“Eternity in Our Hearts”, by John W. Tweeddale (Hope, Betrothal to Christ, Beloveds)

Eternity in Our Hearts by John W. Tweeddale

Few things better capture the anticipation of seeing Christ face-to-face than a wedding. On January 14, 1632, the Scottish Presbyterian pastor and theologian Samuel Rutherford wrote a letter drawing attention to this phenomenon. He states, “Our love to [Christ] should begin on earth, as it shall be in heaven; for the bride taketh not by a thousand degrees so much delight in her wedding garment, as she doth in her bridegroom.”

If you have ever been to a wedding, you will appreciate Rutherford’s observation. No matter how beautiful her dress, the bride never walks down the aisle with her gaze on her gown. Her focus is on her soon-to-be husband. Rutherford extends the illustration to help us see more clearly the real wonder of heaven.

He continues, “So we, in the life to come, howbeit clothed with glory as with a robe, shall not be so much affected with the glory that goeth about us, as with the bridegroom’s joyful face and presence.” Under the surface of Rutherford’s old-fashioned prose is a profound illustration. As stunning as heaven will be, what makes it so marvelous is that we will finally see our Savior’s face. The church as the bride will be with Jesus as the groom, and they will live happily ever after.

Nearly two centuries after Rutherford wrote his famous letters, an English poet named Anne Cousin penned the well-known hymn “The Sands of Time Are Sinking” based on Rutherford’s “sweet sayings.” One stanza in particular encapsulates the drama of beholding Christ in glory:

The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory, but on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth, but on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.

This side of eternity, the Christian life is like an engagement. It is lived in anticipation of the wedding day. As Christians, we live in between the already of our betrothal to Christ and the not-yet of the wedding feast of the lamb. We are to be like the bride-to-be who takes every occasion to prepare for life with her beloved. The expectation of seeing Christ by sight in heaven must therefore inform how we live by faith here on earth. The expectation of seeing Christ by sight in heaven must inform how we live by faith here on earth.

On a more basic level, the eagerness felt by engaged couples exposes a fundamental desire that all people share: a longing for eternity. This point is well made by the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 3:9–11:

What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Let’s consider two ways this text teaches us about our longing for eternity. First, we are told that God “has made everything beautiful in its time” (v. 11). One modern commentator has called this verse “the greatest statement of divine providence in the whole of Scripture.” What makes this biblical text so striking is that there is much in life that is far from beautiful. But the Preacher isn’t unaware of the ugliness that pervades the world. His question in verse 9 echoes the curse pronouncement in the garden of Eden: “What gain has the worker from his toil?” This is not merely a rhetorical question that is detached from the pressures of real life experience (see 1:3). The apparent futility of hard work with little gain is something he has witnessed firsthand. “I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with” (3:10).

To be clear, the biblical record affirms the dignity of work. Before the fall, Adam and Eve were commanded to execute their duties with the promise of being fruitful (Gen. 1:28–31; 2:15–17; see Eccl. 3:13). But after the fall, work is toilsome (Gen. 3:17–19). We no longer perform our tasks in the lush environs of a garden but in the harsh conditions of a wilderness filled with thorns and thistles, failure and frustration.

As the Preacher laments in Ecclesiastes 2:23, “Work is a vexation.” When we face hardship in our careers, injustice in the workplace, and defeat in completing assignments, we are confronted with the painful truth that this fallen world will never yield lasting gain. Vocational dissatisfaction reminds us that we were made for something greater than that which our hobbies and careers can offer.

But there is hope. We are told that God has made everything beautiful in its time. The “everything” in Ecclesiastes 3:11 harks back to the “everything” in verse 1: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” That life is lived under the watchful care of a sovereign Creator illumines our understanding of everything. In light of His providence, we learn that there is a time for birth and death, for planting and gathering, for mourning and dancing, for war and peace. Over all these things, God is in control. The beauty is found in the discovery that God orchestrates every last detail according to His perfect design.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 is the Romans 8:28 of the Old Testament. In Romans 8:28, the Apostle Paul states, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Notice that Paul does not say that all things are good but that all things work together for good. And what is the good? It is being conformed into the likeness of Christ (v. 29). As Christians experience the seasons of life, we can be comforted in knowing that God uses every circumstance to shape us more and more into the image of His Son.

On August 24, 1662, more than two thousand ministers were ejected from the Church of England for not conforming to the Book of Common Prayer. The day was known as Black Bartholomew’s Day, a solemn reference to when thousands of French Huguenots were massacred on the same day in 1572. One of the ejected ministers was a Puritan named Thomas Watson. In response to the Great Ejection, he wrote a short book titled A Divine Cordial, based on Romans 8:28, in order to comfort Christians undergoing suffering.

He observed that “the best things and the worst things, by the overruling hand of the great God, do work together for the good of the saints.” It is undeniable that this world is often grim and filled with heartache. But God beautifully uses both joys and sorrows to transform us as Christians into the likeness of Christ. Disappointments have a way of making us long even more to be with Him.


Second, we are told that God “has put eternity into man’s heart” (Eccl. 3:11). These words anticipate the opening of Augustine’s Confessions, where he states: “To praise You is the desire of man, a little piece of Your creation. You stir man to take pleasure in praising You, because You have made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” Both the ancient Preacher and the church father affirm that we are created with a knowledge of God and a longing for eternity.

Whereas Augustine draws attention to the restlessness we experience apart from knowing God in Christ, the Preacher in Ecclesiastes makes a slightly different point. By emphasizing the futility of life under the sun, he pushes us to recognize our innate awareness of eternity.

Notice how much the Preacher says he perceives about the ways of God. He understands that God gives work to men as a gift (Eccl. 3:10, 13), that God makes everything beautiful in its time (v. 11a), that God puts eternity into man’s hearts (v. 11b), that God’s purposes are inscrutable (v. 11c), that God’s plans endure forever (vv. 14–15), and that God will judge the righteous and the wicked (vv. 16–22).

In short, the Preacher knows that God’s ways are beautiful, incomprehensible, and eternal. Although we are finite and fallen creatures, God has given us the capacity to discern that history has a purpose, even if we are unable to understand fully “what God has done from the beginning to the end” (v. 11). Being confronted with our finitude should increase our dependence on God. We are to live our lives from the vantage point of eternity.

Sin, however, distorts this perspective. We no longer treat work as a gift from God but as a platform for personal greatness. Time is seen not as something beautiful that should be redeemed but as something inconsequential that can be squandered. History is understood not as the arena of God’s providential rule but as the playground for the powerful to prey on the weak. And eternal life is not to be desired but to be mocked by those who only live for the moment. Ecclesiastes teaches us that such fatalism is futile. We are made to know God. Nothing apart from eternity with Him will satisfy our deepest longings.

The good news is that Christ provides the way for sinful people to dwell in the presence of God forever. As the Apostle Peter states, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). This eternal hope is what we live for. As pilgrims who are traveling from this world to the next, we wake up each morning eagerly awaiting the return of our King. We recognize that every Lord’s Day is a foretaste of eternity. And for the rest of the week, we punch our time clocks knowing that even our toils are being used by God to prepare us for Immanuel’s Land.

On the morning of Black Bartholomew’s Day in 1683, William Payne went to bid his longtime friend John Owen farewell. Payne also brought news that Owen’s last book was soon to be published. Owen memorably replied:

I am glad to hear that that performance is put to the press; but, O brother Payne, the long looked for day is come at last, in which I shall see that glory in another manner than I have ever done yet or was capable of doing in this world!

Owen’s dying testimony was to remind his congregation of eternity. He wanted them to know that the only way to see Christ by sight in heaven is to first behold Him by faith here on earth.

Dr. John W. Tweeddale is academic dean and professor of theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Fla., and a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. He is author of John Owen and Hebrews.

Source: Tabletalk Magazine

“Prayer; Gathering to Breathe God”, from L.Willows & Prayer Resources (Quotes on Prayer, God with us, Worship)

Knocking at the Door of Prayer

Prayer as always been a great passion of mine. I am grateful for a weekly prayer group. It is one of the greatest blessings in my life. We have been meeting together for years.  I remember that when I first started going, I would pray in the car on my way there, “Lord, help me learn to pray well in the group to glorify you. Please help me not to be self conscious, or afraid.” As I neared my destination I remember saying, “And, Lord- please guard me against the sin of pride, prepare my heart for prayer. May your Holy Spirit form the words.” Then, I remember parking the car, knocking on the door and feeling exhilarated as we sat down together quietly- ready to begin. The meetings have altered my heart and my life.

The door that we each knock on is always there wherever we are. It is God’s gift to us. As O. Hallesby says “To pray is nothing more involved than to open the door, giving Jesus access to our needs and permitting him to exercise his own power in dealing with them.”

The Lord’s kindness and patience is soft and merciful.

He hears the intentions of our hearts when we pray. My desire was to worship Him and glorify Him corporately.

We need to bring our hearts to the Lord during these times. Our journeys are each different but we all need the power of prayer in our lives. I have come to experience that there are different experiences of prayer in life. First prayer is in ongoing relationship with God each day.  Some agree that it can be practiced many times a day. Scripture says “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” Ephesians 6:18.  Prayer is also with a prayer partner or in triads. Cooperate prayer is praying with a small or large group. Matthew 18:19-20- Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

I believe that we need to gather together and worship.

When we gaze at the beauty and majesty of the Lord, our hearts melt.

We soften and become His; ready to meet with Him. The hardened parts that have battled the day or denied Him even for a moment, come forward and bend towards the Light of His Love. There, we begin Prayer. We remember who we are– His own, His Beloveds

Our hearts bow before the majesty of His Presence and seeing God’s beauty, we express our adoration and praise.  When we gathering before God, we stand before Holiness. In our prayer closets in our homes, in the intimate temple of His Love- we are with The Eternal One. The Lord Jesus is known and experienced  by the power of His Spirit through prayer. 

God is with us.

The Almighty God breathes his love, goodness, purpose and blessings into us through prayer.

Because of the joy and encouragement that prayer gives to me, I wanted to share some quotes that I found with you:

St. Augustine – Do you wish to pray in the temple? Pray in your own heart. But begin by being God’s temple, for he will listen to those who invoke him in his temple.

E.M. Bounds – Prayer is a wonderful, powerful; tool placed by Almighty God in the hands of His saints, which may be used to accomplish great purposes and to achieve unusual results. Prayer reaches to everything, takes in all things great and small which are promised by God to men. The only limits to prayer are the promises of God and his ability to fulfill those promises.

E. M. Bounds – Prayer is God’s life-giving breathe. God’s purposes move along the pathway made by prayer to their glorious designs. God’s purposes are always moving to their high and beneficial ends, but the movement is along the way marked by unceasing prayer. The breathe of prayer is from God.

E. M. Bounds -God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil.

John Bunyan – When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than words without heart.

Chrysostom, Saint Joan -Prayer is…a treasure undiminished, a mine never exhausted, a sky unobstructed by clouds, a haven unruffled by storm. It is the root, the fountain, ands the mother of a thousand blessings.

Billy Graham – Prayer is the rope that pulls God and man together. But it doesn’t pull God down to us: It pulls us up to him.

O. Hallesby -Prayer is so rich and so mobile that all we have to do when we pray is point to the persons of things to which we desire to have this power applied, and He, the Lord of this power, will direct the necessary power to the desired place at once.

O. Hallesby – To pray is nothing more involved than to open the door, giving Jesus access to our needs and permitting him to exercise his own power in dealing with them.

C. S. Lewis -Simply to say prayers is not to pray; otherwise a team of properly trained parrots would serve as well as men in prayer.

C. S. Lewis – It is quite useless knocking on the door of heaven for earthly comfort; it’s not the sort of comfort they supply there.

Martin Lloyd Jones – Everything we do in the Christian life is easier than prayer.

Martin Luther – To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.

Thomas Merton – And when God reveals himself to us in contemplation we must accept him as He comes to us, in His own obscurity, in His own silence, not interrupting Him with arguments or words, concentrations or activities that belong to the level of our own tedious and labored existence.

F. B. Meyer – The great tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer but unoffered prayer.

George Mueller – When once I am persuaded that a thing is right, I go on praying for it till the end comes. I never give up till the answer comes. The great fault of the children of God is that they do not continue in prayer. They do not persevere. If they desire anything for God’s glory, they should pray until they get it.”

Charles Spurgeon – Because God is the living God, he can hear; because he is a loving God, he will hear; because he is our covenant God, he had bound himself to hear.

Charles Spurgeon – Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscle of omnipotence.

Charles Spurgeon – On his knees, the believer is invincible.

Mother Teresa -Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of himself. Ask and seek, and your heart will grow big enough to receive him and keep him as your own.

Saint Teresa of Avila – Prayer doesn’t consist of thinking a great deal, but of loving a great deal.

John Vianney – The interior life is like a sea of love in which the soul is plunged and ism, and is, as it were, drowned in love. Just as a mother holds her child’s face in her hands to cover it with kisses, so does God hold the devout man.

© 2020 Linda Willows

Suggested Prayer Resources:

From L.Willowslinks for further reading on site on Prayer

The Power of Prayer, from R.A. Torrey (united prayer, worship, God who Loves)

Rejoice in Hope, Be Patient in Tribulation, Be Constant in Prayer by John Piper

Draw Near to God in Prayer: John Calvin on The Definition and Effectiveness of Prayer, by Dr. Joel R. Beeke

Draw Near to God Through Prayer; John Calvin’s “Rules of Prayer”

Prayer; Pouring to God through Christ, John Bunyan on Prayer

Rejoice in Hope, Be Patient in Tribulation, Be Constant in Prayer by John Piper

Conforming to God’s Holiness from Ligonier Ministries of RC Sproul

Is Anything Too Hard For The Lord? Sermon from C.H.Spurgeon, 1888 Metropolitan Tabernacle

Draw Near to God in Prayer: John Calvin on The Definition and Effectiveness of

Prayer, by Dr. Joel R. Beeke

Puritan Prayer, The Deeps

The Love of Jesus, Puritan Prayer

Praying in the Spirit, Martin Lloyd Jones

Eight Keys to Prayer by Marilee Pierce Dunker, Ambassador to World Vision

Praying in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, by John Walwoord

Praying in the Name of Jesus by O Hallesby

And So We Pray, Reconciliation

The Saint’s Happiness by Richard Sibbes

The Prayer of Worship and Adoration by J. Oswald Sanders

Praying the Lord’s Prayer from Tim Keller

Kingdom Centered Prayer from Tim Keller

Prayer Transforms us by God’s Presence by Ben Patterson (God’s Prayer Book)

Revival and the Holy Spirit from Martin Lloyd Jones

“Softening, We Become His Own”, from L.Willows (a New Heart, Soft Love, Spirit of God)

I wanted to share this post from 2019 with you. We have all been through so much since then. Imagine how many chances our hearts have had to soften, to deepen, even to break in the experiences of our times. LW

Recently I encountered an old friend. In a conversation with her, she asked how I was now, as so much time had passed. “Softer, I said. “I am softer with time, after many years and experiences. Life had made my heart softer where before it had many edges and ridges. Now it sinks here and there.” I tried to describe to her what is indescribable.

Afterward, I felt thankful and filled with memories. I knew that she could not really understand. We had been separated by such distance, like the many mountains that I have traveled through in my journeys.

Life softens. God knows. He walks beside us.

Sometimes it takes time and ups and downs to soften our hearts. Only God sees our lives and our hearts in truth. Surely, He had known each detail along the way. He has been with us, beside us for every step.

What is a soft heart and what does that mean? Well, soft is new. We are born with hearts that need to become new. We need a second birth. We feel alone until we find it. We sense vulnerability and powerlessness until we find our true heart in and with God.

When I thought that I was alone, I tried harder, I often created much effort believing that I needed to do things on my own. I thought that I needed to form strengthening skills to survive. We all develop heart-survival skills because we forget that God is with us on the journey. He is our true and only strength in life’s journey. Everything else falls away or may fail. Real Strength was not even about me!

Real strength is about God, not us.

Psalm 76:26 –“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Philippians 4:13 -“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

As we find Him, we are given a new Heart.

Ezekiel 26:36 –“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

2 Corinthian 5:17 –“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Soft is the Spirit of Christ’s Love in our hearts.

When the new forms in us, and we belong to Christ we, are saved by faith. The process of becoming like Him is ongoing, it is Sanctification. That new heart grows. It becomes our new inner Influencer!

We and our lives are never the same again. The ridges become containers that are filled with the pourings of God’s blessings, with His Spirit – like waters that fill us and our hearts with newness. Imagine a thirsty valley in the springtime receiving the rains of God’s love season after season. We Soften, we are fed and the fruit of His Spirit grows in us.

Galatians 5:22-23 –“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

When we become new, we live as His Own. We can live with hearts softly, lovingly. I am not there, I pray that I live a life that gives rich evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. I have a long way to go still. But the parts that ‘sink here and there’ are soft enough to be filled by God’s Spirit. I am so grateful for His Goodness, and for so many Blessings – surely there are challenges but the Lord is at my side. (and with you) This is the only journey that I would ever want to be on.

© 2019 Linda Willows

Pray Soft

I pray that we soften to the miracle of knowing God’s Love,
to the reunion of walking each hour of the day in His Mercy.

I pray soft listening for our hearts, that we hear His Voice
amidst the challenges of our lives; from the calls that we are each given.

I pray soft walking in this world as we journey with one another.
Let us find each other in His Arms as One.

I pray for soft forgiveness in our relationships near and far; help us
all to remember how much we have been forgiven, and open our hearts.

I pray soft tenderness so that we open doors for others; let us be generous
and gracious givers in this wondrous life that we have –

for the Lord God has been so good and kind to each of us.

In Jesus Name,
Amen