On Zeal

Be zealous (Revelation 3.19)

If you would see souls converted, if you would here the cry that “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord,” if you would place crowns on the head of the Savior and [see] His throne lifted high, then be filled with zeal.  For, under God, the way of the world’s conversion must be by the zeal of the church.  Every grace shall do exploits, but this shall be first.  Prudence, knowledge, patience, and courage will follow, in their places, but zeal must lead the van.  It is not the extent of your knowledge, though that is useful.  It is not the extent of your talent, though that is not to be despised.  It is your zeal that shall do great exploits.  This zeal is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the soul.  If our inner lives dwindle, if our hearts beat slowly before God, we shall not know zeal.  But, if all be strong and vigorous within, then we cannot but feel a loving anxiety to see the kingdom of Christ come and His will done on earth, even as it is in heaven. – Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), commenting on Revelation 3.19 from Morning and Evening, devotion for June 7 (PM, excerpted).

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From the Bible

Now, may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.  (1 Thessalonians 5.23-24)

Matthew Henry (66) (27)

Nothing should be more desired by us than that the grace of Christ may be with us in this world to prepare us for the glory of Christ in the other world.  It is by His grace that we must be kept in a joyful expectation of His glory, fitted for it, and preserved to it, and His glorious appearance will be welcome and joyful to those who are partakers of His grace and favor here.  Therefore, to this most comprehensive prayer we should all add our hearty “Amen!,” most earnestly thirsting after greater measures of the greatest influences of the blessed Jesus in our souls, and His gracious presence with us till the glory has perfected all His grace towards us, for He is a sun and a shield.  He gives grace and glory, and no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly! – Matthew Henry (1662-1714), commenting on Revelation 22.20-21.

The Life of Faith

The life of faith is the only safe life.  Its fortifications are impregnable.  Faith’s work is to pray for what it needs and to give thanks for what it has.  Faith uses means but trusts in God.  Faith can live upon God when there is famine in all creation.  The peace of God guards the heart from all surprises of fear and trouble.  As faith enjoys God in all things in the greatest abundance, so she can enjoy all things in God in the deepest need. – Thomas Case (1598-1682), English Presbyterian minister

About Our Hearts

The reality of a hidden depth in our heart is also the answer to a common problem: our lack of understanding of why we behave or feel the way we do.  We have certain conscious thoughts and attitudes, but our experience doesn’t seem to correlate with them.

The truth is that other thoughts and attitudes deep in our heart – of which we are not fully conscious – are actually driving our life.  As psychotherapist Michael Bernard explains, we have conscious rational thoughts, but also deep internal thought not immediately accessible to us.  It is this latter form of thought that often activates our life and contributes to emotional and behavioral disorders.

We often feel like we know and believe something as Christians but, in reality, it is only a surface belief that has never reached the depth of the heart to activate our life.  We may believe, for example, that we truly trust God.  We know that He is trustworthy.  He knows everything.  He is all-powerful.  And He is infinite love.  The combination of these attributes surely makes Him trustworthy in every situation.  We can rely on Him.  Yet, when negative circumstances arise, we experience anxiety and fear.

The question we must ask ourselves is: do we really trust God in our hearts?  Do we know that He is great and loving in the depth of our heart, or is it simply good theological doctrine lying on the surface, in our head?

From: Minding the Heart: The Way of Spiritual Transformation by Robert L. Saucy (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2013), p. 83.

Avoid an Overly Strict Lord’s Day

We do not think that, in this cessation, believers are bound to Judaical precision which some (more scrupulous than just) maintain was not revoked, so that it is lawful neither to kindle a fire nor to cook food nor to take up arms against an enemy nor to prosecute a journey begun by land or sea nor to refresh themselves with innocent relaxation of the mind and body, provided they are done out of the hours appointed for divine worship, nor to have any diversion, however slight, to any things belonging to the advantages or emoluments of this life.  For, although this opinion bears, on its face, a beautiful appearance of piety (and, undoubtedly, with good intention is proposed, by pious men, to procure the better sanctification of this day, usually so basely profaned), still, it labors under grievous disadvantages nor can it be retained without, in this way, bringing back into the church and imposing anew upon the shoulders of Christians an unbearable yoke, repugnant to Christian liberty and the gentleness of Christ and opposed to the sweetness of the covenant of grace by agitating and tormenting the consciences of men through infinite scruples and inextricable difficulties (nearly driving to desperation).

From: Institutes of Elenctic Theology: Volume 2: Eleventh Through Seventeenth Topics by Francis Turretin; translated from the Latin by George Musgrave Giger; edited by James T. Dennison, Jr. (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1994), 11.14.26 (Volume 2, page 98)

Insights from Mark 11

Hypocritical religion pretends to be what it is not, but Christ will uncover it.  Like a tree with many leaves yet no fruit, the religious hypocrite displays to the world many impressive activities of devotion and self-denial but, under the leaves of external religion, the Lord sees that there are no fruits of Christian love for God and man, joy in the Lord, or peace by Christ’s [death].  The Lord Jesus is patient, but the time will come when He will judge us all.  If our godliness is only a form without His underlying power, He will curse us with a supernatural word of judgment that will wither us from the roots.  Search yourself by this word.  Is your godliness a matter of mere leaves?  What spiritual fruits is Christ producing in you?

Prayer is an instrument of immense power, for it invokes the almighty arm of God.  We should take up prayer with boldness, believing it to be the weapon by which God casts down every mountain raised up against the true worship of Himself.  We should pray with faith in God’s goodness and generosity toward His children, and we should pray together with other believers in a spirit of love, forgiveness, and unity.  How would you describe your prayer life now?  How does this chapter stir you to desire a deeper prayer life?

From: Family Worship Bible Guide, Joel R. Beeke, general editor (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2016), pp. 691-692.  Devotion for Mark 11.

A Christian’s Distinguishing Mark

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  (1 John 4.8)

The distinguishing mark of a Christian is his confidence in the love of Christ and the yielding of his affections to Christ in return.  First, faith sets her seal upon the man by enabling the soul to say, with the apostle, “Christ loved me and gave Himself for me.”  Then, love gives the countersign and stamps upon the heart gratitude and love to Jesus in return.  “We love Him because he first loved us.”  In those grand old ages, which are the heroic period of the Christian religion, this double mark was clearly to be seen in all believers in Jesus.  They were men who knew the love of Christ and rested upon it as a man leans upon a staff whose trustiness he has tried.  The love which they felt towards the Lord was not a quiet emotion which they hid within themselves in the secret chamber of their souls and which they only spoke of in their private assemblies when they met on the first day of the week and sang hymns in honor of Christ Jesus the crucified, but it was a passion, with them, of such a vehement and all-consuming energy that it was visible in all their actions, spoke in their common talk, and looked out of their eyes even in their commonest glances.  Love to Jesus was a flame which fed upon the core and heart of their being and, therefore, from its own force burned its way into the outer man and shone there.  Zeal for the glory of King Jesus was the seal and mark of all genuine Christians.  Because of their dependence upon Christ’s love, they dared much and, because of their love to Christ they did much, and it is the same now.  The children of God are ruled in their inmost powers by love – the love of Christ constrains them.  They rejoice that divine love is set upon them, they feel it shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to them, and then, by force of gratitude, they love the Savior with a pure heart, fervently.

My reader, do you love Him?  Ere you sleep, give an honest answer to a weighty question! – Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), from Morning and Evening (June 5, evening)

From the Bible

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.  Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly, the right hand of the Lord exalts, the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.”  I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.  The Lord has disciplined me severely, but He has not given me over to death.  (Psalm 118.14-18)

Matthew Henry (65) (26)

It is really a greater honor to be a faithful servant of Jesus Christ than to be kin to Him according to the flesh.  Many of Christ’s natural kindred, as well as of His progenitors, perished, not from want of natural affection to Him as a man but from infidelity and obstinacy in themselves, which should make the descendants and near relatives of persons most eminent for sincere and exemplary piety “jealous over themselves with a godly jealousy.”  A son of Noah may be saved in the ark from a flood of temporal destruction and yet be overwhelmed at last in a deluge of divine wrath and suffer the “vengeance of eternal fire.”  Christ Himself tells us that “he who hears His word and does it” (that is, He only) “is as His brother and sister and mother,” that is, more honorably and advantageously related to Him than the nearest and dearest of his natural relatives, considered merely as such (see Matthew 12.48-50). – Matthew Henry (1662-1714), commenting on Jude 1-2.