A Christmas Devotional from Spurgeon

disk-04-15-117.jpgIt is a sweet thought that Jesus Christ, did not come forth without his Father’s permission, authority, consent, and assistance. He was sent of the Father, that he might be the Saviour of men. We are, alas! Too apt to forget, that while there are distinctions as to the persons in the Trinity, there are no distinctions of honor; and we do very frequently ascribe the honor of our salvation, or at least the depths of its mercy and the extremity of its benevolence, more to Jesus Christ than we do to the Father. This is a very great mistake.

What if Jesus came? Did not his Father send him? If he was made a child did not the Holy Ghost beget him? If he spake wondrously, did not his Father pour grace into his lips, that he might be an able minister of the new covenant? If his Father did forsake him when he drank the bitter cup of gall, did he not love him still? And did he not, by-and by, after three days, raise him from the dead, and at last receive him up on high, leading captivity captive? Ah! Beloved, he who knoweth the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost as he should know them, never setteth one before another; he is not more thankful to one than the other; he sees them at Bethlehem, at Gethsemane, and on Calvary, all equally engaged in the work of salvation. “He shall come forth unto me.”

O Christian, hast thou put thy confidence in the man Christ Jesus? Hast thou placed thy reliance solely on him? And art thou united with him? Then believe that thou art united unto the God of heaven; since to the man Christ Jesus thou art brother and holdest closest fellowship, thou art linked thereby with God the Eternal, and “the Ancient of days” is thy Father and thy friend. “He shall come forth unto me“. Did you never see the depth of love there was in the heart of Jehovah, when God the Father equipped his Son for the great enterprise of mercy?

There had been a sad day in Heaven once before, when Satan fell, and dragged with him a third of the stars of heaven, and when the Son of God launching from his great right hand the Omnipotent thunders, dashed the rebellious crew to the pit of perdition; but if we could conceive a grief in heaven, that must have been a sadder day, when the Son of the Most High left his Father’s bosom, where he had lain from before all worlds “Go,” saith the Father, “and thy Father’s blessing on thy head!”

Then comes the unrobing. How do angels crowd around to see the Son of God take off his robes He laid aside his crown; he said, “My father, I am Lord over all, blessed for ever, but I will lay my crown aside, and be as mortal men are.” He strips himself of his bright vest of glory; “Father,” he says, “I will wear a robe of clay, just such a men wear.” Then he takes off all those jewels wherewith he was glorified; he lays aside his starry mantles and robes of light, to dress himself in the simple garments of the peasant of Galilee. What a solemn disrobing that must have been!

And next, can you picture the dismissal! The angels attend the Saviour through the streets, until they approach the doors: when an angel cries, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors, and let the king of glory through!” Oh! Methinks the angels must have wept when they lost the company of Jesus—when the Sun of Heaven bereaved them of all its light. But they went after him. They descended with him; and when his spirit entered into flesh and he became a babe, he was attended by that mighty host of angels, who after they had been with him to Bethlehem’s manger, and seen him safely, laid on his mother’s breast, in their journey upwards appeared to the shepherds and told them that he was born king of the Jews.

The Father sent him! Contemplate that subject. Let your soul get hold of it, and in every period of his life think that he suffered what the Father willed; that every step of his life was marked with the approval of the great I AM. Let every thought that you have of Jesus be also connected with the eternal, ever-blessed God; for “he,” saith Jehovah, “shall come forth unto me.” Who sent him, then? The answer is, his Father.

— Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

The Incarnation and the Birth of Christ

Preached on December 23, 1855

New Park Street Baptist Church, Southwark, England

We wish all of you a Christ-filled Christmas and a blessed 2014! 

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Our Lives Should Be New Testament Pages That All Can Read!

“Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

“In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” Titus 2:7

“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” 1 Peter 3:1-2

Unbelievers do not read the Bible, nor come to church to hear the gospel message. All that they learn about Christ and the Christian life–they must learn from those who bear Christ’s name and represent Him–as they view our character.

If all church members lived truly consecrated lives–holy, humble, separate from the world, loyal to Christ in business, in pleasure, and in all things–it would be impossible to estimate what the influence of the Church would be, by godly example alone. It is awful to think that professing Christians, by the inconsistencies of their personal lives, lead souls away from the Savior. We are all responsible for our example to others. Our lives should be New Testament pages that all can read!

“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” John 13:15

“Leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21

(J.R. Miller, via Grace Gems)

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Lifted from the Quarry to the Upper Air

O God,
May thy Spirit speak in me that I may speak to thee.
I have no merit, let the merit of Jesus stand for me.
I am undeserving, but I look to thy tender mercy.
I am full of infirmities, wants, sin; thou art full of grace.
I confess my sin, my frequent sin, my wilful sin;
All my powers of body and soul are defiled:
A fountain of pollution is deep within my nature.
There are chambers of foul images within my being;
I have gone from one odious room to another,
walked in a no-man’s-land of dangerous imaginations,
pried into the secrets of my fallen nature.
I am utterly ashamed that I am what I am in myself;
I have no green shoot in me nor fruit, but thorns and thistles;
I am a fading leaf that the wind drives away;
I live bare and barren as a winter tree,
unprofitable, fit to be hewn down and burnt.
Lord, dost thou have mercy on me?
Thou has struck a heavy blow at my pride,
at the false god of self,
and I lie in pieces before thee.
But thou has given me another master and lord, they Son, Jesus,
and now my heart is turned towards holiness,
my life speeds as an arrow from a bow
towards complete obedience to thee.
Help me in all my doings to put down sin and to humble pride.
Save me from the love of the world and the pride of life,
from everything that is natural to fallen man,
and let Christ’s nature be seen in me day by day.
Grant me grace to bear thy will without repining, and delight to be
not only chiselled, squared, or fashioned,
but separated from the old rock where I have been embedded so long,
and lifted from the quarry to the upper air,
where I may be built in Christ for ever.

(Heart Corruptions, Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975, p. 73).

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May 1 Bible Reading: Ezra 1-2

Key verse:  “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah” (Ezra 1:2).

Promises, Promises

After 70 years of exile, the Jewish exiles could return to Jerusalem.  They were exiled due to God’s judgment when God sent the Babylonians at first into Israel around 606 B.C. and, ultimately, to bring the last of the Israelites out of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.  The prophet Jeremiah prophesied that they would be exiled 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12, Ezra 1:1).  So, in 538 B.C., Cyrus issued this edict, thus starting off Ezra’s book in showing how God fulfilled His promise. 

God stirred up the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and the Levites (who at the time of the exile were the tribes which constituted the Southern Kingdom of Judah) and stirred up Cyrus to give them back their Temple furniture.  How many came back?  Go to Ezra 2:64-66 and you see that around 50,000 people went back to the Holy Land to rebuild the Temple. 

God keeps His promises!  When you read in 2 Corinthians 1:20 that all the promises are “yes” in Christ, you see how God is establishing His steadfast love and faithfulness (Psalm 136) into His people’s hearts.  If God would keep a promise of this nature, this gave them hope that God would keep the promise of all promises—the Messiah would come to deliver the true Israel (the Church—Galatians 6:16) out of the exile caused by their sin and back to the promised land of forgiveness and eternal life!

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Helpful Site Alert: Devotional Christian

Just a quick shout out to everyone about a great and helpful site called Devotional Christian.  Here is some info from their website:

—– makes it easy to read all the best Christian devotionals online. Our goal is to encourage others in their daily walk with Christ.

Meet Our Writers
  • Tony Kummer is the founder of Devotional Christian. He is a children’s minister from Indiana with 6 children at home. He also has a great blog about Children’s Ministry.
  • Hariette Petersen (aka SelahV) is a gifted writer and the wife of a retired minster.She also writes devotional thoughts on her personal blog.
  • Emily Schankweiler was redeemed by Christ nearly five years ago, at which point her love of writing became A Sacrifice of Praise. Emily lives in South Carolina, where she remains a part of the close-knit Gospel community by which she came to know Jesus.
  • Chris Roberts is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Panama City, FL. He is married to Sandra and they have three kids. You can read more from Chris on his blog titled Seek the Holy.
  • John Starke works on staff on the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  He and his wife, Jena, have three children.  John also blogs at John Ploughman.
  • Terry Lange is a graduate of Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis and serves as an assistant teacher of the Homebuilders ABF Class at his church. He is married with one son. You can read more at his blog titled From The Unknown
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A Blessed Man Doesn't Walk

I do not know of anyone who does not want to have a blessed life, do you? And Christians know better than anyone what a blessed life entails. When you know that your life is held tightly in the hand of our Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus (John 10:27), that is blessing enough! But there is more — so much more!

King David, the author of this Psalm, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy
3:16) begins these incredible collection of Psalms by talking about the ‘blessed man.’ Then, as a father talks to his son, David talks to his children saying, “Before I tell you what a blessed man is, let me inform you as to what he is not.” And he then proceeds in a progression that often snares those who are off the path God has for them.

First, a man outside of the blessed life starts walking and may find himself in ‘the counsel of the wicked.’ Soon, he is intrigued by their company and finds himself standing ‘in the way of sinners.’ After a while, he gets so very comfortable in their presence, that he pulls up a seat among the ‘scoffers’ who scoff all things good, all things godly, all things holy. And if we are not careful and living a life of perseverance under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we may find ourselves getting rather comfortable in the ways of this world and not being holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16-17).

(c) 2007, Matthew Perry.

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[FROM THE ARCHIVE, 2006] Overcoming My Addiction

I wrote this blog entry on March 29, 2006 after God convicted me and my body warned me regarding a particular addiction I have and many pastors have as well. While I have not progressed as well as I would like, reading this 2 1/2 years later helps me to see that work still needs to be done. I’d appreciate your prayers in the matter.


I praise God that He gives us the strength to overcome addictions — and he has put me on a path to overcome mine, but I have a long, long way to go. It is really an addiction that began in college and continued on through seminary — right into married life where it all came to bloom. All night study sessions getting ready for the test the next morning. Being locked up in the library. Then getting married and leading an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Then on top of all that, I have been in the ministry going on 15 years, which allows for an increasingly sedentary lifestyle — on top of that, I’m am in Baptist ministry, which seems to feed my particular addiction more and more because it is just part of our culture.

My particular addiction that God is helping me to overcome is that of food.

A little history. I graduated from high school weighing a whopping 135 pounds soaking wet. In high school, I actually dropped down to 117 (which was about 25 pounds below what I should have been) because my trust was in my girlfriend at the time rather than in Christ. She didn’t want to eat lunch, so I didn’t eat lunch. Very unhealthy from every angle. But by the time I graduated in 1989, I was 135 and stayed that weight pretty much all through college when I graduated in 1994.

During college, I was a music major at Palm Beach Atlantic College. Aside from the jokes that music majors really didn’t do much, nothing could have been further from the truth. One study noted that the three hardest fields of study in academia are law, medicine, and music. I didn’t go into music because of any of that — God called me into the ministry and at that time it was music ministry.

At that time, everything seemed to affect me negatively — though it wasn’t necessarily bad in and of itself. But in order to get through, I had to practice on my piano 1.5 to 2 hours per day, plus be involved in a number of extra classes that were required but where we obtained no credit. Plus, I had a couple of extra jobs just to get by. I was busy, busy, busy with bad sleeping habits and addicted at that point to caffeine and pizzas whose establishments delivered into the wee hours of the morning. I stayed skinny, but the pattern was set.

By the time I graduated seminary the first time and got married, I was a meatier 175. But when I graduated, I was engaged to my now wife Cindy. I had a steady job, no more ridiculous class schedules, no more late nights to study for music history and hymnology tests. No more working two jobs, plus doing my church work. I was settled with the woman God gave to me. And I was peaceful, relaxed …

… and expanding.

Bad habits would develop. Have a hard day at work? Go eat. Need to celebrate? Let’s go eat. Having a fellowship at church? GOTTA EAT! It’s almost as if gluttony is the unspoken, pardonable sin amongst us Baptists. It’s our culture. But in reality, food can be the worst addiction of all. It’s not illegal or necessarily immoral, but it numbs the pain and the hurt and any issue that can go on the in heart.

At the beginning of the year, I found myself between 40 and 50 pounds overweight (206). For those with large or even medium frames, 206 is really not bad. But the point is, I have a small frame and was 40-50 pounds overweight. And it really began to affect me. How?

(1) Walking up stairs. Walking upstairs from my office to the sanctuary is not a long walk, but I found myself winded slightly. I began to have to time and space out when I would go upstairs. If I walked upstairs and immediately had to talk to someone or preach, I would have to work and labor to catch my breath. As a pastor and preacher, that is not acceptable.

(2) Airplanes. A deacon friend and I flew to New Orleans to scope out some upcoming missions opportunities in that region. We flew a Comair flight to New Orleans. You know how you have to put your carry-on bag either in the seat underneath you or in the overhead compartment? I put mine in the seat underneath me. When we were in the air and I had to bend over to get it, I almost choked because my gut had become so big that it pushed into my diaphragm. (If you find yourself laughing at this, that’s your right. But it is a struggle and it causes more pain than just physical.)

(3) The jokes. One friend of mine who lives in another part of the state began joking to me, “You’re beginning to look like a Baptist preacher.” Others come up and pat me on the belly and make comments. And do you know what they would always do afterwards?


And it may have been funny. And for many, it certainly may not have been intended maliciously. But I now know that most folks who struggle in this area look in the mirror and begin to acquire a sort of self-loathing. And they acquire another trait which is far more harmful …

(4) I began to feel enslaved and doomed to this. Yes, I as a minister of Gospel who preaches about how we can be free from self and free in Christ, would find myself telling my wife, “You know, I really don’t think I can lose weight.” No matter what I tried, I kept gaining. And gaining.
But my wife began a program called Lose It For Life by Steven Arterburn. It’s been really good. It’s not like a lot of diet fads. Basically, it’s lots and lots and lots of water. Exercise (and they give you good tips on how to do this in the midst of a busy day), cut down on snacks, and no eating snacks after 8:00.

As of March 29, 2006, I am now 191 — I have lost 15 pounds by the grace and glory of God. My goal is 165-168. You may say, “Matt, you have 25 pounds to go!” YES! I do. But knowing that God has set me and is setting me free from my addiction to food and soft drinks now only gives me hope that I can be healthier, it’s also a time of worship that God can truly set one free from anything that enslaves.

God must be our all-in-all, but for too many of us, food is. We must preach against this as we do other sins. Stephen Arterburn noted that pastors preach against every other sin — all the while carrying 200 pounds extra weight in the pulpit. We must lay this down as well. I love food — but I love my God more and He must be my ‘comfort food’ as the Bread of Life. I will pray that you all indeed feast on Him and Him alone.

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Baggage Handlers and Warriors Share In The Spoils: How Every Christian Has Value in the Kingdom

Our Sunday School classes here at church are going through 1 & 2 Samuel this quarter.  We have had such a blessing getting to know God through this portion of Scripture.

One of the great challenges of pastoral ministry is convincing some Christians of their value and purpose in the Kingdom of God. They look at their weaknesses and magnify them rather than as a result they minimize God’s working in their hearts. They neglect to believe that God has gifted them, even in light of Scripture (1 Corinthians 12:28-31).

In our staff meeting last week, I shared with our staff 1 Samuel 30:16-25:

And when he had taken him down, behold, they were spread abroad over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. [17] And David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled. [18] David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives. [19] Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all. [20] David also captured all the flocks and herds, and the people drove the livestock before him, and said, “This is David’s spoil.”

[21] Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow David, and who had been left at the brook Besor. And they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And when David came near to the people he greeted them. [22] Then all the wicked and worthless fellows among the men who had gone with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may lead away his wife and children, and depart.” [23] But David said, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us. He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us. [24] Who would listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike.” [25] And he made it a statute and a rule for Israel from that day forward to this day.

Some of the warriors had the strength to pursue the Amalekites after they had captured David’s wives and taken the spoil. Yet, some did not have the strength, so they stayed behind and watched the baggage. Both had a part to play, so both could share in the spoils.

Each of us who are engaged in the Christian battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil (1 John 2:15-17) have varying amounts of strength. But everyone, whether they can go or they can stay, regardless of age or gifting, is able to share in the spoils of God’s Kingdom in Christ.

A New Testament passage which parallels this understanding in Matthew 20:1-16. The master of a house had a vineyard and was in need of workers. He hired some at the beginning of the day, promising a denarius. He hired others at the third hour, sixth hour, ninth hour, then the eleventh hour. At the twelfth hour, when he began paying them for their work, he paid the laborer who only worked an hour a denarius. Those who had worked all day thought they would get 12 times that amount since they worked 12 times as long — but the master gave them what they agreed upon — a denarius as well. Look at the rationale of the master:

But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? [14] Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. [15] Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ [16] So the last will be first, and the first last.”

The perspective is what matters. Do we look at what we feel we should receive, or do we admire the generosity of the master? By God’s grace, we have Christ, regardless of whether He chose to have us work in His vineyard for decades, or just a few months — He is generous and gracious in that regardless of the time, all Christians will have every bit of the Son and His Spirit that we need.

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What Does Salt and Light Mean?

Many of us here have been in church for all our lives, and with that we have our own expressions. This should not surprise us. Every field has their own terminology and if you desire to work in that particular field, you need to learn what it’s all about! For instance, if you are working on computers and say, “I’m going to boot up my computer and download Windows on my PC, then use Mozilla Firefox for my web browser so I can surf the ‘Net,” you may understand everything I just said — or you may think I’m speaking in tongues.

Christians have their own terms as well. One phrase we tend to use often is the phrase “salt and light.” All of us fall into three categories:

• We may understand perfectly.
• We may be fairly new to Christianity and have no clue as to what this means.
• Or, we could be ones who use the term frequently and may even find some inspiration in it, but not have a good grip on it.

All of us need to see two things. First, what does ‘salt and light’ mean? Secondly, what does it mean to be ‘salt and light?’ The answer to this question will not simply satisfy a theological question, but will give all Christians the reason why God put us here.

1. What does ‘salt and light’ mean?

Salt. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” What does this mean? Salt in our culture has various uses. Many have salt on the kitchen table which is used to season food. Having this in mind, some say that God has placed Christians here to season the earth with the salt of Christianity. This is partly true!

The Roman Empire was overturned not by warfare but by ordinary Christians living Kingdom lives in the midst of tyranny and opposition. They saw the reality of Matthew 5:10-12 which says:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

When the Roman citizens saw the peace and joy that Christians possessed even in stiff opposition and persecution, this made an impression.

Even now Christians make a difference. Think of all art over the last 500 years devoted to Christ. Think of all the music given over to the glory of God. Our educational system was founded largely by Christians to help children read the Scriptures. Harvard and Yale were founded as colleges for pastors. Our hospitals have named like St. Joseph’s, Good Samaritan, Jewish and others because God placed a compassion in Christians to treat and help those made in his image.

In Jesus’ time, salt was not just used for seasoning but as a preservative to cure the meats and also brings out the flavor. With no refrigeration system, the only way to keep the meats from spoiling would be to cure the meat, wrap it tightly, and bury it in the ground. The meat would stay put — that is, unless some dirt came in and mixed with the salt. If this happens, the meat spoils and the salt loses its preserving nature.

Sodium is an extremely active element found naturally only in combined form; it always links itself to another element. Chlorine, on the other hand, is the poisonous gas that gives bleach its offensive odor. When sodium and chlorine are combined, the result is sodium chloride–common table salt–the substance we use to preserve meat and bring out its flavor. Love and truth can be like sodium and chlorine. Love without truth is flighty, sometimes blind, willing to combine with various doctrines. On the other hand, truth by itself can be offensive, sometimes even poisonous. Spoken without love, it can turn people away from the gospel. When truth and love are combined in an individual or a church, however, then we have what Jesus called “the salt of the earth,” and we’re able to preserve and bring out the beauty of our faith.

Salt works inwardly which means that when salt works, it’s where no one sees it. But the effects of it are on the outside. With the salt, the preserving nature works inwardly so that

Light. In Matthew 5:14-15, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” Here, the skeptic may say, “Wait a minute. In John 8:12 (this skeptic knows his Bible) says that Jesus is the light of the world.” Correct. John 8:12 says, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” Is Jesus or are we the light of the world?

We are the light of the world because we are the body of Christ in the world. He lives in us and shines through us as we live out the Kingdom He’s transferred to us. And light has a distinct function: to uncover the darkness and put on display all that’s around us.

Yet Jesus says that people don’t light this lamp in order to hide it. Yet not everyone who has light shines it. Why? Two reasons come to mind: some hid their light because of an enemy approaching. Some snuffed out their light when they were sleeping.

But Christ called us to be his light in his world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Christians are to rise high above the fray of the world so all the world can see the light of Jesus. This verse may be difficult for us to grasp since we are so surrounded by light. But in the 1st century as well as in most of the world today, no light can be found for hundreds of miles. So when the lights of the big city shine in dark rural areas afar, those areas can see that light clearly.

By Jesus saying that we are the light of the world, and connecting this with the fact that Jesus is the light of the world, we shine and shine brightly. But we must be discerning enough not to allow the enemy to douse the light. This is not easy, for Satan masquerades as an angel of light. He makes himself and his way look quite good, but that’s because without Christ we are remarkably like him: Satan wanted to be like God, and so do we. We want to rule our lives with impunity.

We also must make sure that we do not put out that light by falling asleep. Ephes. 5:15 says that we should, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.” We need to be alert, be focused, be discipled — we need to look to Christ and follow his will and way.

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Happy Are The Merciful, for Mercy Awaits

(This is a portion of a sermon preached on Sunday, April 27, 2008. To listen to the sermon in its entirety, click here. For other audio sermons, click here.)

Every once in a while I hear something that helps me so much in understanding my Christian walk, it gives me one of those “Ah-ha!” moments. I was listening to a sermon by Tim Keller out of New York. One day, his wife insightfully told him how the Christian life for so many was like putting quarters in a Coke machine. The object is to put the quarters in, then out comes the beverage. But on occasion, you put the quarters in and they don’t drop. So what do you do? You shake it and bump it until you hear the quarters drop.

For all too many Christians, the quarters have been deposited in our minds. We know the facts of the Gospel in how God made us, how we have sinned, and how we need to be saved by Christ through his death and resurrection. Many of us have made that decision. The problem though is that those quarters haven’t dropped and we’re waiting in that frustrating in-between stage where we know salvation in Christ, but we just fail to live it out in Christ.

Last week, I preached on the first four beatitudes. Those are the quarters in the machine. These last four Beatitudes are what should come out when the quarters drop. Being a Kingdom child is not just about Kingdom thinking, but Kingdom living. And the only way this can happen is not just from living out Kingdom principles, but when the King of Kings lives in us — Jesus Christ. My prayer this morning is that the Spirit will shake us until the quarters drop.

1. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy (Matthew 5:7).

Mercy. One of the words that we find used in a number of different places, but do we really understand what this word means? We tend to use the word ‘mercy’ and ‘grace’ in much the same way. Think of it this way: grace is receiving something you do not deserve, and mercy is not receiving something you do deserve. D.A. Carson says that, “Grace answers to the undeserving; mercy answers to the miserable.”

So, when we read this passage of Scripture, we tend to take it like this, “If we are merciful, we shall receive mercy.” If you do this, then this will come back to you. This sounds right on the surface. But how does one become merciful? In reality, one who is merciful is one who has received mercy himself — he is one who understands his need for mercy and have received it abundantly. He understands, going back to the first beatitude, that he is in poverty in spirit due to his sin. As a result, he prays like David did, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love, according to your abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquities, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-3).

I came across this recently, “It is sometimes said that an alcoholic who won’t admit he’s an alcoholic hates all other alcoholics.” Here’s a question for you: are you more offended at someone else’s sin moreso than your own? How can you tell? Well, have you shown mercy because you realize that great mercy God showed you? Do you find yourself feeling unworthy of it? Do you find yourself even resenting God’s mercy?

Consider Jonah. Jonah was a Bible-believing prophet commissioned by God. Yet God sends Jonah to a place and a people that to whom he feels far superior. He believes in the Bible, yet displays no compassion, no love, no mercy toward them. Why? Some would say, “Well, he’s prejudice.” That’s true, but why? “Well, he’s a sinner, like all of us.” That’s true, but where’s the rub for him? The problem was that he believed in something greater than the Gospel, something other than God to sustain him. And if you are having trouble being merciful to others, have you truly received and understood the mercy of God?

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