Thursdays With Spurgeon—Proof Of God’s Love

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. 

Proof Of God’s Love

I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing. (Hosea 8:12) 

     It is no mean proof of His goodness, that He stoops to, rebuke His erring creatures. It is a great argument of His gracious disposition, that He bows His head to notice terrestrial affairs. … He might dwell alone, far, far above this world, up in the seventh heaven, and look down with calm and silent indifference upon all the doings of His creatures. He might do as the heathens supposed their Jove did, sit in perpetual silence, sometimes nodding his awful head to make the Fates move as he pleased. But Jove never thought of the little things of earth, disposing of them as beneath his notice, engrossed within his own being, swallowed up within himself, living alone and retired. … 

     We see from our text that God looks upon man, for He says of Ephraim, ‘I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing.’ But see how when He observes the sin of man He does not dash him away and spurn him with His foot? He does not shake him by the neck over the gulf of hell until his brain does reel and then drop him forever. But rather, He comes down from heaven to plead with His creatures. He argues with them, He puts Himself, as it were, upon a level with the sinner, states His grievances, and pleads His claim.

From The Bible

In my sermon this last Sunday I was leading my congregation through Psalm 89. I noted that there were two important blessings that Ethan the Ezrahite tells us of: 

  1. The blessing of God’s favor on our obedience 
  2. The blessing of God’s discipline on our disobedience

Yes, the fact that God disciplines us—that He “stoops to rebuke His erring creatures”—is positive proof of His immense, unending love for us. The opposite of love is not hate but apathy. If God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t personally involve Himself in our lives because neither our obedience or disobedience would mean a thing to Him. 

Consider this passage—

In all their affliction He was afflicted,
and the Angel of His Presence saved them;
in His love and in His pity He redeemed them;
and He bore them and carried them
all the days of old.
But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit;
so He turned Himself against them as an enemy,
and He fought against them
. (Isaiah 63:9-10)

In His love, God both carries us in our adversity AND turns to confront us in our waywardness. BOTH of these actions are proof of His love. My friend, wherever you are and whatever you may be facing, be assured of God’s unquenchable love for you!

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The Comfort And The Terror Of God’s Love

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

The Book of Hosea is a love story. It’s a real story telling a much grander story. 

The real story is between a man named Hosea and his wife Gomer. Sometime after their marriage, Gomer became unfaithful to Hosea and became entrapped to someone like a pimp, because it required a rather large payment from Hosea to redeem her. Gomer was restored to Hosea and they lived together faithfully from that point on. 

The grander story is the relationship between God and His people. God’s faithful love redeemed us, but our sin is like that of a cheating wife who has abandoned her husband for another lover. 

God’s love sounds like this:

  • “Let My tender words woo you back to Me” (2:14) 
  • “I will betroth you to Me forever” (2:19) 
  • “My compassion is aroused toward you” (11:8) 
  • “I will not carry out my fierce anger against your sin” (11:9) 
  • “I will care for you in the wilderness” (13:5) 
  • “I will feed you until you are satisfied” (13:6)

But God’s love also sounds like:

  • “I will block your path with thornbushes” (2:5) 
  • “I will ignore you” (4:6) 
  • “I will hide Myself from you” (5:6) 
  • “My sword will flash in your cities” (11:6) 
  • “I will terrify you like a roaring lion” (11:10) 
  • “I will attack you like a mother bear robbed of her cubs” (13:8)

(Check out all of the above references by clicking here.) 

We love the first list—and, indeed, that’s where God would desire us to stay—but the second list is just as loving. 

The opposite of love is not hate, but the opposite of love is apathy. 

God loves us too much—His Son paid too high of a price for us—for Him to let us head down a path that leads to eternal destruction. Listen to how the prophet Isaiah says this:

In all their distress He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Yet they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit. So He turned and became their enemy and He Himself fought against them. (Isaiah 63:9-10) 

We need both the comfort and the terror of God’s love. 

We need Him to roar His lion’s roar and flash His terrible sword when we are on the path of destruction so that we can return to the path of life and experience His tender voice and bountiful provision. 

When we pray for our wayward loved ones, pray for both God’s sword and His loving words. He knows best which to use. And for ourselves, when we are stricken with fear, use that as an opportunity to ask why we have heard God’s roar or seen His sword flash. Then, if needed, repent and return to His tender embrace. 

God’s love speaks tenderly and roars ferociously because He loves you so very much! 

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Hating Well

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

I hate… (Psalm 119:163). 

In my experience, many Christians struggle with the word “hate,” as though it shouldn’t have any part in their vocabulary. And yet here is that word right in the middle of Psalm 119, this longest chapter in the Bible which extols the value of the Bible in all 176 verses. 

I remember watching “Sesame Street” when they would sing the song, “One of these things is not like the other.” Let’s play that same game from this Sin/Shin section of Psalm 119:

  • I stand in awe of Your Word 
  • I rejoice in Your promise 
  • I love Your law 
  • I praise You, God, for Your righteous laws 
  • I follow Your commands 
  • I obey Your statues 
  • I love Your statutes 
  • I obey Your precepts 
  • I hate falsehood 

Doesn’t that last one seem out of place? In fact, it’s not just “hate,” but one translation says, “hate and abhor,” and another says, “hate and detest”! 

But I want you to notice first of all that it is not a person that the psalmist hates, but falsehood, deception, fraud, lying. The root word in Hebrew is someone who is purposefully dealing falsely as a means of tricking or cheating. 

This is what we could correctly say is righteous anger.

The psalmist’s love for the glory of God is great, which means he also reveres this Book of Truth—the Bible—that leads people to basking in God’s glory. To be apathetic about lies that are deliberately attempting to cheat people out of an intimate relationship with God is the exact opposite of love.

Hate is not the opposite of love; apathy is the opposite of love.

Hate of those things which keep people from God is the completion of the love for God and the respect for the Book that brings people to Him.

To love fully, I must also hate well. Not people, but actions that keep people away from experiencing and knowing God’s love. May all of us learn from the Holy Spirit how to awaken from any apathy we may have, and to correctly express our righteous anger. 

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Podcast: Apathy Vs. Passion

On this episode of “The Craig And Greg Show” we talk about: 

  • the first in our series of leadership builders and killers, and I go negative right away!  
  • the danger with apathy is that you don’t know that you don’t care—Greg says apathy is a nebulizer
  • the value of an honest, loving friend
  • it takes a lot more energy to get to a boiling point than it does to keep your passion at the boiling point  
  • apathy is “have to” but passion is “get to”
  • Greg likes to exchange heartstorming for brainstorming
  • I talk about the warning signs for leaders, and how to build passion-fueling activities into our daily agendas 
  • good feelings follow good actions
  • leaders need to be the thermostats for their team

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

Thursdays With Oswald—The Love Behind The Warning

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

The Love Behind The Warning

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” —Jesus (Matthew 7:13-14) 

     Always distinguish between warning and threatening. God never threatens; the devil never warns. A warning is a great arresting statement of God’s, inspired by His love and patience. …

     It is the great patience of God that gives the warning, “The way of transgressors is hard.” Go behind that statement in your imagination and see the love of God. God is amazingly tender, but the way of transgressors cannot be made easy. God has made it difficult to go wrong, especially for His children. … 

     If Jesus came to be a teacher only, He had better have stayed away. What is the use of teaching a human being to be what no human being can be—to be continually self-effaced, to do more than his duty, to be completely disinterested, to be perfectly devoted to God? If all Jesus came to do was to teach men to be that, He is the greatest taunter that ever presented any ideal to the human race. But Jesus Christ came primarily and fundamentally to regenerate man. He came to put into any man the disposition that ruled His own life, and immediately that is given to a man, the teaching of Jesus begins to be possible. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

The opposite of love is not hate; it’s apathy. If God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t care what road we attempted to take. But He does love us, so He tells us the one and only way to get to Him: Jesus Christ is THE way. 

Chambers is exactly right when He says that Jesus was not just a great Teacher. If that’s all that Jesus came to do, we would be miserable people because we could never walk the narrow road that He taught. But Jesus came to enable and empower us to walk that road. He came to purchase our atonement (our “at-onement” with Him) so that we could live out all that He taught. 

Jesus is a Teacher, but He is also the Enabler that makes it possible for us to obey His teaching. For that, we should be eternally grateful! 

No Apathetic Christians Allowed!

Healthy love loves God and then serves God by loving and serving others. Quite simply—love loves.

But my question is how does love love?

Sometimes we can get a fuller definition of a word by looking at its opposite. So what’s the opposite of love? It isn’t hate because hate is actually the flip side of love. That means our hatred for anything that comes against the object of our love is just as strong as our love is.

The opposite of love is apathy.

Apathy means without pathos (or feeling). Specifically, without feeling that moves us to action. So in order for love to love, it needs pathos as its fuel.

For example. If you hear a coworker mention her frustration with construction slowing down her morning commute, apathy says, “Bummer!” and does nothing else. But love fuel by pathos says, “I found an alternate route that I can share with you.”

When a friend tells you about his frustration with trying to lose weight, apathy says, “Good luck!” Pathos love says, “Here’s the diet that worked for me” or “I’ll go to the gym with you.”

Love is fueled by pathos to: speak out, act out, and reach out.

When Peter was describing the ministry of Jesus, he said, “He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil” (Acts 10:38).

As His follower, we are supposed to feel the needs of the hurting and confused around us, and then let that pathos fuel our love to go around doing good:

  • When you hear someone asking for help, offer help.
  • When you see someone who is down, be their friend.
  • When you don’t see a neighbor for a couple of days, check on them.
  • When you meet someone looking for answers, invite them to church with you.
  • When a friend is sick, send a card, bring a meal, or mow their lawn.

These kinds of good deeds make Jesus happy (see Matthew 25:40) because it’s a tangible way to love God and then serve God by loving and serving others.

BE LIKE JESUS—GO AROUND DOING GOOD! 

There should never, ever be such a thing as an apathetic Christian!

Save Souls Sinking Into Hell

These are sobering words from Charles Spurgeon…

C.H. Spurgeon“Men can be so careless about the ruin of men’s souls. Let us hear the cry of ‘Fire! fire!’ in the streets, and our heart is all in trepidation lest some poor creature should be burned alive; but we read of hell, and of the wrath to come, and seldom do our hearts palpitate with any compassionate trembling and fear. If we are on board a vessel, and the shrill cry is heard, ‘Man overboard!’ whoever hears of a passenger wrapping his overcoat around him, and lying down upon a seat to contemplate the exertions of others? But in the church, when we hear of thousands of sinners sinking in the floods of ruin, we behold professed Christians wrapping themselves up in their own security, and calmly looking upon the labours of others, but not even lifting a finger to do any part of the work themselves. If we heard tomorrow in our streets the awful cry, more terrible than fire, the cry of ‘Bread! bread! bread!’ and saw starving women lifting up their perishing children, would we not empty out our stores? Who among us would not spend our substance to let the poor ravenous creatures satisfy the pangs of hunger? And yet, here is the world perishing for lack of knowledge. Here we have them at our doors crying for the bread of heaven, and how many there are that hoard their substance for avarice, give their time to vanity, devote their talents to self-aggrandisement, and centre their thoughts only on the world or the flesh! Oh! could you once see with your eyes a soul sinking into hell, it would be such a spectacle that you would work night and day, and count your life too short and your hours too few for the plucking of brands from the burning.” (emphasis added)

Links & Quotes

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Do you suffer from any of these? Things that hold us back from serving others.

Dave Barringer shares 10 subtle actions that you should pay attention to in your marriage.

“Let me warn you of second-hand spirituality; it is a rotten soul-deceiving deception. Beware of all esteeming yourself according to the thoughts of others, or you will be ruined. … O I do pray you, do not be satisfied with being persuaded into something like an assurance that you are in Christ, but do know Him—know Him for yourself.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Sinning is believing a false promise from the world above a true promise from God.” Read more in Jared Mulvihill’s post We Should Be Weeping.

Eurasia Northwest has a really cool infographic on the use of healing words in the Bible.

Seth Godin says, “The chances that everyone is going to applaud you, never mind even become aware you exist, are virtually nil. Most brands and organizations and individuals that fail fall into the chasm of trying to be all things in order to please everyone, and end up reaching no one. That’s the wrong thing to focus on. Better to focus on and delight almost no one.” Check out the rest of his post Almost No One.

[VIDEO] This year’s NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers is doing some cool stuff for kids―

10 Quotes From “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?”

How Do You KillAndy Andrews pulls no punches in this amazing book: How Do You Kill 11 Million People? You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are some of the more noteworthy quotes I highlighted in this book.

“The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government, is to live under the government of worse men.” —Plato

“The past is what is real and true, while history is merely what someone recorded.”

“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think. Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” —Adolf Hitler

“It is a fact that fewer than 10 percent of Germany’s population of 79.7 million people actively worked or campaigned to bring about Hitler’s change. Even at the height of its power in 1945, the Nazi political party boasted only 8.5 million members. So the remaining 90 percent of Germans—teachers and doctors and ministers and farmers—did . . . what? Stood by? Watched? Essentially, yes.”

“The danger to America is not a single politician with ill intent. Or even a group of them. The most dangerous thing any nation faces is a citizenry capable of trusting a liar to lead them.”

“Have you ever wondered why America doesn’t have a balanced budget? Have you ever in your life heard of a politician who wasn’t for a balanced budget? Have you ever heard a politician speak in favor of a complicated tax code that ordinary citizens would find difficult to understand? Then why do we have a complicated tax code that ordinary citizens find difficult to understand? Meet the 545 men and women who enact every law, propose every budget, and set every policy enforced on the citizens of the United States of America: one president, nine Supreme Court justices, one hundred senators, and 435 members of the House of Representatives. By the way, have you ever noticed that if any one of us lies to them, it is a felony? But if any one of them lies to us, it is considered politics.”

“During the past quarter century, no presidential election has been won by more than ten million ballots cast? Yet every federal election during the same time period had at least one hundred million people of voting age who did not bother to vote!”

“History shows that any people who are sheeplike in following their leadership (so long as their personal self-interests are satisfied) may one day awaken to find that their nation has changed in dramatic ways.”

“If we don’t demand honesty and integrity from America’s leadership now—and reward that integrity with our votes—our leaders will lack the fortitude to make the hard decisions that must be made to change course.”

“Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. … If [one hundred years from now] the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.” —President James A. Garfield, in his address to Congress on the centennial of our country (1876)

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading and watching from today…

[VIDEO] John Maxwell says the joy-ratio of giving-to-receiving is 10-to-1.

“Faith never knows where it is being led, it knows and loves the One Who is leading. … Faith is not resignation to a power we do not know; faith is committal to One Whose character we do know because it has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ.” —Oswald Chambers

“The devil’s master strategy for us Christians then is not to kill us physically (though there may be some special situations where physical death fits into his plan better), but to destroy our power to wage spiritual warfare. And how well he has succeeded. The average Christian these days is a harmless enough thing. God knows.” —A.W. Tozer

Some have argued that aborting a baby diagnosed with cystic fibrosis is humane and ethical. This kid proves them wrong.

Seth Godin with a really good reason why you should vote tomorrow.

…and The Gospel Coalition reminds Christians why they should vote.

 

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