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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Spurgeon’

The cross is desecrated

by the feet of forgetfulness. (1)

In the weeks after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, church pews were filled with worshippers.  Some came to mourn, some came for hope, many came for good news.

Yet it did not take long for the crowds to dissipate.  I do not know a single pastor who was surprised by this quick reversal in worship attendance.  We are use to it.

Christians rush to worship for Christmas, for Easter, for baptism, for confirmation, for marriage, and for death.  Each time they come longing for the Good News of the Gospel, which is secured for us in the cross.

With equal speed they rush home, back to the world, and fail to return to the cross until the next crisis or holy-i-day.

I wonder how frequently God must sigh at our forgetfulness of His grace and His heart’s desire that we gather around the cross for worship.

Our stampede towards the cross and our ensuing absence from worship is a desecration of the cross and all of the grace, mercy, and hope it brings. 

David said:

“I was glad when they said to me, let us go up to the house of the Lord!” (2)

Jesus said,

“Take up your cross and follow me!” (3)

Lord forgive me when I trust your grace, ignore your presence, and flee from your cross.

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  1. Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).
  2. Psalm 122:1
  3. Matthew 16:24
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The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions (1)

We tend to believe that the most Christ-like people are those who love others graciously and generously.  A Christian’s love for others, always receives the praise of the world.

However, the most Christ-like people are those who suffer unjustly because of the sins of others.  In the eyes of the world, we call these people fools, if they suffer quietly and do not seek revenge.

Jesus suffered unjustly because of our sins.  He died on the cross, not to get revenge, but to secure the forgiveness of our sins.  This is suffering love.

Most Christians refuse to suffer.  If suffering comes to us unjustly, we seek to throw it off and we whine to God about the injustice of it all.

Jesus suffered quietly because of our sins.

Jesus considered suffering unjustly and quietly for love’s sake to be the best:

Blessed are those who suffer for righteousness sake.  

Blessed are those who suffer when falsely persecuted.

There is no greater love than to lay down your life for others.

The glory of Jesus is revealed not in His resurrection, but in His crucifixion.

God proves Himself, not by flexing His muscles and revealing His death-defying powers, but in His willingness to suffer, to die, as an innocent man.

In his great hymn about Jesus, Paul writes:

Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him. (2)

As you move into Holy Week, remember that the most holy day is not Palm Sunday’s Parade, Passover’s Feast, or Easter’s Resurrection.

The crowning jewel, the most holy moment of Holy Week is on Good Friday when Jesus cries out, “It is finished!”

There is no greater … anything ….  than a crown of thorns.

The crown of thorns is a Christian’s halo.

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  1. Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Philippians 2:8–9.

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The NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament is not a good place for the faint-hearted or over-confidant.

If you dare, ask a Duke or Missouri fan this morning how they are feeling.  Both lost in big upsets to teams everyone was looking past.  No one really expected Norfolk State and Lehigh to win.

Everyone presumed Missouri and Duke would win.  I did!

Presumptuousness is risky business.

The prophet Obadiah wrote:

“Your presumptuous heart has deceived you. You think to yourself, ‘No one can bring me down to the ground!’”  (1)

Presumptuousness leads to carelessness born out of arrogance and a sense of invulnerability.  Even in the best of times, we are all vulnerable:  “There is a temptation in every mercy; there is a snare in every joy!” (2)

The temptation in mercy is to underestimate your culpability, taking God’s grace for granted.    The snare in joy is its fleeting nature, forgetting it too is a gift from God.

Perhaps this is why David prayed:  “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins.”  (3)

David was experienced with presumptuousness, pride, and arrogance.  He once thought he was above it all.  His sin of adultery and murder were born in his sense of imperiousness.

David was praised for having a heart for God.  It is was his badge of honor, until one warm spring day when he went out onto his balcony.   Bathsheba was the temptation and the cover-up the snare.

Guard your heart!

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  1. Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2006; 2006), Obadiah 1:3.
  2. Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).
  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 19:13.

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… spiritual leakage …. 

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Spiritual leakage sounds innocent enough.

In most cases a leak is a minor inconvenience:

A leaking tire needs a patch;

A leaking faucet needs a washer;

A leaking diaper needs a replacement.

But if left unattended any leak will create a mess or perhaps a disaster.

It’s the little things which cause the biggest problems.

The Preacher teaches:

“Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks.” Ecclesiastes 10:18 (1)

Inattentiveness can bring the house down.

This is why Oswald Chambers was concerned about spiritual leakage. (2)

It is the little things we neglect, which can destroy our faith or the blessings we have from God.

One of those things is called “little sins.”  While little sins never look like a potential problem, they grow like a mustard seed and spread like kudzu.  Overnight, while we are sleeping, they take root and consume us.

Is sin ever a little thing?

Charles Spurgeon reminds us how big a little sin can become:

Sin, a little thing? Is it not a poison? Who knows its deadliness? Sin, a little thing? Do not the little foxes spoil the grapes? Does not the tiny coral insect build a rock which wrecks a navy? Do not little strokes fell lofty oaks? (3)

A little sin is second cousin to the girl who is a little bit pregnant.  Her little pregnancy will eventually give birth.  When the baby is born Dad adores him and Mom nurses him.

By the time a little sin takes root, we are madly in love and cannot imagine parting with our child.

We palliate sin in an effort to make its presence less obvious.  We do the same thing with cancer.  Give it enough morphine to remove the pain, until it grows so big it kills us.

Oswald Chambers was correct to warn us about spiritual leakage.

Are you leaking?

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  1. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ecclesiastes 10:18–19.
  2. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest : Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1993).
  3. Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).

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Do not alloy thy gold of faith 

with the dross of human confidence. (1)

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God told Joshua to be strong and courageous, but God never told Joshua to have faith in himself.

Most of us believe that we have to have faith in ourselves to be strong and courageous.  On the contrary, having faith in yourself, makes you weaker and less brave, especially when the challenge or hurt you face is bigger than you.

Daddy’s tell their little boys to “Be strong!” which really means, “Do not cry! Do not show your weakness!”  The poor child is trembling inside, desperate for strength, and his father leaves him shaking in his boots.

I am amazed at the number of Christians who are ashamed of crying out to God.  They will exclaim, “It makes me look weak, like I do not have enough faith!”

Have you ever read the Book of Psalms.  One third of the psalms are laments, David crying out to God about how awful, how hard, how unfair, how terrible things are.  In the flood of his tears he is saying, “Lord, I cannot handle this anymore. Where are you? I am desperate for you!”

Real men cry.  So, did Jesus.

Jesus wept when Lazarus died; when he saw the Temple turned into a House of Profit, and in The Garden of Gethsemane.

God sees your tears and hears you calling out to Him, not as a sign of weakness, but rather as a sign of love and trust.

When a child is overcome with sadness, fear, hurt, and trouble, he runs into the arms of the person he loves most and whom he believes loves him the most.  That is usually Mom.  Do you think Mom embraces her weeping child and thinks, “How pathetic and weak my child is!

Absolutely not!  Instead Mom is embracing her child, soaking up the love of his tears, and graciously comforts him saying, Be still my child, I love you. I am here. I am your strength!”

As one Mom told me these are the precious moments of motherhood, when your child leans on you and trusts you to comfort, provide, and defend.

When you turn to God in weakness and tears, I can guarantee you, God is beaming.

Because you are my help, 

I sing in the shadow of your wings. 

My soul clings to you; 

your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63:7-8

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(1) Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).

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Leap Day Realities

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Why is Leap Day in February?  Wouldn’t it be better to have an extra day around one of our three-day summer holiday weekends when we have more sunlight to enjoy?

Perhaps Congress can move Leap Day to either Memorial Day or Labor Day Weekend.  There is still time for this to become a GOP campaign issue before Super Tuesday.

Leap Day is not only an extra day of winter, but it becomes a day when February’s financial savings are diminished.

February is my bank account’s favorite month.  With 2-3 fewer days than other months household salaries, pensions, and social security benefits do not need to stretch as far.

While Leap Year still affords us a bit of elastic, the benefit of the shorter month to our bottom line is lessened.

Daily necessities come regularly and without interruption.  Everyday brings expenses: water, heat, groceries, gasoline, etc.  These expenses are like waves at the beach, which roll-in to shore every minute of everyday.

The regularity of daily expenses is a source of anxiety for many.  Cardinal Wolsey’s political poem speaks to our fears:

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor doggie a bone,
When she got there
The cupboard was bare
So the poor little doggie had none.

We fear running out.  It’s this uncertainty that leads people to be hoarders of either trash or their financial stash.

When God led the Hebrew slaves from Pharaoh’s plantations to freedom in the wilderness, the people were more anxious about their daily provisions than celebrating their emancipation.  To ease their anxiety, God provided them daily bread.  (See Exodus 16)

God provided manna on a daily basis.  It could not be hoarded and saved for a rainy day nor for Leap Day.  For forty years the people of God learned to rely on Him, not their banker, to provide their daily needs.

Better have God for your guardian, than the Bank of England for your possession. You might spend the wealth of the Indies, but the infinite riches of God you can never exhaust. (1)

.

Look at the birds of the air: 

they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,

and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. 

Are you not of more value than they? (2)

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  1. Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mt 6:26.

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“O people of God, be great believers! 

Little faith will bring your souls to heaven, 

but great faith will bring heaven to your souls.” 

Charles H. Spurgeon

.

Early in my ministry an Elder said to me, “Rus, you talk about faith too much!”

Somewhat taken aback by his concern, I said, “If I your pastor do not tell you to have faith in God, who will?”

This Elder was a man of absolute integrity.  He was a good man.  However, as a prudent man, he did not believe the church should take on any task unless every detail was guaranteed.  Nor did he believe Elders should plan on spending money that was not already in the bank.

He had never trusted God to provide in little things, thus he never saw God provide in a big way.

One of the blessing of being a Pastor is that in the course of ministry, I get to see God work miracle after miracle.  I have learned to expect God to provide.  Having great faith in God comes naturally to me.

Many Christians are so certain that God will not provide they never pray for a miracle, they never step out in faith, and thus, they never see God work a miracle.  Their faith remains little.

Five times in His ministry Jesus rebukes the disciples for being men of little faith!

Jesus rebukes them in:

  • Matthew 6:30 – when they are worried about daily provisions;
  • Matthew 8:26 – when a storm blows in while they are in a boat;
  • Matthew 14:31 – when Peter begins to sink after walking on water;
  • Matthew 16:8 – when they worried about not bringing bread;
  • Matthew 17:20 – when they are unable to cast out a demon.

I can only imagine Jesus’ exasperation with the disciples.  They had seen Him work so many miracles, yet they still had little faith.

The only way to grow your faith, is to live in faith.  In time, you will begin to see God providing and working miracles everyday.  It is then that you will be blessed with great faith!

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Let your faith rest not in the wisdom of men, 

but in the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:5

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