Browse Category: Religion

All the Day Long

All the Day Long
All the Day Long

I was thinking this morning about how my heart is not in a good state right now. My “flesh,” as St. Paul terms it, has gained an advantage over me. It has taken the higher ground. It has its foot upon my chest and is ready to sever my head while I am fallen in my weakness.

My “flesh” is my mind. It is not just my physical anatomy, as if that were the residence of sinful passions. No, my flesh includes my sinful mind, my fickle often hard heart. Even if there isn’t an outward manifestation of sinful behavior, the thoughts are there in my mind. Lust is running amok in my mind. It usually does show itself in my body sooner or later, in one way or another – even if it’s only the slightest glance of my eye in a lustful manner. My “flesh” is in my mind and body.

I have not been mortifying my flesh – in the sense of putting these things to death through the Holy Spirit. I want it to be dead at the source – in my mind. I want a pure heart – not just reformation or restriction of my behavior. But right now I am so far from that. Anger and passion and worldliness. The pursuit of pleasure. How did it enter in when I was walking closely with God? (Or maybe just thought I was.) How have I again resorted to idolatry?

This is where it has lead me: to a place of mind and heart where I can’t read the Scriptures with a true desire to walk in God’s ways; I can’t pray with a full united heart; I can’t speak to others about Truth without hypocrisy; I can’t love others. This is hell and death and barrenness.

Reflecting on these things, I then thought, I must repent right now, pray – however feebly, and open my Bible. After all, I am 61 years-old. How much earthly existence do I have left? I should prepare my heart for my exit. I should be banking up treasure in heaven with much more determination than I have in piling up cash in my retirement fund. I’ve been reading Ecclesiastes lately. Oh God! Help me to learn the lesson: VANITY! VANITY! VANITY! Twelve chapters proving the emptiness of earthly existence. BUT: “Let us hear the conclusion of the WHOLE matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the WHOLE duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14)

So, I got up at that moment. I did open my Bible. As my habit is, I first ready my daily chapter of Proverbs. Since today is the 23rd, I read chapter 23. What did I find there?

Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long. For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.

Proverbs 23:17, 18

The words that struck me most were, “All the day long.” It pressed upon me that my concern should be for THIS day. Fear the Lord THIS day – for that is the whole duty of man – THIS day. The whole duty for THIS man THIS day. Forget the past – with all its failures, all its wayward moments, all its hardness of heart. Focus on THIS day. Forget the future – with its anxieties and fears. It’s tempting to say the cliched line, “One day at a time.” But it’s true. “TODAY if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart.” (Psalm 95:7, 8) “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) “All the day long” are words that brought me abruptly to the present. Honestly, it’s a relief. Didn’t Jesus say, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34) The verse before it is better known to most of us: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” That is very much in line with the words from Proverbs 23: “Let not thine heart envy sinner: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long.” God keeps bringing us back to the present. That is where the action is. The present is where we live. The present is where we can obey Him and walk with Him.

But also He points us to His righteous future kingdom: “For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.” Expectation is hope. Ultimately, what is our hope? It is “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,” our “blessed hope.” (Titus 2:13) I was going to now point “us” to the previous two verses in Titus 2. But I need to shift from “us” to “me.” I need to speak verses 11 and 12 to myself: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, DENYING UNGODLINESS AND WORLDLY LUSTS, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” I must have the hope of that glorious future. For surely there is an end! “Faith is the substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) I must walk by faith, certainly. “For surely there is an end!” It is a sure and certain fact, which my faith holds onto, that Jesus Christ will appear! “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2) What is the very next verse? “AND EVERY MAN THAT HATH THIS HOPE IN HIM PURIFIETH HIMSELF, EVEN AS HE IS PURE.”

I cannot escape the message: I must mortify my flesh THIS DAY! The blessed hope gives me incentive and courage to begin hammering the nails to crucify my flesh. Come, Holy Spirit, make such death of my flesh real and effectual THIS DAY! Help me, Lord, to let go of the anger, to resist the lust – to cut off my right hand and pluck out my right eye. Breathe Your life into me. Create me anew, with a clean heart and a right spirit. Bear Your fruit through me this day, Lord. Keep me moment by moment to fear You. For there is the place of peace and joy and love. There is where kindness and goodness dwell. Lord Jesus, let me desire what You desire. Let my heart beat with Yours.

That He Might Bring You to God

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834 – 1892

In the French Revolution, there was a young man condemned to the guillotine, and shut up in one of the prisons. He was greatly loved by many, but there was one who loved him more than all put together. How do we know this? It was his own father; and the love he bore his son was proved in this way: when the lists were called, the father, whose name was exactly the same as his son’s, answered the name, and the father rode in the gloom wagon out to the place of execution, and his head rolled beneath the axe instead of his son’s, a victim to mighty love.

See here an image of the love of Christ to sinners; for thus Jesus died for the ungodly, viewed as such. If they had not been ungodly, neither they nor He had needed to have died; if they had not sinned, there would have been no need for a suffering Savior, but Jesus proved His boundless love in “that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Your name was in the condemned list, my fellow sinner, but, if you believe in Jesus, you shall find that your name is there no longer, for Christ’s name is put in your place, and you shall learn that He suffered for you, the Just for the unjust, THAT HE MIGHT BRING YOU TO GOD. Is not this the greatest wonder of divine love that it should be set upon us as sinners? I can understand God’s loving reformed sinners and repenting sinners; but here is the glory of it, “God commends His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners [YET SINNERS!] Christ died for us.”

O my hearers, from my inmost heart I pray that this boundless wealth of love on the part of Jesus to those who were rebels and enemies, may win your hearts to love the heavenly lover in return!

Charles Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Sermon #745 – “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ”

The sermon is available here:

A Sacrifice for the Sin of His People

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834 – 1892

Behold, in Bethlehem’s manger Emmanuel is born, God is with us. Before your eyes He lies who was both the Son of Mary, and the Son of the Blessed, an infant, and yet infinite, of a span long, and yet filling all eternity, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and yet too great for space to hold Him. Thirty and more years He lived on earth: the latter part of His life was spent in a ministry full of suffering to Himself, but filled with good to others. “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Never man spoke like that man; He was a man on fire with love; a man without human imperfections, but with all human sympathies; a man without the sins of manhood, but with something more than the sorrows of common manhood piled upon Him. There was never such a man as He, so great, so glorious in His life, and yet He is the pattern and type of manhood. He reached His greatest when He stooped to the lowest. He was seized by His enemies one night when wrestling in prayer, betrayed by the man who had eaten bread with Him; He was dragged before tribunal after tribunal, through that long and sorrowful night, and wrongfully accused of blasphemy and sedition. They scourged Him; though none of His works deserved a blow, yet the plowers made deep furrows on His back. They mocked Him; though He merited the homage of all intelligent beings, yet they spat in His face, and struck Him with their mailed fists, and said, “Prophesy, who is he that struck You?”

He was made lower than a slave; even the abject opened their mouths with laughter at Him, and the slaves scoffed at Him. To end the scene, they took Him through the streets of Jerusalem over which He had wept; they hounded Him along the Via Dolorosa, out through the gate, to the mount of doom I think I see Him, with eyes all red with weeping He turns to the matrons of Salem, and cries, “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but for yourselves, and for your children.” Can you see Him bearing that heavy cross, ready to faint beneath the burden? Can you endure to see Him, when, having reached the little mound outside the city, they hurl Him on His back, and drive the cruel iron through His hands and feet? Can you bear to see the spectacle of blood and anguish as they lift Him up between heaven and earth, made a sacrifice for the sin of His people? My words shall be few, for the vision is too sad for language to depict. He bleeds, He thirsts, He groans, He cries – at last He dies – a death whose unknown griefs are not to be imagined, and were they known would be beyond expression by human tongue.

Charles Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Sermon #745 – “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ”

The sermon is available here:

The Backstory on A Prayer of the Foolish


Yesterday I published the short blog post, A Prayer of the Foolish. Today I will share a little about the thought that went into that post. These are some of the practices I follow when thinking over a portion of Scripture, especially if I have a thought of writing something related to Scripture.
In real life, these practices are not done as neatly and orderly as described below. In this recent case, Proverbs 9:6 is the verse that got my attention. I spent two days thinking, praying, and consulting various references. What follows is a bit of the details of that.

Comparing Bible Versions

One of the first things I do when a Bible verse intrigues me is compare the verse in a number of different Bible versions. I primarily read the King James Version. It’s what I “cut my teeth on” when I first started reading the Bible way back in 1980. (It’s the English that Jesus and His Apostles spoke, right?) I like to compare the KJV with several other Bibles that I have on hand.

So here is Proverbs 9:6 in nine different versions:

  • KJV – Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.
  • Living Bible – Leave behind your foolishness and begin to live; learn how to be wise.
  • Amplified Bible – Leave off, simple ones – forsake the foolish and simple-minded – and live! And walk in the way of insight and understanding.
  • New American Standard Bible – Forsake your folly and live, and proceed in the way of understanding.
  • New International Version – Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.
  • New King James Version – Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding.
  • American Standard Version – Leave off, ye simple ones, and live; and walk in the way of understanding.
  • New Revised Standard Version – Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.
  • New American Bible, Revised Edition – Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.

You can see there is a bit of difference regarding the first half of the verse. The majority in that list tell us to forsake our own foolish ways. A few warn us to forsake foolish people. And one directs its admonition to “ye simple ones.”

I came to the conclusion that all three takes on the phrase are necessary and lead us to the same thing: we are simple ones, foolish in our own ways, AND we need to stay away from other foolish people – not following in their ways, but going in the paths of God’s wisdom.

Consulting Bible Commentaries

After comparing different Bible versions, I next consulted several commentaries on Proverbs that I have. Only one gave me something significant. That was Charles Bridges’ commentary. Bridges almost always provides a feast to digest that usually leaves me searching my heart. Here is what Bridges wrote regarding Proverbs 9:5, 6 (“Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.”):

Come, eat of the bread of life; drink of the wine of gospel grace and joy.
Is there not besides a special invitation for her [Wisdom] children – a table richly furnished for their refreshment; where they eat of the bread, and drink of the wine, such as “the world know not of?” (Matthew 26:26 – 28)

But are not all comers welcome to the Gospel feast? The Master’s heart flows along with every offer of His grace. His servants are ministers of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18 – 20) Their message is to tell of the bounty of Messiah’s house, and to bid sinners welcome to Him. Here, sinner, is thy warrant – not thy worthiness, but thy need, and the invitation of thy Lord. All the blessings of His Gospel are set before thee – love without beginning, end, or change. Honour the freeness of His mercy. Let Him have the full glory of His own grace, who invites thee to a feast, when He might have frowned thee to hell.
Let His heavenly hope be enthroned in the soul, displacing every subordinate object from its hold on thine affections, eclipsing the glories of this present world, absorbing thy whole mind, consecrating thy whole heart.

Here only are the ways of peace. The very severities of the Gospel prepare the way for its consolations. But never can these blessings be valued, till the path of the foolish be forsaken. Thou must forsake either them or Christ. (James 4:4) To abide with them, is to “remain in the congregation of the dead.” (Proverbs 21:16) To forsake them, is the way of life and understanding. (Proverbs 13:20; Psalm 26:3 – 6; 34:12 – 14; 119:115; Amos 5:15)
Are they more to you than salvation? To “be the friend of the world is to be the enemy of God.” “Come out, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive thee, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17, 18)

– Charles Bridges, Proverbs, Geneva Series of Commentaries, pages 85, 86.

See what I mean? Take some time to digest that!

Evangelical Application

There is a footnote for Proverbs 9:6 in the New American Bible. It says the following:

That you may live: life in Proverbs is this-worldly, consisting in fearing God or doing one’s duty toward God, enjoying health and long life, possessing wealth, good reputation, and a family. Such a life cannot be attained without God’s help. Hence Wisdom speaks not of life simply but of life with her; the guest is to live in Wisdom’s house.

I appreciate that perspective. Yes, certainly, the book of Proverbs is FULL of guidance for our “this-worldly” life. Absolutely! Go apply its directions on honesty, hard work, diligence, ethical business dealings, respect of others’ property, charity to the poor, respect for authority, and more – and you will see improvements to your experience of the here and now. We all need that!

But as I contemplated the “this-worldly” application of Proverbs 9:6, I remembered 1 Timothy 4:7, 8 – “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” It made me think that there is an evangelical application to this beginning passage of Proverbs 9, which Charles Bridges certainly elucidated. There is a turning from something unprofitable and a turning to life. That is repentance. That is the call of the Kingdom of God. It was the message of Jesus Himself: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

One of my favorite writers, whose books abound with evangelical beauty, is John Owen. In his book on Communion with God, Owen touched on Proverbs 9:1 – 6 as an example of God’s gracious Gospel invitation. He said the following:

The Lord Christ, the eternal Wisdom of the Father, and who of God is made unto us wisdom, erects a spiritual house, wherein He makes provision for the entertainment of those guests whom He so freely invites. His church is the house which He hath built on a perfect number of pillars, that it might have a stable foundation: His slain beasts and mingled wine, wherewith His table is furnished, are those spiritual fat things of the gospel, which He hath prepared for those that come in upon His invitation. Surely, to eat of this bread, and drink of this wine, which He hath so graciously prepared, is to hold fellowship with Him.

– John Owen, Works, Vol. 2, page 46.

The Prayer

Charles Bridges referred to James 4:4. I went back to James 4 and read several verses.

  • 4. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
  • 5. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
  • 6. But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
  • 7. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
  • 8. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
  • 9. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
  • 10. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

And there was the key I needed: “He giveth more grace. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord.” I want to forsake the foolish. But I AM foolish. Too often I am a friend of the world. Spiritual adultery! Is there no way out from under this mountain of corruption in my own heart? “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7 – the very next verse)

Please see: A Prayer of the Foolish.

Thank you for reading.

The Sufferings of Christ


O Jesus! You were a sufferer from Your birth, a man of sorrows and grief’s acquaintance. Your sufferings fell on You in one perpetual shower, until the last dread hour of darkness. Then not in a shower, but in a cloud, a torrent, a cataract of grief, Your agonies did dash upon You. See Him yonder! It is a night of frost and cold, but He is abroad. It is night, He sleeps not, but He is in prayer. Hark to His groans! Did ever man wrestle as He wrestles? Go and look in His face! Was ever such suffering depicted upon mortal countenance as you can there behold? Hear His words? “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.” He rises: He is seized by traitors and is dragged away. Let us step to the place where just now He was engaged in agony. O God! And what is this we see?

What is this that stains the ground? It is blood! Whence came it? Had He some wound which oozed afresh through His dire struggle? Ah! No! “He sweat, as it were, great drops of blood, falling down to the ground.” O agonies that surpass the word by which we name you! O sufferings that cannot be compassed with language! What could you be that thus could work upon the Savior’s blessed frame, and force a bloody sweat to fall from His entire body? This is the beginning; this is the opening of tragedy.

Follow Him mournfully, you sorrowing church, to witness the consummation of it. He is hurried through the streets, He is dragged first to one bar and then to another. He is cast and condemned before the Sanhedrin, He is mocked by Herod, He is tried by Pilate. His sentence is pronounced – “Let Him be crucified!” And now the tragedy comes to its height. His back is bared, He is tied to the low Roman column, the bloody scourge ploughs furrows on His back, and with one stream of blood His back is red – a crimson robe that proclaims Him emperor of misery. He is taken into the guard room. His eyes are bound, and then they buffet Him, and say, “Prophesy, who it was that smote You.” They spit into His face, they plait a crown of thorns, and press His temples with it, they array Him in a purple robe, they bow their knees, and mock Him. All silently He sits, He answers not a word. “When He was reviled, He reviled not again,” but committed Himself unto Him whom He came to serve.

And now they take Him, and with many a jeer and jibe they drive Him from the place, and hurry Him through the streets. Emaciated by continual fasting, and depressed with the agony of spirit He stumbles beneath His cross. Daughters of Jerusalem! He faints in your streets. They raise Him up, they put His cross upon another’s shoulders, and they urge Him on, perhaps with many a spear-prick, till at last He reaches the mount of doom. Rough soldiers seize Him, and hurl Him on His back, the transverse wood is laid beneath Him, His arms are stretched to reach the necessary distance, the nails are grasped, four hammers at one moment drive four nails through the tenderest parts of His body, and there he lies upon His own place of execution dying on His cross. It is not done yet. The cross is lifted by the rough soldiers. There is the socket prepared for it. It is dashed into its place, they fill up the place with earth, and there it stands.

But see the Savior’s limbs, how they quiver! Every bone has been put out of joint by the dashing of the ross into the socket! How He weeps! How He sighs! How He sobs! Nay, more, hark how at last He shrieks in agony, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” O sun, no wonder you did shut your eye, and look no longer upon a deed so cruel! O rocks! No wonder that you did melt and rend your hearts with sympathy, when your Creator died! Never man suffered as this man suffered! Even death itself relented, and many of those who had been in their graves arose and came into the city.

This however, is but the outward. Believe me, brethren, the inward was far worse. What our Savior suffered in His body was nothing compared to what He endured in His soul. You cannot guess, and I cannot help you guess, what He endured within. Suppose for one moment – to repeat a sentence I have often used – suppose a man who has passed into hell – suppose his eternal torment could all be brought into one hour, and then suppose it could be multiplied by the number of the saved, which is a number past all human enumeration. Can you now think what a vast aggregate of misery there would have been in the sufferings of all God’s people, if they had been punished through all eternity?

And recollect that Christ had to suffer an equivalent for all the hells of all His redeemed. I can never express that thought better than by using those oft-repeated words: it seemed as if hell was put into His cup, He seized it, and, “At one tremendous draught of love, He drank damnation dry.” So that there was nothing left of all the pangs and miseries of hell for His people to ever endure. I say not that He suffered the same, but He did endure an equivalent for all this, and gave God the satisfaction for all the sins of all His people, and consequently gave Him an equivalent for all their punishment. Now can you dream, can you guess the great redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ?

C. H. Spurgeon
Sermon #181 – Particular Redemption
Preached on February 28, 1858