Thursdays With Spurgeon—Useful To The Master

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.

Useful To The Master  

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21)

     On the vessels of honor, you can see the hallmark. What is the hallmark that denotes the purity of the Lord’s golden vessels? Well, He has only one stamp for everything. When He laid the foundation, what was the seal He put upon it? ‘The Lord knows those who are His, and, everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness’ (2 Timothy 2:19). That was God’s seal! That was the impress of the great King upon the foundation stone. Do we find it here? Yes, we do. ‘Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work’ (2 Timothy 2:21). Do you see, then, that the man who is the golden or silver vessel departs from all iniquity, and that is the token of his genuine character. …  

     Brethren, I count it an honor to be useful to the meanest child of God, but I confess that the honor lies mainly in the fact that I am thereby serving the Master Himself. Oh, to be used by God! This is to answer the end of our being. If you can feel that God has used you, then you may rejoice indeed! 

     There are some Christians whom the Lord cannot much use because, first of all, they are not cleansed from selfishness. They have an eye to their own honor or aggrandizement. The Lord will not be in complicity with selfish aims! Some men are self-confident—there is too much of the ‘I’ about them, and our Master will not use them. He will have our weakness but not our strength!

From The Great House And The Vessels In It

The Church of Jesus Christ is made up of many members. The Bible uses pictures of a body, a building, and a bride to describe how all of the parts work together to bring strength and vitality to the whole. But Jesus is always the central object: He is the Head of the body, the Chief Cornerstone of the building, the beloved Bridegroom to the bride. 

Everyone in the Church is placed there by God Himself to fulfill a vital role. It is incumbent upon every single Christian to yield themselves to the sanctifying, maturing work of the Holy Spirit so that we can all be “made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” 

Don’t let either the extremes of selfishness of self-abasement limit the good work you were created to do in making the body of Christ, the building of Christ, and the bride of Christ something radiantly God-glorifying!

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

A Hideous Strength

“…Come, let us face each other in battle” (2 Kings 14:8). 

Based on Amaziah’s request and Jehoash’s unusual parable-based response, it appears that this is the chronology of what happened:

  • Amaziah requests that Jehoash give him one of his daughters in marriage
  • Jehoash refuses
  • Amaziah attacks and defeats Edom 
  • Amaziah, feeling very proud of himself, then repeats his request to Jehoash, who again refuses
  • Amaziah begins to muster his troops to attack Jehoash and Israel
  • Jehoash defeats in Amaziah battle

Jehoash correctly diagnosed Amaziah: “You have indeed defeated Edom and now you are arrogant. Glory in your victory, but stay at home” (v. 10). 

Pride makes us think we are better than we are. Pride leads us to believe that we are owed something more. Pride comes before a fall. 

Amaziah’s pride had an expensive price tag:

  • he lost the battle
  • the walls around Jerusalem were torn down
  • the temple at Jerusalem was plundered
  • he was assassinated by his own military leaders

Pride is a hideous strength because it is a deceptive and short-lived strength.

C.S. Lewis described pride so well: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good looking, there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. … Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of Pride. … Pride is ruthless, sleepless, unsmiling concentration on the self.” —C.S. Lewis 

Oh my! We must pray: “Holy Spirit, help me guard my heart against this propensity to pride. Yes, a victory can lead to pride and a false sense of strength, but it is a hideously deceptive strength. Please remind me that: 

  • victory makes me susceptible to pride 
  • pride makes me think I’m better (stronger, more impressive, more spiritual) than I really am 
  • this hideously deceptive vice makes me forget to remain dependent on God 
  • the dependence on myself makes me vulnerable to attack and defeat.” 

Don’t let Pride be your undoing, as it was for Amaziah. 

Poetry Saturday—Lester

Lester was given a magic wish 
By the goblin who lived in the banyan tree, 
And with his wish he wished for two more wishes—
So now instead of just one wish, he cleverly had three.
And with each one of these 
He simply wished for three more wishes,
Which gave him three old wishes, plus nine new.
And with each of these twelve 
He slyly wished for three more wishes, 
Which added up to forty-six—or is it fifty-two? 
Well anyway, he used each wish 
To wish for more wishes ’til he had
Five billion, seven million, eighteen thousand thirty-four. 
And then he spread them on the ground 
And clapped his hands and danced around 
And skipped and sang, and then sat down 
And wished for more.
And more … and more … they multiplied 
While other people smiled and cried 
And loved and reached and touched and felt.
Lester sat amid his wealth 
Stacked mountain-high like stacks of gold, 
Sat and counted—and grew old.
And then one Thursday night they found him
Dead—with his wishes piled around him.
And they counted the lot and found that not 
A single one was missing.
All shiny and new—here, take a few 
And think of Lester as you do.
In a world of apples and kisses and shoes
He wasted his wishes on wishing. —Shel Silverstein

Links & Quotes

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[PHOTOS] This is amazing! Womb-Selfies: 5 Amazing Photos Of Preborn Life.

“The enemy of creativity is fear. We’re all born creative, it takes a little while to become afraid. A surprising insight: an enemy of fear is creativity. Acting in a creative way generates action, and action persuades the fear to lighten up.” —Seth Godin

Super Vision: scientists are creating technologies to allow doctors to see inside you better. “It is already possible to peer inside the body with X-rays and ultrasound. But the images produced by such tools are crude compared with those that should be possible with visible light.”

Men’s Health magazine surveyed people on cheating. The results are eye-opening, and sad. It’s far better to do things God’s way!

“All that stuff you have now? You don’t get to keep it. In fact, you never had it. You’re simply a steward of what God has given you. Psalm 24:1 reminds us, ‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.’ Your stuff is not yours. Ever since you grabbed that toy and yelled, ‘Mine!’ you’ve been lying. Everything is God’s!” —Max Lucado

“In March 2014, the BICEP2 radio astronomy team announced purported direct evidence of cosmic inflation, an important part of the modern Big Bang model for the universe’s creation. This announcement was front-page news all over the world. However, these scientists recently submitted a paper for publication that effectively retracts their breakthrough claim, acknowledging that their earlier results were spurious. They admitted their ‘evidence’ was actually an artifact from dust within our own galaxy.” Read more in Big Bang Evidence Retracted.

Nicholas Herman took the name Brother Lawrence after his conversion to Christianity, and he wrote some amazing thoughts about prayer. Here are a few of his quotes.

“The real heart of integrity stays in place whether the test in adversity or prosperity.” —Chuck Swindoll

[VIDEO] A heartwarming story with dogs. What could be better than that?!

Links & Quotes

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“When we look at the love of Christ, we make a wonderful discovery. Love is more a decision than an emotion! Christ-like love applauds good behavior. At the same time Christ-like love refuses to endorse misbehavior. Jesus loved His apostles, but He wasn’t silent when they were faithless. Jesus loved the people in the temple, but He didn’t sit still when they were hypocritical.” —Max Lucado

“One of the great enemies of hope is forgetting God’s promises.” —John Piper

“If you perform deeds of charity with the idea of getting to heaven by them, it is yourself that you are feeding and clothing; all your virtue is not virtue, it is rank selfishness, and Christ will never accept it; you will never hear Him say, ‘Thank you’ for it. You served yourself, and no reward is due. You must first come to the Lord Jesus Christ, and look to Him to save you; you will forever renounce all idea of doing anything to save yourself, and being saved, you will be able to give to the poor without selfishness mixing with your motive.” —Charles Spurgeon

Dave Barringer has a good word for pastors: 8 reasons why being vulnerable is better.

7 Ways To Avoid Becoming An Adulterer

DisciplineGod said quite simple, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18). This entire verse is just one word in the Hebrew language—na’aph—but it packs quite a punch.

Na’aph has two dimensions to it: physical and spiritual. Physically it prohibits sexual relations between a married person and someone not their spouse. Closely related to adultery is fornication, which is unmarried people engaging in sexual activity outside the covenant of marriage. Spiritually na’aph prohibits worship of anything other than Jehovah God.

This means that an inappropriate intimate relationship on the physical level affects our spiritual relationship with God, and vice versa. That is why immoral sexual acts are almost always incorporated into the worship of false gods. But which came first? Did someone leave behind God’s design for sexuality and begin a downward slide away from Him, or did someone’s heart stray from God and the evidence was the illicit sexual acts? It starts when we leave God’s love behind (see Romans 1:21-32).

Adultery and fornication are fueled by lust. Lust is rooted in selfishness. And by it’s very definition, selfishness kills love. Adulterers and fornicators cannot truly love each other; they are only using each other to satisfy their own selfish cravings, and in so doing, they are actually abusing each other.

So here are 7 ways to avoid becoming an adulterer:

  1. Love God passionately—Mark 12:30.
  2. If you’re married, invest in your marriage—emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually.
  3. If you’re single, develop discipline. I define discipline as choosing what you want most over what you want now.
  4. Guard your eyes—Job 31:1.
  5. Avoid tempting places—Proverbs 5:8.
  6. Fill your mind with God’s Word—Proverbs 6:20-24.
  7. Have an accountability friend—Proverbs 7:6-9.

Any sexual relationship outside of God’s prescription—one man married to one woman for life—short-circuits God’s design, so it can never fully satisfy. Adultery and fornication break God’s heart because of the damage it does to our relationship with Him and to our relationships with each other.

I will be continuing our look at the Ten Commandments in our series The Love In The Law this coming Sunday. Please join us!

8 Quotes About The Holy Spirit From “God’s Pursuit Of Man”

God's Pursuit Of ManA.W. Tozer shows how important the Holy Spirit is in bringing us into a deeper relationship with the fullness of the Godhead in his book God’s Pursuit Of Man. Check out some quotes on this subject.

“One of the most telling blows which the enemy ever struck at the life of the Church was to create in her a fear of the Holy Spirit.” 

“The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy. The holy heart alone can be the habitation of the Holy Ghost.”

“For the Holy Spirit is not a luxury, not something added now and again to produce a deluxe type of Christian once in a generation. No, He is for every child of God a vital necessity, and that He fill and indwell His people is more than a languid hope. It is rather an inescapable imperative.” 

“God will not surprise a doubting heart with an effusion of the Holy Spirit, nor will He fill anyone who has doctrinal questions about the possibility of being filled.”

“If the Spirit takes charge of your life He will expect unquestioning obedience in everything. He will not tolerate in you the self-sins even though they are permitted and excused by most Christians. By the self-sins I mean self-love, self-pity, self-seeking, self-confidence, self-righteousness, self-aggrandizement, self-defense.”

“However wonderful the crisis experience of being filled with the Spirit, we should remember that it is only a means toward something greater: that greater thing is the lifelong walk in the Spirit, indwelt, directed, taught and empowered by His mighty Person.”

“We must make our thoughts a clean sanctuary for His holy habitation. He dwells in our thoughts, and soiled thoughts are as repugnant to Him as soiled linen to a king.” 

“The Spirit indwelt life is not a special deluxe edition of Christianity to be enjoyed by a certain rare and privileged few who happen to be made of finer and more sensitive stuff than the rest. Rather, it is the normal state for every redeemed man and woman the world over.”

You can read some other quotes from this book by clicking here.

You can read my review of God’s Pursuit Of Man by clicking here.

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

“A good mind is also a good possession. And, further, a pure inner life is a valuable possession. Hedge in, then, this possession of thine, enclose it with thought, guard it with thorns, that is, with pious care, lest the fierce passions of the flesh should rush upon it and lead it captive, lest strong emotions should assault it, and, overstepping their bounds, carry off its vintage.” —Ambrose of Milan

“Unlike in physics and chemistry, very few of the findings in the social sciences can be characterized as incontrovertible. But there’s one major exception: the impact of fatherlessness on American children. To name but a few grim examples, 63 percent of teen suicides are from fatherless homes; 90 percent of homeless children and runaways are from fatherless homes; and 71 percent of all high school dropouts are from fatherless homes.” —Eric Metaxas

Great historial article: What Can Pentecostals Learn From John Wesley?

A former abortion worker testifies, “We would find women’s weaknesses and work on them” to convince them to have an abortion.

Joel Osteen says he doesn’t like the term “prosperity preacher” applied to him, and then describes what he believes (which sounds a lot like a prosperity doctrine to me!). John Piper debunks this garbage better than I can in this video.

4 Ways Selfishness Ruins Your Life.

[VIDEO] Ted Cruz blasts the attempt by Democrat Senators to obliterate the First Amendment.

“We only know God in His works, but we are forced by science to admit and to believe with absolute confidence in a Directive Power—in an influence other than physical, or dynamical, or electrical forces.” —William Thomson (Lord Kelvin)

Links & Quotes

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These are links to articles and quotes I found interesting today.

“The patience of hope does not turn men and women into monks and nuns, it gives men and women the right use of this world from another world′s standpoint.” —Oswald Chambers

The proper place of science in our culture: Science And Its Limits

Astronomers, cosmologists and physicists are always trying to explain the “missing” parts of their evolutionary theories: Missing Galaxy Mass Found

Very good! The Non-Physical Sides Of Sex

“You may think it out of place for me to say so, but in our churches today we are leaning too heavily upon human talents and educated abilities. We forget that the illumination of the Holy Spirit of God is a necessity, not only in our ministerial preparation, but in the administrative and leadership functions of our churches.” —A.W. Tozer

“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor.” —Seneca

“Selfish religion loves Christ for His benefits, but not for Himself.” —David Brainerd

“Few marriages can make it if both partners are hiding out from God. Show me a marriage without one partner that is close to Jesus, and I’ll show you a marriage with little chance of survival. At least one of the partners must be in daily consultation with the Lord. It is best when both husband and wife are talking to Him, but if one partner is running from God, it is all the more important that the other be able to run to a secret closet of prayer for help and direction. A praying wife can often save her marriage, as can a praying husband. Love alone is not enough to keep a marriage strong—only God’s power can do that. That power is at work right now, healing and keeping marriages. Where Jesus rules, the marriage can make it.” —David Wilkerson

Thursdays With Oswald—The Power To Descend

This 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.

Oswald Chambers

The Power To Descend 

     The test of spiritual life is the power to descend; if we have power to rise only, there is something wrong. … Spiritual selfishness makes us want to stay on the mount; we feel so good, as if we could do anything—talk like angels and live like angels, if only we could stay there. But there must be the power to descend; the mountain is not the place for us live, we were built for the valleys. … 

   The reason we have to live in the valley is that the majority of people live there, and if we are to be of use to God in the world we must be useful from God’s standpoint, not from our own standpoint or the standpoint of other people. 

From The Love Of God

When Peter, James and John were with Jesus on the mountain and He was transfigured in their presence, Peter said, “Lord, let me build some shelters so we can stay here always!” (see Luke 9:28-36). But there was no one on the mountaintop, except for them. In the valley below was a demon-possessed boy who needed help (Luke 9:37-43). If they had stayed on that mountain, this boy would not have been helped.

On the day of Pentecost, the followers of Jesus were on the “mountaintop” of an upper room when the Holy Spirit baptized them (Acts 2:1-4). It was an amazing experience, probably very similar to what those apostles had seen with Jesus. It would have been very tempting to stay there, basking in the presence of God. But Jesus had said that this baptism in the Holy Spirit was to empower them for the “valley” of service (Acts 1:8). There were people in valleys all over the world who needed the good news of Jesus.

Mountaintops with God are great. God gives us these experiences so that we can be of greater service for Him in the valleys. The people are in the valleys and they need what you and I have received from God. Enjoy the mountaintop experience with God and then go quickly to minister in the valleys!

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