Teaching: this present sphere

It’s that time of year — school has begun again.  Teaching, like most jobs, comes with many changing aspects that keep teachers hustling to keep up (Common Core, changes in classes, changes in administration, changes in duties…) and other aspects that never seem to change, though we wish they would.  Caught between wondering where the first three years of teaching went and how many years are left in my future, I came across this gem from C.H. Spurgeon (who else?).

Take care, dear reader, that you do not forsake the path of duty by leaving your occupation, and take care you do not dishonour your profession while in it.  Think little of yourselves, but do not think too little of your callings.  Every lawful trade ay be sanctified by the gospel to noblest ends.  Turn to the Bible, and you will find the most menial forms of labour connected either with the most daring deeds of faith, or with persons whose lives have been illustrious for holiness.  Therefore be not discontented with your calling.  Whatever God has made your position, or your work, abide in that, unless you are quite sure that He calls you to something else.  Let your first care be to glorify God to the utmost of your power where you are.  Fill your present sphere to His praise, and if He needs you in another He will show it you.  This evening lay aside vexatious ambition, and embrace peaceful content. 

Morning and Evening, June 27

Spurgeon on Prayer

The man who has his mouth full of arguments in prayer will soon have his mouth full of benedictions in answer to prayer.

Dear friend, do you have your mouth full right now?  What of?  Full of complaining?  Pray to the Lord to rinse that black stuff out of your mouth, for it will little help you, and it will be bitter in your bowels one of these days.

Oh, have your mouth full of prayer, full of it, full of arguments, so that there is room for nothing else.

— Prayer and Spiritual Warfare

Focus on thy Redeemer

I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 41:14

Spurgeon’s sermons are some of my favorite things to read (I read them mostly from this site: The Spurgeon Archive).  This morning, I read his sermon “Thy Redeemer” based on Isaiah 41:14.  Later, as I was doing laundry, Chis Tomlin’s Praise the Father, Praise the Son came on my Pandora station.  These both united for a wonderful reinforcement of the wonderful beauty and greatness of the Triune God — The Three in One.

“Now, brethren, suffer your thoughts for a moment to enlarge upon the fact, that the promise contained in this verse, “Fear not, I will help thee” (I will help thee), is a promise from Three Divine Persons. Hear Jehovah, the everlasting Father, saying, “I will help them.” “Mine are the ages: before the ages began, when there were no worlds, when nought had been created, from everlasting I am thy God. I am the God of election, the God of the decree, the God of the covenant; by my strength I did set fast the mountains, by my skill I laid the pillars of the earth; and the beams of the firmament of heaven; I spread out the skies as a curtain, and as a tent for man to dwell in; I the Lord made all these things. ‘I will help thee.'” Then comes Jehovah the Son. “And I, also, am thy Redeemer, I am eternal; my name is wisdom. I was with God, when there were no depths, before he had digged the rivers, I was there as one brought up with him. I am Jesus, the God of ages; I am Jesus, the man of sorrows; ‘ I am he that liveth and was dead, I am alive for evermore.’ I am the High Priest of your profession, the Intercessor before the throne, the Representative of my people. I have power with God. ‘I will help thee.'” Poor worm, thy Redeemer vows to help thee; by his bleeding hands he covenants to give thee aid. And then in comes the Holy Spirit. “And I,” saith the Spirit, “am also God—not an influence, but a person —I, eternal and everlasting, co-existent with the Father and the Son—I, who did brood over chaos, when as yet the world was not brought into form and fashion, and did sow the earth with the seeds of life when I did brood over it,—I, that brought again from the dead your Lord Jesus Christ, the Shepherd of the sheep, who am the Eternal Spirit, by whose power the Lord Jesus did arise from the thraldom of his tomb —I, by whom souls are quickened, by whom the elect are called out of darkness into light—I, who have the power to maintain my children and preserve them to the end—’I will help thee.'” Now, soul, gather up these three, and dost thou want more help than they can afford? What! dost thou need more strength than the omnipotence of the United Trinity? Dost thou want more wisdom than exists in the Father, more love than displays itself in the Son, and more power than is manifest in the influences of the Spirit? Bring hither thine empty pitcher! Sure this well will fill it. Haste! gather up thy wants, and bring them here—thine emptiness, thy woes, thy needs. Behold, this river of God is full for thy supply. What canst thou want beside? Stand up, Christian, in this thy might Jehovah Father, Jehovah Jesus, Jehovah Spirit,—these are with thee to help thee. …

…And now, I want you to read the promise, recollecting that it says, “Thy Redeemer ;” and then, as you read it through, you will see how the word “Redeemer” seems to confirm it all. Now begin. “I will help thee;” lay a stress on that word. If you read it so, there is one blow at your unbelief. “I will help thee,” saith the Redeemer. “Others may not, but I have loved thee with an everlasting love, and by the bands of my lovingkindness have I drawn thee. ‘I will help thee, though the earth forsake thee; though thy father and thy mother forsake thee, I will take thee up. Wilt thou doubt me? I have proved my love to thee. Behold this gash, this spear thrust in my side. Look hither at my hands: wilt thou but believe me? ‘ ‘Tis I.’ I said that on the waters, and I said to my people, ‘Be not afraid; it is I.’ I say to thee, now thou art on the waters, ‘ Be not afraid; I will help thee.’ Sure thou needst not fear that I shall ever forget thee. ‘Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.’ ‘I have graven thee on my hands; thy walls are ever before me.’ ‘I will help thee.'” Now, you must just suppose the Saviour standing here—that Man whose garments are red with blood; you must suppose him standing where I stand to-night, and saying to you, personally, “Fear not, I will help you.” O my Lord, I have ungratefully doubted thy promise many a time; but methinks, if I could see thee in all thy woe and sorrow for me, if I could hear thee say, “I will help thee,” I should cast myself at thy feet, and say, “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” But though he is not here to speak it, though the lips that utter it are but the lips of man, remember that he speaks through me to-night, and through his word, as truly as if he spoke himself. If some great man should by a servant, or by a letter send to you this message, “I will keep you,” though you had not heard his own lips declare it, yet if you saw his own hand writing, you would say, “It is enough, I believe it; there is the master’s hand writing; it is his own autograph, it is written by himself; behold the bloody signature! It is stamped with his cross, and I his messenger am sent to-night to myself and to you, and I say to my own heart and to you, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him; for the Redeemer says, I will help thee,” and if he saith “I will help thee,” who can doubt him? who dare distrust him?
And now let us read the promise again, and lay the stress on the “will.” Oh, the “wills” and the “shalls:” they are the sweetest words in the Bible. “I will help thee.” W hen God says “I will,” there is something in it, brethren. The will of God started worlds into existence; the will of God made nature leap from chaos; the will of God sustains all worlds, “bears the earth’s huge pillars up,” and establishes creation. It is God’s “I will.” He lets the world live; they live on the “will” of God; and if he willed that they should die, they must sink as the bubble into the breaker, when its moment has arrived. And if the “will” of God is so strong as that, may we not lay a great stress upon it here—”I will help thee?” There is no doubt about it. I do not say I may help thee peradventure. No; I will. I do not say, that possibly I may be persuaded to help thee. No; I voluntarily will to help thee. “I will help thee.” I do not say that, in an probability, ninety-nine chances out of a hundred, it is likely I may help thee. No; but without allowing any peradventure, or so much as a jot or tittle of hap or hazard, I will. Now, is there not strength in that? Indeed, my brethren, this is enough to cheer any man’s spirit, however much he may be cast down, if God the Holy Spirit does but breathe upon the text, and let its spices flow abroad into our poor souls, “Fear not, I will help thee.”
And now we lay stress on another word: “I will help thee.” That is very little for me to do, to help thee. Consider what I have done already. What! not help thee? Why, I bought thee with my blood. What! not help thee? I have died for thee; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help thee, my beloved! It is the least thing I will ever do for thee. I have done more, and I will do more. Before the day-star first began to shine I chose thee. “I will help thee.” I made the covenant for thee, and exercised all the wisdom of my eternal mind in the scheming of the plan of salvation. “I will help thee.” I became a man for thee; I doffed my diadem, and laid aside my robe; I laid the purple of the universe aside to become a man for thee. If I did this, I will help thee. I gave my life, my soul, for thee; I slumbered in the grave, I descended into Hades, all for thee; I will help thee. It will cost me nothing. Redeeming thee cost me much, but I have all and abound. In helping thee, I am giving thee what I have bought for thee already. It is no new thing. I can do it easily. “Help thee?” Thou needst never fear that. If thou needest a thousand times as much help as thou dost need, I would give it thee; but it is little that thou dost require compared with what I have to give. ‘Tis great for thee to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow. “Help thee?” Fear not. If there were an ant at the door of thy granary asking for help, it would not ruin thee to give him a handful of thy wheat; and thou art nothing but a tiny insect at the door of my all-sufficiency. All that thou couldst ever eat, all that thou couldst ever take, if thou wert to take on to all eternity, would no more diminish my all-sufficiency, than the drinking of the fish would diminish the sea. No; “I will help thee.” If I have died for thee, I will not leave thee.
And now, just take the last word—”I will help thee.” Lay the stress there. “Fear not, thou worm Jacob; I will help thee.” If I let the stars fall, I will help thee; if I let all nature run to rack and ruin, I will help thee. If I permit the teeth of time to devour the solid pillars upon which the earth doth stand, yet I will help thee. I have made a covenant with the earth, “that seed-time and harvest, summer and winter, shall never cease;” but that covenant, though true, is not so great as the covenant that I have made concerning thee. And if I keep my covenant with the earth, I will certainly keep my covenant with my Son. “Fear not; I will help thee.” Yes, thee! Thou sayest, “I am too little for help;” but I will help thee, to magnify my power; thou sayest, “I am too vile to be helped,” but I will help thee to manifest my grace. Thou sayest, “I have been ungrateful for former help;” but I will help thee to manifest my faithfulness. Thou sayest, “But I shall still rebel, I shall still turn aside.” “I will help thee,” to show forth my long suffering: let it be known, “I will help thee.”
And now just conceive my Master on his gross bleeding there, looking down on you and on me. Picture him, whilst his voice falters with love and misery conjoined; and hear him. He has just now spoken to the thief, and he has said to him, “To-day, shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” And after he has said that, he catches a sight of you and of me, poor and depressed, and he says, “Fear not, worm Jacob; I will help thee; I helped the thief—I will help thee. I promised him that he should be with me in paradise; I may well promise thee that thou shalt be helped. I will help thee. O Master! may thy love that prompts thee thus to speak, prompt us to believe thee.
And now hear Him again. He is exalted on high; he hath “led captivity captive and received gifts for men;”—now hear him, as in the midst of the solemn pomp of heaven he is not unmindful of his poor relations. He looks down, and he sees us in this world still struggling with sin and care and woe; he hears us claiming kingship with himself; and he says, “Worm Jacob! though I now do reign exalted high, my love is still as great. I will help thee.” I pray the Lord apply the sweetness of that pronoun to your hearts, my brethren, and to mine. “I will help thee.” O surely when the husband speaks to the wife in the hour of darkness and sorrow, and comforts her, you can easily understand what arguments he uses, when he says, “Wife of my youth! my joy, my delight, I will help thee!” You can easily conceive how he enumerates times of love, seasons when he stood by her in the hour of trouble; you can easily think how he reminds her of the days of their espousals, and tells her of their struggles, and of their joys; and he says, “Wife, canst thou doubt me? No; as I am a husband I will help thee! And now you hear the Saviour speaking of his church. “Betrothed to me ere time began, I have taken thee into union with my adorable person; and O my bride, though my palace stand in ruins, and heaven itself should shake, I will help thee. Forget thee? Forget my bride? Be false to my troth? Forsake my covenant? No; never. I will help thee.” Hear the mother speaking to her little child in great danger; “Child,” she says, “I will help thee;” and then she reminds that child that she is its mother, that from her breast the child drew its needed nourishment in the days of weakness; she reminds it how she has nursed it, and dandled it upon her knee, and how in every way she has been its solace and support. “Child !” says she, and her heart runs over—”I will help thee!” Why, the child never doubts it, it says, “Yes, mother, I know you will; I am sure of that, I do not need to be told it, I was certain you would, for I have had such proofs of your love.” And now ought not we who love the Saviour just to let our eyes run with tears, and say, “O thou blest Redeemer! thou needst not tell us thou wilt help us, for we know thou wilt. Oh do not suppose that we doubt thee so much as to want to be told of it again; we know thou will help us; we are sure of it; thy former love, thine ancient love, the love of thine espousals, thy deeds of kindness, thine everlasting drawings, all these declare that thou never canst forsake us.” No, no; “I will help thee.”
… Come, bring your fears out to-night, and serve them in the worst way you can. Hang them here upon the scaffold this night. Come now, and blow them away at the great guns of the promises, let them be destroyed forever. They are renegade mutineers; let them be cut off, let them be utterly destroyed, and let us go and sing, “Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” “I will help thee,” saith the Redeemer.
O sinners, I pity you, that this is not your promise. If this were all that you did lose by being out of Christ, it were enough to lose indeed. May God call you, and help you to trust in the Redeemer’s blood.  Amen.”

[Thou] whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou [art] my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Isaiah 41:9-10

Firm in Faith

I love when readings from two different sources on two different days speak in unison.  Last night during Bible study, we read Isaiah 7:9.  Today, the morning devotional (though on a different verse) from Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening series continued the discussion we had last night.

If you are not firm in faith,

you will not be firm at all.

— Isaiah 7:9

Where lies the secret strength of faith? It lies in the food it feeds
on; for faith studies what the promise is-an emanation of divine grace,
an overflowing of the great heart of God; and faith says, “My God could
not have given this promise, except from love and grace; therefore it
is quite certain his Word will be fulfilled.” Then faith thinketh, “Who
gave this promise?” It considereth not so much its greatness, as, “Who
is the author of it?” She remembers that it is God who cannot lie-God
omnipotent, God immutable; and therefore concludeth that the promise
must be fulfilled; and forward she advances in this firm conviction.
She remembereth, why the promise was given,-namely, for God’s glory,
and she feels perfectly sure that God’s glory is safe, that he will
never stain his own escutcheon, nor mar the lustre of his own crown;
and therefore the promise must and will stand. Then faith also
considereth the amazing work of Christ as being a clear proof of the
Father’s intention to fulfil his word. “He that spared not his own Son,
but freely delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also
freely give us all things?” Moreover faith looks back upon the past,
for her battles have strengthened her, and her victories have given her
courage. She remembers that God never has failed her; nay, that he
never did once fail any of his children. She recollecteth times of
great peril, when deliverance came; hours of awful need, when as her
day her strength was found, and she cries, “No, I never will be led to
think that he can change and leave his servant now. Hitherto the Lord
hath helped me, and he will help me still.” Thus faith views each
promise in its connection with the promise-giver, and, because she does
so, can with assurance say, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life!”