Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle: 365 Sermons

Are you prepared to die?

‘How wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?’ Jeremiah 12:5

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:1–10

You that are in Christ, ‘How will you do in the swelling of Jordan?’ Why, you will do as a man does who has had a long day’s walk, and he can see his home. You will clap your hands. You will sit down upon the next milestone with the tears in your eyes, and wipe the sweat from your face and say, ‘It is well, it is over. O how happy it is to see my own roof-tree, and the place where my best friends, my kindred dwell. I shall soon be at home, at home for ever with the Lord.’ How will you do? Why, we will do as a soldier does when the battle is fought; he takes off his armour and stretches himself out at length to rest. The battle is all over. He forgets his wound, and reckons up the glory of the victory and the reward which follows. So will we do. We will begin to forget the wounds, and the garments rolled in blood, and we will think of the ‘crown of glory that fadeth not away.’ How will we do in the swelling of Jordan? We will do as men do when they launch for a foreign country. They look back upon those they leave behind, and wave their handkerchiefs as long as they can get sight of them; but they are soon gone. And we will bid adieu to dear ones; they shall have the tears, but we shall have the joy, for we go to the islands of the blessed, the land of the hereafter, the home of the sanctified, to dwell with God for ever. Who will weep when he starts on such a voyage, and launches on such a blessed sea? What will we do when we come into the swelling of Jordan? Why, dear friends, we shall then begin to see through the veil, and to enjoy the paradise of the blessed which is ours for ever.

For meditation: Naturally we look upon death in a negative light, but Christ’s death makes all the difference for the believer (Hebrews 2:14–15). The Christian can adopt a positive attitude and use words such as ‘conquerors’ (Romans 8:37), ‘present with the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 5:8), ‘gain … far better’ (Philippians 1:21,23), ‘blessed’ and ‘rest’ (Revelation 14:13).

Sermon no. 635
19 November (Undated Sermon)365 Days with C.H. Spurgeon, Vol. 2: A Unique Collection of 365 Daily Readings from Sermons Preached by Charles Haddon Spurgeon from His Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (365 Days With Series); edited by Terence Peter Crosby; (c) Day One Publications, 2002.

Men’s Devotional Bible

Duration: 365 days

THE WAY GOD INTENDED

Song of Songs 8:6–7

Recommended Reading: Genesis 2:18–25; Matthew 19:1–9; Hebrews 13:4

This passage, perhaps as powerfully as any other in the entire Bible, defines and describes for modern readers God’s intentions when he invented and defined the institution of marriage.

Marriage as a concept lies deep within our collective psyche. Preschoolers role-play the family unit as part of their playground fun. Preteen girls dream of the day when they’ll walk down the aisle in a flowing white gown. Matchmaking businesses and Web sites thrive as people look for that elusive one perfect person to know and love for the rest of their lives. The vast majority of adults who live in Western cultures either are, have been or someday intend to be married. Such hopefulness in the face of a consistent 50 percent divorce rate! And yet, despite the well-publicized antics of the Hollywood set, marriage remains one of the key building blocks of family life and society as a whole.

And that’s just what God intended. The language in this passage is powerful as it speaks to the implications of marriage. One scholar has said that this passage “characterizes marital love as the strongest, most unyielding and invincible force in human experience.” Now that’s saying something! Despite the failure of individuals, the bar of God’s expectations for marriage is set sky-high. And note the implications of the last part of verse 7: True, lasting marital love involves deep integrity on the part of both parties. To paraphrase: “Money can’t buy me love.”

The power of marriage lies in the power of a promise, sealed with God’s stamp of approval, that one man makes to one woman. The promise to love another person “until death do you part” is as deep a commitment as one can make in this life. As one pastor put it, “The power to make and keep a promise is one of the strongest in the world, for it brings the promise maker within a millimeter of what it means to be like God, who makes and keeps his promises to his people.”

True, enduring, lifelong commitment is God’s expectation for marriage, and it has been since the Garden of Eden. That’s not to say that God expects us to be perfect as we relate to one another; we are, after all, still living under the effects of sin. But despite our failures, the goal for the respect we are to show toward the institution remains the same, “for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave” (Song of Songs 8:6).

TO TAKE AWAY

  • Are you married? If you answered yes, how does your marriage stack up to God’s expectations for the institution?
  • If you’ve never been married, what is your perspective on what this passage could mean for your future?
  • If you’re not married now but have been in the past, how can this passage influence your opinions and actions?

The NIV Couples Devotional

Duration: 365 days

WHAT WE SEE IN EACH OTHER

1 Samuel 16:1–13

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

Samuel was sent to the house of Jesse to find a new king. When he got there, Samuel saw Eliab, one of Jesse’s sons. “Surely, he is the one God has chosen to be the next king,” Samuel thought. Evidently, like the previous king, Saul, Eliab was tall and striking. But Eliab was not the one God had in mind.

God warned Samuel not to assess people by their physical appearance. God reminded the old prophet that he doesn’t look at the outside; he looks at the inside. So each of Jesse’s sons passed before Samuel, but God did not indicate that any of them was the man God had sent him to find. Finally, David, the youngest son, came in from the fields. Then the Lord spoke to Samuel, telling him this was the right one.

When we look at someone’s outward appearance, we often fail to see what God sees. This message was clearly illustrated to writer John Fisher when he was speaking at a seminar. “A couple came in late, and I could see that they were in love,” Fisher said. “I couldn’t help but notice the woman was very attractive, while the guy was a real nerd.

“What could she see in him?” Fisher wondered. From the outside, this couple didn’t look like a match. “Then I realized she was blind,” Fisher said.

“What did she see in him? She saw everything that was important in a person. She saw love. While another woman might not have gotten past this man’s unimpressive exterior, she was blind to that. She only saw his heart. Blessed are the blind, for they can see people as they really are.”

Like Samuel, we often make judgments based on what people look like. But God doesn’t use looks as his criteria. He evaluates people by what’s in their hearts. He sees their character, their faithfulness and their commitment to him.

During courtship, we can be charmed by someone’s good looks, attentiveness or flattery. All of that can be fleeting. Over the course of a marriage, the real person breaks through. Perhaps as your marriage ages, your spouse’s outward appearance starts to change. Your spouse grays, loses hair or gains a little weight. Perhaps the two of you fall into a rut, and the special treatment that marked your dating period begins to wane. That’s when we need to remember what the Lord said to Samuel about focusing on what’s in the heart rather than what’s physically noticeable.

The success of a marriage comes, not in finding who we think initially is the “perfect” person for us, but in our willingness to adjust to the real person we married.
Jennifer Schuchmann

LET’S TALK

  • What characteristics initially attracted us to each other? What qualities do we treasure most today?
  • The blind woman never saw her partner’s appearance. Like God, she only saw his heart. Would we rather have people look at our appearance or at our heart? Why?
  • What steps are we taking to improve our faith, our character and our commitment to God?

Mom’s Devotional Bible

Duration: 365 days

EARTHBOUND ATTITUDES

2 Kings 2:1–11

Additional Scripture Readings: Isaiah 65:17–25; 2 Corinthians 5:1

Seventy-one percent of Americans believe in an afterlife. And yet, when asked, most reply that they know very little about what that life will be like. What do you know about heaven?

Very little. That’s what most of us know about heaven. Maybe we don’t long for heaven right now. Our wealthy standard of living offers us delicacies and delights in the present.

Maybe we don’t relate to the old images of heaven. Pearly gates. Streets of gold. Angels gathering around God’s throne. Hmmm.

But when we or someone near to us faces death, heaven becomes critical. Then every detail revealed in Scripture regarding heaven becomes precious: That God will complete the good work he began in us (see Philippians 1:6). That we will enter into the presence of God (see 1 John 3:2). That we will feel pain no more (see Revelation 21:4).

As long as we live in a world untouched by death, heaven can wait. But when we’re awakened to the reality of mortality, it becomes very important to answer the question, “What is heaven like?”