Last Things

Matthew 13:36-43

Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Zephaniah 1:1-6

The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.

I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.

I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.

I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests;

And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham;

And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor inquired for him.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

2 Peter 3:10-13

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Zephaniah 1:7-18

Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.

And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.

In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit.

And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.

Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.

And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.

Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.

The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.

That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,

A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.

And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.

Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.

 

 

Pray Thee With Fervent Heart, Knowing That Our Prayers Shall Be Heard

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“He was heard in that he feared.” — Hebrews 5:7

Did this fear arise from the infernal suggestion that He was utterly forsaken.

There may be sterner trials than this—but surely it is one of the worst to be utterly forsaken?

“See,” said Satan, “you have a friend nowhere! Your Father has shut up the affections of His compassion against you. Not an angel in His courts will stretch out his hand to help you. All heaven is alienated from You; You are left alone. See the companions with whom You have taken sweet counsel, what are they worth? Son of Mary, see there Your brother James, see there Your beloved disciple John, and Your bold apostle Peter—how the cowards sleep—when You are in Your sufferings! Lo! You have no friend left in heaven or earth. All hell is against You. I have stirred up my infernal den. I have sent my missives throughout all regions summoning every prince of darkness to set upon You this night, and we will spare no arrows, we will use all our infernal might to overwhelm You! And what will You do, You solitary one?”

It may be, this was the temptation; we think it was, because the appearance of an angel unto Him strengthening Him removed that fear. He was heard in that He feared; He was no more alone—but heaven was with Him. It may be that this is the reason of His coming three times to His disciples — as Joseph Hart puts it — “Backwards and forwards thrice He ran—as if He sought some help from man.” He would see for Himself whether it were really true that all men had forsaken Him; He found them all asleep; but perhaps He gained some faint comfort from the thought that they were sleeping, not from treachery—but from sorrow, the spirit indeed was willing—but the flesh was weak.

At any rate, He was heard in that He feared. Jesus was heard in His deepest woe; my soul—you shall be heard also.

Our Enemy, Our War, and Our Assured Victory

C. H. Spurgeon

This Evening’s Meditation

“Michael and his angels fought against the dragon—and the dragon and his angels fought back.” Revelation 12:7

War always will rage between the two great sovereignties—until one or other is crushed. Peace between good and evil is an impossibility; the very pretense of it would, in fact, be the triumph of the powers of darkness. Michael will always fight; his holy soul is vexed with sin, and will not endure it. Jesus will always be the dragon’s foe, and that not in a quiet sense—but actively, vigorously, with full determination to exterminate evil.

All His servants, whether angels in heaven or messengers on earth, will and must fight; they are born to be warriors! At the cross, they enter into covenant never to make truce with evil; they are a warlike company, firm in defense and fierce in attack. The duty of every soldier in the army of the Lord—is daily, with all his heart, and soul, and strength—to fight against the dragon. The dragon and his angels will not decline the affray; they are incessant in their onslaughts, sparing no weapon, fair or foul.

We are foolish if we expect to serve God without opposition—the more zealous we are, the more sure are we to be assailed by the myrmidons of hell. The church may become slothful—but not so her great antagonist; his restless spirit never allows the war to pause; he hates the woman’s seed, and would gladly devour the church if he could. The servants of Satan partake much of the old dragon’s energy, and are usually an active race.

War rages all around, and to dream of peace—is dangerous and futile. Glory be to God, we know the end of the war. The great dragon shall be cast out and forever destroyed, while Jesus and those who are with Him shall receive the crown. Let us sharpen our swords tonight, and ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen our arms for the conflict. Never a battle so important; never a crown so glorious. Every man to his post, O warriors of the cross, and may the Lord tread Satan under your feet shortly!

The Reigning Power of Our Ever Loving Savior

C. H. Spurgeon

Excerpt 3 from the sermon, The Arrows of the Bow Broken in Zion.

“There broke he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and sword, and the battle.”
– Psalm 76:3

Jesus is now exalted far above all principalities and powers, and every name that is named, but the enemy of our souls, though defeated, continues maliciously to attempt our destruction. Satan’s head is bruised, but he still lives, and continues perpetually to assault the saints of God. We seldom stand before the angel without Satan coming forward as our accuser. The accuser of the brethren unceasingly clamors against the saints, but here is our joy—whatever may be the arrows of Satan’s bow, whatever sword he may wield against us, there He stands, our great Captain, our Shield and the Lord’s Anointed, and as fast as the arrows are shot He breaks them, and as often as the sword is drawn, He turns aside its edge.

Courage, Christian! Your foes may be unceasing in their attacks, but Jesus Christ is unfailing in your protection. For Zion’s sake He does not hold His peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake He does not rest, but His intercession comes up perpetually before the eternal throne, and the constant presentation of His omnipotent merit evermore preserves the tempted, succors the needy, and upholds those that are ready to fall. Let us be of good cheer, for there, in the New Jerusalem to which our laboring souls aspire, the intercession of Jesus breaks “the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle.”

Nor does it end there, for here below our exalted Lord is Master over all events, providence is ruled and guided by the Man whose head was surrounded with the crown of thorns—

“Lo! in His hands the sovereign keys
Of heaven, and death, and hell.”

To this hour the adversaries of truth seek the overthrow of the church of God. We may be sometimes idle, but they are always diligent. “The enemy goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” He assails the people of God in successive ages from different points of the compass with cunning and fury, and we should have poor hope, we who are like a few lambs in the midst of wolves, if it were not that our Master is present by His eternal Spirit, and rules all things by His providential government.

He can make those wheels which are so high that they are terrible, so to revolve that the greatest enemies of the church shall be cut off or shall be converted, and He can raise up from the dunghill men that shall be princes in the midst of Israel, to be defenders of the truth, and shepherds to His people. He can cause to be born in a humble cottage in the wood a Luther, who shall shake off the fetters from the nations, He can bring forth from the wildest village of France a Calvin, whose words shall be as nails fastened by the master of assemblies, and He can raise a flaming Knox, and nourish his fiery spirit in Geneva till Scotland needs him, or raise up in the quiet parsonage of Lutterworth a Wickliffe, to shine as the morning star of the Reformation in England.

God is never short of men. He never has to bethink Himself of means. He knows no difficulties or dilemmas. If His church needed it, He could tomorrow make emperors repent of their sins, and doff their crowns to become ministers of the Word, and compel the most violent persecutors of the church to crouch at her feet, and lick the dust. Let us be confident in the reigning power of our ever loving Savior, let us be reassured by the history of the church in the past, and expect to see divine interpositions in our own day. Fear not, for still it shall be said of Zion, “There broke He the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle.”

Second Century Martyrdom

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

– Revelation 6:9-11

Excerpted from the book, Martyrs’ Mirror, by   Theileman J. van Braught

COMPILED FROM VARIOUS AUTHENTIC CHRONICLES, MEMORIALS, AND TESTIMONIES

Translated from the original Dutch or Holland Language from the Edition of 1660 BY JOSEPH F. SOHM

[The year was] 164 A. D.

Felicitas was a Christian widow at Rome, and had seven sons, whose names were Januarius, Felix, Philippus, Sylvanus, Alexander, Vitalis, and Martialis. These lived together with their mother in one house, as an entire Christian church. Of the mother it is stated, that by her Christian communion, (conversation) which she had with the Roman women, she converted many to Christ. The sons, on their part, also acquitted themselves well by winning many men to Christ.

Now, when the heathen priests complained of this to Antonius, the Emperor – who had resumed the persecution which had begun with Trajan, but had subsided – saying, that there were not only men, but also women, who blasphemed the gods, despised their images, trampled under foot the Emperor’s worship of the gods, yea, turned away many from the old religion of the Romans; that this was principally done by a certain widow, named Felicitas, and her seven sons, and that, therefore, in order to prevent this, they must be compelled to give up Christ, and sacrifice to the gods, or, in case they should refuse to do so, be put to death, the Emperor, prompted or instigated hereby, gave to Publius, the provost, or chief magistrate of Rome, full authority over them.

Continue reading “Second Century Martyrdom”

Our Invincibility in Following After Jesus

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

The Breaker has gone up before them. He will bring you through the gates of your cities of captivity, back to your own land. Your King will lead you; the Lord Himself will guide you!” Micah 2:13

Inasmuch as Jesus has gone before us, things do not remain as they would have been, had He never passed that way. He has conquered every foe that obstructed the way. Cheer up O faint-hearted warrior. Not only has Christ traveled the road—but He has slain your enemies!

Do you dread sin? He has nailed it to His cross!

Do you fear death? He has been the death of death!

Are you afraid of hell? He has barred it against the entrance of any of His children; they shall never see the gulf of perdition!

Whatever foes may be before the Christian—they are all overcome! There are lions—but their teeth are broken! There are serpents—but their fangs are extracted! There are rivers—but they are bridged or fordable! There are flames—but we wear that matchless garment which renders us invulnerable to fire!

The sword that has been forged against us—is already blunted; the instruments of war which the enemy is preparing, have already lost their point.

The Breaker, Christ—has taken away all the power that anything can have to hurt us. Well then, the army may safely march on, and you may go joyously along your journey, for all your enemies are conquered beforehand! What shall you do—but march on to take the prey? They are beaten, they are vanquished; all you have to do is to divide the spoil. You shall, it is true, often engage in combat; but your fight shall be with a vanquished foe! His head is broken—he may attempt to injure you—but his strength shall not be sufficient for his malicious design. Your victory shall be easy, and your treasure shall be beyond all count!

“Proclaim aloud the Savior’s fame,
Who bears the Breaker’s wondrous name;
Sweet name; and it befits Him well,
Who breaks down earth, sin, death, and hell!”

Knowing Oneself

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Words For Zion’s Wayfarers

“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules his spirit than he that takes a city.” Proverbs 16:32

What a foe to one’s peace is one’s own spirit! And what shall I call it? It is often an infernal spirit. Why? Because it bears the mark of Satan upon it. The pride of our spirit, the presumption of our spirit, the hypocrisy of our spirit, the intense selfishness of our spirit are often hidden from us. This wily devil, SELF, can wear such masks and assume such forms; this serpent, SELF, can so creep and crawl, can so twist and turn, and can disguise itself under such false appearances, that it is hidden often from ourselves.

Who is the greatest enemy we have to fear? We all have our enemies. But who is our greatest enemy? He that you carry in your own bosom; your daily, hourly, and momently companion, that entwines himself in nearly every thought of your heart; that suggests well near every motive; that sometimes puffs up with pride, sometimes inflames with lust, sometimes inflates with presumption, and sometimes works under feigned humility and fleshly holiness.

Now this SELF must be overcome; for if SELF overcomes us eventually, we shall perish in the condemnation of SELF. God is determined to stain the pride of human glory. He will never let self, (which is but another word for the creature,) wear the crown of victory. It must be crucified, denied, and mortified; it must be put off, so that Jesus may be put on; that in the denying of SELF, Jesus may be believed in; and that in the crucifixion of SELF, there may be a solemn spiritual union with Him who was crucified on Calvary.

Now, are we overcoming SELF? Are we buffeted? What says SELF? “Buffet back.” Are we despised? What says SELF? “Despise back; retort angry look for angry look, and hasty word, for hasty word; an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” But what says the Spirit of God in a tender conscience? “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

The way to overcome self is by looking out of self to Him who was crucified upon Calvary’s tree; to receive his image into our heart; to be clothed with his likeness; to drink into his spirit; and “receive out of his fullness grace for grace.”

Our Walk in this World

C. H. Spurgeon

This Evening’s Meditation

“Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies.” Psalms 5:8

Very bitter is the enmity of the world against the people of Christ. Men will forgive a thousand faults in others—but they will magnify the most trivial offence in the followers of Jesus. Instead of vainly regretting this, let us turn it to account, and since so many are watching for our halting, let this be a special motive for walking very carefully before God. If we live carelessly, the lynx-eyed world will soon see it, and with its hundred tongues—it will spread the story, exaggerated and emblazoned by the zeal of slander. They will shout triumphantly. “Aha! So would we have it! See how these Christians act! They are all hypocrites!” Thus will much damage be done to the cause of Christ, and much insult offered to His name.

The cross of Christ is in itself an offence to the world; let us take heed that we add no offence of our own. It is “to the Jews a stumbling block”—let us mind that we put no stumbling blocks where there are enough already. “To the Greeks it is foolishness”—let us not add our folly to give point to the scorn with which the worldly-wise deride the gospel. How jealous should we be of ourselves! How rigid with our consciences! In the presence of adversaries who will misrepresent our best deeds, and impugn our motives where they cannot censure our actions, how circumspect should we be!

Pilgrims travel as suspected people through Vanity Fair. Not only are we under surveillance—but there are more spies than we reckon of. The espionage is everywhere, at home and abroad. If we fall into the enemies’ hands—we may sooner expect generosity from a wolf, or mercy from a fiend, than anything like patience with our infirmities from men who spice their infidelity towards God, with scandals against His people. O Lord, lead us ever, lest our enemies trip us up!

Light’s Effects

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“That you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like lights in the universe.” Philippians 2:15

We use lights to make manifest. A Christian man should so shine in his life, that a person could not live with him a week, without knowing the gospel. His conversation should be such that all who are about him should clearly perceive whose he is, and whom he serves; and should see the image of Jesus reflected in his daily actions.

Lights are intended for guidance. We are to help those around us who are in the dark. We are to hold forth to them the Word of life. We are to point sinners to the Savior, and the weary to a divine resting-place. Men sometimes read their Bibles, and fail to understand them; we should be ready, like Philip, to instruct the inquirer in the meaning of God’s Word, the way of salvation, and the life of godliness.

Lights are also used for warning. On our rocks and shoals a light-house is sure to be erected. Christian men should know that there are many false lights shown everywhere in the world, and therefore the right light is needed. The wreckers of Satan are always abroad, tempting the ungodly to sin under the name of pleasure; they hoist the wrong light, be it ours to put up the true light upon every dangerous rock, to point out every sin, and tell what it leads to—that so we may be clear of the blood of all men, shining as lights in the world.

Lights also have a very cheering influence, and so have Christians. A Christian ought to be a comforter, with kind words on his lips, and sympathy in his heart; he should carry sunshine wherever he goes, and diffuse happiness around him.

Our Strength

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Portion

“His bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.” –Genesis 49:24

Our ancestors, you know, were celebrated bowmen. Victories were won at Cressy and Agincourt by the English cavalry, who were skilled in the use of the bow. Latimer says, in a sermon preached before the king, that no man could be a good archer who did not learn from his boyhood; and the custom he tells us was for the father to put his hands upon the son’s hands, to teach him how to shoot, and throw the whole strength of his body into the bow. When the boy drew the bow, it was not the strength of his own arm that drew the string, nor was it the keenness of his eye that directed the arrow to the mark. The child appeared to draw the bow and to direct the arrow; but the hand of the father was upon the hand of the child, and the eye of the father was guiding the eye of the child; thus though the child seemed to draw the bow, it was the strength of the father that really pulled the string.

So in the case of Joseph to whom our text refers, “the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.” God put his hands upon the hands of Joseph, drew the bow for him, directed the arrow, and hit effectually the mark. Apply this to your experience. When you pray effectually, it is not you that pray; it is the Spirit of God who prays in you; for he helps our infirmities, and intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. When you believe, it is the Spirit of God that works faith in you; when you hope, it is the Spirit of God that produces hope in you; when you love, it is the Spirit of God that sheds abroad love in you; it is the arms of his hands that are put upon your hands, and they are made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.