Cheerful holiness…

morning-and-evening-cover
“Thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work.”
Psalm 92:4

In this, the first of three posts on the theme of forgiveness, Charles Spurgeon suggests that finding ourselves forgiven results in gladness, not only for ourselves, but for others.

 

‘Do you believe that your sins are forgiven, and that Christ has made a full atonement for them? Then what a joyful Christian you ought to be! How you should live above the common trials and troubles of the world! Since sin is forgiven, can it matter what happens to you now?

…you may say, “Send sickness, poverty, losses, crosses, persecution, what thou wilt, thou hast forgiven me, and my soul is glad.” Christian, if thou art thus saved, whilst thou art glad, be grateful and loving. Cling to that cross which took thy sin away; serve thou him who served thee. “I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Let not your zeal evaporate in some little ebullition of song. Show your love in expressive tokens. Love the brethren of him who loved you.

… Be not contented with this unspeakable blessing for thyself alone, but publish abroad the story of the cross. … Cheerful holiness is the most forcible of sermons, but the Lord must give it you. Seek it this morning before you go into the world. When it is the Lord’s work in which we rejoice, we need not be afraid of being too glad.’

From: Spurgeon Morning and Evening

Do not waste time…

Mere cover

This passage from C.S.Lewis’ book Mere Christianity is the third of a trilogy of posts on the theme of love and I love the way Lewis, with all his intellect and with all his experience as a disciple of Jesus, manages to ‘simplify’ such complex matters as loving the often unlovable.

 

 


The rule for all of us is perfectly simple.

Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbour; act as if you did.
As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets.
When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.
If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more.
If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.
There is, indeed, one exception.
If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his ‘gratitude’, you will probably be disappointed. (People are not fools: they have a very quick eye for anything like showing off, or patronage.)
But whenever we do good to another self, just because it is a self, made (like us) by God, and desiring its own happiness as we desire ours, we shall have learned to love it a little more or, at least, to dislike it less.

From Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

Love’s Logic

Spurgeon
“We love him because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19.

This is the second of three posts on the theme of love. The title ‘Love’s Logic’ is taken from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon on that text. I can’t imagine it making a short list of titles for a contemporary rom-com; imagine the sequel ‘Love’s Logic II’. Here are some of Spurgeon’s thoughts on the logic of love.

 

‘God’s love is evidently prior to ours: “He first loved us.” It is also clear enough from the text that God’s love is the cause of ours, for “We love him because he first loved us.” Therefore, going back to old time, or rather before all time, when we find God loving us with an everlasting love, we gather that the reason of his choice is not because we loved him, but because he willed to love us. His reasons, and he had reasons (for we read of the counsel of his will), are known to himself, but they are not to be found in any inherent goodness in us, or (any goodness) which was foreseen to be in us. We were chosen simply because he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy.
He loved us because he would love us… Our redemption, like our election, springs from the spontaneous self-originating love of God… We were not converted because we were already inclined that way, neither were we regenerated because some good thing was in us by nature; but we owe our new birth entirely to his potent love, which dealt with us effectually turning us from death to life, from darkness to light and from the alienation of our mind and the enmity of our spirit into (the) path of love…
As believers on Christ’s name we “were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” The sum and substance of the text is that God’s uncaused love, springing up within himself, has been the sole means of bringing us into the condition of loving him.’

Delivered Aug 27th, 1871, by C.H.SPURGEON at Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

You won’t reach it on tiptoe…

Utmost
…make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.   2 Peter 1:5-7 ESV

 

 

This first (of three) posts on the theme of love is taken from Oswald Chambers’
My Utmost for His Highest. Perhaps the title You Won’t Reach It on Tiptoe seems unhelpfully pessimistic. But then Oswald Chambers was not writing for Hollywood…

Love is indefinite to most of us, we do not know what we mean when we talk about love. Love is the sovereign preference of one person for another, and spiritually Jesus demands that that preference be for Himself (cf. Luke xiv.26). When the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ is easily first; then we must practice the working out of these things mentioned by Peter. (2 Peter 1:5-7)
The first thing God does is to knock pretence and the pious pose right out of me.
The Holy Spirit reveals that God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. ‘Now,’ He says to me, ‘show the same love to others’-“Love as I have loved you.” ‘I will bring any number of people about you whom you cannot respect, and you must exhibit My love to them as I have exhibited it to you.’
You won’t reach it on tiptoe. Some of us have tried to but we were soon tired.
The Lord suffereth long….” Let me look within and see His dealings with me.
The knowledge that God has loved me to the uttermost, to the end of all my sin and meanness and selfishness and wrong, will send me forth into the world to love in the same way. God’s love to me is inexhaustible, and I must love others from the bedrock of God’s love to me. Growth in grace stops the moment I get huffed. I get huffed because I have a peculiar person to live with. Just think how disagreeable I have been to God! Am I prepared to be so identified with the Lord Jesus that His life and His sweetness are being poured out all the time? Neither natural love nor Divine love will remain unless it is cultivated. Love is spontaneous, but it has to be maintained by discipline.

From My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

On ‘pumped-up’ prayer…

Spurgeon“Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time
when you may be found.”
   Psalm 32:6 ESV

Completing a trilogy of posts to do with prayer is this brief passage from Charles Spurgeon’s sermon, ‘Prayer, the Proof of Godliness’ from 1887. Spurgeon suggests that genuine prayer, pleasing to God, is ‘a natural emanation from the renewed heart’. As for what he calls ‘pumped-up’ prayer, well that’s altogether something else!

From Charles Spurgeon …

‘Once more, beloved Friends, prayer is natural to the godly man.
I do think that it is a good thing to have set times for prayer, but I am sure that it would be a dreadful thing to confine prayer to any time or season, for to the godly man prayer comes to be like breathing, like sighing, like crying.
You have, perhaps, heard of the preacher who used to put in the margin of his manuscript sermon, “Cry here.” That is a very poor sort of crying that can be done to order, so, you cannot make the intensity of prayer to order—it must be a natural emanation from the renewed heart!
Jacob could not always go and spend a night in prayer. It is possible he never spent another whole night in prayer in all his life after that memorable one! But when he spent that one by the brook Jabbok, he could “do no other,” as Luther said. Pumped-up prayer is little better then the bilge water that flows away from a ship!
What you need is the prayer that rises from you freely, like the fountain that leaped from the smitten rock. Prayer should be the natural outflow of the soul—you should pray because you must pray, not because the set time for praying has arrived—but because your heart must cry unto your Lord.’

From ‘Prayer, the Proof of Godliness’ No. 2437, intended for reading on Lord’s Day, November 3, 1895. Delivered by C.H.Spurgeon, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, on Thursday evening, October 27, 1887.

On unsentimental prayer….

UtmostHe saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no one to intercede…
Isaiah 59:16 ESV

First published in 1927, ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ has been a staple of daily readings for Christians ever since. Sometimes challenging to cherished theological views it is always, at least in my experience, equally challenging to cherished sins and struggling disciples. 


This second of three posts to do with prayer is taken from March 30th’s reading there.

‘The reason many of us leave off praying and become hard towards God is because we have only a sentimental interest in prayer. It sounds right to say that we pray; we read books on prayer which tell us that prayer is beneficial, that our minds are quieted and our souls uplifted when we pray; but Isaiah implies that God is amazed at any such thoughts of prayer.
Worship and intercession must go together, the one is impossible without the other…
Are we … in dispute with God – ‘I don’t see how you are going to do it.’
This is a sure sign that we are not worshipping.
When we lose sight of God we become hard and dogmatic. We hurl our own petitions at God’s throne and dictate to Him as to what we wish Him to do. We do not worship God, nor do we seek to form the mind of Christ. If we are hard towards God, we will become hard towards other people.
Are we so worshipping God that we rouse ourselves up to lay hold on Him, that we may be brought into contact with His mind about the ones for whom we pray? …
‘But there is no one interceding properly’ – then be that one yourself, be the one who worships God and who lives in holy relationship to Him. Get into the real work of intercession, and remember it is a work, a work which has no snare. Preaching the gospel has a snare; intercessory prayer has none.’
From ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ by Oswald Chambers