The Christian’s Reasonable Service / Vol. 4 - Quotes

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Greetings from China (work detail)!!!

Brakel opens Volume 4 with a chapter on the Christian exscerises of Fasting and Watchfulness (spiritual & physical). At the end of the chapter on Watchfulness Brakel comments on the lack of earnestness and zeal in his day, but provides an encouragement that the excercises of fasting and even special times of forfeiting sleep might renew our zeal when we become lazy. Oh, how easy it is to become a lazy servant of the Lord.

Vol. IV, page 17:

From all this we observe what earnestness and zeal these holy men had; if we only had more zeal, we would emulate them more. However, alas! this earnestness and zeal is lacking in these days which are void of zeal, and therefore, why am I even speaking here of specific days of fasting and night-watches? However, the Lord can yet let this be a means so that it will not be entirely forgotten. May someone yet be stirred up by this—or at least be convinced of his lack of zeal, being even too hasty in his morning and evening exercises. May he be convinced how far removed he is from a frame which would stir him to arise in the night or that would move him to set apart a portion of the beginning or end of the night to be watchful for the purpose of engaging in prayer.

Volume 4 is setting up to be unique to the other volumes in reminding the Christian of different spiritual exercises, that are often not taught or encouraged anymore (or worse not even known!!). Next up: Time of Solitude.
 
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JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Excited about this. Even though I have read Vol.4, I am keen to see what you draw out of it. Keep it up!
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Do we seek times of solitude? Here Brakel gives a definition of this intentional Christian practice on pg. 19:
Solitude is a separation from all men for a period of time in order to be enabled to express one’s self more earnestly and freely as one engages himself in seeking after God.

As he closes the chapter, he list some clarifying points on the practice of intentional solitude. I found point 4 to be very encouraging for me from pg. 24 (particularly the Dutch Poem):
(4) Continually occupy yourself with prayer, thanksgiving, waiting, reading, and singing—even if you do so without feeling and cannot get your heart involved in it. The Lord will be pleased with your efforts and will grant you a blessing.

Take heed that you keep your secret place holy, Or else it will not be safe there.
When do you keep your secret place holy? When you have intimate fellowship with God.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Oh, how easy it easy to become a lazy servant of the Lord.

In prayer and in my singing of the Psalms, whenever I come across the term servant, I never apply it to myself. I pray about this that I could still become a true servant of the Lord even at this late stage in my life. A faithful servant of the Lord just implies too much for what I know to be true about myself. I still hope to use the terminology and apply it to myself, but in the few months I turn 70 years old, and I still can not boldly say the word.

Psalm 119:174‭-‬176 ESV
I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
In prayer and in my singing of the Psalms, whenever I come across the term servant, I never apply it to myself. I pray about this that I could still become a true servant of the Lord even at this late stage in my life. A faithful servant of the Lord just implies too much for what I know to be true about myself. I still hope to use the terminology and apply it to myself, but in the few months I turn 70 years old, and I still can not boldly say the word.

Psalm 119:174‭-‬176 ESV
I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.
1. Thank you for quoting me because I needed correction to my typo.
2. I think Christians should feel comfortable using the terminology assigned to them in God’s word. I think I understand your sentiment, but I would still encourage you to be okay with viewing yourself as a servant of the Lord. Our flesh and the Devil often do not want us to look to God’s Word for a corrective view. This can manifest itself in many ways. For example:

a. Men who do not view themselves as sinners (the Bible says otherwise).

b. Many a saint, myself included, can go through seasons of letting shame keep them from drawing near to the
Lord (the Bible gives us commands/promises to remember our High Priest and to draw near).

c. Viewing oneself as a servant (Jesus teaches we cannot serve 2 Masters, this presupposes the Master/Servant relationship). More simply put, it’s just categorically and biblically appropriate.

So my own take is that I am either a servant of the devil or of Christ. Yes, many days I am so lazy. I too feel your hesitancy especially when singing some of the Psalms. However, viewing myself as scripture views me has been vital not only to humbling my pride, but also to pulling me out of low places. This view has also helped in training up and praying for my children (we often pray as a family, Lord help us to be faithful children and faithful servants of You our Father and King). So I dwell less on being hesitant with the term “servant” because that is what the Lord has made us in Christ (slaves of righteousness). I focus more on the distinction (including in prayer & song) of faithful vs unfaithful; that is where my own hesitancy lies. I am the Lord’s servant (whether I like it or not) and thankfully even in my darkest times, I have always felt him drawing me back away from my sin and shame and into the riches of his mercy, truth, and love.
 
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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel next touches on the Christian Exercise of Spiritual Meditation. I felt Brakel provided some helpful warnings and encouragements for those of us who sometimes go through seasons of feeling empty of spiritual emotions. So below are 2 quotes from the chapter on Spiritual Meditation, 1 a self-check for those of us who may at times run to books for the wrong reason & 2 to encourage those of us who may not feel spiritually GIANT enough to practice Christian Meditation:

Pg. 27:
His best mental activity consists in being occupied in the acquiring of knowledge of the Word; however, his objective in doing so is not sound, for it is his objective to be esteemed as a wise man, to be knowledgeable like others, and to be able to converse well. We dealt with such natural meditation in chapter 43.

Instead, spiritual meditation is the activity of a godly person who has spiritual light and life—the one less and the other more. He knows God and has a desire after God; this is the reason why his heart is repeatedly drawn to God. It was so sweet and delightful to him to have seen and tasted something of God that he could not forget it. Time and again it comes to mind and he desires to experience this again in a greater measure. Such meditation gives this experience a new sense of sweetness and stirs up his desires.

And further down Pg. 27-28:
At times the heart is empty and does not yield any food for thought; this could result in wandering thoughts. Then we are to select subject matter for meditation, and it is advisable initially to select an easy subject matter, such as the way in which the Lord has led us since childhood; that is, the parents from whom we were born, what transpired in our families, how we were raised, how we conducted ourselves, where we attended school or labored and what has transpired there, the sins committed in our youth, how things progressed after that, and how we conducted ourselves during our teenage years. One could also meditate upon the prosperity and adversity we have encountered, the ways in which the Lord has led us unto the means of salvation, what initially moved us to repent, and how—by way of falling and rising—this came to pass. If we thus proceed from season to season, from experience to experience, from location to location, and from encounter to encounter, it will time and again stir special motions within us.
 
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RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Brakel next touches on the Christian Exercise of Spiritual Meditation. I felt Brakel provided some helpful warnings and encouragements for those of us who sometimes go through seasons of feeling empty of spiritual emotions. So below are 2 quotes from the chapter on Spiritual Meditation, 1 a self-check for those of us who may at times run to books for the wrong reason & 2 to encourage those of us who may not feel spiritually GIANT enough to practice Christian Meditation:

Pg. 27:




And further down Pg. 27-28:

In line with your last quote, it's sometimes helpful to default to some attribute of God in our meditations. I often find thoughts of God's holiness or blessedness to be invigorating. I don't want to call it a "jump start", but if you know some aspect of God or the persons well, recalling those aspects of God can make it easier to shift to a meditative mindset.

Thank you for posting these.
 
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