Protected To Be Fruitful 

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

We just finished a 2-week look at Psalm 88 & Psalm 89 which reminded us of the reality of temporary darkness and the certainty of eternal light. We said our dark days are meant to get our attention to rely on God’s covenant promise. 

Something else we should be aware of: Whenever we run to or return to Jesus, the enemy of our souls prepares an attack (1 Samuel 7:3-10; 1 Peter 5:8). 

The next psalm with a Selah is David’s prayer in Psalm 140. Selah appears 3 times in this short, 13-verse psalm. 

We’ve said that Selah can mean a pause to carefully consider, a pause to observe the contrasts, or a pause to prepare for a crescendo. The Selahs after verses 3 and 5 don’t appear to fit the second or third definitions, but why would David ask us to pause to consider what wicked men are doing? I believe it is because we need to pause to contemplate two vital things, which I’ll share with you in a moment. 

But first, notice the wicked men and evil times that David is confronting. He speaks of evildoers, violent people, wicked men, arrogant people, and slanderers (vv. 1, 4-5, 8, 11). 

Surrounding the first two Selahs, check out David’s prayer for God to…

  • …rescue me (v. 1a)—get me out of here, or take the evil away from me  
  • protect me (v. 1b, 5b)—don’t let me be defeated or even diminished  
  • keep me (v. 4a)—we might say David is asking God to “watch my six” or guard the places I cannot see (notice the words net and traps in v. 5b) 

The first Selah lesson we should take away is: There, but for the grace of God, go I. 

If I hadn’t accepted Jesus as my Savior and had a new nature imparted to me, I would be doing exactly what these wicked people are doing. Paul tells Timothy what evil people will do, and he tells the Corinthian Christians that they used to be those same kinds of people (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 1 Corinthians 6:11). 

When I see evil men, men of violence, and wicked people who are proud and slandering, I need to Selah to pray that the light and love of Jesus will be revealed to them. 

The second Selah lesson we should take away is: God is doing something in my life through wicked men and evil times. 

The words the Holy Spirit prompted David to pen have a richer definition than what I previously shared with you. Check this out…

  • rescue me (v. 1a) also means make me strong and well-armed for battle  
  • …protect me (v. 1b, 5b) envisions a gardener carefully watching over his vineyard to bring the plants to fruitful maturity (like in John 15:1-2)  
  • keep me (v. 4a) can mean “fight for me”  

Sometimes God protects me from violence. Sometimes God protects me through violence. Whatever the case, I can be assured that I will be rescued and He will be glorified. This prayer in Psalm 140 is a prayer for protection so that we can be fruitful for God’s kingdom.

We need to Selah during the evil times we live in and whenever we have to endure wicked attacks. 

  1. Selah to thank God that you have been redeemed from that evil lifestyle by your faith in Jesus, and then pray for your attackers (Matthew 5:44). 
  2. Selah to thank God that He is using even evil people to make you more fruitful, to arm you for battle, and to glorify His name (Mark 13:9). 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Selah series, you can check them all out by clicking here. 

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Links & Quotes

John Maxwell makes it clear in this quote that leaders are to focus on the other person: “Lead according to their dream. Coach according to their weakness. Mentor according to their potential. Delegate according to their strengths. Relate according to their personality.” —John Maxwell 

In my ongoing Monday Motivation video series, I shared one of my favorite Bible verses about mentoring:

A very interesting mini-biography of Alexander Hamilton: American Prodigal—The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Alexander Hamilton.

“…One of my favorite analogies of prayer is a wartime walkie-talkie. I like to contrast the wartime walkie-talkie of prayer with the domestic intercom. What I like to say is that one of the reasons prayer malfunctions is because people take a wartime walkie-talkie and try to turn it into a domestic intercom, in which they ring up the butler to please bring another pillow to the den. 

“Prayer is not designed as an intercom between us and God to serve the domestic comforts of the saints. It’s designed as a walkie-talkie for spiritual battlefields. It’s the link between active soldiers and their command headquarters, with its unlimited fire-power and air cover and strategic wisdom. When you understand this, you can pray the locks off people’s hearts.” —John Piper

“I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance.” —John D. Rockefeller

“Envy is the demand that what will make me happy is what I do not possess.” —Dr. John Townsend

How Nazi rocket scientist Wernher von Braun became a Christian. Here’s an interview by C. M. Ward.

Here is a brief clip from a recent Craig And Greg Show leadership podcast that honors my grandpa’s words and gives something for all leaders to aspire to: honoring others…

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Accepting It For What It Is

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Accepting It For What It Is

…For the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 1:20).

     In the Word of God the teaching has unique dignity. This Book is inspired as no other book is inspired, and it is time that all Christians avowed this conviction. …  

     Where are we if our Bibles are gone? Where are we if we are taught to distrust them? If we are left in doubt as to which part is inspired and what is not, we are as badly off as if we had no Bible at all. I hold no theory of inspiration. I accept the inspiration of the Scriptures as a fact.

From The Infallibility Of Scripture

I, too, accept the inspiration of the Scriptures as a fact. Every single word is perfectly inspired by the Holy Spirit. Even the order in which the words are spoken.

During the summer months, I like to lead my congregation through a study of the Book of Psalms. Currently, we are looking at the psalms that contain the word Selah. 

It is distressing to me to see how many “modern” translations of the Bible either relegate the word Selah to a footnote (like the NIV which says, “The Hebrew has Selah [a word of uncertain meaning] here”), or completely disregard this word (e.g. The Message, The Contemporary English Version, and The Living Bible, to name a few). 

Why? Do we think we are so much smarter now that we know which words the Holy Spirit truly inspired, and which ones we can leave out?

Once we start down this path, what is to stop us from modifying any word in the Bible? Many liberal-minded people want to tell us “what God really meant” in some passages, or to water down the inspiration so much to try to make it “culturally relevant” that they end up destroying its very meaning. This is not only a slippery slope, but it is something that God has already warned us against doing: 

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. (Revelation 22:18-19)

Let us accept the Word of God for what it is: Words that the mouth of Almighty God has spoken, not words that we think can be modified, improved, or eliminated. 

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In-ness

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

We said that when it comes to the Holy Spirit’s involvement in a Christian’s life: In > On. For instance, in our learning we don’t have to go to a tutor or attend classes only at set times, but we have The Tutor IN us. Or when need wisdom for decisions we don’t have to seek out the right advisors and try to coordinate their schedule with ours, but we have The Counselor IN us. 

As we saw with Samson, many times in the Old Testament we read of the Holy Spirit coming ON someone. But throughout that First Testament we also see people longing for the Spirit to be IN them. David, especially, recognized the value of the “in-ness” of the Holy Spirit in both his prayer of repentance (Psalm 51, especially vv. 10-11) and again in his beautiful prayer in Psalm 25. 

Let me point out the in-ness that permeates this 25th Psalm and then show you its fulfillment when the Holy Spirit comes to baptize believers in the New Testament. 

(1) “IN You I trust” (v. 2). Not in human abilities or personal pedigree or earthly riches, but IN the in-ness of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “He who believes IN Me—who cleaves to and trusts IN and relies on Me—as the Scripture has said, ‘From his INNERmost being shall flow continuously springs and rivers of living water.’ But He was speaking here of the Spirit, Whom those who believed (trusted, had faith) IN Him were afterward to receive…” (John 7:38-39 AMP). 

(2) “my hope is IN You” (vv. 3, 5, 21). A natural fruit of trusting IN the Holy Spirit’s empowerment is the hope that only that relationship brings. Paul talks abut this twice in his letter to the Romans. First, even in the midst of trials, Paul says we have this hope: “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out INto our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). And then Paul prays for his friends to experience this same in-ness of hope: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust IN Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). 

(3) “guide me IN Your truth … guide me IN what is right” (v. 5, 9). Jesus identified the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth Who guides us INto truth (John 14:17, 16:13). This is how Jesus lived (Matthew 4:1) and it’s how we can live too: “But I say, walk and live habitually IN the Holy Spirit—responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit—then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh…” (Galatians 5:16 AMP). 

(4) “He instructs sinners IN His ways” (v. 8, 12). The Hebrew word David uses for “teach” in vv. 4, 5, 9 is “lamad.” It means being taught in a way that equips us to teach others. Jesus “gave instructions through the Spirit” to His disciples, and then He commanded them to teach others the same way (Acts 1:2; Matthew 28:20). The Spirit of Truth that inspired the Word of God can illuminate it to our hearts as He instructs us (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17). 

(5) “the Lord confides IN those who fear Him” (v. 14). The KJV says, “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him.” Isaiah said, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21). And Jesus said that every word He spoke was directed by the Holy Spirit IN Him (John 12:49). 

(6) “I take refuge IN You (v. 20). We can take refuge IN the One whom we trust and hope, the One who leads us INto truth and instructs us, the One who confides IN us. This in-ness helps us thwart the enemy’s attacks against us. As John wrote, “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives IN you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world” (1 John 4:4 NLT). 

Don’t stop at salvation, but allow the Holy Spirit to baptize you and fill you. Don’t be satisfied with merely experiencing God’s presence ON you, but let His Spirit come IN you. 

This in-ness keeps us trustful of God, victorious over the devil, hopeful of our future, righteous in a wicked world, informed of God’s ways, peaceful in trials, and fully protected from the enemy of our souls. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series called We Are: Pentecostal, you can check out all of the messages by clicking here. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Fully Equipped For Success

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Fully Equipped For Success

The words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. (Psalm 12:6) 

     Oh, that we used more the naked Sword of the Spirit! I am afraid we keep this two-edged Sword in a scabbard, and somewhat pride ourselves that the sheath is so elaborately adorned. What is the use of the sheath? The Sword must be made bare, and we must fight with it, without attempting to garnish it. Tell forth the words of God. Omit neither the terrors of Sinai, nor the love notes of Calvary. …  

     My Master’s Word is a great opener of prison doors. … That is a most wonderful Word, which, like a battle-ax, smashes in the helmet of presumption, and at the same time, like the finger of love, touches the tender wound of the bleeding, and heals it in an instant! The words of the Lord—for breaking down or lifting up—are equally effective. …  

     The Bible may be compared to the locksmith’s bunch of keys. You handle them one by one, and say of one, ‘That is a strange key; surely it will fit no lock that ever was made!’ But one of these days the smith is sent for to open a very peculiar lock. None of his keys open it. At last he selects that singular specimen. Look! It enters, shoots back the bolt, and gives access to the treasure! …  

     Rest assured that you never will be in a labyrinth so complicated that this Book, blessed of the Spirit, will not help you through. … 

     Beloved, the words of God endure another test; they are our preservatives in times of temptation. You can write a book that may help a man when he is tempted in a certain direction. Will the same volume strengthen him when he is attracted in the opposite direction? … The devil himself cannot invent a temptation that is not met in these pages. And all the devils in hell together, if they were to hold parliament, and to call in the aid of all evil men, could not invent a device which is not met by this matchless Library of truth. It reaches the believer in every condition and position, and preserves him from all evil.

From The Bible Tried And Proved

There is no substitute for God’s Word, and there is no obstacle that the Holy Scripture cannot overcome—

ALL Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for EVERY good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) 

The Bible is our sword and battle-ax for fighting battles, it is our key to the most complicated problems, it is our map to guide us to safety, and it is our life preserver to help us overcome temptation. 

What a Book! 

I say a loud, “Amen!” to these concluding words of Charles Spurgeon: “I grieve that even to some who bear the Christian name, Holy Scripture is the least read book in their library. … Brothers and sisters, open the Book! Do it freely. Do it heartily. Do it constantly.”

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Be Careful

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Be Careful

Having a form of godliness but denying its power…. (2 Timothy 3:5)

     Time was when to be a Christian was to be reviled, if not to be imprisoned and perhaps burned at the stake. Hypocrites were fewer in those days, for a profession cost too much. …  Today religion walks forth in her velvet slippers. And in certain classes and ranks, if men did not make some profession of religion, they would be looked upon with suspicion. Therefore men will take the name of Christian upon them and wear religion as a part of full dress. …

     I do not doubt that a form of godliness has come to many because it brings them ease of conscience and they are able, like the Pharisee, to thank God that they are not as other men are. … 

     Many who have the form of godliness are strangers to its power and so are in religion worldly, in prayer mechanical, in public one thing, and in private another. True godliness lies in spiritual power, and they who are without this are dead while they live. … 

     In the depths of winter, can you warm yourself before a painted fire? Could you dine off the picture of a feast when you are hungry? There must be vitality and substantiality—or else the form is utterly worthless and worse than worthless, for it may flatter you into deadly self-conceit. Moreover, there is no comfort in it. The form without the power has nothing in it to warm the heart, to raise the spirits, or to strengthen the mind against the day of sickness or the hour of death. … 

     If you tremble at God’s Word, you have one of the surest marks of God’s elect. Those who fear that they are mistaken are seldom mistaken. If you search yourselves and allow the Word of God to search you, it is well with you. … 

     If the Spirit of God leads you to weep in secret for sin and to pray in secret for divine grace, if He leads you to seek after holiness, if He leads you to trust alone in Jesus, then you know the power of godliness, and you have never denied it.

From The Form Of Godliness Without The Power

Spurgeon mentioned the Pharisee that said, “God, I thank You that I am not like other people. Especially like that tax collector over there.” Jesus said that the tax collector who humbly said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” is the one who went home justified by God (see Luke 18:9-14). 

That’s where the warning comes in. When we begin to compare ourselves to others, when we begin to say, “I’m better than him” or “At least I don’t mess up as bad as she does,” instead of judging ourselves by God’s standard, we are in real danger of having merely a form of godliness without any real power. 

Paul said, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall,” and challenged each of us to “test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” (1 Corinthians 10:12; Galatians 6:4). 

I would challenge everyone that calls themself a Christian to be careful! Don’t fool yourself by saying, “I do all of the things a Christian is supposed to do, so I must be standing firm.” But ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you even your hidden sins, and then just as the tax collector who experienced God’s reassurance in his heart did, pray: “God, be merciful to me. Help me to correct what’s wrong. May my life be godly not just in outward performance, but in the power that can only come from a vibrant, growing relationship with You!” 

Let’s all strive to not only have the form of godliness, but to have the real energizing power of godliness on full display in our daily lives.

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Do Your Own Growing

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Do Your Own Growing

Having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (2 Timothy 3:5) 

     But now, as these people had not got the power of godliness, how did they come to hold the form of it? This needs several answers. Some come by the form of godliness in a hereditary way. Their ancestors were always godly people, and they almost naturally take up with the profession of their fathers. … 

     Not generation but regeneration makes the Christian. You are not Christians because you can trace the line of fleshly descent throughout twenty generations of children of God. … Grace does not run in the blood. If you have no better foundation for your religion than your earthly parentage, you are in a wretched case. … 

     I have seen the form of godliness taken up on account of friendships. Many a time courtship and marriage have led to a formal religiousness but a lacking heart. … Godliness should never be put on in order that we may put a wedding ring upon the finger. This is a sad abuse of religious profession. …  

     I put these things to you that there may be a great searching of hearts among us all and that we may candidly consider how we have come by our form of godliness. … 

     Let me remind you of the questionable value of that which springs out of fallen human nature. Assuredly, it brings no one into the spiritual kingdom, for ‘that which is born of the flesh is flesh.’ Only ‘that which is born of the Spirit is spirit’ (John 3:6). ‘You must be born again’ (3:7). Beware of everything that springs up in the field without the sowing of the Husbandman, for it will turn out to be a weed.

From The Form Of Godliness Without The Power

There’s an old Irish proverb that says, “You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather is.” This is equally true for Christians! 

I’m a fourth-generation Pentecostal Christian, which means I was practically raised in a church building. But still I had to come to a point in my life where I had to decide: Do I believe that Jesus is my Savior just because my parents and grandparents believed this, or because I truly believed it for myself. All of us, regardless of our parentage, have to make this choice. 

Those who simply call themselves Christian without ever examining the root of their faith are those the apostle Paul described as having a form of godliness without the power, or what Spurgeon describes as a weed. But most sobering of all are those Christians-in-name-only to whom Jesus will say, “I never knew you.” 

Please, my friend, make the choice to follow Jesus as your Lord and Savior because you have personally put your faith in Him.

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Going Farther

I wrote Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter to encourage pastors who are tired and struggling with feelings of failure. One of the most powerful sources of encouragement is more leaders surrounding a tired pastor. 

I have a chapter dedicated to this called “Going Farther.” Here’s a short excerpt—

You will not only extend your leadership by having other servant-hearted shepherds around you, but you will also have a guard against the aloneness that led to such ugly warts on the biography of otherwise powerful leaders such as David, Elijah, and Peter. 

Jesus told us to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out more workers into the field (Luke 10:2). In a similar attitude, I believe we can pray to the Chief Shepherd to send out more under-shepherds into the pastures; specifically, we can pray for those under-shepherds to be sent into the pasture where we labor. The early church showed us the example of prayer being the priority when new shepherds were needed (Acts 1:21-26, 6:3-6, 13:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:3-6). We would do well to make it a priority to pray for God to send us godly leaders that can serve alongside us. 

If you are a pastor, please pick up a copy of this book, as I truly believe it will encourage you. If you love your pastor, please give him or her a copy as a gift. I promise you that this book will bring such a fresh perspective to their ministry. 

And whether you are a pastor or a lay leader in your church, please continue to pray for God to send more laborers into your harvest field.

You can get more information on my book at ShepherdLeadershipBook.com. 

Year-End Review (2021 Edition)

I have the privilege of pastoring Calvary Assembly of God. One of the things I am honored to do is share a message from God’s Word with our church each week. And nor just teaching, but reminding folks of whatwe have learned too. The apostles Peter and Paul both saw the value in this as well.

So here are all of the sermon series that I shared in 2021. Clicking on each series title will take you to a list of all of the sermons in that series. 

Foundation Stones—Any architect will tell you: You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation. This is just as true in the spiritual realm, which is why John Calvin warned, “Those who are strong only in fervor and sharpness, but are not fortified with solid doctrine, weary themselves in their vigorous efforts, make a great noise…[and] make no headway because they build without foundation.” We have had on the Calvary website since Day 1 a link to “What we believe,” but more than just having them listed there, it is important to discuss them.

Be A First Responder—There is a line in an old hymn that convicts me every time I sing it: “Oh, what peace we often forfeit; Oh, what needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” Why are we so slow to drop to our knees in prayer when trouble strikes? It seems we fool ourselves into thinking the problem is small enough to handle on our own, or we think God isn’t concerned with something that may seem trivial, or we’ve been-here-done-this before and know the way to go. But this isn’t what our Heavenly Father desires; instead, He wants us to come to Him before we try anything else. Instead of making prayer our last resort, why don’t we strive to make it our first response!

Confessions Of A Dying Man—In our justice system, rarely will a judge allow hearsay testimony to be introduced in court. But there is one notable exception: a dying declaration. A dying declaration is the statement of a mortally injured person who is aware he or she is about to die. This statement is admissible testimony in court on the theory that a dying person has no reason not to tell the truth. Jesus was nailed to a Cross. Mortally injured, unable to escape, He had no reason to lie. In His dying moments, struggling to get enough air in His lungs to be able to speak, Jesus choked out seven statements that still have a profound impact on us today.

We Are: Pentecostal—Pentecost for over 1500 years was a celebration in Jerusalem that brought in Jews from all over the world. But on the Day of Pentecost that came just ten days after Jesus ascended back into heaven, the meaning of Pentecost was forever changed! Followers of Jesus—now empowered by an infilling of the Holy Spirit—began to take the good news of Jesus all over the world. These Spirit-filled Christians preached the Gospel and won converts to Christ even among hostile crowds, performed miracles and wonders, stood up to pagan priests and persecuting governmental leaders, and established a whole new way of living as Christ-followers. We, too, can be Pentecostal followers of Jesus Christ today. 

Selah—The word Selah appears nearly 70 times in the Bible, almost exclusively in the Psalms. Although it is primarily a musical term, it applies beautifully to our summer series. It means a pause. Throughout the Psalms, Selah appears at the end of a verse, at the end of the psalm, or sometimes even mid-sentence. But each one of them is perfectly placed by the Spirit-inspired authors to get us to take a breath and deeply contemplate what we just read or sang. 

Major Lessons From Minor Prophets—Sometimes the naming of things gives us an inaccurate picture of the thing being named. For instance, many people think the “old” in Old Testament means outdated or perhaps updated by the “new” in the New Testament. When in fact, both Testaments are needed to give us the full picture of God’s love and glory. A similar thing happens with the headings “major prophets” and “minor prophets.” It makes it sound like the major prophets have something major to say to us, while we could take or leave the minor messages of the minor prophets. In reality, they were given these headings simply because of the volume of writing—the five major prophets consist of 182 chapters, whereas the 12 minor prophets only have 67 chapters. The volume of their writing may be minor, but their content carries major messages of meteoric power! 

X-ing Out Anxiety—Two brothers—one a doctor and one a pastor—addressed the prevalence of anxiety in our culture. They wrote, “A recent survey of primary care physicians in the United States revealed that at least one-third of office visits were prompted by some form of anxiety.” Anxiety can negatively impact our relationships, our ability to think creatively, our physical health, and even our relationship with God. Thankfully, one of the titles given to Jesus is The Prince of Peace. Join us for this freeing series called X-ing Out Anxiety, where we will be learning what God’s Word says about getting free from the anxiety that is robbing us of life, and replacing that anxiety with His peace.

People Will Talk—Sometimes celebrities and other people in the public spotlight will hire a publicist to help promote their cause, build their brand, or present them in the best possible light. If you wanted to stretch the terms, you could say that some of the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament disciples could have been viewed as the “publicists” for Jesus. At least, that’s what critics might point to. But despite the best efforts and high salaries of publicists—both ancient and modern—they cannot control the “word on the street.” What people are actually saying about the one in the spotlight is usually the best evidence of who that person truly is. As we celebrate this Advent season, we are going to look at what the people on the street were saying about Jesus at the time of His birth. Before He ever performed a miracle or presented a parable—before any of His “publicists” could try to make Him look good—people were already talking. And what they said about Him is truly enlightening.

We will be returning to a couple of these series in 2022, and we’ll be launching some brand new ones as well. In either case, if you don’t have a home church in the northern Kent County area, I would love to have you join us! 

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Useful To The Master

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Useful To The Master  

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21)

     On the vessels of honor, you can see the hallmark. What is the hallmark that denotes the purity of the Lord’s golden vessels? Well, He has only one stamp for everything. When He laid the foundation, what was the seal He put upon it? ‘The Lord knows those who are His, and, everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness’ (2 Timothy 2:19). That was God’s seal! That was the impress of the great King upon the foundation stone. Do we find it here? Yes, we do. ‘Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work’ (2 Timothy 2:21). Do you see, then, that the man who is the golden or silver vessel departs from all iniquity, and that is the token of his genuine character. …  

     Brethren, I count it an honor to be useful to the meanest child of God, but I confess that the honor lies mainly in the fact that I am thereby serving the Master Himself. Oh, to be used by God! This is to answer the end of our being. If you can feel that God has used you, then you may rejoice indeed! 

     There are some Christians whom the Lord cannot much use because, first of all, they are not cleansed from selfishness. They have an eye to their own honor or aggrandizement. The Lord will not be in complicity with selfish aims! Some men are self-confident—there is too much of the ‘I’ about them, and our Master will not use them. He will have our weakness but not our strength!

From The Great House And The Vessels In It

The Church of Jesus Christ is made up of many members. The Bible uses pictures of a body, a building, and a bride to describe how all of the parts work together to bring strength and vitality to the whole. But Jesus is always the central object: He is the Head of the body, the Chief Cornerstone of the building, the beloved Bridegroom to the bride. 

Everyone in the Church is placed there by God Himself to fulfill a vital role. It is incumbent upon every single Christian to yield themselves to the sanctifying, maturing work of the Holy Spirit so that we can all be “made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” 

Don’t let either the extremes of selfishness of self-abasement limit the good work you were created to do in making the body of Christ, the building of Christ, and the bride of Christ something radiantly God-glorifying!

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