Episode 43: The Beatitudes (Part 1)

Read the sermon text at Spurgeon Gems

Opening prayer from Spurgeon’s Prayers Personalized, free to download at Monergism

I have desired to begin this series on the Beatitudes since before Christmas, but schedule and then illness held me back. I am very grateful to finally be able to begin this, and the extra time has only allowed me to think and meditate more on this, on the passages in question and to anticipate the effect of preaching on Jesus’ words both on myself and on anyone who listens.

This sermon is definitely one of the shorter ones I have done, but it is the beginning of the second series I’ve ever done here, and the longest one I have attempted. It has been a blessing to read and prepare for it, and it has prompted me to not just spend time talking about my thoughts, but to want to study the text more and speak on it.

One of the points that struck me as I did this, was that these are not simply “good ways to be,” which is how many people think about the word. “Beatitude,” after all, is not “be-attitude,” but rather it comes from the Latin word beati which can be understood as “happiness,” or “blessedness.” In his famous commentary, Matthew Henry notes the same thing Charles Spurgeon did in contrasting the end of the Old Testament, which pronounces a curse, with the opening of Jesus’ first sermon with a blessing:

The Old Testament ended with a curse (Mal. 4:6), the gospel begins with a blessing; for hereunto are we called, that we should inherit the blessing. Each of the blessings Christ here pronounces has a double intention: 1. To show who they are that are to be accounted truly happy, and what their characters are. 2. What that is wherein true happiness consists, in the promises made to persons of certain characters, the performance of which will make them happy. Now,

1. This is designed to rectify the ruinous mistakes of a blind and carnal world. Blessedness is the thing which men pretend to pursue; Who will make us to see good? Ps. 4:6. But most mistake the end, and form a wrong notion of happiness; and then no wonder that they miss the way; they choose their own delusions, and court a shadow. The general opinion is, Blessed are they that are rich, and great, and honourable in the world; they spend their days in mirth, and their years in pleasure; they eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and carry all before them with a high hand, and have every sheaf bowing to their sheaf; happy the people that is in such a case; and their designs, aims, and purposes are accordingly; they bless the covetous (Ps. 10:3); they will be rich. Now our Lord Jesus comes to correct this fundamental error, to advance a new hypothesis, and to give us quite another notion of blessedness and blessed people, which, however paradoxical it may appear to those who are prejudiced, yet is in itself, and appears to be to all who are savingly enlightened, a rule and doctrine of eternal truth and certainty, by which we must shortly be judged. If this, therefore, be the beginning of Christ’s doctrine, the beginning of a Christian’s practice must be to take his measures of happiness from those maxims, and to direct his pursuits accordingly.

Another thing I would like to draw out of this, and which I hope will be very evident by the end of this series, is the God-centeredness of these blessings. Not that He is talking about what God is doing directly, because Jesus is most certainly talking about men here, but that He is talking about what the life of one who truly has God as Lord and center of worship looks like. There is an aspect of holiness that is married to this, and in seeking after these blessings, it is holiness that the believer will find, as he grows in reflecting these.

I want to close by recommending the book The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. You may have heard that Dr. Sproul passed away recently, and it was in light of that, that I decided to take time out and read this book I have heard mentioned so many times, and it has had a profound impact upon me. If you can, I highly recommend that you do the same, because the grace of God is perhaps most profoundly understood, and most sweetly tasted, in light of His tremendous and awesome holiness.

I will try to keep these coming more regularly, God willing, and I am hopeful that my work on this has an influence leading to worship on anyone who is able to listen.

Listen to twice-daily Morning and Evening updates on the Theology Mix podcast feed.

Advertisements

Recovering

Apologies to everyone for the delay both in getting out new episodes and Morning & Evenings.  I have been dealing with a nasty chest cold/bronchitis and I’m only finally starting to get back near 100% again.  God willing, I will be getting Morning and Evenings rolling again on Theology Mix at the beginning of next week.

Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – January 2, Morning — Theology Mix

“Continue in prayer.” -Colossians 4:2 It is interesting to remark how large a portion of Sacred Writ is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in furnishing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We scarcely open the Bible before we read, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord;” and just as…

via Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – January 2, Morning — Theology Mix

Episode 42: God Incarnate, the End of Fear

Read the sermon text at Spurgeon Gems

If you missed it, I did a livestream while I was recording on the Facebook page.  Follow this link if you want to see this sermon read unedited for mistakes, coughing, etc.

I won’t belabor this final episode of the year, except to wish you all a merry Christmas and happy new year.  I ran a little poll on the Twitter account to see what people would choose for the Christmas episode, and this sermon won out by a large margin.  I found it very fitting as well.

Right before things began to officially blow up in my life earlier this year, I recorded an episode called “Joy in Place of Sorrow.”  In it I talked about two phrases from Scripture that struck me as being very central to the day to day life of a Christian: “Rejoice” and “Do not fear.”  Furthermore, they both seem linked directly to the greatest commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength; and the second which is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.  If you are loving God completely, you will rejoice in all circumstances, and that love will kill what Brother Spurgeon here calls “slavish fear,” the fear that drove Adam and Eve into hiding in the garden.

I have been put through a crash course in these truths this year, and as we prepare to close out one year and begin a new one, I want to say to you, my listeners: Rejoice in the coming of Christ, every day.  Do not fear the Lord, but call out to Him and seek to worship Him in everything you do.  Let that love spill over to how you treat your neighbors, how you love the people close to you and the strangers you meet.  I have seen a disturbing trend of many Christians digging in trying to find safety for their traditions and I want to tell you: stop.  Safety is not why we are here.  Love is why we are here, and we must have our eyes open to those around us, for every way we can show it.

We don’t do it out of fear, but because of the love He has shown us.  Do not let your thinking be so high that you cannot lower yourself to the level of Jesus loving the poor, broken, desperate people around Him.  If you want to show the truth of Jesus, let your hands match your words, brethren.  I pray that I will live as consistently with that as I can in this coming year.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Receive twice-daily Morning and Evening devotional updates on the Theology Mix podcast feed

Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – December 24, Morning – from Theology Mix

“For your sakes he became poor.” -2 Corinthians 8:9 The Lord Jesus Christ was eternally rich, glorious, and exalted; but “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.” As the rich saint cannot be true in his communion with his poor brethren unless of his substance he ministers to their necessities, so…

via Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – December 24, Morning — Theology Mix

Morning and Evening does continue apace even through the holidays thanks to Theology Mix.  I intend to record the sermon for the Christmas episode of Spurgeon Audio this evening.  Furthermore, I am planning to livestream that on Facebook, so if you would enjoy hearing the sermon with all my coughs, water-drinking, and puppy interruptions intact, keep an eye on the Spurgeon Audio Facebook page.

Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – December 1, Evening — Theology Mix

“O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” -Psalm 107:8 If we complained less, and praised more, we should be happier, and God would be more glorified. Let us daily praise God for common mercies–common as we frequently call them, and yet so…

via Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – December 1, Evening — Theology Mix

I know I just posted another Morning and Evening, but I really wanted to write a bit on this one too because this was honestly one of my favorite ones to record so far.  We in the USA just celebrated Thanksgiving, a tradition that we think of as going back to the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony and to later presidential declarations of such days, including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

I was intending to do a sermon episode on it with this sermon, but with the time crunch as well as falling ill, that will probably be done next year around the same holiday, God willing.

The power of gratitude

I wanted to take a moment here and talk about why as Christians, this occasion should be particularly meaningful to us.  We should, as a natural course of living, be constantly thankful to God, and I believe it goes hand in hand with the biblical command to rejoice in the Lord in all things.  We should remember that our lives, our families and homes, our very existence, and most of all our salvation in Christ, is a gift of God’s goodness and love to us.  Certainly, however, it is appropriate for us in this season when we begin to close out the year and reflect on everything that has happened, to make time as a nation to stop and give special gratitude to God.

Gratitude is also one of the believer’s greatest weapons against the temptation to run to sin.  Someone who hopes in the cross and pours out his gratitude on the unending grace of God can endure the darkest pits.  My own experiences have only grazed the truth of this, but the goodness and grace of God is so very sweet after a deep draught of sadness and suffering, and a time of thanksgiving is all the more appropriate in that time.

I have said before that I believe two important commands we find in Scripture are “rejoice” and “do not fear,” both of which are tied into the idea of loving the Lord with every element of your self, and which overflow into loving your neighbor as yourself.  I am reminded most of all of this passage from Hebrews:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.–Hebrews 12:1-2

Such an amazing picture of the strength we can find in God is seen here!  Christ set the example for all His people by enduring not just giving up His heavenly throne to live as a servant, but enduring the torment of death on a cross, doing so because He knew the joy that would come of it, of the coming perfect union between Christ and His church, was far more valuable than the shame meted out to him in such an ignominious death.

I am constantly holding myself up against this, and I fall so very short.  Yet even knowing that drives me to further gratitude, because the immense and glorious grace of God is more than enough to fill that gap, and to grow me up further.  I pray that I will always keep this weapon at hand, as I go forth into the next part of life and into whatever God has planned for me there.

Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – November 30, Evening

“Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.” -Revelation 12:7 War always will rage between the two great sovereignties until one or other be crushed. Peace between good and evil is an impossibility; the very pretence of it would, in fact, be the triumph of the powers of…

via Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – November 30, Evening — Theology Mix

I got a little sick over Thanksgiving weekend and got behind in these, I will be pushing to get them caught up and ahead so this doesn’t happen again around Christmas.  Follow the link to hear and subscribe to Theology Mix on your podcast catcher for the twice-daily feed.

Episode 41: A Prayer for the Church Militant

Read the sermon text at Spurgeon Gems

On November 5, a little over two weeks ago as of this writing, a man named Devin Kelley walked into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, and proceeded to murder almost half of the congregation.  Of the 50 attendees of that church, he killed 24 of them.  When this happened, I was worshiping with my own church in Denton, about five hours north, and the horror of the tragedy struck close to my heart.  Not because I was afraid someone was going to appear at our door next, though that thought certainly did cross my mind, but because of the immense pain that such wickedness brings to God’s people.  “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints,” and certainly many precious lives were lost that day, even as they were welcomed into glory.

The response of those around me was the response that any Christian should have to such acts: to cry out to our Father in grief, in seeking justice, and in need of the strength and wisdom to move to action.  Yet just as quickly as Christians moved to pray, the response that has been growing louder to that in popular culture came: sneering responses of “instead of just praying, why don’t you actually trying doing something.”  “I’m sick of thoughts and prayers.”  And so forth.

Life and death in Christ

The man who murdered those people took their lives, but he could never take them away from their Lord.  And a Christian who goes to God in prayer is not sitting in inaction, but is in fact performing the most important and primary action anyone who truly believes in Jesus as Lord should follow: going to God for direction, for strength, and for a reminder of Who truly rules even over the tragedies, Who will achieve His great purpose even when and even through man’s wicked acts, because no one can escape the will and design of God.  I wrote to my church in a request for prayer that day for FBC Sutherland Springs:

This is such a dark and wicked act, it is hard to think about how to react.  Anger and sadness both seem appropriate.  But I wanted to post this here and ask for prayer, and take a moment to talk about prayer in particular.  I am not a pastor or elder, but I don’t believe I am out of line to say that prayer is one of the most powerful weapons in the hands of the Christian.  The world sees “thoughts and prayers” and sneers at what they believe is inaction, but in fact we have taken one of the greatest actions a believer can take: going into the throne room of God and asking Him for intervention, for protection, for strength to act and wisdom to know how.

I hope we can all take time to pray for the people of this town, with 400 people living there and a church of 50 who just had almost half of those lost.  Prayer is not inaction, it is a deep and meaningful act Christians take to call upon the name of the Lord and seek the good mercies He pours out upon His children even in times of turmoil and hardship.

Doing all things

One of the most misused verses in the Bible is Philippians 4:13.  We’ve all seen it plastered on motivational posters, athletic t-shirts, and all kinds of places with the completely wrong understanding of what is being said.  We tend to take it in a “Yeah, you can do it, you can achieve anything!” sort of way.  Paul, however, is not using it in a “rah rah, let’s go team” sense.  He is giving thanks to the church of Philippi for their prayers, because it was those prayers which cried out to God to give Paul strength to endure much suffering, and it was through those prayers that God ministered to the hearts of both the apostle and the church.

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.–Philippians 4:10-13

No matter what the world may believe about prayer, about the power of God shown in weakness, we the church must persist.  I must persist, even as I am weak in my pursuit of holiness.  We must persist in seeking after the Lord, because in that we are putting our hands to the plow and stirring up the soil.  And when we are done praying, we must stand up, and go out into the world and serve, and love, and minister to the broken and downtrodden.

This is what frustrates me so much about the thoughts and behaviors that tend to typify American evangelicalism, because so much of it involves running from the world around us and hating it, not in a “I hate sin and how it destroys my life and therefore I will preach the gospel” way, but in a “I am more righteous than the world and don’t want to get my precious hands dirty touching it” way.  The former brings a drive to serve and love your neighbor.  The latter causes you to hate and hide from your neighbor.

I encourage you to hear the words of Charles Spurgeon, and cry out to God every day, whenever it comes into your mind, to strengthen the church, to feed His sheep, and to lead us to righteousness.  I ask you, my brothers and sisters, to obey Jesus in making Him first and foremost in your minds as you seek for answers to tragedy in a dark and sinful world.  And I encourage you: no matter what it is that you are facing, do not let yourself become discouraged, nor let yourself grow idle.  Walk through all of life looking to the cross of Christ knowing that He is the one all things come from, and to whom all things point.

Morning and Evening devotionals – an update

As many of you may have noticed, the Morning and Evening devotional podcast made it last year from August through about the end of October, and then stopped.  Unfortunately life wasn’t really cooperating with me, plus I also had equipment failure that compounded things, and so I basically decided to put it aside for the time being.

I’ve shared a couple here, but I wanted to make the announcement official: the updates have resumed and will continue to roll out twice daily thanks to the good folks at Theology Mix.  It is a lot of work to create 730 episodes, but it is a blessing to me and God willing it will continue apace until finally, the entire series is able to run essentially until it just can’t anymore for one reason or another.

Please consider subscribing to the Theology Mix podcast feed, because for now that is the exclusive home of those updates.  My regular episodes will continue to roll out here and there also, plus there are many other podcasts in their feed which you can download and many great writers over there to check out daily.

I am hoping to put out at least one more if not two more episodes before Thanksgiving, but it depends on time.  Please pray for me that I will use my time wisely, between working, serving my church and working on this project.

Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – November 11, Morning — Theology Mix

“Underneath are the everlasting arms.” –Deuteronomy 33:27 God–the eternal God–is himself our support at all times, and especially when we are sinking in deep trouble. There are seasons when the Christian sinks very low in humiliation. Under a deep sense of his great sinfulness, he is humbled before God till he scarcely knows how to…

via Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – November 11, Morning — Theology Mix

Follow the link for the podcast and subscribe to the Theology Mix feed in your favorite podcast catcher for twice-daily updates.