THE GOD WHO TAKES AWAY

THE GOD WHO TAKES AWAY

C.H. Spurgeon

“Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!” [Job 1:21]

Let us now think, for a while, of the Lord’s hand taking away from us as well as giving to us. Job said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.” Some of you have come to this service very sad and heavy of heart because that dear child of yours is dead. Well, I do not blame you for sorrowing over your loss, but I pray you also to remember that it is the LORD who hath taken your child away from you.

You say that it was the fever that took away your dear one, and perhaps that was the immediate cause of your child’s death; but if you can realize that the fever was only the instrument in God’s hand to remove the dear little one from your care to His own, surely you will dry your tears. And as for that substance of yours, which has almost melted away under the fiery trial to which it has been subjected, so that poverty now stares you in the face, you will be able to bear even that when you remember that it is the Lord’s hand that has taken away what His hand had first given.

So long as we look at the secondary causes of our trouble, we have reasons for sorrow; but when our faith can pierce the veil, and see the Great First Cause, THEN our comfort begins. If you strike a dog with a stick, he will try to bite the stick, because he is a dog; but if he knew better, he would try to bite YOU, and not the stick. Yet THAT is the way that we often act with the troubles that come to us; we fly at the second causes, and so are angry and petulant with them; but if we would always recollect that it is GOD who taketh away, as well as God who gives; — that He is at the back of all our trials and troubles; — that His hand weighs out our share of grief, and measures our portion of pain, then we should not dare to rebel and bewail; but, like David, we should say, “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because Thou didst it!” [Psalm 39:9] even if we could not go up higher still, and say, with Job, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

GOD DOES NOT DO A THING BECAUSE IT IS RIGHT, BUT THE THING IS RIGHT BECAUSE GOD DOES IT!

Further, when once we know that God has done anything, that fact forbids any question concerning it. It must be right because He did it. I may not be able to tell why, but God knows why He did it. He may not tell me the reason; but He HAS a reason, for the Lord never acted unreasonably. There never was any action of His, however sovereign or autocratic it might appear to be, but was done “after the counsel of His own will.” Infinite wisdom dictates what absolute sovereignty decrees. God is never arbitrary, or tyrannical. He does as He wills, but He always wills to do that which is not only most, for His own glory, but also most for OUR REAL GOOD! How dare we question ANYTHING that God does?

My dear sister, rest assured that it is better that you should be a widow, and seek to glorify God in your widowhood. My dear young friend, believe that it is better that you should be an orphan; otherwise, God would not have taken away your parents. It is better that you, dear friends, should lose your eyes; it is better that you should be poor, or diseased, or else the Lord would not let you be so, for “no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.” If health and wealth were good things for you, God would let you have them. If it were a good thing for saints never to die, they never would die. If it were a good thing for them to go to heaven at once, they would go there at once. If you are walking uprightly, you may know that you have all things, which, all things considered, would be good for you. Some things, which might be good in themselves, or good for others, might not be good for YOU; and, therefore, the Lord in love withholds them from you. But, whatever He gives, or takes away, or withholds, raise no questions concerning it, but let it be sufficient for you that the Lord hath done it.

Besides, when we know that the Lord takes away our possessions, the knowledge that they are His effectually prevents us from complaining. Suppose you are a steward to a certain nobleman, and that his lordship has been pleased to entrust you with ten thousand pounds of his money. By-and-by, he withdraws it from your charge, and invests it somewhere else. Well, it never was your money; you might have complained if it had been. But you are only a steward, and if your Lord pleases to withdraw His own money, are you going to be out of temper with your Master because He does what He wills with His own?

Suppose you have a banker, — and we are, as it were, the Lord’s bankers, — and suppose that, a week or two ago, you paid into the bank a thousand pounds, or more, and the clerks or those in authority were pleased to take charge of your money. But suppose that you went to the bank today, and drew it all out; they did not get angry with you. You would not like to trust a banker who was only civil to you when you were paying in money; and if we are God’s bankers, He sometimes puts His treasure into our keeping, and sometimes takes it out; but it is not OUR treasure any more than our money is the banker’s when we entrust it to his care. It is on deposit with us, and we ought to be paying to God good interest upon it. Whatever God has given to us, He never gave it as our own freehold. ’ It was always on a lease; — a lease, too, that had to be renewed every moment; for, if God chose to cancel it, He could do so whenever He pleased. How dare we then complain?

To use another figure, our Position is like that of a nurse, into whose care a mother placed her babe, and the nurse dandled the child, and was glad to have the charge of it; but when she had to return it to its mother, she cried over the loss of the little darling. Yet it was not the nurse’s child, given to her to keep; it was only hers to nurse. So it was with your children whom God has taken home to himself; they were not yours to keep. The Lord put each one of them, for a while, into your charge, and said to you, “Christian mother, take this child, and nurse it for me, and I will pay thee thy wages;” so, when He called the child back to Himself, why should you complain as though He had wronged you?

Or, to use another illustration, which has been frequently employed in this connection, — a gardener had been specially careful in tending one particular rose, which was yet fair to look upon; but, when he went, one morning, to his favorite rose-bush, he found that the flower, of which he had taken such care, was gone. He was very vexed, for he thought that some bad boy had stolen into the garden, and taken away his best flower. He was complaining very bitterly of his loss, when someone said, “The master has been down in the garden this morning, and he has been admiring this rose-bush, and he has taken away that fine bud of which you were so proud.” Then the gardener was delighted that he had been able to grow a flower that had attracted his master’s notice; and, instead of mourning any longer, he began to rejoice.

So, should it be with anything upon which we have set our hearts. Let each one of us say to our Master, “My Lord, if it pleases Thee to take it, it pleases me to lose it Why should I complain because Thou hast taken from me, what is really Thine own?

“If Thou shouldst call me to resign what most I prize, — it ne’er was mine; I only yield Thee what was Thine: Thy will be done!”

“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!” [Job 1:20,21]

A REMINDER ON THIS SO CALLED ‘EARTH-DAY’

A REMINDER ON THIS SO CALLED ‘EARTH-DAY’

C.H. Spurgeon

“The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof!” [Psalm 24:1]

And therefore it is also the believer’s. The real fullness of the earth belongs to the Christian. “The meek shall inherit the earth.”
“The world, and they that dwell there in. For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” [Psalms 24:1-2.]

So, child of God, you are in your Father’s house even while you are down here on earth. Still, that question in the next verse is very suggestive. Albeit that the earth is the Lord’s, yet we do not want to stop in it for ever.

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?” [Psalms 24:3]
This is the portion of the Lord’s people to ascend the hill of the Zion that is above, to enter the New Jerusalem, and to stand in the immediate presence of God. But who shall ever be able to do that?

“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully; he shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the blood of his salvation.” [Psalms 24:4-5]

The man who will go to heaven is the clean man, the man who has been washed from his sins in the blood of the Lamb; and he is clean just where he was most likely to be foul, he has “clean hands.” Grace has enabled him to touch the things of the world without receiving a stain from them, and to touch holy things without defiling them. This expression — “clean hands “ — refers to his outward life; but he is also clean inside, for he has “a pure heart.”

If a man were clean as to his actions, but not clean as to his motives, he would not be fit to enter heaven, but the man described here is a true man. He has not followed after vanity, neither has he uttered a lie, but he has followed the truth, and he has spoken the truth. He is the man whom God will bless, but he has no righteousness of his own, so we read that “he shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” So he needed to be saved, and he needed a righteousness better than his own, and THIS God will give him.

Thank you Lord Jesus!

THAT WHICH IS BORN OF THE FLESH IS FLESH – AND ALWAYS WILL BE TILL THE DAY YOU DIE!

THAT WHICH IS BORN OF THE FLESH IS FLESH – AND ALWAYS WILL BE TILL THE DAY YOU DIE!

J.C. Philpot

There is no promise made that in this life, we shall be set free from the indwelling and the in-working of sin. Many think that their flesh is to become “progressively holier and holier”—that sin after sin is to be removed gradually out of the heart—until at last they are almost made perfect in the flesh. But this is an idle dream, and one which, sooner or later will be crudely and roughly broken to pieces.

The flesh will ever remain the same—and we shall ever find that the flesh will lust against the Spirit. Our fleshly nature is corrupt to the very core. It cannot be mended. It cannot be sanctified. It is the same at the last, as it was at the first—inherently evil, and as such will never cease to be corrupt until we put off mortality—and with it the body of sin and death.

All we can hope for, long after, expect, and pray for—is that this evil fleshly nature may be subdued, kept down, mortified, crucified, and held in subjection under the power of grace. But as to any such change passing upon the flesh—or taking place in the flesh as to make it holy—it is but a pharisaic delusion, which, promising a holiness in the flesh, leaves us still under the power of sin.

The true sanctification of the new man of grace—which is wrought by a divine power—is utterly distinct from any imagined holiness in the flesh—or any vain dream of its progressive sanctification.

I CAN’T PAY YOU BACK LORD!

I CAN’T PAY YOU BACK LORD!

C.H. Spurgeon

“What shall I render unto the LORD for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the Name of the LORD.” [Psalm 116:12,13]

I will take the cup of salvation. “I will take” is a strange answer to the question, “What shall I render?” and yet it is the wisest reply that could possibly be given.

“The best return for one like me,
So wretched and so poor,
Is from His gifts to draw a plea
And ask Him still for more.”

To take the cup of salvation was in itself an act of worship, and it was accompanied with other forms of adoration, hence the Psalmist says, and call upon the name of the LORD. He means that he will utter blessings and thanksgivings and prayers, and then drink of the cup which the Lord had filled with His saving grace. What a cup this is! Upon the table of infinite love stands the cup full of blessing; it is ours by faith to take it in our hand, make it our own, and partake of it, and then with joyful hearts to laud and magnify the gracious One who has filled it for our sakes that we may drink and be refreshed.

We can do this figuratively at the sacramental table, and we can do it spiritually every time we grasp the golden chalice of the covenant, realizing the fulness of blessing which it contains, and by faith receiving its divine contents into our inmost soul. Beloved reader, let us pause here and take a long and deep draught from the cup which Jesus filled, and then with devout hearts let us worship God.

Let God’s afflictions be what they can be, yet I will always acknowledge they can never be in any degree so great as His benefits: and oh, that I could think of something that I might render to Him for all his benefits: for shall I receive such great, such infinite benefits from Him, and shall I render nothing to Him by way of gratefulness? But, alas, WHAT HAVE I TO RENDER? ALL MY RENDERING TO HIM WILL BE BUT TAKING MORE FROM HIM: for all I can do is but to take the cup of salvation, and call upon His Name, and what rendering is there in this taking?

If I could take the cup of tribulation, and drink it off for His sake, this might be a rendering of some value; but this, God knows, is no work for me to do. It was His work, who said, “Can ye drink of the cup, of which I shall drink?” Indeed, HE drank of the cup of tribulation, to the end that WE might take the cup of salvation; but then in taking it we must call upon His name; UPON HIS NAME AND UPON NO OTHER; or else we shall make it a CUP OF CONDEMNATION, seeing there is NO OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN, IN WHICH WE MAY BE SAVED, BUT ONLY THE NAME OF JESUS!

GOD CONTROLS MEN’S HEARTS!

GOD CONTROLS MEN’S HEARTS!

Michael Jeshurun

The wicked are His sword! (Psa 17:13) If men are favourable toward us it is because HE hath given us favour in their eyes; and if men turn against us it is because God hath hardened their hearts toward us.

Take a look at these verses –

“And the LORD GAVE THE PEOPLE FAVOUR in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.” [Ex 12:36]

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” [Prov 16:7]

“And the LORD STIRRED UP AN ADVERSARY unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite.” [1Kings 11:14]

“Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; FOR THE CAUSE WAS FROM THE LORD . . . “ [1Kings 12:15]

“I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commit iniquity, I WILL CHASTEN HIM WITH THE ROD OF MEN, and with the stripes of the children of men.” [2Sam 12:14]

“The king’s heart is in the HAND OF THE LORD, as the rivers of water: HE TURNETH IT WHITHERSOEVER HE WILL.” [Prov 21:1]

HE TURNED THEIR HEART TO HATE HIS PEOPLE, to deal subtilly with His servants.” [Psa 105:25]

HE MADE THEM ALSO TO BE PITIED of all those that carried them captives.” [Psa 106:46]

Now God does all of this without in anyway infringing on the responsibility of the wicked or being the author of their sin! Come to think of it, a man cannot even sin except the LORD permit it! “for I also withheld thee from sinning against Me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.” [Gen 20:6]

This is the Sovereign Almighty God who hath revealed Himself to us His Elect. THE GOD OF NOMINAL CHRISTENDOM IS NOT THIS SOVEREIGN, ALL-POWERFUL, DISCRIMINATING GOD OF THE BIBLE!

In one of his letters to Erasmus, Luther said, “Your thoughts of God are TOO HUMAN.” Probably that renowned scholar resented such a rebuke, the more so, since it proceeded from a miner’s son. Nevertheless, it was thoroughly deserved. I, too, pose the same charge against the vast majority of the preachers of our day, and against those who, instead of searching the Scriptures for themselves, lazily accept the teachings of their Seminaries. The most dishonoring conceptions of the rule and reign of the Almighty are now held almost everywhere. To countless thousands, even professing Christians, THE GOD OF SCRIPTURE IS QUITE UNKNOWN.

Of old, God complained to an apostate Israel,
THOU THOUGHTEST THAT I WAS ALTOGETHER SUCH AN ONE AS THYSELF” (Psalm 50:21).

Such must now be His indictment against apostate Christendom. MEN IMAGINE THE MOST HIGH IS MOVED BY SENTIMENT, RATHER THAN BY PRINCIPLE. They suppose His omnipotency is such an idle fiction that Satan can thwart His designs on every side. They think that if He has formed any plan or purpose at all, then it must be like theirs, CONSTANTLY SUBJECT TO CHANGE. They openly declare that whatever power He possesses must be restricted, lest He invade the citadel of man’s free will and reduce him to a machine. They lower the all-efficacious atonement, which redeems everyone for whom it was made, to a mere remedy, which sin-sick souls may use if they feel so disposed. They lessen the strength of the invincible work of the Holy Spirit to AN OFFER OF THE GOSPEL which sinners may ACCEPT or REJECT as they please.

All that to say, whether it is our salvation, our knowledge of God and His ways or our works for Him, in everything ALL the glory is due to Him and Him alone. This is one reason why I am convinced that I am one of His elect. For His Spirit has in His grace and mercy revealed to me WHO HE IS!

AND THE DOCTRINE WHICH HE HAS TAUGHT ME GIVES GOD ALL THE GLORY AND PUTS MAN WHERE HE BELONGS ….IN THE DUST!

This is how I know that I am one of His elect, and this is how I know that I know the God of the Bible! And this is how I recognize others who are elected with me. They have come to believe the GOD OF THE SCRIPTURES AS HE IS REVEALED IN THE SCRIPTURES!

Hallelujah!

HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN GROW IN GRACE?

HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN GROW IN GRACE?

compiled by Michael Jeshurun

“When a minister asked a simple countryside woman what was her concept of “growing in grace,” she replied, “A Christian’s growth in grace is like the growth of a cow’s tail.” Puzzled at her reply, he asked for an explanation. Whereupon she said, “The more a cow’s tail grows, the nearer it comes to the ground; and the more a Christian grows in grace, the more does he take his place in the dust before God.” Ah, she had been taught from above something with which many an eminent theologian and commentator is unacquainted.

Growth in grace is a GROWTH DOWNWARD: it is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves; it is a DEEPENING REALIZATION OF OUR NOTHINGNESS; it is a heartfelt recognition that we are NOT WORTHY of the least of God’s mercies”. [A.W. Pink]

“I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I ABHOR MYSELF, and repent in dust and ashes”! [Job 42:5,6]

“The more true light a man hath, the more cause of self-abasement will he find in himself”. (Thomas Manton)

Consider the Apostle Paul’s progress in humility – Christ increasing and self decreasing.

Writing to the Corinthians in 55AD he said – “For I AM THE LEAST OF THE APOSTLES, who am NOT FIT TO BE CALLED AN APOSTLE, because I persecuted the church of God”. [1Cor 15:9]

Writing to the Ephesians in 61AD he wrote – “Unto me, who am LESS THAN THE LEAST OF ALL SAINTS, is this grace given . .” [Eph 3:8]

And toward the end of his life in 66AD, writing to Timothy he said – “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I AM (not was) CHIEF”! [1Tim 1:15]

As you consider the above, you see that we come face to face with the phenomenon which is frequently seen in the great leaders and saints of the past. It is that the older they grow, the more acute is their own sense of sin and of weakness in themselves. Or as Spurgeon put it “He whose garments are the whitest will best perceive the spots upon them!” They see that what they once thought to be natural strengths are really weaknesses that emanate from the unredeemed (and unredeemable) FALLEN FLESH.

So if this (an increasing sense of the corruption of your old flesh nature) is beginning to happen to you, you are growing as a Christian. It has been well said that “He who knows himself best esteems himself least.”

Thomas Guthrie perfectly pictured Paul’s progression when he wrote…

The Christian is like the ripening corn; the riper he grows, the more lowly bends his head.

I AM A PERVERSE AND UNRULY PATIENT!

I AM A PERVERSE AND UNRULY PATIENT!

(Letters of John Newton)

I am bound to speak well of MY PHYSICIAN – He treats me with great tenderness, and bids me in due time to expect a perfect cure. I know too much of Him (though I know but little) to doubt either His skill or His promise.

It is true, I HAVE SUFFERED SAD RELAPSES since I have been under His care. Yet I confess that the fault has not been His – but my own! I AM A PERVERSE AND UNRULY PATIENT! I have too often neglected His prescriptions, and broken the regimen He appoints me to observe. This PERVERSENESS, joined to the EXCEEDING OBSTINACY OF MY DISORDERS, would have caused me to be turned out as AN INCURABLE long ago–had I been under any other hand but His! Indeed – there is none like Him! When I have BROUGHT MYSELF very low–He has still helped me. Blessed be His name – I am yet kept alive only by means of His perfect care.

Though His medicines are all BENEFICIAL–they are not all PLEASANT. Now and then He gives me a PLEASANT cordial; but I have many severe disorders, in which there is a NEEDS-BE for my frequently taking His BITTER and UNPALATABLE medicines!

We sometimes see published in the newspapers, ACKNOWLEDGMENTS OF CURES RECEIVED. Methinks, if I were to publish my own case, that it would run something like this:
“I, John Newton, have long labored under a multitude of grievous disorders:
a fever of ungoverned passions,
a cancer of pride,
a frenzy of wild imaginations,
a severe lethargy, and
a deadly stroke!

In this deplorable situation, I suffered many things from many physicians, spent every penny I had – yet only grew worse and worse!

In this condition, Jesus, the Physician of souls, found me when I sought Him not. He undertook my recovery FREELY, without money and without price – these are His TERMS with all His patients! My FEVER is now abated, my SENSES are restored, my FACULTIES are enlivened! In a word, I AM A NEW MAN! And from His ability, His promise, and the experience of what He has already done – I have the fullest assurance that He will infallibly and perfectly heal me – and that I shall live forever as A MONUMENT OF HIS POWER AND GRACE!”

Hallelujah!

DO YOU MEDITATE ON GOD’S WORD?

DO YOU MEDITATE ON GOD’S WORD?

Saturation with the Scriptures is the Secret to Satisfaction of our Souls

The Puritan writer Thomas Brooks offers an excellent description of Biblical meditation…

Remember that it is not hasty reading—but serious meditation on holy and heavenly truths, which makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the mere touching of the flower by the bee which gathers honey (cp Ps 19:10-note; Ps 119:103-note)—but her abiding for a time on the flower which draws out the sweet. It is not he who reads most, but he who meditates most—who will prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.”

Meditation is CHEWING. Meditation is aptly depicted by the cow’s process of mastication (chewing). God has so constructed bovines to bring up previously digested food for additional grinding to enable optimal assimilation of the “cud.” Meditation is pondering and reviewing various thoughts (especially the thoughts/words of God) by mulling them over in one’s mind and heart (our “control center” so to speak – see Pr 4:23-note).

Meditation is the processing of God’s food for our soul (real “soul food!) One might call it “divine thought digestion.” “Chewing” upon a divine thought, deliberately and diligently, a process which (enabled by the Spirit our “Sanctifier”) provides the vital link between theory and action, between God’s Word on paper and God’s Word in our life. What mastication is to the physical life of the cow, meditation is to the spiritual life of those created in the image of God.

C H Spurgeon asks a good question…

“Have you a spiritual taste, dear Hearer? It is one thing to hear the Word. It is another thing to taste it. Hearing the Word is often blessed, but tasting it is a more inward and spiritual thing—it is the enjoyment of the Truth in the innermost parts of our being! Oh, that we were all as fond of the Word as were the old mystics who chewed the cud of meditation till they were fattened upon the Word of the Lord and their souls grew strong in the Divine Love! I am sure of this—the more you know of God’s Word, the more you will love it!”—The True Sayings of God – #3144

Meditation is ANALYZING. Literally analyzing describes the art of taking an intentional, lengthy look at a given object as the jeweler does when he puts his eyepiece on to examine the character and qualities of a flawless diamond. Indeed, “The words of the LORD are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.” (Ps 12:6-note) Meditation on the living and active (energetic) Word (Heb 4:12-note) is like gazing at a prism, which breaks a single beam of sunlight into many component colors. As we take time to steadily focus on the “diamond” of God’s Word, the Spirit illumines the Son’s light in His many and variegated “colors and hues.”

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law (Psalm 119:18).

Meditation is ACTION. Someone has described it: “Making words into thoughts and thoughts into actions.” It is mental planning ahead with definite action in mind for accomplishing a job. Andrew Murray describes it: “Holding the Word of God in your heart until it has affected every phase of your life… this is meditation.”

Now tie these three thoughts together: chewing, analyzing and action. Reflect on each of them now before reading any further. Give God time for divine polishing in His secret place in order to more effectually reproduce His glory and beauty in public.

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou SHALT MEDITATE therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for THEN thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” [Joshua 1:8]

[Quoted from Precept Austin.org]

HE THAT HATH EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR OR IF THE SHOE FITS, WEAR IT!

HE THAT HATH EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR OR
IF THE SHOE FITS, WEAR IT!

“If the shoe fits…wear it!”

This proverb has been around for a long time. Originally, it was “if the cap fits”, and probably referred to the fool’s cap or dunce cap. You can probably pick up on the connotation.

Eventually it was changed over to “If the shoe fits” in reference to Cinderella. The moral? If something pertains to you…accept it!

We think this is a fairly modern term, however; it is as old as the book of Revelation. Jesus used it on several different occasions as He taught the people of His day. Howbeit, He did communicate it in a phrase they could better understand like in Mark 4:9 “And He said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!” Jesus made this statement eight times in the book of Revelation. I believe He was trying to get His point across—“If the shoe fits, wear it.”

The apostle Paul wrote seven letters to seven different churches while Jesus had the apostle John write one letter to seven different churches. In most of the comments to the seven churches the Lord included an admonition, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” Now after almost 2000 years when WE read these warnings and exhortations the Scripture speaks to OUR hearts and asks us the very same question, “Do YOU have ears to hear? Does the shoe fit YOU?”

These are the times when we must according to 2 Corinthians 13:5 “examine ourselves”… and see if the said warning or exhortation applies to US. If it does then we need to repent accordingly. The Jesus we serve is just, merciful and forgiving that He even gave Jezebel in the church of Thyatira a chance to repent.

Through the years, I’ve sat through sermons that pierced my soul and all the while I was thinking, “Man, I wish old brother John was in this service to hear this message because he could really benefit from everything that’s being said here today.” I failed to realize that the shoe being preached was my exact size and it would fit me perfect. I would leave that meeting wondering why I was not maturing and drawing closer to God–not comprehending that I had left a perfect pair of spiritual shoes on the altar. Had I stopped and considered that Jesus was speaking to me through His Word, I would have had ears to hear and realized that the shoe fit—put it on and allowed it to help me walk worthy on the vocation wherewith I am called.

Nonetheless, it’s foolish of us to think that everyone that hears the Word of God is going to believe in, adhere to and rely on what it is saying. The proof is in the parable of the sower who sows his seed on four different types of ground and observes four different results. The seed is the Word of God and it was the same seed sown but sown on diverse types of ground. Even the good ground that received the Word produced dissimilar amounts of fruit from the same seed, which was the Word of God. Therefore, it is safe to say that some thought the shoe of the Word fit them better than others did. Could it be that the ones that produced thirty fold recognized only their need for the shoe? Could it be the ones that produced sixty fold may have actually spiritually tried it on to see if it fit? On the other hand, could it be the ones that were walking in the one-hundred-fold ministry were walking around in Word of God shoes because they fit and they had ears to hear what was being said?

The Bible says the Word of God is like a two-edge sword, sometimes It cuts off ungodly and undesirable attributes and characteristics that hurts our body, soul and spirit, but it may be Jesus saying, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear or If the shoe fits, wear it.”

“The fundamental principle for which we are here contending is plainly expressed again by Christ in Mark 13:37, “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” That exhortation to the apostles is addressed directly to THE SAINTS IN ALL GENERATIONS AND PLACES. As Owen well said, “The Scriptures speak to every age, every church, every person, not less than to those to whom they were first directed. This shows us how we should be affected in reading the Word: we should read it as a letter written by the Lord of grace from Heaven, to us by name. “If there be any books in the New Testament particularly restricted, it is the “pastoral epistles,” yet the exhortation found in 2 Timothy 2:19, is generalized: “Let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

Those who are so fond of restricting God’s Word would say that “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (verse 3) is addressed to the minister of the Gospel, and pertains not to the rank and file of believers. But Ephesians 6:10-17, shows (by necessary implication) that it applies to all the saints, for the militant figure is again used, and used there without limitation. The Bullinger school insist that James and Peter—who gave warning of those who in the last time should walk after their own ungodly lusts—wrote to Jewish believers only; but Jude (addressed to all the sanctified) declares they “told you” (verse 18).

“You have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord” (Hebrews 12:5). That exhortation is taken from Proverbs 3:11, so that here is further evidence that the precepts of the Old Testament (like its promises) are not restricted unto those who were under the Mosaic economy, but apply with equal directness and force to those under the new covenant. Observe well the tense of the verb “which speaks”: though written a thousand years previously, Paul did not say “which has spoken”—the Scriptures are a living Word through which their Author speaks today.

Note too “which speaks unto you”—New Testament saints: all that is contained in the book of Proverbs is as truly and as much the Father’s instruction to Christians as the contents of the Pauline epistles. Throughout that book God addresses us individually as “My son” (2:1; 3:1; 4:1; 5:1). That exhortation is as urgently needed by believers now as by any who lived in former ages. Though children of God, we are still children of Adam—willful, proud, independent, requiring to be disciplined, to be under the Father’s rod, to bear it meekly, and to be exercised thereby in our hearts and consciences.” – A.W. Pink

Every time a preacher stands up and exhorts a multitude to forsake a certain sin or compromise, there will always be those in that same multitude who are not in the least guilty of that sin. So should the preacher be silenced lest he offend the sinless FEW! ABSURD!

ALL preaching challenging those gathered to forsake a particular sin or compromise and follow after righteousness is done with the admonition – “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear or If the shoe fits, wear it”!

[compiled from sources on the web]

CAN THE ETHIOPIAN CHANGE HIS SKIN?

CAN THE ETHIOPIAN CHANGE HIS SKIN?

 C.H. SPURGEON

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil”! [Jer 13:23]

Let us go at once to our text and notice that it contains a question which admits of only one answer— “Can the Ethiopian change his skin?” Of course he cannot! And this fact suggests to us a spiritual question—Can a man who is accustomed to do evil, so change himself as to do good? Of course he cannot, any more than the Ethiopian can change his skin! When we have talked over that question which admits of only one answer, I shall put another question which admits of the opposite reply.  In that latter part of our subject may the Lord be pleased to send comfort to those who are despairing and who know that they can no more change their own nature than the Ethiopian can change his skin, or the leopard his spots!

There are some things that men can do. A white man may be made almost black, as far as his skin is concerned. There are certain medicines that operate upon the skin and give it a very strange color— you may have seen a few such cases in your lifetime. But, though you can put the color in, you cannot take it out. The man who is white, or the woman who is very fair, may, either of them, sit in the sun till they become browned so that they might almost say with the spouse in the Song of Solomon, “I am black because the sun has looked upon me.” But you could not turn a black man, white, though you can turn a white man black. You can do what you please by way of spoiling, but you can do nothing by way of mending.

You can make yourself filthy by sin, but you cannot make yourself spiritually clean, do what you will! There is an ease about going down—you can jump down a precipice quickly enough, but who could stand at the bottom of a high cliff and leap to the top at one bound? Man can come down against his will, but he cannot go up even with his will. You can do evil all too readily—you can do it with both hands, greedily, and do it again and again and not grow weary of it—but to return to the right path, this is the difficulty!

But remember, dear Friends, that, even if an Ethiopian could change his skin, that would be a far smaller difficulty than the one with which a sinner has to deal, FOR IT IS NOT HIS SKIN, BUT HIS HEART WHICH HAS TO BE CHANGED. There are some creatures in which, if they lose a limb, it will grow again, or another will come in its place, but there is no creature living that could lose its heart and then grow another. There is a tree of a certain sort and you can, if you please, graft upon it and it will produce a different kind of fruit. Or you can take off one limb of a tree and another branch may grow—but you cannot change the tree’s heart.

Even if it were possible for the Ethiopian to change his skin, that would be a change, as we say, only skin-deep, and that is no parallel to the sinner and his sin—the leprosy lies deep within. It is the heart that is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” It is the center and source of thought and action which is polluted and a change must be worked there. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin?” No, but if he could do so, could a sinner change his heart? ASSUREDLY NOT!

Let me try to set forth, in some small measure, the difficulty of this business. The first difficulty is because the evil that man has is in his nature. If sin were merely an accident, then it might be prevented. But it is not so. If sheep were to fall down into the mud, they might soon be up again, and it would be possible to keep them from falling. But when the swine go down into the mud, they roll in it because they delight in wallowing! As long as there is any mire about and the sow can get there, she will return to her wallowing as long as she remains a sow, for the filthiness is in her nature as well as in that which surrounds her! And it is so with us so far as sin is concerned.

The Ethiopian could wash himself clean, but the blackness of his skin is a part of his Ethiopian nature and he cannot get rid of that. The leopard’s spots are not accidental to it, but it has spots BECAUSE IT IS A LEOPARD.

So, sin is not accidental to human nature, but it is part and parcel of ourselves. When you see a man, you see a sinner! And if you could look into his heart, you would see the seed-plot of all manner of mischief which only needs congenial surroundings to fully develop itself. How can a man change his own nature? I do not suppose that, by any possibility, I could ever become an Ethiopian. I do not think that if I were to set my mind to the task, I could ever, by any possibility, turn into a Dutchman because I was not born so—it is not according to my nature. I must remain an Englishman, Essex-born, as long as I live. Only a miracle could make me anything different from that!

And the sinner is a sinner right through. Wherever you look at him, he is a sinner, and so he always will be UNLESS A SUPERIOR POWER SHALL INTERVENE TO CHANGE HIM.

Alas also, this evil nature of man brings with it the fact that his will is altogether perverted. A man will not cease to do evil and learn to do well because he has no heart to do it. Sinners do not want to be saved. “Oh,” says one, “I do!” But do you understand what it is to be saved?

EVERY SINNER WOULD LIKE TO ESCAPE FROM GOING TO HELL, BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT IS MEANT BY SALVATION.

To be saved means to be saved from loving evil, from seeking after it and living in it. Do you want to be saved from that? Do you want to be saved from falsehood, saved from the indulgence of your passions, saved from strong drink, saved from pride, saved from covetousness? The most of men have not a heart inclined to that—there is some sweet sin of theirs which they would like to sip, at least now and then upon the sly. That is to say, evil, as evil, is not abhorrent to the natural will, but the natural will of man goes after that which is evil as surely as ever children seek after that which is sweet!

Sin is sweet to man and he will have it if he can. How, then, can his nature be changed while he has no will to it? The will is, as it were, the rudder of the ship. My Lord Will-be-Will, according to John Bunyan, is the Lord Mayor of the town of Mansoul. And so he is, and he carries it in a very lordly way. He will have this and he will have that—and he will not have the other—and he is the master of the man.

Till the will is changed, till what is called, “free will,” is made, in truth, to be free will—free from the chains of evil and the love of sin—the man cannot rise to happiness and God any more than the Ethiopian can change his skin!

What is to be done with a man like that? He is determined to go over hedge and ditch to Hell. His father, a dear gray-headed old saint, has blocked the way, but he has pushed him aside. His mother has come and said, “My Boy, do not ruin yourself,” and she has hung about his neck and tried to keep him from sin. But he has shaken her off. In spite of wife, child, and friends, he is determined to destroy himself! And do you tell me that such a man is able to change himself? Yes, when Ethiopians change their skins and when leopards change their own spots, then will it be done, but not till then! THE CASE IS HOPELESS IF IT REMAINS WITH THE MAN, HIMSELF—THE WORK CANNOT BE ACCOMPLISHED.

What can he do by which he can change his nature and make a new man of himself? All outward means are unavailing. He may go and hear sermons. Well, I know that sermons of my preaching will never turn a heart of stone into flesh. Without the Spirit of God there will be no result whatever produced! The man may be christened, or he may be baptized, but what is there in water drops or water floods that can alter his sinful nature? Why, there have been villains upon earth who have gone through every religious ceremony and yet have ended at the gallows!

You may scrub an Ethiopian till you scrub his skin away, but he will be as black as ever when you have done with him. So is it with the sinner. You may put him through every form and ceremony of the church—and you may make him think that he has accepted the orthodox creed and you may even alter his outward life to a considerable extent—yet, WHEN IT IS ALL DONE, NOTHING AT ALL WILL REALLY HAVE BEEN DONE TOWARDS HIS SOUL’S SALVATION!

Somebody, perhaps, asks, “Why, then, do you preach to these people?”

Well, I do it principally because I am sent to do it. You see, if God were to send me to preach to the mountains and to bid them move, I would go and do it—and expect to see them move! If He were to bid me go and stand on the shore, and say to the salt sea waves, “Turn into fresh water,” I would do it, not because I think the sea, which is salt, can make itself fresh, but because my Lord never sent me on a fool’s errand and He will honor the message He tells me to deliver!

I heard somebody say that to tell a dead sinner to live was as if you were to stand at a grave and bid a dead body live. That is exactly it, my dear Friends, and you say it is ridiculous. Yes, it is very ridiculous if you leave God out of it, but as we are told to do it, we leave the responsibility of it with the Lord—and we intend to go on with this thing which men call ridiculous! Like Ezekiel, we are commanded to say, “O you dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord.” Somebody objects that dry bones cannot hear—that does not matter to us—we are bid to tell them to hear and WE EXPECT THAT THE LORD WILL ENABLE THEM TO HEAR WHAT HE HAS COMMANDED US TO SAY TO THEM!