Thursdays With Spurgeon—My Rock

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 iTunes or Spotify.

My Rock 

[God] alone is my rock and my salvation (Psalm 62:2).

     How noble a title; it is so sublime, suggestive, and overpowering. ‘My rock.’ It is a figure so divine that to God alone will it ever be applied. …  

     Unchangeable He is in His being, firm in His own sufficiency. He keeps Himself immutably the same. And ‘therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob’ (Malachi 3:6). … So is our God a sure defense, and we will not be moved if He has set our feet upon a rock and established our goings (see Psalm 40:2). …  

     ‘He is my rock.’ How glorious a thought! How safe am I and how secure and how may I rejoice in the fact that when I wade through Jordan’s stream He will be my rock! I will not walk upon a slippery foundation, but I will tread on Him who cannot betray my feet. And I may sing when I am dying, ‘He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him’ (Psalm 92:15).

From God Alone The Salvation Of His People

Spurgeon mentioned singing about God our Rock even when we come to death’s door. Immediately a couple of songs from my childhood sprang to mind.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown,
And behold Thee on Thy throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee. (Augustus Toplady)

Where do I go when there’s nobody else to turn to?
Who do I turn to when nobody wants to listen?
Who do I lean on when there’s no foundation stable?
I go to the Rock, I know He’s able, I go to the Rock.

I go to the Rock of my salvation,
I go to the Stone that the builders rejected,
I run to the Mountain and the Mountain stands by me.
When the earth all around me is sinking sand
On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand
When I need a shelter, when I need a friend, I go to the Rock. (Dottie Rambo)

My friend, no matter how unstable things may seem, no matter how uncertain the future may appear, remember the One and Only Rock. He alone is my rock and my salvation! Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Don’t try to make your own secure place, but run to the Rock of Ages, and this immovable Mountain will stand by you and keep you secure for all of eternity! 

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God’s Preference Is You

My dear friend Josh Schram relaunched our summertime series looking at the Selahs in the Psalms. “Selah” (or “Interlude” in some Bible translations) can mean either a time of reflection, a deep breath to go into something stronger, or a time to weigh the contrasts. 

Psalm 44 is a classic example of a Selah calling us to weigh the contrasts! The first 8 verses of this psalm celebrate the recollections of God’s past victories, declarations of God being our King, and crescendoing to a note of continual praise—O God, we give glory to You all day long and constantly praise Your name!

Then comes the Selah—pause. 

And after the pause, the scene turns dark. The psalmist now recounts how bad his situation is, descending to the low note of “we collapse in the dust, lying face down in the dirt” (v. 25). 

Josh reminded us how our preferences change over time. Consider the telephone—we’ve gone from push-button corded phones, to phones with longer cords, to cordless phones, to bulk bag phones, to smaller cell phones, to smartphones. It’s very human for our preferences to want more and better. 

But God’s preference never changes. God’s preference is YOU! 

He can never love you any more than He already does. Nor can He love you any less. 

The apostle Paul quotes Psalm 44:22—yet for Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered—when he explains that absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love (see Romans 8:31-39).

In marriage vows, we usually promise to love our spouse “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness or in health.” True love goes through it all! 

God’s love goes through it all with us. That’s why the psalmist’s last words are so hopeful: Rise up and help us; rescue us because of Your unfailing love. His unfailing love is our assurance of His presence and His ultimate rescue. Paul also reminds us “indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory” (Romans 8:17). 

Josh said, “I want you to remember one thing: Nothing!” Nothing can separate you from God’s love. Ever!  

Hillsong United has some memorable words in their song Highlands—“I will praise You on the mountain, and I will praise You when the mountain’s in my way. … You’re the heaven where my heart is, in the highlands and the heartache all the same.” 

No matter what you’re facing, God’s preference is you. He loves you, and He wants you to grow closer to Him through this trial. Praise Him for His unfailing love on the mountain and in the valley, and then wait in eager expectation for Him to come to rescue you. 

Love Has A Name (YouVersion reading plan review)

I love listening to the Jesus Culture band lead people in worship! Their humble spirits and biblically-sound lyrics are a powerful combination. If you haven’t checked out their latest album called “Love Has A Name,” please do so! And also check out their YouVersion devotional with the same name. 

Love Has A Name is a 10-day reading plan on YouVersion in which the members of the Jesus Culture band have written the devotional for each day. Each devotional is associated with one of the songs on their new album and will take you behind the lyrics to the seed-thought of that song. Then you will also read the biblical passage(s) that were woven into the song’s lyrics. 

Each morning during this 10-day reading plan I read the devotional thought, read the Scripture, and then worshiped along with the song that corresponded with that day’s reading, and then journaled some thoughts. I found that hearing God’s Word sung in such a passionate way was a fantastic way to keep God’s Word in my mind and heart all day long. 

Please check out both the album and the YouVersion reading plan Love Has A Name. 

Speak Life

tobymacI love the message behind tobyMac’s song Speak Life. Our words really do have an impact on people. The writer of Proverbs said it this way—

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Probers 18:21)

In tobyMac’s song, the lyrics echo God’s Word—

Though it’s crazy, amazing

We can turn our hearts with the words we say

Mountains crumble with every syllable

Hope can live or die…

Well it crazy to imagine

Words from our lips as the arms of compassion

Mountains crumble with every syllable

Hope can live or die

Check this out…

And if you’d like to hear Toby’s inspiration for this song, check on this clip…

Going Through The Motions

I was talking to a friend who is a missionary in Africa who had just experienced an interesting church service. Many times Africans will hear a worship song from a visiting group of Americans, and they will try to implement that worship song into their church services. Sometimes this can be quite beautiful.

And sometimes it’s quite comical.

These precious African saints were trying their best to imitate the English words they had heard sung in the song Friend Of God. However, their chorus sounded something like this:

I am afraid of God

I am afraid of God

I am afraid of God

He calls me Fred

Comical? Sure. But it’s also very instructional.

How many times do you and I go into a church service and just mimic words, without really thinking about the meaning behind the words?

We go through the motions—we imitate the sounds we have heard before—and think we are really worshiping.

Here’s what Jesus said:

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases… [and] think that you will be heard for your many words.

Are you going through the motions?

  • Do you pray the same prayer at every meal?
  • Do you sing the same songs the same way every time?
  • Do you worship God the same way every time you come into His presence?
  • Do you pray the same prayer every night before bed?

Do you really mean what you are saying? Or are you just going through the motions?

Judge Or Father?

I’m still thinking about the powerful worship time we had in our Impact youth service on Wednesday night. I can’t think of another way to describe it, except to say that it was intimate.

We sang a song written by Michael Gungor called Wrap Me In Your Arms. The lyrics are simple:

There is a God who loves me
Who wraps me in His arms
And that is the place where I’m changed
And that’s where I belong

Take me to that place, Lord,
To that secret place where
I can be with You
You can make me like You
Wrap me in Your arms
Wrap me in Your arms
Wrap me in Your arms

Far too many people view God as a Judge. Make no mistake, God will judge all of humanity at the end of the age, but in the meantime, Scripture portrays God as a loving Father who wants to wrap us in His arms.

I love the picture in the story Jesus tells of the prodigal son: The young man who ran away from his father and squandered all of the wealth he had taken with him. When he reached the end of his rope, the wayward son turned toward home. If you were thinking of returning home after embarrassing your father and throwing away his money, would you want to return to a judge or a father?

The young man did turn toward home, and his father ran to him and wrapped him in his arms! How amazing!

On Wednesday night I encouraged our youth group to simply stretch their arms out toward their Heavenly Father and feel Him wrap them in His arms. It was so special to see tear-streaked cheeks and outstretched arms in the loving embrace of a God who loves anyone who turns to Him. Awesome!

I encourage you to do the same.

If you’ve blown it … if you feel distant from God … if you feel like you’ve let Him down … if you feel like you’ve embarrassed Him … see Him as a Father who is longing for you to return to Him. He will not judge you, but He will wrap you in His arms and make everything new.

If you wait until your life here is over without ever turning to God, then you will have to face God the Judge. Don’t wait! Embrace God your Father today.

So Long, Status Quo!

What’s holding you back from making a change today? What’s keeping you from breaking with the pack? What status quo in your life needs to go bye-bye?

“Status quo, you know, is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in.’” —Ronald Reagan

“The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I have come that you might have life to the full [away from the status quo].” —Jesus Christ

The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You’re safe and sound and
Until now, it’s where I’ve been

‘Cause it’s been fear that ties me down to everything
But it’s been love, Your love, that cuts the strings

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I am small
And I speak when I’m spoken to
But I am willing to risk it all
I say Your name
Just Your name and I’m ready to jump
Even ready to fall

Why did I take this vow of compromise?
Why did I try to keep it all inside?

I’ve never known a fire that didn’t begin with a flame
Every storm will start with just a drop of rain
But if You believe in me
That changes everything
So long, I’m gone

—Nicole Nordeman, Brave

No Regret Living

Today’s my birthday. It’s not really a “big deal” day for me, except I enjoy being able to get together with my family and friends.

The Bible tells us that God has set the length of our life:

You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer. (Job 14:5 NLT)

I woke up this morning singing the lyrics to Mark Schultz’s song Time That Is Left:

What will you do with the time that’s left?
Will you live it all with no regret?
Will they say that you loved till your final breath?
What will you do with the time that’s left?

I want to live until I die.

Duh, right? Not really. There’s a lot of people who coast to the end, who check out long before their last day. But life is too precious to me … I have too much to do … too many to love. If God has given me a set number of days, I’m going to live everyone with excellence.

A great way to celebrate a birthday is living with no regrets!

More Today?

I have shared before how I often wake up with a particular song on my mind. This morning it was a 1969 classic that I added to my iPod a few weeks ago: “More Today Than Yesterday” by The Spiral Starecase. (Go ahead and listen to the song while you read on.)

So as I was attempting to wake up Betsy, I sang part of the chorus to her. “I love you more today than yesterday. But not as much as tomorrow.” Which got me thinking: How do I do this?

Betsy and I have been “an item” for 8,935 days. I thought I loved her tons yesterday, so how do I love her more today than yesterday? Let me take a couple of cues from the song:

“I’ll be spending time with you”—the greater the quantity of time I spend with her the more likely I’ll have quality time with her.

“Everyday’s a new day in love with you”—love keeps no record of wrongs. If I’m holding grudges against her or beating myself up over mistakes I made, I’m keeping a record. Forgiveness is the key to wiping the slate clean so I can love her more today than yesterday.

“With each day comes a new way of loving you”—there’s a reason why the apostle Paul talks about “growing up” in the great love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13. My love should be maturing and growing up every day. So today I should be able to love Betsy in a more mature way.

“I thank the Lord for love like ours that grows ever stronger”—as my relationship with Jesus becomes more intimate I will learn how to love Betsy more today than yesterday. As C.S. Lewis put it, “When I have learned to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.”

What special relationships do you have? Do you love that earthly dearest more today than yesterday? With quality time, forgiveness, maturity, and a closer relationship with Jesus, you can truly love that special someone more today than yesterday. Give it a try!

Every day’s a new day, every time I love you.

Every way’s a new way, every time I love you!

More Than Okay

Most mornings when I wake up there is a song echoing in my mind. This morning it was Switchfoot’s song “More Than Fine” (lyrics here).

Lately, I’ve been noticing some clichés in our culture that are survival-oriented—

  • “I’m just trying to make a living.”
  • “Another day, another dollar.”
  • “Ugh, another Monday!”
  • “I just need to make it until the weekend.”
  • “If we can just survive today.”
  • “How are you?” “I’m fine… okay, I guess.”

I suppose for some, this is how they view life. But this should never be the mindset for followers of Jesus Christ.

Jesus didn’t die on a Cross for us, conquer death and rise again so we could have an okay life. He came to give us overflowing life. Of all people, those who are in a personal relationship with Jesus should be the most more-than-okay people of anyone!

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. (Psalm 23:5 NLT)

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). (John 10:10 AMP)

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, His blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! (Ephesians 1:7-8 MSG)

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)

Today is the only today you will ever get. You don’t have to just survive today, you don’t have to just make it through this day, you don’t have to settle for just okay. You can live for more than okay today, you can experience God’s abundance, and you can revel in the overflowing life Jesus’ resurrection purchased for you!

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