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The Wednesday Word: The Cities of Refuge (Part 1)

“Then you shall appoint cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person accidentally may flee there. (Numbers 35:11).

At that time, throughout the Middle East, when a man was killed accidently or by malice, the nearest relative, his heir, or any person related to him, could take revenge for him. In Joshua 20:7-8, as a response to the instruction of Numbers 35:11, they appointed 6 cities (Kedesh, Shechem, Kirjatharba (Hebron), Bezer, Ramoth and Golan) as cities of refuge for the protection of those guilty of unintentionally killing someone. Such a person could take refuge in any one of these cities and not die by the hand of the ‘avenger of blood.’

Mark this down, all these cities, in their names, point us to the sinner’s safe-haven, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the true City of Refuge. He is the preserver of all those who flee to Him for mercy (see Hebrews 6:18). He is our divinely appointed Saviour who saves to the uttermost all those who come to God by him (Hebrews 7:25).

The names of these six cities have much to tell us about the Lord. They are, in fact, six lovely pictures of the Saviour. May they, as we examine them, motivate us to love the Master even more.

The first city we encounter is,

1) Kedesh.

What does this name tell of Christ?

The Hebrew word Kedesh means “Holy. Our city of refuge, Jesus, is, in fact, “The Holy One.” Not one stain of sin polluted His holy human nature (I Peter 2:22; 1John 3:5).

The angelic creatures in heaven, rested not day and night as they cried out to Him, “Holy! holy! holy!” (Revelation 4:8).

Devils on earth recognized Him and were compelled to exclaim, “We know thee who you are, the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24).

Paul wrote about Him and said “He was Holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26).

He challenged His enemies saying, “Which of you convinces me of sin?” (John 8:46). The word in Greek for ‘convinces’ literally means to reprove, rebuke, convince, convict, expose, admonish to call to account or demand an explanation. Jesus was utterly sinless and entirely holy. He could not have been exposed as being a sinner for He was pure.

Then consider the disciples. They had lived with Him for three years. For more than 36 months they had shared their lives yet not one of them could point to any sin He had committed. When it comes right down to it, living with others is when we find out what the other person is really like. But no one could find fault in Jesus. He was and is Divine Holiness in human expression. What an amazing city of refuge!

However, there is something about holiness that scares, and threatens us. People, who claim to be holy can make us feel uncomfortable, inferior, unworthy, guilty, and condemned. But in Jesus the opposite is true. In Christ, the worst of sinners finds the deepest of love. The Lord’s holiness does not threaten the believer. Jesus says, ‘come unto me and I will give you rest … not retribution.’

In addition, Christ’s holiness does not stand against us. In fact, through grace, it is reckoned to us. It is calculated to the believer’s account (1 Corinthians 1:30).

May we always remember that Jesus could not have saved us had He not been sinless. If He had had one sin, we would have been lost forever. As J.R. MacDuff observed, “Just as one leak in Noah’s ark of old would have sunk it, so one leak of sin in Jesus, the true Ark, would have plunged us all in the depths of eternal despair.

He is our Kedesh. He is our holiness! May the Lord help us to say,

“I love the name of Jesus,

Immanuel, Christ the Lord;

Like fragrance on the breezes,

His name abroad is pour’d;”

“I long to be like Jesus,

Meek, lowly, loving, mild;

I long to be like Jesus,

The Father’s HOLY Child!”

The next city of refuge we encounter is Shechem, but we’ll have to look at that next time.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

That which shall make death most terrible to man will be sin, if it is not forgiven: Miniature pictures of yourself

SpurgeonLet us now dwell upon the fact, that “the sting of death is sin.”

2. But I must take it in another sense. “The sting of death is sin:” that is to say, that which shall make death most terrible to man will be sin, if it is not forgiven….

Thus, then, having painted two full-length pictures, I might give each one of you miniatures of yourselves. I might picture, O drunkard, when thy cups are drained, and when thy liquor shall no longer be sweet to thy taste, when worse than gall shall be the danties that thou drinkest, when within an hour the worms shall make a carnival upon thy flesh; I might picture thee as thou lookest back upon thy misspent life. And thou, O swearer, methinks I see thee there with thine oaths echoed back by memory to thine own dismay. And thou man of lust and wickedness thou who hast debauched and seduced others, I see thee there and the sting of death to thee, how horrible, how dreadful! It shall not be that thou art groaning with pain, it shall not be that thou art racked with agony, it shall not be that thy heart and flesh faileth; but the sting, the sting shall be thy sin. How many in this place can spell that word “remorse?” I pray you may never know its awful meaning. Remorse, remorse! You know its derivation: it signifies to bite. Ah! Now we dance with our sins-it is a merry life with us-we take their hands, and sporting in the noontide sun, we dance, we dance, and live in joy. But then those sins shall bite us. The young lions we have stroked and played with shall bite; the young adder, the serpent whose azure hues have well delighted us, shall bite, shall sting when remorse shall occupy our souls. I might, but I will not tell you, a few stories of the awful power of remorse: it is the first pang of hell, it is the ante-chamber of the pit. To have remorse is to feel the sparks that blaze upwards from the fire of the bottomless Gehenna; to feel remorse is to have eternal torment commenced within the soul. The sting of death shall be, unforgiven, unrepented sin.

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

Categories: Gospel Tags: , , , ,

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

THE VICARIOUS SACRIFICE

SOME time ago an excellent lady sought an interview with me, with the object, as she said, of enlisting my sympathy upon the question of “Anti- Capital Punishment.” I heard the excellent reasons she urged against hanging men who had committed murder, and though they did not convince me, I did not seek to answer them. She proposed that when a man committed murder, he should be confined for life. My remark was, that a great many men who had been confined half their lives were not a bit the better for it; and as for her belief that they would necessarily be brought to repentance, I was afraid it was but a dream. “Ah!” she said, good soul as she was, “that is because we have been all wrong about punishments. We punish people because we think they deserve to be punished. Now, we ought to show them,” said she, “that we love them; that we only punish to make them better.” “Indeed, madam,” I said, “I have heard that theory a great many times, and I have seen much fine writing upon the matter, but I am no believer in it. The design of punishment should be amendment, but the ground of punishment lies in the positive guilt of the offender. I believe that when a man does wrong, he ought to be punished for it, and that there is a guilt in sin which justly merits punishment.” “Oh, no!” she could not see that. Sin was a very wrong thing, but punishment was not a proper idea. She thought that people were treated too cruelly in prison, and that they ought to be taught that we love them. If they were treated kindly in prison, and tenderly dealt with, they would grow so much better, she was sure.

With a view of interpreting her own theory, I said, “I suppose, then, you would give criminals all sorts of indulgences in prison. Some great vagabond, who has committed burglary dozens of times — I suppose you would let him sit in an easy chair in the evening before a nice fire, and mix him a glass of spirits and water, and give him his pipe, and make him happy, to show him how much we love him.” “Well, no, she would not give him the spirits, but still, all the rest would do him good.” I thought that was a delightful picture, certainly. It seemed to me to be the most prolific method of cultivating rogues which ingenuity could invent. I imagine that you could grow any number of thieves in that way; for it would be a special means of propagating all manner of roguery and wickedness. These very delightful theories, to such a simple mind as mine, were the source of much amusement; the idea of fondling villains, and treating their crimes as if they were the tumbles and falls of children, made me laugh heartily. I fancied I saw the Government resigning its functions to these excellent persons, and the grand results of their marvelously kind experiments. The sword of the magistrate transformed into a gruel-spoon, and the jail become a sweet retreat for injured reputations.

Little, however, did I think I should live to see this kind of stuff taught in pulpits; I had no idea that there would come out a divinity, which would bring down God’s moral government from the solemn aspect in which Scripture reveals it, to a namby-pamby sentimentalism, which adores a Deity destitute of every masculine virtue. But we never know to-day what may occur to-morrow. We have lived to see a certain sort of men — thank God they are not Baptists, though I am sorry to say there are a great many Baptists who are beginning to follow in their trail — who seek to teach nowadays that God is a universal Father, and that our ideas of his dealing with the impenitent as a Judge, and not as a Father, are remnants of antiquated error. Sin, according to these men, is a disorder rather than an offense, an error rather than a crime. Love is the only attribute they can discern, and the full-orbed Deity they have not known. Some of these men push their way very far into the bogs and mire of falsehood, until they inform us that eternal punishment is ridiculed as a dream. In fact, books now appear which teach us that there is no such thing as the Vicarious Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. They use the word Atonement, it is true, but in regard to its meaning they have removed the ancient landmark. They acknowledge that the Father has shown his great love to poor sinful man by sending his Son, but not that God was inflexibly just in the exhibition of his mercy, not that he punished Christ on the behalf of his people, nor that, indeed, God ever will punish anybody in his wrath, or that there is such a thing as justice apart from discipline. Even sin and hell are but old words employed henceforth in a new and altered sense. Those are old-fashioned notions, and we poor souls who go on talking about election and imputed righteousness are behind our time.

I have often thought the best answer for all these new ideas is, that the true gospel was always preached to the poor — “The poor have the gospel preached to them.” I am sure that the poor will never learn the gospel of these new divines, for they cannot make head or tail of it, nor the rich either; for after you have read through one of their volumes, you have not the least idea of what the book is about, until you have read it through eight or nine times, and then you begin to think you are a very stupid being for ever having read such inflated heresy, for it sours your temper and makes you feel angry, to see the precious truths of God trodden under foot. Some of us must stand out against these attacks on truth, although we love not controversy. We rejoice in the liberty of our fellow-men, and would have them proclaim their convictions; but if they touch these precious things, they touch the apple of our eye. We can allow a thousand opinions in the world, but that which infringes upon the precious doctrine of a covenant salvation, through the imputed righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, against that we must, and will, enter our hearty and solemn protest, as long as God spares us. Take away once from us those glorious doctrines, and where are we, brethren? We may lay us down and die, for nothing remains that is worth living for. We have come to the valley of the shadow of death, when we find these doctrines to be untrue. If these things be not the verities of Christ, if they be not true, there is no comfort left for any poor man under God’s sky, and it were better for us never to have been born. I may say what Jonathan Edwards says at the end of his book, “If any man could disprove the doctrines of the gospel, he should then sit down and weep to think they were not true, for,” says he, “it would be the most dreadful calamity that could happen to the world, to have a glimpse of such truths, and then for them to melt away in the thin air of fiction, as having no substantiality in them.” Stand up for the truth of Christ; I would not have you be bigoted, but I would have you be decided. Do not give countenance to any of this trash and error which is going abroad, but stand firm. Be not turned away from your steadfastness by any pretense of intellectuality and high philosophy, but earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, and hold fast the form of sound words which you have heard of us, and have been taught, even as ye have read in the Book, which is the way of everlasting life.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘Capitol Punishment’

The Wednesday Word: Good News for Believers Part 2

Romans 8: 38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Notice the ‘US.’ Nothing shall separate ‘us.’ Who are the ‘Us he’s talking about?’ Last time we discovered that they were the foreloved, the predestinated, the called,the justified and the glorified ones. Here, therefore, is good news for believers … we can never be separated from the love of God. There will never be a moment in history when God will cease to love us.

Paul says, I am persuaded that death cannot separate us from Christ’s love. The long icy finger of death could grip any of us at any time … no one is immune.

But the cold clammy hand of death cannot separate us from the love of God. When we pass through the valley of the shadow of death the Lord will be there (see Psalm 23)

Death will not separate us from His love.

“In peace let me resign my breath,

And thy salvation see.

My sins deserved eternal death,

But Jesus died for me.”

Death cannot separate us from Jesus for He has died for us. Life cannot separate us for Jesus is ever living for us.

Life with all its problems,

Life with all its perplexities,

Life with all its difficulties,

Life with all its disappointments.

Life with all its trials,

Life with all its temptations,

Life with all its tears and storms. Cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ. No matter how much you may feel that you have failed or let the Lord down. None of this can separate you from the love of God. Dear believer, He still loves you. No matter what you’ve done.

Then Paul continues, “I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels…”

Angels are mighty beings – of which there are 2 classes. “Yes” said the wee boy in Sunday School, there are 2 classes of angels, there’s bad angels and there’s Charlie’s Angels!”

Well, no!

There are good angels (Luke 15:10; Hebrews 1:14) and bad angels (Jude 1:6; Psalm 78:49).

Good angels would never dare to separate us from God’s love. And bad angels cannot even if they dared.

“I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers… “

Principalities and powers? That’s the organized array of Satan’s army … not even that can separate us from the love of God in Christ.

The worst onslaught from Hell can’t separate you. You will not be destroyed. The Lord will stand with you and not abandon you. Don’t listen to Satan’s lie … What’s Satan’s lie? His lie is that God doesn’t care for you anymore.

Then Paul says, I am persuaded that ‘Things present.’ cannot separate us

We live in a world of change but there is nothing new in it.

Look at the news and see rape, theft, hurt, bad things, un- happy things. But they have all happened before. Nothing is new, it is just the same bad old things happening to different people.

But none of these things can separate you.

Things present cannot separate you … your present state cannot separate you. What is your state? You may feel very backslidden. There was once a time when you felt remarkably close to the Lord but things present have taken their toll.

Listen to me. God loves you just the same. He has not been shocked by you. Your sins may indeed bring dishonour to the name of Jesus. They may have made you blush. You may have changed, but God hasn’t.

He loves you still – come back home to him.

I am persuaded that things to come cannot separate us from His love.

The future is filled with uncertainty but there’s one thing of which we can be certain … Judgment day ! It is appointed once to die and afterwards the Judgment (Hebrews 9:27). And we can face judgment because the judge and our lawyer are one and the same (Isaiah 33:22; 1 John 2:1).

Then Paul says, “I’m persuaded that Height nor depth cannot separate us from the love of God.” What is height and depth?

What does this term mean? Recent scholarship shows this to mean superstitious.

Superstition cannot separate us from God’s love. A true Christian can sit down at a table with 13 people, can spill salt, break a mirror, put an umbrella up inside a room, walk under a ladder, have a black cat run across his path, and all this can happen to him on Friday 13th yet none of it can separate him from the love of God in Christ.

Then there’s ‘Any other Creature’ – literally any created thing.

What can possibly separate us from God’s love? What can possibly stop God from loving us? Sometimes life is a fog. Everything is as clear as mud. We don’t know where to turn. It feels as if God has forsaken us. It feels as if God doesn’t love us.

Well, that’s a lie!

Believer if you want to know who God loves and for whom He went to the cross then look in the mirror. Look to Calvary and there see the holy, harmless lamb of God dying in your place and stead.

Listen to these amazing truths again.

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

That which shall make death most terrible to man will be sin, if it is not forgiven: Second picture of this

Spurgeon 1Let us now dwell upon the fact, that “the sting of death is sin.”

2. But I must take it in another sense. “The sting of death is sin:” that is to say, that which shall make death most terrible to man will be sin, if it is not forgiven….

Or suppose another character-a minister. He has stood before the world, proclaiming something which he called the gospel. He has been a noted preacher: the multitude have been hanging on his lips, they have listened to his words, before his eloquence a nation stood amazed, and thousands trembled at his voice. But his preaching is over; the time when he can mount the pulpit is gone; another standing-place awaits him, another congregation, and he must hear another and a better preacher than himself. There he lies. He has been unfaithful to his charge. He preached philosophy to charm his people, instead of preaching truth and aiming at their hearts. And as he pants upon his bed, that worst and most accursed of men-for sure none can be worse than he-there comes up one, a soul from the pit, and looking him in the face, says, “I came to thee once trembling on account of sin, I asked thee the road to heaven, and thou didst say, ‘Do such-and-such good works,’ and I did them, and am damned. Thou didst tell me an untruth; thou didst not declare plainly the word of God.” He vanishes only to be followed by another, he has been an irreligious character, and as he sees the minister upon his death-bed, he says, “Ah! And art thou here? Once I strolled into thy house of prayer, but thou hadst such a sermon that I could not understand. I listened; I wanted to hear something from thy lips, some truth that might burn my soul and make me repent; but I knew not what thou saidst, and here I am.” The ghost stamps his foot, and the man quivers like an aspen leaf, because he knows it is all true. Then the whole congregation arise before him as he lies upon his bed, he looks upon the motley group; he beholds the snowy heads of the old, and the glittering eyes of the young; and lying there upon his pillow, he pictures all the sins of his past life, and he hears it said, “Go thou! Unfaithful to thy charge: thou didst not divest thyself of thy love of pomp and dignity; thou didst not speak

As though thou ne’er might’st speak again,

A dying man to dying men.”

Oh! it may be something for that minister to leave his charge, somewhat for him to die; but worst of all, the sting of death will be his sin, to hear his parish come howling after him to hell, to see his congregation following behind him in one mingled herd, he having led them astray, having been a false prophet instead of a true one, speaking peace, peace, where there was no peace, deluding them with lies, charming them with music, when he ought rather to have told them in rough and rugged accents the word of God. Verily it is true, it is true, the sting of death to such a man shall be his great, his enormous, his heinous sin of having deluded others.

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

Categories: Gospel Tags: , , , ,

AN INN-KEEPER’S PRAYER

IT is said that Rowland Hill once had to put up in a village where there was no other house to put up at but a tavern; and having a pair of horses to bait, and going into the best room of the inn, he was considered to be a valuable guest for the night. So the host came in, and he said, “Glad to see you, Mr. Hill.” “I am going,” was the reply, “to stay with you to-night.

Will you let me have family prayer to-night in this house?” “I never had such a thing as family prayer here,” said the landlord, “and I don’t want to have it now.” “Very well; then just fetch my horses out; I can’t stop in a house where they won’t pray to God. Take the horses out.” Now, being too good a guest to lose, the man thinks better of it, and promises to have family prayer. “Ah, but,” said Hill,” I’m not in the habit of conducting prayer in other people’s houses. You must conduct it yourself.” The man said he could not pray. “But you must,” said Rowland Hill. “Oh, but I never did pray.” “Then, my dear man, you will begin to-night,” was the answer. So when the time came, and the family were on their knees, “Now,” said Rowland Hill, “every man prays in his own house: you must offer prayer to-night.” “I can’t pray, I cant,’“ said the landlord. “What, man, you have had all these mercies to-day, and are you so ungrateful that you cannot thank God for them? Besides, what a wicked sinner you have been! Can’t you tell God what a sinner you’ve been, and ask for pardon?” The man began to cry, “I can’t pray, Mr. Hill, I can’t, indeed I can’t.” “Then tell the Lord, man, you can’t; tell him you can’t pray,” said Mr. Hill, “and ask him to help you.” Down went the poor landlord on his knees. “O Lord, I can’t pray: I wish I could.” “Ah! You have begun to pray,” said Rowland Hill, “you have begun to pray, and you will never leave off. As soon as God has set you to pray, faint though it be, you will never leave off. Now I’ll pray for you.” And so he did, and it was not long before the Lord was pleased, through that strange instrumentality, to break the landlord’s hard heart, and to bring him to Christ. Now, I say if any of you can’t pray, tell the Lord you can’t. Ask him to help you to pray: ask him to show you your need to be saved; and if you can’t pray, ask him to give you everything that you need. Christ will make as well as take the message. He will put his own blood upon your prayer; and the Father will send down the Holy Ghost to you to give you more faith and more trust in Christ.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘An Inn-Keeper’s Prayer’

The Wednesday Word: Good News For Believers (Part 1)

Romans 8: 29-39 (Read)

God loves the believer – not the religionist – Did you know there’s a big difference between a religionist and a true believer? Religionists trust that they are members of what they think is the true church and assume that if they follow their church teaching to the best of their ability, they will get to heaven.

The true believer, on the other hand, trusts and rests on the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

God loves the believer, and nothing can stop Him doing so. Do you know why I say that? It’s because of the scriptures we’ve just read … Romans 8:29-39.

In Romans 8:29 we read about a people God foreknew… Quite literally they were a people He foreloved. That’s us … the believers. We were loved before time.

Then again in verse 29 we read that these believers were predestined. Predestination also took place before time. Spurgeon quipped, “I’m so glad that God chose me before He saw me because if He’d waited ‘till He saw me He might not have wanted me.”

Every believer has been predestined; therefore, it is safe to say that God will never stop loving them.

In verse 30 Look and see how many of the predestined people are called? …how many? … look at the text … ALL of them …”for whom He did predestinate them He also called.” And, in verse 30 we read that those He called He justified. So just how many of the called are justified? … All of them!

But what does it mean to Justify? … It means to acquit. For believers it means that all charges against them have been dropped.

Then again in V 30 we discover that He glorifies those whom He justifies. And how many of the justified ones does He glorify? All of them …’for whom He justified them He also glorified.’ It’s a done deal!

He is the God who sees the end from the beginning. He sees redemption as already accomplished … He sees us as already glorified!

In biblical language this is what has been called the ‘prophetic past tense.’ Many things are set down in scripture as already accomplished which have not actually occurred in the point of time. For example, it was possible for God to tell men in the Old Testament that their sins were paid for when Jesus had not yet come to die. The fact is salvation was always accomplished in the mind of God. It was a certainty and a reality though not yet completed in time.

Are you ready for this, God looks at us as if we are already in Heaven (that blows the you can be saved and yet eventually lost theory!)

So, let’s ask how do we bring God’s called ones back home to where they know the love of Christ? … It’s by the preaching of the Gospel of Christ crucified. It’s by the good news of His doing, dying and rising again. It’s by the good news of the substitutionary sacrifice of the one, true and omnipotent saviour.

In Christ, we are not guilty. In Christ we are already glorified. Glorified, not because of anything we have done but because of what Jesus has done on our behalf.

The believer is saved … We are, however, still in the fight against sin (Ephesians 6:12) but saved none the less. I love what Luther says on this matter – “a Christian is always a sinner, always a penitent yet always right with God.” Avoid those who erroneously teach that you can reach perfection, other than perfection in Christ, this side of glory.

Notice, in our passage of scripture that we have a He-He Christianity. He foreknew, He predestinated, He called, HE justified, He glorified

That’s good news – the gospel is all about Him. It’s about who Christ Jesus is and what He has done. Sometimes we feel sure everyone else but us will make it. But listen to me, we are already there. We are glorified.

Then Paul asks the question v 31

“What shall we say to these things? If God be for us who can be against us.” In other words, God is going to do all these things because,

The Foreloving belongs to God.

The Predestination belongs unto God.

The Call belongs to God.

Justification belongs to God,

And the glorification belongs to God.

Then who can be against us?

Notice that little pronoun ‘US’

The ‘US’ are the Foreloved, the Predestinated, the called, the Justified and the Glorified.

(More next time)

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

That which shall make death most terrible to man will be sin, if it is not forgiven: First picture of this

Spurgeon 3Let us now dwell upon the fact, that “the sting of death is sin.”

2. But I must take it in another sense. “The sting of death is sin:” that is to say, that which shall make death most terrible to man will be sin, if it is not forgiven. If that be not the exact meaning of the apostle, still it is a great truth, and I may find it here. If sin lay heavy on me and were not forgiven-if my transgressions were unpardoned, if such were the fact (though I rejoice to know it is not so) it would be the very sting of death to me. Let us consider a man dying and looking back on his past life: he will find in death a sting, and that sting will be his past sin. Imagine a conqueror’s death-bed. He has been a man of blood from his youth up. Bred in the camp, his lips were early set to the bugle, and his hand, even in infancy, struck the drum. He had a martial spirit; he delighted in the fame and applause of men, he loved the dust of battle and the garment rolled in blood. He has lived a life of what men call glory. He has stormed cities, conquered countries, ravaged continents, overrun the world. See his burners hanging in the hall, and the marks of glory on his escutcheon. He is one of earth’s proudest warriors. But now he comes to die; and when he lies down to expire what shall invest his death with horror? It shall be his sin. Methinks I see the monarch dying; he lies in state; around him are his nobles and his counsellors; but there is someone else there. Hard by his side there stands a spirit from Hades; it is the soul of a departed woman. She looks on him and says, “Monster! My husband was slain in battle through thy ambition: I was made a widow, and my helpless orphan and myself were starved.” And she passes by. Her husband comes, and opening wide his bloody wounds, he cries, “Once I called thee monarch; but by thy vile covetousness, thou didst provoke an unjust war. See here these wounds-I gained them in the siege. For thy sake I mounted first the sealing ladder; this foot stood upon the top of the wall, and I waved my sword in triumph, but in hell I lifted up my eyes in torment. Base wretch, thine ambition hurried me thither!” Turning his horrid eyes upon him, he passes by. Then up comes another, and another, and another yet: waking from their tombs, they stalk around his bed and haunt him; the dreary procession still marches on, looking at the dying tyrant. He shuts his eyes, but he feels the cold and bony hand upon his forehead; he quivers for the sting of death is in his heart. “O Death!” says he, “to leave this large estate, this mighty realm, this pomp and power-this were somewhat, but to meet those men, those women, and shoes orphan children, face to face, to hear them saying, ‘Art thou become like one of us?’ while kings whom I have dethroned, and monarchs whom I have cast down shall rattle their chains in my ears, and say, “Thou wast our destroyer, but how art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou brought down as in a moment from thy glory and thy pride!’” There you see the sting of death would be the man’s sin. It would not sting him that he had to die but that he had sinned, that he had been a bloody man, that his hands were red with wholesale murder-this would plague him indeed, for “the sting of death is sin.”

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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SLEEP A GIFT OF GOD

September 30, 2021 Leave a comment

THE sleep of the body is the gift of God. So said Homer of old, when he described it as descending from the clouds, and resting on the tents of the warriors around old Troy. And so sang Virgil, when he spoke of Palinurus falling asleep upon the prow of the ship. Sleep is the gift of God. We think that we lay our heads upon our pillows, and compose our bodies in a peaceful posture, and that, therefore, we naturally and necessarily sleep. But it is not so. Sleep is the gift of God; and not a man would close his eyes, did not God put his fingers on his eyelids — did not the Almighty send a soft and balmy influence over his frame which lulled his thoughts into quiescence, making him enter into that blissful state of rest which we call sleep. True, there be some drugs and narcotics whereby men can poison themselves well-nigh to death, and then call it sleep; but the sleep of the healthy body is the gift of God. The Lord of love bestows it; his tenderness rocks the cradle for us every night; his kindness draws the curtain of darkness about us, and bids the sun cover his blazing lamp. Love comes and says, “Sleep sweetly, my child; I give thee sleep.” Have you not known what it is at times to lie upon your bed and strive in vain to slumber? As it is said of Darius, so might it be said of you: “The king sent for his musicians, but his sleep went from him.” You have attempted to seize sleep, but it escaped you: the more you tried to sleep the more surely were you awake. It is beyond our power to procure a healthy repose. You imagine if you fix your mind upon a certain subject until it shall engross your attention, you will then sleep; but you find yourself unable to do so. Ten thousand things drive through your brain as if the whole earth were whirled before you. You see all things you ever beheld dancing in a wild confusion before your eyes. You close your eyes, but still you see; and there be things in your ear, and head, and brain, which will not let you be quiet. Sleep has forsaken the couch whereon you court its power. It is God alone, who alike seals up the sea-boy’s eyes upon the giddy mast, and gives the monarch rest: for with all appliances and means to boot, the king could not sleep without the aid of God, but would toss to and fro, and envy his slave to whom sheer weariness became the friendly administrator of slumber. It is God who steeps the mind in Lethe, and bids us sleep, that our bodies may be refreshed, so that for to-morrow’s toil we may rise recruited and strengthened.

How thankful should we be for sleep! Sleep is the best physician that I know off Sleep hath healed more pains of wearied heads, and hearts, and bones than the most eminent physicians upon earth. It is the best medicine; the choicest thing of all the names which are written in all the lists of pharmacy. No magic draught of the physician can match with sleep. What a mercy it is that it belongs alike to all? God does not make sleep the boon of the rich man; he does not give it merely to the noble, or the rich, so that they can monopolize it as a peculiar luxury for themselves; but he bestows it upon the poorest and most obscure. Yea, if there be a difference, the sleep of the laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much. He who toils hardest sleeps all the sounder for his work. While luxurious effeminacy cannot rest, tossing itself from side to side upon a bed of eiderdown, the hard-working laborer, with his strong and powerful limbs, worn out and tired, throws himself upon his hard couch and sleeps: and waking, thanks God that he has been refreshed. Ye know not how much ye owe to God, that he gives you rest at night. If ye had sleepless nights, ye would then value the blessing. If for weeks ye lay tossing on your weary beds, ye then would thank God for this favor. As sleep is the merciful appointment of God, it is a gift most precious, one that cannot be valued until it is taken away; yea, even then we cannot appreciate it as we ought.

The Psalmist says there are some men who are so foolish as to deny themselves sleep. For purposes of gain, or ambition, they rise up early and sit up late. We may have been guilty of the same thing. We have risen early in the morning that we might turn over the ponderous volume, in order to acquire knowledge; we have sat at night until our burned-out lamp has chidden us, and told us that the sun was rising; while our eyes have ached, our brain has throbbed, our heart has palpitated. We have been weary and worn out; we have risen up early, and sat up late, and have in that way come to eat the bread of sorrow by failing health and depressed spirits. Many of you business men are toiling in that fashion. We do not condemn you for it; we do not forbid rising up early and sitting up late; but we remind you of this text: “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”

Sleep is frequently used in a bad sense in the Word of God, to express the condition of carnal and worldly men. Some men have the sleep of carnal ease and sloth: of whom Solomon tells us, they are unwise sons that slumber in the harvest, causing shame; so that when the harvest is spent, and the summer is ended, they are not saved. Sleep often expresses a state of sloth, of deadness, of’ indifference, in which all ungodly men are found, according to the words, “It is high time for us to awake out of sleep.” “Let us not sleep as do others, but let us who are of the day be sober.” There be many who are sleeping the sluggard’s sleep, who are tossing upon the bed of indolent ease; but an awful waking awaits them, when they shall find that the time of their probation has been wasted; that the golden sands of their life have dropped unheeded from the hour-glass; and that they have come into that world where there are no acts of pardon passed, no hope, no refuge, no salvation.

In other places you find sleep used as the figure of carnal security, in which so many are found. Look at Saul, lying asleep in fleshly security. He is not like David, who said, “I will lay me down and sleep, for thou Lord only makest me to dwell in safety.” Abner, the captain of Saul’s host, was there, and all the troops lay around him, but Abner slept. Sleep on, Saul! Sleep on! Abishai is standing at thy pillow, and with a spear in his hand he says, “Let me smite him even to the earth at once.” Still he sleeps: he knows not that he is on the brink of the sleep eternal! Such are many of you, sleeping in jeopardy of your souls; Satan is standing over you, the law is ready to smite, vengeance is prepared; even Providence seems to say, “Shall I smite him? I will smite him but this once, and he shall never wake again.” Jesus, the interposer, cries, “Stay, vengeance, stay.” Lo, the spear is even now quivering — “Stay! Spare the sleeper yet another year, in the hope that he may yet awake from this long sleep of sin.” Like Sisera, I tell thee, sinner, thou art sleeping in the tent of the destroyer; thou mayest have eaten butter out of a lordly dish; but thou art sleeping on the doorstep of hell. Even now the enemy is lifting up the hammer and nail, to smite thee through thy temples, and fasten thee to the earth, that there thou mayest lie for ever in that death of everlasting torment, which is so much worse than common death.

There is also mentioned in Scripture a sleep of lust, like that which Samson had when he lost his locks, and such sleep as many have when they indulge in sin, and wake to find themselves stripped, lost, and ruined. There is also the sleep of negligence, such as the virgins had, when it is said, “they all slumbered and slept;” and the sleep of sorrow, which overcame Peter, James, and John, in the garden of Gethsemane. But none of these are the gifts of God. They are incident to the frailty of our nature; they come upon us because we are fallen men: they creep over us because we are the sons of a lost and ruined parent. These sleeps are not the benisons of God; nor does he bestow them on his beloved.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Words of Wisdom for Daily Life- Article ‘Sleep a Gift of God’

The Wednesday Word: Jesus Christ: Martyr or Sacrifice?

September 29, 2021 Leave a comment

The definition of a martyr is that of someone who suffers death for advocating, or refusing to renounce, a religious or political belief or cause. A sacrifice on the other hand is a religious rite in which someone or something is offered to a divinity to establish, maintain, or restore a right relationship between humans and that deity.

Jesus was not a martyr. He was a sacrifice.

The Lord Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice (Hebrews 10:12). In doing so He demonstrated His teaching of John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Jesus died as a sacrifice to bring us back into relationship with God and He did so voluntarily. During His life, He moved events in accordance with His eternal purposes. He was, always in full control! Likewise, with His death, He was in charge. Listen to the Master as He tells the disciples of events which must surely come to pass. He says, “Therefore, doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. (John 10:17-20).

What a declaration from the God/man. Speaking as a man, He implied that, rather than being killed as a martyr, He would voluntarily lay down His own life. No wonder His hearers accused Him of being demon possessed and insane. But He was the God/ man, fully human and fully God. When He spoke in terms of being subject to the Father that doesn’t mean He was less than God. It simply meant that He was speaking as a man.

By the way, please don’t ever say Jesus was a good man but not God. If He was not God, He was the vilest of vile blasphemers … no ifs, ands or buts.

Jesus willingly gave Himself as a propitiation … (a sacrifice which turns away the wrath of God). He had foretold He would do this very thing when He said, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

What a wonderful purpose! He was no martyr helplessly being tossed along by uncontrollable events.

Through His death believers are cleansed from all sin! What immense power!

Dr. Joseph Cook, speaking at the first Parliament of World Religions at Chicago in 1893, pictured Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth rubbing her hands and lamenting, “Will these hands ne’er be clean?” She had blood on her hands from her part in murder, and Cook questioned, “What religion can wash Lady Macbeth’s hands?” He continued, by stating that, other than Christianity there is no religion in the world, that has the power to remove that bloody spot from Lady Macbeth’s hand. But Christ can remove that stain. Then Cook quoted the scripture, “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7).

The truth is, the only way you can ever be clean before God is to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.”

That’s the message for today. It’s not a new message, it’s not a modern message, it’s the old, old story of Jesus and his love – but it’s as new a message today as it has ever been!

Only the blood of Jesus Christ poured out at Calvary can cleanse from the guilt and power of sin. It completely removes all sins past, present and future.

Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice to successfully reconcile us to the Father. He never was a Martyr!

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com