Daily Devotional – Known Fruit

Is Judging Always Wrong? - FaithGateway

AMP and RVR 1960 


CONTEXT:

The other day I was watching some political commentary on TV about the upcoming election. There were two participants in the discussion (plus the host) one a syndicated conservative commentator himself and the other a former chief aid to Chuck Shumer. 

Somehow the subject matter got around to abortion and the conservative made a remark something to the effect ‘VP Biden calls himself a Catholic but supports Abortion on demand’ to which the former Schumer aid responded; ‘How dare you question Mr. Biden’s Faith.’

I had two immediate observations: 1) He (the Schumer aid, sidestepped answering the question and 2) He (a non-believer I think) immediately imposed Matthew 7:1-5 upon the the other guy. 

Since I have Previously posted on Matthew 7:1-5, Is Judgment Always Forbidden?,The Most Popular Bible Verse Among Unbelievers, The Whole Counsel of God;  suffice it to say that Biblical Judgement (Discernment) is warranted  at all times and Mr. Schumer’s former aid should know better than to try and deflect answers. 

I will concentrate today instead on a much neglected (my opinion) aspect of our faith, that is How can we tell if someone is saved or not?

Most Bibles are sectioned off somewhat around Matthew 7:15-20 with a Heading of A Tree and Its Fruit. Here the theme is knowing the difference between TRUE FOLLOWERS and FALSE PROPHETS, we will know both by the fruit or works of God they bear. 


BREAKDOWN:

Ye shall – In v.15 Jesus said theses False Prophets would disguise themselves as gentle, innocent sheep. But YOU can see through their camouflage and distractions. 

know them by their fruits. – All false prophets lack Good Fruit. Oh they got fruit, it is just rotten to the core. It goes against the very Word of God. 

Do men gather – When you are hungry Physically or Spiritually, mankind will gather almost anything to eat. 

grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? – But even the most suborn and foolish should know enough that while Grapes and Figs are Good to eat, the little berries found on thorn and thistle bushes are not. Yet false prophets will lead men to these time and again. 


APPLICATION:

Thistles and Thorns can never never produce fruit, it is not in their nature. The same is true for those who claim to be children of God but are just great pretenders or as Jesus said Wolves in Cheeps Clothing. 

Is our “Judging” others Faith Biblical and Important? In a word YES! James dedicates most of Chapter 2:14-26 to the subject. Someone can claim to be whatever they want, in my example above Joe Biden claims to be a practicing Catholic but is pro-abortion, but if their lives (Fruits) do not bare witness to that claim they are Liars and False Prophets.  

The Apostle John in his 1st Epistle 2:3-6 makes the same point only this time with an inward focus. Are we really children of God that we claim? Are we working for the Kingdom or our own Glory? 

As always we need to take in the Whole Counsel of God and no go off half Cocked and start accusing and aggressively pointing fingers at everyone claiming they are False Prophets. Matthew 7 is part of the Sermon on the Mount and earlier in that Sermon Jesus said  “Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the [b]gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth. 

The Bible clearly teaches we need to be bold and point out the false prophets but doing so with a gentle spirit of humility that shows Christ in us. We need only the Word of God to be our weapon of choice and we need only use it in a manner that mortally wounds the sin while bringing peace to man. 

What type of Fruit are you known by?

 

“What is general revelation and special revelation?”

Question: “What is general revelation and special revelation?”

Answer: General revelation and special revelation are the two ways God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity. General revelation refers to the general truths that can be known about God through nature. Special revelation refers to the more specific truths that can be known about God through the supernatural.

In regard to general revelation, Psalm 19:1-4 declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” According to this passage, God’s existence and power can be clearly seen through observing the universe. The order, intricacy, and wonder of creation speak to the existence of a powerful and glorious Creator…

READ MORE: 

Daily Devotional – Pressing Onward

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

AMP and RVR 1960


CONTEXT:

If I had to put a title on the Chapter; one suggestion might be “Christian Duty and Goals.”  The first 11 verses are full of Paul explaining how we are to know Christ, be righteous and be weary of those who do evil. In other words earthly duties.  

The remainder of the Chapter verses 12-21 heavenly goals or what we are to focus on to achieve Glory with Christ. 

Verse 12 and 13 set up out text; note Paul says:

Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on… Paul does not claim perfection only consistent action towards it

forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead – by not focusing on past sins but learning from those errors he can focus on the pressing forward

 


BREAKDOWN: 

I press – It is up to us to take action, using Paul as an example we can clearly see no one is called to be a couch potato Christian 

 

toward the mark – The mark or goal, here a most likely a reference to the finish line in a race; for Christians the “Mark” or “Goal” is simple as Paul puts it For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain Philippians 1:21. Our end game if you will is eternity with our LORD and Savior.

 

for the prize – The “Goal” and “Prize” are not the same. As noted above the “GOAL” is eternal life with Christ, the Prize is the the Crown of Life, the incorruptible crown;  righteousness, and glory, that fadeth not away, ( James 1:12 ) ( 2 Timothy 4:8 ) ( 1 Peter 5:4 )

 

of the high calling –  Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible – Unabridged  High calling , [ tees (Greek #3588) anoo (Greek #507) kleeseoos (Greek #2821)] – ‘the calling that is above’ (Galatians 4:26Colossians 3:1); the “heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1). “The prize” is the “crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7-8Revelation 2:10, “crown of life;” 1 Peter 5:4 “a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”) “The high calling” is not Paul’s calling as an apostle by God from heaven, but that of all Christians to salvation in Christ, which coming from, invites us to, heaven, where accordingly our minds ought to he uplifted (1 Thessalonians 2:12).

 

of God in Christ Jesus. – Paul’s gaze was ever upward not just forward. This little phrase has great doctrinal and theological significance, for Paul is saying the prize, the goal, all the forward motion is focused upon Christ. 

 


APPLICATION: 

We live in a BUSY, DISTRACTING and often TUMULTUOUS world. For the unbeliever their life goes on without hope of getting better. For the Christian however everyday our hope is strengthened as we run the race towards the prize and goal that has been promised to us. 

Are we going to stumble along the way, you bet. Like Paul we are not perfect. I would hope and pray like Paul you would know that the Prize and Goal is well worth the daily race. 

 

Daily Devotional – Foundations

34 Bible verses about Reward, For God's People

AMP and RVR 1960


CONTEXT:

Pretty much since I can remember I have had a hammer in my hand so relating to 1 Corinthians 3 Foundations for Living, was right up my alley as they say. 

Paul says v.10 he has skillfully laid the foundation upon which others can build. He is of course referring to the Gospel and his initial visits to the area sharing the Good News and planting churches which others have continued.

In v.11 he makes clear the ONLY foundation he laid and the ONLY one worth laying by anyone is that of Christ Jesus and Him crucified.

Then Paul makes a true builders comment in v.12 when he asks what are you building your foundations with? Are you using quality building materials or junk? 


 

BREAKDOWN: (KJV)

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: – It will become apparent to everyone, (even those you are currently fooling) what you have build you foundation (your beliefs, doctrine, theology) on. 

for the day shall declare it, – What day? Many hold this to be the “Great Day of Judgement” while others (myself included) believe it to be a day (Gill, Calvin) when just the doctrines and false teachings will be exposed. Whichever you ascribe to the message is clear you can not hide on that day.

because it shall be revealed by fire; – All your foundational work will be revealed. Your “Good News” (or lack thereof for pew only Christians) message will stand the test put forth by God. 

and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.-  Paul has spoken of doctrine and personal evangelism figuratively and continues here by using the example of trying by fire. We know that a foundation made of wood, straw or JUNK will not stand up to fire. Neither will a doctrine and personal evangelism based not on the genuine, uncompromised Word of God. The fire of the Holy Spirit will try a person’s soul and show the world the truth of their message.


 

APPLICATION:

What we say, what we share, the “Good News” of Christ should be obviously important to all. Our message (beliefs, doctrine, theology) must be based solely upon the uncompromising, unadulterated, Holy Word of God.

The message is simple, God will judge everyone not on works to get into heaven, for we know that is impossible. But he will judge us on what we do (or do not do) after our heavenly home is secure 2 Corinthians 5:10.

What is your foundation looking like today? 

 

 

Daily Devotional – The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson Part LXXXVII

Today is the final installment (I almost forgot to publish it) of the BEATITUDES by Thomas Watson. I pray I has richly blessed you as it has me. – Mike

Image result for Beatitudes
Image Depicting Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes

by Thomas Watson

An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

APPENDIX to the Beatitudes

“His commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:3

You have seen that Christ calls for poverty of spirit, pureness of heart, meekness, mercifulness, cheerfulness in suffering persecution, etc. Now that none may hesitate or be troubled at these commands of Christ, I thought it good (as a closure to the former discourse) to take off the surmises and prejudices in men’s spirits by this sweet, mollifying Scripture, ‘His commandments are not grievous.’

The censuring world objects against piety—that it is difficult and irksome. ‘Behold what a weariness is it!’ (Malachi 1:13). Therefore the Lord, that he may invite and encourage us to obedience, draws religion in its fair colors and represents it to us as beautiful and pleasant, in these words: ‘His commandments are not grievous.’ this may well be called a sweetening ingredient put into religion and may serve to take off that asperity and harshness which the carnal world would put upon the ways of God.
For the clearing of the terms, let us consider:

1. What is meant here by ‘commandments’?

By this word, commandments, I understand gospel-precepts; faith, repentance, self-denial etc.

2. What is meant by ‘not grievous’?

The Greek word signifies they are not tedious or heavy to be borne. There is a train of thought in the words. ‘His commands are not grievous’, that is, they are easy, sweet, excellent.

Hence observe that none of God’s commandments are grievous, when he calls us to be meek, merciful, pure in heart. These commandments are not grievous. ‘My burden is light’ (Matthew 11:30). The Greek word there for ‘burden’, signifies properly ‘the ballast of a ship’ which glides through the waves as swiftly and easily as if the ship had no weight or pressure in it. Christ’s commandments are like the ballast of a ship—useful, but not troublesome. All his precepts are sweet and easy, therefore called ‘pleasantness’ (Proverbs 3:17). To illustrate and amplify this, consider two things:

1. Why Christ lays commands upon his people.
2. That these commands are not grievous.

1. Why Christ lays commands upon his people. There are two reasons.

[1] In regard of CHRIST—it is suitable to his dignity and state. He is Lord paramount. This name is written on his thigh and vesture, ‘King of kings’ (Revelation 19:16). And shall not a king appoint laws to his subjects? It is one of the regal rights, the flowers of the crown, to enact laws and statutes. What is a king without his laws? And shall not Christ (by whom ‘kings reign’, Proverbs 8:15) put forth his royal edicts by which the world shall be governed?

[2] In regard of the SAINTS—it is well for the people of God that they have laws to bind and check the exorbitancies of their unruly hearts. How far would the vine spread its luxuriant branches—were it not pruned and tied? The heart would be ready to run wild in sin—if it did not have affliction to prune it, and the laws of Christ to bind it. The precepts of Christ are called ‘a yoke’ (Matthew 11:30). The yoke is useful. It keeps the oxen from straggling and running out. So the precepts of Christ as a yoke—keep the godly from straggling into sin. Where would we not run, into what damnable opinions and practices— did not Christ’s laws lay a check and restraint upon us! Blessed be God for precepts! That is a blessed yoke, which yokes our corruptions. We would run to hell were it not for this yoke! The laws of Christ are a spiritual hedge, which keeps the people of God within the pastures of ordinances. Some that have broken this hedge and have straggled off, are now in the devil’s pound! Thus we see what need the saints have of the royal law.

2.The second thing I am to demonstrate, is that Christ’s commands are not grievous. I confess they are grievous to the unregenerate man. To mourn for sin, to be pure in heart, to suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake—is a hard work, and grievous to flesh and blood. Therefore Christ’s commands are compared to bands and cords—because carnal men look upon them so. God’s commands restrain men from their excess, and bind them to their good behavior. Therefore, they hate these bonds and instead of breaking off sin, say, ‘Let us break their bands asunder and cast away their cords from us!’ (Psalm 2:3). A carnal man is like an untamed heifer which will not endure the yoke—but kicks and flings, or like a ‘wild bull in a net’ (Isaiah 51:20). Thus to an unsaved person, Christ’s commands are grievous.

Nay, to a child of God, so far as corruption prevails (for he is but in part regenerate), Christ’s laws seem irksome. The flesh cries out that it cannot pray or suffer. ‘The law in the members’ rebels against Christ’s law. Only as the spiritual part prevails, does it make the flesh stoop to Christ’s injunctions. A regenerate person, so far as he is regenerate, does not count God’s commandments grievous. They are not a burden—but a delight.

Divine commands are not grievous, if we consider them first positively, in these eight particulars:

(1) A Christian consents to God’s commands, therefore they are not grievous. ‘I consent to the law, that it is good’ (Romans 7:16). What is done with consent is easy. If the virgin gives her consent, the match goes on cheerfully. A godly man in his judgment approves of Christ’s laws, and in his will consents to them. Therefore they are not grievous. A wicked man is under a force; terror of conscience forces him to duty. He is like a slave that is chained to the galley. He must work whether he will or not. He is forced to pull the rope, tug at the oar. But a godly man is like a free subject, who consents to his prince’s laws and obeys out of choice as seeing the equity and rationality of them. Thus a gracious heart sees a beauty and equity in the commands of heaven, which draws forth consent, and this consent makes them pleasant.

(2) They are Christ’s commands, therefore not grievous. ‘Take my yoke’ (Matthew 11:29). Gospel commands are not the laws of a tyrant—but of a Savior. The husband’s commands are not grievous to the wife. It is her desire to obey. This is enough to animate and excite obedience—it is Christ’s who commands. As Peter said in another sense, ‘Lord if it is you, bid me come unto you upon the water’ (Matthew 14:28), so says a gracious soul; ‘Lord, if it is you who would have me mourn for sin and breathe after heart purity; if it is you (dear Savior) who bids me to do these things—I will cheerfully obey. Your commandments are not grievous’. A soldier at the word of his general, makes a brave fight.

(3) Christians obey out of a principle of love, and then God’s commandments are not grievous. Therefore in Scripture serving and loving of God, are put together. ‘They join themselves to the Lord, to serve him and to love the name of the Lord’ (Isaiah 56:6). Nothing is grievous to him who loves. Love lightens a burden; it adds wings to obedience. A heart who loves God, counts nothing tedious but its own dullness and slowness of motion. Love makes sin heavy—and Christ’s burden light.

(4) A Christian is carried on by the help of the Spirit, and the Spirit makes every duty easy. ‘The Spirit helps our infirmities’ (Romans 8:26). The Spirit works in us ‘both to will and to do’ (Philippians 2:13). When God enables us to do what he commands, then ‘his commandments are not grievous’. If two carry a burden, it is easy. The Spirit of God helps us to do duties, and to bear burdens. He draws as it were in the yoke with us. If the teacher guides the child’s hand and helps it to frame its letter—it is not hard for the child to write. If the loadstone draw the iron—it is not hard for the iron to move. If the Spirit of God as a divine loadstone draws and moves the heart—it is not hard to obey. When the bird has wings given it, it can fly. Though the soul of itself be unable to do that which is good—yet having two wings given it—the wing of faith and the wing of the Spirit, now it flies swiftly in obedience! ‘The Spirit lifted me up’ (Ezekiel 11:1). The heart is heavenly in prayer, when the Spirit lifts it up. The sails of a mill cannot move by themselves—but when the wind blows then they turn round. When a gale of the Spirit blows upon the soul, now the sails of the affections move swiftly in duty.

(5) All Christ’s commands are beneficial, not grievous. ‘And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you—but to fear the Lord your God, to love him, to keep his statutes which I command you this day—for your good’ (Deuteronomy 10:12, 13). Christ’s commands carry food in the mouth of them, and then surely they are not grievous. Salvation runs along in every precept. To obey Christ’s laws is not so much our duty—as our privilege. All Christ’s commands center in blessedness. Medicine is in itself very unpleasant—yet because it tends to health, no man refuses it. Divine precepts are irksome to the fleshy part—yet, having such excellent operation as to make us both holy and happy—they are not to be accounted grievous. The apprentice is content to go through hard service, because it makes way for his freedom. The scholar willingly wrestles with the knotty difficulties of arts and sciences, because they serve both to ennoble and advance him. How cheerfully does a believer obey those laws which reveal Christ’s love! That suffering is not grievous—which leads to a crown. This made Paul say, ‘I take pleasure in infirmities, in persecutions’ (2 Corinthians 12:10).

(6) It is honorable to be under Christ’s commands. Therefore they are not grievous. The precepts of Christ do not burden us—but adorn us. It is a honor to be employed in Christ’s service. How cheerfully did the rowers row the barge which carried Caesar! The honor makes the precept easy. A crown of gold is in itself heavy—but the honor of the crown makes it light and easy to be worn. I may say of every command of Christ, as Solomon speaks of wisdom, ‘She shall give to your head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to you’ (Proverbs 4:9). It is honorable working at the King’s court. The honor of Christ’s yoke, makes it easy and pleasant.

(7) Christ’s commands are sweetened with joy—so then they are not grievous. Cicero questions whether that can properly be called a burden—which is carried with joy and pleasure. When the wheels of a chariot are oiled they run swiftly. Just so, when God pours in the oil of gladness, how fast does the soul run in the ways of his commandments! Joy strengthens for duty. ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 7:10); and the more strength—the less weariness. God sometimes drops down comfort—and then a Christian can run in the yoke!

(8) Gospel commands are finite, therefore not grievous. Christ will not always be laying his commands upon us. Christ will shortly take off the yoke from our neck—and set a crown upon our head! There is a time coming when we shall not only be free from our sins—but our duties too. Prayer and fasting are irksome to the flesh. In heaven there will be no need of prayer or repentance. Duties shall cease there. Indeed in heaven the saints shall love God—but love is no burden. God will shine forth in his beauty—and to fall in love with beauty is not grievous. In heaven the saints shall praise God—but their praising of him shall be so sweetened with delight, that it will not be a duty any more—but part of their reward. It is the angels’ heaven to praise God. This then makes Christ’s commands not grievous—they are temporary; it is but a while and duties shall be no more. The saints shall not so much be under commands as embraces! Wait but a while, and you shall put off your armor—and end your weary marches!

Thus we have seen that Christ’s commands considered in themselves, are not grievous.

Let us consider Christ’s commands comparatively—and we shall see they are not grievous. Let us make a fourfold comparison. Compare Gospel commands:

1. With the severity of the moral law.
2. With the commands of sin.
3. With the torments of the damned.
4. With the glory of heaven.

1. Christ’s commands in the gospel are not grievous, when compared with the severity of the MORAL LAW. The moral law was such a burden as neither we nor our fathers could bear. ‘Cursed is everyone who continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them’ (Galatians 3:10). Impossible it is that any Christian should come up to the strictness of this. The golden mandates of the gospel comparatively are easy. For:

(1) In the gospel, if there is a desire to keep God’s commandments, it is accepted. ‘If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted’ (Nehemiah 1:11; 2 Corinthians 8:12). Though a man had had ever so good an intention to have fulfilled the moral law, it would not have been accepted. He must ‘de facto’ (in actual deed) have obeyed (Galatians 3:12). But in the gospel God crowns the desire. If a Christian says in humility, ‘Lord, I desire to obey you, I would be more holy’ (Isaiah 26:8), this desire, springing from love—is accepted by God.

(2) In the gospel a surety is admitted in the court. The law would not admit of a surety. It required personal obedience. But now, God so far indulges us that, what we cannot of ourselves do, we may do by a proxy. Christ is called ‘a surety of a better testament’ (Hebrews 7:22). We cannot walk so exactly. We tread awry, and fall short in everything—but God looks upon us in our surety, and Christ ‘having fulfilled all righteousness’ (Matthew 3:15), it is as if we had fulfilled the law in our own person.

(3) The law commanded and threatened—but gave no strength to perform. It Egyptianized, requiring the full tally of bricks—but gave no straw. But now, God gives power with his commands. Gospel-precepts are sweetened with promises. God commands, ‘Make a new heart’ (Ezekiel 18:31). ‘Lord,’ may the soul say, ‘I cannot make a new heart! I could as well make a new world!’ But see Ezekiel 36:26, ‘A new heart also will I give you’. God commands us to cleanse ourselves: ‘Wash, make yourself clean’ (Isaiah 1:16). ‘Lord, I have no power to cleanse myself! Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?’ (Job 14:4). See the precept turned into a promise: ‘From all your filthiness and from your idols—I will cleanse you’ (Ezekiel 36:25). If, when the child cannot go, the father takes it by the hand and leads it, now it is not hard for the child to go. When we cannot go, God takes us by the hand, ‘I taught Ephraim to go, taking them by their arms’ (Hosea 11:3).

(4) In the gospel God winks at infirmities, where the heart is right. The law called for perfect obedience. It was death to have shot but a hairbreadth short of the mark. It would be sad if the same rigor should continue upon us. ‘Woe to the holiest man who lives’ (says Augustine) ‘if God comes to weigh him in the balance of his justice!’ It is with our best duties as with gold. Put the gold in the fire and you will see dross come out. What drossiness is in our holy things! But in the gospel, God will pass by our failings. Thus Christ’s commands in the gospel are not grievous, compared with the severity of the moral law.

2. Christ’s commands are not grievous, when compared with the commands of SIN. Sin lays a heavy yoke upon men. Sin is compared to heavy lead (Zechariah 5:7) to show the weightiness of it. The commands of sin are burdensome. Let a man be under the power and rage of any lust (whether it be covetousness or ambition), how he tires and excruciates himself! What hazards does he run, even to the endangering of his health and soul, that he may satisfy his lust! ‘They wear themselves out with all their sinning’ (Jeremiah 9:5). And are not Christ’s precepts easy and sweet in comparison of sin’s austere and inexorable commands? Therefore Chrysostom says well that ‘virtue is easier than vice’. Temperance is less burdensome than drunkenness. Doing justice is less burdensome than crime. There is more difficulty and perplexity in the contrivement (Micah 2:1) and pursuit of wicked ends—than in obeying the sweet and gentle precepts of Christ. Hence it is that a wicked man is said to ‘pregnant with evil and conceives trouble’ (Psalm 7:14), to show what anxious pain and trouble he has in bringing about his wickedness! Many have gone with more pain to hell–than others have to heaven!

3. Christ’s commands are not grievous, when compared with the grievous TORMENTS OF THE DAMNED. The rich man cries out ‘I am tormented in this flame!’ (Luke 16:24). Hell fire is so inconceivably torturing—that the wicked do not know either how to bear or how to avoid it. The torment of the damned may be compared to a yoke—but it differs from other yokes. Usually the yoke is laid but upon the neck of the beast—but the hell-yoke is laid upon every part of the sinner. His eyes shall behold nothing but bloody tragedies. His ears shall hear the groans and shrieks of blaspheming spirits. He shall suffer in every member of his body and faculty of his soul, and this agony though violent, is yet perpetual. The yoke of the damned shall never be taken off. ‘The footprints to hell show no return.’ Sinners might break the golden chain of God’s commands—but they cannot break the iron chain of his punishments! It is as impossible for them to file this chain, as to scale heaven.
And are not gospel-commands easy in comparison of hell-torments? What does Christ command? He bids you repent. Is it not better to weep for sin—than bleed for it! Christ bids you pray in your families and closets. Is it not better praying—than roaring in hell! He bids you sanctify the Sabbath. Is it not better to keep a holy rest to the Lord than to be forever without rest? Hell is a restless place. There is no intermission of torment for one moment in all eternity! I appeal to the consciences of men. Are not Christ’s commands sweet and pleasant—in comparison of the insupportable pains of reprobates? Is not obeying better than damning! Are not the cords of love—better than the chains of darkness!

4. Gospel commands are not grievous, when compared with the glory of HEAVEN. What an infinite disproportion is there between our service and our reward! What are all the saints’ labors and travails in religion—compared with the eternal crown of glory? The weight of glory makes duty light.

Behold here an encouraging argument to true religion. How may this make us in love with the ways of God! ‘His commandments are not grievous’. Believers are not now under the thundering curses of the law—no, nor under the ceremonies of it, which were both numerous and burdensome. The ways of God are reasonable, his statutes pleasant! He bids us mourn—that we may be comforted. He bids us be poor in spirit—that he may settle a kingdom upon us. God is no hard Master. ‘His commandments are not grievous.’ O Christian, serve God out of choice (Psalm 119:3). Think of the joy, the honor, and the reward of godliness. Never more grudge God your service. Whatever he prescribes—let your hearts cheerfully subscribe.

It reproves those who refuse to obey these sweet and gentle commands of Christ. ‘Israel would not submit to me’ (Psalm 81:11). The generality of men choose rather to put their neck in the devil’s yoke than to submit to the sweet and easy yoke of Christ. What should be the reason that, when God’s ‘commandments are not grievous’, his ways pleasantness, his service perfect freedom—yet men should not bow to Christ’s scepter, nor stoop to his laws?

Surely the cause is that inbred hatred which is naturally in men’s hearts against Christ. Sinners are called ‘God-haters’ (Romans 1:30). Sin begets not only a dislike of the ways of God—but hatred to God! And from disaffection, flows disloyalty. ‘His citizens hated him and sent a message after him, saying—We will not have this man to reign over us!’ (Luke 19:14)

Besides this inbred hatred against Christ, the devil labors to blow the coals and increase this odium and antipathy. He raises an evil report upon religion as those spies did on Canaan. ‘They brought up an evil report of the land’ (Numbers 13:32). Satan is implacably malicious, and as he sometimes accuses us to God—so he accuses God to us, and says, ‘He is a hard Master and his commandments are grievous.’ It is the devil’s design to do as the sons of Eli, ‘who made the offering of God to be abhorred’ (1 Samuel 2:17). If there is any hatred and prejudice in the heart against true religion, ‘an enemy has done this!’ (Matthew 13:28, 38). The devil raises in the hearts of men a twofold prejudice against Christ and his ways:

(1) The small number of those who embrace religion. The way of Christ is but a pathway (Psalm 119:35), whereas the way of pleasure and vanity is the roadway. Many ignorantly conclude that must be the best way—which most people travel on.
I answer: There are but few that are saved, and will not you be saved because so few are saved? A man does not argue thus in other things: ‘there are but few rich, therefore I will not labor to be rich.’ Nay, therefore, he the rather strives to be rich. Why should not we argue thus wisely about our souls? There are but few that go to heaven, therefore we will labor the more to be of the number of that few.

What a weak argument is this: there are but few who embrace true religion, therefore you will not! Those things which are more excellent are more rare. There are but few diamonds. There are but few kings. The fewness of those who embrace true religion, argues the way of religion to be excellent. We are warned not to sail with the multitude (Exodus 23:2). Most fish go to the Devil’s net! ‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’ (Matthew 7:13-14)

(2) The ways of religion are rendered deformed and unlovely by the scandals of professors.

I answer: I acknowledge the luster of religion has been much eclipsed and sullied by the scandals of men. This is an age of scandals. Many have made the pretense of religion, to be a key to open the door to all ungodliness. Never was God’s name more taken in vain. This is that our Savior has foretold. ‘It must needs be that offences come’ (Matthew 18:7). But to take off this prejudice, consider: scandals are not from true religion—but for lack of true religion. True religion is not the worse, though some abuse it. To dislike piety because some of the professors of it are scandalous, is as if one should say, ‘Because the servant is dishonest, therefore he will not have a good opinion of his master.’ Is Christ the less glorious because some who wear his livery are scandalous? Is true religion the worse—because some of her followers are bad? Is wine the worse—because some are drunkards? Shall a woman dislike chastity because some of her neighbors are unchaste? Let us argue soberly. ‘Judge righteous judgment’ (John 7:24).

God sometimes permits scandals to fall out in the church out of a design:

(1) As a just judgment upon hypocrites. These squint-eyed devotionists who serve God for their own ends, the Lord in justice allows them to fall into horrid debauched practices, that he may lay open their baseness to the world, and that all may see they were but pretend Christians, but painted devils! Judas was first a sly hypocrite, afterwards a visible traitor!

(2) Scandals are for hardening of the profane. Some desperate sinners who would not be won by piety—they shall be wounded by it. God lets scandals occur, to be a break neck to men and to engulf them more in sin. Jesus Christ (‘God blessed forever’) is to some a ‘rock of offence’ (Romans 9:33). His blood, which is to some balm, is to others poison. If the beauty of piety does not allure—the scandals of some of its followers shall spur men to hell.

(3) Scandals in the church are for the caution of the godly. The Lord would have his people walk tremblingly. ‘Be not high-minded—but fear’ (Romans 11:20). When cedars fall, let the ‘bruised reed’ tremble. The scandals of professors are not to discourage us—but to warn us. Let us tread more warily. The scandals of others are sea-marks for the saints to avoid.

Let all this serve to take off these prejudices from true religion. Though Satan may endeavor by false disguises to render the gospel odious—yet there is a beauty and a glory in it. God’s ‘commandments are not grievous’.

Let me persuade all men cordially to embrace the ways of God. ‘His commandments are not grievous’. God never burdens us—but that he may unburden us of our sins. His commands are our privileges. There is joy in the way of duty (Psalm 19:11)—and heaven at the end!

Monergism Books

Daily Devotional – The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson Part LXXXVI

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Image Depicting Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes

by Thomas Watson

An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12 

 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (v.10)

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Concerning Persecution

We are now come to the last beatitude: ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted

Let us prepare for persecution. A wise pilot in a calm, will prepare for a storm. God knows how soon persecution may come. There seems to be a cloud of blood hanging over the nation.

3. Promote those things which will help to suffer. Continued

Persecution cannot hinder us from being blessed. I shall prove this by these demonstrations:

1. They are blessed who have God for their God. ‘Happy is that people whose God is the Lord’ (Psalm 144:15). But persecution cannot hinder us from having God for our God. ‘Our God is able to deliver us’ (Daniel 3:17). Though persecuted—yet they could say, ‘our God’. Therefore persecution cannot hinder us from being blessed.

They are blessed whom God loves—but persecution cannot hinder the love of God. ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall persecution?’ (Romans 8:35). The goldsmith loves his gold as well when it is in the fire—as when it is in his bag. God loves his children as well in adversity, as in prosperity. ‘As many as I love—I rebuke’ (Revelation 3:19). God visits his children in prison. ‘Be of good cheer, Paul’ (Acts 23:11). God sweetens their sufferings. ‘As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds’ (2 Corinthians 1:5). As the mother, having given her child a bitter pill, gives it afterwards a lump of sugar; persecution is a bitter pill—but God gives the comforts of his Spirit to sweeten it. If persecution cannot hinder God’s love, then it cannot hinder us from being blessed.

2. They are blessed, for whom Christ prays. Such as are persecuted, have Christ praying for them. ‘Keep through your own name, those whom you have given me’ (John 17:11); which prayer, though made for all believers—yet especially for his apostles which he foretold should be martyrs (John 16:2). Now if persecution cannot hinder Christ’s prayer for us, then it cannot impede or obstruct our blessedness.

3. They are blessed, who have sin purged out. Persecution purges out sin (Isaiah 27:9; Hebrews 12:11). Persecution is a corrosive to eat out the proud flesh. It is a fan to winnow us, a fire to refine us. Persecution is the remedy which God applies to his children, to carry away their ill humours. That surely which purges out sin cannot hinder blessedness.

[11] The great suffering-consideration is the glorious reward which follows sufferings: ‘Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ ‘The hope of reward,’ says Basil, ‘is very powerful and moving.’ Moses had an eye to the ‘recompense of reward’ (Hebrews 11:26). Yes, so did Christ himself (Hebrews 12:2). Many have done great things for hope of a temporal reward. Camillus, when his country was oppressed by the Gauls, ventured his life for his country, to purchase fame and honor. If men will hazard their lives for a little temporal honor, what should we do for the reward of eternal glory! ‘A merchant,’ says Chrysostom, ‘does not mind a few storms at sea—but he thinks of the gain when the ship comes fraught home.’ So a Christian should not be overly concerned about his present sufferings—but think of the rich reward he shall receive, when he shall arrive at the heavenly port. ‘Great is your reward in heaven’ (verse 12). The cross is a golden ladder by which we climb up to heaven! A Christian may lose his life—but not his reward. He may lose his head—but not his crown. If he who gives ‘a cup of cold water’ shall not lose his reward, then much less he who gives a draught of warm blood. The rewards of glory may sweeten all the bitter waters of Marah. It should be a spur to martyrdom.

Not that we can merit this reward by our sufferings. ‘I will give you a crown of life’ (Revelation 2:10). The reward is the legacy which free grace bequeaths. Alas, what proportion is there between a drop of blood—and an eternal weight of glory? Christ himself, as he was man only (setting aside his Godhead), did not merit by his sufferings, for Christ, as he was man only, was a creature. Now a creature cannot merit from the Creator. Christ’s sufferings, as he was man only, were finite, therefore could not merit infinite glory. Indeed, as he was God, his sufferings were meritorious; but considering him purely as man, they were not. This I urge against the Papists. If Christ’s sufferings, as he was man only (though as man he was above the angels), could not merit, then what man upon earth, what prophet or martyr is able to merit anything by his sufferings?

But though we have no reward ‘ex merito’, by merit—we shall have it ‘ex gratia’, by grace. So it is in the text, ‘Great is your reward in heaven’. The thoughts of this reward should animate Christians. Look upon the eternal crown ov glory—and faint if you can. The reward is as far above your thoughts—as it is beyond your deserts. A man who is to wade through a deep water, fixes his eyes upon the firm land before him. While Christians are wading through the deep waters of persecution—they should fix the eyes of their faith on the land of promise. ‘Great is your reward in heaven!’ Those who bear the cross patiently—shall wear the crown triumphantly!

Christ’s suffering saints shall have greater degrees in glory (Matthew 19:28). God has his highest seats, yes, his thrones—for his martyrs. It is true, he who has the least degree of glory—a doorkeeper in heaven, will have enough; but as Joseph gave to Benjamin a double portion above the rest of his brethren, so God will give to his sufferers a double portion of glory. Some orbs in heaven are higher, some stars brighter. God’s martyrs shall shine brighter in the heavenly horizon.

Oh, often look upon ‘the recompense of the reward’. Not all the silks of Persia, nor all the spices of Arabia, nor all the gold of Ophir—can be compared to this glorious reward. How should the thoughts of this sharpen and steel us with courage in our sufferings! When they threatened Basil with banishment, he comforted himself with this—that he should be either under heaven, or in heaven. It was the hope of this reward which so animated those primitive martyrs, who, when there was incense put into their hands and there was no more required of them for the saving of their lives, but to sprinkle a little of that incense upon the altar in honor of the idol—they would rather die than do it!

This glorious reward in heaven, is called a reigning with Christ. ‘If we suffer, we shall also reign with him!’ First martyrs for Christ—then kings for Christ. Julian honored all those who were slain in his battles. So does the Lord Jesus. After the saints’ crucifixion, follows their coronation. ‘They shall reign!’ The wicked first reign—and then suffer. The godly first suffer—and then reign. The saints shall have a happy reign. It shall be both peaceable and durable. Who would not swim through blood—to this crown! Who would not suffer joyfully? Christ says, ‘Be exceeding glad’ (verse 12). The Greek word signifies ‘to leap for joy’. Christians should have their spirits elevated and exhilarated when they contemplate the eternal weight of glory!

If you would be able to suffer, pray much. Beg of God to clothe you with a spirit of zeal and magnanimity. ‘To you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him—but also to suffer for his sake’ (Philippians 1:29). It is a gift of God to be able to suffer. Pray for this gift. Do not think you can be able of yourselves, to lay down life and liberty for Christ. Peter was overconfident of himself. ‘I will lay down my life for your sake!’ (John 13:37). But Peter’s strength undid him. Peter had habitual grace—but he lacked auxiliary grace. Christians need fresh gales from heaven. Pray for the Spirit to animate you in your sufferings. As the fire hardens the potter’s vessel, which is at first weak and limber—so the fire of the Spirit hardens men against sufferings. Pray that God will make you like the anvil—that you may bear the strokes of persecutors with invincible patience!

THUS ENDS THE SECTION 
Concerning Persecution

Trouble Times and Right Worship

Pin by Patricia on Truth (With images) | Spirit quotes, Jehovah ...

Job 20:5 (AMP and RVR 1960)


CONTEXT:

I wish to depart a little from my normal daily devotional and write about something that seems to be suddenly (due to the recent riots) making a strong return to social media, the need for folks to worship God.

First let me say, that I fully agree with this but it should not take a national crisis like COVID-19 or anarchist rioting and looting in the streets for folks to suddenly get religious and call for it on social media.  

Second, we should all remember as it is written in the book of Job these self righteous degenerates will only be basking in their own glory for a limited time. As I noted in yesterday’s study, Thou Art God, the day will come when we all stand before the Lord without excuse. Where will be there glory then?

Finally, and most importantly for today’s devotion, to all those calling for folks to get back to worshiping God I would ask the question; what kind of worship or how are you worshiping God? Some of you may be asking what does it matter? We go to church we worship this way or that and we have a great experience. 

Before we proceed we need to define worship.  Worship is usually defined as “the act of showing reverence and adoration for a deity by honoring that deity with religious rites.” But worship can go even deeper than that. Worship can be more accurately defined as “the art of losing oneself in the adoration of another.” By this definition, many acts of worship have nothing to do with God or even a presumed deity. People worship rock stars, athletes, and other celebrities. They lose themselves in the adoration of wealth, fame, and power. So there are many worship styles and practices that are idolatrous and therefore unbiblical.”¹

Now let me ask you this; do you believe God is sovereign (Isaiah 45:7)? Do you believe he is worthy to be worshiped (Psalm 42:1)? 

If you answered YES to those two questions then you should instinctively answer YES to these:

There will be false worshipers (John 4:23)

Christ COMMANDS us to worship in Spirit and Truth (John 4:24)

Worship means according to God’s revealed WORD (Christ’s Doctrine; 2 John 1:9) not man’s made up program (Also see Deuteronomy 4:12, Deuteronomy 12:32 and Revelation 22:18–19 )

If you acknowledge the above you and/or your church should be practicing (at least in some form) The Regulative Principle of Worship.  If you truly believe God is in control, worthy of all honor, glory and praise then the only conclusion is:

It is about

WORSHIPING GOD HIS WAY

not ours!


¹ Extract from GotQuestions.org


 

OTHER RESOURCES:

The Regulative Principle of Worship by Greg Price

What is the Regulative Principle of Worship?

The Regulative Principle of Worship, Banner of Truth

The Regulative Principle of Worship by Derek Thomas

Daily Devotional – The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson Part LXXXV

Image result for Beatitudes
Image Depicting Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes

by Thomas Watson

An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12 

 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (v.10)

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Concerning Persecution

We are now come to the last beatitude: ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted

Let us prepare for persecution. A wise pilot in a calm, will prepare for a storm. God knows how soon persecution may come. There seems to be a cloud of blood hanging over the nation.

3. Promote those things which will help to suffer. Continued

[10] Let us lay in suffering-CONSIDERATIONS. A wise Christian will consider several things.

Consider whom we suffer for. It is for Christ, and we cannot suffer for a better friend. There is many a man will suffer shame and death for his lusts. He will suffer disgrace for a drunken lust. He will suffer death for a revengeful lust. Shall others die for their lusts—and shall not we die for Christ? Will a man suffer for that lust which damns him—and shall not we suffer for that Christ who saves us? Oh remember, we espouse God’s own quarrel and he will not allow us to be losers. Surely no man shall sacrifice himself for God for nothing.

Consider that it is a great honor to suffer persecution. Ambrose, in the eulogy of his sister said, ‘I will say this of her—she was a martyr’. It is a great honor to be singled out to bear witness to the truth. ‘They departed from the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name’ (Acts 5:41). It is a title that has been given to kings, ‘Defender of the faith’. A martyr is in a special manner, a ‘defender of the faith’. Kings are defenders of the faith by their swords, martyrs by their blood. It is a credit to appear for God. Martyrs are not only Christ’s followers—but his ensign-bearers. The Romans had their brave warriors which graced the field. God calls out none but his champions to fight his battles. We read that Abraham called forth his trained soldiers (Genesis 14:14), such as were more expert and valiant. What a honor is it to be one of Christ’s trained band!

The disciples dreamed of a temporal reign (Acts 1:6). Christ tells them (verse 8), ‘You shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem . . ‘. To bear witness by their sufferings to the truth of Christ’s divinity and passion was a greater honor to the disciples than to have had a temporal reign upon earth. A bloody cross is more honorable than a purple robe. Persecution is called the ‘fiery trial’ (1 Peter 4:12).

‘I have refined you in the furnace of affliction.’ (Isaiah 48:10). ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons! And they will go away into eternal punishment!’ (Matthew 25:41, 46). God has two fires—one where He puts His gold, and another where He puts His dross. The fire where He puts His gold, is the fire of suffering and affliction–to purify them. The fire where He puts His dross, is the fire of damnation–to punish them.

God honors his gold when he puts it into the fire. ‘A spirit of glory rests upon you’ (1 Peter 1:7; 1. Peter 4:14). Persecution, as it is a badge of our honor, so an ensign of our glory. What greater honor can be put upon a mortal man, than to stand up in the cause of God? And not only to die in the Lord but to die for the Lord? Ignatius called his fetters his spiritual pearls. Paul gloried more in his iron chain than if it had been a gold chain! (Acts 28:20).

Consider what Jesus Christ suffered for us. Calvin says that Christ’s whole life, was a series of sufferings. Christian, what is your suffering? Are you poor? So was Christ. ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests—but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’ (Matthew 8:20). Are you surrounded with enemies? So was Christ. ‘Against your holy child Jesus whom you have anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles . . . were gathered together’ (Acts 4:27). Do our enemies lay claim to religion? So did his. ‘The chief priests took the silver pieces and said—It is not lawful to put them into the treasury because it is the price of blood’ (Matthew 27:6). Godly persecutors! Are you reproached? So was Christ. ‘They bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ (Matthew 27:29). Are you slandered? So was Christ. ‘He casts out devils by the prince of devils’ (Matthew 9:34). Are you ignominiously treated? So was Christ. ‘Some began to spit upon him’ (Mark 14:65). Are you betrayed by friends? So was Christ. ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’ (Luke 22:48). Is your estate taken from you? And do the wicked cast lots for it? So Christ was dealt with. ‘They parted his garments, casting lots’ (Matthew 27:35). Do we suffer unjustly? So did Christ. His very judge acquitted him. ‘Then Pilate said to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man’ (Luke 23:4). Are you barbarously dragged and haled away to suffering? So was Christ. ‘When they had bound him they led him away’ (Matthew 27:2). Do you suffer death? So did Christ. ‘When they were come to Calvary, there they crucified him’ (Luke 23:33). They gave him gall and vinegar to drink; the gall picturing the bitterness of his death, the vinegar picturing the sharpness of his death. Christ underwent not only the blood of the cross but the curse of the cross (Galatians 3:13). He had agony in his soul. ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death’ (Matthew 26:38). The soul of Christ was overcast with a cloud of God’s displeasure. The Greek Church speaking of the sufferings of Christ, calls them ‘unknown sufferings’. Did the Lord Jesus endure all this for us—and shall not we suffer persecution for his name? Say, as holy Ignatius, ‘I am willing to die for Christ, for Christ my love was crucified!’ Our cup of suffering is nothing, compared to the cup which Christ drank. His cup was mixed with the wrath of God, and if he bore God’s wrath for us—well may we bear man’s wrath of him.

Consider the honor we bring to Christ and the gospel by suffering. It was a honor to Caesar that he had such soldiers as were able to fight with hunger and cold and endure hardship in their marches. It is a honor to Christ that he has such people listed under him, as will leave all for him. It proclaims him to be a good Master—when his servants will wear his livery though it be sullied with disgrace and lined with blood. Paul’s iron chain made the gospel wear a golden chain. Tertullian says of the saints in his time that they took their sufferings more kindly, than if they had had deliverance. Oh, what a glory was this to the truth, when they dared embrace it in the flame!
And as the saints’ sufferings adorn the gospel, so they propagate it. Basil says that the zeal and constancy of the martyrs in the primitive times made some of the heathens to be Christianised. ‘The Church is founded in blood and by blood it increases’. The showers of blood have ever made the church fruitful. Paul’s being bound made the truth more enlarged (Philippians 1:13). The gospel has always flourished in the ashes of martyrs.

Consider who it is, that we have engaged ourselves to in baptism. We solemnly vowed that we would be true to Christ’s interest and fight under his banner, to the death. And how often have we in the blessed supper, taken the oath of allegiance to Jesus Christ that we would be his servants and that death should not part us! Now if when being called to it, we refuse to suffer persecution for his name—Christ will bring our baptism as an indictment against us. Christ is called ‘the Captain of our salvation’ (Hebrews 2:10). We have listed ourselves by name under this Captain. Now if, for fear, we shall fly from our colors, it is perjury in the highest degree, and how shall we be able to look Christ in the face at the day of judgment? That oath which is not kept inviolably—shall be punished infallibly. Where does the ‘flying scroll’ of curses land—but in the house of him that ‘swears falsely’ (Zechariah 5:4)?

Consider that our sufferings are light. This ‘light affliction . . .’ (2 Corinthians 4:17) 1. It is heavy to flesh and blood—but it is light to faith. Affliction is light in a threefold respect:

1. It is light—in comparison to SIN. He who feels sin heavy, feels suffering light. Sin made Paul cry out, ‘O wretched man that I am!’ (Romans 7:24). He does not cry out of his iron chain—but of his sin. The greater noise drowns the lesser. When the sea roars, the rivers are silent. He who is taken up with his sins, and sees how he has provoked God—thinks the yoke of affliction to be light (Micah 7:9).

2. Affliction is light—in comparison of HELL. What is persecution, compared to damnation? What is the fire of martyrdom, compared to the fire of the damned? It is no more than the pricking of a pin, compared to a death’s wound. ‘Who knows he power of your anger!’ (Psalm 90:11) Christ himself could not have borne that anger, had he not been more than a man.

3. Affliction is light—in comparison of GLORY. The weight of glory makes persecution light. ‘If,’ says Chrysostom, ‘the torments of all the men in the world could be laid upon one man, it were not worth one hour’s being in heaven!’ And if persecution is light, we should not be overly downcast by it. Let us neither faint through unbelief, nor fret through impatience.

Consider that our sufferings are short. ‘After you have suffered a little while’ (1 Peter 5:10). Our sufferings may be lasting, not everlasting. Affliction is compared to a ‘cup’ (Lamentations 4:21). The wicked drink of a ‘sea’ of wrath which has no bottom. It will never be emptied. But it is only a ‘cup’ of martyrdom, and God will say, ‘Let this cup pass away’. ‘The rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous’ (Psalm 125:3). The rod may be there, it shall not rest. Christ calls his sufferings ‘an hour’ (Luke 22:53). Can we not suffer one hour? Persecution is sharp—but short. Though it has a sting to torment—yet it has a wing to fly! ‘Sorrow shall fly away’ (Isaiah 35:10). It is but a little while when the saints shall have a writ of ease granted them. They shall weep no more—and suffer no more. They shall be taken off the torturing wrack—and laid in Christ’s bosom. The people of God shall not always be in the iron furnace; a year of Jubilee will come. The water of persecution like a land-flood, will soon be dried up.

Consider that while we suffer for Christ—we suffer with Christ. ‘If we suffer with him . . .’ (Romans 8:17). Jesus Christ bears part of the suffering with us. ‘Oh,’ says the Christian, ‘I shall never be able to hold out!’ But remember—you suffer with Christ. He helps you to suffer. As our blessed Savior said: ‘I am not alone; the Father is with me’ (John 16:32); so a believer may say, ‘I am not alone, my Christ is with me’. He bears the heaviest end of the cross. ‘My grace is sufficient for you’ (2 Corinthians 12:9). ‘Underneath are the everlasting arms’ (Deuteronomy 33:27). If Christ puts the yoke of persecution over us—he will put his arms under us. The Lord Jesus will not only crown us when we conquer—but he will enable us to conquer. When the dragon fights against the godly, Christ is that Michael who stands up for them and helps them to overcome (Daniel 12:1).

Consider that he who refuses to suffer persecution shall never be free from suffering:

He will have INTERNAL sufferings. He who will not suffer for conscience, shall suffer in conscience. Thus Francis Spira, after he had abjured that doctrine which once he professed for fear of persecution, was in great terror of mind. He professed he felt the very pains of the damned in his soul. He who was afraid of the stake, was set upon the wrack of a tormenting conscience!

He will have EXTERNAL sufferings. Pendleton refused to suffer for Christ; not long after, his house was on fire and he was burned in it. He who would not burn for Christ—was afterwards made to burn for his sins.

He will have ETERNAL sufferings. ‘Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire’ (Jude 7).
These present sufferings cannot hinder a man from being blessed. ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted . . .’ We think, ‘Blessed are those who are rich’; nay—but ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted’. ‘Blessed is the man who endures temptation . . .’ (James 11, 12). ‘If you suffer for righteousness, sake, happy are you’ (1 Peter 3:14).

Daily Devotional – The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson Part LXXXIV

Image result for Beatitudes
Image Depicting Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes

by Thomas Watson

An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12 

 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (v.10)

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Concerning Persecution

We are now come to the last beatitude: ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted

Let us prepare for persecution. A wise pilot in a calm, will prepare for a storm. God knows how soon persecution may come. There seems to be a cloud of blood hanging over the nation.

3. Promote those things which will help to suffer. Continued

[8] Treasure up suffering promises. The promises are faith’s bladders to keep it from sinking. They are the breast-milk a Christian lives on, in time of sufferings. They are honey at the end of the rod. Hoard up the promises!

God has made promises of direction—that he will give us a spirit of wisdom in that hour, teaching us what to say. ‘Make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict’ (Luke 21:14-15). You shall not need to study. God will put an answer into your mouth. This many of God’s sufferers can set their seal to. The Lord has suddenly darted such words into their mouths—as their enemies could easier censure than contradict.

God has made promises of PROTECTION. ‘No man shall set on you to hurt you’ (Acts 18:10). How safe was Paul when he had omnipotence itself to screen off danger! ‘Not a hair of your head shall perish’ (Luke 21:18). Persecutors are lions—but chained lions.

God has made promises of his special PRESENCE with his saints in suffering. ‘I will be with him in trouble’ (Psalm 91:15). If we have such a friend to visit us in prison, we shall do well enough. Though we change our place—we shall not change our keeper. ‘I will be with him.’ God will uphold our head and heart, when we are fainting! What if we have more afflictions than others—if we have more of God’s company! God’s honor is dear to him. It would not be for his honor to bring his children into sufferings, and leave them there. He will be with them to invigorate and support them. Yes, when new troubles arise; ‘He shall deliver you in six troubles’ (Job 5:19).

The Lord has made promises of DELIVERANCE. ‘I will deliver him and honor him’ (Psalm 91:15). God will open a back door for his people to escape out of sufferings. ‘He will with the temptation, make a way to escape’ (1 Corinthians 10:13). Thus he did to Peter (Acts 12:7-10). Peter’s prayers had opened heaven—and God’s angel opens the prison! God can either prevent a snare or break it. ‘Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death’ (Psalm 68:20). He who can strengthen our faith—can break our fetters. The Lord sometimes makes enemies the instruments of breaking those snares which themselves have laid (Esther 8:8).

In the case of martyrdom God has made promises of CONSOLATION. ‘Your sorrow shall be turned into joy’ (John 16:20). There is the water—turned into wine. ‘Be of good cheer, Paul’ (Acts 23:11). In time of persecution, God broaches the wine of consolation. Cordials are kept for fainting. Stephen ‘saw the heavens opened’ (Acts 7:56). Glover, that blessed martyr, cried out at the stake in a holy rapture, ‘He is come! He is come!’ meaning the Comforter. ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.’ (Isaiah 43:1-3).

The Lord has made promises of COMPENSATION. God will abundantly recompense all our sufferings, ‘Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will have eternal life’ (Matthew 19:29). Augustine calls this the best and greatest interest. Our losses for Christ are gainful. ‘He who loses his life for my sake, shall find it’ (Matthew 10:39).

[9] Set before your eyes suffering examples. Look upon others as patterns to imitate. ‘Take my brethren the prophets for an example of suffering affliction’ (James 5:10). Examples have more influence upon us than precepts. Precepts instruct us—but examples animate us. As they show elephants the blood of grapes and mulberries to make them fight the better, so the Holy Spirit shows us the blood of saints and martyrs to infuse a spirit of zeal and courage into us. Micaiah was in the prison; Jeremiah in the dungeon; Isaiah was sawn asunder. The primitive Christians, though they were boiled, roasted, and dismembered—yet like the adamant they remained invincible. Such was their zeal and patience in suffering, that their persecutors stood amazed and were more weary in tormenting—than they were in enduring!

When John Huss was brought to be burned, they put upon his head a triple crown of paper printed with red devils, which when he saw, he said, ‘My Lord Jesus Christ wore a crown of thorns for me, why then shall I not wear this paper crown, however ignominious?’ Polycarp, when he came before the court, was bidden to deny Christ and swear by the Emperor; he replied: ‘I have served Christ these eighty-six years and he has not once hurt me—and shall I deny him now?’ Saunders that blessed martyr, said, ‘Welcome the cross of Christ; my Savior drank the bitter cup for me—shall not I suffer for him? I feel no more pain in the fire than if I were in a bed of down!’

Another of the martyrs said, ‘The ringing of my chain has been sweet music in my ears. O what a comforter is a good conscience!’ Another martyr, kissing the stake, said, ‘I shall not lose my life—but change it for a better one! Instead of coals—I shall have pearls!’ Another, when the chain was fastening to him, said, ‘Blessed be God for this wedding belt!’ These suffering examples we should lay up. God is still the same God. He has as much love in his heart to pity us—and as much strength in his arm to help us!

Let us think what courage the very heathens have shown in their sufferings. Julius Caesar was a man of a heroic spirit. When he was foretold of a conspiracy against him in the senate-house, he answered he had rather die than fear. Mutius Scaevola held his hand over the fire until the flesh fried and his sinews began to shrink—yet he bore it with an undaunted spirit. Lysimachus, a brave captain, being adjudged to be cast to a lion, when the lion came roaring upon him, Lysimachus thrust his hand into the lion’s mouth and taking hold of his tongue, killed the lion. Did nature infuse such a spirit of courage and gallantry into heathens! How should grace much more into Christians! Let us be of Paul’s mind: ‘I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace’ (Acts 20:24).

 

Daily Devotional – The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson Part LXXXIII

Image result for Beatitudes
Image Depicting Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes

by Thomas Watson

An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12 

 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (v.10)

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Concerning Persecution

We are now come to the last beatitude: ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted

Let us prepare for persecution. A wise pilot in a calm, will prepare for a storm. God knows how soon persecution may come. There seems to be a cloud of blood hanging over the nation.

3. Promote those things which will help to suffer. Continued

[7] Get suffering graces; these three in particular:

Faith; Love; Patience.

The next suffering grace is LOVE. Get hearts fired with love to the Lord Jesus. Love is a grace both active and passive.

(1) Love is ACTIVE. It lays a law of constraint upon the soul. ‘The love of Christ constrains us’ (2 Corinthians 5:14). Love is the wing of the soul, which sets it flying. Love is also the weight of the soul, which sets it going. Love never thinks it can do enough for Christ—as he who loves the world never thinks he can take enough pains for it. Love is never weary. It is not tired unless with its own slowness.

(2) Love is PASSIVE. It enables to suffer. A man who loves his friend will suffer anything for him, rather than he shall be wronged. Love made our dear Lord suffer for us. The pelican out of her love to her young ones, when they are bitten with serpents, feeds them with her own blood to recover them again. Just so, when we had been bitten by the old serpent, that Christ might recover us—he fed us with his own blood. Jacob’s love to Rachel made him almost hazard his life for her. ‘Many waters cannot quench love’ (Canticles 8:7). No! not the waters of persecution. ‘Love is as strong as death’ (Canticles 8:6). Death makes its way through the greatest oppositions. So love will make its way to Christ—through the prison and the furnace.
But all pretend love to Christ. How shall we know that we have such a love to him, as will make us suffer for him? I answer:

True love is a love of friendship, which is genuine and sincere—when we love Christ for himself. There is a mercenary and spurious love, when we love divine objects for something else. A man may love the queen of truth for the jewel at her ear—because she brings preferment. A man may love Christ for his ‘head of gold’ (Canticles 5:11), because he enriches with glory. But true love is when we love Christ for his loveliness, namely, that infinite and superlative beauty which shines in him, as Augustine says, ‘We love Jesus on account of Jesus’; that is, as a man loves sweet wine for itself.

True love is a love of desire—when we desire to be united to Christ as the fountain of happiness. Love desires union. The one who sincerely loves Christ, desires death because death ushers into full union and communion with Christ. ‘I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!’ (Philippians 1:23). Death slips one knot and ties another.

True love is a love of benevolence—when so far as we are able, we endeavor to lift up Christ’s name in the world. As the wise men brought him ‘gold and frankincense’ (Matthew 2:11), so we bring him our tribute of service and are willing that he should rise—though it is by our fall. In short, that love which is kindled from heaven makes us give Christ the pre-eminence of our affection. ‘I would give you spiced wine to drink—my sweet pomegranate wine’ (Canticles 8:2). If the spouse has a cup which is more juicy and spiced—Christ shall drink of that! Indeed we can never love Christ too much. We may love gold in excess—but not Christ. The angels do not love Christ comparable to his worth. Now when love is boiled up to this height, it will enable us to suffer. ‘Love is as strong as death’. The martyrs first burned in love—and then in fire!

The third suffering grace is PATIENCE. Patience is a grace made and cut out for suffering. Patience is the sweet submission to the will of God, whereby we are content to bear anything which he is pleased to lay upon us. Patience makes a Christian invincible. It is like the anvil which bears all strokes. We cannot be men without patience. Impatience unmans a man. It puts him beside the use of reason. We cannot be martyrs without patience. Patience makes us endure (James 5:10).

We read of a beast ‘like unto a leopard and his feet were as the feet of a bear and the dragon gave him his power . . .’ (Revelation 13:2). This beast is to be understood of the anti-christian power. Antichrist may be compared to a leopard for subtlety and fierceness, and on his head was the name of blasphemy (verse 1), which agrees with that description of the man of sin, ‘He sits in the temple of God showing himself that he is God’ (2 Thessalonians 2:4); and the ‘dragon gave him power’ (verse 2), that is the devil, and ‘it was given to him to make war with the saints’ (Revelation 13:7). Well, how do the saints bear the heat of this fiery trial? (verse 10): ‘Here is the patience of the saints.’ Patience overcomes by suffering.

A Christian without patience is like a soldier without arms. Faith keeps the heart up from sinking. Patience keeps the heart from murmuring. Patience is not provoked by injuries. It is sensible—but not peevish. Patience looks to the end of sufferings. This is the motto: ‘God will guarantee the end also.’ As the watchman waits for the dawning of the morning, so the patient Christian suffers and waits until the day of glory begins to dawn upon him. Faith says, ‘God will come,’ and patience says, ‘I will wait for his perfect time.’ These are those suffering graces which are a Christian’s armor of proof.