Isaiah 5:20 ” Woe to those who call evil good and good evil…”

When I saw this quote from the Puritan preacher, Charles Spurgeon, I thought to myself, “He could have written it today!” Spurgeon wrote, “The present age is so flippant that if a man loves the Savior, he is a fanatic, and if he hates the powers of evil, he is a bigot.” Our world has become a place where unethical & immoral behavior has become common place…to the point that if you object, you are called out for not being inclusive and open minded. Instead you’ll be called an extremist or a bigot. And if you talk about Jesus as your Lord & Savior, you’re just pushing your religion on someone & must be some crazy Jesus freak. And far be it that you should speak out about the wickedness in the world today…for you’ll be called intolerant & narrow-minded. Yes, Charles Spurgeon could have written that today as our world becomes darker and darker.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it’s by grace you’ve been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it’s the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.”

When we think we are some kind of “Super-Saint”, looking down on & judging others harshly…we are treading on the slippery slope of a self-righteous spirit. Romans 4:2 remind us that we are justified by faith & not by our works… and taking on a “holier than thou” attitude is just plain dangerous, for none of us is better than others. Charles Spurgeon addressed this once, writing, “The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.”

Psalm 32:6 “Let the faithful pray to You…”

Prayer…it’s not just for Sunday mornings in a corporate setting, or with the gathered Prayer Meeting, or with the Bible Study we’re part of. Prayer is as important one on one with the Lord as with a congregational setting on Sunday mornings. In fact, to Charles Spurgeon, individual prayer was far more important than any group prayer. To quote him, “Neglect of private prayer is the locust which devours the strength of the Church.” Just think of it, lack of private prayer on a regular basis by us is eating away at the very fabric of the Body of Believers we are part of. Is it a surprise then when we wonder why our Church isn’t thriving? Romans 12:12 tells that we need to be faithful in prayer, which is being steadfast in a all-important discipline of Christian life. We must then be not only praying daily for our individual needs but for our Church, the Pastoral Staff, the programs, and the congregation. And as we do, Proverbs 15:8 reminds us, “The prayer of the upright pleases God.”

Luke 17:10 ” When you have done everything you were told to do, you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ “

So what exactly is our duty to the Lord? In the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, the Master gives his servants varying amounts of money to invest while he is gone. Some did well, others not so much. The master charged them all with the responsibility to use what he gave them wisely…but it was each individual’s duty & obligation to follow through. The duty we have from our Master is sharing the Gospel Message with others. I Corinthians 9:16 tells us we should be just as compelled to use wisely what our Master has entrusted us with…and so someday being able to say, “I have only done my duty.”

I Peter 2:20 ” But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. “

None of us like to suffer, let alone “suffering well” in doing the right thing. Yet we have the most perfect example in the person of Jesus Christ on just how to “suffer well”. Isaiah 53 talks at length about Christ’s suffering…how it was His Father’s Will to crush Him & cause Him to suffer…for you & me. And it goes on to say that after the suffering of His soul, Jesus saw the light of life…and with it, the gift of eternal life was given to us. Jesus suffered well for us, & thus we are invited to join in His sufferings, (Romans 8:17-18) and the fellowship of sharing in it. (Philippians 3:10)

Genesis 37:34-35 ” Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted.”

Jacob was led to believe that his son Joseph was dead, and his entire world came crashing down around him. His grief so consuming, that Jacob descended into that dark abyss of being beyond comforted. This may be you today, overwhelmed with distress & mourning… and so for a short time you may turn away from others. But don’t turn your back on God…for He truly understands the grief you’re going through, and He’s there to console you as only He can. (Psalm 94:19)

Psalm 145:13 ” The Lord is faithful to all His promises.”

Our confidence in God’s promises must come from our trust in Jesus Christ. For all God’s promises were begun to be fulfilled in Christ’s First Coming, and they will be consummated at His Second Coming. Charles Spurgeon once wrote about God’s faithfulness to His promises like this, “In the same way the sun never grows weary of shining nor a stream flowing, it’s God’s nature to keep His promises. Therefore, go immediately to His Throne and say, ‘Do as You promised.'” We too can have that kind of assurance…that God’s graciously given, sincere & pure promises will never fail…or as II Corinthians 1:20 tells us, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.”

II Thessalonians 2:16-17 “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, Who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

The other day as I grabbed a Devotional book that once belonged to my decreased Mother, a slip of paper fluttered to the ground & I immediately recognized her beautiful handwriting. On the paper was written the Scripture above, and by the looks of the faltering penmanship, it was near the time of her death. What comfort this must have been to her…knowing that God placed such value on her that even though she didn’t deserve it, God sent His Son, Jesus, to die in her place that she might have eternal life. What encouragement she must have had in this Scripture to trust in the steadfast & unchanging faithfulness of her Savior as she herself was going through life-ending changes. What consolation she must have gained by His grace being poured out on her…His unearned & unmerited favor… as she looked forward to heaven.

Lamentations 3:22-23 ” Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

When we’re going through unbearable suffering & grief, God doesn’t expect a stoic response from us…and the Book of Lamentations is a good example of not just the venting of despair, but looking closely at God’s perspective in the midst of that despair. For without His great love, compassion, kindness, & mercy all creation would cease to exist. Job 34:15 explains it like this, “If it were His intention and He withdrew His Spirit and breath, all mankind would perish…” This Common Grace as it’s called, shows how compassionate & gracious God is, that He’s slow to anger, and abounding in love & faithfulness towards all. (Exodus 34:6) And so even in the middle of suffering we have everything we need forever in the person of Jesus Christ. So take ahold of His hand.

John 12:13 ” They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord!’ “

Within this one verse is the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies. Leviticus 23:40 gives directions that during the Feast of Tabernacles the people are to celebrate and rejoice before the Lord their God with palm fronds & leafy branches. In Psalm 118:25-29 it starts out with, “Oh Lord, save us!” Which is the Hebrew word from which the New Testament Greek word “Hosanna” can be traced to. And then we have Zechariah 9:9 that foretells of the coming of Zion’s King…the Messiah. “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Showing that Israel no longer would rely on military strength (strong stallion war horses) but on the Prince of Peace. (a gentle donkey foal) Finally, we can see Daniel’s prophecy fulfilled as he sees The Anointed One coming. (Daniel 9:24-27)

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