Thursdays With Spurgeon—God Directs His Wind

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.

God Directs His Wind

     At the present moment, I am not able to enter fully into the subject of the new birth. I am very weary, both in body and mind, and cannot attempt that great and mysterious theme. To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven, and it is not the time to preach upon regeneration when the head is aching, or to discourse upon the new nature when the mind is distracted.

From The Holy Spirit Compared To The Wind 

Charles Spurgeon had a sermon in mind, but a headache and a distracted mind caused a course change. Can God use a headache to accomplish what He wants done? Of course He can! God knew exactly what that audience needed to hear that evening, and He arranged for His servant Charles Spurgeon to preach that needed message. 

The apostle Paul was on his way to Rome, where God had said that Paul would speak before Caesar. But on their way, such a strong wind came up against their ship that they were blown off course. The wind ultimately caused them to shipwreck on the island of Malta. It was on Malta that Paul was able to show the power of God in a couple of miraculous ways. Can God use a storm at sea to get someone where He needs him? Of course He can! 

So too with your life. You may have some plans or desires that a wind is tossing around. Don’t fight the wind and don’t curse the wind. Can God use this adversity to get you exactly where you need to be? Of course He can! He is using this wind to put you exactly where He needs you. 

Trust God in the storms!

 

Everyday Evidence

Last week we learned that speaking in tongues was one of the most noticeable and consistent characteristics of those who were baptized in the Holy Spirit. 

Speaking in tongues as the Spirit enables you is the unmistakable, objective, outward, initial physical evidence. The Bible makes clear that continuing to pray in tongues has huge benefits for both our personal prayer lives and for the corporate church body. But don’t stop there! 

The initial, outward evidence is primarily for the individual Christian—it’s a way of knowing that you know that you have indeed been baptized in the Spirit. But there also needs to be some everyday evidence for others that testifies to them that something is different about your life. 

Consider the disciples of Jesus before and after being baptized in the Holy Spirit…

Their vocabulary

Before being baptized in the Spirit they said stupid things because they didn’t know what to say (Mark 9:5-6) But after being baptized in the Spirit there was no more foot-in-mouth disease. Just as the Holy Spirit enabled them to praise God in an unlearned tongue, He also empowered their natural dialect. The same Greek word is used in Acts 2:4 (enabled by the Holy Spirit), 2:14 (Peter addressed the crowd), and 26:25 (what I am saying is true and reasonable). 

Their spiritual power

Before it was limited, and often thwarted, but afterward, it was limitless and effortless (Mark 9:17-18; Acts 3:1-8; 5:15; 6:8).

Their understanding of servanthood

Before they argued about who was the greatest. Afterward, they gladly gave all that they had to others (Mark 9:33-34; Acts 2:44-45). 

Their boldness in the face of adversity

Before they abandoned Jesus, ran away, and hid in locked rooms. Afterward, there was no intimidating or silencing them (Acts 4:8, 13, 18-20). 

Their understanding of Scripture

Before they had virtually no understanding of Scripture’s application. Afterward, they understood how to apply God’s Word in almost every situation (Acts 2:16, 33-35; 4:24-26). 

Jesus promised that the baptism in the Holy Spirit would empower us TO BE His witnesses (Acts 1:8). Not just to do things for Him. There’s nothing wrong about doing Jesus-glorifying things, but in themselves, they are too short-sighted. Jesus doesn’t want us empowered to do things, but TO BE a living, breathing, walking, talking witness of a life transformed by His power. That’s the reason why I say to you again and again: Don’t stop at salvation. Press on and press in to be baptized in the Holy Spirit so that you can BE an empowered, transformed and transforming witness for Jesus!

If you missed any of the messages in this series, you can access the full list of messages by clicking here

Saturday In The Proverbs—A Man Of Steeled Character (Proverbs 24)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small (Proverbs 24:10).

Character is forged like steel—with fire and hammering. 

There are blessings that will come in no other way than for a man or woman to let God forge steel-like character in them. 

A man of steeled character…

…doesn’t try to go along with those who cut corners (vv. 1-2, 15), but builds his foundation on godly wisdom and righteousness (vv. 3-4). 

…seeks counsel from other wise people (vv. 5-8). 

…stands strong in times of adversity (v. 10). 

…rescues those heading toward destruction (vv. 11-12). 

…knows the boundaries and the blessings of temperance (vv. 13-14). 

…isn’t kept down when he stumbles, and never rejoices when others stumble (vv. 16-18). 

…never frets because of evil people (vv. 19-22). 

…is fair, impartial, and just (vv. 23-26). 

…has an outstanding work ethic (v. 27), unlike the one lacking in character (vv. 30-34). 

…doesn’t slander others nor try to “get even” with someone who attacked him (vv. 28-29). 

Are you willing to let God forge steel-like character in you?

10 Quotes From “Life Wisdom From Billy Graham”

I love the wisdom that was constantly flowing from Billy Graham! Before you read these quotes, check out my review of Life Wisdom From Billy Graham by clicking here.

“God will not reject a heart that’s broken and sorry for sin. He’s not waiting to condemn you, to judge you. He’s waiting to kiss you and say, ‘I love you.’” 

“Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.” 

“God measures people by the small dimensions of humility and not by the bigness of their achievements or the size of their capabilities.” 

“In God’s economy, a person must go down into the valley of grief before he or she can scale the heights of spiritual glory…. One must come to the end of ‘self’ before one can really begin to live.” 

“Everybody needs some friends around him who will say, ‘You are wrong!’ And that includes me. I really value the friendship of people who will just tell it to me like it is, even though I may try to defend my position for a while.” 

“Racial prejudice, anti-Semitism, or hatred of anyone with different beliefs has no place in the human mind or heart. I urge all people to examine themselves and renew their own hearts before God. Only the supernatural love of God through changed lives can solve the problems that we face in our world.” 

“All of us in Christian ministry need to live and work with integrity. By integrity, I mean the moral value that makes people the same on the inside as they are on the outside—with no discrepancy between what they say and what they do, between their walk and their talk.” 

“The social needs of man call for our urgent attention, but we believe that ultimately, these needs can be met only in and through the gospel. Man’s basic need is to be born from above—to be converted to Christ. Man must be changed. Man’s biggest problem is man himself.” 

“In a world of greed, where materialistic values often take first place, pleasure has become a god—and a great premium is placed on cleverness—our greatest need is moral integrity.” 

“Government will never be better than the men and women who have given their lives to it.” 

Locked Up On Purpose

charles-henry-parkhurst‘Before this faith came, we were held prisoners…locked up until faith should be revealed’ (Galatians 3:23). God still causes us to be ‘locked up until faith’ is learned. Our own nature, circumstances, trials, and disappointments all serve to keep us submissive and ‘locked up’ until we see that the only way out is His way of faith. … Are you in some terrible trouble? Have you experienced some distressing disappointment, sorrow, or inexpressible loss? Are you in a difficult situation? Cheer up! You have been ‘locked up’ to faith. Accept your troubles in the proper way and commit them to God. Praise Him ‘that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him’ (Romans 8:28) and that He ‘acts on behalf of those who wait for Him’ (Isaiah 64:4).” —Charles Henry Parkhurst

Putting Afflictions In Perspective

gurnall-afflictionsWe all go through difficult times. There is not one person on planet Earth who doesn’t face times of adversity and trial. But Christians can put these challenging times in perspective…

“Job found his legacy through the grief he experienced. He was tried that his godliness might be confirmed and validated. In the same way, my troubles are intended to deepen my character and to clothe me in gifts I had little of prior to my difficulties. … Apparent adversity will ultimately become an advantage for those of us doing what is right, if we are willing to keep serving and to wait patiently.” —Lettie Cowman

“Afflictions are a spade which God uses to dig into His people’s hearts to find the gold of faith.” —William Gurnall

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever! So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” —2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Rewards And Consequences

Rewards and ConsequencesThe Bible consistently gives us—right up front—the rewards for right living, and the consequences for wrong living. No one ever has to be surprised. 

For example, take this message from Jesus in Luke 6.

  1. If you don’t want others to judge you, don’t be judgmental (v. 37).
  2. If you don’t want to be condemned by others, don’t condemn others (v. 37).
  3. If you want to be forgiven, forgive others first (v. 37).
  4. If you want to receive, be the first to give to others (v. 38).
  5. If you want to teach, find a good teacher and then be a good learner first (vv. 39-40).
  6. If you want to help others with their problems, first look in the mirror at yourself (vv. 41-42).
  7. If you want to speak good words, put good words inside yourself (vv. 43-45).
  8. If you want to stand strong through adversity, build on the right foundation (vv. 46-49).

God doesn’t miss a thing! He told us how to stay in the place where He can bless us, and how we can avoid life’s negative consequences.

We would all do well to hear these words and put them into practice (v. 47)!

Links & Quotes

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“That which astonishes, astonishes once; but whatever is admirable become more and more admired.” —Joseph Joubert

“Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.” —Westminster Confession

“Adversity is the first path to trust.” —Lord Byron

“Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.” —Victor Hugo

“God’s corrections are our instructions; His lashes our lessons, and His scourges our schoolmasters.” —John H. Aughey

“Am I getting nobler, better, more helpful, more humble, as I get older? Am I exhibiting the life that men take knowledge of as having been with Jesus, or am I getting more self-assertive, more deliberately determined to have my own way? It is a great thing to tell yourself the truth.” —Oswald Chambers

“Press into God’s promises. When fears surface, respond with this thought: But God said … And when doubts arise, but God said… And when guilt overwhelms you, but God said…  Search the Scriptures like a miner digging for gold and trust the promises you find.” —Max Lucado

John Hendryx points out several similarities between Islamic and secular fundamentalism.

Josh McDowell reminds us that just teaching someone biblical truth is not enough.

If you would like to check out some devotional readings for Advent, click here.

The importance of belief in God for Issac Newton’s scientific discoveries.

[VIDEO] One of the most beautiful arrangements of Amazing Grace I’ve heard—

Links & Quotes

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“While it’s true we need to shape up our practice of the faith, now is no time for shying away from engagement for the Gospel. Now is the favorable time for Christians to declare and defend the Christian worldview. Now is the day of salvation, and all believers must be diligent in proclaiming the Good News at every opportunity and by every means.” —T.M. Moore

“If you tell the world that Jesus is your Lord, your Savior and your Healer, a God Who can perform the impossible, they will watch to see how you react in impossible situations. Their eyes are glued to everyone who boasts of God’s goodness, power and glory. And the devil looks on, too, hoping our faith will fail.” —David Wilkerson

“There is a great God of grace Who magnifies His own infinite self-sufficiency by fulfilling promises to helpless people who trust Him. And there is a power that comes from prizing this God that leaves no nook and cranny of life untouched. It empowers us to love in the most practical ways.” —John Piper

“When your ethnicity is heaven, then all adversity offers the gift of intimacy, driving you into the home of His heart.” ―Ann Voskamp

Spiritual leaders need to be emotionally healthy. Peter Scazzero has written a couple of books on this topic, and I believe this interview will entice you to check out his books.

Ty Cobb is hands-down my favorite Detroit Tiger (maybe even my all-time favorite baseball player). He has gotten a bad rap from shoddy reporting. A Terrible Beauty is on my Amazon wish list (hint, hint!), and here is a cool interview with the book’s author Charles Leerhsen.

Jesus encouraged His followers to be childlike in their innocence and wonder. Here’s a great post to help us do that: How Not To Be A Boring Adult.

[VIDEO] Bobby Conway gives a good explanation of an important piece of church history: The Apostles Creed—

William Shakespeare On Prayer

William ShakespeareSome great lines from William Shakespeare on prayer―

“We do pray for mercy, and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.” —William Shakespeare

“Now I am passed all comforts here, but prayers.” —William Shakespeare

“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” —William Shakespeare

“Sweet are the uses of adversity; which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears a precious jewel in his head; and this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.” —William Shakespeare

“I commend my soul into the hands of God my Creator, believing through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Savior, to be made a partaker of life everlasting.” —William Shakespeare’s opening line in his last will and testament

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