Thursdays With Spurgeon—How Pruning Helps Prayer

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. 

How Pruning Helps Prayer 

If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)

     How is this privilege of mighty prayerfulness to be obtained? The answer is, ‘If you abide in Me and My words abide in you.’ … Beloved, the first line tells us that we are to abide in Christ Jesus our Lord. … 

     As if to help us understand this, our gracious Lord has given us a delightful parable. Let us look through this discourse of the vine and its branches. Jesus says, ‘Every branch in Me…that bears fruit He prunes’ (John 15:2). Take care that you abide in Christ when you are being purged. ‘Oh,’ says one, ‘I thought I was a Christian. But alas! I have more troubles than ever. Men ridicule me, the devil tempts me, and my business affairs go wrong.’ Brother, if you are to have power in prayer, you must take care that you abide in Christ when the sharp knife is cutting everything away. …  

     Take care, also, that when the purging operation has been carried out you still cleave to your Lord. … When you see the work of the Spirit increasing in you, do not let the devil tempt. He will try to get you to boast that now you are somebody; you need not come to Jesus as a poor sinner and rest in His precious blood alone for salvation. Abide still in Jesus. … Your work for Christ must be Christ’s work in you or else it will be good for nothing.

 From The Secret Of Power In Prayer

Our Heavenly Father wants us to be fruitful because that brings Him glory and lifts Jesus up for others to see. 

We have to commit to abiding in Jesus despite the pruning process. It’s helpful to remember that the reason the Husbandman prunes us is because He has seen fruitfulness in us, but He wants us to be even more fruitful. When we stay in the process during the uncomfortable—and sometimes painful—pruning, more fruit will begin to appear in our lives. 

It’s at this point that we have to guard against pride. The devil loves for me to get proud of “my accomplishments.” But I have to remind myself that apart from the Vine I am worse than fruitless; I’m just a dead branch only fit for the fire. I’ve learned that there is a danger in success, so I must constantly choose humility over pride, and abiding over self-sustaining. 

As we abide, our prayers take on an ever-increasing vitality so that conversation with our Lord becomes as natural as breathing. I hope none of us will ever settle for anything less than this intimate, ongoing communion with our Master!

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Natural Out-Gushing

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 Natural Out-Gushing

If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7) 

   He does not say, ‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will do spiritual things,’ but ‘you will ask.’ By prayer you will be enabled to do. But before all attempts to do, you will ask. The choice privilege here given is a mighty prevailing prayerfulness. Power in prayer is very much the gauge of our spiritual condition. …  

     Prayer comes spontaneously from those who abide in Jesus. … Prayer is the natural out-gushing of a soul in communion with Jesus. Just as the leaf and the fruit will come out of the vine without any conscious effort on the part of the branch but simply because of its living union with the stem, so prayer buds and blossoms and produces fruit out of souls abiding in Jesus. … They do not say to themselves, ‘Now is the time for us to get to our task and pray.’ No, they pray as wise men eat—namely, when the desire for it is upon them. …  

     Habitual asking comes out of abiding in Christ. You will not need urging to pray when you are abiding with Jesus. … 

     ‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask’—and you will not wish to cease from asking. He has said, ‘Seek My face,’ and your heart will answer, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek’ (Psalm 27:8). … 

     This power in prayer is like the sword of Goliath. Wisely may every David say, ‘There is none like it; give it to me’ (1 Samuel 21:9). This weapon of all-prayer beats the enemy and at the same time enriches its possessor with all the wealth of God.

 From The Secret Of Power In Prayer

When I first met the beautiful young lady that would eventually become my wife, we spent hours and hours and hours talking with each other. It was how I got to know her heart, and how she got to know mine. My conversations with Betsy are still some of the most cherished times I have. 

But what if after we got married I said to Betsy, “I love you, my darling, and I’m so looking forward to a lifetime with you! I will make it a priority to give you my undivided attention for 90 minutes every Sunday morning. Other than that, I’ll be thinking about you while I go about my busy life.” How intimate is this relationship going remain? 

Sadly, this is how many Christians treat their relationship with Jesus. “Thank You for saving me from the penalty of my sin, Jesus! I love You and I’m so looking forward to an eternity with You in Heaven. I will make it a priority to give You my undivided attention every week at church. Other than that, I’ll be thinking about You while I go about my busy life.” 

This is not abiding. 

No branch can remain healthy and produce any fruit if it is only occasionally attached to the vine. In order for the branch to be fruitful, it must be continually abiding in the life-giving sap of the vine. 

Intimacy with Jesus means abiding with Him at all times. It means engaging in conversation with Him at all times. Brother Lawrence commented, “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.” 

My friend, let’s all seek to become more aware of the closeness of Jesus. Let us “take delight in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4) and continually engage Him in intimate conversation. As we do, the fruitfulness of our prayer life cannot help but blossom into beautiful things that give God great joy and glory.

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Where We Live

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. 

Where We Live

If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7) 

     Believers do not enjoy the gifts of divine grace all at once. Coming to Christ, we are saved by a true union with Him. But it is by abiding in that union that we further receive the purity, the joy, the power, and the blessedness that are stored up in Him for His people. See how our Lord states this when He speaks to the believing Jews in the eighth chapter of this gospel, at the thirty-first and thirty-second verses: ‘Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”’ We do not know all the truth of God at once; we learn it by abiding in Jesus. 

     Perseverance in divine grace is an educational process by which we learn the truth of God fully. The emancipating power of the truth is also gradually perceived and enjoyed. The truth will make you free. One bond after another snaps, and we are free indeed. …  

     Every believer should be an abider, but many have hardly earned the name as yet. … You have to live with Christ to know Him, and the longer you live with Him, the more you will admire and adore Him, and the more you will receive from Him, even grace for grace. … Jesus, in the esteem of abiding believers, grows sweeter and dearer, fairer and lovelier each day. Not that He improves in Himself, for He is perfect. But as we increase in our knowledge of Him, we appreciate more thoroughly His matchless excellences. 

From The Secret Of Power In Prayer

All of us probably know what “house rules” are. In my home growing up, we took off our shoes when we came in the door; family members came in through the garage door, unless we were bringing a friend home, and then we came in through the front door. A casual observer may not catch these things, but the longer you were in our home, the more clearly you would see these things. 

In the same way, we get more familiar with the “house rules” of our heavenly home the more time we spend there. My cousin Dick Brogden pointed out, “The word ‘abide’ in Greek (meno) is where we get our word mansion, our home, where we spend our time.” 

It’s also as we abide with Jesus that we get to know His heart. And then as we get to know Him better we can pray prayers more aligned to His will, prayers that He delights to answer. This makes our relationship with Him sweeter and sweeter. Just as the old chorus says—

He gets sweeter and sweeter as the days go by
Oh what a love between my Lord and I
I keep falling in love with Him
Over and over and over and over again

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Remain

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Evidence Of Christian Maturity

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.

Evidence Of Christian Maturity

     One of the first evidences that anyone is a child of God is that he hates with a perfect hatred and seeks to live a holy, Christlike life. … 

     I bless God that I have learned to have very little respect for the vision of the man with the measuring line. When I see an angel with it, I am glad enough; but when I see a man with it, I tell him that he must give me a warrant from God and show me how he is to know the elect by any other method than that laid down by our Lord Jesus Christ: “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). … 

     He who truly grows in grace does not say, “Dear me! I can feel that I am growing; bless the Lord! Let’s sing a hymn. ‘I’m a-growing! I’m a-growing!’” I have often felt that I was growing smaller; I think that is very probable, and a good thing, too. If we are very great in our own estimation, it is because we have a number of cancers, or foul gatherings, that need to be lanced, so as to let out the bad matter that causes us to boast of our bigness. 

From The Autobiography Of Charles Spurgeon 

Some Dos and Don’ts for Christian growth:

Do—hate those things that keep you from God’s presence
Do—seek to be conformed to the image of Jesus

Don’t—look at other people as your measuring line
Do—make sure your life is fruitful according to God’s standards

Don’t—brag about your growth
Do—humbly thank God for your growth
Do—be quick to repent of un-Christlike things the Holy Spirit reveals to you

Thursdays With Oswald—Do You Pass The Tests?

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.

Do You Pass The Tests?

     In these verses [Matthew 7:15-20] Jesus tells His disciples to test preachers and teachers by their fruit. There are two tests—one is the fruit of the life of the preacher, and the other is the fruit of the doctrine. The fruit of a man’s own life may be perfectly beautiful, and at the same time he may be teaching a doctrine which, if logically worked out, would produce the devil’s fruit in other lives. It is easy to be captivated by a beautiful life and to argue that therefore what he teaches must be right. Jesus says, “Be careful, test your teacher by his fruit.” The other side is just as true, a man may be teaching beautiful truth and have magnificent doctrine while the fruit in his own life is rotten. We say that if a man lives a beautiful life, his doctrine must be right; not necessarily so, says Jesus. Then again we say because a man teaches the right thing, therefore his life must be right; not necessarily so, says Jesus. Test the doctrine by its fruit, and test the teacher by his fruit.

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Yes, we should test our teachers and preachers by: (1) the fruit of their life, and (2) the fruit of their doctrine. But all Christians should also make sure our own lives pass the same test. 

Chambers goes on to share these thoughts—

“It is appallingly easy to pretend. If once our eyes are off Jesus Christ, pious pretense is sure to follow. … We have to beware of pretense in ourselves. It is an easy business to appear to be what we are not.” 

“If we say we are right with God, the world has a perfect right to watch our private life and see if we are so. … Fruit-bearing is always mentioned as the manifestation of an intimate union with Jesus Christ (John 15:1-5). … Jesus Christ makes publicity the test; He lived His own life most publicly (John 18:20). … It is God’s law that men cannot hide what they really are. If they are His disciples it will be publicly portrayed.” 

“God’s spiritual open air is the Bible. The Bible is the universe of revelation facts; if we live there our roots will be healthy and our lives right.” 

We need to always listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit when we ask, “Am I passing these two tests of true fruitfulness?” 

13 Quotes On The Gospel Of Luke

J.C. Ryle has given us a wonderful commentary on the Gospels in his Expository Thoughts On The Gospels. Check out my full book review here, and then enjoy a few quotes from Ryle’s insights on the Gospel of Luke.

“Lay firm hold on Bible promises. It is of the deepest importance to our peace to do so. Promises are, in fact, the manna that we should daily eat and the water that we should daily drink as we travel through the wilderness of this world.” 

“Christ’s loving kindness to His people never changes and never fails. It is a deep well of which no one ever found the bottom.” 

“There is not enough of a missionary spirit among Christians. It should not satisfy us to be safe ourselves. We ought also to try to do good to others. All cannot go to the heathen, but every believer should strive to be a missionary to his fellow man.” 

“No man shall ever be a loser in the long run by deeds of self-denying charity and patient love. At times he may seem to get nothing by his conduct. He may appear to reap nothing but ridicule, contempt, and injury. His kindness may sometimes tempt men to impose on him. His patience and forbearance may be abused. But at the last he will always be found a gainer.” 

“Have we the word of Christ’s promises? Then let us rest on it and fear nothing. Let us not doubt that every word that Christ has spoken shall be made good. The word of Christ is a sure foundation. He that leans upon it shall never be confounded.” 

“How much we ought to hate sin! Instead of loving it, cleaving to it, dallying with it, excusing it, playing with it, we ought to hate it with a deadly hatred. Sin is the great murderer, and thief, and pestilence, and nuisance of this world. Let us make no peace with it. Let us wage a ceaseless warfare against it.” 

“We must give up the vain idea of trying to please everybody. The thing is impossible and the attempt is mere waste of time. We must be content to walk in Christ’s steps and let the world say what it likes. Do what we will we shall never satisfy it or silence its ill-natured remarks. It first found fault with John the Baptist and then with his blessed Master. And it will go on caviling and finding fault with that Master’s disciples so long as one of them is left up on earth.” 

“Occasional retirement, self-inquiry, meditation, and secret communion with God are absolutely essential to spiritual health. The man who neglects them is in great danger of a fall. To be always preaching, teaching, speaking, writing, and working public works is, unquestionably, a sign of zeal. But it is not always a sign of zeal according to knowledge. It often leads to untoward consequences. We must make time occasionally for sitting down and calmly looking within, and examining how matters stand between our own selves and Christ. The omission of the practice is the true account of many a backsliding which shocks the church and gives occasion to the world to blaspheme.” 

“Let us beware of allowing traditions, old preconceived notions, unsound interpretations, or baseless theories in religion to find a root in our hearts. There is but one test of truth: ‘What says the Scripture?’” 

“The kindness of a Christian towards others should not be in word and in tongue only, but in deed and in truth. His love should be a practical love, a love which entails on him self-sacrifice and self-denial, both in money, and time and trouble. His charity should be seen not merely in his talking but his acting—not merely in his profession but in his practice. He should think it no misspent time to work as hard in doing good to those who need help as others work in trying to get money. … Such brotherly love the world may not understand. The returns of gratitude which such love meets with may be few and small. But to show such brotherly love is to walk in the steps of Christ. … What are we doing to help those who are troubled in mind, body, or estate? There are many such in this world. There are always some near our own door. What are we doing for them? Anything, or nothing at all? May God help us to answer these questions! The world would be a happier world if there was more practical Christianity.” 

“Never let us forget that to be content with sitting in the congregation and hearing sermons, while we bear no fruit in our lives, is conduct which is most offensive to God.” 

“Let us endeavor to live daily in the sight of a holy God. So living, it will matter little how much we are ‘watched’ by an ill-natured and malicious world. Let us exercise ourselves to have a conscience void of offense toward God and man, and to do nothing which can give occasion to the Lord’s enemies to blaspheme.” 

“An idea appears to prevail in some men’s minds that true religion may be separated from common honesty, and that soundness about matters of doctrine may cover over swindling and cheating in matters of practice! Against this wretched idea our Lord’s words were a plain protest. Against this idea let us watch and be on our guard.” 

You can read Ryle’s quote on The Gospel of Matthew here, and on the Gospel of Mark here. 

Something, Everything, Nothing, All

“Alas! is it not often true that our work comes between us and Jesus? What folly! The very work that He has to do in me, and I for Him, I take up in such a way that it separates me from Christ. Many a laborer in the vineyard has complained that he has too much work, and not time for close communion with Jesus, and that his usual work weakens his inclination for prayer, and that his too much intercourse with men darkens the spiritual life. Sad thought, that the bearing of fruit should separate the branch from the vine! That must be because we have looked upon our work as something other than the branch bearing fruit. May God deliver us from every false thought about the Christian life. …

“The relationship between the vine in the branches is such that hourly, daily, unceasingly there is the living connection maintained. The sap does not flow for a time, and then stop, and then flow again, but from moment to moment the sap flows from the vine to the branches. And just so, my Lord Jesus wants me to take that blessed position as a worker, and morning by morning and day by day and hour by hour and step by step, in every work I have to go out to just to abide before Him in the simple utter helplessness of one who knows nothing, and is nothing, and can do nothing. … If I am something, then God is not everything; but when I become nothing, God can become ALL.” —Andrew Murray, in Absolute Surrender (emphasis added)

8 Quotes From “Promotion”

PromotionPromotion by Rick Renner is a book to help both ministry and for-profit business organizations make better personnel decisions. You can read my full book review by clicking here. The following are a few quotes I highlighted.

“When choosing people for promotion, it’s important to understand that nothing is more important to God in the life of a leader then his heart. The heart takes first place over gifts, talents, education, and everything else.” 

“A person who is satisfied with little will never achieve much. On the other hand, a person who has a desire for excellence will never be satisfied with a low level performance in his or her life.”

“Any person who does just the required minimum should never be considered for leadership. … So be very careful not to over-spiritualize the selection process when choosing leaders. Don’t ignore telltale signs in a candidates natural life that alert you to a lack of desire.” 

“It’s normal for people to occasionally misunderstand. But when staff members misunderstand their leader’s instructions 99% of the time, something is wrong with the way that leader is communicating with those under his authority. His followers cannot be wrong all the time.”

“You should not look for a candidate free of problems, but for one who knows how to turn to God and manage life’s challenges according to Scripture.”

“Never forget that when you’re a leader, the most important pulpit you’ll ever possess is the testimony of your own personal life.”

“You’re never going to find a perfect person. … So never forget to let mercy triumphs over judgment. But if your peace is disturbed because of things you see occurring in a potential leader’s life, don’t ignore what is bothering you. Pay attention to what your spirit is telling you. Perhaps he or she is the right leader, but it isn’t the right time yet. It’s better to be slow and sure then to move forward without the inner conviction that you’re on the right track.”

“You may have a more visible position than others do during this earthly life, but your value to God for eternity is no different than anyone else in His Body.”

Remain

Jesus says, REMAIN in Me,
And I will REMAIN in you.
The branch must REMAIN in the vine; there’s
No fruit unless you REMAIN in Me.
If you REMAIN, you’ll bear much fruit;
If you don’t REMAIN, you’ll wither up.
So REMAIN in me, and
My words will REMAIN in you.
Stay and REMAIN in Me.
If you obey, you’ll REMAIN in My love, just as
I REMAIN in My Father’s love
And My joy will REMAIN in you. (John 15)
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