An Enthroned God – by Charles Spurgeon

October 28th, 2010 No comments

There is no attribute more comforting to His children, than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials–they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children of God ought more earnestly to contend, than the doctrine of their Master over all creation–the kingship of God over all the works of His own hands–the throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne.

On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, no truth of which they have made such a football–as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine, of the sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere, except on His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne–then His creatures gnash their teeth!

We proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter. Then it is, that we are hissed and execrated; and then it is, that men turn a deaf ear to us–for God on His throne–is not the God they love. But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon His throne, whom we trust!

Praising God in the Storm

March 23rd, 2010 No comments

Many songs are good, some songs are really good, but this song has long found itself classified by me as totally excellent.

It is excellent as it is written, but after you listen to the background (inspiration for the writing of the song), it’s even more meaningful.

This video is the testimony and the song…

Sometimes God calms the storms in our lives and sometimes he just rides them out with us.

Casting Crowns lead singer Mark Hall tells of a little girl who passed away from Cancer and the strong faith of her mom as a lead-in to a live performance of “Praise You In This Storm”.

In this video, we’ve added the lyrics for those of our viewers who wish to sing along.

Press On!

March 11th, 2010 No comments

It has been quite some time since I have written anything.  To say the least, times have been challenging on multiple fronts.  Perhaps more tough than ever before in my Christian life.  Yet, the Lord has sustained us and given us hope and peace in the midst of the storm and is permitting us to be part of advancing His kingdom.

I love to read a verse of scripture, take out a key word, look it up, and trace its use throughout the rest of the bible.  This morning, I was having a look at Romans 5.  The first 5 verses completely captivated as though I had never read them even though I memorized them years ago.  I focused in on two words in verse 3 and 4… “tribulation” and perseverance.  As I studied, two songs came to mind.

One of God’s primary purposes in bring the difficulties that we face (as Christians) is the fact that tribulation produces perseverance, character, and hope… and God desires that we become people of endurance that, under pressure, look, act, and react like Him… and He desires that we be filled with hope.  One of His primary methods for producing those qualities in us happens to be… tribulation.

The word “tribulation” can be translated as follows: pressure, affliction, difficulties, trials, troubles, burdens.  One commentary I read says: “Tribulation is a word used for pressure, like that of a press squeezing the fluid from olives or grapes.”

Well, instead of trying to sound spiritual and give some deep insights, I’d rather quote Romans 5:1-5 from the amplified bible and leave you with the lyrics of two songs that came to mind while I was studying.  Be encouraged and press on!!

Romans 5:1-5 (Amplified Bible)

THEREFORE, SINCE we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.

And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.

Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.

The following song was written by, who I consider, a modern hero of the faith.  If there were amendments to Hebrews 11, I suspect that Keith Green would show up there.

Grace by Which I Stand

Lord, the feelings are not the same, I guess I’m older, I guess I’ve changed. And how I wish it had been explained, that as you’re growing you must remember, that nothing lasts, except the grace of God, by which I stand, in Jesus. I know that I would surely fall away, except for grace, by which I’m saved.

Lord, I remember that special way, I vowed to serve you, when it was brand new.  But like Peter, I can’t even watch and pray, one hour with you, and I bet, I could deny you too.

But nothing lasts, except the grace of God, by which I stand, in Jesus.  I’m sure that my whole life would waste away, except for grace, by which I’m saved

And finally, a song which you have probably never heard but is worth noting.  It’s entitled: Press On, by the Wilds Choir and Orchestra… form the CD with the same name.  You can find it by clicking here…

Press On

There’s a course that must be finished, there’s a race that must be run,
There’s a mission to accomplish, and a battle to be won!
We’ve been called to take the challenge by God’s might and through His Son;
He will give us grace to complete the race, moving forward, pressing on!

Chorus:
Toward the hope of our high calling, toward the promise we’ve received,
With the strength that we’ve been given, pressing on to victory!
And toward the One who’s run before us, as we lay each weight aside.
‘Til the race is run, ’til the prize is won, ’til we reach the finish line, press on!

There’s a faithful cloud of witnesses who inspire us in our task.
They have fought the fight, they have run the race,
They have won the crown at last!
And the lives they’ve lived remind us that though the race at times seems long.
God will give the grace to complete the race, and the courage to press on.

Joy in Exhaustion – The Rebel’s Guide to Joy – Charles Wesley

December 26th, 2009 No comments

This is a partially transcribed excerpt from an original message entitled: ”The Rebel’s Guide to Joy in Exhaustion.”  and can be downloaded from www.marshillchurch.org.”

Exhaustion.  The lives that we admire tend to be people that have given everything they have for their mission.  They fight, they strive, they struggle… they’re tired and weary, hungry and hurt, but they don’t give up.  They go to the very end.  They persevere.

This is the story of one of those saints named Charles Wesley. Charles Wesley’s family loved Jesus.  His dad Samuel was a preacher.  And Charles, the third son of 18 kids, along with the other sons, was encouraged to be a pastor.  Charles was educated at Westminster school in Oxford and graduated in 1730.  While there he, his brother John Wesley, and their friend George Whitfield became known pejoratively, by others on campus, as methodists; referring to their methodical approach to bible study and Christian living.

Methodical these men were.  Though they were vigilant, passionate, and busy with their ministries it wouldn’t be until much later that Charles and John would fully surrender to Jesus.  After a failed missionary trip to Georgia, Charles found himself at a low point of his life.  His experiences in Georgia had challenged his faith and he didn’t know what to believe anymore.  He tried to talk to old friends and even delved into mysticism, but nothing helped.  To make matters worse, he contracted pleurisy, a disease which constricts the lungs.  He was very ill and found himself at the care of his friend John Bray who began reading the scriptures to him, listening to Charles’ deep doubts, and taking care of him at his bedside.

On Sunday May 21, 1738, Charles wrote in his journal:

I rose and looked into the scripture.  The words that first presented were: “And now Lord, what is my hope?  Truly my hope is even in Thee.”  I now found myself at peace with God and rejoiced in the hope of loving Christ.  I saw that by faith I stood.  I went to bed confident of Christ’s protection.

Things changed immediately.  His strength returned and he became passionate to share the love of Christ with everyone he met.  Two days after his conversion, he penned his first hymn entitled: “Where Shall My Wandering Soul Begin.”  Around this time he also wrote: “And Can It Be,” expressing his awe and amazement at the saving grace of Jesus in his life.

To Be Educated – by Carolyn Caines

October 11th, 2009 No comments

If I learn my ABC’s, can read 600 words per minute, and can write with perfect penmanship, but have not been shown how to communicate with the Designer of all language…

I HAVE NOT BEEN EDUCATED.

If I have read Shakespeare and John Locke and can discuss their writings with keen insight, but have not read the greatest of all books–The Bible–and have no knowledge of its personal importance…

I HAVE NOT BEEN EDUCATED.

If I have memorized addition facts, multiplication tables, and chemical formulas, but have never been disciplined to keep God’s Word in my heart…

I HAVE NOT BEEN EDUCATED.

If I can explain the law of gravity and Einstein’s theory of relativity, but have never been instructed in the unchangeable laws of the One Who orders our universe…

I HAVE NOT BEEN EDUCATED.

If I can classify animals by their family, genus, and species, and can write a lengthy scientific paper that wins an award, but have not been introduced to the Maker’s purpose for all creation…

I HAVE NOT BEEN EDUCATED.

If I can recite the Gettysburg Address and the Preamble to the Constitution, but have not been informed of the Hand of God in the history of our country…

I HAVE NOT BEEN EDUCATED.

If I can play the piano, the violin, six other instruments, and can write music that moves men to tears, but have not been taught to listen to the Director of the Universe and worship Him…

I HAVE NOT BEEN EDUCATED.

If I run cross-country races, star in basketball and do 100 push-ups without stopping, but have never been shown how to bend my spirit to do God’s will…

I HAVE NOT BEEN EDUCATED.

If I can identify a Picasso, describe the style of da Vinci, and even paint a portrait that earns an A+, but have not learned that all harmony and beauty comes from a relationship with God…

I HAVE NOT BEEN EDUCATED.

If I graduate with a perfect 4.0 and am accepted at the best university with a full scholarship, but have not been guided into a career of God’s choosing for me…

I HAVE NOT BEEN EDUCATED.

If I become a good citizen, voting at each election and fighting for what is moral and right, but have not been told of the sinfulness of man and his hopelessness without Christ…

I HAVE NOT BEEN EDUCATED.

However, if one day I see the world as God sees it, and come to know Him, Whom to know is Life Eternal;  And glorify God by fulfilling His purpose for me…

THEN, I HAVE BEEN EDUCATED

A Call to Anguish, by David Wilkerson

August 23rd, 2009 No comments

This message is a partially transcribed excerpt from an original message spoken by David Wilkerson.  The full message is titled: “A Call to Anguish.”  and can be downloaded from www.sermonindex.net.”

And I look at the whole religious scene today and all I see are the inventions and ministries of man and flesh.  It’s mostly powerless.  It has no impact on the world.  And I see more of the world coming into the church and impacting the church, rather than the church impacting the world.  I see the music taking over the house of God.  I see entertainment taking over the house of God.  An obsession with entertainment in God’s house.  A hatred of correction and a hatred of reproof.  Nobody wants to hear it any more.  Whatever happened to anguish in the house of God?

Whatever happened to anguish in the ministry?   It’s a word you don’t hear in this pampered age.  You don’t hear it.  Anguish means extreme pain and distress.  The emotions so stirred that it becomes painful.  Acute deeply felt inner pain because of conditions about you, in you, or around you.  Anguish.  Deep pain.  Deep sorrow.  The agony of God’s heart.

We’ve held on to our religious rhetoric and our revival talk but we’ve become so passive.  All true passion is born out of anguish.  All true passion for Christ comes out of a baptism of anguish.  You search the scripture and you’ll find that when God determined to recover a ruined situation… He would share His own anguish for what God saw happening to His church and to His people.  And He would find a praying man and take that man and literally baptize him in anguish.  You find it in the book of Nehemiah.  Jerusalem is in ruins.  How is God going to deal with this?  How is God going to restore the ruin?  Now folks, look at me… Nehemiah was not a preacher, he was a career man.  But this was a praying man.

And God found a man who would not just have a flash of emotion.  Not just some great sudden burst of concern and then let it die.  He said: "No.  I broke down and I wept and I mourned and I fasted.  And then I began to pray night and day.  Why didn’t these other men… why didn’t they have an answer?  Why didn’t God use them in restoration?  Why didn’t they have a word?  Because there was no sign of anguish.  No weeping.  Not a word of prayer.  It’s all ruin.

Does it matter to you today?  Does it matter to you at all that God’s spiritual Jerusalem, the church, is now married to the world?  That there is such a coldness sweeping the land?  Closer than that… does it matter about the Jerusalem that is in our own hearts?  The sign of ruin that’s slowly draining spiritual power and passion.  Blind to lukewarmness, blind to the mixture that’s creeping in.  That’s all the devil wants to do is to get the fight out of you and kill it.  So you won’t labor in prayers anymore, you won’t weep before God anymore.  You can sit and watch television and your family go to hell.

Let me ask  you… is what I just said convicting to you at all?  There is a great difference between anguish and concern.  Concern is something that begins to interest you.  You take an interest in a project or a cause or a concern or a need.  And I want to tell you something.  I’ve learned over all my years… of 50 years of preaching.  If it is not born in anguish, if it had not been born of the Holy Spirit.  Where what you saw and heard of the ruin that drove you to your knees, took you down into a baptism of anguish where you began to pray and seek God.  I know now.  Oh my God do I know it.  Until I am in agony.  Until I have been anguished over it…  And all our projects, all our ministries, everything we do… Where are the Sunday school teachers that weep over kids they know are not hearing and are going to hell?

You see, a true prayer life begins at the place of anguish.  You see, if you set your heart to pray, God’s going to come and start sharing His heart with you.  Your heart begins to cry out:  "Oh God, Your name is being blasphemed.  The Holy Spirit is being mocked.  The enemy is out trying to destroy the testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness and something has to be done." 

There is going to be no renewal, no revival, no awakening, until we are willing to let Him once again break us.  Folks, it’s getting late, and it’s getting serious.  Please don’t tell me… don’t tell me you’re  concerned when you’re spending  ours in front of internet or television.  Come on.  Lord, there are some that need to get to this alter and confess: "I am not what I was, I am not where I am supposed to be.  God I don’t have Your heart or Your burden.  I wanted it easy.  I just wanted to be happy.  But Lord, true joy comes out of anguish.”  There’s nothing of the flesh that will give you joy.  I don’t care how much money, I don’t care what kind of new house, there is absolutely nothing physical that can give you joy.  It’s only what is accomplished by the Holy Spirit when you obey and take on His heart.

Build the walls around your family.  Build the walls around your own heart.  It will make you strong and impregnable against the enemy.  God, that’s what we desire.

Asleep in the Light

August 11th, 2009 No comments

We are involved in Sunday school, multiple worship services, small group meetings and fellowship meals… we are listening to Christian radio, music, sermons, internet broadcasts, and podcasts… reading Christian books, blogs, commentaries, emails, newsletters and magazines… watching youtube, televangelists, debates, and live broadcasts… attending revivals, retreats, conferences, seminars, and concerts.

Are we not stinking sponges?  Absorbing and sponging in everything spiritual while giving very little back to the people around us.  It seems to me that we are guilty of perfecting our systematic theology while our neighbors are dying in their sin.  I know a man whose wife has just been released from the hospital after an attempted suicide.  For the past year, as she has sunk deeper and deeper into depression, he has been taking theology classes online.

Recently a friend of mine committed suicide.  I had a sobering experience speaking with his mother who said to me: “He didn’t think that he had one true friend that really loved him.”  I had spent time with him and knew for over a year that he was manically depressed and contemplating suicide.  Yet as I survey the past year, shamefully I realize that I spent very little time truly trying to reach out to him.  Now it is too late.

I’m not opposed to theology classes, and we obviously should study to show ourselves approved (2 Tim 2:15), but as often as God tells us to study Him and delight in His law, He commands us to go, tell, preach, snatch the lost from the fire, and make disciples.

Our excuses are as equally deceptive as they are pervasive.  Perhaps we can examine some here and see what God has to say about them:

“Evangelism just isn’t my gift”

And He [Jesus] said to them [His disciples], "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. — Mark 16:15

“I’m too busy, I just don’t have time right now”

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [physical provisions] will be added to you. — Matthew 6:33

“I’ll just live my Christian life in front of them and they will see…”

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. — 2 Tim 4:2

"Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations… — Luke 24:46-47

“I am a genuinely shy person so…” 

If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me — Mark 8:34

“I’m afraid to witness…”

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it — Luke 17:33

God has called us to action.  He has not called us to be spiritually fat and lazy stinking sponges.  Who are you discipling?  Who are you actively and verbally witnessing to about their need for Jesus Christ?  Are you benefiting the Kingdom of God or are you simply taking up space?  CH Spurgeon once said: “Every Christians is either a missionary or an imposter.”  Which are you?

"Not called!’ did you say? ‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face – whose mercy you have professed to obey – and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world."

— William Booth, Founder of The Salvation Army (1829-1912)

Are you a stinking sponge? Our neighbors are dead in sin and self destructing “beneath God’s righteous frown.”  He has commissioned us as His ambassadors.  He commands us to go, preach, and make disciples of the nations.

Do you see, do you see, all the people sinking down,
Don’t you care, don’t you care, are you gonna let them drown,
How can you be so numb, not to care if they come,
You close your eyes and pretend the job’s done.

Oh Bless me Lord, bless me Lord, you know it’s all I ever hear,
No one aches, no one hurts, no one even sheds one tear,
But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds, and He cares for your needs,
And you just lay back and keep soaking it in, oh, can’t you see it’s such sin?

— Keith Green: “Asleep in the Light”

Go.

When God seems Late

July 24th, 2009 No comments

It is interesting to me that the Author of Time is never punctual… at least, not by my clock.  The problem is not with God’s timing, the problem is that I insist that He act on my schedule.  God commands us not to be anxious about anything and to pray about everything with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6).  To what end?  That He might answer when I please?  No.  The promise is that He will grant us peace that passes all understanding that will guard our hearts and minds, whether the answer is quick or delayed.

We should not confuse His delay with lack of concern or, a “no.”

The salvation of a friend is the best personal example that I have for this.  More than I have ever prayed for anyone, I prayed for his salvation.  I prayed and pleaded with God to save him… to give sight to his blinded eyes… to give freedom to his sin dominated and hell bound heart… to grant that he could become a worshiper of the Lamb of God.  Yet day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year… nothing happened.

I did not understand.  The Lord put this friend in my life.  I had prayed for him.  Many others were praying consistently for him.  Yet nothing.  God would tell me “not to grow weary in doing good…”  Yet I was growing weary.  More than one time during these years I would lift my agonized heart to God and declare my friend reprobate… utterly hopeless.  The Lord would never agree with me… He said again: “do not grow weary in doing good for in due season you will reap, if you do not faint.”  Again, repentant, I would pray and remind the Lord that His blood could make my friend new, but even if He chose not to, I would continue to worship Him.

Nearly 7 years after the first prayer, God moved.  Long story short… our friend was born again.  Wow, I had not offered any different prayers.  I had not changed my petition.  Others had continued to pray just as they had begun 7 years prior… and finally, the Lord shows up.

Time is the measure of change.  God does not change.  The Lord is not bound by time.  What is 7 years compared with eternity?  Nothing.  One of the fruits of God’s Spirit is patience.  I am so unlike Him in this regard.  I am thankful that He is patiently at work in me, making me more like Himself.

Are you praying about something or someone specific?

Don’t be discouraged by His delay.  He is not subject to time and He does not operate on your schedule.  He has commanded us to pray and instructed us to be patient.  He knew Lazarus was going to die, yet He delayed his coming for purposes that are beyond us.

The Lord always has purpose in His delays.  He seldom works on our schedule, and if He does, it’s only because our schedule happend to be in sync with His schedule.

When He finally and suddenly shows up though, hold on.  He is glorious and He does exceedingly above all that we ask or think!!  I’m reminded of a song…

The King of Glory Standeth by Charitie Bancroft

The King of Glory standeth beside the heart of sin;
His mighty voice commandeth the raging waves within;
The floods of deepest anguish roll backward at His will,
As o’er the storm ariseth His mandate, “Peace, be still.”

At times, with sudden glory, He speaks, and all is done;
Without one stroke of battle the victory is won,
While we, with joy beholding, can scarce believe it true
That e’en our kingly Jesus can form such hearts anew.

O Christ, Thy love is mighty; long suffering is Thy grace;
And glorious is the splendor that beameth from Thy face.
Our hearts upleap in gladness when we behold that love,
As we go singing onward, to dwell with Thee above.

One thing is for sure… “as for God, His way is perfect.”  He is never late.

You Will Suffer – John Piper

July 11th, 2009 No comments

The text here is a partially transcribed excerpt from a message spoken by John Piper.  Consider listening to the entirety of the message from which this excerpt is derived… entitled “How Our Suffering Glorifies the Greatness of the Grace of God.”

The purpose of God in creating the universe is to display the greatness of the glory of His grace supremely in the suffering of His Son.  That’s yesterday.  Today, the summons.  Will you join the Son in displaying the supreme satisfaction of the glory of grace in joining Him on the Calvary road of suffering because there is no other way the world is going to see the supreme glory of Christ today except that we break free from the Disney Land of America and begin to live lifestyles of missionary sacrifice that looks to the world like our treasure is in heaven and not on earth; it’s the only way.

The prosperity gospel will not make anybody praise Jesus.  It will make people praise prosperity.  Of course I’ll have a jesus who will give me a car.  Who wouldn’t want a jesus who gives me health, a car, a fine marriage… I’ll take your jesus if the payoff is right.

When It’s All Been Said and Done

June 25th, 2009 No comments

Time is the most precious, and yet often ignored, commodity on earth.  I spoke with a man recently who was admittedly not a born again Christian.  When I asked of his life’s ambition he replied:  “To be wealthy so that I can be secured and be in a position to help others.”  Sounds like a relatively noble aspiration.  My reply: “What would you profit if you gained the whole world and yet lost your own soul?  An interesting conversation ensued.

The question is for us.  What are our goals and pursuits?  How do we spend our time?  What really matters when it’s all been said and done?

What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. – James 4:1 (AMP)

When It’s All Been Said and Done
Words and music by Jim Cowan (singer: Robin Mark)

When it’s all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth
Did I live my life for You

When it’s all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I’ve done for love’s Reward
Will stand the test of time

Lord Your mercy is so great
That You look beyond our Weakness
And find purest gold in miry clay
Making sinners into saints

I will always sing Your praise
Here on earth and ever after
For You’ve shown me Heaven’s my true home
When it’s all been said and done
You’re my life when life is gone

Lord I’ll live my life for You

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