Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Humility Of Christ’s Birth

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.

The Humility Of Christ’s Birth

     Moreover, there was a peculiar wisdom ordaining that Jesus Christ should be the Son of the woman, and not of the man, because ‘that which is born of the flesh is flesh’ (John 3:6). Had He been born of the flesh, and merely flesh, He would, naturally, by carnal generation, have inherited all the frailties and the sins and the infirmities that man has from his birth. He would have been conceived in sin and shaped in iniquity, even as the rest of us. Therefore He was not born of man, but the Holy Spirit overshadowed the virgin Mary and Christ stands as the one man, save one other, who came forth pure from His Maker’s hands, who could ever say, ‘I am pure.’ Yes, and He could say far more than that other Adam could say concerning his purity, for He maintained His integrity and never let it go! And from His birth down to His death He knew no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth….

     Let us take courage here. If Jesus Christ was born in a manger in a rock, why should He not come and live in our rocky hearts? If He was born in a stable, why should not the stable of our souls be made into a house for Him? If He was born in poverty, may not the poor in spirit expect that He will be their friend? If He thus endured degradation at the first, will He count it any dishonor to come to the very poorest and humblest of His creatures and tabernacle in the souls of His children? Oh no!

From The Birth Of Christ

If Jesus was only God, He would never have been able to stoop to love us. 

If Jesus was only Man, He would never have been able to help us. 

Only the God-Man has both the power and the love to save use. Truly there is no one like Jesus! 

No one like Jesus our troubles can see
No one can feel them so keenly as He
No one like Jesus our burdens will bear
He and He only can answer our prayer

No one like Jesus could die for our sins
No one but Jesus can make the heart clean
No one but Jesus such mercy can show
He and He only such love can bestow

Jesus, Jesus
Precious Savior
Oh, how I love You
Love and adore You
Thank You, thank You
Precious Jesus
Oh, how You love me
Oh, what a Savior to me —Fanny J. Crosby, No One Like Jesus

Fasting Power

We are always engaged in an intense spiritual battle. Sometimes we feel the intensity of the battle, sometimes we don’t. But it’s always happening. 

This is why we need to make prayer an ongoing discipline. If we do, we will be much more likely to turn to prayer when we feel the intense moments, and our faith in those intense moments will be strengthened and ready to respond. 

Every day we are either preparing or repairing. Prayer is either helping us prepare for the challenges we will be facing, or it’s helping us recover from the battle we just fought. Believe me: it’s much better to be preparing than it is to be repairing!

One time the disciples of Jesus got stymied in a spiritual battle. A father brought his demon-possessed son to them, asking that they cast out the demon. But this distraught father then had to report to Jesus, “They couldn’t do it” (see Matthew 17:14-21). 

Why couldn’t they? These men had been taught how to pray by Jesus Himself, and they already had experienced ministry success (Matthew 6:9-13; Mark 6:13). So were they stumped now? 

Jesus told them, “It’s because you have so little faith.” He went on to tell them that these intense spiritual battles require an ongoing lifestyle of prayer. Jesus wasn’t suggesting that they should have said to that father, “Come back in a few days after we have prayed and fasted.” 

But what Jesus was really saying was that all of us need to stay connected to the Source of our spiritual power at every single moment (John 15:5, 7). Sometimes this requires taking our eyes off ourselves and our own appetites. 

In a word: we need to fast. 

The word fasting means “to cover the mouth” or “to close the mouth.” 

  • often fasting is in response to calamity or as a sign of mourning 
  • sometimes it’s alongside an intense prayer 
  • ideally it should be a regular discipline in our lives. In Matthew 6:16-18, notice the phrase “when you fast.” Not “if you fast,” but when. Jesus assumed that we would do this, and since this teaching appears right after Jesus teaches us how to pray, it makes sense that prayer and fasting go well together.  

Fasting is not…

Fasting intensifies our focus on God in the quiet times so that we can keep our eyes on Him in the crashing storms. 

Fasting helps us tune in to the unmistakable Voice of the Holy Spirit in the peaceful moments so that we can still recognize His Voice in the tumult of battle. 

Is there a comfort food you tend to run to? Is there a coping activity that you typically use to de-stress? Is there someone or something other than God that is your go-to in times of trouble? Perhaps we should start there and fast from those things for a short period of time. 

Fasting in the quiet times will strengthen us for the intense battle times. 

Let’s prepare daily for victory, instead of having to repair after a failure.

Poetry Saturday—Lord Of All Being

Lord of all being, throned afar,
Thy glory flames from sun and star;
Center and soul of every sphere,
Yet to each loving heart how near!

Sun of our life, Thy quickening ray,
Sheds on our path the glow of day;
Star of our hope, Thy softened light
Cheers the long watches of the night.

Our midnight is Thy smile withdrawn;
Our noontide is Thy gracious dawn;
Our rainbow arch, Thy mercy’s sign;
All, save the clouds of sin, are Thine.

Lord of all life, below, above,
Whose light is truth, whose warmth is love,
Before Thy ever blazing throne
We ask no luster of our own.

Grant us Thy truth to make us free,
And kindling hearts that burn for Thee,
Till all Thy living altars claim
One holy light, one heavenly flame. —Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Knowledge Of The Holy (book review)

One definition of a Christian mystic is someone who engages in deep, prayerful pondering of the nature of God, as He is revealed in the Scriptures, and then emerges from those intimate encounters to share with us what he or she has learned. I would put A.W. Tozer in this category, especially in his book The Knowledge Of The Holy—The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life. 

Tozer himself described the Christian mystic more fully than I could in his book The Christian Book Of Mystical Verse. In that book, Tozer shared some poetic verses from some of his favorite mystical thinkers. He noted, “The hymns and poems found here are mystical in that they are God-oriented; they begin with God, embrace the worshipping soul, and return to God again.” 

In The Knowledge Of The Holy, Tozer takes us on his own personal journey into the immeasurable depths of God’s greatness. Whereas many theologians tend to focus on one attribute of God at a time, Tozer has a God-given ability to help us see all of God’s attributes operating in their infinite fullness. 

Even as Tozer plunges deep into the attributes of God’s self-existence, self-sufficiency, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, love, mercy, justice, grace, and sovereignty, he reminds us, “Because God is immutable He always acts like Himself, and because He is a unity He never suspends one of His attributes in order to exercise another.” 

This is not a book you can ready lightly or casually, or even quickly. This is a book that invites you to read slowly and reverently each of the short chapters, and then to meditate long on the immenseness of an All-Powerful, All-Loving God who wants to reveal Himself to you. 

The Knowledge Of The Holy is a soul-expanding book!

Poetry Saturday—God Is The Name My Soul Adores

God is the Name my soul adores,
The almighty Three, the eternal One;
Nature and grace, with all their powers,
Confess the Infinite unknown.

Thy voice produced the sea and spheres,
Bade the waves roar, the planets shine;
But nothing like Thyself appears
Through all these spacious works of Thine.

Still restless nature dies and grows;
From change to change the creatures run:
Thy being no succession knows,
And all Thy vast designs are one.

A glance of Thine runs through the globe,
Rules the bright worlds, and moves their frame;
Of light Thou formist Thy dazzling robe;
Thy ministers are living flame.

How shall polluted mortals dare
To sing Thy glory or Thy grace?
Beneath Thy feet we lie afar,
And see but shadows of Thy face.

Who can behold the blazing light?
Who can approach the consuming flame?
None but Thy wisdom knows Thy might
None but Thy Word can speak Thy Name. —Isaac Watts

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Our Father In Heaven

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.

Our Father In Heaven

     I believe that this prayer [“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name”] was never intended for universal use. Jesus Christ taught it not to all men, but to His disciples, and it is a prayer adopted only to those who are the possessors of grace and are truly converted. In the lips of an ungodly man, it is entirely out of place. Does not one say, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do” (John 8:44)? Why then should you mock God by saying, “Our Father in heaven”? 

     Let none despise this prayer. It is matchless, and if we must have forms of prayer, let us have this first, foremost, and chief. But let none think that Christ would tie His disciples to the constant and only use of this. Let us rather draw near to the throne of heavenly grace with boldness, as children coming to a father, and let us tell forth our wants and our sorrows in the language that the Holy Spirit teaches us. …

     If we say, “Our Father in heaven,” we must remember that our being sons involves the duty of obedience to God. When I say “my Father,” it is not for me to rise up and go in rebellion against His wishes. If He is my Father, let me note His commands and let me reverentially obey. If He has said, “Do this,” let me do it, not because I dread Him, but because I love Him. And if He forbids me to do anything, let me avoid it. …

     We are one in the family of God and no one is ahead of the other. One may have more grace than another, but God does not love one more than another. One may be an older child than another, but he is not more a child. One may do mightier works and may bring more glory to his Father, but he whose name is the least in the kingdom of heaven is as much the child of God as he who stands among the king’s mighty men. Let this cheer and comfort us when we draw near to God and say, “Our Father in heaven.” … 

     And after you have prayed that, rise up and act it. Say not “our Father” and then look upon your brethren with a sneer or frown. I beseech you, love like a brother and act like a brother. Help the needy. Cheer these sick. Comfort the fainthearted. Go about doing good; minister to the suffering people of God wherever you find them. Let the world take notice of you—that you are when you are on your feet what you are upon your knees—that you are a brother to all the brotherhood of Christ, a brother born for adversity, like your Master Himself.

From The Fatherhood of God

This kind of prayer speaks of…

  • access
  • responsibility
  • power
  • love
  • provision
  • assurance
  • protection
  • acceptance
  • joy
  • …and more blessings than we can ever enumerate! 

What a blessing to pray to a Heavenly Father who is also Holy God.

Hallowed Be Your Name

Jesus was once asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” He responded by saying, “The Lord our God, the Lord is One,” and then saying we should love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (which fulfills the first four of the Ten Commandments), and then love our neighbor as ourselves (which fulfills the next six of the Commandments).

To live this way, we need to pray this way too! That’s why Jesus taught us a model prayer—which we typically call “The Lord’s Prayer”—in which the first three petitions are for God’s glory (hallowed be Your name; Your kingdom come; Your will be done), and the next three petitions are for man’s help (daily bread, forgiveness, victory over temptation). 

Jesus says we can pray to our Heavenly Father, but we still need to remember that He is also the God of the Hallowed Name. The Greek word for hallowed is made up of two other Greek words: 

  • hagnos is something totally immaculate, blindingly pure, and unapproachable. The apostle Paul said this about God: Our Master, Jesus Christ, is on His way. He’ll show up right on time, His arrival guaranteed by the Blessed and Undisputed Ruler, High King, High God. He’s the only one death can’t touch, His light so bright no one can get close. He’s never been seen by human eyes—human eyes can’t take Him in! Honor to Him, and eternal rule! (1 Timothy 6:15-16) 
  • thalpo means cherished. The same apostle Paul also said that God has given us the right to approach Him as “Abba, Father” or “Daddy, God” (Romans 8:15). 

He is both unapproachable and approachable. He is both awful and lovable. He is both Supreme power and Supreme love. He is both Hallowed and Father. He is unique. Since He is unique, we must approach Him uniquely in holy prayer. But we must always approach first and foremost to reverence His holy Name. As Matthew Henry said, “Let Him have the praise of His perfections, and then let us have the benefit of them.” 

Think of His glory in every request you make of Him. Father, may Your holy, righteous name be hallowed and exalted and made famous as You…

  • … provide my daily bread
  • … forgive me and help me forgive others
  • … give me victory over temptations

Let’s not pray prayers that rob God of His glory. Prayers like:

  • Selfish prayers that are all about me, me, me
  • Doubtful prayers that aren’t really sure God can help
  • Little prayers that insult God’s power and His love
  • Unexpectant prayers that ask God to do something, but we don’t really expect that He will

Let’s be known as people who pray confidently humble prayers. Let’s come to a Father Who is All-Love and to a God Who is All-Powerful—a God Whose power is perfectly balanced by His love, and Whose love is perfectly balanced by His power. May our prayers HALLOW His name! 

Join me this Sunday as we continue to learn more about prayer. 

8 Quotes From “The Gospel Of The Kingdom”

T.M. Moore has written a book that I think is a must-read for those who want to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3)—the orthodox Christianity that is presented in the Scriptures. You can check out my full book review of The Gospel Of The Kingdom by clicking here. 

“We can only discern these wayward ‘winds of doctrine’ when we have a clear understanding of the Gospel of the Kingdom. The better we understand and the more wholeheartedly we embrace this Good News as Jesus and the Apostles taught it, the better able we will be to counsel and lead our fellow believers who may be ensnared in the thrall of a ‘different gospel’ and therefore in danger of having believed in vain.” 

“In the divine economy now established within the Kingdom of God, the Spirit of God works with the Word of God to build the church and further the reign of Christ. An ethic of love and hope prevails within that realm which serves as a platform for embodying and proclaiming the truth of God and Christ. Salvation comes to those who believe, bringing them into the community of the saints and dramatically affecting every aspect of their lives in relationships of mutual service and love.” 

“The Gospel of the Kingdom is not, in the first instance, about you and me going to heaven when we die. It is about the Kingdom of God, first and foremost—about a new reality that has broken into human experience with irresistible, transforming power, making all things new and bringing the knowledge of the glory of God to light in the sight of all men and nations.” 

“Apart from the saving mercy of Christ and liberation into His Kingdom, men can look forward only to lives of uncertainty, doubt, disappointment, false hopes, fear, and death.” 

“The Gospel of the Kingdom is the power of God for transformation, a transformation so complete and thorough that it finally makes all things new. Those who know this power are changed by the glory of God so that, increasingly, their lives actually begin to reflect the living reality of the risen Christ, their King. The fruits and virtues that flow from their lives, like rivers of living water, are precisely those most to be desired and least in supply in a fallen world.” 

“The Kingdom is Good News because it brings power exceeding and abundant to be and do more than we could ever ask or think [Ephesians 3:20]. Here is a power we can never exhaust and that springs up day by day in ever fresher, ever more abounding ways to make all things new in our lives.” 

“Joy, it appears, is not determined by what we can see in our immediate environment. Instead, Joy is a condition that attaches to knowing the Lord and being able to see past what is seen in order to engage what is not seen. …The ability to know joy—in spite of any untoward circumstances or conditions—is dependent on the extent to which one actually knows the Lord and is intimately engaged in a relationship with Him. … Your salvation is an experience of living in the Kingdom of God, where we know the hope of glory, experienced and expressed, as a daily reality, then our joy will be more constant and full because our relationship with the Lord will be as much for the ‘here and now’ as for the ‘then and there.’” 

“God is always ready to meet us with joy, and He has provided ample means whereby we may engage Him for the joy that is to be known in His presence. Only our slothfulness, distractiveness, or neglect of His salvation—or the idolatry of seeking our joy in places other than the presence of God—can keep us from living in joy now, and in anticipation of the fullness of joy yet to come.” 

Poetry Saturday—The Spirit-Filled Life

O the Spirit-filled life; is it thine, is it thine?
Is thy soul wholly filled with the Spirit Divine?
O thou child of the King, has He fallen on thee?
Does He reign in thy soul, so that all men may see
The dear Savior’s blest image reflected in thee?
Has He swept through thy soul like the waves of the sea?
Does the Spirit of God daily rest upon thee?
Does He sweeten thy life, does He keep thee from care?
Does He guide thee and bless thee in answer to prayer?
Is it joy to be led of the Lord anywhere?
Is He near thee each hour, does He stand at thy side?
Does He gird thee with strength, has He come to abide?
Does He give thee to know that all things may be done
Through the grace and the power of the Crucified One?
Does He witness to thee of the glorified Son?
Has He purged thee of dross with the fire from above?
Is He first in thy thoughts, has He all of thy love?
Is His service thy choice, and is sacrifice sweet?
Is the doing His will both thy drink and thy meat?
Dost thou run at His bidding with glad eager feet?
Has He freed thee from self and from all of thy greed?
Dost thou hasten to succor thy brother in need?
As a soldier of Christ dost thou hardness endure?
Is thy hope in the Lord everlasting and sure?
Hast thou patience and meekness, art tender and pure?
O the Spirit-filled life may be thine, may be thine,
In thy soul evermore the Shekinah may shine;
It is thine to live with the tempests all stilled,
It is thine with the blessed Holy Ghost to be filled;
It is thine, even thine, for thy Lord has so willed. —Lettie Cowman

Poetry Saturday—I See His Blood Upon The Rose

I see His blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of His eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see His face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but His voice—and carven by His power
Rocks are His written words.

All pathways by His feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His Cross is every tree. —Joseph Mary Plunkett
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