Thursdays With Spurgeon—You Cannot Hide Your Heart From God

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.

You Cannot Hide Your Heart From God

Hell and destruction are before the Lord: how much more then the hearts of the children of men? (Proverbs 15:11 KJV) 

     God knows the burial places of all His people. He notes as well the resting place of the man who is buried tombless and alone as the man over home a mighty mausoleum has been raised. He saw the traveler who fell in the barren desert, whose body became the prey of vultures and whose bones were bleach in the sun. He saw the mariner, who was wrecked far out at sea and over whose corpse no dirge was ever wailed, except the howling of the winds and the murmuring of the wild waves. God knows the thousands who have perished in battle, unnumbered and unnoticed; the many who have died alone amid dreary forests, frozen seas, and devouring snowstorms; all these and the places of their sepulcher. God has marked that silent grotto within the sea, where pearls lie deep, where now the shipwrecked one is sleeping, as the death place of one of His redeemed. …

     Yes, hell, horrible as it is and veiled in many clouds and covered over with darkness, is naked before the vision of the Most High. There is the grand fact stated: “Hell and destruction are before the Lord.” After this the inference seems to be easy: “How much more, then, the hearts of the children of men?” … 

     God who sees death and hell sees our hearts, for they are far less extensive. … Scarcely have we time enough to tell the story before it comes to its end. Surely, then, God may easily understand the history of a man, when He knows the history of the monarchies of death and hell. [see Psalm 44:21; Jeremiah 23:24; Revelation 2:23] … 

     God does not judge by the appearance of a man’s great heart, or the outside appearance of a good heart. But He puts it in the scales and weighs it; puts His own Word in one scale and the heart in the other. He knows the exact weight. He knows whether we have grace in the heart, which makes us good weight, or only presence in the heart, which makes us weigh light when put into the scale. He searches the heart in every possible way. …

     Oh, you may endeavor as much as you can to hide your faults from God. But beyond a doubt, He will discover you.  

From God, The All-Seeing One

When—not if—God looks at your heart, what will He find? 

Yes, we should pray—Search me, O God, show me anything that is offensive to You [Psalm 139:23-24]—but then we must repent and ask forgiveness when the offense is revealed. No excuses, no covering up!

 

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 8

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.

Jeremiah 8

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 8.] 

     Wherever I banish them, all the survivors of this evil nation will prefer death to life (Jeremiah 8:3). 

     Our Lord Jesus used these burning words, “The worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched,” [Mark 9:44, 46, 48] in reference to the condition of people who deprive themselves of right judgment by persistently going wrong (see also 2 Thessalonians 2:11). In the prophecies of Jeremiah we have the same great revelation, that eternal issues are involved in temporal living, but in a different connection. If we are going to remain true disciples of Jesus Christ, we will have to remain alien to the day we live in.

     Such terrible suggestions as these verses contain [verses 1-3] serve as a very wholesome awakening, and bring men to the understanding of the need of Redemption. …  

     The subject of the Second Coming is the one the average unholy Christian cannot stand, and the tendency is to listen, as the people did in Jeremiah’s day, to the false prophets (2 Peter 3:3-6). …  

     The modern scholar pretends to be expounding the Word of God, but in reality he is writing with a lying pen, he builds his wisdom out of his own rationalism, and takes out of the law of God only what agrees with it. …  

     Paul says the same to Timothy—“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers you say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3). 

     They dress the wound of My people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace (Jeremiah 8:11). That is the perpetual peril at all times, relieving present pain by a temporal fictitious cure, when what is needed for an effectual cure is a surgical operation. …  

     All Christians are not Christian workers, but those who are called to be workers need the courage of the Holy Ghost to face life from God’s standpoint. We have to keep our hearts and minds faced with the awful condition of human life apart from the Cross of Christ. We must get into our souls the iron of God which makes us strong enough to present Jesus Christ to men. …  

     The majority of us know nothing about shame and repentance, consequently we drift from the central point because we more easily get into sympathy with men than with God, and that is slander against God. To save the world cost Jesus Christ His life, and if we teach that the world can be saved in any other way we slander God.

From Notes On Jeremiah

Oh God, help us—all of us, but especially Your workers—to preach sound doctrine that would save lost people from an eternal Hell. 

Saturday In The Proverbs— Deliverance (and other blessings) (Proverbs 11)

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

…delivers… (Proverbs 11).

Following God’s wisdom delivers people from a world of hurt—even an eternity (literally!) of suffering. 

Those who follow God’s wisdom are delivered from:

  • the second death 
  • lust that derails 
  • troubles that usually send people tumbling
  • hypocrisy’s fallout
  • God’s punishment 

Other blessings that come when we follow God’s wisdom includes: 

  • guidance 
  • direction
  • blessing your city
  • safety from poor decisions 
  • security and freedom
  • honor
  • soul health
  • sure rewards
  • eternal life
  • God’s delighting in you
  • great return on investments
  • blessing others
  • blessing from others
  • favor
  • flourishing
  • leadership
  • soul winning
  • God’s ultimate rewards 

WOW—who wouldn’t want that list of blessings?!

Handling Tough Texts

How do you handle a hard passage in the Bible? Peter wrote this about Paul, “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand….” But if we don’t take the time to wrestle with that passage, Peter says this is what happens next: “…which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).

So here’s a 5-step plan I use when I am working through a challenging passage of Scripture.

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you

All Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), and the same Holy Spirit lives in a Christian (1 John 2:20). Think about that: the same Holy Spirit that inspired an author to write the words of Scripture is the same Spirit that will illuminate them to you!

  1. Read the difficult passage in context

We will make our task much easier when we “zoom out” from the difficult text and read the whole passage surrounding the difficult verse/phrase. Perhaps we need to “zoom out” even farther to understand why the whole chapter or book was written.

  1. Identify the parts that are clear

Start off by identifying the parts that you do understand, and then see what light that shines on the tricky text.

  1. Cross reference with other Scriptures

Never, ever, ever draw a conclusion from just one passage of Scripture. Paul reminded his audience that he used the “whole counsel of God’s Word” (Acts 20:27) in forming his sermons. If the challenging passage contains an Old Testament passage, look it up; if it references an historical event, read that history. I also like to use biblegateway.com’s excellent search feature to find cross references.

  1. Draw conclusions on what appears to be the main point

Only after you have done step #1-4 should you attempt to draw some conclusions. You will set yourself up for error if you draw a conclusion first, and then try to find other texts in the Bible that agree with you.

The Apostle Peter writes something rather challenging in his first letter. In fact, Martin Luther said this about 1 Peter 3:18-22: “A wonderful text is this, and a more obscure passage perhaps than any other in the New Testament, so that I do not know for a certainty just what Peter means.” If you would like to see how I walk through the 5-step plan on this “obscure passage,” please check out the video below.

The World’s Last Night (book review)

I am a huge C.S. Lewis fan! His perspective on the spiritual world is unequaled in any other author I have read. In The World’s Last Night, Lewis shares seven essays ranging from how our prayers really impact things, to life on other planets, to the end of our world as we know it.

The title of this book (and the title of the concluding chapter) are taken from a question by John Donne: “What if this present were the world’s last night?” So all of Lewis’ essays are written from that perspective. If this is the world’s last night, why should we keep praying? If demons knew this was the world’s last night, why would they keep on tempting? If atheists knew this was the world’s last night, would they keep arguing the same way?

As with all of his writings, C.S. Lewis has a unique knack of giving his readers a perspective that is totally original. His skills in philosophy, literature, and understanding the human heart are unparalleled! If you are ready to have your horizons expanded, these essays will not disappoint!

(And for any fans of The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape himself makes a special appearance as he gives a toast in hell that is sure to evoke both smiles and chagrins.)

God Isn’t Trying To Cast People Into Hell

“God isn’t trying to cast people into hell; He’s trying to bring them into heaven. He wants people to be with Him and to have everything His sons and daughters should have. So it’s odd to focus on the question of whether people need to hear the name Jesus to go to heaven, as if knowing Him in this life were an annoyance people would prefer to avoid.

“It’s just the opposite. Knowing Jesus and knowing all about Him are meant to be monumental blessings in this life. So we should be tripping over ourselves to get to know Him rather than trying to figure out ways people might get to heaven without Him. Peoples lives here and now will be infinitely better if they know Jesus and the freedom He wants them to have.” —Eric Metaxas, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About God

Poetry Saturday—The Monster Death

Break off your tears, ye saints, and tell
How high your great Deliverer reigns;
Sing how He spoiled the hosts of hell,
And led the monster death in chains:
Say, Live forever, wondrous King!
Born to redeem, and strong to save;
Then ask the monster, Where’s thy sting?
And, Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? —Isaac Watts

The Christian In Complete Armour (book review)

the-christian-in-complete-armourWhen I saw both John Newton and Charles Spurgeon put William Gurnall on their “must read” lists (I’ll share their quotes in a moment), I thought, “I have to get this book!” Although The Christian In Complete Armour was written by Gurnall over 360 years ago, the words ring just as true for Christians today.

In summary, The Christian In Complete Armour is an intensive look at the spiritual warfare preparations that the Apostle Paul lists in Ephesians 6:10-18. Gurnall opens his book with these sobering challenges to Christians:

“All may have a desire to be successful soldiers, but few have the courage and determination to grapple with the difficulties that accost them on the way to victory.”

“The fearful are those who march for Hell (Revelation 21:8); the valiant are those who take Heaven by force (Matthew 11:12). Cowards never won Heaven. Do not claim that you are begotten of God and have His royal blood running in your veins unless you can prove your lineage by this heroic spirit: to dare to be holy in spite of man and devils.” (emphasis mine in both quotes)

So piece by piece, step by step, William Gurnall explains the value of each of the Christian’s armaments. He tells us what we can expect when we employ them as God intended, and what we should fear if we fail to make use of each and every piece of equipment God has made available for His soldiers.

John Newton said, “If I might read only one book besides the Bible, I would choose The Christian In Complete Armour.”

And Charles Spurgeon noted, “Gurnall’s work is peerless and priceless; every line is full of wisdom; every sentence is suggestive…the best thought-breeder in all our library.”

Although a very old text, James S. Bell, Jr. has done a marvelous work in preserving Gurnall’s message, but presenting it to us in modern-day English. This is an excellent work for every Christian soldier to have on their shelf.

I am a Moody Press book reviewer.

7 Quotes From “Abolishing Abortion” For The Church

Abolishing AbortionFather Frank Pavone writes persuasively and passionately about the role all of us can play in abolishing abortion throughout the world. One group that definitely needs to step to the forefront of this battle is the Church! Here are some quotes from Father Pavone specifically talking to Christians.

“People need to know that to oppose abortion does not mean to oppose those who have had one. … The Church has the perfect spiritual and psychological balance necessary for those who have been involved in an abortion. The last thing such a person needs to hear is, ‘What you did is no big deal.’ The nature of post-abortion grief is that the individual involved in the abortion has begun to realize precisely what a big deal it was. Now this person needs someone to tell her that she should not feel silly for feeling sad, that there is indeed reason for the grief in her heart, and that what her heart is telling her is true: her child was killed. A great disservice was done both to her and her child when someone convinced her that the abortion would be ‘no big deal.’ Accepting that line was a major act of denial. Healing can begin when she breaks out of denial and calls the evil what it is. … At the same time, the other line she does not need to here is, ‘You are rejected; there is no hope.’ As she realizes the evil that has occurred, she will be tempted to say this to herself. The Church, however, contradicts that despair with the clear message of forgiveness.” 

“Those in the pain of abortion are not helped by silence. Some pastors refrain from preaching about abortion out of the sincere desire to not hurt women who have had abortions. Yet that silence does not interpret itself. The person grieving over abortion can infer from our silence that we do not know her pain, or that we do not care, or that there is no hope. None of this is true. With clear and compassionate messages, pastors can break through the silence that led to a woman to this disastrous choice in the first place.”

“Those who attend church regularly are statistically the most likely to be pro-life and the most likely to be pro-life activists. Within America’s Christian churches there are people enough and resources enough to end abortion, armed as the pro-life movement is with the supernatural gifts of truth and grace. It is clear that the full activation of the Church is a critical step for ending abortion. This does not primarily mean creating new structures. It simply means infusing the existing structure with greater vigor and effectiveness.”

“The pro-life movement is not primarily a response to Roe v. Wade. It is a response to Jesus Christ. His teachings not only show us why we are to be pro-life but also show us how. They give us the virtues we need to have in doing this work.”

“The Church is the only institution that has a divine guarantee that it will prevail over the culture of death. ‘The gates of hell shall not prevail against it,’ the Lord Himself said (Matthew 16:18 KJV). Now, gates do not run out on the battlefield to attack the enemy. Rather, they stand still and defend the city against the enemy attacking it. To say that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church is to say that it is the Church that takes the offense and storms the gates of hell to win ground for Jesus Christ. Gates of hell cannot withstand the power of heaven. The gates of death fall in the presence of eternal life. Sin melts in the presence of saving grace. Falsehood collapses in the presence of living truth. These are the tools with which Christ has equipped His Church.”

“Love is found on Calvary. Love’s best symbol is not the heart but the Cross. … What Christ revealed to the world through the Cross about the meaning of love, we must also reveal through our own sacrifice for those we love.”

“Abortion is the exact opposite of love. Loves says, ‘I sacrifice myself for the good of the other person.’ Abortion says, ‘I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself.’ And isn’t it amazing that the very same words used by the culture of death to justify abortion are the words used by our Lord to proclaim life and salvation and love: ‘This is My body!’ … ‘This is My body,’ Jesus said, ‘given for you’ (see Luke 22). He did not cling to His body so that we would die but rather gave it away so that we could live. These are the words that define our mission in the world: spouse saying to spouse, parents saying to children, clergy saying to their congregation, all of us saying to our brothers and sisters, ‘This is my body, my time, my efforts, my resources, my life—given for you, that you may live!’”

I have shared other quotes from Abolishing Abortion which you can read here and here.

And be sure to check out my book review of Abolishing Abortion here.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“satan is real and may have a hand in our calamities, but not the final hand, and not the decisive hand. James makes clear that God had a good purpose in all Job’s afflictions: ‘You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful’ [James 5:11]. So satan may have been involved, but the ultimate purpose was God’s, and it was ‘compassionate and merciful.’” —John Piper

“God’s will is determined by His wisdom which always perceives, and His goodness which always embraces, the intrinsically good.” —C.S. Lewis

“Let us never suppose that there is any lack of charity in speaking of hell. Let us rather maintain that it is the highest love to warn men plainly of danger, and to beseech them to ‘flee from the wrath to come.’ It was satan, the deceiver, murderer, and liar, who said to Eve in the beginning, ‘You shall not surely die.’ (Genesis 3:4.) To shrink from telling men, that except they believe they will ‘die in their sins,’ may please the devil, but surely it cannot please God.” —J.C. Ryle

“You aren’t the only person with your skill. But you are the only person with your version of your skill.” —Max Lucado

“There is nothing natural about the Christian life. It is all supernatural. It’s a life dependent upon miracles from the very beginning (including your conversion). And it simply can’t be lived without faith in the supernatural.” —David Wilkerson

It is time for science to detach itself from an atheistic worldview. Douglas Rushkoff states, “By starting with Godlessness as a foundational principle of scientific reasoning, we make ourselves unnecessarily resistant to the novelty of human consciousness, its potential continuity over time, and the possibility that it has a purpose.”

Detroit Tigers fans (like me!) will love this: an interactive map that shows where every Tiger has been born.

John Stonestreet asks, “Why is pop music so angry?” Check out his answer in Bad Blood.

[VIDEO] John Maxwell challenges us to find someone we can inspire this weekend—

 

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