The Poor in Spirit

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:3

To be poor in spirit is to have a humble opinion of ourselves; to be sensible that we are sinners, and have no righteousness of our own; to be willing to be saved only by the rich grace and mercy of God; to be willing to be where God places us, to bear what he lays on us, to go where he bids us, and to die when he commands; to be willing to be in his hands, and to feel that we deserve no favor from him. It is opposed to pride, and vanity, and ambition.

– Albert Barnes, 1798-1870, Barnes Notes

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How to be a better Christian

I will meditate on your precepts. Psalms 119:15

There are times when solitude is better than companionship, and silence is wiser than speech. We would be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting on God, and gathering through meditation on his Word spiritual strength for labor in his service. We ought to meditate on the things of God, because by this we get the real nutriment from them. Truth is something like the cluster of the vine: if we wish to have wine from it, we must bruise it; we must press and squeeze it many times. The bruiser’s feet must come down joyfully on the bunches, or else the juice will not flow; and they must tread the grapes well, or else much of the precious liquid will be wasted. So we must, by meditation, tread the clusters of truth, if we wish to get the wine of consolation from it. Our bodies are not nourished by merely taking food into the mouth, but the process which really supplies the muscle, and the nerve, and the sinew, and the bone, is the process of digestion. It is by digestion that the outward food becomes assimilated with the inner life. Our souls are not nourished merely by listening for a while to this, and then to that, and then to the other part of divine truth. Hearing, reading, marking, and learning, all require inwardly digesting to complete their usefulness, and the inward digesting of the truth lies for the most part in meditating on it. Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make very slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their prayer closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they wish to have the grain, but they will not go out into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs on the tree, but they will not pick it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, oh Lord, and let this be our resolve this morning, “I will meditate on your precepts.”

– Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834-1892, Morning & Evening

Stand like a Pillar

” But Mordecai bowed not.” – Esther 3:2

There was stern stuff in this old Jew. He was not going to prostrate himself before one so haughty and so depraved as Haman, albeit that he was the king’s favorite. To be the only one in a city office that does not laugh at the questionable story; to stand alone on shipboard against the gambling mania; to refuse to countenance cleverness which is divorced from cleanness, and genius which is apart from goodness—this is to do as Mordecai did in the gate of the king’s palace.

Only God can give this power, since of ourselves we are as reeds shaken by the wind. Sooner might a single ear of wheat resist the breeze that bends all its companions in the same direction, than we stand alone, while all our associates bow, unless God himself enable us.

But God is prepared to enable us. Listen: ‘I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right and of my righteousness.’ {Isa. 41:10} But the mistake we are so apt to make is to brace ourselves up by resolution and firm determination, in anticipation of some impending struggle. To do this is to fail. Live in Christ, look up into his face, derive from Him strength for the moment and at the moment; and often wrap about thee that exceeding great and precious promise, ‘I will make him to become a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out; and I will write on him the name of my God.’ Oh to stand like a pillar amid men, bearing up the temple arch of truth, and inscribed with God’s name, while the crowds go and come on the pavement beneath!

F. B. Meyer, Our Daily Homily

All Things for Good

“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Christians have unfailing grounds of satisfaction and contentment, for they know that all their affairs are managed by a wise and gracious Providence.

The calamities which the believer suffers are unstinged to him through the Redeemer’s cross, which, like the tree that Moses cast into the waters of Marah, makes bitter things sweet.

He is not visited with any unnecessary evil, and those evils which visit him are made good on the whole, by the tendency which they have to do him good, and make him good.

Reproaches and tribulations, sicknesses and deaths, are the common lot of men. And they are very evil things to those who are strangers to God–but they are good to those who love God, for they are appointed and useful means to make them partakers of God’s holiness, and prepare them for that blessed world where sins and sorrows are no more!

– George Lawson, 1821, A Practical Exposition of the Book of Proverbs

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

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Submitting

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” – Ephesians 5:21

“Submitting yourselves one to another.” Maintaining due subordination in the various relations of life. This general principle of religion the apostle proceeds now to illustrate in reference to wives, (Eph 5:22-24); to children, (Eph 6:1-3); and to servants, (Eph 6:5-8). At the same time that he enforces this duty of submission, however, he enjoins on others to use their authority in a proper manner, and gives solemn injunctions that there should be no abuse of power. Particularly he enjoins on husbands the duty of loving their wives with all tenderness, (Eph 5:25-33); on fathers, the duty of treating their children so that they might easily obey them, (Eph 6:4); and on masters, the duty of treating their servants with kindness, remembering that they have a Master also in heaven, (Eph 6:9). The general meaning here is, that Christianity does not break up the relations of life, and produce disorder, lawlessness, and insubordination; but that it will confirm every proper authority, and make every just yoke lighter. Infidelity is always disorganizing; Christianity never.

– Albert Barnes, Barnes Notes on the New Testament

He is Deranged

And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. – Mark 3:21

He is beside himself. He is delirious, or deranged, The reason why this report gained any belief was, probably, that our Lord had lived among them as a carpenter; that he was poor, and unknown; and that now, at thirty years of age, he broke off from his occupations, abandoned his common employment, spent much time in the deserts, denied himself the common comforts of life, and set up his claims to be the Messiah, who was expected by all the people to come with great pomp and splendor. The charge of derangement on account of attention to religion has not been confined to our Savior. Let a man be made deeply sensible of his sins, and spend much of his time in prayer, and have no relish for the ordinary amusements or business of life; or let a Christian be much impressed with his obligation to devote himself to God, and act as if he believed there was an eternity, and warn his neighbors of their danger; or let a minister show uncommon zeal, and waste his strength in the service of his Master, and the world is not slow to call it derangement. And none will be more ready to originate or believe the charge than an ungodly and infidel parent or brother; a self-righteous Pharisee or professor in the church. At the same time, men may endanger themselves on the bosom of the deep, or in the bowels of the earth, for wealth; or may plunge into the vortex of fashion, and folly, and vice, and break in upon the hours of repose, and neglect their duties to their family, and the demands of business, and in the view of the world it is wisdom, and proof of a sane mind! Such is the consistency of boasted reason; such the wisdom and prudence of worldly men!

– Albert Barnes, 1798 – 1870, Barnes Notes Commentary

 

 

Confronting an Evil World

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. – 1 Peter 4:14

No one can live for God’s glory and be entirely comfortable in this world. You shouldn’t be obnoxious or try to be a misfit, but if your life is Christlike, then you will bear some of the reproach He bore.

We live in a day when many are want to make Christianity easy, but the Bible says it is hard. Many want to make Christians lovable, but God says they’ll be reproachable. Christianity must confront the system by being distinct from it. It must expose sin before it can disclose the remedy.

Be sure your life reflects your commitment to Christ. That’s what will make you distinct from the world.

– John MacArthur, Truth for Today

Consecrating our Everyday Lives

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do–do all to the glory of God!” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Religion is not to be confined to devotional exercises–but rather consists in doing all that we are called to do, with a single eye to His glory and will, from a grateful sense of His love and mercy to us. This is the chemistry which turns every mundane thing into gold, and stamps a value upon common actions!

When a mother is making or mending the children’s clothes, or teaching them, or cleaning the kitchen, or a saucepan–she may be as well employed, as when she is upon her knees or at the Lord’s Table.

It is an great mistake to think that all time is lost–which is not spent in bible-reading, or hearing sermons, or prayer. These are properly called means of grace–and should be attended to in their proper season. But the fruits of grace–are to appear in our common daily course of conduct.

It would be wrong for a mother to neglect the house of God–and it would be equally wrong to neglect the prudent management of her own house. It is chiefly as a wife and mother of a family, that she can let her light shine to His praise. I would not have her think that she could serve the Lord better in any other station, than in that in which God in His providence has placed her.

A simple desire to please God, to walk by the rule of His Word, and to do all to His glory . . .
like the fabled magic stone, turns all to gold,
consecrates the actions of common life, and
makes everything that belongs to our situation and duty in domestic life, a part of our religion.

– John Newton, 1725-1807

Editor’s note: There is no “secular” and “sacred” in the life of the Christian. Everything done to the glory of God is a religious exercise.

“Man Proposes; God Disposes”

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

“Man proposes, God disposes.” Man deliberates here and there how he will begin and carry on this or that; but his short-sightedness leaves much out of view which God sees; his calculation does not comprehend many contingencies which God disposes of and man cannot foresee. The result and issue are thus of God, and the best is, that in all his deliberations, one should give himself up without self-confidence and arrogance to the guidance of God, that one should do his duty and leave the rest, with humility and confidence, to God.

– Keil and Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Editor’s Note: We make our plans, but ultimately, God is the One who determines whether those plans succeed or fail.

 

The Daily and Quiet Virtues of Life

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; – Ephesians 4:2

With longsuffering

Bearing patiently with the foibles, faults, and infirmities of others. The virtue here required is that which is to be manifested in our manner of receiving the provocations which we meet with from our brethren. No virtue, perhaps, is more frequently demanded in our intercourse with others.

We do not go far with any fellow-traveler on the journey of life before we find there is great occasion for its exercise. He has a temperament different from our own. He may be sanguine, or choleric, or melancholy; while we may be just the reverse, he has peculiarities of taste, and habits, and disposition, which differ much from ours. He has his own plans and purposes of life, and his own way and time of doing things. He may be naturally irritable, or he may have been so trained that his modes of speech and conduct differ much from ours. Neighbors have occasion to remark this in their neighbors; friends in their friends; kindred in their kindred; one church-member in another. A husband and wife — such is the imperfection of human nature-can find enough in each other to embitter life if they choose to magnify imperfections and to become irritated at trifles; and there is no friendship that may not be marred in this way, if we will allow it.

Hence, if we would have life move on smoothly, we must learn to bear and forbear. We must indulge the friend that we love in the little peculiarities of saying and doing things which may be important to him, but which may be of little moment to us. Like children, we must suffer each one to build his playhouse in his own way, and not quarrel with him because he does not think our way the best. All usefulness, and all comfort, may be prevented by an unkind, a sour, a crabbed temper of mind — a mind that can bear with no difference of opinion or temperament.

A spirit of fault-finding; all unsatisfied temper; a constant irritability; little inequalities in the look, the temper, or the manner; a brow cloudy and dissatisfied — your husband or your wife cannot tell why — will more than neutralize all the good you can do, and render life anything but a blessing. It is in such gentle and quiet virtues as meekness and forbearance that the happiness and usefulness of life consist, far more than in brilliant eloquence, in splendid talent, or illustrious deeds that shall send the name to future times. It is the bubbling spring which flows gently; the little rivulet which glides through the meadow, and which runs along day and night by the farm-house, that is useful, rather than the swollen flood or the roaring cataract. Niagara excites our wonder; and we stand amazed at the power and greatness of God there, as he “pours it from his hollow hand.” But one Niagara is enough for a continent or a world; while that same world needs thousands and tens of thousands of silver fountains, and gently-flowing rivulets, that shall water every farm, and every meadow, and every garden, and that shall flow on, every day and every night, with their gentle and quiet beauty.

So with the acts of our lives. It is not by great deeds only, not by great sufferings only, like those of the martyrs — that good is to be done; it is by the daily and quiet virtues of life — the Christian temper, the meek forbearance, the spirit of forgiveness in the husband, the wife, the father, the mother, the brother, the sister, the friend, the neighbor — that good is to be done; and in this all may be useful.

– Albert Barnes, 1798-1870