Sunday, March 02, 2008

Puritans, We Greet Thee In 2008

I signed up to the 2008 Puritan reading challenge mid January for a number of reasons. I've really loved using ‘The Valley of Vision’ Puritan prayer book to aid my devotions for some time now. I was also inspired by Timmy Brister’s reasons for getting aquainted with the Puritans. In brief, the puritans:

1. Had a relentless pursuit of God
2. Were physicians of souls
3. Possessed genuine piety
4. Were pacesetters in church history
5. Will provide a healthy perspective

January’s book for the month was The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes. I’ll admit it was hard going! It was written in 1630 and the old English used is at times extremely challenging. The bruised reed is based around Isaiah 42v1-3, namely v3...
A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. (KJV)
Sibbes explains that a bruised reed is a person in misery. This misery drives a person to see sin as the root of their misery, turning to other things for relief. It is essential for someone to be brought to this place of misery, before they can be saved, to allow the Spirit to work in their heart. Bruising is also necessary for us as Christians in our sanctification.

A smoking flax describes a situation where a fire once blazed high, however for one reason or another it no longer burns with zeal. Sibbes continually directs us to the victory of the cross as the source of encouragement when we are tempted to despair over our lack of faith and sin in our lives;
...there is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.
He practically exhorts us as Christians to continue in our duties rather than allow sin to cause us to make excuses for a lack of service for Him. We are also implored to believe Christ rather than Satan’s lies. The final chapters remind us that despite trials and tribulations, our victory in Christ is certain!

We are weak, but we are his; we are deformed, but yet carry his image upon us.

It is not too late to start the challenge! I hope to review the books as I work my way through them. I may well be reading into 2009 :-) It would be great to hear from you if you're reading too!

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