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HOW THE WORLD GIVES

THE POET BURNS

IN the first place, the world gives scantily. Even the world’s best friends have had cause to complain of its scurvy treatment. In reading the biographies of mighty men whom the world honors, you will be soon convinced that the world is a most ungrateful friend. If you should devote your whole life to serve the world, and make it happy, think not the world would ever return you so much as a dolt. Robert Burns is an instance of the world’s fine gratitude.

There was the world’s poet; he sang the roaring tankard’s foaming; he sang the loves of women and the joys of lust; the world admires him, but what did the world do for him? He might drag along his whole life in almost poverty. When the time comes for Robert Burns to be honored (which was all too late for a buried man), how did they honor him? He had poor relatives; look to the subscription list, and see how magnificent the donations they received! They honored him with libations of whisky, which they drank themselves; that was all they would give him. The devotion of the Scotch drunkards to their poet is a devotion to their drunkenness, not to him. Doubtless there are many true-hearted men who bewail the sinner as much as they admire the genius, but the mass like him none the worse for his faults. However, if it had been ordained and decreed that every drunkard who honored Burns should go without his whisky for a week, there was not a dozen of them would have done it — not half-a-dozen. Their honor to him was an honor to themselves; it was an opportunity for drunkenness, at least in thousands of instances. As I stood by his monument some time ago, I saw around it a most dismal, dingy set-out of withered flowers, and I thought, “Ah, this is his honor! O Burns! How hast thou spent thy life to have a withered wreath for the world’s payment of a life of mighty genius, and a flood of marvelous song!” Yes, when the world pays best she pays nothing, and when she pays least, she pays her flatterers with scorn; she rewards their services with neglect and poverty.

Many a statesman might I quote who has spent his life in the world’s service, and at first the world said, “Go on, go on,” and he was clapped everywhere; he was doing something to serve his time; but he made a little mistake, a mistake, perhaps, which will prove not to have been a mistake at all when the books of history shall be read with a clearer eye. “Down with him!” says the world, “we will have nothing more to do with him.” All he may have done before went for nothing; one mistake, one flaw in his political career — “Down with him! Cast him to the dogs, we will have nought to do with him again.” Ah, the world pays scantily indeed! What will it do for those it loves the best? When it has done all it can, the last resource of the world is to give a man a title (and what is that)? And then to give him a tall pillar and set him up there to bear all weathers, to be pitilessly exposed to every storm; and there he stands for fools to gaze at one of the world’s great ones paid in stone; it is true the world has paid that out of its own heart, for that is what the world’s heart is made of. The world pays scantily; but did you ever hear a Christian who complained thus of his Master? “No,” will he say, “when I serve Christ, I feel that my work is my wages; that labor for Christ is its own reward. He gives me joy on earth, with a fullness of bliss hereafter.” Oh, Christ is a good paymaster! “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” He that serves Christ may get but little gold and silver such as this world calls precious, but he gets a gold and a silver that shall ne’er be melted in the last refining fire, that shall glitter among the precious things of immortality throughout eternity. The world pays niggardly and scantily, but not so Christ.

If you will serve the world, and you wish to have gifts from it, the world will pay you half-heartedly. Now, by the world, I mean the religious world quite as much as any other part of it; I mean the whole world, religious, political, good, bad, and indifferent — the whole lot of them. If you serve the world, it will pay you half-heartedly. Let a man spend himself for his fellow-creatures’ interests; what will he get for it? Some will praise him, some will abuse him. The men that escape without abuse in this world are the men who do nothing at all. He who is most valiant and useful must expect to be most reprobated and abhorred. Those men who are borne upon the waves of popular applause are not the men whose worth is true; real philanthropists must swim against the stream. The whole list of the world’s benefactors is an army of martyrs. All along, the path of the good is marked with blood and fire. The world does not pay the men that serve it really, except with ingratitude. I say, to come back, even when the world does pay, it pays half-heartedly. Did you ever know a man yet concerning whom the world’s mind was one? I never heard of any. “Oh,” says one, “So-and-so is one of the best men of his times!” Go down the next street, and you will hear it said, “He is the biggest vagabond living.” Go to one, and you will hear him say, “I never heard a man of such genius as that is.” “Oh,” says another, “mere twaddle!” “There is such a newspaper,” says one, “how ably it defends the rights of the people!” “Oh,” says another, “mere democracy; seeking to pull down everything that is constitutional and proper!”

The world never made up its mind about any man yet. There is not a soul living concerning whom the world is unanimous. But when Christ gives anything he always gives with all his heart. He does not say to his people, “There, I give you this, but still I have half a mind to keep it back.” No, Christ gives his heart to all his people. There is no double-mindedness in Jesus. If we are enabled by free grace to serve him and to love him, we may rest quite sure that in the rich reward which his grace shall give us, his whole heart shall go with every blessing. When Christ blesses the poor needy soul, he does not give with one hand, and smite with the other; but he gives him mercies with both his hands — both full; and he asks the sinner simply to receive all that he is willing to give.

Whenever the world gives anything, it gives mostly to those who do not want it. I remember once, when a lad, having a dog, which I very much prized, and some man in the street asked me to give him the dog; I thought it was pretty impudent, and I said as much. A gentleman, however, to whom I told it, said, “Now suppose the Duke of So-and-so,” — who was a great man in the neighborhood — “asked you for the dog, would you give it him?” I said, “I think I would.” He said, “Then you are just like all the world; you would give to those who do not want.” Who would object to give anything to the Queen? Not a soul of us; and yet, perhaps, there is no person in the world who so little needs our gifts. We can always give to those who do not require anything; for we feel that there is some little honor conferred upon us — an honor bestowed by the reception. Now, look at Jesus. When he gives to his friends, he gets no honor from them : the honor is in his own free heart, that should lead him to give to such poor necessitous worms. Great men have gone to Christ with mere professions, and they have asked him to be good to them; but then they have, at the same time, declared that they had a righteousness of their own, and did not want much of him; and he has sent them about their business, and given them nothing. He said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” But whenever poor, lost sinners have gone to Christ, he has never turned one of them away — never. He has given all they could possibly want, and infinitely more than they thought they could ever expect. Might not Jesus say to us, when we ask him for the blessings of his grace, “You are impudent in daring to ask?” But instead of that, he loves to be asked, and he freely and richly gives — “Not as the world giveth;” for he gives to those who need it most.

There is another view of the world’s gifts. The world giveth to its friends. Any man will help his own friends. If we help not our own relatives and friends, then are we worse than heathen men and publicans. But the world generally confines its good wishes and blessings to its class, and kith, and kin. It cannot think of giving blessings to its enemies. Did you ever hear yet of the world’s blessing an enemy? Never. It gives its benefactions to its friends, and but very scantily even to them. But Christ gives his benefactions even to his enemies. “Not as the world giveth” he may truly say. The world says, “I must see whether you deserve it; I must see that your case is a good one.” It inquires, and inquires, and inquires again; but Christ only sees that our case is a bad one, and then he gives. He wants not a good case, but a bad case. He knows our necessity; and, once discovering our necessity, not all our sin can stop the hand of his bounty. Oh, if Jesus should call to mind some of the hard speeches we have uttered about him, he would never bless us, surely, if it were not that his ways are far above our ways. Why, remember, man, it is not long ago since you cursed him, since you laughed at his people, despised his ministers, and could spit upon his Bible. Jesus has cast all that behind his back, and loved you notwithstanding. Would the world have done that? Let a man get up and rail at his fellows, will they forgive? And, after forgiving, will they begin to bless? Will they die for their enemies? Oh, no! Such a thing never entered into the heart of manhood. But Christ blesses rebels, traitors, enemies to his cross. He brings them to know his love, and taste of his eternal mercies.

The world always gives with a sparing motive. The most of us are compelled to economy. If we give anything away to a poor man, we generally hope that he will not come again. If we give him half-a-crown, it is very often, as we say, to get rid of him. If we bestow a little charity, it is in the hope that we shall not see his face just by-and-by; for really we do not like the same men continually begging at our door when the world is so full of beggars. Did you ever hear of a man who gave a beggar something to encourage him to keep on begging of you? I must confess I never did such a thing, and am not likely to begin. But that is just what Christ does. When he gives us a little grace, his motive is to make us ask for more; and when he gives us more grace, it is given with the very motive to make us come and ask again. He gives us silver blessings to induce us to ask for golden mercies; and when we have golden favors, those same mercies are given on purpose to lead us to pray more earnestly, and open our mouth wider, that we may receive more. What a strange giver Christ is! What a strange friend, that he gives on purpose to make us beg more! The more you ask of Christ, the more you can ask; the more you have got, the more you will want; the more you know him, the more you will desire to know him; the more grace you receive, the more grace you will pant after; and when you are full of grace, you will never be content till you get full of glory. Christ’s way of giving is, “Of his fullness have we received, and grace for grace” — grace to make us pant for more grace; grace to make us long after something higher, something fuller and richer still. “Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘How the World Gives’

The Wednesday Word: The Multi-Purpose Blood

In Western culture we often say that if a matter is one thing, then it is not another. In Eastern culture they don’t have that same concept. Instead, they tend to look at things from a ‘Both/And’ ‘concept.

Take for example the blood of Christ, it has many functions not just one. Consider this,

1. Romans 5:9: “Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

We are Justified by His blood. “Justified” means we stand before God as if we had never sinned.” Justification means we are acquitted! But this is not the only function and benefit of the blood.

2. Ephesians 1:7: “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

We have redemption through His blood. The blood of Jesus Christ not only justifies us, it redeems us. It buys us back.

3. We also have the forgiveness of our sins through the Blood of Jesus (Ephesians 1:7). It’s not a matter of whether we are either redeemed or forgiven. We are both.

Then we discover Ephesians 2:13.

4. Ephesians 2:13: “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off are made near by the blood of Christ.”

So, here’s another thing the blood does … it ‘brings us near.’ It has removed the alienation and separation between us and God. That doesn’t mean the blood doesn’t justify. Of course, it justifies … but it’s not an ‘either/or’ situation, it’s ‘both/and’. Then there’s,

5. Colossians 1:20: “And having made peace through the blood of His cross.”

The Blood of Jesus Christ is the peacemaker. The war between the believer and God is over. Peace has been made by the blood. “Oh” says someone, “I thought Jesus accomplished peace.” Yes, He did! But we are not dealing with an ‘either/or ‘scenario, it is a ‘both/and.’

Now here’s another function for the blood.

6. Hebrews 9:14. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

The blood of Jesus Christ purges our guilty consciences. So, we see the blood is multi-purpose. Not only does it justify, but it also brings peace, it redeems, it brings forgiveness etc. It’s not an ‘either/or’ situation, it’s ‘both/and’.

7. Hebrews 13:12. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside of the gate.

The blood of Jesus Christ sanctifies us. That means the blood sets us apart from sin and unto God. As we have seen, it does many other things. The blood is multi-purpose. It doesn’t have an ‘either/or’ task, it has a ‘both/and.’

8. 1 John 1:7. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.

The Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. In 1 John 1:9 it says He will cleanse from all sin. So, which is it? Is it the Lord or the blood which cleanses? But this is not an “either/or situation but a “both/and.”

9. Revelation 1:5…. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His blood—

Now we see that the blood of Jesus Christ washes us from our sins. How amazing!

His blood is wonderful. It does many things for us. The blood,

Brings us near to God: Ephesians 2:13.

Cleanses our guilty consciences: Hebrews 9:14.

Cleanses from all sin 1 John 1:7

We are forgiven through the blood: Ephesians 1:7 and Hebrews 9:22.

The blood justifies us: Romans 5:9.

The blood makes peace between us and God.

The blood redeems us: Ephesians 1:7 and 1 Peter 1:18-19

And sanctifies us: Hebrews 13:12

It even washes us (Revelation 1:5).

The blood really is amazing!

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

That Christians may, and have, suffered according to the will of God

From this consideration, two things present themselves to our sight.

II. There have been, and may yet be a people in the world that have, and may suffer in the sense of the apostle here, according to the will of God.

[That Christians may, and have, suffered according to the will of God.]

II. I come now to the second thing propounded to be spoken to, as to suffering, which is this.-That there have been, and yet may be, a people in the world that have, and may, suffer in the sense of the apostle here, according to the will of God, or for righteousness’ sake.

That there have been such a people in the world, I think nobody will deny, because many of the prophets, Christ, and his apostles, thus suffered. Besides, since the Scriptures were written, all nations can witness to this, whose histories tell at large of the patience and goodness of the sufferers, and of the cruelty of those that did destroy them. And that the thing will yet happen, or come to pass again, both Scripture and reason affirm.

First, Scripture. The text tells us, That God hath put enmity betwixt the woman and her seed, and the serpent and his seed (Gen 3:15). This enmity put, is so fixed that none can remove it so, but that it still will remain in the world. These two seeds have always had, and will have, that which is essentially opposite to one another, and they are “the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6), sin and righteousness (3:7,8), light and darkness (1 Thess 5:5). Hence “an unjust man is an abomination to the just; and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked” (Prov 29:27). So that unless you could sanctify and regenerate all men, or cause that no more wicked men should any where be in power for ever, you cannot prevent but that sometimes still there must be sufferers for righteousness’ sake. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim 3:12).

John Bunyan- Seasonable Counsel or Advise to Sufferers

The Victory of Faith

November 29, 2021 Leave a comment

SpurgeonIII. But now, in the last place, we have before us THE VICTORY OF FAITH.

The Christian is the only champion who can smite the dragon of death, and even he cannot do it of himself, but when he has done it, he shall cry, “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” One moment, and I will show you how the Christian can look upon death with complacency through the merits of Jesus Christ.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Thoughts on the last battle, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Evening, at Exerter Hall Strand, May 13, 1855

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THE AVALANCHE AND THE LOCUSTS

November 25, 2021 Leave a comment

A PRESENT GOD! I cannot suggest a theme that may make you more full of courage in times of danger and trouble. You will find it exceedingly helpful and consoling if you can discover God in your trifles. Our life is made up of trifles, and if we had a God only for the great things, and not for the little things, we should be miserable indeed. If we had a God of the temple, and not a God of the tents of Jacob, where were we? But, blessed be our heavenly Father, he that wings an angel, guides a sparrow; he that rolls a world along, molds a tear and marks its orbit when it trickles from its source. There is a God in the motion of a grain of dust blown by the summer wind, as much as in the revolutions of the stupendous planet. There is a God in the sparkling of a fire-fly as truly as in the flaming comet. Carry home, I beseech you, to your houses the thought that God is there, at your table, in your bed-chamber, in your workroom, and at your counter. Recognize the doing and being of God in every little thing. Think for a moment, and you will find that there are many promises of Scripture giving the sweetest consolation in trivial matters. “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands.” Why? Lest thou fall from a precipice? Lest thou dash thyself from a pinnacle? No, “Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone!” A little danger, but a great providence to ward us from it. And what saith the Scripture also? Doth it say, “The very days of your life are numbered”? It saith not so, though that were true; but, “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” And what saith the Scripture yet again? Doth it say, “The Lord knoweth the eagles, and not an eagle falleth to the ground without your Father?” No; but, “are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” A great God in little things. I am sure it will spare you a world of vexation if you will but remember this, for it is hence our vexations come. We often get into a bad temper about a trifle, when a great trial does not agitate us. We are angry because we have scalded ourselves with a little water, or have lost a button from our clothes, and yet the greatest calamity can scarcely disturb us. You smile, because it is true. Job himself, who said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away,” might have grown angry, because of some rough edge in his potsherd. Take care that you see God in little things, that your mind may be always calm and composed, and that you be not foolish enough to suffer a trifle to overcome a saint of God.

Our life is entirely dependent upon God. One sees strange sights in journeying, scenes which will never be erased from the memory. It was some years ago, just under a tremendous rock, I saw a vast mass of broken stones, and earth tossed about in wild confusion, and raised in huge hillocks. My driver said to me, “That is the grave of a village.” Some years ago there lived upon that spot a joyful and happy people. They went forth to their daily work, they ate, they drank, as men do to this day. One time they saw a great crack in the mountain that hung overhead; they heard alarming noises; but they had heard such sounds before, and the old men said, “There might be something coming, but they did not know.” On a sudden, however, without further notice, the whole side of the hill was in motion, and ere the villager could escape from his hut, the village was buried beneath the fallen rocks. And there it lies; and neither bone of man, nor piece of the habitation of man has ever been discovered in the wreck; so thoroughly was everything crushed and buried, that nothing, by the most diligent search, could ever be discovered. There are many villages standing in a like position at this day. I passed another spot, where there was a shelving mountain, with its layers slanting towards the valley. A town which had been built at the foot had been entirely covered, and a lake filled up by one tremendous slide from the top of the hill. Yet, there stand new houses still, and men venture to live among the graves of their sires. We are apt to say, “How these people ought to look up every morning and say, ‘O Lord, spare this village’!” Standing there, where they might be crushed in a moment, where the slightest motion of the earth within would bring down the hill upon them, they ought to lift up their hearts to the Preserving One, and say, “Oh, thou keeper of Israel, keep us both day and night.”

Ah! But you and I are in the same position. Though no beetling crags overhang our homesteads, though no mountain threatens to leap upon our city, yet are there a thousand gates to death. There are other agencies besides these, which can hurry mortals to their tombs. You are sitting today as near to the jaws of death as those villagers who are dwelling there. Oh, that you felt it! One breath choked up, and you are dead. Perhaps your life is a thousand times in danger every moment. As many times as there are ebbings and flowings of the blood, as many times as there are breathings from the lungs, so many times does your life hang in such jeopardy that it only needs your God to will it, and you fall dead in your seat, and are carried out a pale, lifeless corpse.

There are parts of the mountain passes of the Alps of such danger to the traveler, that when you traverse them in winter, the muleteers muffle the bells of their beasts, lest the faintest sound should bring down an avalanche of snow, and sweep you into the bottomless precipice beneath. Then, one would think, the traveler must feel that he is in God’s hand. Ay, but you are in the same position now, though you see it not. Open but the eyes of your spirit, and you may see the avalanche overhanging you to-day, and the rock trembling to its fall at this very moment. Only let your soul behold the latent lightnings that God conceals within his hand, and you may soon see that to crush a gnat with your finger is not so easy for you, as for God to take away your life now, or whensoever he pleases.

As it is with our life, so is it with the comforts of life. What would life be without its comforts? Much more, what would it be without its necessaries? And yet how absolutely dependent are we upon God for the bread which is the staff of life! I never felt more truly the dependence of man upon his God than I did at the foot of the Alpine pass of the Splugen; I saw in the distance the whole road black, as if it had been spread over with heaps of black earth. As we neared it, we discovered it: was a mass of locusts in full march — tens of thousands of myriads of them. As we drew nearer they divided as regularly as if they had been an army, and made room for the carriage. No sooner was it passed than the ranks were filled up again, and they went on in their devouring march. On we went for several miles, and there was nothing to be seen except these creatures, literally covering the ground here and there in thick layers, like a shower of black snow. Then I realized the language of the prophet: “Before them was like Eden; behind them was a desert.” They had eaten up every green blade. There stood the Indian corn, with just the dry stems, but every green particle was gone. In the front of their march you saw the vines beginning to ripen, and the fields of grain hastening to perfection. There stood the poor cottager at his door; the wheat that he had planted, and the vines that he had tended, must all be eaten and devoured before his own eyes. The pastures were literally alive with these fiery creatures. When they first entered the field there was green pasture for the cows of the poor cottagers; let: them stop there an hour, and you might take up the dust by handfuls. And nothing left besides. “Ah!” said my guide, “it is a sad thing for these poor people: in a month’s time those creatures will be as big and as long as my finger, and then they will eat up the trees — the mulberry trees with which the poor men feed their silkworms, and which furnish them with a little wealth; they will devour every green thing until there is nothing left but the bare dry sterns.” In armies countless as the sands of the sea, and fierce to look upon, well described by the prophet Joel, in his terrible picture of them, as “a great army of the Lord.” Ah! I thought within myself, if God can thus sweep this valley and make a waste of it with these little creatures, what a mercy it is that he is a kind and gracious God, or else he might let loose the like on all the people of the earth, and then nothing would stare us in the face but famine, despair, and death!

We are not simply dependent upon God for the ,comforts, but for the power to enjoy the comforts. It is an evil which we have seen under the sun — a man who had wealth, and riches, and plenty, but who had not power to eat thereof. I have seen a man hungry and full of appetite, but no bread to eat; but I have seen a sight perhaps more sad — a man with food of the most luxurious kind, to whom taste seemed denied, to whom every mouthful was a thing of detestation. The Lord has but in his judgment to smite any of us with only nervousness — that nervousness at which the strong may laugh, but which makes the weak tremble, and everything will become dark before you. He has but to affect some portion of your body, and you shall see no brightness in the sun; the very fields shall lose their verdure before you; the most happy event shall only be a source of deeper gloom; you shall look on everything through a dark glass, and see nothing but darkness and despair. He has but to touch you with sickness, and motion may be misery, and even to lie upon a bed may be a repetition of tortures as you toss from side to side. Worse still, the Lord hath but to put his finger on your brain, and you become a raving lunatic, or what may seem better, but more despicable, a driveling idiot. Oh, how little then hath he to do to overturn your all, to pull down that mighty castle of your joys, and darken the windows of your hope! You are, again, for life, for necessaries, for comforts, as absolutely in the hand of God as the clay is in the hand of the potter. Your rebellion is but the writhing of a worm. You may murmur, but your murmurs cannot affect him. You may ask your comrades to join in league with you against the Almighty God, but his purpose will stand fast, and you must submit.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘The Avalanche and the Locust’

The Wednesday Word: Cities of Refuge Part 6: Golan

November 24, 2021 1 comment

As you remember, in previous weeks we’ve seen that six places were appointed as cities of refuge in Israel … Kedesh, Shechem, Hebron, Bezer, Ramoth and Golan (Numbers 35:11; Joshua 20:7-8). The reason for there being six cities and not merely one was that anyone who had unintentionally committed manslaughter would have no more than a day’s journey to reach the nearest sanctuary.

The names of these cities tell us a great deal about the Saviour. Our final city in this mini-series then is that of Golan.

So, what does the name ‘Golan’ tell us about Jesus?

Golan literally means Joy. This name once more points us to the Saviour for He is our chief joy. We may have other minor joys, but Jesus is our “chief joy!”

The gospel contains great joy. When the angels arrived in Bethlehem, what did they announce? They announced good tidings of great joy! Because of Jesus, our Golan, ours is a message of joy. But some believers are afraid to let their joy show!

A preacher, Malcolm Duncan, from Belfast, tells of how he was preaching one Sunday on the ‘Joy of the Lord.’ Afterwards he was greeting the people on the way out of the building. At the end of the line was a very somber man with a stern face. So, Brother Duncan in his brightest voice said to him, “Good Morning”. The man mumbled back in a gruff tone, “Good morning.” The preacher cheerfully stuck out his hand and said, “Thank you for being here with us this morning”

The man looked grimly at Brother Duncan and said again with a bleak voice, “Thank you for being here.”

The preacher felt some pastoral concern rising and said, “Excuse me sir but are you alright?”

“Yes, I’m fine” came the curt reply, “Why are you asking?”

“Well, I’m just seeing if you are alright’

“Yes, I’m alright, thank you for your word this morning.”

“You’re very welcome sir, I’m glad you came to worship. I trust you have a great day.”

The man announced with a somber voice, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

“Yes, indeed said Brother Duncan and my strength also.”

Then the man looked at the preacher and said, “Do you want to know why I’m not smiling and talking?

“Well yes, if you’d like to, please tell me”

“You said it this morning …you said it’s … ‘Joy unspeakable.’”

That’s funny but talk about mis-applying scripture! Of course we’ll speak about the joy we have in Christ.

The truth is, as we soak ourselves in the gospel, we’ll realize the joy we already have. Our Master promised, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11).

If you know that Jesus died for your sins … it will bring you great joy!

If you know that you were once condemned and sentenced to death but all charges against you have been dropped … it will bring you great joy!

If you know your sentence has already been carried out because Christ took your penalty at the cross. … it will bring you great joy!

If you know that He is coming back for you … it will bring you great joy!

Joy is a characteristic of the gospel. When the lost sheep was found there was great joy (Luke 15:5-6). When the prodigal came home there was great joy (Luke 15:23-24). When the gospel reached Samaria “There was great joy” (Acts 8:8).

When Jesus faced the cross, He did so with joy (Hebrews 12:2)

When we trust that Christ has saved us without any contribution from us it brings joy. However, there is no joy for those who are adding works to the salvation equation. Through Christ alone we receive full acquittal for our sins and knowing this brings joy.

Jesus is our city of Joy.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com    

Directions for the shunning of suffering for evil-doing

November 24, 2021 Leave a comment

From this consideration, two things present themselves to our sight.

I. That a man may be a Christian, and suffer, and yet not suffer, in the sense last given, according to the will of God.

Directions for the shunning of suffering for evil-doing, are they that come next to hand.

Direction 1. Therefore, wouldest thou not suffer as an evil-doer, then take heed of committing of evil. Evil courses bring to evil ends; shun all appearance of evil, and ever follow that which is good. And if ye be followers of that which is good, who will harm you (1 Peter 3:13)? Or if there should be such enemies to goodness in the world as to cause thee for that to suffer, thou needest not be ashamed of thy suffering for well-doing, nor can there be a good man, but he will dare to own and stand by thee in it. Yea, thy sufferings for that will make thee happy, so that thou canst by no means be a loser thereby.

Direction 2. Wouldest thou not suffer for evil-doing, then take heed of the occasions of evil. Take heed of tempting company. Beware of men, for they will deliver thee up. There have been men in the world that have sought to make themselves out of the ruins of other men. This did Judas, and some of the Pharisees (Matt 10:17; Luke 20:19,20). Take heed to thy mouth: “A fool’s mouth calleth for strokes,-and his lips are the snare of his soul” (Prov 18:7). Take heed of indulging, and hearkening to the ease of the flesh, and of carnal reasonings, for that will put thee upon wicked things.

Direction 3. Wouldest thou not suffer as an evil-doer, then take heed of hearing of any thing spoken that is not according to sound doctrine: thou must withdraw thyself from such in whom thou perceivest not the words of knowledge. Let not talk against governors, against powers, against men in authority be admitted; keep thee far from an evil matter. My son, says Solomon, fear thou the Lord, and the King, and meddle not with those that are given to change.

Direction 4. Wouldest thou not suffer as an evil-doer, addict not thyself to play with evil,[25] to joke and jest, and mock at men in place and power. Gaal mocked at Abimelech, and said, Who is Abimelech that we should serve him? But he paid for his disdainful language at last (Judg 9). I have heard of an innkeeper here in England, whose sign was the crown, and he was a merry man. Now he had a boy, of whom he used to say, when he was jovial among his guests, This boy is heir to the crown, or this boy shall be heir to the crown; and if I mistake not the story, for these words he lost his life.[26] It is bad jesting with great things, with things that are God’s ordinance, as kings and governors are. Yea, let them rather have that fear, that honour, that reverence, that worship, that is due to their place, their office, and dignity. How Paul gave honour and respect unto those that were but deputy-kings and heathen magistrates, will greatly appear, if you do but read his trials before them in the book called, The Acts of the Apostles. And what a charge both he and Peter have left behind them to the churches to do so too, may be found to conviction, if we read their epistles.

Direction 5. Wouldest thou not suffer for evil-doing, then take heed of being offended with magistrates, because by their state acts they may cross thy inclinations. It is given to them to bear the sword, and a command is to thee, if thy heart cannot acquiesce with all things with meekness and patience, to suffer. Discontent in the mind sometimes puts discontent into the mouth; and discontent in the mouth doth sometimes also put a halter about the neck. For as a man, by speaking a word in jest may for that be hanged in earnest; so he that speaks in discontent may die for it in sober sadness. Adonijah’s discontent put him upon doing that which cost him his life (1 Kings 2:13, 23). Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them; for they are subjected to the will and foot of God.

Direction 6. But, above all, get thy conscience possessed yet more with this, that the magistrate is God’s ordinance, and is ordered of God as such: that he is the minister of God to thee for good, and that it is thy duty to fear him, and pray for him, to give thanks to God for him, and to be subject to him as both Paul and Peter admonish us; and that not only for wrath, but for conscience sake (Rom 13:5). For all other arguments come short of binding the soul, where this argument is wanting; until we believe that of God we are bound thereto. I speak not these things, as knowing any that are disaffected to the government; for I love to be alone, if not with godly men, in things that are convenient. But because I appear thus in public, and know not into whose hands these lines may come, therefore thus I write. I speak it also to show my loyalty to the king, and my love to my fellow-subjects; and my desire that all Christians should walk in ways of peach and truth.

John Bunyan- Seasonable Counsel or Advise to Sufferers

Footnotes:

25.

But if you give sin entrance at the door,

It’s sting will in, and may come out not more.” Bunyan’s Caution.

26. An equally cruel scene took place in the presence of Stow, the historian, in the reign of Elizabeth. The bailiff of Romford coming to London, was asked by the curate of Aldgate the news: he replied, “Many men be up in Essex,” [Qu. not in bed?]. For this he was hung the next morning in front of Mr. Stow’s house. How grateful ought we to be that such sanguinary laws have fled, with the dark mists of error and cruelty, before the spreading light of the gospel.-Ed.

The law gives strength to sin from the fact that for every transgression it will exact a punishment

November 22, 2021 Leave a comment

SpurgeonII. “THE STRENGTH OF SIN is the law.”

3. Yet again, the law gives strength to sin from the fact that for every transgression it will exact a punishment. The law never remits a farthing of debt: it says, “Sin-punishment.” They are linked together with adamantine chains; they are tied, and cannot be severed. The law speaks not of sin and mercy; mercy comes in the gospel. The law says, “Sin-die; transgress-be chastised; sin-hell.” Thus are they linked together. Once let me sin, and I may go to the foot of stern justice, and, as with blind eyes, she holds the scales, I may say, “Oh, Justice, remember, I was holy once, remember that on such and such an occasion I did keep the law.” “Yes,” saith Justice, “all I owe thee thou shalt have; I will not punish thee for what thou hast not done; but remember you this crime, O sinner?” and she puts in the heavy weight. The sinner trembles, and he cries, “But canst thou not forget that? Wilt thou not cast it away?”; Nay,” saith Justice, and she puts in another weighs. “Sinner, dost thou recollect this crime?” “Oh,” says the sinner, “wilt thou not for mercy’s sake?” “I will not have mercy,” says Justice; “Mercy has its own palace, but I have nought to do with forgiveness here; mercy belongs to Christ. If you will be saved by justice you shall have your full of it. If you come to me for salvation, I will not have mercy brought in to help me, she is lot my vicegerent, I stand here alone without her.” And again, as she holds the scales, she puts in another iniquity, another crime, another enormous transgression; and each time the man begs and prays that he may have that passed by. Says Justice, “Nay, I must exact the penalty; I have sworn I will, and I will. Canst thou find a substitute for thyself? If thou canst, there is the only room I have for mercy. I will exact it of that substitute, but even at his hands I will have the utmost jot and little; I will abate nothing, I am God’s justice stern and unflinching, I will not alter I will not mitigate the penalty.” She still holds the scales. The plea is in vain. “Never will I change!’’ She cries; “bring me the blood, bring me the price to its utmost; count it down, or else, sinner, thou shalt die.”

Now, my friends, I ask you, if ye consider the spirituality of the law, the perfection it requires, and its unflinching severity, are you prepared to take away the sting of death in your own persons? Can you hope to overcome sin yourselves? Can you trust that by some righteous works you may yet cancel your guilt? If you think so, go, foolish one, go! O madman, go! Work out thine own salvation with fear and trembling, without the God that worketh in thee, go, twist thy rope of sand, go, build a pyramid of air, go, prepare a house with bubbles, and think it is to last for ever, but know, it will be a dream with an awful awakening, for as a dream when one awaketh will he despise alike your image and your righteousness. “The strength of sin is the law.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- Thoughts on the last battle, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Evening, at Exerter Hall Strand, May 13, 1855

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PROFIT AND LOSS

November 18, 2021 Leave a comment

SELLING THE SOUL FOR HALF-A-CROWN

IT is astonishing for how little a man will sell his soul. I remember an anecdote, I believe it is true, I had almost said I hope it is. A minister, going across some fields, met a countryman, and said to him, “Well, friend, it is a most delightful day.” “Yes, sir, it is.” And having spoken to him about the beauties of the scenery, and so forth, he said, “How thankful we ought to be for our mercies! I hope you never come out without praying.” “Pray, sir!” said he, “why, I never pray; I have got nothing to pray for.” “What a strange man!” said the minister; “don’t your wife pray?” “If she likes.” “Don’t your children pray?” “If they like, they do.” “Well, you mean to say you do not pray,” said the minister (as I think, not very rightly; no doubt he saw that the man was superstitious); “now, I will give you half-acrown if you will promise me not to pray as long as you live.” “Very well,” said the man, “I don’t see what I have got to pray for;” and he took the half-crown. When he went home the thought struck him, “What have I done?” And something said to him,” Well, John, you will die soon, and you will want to pray then; you will have to stand before your Judge, and it will be a sad thing not to have prayed.” Thoughts of this kind came over him, and he felt dreadfully miserable: and the more he thought, the more miserable he felt. His wife asked him what was the matter; he could hardly tell her for some time, and at last he confessed he had taken half-a-crown never to pray again, and that was preying on his mind. The poor ignorant soul thought it was the evil one that had appeared to him. “Ay, John,” said she, “sure enough it was the devil, and you have sold your soul to him for that half-crown.” The poor creature could not work for several days, and he became perfectly miserable, from the conviction that he had sold himself to the evil one. However, the minister knew what he was about, and there was a barn close by, and he was going to preach there. He guessed the man would be there to ease his terror of mind, and sure enough he was there one Sabbath evening, and he heard the same man who gave him the halfcrown take for his text these words: “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” “Ay,” said he, “what will it profit a man who sold his soul for half-a-crown?” Up gets the man, crying out, “Sir, take it back! Take it back!” “Why,” said the minister, “You want the half-crown, and you said you did not need to pray.” “But, sir,” he said, “I must pray; if I do not pray, I am lost;” and after some testing by parleying, the half-crown was returned, and the man was on his knees, praying to God. And it came to pass that that very circumstance was the means of saving his soul, and making him a changed man.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘Profit and Loss’

The Wednesday Word: Cities of Refuge part 5: Ramoth

November 17, 2021 Leave a comment

To date, we have considered 4 of the 6 Cities of Refuge, … Kedesh, Shechem, Hebron and Bezer.

These were cities to which a person guilty of manslaughter could flee and find safety. Each of the cities, in their individual name, point us towards Christ. Today we encounter a fifth city, a place named Ramoth.

We don’t know a lot about Ramoth. It was, it is thought, situated in Gilead about 20 miles east of the Jordan and it is believed that it was a heavily fortified stronghold.

So, does the name RAMOTH tell us anything regarding Christ? Yes, it does. Ramoth literally means EXALTATION. Jesus, we say, without fear or contradiction, is the true Ramoth. When He came to this earth He was despised, rejected and brutally murdered. However, now He is exalted on the throne of the Universe as our glorious King.

He is exalted.

All heaven exalts Him.

The angels exalt Him.

The seraphim exalt Him.

True believers here on earth exalt Him.

It’s a delight and encouragement to think of Jesus exalted to the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:19) … the place of cosmic authority. The right hand, as you remember, is the place of power (see Matthew 26:64). Just to ‘stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance’, God is Spirit (John 4:24) and, as such, has no physical right hand. The only physical hand the Father has is that which is found on Jesus. The Father has bodily form only in the Son for “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19).

The man Christ Jesus is exalted to the right hand i.e., the place of cosmic power and strength. In Psalm 89:13 we read, “Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.”

In Luke 1:51 we read “He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.”

As you can see, ‘The right hand of God’ is not a literal arm but it is a picture of strength. When God intervenes and rescues, it is said to be with His “right arm” or “right hand.”

The man Christ Jesus, therefore, is exalted to a position of ultimate strength and authority. For a full treatment of this excellent truth see, “Jesus is God: Always Was and Always Will Be” Vol 1.

For a moment, consider this lovely thought about Jesus. Though exalted, He has not forgotten any of His people. He still knows us by name and loves us (Isaiah 49:1). Not only is He all-powerful, He is also kind. Think of how, in the Book of Revelation, He spoke to the aged apostle John. I wonder if John felt that somehow or another Jesus might have changed. Did he quietly question whether Christ’s exaltation in heaven had altered the Lord’s love and tenderness towards His disciple? And how did John react when he looked upon the glorious Being that stood in front of him in His radiant garments, with eyes which were like a flame of fire?” You know the story, John fell down at His feet as if dead” (see Revelation 1:14-17).

But what did the exalted Christ say to him. He said, “Fear not!” Do you hear the tenderness there? His warmth and affection towards His people has not changed.

Jesus is the Exalted One!

How about us? Is Jesus exalted in our thinking? He is not exalted in the thoughts of the un-saved. They, like the Inn Keeper of Bethlehem, have no room for Him. But how about us? Is our meditation of Him sweet (Psalm 104:34)?

He is the exalted one (Philippians 2:5-11). May we learn to exalt Him in our thoughts, in our words, in our deeds.

So, let’s summarize. God left glory and took the place of a bondservant here on earth. He lived, died and rose again. Now, He sits in the most exalted place in glory. All of us who have identified with Him here on earth will, before long, have the honour of being found with Him in the highest place of glory … forever.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com