Saturday, October 13, 2018

My Victorian Year #38

This week I'll be sharing quotes from Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening and J.C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Matthew.

From Morning and Evening:

  • Only the prayer which comes from God—can go to God. We must shoot the Lord’s arrows back to Him!
  • Only that desire which He writes upon our heart—will move His heart and bring down a blessing—but the desires of the flesh have no power with Him.
  • Praying in the Holy Spirit is praying in fervency.
  • Those who do not plead with fervency—do not plead at all. As well speak of lukewarm fire—as of lukewarm prayer. It is essential that prayer be red hot!
  • Praying in the Holy Spirit is praying perseveringly. The true suppliant gathers force as he proceeds, and grows more fervent—when God delays to answer.
  • Praying in the Holy Spirit means praying humbly, for the Holy Spirit never puffs us up with pride.
  • It is His office to convince of sin, and so to bow us down in contrition and brokenness of spirit. We shall never pray acceptably, unless we cry to God out of the depths of contrite hearts.
  • A man prevails—only as he believes. The Holy Spirit is the author of faith, and strengthens it, so that we pray believing God’s promise.
  • Oh, if we are kept from falling, how must we bless the patience, power and wisdom of God—who watches over us moment by moment—and day by day!
  • He is faithful, who has promised, and He is able to keep us from falling, so that with a deep sense of our utter weakness, we may cherish a firm belief in our perfect safety!
  • Jehovah has power enough, without borrowing from our puny arm! Peace, you unbelieving thoughts! Be still, and know that the Lord reigns!
  • The act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness—which is a very beneficial lesson for such proud beings as we are.
  • If God gave us favors without constraining us to pray for them—we would never know how poor we are—but a true prayer is an inventory of needs, a catalogue of necessities, a revelation of hidden poverty. While it is an application to divine wealth—it is also a confession of human emptiness.
  • The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in SELF—and rich in Jesus;
  • Prayer is in itself, apart from the answer which it brings, a great benefit to the Christian.
  • This calling forbids all trust in our own doings, and conducts us to Christ alone for salvation—but it afterwards purges us from dead works to serve the living and true God.
  • As He who has called you is holy—so must you be holy. If you are living in sin—you are not called by God.
  • But if you are truly Christ’s, you can say, “Nothing pains me so much as sin! I desire to be rid of it! Lord, help me to be holy.”
  • There are times when solitude is better than society; and silence is wiser than speech.
  • We would be better Christians—if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering spiritual strength for labor in His service, through meditation on His Word.
  • We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them.
  • Truth is something like the cluster of the vine—if we would have wine from it, we must bruise it; we must press and squeeze it many times.
  • So we must, by meditation, tread the clusters of truth—if we would get the wine of consolation from them.
  • Hearing, reading, and learning—all require inward digesting to complete their usefulness, and the inward digesting of the truth lies for the most part in meditating upon it.
  • Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons—make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets—and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat—but they do not grind it; they would have the corn—but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree—but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet—but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord, and be this our resolve this day, “I will meditate on Your precepts!”
  • The Holy Spirit consoles—but Christ is the consolation. If we may use the figure, the Holy Spirit is the Physician—but Jesus is the medicine.
  • The Holy Spirit heals the wound—but it is by applying the holy ointment of Christ’s grace.
  • The Holy Spirit will not speak of His own things—but of the things of Christ. The Holy Spirit the Comforter—but Jesus is the Comfort!
  • Genuine, spiritual mourning for sin—is the work of the Spirit of God. Repentance is too choice a flower to grow in nature’s garden!
  • Penitence never shows itself in sinners—unless divine grace works it in them. If you have one particle of real hatred for sin, God must have given it you, for human nature’s thorns never produced a single fig.
  • When we repent of sin, we must have one eye upon SIN—and another upon the CROSS! It will be better still—if we fix both our eyes upon Christ—and see our transgressions only in the light of His love.
  • No man may say he hates sin—if he lives in it. Repentance makes us see the evil of sin, not merely as a theory—but experimentally—as the burnt child dreads fire.
  • Repentance is not intermittent. Every other sorrow yields to time—but this dear sorrow grows with our growth, and it is so sweet a bitter, that we thank God we are permitted to experience it, until we enter our eternal rest!

From J.C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on Matthew, chapters 19 and 20
Matthew 19:1-15

  • In these verses we have the mind of Christ declared on two subjects of great moment. One is the relation of husband and wife. The other is the light in which we should regard little children, in the matter of their souls. The well-being of nations, and the happiness of society, are closely connected with right views upon them. Nations are nothing but a collection of families. The good order of families depends entirely on keeping up the highest standard of respect for the marriage tie, and on the right training of children.
  • It is clear, from the whole tenor of the passage, that the relationship of marriage ought to be highly reverenced and honored among Christians. It is a relationship which was instituted in Paradise, in the time of man's innocency, and is a chosen figure of the mystical union between Christ and His Church.
  • With respect to little CHILDREN, we find our Lord instructing us in these verses, both by word and deed, both by precept and example. They were evidently tender infants, too young to receive instruction, but not too young to receive benefit by prayer. Let us learn from these verses, that the Lord Jesus cares tenderly for the souls of little children. It is probable that Satan specially hates them. Young as they are, they are not beneath his thoughts, and attention. That mighty heart of his has room for the babe in its cradle, as well as for the king on his throne. Let us begin from their very earliest years to deal with them as having souls to be lost, or saved, and strive to bring them to Christ. Let us make them acquainted with the Bible, as soon as they can understand anything. Let us pray with them, and pray for them, and teach them to pray for themselves.

Matthew 19:16-22

  • Salvation is an individual business. Every one who wishes to be saved, must have private personal dealings with Christ about his own soul.
  • We see, for one thing, from the case of this young man, that a person may have desires after salvation, and yet not be saved.
  • We must never forget that good feelings alone in religion are not the grace of God. We may know the truth intellectually.
  • We may often feel pierced in conscience. We may have religious affections awakened within us, have many anxieties about our souls, and shed many tears. But all this is not conversion. It is not the genuine, saving work of the Holy Spirit.
  • Not only are good feelings alone not grace, but they are even decidedly dangerous, if we content ourselves with them, and do not act as well as feel.
  • Feelings often indulged in, without leading to corresponding actions, will finally exercise no influence at all. Let us apply this lesson to our own state. Perhaps we know what it is to feel religious fears, wishes, and desires. Let us beware that we do not rest in them. Let us never rest until we know that we have really repented, and laid hold on the hope set before us in the Gospel. It is good to feel. But it is far better to be converted.
  • Tens of thousands fill churches and chapels weekly, who are utterly in the dark as to the full extent of man's sinfulness.

Matthew 19:23-30

  • Let us beware of the love of money. It is possible to use it well, and do good with it. But for each one who makes a right use of money, there are thousands who make a wrong use of it, and do harm both to themselves and others.
  • No man's place or circumstances shut him out from the kingdom of God. Let us never despair of any one's salvation.
  • The last thing that we learn in these verses, is the immense encouragement the Gospel offers to those who give up everything for Christ's sake.

Matthew 20:1-16

  • The hint of Chrysostom deserves notice. He says, "It is not right to search curiously, and word by word, into all things in a parable but when we have learned the object for which it was composed, to reap this, and not to busy ourselves about anything further."
  • We learn, in the first place, that in the calling of NATIONS to the professed knowledge of Himself, God exercises, free, sovereign, and unconditional grace. He calls the families of the earth into the visible church at His own time, and in His own way.
  • We learn, in the second place, that in the saving of INDIVIDUALS, as well as in the calling of nations, God acts as a sovereign, and gives no account of His matters.
  • True faith in Christ, though it be but a day old, justifies a man before God as completely as the faith of him who has followed Christ for fifty years.
  • The righteousness in which Timothy will stand at the day of judgment, is the same as that of the penitent thief. Both will be saved by grace alone.
  • Both will owe all to Christ. We may not like this. But it is the doctrine of this parable, and not of this parable only, but of the whole New Testament.
  • Let us beware of supposing, from anything in this parable, that salvation is in the slightest degree to be obtained by works. To suppose this is to overthrow the whole teaching of the Bible.
  • Whatever a believer receives in the next world, is a matter of grace, and not of debt. God is never a debtor to us,
  • Let us beware of supposing, from this parable, that all saved souls will have the same degree of glory. To suppose this, is to contradict many plain texts of Scripture. 
  • Finally, let us beware of supposing from this parable, that it is safe for any one to put off repentance until the end of his days.
  • Few are ever saved on their death-beds. One thief on the cross was saved, that none should despair; but only one, that none should presume. 

Matthew 20:17-23

  • The first thing we should notice in these verses, is the clear announcement which the Lord Jesus Christ makes of His own approaching death.
  • The Lord Jesus KNEW from the beginning, all that was before Him. The treachery of Judas Iscariot--the fierce persecution of the chief-priests and scribes--the unjust judgment--the delivery to Pontius Pilate--the mocking--the scourging--the crown of thorns--the cross--the hanging between two malefactors--the nails--the spear--all, all were spread before His mind like a picture.
  • The Lord Jesus was a VOLUNTARY sufferer. When He died on the cross, it was not because He had not power to prevent it. He suffered intentionally, deliberately, and of His own free-will. (John 10:18.)
  • He knew that without shedding of His blood there could be no remission of man's sin. He knew that He was the Lamb of God, who must die to take away the sin of the world. He knew that His death was the appointed sacrifice, which must be offered up to make reconciliation for iniquity. Knowing all this, He went willingly to the cross. His heart was set on finishing the mighty work He came into the world to do.
  • He was well aware that all hinged on His own death, and that, without that death, His miracles and preaching would have done comparatively nothing for the world.
  • The next thing that we should notice in these verses, is the mixture of ignorance and faith that may be found, even in true-hearted Christians.
  • There are many Christians, who are very like this woman and her sons. They see in part, and know in part, the things of God. They have faith enough to follow Christ. They have knowledge enough to hate sin, and come out from the world. And yet there are many truths of Christianity, of which they are deplorably ignorant. They talk ignorantly, they act ignorantly, and commit many sad mistakes.
  • But we must learn from these verses to deal gently with such people, because the Lord has received them. We must not set them down as graceless and godless, because of their ignorance.
  • The last thing that we should notice in these verses, is the solemn reproof which our Lord gives to the ignorant request of the mother of Zebedee's children and her two sons.
  • Do we not often say things in prayer without "counting the cost," and ask for things to be granted to us, without reflecting how much our supplications involve?
  • We ask that God would make us holy. It is a good request indeed. But are we prepared to be sanctified by any process that God in His wisdom may call on us to pass through?
  • Are we ready to be purified by affliction, weaned from the world by bereavements, drawn nearer to God by losses, sicknesses, and sorrow? Alas! these are hard questions. But if we are not, our Lord might well say to us, "You don't know what you are asking." Let us leave these verses with a solemn resolution to consider well what we are about, when we draw near to God in prayer.

Matthew 20:24-28

  • Pride is one of the oldest and most mischievous of sins. By it the angels fell--for "they kept not their first estate." (Jude 6.) Through pride Adam and Eve were seduced into eating the forbidden fruit.
  • In the second place we learn, that a life of self-denying kindness to others is the true secret of greatness in the kingdom of Christ.
  • The standard of the world, and the standard of the Lord Jesus, are indeed widely different. They are more than different. They are flatly contradictory one to the other.
  • True greatness consists not in receiving, but in giving--not in selfish absorption of good things, but in imparting good to others--not in being served, but in serving--not in sitting still and being ministered to, but in going about and ministering to others.
  • In the third place, we learn that the Lord Jesus Christ is intended to be the example of all true Christians. 
  • The Lord God has mercifully provided His people with everything necessary to their sanctification. He has given those who follow after holiness the clearest of precepts, the best of motives, and the most encouraging of promises.
  • "Would my Master have spoken in this manner? Would my Master have behaved in this way?"--These are the questions by which we ought daily to test ourselves.
  • Finally, let us learn from these verses, that Christ's death was an atonement for sin. What says the Scripture? "The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many."
  • This is the mightiest truth in the Bible. Let us take care that we grasp it firmly, and never let it go. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not die merely as a martyr, or as a splendid example of self-sacrifice and self-denial.
  • Christ died as a sacrifice for man's sin. He died to make reconciliation for man's iniquity. He died to purge our sins by the offering of Himself.
  • He died to redeem us from the curse which we all deserved, and to make satisfaction to the justice of God, which must otherwise have condemned us.

Matthew 20:29-34

  • In these verses we have a touching picture of an event in our Lord's history. He heals two blind men sitting by the wayside near Jericho.
  • For one thing, let us mark what strong faith may sometimes be found, where it might least have been expected. Blind as these two men were, they believed that Jesus was able to help them.
  • Such faith may well put us to shame. With all our books of evidence, and lives of saints, and libraries of divinity, how few know anything of simple, childlike confidence in Christ's mercy and Christ's power.
  • For another thing, let us mark what wisdom there is in using every opportunity for getting good for our souls. 
  • Let us never neglect the house of God--never forsake the assembling of ourselves with God's people--never omit the reading of our Bibles--never let drop the practice of private prayer.
  • Do we feel any desire to see the great Physician? If we do we must not wait in idleness, saying, "If I am to be saved, I shall be saved." We must arise and go to the road where Jesus walks.
  • For another thing, let us mark the value of pains and perseverance in seeking Christ. These blind men were "rebuked" by the multitude that accompanied our Lord. They felt their need of help. They cared nothing for the check which they received. "They cried out even more, "Lord, have mercy on us, O son of David!" 
  • We feel our diseases, and want to find Jesus, the great Physician--if we know our sins, and desire to have them pardoned--let us press on. "The violent take the kingdom by force." (Matt. 11:12.)
  • Finally, let us mark how gracious the Lord Jesus is to those who seek Him.
  • He "being moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and immediately their eyes received their sight." We see here an illustration of that old truth, which we can never know too well, the mercifulness of Christ's heart towards the sons of men.
  • The Lord Jesus is not only a mighty Savior, but merciful, kind, and gracious to a degree that our minds cannot conceive.
  • Well might the apostle Paul say, that "the love of Christ passes knowledge." (Ephes. 3:19.) Like him, let us pray that we may "know" more of that love.
  • We need it when we first begin our Christian course, poor trembling penitents, and babes in grace. We need it afterwards, as we travel along the narrow way, often erring, often stumbling, and often cast down.
  • We shall need it in the evening of our days, when we go down the valley of the shadow of death. Let us then grasp the love of Christ firmly, and keep it daily before our minds. We shall never know, until we wake up in the next world, how much we are indebted to it.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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