Spurgeon on Discouragement

This morning I am preaching from Zechariah. After Zechariah God would send only one more prophet, and then 400 silent years would descend on Israel. A 400 year silence that God would break explosively with the declaration of the birth of Jesus Christ!

Zechariah pointed Israel to the Messiah more than almost any other prophet. Only Isaiah contains more prophecies of Christ. And so Zechariah wrote to encourage the people, to give them hope!

As I have studied and prepared and thought on hope and discouragement I came across this statement by Spurgeon on depression:

“This depression comes over me whenever the Lord is preparing a larger blessing for my ministry; the cloud is black before it breaks, and overshadows before it yields its deluge of mercy.

“Depression has now become to me as a prophet in rough clothing, a John the Baptist, heralding the nearer coming of my Lord’s richer benison. So have far better men found it.

“The scouring of the vessel has fitted it for the Master’s use. Immersion in suffering has preceded the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Fasting gives an appetite for the banquet. The Lord is revealed in the backside of the desert, while his servant keepeth the sheep and waits in solitary awe.

“The wilderness is the way to Canaan. The low valley leads to the towering mountain. Defeat prepares for victory. The raven is sent forth before the dove. The darkest hour of the night precedes the day-dawn. The mariners go down to the depths, but the next wave makes them mount to the heaven: their soul is melted because of trouble before he bringeth them to their desired haven.”

Redemption – Studying the Gospel Book by Book

Earlier this year I started a sermon series going through each book of the Bible chronologically and identifying some truth related to the unfolding plan of the Gospel, of redemption. I have also tried to convey the narrative of the Gospel. So, the majority of the messages have focused around a person, a people, or at least placed the truth in the order of the story of redemption.

Here is a summary I am including in our church bulletin for this morning. I thought it might be of help or interest to others. I’ll try to add a text version of this list at a later date if anyone is interested.

Redemption-Studying the Gospel Book by Book


A Few Thoughts On Listening to Sermons

A few thoughts came to mind about listening to sermons as I listened to one this morning. I initially shared them on Twitter but thought I’d put them all together in one blog post here:

  1. Prepare your heart before the service, even before Sunday, to receive what God has prepared for you.
  2. Put as much responsibility on yourself to receive truth as you do on the preacher to convey truth.
  3. Turn to as many Scripture references mentioned in the sermon as possible.
  4. Take notes. My pastor always reminded us that 3/5 of think is “ink”.
  5. Remember R.A. Torrey’s principle that any time the Bible is opened & read then something can be gained
  6. If you walk away from a sermon with nothing, don’t let your first thought be to blame the preacher.
  7. If you don’t like your preacher, don’t grumble, pray. Let God change him/move him on, not you.
  8. Preachers will be harsher critics of themselves than anyone else.Encouragement is better than complaint

A thought for preachers (1): Preachers,we have an awesome privilege & responsibility. Never take it for granted & always try to improve.

The Relentless Love of God

In Hosea we find a tragic love story that pictures the relationship between Israel and God. Hosea’s wife, Gomer, betrays him, abuses his trusts, takes advantage of him and no doubt wounds him deeply.

Yet, when Gomer finds herself sold off as a slave and abandoned by her lovers, it is Hosea that comes to her rescue! He pays her purchase price as a slave, but receives her as his wife. Hosea redeemed Gomer.

Their relationship serves as a powerful example of God’s love for Israel, but Israel’s idolatry and betrayal. There is also a demonstration of God’s love for His fallen creation.

In the writings of the prophet Hosea we see the relentless love of God as He pursues His fallen creation as a means of bringing glory to His name!

As I thought on these truths yesterday this hymn caught my eye in our hymnbook. It is by Charles Wesley and beautifully describes God’s “ceaseless, unexhausted love…”

Thy ceaseless, unexhausted love,
Unmerited and free,
Delights our evil to remove,
And help our misery.

Thou waitest to be gracious still;
Thou dost with sinners bear,
That, saved, we may Thy goodness feel,
And all Thy grace declare.

Thy goodness and Thy truth to me
To every soul, abound,
A vast, unfathomable sea,
Where all our thoughts are drowned.

Its streams the whole creation reach,
So plenteous is the store,
Enough for all, enough for each,
Enough for evermore.

Faithful, O Lord, Thy mercies are!
A rock that cannot move;
A thousand promises declare
Thy constancy of love.

Throughout the universe it reigns,
Unalterably sure;
And while the truth of God remains,
The goodness must endure.

“True Encouragement”

In Sidlow Baxter’s daily devotional, “Awake My Heart”, he shares this thought on David’s plight and his response in 1 Samuel 30:

“Afflictions and trials are sometimes allowed to accumulate without intermission, until it seems as though one more ounce of pressure, and our spirit will snap. Then, just at what seems to be the last minute, providential intervention transforms the whole picture; and oh, what lessons in trust we learn! Human help is vain. Heart and flesh fail. The one resort is the flight of the lonely heart to God.”

He Saved in the Power of the Fact He Would Not Save Himself

G. Campbell Morgan commenting on Mark 15:31

“Though they did not understand it-even the disciples themselves did not understand, but presently the light came, and ever and anon these men who wrote the records reveal in some passing phrase their past ignorance and their new illumination – the truth is this, that all those whom He (Jesus) had already saved, He had saved in the power of the fact that He could not, in that final way, save Himself.

“He had opened blind eyes, He had healed palsied limbs, He had driven fever away, He had restored physical conditions; but He always did these things upon the basis of His passion and His atonement.

“The writers came to know it, I repeat, and one memorable passage comes to mind, in which Matthew tells the secret of a wonderful eventide by the side of the sea. They brought unto Him from all the countryside the sick fold, and He healed them all.

“If Matthew had written his record that night, he would have written with wonder and amazement; but later on the publican saw things as he had never seen them; and in the light of the resurrection, when he wrote his record afterwards, this is what he said: He healed them all, ‘that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our diseases.’

Behind all His physical healing, was the spiritual passion of the Lord. I reverently declare that the Man of Nazareth would never have healed a sick lad or lass, man or woman, but in the power of that hour, when they mocked Him and scorned Him.”

Israel and Hamas

In light of recent events in Israel I wanted to share some valuable resources. They come from the website www.standwithus.com.

I would not claim Israel to be entirely innocent in all of their dealings, however, they are misrepresented in the western media and sadly many Christians do not know the whole truth.

I encourage you to study these resources and let the facts speak for themselves. A good starting point is this booklet: “25 short answers

You can go here for many more resources to get you started: http://www.standwithus.com/resources/

“Striken, Smitten, and Afflicted”

- by Thomas Kelly

1. Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
‘Tis the Christ by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He!
‘Tis the long-expected Prophet,
David’s Son, yet David’s Lord;
Proofs I see sufficient of it:
‘Tis the true and faithful Word.

2. Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning,
Foes insulting His distress;
Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.

3. Ye who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.

4. Here we have a firm foundation;
Here the refuge of the lost;
Christ, the Rock of our salvation,
His the name of which we boast.
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built

Two that Were “Of God”

Have you ever wondered why Matthew begins with the genealogy of Christ but Luke includes it after the baptism of Christ?

Matthew writes to a Jewish audience with a key goal of convincing his readers of the rightful claim of Jesus Christ to the throne of Israel. He also writes, of course, to demonstrate that Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour of the world. Matthew traces the line of Christ, then, back to Abraham and in so doing proves Jesus as the Messiah for the world and also the King of Israel.

Luke writes to a Greek audience with the intent of proving Jesus Christ is the perfect Man and with the same goal as Matthew of demonstrating that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world. So he traces the line of Christ all the way back to Adam. In so doing he reveals that Jesus is the rightful king of Israel, and He is the last Adam, the Perfect Man.

What really struck me, however in reading Luke 3 is Luke’s arrangement of the baptism of Christ and the genealogy of Christ.

In verses 21-22 we have the baptism of Christ by John. At that event we see the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from Heaven and the Father’s voice making a loving declaration, “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”

In verse 23 Luke records that people presumed Jesus was the son of Joseph, but as the voice from Heaven revealed, He was truly the Son of God, Jesus was God and was of God in His incarnation.

Then follows one of those genealogies we sometimes struggle with. Joseph was the son of Heli, Heli was the son of Matthat, Matthat was the son of Levi and so on for generations, all the way back to Adam. But when we reach Adam we find a change in the formula. We do not find Adam having an earthly father, but instead we read that Adam was the son of God. Adam was of God.

And so the genealogy begins with Jesus, who was of God, and ends with Adam, who was of God.

Thanks be to God that although the first Adam, made and beloved of God, failed, the Last Adam, the only begotten and beloved of God, succeeded.

Adam failed the test of righteousness and humanity fell with him, but Jesus Christ purchased redemption for humanity and in Him we are restored.

Ever Word of God is given for a purpose, and every order of revelation is carefully placed for our teaching and edification.

Luke beautifully demonstrates through this genealogy, and order of revelation, that Jesus Christ became one of us in order that He might redeem us!