Thursdays With Spurgeon—Top Priority

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. 

Top Priority

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

     Every word that God has given us in the Bible claims our attention because of the infinite majesty of Him who spoke it. … See that you refuse not Him who speaks. O my hearer, let it not be said of you that you went through this life, God speaking to you in His book, and you refusing to hear! It matters very little whether you listen to me or not. But it matters a very great deal whether you listen to God or not. It is He who made you. In His hands is your breath. And if He speaks, I implore you, open your ears and be not rebellious. There is an infinite majesty about every line of Scripture, but especially about that part of Scripture in which the Lord reveals Himself and His glorious plan of saving grace in the Person of His dear Son Jesus Christ. …  

     For what He has spoken He still speaks to us, as freshly as if He spoke it for the first time. … 

     God’s Word has a claim, then, upon your attention because of its majesty and its condescension. But, further, it should win your ear because of its intrinsic importance. ‘The mouth of the Lord has spoken,’ so it is no trifle. God never speaks vanity. No line of His writing treats of the frivolous themes of the day. That which may be forgotten in an hour is for mortal man and not for the eternal God. When the Lord speaks, His speech is Godlike, and its themes are worthy of one who is dwelling in infinity and eternity. … 

     He speaks to you of great things that have to do with your soul and its destiny. It is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life. Your eternal existence, your happiness or your misery, hang on your treatment of that which the mouth of the Lord has spoken. … Treat not the Word of the Lord as a secondary thing that might wait your leisure and receive attention when no other work is before you. Put all else aside and hearken to your God.

From The Infallibility Of Scripture

Charles Spurgeon is so on-target with these words. Believe it or not, this sermon was actually delivered to his fellow pastors. But the words are true for all of us—we must make listening to God’s Word our first priority. 

Every single word of Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit. And I do mean every single word. Even the order in which the words are listed is inspired. So when you read your Bible, ask the Holy Spirit—the Author of the text—to illuminate the words to you. Ask questions like:

  • What did that mean then? 
  • What does it mean now? 
  • What does it mean for me? 
  • Does something in my life need to change? 

If you make your time with God a priority, He will reveal more of Himself to you each time you open your Bible.

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Encouragement For Preachers

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. 

Encouragement For Preachers

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

     We preach because ‘the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’ It would not be worth our while to speak what Isaiah had spoken if in it there was nothing more than Isaiah’s thought—neither should we care to meditate hour after hour upon the writings of Paul, if there was nothing more than Paul in them. … The true preacher, the man whom God has commissioned, delivers his message with awe and trembling because ‘the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’ … 

     Woe unto us if we dare to speak the Word of the Lord with less than our whole heart and soul and strength! Woe unto us if we handle the Word as if it were an occasion for display! If it were our own word, we might be studious of the graces of oratory. But if it is God’s Word, we cannot afford to think of ourselves. … Because the mouth of the Lord has spoken the truth of God, we therefore endeavor to preach it with absolute fidelity. …  

     Believing that ‘the mouth of the Lord has spoken,’ it is my duty to repeat God’s Word to you as correctly as I can after having heard it and felt it in my own soul. It is not mine to amend or adapt the gospel. …  Again, dear friends, as ‘the mouth of the Lord has spoken,’ we speak the divine truth with courage and full assurance. Modesty is a virtue, but hesitancy when we are speaking for the Lord is a great fault. …  

     We preach not the gospel by your leave. We do not ask tolerance nor court applause. We preach Christ crucified, and we preach boldly as we ought to speak because it is God’s Word not our own. … We cannot use ‘ifs’ and ‘buts,’ for we are dealing with God’s ‘shalls’ and ‘wills.’ If He says it is so, it is so. And there is the end of it. Controversy ceases when Jehovah speaks [Jeremiah 1:17-19].

From The Infallibility Of Scripture

Preaching God’s Word is not for the faint of heart. It takes one who is confidently humbled—confident that God has spoken and humbled that He would choose someone like me to speak His Word to His people. 

In my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter I wrote: 

Check this out: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Who wrote the book of Numbers? If you answered “Moses,” you are correct. Doesn’t that sound a bit brash to declare that you are more humble than anyone else on the earth? Yet, God allowed Moses to pen those words, making that a Holy Spirit-inspired statement of fact. Humility is a double-edged sword: it can serve a leader well when it is balanced with appropriate confidence, but it is a detriment to an organization’s health if it is self-de-basing humility that undercuts a leader’s credibility. 

The God-honoring preacher gets his message from the mouth of the Lord, and then confidently endeavors “to preach it with absolute fidelity.” Whether others praise of criticize, the humble leader says, “I am only God’s servant speaking God’s Word.” 

Preachers, let’s make sure that everything we confidently and humbly share from our pulpits is the whole counsel of what has been spoken by the mouth of the Lord.

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Spurgeon And The Psalms (book review)

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

Spurgeon And The Psalms hits a sweet spot for me: Charles Spurgeon is one of my favorite preachers and the Psalms are my go-to resource when I need encouragement, perspective, or vocabulary for my heartfelt prayers. The combination of the Prince of Preachers and the Psalter grabbed my attention before I even opened the cover.

After I opened the cover, I was not disappointed. I love the format of each chapter. For each chapter your eyes go to Charles Spurgeon’s commentary first, and then you can read the chapter itself. The reason why I like this layout is because Spurgeon has a tendency to tell us not what the psalmist says, but what we should look for as we read that psalm. This remains true to what Spurgeon himself felt about biblical commentaries.

I always make my Bibles my own. By that I mean that I underline, highlight, circle, and write margin notes throughout my Bible. The wide margins in this book make it ideal to use as a prayer companion. I believe the Bible is not a Book to be read through, but a Book to be prayed through. Nowhere is that more true than in the Psalms, where such deep emotions are poured out in God’s presence, helping us give voice to our deepest prayers.

If you have never read anything from Charles Spurgeon, this is an excellent place to get started. After you have read his insights here, I’m confident that you will want to read more. Even if you are familiar with Spurgeon’s sermons and books, this book is going to be an excellent addition to your library.

I am a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid and I reviewed this book at their invitation 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Prayer Preparation And Prayer Expectation

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. 

Prayer Preparation And Prayer Expectation

In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3) 

     Do we not miss very much of the sweetness and efficacy of prayer by a want of careful meditation before it, and hopeful expectation after it? … We too often rush into the presence of God without forethought or humility. We are like people who present themselves before a king without a petition, and what wonder is it that we often miss the end of prayer? We should be careful to keep the stream of meditation always running, for this is the water to drive the mill of prayer. … Prayer without fervency is like hunting with a dead dog, and prayer without preparation is hawking with a blind falcon. Prayer is the work of the Holy Spirit, but He works by means. God made man, but He used the dust of the earth as a material. The Holy Ghost is the Author of prayer, but He employs the thoughts of a fervent soul as the gold with which to fashion the vessel. Let our prayers and praises be not the flashes of a hot and hasty brain but the steady burning of a well-kindled fire.

From Spurgeon And The Psalms

Sadly, I think we’ve become so accustomed to instant-everything in our society that it has seriously limited our prayer life. We walk into our prayer closet without an idea of what we’re going to pray, rattle off a few requests, say “Amen,” and walk out of our prayer closet exactly the same as we walked in. 

There is certainly help for us when we are so distressed—so at our wits’ end—that we don’t even know what to pray, but this is not what David is saying in Psalm 5. David is making it a regular practice to come into God’s presence with his requests at the ready, and he is walking away from his prayer time in eager expectation of God’s soon-to-be-realized answers. 

The Amplified Bible says, “I prepare a prayer…and watch and wait for You to speak to my heart.” 

I think it is a good idea for us to:

As Spurgeon said, “Let our prayers and praises be not the flashes of a hot and hasty brain but the steady burning of a well-kindled fire.”

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Final, Authoritative Word

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. 

The Final, Authoritative Word

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

     It would not be worth our while to speak what Isaiah had spoken if in it there was nothing more than Isaiah’s thought—neither should we care to meditate hour after hour upon the writings of Paul, if there was nothing more than Paul in them. … 

     It is not mine to amend or adapt the gospel. What? Shall we attempt to improve upon what God has revealed? The Infinitely Wise to be corrected by creatures of a day? Is the infallible revelation of the infallible Jehovah to be shaped, moderated, and toned down to the fashions and fancies of the hour? God forgive us if we have ever altered His Word unwittingly. … 

     One Word of God is worth more than libraries of human lore. ‘It is written’ is the great gun which silences all the batteries of man’s thought.

From The Infallibility Of Scripture

As Solomon neared the end of his writings in the Book of Ecclesiastes, he made this observation, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body” (12:12). How true that is. Have you walked through a bookstore lately?! There is no end to the opinions that people want to share with you. 

But there is one thing that all of the books in all of the bookstores and all of the libraries have in common: not one of them is given to us by “the mouth of the Lord.” 

There are certainly many, many books that are saturated in Scripture, but they are still the opinions of man. We need to make sure that everything we read, or every wise person that we listen to, or even every conversation that we have with ourselves are all proven to be true or false based on what God has spoken.

Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit would remind us of everything God’s mouth had spoken to us (John 14:26), and that He would guide us into all truth (John 16:13). 

So go ahead and search out wise, godly books and wise, godly counselors. But remember that their word is not the final word—only the words that come from the mouth of the Lord are the authoritative words you should apply to your life.

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Mouth Of The Lord Has Spoken

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. 

The Mouth Of The Lord Has Spoken

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

     However this sacred Book may be treated nowadays, it was not treated contemptuously, nor negligently, nor questioningly by the Lord Jesus Christ, our Master and Lord. It is noteworthy how He reverenced the written Word. The Spirit of God rested upon Him personally, without measure, and He could speak out of His own mind the revelation of God, and yet He continually quoted the Law, and the Prophets, and the Psalms…. I am sure, brethren, we cannot be wrong in imitating the example of our divine Lord in our reverence for that Scripture, which cannot be broken. … 

     The New Testament writers sit reverently down before the Old Testament and receive God’s words as such without any question whatever. You and I belong to a school that will continue to do the same, let others adopt what behavior they please. As for us and for our house, this priceless Book will remain the standard of our faith and the ground of our hope so long as we live.

From The Infallibility Of Scripture

As I have discussed before, the 39 books of the Old Testament were called “Scripture” by Jesus and those living in that same era. The New Testament writers saw Jesus as the fulfillment of those Old Testament Scripture, and what they wrote for us then became Scripture also (Luke 4:18-21; 24:27, 44-45; John 2:22, 17:12; Acts 1:16, 8:35; Galatians 3:8, 16, 22; James 2:8, 23, 4:5-6; 1 Peter 2:6; 2 Peter 3:16). 

When we read the Bible, we are reading words from the mouth of God Himself! 

This Book is the measure of truth, the guide for our lives, and the blessed assurance we need as we anticipate the second advent of Jesus. We need to be much in this Sacred Book!

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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—The Whole Counsel Of God’s Word

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. 

The Whole Counsel Of God’s Word

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

     Beloved friends, consider the quality of the words of God. ‘The words of the Lord are pure words.’ From this statement I gather, first, the uniformity of their character. No exception is made to any of the words of God, but they are all described as pure words. They are not all of the same character. Some are for teaching, others are for comfort, and others for rebuke. But they are so far of a uniform character that they are all pure words. I conceive it to be an evil habit to make preferences in Holy Scripture. We must preserve this volume as a whole. …  

     Above all, do not drop into the semi-blasphemy of some, who think the New Testament vastly superior to the Old. … They are of equal authority, and they cast such light upon each other that we could not spare either of them. … In the whole Book, from Genesis to Revelation, the words of Jehovah are found, and they are always pure words. … 

     Whether the Holy Spirit speaks by Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or John, or James, or Paul, the authority is still the same. Even concerning Jesus Christ our Lord this is true. For He says of Himself, ‘The word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me’ (John 14:24). In this matter He puts Himself upon the level of others who were as the mouth of God.

From The Bible Tried And Proved

Because my parents were such amazing hosts, we had a steady stream of evangelists and missionaries that dined in our home. As a young man, I was so blessed to sit at the dining room table and listen to some of the wisest and godly preachers of their time. 

One such evangelist was C.M. Ward, who hosted the “Revivaltime” radio broadcast for a quarter of a century. I remember listening intently to a conversation in our home when he turned and looked right at me. “Young man,” he said, “The Word of God is pure. You can devour it and feed on all of it. But anything else you read is like eating chicken: There’s some meat that’s good, but you have to watch out for the bones that can choke you.” 

Those words have stuck with me for nearly 50 years. I delight in reading my Bible as my daily Bread—both Old Testament and New Testament, the words of the prophets, the words of Jesus, and the words of the apostles. It’s all so beneficial! 

In a recent sermon, I talked about the value in reading and studying the whole counsel of God’s Word.

I encourage you not to pick and choose the biblical passages that you like best, but to read, study, and meditate on the whole Book. Find a study Bible to use, get into a Bible-preaching church, and make God’s Word your daily Source of wisdom. 

ALL Scripture is for ALL servants of God. ALL Scripture is applicable to ALL the circumstances we will ever face in life.

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The Holy War (book review)

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

Many of the principles taught in the Bible are conveyed to us through graphic stories. Think about some of the imagery the prophets of the Old Testament used or even the parables Jesus used in the New Testament. In fact, even the Hebrew language of the Old Testament and the Greek language of the New Testament are very picturesque languages. John Bunyan takes full advantage of this in his book The Holy War. 

If you have ever read a John Bunyan book or sermon, it is quite obvious that the Bible is his Source Book. In fact, Charles Spurgeon said of him, “Why, this man is a living Bible! Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.” Much like The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Holy War is steeped in biblical imagery that makes the story so engaging. 

The title and subtitle of the book alone tell you the essence of the story: The holy war made by Shaddai upon Diabolus for the regaining of the metropolis of the world, or the losing and taking again of the town of Mansoul. With the assault taking place on Ear-gate and Eye-gate of Mansoul by such combatants as Lord Incredulity or Mr. Forget-Good, and the servants of King Shaddai such as Captain Conviction, Mr. Justice, and Mr. True-Man drawing up battle lines against the town, you can quickly see how picturesque the language truly is. 

Much in the vein of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, Bunyan also lets us hear the correspondence and war counsels of Lucifer and his minions, as well as the conversation between King Shaddai and His Son Emmanuel. 

As with anything I’ve ever read from John Bunyan, The Holy War is entertaining and insightful. If you have read and enjoyed The Pilgrim’s Progress, I think you will thoroughly enjoy this book as well. 

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Links & Quotes

I came across a passage from a blog post I wrote 10 years ago, but it is still so timely for today: “Pastors, we can become so focused on the next sermon, the next appointment, the next Board meeting, the next outreach that we are actually worshiping the ministry instead of worshiping God through our ministry. When we are more focused on the work than on God, we can easily begin to feel over-worked and under-appreciated.”

“Stay with your Lord, however long the night, for only in Him have you hope of the morning!” —Charles Spurgeon

“I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.” —Clyde Kilby

Sean McDowell has an informative conversation with Titus Kennedy on the archeological evidence for the people and places in the Bible.

Jonathan Edwards wrote words that resonate with my message about pastors following the example of the Great Shepherd Jesus. “The ministers of Christ should be persons of the same spirit that their Lord was of: the same spirit of humility and lowliness of heart; for the servant is not greater than his Lord. They should be of the same spirit of heavenly-mindedness and contempt of the glory, wealth, and pleasures of this world: they should be of the same spirit of devotion and fervent love to God: they should follow the example of His prayerfulness; of whom we read from time to time of His retiring from the world, away from the noise and applauses of the multitudes, into mountains and solitary places, for secret prayer, and holy converse with his Father….” —Jonathan Edwards

“Wonderful things are told in this book [Daniel]. To those who find it difficult to believe these things, we say: let us remember that for one thousand years God had been nurturing the Hebrew nation for the purpose of establishing, through that nation, in a world of idol-worshiping nations, the idea that God is God. Now God’s nation had been destroyed by a nation that worshiped idols. That was plain evidence to all the world that the gods of Babylon were more powerful than the God of the Jews. It was a crisis in God’s struggle with idolatry. If ever there was a time when God needed to do something to show who He is, it was during the Babylonian exile. Strange indeed it would have been if nothing unusual had happened. Hard as it may be to believe these miracles, it would be harder to believe the rest of the story without them.

“At least the Jews, who from the very beginning had always been falling into idolatry, were now at last, in the Babylonian exile, convinced that their own God was the true God. These miracles also had a powerful influence on both Nebuchadnezzar and Darius (3:29; 6:26).” —Halley’s Study Bible

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