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Greetings All,
     This week's thought comes from Charles Haddon Spurgeon -- a man who is often called, "The Prince of Preachers" and still considered by many to be one of the greatest preachers who ever lived.

     He was a British Baptist of Calvinist persuasion who lived and ministered in London during the last half of the 1800's (born 1832 / converted to Christ 1850 / died 1892).  He preached at the same church for almost 40 years, and did so twice every Sunday to crowds of at least 6000 people.  Nearly 25,000 copies of the printed versions of his sermons sold every week, and for many years they were cabled to New York every Monday morning to be reprinted in leading newspapers across the United States. 

     Were it not for his generous giving to missions, and the pastor's college, and the two orphanages, and the widow's home he started (as well as regular gifts to help pastors struggling in smaller churches), he could have been one of England's wealthiest men. Yet he chose not to be -- dying with little more than a modest home and enough to care for his widowed wife.  

      German preacher and theologian, Helmut Thielicke even goes so far as to say to preachers (and those aspiring to be preachers): "I am almost tempted to shout out to those who are serving the eternal Word as preachers, and to those who are preparing to do so, in what I hope will be productive hyperbole: Sell all that you have (not least of all some of your stock of current sermonic literature) and buy Spurgeon (even if you have to grub through the second-hand bookstores to find it)."  

      This selection has to do with God's grace to help us in our times of struggle, hardship and trial.  And lest you hear it as mere pious advice from a pampered saint, you need to know Spurgeon experienced many disappointments, frequent depressions and the crippling pain of gout for the last 20 years of his life. Yet it is precisely because he did suffer that Russell Conwell (a contemporary of Spurgeon whose own legacy includes Gordon-Conwell Seminary) could write of the effect of his sermons on others: "No man in this (19th) century has ever healed so many people as Mr. Spurgeon.

      This selection comes from, "C. H. Spurgeon - Beside Still Waters / Words of Comfort for the Soul," an excellent devotional book by Roy H. Clarke.  He has read over 2000 of Spurgeon's sermons and done us the great service of editing and updating many portions into today's language.  Enjoy.

     "Believer, here are four comforts when you face severe trials.

      1.) There is no curse in your cross. It may be as heavy as a ton of sorrow, but there is not a single ounce of curse.  'Whom the LORD loves, He chastens, and punishes every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten' (Heb. 12:6-7). The God of love, who inflicts our sorrows, is as good when He chastens as when He caresses.

      2.) Your trials are assigned by divine wisdom and love.  He who weighs the mountains in the scales (Is. 40:12) measures your troubles, and will not let you endure one grain more than His infinite wisdom determines.  The devil may be turned loose on you (as he was on Job, or Peter in Lk. 22:31-32), but remember, he is a defeated enemy. Everything that you suffer is the appointment of wisdom, ruled by love.

      3.) When you bear the cross, God gives special comforts that He never gives to the healthy. Dark caverns do not keep miners from searching for diamonds.  You need never fear suffering if you remember it will richly bless your soul.  The nightingale only sings at night, and there are promises that only sing when we are in trouble.  It is in the cellar of affliction that the fine wine of the kingdom is aged and stored.  You will never see Christ's face so clearly as when all others turn their back on you. 

      4.) Trials bring you nearer to God.  Yet there are times when our faith staggers and we fail to leave our worldly cares with Him.  Like Martha, we worry about many things (Luke 10:41).  But Jesus says, 'Come My child and trust Me. Come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in our time of need' (Heb. 4:16)."

                May his words encourage and bring healing to you as well, 

                                 Pastor Jeff