Episode 52: Susie – An Interview

A few months ago I heard about an upcoming book from Moody Publishers, a biography on the wife of Charles Spurgeon. Naturally I was excited as that sounded exactly like the kind of thing I should be reading and talking about. I went on Amazon and set up a preorder and then, on a whim, sent off a note through the book’s website to see if I might get to talk with the author for the podcast.

Not only were they able to arrange an interview with the author, Ray Rhodes Jr., but they were also gracious enough to send me a review copy to read ahead of time and prepare. I wound up absolutely loving the book, and still purchasing another copy to give to my mom.

This book is a detailed and well-resourced biography, but it is also a devotional in the life of someone who knew a great deal of both joy and sadness, success and suffering, and who walked through all of it by God’s grace through faith. The book is wonderfully detailed both with lots of notes referring to other sources for the interested researcher, as well as many pictures of locations and people surrounding the Spurgeons and their work to minister to the heart of the city.

The book is chronological but not strictly so, and focuses on different threads of events within a particular issue in particular chapters rather than trying to be strictly chronological. This makes it a little easier to understand how different events work together, as the author revisits where one event started to talk about how another one began.

I can’t recommend this book enough, and if you are looking for a gift for someone who enjoys reading this is a wonderful choice. You can follow the link below to an Amazon page to order, but of course there are many sources you can purchase this book from:

Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon at Amazon.com
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Episode 51: The Peacemaker (Part 8)

…[Y]ou will observe that the text not only says he is blessed; but it adds, that he is one of the children of God. This he is by adoption and grace; but peacemaking is a sweet evidence of the work of the peaceful Spirit within. As the child of God, moreover, he hath a likeness to his Father who is in heaven. God is peaceful, longsuffering, and tender, full of lovingkindness, pity, and compassion. So is this peacemaker. Being like to God, he beareth his Father’s image. Thus doth he testify to men that he is one of God’s children. As one of God’s children, the peacemaker hath access to his Father. He goeth to him with confidence, saying, “Our Father which art in heaven,” which he dare not say unless he could plead with a clear conscience, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”–Charles Spurgeon

Read the full sermon text at the Spurgeon Archive

I started this series back in February  because I wanted to explore this particularly famous passage in Matthew, and in the aftermath of reading R.C. Sproul’s “The Holiness of God.”  All that finally wraps up in this last episode of the Beatitudes series, and as I’ve gone through it (admittedly, very slowly), God has certainly been at work in my own life.  He has been constantly sanctifying me and blessing me in ways that have led me here and to this last sermon, and how the words our good brother preached so many years ago apply to us today, as we seek to unpack the Scriptures.

But first, a bit of background

The last sermon on the previous verse was sermon number 3158.  This sermon was number 424.  That is a pretty big jump back, but it’s made necessary by the fact that Charles didn’t preach through whole books in general, at least not for his recorded sermons as I’m going through them here.  But while this sermon was given by a much younger man than the preceding one, a man who had been through much less suffering and experienced a lot less of life than the one who delivered the sermon on the blessings for the merciful, the truth he preached did not change.

All of Scripture should press on our hearts as Christians.  It may be in different ways, since while God’s truth is constant our lives are not, and the work of the Holy Spirit continues.  I mentioned that this passage felt very important to me in the aftermath of reading “Holiness of God,” and it continues to.  The truth is that in the West, and especially in the US, for a lot of people you become a Christian by saying a certain prayer…and that’s it.  That’s the end of worrying about your relationship with God, and so many people do that with the belief that once they’ve said the magic words, it’s all good and they can go on back to life as it was.

Dissatisfaction in a lifeless walk

God’s mercy to me, thankfully, was that He did not let me roam through life believing that I could conjure and control Him through words, but to show me the same things we’ve seen as we’ve passed through this passage of Scripture together: He showed me that I had nothing that was not from Him and did not point to His glory, and that by contrast He was my immensely generous and loving Father.  He showed me that my debt was likewise immense, and my guilt deep, and I felt the weight of them.  I mourned the many, many ways I had sinned against God, the ways I had harmed others, the ways I had taken the good things He had given me and abused them for my own selfish desires.

When faced with that, when God opened my eyes to the reality of who I was–not who I wanted to imagine I was–there wasn’t room for anything else but to be on my knees.  At the same time though, God began the process of transforming me, granting me a renewed heart and, step by step, changing my desires and tastes.  The hunger for righteousness in the face of my great lack of it has been strong.  

And I felt convicted to reexamine a lot of my ways of thinking and talking from over the years.  I had been unkind to a lot of people.  I had prioritized being the smartest, being the rightest, the most prepared adversary and the most talented man in the room.  The result was that I was very unmerciful in a lot of ways, in the ways I thought of others and spoke to others.  I certainly was not pure of heart, either in the ways I spent a lot of my private time or in the motivations I had for much of life.  I certainly didn’t value peacefulness except insofar as it served to keep my life comfortable.

But God

So when God broke my heart over my sins, He didn’t just leave me on the ground and say “Clean yourself up.”  With that realization of my poverty came the truth that He has made me an heir to His kingdom–not because of anything I had ever done, certainly not!  If anything it was in spite of everything I had ever done.  It was pure love that led me to love in turn, and that has allowed me to love in ways I never could before.  It is mercy shown that lets mercy show through me, as I remember the debt of grace I owe to my fellow man.  

And so, I value peacemaking and peacefulness in a way that is rooted in the fact that God first made peace with me, by the blood of Jesus on the cross.  I am not looking for some sort of humanistic “lack of conflict” peace, because such a peace is never really peaceful.  What I desire is a true peace, under the rule of the true King.  A peace where mercy has triumphed over judgment, with liberty for the captives and freedom for the oppressed.  That is not something that will be known on earth apart from the name of Christ.

From peacemaker to persecuted

But the man who would see such a peace must also be willing to endure the persecution and hatred of the world.  I’m not talking about the kind of “persecution” that gets Christians in America in a tizzy, but the real kind that involves suffering, loss, and worse.  It’s the kind that will require us as believers to make hard choices between comfort and faithfulness.  But my brothers and sisters…my faith rests in Christ for that day.  My faith is in God, who has proven over and over again that He is faithful, that He will prove in the darkness what He has in the light.

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Episode 50: The Humble Boast in Worship

We’ve made it to 50 episodes!  And I was not totally accurate when I spoke in the last episode: we’re not going to finish the Beatitudes series today.  But we do have something special for you.  I was able to give a sermon as part of a preaching class my church put on, and I was able to record it.

As the saying goes, you’re your own worst critic and that is certainly true for me of my preaching here.  But here I present, for your enjoyment, my sermon on the first 10 verses of Psalm 34, and on the centrality of worship in our lives.  

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50 episodes: reflections and hope

In just a couple days, episode 50 will drop.  It’s hard to believe Spurgeon Audio has come this far from those first few raw episodes I recorded in Jon’s studio.  I had no real idea what, exactly, I wanted this to be, other than a chance to share with others the words that were inspiring me in my walk.  In that time I have passed through some deep, deep valleys as well as witnessed beautiful heights.  

And so many of you have passed through those times with me, at a distance.  The encouragement I’ve gotten from so many as I’ve developed this platform by God’s grace and through His wisdom has been incredibly gracious and kind.  I continue to covet all your prayers and I am hoping to continue to build relationships with the brethren as I seek to bless you in any way I can.  

A few stats

I have purposefully not dwelt on numbers much with this podcast, because I don’t want to be sitting around obsessing over download numbers and Alexa ratings.  But I did want to share a few numbers that make me very happy:

  • The number one streamed and downloaded episode is Episode 35: The Glorious Gospel.  If there is any episode that I hope will hold the theme of this podcast, it is that one both in title and in substance.  I hope that as long as I am able to produce this, that I will never waver from that.
  • The third-most is Episode 34: Earthquake but not Heartquake.  I recorded this one shortly before the beginning of one of my darkest times, and certainly God led me through the truth of the words I read that day.  I hope it has strengthened others in their own struggles.
  • The list of countries that I have seen listeners coming from is mindboggling.  It is incredibly humbling to know you have given your time to listen to this podcast, and I hope you will continue to join in.

My desire is to begin to release this podcast more regularly.  I have not been as disciplined as I could be in this effort and I want to become more focused on producing content here, both original work and more Spurgeon sermons.

There are a couple things I would like to ask for input or advice on before I sign out here:

  • I have steadfastly refused and will continue to refuse to ask for donations.  I believe that if you are desiring to give money to support a ministry, it’s best given to your own local body.  I am, however, considering monetizing either through ads or sponsorships of some kind.  If you have thoughts or helpful input on this I welcome any and all advice and direction.
  • I have been using the same music for a while, and I’m hoping to find more to share. If you are an artist looking for platforms to get ears on your tunes, or if you’re just interested in collaborating, I would love to hear from you.  I’m not looking for free handouts, and I hope you will consider dropping me a line.

Episode 49: The Sixth Beatitude (Part 7)

The impure in heart cannot see any need of being born again. They say, “We admit that we are not quite all that we should be, but we can easily be made all right. As to the talk about a new creation, we do not see any need of that. We have made a few mistakes which will be rectified by experience. And there have been some errors of life which we trust may be condoned by future watchfulness and care.” But if the unrenewed man’s heart were pure, he would see that his nature has been an evil thing from the beginning and he would realize that thoughts of evil as naturally rise in us as sparks do from a fire! And he would feel that it would be a dreadful thing that such a nature as that should remain unchanged.–C.H. Spurgeon

Read the sermon text at Spurgeon Gems

We’re getting near the end of the Beatitudes series, and I am grateful to all of you for bearing with me in the incredible slowness of producing this series. I won’t belabor you all with my tales of busyness of late but suffice it to say, I have desires to have this podcast ramp up and be produced more frequently. I will probably talk or write more about what that looks like at a later date but for now I want to talk about the text.

Jesus tells us that the pure in heart are blessed because they will see God. There are a lot of ways to understand that idea. First, I want to remind you that this section, as Charles Spurgeon noted heavily in the earlier sermons, is not about classes of Christians, but about what someone does and what someone is when they are in Christ. All of it, including and especially purity of heart, is the sovereign and gracious work of God in the hearts of His children, and by it we come to see Him.

Certainly we will see Him in the life to come, not just that He will be before our eyes, but we will see Him as He truly is—our King, our Father, our Lord, who we will live with and worship in ways far deeper than we can conceive of in this present world full of sin and death. Those things will be gone, and forgotten. Work will not be full of drudgery and disappointment, but will bear perfect fruit in accordance with what is set before us. Rest will be complete in Christ, and joy will be the byword of eternal life in a remade and perfect world.

But I think there is a way that we see God in this life as well, though invisibly. Then we will see perfectly, but now we see with eyes of faith that let us see God’s hand in our circumstances and in those around us. Not in some kind of superstitious way, but in the way that lets us trust fully in the truth of the words of Paul in Romans 8, that all things truly do work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

This way of seeing God in this world involves seeing Him in the midst of suffering and happiness, in our deepest and most heartfelt needs and in times of abundance. We see Him because He demonstrates His faithfulness to us in all those times, even when we turn faithless, even when we are seeking solace in fleshly foolishness, because He is God and because He is good. And as we walk in humility, we rest fully in Him because we see Him working faithfully.

So I pray that I will remain faithful and continue to look to Him with eyes of faith, and I pray that the same is true of you. Not because faith is some kind of blind thing, but because with the faith granted to us by the Holy Spirit we look to Christ, and see the perfect will of God worked out in our lives and in our world. Let us worship Him together, my brothers and sisters, because He is good and faithful, and because He is so gracious to purify our hearts in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

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Episode 48: The Fifth Beatitude (Part 6)

…[T]he merciful Christian is not one who shuts anybody out. He is not one who thinks anyone beneath his notice. He would be glad if he could bring to Jesus the most fallen and the most depraved! And those dear brothers and sisters who are the most completely occupied in this holy work we honor, for the lower they have to go, the greater is their honor, in the sight of God, in being permitted thus to rake the very kennels of sin to find jewels for Christ, for surely, the brightest gems in His crown will come out of the darkest and foulest places where they have been lost! “Blessed are the merciful” who care for the fallen, for those that have gone astray—“for they shall obtain mercy.” – Charles Spurgeon

Read the whole sermon text at Spurgeon Gems

We’re drawing near the end of this series, and I found this one of the most blessing and convicting sermons to read through.  The truth is that each Christian, when we desire to sit under any instruction, must turn the light of truth on his own heart first.  We cannot be sitting in pride towards others while hiding our own sins under a rock–the only way we can hope to bring the truth of the deadliness of sin and the true life in Jesus to another, is if we put off all arrogance, all self-aggrandizement and conceit, and humble ourselves before the throne.

In doing this we follow the path of Jesus.  We follow after Him when we turn to God and confess our sins, trusting His promise of forgiveness and cleansing.  We follow after Him when we listen to and obey God’s Word.  We follow after Him when we hear of someone who is hurting, and we give compassionately to serve them and heal them.  We follow after Him when we give without fear of loss, when we cry out in faith to God for provision, when we endure frustration and fear and insult for the sake of giving glory to Jesus.  And we follow after Jesus when we live a life in prayer, because we know our weaknesses and faults and continue to pray to our Father for exactly what we should pray to Him for: for the strength and will to continue to live in that state of mercy towards others.

The Christian faith is no stranger to controversy, and certainly this age has served both to improve communication as well as to provide ample opportunities to inflame disagreements.  I am tempted to tie this comment to the most recent controversies over social justice but the truth is, this applies to all disagreements and controversies: brethren, show mercy to each other.

Hot and angry battles over important matters are understandable, but I have seen people anathematizing others quite literally over this issue.  I’ve seen people say things that are honestly shocking to me, about brothers in the faith, implying such that says if one does not take up their rhetoric and position that they are not worthy to be called Christians.  I’m really trying hard here to not call out individuals because this is not a single-issue thing either–I’ve seen it happen in similar ways over all kinds of issues the church engages the world on, everything from taxation to abortion to traffic stops.

Now I don’t want to give the impression that I’m saying, “Don’t disagree, don’t have passionate and well-considered positions on important issues.”  Nor am I trying to say “Side A is well-considered and Side B is just stupid and reactionary.”  What I am saying is, let’s not engage this issue the way the world is.  And in saying that I can tell you that I have certainly had to keep myself in check and walk away when I would have engaged on this or other things in angry and un-Christlike ways.  And to be sure, I have been guilty of this many times.

I sincerely hope that we can see public and open discussion on this and other issues within the body in a way that gives glory to Christ.  That may mean that folks step out from behind their podcasts and Twitter accounts and do something literally in some kind of open forum–but why shouldn’t we want that?  And certainly that may still not mean that we come to agreement, but at least we can see a bold reminder of the fact that whether you believe that the concept of social justice has a place within the church or whether you believe it is a danger to the gospel–the position that I take, for the record–we can be reminded that we are all brothers and sisters bought by the blood of Christ.

Engage with your opponent with the object of showing love and mercy.  Let us bear fruit in keeping with repentance towards each other, and I think in this case it means each one of us beginning any discussion by taking a look at ourselves, being reminded of the mercy the Lord has shown us faithfully in keeping His promises to His children, and showing that same mercy to our own brethren.  Pray for the one you disagree with, talk with him in seeking peace not in some humanistic sense but in the sense that demonstrates that we have been granted peace of an eternal and immeasurably greater sense with God.  Do it for the sake of the name of Christ, and let truth not be forgotten but rather let it be sought in a spirit of love.

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Episode 47: The Fourth Beatitude (Part 5)

There is nothing in this world that is more real than hunger and thirst—and the truly blessed man has such a real passion, desire and craving after righteousness that it can only be likened to hunger and thirst. He must have his sins pardoned, he must be clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and he must be sanctified! And he feels that it will break his heart if he cannot get rid of sin. He pines, he longs, and he prays to be made holy! He cannot be satisfied without this righteousness—and his hungering and thirsting for it is a very real thing. – Charles Spurgeon

Read the whole sermon text at Spurgeon Gems

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

I had to spend time wrestling with a heavy weight on my heart for a while before I was able to really get this episode under way.  No one specific thing seemed to hinder me, but I ended up seeking counsel from many good brothers who aided me in and with prayer and much truth, and I am incredibly grateful to them that I am now able to be here creating this.

The truth Charles Spurgeon speaks about the Beatitudes, that each one succeeds and builds upon the one before it logically and in a sort of “order of salvation” sense, is beginning to be demonstrated as we get to one of the greatest promises a believer in Jesus can cling to: when you ache with desire for righteousness, you will be satisfied.

When you feel the awareness of the glory and purity of God revealed in Jesus and you feel so very unworthy to be in His presence, remember: you will be satisfied.

When you cry out for freedom from desperately clinging sins and false identities that call you into evil ways of life, that call you by names of a dead man, you have the right, the privilege, and the charge to look to the cross, and to the empty grave, and to know: Jesus satisfies all charges against you; Jesus takes away even the sins you haven’t committed yet; Jesus gives you His perfect and complete righteousness like a garment that will never wear out and never be soiled.

Alive and imperishable

Paul takes the ideas that Jesus teaches here and discusses them in great detail especially in Romans.  Chapter 6 opens with the truth about the relationship of the believer in Christ to sin: we are dead to it.

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.–Romans 6:6-11

It doesn’t mean that in this world we will never sin (chapter 7 goes on to discuss that), but that we have been set free from sin both in guilt and in fact.  We do not have to say yes to our sin, and in fact should continue to faithfully say no to it because we can and we must.  That is the hunger of the one who has been changed by the Holy Spirit; that is the holy thirst of the one who bows the knee to Jesus in joy and adoration.

Let’s put away the big words for a moment though: this is about the way God changes a man when He saves him.  Each step we’ve taken, from the eyes opening to the reality of how much we actually need God and how inadequate we are on our own, to the mourning of our hearts over that truth and the humility of heart that comes as a result, and now the new taste, the new desires we have.  But even though this hunger and thirst is something that we as believers now have by the grace of God, we have to feed that hunger, we need to drink our fill of God’s goodness and righteousness!

Jonathan Edwards said of this deep-seated need, “There is no such thing as excess in our taking of this spiritual food.  There is no such virtue as temperance in spiritual feasting.”  And even more importantly: for those in Christ, there is no cutting us off from that feast.  When we stumble and sin, we are not turned away by a shocked God shaking his head saying “Well, geez, I thought you were better than this…maybe come back after you’ve washed up.”   No, we are to come right to that table and leave behind the sinful junk food, because God has provided a strengthening meal and a refreshing drink that restores.

Next episode we will continue this as we dig into the kind of person that God is making us into in Christ.  Thank you all for your continued prayers and support, and I encourage you to subscribe to the podcast and follow at the links below.

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Episode 46: The Third Beatitude (Part 4)

At this present moment, who is the mightier? Caesar with his legions or Christ with His cross?  We know who will be the victor before long–Mohammed with his sharp scimitar or Christ with His Doctrine of Love.  When all earthly forces are overthrown, Christs Kingdom will still stand.  Nothing is mightier than meekness.  And it is the meek who inherit the earth in that sense.–Charles Spurgeon

Read the whole sermon text at Spurgeon Gems

This week I got to teach some of the little kids at my church, and had the opportunity to talk to them about what it meant for Jesus to humble himself, to go from His glory upon the throne of Heaven, to becoming a man of low status and submitting to a life of a servant, and an ignominious death.  As I did I thought about this sermon I would be recording, and it seems that the text that lesson was based on is incredibly fitting to it, so I want to first read this passage:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.Philippians 2:1-18

Now of course, I didn’t exactly exegete this whole text for the 4 year olds, but rather I concentrated on the main points and tried to make it clear to them in a way they could understand and talk about with their parents later.  This passage, however, is such a deep and rich one, that it truly deserves to be read alongside Jesus’ words of promise to the meek, as the way by which one who desires to have such a title attached to himself can achieve such a thing.

Christ the servant King

The Son of God gave up all, for the sake of glorifying God, for the sake of salvation for His people, and for the sake of showing the way by which one can walk in peace with God.  It is in this way that the Christian shows his love, and it is by our love that we are known–love for each other, and love for God.  There cannot be love without this heart of service, without meekness setting the tone of life.

On a personal level, to be quite honest, it is one of those things that drives me to my knees.  I know exactly how much my heart does not want to be meek, how self-seeking I can be, and how much love I do not show.  My desire is to put self-seeking away, and that means daily battle with the flesh.  Many days I feel so very distant from that goal, and yet the Lord has patiently and lovingly led me along each day.  He has heard my prayers and shown me grace in new ways every day.  That, I think, is something every Christian can praise His name for daily.

Meekness, real humility, is something that a man on his own cannot fully appreciate.  It is only in the great shadow of the throne of God that it truly reaches its greatest meaning.  It is therefore incumbent upon all of us as Christians, to truly represent that attitude.  It is humble, first and foremost, to go to God and wait upon Him in our greatest and least needs.  It is humble to serve others with a loving heart, not expecting payment but wanting to benefit them.  And it is humble to confess your sins, before God and before your brothers and sisters, and let them die of exposure nailed to the cross.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that every Sunday you need to get up before the pastor speaks with a laundry list of offenses.  But as Christians, I believe that one of the deadliest things we can engage in is allowing any sin to take even the smallest root and be hidden away from anybody who can truly speak truth into our lives.  God certainly knows, and He will not be mocked.  Certainly we are seeing the results of God upending hidden sin, throughout the world and throughout the church, right now.

Practicing humility

We need to be humble before God with our sinfulness, meek and gracious to others as servants, and yet also trusting to God for provision and for truth.  I recently encountered a quote from one of John Piper’s books that has stuck with me hard: “Oh how rare are the pastors who speak with a tender heart and have a theological backbone of steel.”  To be meek is not to be a doormat, it isn’t to be halfhearted or to refuse to engage in discussion.  Too often, however, true patience, tenderness, and love seem to be absent by those who claim the name of Christ.

I will close with greetings to my brothers visiting my area for the SBC 2018 convention.  Hard things have come to light and I implore you to heed the words of Dr. Al Mohler as you get ready to come together.  Do not let Baptist politics or fear of losing face keep you from seeking after the Lord in obedience.  Do not let a fear of liberalism infiltrating keep you from exposing sin to the light, and likewise, do not fall for the claim that because sin has been exposed, the antidote to it is biblical compromise.  Heed the words of the apostle Paul:

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.–Romans 12:9-21

Episode 45: Beauty From Ashes (Part 3)

Surely, if the Savior has divine power, as the text declares to proclaim liberty to the captive, and if He can break open prison doors, and set free those convicted and condemned, He is just the one who can comfort your soul and mine, though we are mourning in Zion! Let us rejoice at His coming and cry, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Happy are we that we live in an age when Jesus breaks the gates of brass, and cuts the bars of iron in sunder! – Charles Spurgeon

Read the whole sermon text at Spurgeon Gems

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

It may strike you as a little confusing as to why I’m suddenly reading a sermon out of Isaiah, when this is supposed to be a series on the Beatitudes.  The sad fact is, as far as I can tell, Charles Spurgeon never preached a sermon explicitly on Matthew 5:4, which of course reads, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  I did not want to simply skip the passage, however, and certainly the idea that Jesus speaks to in this verse is one that is found throughout Scripture, so it made sense to pick a sermon that spoke to the same subject.  I also wanted to cover it for personal reasons, especially because I am now passing roughly one year since what could be termed “my Weathertop.”

But as the good Brother Spurgeon says in his sermon, mourning for the believer is not something that is simply dreaded or to be avoided.  On the contrary, a believer mourns with hope in their heart.  Though there is pain and heartache now, the believer in Christ thinks of God’s promises in His Word.  Ecclesiastes 7:2, for example:

It is better to go to the house of mourning
    than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
    and the living will lay it to heart.

We will die.  It is the result of the curse of sin on all of us, and whether it’s tomorrow or a hundred years from now, whether because we get hit by a bus or because we can’t physically endure one more moment of a long life.  And we look to Paul’s words, as he spoke to Christians who faced persecution:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So we can readily see, in a broad picture, why one might believe that those who mourn are blessed.  And even more, as was noted in the sermon, the kind of mourning that a believer does is done in such a way as to drive us to prayer, to communion with God, to once again nail our sins to the cross.

Those whose eyes are opened by God to their poverty of spirit are blessed, because that moment is the moment they come into their grand inheritance of the kingdom.  Yet on this earth we are surrounded still by darkness, we are still plagued by sinful desires that seek to upend a life in Christ and seek after foolish things that bring no life, and we mourn all of that.  We mourn our own sinfulness and we mourn our dry times, we mourn the ways that we have foolishly sinned and stumbled and rebelled.  But in that mourning, there is joyfulness, there is the comfort of the Lord, because that is the state of heart that leads us to bow in humility before the mercy seat, and to worship and rejoice in God’s incredible love and graciousness towards us.

Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – April 9, Morning — Theology Mix

“And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.” -Luke 23:27 Amid the rabble rout which hounded the Redeemer to his doom, there were some gracious souls whose bitter anguish sought vent in wailing and lamentations–fit music to accompany that march of woe. When my soul…

via Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” – April 9, Morning — Theology Mix

Visit the link above for today’s morning devotional featured at Theology Mix, and watch for the next episode in the Beatitudes series coming soon on those mourn.