay in Christ and do not despair“If Christ be so merciful as not to break me, I will not break myself by despair, nor yield myself over to the roaring lion, Satan, to break me in pieces.”

3. Be conscious of your weakness so that it makes you run to Christ “As a mother is tenderest to the most diseased and weakest child, so does Christ most mercifully incline to the weakest. Likewise he puts an instinct into the weakest things to rely upon something stronger than themselves for support. The vine stays itself upon the elm, and the weakest creatures often have the strongest shelters. The consciousness of the church’s weakness makes her willing to lean on her beloved, and to hide herself under his wing”

All of these run on the same theme – run to Christ and do not listen to Satan. Even though we are weak, Christ has allowed us to come to the throne of His Father by His blood. And there at the throne our Father speaks tender words, pouring his love on us through Christ. Therefore do not hide in darkness, but cling to Christ and find comfort.

And therefore to conclude this section of the Bruised Reed with Sibbes encouraging us more:

His tenderest care is over the weakest. The lambs he carries in his bosom (Isa. 40:11). He says to Peter, `Feed my lambs’ (John 21:15). He was most familiar and open to troubled souls. How careful he was that Peter and the rest of the apostles should not be too much dejected after his resurrection! `Go your way, tell his disciples and Peter’ (Mark 16:7). Christ knew that guilt of their unkindness in leaving of him had dejected their spirits. How gently did he endure the unbelief of Thomas and stooped so far unto his weakness, as to suffer him to thrust his hand into his side.”

Bruised Reed – Christ our Physician

So we have been looking at what a bruised reed is and that as we go through a Psalm 42 season we can know that our Father lavishes his love on us through his son and has a purpose for the season we are in.

But as we go through this season, often our first thought isn’t to run to Christ but to go to everything else, only to find that it wont ever satisfy. But what fear do we have when we think of running to Christ?

What do we think Christ will do to us Christians that feel bruised and broken? Will he cast us away? Will he tell us to get over ourselves? Will he judge us and call us pathetic? Thankfully not.

Sibbes shows how Christ is full of mercy –

“Physicians, though they put their patients to much pain, will not destroy nature, but raise it up by degrees. Surgeons will lance and cut, but not dismember. A mother who has a sick and self willed child will not therefore cast it away. And shall there be more mercy in the stream than in the spring? Shall we think there is more mercy in ourselves than in God, who plants the affection of mercy in us?”

This gives me most comfort of all, that Christ has much more mercy then I do, yet sometimes I think Christ will judge me more harshly. But when we think of Christ and the names he gives himself, we cannot escape how tender he is towards those that mourn and come to him with a humble heart.

Sibbes continues –

“But for further declaration of Christ’s mercy to all bruised reeds, consider the comfortable relationships he has taken upon himself of husband, shepherd and brother, which he will discharge to the utmost. Shall others by his grace fulfill what he calls them unto, and not he who, out of his love, has taken upon him these relationships, so thoroughly founded upon his Father’s assignment, and his own voluntary undertaking?”

Christ is full of tender mercy. I think Sibbes wants to encourage us to come to Christ on our knees and find comfort in Him and not be afraid. This picture of Christ as a Shepard and husband is full of love and kindness and the scriptures continue to remind us of how Christ invites us to come to Him when we are in times of need –

” Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

“He is a physician good at all diseases, especially at the binding up of a broken heart.” – Page 9

Christ binds our broken heart, he is our great physician. We have no fear to come to him – but we must come to him because he is our life-giver, open armed and ready to give great comfort to you.

Bruised Reed: Love of the Father

As a Christian there can be times of great emotional hurt, where we may feel like we are being engulfed in a great darkness or feeling downcast and tired, and in those times we often forget who we truly are and who God truly is. We get clouded by our struggles and hurt which becomes a dense fog to us and we cannot see beyond it. Yet to survive we must remember the great truth of Christ. We must come back to Him and be reminded of his sweet tender words, his sweet Gospel.

And to be honest that does come down to how we view God. How do you see God honestly?

Is God a harsh mean being, distant and demanding? Is God a tyrant Father hiding behind meek and mild Jesus? If that is how you see God, then I appeal that you look again, and look at Christ. And He says this of his Father:

“Father… you loved me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:24

God is a wonderful Father, loving his Son through the Spirit through all eternity, before the creation of the earth and forever more. The Father pours his love on His son and is greatly pleased with him. And so Sibbes writes:

“And what comfort is this, that, seeing God’s love rests on Christ, as well pleased with us, if we be in Christ” (pg 2)

Sibbes is saying that it is a great comfort to know that the Fathers love rests on Christ because that means his love rests on us and he is well pleased with us if we be in Christ.

Just as Galatians 4:6-7 says:

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

So, do you know who you are? According to this you are a Child of God! You are a Son (don’t get hung up on the gender, you are also a Bride – it’s about a Father loving his Son and we are adopted as Sons in Christ and we are also Christ’s Bride, all to signify the relationship we have with our triune God) And as adopted children you have the Spirit in you and He cries for you: “Father…Daddy”

And if you are in Christ as adopted Childern and the love of the Father rests on Christ, then his glorious overflowing love rests on you because you are his child. The Father loves you greatly – do you know that in your heart?

Therefore Sibbes goes on to say:

“Let us, therefore, embrace Christ, and in him Gods love, and build our faith safely on such a Saviour that is furnished with so high a commission” (pg2)

It is to easy and wrong to think that the Father is some tyrant hiding behind gentle Jesus. We need to change the focus – the Father is well pleased with us because of Christ. You are a child of the loving Father, you only need to embrace Christ and you become an heir and with that you have all things and most of all you have the Father’s love.

This really comforts me! The language is so rich here – “embrace Christ and in him Gods love”. Embrace Christ fully and feel Gods love and know Gods love and know that he is pleased with you. This comfort should grip our hearts in times of self-doubt, feeling low and comparing ourselves with others, because we can remind our hearts of the love of God towards us and our status in Him – it is a geat comfort! Thats an amazing foundation to build upon and it never changes. We only need to come to Christ to receive that –

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Come and embrace Christ. When you do, you will not find wrath or a telling off. But you will find comfort and tender words from a loving Father that pours his love on his Son and therefore pours his love on you.

Bruised Reed: Bruised and Yearning

What does it meant to be a Bruised Reed? Well Sibbes described being bruised as:

“The bruised reed is a man (or woman) that for the most part is in some misery, as those were that came to Christ for help, and by misery he is brought to see sin as the cause of it…This is such  as our Saviour Christ terms `poor in spirit’ (Matt. 5:3), who sees his wants, and also sees himself indebted to divine justice.” (page 3 and 4)

To be bruised is to be in some form of misery, seeing your sin and knowing that only Christ can quench any thirst. Sibbes goes on to say: “He has no means of supply from himself or the creature, and thereupon mourns, and, upon some hope of mercy from the promise and examples of those that have obtained mercy, is stirred up to hunger and thirst after it.”

As we are bruised and in some misery or heartache, we find no comfort in anything of this world. It is true that some things in this world can comfort such as family, love, chocolate but in the end they soon fade and they soon fail. So we hunger for more, we hunger for an ever-lasting comfort that will soothe our misery and bind our wounds.

And so we hunger and thirst for Christ because in the darkness and in misery, Christ is the only one you can cling to. And therefore there are always great hopes when being and feeling like a bruised child of God because the Gospel can appear very soothing when we grasp it and remind ourselves of it in times of heartache.

So Sibbes then shows us how being in a season of misery, of being a bruised reed and yearning for Christ can bring about good things in our lives:

1. The Gospel becomes sweet to us! Sibbs says: “Again, this bruising makes us set a high price upon Christ. Then the gospel becomes the gospel indeed; then the fig leaves of morality will do us no good.” As we look to Christ in our pain and suffering we see our suffering servant and his words become sweet.

2. It makes us more thankful to God“and, from thankfulness, more fruitful in our lives” As we look upon the face of Christ, we cannot help but be full of thankfulness as we endure and after we endure such bruising which will result in more fruit in our lives.

3. Aligns us with Gods ways “Likewise this dealing of God establishes us the more in his ways, having had knocks and bruisings in our own ways.” With such misery, it can remind us of Christ our suffering God and remind us that he knows what we are going through and sometimes he uses our suffering to remind us that his ways of working in us can be different to what we expect.

4. To humble us“After conversion we need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds, and not oaks. Even reeds need bruising, by reason of the remainder of pride in our nature, and to let us see that we live by mercy.” We are often very proud, I know my heart is and I know when you meet someone who is going through a great suffering or misery that there can be a humilty about them that may not have been there before.

5. To encourage us“Such bruising may help weaker Christians not to be too much discouraged, when they see stronger ones shaken and bruised.” Christianity isn’t about being strong, but it is about the weak and the poor and the poor in spirit and Christ ministers to these people.

Do you find that encouraging? I think with suffering it can be so difficult to understand and many answers are trite and perhaps you disliked what Sibbes is saying.

But I hope you can see two things:

1. Our God is a suffering God. Jesus is our suffering God, who has gone through suffering and knows what misery and darkness there is in that pit. It gives me comfort that Jesus knows what is in the darkness and he can shine a light through it.

2. God never wastes the season we are in, he enriches us and shapes us for our good! We hear that often and it isn’t satisfying when you may be going through a long period of darkness. I don’t have all the answers, but I think what Sibbes is saying that this isn’t wasted time, it isnt worthless and Christ is always your comfort through it.

So I want to end this post with one more encouraging thing Sibbes says when we encounter people who may judge us as we struggle like a bruised reed –

“Ungodly spirits, ignorant of God’s ways in bringing his children to heaven, censure broken-hearted Christians as miserable persons, whereas God is doing a gracious, good work with them. It is no easy matter to bring a man from nature to grace, and from grace to glory, so unyielding and intractable are our hearts.”

Second Guest Post – A book review

So I have written my second Guest Post over at Anita’s blog! I have written a review of one of the most influential books in my life as a Christian. The book is the Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes. Have a look at the review here.

Following on from that I will be starting a mini series of the book on this blog from tomorrow and over the next few days. Looking at some of the themes brought up in the book and hopefully show you more of the love of Christ. I did a bit of this when I was over at blogspot, but I have revamped the posts a little and my hope is that they will encourage you to look at Christ more and more each day. Enjoy!

Appeal to our emotions with Christ

Emotions in Christianity are quite a strange thing. We often say that it isn’t about how we feel, but it is about the how we hold on to the truth, that emotions don’t play a part in our faith. Although often that is expressed more in the sermon then in the sung worship where we appeal to our emotions to “press into God”. I think we get a little mixed up, I think I can get a little mixed up. Sometimes we can think that emotions are not important in Christianity and they should be put on the shelf.

Are emotions important? Well Richard Sibbes says:

“We are not as we know, but as we love… our affections are those things which declare what we are” “If we have Religion only in the brain and not in love, we shall be stripped of all. Satan will rob us of any truth.”

Jonathan Edwards says:

“If the great things of religion are rightly understood, they will affect the heart”

Affections within Christianity are of most importance. We are told in the bible to feel joy (Phil 3:1), experience sorrow (2 Cor 7:8-11),thankfulness (Col 3:15-17) to love and be zealous (Rom 12:9-11)…

Most often in preaching the appeal is to our character and knowledge, the appeal is for us to change. We read the bible to get quick fixes and we listen to sermons to “fill us up” for the week. We use worship for some display of emotion … But my heart will not change unless its been encountered with the fire of Christs love. And worship will not overflow if my heart is cold and my week will continue to trudge along with a dull heart. The answer? Its not all about emotions and how I feel? … mmm

On one part no. Your salvation and how God sees you is not based on your emotions. AT ALL. But how about your affections towards Christ? How are they? Do you love him? Are you enjoying him?

What if you heard how wonderful Christ is? That his love for you is far greater than you can imagine? That you can come to him in what ever state you are in and his love will place fire in your heart and warm you up. That he died for you not because he hates you, but because he loves you and you can have life in Him. Have you seen how beautiful he is and how his radiance shines and how he lavishes his love on you, his bride? Oh yes, he gets angry but only when you throw that love away and prostitute yourself to idols, he wants your heart, he wants you to come to the fountain of living water where you will never be thirsty again. Do you know him? If you do not know this Jesus, then someone needs to tell you…

So I plead, preacher, that you appeal to our emotions and preach the wonderful Christ who died for us, speak of his love with such passion and joy and deep love that I cannot help but see him and have his love burn in my heart. I will encounter Him with such worship and such zeal and passion, not because I am “pressing in” but because the Spirit cries “Abba Father” and Jesus has already pressed into the Father for me and I will just enjoy him, sitting in his love and having my heart melted.. Preach Christ and not morality or how to be a better christian or some mysterious power “god” and you will see a different church.

Emotions are important. The church won’t do mission without Joy and love in Christ.

And there will be times when we don’t feel like we are in a good place and we can’t say we are enjoying Jesus. And yes we must remember the truths, but we must cling to Christ. He does not stamp on the bruised reed. It’s not about feeling happy, but it is about coming to Christ as a bruised reed and knowing that his love is there for you and as I have heard from a friend – When you don’t desire God, Jesus desires him for us… cling to Jesus and let your heart be warmed, however long it takes.

Related Post: Affections of the heart