Episode 12: Comfort for the Tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13)

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Sermon text here.

The passage that has been a constant theme in my life the last few months has been 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Not that I have been some kind of recepient of any deeper revelation than God’s Word, but that in spite of all the amazing things God has done in my life, He has not lifted trials and temptations to sin from me. Lately I have been very conscious of the truth of this, and have had on my mind the separation that sin brings in.  It has caused me to despise my own sin all the more, and to cry out to the Lord for rest and restoration in areas that my sin has brought damage to my life and the lives of others.

Thankfully the enemy is woefully uncreative in his assaults.  The Preacher writes in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”  I have found that to be very true, and the temptations that come to me seem to recur from earlier sins.  My desire is to shore up the areas that are weak like this, to prepare for the return of the desire to pursue wickedness, but I find that my weakness is still great.  I’m not strong enough, I’m not smart enough, and I have to find my escape elsewhere.

I always turn to Romans 7 in times like this, to Paul’s great cry of “Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus our Lord!”  My only hope is to turn to the power of Christ to overcome my sin.  And that need is one that I have to exercise, to make war on desires of the flesh and nail them to the cross day after day.  The greatest frustration comes in those times when my heart longs to run the opposite direction, to return to things I have cast off as though they have some sort of value.

So this sermon is as much directly to me as to anyone else who might listen to it.  It is a passionate cry to the parts of me that harbor doubt and fear, and that want to run to find comfort in those broken cisterns that will never hold water, empty objects of worship that can do nothing but create that wall of separation that sin creates between myself and God, my family and my friends.  In it I pray to the Spirit to preach fervently to my heart of the glory of Christ, and say to myself to pull my gaze away from my sin, and fix it on Jesus, and Him alone.

Christ is my hope, and my strength.  Let all other things serve that truth and direct my eyes to the cross.


Episode 11: The Panting Deer (Psalm 42)

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Sermon text here.

I have decided to try, as a new addition to the podcast, a portion after the sermon which will serve as sort of a devotional time of my own, to talk about what led me to choose this sermon and to give my own thoughts on the subject.  This will not supplant discussion episodes, but I wanted to try doing this to begin generating my own original thoughts on Spurgeon’s words and the Scriptures at hand.

By the way, the transition music is a new arrangement of A Mighty Fortress is Our God by Jarod Grice, whom you may recall from discussion episode 8A.  You can download his song and many others he’s written at his Bandcamp page.

I chose this sermon for three reasons.  Firstly, this is probably one of my favorite psalms, and there have been many days since the Holy Spirit broke my heart for Christ that I have found myself feeling exactly like King David in this psalm, aching deeply for closeness with my Lord.  My desire has been to have a heart that is fully in sync with Paul’s words of Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  But it seems like that is often beyond my grasp, and I am forced to be reminded of something else Paul wrote, a word from God in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

And that feeds into my second reason, and one that Spurgeon acknowledges early on: the deadly effects of sin on our communion with God.  Like all believers who still live, I have had to do a great deal of battle against the sins of my past, against my fleshly will to rebel and against the enemy that tempts and accuses.  I have struggled with the truth that God’s grace is sufficient for me, that the sacrifice Jesus made of Himself on the cross is truly vast enough to cover what I am guilty of.  Most of all I have had the bittersweet experience of having my eyes opened to an idol I have been holding back; over the last few years God has walked me through this same process in gentleness but with discipline, in showing me things that I am holding onto in such a way that I have made it clear that I don’t truly trust God fully.  Then in that same sense of joyful, repentant weeping that Spurgeon talks about, I have had to release my grip…and in that release, God has been faithful to bring healing, renewed life and rest, and to remind me that He loves me.  That is, after all, one of the reasons I started this podcast, to be able to share material that God has used in my life for exactly that purpose so many times.

And finally, that leads into my third reason: my wife returned from a mission trip to Asia and had amazing opportunities to share the Gospel with many and to meet people who had become believers in a place where proclaiming the name of Christ is at best, severely frowned upon, and at worst met with death.  She spoke about one man who shared his testimony; after becoming a believer his family had disowned him.  For years he had been unable to speak with them, and this in a society which is far more communal and collectivistic by nature than the West; losing contact with your family is like losing contact with your context for the world.  His father passed away and he tried to return and see him one last time, but he was kept out, unable to attend his own father’s funeral.  She recalled that his closing words were, “Christ is my only asset.”

And as I heard this, I was deeply convicted of this truth: the same is true for me.  I live in a society where we do not have this same level of persecution; becoming a believer was not something that destroyed my connections with family and friends.  Yet the truth is that even with all the things I do have here, Jesus Christ really and truly is my only asset.  If I live, it is for Christ and through Christ; if I die, I go to Christ.  Yet how many times, even in just the last few days, have I been guilty of living as though Christ were simply one of several fungible assets I can choose from?  Too many to count, enough to make me cry out to the Father just like the blind man, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me!”

But thanks be to God, that mercy is given, and given readily.  My friends, I pray this podcast is a blessing to you.  If you know Christ, then I pray your spirit has been strengthened by this mere echo of a great preacher of years gone by.  If you don’t know Christ, then I pray you have felt a conviction that you are in need.  I hope that you are driven to ask questions, and to seek answers.  The answers are there to be had, and Jesus Christ is there to know you, to cover the sins you and I and all people are guilty of, and to give you the only real, meaningful, lasting asset any human can ever possess.

Episode 10: The Very Friend You Need (Luke 7:34)

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Christ is truly the friend of sinners, yet this idea has been maligned, twisted, and abused so much over the years.  In this sermon we discuss in depth the truth of Jesus’ friendship for the sinner in need!  Listen above and subscribe on iTunes and Soundcloud!

Sermon text is here.


After doing the episode and spending time thinking about the topic, I wanted to turn back to this and expand the subject, and have my own say on what it really means to say that Jesus is the friend of sinners, and that Jesus is my friend.  We typically think of “friend” in a very non-committal way, but when we say that Jesus is a friend of sinners in the sense that Spurgeon exegetes the text to understand, we see that we’re not thinking of “friend” in the standard American sense, where He is some acquaintance we are on generally friendly terms with and who we might invite over for a party to watch a football game.  This is a relationship that Christ takes very seriously, and furthermore, it reveals that only by realizing our deep need for that friendship, can we come to Christ in search of it.

I am very aware of my deep-seated need for that very friendship.  The Holy Spirit has been gracious enough to me to open my eyes to my nature as a broken sinner, who has nothing good to offer and who has been trying to live for so long under my own power and for my own glory.  Let’s look back at the passage in question:

“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like?They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
    we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”–Luke 7:31-35

I’m using the fuller context to show the contrast and hypocrisy of the Pharisees, as well as to discuss how I can to understand my own deep-seated need.  There was a time, I would have been like those men, standing there looking judgmentally at these people who are doing exactly what they should be doing: coming to Christ, bringing their sins, their fears, their needs, and thought to myself “How clever am I, that I have managed to make something of myself!  Look at these screwups, I’m so much better off than them.”  All the while, like the Pharisees, hiding my sin and pretending nothing is wrong, a whitewashed tomb.

But thank God for His mercy even to the prideful and foolish, and thank Christ for His friendship to the sinner.  I am a man who needs it desperately, because in Christ I have the One who made me, who knows me and is the source of my very identity and being.  In Christ I have life, a real life that leads to life beyond just pursuing my next whim.  These sinners and tax collectors who came to Christ and gathered around Him, who invited Him into their homes, were people who were very well-acquainted with sin and with pursuing their desires, and they had tasted the bitterness of unfulfillment it brings.  They had seen the death and pain it wrought in their lives.

In the church today it is important for us to keep our balance, with the fulcrum point of our lives being the Gospel first and foremost.  The Gospel brings us daily reminders of what is ultimately true: man is sinful and rebellious against God by His nature, but God is both just and merciful.  He sent His Son to pay the price for all those who believe in Him by dying on the cross, He conquered death in rising again, and He stands at the right hand of the Father as the perfect high priest who can say of His people, “I have covered their sins, I have atoned for them, they are of Me and have life in Me.”  But the desires of our flesh are always trying to pull away from this center that destroy’s man’s self-aggrandizement, and move to one of two equally wrong positions: either self-righteous Pharisaism, where behavior and moral assent are more important that repentance and faith, or simply rejecting God altogether.  Both entail a foolish belief in man’s autonomy, and both rebel against who we were made to be: created in the image of God, made to know Him and have our fullest life in knowing Him.

Jesus Christ is the friend of the sinner who cries out to Him for mercy.  He is the friend of the sinner who has had his heart broken by the Word of God taught to him by the Holy Spirit and needs to be lifted up.  He is the friend of the sinner who, like the blind man from a couple sermons ago, cries out “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  That mercy is readily and lovingly given.  Cry out for it, my friends, and know His peace.

Episode 9A: Love and marriage

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Another discussion episode, and it’s crossover time!  Dave is joined by Alex from The Rugged Marriage podcast to discuss love: God’s love for His creation, and how it is revealed in the good gift of marriage.  Next week: request time!  We’ll be reading a sermon requested by one of our listeners.

Episode 9: Herein is Love

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Love is in the air and in the news, and I wanted to do a sermon on love with its truest center in our human experience: God’s love, and the great display of it in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Listen above, and stay tuned for our next discussion episode featuring a very special crossover!

Meanwhile, I am also posting my own writing on the subject, crossposted from my own blog.  Check it out below the fold:

Continue reading “Episode 9: Herein is Love”

Episode 8A: Tradition!

Jon and Dave are joined in the Spurgeon Audio studios by Jarod Grice, fellow member at Christ Community Church, musician, and author of an article recently published on Relevant Magazine’s website on the role of tradition in the church.  He’s also working on a new album of hymn arrangements that will be out soon, take a listen to some of the content here for free.

We also discussed our experiences of encountering the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and how what we had experienced in life led up to the moment that our eyes were opened to the truth.  Take a listen, and stay tuned for the next sermon coming soon!

Episode 8: The Blind Beggar

Sorry for the production delay, but we are finally here with episode 8!  Thanks to all our amazing fans for following us on Facebook and Twitter, and the sermon you helped us pick was number 266, The Blind Beggar.  This one made me consider my own testimony as I recorded it, and it was a stark reminder of God’s grace in my salvation.  It is also a reflection on our own society and the need for those to go forth and preach: this man, as the preacher says, was not someone who had watched Jesus perform miracles, or followed him around as a disciple.  He probably sat in the same area day in and day out, begging, maybe hearing stories about Jesus, yet when he was told that Jesus was walking by, he knew to do nothing less than run straight to the only one who opens eyes and transforms hearts.  I pray this episode blesses you, and I hope you’ll watch for the next one–possibly a new discussion episode!

Audience participation: help pick the next sermon!

We’ve got 7 episodes plus one discussion under our belts, and we want to thank everyone who’s supported us as we’ve gotten this nice little podcast off the ground.  We also want to invite you all to help us pick the next sermon!  If you’ve spent any time exploring the Spurgeon Archive, you know they have all of Spurgeon’s sermons numbered in order.  Right now our Facebook page has 90 followers and our Twitter account has 147 followers–that puts us as sermon number 237.  We will record episode 8 in one week, and based on the number of followers both accounts have, that will determine the sermon we pick!  So invite your friends to check us out and be a part of picking the next sermon…unless you’re hoping for something earlier than 237, in which case…well, I’m not sure what to say about that.

Anyway: thanks to all our awesome listeners!  If you have enjoyed our efforts so far, please pass the good word and help us pick next week’s sermon!

Episode 7: All of Grace

Short sermon this time, but on one of the crucial truths of Christianity: sola gratia is not just a Reformation slogan, but the life-transforming truth that brings so many to their knees in repentance–myself most of all!  No matter who you are, no matter your struggle or fear or sin weighing on you, God’s grace is the path to freedom, and we can hold it firmly by faith in the work and person of Jesus Christ.  Friends, brothers, I pray that in listening to this you will be edified.

See the full text here

Episode 6A: Romans 9 Battle Royale – with debate clip!

We’re trying something a little different!  Two episodes, and this one rather than being a sermon is a discussion episode where I am joined by Spurgeon Audio producer Jon Ladner and Reformed Pubster and videographer Michael Kraus.  We were all present for the debate and we discuss our impressions of the excellent interaction from that evening.  Plus: thanks to #prosapologian channel rat Nick Vahalik and the kind permission of Red Grace Media, we have a brief clip from the debate that we are able to use to give just a bit of context.  First discussion episode, hopefully first of many!