Please pretend that the Matthew Henry post, immediately below, was posted for today, April 21, rather than appearing as a second post for yesterday, April 20. My itchy typing finger betrayed me again!
God will not suffer an angel to continue in heaven who will not be in subjection to Christ and pay adoration to Him, and He will, at last, make the fallen angels and wicked men to confess His divine power and authority and to fall before Him. Those who would not have Him to reign must, then, be brought forth and slain before Him. The proof of this is taken out of Psalm 97.7 – worship Him, all you gods – that is: “All you who are superior to men, own yourselves to be inferior to Christ in nature and power.” – Matthew Henry (1662-1714), commenting on Hebrews 1.4-14.
If it is in your power, live under a faithful, searching, serious, powerful minister, and diligently attend his public teaching and private counsel. Though God can work without means, it is His ordinary way to work by means, and we should not neglect duty upon a presumptuous expectation of a miraculous or extraordinary work.
Alas, how apt are the best to cool if they are not kept warm by a powerful ministry! We are apt to lose the hatred of sin, the tenderness of conscience, fervency in prayer, and the delights and power of heavenly meditations. How apt is faith to stagger if it is not powerfully undergirded. How hardly will we keep the heat of love, the confidence of hope, the resolution of obedience without the help of a powerful ministry. Can any who are not blind or proud imagine that they are so holy and good that they are above the necessity of such assistance? Alas, we are under languishing weakness and need to be fed by the best or we shall soon decay.
The minister must have the savor of the Spirit in him to be fit to make us spiritual, and the savor of faith and love to kindle faith and love in us, and [must] speak with feeling to make us feel! Christians are, like infants, unable to help themselves, and need the continual help of others. God will have no men to be self-sufficient. We all have need of one another. God uses us to be His messengers and instruments of conveying His mercies to each other! Our souls must receive their part of mercy as well as our bodies of nourishment. Young Christians who are weak and inexperienced, above all others, should be desirous of help from an able, faithful guide. Let the judgment of your pastor or judicious friend about the state of your souls be much regarded by you, though it is not fallible. – Richard Baxter (1615-1691)
From: Voices from the Past: Puritan Devotional Readings, Volume Two, edited by Richard Rushing (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2016), p. 110.
The secularist looks at a storm and thinks exclusively of the physical properties that have brought it about. The believer understands that those properties have been built into the material world by its Creator, and that God Himself speaks in thunder and lightning. The only proper response is. . .in a spirit of mingled awe and humility, [to] cry “Glory!” (verse 9).
From: For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word: Volume One by D. A. Carson (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1998). Devotion for April 18, commenting on Psalm 29.
Sparks fly upward from a fire naturally, so human suffering is inevitable. God told us so in Genesis 3.17-19, so we should not be shocked at suffering. Modern Western people are more traumatized by it than others. We have too much faith in our technology and our democratic institutions, and we are conditioned by our secular, materialistic culture to seek most of our happiness in fragile things like good looks, wealth, and pleasure.
It is wise, however, to be ready for suffering. Often, most of the painful emotions people experience during adversity are actually the shock and surprise that they are suffering at all. Even many Christians believe that God won’t really let bad things happen to them. But, Jesus Himself disproves that. If God allowed a perfect man to suffer terribly for a greater, wonderful good, why should we think that might not happen to us? “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial. . .as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4.12 [ESV]).
How can you have fellowship with Jesus in your suffering?
From: God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs by Timothy Keller, with Kathy Keller (New York: Viking, 2017), p. 76. Devotion for March 17, commenting on Job 5.7.
Above all, let gladness sparkle in all those actions which we feel called upon to perform for our Master’s service. Dear Sabbath-school teachers, make the Sabbath happy, and your children happy, by serving the Lord with gladness. City missionaries and Bible women, do not go round your districts as though you were undertakers’ men, but go there with gladness, serving the Lord. Preacher, throw your soul into your work. Do whatever you undertake to do for the Master with a soul flashing with fire. Look upon it not as bondage, but joy, and serve the Lord in it with a sacred alacrity and delight. Thus, I have tried to show some of the manifest streams of the Christian’s delight. – C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), from “Serving the Lord with Gladness,” a sermon on Psalm 100.2, preached on Sunday morning, September 8, 1867.
Faith does not consist in thinking that my sins are comparatively little and, therefore, may be forgiven, but in knowing that they are very great and, believing that though they are never so small and great, past or present, Christ’s [death] is above them all. – Thomas Adams (1583-1652)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5.17-20)
Here is the circumstance: Always making mention of thee. Always – usually, not once or twice only, but frequently. So must we remember Christian friends much and often, as their case may need, bearing them in our thoughts and upon our hearts before our God. – Matthew Henry (1662-1714), commenting on Philemon 1-7.
If there were no God, no republic, no society in the world would be safe. Without virtue, without religion, nothing can be safe. If there were no God, there would be neither virtue nor religion. What would the world be but a mere den of robbers, in which license would be each one’s law, no such thing as right and wrong, no right of government, no necessity of obedience – the most abandoned, the superior and the most powerful, the master? No check would be placed upon the oppression of rulers and the rebellion of subjects. Each one would follow the bent of his own inclination. Again, if there were no God, no mortals would even, for a moment, be safe or secure from violence, fraud, perjury, slaughter of blood. Every hour, everything would have to be feared. Take away the barriers of divinity and what would become of confidence and innocence? What license or violence would not be witnessed? As to human edicts (besides the fact that they cannot change the mind for the better but, on the contrary, make it artful and intent upon all the arts of deception), what place would there be for human laws if (the sense of deity being removed) the conscience would shake off all relations of justice and injustice? – Francis Turretin (1623-1687)
If God does not exist, everything is permitted. – Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)