Thursdays With Spurgeon—Our Fight For Faith

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 Fight For Faith

     Our faith at times has to fight for its very existence. The old Adam within us rages mightily, and the new spirit within us, like a young lion, disdains to be vanquished; and so these two strong ones contend, till our spirit is full of agony. …

     Christ alone was tempted in all points as we are, though without sin. No one man is tempted in all points exactly like another man, and each one has certain trials in which he must stand alone amid the rage of war, with not even a book to help him, or a biography to assist him—no man ever having gone that way before except that one Man whose trail reveals a nail-pierced foot. He alone knows all of the devious paths of sorrow. Yet even in such byways, the Lord is with us, helping us, sustaining us, and giving us grace to conquer at the close. … 

     So satan, loath to leave a soul, pursues it hotfoot. He will have it back if he can; and often, soon after conversion, there comes a time of dreadful conflict, when the soul seems as if it could not live. … 

     Once, when the tempter had grievously assailed me, I went to see my dear old grandfather. I told him about my terrible experience, and then I wound up by saying, “Grandfather, I am sure I cannot be a child of God, or else I should never have such evil thoughts as these.” 

     “Nonsense, Charles,” answered the good old man. “It is just because you are a Christian that you are thus tempted. These blasphemies are no children of yours; they are the devil’s brats, which he delights to lay at the door of a Christian. Don’t you own them as yours; give them neither house-room or heart-room.” 

From The Autobiography Of Charles Spurgeon

The apostle Peter says our adversary the devil continually prowls around looking for a follower of Jesus that he can devour. This shouldn’t be surprising to us since Jesus said that the devil’s agenda was to steal, kill, and destroy. (See 1 Peter 5:8-9; John 10:10.)

But the apostle Paul also tells us that we aren’t supposed to be unaware of the devil’s schemes. Instead, we are to capture every thought and make them obedient to Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:5). That means, as Spurgeon’s grandfather counseled him, we recognize those evil thoughts as the devil’s brats and don’t allow them to take up room in our house nor our heart. 

Stand firm—those who are in Christ are more than conquerors! 

No Polite Conversations Here, Please

“Most of us would never commit murder, but how often have we taken a neighbor into some dark alley of our thoughts and there torn him limb from limb with a desire for revenge over some petty quarrel? 

“Christian, this is imperative for you to realize: When wicked or unclean thoughts first force their way into your mind, you have not yet sinned. This is the work of the devil! But if you so much as offer them a chair and begin polite conversation with them, you have become his accomplice. In only a short time you will give these thoughts sanctuary in your heart.” —William Gurnall, in The Christian In Complete Armor 

10 More Quotes From “Jesus Always”

Sarah Young beautifully weaves together passages from the Bible to help us hear Jesus talking to us in the first person. Check out my review of Jesus Always by clicking here. 

“‘Rejoice always’ [1 Thessalonians 5:16]. When your mind is going down an unpleasant, gloomy path, stop it in its tracks with this glorious command. See how many times each day you can remind yourself to rejoice. … These joyful thoughts will light up both your mind and your heart, enabling you to find more pleasure in your life. Choosing to rejoice will bless you and those around you.” 

“You definitely need Me as your shield. I protect you from many dangers—physical, emotional, and spiritual. Sometimes you’re aware of My protective work on your behalf, but I also shield you from perils you never even suspect. Find comfort in this assurance of My powerful presence watching over you. Fear no evil, My cherished one, for I am with you.” 

“The Trinity, comprised of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is a great gift to you; it is also a mystery far beyond your comprehension. This blessing of three Persons in One greatly enriches your prayer life. You can pray to the Father in My name; you can also speak directly to Me. And the Holy Spirit is continually available to help you with your prayers.” 

“Although many of your prayers are not yet answered, you can find hope in My great faithfulness. I keep all My promises in My perfect way and timing. … I hold back till you’re ready to receive the things I have lovingly prepared for you.” 

“Living in this very broken world requires bravery on your part. Since bravery is not the default setting in most human hearts, you will need My help to be strong and courageous.” 

“I have infinite power, so ‘impossibilities’ are My specialty. I delight in them because they display My glory so vividly.” 

“No matter how you’re feeling, remember that you are not on trial. There is no condemnation for those who belong to Me—those who know Me as Savior. You have already been judged ‘Not guilty!’ in the courts of heaven.” 

“Your best preparation for the journey ahead is practicing My presence each day. … Trust Me—your Guide— to show you the way forward as you go step by step. I have a perfect sense of direction, so don’t worry about getting lost. Relax in My presence, and rejoice in the wonder of sharing your whole life with Me.” 

“As the world grows increasingly dark, remember that you are the light of the world. Don’t waste energy lamenting bad things over which you have no control. Pray about these things, but refuse to let them haunt your thoughts. Instead, focus your energies on doing what you can to brighten the place where I have put you. Use your time, talents, and resources to push back the darkness. Shine My light into the world!”

“Be willing to take responsibility for your own mistakes and sin without feeling responsible for the sinful failures of others. I am here to help you untangle your complex problems…. Be willing to live with unresolved problems, but don’t let them be your focus. My presence in the present is your portion.” 

9 More Quotes from “The Way Of The Warrior”

Erwin McManus’ book The Way Of The Warrior will unleash something in you to want to become the warrior for peace that God intended you to be! Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“There is no territory more critical or difficult for you to take than that of your inner world. … Every battle that you will ever face in the outside world must first be one in your inner world.” 

“When your mind is shaped by hope, you do not see simply two paths; you see an endless number of paths filled with opportunity, possibility, and beauty. However, if your mind-set is shaped by cynicism or fear or doubt, then the only paths you see in front of you are the ones that are filled with pain and disappointment, with failure and hardship.” 

“The warrior knows that honor is not found in the victory. Honor is found in the nobility of the battle. If the battle is not worthy of the warrior’s life, there is no honor in its victory. In the same way, the warrior knows there is no dishonor in defeat. Failure and defeat are not the same. To fear defeat is to surrender victory. There is only a good fight and a good death for the one whose life is given to the noble. The warrior never claims victory for themselves but only for others. In the same way, the warrior never gives blame for defeat but owns it for themselves. The warrior owns defeat, and therefore defeat never owns the warrior. The warrior who lives and dies with honor enters each eternity undefeated.” 

“Here is the hard reality: even if it’s not your fault, it’s still your responsibility. Though the wounding wasn’t your fault, the healing is your responsibility. Though your past may not be your fault, your future is your responsibility. Though their choices were not your fault, your choices are your responsibility. Don’t let those who are at fault keep their hold on your life by relinquishing your power to change and to be free of them.” 

“Energizing and exhausting are not diametrically opposed. The things that give you energy also cost you energy, but that cost has a return. The things that energize you the most might actually cost you the most energy. They might be the hardest things that you do. They might be the most difficult challenges in your life. But when they are energizing, you do not find yourself in a deficit of energy, because whatever it costs you, the return is greater.” 

“The warrior finds their strength because they fight only battles that matter.” 

“Worry consumes your energy without productivity. … Worry is a waste of energy. Emotions such as anxiety and stress are the result of unharnessed energy misdirected by our fears and doubts. … When you doubt, you hesitate. When the warrior hesitates, he faces certain defeat. … When you doubt, your energy wars against itself. It becomes unharnessed and unfocused and loses its power. There is a strength that comes when you have confidence that even if you fail, you’ve given yourself to the right battle. We spend too much of our lives trying to make sure we are right about the what, the where, the when, and the how, and too little time making sure we are right about the why.” 

“We transmit to one another what occupies our souls. Your soul is the conduit of your energy. If your soul is empty, you will consume energy from the world around you. … When you are full of life, you become a conduit of life. You will become a source of what is good and beautiful and true. People will naturally draw inspiration from your life. They will see you as a source of hope.” 

“This is the paradox that the warrior has come to know. They know they are not the source of their own strength. The fire that burns within the warrior is an eternal fire. The warrior knows their strength because they know their weakness. It was Jesus who said, ‘Apart from the Father I can do nothing.’ The warrior understands there is no weakness in this. The warrior has found their strengths and their weaknesses. Jesus spoke to Paul about this: ‘My power is made perfect in weakness.’ The way of the warrior is to know that God is our strength. The warrior boasts all the more gladly about their weaknesses so Christ’s power may rest on them. The warrior knows they were created by God who is Spirit. Though we appear as flesh and blood, every cell in our bodies is energy. All our energy comes from God. What we do with our energy is up to us.” 

Check out some of the other quotes from The Way Of The Warrior that I shared here. 

What Is Shalom?

Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace. Some of the best definitions of shalom include ideas of completeness, soundness, and wholeness. One Jewish rabbi commented that when you say “Shalom” to someone, you’re really saying, “may you be full of well-being.” Or another way of thinking of shalom is—nothing missing, nothing broken. 

Some have tried to describe shalom as the absence of conflict, but that’s not quite accurate. On the verge of going into the Promised Land to fight their enemies, God commanded Aaron to speak a blessing of peace of the people (Numbers 6:24-26). And just before Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,” He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9-10). 

Shalom is not controlled by outward circumstances. Shalom is a deep-seated, rock-solid, unshakable assurance that I am in God’s hand. 

Isaiah describes how we live in shalom like this—

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind—both its inclination and its character—is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. (Isaiah 26:3)

How do we do keep our mind stayed on God? The Apostle Paul says, “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Psychologists call this process metacognition: when we think about what we’re thinking about. It’s being aware of our anxious thoughts that are robbing us of shalom and then talking back to them. 

What often robs us of peace is listening to ourselves instead of talking to ourselves! 

Someone once asked evangelist Smith Wigglesworth, “Smith, how do you feel?” He replied, “I never ask Smith how I feel. I tell him how he feels!” Exactly right! 

Why do we make our thoughts obedient to Jesus? Because one of the titles given to Jesus before He was born was Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and Jesus assures us that His peace is unlike anything we can ever find in earthly things (John 14:27, 16:33). 

God’s peace is always there, but our divided minds keep us from experiencing His peace. So Isaiah tells us to keep our mind steadfast on God’s goodness, and Paul says the same thing—Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7)

I want to encourage you to practice what the Bible calls capturing your thoughts—or what psychologists call metacognition. Ask yourself, “Why am I thinking that?” Capture those thoughts and make them obedient to Christ. Don’t let your worrisome thoughts rob you of God’s shalom.

Join me this Sunday as we take a closer look at the “shalom cycle,” including the things that can derail it. 

7 More Prayers From “Praying The Promises”

In his book Praying The Promises, Max Lucado shows us how simply we can turn passages of Scripture into intimate and powerful prayers. Here are a few more prayers (the references in brackets are passages that formed the prayer).

Lord, in the midst of my storms, I may doubt Your presence. I may wonder if You are there and if You care. Don’t let me lose hope or lose heart. Deepen my belief in You, even during the storms. Don’t allow doubt to take over. Help me release control of my circumstances and surrender them to You. Jesus is interceding on my behalf, and I am so comforted by this truth. [Luke 22:32; Hebrews 7:25; Matthew 14:23-24]

God, teach me how to live free from condemnation. Teach me how to trust and believe in this promise: in Christ, I am no longer a slave to sin. Free me from guilt and shame. [Romans 3:23-25; Romans 6:6-7; Romans 8:1] 

Lord, thank You for the promise of a temporary tomb. Your power has no limits. You have conquered death. You have promised to make all things new. You are the God of restoration and redemption and regeneration. You are the God of resurrection. In my day-to-day life it can be difficult for me to maintain an eternal perspective. Sometimes I may get bogged down in the worries of today and forget that the best is yet to come. Restore in me the joy of my salvation, God. Renew my mind and my heart so that I will have an eternal perspective of all the worries of my day. They are nothing compared to spending eternity with You. And because of Your promise of resurrection, I do not have to fear death. I will live in faith, knowing that in Jesus, death has been swallowed up in victory. Amen. [Matthew 28:5-6; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18] 

Guide me today, Holy Spirit. Show me where You want me to go, whom You want me to talk to, what decision You want me to make. Help me discern Your voice over my own and others’. Walk closely with me and whisper truth to me. Forgive me when I listen to my own desires and ignore what You are telling me. [John 16:13-15; Galatians 5:25] 

You know all of my needs before I can even ask for them. Sometimes it’s tempting for me to believe I can rely on myself for what I need. Instead of trusting You to provide, I think I can look out for myself. I fear not having enough. And when I do have enough, it never feels like it. But You have promised to meet my needs out of Your glorious riches. Remind me of Your kind and generous provision. Thank You for taking care of me and meeting all of my needs. [Psalm 34:10; Matthew 6:8; Matthew 10:29-31]

Help me to keep eternity in mind, making the most of my days and showing others Your renewing love. [2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 2 Peter 3:13] 

Dear God, You are my unshakable hope. Your promises are unbreakable. You never waiver. You are faithful to the end. My hope cannot be anchored to anything less than Your promises. … Forgive me for those times when I don’t put my hope in You. May I rest in Your promises once again. May any fear, anxiety, or confusion I feel subside in light of You as my anchor. [Isaiah 40:31; Romans 15:13] 

You can check out my review of Praying The Promises by clicking here. I also shared some other prayers here and some quotes from this book here. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Setting Myself Up For Failure (Proverbs 20)

[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.]

Wine is a mock, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise (Proverbs 20:1).

This collection of proverbs warns against things that impair a person’s judgment, or things that set us up for failure. Things like…

  • intemperance (v. 1)
  • making leaders angry (vv. 2, 8, 26)
  • starting petty quarrels (v. 3)
  • laziness (vv. 4, 13)
  • shallow thinking (vv. 5, 12, 25)
  • unfaithfulness or a lack of integrity (vv. 6, 7, 11, 27)
  • unconfessed sin (vv. 9, 24)
  • duplicity or favoritism (vv. 10, 14, 17, 23)
  • not valuing wisdom (vv. 15, 18. 25)
  • risky business deals (vv. 16, 25)
  • gossiping (v. 19)
  • dishonoring your parents (vv. 20, 21)
  • holding a grudge (v. 22)
  • unkindness or dishonesty (v. 28)
  • not valuing life (v. 29)
  • not allowing anyone to correct you (v. 30)

Now that you know these items that set you up for failure, ask the Holy Spirit to help you root any of these out of your life before failure happens to you! 

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