VIDEO Charles Spurgeon Addresses Church Shoppers

charles spurgeon
I once read that if you really love books, you don’t just love the best sellers.

Anyone can find something to love in a best seller. If you really love books, you can find something to love within a book you snagged at the dollar store. You love watching narratives unfold, characters develop, and ideas take shape so much that you can appreciate those things even within the most convoluted, clumsily articulated books.

What if we loved Jesus so much that we could recognize and appreciate his qualities in even the worst of his followers?

It doesn’t mean you should cringe your way through sermons or clench your teeth through worship or prayer to prove your love for Jesus.

It means you can find something to appreciate among the flaws: that’s what Jesus does every time he looks at us. Seek the pieces of truth and glimpses of glory, wherever you find yourself in the global body of Christ.

Seeing the cup as half full instead of half empty doesn’t make you delusional. You know the cup isn’t full. But you appreciate what’s there more than you criticize what’s not.

This doesn’t mean that we simply ignore the faults in our churches and fellow believers. On the contrary, the more we love who Jesus is, the harder it is to tolerate misrepresentations or distortions of his character.

But no matter where you look within a church, and no matter how many churches you visit, you’ll always find something that’s not quite right or that could be better.

You will never find the perfect church

Flawed individuals cannot form a flawless group of people.

When you have the freedom to choose between multiple churches, countless reasons arise to choose one over the other. Some differences are theological and some are superficial.

“This church has a better teaching pastor.”

“That church has better child care.”

“I don’t like the way [insert church name] handled [insert situation].”

These may be deeply personal reasons. They may be completely valid concerns. But if you can’t find a church that satisfies you, consider these words from Charles Spurgeon, The Prince of Preachers:

You that are members of the church have not found it perfect and I hope that you feel almost glad that you have not. If I had never joined a Church till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all! And the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect Church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us.

In his sermon, “The Best Donation (No. 2,334),” Spurgeon goes on to say,

. . .the Church is faulty, but that is no excuse for your not joining it, if you are the Lord’s. Nor need your own faults keep you back, for the Church is not an institution for perfect people, but a sanctuary for sinners saved by Grace, who, though they are saved, are still sinners and need all the help they can derive from the sympathy and guidance of their fellow Believers.

What-if-we-loved-Jesus1

How do you respond to the imperfections in your church?

By Ryan Nelson

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The Tyranny of the Perfect – Pouring Out the Water of Satisfaction

The Tyranny of the Perfect

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8

Dr. Brian Goldman obsessively tried to be perfect in treating his patients. But on a nationally broadcast show he admitted to mistakes he had made. He revealed that he had treated a woman in the emergency room and then made the decision to discharge her. Later that day a nurse asked him, “Do you remember that patient you sent home? Well, she’s back.” The patient had been readmitted to the hospital and then died. This devastated him. He tried even harder to be perfect, only to learn the obvious: Perfection is impossible.

As Christians, we may harbor unrealistic expectations of perfection for ourselves. But even if we can somehow manage the appearance of a flawless life, our thoughts and motives are never completely pure.

John the disciple wrote, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). The remedy is not to hide our sins and to strive harder, but to step into the light of God’s truth and confess them. “If we walk in the light,” said John, “as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (v. 7).

In medicine, Dr. Goldman proposes the idea of a “redefined physician” who—in a culture where we are hesitant to admit our errors—no longer toils under the tyranny of perfection. Such a physician openly shares mistakes and supports colleagues who do the same, with a goal of reducing mistakes.

What if Christians were known not for hiding their sins but for loving and supporting each other with the truth and grace of our God? What if we practiced a risky yet healthy honesty with each other and with the watching world?

Father, it’s so difficult for us to share our faults with each other, but You call us to wholeness as Your people. Empower us by Your Spirit to live courageously in love and honesty.

Honesty with God about our sin brings forgiveness.

By Tim Gustafson

Pouring Out the Water of Satisfaction

He would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord. —2 Samuel 23:16

What has been like “water from the well of Bethlehem” to you recently— love, friendship, or maybe some spiritual blessing (2 Samuel 23:16)? Have you taken whatever it may be, even at the risk of damaging your own soul, simply to satisfy yourself? If you have, then you cannot pour it out “to the Lord.” You can never set apart for God something that you desire for yourself to achieve your own satisfaction. If you try to satisfy yourself with a blessing from God, it will corrupt you. You must sacrifice it, pouring it out to God— something that your common sense says is an absurd waste.

How can I pour out “to the Lord” natural love and spiritual blessings? There is only one way— I must make a determination in my mind to do so. There are certain things other people do that could never be received by someone who does not know God, because it is humanly impossible to repay them. As soon as I realize that something is too wonderful for me, that I am not worthy to receive it, and that it is not meant for a human being at all, I must pour it out “to the Lord.” Then these very things that have come to me will be poured out as “rivers of living water” all around me (John 7:38). And until I pour these things out to God, they actually endanger those I love, as well as myself, because they will be turned into lust. Yes, we can be lustful in things that are not sordid and vile. Even love must be transformed by being poured out “to the Lord.”

If you have become bitter and sour, it is because when God gave you a blessing you hoarded it. Yet if you had poured it out to Him, you would have been the sweetest person on earth. If you are always keeping blessings to yourself and never learning to pour out anything “to the Lord,” other people will never have their vision of God expanded through you.

The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with Him.… We have to pitch our tents where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be. My Utmost for His Highest, January 6, 736 R

Oswald Chambers

How to Bolster Our Faith

Colossians 2:6-7

Once we have made up our minds to obey God, we gather courage around us like a cloak and proceed. That is, until something causes us to hesitate and question the wisdom of this decision. Our faith is wavering. What do we do now?

Ask yourself questions about God. Has God promised to meet all my needs? Has He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in me, guide me, and equip me to obey Him? Did God promise to be with me at all times? Is anything too hard for Him? Search the Scriptures for answers, and let truth fill your mind.

Meditate on God’s Word. Ask the Lord to help you find Bible verses that relate to what you are facing. Then study the passage and apply its lessons to your personal situation.

Recall the Lord’s past faithfulness. God by His very nature is faithful, and He always acts true to His character. The enemy would have us forget all that God has done for us.

Assess the situation. Ask, How critical is this decision, and whom might it affect? Is this one of those forks in the road in which my unbelief could cause me or another person a lifetime of regret?

Choose to trust the Lord. Make the decision to believe God and obey, no matter how you feel.

As you take a step of faith, God will strengthen you through His Spirit and enable you to continue on. Before you know it, your faith will become steady, joy will return, and you will be moving ahead once again.

Blessed by the Word

“Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.” (Psalm 119:1)

The Hebrew word barak appears over 300 times in the Bible. It basically means to endue or bless with power for success, prosperity, fruitfulness, longevity, and so on. The oft-used Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6:24-26) closes with, “The LORD lift up [turn] his countenance upon [toward] thee, and give thee peace,” and is initiated by the greater upon the lesser.

The opening stanza of Psalm 119 identifies the traits of a lifestyle subject to the Word of God and then claims the blessing that comes as the result of those who “seek him with the whole heart” (Psalm 119:2). The unknown psalmist saturates all 22 stanzas with eight key words describing the intimate role by which inspired Scriptures empower godly behavior. Six are used in this opening testimony and prayer.

Those who “walk in the law [torah] of the LORD” and “keep his testimonies” (edah) receive God’s blessing (Psalm 119:1-2). These instructions inscripturated in God’s Word enable us to be “undefiled in the way” and to “do no iniquity” (Psalm 119:3). The apostle Paul noted that apart from the law, he would not know he was sinning (Romans 7:7).

God “hast commanded us to keep [His] precepts [piqquwd—listings, statutes, laws] diligently. . . . Then shall [we] not be ashamed, when [we] have respect unto all [His] commandments [mitzvah―instructions]” (Psalm 119:4-6).

The promise to “praise [Him] with uprightness of heart” (Psalm 119:7) is based on a prayer: “O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes [hoq―engraved laws]!” (Psalm 119:5). And we can be certain that a righteous life will come when we have “learned [His] righteousness judgments [mishpat]” (Psalm 119:7). May our lives be as dedicated to God’s Word as is described in this magnificent song. HMM III

The Curse of Self-Righteousness

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. —2 Peter 3:18

Self-righteousness is terrible among God’s people. If we feel that we are what we ought to be, then we will remain what we are. We will not look for any change or improvement in our lives. This will quite naturally lead us to judge everyone by what we are. This is the judgment of which we must be careful. To judge others by ourselves is to create havoc in the local assembly.

Self-righteousness also leads to complacency. Complacency is a great sin…. Some have the attitude, “Lord, I’m satisfied with my spiritual condition. I hope one of these days You will come, I will be taken up to meet You in the air and I will rule over five cities.” These people cannot rule over their own houses and families, but they expect to rule over five cities. They pray spottily and sparsely, rarely attending prayer meeting, but they read their Bibles and expect to go zooming off into the blue yonder and join the Lord in the triumph of the victorious saints.

Lord, keep me from the curse of self-righteousness. Show me my sin and need for continued growth. If revival is to come, it needs to start with me, and it won’t start unless I’m constantly reminded of my need. Amen.

Do Not Hope to Win the Lost by Being Agreeable

Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

In our day, religion may be very precious to some persons, but hardly important enough to cause division or risk hurting anyone’s feelings!

In all our discussions there must never be any trace of intolerance, we are reminded; but obviously we forget that the most fervent devotees of tolerance are invariably intolerant of everyone who speaks about God with certainty. And there must be no bigotry—which is the name given to spiritual assurance by those who do not enjoy it!

The desire to please may be commendable enough under certain circumstances, but when pleasing men means displeasing God it is an
unqualified evil and should have no place in the Christian’s heart. To be right with God has often meant to be in trouble with men. This is such a common truth that one hesitates to mention it, yet it appears to have been overlooked by the majority of Christians today.

There is a notion abroad that to win a man we must agree with him. Actually, the exact opposite is true!

The man who is going in a wrong direction will never be set right by the affable religionist who falls into step beside him and goes the same way. Someone must place himself across the path and insist that the straying man turn around and go in the right direction.

Holiness Not an Option

He that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. ROMANS 14:18

Many believers in our day seem to consider the expression of true Christian holiness to be just a matter of personal option: “I have looked it over and considered it, but I don’t buy it!”

But the Apostle Peter clearly exhorts every Christian to holiness of life and conversation: God’s children ought to be holy because God Himself is holy! I am of the opinion that New Testament Christians do not have the privilege of ignoring such apostolic injunctions.

There is something basically wrong with our Christianity and our spirituality if we can carelessly presume that if we do not like a biblical doctrine and choose to ignore it, there is no harm done. God has never instructed us that we should weigh His desires for us and His commandments to us in the balance of our own judgments—and then decide what we want to do about them.

We have the power within us to reject God’s instruction—but where else shall we go? If we turn away from the authority of God’s Word, to whose authority do we yield?

Dear Lord, I truly desire to obey all of Your commandments. Yet in my flesh I sometimes waver and fall short of Your holy standard. Forgive me, Lord. Empower me by Your Spirit to gain victory over my weak areas.