Saturday, September 30, 2023

Not an Option

 By Charles Spurgeon

Sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!

Psalm 66:2

It is not left to our own option whether or not we will praise God. Praise is God’s most righteous due, and every Christian, as the recipient of His grace, is bound to praise God from day to day.

It is true that we have no authoritative text for daily praise; we have no commandment prescribing certain hours of song and thanksgiving: But the law written upon the heart teaches us that it is right to praise God; and the unwritten mandate comes to us with as much force as if it had been recorded on the tables of stone or handed to us from the top of thundering Sinai.

Yes, it is the Christian’s duty to praise God. It is not only a pleasurable exercise, but it is the absolute obligation of his life. Those of you who are always mourning should not think that you are guiltless in this respect or imagine that you can discharge your duty to God without songs of praise. You are bound by the bonds of His love to bless His name as long as you live, and His praise should continually be in your mouth, for you are blessed in order that you may bless Him—“the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise”;1 and if you do not praise God, you are not bringing forth the fruit that He has a right to expect from you.

Do not let your harp hang on the willows, but take it down and strum with a grateful heart, bringing out its loudest music. Arise and declare His praise. With every morning’s dawn, lift up your notes of thanksgiving, and let every setting sun be followed with your song. Surround the earth with your praises; circle it with an atmosphere of melody, and God Himself will listen from heaven and accept your music.

E’en so I love Thee, and will love,
And in Thy praise will sing,
Because Thou art my loving God,
And my redeeming King.

  1. Isaiah 43:21 

The Pathway to Holiness

By Alistair Begg

If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8:13

Your holiness matters.

In the Old Testament, the word “holy” doesn’t always refer to a moral state; often, it refers to a relationship. Cities are described as holy cities, vessels as holy vessels, and buildings as holy places. This means that they stood in a special relationship to God. And so it is in redemption: we have been placed in a special relationship to God. We have been set apart for a holy use.

If you are married, perhaps you had other relationships before the one you enjoy with your spouse. I was married in the summer of 1975. That day, whatever romantic relationships I had had in my past were all over and done with—finished—because I was united to my wife. I was made new. I came to our wedding as an individual; I left married. My wife and I were set apart for one another through the vows, the covenant commitment, that we made to one another.

We cannot make vows to the Lord Jesus Christ and then just treat Him anyway we want. We simply cannot fool around with holiness. Why not? Because without holiness “no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). The apostle Paul goes so far as to say that we must “put to death the deeds of the body.” The Puritans called this “the mortification of the flesh.” And this mortification doesn’t happen automatically. It doesn’t happen unconsciously. It’s not a process of osmosis. Rather, what we need is the painstaking, day-by-day working out of our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). We need the Spirit’s prompting and enabling to remind us that we have to weep deliberately and consciously over our own sins, repent of them, turn from them, and seek to obey our Lord—and not only with those sins that are clear and obvious but also with inward sins such as envy, pride, malice, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness. It’s a wonderful day when God shows us the ugliness of a sin that has been indwelling us and prompts us to tackle it. Here’s the way to deal with sin: ruthlessly, immediately, consistently.

When true holiness begins to take root in our lives, it does not make us judgmental or unbending. That is legalism, where we set ourselves apart for rule-keeping pride; it is not holiness, where we are set apart for pleasing God. Instead, holiness manifests itself in graciousness, pleasantness, and goodness. So holiness is attractive. When we see it in others, whether or not we call it holiness, we warm to it and long for it. And holiness is possible, because the Lord Jesus died for the failings of our flesh and sent His Spirit to dwell in us so that we can fight sin and walk toward eternal life.

The pathway to that holiness emerges from thinking upon the wonder of all that Jesus has done for us. Ponder that path. Ask Jesus to make it real to you in a way that it’s never been before. And as you walk, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).


Friday, September 29, 2023

Between Faith and Fear

By Alistair Begg

“See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”

Luke 24:39-41

The disciples were real people—and they found believing in the resurrection difficult.

News of Jesus’ resurrection produced a roller coaster of emotions within His disciples. One minute they seemed to be up on the crest, and the next minute they were hurtling toward the ground. Reports of an empty tomb were met with mixed emotions of awe and unbelief. Indeed, they thought the words of the women who had discovered it were “an idle tale, and they did not believe them” (Luke 24:11).

Even when Jesus appeared suddenly and stood among His disciples, their sorrows were not soothed and their fears were not calmed. Instead, we discover that they were still in panic mode. Face-to-face with the resurrected Christ, they “were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit” (Luke 24:37). Even after Jesus showed them His hands and feet, they still battled disbelief as it jostled against the dawning joy.

This is a wonderfully honest picture, isn’t it? Here we find the group of people who were to be the pillars of the church, all essentially hiding behind couches and coming out of closets, saying, We thought we saw a ghost!

The disciples’ battle against fear and disbelief is a great encouragement for those who flip between hope and despair. It’s one thing to affirm our belief in the resurrection on a fine Sunday morning, surrounded by a crowd of fellow Christians. It is quite another to affirm it on a difficult Tuesday afternoon, surrounded by people who are convinced it is an idle tale, or when we are waiting on test results in the doctor’s office or fending off loneliness.

A real Christian is not someone who does not doubt; it is someone who brings their doubts to the fact of the empty tomb and reminds themselves that our faith rests on historical events, and that those historical events are ones which cause us to feel joy and marvel at God. If you find yourself today in a battle against fear and unbelief, cry out to God, praying the prayer of the man in Mark 9: “I believe, help my unbelief!” (v 24). The disciples’ doubts and fears did not exclude them from the kingdom; neither did they preclude them from kingdom work. So today, ask God to guard your faith, and walk forwards remembering that Jesus really has risen and really does have work for you to do.


Lessons from Leprosy

 By Charles Spurgeon

And if the leprous disease has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean of the disease.

Leviticus 13:13

This regulation appears to be very strange, but there was wisdom in it, for the throwing out of the disease proved that the constitution was sound. This morning it may be well for us to see the typical teaching of this singular principle. We, too, are lepers and may read the law of the leper as applicable to ourselves. When a man sees himself to be completely lost and ruined, covered all over with the defilement of sin, and with no part free from pollution, when he disclaims all righteousness of his own and pleads guilty before the Lord, then is he clean through the blood of Jesus and the grace of God.

Hidden, unfelt, unconfessed iniquity is the true leprosy, but when sin is seen and felt it has received its death blow, and the Lord looks with eyes of mercy upon the soul afflicted with it. Nothing is more deadly than self-righteousness or more hopeful than contrition. We must confess that we are nothing else but sin, for no confession short of this will be the whole truth. And if the Holy Spirit is at work within us, convincing us of sin, there will be no difficulty in making such an acknowledgment—it will spring spontaneously from our lips.

What comfort this text provides to those under a deep sense of sin! Sin mourned and confessed, however deep and foul, will never shut a man out from the Lord Jesus. “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”1 Though dishonest as the thief, though immoral as the woman who was a sinner, though fierce as Saul of Tarsus, though cruel as Manasseh, though rebellious as the prodigal, the great heart of love will look upon the man who feels himself to have no health in him and will pronounce him clean when he trusts in Jesus crucified. Come to Him, then, poor heavy-laden sinner.

Come needy, come guilty, come loathsome and bare;
You can’t come too filthy—come just as you are.

  1. John 6:37 

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Stooping Down

By Charles Spurgeon

The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man.

Psalm 33:13

Perhaps no figure of speech represents God in a more gracious light than when He is spoken of as stooping from His throne and coming down from heaven to attend to the needs and to behold the woes of mankind. We love Him who, when Sodom and Gomorrah were full of iniquity, would not destroy those cities until He had made a personal visitation to them. We cannot help pouring out our heart in affection for our Lord who turns His ear from the highest glory and puts it to the lip of the dying sinner, whose failing heart longs for reconciliation. How can we do anything but love Him when we know that He numbers the very hairs of our heads, marks our path, and orders our ways?

This great truth is brought especially near to our heart when we realize how attentive He is, not merely to the passing interests of His creatures, but to their spiritual concerns. Though vast distances lie between the finite creature and the infinite Creator, yet there are links uniting both. When a tear is wept by you, do not think that God does not see it; for “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.”1 Your sigh is able to move the heart of Jehovah; your whisper can incline His ear to you; your prayer can stay His hand; your faith can move His arm. Do not think that God sits on high taking no account of you. Remember that however poor and needy you are, still the Lord thinks of you. “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”2

Oh! then repeat the truth that never tires;
No God is like the God my soul desires;
He at whose voice heaven trembles, even He,
Great as He is, knows how to stoop to me.

  1. Psalm 103:13 
  2. 2 Chronicles 16:9


God’s Wisdom

By Alistair Begg

This alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.

Ecclesiastes 7:29

I once received a letter from a young man who’d been educated at the highest level in both American and British universities. In that letter, he wrote, “I must say, all the education in the world has made me the most stupid and unenlightened man.” It’s hard to believe that these words came from such a scholar—but truly, he knew enough to recognize that foolishness has nothing to do with mental faculty but everything to do with moral rebellion.

Human foolishness exists because of our disobedience to God, who is the only source of true wisdom and enlightenment. Such rebellion results in alienation from God and others. And since God must punish sin, the foolishness of man leads to condemnation. We are created to be “upright,” but we lean into self-sufficient, self-aggrandizing schemes. We are twisted and stunted because we live for ourselves instead of our Creator. So we can know all sorts of things and yet know nothing. Yet in our hopeless state, the wisdom of God can be made known to us in the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:2-3). This wisdom becomes ours only when we believe in Him as our God and Savior, for “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7, emphasis added). God’s Spirit enables us to turn from our old way of life and start on a new journey. As we turn to Him in repentance, the Lord will accept us, even in our sinfulness. And then, by His great power, He will take us and change us by His grace.

That is God’s wisdom. You can’t find it in any self-help book. You can’t find it in mere religion or philosophy. You can’t find it in the best universities. Those are dead-end streets. You can only find it in Jesus, who offers to become your wisdom and righteousness. In our foolishness, we have all run from the one who made us—yet He has pursued us, made known to us our condition, and chosen to reveal His Son to us. Take time to praise God for His infinite wisdom and amazing grace! And then consider this: Would anything need to change if you made all your decisions and set your direction in life by beginning with “the fear of the LORD” and not with the schemes of man?