Morning and Evening
by Charles Spurgeon
October 1 — Morning
"Pleasant fruits, new and old—which I have laid up for you, O my beloved." Song of Solomon 7:13
The spouse desires to give to Jesus all that she produces. Our heart has "all kinds of pleasant fruits," both "old and new," and they are laid up for our Beloved. At this rich autumnal season of fruit—let us survey our stores.
We have new fruits. We desire to feel new life, new joy, new gratitude; we wish to make new resolves—and carry them out by new labors; our heart blossoms with new prayers, and our soul is pledging herself to new efforts.
But we have some old fruits too. There is our first love—a choice fruit—and Jesus delights in it. There is our first faith—that simple faith by which, having nothing—we became possessors of all things. There is our joy when first we knew the Lord—let us revive it. We have our old remembrances of the promises. How faithful has God been! In sickness, how softly did He make our bed! In deep waters, how soothingly did He buoy us up! In the flaming furnace, how graciously did He deliver us. Old fruits, indeed! We have many of them—for His mercies have been more than the hairs of our head. Old sins we must regret—but then we have had repentances which He has given us, by which we have wept our way to the cross, and learned the merit of His blood.
We have fruits, this morning, both new and old; but here is the point—they are all laid up for Jesus. Truly, those are the best and most acceptable services, in which Jesus is the solitary aim of the soul; and His glory, without any admixture whatever, the end of all our efforts. Let our many fruits be laid up only for our Beloved; let us display them when He is with us, and not hold them up before the gaze of men.
Jesus, we will turn the key in our garden door, and none shall enter to rob You of one good fruit from the soil which You have watered with Your bloody sweat. Our all shall be Yours, Yours only, O Jesus, our Beloved!
October 1 — Evening
"The Lord will give grace and glory!" Psalm 84:11
Jehovah is bounteous in His nature—to give is His delight. His gifts are precious beyond measure, and are as freely given as the light of the sun!
He freely gives grace in all its forms, to His people:
He gives grace . . .
He doubly enhances the value of His grace, by the manner of its bestowal. He generously pours into their souls without ceasing, and He always will do so, whatever may occur. Sickness may befall—but the Lord will give grace. Poverty may happen to us—but grace will surely be afforded. Death must come—but grace will light a candle at the darkest hour. Reader, how blessed it is as years roll along, to enjoy such an unfading promise as this, "The Lord will give grace!"
The little conjunction "and" in this verse is the diamond rivet binding the present with the future! Grace and glory always go together. God has married them—and none can divorce them. The Lord will never deny a soul glory—to whom He has freely given to live upon His grace. Indeed, glory is nothing more than grace in its heavenly dress; grace in full bloom; grace like autumn fruit—mellow and perfected.
How soon we may have glory—none can tell! It may be before this month has run out—that we shall see the Holy City. But be the interval longer or shorter—we shall be glorified before long. The Lord will surely give glory to all His chosen ones:
the glory of heaven,
the glory of eternity,
the glory of Jesus!
Oh, rare promise of a faithful God! Two golden links of one celestial chain! Whoever has grace—shall surely gain glory!
October 2 — Morning
"The hope which is laid up for you in heaven." Colossians 1:5
Our hope in Christ for the future, is the mainspring and the mainstay of our joy here on earth. It will animate our hearts to think often of heaven, for all that we can desire is promised there. Here on earth—we are weary and toil-worn; but yonder is the land of rest where the sweat of labor shall no more bedew the worker's brow, and fatigue shall be forever banished.
To those who are weary and woe-worn, the word "rest" is full of heaven. We are always in the field of battle; we are so tempted within, and so molested by foes without—that we have little or no peace! But in heaven we shall enjoy the victory, when the banner shall be waved aloft in triumph, and the sword shall be forever sheathed, and we shall hear our Captain say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"
We have suffered bereavement after bereavement—but we are going to the land of the immortal, where graves are unknown things. Here on earth, sin is a constant grief to us—but there we shall be perfectly holy, for nothing which defiles shall enter into that kingdom! Hemlock does not spring up in the furrows of celestial fields.
Oh! is it not joy, that you are not to be in a state of banishment forever—that you are not to dwell eternally in this wilderness—but shall soon inherit everlasting glory!
Nevertheless let it never be said of us, that we are dreaming about the future—and forgetting the present. Let the future sanctify the present to highest uses. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the hope of heaven is the most potent force for the product of virtue! It is a fountain of joyous effort, it is the corner stone of cheerful holiness. The man who has this hope in him—goes about his work with vigor, for the joy of the Lord is his strength. He fights against temptation with ardor, for the hope of the next world repels the fiery darts of the adversary. He can labor without present reward, "For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come!" Hebrews 13:14
October 2 — Evening
"Daniel, you are a man greatly loved by God." Daniel 10:11
Child of God, do you hesitate to appropriate this title? Ah! has your unbelief made you forget that you are greatly loved by God also? Must you not have been greatly loved—to have been bought with the precious blood of Christ? When God smote His only begotten Son for you—what was this but being greatly loved by Him? You lived in sin, and rioted in it—must you not have been greatly loved for God to have borne so patiently with you? You were called by grace and led to a Savior, and made a child of God and an heir of heaven! All this proves, does it not—a very great and super-abounding love?
Since that time, whether your path has been rough with troubles, or smooth with mercies—it has been full of proofs that you are greatly loved by God. If the Lord has chastened you—yet it was not in anger. If He has made you poor—yet in grace you have been rich. The more unworthy you feel yourself to be—the more evidence you have—that nothing but unspeakable divine love—could have led the Lord Jesus to save such a soul as yours! The more demerit you feel—the clearer is the display of the abounding love of God, in having chosen you, and called you, and made you an heir of bliss!
Now, if there is such great love from God to us—let us live in the influence and sweetness of it, and use the privilege of our exalted position as God's children. Do not let us approach our Lord as though we were strangers, or as though He were unwilling to hear us—for we are greatly loved by our loving Father!
"He who spared not His own Son—but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Come boldly, O believer, for despite the whisperings of Satan and the doubtings of your own heart—you are greatly loved! Meditate on the exceeding greatness and faithfulness of divine love today—and so go to your bed in peace.
October 3 — Morning
"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" Hebrews 1:14
Angels are the unseen attendants of the people of God; they bear us up in their hands, lest we dash our foot against a stone. Loyalty to their Lord leads them to take a deep interest in the children of His love; they rejoice over the return of the prodigal to his father's house below, and they welcome the advent of the believer to the King's palace above. In olden times the sons of God were favored with their visible appearance; and at this day, although unseen by us—they minister to the heirs of salvation. Seraphim still fly with live coals from off the altar, to touch the lips of men greatly loved by God.
If our eyes could be opened, we would see horses of fire and chariots of fire around the servants of the Lord; for we have come to an innumerable company of angels, who are all watchers and protectors of the seed-royal.
To whom do we owe all this? Let the Lord Jesus Christ be forever endeared to us, for through Him we are made to sit in heavenly places far above principalities and powers. He it is whose camp is round about those who fear Him; He is the true Michael whose foot is upon the dragon. All hail, Jesus! Angel of Jehovah's presence, to You this family offers its morning vows.
October 3 — Evening
"He Himself has suffered being tempted." Hebrews 2:18
It is a common-place thought, and yet it tastes like nectar to the weary heart—Jesus was tempted, just as I am. You have heard that truth many times—have you grasped it? He was tempted to the very same sins into which we fall. Do not dissociate Jesus from our common manhood. It is a dark room which you are going through—but Jesus went through it before. It is a sharp fight which you are waging—but Jesus has stood foot to foot with the same enemy. Let us be of good cheer, Christ has borne the load before us, and the blood-stained footsteps of the King of glory, may be seen along the road which we traverse at this hour.
There is something sweeter yet—Jesus was tempted—but Jesus never sinned. Then, my soul, it is not needful for you to sin, for Jesus was a man, and if one man endured these temptations and sinned not, then in His power His members may also cease from sin. Some beginners in the Christian life think that they cannot be tempted without sinning—but they mistake. There is no sin in being tempted—but there is sin in yielding to temptation.
Herein is comfort for the sorely tempted ones. There is still more to encourage them if they reflect that the Lord Jesus, though tempted, gloriously triumphed, and as He overcame, so surely shall His followers also, for Jesus is the representative man for His people; the Head has triumphed, and the members share in the victory. Fears are needless, for Christ is with us, armed for our defense. Our place of safety is the bosom of the Savior. Perhaps we are tempted just now—in order to drive us nearer to Him. Blessed be any wind that blows us into the port of our Savior's love! Happy wounds, which make us seek the beloved Physician. You tempted ones, come to your tempted Savior, for He can be touched with a feeling of your infirmities, and will support every tried and tempted one.
October 4 — Morning
"At evening time—it shall be light." Zechariah 14:7
Oftentimes we look with forebodings to the time of old age, forgetful that at evening time—it shall be light. To many saints, old age is the choicest season in their lives. A balmier air fans the mariner's cheek as he nears the shore of immortality, fewer waves ruffle his sea, quiet reigns—deep, still and solemn. From the altar of old age—the flashes of the fire of youth are gone—but the more real flame of earnest love to Jesus remains. The pilgrims have reached the land of Beulah, that happy country, whose days are as the days of heaven upon earth. Angels visit it, celestial gales blow over it, flowers of paradise grow in it, and the air is filled with seraphic music. Some dwell here for years, and others come to it but a few hours before their departure—but it is an Eden on earth.
We may well long for the time—when we shall recline in its shady groves and be satisfied with hope—until the time of fruition comes. The setting sun seems larger than when high in the sky, and a splendor of glory tinges all the clouds which surround its going down. Pain does not break not the calm of the sweet twilight of old age, for strength made perfect in weakness, bears up with patience under it all. Ripe fruits of choice experience are gathered as the rare meal of life's evening, and the soul prepares itself for rest.
The Lord's people shall also enjoy light in the hour of death. Unbelief laments; the shadows fall, the night is coming, existence is ending. "Ah no!" cries faith, "the night is far spent, the true day is at hand. Light is come, the light of immortality, the light of the Father's countenance!"
Gather up your feet in the bed, see the waiting bands of spirits! Angels waft you away. Farewell, beloved one, you are gone—you wave your hand. Ah, now it is light. The pearly gates are open, the golden streets shine in the jasper light. We on earth, cover our eyes—but you behold the unseen! Adieu, brother, you have light at even-tide, such as we have not yet!
October 4 — Evening
"If any man sins—we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." 1 John 2:1
"If any man sins—we have an advocate." Yes, though we sin, we have Him still. John does not say, "If any man sins—he has forfeited his advocate," but "we have an advocate," sinners though we are. All the sin that a believer ever did—cannot destroy his interest in the Lord Jesus Christ, as his advocate.
The name here given to our Lord is suggestive. "Jesus." Ah! then He is an advocate such as we need, for Jesus is the name of one whose business and delight it is to save. "They shall call His name Jesus—for He shall save His people from their sins." His sweetest name implies His success.
Next, it is Jesus "Christ". Christos—the anointed one. This shows His authority to plead. Christ has a right to plead, for He is the Father's own appointed advocate and elected priest. If He were of our choosing, He might fail—but if God has laid help upon one who is mighty, we may safely lay our trouble—where God has laid His help. He is Christ—and therefore authorized.
He is Christ—and therefore qualified, for the anointing has fully fitted Him for His work. He can plead so as to move the heart of God and prevail. What words of tenderness, what sentences of persuasion will the Anointed use—when He stands up to plead for me!
One more letter of His name remains, Jesus Christ "the righteous." This is not only His character, but His plea. It is His character, and if the Righteous One is my advocate, then my cause is good, or He would not have espoused it. It is His plea, for He meets the charge of unrighteousness against me—by the plea that He is righteous. He declares Himself my substitute and puts His obedience to my account! My soul, you have a friend well fitted to be your Advocate, He cannot fail! Leave yourself entirely in His hands.
October 5 — Morning
"As Elijah was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, 'Get up and eat!' He looked around and saw some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! He arose, and ate and drink—and went in the strength of that food for forty days and forty nights." 1 Kings 19:8
All the strength supplied to us by our gracious God—is meant for service—not for selfishness, wantonness or boasting. When the prophet Elijah found the bread baked on the coals, and the jar of water placed at his head, as he lay under the juniper tree—he was no gentleman to be gratified with dainty fare that he might stretch himself at his ease; far otherwise, he was commissioned to go forty days and forty nights in the strength of it, journeying towards Horeb, the mount of God.
When the Master invited the disciples to "Come and dine" with Him, after the feast was concluded He said to Peter, "Feed My sheep"; further adding, "Follow Me." Even thus it is with us—we eat the bread of heaven, that we may expend our strength in the Master's service. We come to the Passover, and eat of the paschal lamb: "Wear your traveling clothes as you eat this meal, as though prepared for a long journey. Wear your sandals, and carry your walking sticks in your hands," so as to start off at once when we have satisfied our hunger.
Some Christians are for living on Christ—but are not so anxious to live for Christ. Earth should be a preparation for heaven; and heaven is the place where saints feast most and work most. They sit down at the table of our Lord, and they serve Him day and night in His temple. They eat of heavenly food and render perfect service.
Believer, in the strength you daily gain from Christ—labor for Him. Some of us have yet to learn much concerning the design of our Lord in giving us His grace. We are not to retain the precious grains of truth as the Egyptian mummy held the wheat for ages, without giving it an opportunity to grow—we must sow it and water it.
Why does the Lord send down the rain upon the thirsty earth, and give the genial sunshine? Is it not that these may all help the fruits of the earth, to yield food for man? Even so the Lord feeds and refreshes our souls—that we may afterwards use our renewed strength in the promotion of His glory!
October 5 — Evening
"He who believes and is baptized shall be saved." Mark 16:16
Mr. MacDonald asked the inhabitants of the island of St. Kilda how a man must be saved.
An old man replied, "We shall be saved if we repent, and forsake our sins, and turn to God."
"Yes," said a middle-aged female, "and with a true heart too."
"Ay," rejoined a third, "and with prayer."
A fourth added, "It must be the prayer of the heart."
"And we must be diligent too," said a fifth, "in keeping the commandments."
Thus, each having contributed his mite, feeling that a very decent creed had been made up, they all looked and listened for the preacher's approbation—but they had aroused his deepest pity.
The carnal mind always maps out for itself a way in which SELF can work and become great—but the Lord's way is quite the reverse. Believing and being baptized are no matters of merit to be gloried in—they are so simple that boasting is excluded, and free grace bears the palm.
It may be that the reader is unsaved—what is the reason? Do you think the way of salvation as laid down in the text to be dubious? How can that be when God has pledged His own Word for its certainty? Do you think it too easy? Why, then, do you not attend to it? Its ease leaves those who neglect it, without excuse. To believe is simply to trust, to depend, to rely upon Christ Jesus. To be baptized is to submit to the ordinance which our Lord fulfilled at Jordan, to which the converted ones submitted at Pentecost, to which the jailer yielded obedience the very night of his conversion. The outward sign does not save—but it sets forth to us our death, burial, and resurrection with Jesus; and, like the Lord's Supper, is not to be neglected. Reader, do you believe in Jesus? Then, dear friend, dismiss your fears—you shall be saved. Are you still an unbeliever, then remember there is but one door, and if you will not enter by it—you will perish in your sins!
October 6 — Morning
"Whoever drinks from the water that I will give him, will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him to eternal life!" John 4:14
He who is a believer in Jesus—finds enough in his Lord to satisfy him now, and to content him for evermore! The believer is not the man whose days are weary for lack of comfort—and whose nights are tedious from absence of heart-cheering thought. For he finds in piety—such a spring of joy, such a fountain of consolation, that he is content and happy!
Put him in a dungeon—and he will find good company.
Place him in a barren wilderness—he will eat the bread of heaven.
Drive him away from friendship—and he will meet the "friend that sticks closer than a brother."
Blast all his gourds—and he will find shelter beneath the Rock of Ages.
Sap the foundation of his earthly hopes—and his heart will still be fixed, trusting in the Lord.
The human heart is insatiable—until Jesus enters it, and then it is a cup full to overflowing. There is such a fullness in Christ—that He alone is the believer's ALL. The true saint is so completely satisfied with the all-sufficiency of Jesus—that he thirsts no more—except it be for deeper draughts of the living fountain!
In that sweet manner, believer, shall you THIRST. It shall not be a thirst of pain—but of loving desire. You will find it a sweet thing—to be panting after a fuller enjoyment of Jesus' love.
One in days of yore, has said, "I have constantly been sinking my bucket down into this well—but now my thirst after Jesus has become so insatiable—that I long to put the well itself to my lips, and drink!"
Is this the feeling of your heart now, believer? Do you feel that all your desires are satisfied in Jesus, and that you have no need now—but to know more of Him, and to have closer fellowship with Him? Then come continually to the fountain—and take of the water of life freely! Jesus will never think you take too much—but will ever welcome you, saying, "Drink, yes, drink abundantly, O My beloved!"
October 6 — Evening
"Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses—because he had married an Ethiopian woman!" Numbers 12:1
Strange choice of Moses! But how much more strange—is the choice of Him who is a prophet like unto Moses, and greater than him! Our Lord, who is pure as the lily, has entered into marriage union with one who confesses herself to be black. It is the wonder of angels—that the love of Jesus should be set upon poor, lost, guilty men!
Each believer must, when filled with a sense of Jesus' love—be also overwhelmed with astonishment, that such divine love should be lavished on an object so utterly unworthy of it. Knowing as we do—our secret guiltiness, unfaithfulness, and black-heartedness, we are dissolved in grateful admiration of the matchless freeness and sovereignty of grace! Jesus must have found the cause of His love—in His own heart. He could not have found it in us—for it is not there! Even since our conversion we have been black with sin—though sovereign grace has made us lovely in His sight.
Most tender and faithful Husband of our souls—pursue Your gracious work of conforming us to Your image, until You shall present even us poor Ethiopians unto Yourself— without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing!
Moses met with opposition because of his marriage, and both himself and his spouse were the subjects of an evil eye. Can we wonder that this vain world opposes Jesus and His spouse, and especially when heinous sinners are converted? This is ever the Pharisee's ground of objection, "This Man receives sinners!" Still the old cause of quarrel is revived, "Because he had married an Ethiopian woman!"
October 7 — Morning
"Why have You afflicted Your servant?" Numbers 11:11
Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles—to test our faith. If our faith is worth anything, it will stand the test. Gilding is afraid of fire—but gold is not. The plastic gem dreads to be touched by the diamond—but the true jewel fears no test.
It is a false faith—which can only trust God when friends are true, the body full of health, and the business profitable. That alone is true faith—which clings to the Lord when friends are gone, when the body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father's countenance is hidden. A faith which can say, in the direst trouble, "Though He slays me—yet will I trust in Him," is heaven-born faith.
The Lord afflicts His servants—to glorify Himself, for He is greatly glorified in the graces of His people, which are His own handiwork. "We rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope!" The Lord is honored by these growing virtues.
We would never know the music of the harp—if the strings were left untouched. We would never enjoy the juice of the grape—if it were not trodden in the winepress. We would never discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon—if it were not pressed and beaten. We would never feel the warmth of fire—if the coals were not utterly consumed. The wisdom and power of the great Workman are revealed by the trials through which His vessels of mercy are permitted to pass.
Present afflictions tend also to heighten future joy. There must be dark shadows in the picture—to bring out the beauty of the lights. Could we be so supremely blessed in heaven—if we had not known the curse of sin and the sorrow of earth? Will not peace be sweeter—after conflict? Will not rest be more welcome—after toil? Will not the bliss of the glorified—be enhanced the recollection of past sufferings?
There are many other comfortable answers to the question with which we opened our brief meditation, let us muse upon it all day long.
October 7 — Evening
"On whom do you trust?" Isaiah 36:5
Reader, this is an important question. Listen to the Christian's answer, and see if it is yours. "On whom do you trust?"
"I trust," says the Christian, "in a triune God. I trust the Father, believing that He has chosen me from before the foundation of the world; I trust Him to provide for me in His providence, to teach me, to guide me, to correct me if need be, and to bring me home to His own house where the many mansions are!"
"I trust the Son. The man Christ Jesus—is also the true God. I trust in Him to take away all my sins by His own sacrifice, and to adorn me with His perfect righteousness. I trust Him to be my Intercessor, to present my prayers and desires before His Father's throne, and I trust Him to be my Advocate at the last great day, to plead my cause, and to justify me. I trust Him for what He is, for what He has done, and for what He has promised yet to do!"
"And I trust the Holy Spirit—He has begun to save me from my inbred sins; I trust Him to drive them all out. I trust Him to curb my temper, to subdue my will, to enlighten my understanding, to check my evil passions. I trust Him to comfort my despondency, to help my weakness, to illuminate my darkness. I trust Him to dwell in me as my life, to reign in me as my King, to sanctify me wholly—and then to take me up to dwell forever in glory!"
Oh, blessed trust! To trust Him . . .
whose power will never be exhausted,
whose love will never wane,
whose kindness will never change,
whose faithfulness will never fail,
whose wisdom will never be confounded, and
whose perfect goodness can never know a diminution!
Happy are you, reader—if this trust is yours! So trusting, you shall enjoy sweet peace now, and glory hereafter! The foundation of your trust shall never be removed!
October 8 — Morning
"Put out into deep water—and let down the nets for a catch. Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because You say so—I will let down the nets.'" Luke 5:4,5
We learn from this narrative, the necessity of human agency. The catch of fish was miraculous—yet neither the fisherman nor his boat, nor his fishing tackle were ignored; but all were used to take the fishes. Just so in the saving of souls—God works by means; and while the present economy of grace shall stand, God will be pleased by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe. When God works without instruments, doubtless He is glorified; but He has Himself selected the plan of instrumentality as being that by which He is most magnified in the earth.
Means of themselves, are utterly unavailing. "Master, we have toiled all night—and have caught nothing!" What was the reason of this? Were they not fishermen plying their special vocation? Truly, they were no novices; they understood the work. Had they gone about the toil unskillfully? No! Had they lacked industry? No—they had toiled. Had they lacked perseverance? No—they had toiled all night. Was there a deficiency of fish in the sea? Certainly not, for as soon as the Master came, they swam to the net in shoals! What, then, is the reason? Is it because there is no power in the means of themselves, apart from the presence of Jesus!
"Without Him—we can do nothing." But with Christ—we can do all things. Christ's presence confers success! Jesus sat in Peter's boat, and His will, by a mysterious influence, drew the fish to the net. When Jesus is lifted up in His Church, His presence is the Church's power! "I, if I am lifted up, will draw all men unto me." Let us go out this morning on our work of soul-fishing, looking up in faith, and around us in solemn concern. Let us toil until night comes, and we shall not labor in vain; for He who bids us let down the net—will fill it with fish!
October 8 — Evening
"Praying in the Holy Spirit." Jude 20
Mark the grand characteristic of true prayer—it is "in the Holy Spirit." The seed of acceptable devotion, must come from heaven's storehouse. Only the prayer which comes from God—can go to God. We must shoot the Lord's arrows back to Him! Only that desire which He writes upon our heart—will move His heart and bring down a blessing—but the desires of the flesh have no power with Him.
Praying in the Holy Spirit is praying in fervency. Cold prayers—ask the Lord not to hear them. Those who do not plead with fervency—do not plead at all. As well speak of lukewarm fire—as of lukewarm prayer. It is essential that prayer be red hot!
Praying in the Holy Spirit is praying perseveringly. The true suppliant gathers force as he proceeds, and grows more fervent—when God delays to answer. The longer the gate is closed, the more vehemently does he use the knocker! The longer the angel lingers—the more resolved is he who he will never let him go without the blessing. Tearful, agonizing, unconquerable, importunate prayer—is beautiful in God's sight!
Praying in the Holy Spirit means praying humbly, for the Holy Spirit never puffs us up with pride. It is His office to convince of sin, and so to bow us down in contrition and brokenness of spirit. We shall never pray acceptably, unless we cry to God out of the depths of contrite hearts.
Praying in the Holy Spirit is loving prayer. Prayer should be perfumed with love, saturated with love—love to our fellow saints, and love to Christ.
Moreover, it must be a prayer full of faith. A man prevails—only as he believes. The Holy Spirit is the author of faith, and strengthens it, so that we pray believing God's promise.
O that this blessed combination of excellent graces, priceless and sweet as the spices of the merchant, might be fragrant within us because the Holy Spirit is in our hearts! Most blessed Comforter, exert Your mighty power within us, helping our infirmities in prayer!
October 9 — Morning
"How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life—and only a few ever find it!" Matthew 7:14
In some sense, the path to heaven is very safe—but in other respects, there is no road so dangerous! It is beset with difficulties. One false step—and down we go! And how easy it is to take that treacherous step—if grace is absent!
What a slippery path is that—which some of us have to tread! How many times have we to exclaim with the Psalmist, "But as for me, my feet were slipping—and I was almost gone!"
If we were strong, sure-footed mountaineers, this would not matter so much; but in ourselves, how weak we are!
Even in the best roads—we soon falter!
In the smoothest paths—we quickly stumble!
These feeble knees of ours—can scarcely support our tottering weight!
A straw may trip us up—and a pebble can wound us!
We are mere infants, tremblingly taking our first steps in the walk of faith. Our heavenly Father holds us by the arms—or we would soon tumble down!
Oh, if we are kept from falling, how must we bless the patience, power and wisdom of God—who watches over us moment by moment—and day by day! Think—
how prone we are to sin,
how apt to choose dangerous paths,
how strong our tendency to cast ourselves down
—and these reflections will make us sing more sweetly than we have ever done, "Glory to Him, who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy!" Jude 24
We have many foes—who try to push us down, and destroy us!
The road is rough—and we are weak!
But in addition to this, enemies lurk in ambush, who rush out when we least expect them, and labor to trip us up, or hurl us down the nearest deadly precipice!
Only an Almighty arm can preserve us from these unseen foes, who are seeking to destroy us at every step! Such an arm is engaged for our defense. He is faithful, who has promised, and He is able to keep us from falling, so that with a deep sense of our utter weakness, we may cherish a firm belief in our perfect safety!
October 9 — Evening
"Jesus gave her no reply—not even a word." Matthew 15:23
Genuine seekers who as yet have not obtained the blessing, may take comfort from the story before us. The Savior did not at once bestow the blessing, even though the woman had great faith in Him. He intended to give it—but He waited awhile.
"Jesus gave her no reply—not even a word." Were not her prayers good? Never any better. Was not her case needy? Sorrowfully needy. Did she not feel her need sufficiently? She felt it overwhelmingly. Was she not earnest enough? She was intensely so. Had she no faith? She had such a high degree of it that even Jesus was amazed, and said, "O woman, great is your faith."
See then, although it is true that faith brings peace—yet it does not always bring it instantaneously. There may be certain reasons calling for the trial of faith, rather than the reward of faith. Genuine faith may be in the soul, like a hidden seed—but as yet it may not have budded and blossomed into joy and peace. A painful silence from the Savior is the grievous trial of many a seeking soul—but heavier still is the affliction of a harsh cutting reply such as this, "It is not right to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs!"
Many in waiting upon the Lord find immediate delight—but this is not the case with all. Some, like the jailer, are in a moment turned from darkness to light—but others are plants of slower growth. A deeper sense of sin may be given to you—instead of a sense of pardon, and in such a case you will have need of patience to bear the heavy blow. Ah! poor heart, though Christ beats and bruises you, or even slays you—trust Him; though He should give you an angry word, believe in the love of His heart. Do not, I beseech you, give up seeking or trusting my Master, because you have not yet obtained the conscious joy which you longest for. Cast yourself on Him, and perseveringly depend—even where you cannot rejoicingly hope.
October 10 — Morning
"Faultless before the presence of His glory." Jude 24
Revolve that wondrous word in your mind, "faultless!" We are far off from it now; but as our Lord never stops short of perfection in His work of love—we shall reach it one day. The Savior who will keep His people to the end, will also present them at last to Himself, as "a glorious church, having no spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing—but holy and without blemish." All the jewels in the Savior's crown—are of the top quality, and without a single flaw. All the maids of honor who attend the Lamb's wife—are pure virgins without spot or stain.
But how will Jesus make us faultless? He will wash us from our sins in His own blood—until we are white and fair as God's purest angel; and we shall be clothed in His righteousness, that righteousness which makes the saint who wears it positively faultless; yes, perfect in the sight of God! We shall be unblamably and unreproveable even in His eyes. His law will not only have no charge against us—but it will be magnified in us. Moreover, the work of the Holy Spirit within us will be altogether complete. He will make us so perfectly holy—that we shall have no lingering tendency to sin. Judgment, memory, affections, will—every power and passion shall be emancipated from the thraldom of evil. We shall be holy even as God is holy—and in His presence we shall dwell forever!
Saints will not be out of place in heaven, their beauty will be as great as that of the place prepared for them. Oh the rapture of that hour, when the everlasting doors shall be lifted up, and we, being made fit for the inheritance, shall dwell with the saints in light. Sin gone, Satan shut out, temptation past forever, and ourselves "faultless" before God—this will be heaven indeed! Let us be joyful now as we rehearse the song of eternal praise, so soon to roll forth in full chorus from all the blood-washed multitude! Let us copy David's exultings before the ark as a prelude to our ecstasies before the throne!
October 10 — Evening
"And I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you out of the hand of the cruel." Jeremiah 15:21
Note the glorious person of the promise. I will, I will. The Lord Jehovah Himself interposes to deliver and redeem His people. He pledges Himself personally to rescue them. His own arm shall do it, that He may have the glory. Here is not a word said of any effort of our own which may be needed to assist the Lord. Neither our strength nor our weakness is taken into the account—but the lone "I", like the sun in the heavens, shines out resplendent in all-sufficiency. Why then do we calculate our forces, and consult with flesh and blood—to our grievous wounding? Jehovah has power enough, without borrowing from our puny arm! Peace, you unbelieving thoughts! Be still, and know that the Lord reigns!
Nor is there a hint concerning secondary means and causes. The Lord says nothing of friends and helpers—He undertakes the work alone, and feels no need of human arms to aid Him. Vain are all our lookings around to companions and relatives; they are broken reeds if we lean upon them. The are often unwilling when able—or unable when they are willing. Since the promise comes alone from God, it would be well to wait only upon Him; and when we do so, our expectation never fails us.
Who are the wicked that we should fear them? The Lord will utterly consume them! They are to be pitied, rather than feared! As for cruel ones, they are only terrors to those who have no God to fly to—for when the Lord is on our side, whom shall we fear? If we run into sin to please the wicked, we have cause to be alarmed—but if we hold fast our integrity, the rage of tyrants shall be overruled for our good. When the fish swallowed Jonah, it found him to be a morsel which he could not digest; and when the world devours the church, it is glad to be rid of it again. In all times of fiery trial, in patience let us possess our souls.
October 11 — Morning
"Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens." Lamentations 3:41
The act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness—which is a very beneficial lesson for such proud beings as we are. If God gave us favors without constraining us to pray for them—we would never know how poor we are—but a true prayer is an inventory of needs, a catalogue of necessities, a revelation of hidden poverty. While it is an application to divine wealth—it is also a confession of human emptiness. The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in SELF—and rich in Jesus; weak as water personally—but mighty through God to do great exploits. And hence prayer, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be—in the very dust!
Prayer is in itself, apart from the answer which it brings, a great benefit to the Christian. As the runner gains strength for the race by daily exercise, so for the great race of life, we acquire energy by the hallowed labor of prayer. Prayer plumes the wings of God's young eaglets—that they may learn to mount above the clouds. Prayer sends God's warriors forth to combat—with their sinews braced and their muscles firm. An earnest pleader comes out of his closet, even as the sun arises from the chambers of the east, rejoicing like a strong man to run his race.
Prayer is that uplifted hand of Moses—which routs the Amalekites more than the sword of Joshua. Prayer girds human weakness with divine strength, turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and gives the peace of God to troubled mortals. We have no idea what prayer can do!
We thank you, great God, for the mercy-seat, a choice proof of your marvelous loving-kindness. Help us to use it aright throughout this day!
October 11 — Evening
"Those He predestined—He also called." Romans 8:30
In 2 Timothy 1:9 are these words, "Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling." Now, here is a touchstone by which we may try our calling. It is "a holy calling, not according to our works—but according to his own purpose and grace." This calling forbids all trust in our own doings, and conducts us to Christ alone for salvation—but it afterwards purges us from dead works to serve the living and true God. As He who has called you is holy—so must you be holy. If you are living in sin—you are not called by God. But if you are truly Christ's, you can say, "Nothing pains me so much as sin! I desire to be rid of it! Lord, help me to be holy." Is this the panting of your heart? Is this the tenor of your life towards God, and His divine will?
In Philippians 3:14, we are told of "the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Is then your calling, a high calling? Has it ennobled your heart, and set it upon heavenly things? Has it elevated your hopes, your tastes, your desires? Has it upraised the constant tenor of your life, so that you spend it with God and for God?
Another test we find in Hebrews 3:1, "Partakers of the heavenly calling." Heavenly calling means a call from heaven. If man alone calls you, you are uncalled. Is your calling from God? Is it a call to heaven—as well as from heaven? Unless you are a stranger here on earth, and heaven your home—you have not been called with a heavenly calling. For those who have been so called, declare that they look for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God, and they themselves are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth.
Is your calling thus holy, high, heavenly? Then, beloved, you have been called of God, for such is the calling with which God always calls His people.
October 12 — Morning
"I will meditate on Your precepts." Psalm 119:15
There are times when solitude is better than society; and silence is wiser than speech. We would be better Christians—if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering spiritual strength for labor in His service, through meditation on His Word. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them.
Truth is something like the cluster of the vine—if we would have wine from it, we must bruise it; we must press and squeeze it many times. The bruiser's feet must come down joyfully upon the clusters, or else the juice will not flow; and they must carefully tread the grapes, or else much of the precious liquid will be wasted. So we must, by meditation, tread the clusters of truth—if we would get the wine of consolation from them.
Our bodies are not supported 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 food becomes assimilated with the inner life.
Just so, our souls are not nourished merely by listening awhile to this, and then to that, and then to the other part of divine truth. Hearing, reading, and learning—all require inward digesting to complete their usefulness, and the inward digesting of the truth lies for the most part in meditating upon it.
Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons—make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets—and do not thoughtfully meditate on God's Word. They love the wheat—but they do not grind it; they would have the corn—but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree—but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet—but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord, and be this our resolve this day, "I will meditate on Your precepts!"
October 12 — Evening
"The Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit." John 14:26
This age is specially, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, in which Jesus cheers us, not by His personal presence, as He shall do by-and-by, but by the indwelling and constant abiding of the Holy Spirit, who is evermore the Comforter of the church. It is His office to console the hearts of God's people. He convinces of sin; He illuminates and instructs—but still the main part of His work lies in comforting the hearts of the renewed, in confirming the weak, and lifting up all those who are bowed down.
He does this—by revealing Jesus to them. The Holy Spirit consoles—but Christ is the consolation. If we may use the figure, the Holy Spirit is the Physician—but Jesus is the medicine. The Holy Spirit heals the wound—but it is by applying the holy ointment of Christ's grace. The Holy Spirit will not speak of His own things—but of the things of Christ. The Holy Spirit the Comforter—but Jesus is the Comfort!
Now, with such rich provision for his need, why should the Christian be sad and desponding? The Holy Spirit has graciously engaged to be your Comforter—do you imagine, O you weak and trembling believer, that He will be negligent of His sacred trust? Can you suppose that He has undertaken what He cannot or will not perform? If it is His especial work to strengthen you, and to comfort you—do you suppose He has forgotten His business, or that He will fail in the loving office which He sustains towards you? No! Do not think so harshly of the tender and blessed Spirit, whose name is "the Comforter." He delights to give beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Trust in Him, and He will surely comfort you until the house of mourning is closed forever—and the marriage feast has begun!
October 13 — Morning
"Godly sorrow works repentance." 2 Corinthians 7:10
Genuine, spiritual mourning for sin—is the work of the Spirit of God. Repentance is too choice a flower to grow in nature's garden! Pearls grow naturally in oysters—but penitence never shows itself in sinners—unless divine grace works it in them. If you have one particle of real hatred for sin, God must have given it you, for human nature's thorns never produced a single fig. "That which is born of the flesh—is flesh."
True repentance has a distinct reference to the Savior. When we repent of sin, we must have one eye upon SIN—and another upon the CROSS! It will be better still—if we fix both our eyes upon Christ—and see our transgressions only in the light of His love.
True sorrow for sin is eminently practical. No man may say he hates sin—if he lives in it. Repentance makes us see the evil of sin, not merely as a theory—but experimentally—as the burnt child dreads fire. We shall be as much afraid of it, as a man who has lately been accosted and robbed—is afraid of the thief upon the highway. We shall shun sin—shun it in everything—not in great things only—but in little things; as men shun little vipers—as well as great snakes.
True mourning for sin will make us very watchful over our tongue—lest it should say a wrong word. We shall be very watchful over our daily actions—lest in anything we offend; and each night we shall close the day with painful confessions of shortcomings; and each morning awaken with anxious prayers, that this day God would preserve us—that we may not sin against Him.
Sincere repentance is continual. Believers repent until their dying day. Repentance is not intermittent. Every other sorrow yields to time—but this dear sorrow grows with our growth, and it is so sweet a bitter, that we thank God we are permitted to experience it, until we enter our eternal rest!
October 13 — Evening
"Love is as strong as death." Song of Solomon 8:6
Whose love can this be—which is as mighty as the conqueror of monarchs, the destroyer of the human race? Would it not sound like satire if it were applied to my poor, weak, and scarcely living love to Jesus my Lord? I do love Him, and perhaps by His grace, I could even die for Him—but as for my love in itself—it can scarcely endure a scoffing jest, much less a cruel death! Surely it is my Beloved's love which is here spoken of—the love of Jesus, the matchless lover of souls!
His love was indeed stronger than the most terrible death, for it endured the trial of the cross triumphantly! It was a lingering death—but love survived the torment! It was a shameful death—but love despised the shame! It was a penal death—but love bore our iniquities! It was a forsaken, lonely death, from which the eternal Father hid His face—but love endured the curse, and gloried over all. Never such a love—never such a death. It was a desperate duel—but love conquered.
What then, my heart? Have you no emotions excited within you at the contemplation of such heavenly affection? Yes, my Lord, I long, I pant to feel Your love flaming like a furnace within me! Come Yourself, and excite the ardor of my heart!
"For every drop of crimson blood
Thus shed to make me live,
O wherefore, wherefore have I not,
A thousand lives to give?"
Why should I despair of loving Jesus, with a love as strong as death? He deserves it—I desire it! The martyrs felt such love, and they were but flesh and blood—then why not I? They mourned their weakness, and yet out of weakness were made strong. Grace gave them all their unflinching constancy—there is the same grace for me. Jesus, lover of my soul, shed abroad such love, even Your love in my heart, this evening.
October 14 — Morning
"I consider everything a loss—compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." Philippians 3:8
Saving knowledge of Christ, will be a personal knowledge. I cannot know Jesus through another person's acquaintance with Him. No, I must know Him myself; I must know Him on my own account.
Saving knowledge of Christ, will be an intelligent knowledge. I must know Him, not as the visionary dreams of Him—but as the Word reveals Him. I must know His natures, divine and human. I must know His offices—His attributes—His works—His shame—His glory. I must meditate upon Him until I am "able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love; and know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge!"
Saving knowledge of Christ, will be an affectionate knowledge of Him. Indeed, if I know Him at all, I must love Him. An ounce of heart knowledge—is worth a ton of head learning!
Saving knowledge of Christ, will be a satisfying knowledge. When I know my Savior, my mind will be full to the brim—I shall feel that I have that which my spirit panted after. "No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again!"
Saving knowledge of Christ, will be an exciting knowledge. The more I know of my Beloved, the more I shall want to know. The higher I climb—the loftier will be the summits which invite my eager footsteps. I shall want the more—as I get the more. Like the miser's treasure, my gold will make me covet more.
To conclude, saving knowledge of Christ Jesus will be a most happy one. In fact, it will be so elevating, that sometimes it will completely bear me up above all trials, and doubts, and sorrows! And it will, while I enjoy it, lift me above troubles—for it will fling about me the immortality of the ever-living Savior, and gird me with the golden belt of His eternal joy. Come, my soul, sit at Jesus' feet—and learn of Him all this day!
October 14 — Evening
"Do not be conformed to this world." Romans 12:2
Reader, would you wish to leave this world in the darkness of a desponding death bed, and enter eternity as a shipwrecked mariner? Then be worldly! Join up with Mammonites, and refuse to go outside the camp bearing Christ's reproach.
But would you have a heaven below—as well as a heaven above? Would you comprehend with all saints, what are the heights and depths, and know the love of Christ which passes knowledge? Would you receive an abundant entrance into the joy of your Lord? Then come out from among them, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing!
Would you attain the full assurance of faith? You cannot gain it while you commune with sinners. Would you flame with vehement love? Your love will be damped, by the drenchings of godless society. You cannot become a great Christian—you may be a babe in grace—but you never can be a perfect man in Christ Jesus—while you yield yourself to the worldly maxims and lifestyles of the world. It is bad for an heir of heaven—to be a great friend with the heirs of hell. It has a bad look when a courtier is too intimate with his king's enemies.
Even small inconsistencies are dangerous. Little thorns make great blisters. Little moths destroy fine garments. Little little frivolities and little rogueries will rob a Christian of a thousand joys. O professor, too little separated from sinners—you know not what you lose by your conformity to the world. It cuts the tendons of your strength, and makes you creep—where you ought to run. Then, for your own comfort's sake, and for the sake of your growth in grace, if you are a Christian—be a Christian—and be a marked and distinct one!
October 15 — Morning
"Who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner's fire!" Malachi 3:2
His first coming was without external pomp or show of power, and yet in truth there were few who could abide its testing might. Herod and all Jerusalem with him, were stirred at the news of the wondrous birth. Those who supposed themselves to be waiting for Him, showed the fallacy of their professions, by rejecting Him when He came. His life on earth was a winnowing fan, which tried the great heap of religious profession, and few enough could abide the process.
But what will His second coming be? What sinner can endure to think of it? "He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked!" When in His humiliation He did but say to the soldiers, "I am He!"—they fell backward! What will be the terror of His enemies—when He shall more fully reveal Himself in judgement? His death shook earth and darkened heaven—what shall be the dreadful splendor of that day in which as the living Savior, He shall summon the living and dead before Him? O that the terrors of the Lord would persuade men to forsake their sins and "kiss the Son—or He will be angry, and you will perish in your rebellion, for His anger may ignite at any moment!"
Though a lamb, He is yet the lion of the tribe of Judah, rending the prey in pieces! Though He does not break the bruised reed—yet will He crush His enemies with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. None of His foes shall bear up before the tempest of His wrath, or hide themselves from the sweeping hail of His indignation!
But His beloved blood-washed people look for His appearing with joy, and hope to abide it without fear—to them He sits as a refiner even now—and when He has tried them they shall come forth as gold. Let us search ourselves this morning and make our calling and election sure, so that the coming of the Lord may cause no dark forebodings in our mind. O for grace to cast away all hypocrisy, and to be found by Him—"blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation" in the day of His appearing!
October 15 — Evening
"You must redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb. But if you do not redeem it—you must kill the donkey by breaking its neck!" Exodus 34:20
Every firstborn creature must be the Lord's—but since the donkey was unclean, it could not be presented in sacrifice to Him. What then? Should it be allowed to go free from the universal law? By no means. God admits of no exceptions. The donkey is His due—but He will not accept it; He will not abate the claim—but yet He cannot be pleased with the victim. No way of escape remained, but redemption—the donkey must be saved by the substitution of a lamb in its place; or if not redeemed, it must die!
My soul, here is a lesson for you. That unclean donkey is yourself! You are justly the property of the Lord who made you and preserves you—but you are so sinful that God will not, cannot, accept you! It has come to this—the Lamb of God must stand in your stead—or you must die eternally! Let all the world know of your gratitude to that spotless Lamb who has died for you, and so redeemed you from the fatal curse of the law!
Must it not sometimes have been a question with the Israelite, as to which should die—the donkey or the lamb? Would not the man pause to estimate and compare? Assuredly there was no comparison between the value of a sinful man—and the spotless Lord Jesus! Yet the Lamb dies—and man the donkey is spared! My soul, admire the boundless love of God to you! Vile worms are bought—with the blood of the holy Lamb of God! Dust and ashes are redeemed—with a price far above silver and gold! What a doom would have been mine—had not plenteous redemption been found!
The breaking of the neck of the donkey was but a momentary penalty—but who shall measure the wrath to come—to which no limit can be imagined! Inestimably dear is the glorious Lamb—who has redeemed me from such a doom!
October 16 — Morning
"Jesus said unto them, Come and dine!" John 21:12
In these words the believer is invited to a holy nearness to Jesus. "Come and dine!" implies the same table, the same food; and sometimes it means to sit by His side, and lean our head upon the Savior's bosom! It is being brought into the banqueting-house, where the banner of redeeming love waves!
"Come and dine!" implies union with Jesus, because the only food that we can feast upon when we dine with Jesus—is Himself. Oh, what union is this! It is a depth which reason cannot fathom, that we thus feed upon Jesus. "He who eats My flesh, and drinks My blood—dwells in Me, and I in him."
It is also an invitation to enjoy fellowship with the saints. Christians may differ on a variety of points—but they all have one spiritual appetite. If we cannot all feel alike, we can all feed alike on the bread of life sent down from heaven. At the table of fellowship with Jesus—we partake of one bread and one cup. As the loving cup goes around—we pledge one another heartily therein. Get nearer to Jesus, and you will find yourself linked more and more in spirit to all who like yourself, are supported by the same heavenly manna. If we were more near to Jesus—we would be more near to one another.
We likewise see in these words—the source of strength for every Christian. To look at Christ is to live—but for strength to serve Him you must "come and dine!" We labor under much unnecessary weakness, on account of neglecting this percept of the Master. None of us need to put ourselves on a spiritual diet! On the contrary, we should fatten on the marrow and fatness of the gospel—that we may accumulate strength therein, and use every power to its full extent in the Master's service. Thus, then, if you would realize nearness to Jesus, union with Jesus, love to His people and strength from Jesus, "come and dine" with Him by faith!
October 16 — Evening
"With You is the fountain of life." Psalm 36:9
There are times in our spiritual experience, when human counsel or sympathy, or religious ordinances, fail to comfort or help us. Why does our gracious God permit this? Perhaps it is because we have been living too much without Him—and therefore He takes away every prop upon which we have been in the habit of depending, that He may drive us to Himself! It is a blessed thing to live at the fountain-head. While our water-bottles are full, we are content, like Hagar and Ishmael, to go into the wilderness; but when those are dry—nothing will serve us but our God.
We are like the prodigal, we love the swine-troughs—and forget our Father's house! Remember, we can make swine-troughs and husks—even out of the forms of religion. They are blessed things—but we may put them in God's place, and then they are of no value. Anything becomes an IDOL—when it keeps us away from God! Even the brazen serpent is to be despised as "Nehushtan!" if we worship it instead of God. The prodigal was never safer—than when he was driven to his father's bosom, because he could find sustenance nowhere else.
Our Lord favors us with a famine—that it may make us seek after Himself the more. The best position for a Christian—is living wholly and directly on God's grace—still abiding where he stood at first, "Having nothing, and yet possessing all things." Let us never for a moment think that our acceptance with God—is in our sanctification, our mortification, our graces, or our feelings. But know that because Christ offered a full atonement, therefore we are saved; for we are complete in Him. Having nothing of our own to trust to—but resting solely upon the merits of Jesus—His passion and holy life furnish us with the only sure ground of confidence. Beloved, when we are brought to a thirsting condition—we are sure to turn to the fountain of life with eagerness!
October 17 — Morning
"And David said in his heart—I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul!" 1 Samuel 27:1
The thought of David's heart at this time was a false thought, because he certainly had no ground for thinking that God's anointing him by Samuel was intended to be left as an empty unmeaning act. On no one occasion had the Lord deserted His servant; he had been placed in perilous positions very often—but not one instance had occurred in which divine interposition had not delivered him. The trials to which he had been exposed had been varied; they had not assumed one form only—but many—yet in every case He who sent the trial had also graciously ordained a way of escape.
David could not put his finger upon any entry in his diary, and say of it, "Here is evidence that the Lord will forsake me," for the entire tenor of his past life proved the very reverse. He should have argued from what God had done for him—that God would be his defender still.
But is it not just in the same way—that we doubt God's help? Is it not mistrust without a cause? Have we ever had the shadow of a reason to doubt our Father's goodness? Have not His lovingkindnesses been marvelous? Has He once failed to justify our trust? Ah, no! our God has not left us at any time. We have had dark nights—but the star of love has shone forth amid the blackness! We have been in stern conflicts—but over our head He has held aloft the shield of our defense. We have gone through many trials—but never to our detriment, always to our advantage; and the conclusion from our past experience is, that He who has been with us in six troubles, will not forsake us in the seventh. What we have known of our faithful God, proves that He will keep us to the end. Let us not, then, reason contrary to evidence. How can we ever be so unkind as to doubt our God? Lord, throw down the Jezebel of our unbelief, and let the dogs devour it!
October 17 — Evening
"He will carry the lambs in His arms." Isaiah 40:11
Our good Shepherd has in His flock—a variety of experiences, some are strong in the Lord, and others are weak in faith—but He is impartial in His care for all His sheep, and the weakest lamb is as dear to Him as the most advanced of the flock. Lambs are accustomed to lag behind, prone to wander, and apt to grow weary—but from all the danger of these infirmities, the Shepherd protects them with His arm of power. He finds new-born souls, like young lambs, ready to perish—and He nourishes them until life becomes vigorous. He finds weak minds ready to faint and die—and He consoles them and renews their strength. All the little ones He gathers in His arms—for it is not the will of our heavenly Father that one of them should perish. What a quick eye He must have to see them all! What a tender heart to care for them all! What a far-reaching and potent arm, to gather them all!
In His lifetime on earth He was a great gatherer of the weaker sort, and now that He dwells in heaven, His loving heart yearns towards the meek and contrite, the timid and feeble, the fearful and fainting here below.
How gently did He gather me to Himself, to His truth, to His blood, to His love! With what effectual grace did He compel me to come to Himself! Since my conversion, how frequently has He restored me from my wanderings, and once again folded me within the circle of His everlasting arms! The best of all is, that He does it all Himself personally, not delegating the task of love—but condescending Himself to rescue and preserve His most unworthy servant. How shall I love Him enough—or serve Him worthily? I would gladly make His name great unto the ends of the earth—but what can my feebleness do for Him? Great Shepherd, add to Your mercies this one more—a heart to love You more truly as I ought!
October 18 — Morning
"Your paths drop fatness." Psalm 65:11
Many are "the paths of the Lord" which "drop fatness," but an especial one is the path of prayer. No believer, who is much in the closet, will have need to cry, "My leanness, my leanness! Woe unto me!" Starving souls live at a distance from the mercy-seat, and become like the parched fields in times of drought. Prevalence with God in wrestling prayer is sure to make the believer strong—if not happy.
The nearest place to the gate of heaven—is the throne of the heavenly grace. Much alone with Jesus—and you will have much assurance; little alone with Jesus—and your religion will be shallow, polluted with many doubts and fears, and not sparkling with the joy of the Lord. Since the soul-enriching path of prayer is open to the very weakest saint; since no high attainments are required; since you are not bidden to come because you are an advanced saint—but freely invited if you are a saint at all; see to it, dear reader, that you are often in the way of private devotion. Be much on your knees, for so Elijah drew the rain upon famished Israel's fields.
There is another especial path dropping with fatness to those who walk therein, it is the secret walk of communion with Jesus. Oh! the delights of fellowship with Jesus! Earth has no words which can set forth the holy calm of a soul leaning on Jesus' bosom. Few Christians understand it, they live in the lowlands—and seldom climb to the top of Nebo; they live in the outer court—they do not enter the holy place, they take not up the privilege of priesthood. At a distance they see the sacrifice—but they do not sit down with the priest to eat thereof, and to enjoy the fat of the burnt offering. But, reader, sit ever under the shadow of Jesus; come up to that palm tree, and take hold of the branches thereof; let your beloved be unto you as the apple-tree among the trees of the woods, and you shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness. O Jesus, visit us with Your salvation!
October 18 — Evening
"Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice." 1 Samuel 15:22
Saul had been commanded to utterly slay all the Amalekites and their cattle. Instead of doing so, he preserved the king, and allowed his people to take the best of the oxen and of the sheep. When called to account for this, he declared that he did it with a view of offering sacrifice to God; but Samuel met him at once with the assurance that sacrifices were no excuse for an act of direct rebellion.
The sentence before us is worthy to be printed in letters of gold, and to be hung up before the eyes of the present idolatrous generation, who are very fond of the fineries of will-worship—but utterly neglect the laws of God. Be it ever in your remembrance, that to keep strictly in the path of your Savior's command is better than any outward form of religion; and to hearken to His precept with an attentive ear is better than to bring the fat of rams, or any other precious thing to lay upon His altar. If you are failing to keep the least of Christ's commands to His disciples, I pray you be disobedient no longer. All the pretensions you make of attachment to your Master, and all the devout rituals which you may perform, are no recompense for disobedience. "To obey," even in the slightest and smallest thing, "is better than sacrifice," however pompous.
Do not talk of Gregorian chants, sumptuous robes, incense, and banners; the first thing which God requires of His child is obedience; and though you should give your body to be burned, and all your goods to feed the poor—yet if you do not hearken to the Lord's precepts, all your formalities shall profit you nothing. It is a blessed thing to be as teachable as a little child—but it is a much more blessed thing when one has been taught the lesson—to carry it out to the letter. How many adorn their temples, and decorate their priests—but refuse to obey the Word of the Lord! My soul, do not come into their practice.
October 19 — Morning
"Babes in Christ." 1 Corinthians 3:1
Are you mourning, believer, because you are so weak in the divine life—because your faith is so little, your love so feeble? Cheer up, for you have cause for gratitude. Remember that in some things you are equal to the greatest and most full-grown Christian. You are as much bought with Christ's precious blood, as he is. You are as much an adopted child of God, as any other believer. An infant is as truly a child of its parents, as is the full-grown man. You are as completely justified, for your justification is not a thing of degrees—your little faith has made you every whit justified. You have as much right to the precious things of the covenant, as the most advanced believers, for your right to covenant mercies lies not in your growth—but in the covenant itself; and your faith in Jesus is not the measure—but the token of your inheritance in Him. You are as rich as the richest, if not in enjoyment—yet in real possession.
The smallest star that gleams—is set in heaven; the faintest ray of light—has affinity with the great orb of day. In the family register of glory—the small and the great are written with the same pen. You are as dear to your Father's heart—as the greatest in the family. Jesus is very tender over you. You are like the smoking flax; a rougher spirit would say, "put out that smoking flax, it fills the room with an offensive odor!" But He will not quench the smoking flax. You are like a bruised reed; and any less tender hand than that of the Chief Musician, would tread upon you or throw you away—but He will never break the bruised reed.
Instead of being downcast by reason of what you are, you should triumph in Christ. Am I but little in Israel? Yet in Christ I am made to sit in heavenly places. Am I poor in faith? Still in Jesus I am heir of all things. If the root of the matter is in me—I will rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the God of my salvation!
October 19 — Evening
"God, my Maker, who gives songs in the night." Job 35:10
Any man can sing in the day. When the cup is full—man draws inspiration from it. When wealth rolls in abundance around him—any man can praise the God who gives a plenteous harvest. It is easy enough for an Aeolian harp to whisper music when the winds blow—the difficulty is for music to swell forth when no wind is stirring. It is easy to sing when we can read the notes by daylight; but he is skillful who sings when there is not a ray of light to read by—who sings from his heart.
No man can make a song in the night of himself; he may attempt it—but he will find that a song in the night must be divinely inspired. Let all things go well, I can weave songs, fashioning them wherever I go out into the flowers that grow upon my path; but put me in a desert, where no green thing grows, and with what shall I frame a hymn of praise to God? How shall a mortal man make a crown for the Lord—where there are no jewels? Let but this voice be clear, and this body full of health—and I can sing God's praise. But silence my tongue, lay me upon the bed of languishing, and how shall I then chant God's high praises, unless He Himself gives me the song? No, it is not in man's power to sing when all is adverse, unless an altar-coal shall touch his lips!
It was a divine song, which Habakkuk sang, when in the night he said, "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength!" Then, since our Maker gives songs in the night, let us wait upon Him for the music. O chief musician, let us not remain songless because affliction is upon us—but tune our lips to the melody of thanksgiving!
October 20 — Morning
"Grow up into Him in all things." Ephesians 4:15
Many Christians remain stunted and dwarfed in spiritual things, so as to present the same appearance year after year. No up-springing of advanced and refined spirituality is manifest in them. They exist—but do not "grow up into Him in all things." But should we rest content with being in the "green blade," when we might advance to "the ear," and eventually ripen into the "full grain in the ear?" Should we be satisfied to believe in Christ, and to say, "I am safe," without wishing to know in our own experience more of the fullness which is to be found in Him. It should not be so; we should, as good traders in heaven's market, covet to be enriched in the knowledge of Jesus.
It is all very well to keep other men's vineyards—but we must not neglect our own spiritual growth and ripening. Why should it always be winter time in our hearts? We must have our seed time, it is true—but O for a spring time—yes, a summer season, which shall give promise of an early harvest. If we would ripen in grace, we must live near to Jesus—in His presence—ripened by the sunshine of His smiles. We must hold sweet communion with Him. We must leave the distant view of His face and come near, as John did, and pillow our head on His bosom; then shall we find ourselves advancing in holiness, in love, in faith, in hope—yes, in every precious grace.
As the sun rises first on mountain-tops and gilds them with his light, and presents one of the most charming sights to the eye of the traveler; so is it one of the most delightful contemplations in the world to mark the glow of the Spirit's light on the head of some saint, who has risen up in spiritual stature, like Saul, above his fellows, until, like a mighty Alp, snow-capped, he reflects first among the chosen, the beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and bears the sheen of His effulgence high aloft for all to see, and seeing it, to glorify His Father who is in heaven!
October 20 — Evening
"Keep not back." Isaiah 43:6
Although this message referred to the seed of Israel, it may profitably be a summons to ourselves. Backward we are naturally to all good things, and it is a lesson of grace to learn to go forward in the ways of God.
Reader, are you unconverted—but do you desire to trust in the Lord Jesus? Then keep not back. Love invites you, the promises secure you success, the precious blood prepares the way. Let not sins or fears hinder you—but come to Jesus just as you are.
Do you long to pray? Would you pour out your heart before the Lord? Keep not back. The mercy-seat is prepared for such as need mercy; a sinner's cries will prevail with God. You are invited, nay, you are commanded to pray, come therefore with boldness to the throne of grace.
Dear friend, are you already saved? Then keep not back from union with the Lord's people. Neglect not the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper. You may be of a timid disposition—but you must strive against it, lest it lead you into disobedience. There is a sweet promise made to those who confess Christ—by no means miss it, lest you come under the condemnation of those who deny Him.
If you have talents—keep not back from using them. Do not hoard your wealth, nor waste your time; do not let your abilities rust, nor your influence be unused. Jesus kept not back—imitate Him by being foremost in self-denials and self-sacrifices.
Keep not back from close communion with God, from boldly appropriating covenant blessings, from advancing in the divine life, from prying into the precious mysteries of the love of Christ.
Neither, beloved friend, be guilty of keeping others back by your coldness, harshness, or suspicions. For Jesus' sake go forward yourself, and encourage others to do the like. Hell and the bands of superstition and infidelity are forward to the fight. O soldiers of the cross, keep not back!
October 21 — Morning
"The love of Christ constrains us." 2 Corinthians 5:14
How much you owe unto your Lord! Has He ever done anything for you? Has He forgiven your sins? Has He covered you with a robe of righteousness? Has He set your feet upon a rock? Has He established your goings? Has He prepared heaven for you? Has He prepared you for heaven? Has He written your name in His book of life? Has He given you countless blessings? Has He laid up for you a store of mercies, which eye has not seen nor ear heard?
Then do something for Jesus, which is worthy of His love. Give not a mere wordy offering to a dying Redeemer. How will you feel when your Master comes, if you have to confess that you did nothing for Him—but kept your love shut up, like a stagnant pool, not flowing forth to His work. Out on such love as that!
What do men think of a love which never shows itself in action? Why, they say, "Open rebuke is better than secret love." Who will accept a love so weak—that it does not actuate you to a single deed of self-denial, of generosity, of heroism, or zeal! Think how He has loved you, and given Himself for you! Do you know the power of that love? Then let it be like a rushing mighty wind to your soul—to sweep out the clouds of your worldliness, and clear away the mists of sin.
"For Christ's sake" be this the tongue of fire that shall sit upon you; "for Christ's sake" be this the divine rapture, the heavenly affection to bear you aloft from earth; the divine spirit that shall make you bold as lions and swift as eagles in your Lord's service. Love should give wings to the feet of service, and strength to the arms of labor.
Fixed on God with a constancy that is not to be shaken, resolute to honor Him with a determination that is not to be turned aside, and pressing on with an ardor never to be wearied—let us manifest the constraints of love to Jesus. May the divine loadstone draw us heavenward towards itself!
October 21 — Evening
"Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?" Luke 24:38
"Why do you say—My way is hidden from the Lord, and my claim is ignored by my God?" The Lord cares for all things, and the lowliest creatures share in His universal providence. But His particular providence is over His saints. "The angel of the Lord encamps round about those who fear Him." "Precious shall their blood be in His sight." "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
Let the fact that, while He is the Savior of all men, He is specially the Savior of those who believe, cheer and comfort you. You are His peculiar care; His regal treasure which He guards as the apple of His eye; His vineyard over which He watches day and night.
"The very hairs of your head are all numbered." Let the thought of His special love to you be a spiritual pain-killer, a dear quietus to your woe! "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." God says that as much to you as to any saint of old. "Fear not, I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward." We lose much consolation by the habit of reading His promises for the whole church, instead of taking them directly home to ourselves. Believer, grasp the divine Word with a personal, appropriating faith. Think that you hear Jesus say, "I have prayed for you—that your faith fail not." See Him walking on the waters of your trouble, for He is there, and He is saying, "Fear not, it is I; do not be afraid." Oh, those sweet words of Christ! May the Holy Spirit make you feel them as spoken to you. Forget others for awhile—accept the voice of Jesus as addressed to you, and say, "Jesus whispers consolation; I cannot refuse it; I will sit under His shadow with great delight!"
October 22 — Morning
"I will love them freely." Hosea 14:4
This sentence is a body of divinity in miniature. He who understands its meaning, is a theologian; and he who can dive into its fullness, is a true spiritual master. It is a summary of the glorious message of salvation, which was delivered to us in Christ Jesus our Redeemer.
The meaning hinges upon the word "freely." This is the glorious, the suitable, the divine way by which love streams from heaven to earth—a spontaneous love flowing forth to those who neither deserved it, purchased it, nor sought after it. It is, indeed, the only way in which God can love such as we are.
The text is a death-blow to all sorts of fitness, "I will love them freely." Now, if there were any fitness necessary in us—then He would not love us freely, at least, this would be a mitigation and a drawback to the freeness of it. But it stands, "I will love you freely."
We complain, "Lord, my heart is so hard." "I will love you freely."
"But I do not feel my need of Christ as I could wish." "I will not love you because you feel your need—I will love you freely."
"But I do not feel that softening of spirit which I could desire." Remember, the softening of spirit is not a condition, for there are no conditions; the covenant of grace has no conditionality whatever; so that we without any fitness may venture upon the promise of God which was made to us in Christ Jesus, when He said, "He who believes on Him is not condemned."
It is blessed to know that the grace of God is free to us at all times, without preparation, without fitness, without money, and without price!
"I will love them freely." These words invite backsliders to return—indeed, the text was specially written for such, "I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely." Backslider! surely the generosity of the promise will at once break your heart, and you will return, and seek your injured Father's face!
October 22 — Evening
"The Spirit will take from what is Mine—and make it known to you." John 16:15
There are times when all the promises and a doctrines of the Bible are of no avail, unless a gracious hand shall apply them to us. We are thirsty—but too faint to crawl to the water-brook. When a soldier is wounded in battle—it is of little use for him to know that there are those at the hospital who can bind up his wounds, and medicines there to ease all the pains which he now suffers—what he needs is to be carried there, and to have the remedies applied.
It is thus with our souls, and to meet this need there is the Spirit of truth, who takes of the things of Jesus, and applies them to us. Do not think that Christ has placed His joys on heavenly shelves—that we may climb up to them for ourselves. No, He draws near, and sheds His peace abroad in our hearts.
O Christian, if you are laboring under deep distresses, your Father does not give you promises, and then leave you to draw them up from the Word like buckets from a well—but the promises He has written in the Word He will write anew on your heart. He will manifest His love to you, and by His blessed Spirit, dispel your cares and troubles.
Be it known unto you, O mourner, that it is God's prerogative to wipe every tear from the eye of His people. The good Samaritan did not say, "Here is the wine, and here is the oil for you." No, he actually poured in the oil and the wine. Just so, Jesus not only gives you the sweet wine of the promise—but He holds the golden chalice to your lips, and pours the life-blood into your mouth!
The poor, sick, way-worn pilgrim is not merely strengthened to walk—but he is borne on eagles' wings. Glorious gospel! which provides everything for the helpless; which draws near to us—when we cannot reach after it; and brings us grace—before we seek for grace! Here is as much glory in the giving as in the gift. Happy people who have the Holy Spirit to bring Jesus to them!
October 23 — Morning
"Will you also go away?" John 6:67
Many have forsaken Christ, and have walked no more with Him; but what reason have YOU to make a change?
Has there been any reason for it in the past? Has not Jesus proved Himself all-sufficient? He appeals to you this morning, "Have I been a wilderness unto you?" When your soul has simply trusted Jesus, have you ever been confounded? Have you not up until now found your Lord to be a compassionate and generous friend to you; and has not simple faith in Him given you all the peace your spirit could desire? Can you so much as dream of a better friend—than He has been to you? Is so, then change not the old and tried—for new and false!
As for the present, can that compel you to leave Christ? When we are hard beset with this world, or with the severer trials within the family—we find it a most blessed thing to pillow our head upon the bosom of our Savior. This is the joy we have today that we are saved in Him; and if this joy is satisfying, why should we think of changing? Who barters gold for dross? We will not turn away from the sun—until we find a better light; nor will we leave our Lord until a brighter lover shall appear. Since this can never be, we will hold Him with an immortal grasp—and bind His name as a seal upon our arm.
As for the future, can you suggest anything which can arise that shall render it necessary for you to mutiny, or desert the old flag to serve under another captain? We do not think so. If life is long—He changes not. If we are poor, what better than to have Christ who can make us rich? When we are sick, what more do we want than Jesus to make our bed in our sickness? When we die, is it not written that "neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" We say with Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go!"
October 23 — Evening
"Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation!" Luke 22:46
When is the Christian most liable to sleep?
It is when his temporal circumstances are prosperous. Have you not found it so? When you had daily troubles to take to the throne of grace, were you not more wakeful than you are now? Easy roads—make sleepy travelers!
Another dangerous time is when all goes pleasantly in spiritual matters. Bunyan's "Christian" did not sleep when lions were in the way, or when he was wading through the river, or when fighting with Apollyon! But when he had climbed half way up the Hill Difficulty, and came to a delightful arbor—he sat down, and shortly fell asleep—to his great sorrow and loss.
The enchanted ground is a place of balmy breezes, laden with fragrant perfumes and soft influences, all tending to lull pilgrims to sleep. Remember Bunyan's description, "Then they came to a warm arbor, promising much refreshing to the weary pilgrims; for it was beautified with flowers, and was furnished with a soft couch, where the weary might lean." "The arbor was called the Slothful's Friend, and was made on purpose to allure, if it might be, some of the pilgrims to take up their rest there when weary." Depend upon it—it is in easy places that men shut their eyes and wander into the dreamy enchanted ground.
Old Erskine wisely remarked, "I like a roaring devil—better than a sleeping devil." There is no temptation half so dangerous—as not being tempted. The disciples fell asleep after they had seen Jesus transfigured on the mountaintop. Take heed, joyous Christian, spiritual experiences are near neighbors to temptations! Be as happy as you will—only be watchful!
October 24 — Morning
"The trees of the Lord are full of sap." Psalm 104:16
Without sap—the tree cannot flourish, or even live. Vitality is essential to a Christian. There must be life—a vital principle infused into us by the Holy Spirit—or we cannot be trees of the Lord. The mere name of being a Christian is but a dead thing—we must be filled with the divine life.
This life is mysterious. We do not understand the circulation of the sap, by what force it rises, and by what power it descends again. So the spiritual life within us is a sacred mystery. Regeneration is wrought by the Holy Spirit entering into man and becoming man's life; and this divine life in a believer afterwards feeds upon Christ, and is thus sustained by divine food—but whence it comes and where it goes who shall explain to us?
What a hidden thing the sap is! The roots go searching through the soil with their little spongioles—but we cannot see them suck out the various nutrients, or transmute the mineral into the vegetable; this work is done down in the dark. Our root is Christ Jesus, and our life is hid in Him; this is the secret of the Lord. The foundation of the Christian life—is as secret as the life itself.
How permanently active is the sap in the cedar! In the Christian—the divine life is always full of energy—not always in fruit-bearing—but in inward operations. The believer's graces are all in constant motion! Spiritual life never ceases to palpitate within. He is not always working for God—but his heart is always living upon Him.
As the sap manifests itself in producing the foliage and fruit of the tree, so with a truly healthy Christian, his grace is externally manifested in his walk and conversation. If you talk with him—he cannot help speaking about Jesus. If you notice his actions—you will see that he has been with Jesus. He has so much sap within, that it must fill his conduct and conversation with life!
October 24 — Evening
"He poured water into a basin—and began to wash His disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him!" John 13:5
The Lord Jesus loves His people so much—that every day He is still doing for them, much that is analogous to the washing of their soiled feet. He accepts their poorest actions. He feels their deepest sorrows. He hears their slenderest wishes. He forgives their every transgression. In one sense, He is still their Servant—as well as their Friend and Master.
He still humbly and patiently goes among His people with the basin and the towel. He does this when day by day—He cleanses them from their constant infirmities and sins.
Last night, when you bowed the knee, you mournfully confessed your sinful conduct; and even tonight, you must mourn afresh that you have fallen again into the same folly and sin, from which special grace delivered you long ago—and yet Jesus will have great patience with you! He will hear your confession of sin; He will say, "I will—be clean!" He will again apply the blood of sprinkling, and speak peace to your conscience, and remove every vile spot!
What condescending patience there is—when the Savior bears with the oft recurring follies of His wayward disciple—day by day, and hour by hour, washing away the multiplied transgressions of His erring, but yet beloved child! To endure the constant follies and sins of His people—this is divine indeed!
While we find comfort and peace in our Lord's daily cleansing, its legitimate influence upon us will be to increase our watchfulness, and quicken our desire for holiness! Is it so with you?
October 25 — Morning
"Because of the truth, which lives in us—and will be with us forever." 2 John 2
Once let the truth of God obtain an entrance into the human heart, and subdue the whole man unto itself—no human or infernal power can dislodge it! We do not entertain it as a guest, but as the master of the house. He is no Christian, who does not thus believe. Those who feel the vital power of the gospel, and know the might of the Holy Spirit as He opens, applies, and seals the Word, would sooner be torn to pieces—than forsake the gospel of their salvation.
What thousands of mercies are enrapt up in the assurance that the truth will be with us forever; will be our living support, our dying comfort, our rising song, our eternal glory! This is Christian privilege, without it our faith would be of little worth. Some truths we outgrow and leave behind, for they are but rudiments and lessons for beginners. But we cannot thus deal with Divine truth, for though it is sweet food for babes, it is in the highest sense strong meat for men.
The truth that we are sinners is painfully with us to humble and make us watchful. The more blessed truth that whoever believes on the Lord Jesus shall be saved—abides with us as our hope and joy. Experience, so far from loosening our hold of the doctrines of grace, has knit us to them more and more firmly. Our grounds and motives for believing are now more strong, more numerous than ever, and we have reason to expect that it will be so until in death we clasp the Savior in our arms!
Wherever this abiding love of truth can be discovered—we are bound to exercise our love. No narrow circle can contain our gracious sympathies. As wide as the election of grace—must be our communion of heart. Much of error may be mingled with truth received, let us war with the error—but still love the brother for the measure of truth which we see in him. Above all let us love and spread the truth ourselves!
October 25 — Evening
"Ruth left and entered the field to gather grain behind the harvesters. She happened to be in the portion of land belonging to Boaz, who was from Elimelech's family." Ruth 2:3
"She happened." Yes, it seemed nothing but an accident—but how divinely was it overruled! Ruth had gone forth with her mother's blessing, under the care of her mother's God—to humble but honorable toil; and the providence of God was guiding her every step! Little did she know, that amid the sheaves—she would find a husband; and that he would make her the joint owner of all those broad acres; and that she a poor foreigner, would become an ancestor of the great Messiah!
God is very good to those who trust in Him, and often surprises them with unlooked for blessings. Little do we know what may happen to us in the future; but this sweet fact should cheer us—that nothing which is really good for us—shall be withheld from us!
The word "chance" is banished from the Christian's vocabulary—for we see the hand of God in everything. The trivial events of today or tomorrow, may involve consequences of the highest importance. Take comfort—our Lord deals as graciously with all His servants—as He did with Ruth!
How blessed would it be, if, in wandering in the field of meditation tonight—we would "happen" to come upon the place where our Kinsman Redeemer will reveal Himself to us! O Spirit of God—guide us to Him. We would sooner glean in His field—than bear away the whole harvest from any other! O for the footsteps of His flock, which may conduct us to the green pastures where He dwells!
This is a weary world when Jesus is away—we could better do without sun and moon—than without Him. But how divinely fair all things become—in the glory of His presence! Our souls know the virtue which dwells in Jesus, and can never be content without Him. We will wait in prayer this night—until we "happen" to come upon a part of the field belonging to Jesus—wherein He will manifest Himself to us!
October 26 — Morning
"You expected much—but see, it turned out to be little. And when you brought your harvest home—I blew it away! Why? Because My house lies in ruins, says the Lord Almighty, while you are all busy building your own fine houses!" Haggai 1:9
Churlish souls stint their contributions to the ministry and missionary operations, and call such saving 'good economy'. Little do they dream, that they are thus impoverishing themselves. Their excuse, is that they must care for their own families—yet they forget that to neglect the house of God—is the sure way to bring ruin upon their own houses!
Our God has a method in providence—by which He can bless our endeavors beyond our expectation; or can defeat our plans to our confusion and dismay! By a turn of His hand—He can steer our vessel in a profitable channel, or run it aground in poverty and bankruptcy!
It is the teaching of Scripture, that the Lord enriches the liberal—and leaves the miserly to find out, that withholding tends to poverty. In a very wide sphere of observation, I have noticed that the most generous Christians of my acquaintance, have been always the most happy, and almost invariably the most prosperous. I have seen the liberal giver rise to wealth of which he never dreamed; and I have as often seen the miserly, ungenerous churl descend to poverty by the very stinginess by which he thought to rise.
Men trust good stewards with larger and larger sums, and so it frequently is with the Lord; He gives by cartloads to those who give by bushels. Where wealth is not bestowed—the Lord makes the little to be much—by the contentment which the sanctified heart feels in a portion of which has been dedicated to the Lord. Selfishness looks first at home—but godliness seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Yet in the long run selfishness is loss—and godliness is great gain. It needs faith to act towards our God with an open hand—but surely He deserves it from us. All that we can do, is a very poor acknowledgment of our amazing indebtedness to His goodness!
October 26 — Evening
"The rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows again to the sea." Ecclesiastes 1:7
Every earthly thing is on the move. Time knows nothing of rest. The solid earth is a rolling ball, and the great sun himself is a star obediently fulfilling its course around some greater luminary. Tides move the sea, winds stir the airy ocean, friction wears the rock—change and death rule everywhere!
The sea is not a miser's storehouse for a wealth of waters, for as by one force the waters flow into it, by another they are lifted from it. Men are born but to die—everything is hurry, worry, and vexation! "Everything under the sun is meaningless, like chasing the wind!" Ecclesiastes 1:14
Friend of the unchanging Jesus—what a joy it is to reflect upon your changeless heritage! Your sea of bliss will be forever full—since God Himself shall pour eternal rivers of pleasure into it. We seek an abiding city beyond the skies—and we shall not be disappointed.
The passage before us may well teach us gratitude. Old Father Ocean is a great receiver—but he is a generous distributor. What the rivers bring to him—he returns to the earth in the form of clouds and rain. That man is out of joint with the universe, who takes all—but makes no return. To give to others—is but sowing seed for ourselves. He who is so good a steward as to be willing to use his substance for his Lord, shall be entrusted with more.
Friend of Jesus, are you rendering to Him according to the benefit received? Much has been given you—what is your fruit? Have you done all? Can you not do more? To be selfish—is to be wicked. Suppose the ocean gave up none of its watery treasure—it would bring ruin upon our race! God forbid that any of us should follow the selfish and destructive policy of living unto ourselves. Jesus pleased not Himself. All fullness dwells in Him—but of His fullness have all we received. O for Jesus' spirit, that henceforth we may live not unto ourselves!
October 27 — Morning
"It is a faithful saying." 2 Timothy 2:11
Paul has four of these "faithful sayings."
The first occurs in 1 Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
The next is in 1 Timothy 4:6, "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance."
The third is in 2 Timothy 2:12, "It is a faithful saying—If we suffer with Him—we shall also reign with Him."
The fourth is in Titus 3:3, "This is a faithful saying, that those who have believed in God—might be careful to maintain good works."
We may trace a connection between these faithful sayings.
The first one lays the foundation of our eternal salvation in the free grace of God, as shown to us in the mission of the great Redeemer.
The next affirms the double blessedness which we obtain through this salvation—the blessings of the upper and nether springs—of time and of eternity.
The third shows one of the duties to which the chosen people are called; we are ordained to suffer for Christ with the promise that "if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him."
The last sets forth the active form of Christian service, bidding us diligently to maintain good works.
Thus we have the root of salvation in free grace; next, the privileges of that salvation in the life which now is, and in that which is to come; and we have also the two great branches of suffering with Christ and serving with Christ, loaded with the fruits of the Spirit.
Treasure up these faithful sayings. Let them be the guides of our life, our comfort, and our instruction. The apostle Paul proved them to be faithful, they are faithful still, not one word shall fall to the ground; they are worthy of all acceptance, let us accept them now, and prove their faithfulness. Let these four faithful sayings be written on the four corners of My house!
October 27 — Evening
"We are all as an unclean thing." Isaiah 64:6
The believer is a new creature; he belongs to a holy generation and a peculiar people; the Spirit of God is in him, and in all respects he is far removed from the natural man. But for all that—the Christian is a sinner still. He is so from the imperfection of his nature—and will continue so to the end of his earthly life.
The black fingers of sin leave smuts upon our fairest robes! Sin mars our repentance upon the wheel, before the great Potter has finished it. Selfishness defiles our tears, and unbelief tampers with our faith. Apart from the merit of Jesus, the best thing we ever did—only swelled the number of our sins! For when we have been most pure in our own sight—yet, like the heavens, we are not pure in God's sight! And as He charged His angels with folly, much more must He charge us with it—even in our most angelic frames of mind.
Our song which thrills to heaven, and seeks to emulate seraphic strains—has human discords in it. Our prayer which moves the arm of God—is still a bruised and battered prayer, and only moves that arm because the sinless One, the great Mediator, has stepped in to take away the sin of our supplication.
The most golden faith or the purest degree of sanctification to which a Christian ever attained on earth—has still so much alloy in it—as to be only worthy of the eternal flames, in itself considered. Every night we look into the mirror—and we see a sinner; and have need confess, "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags!"
Oh, how precious the blood of Christ—to such hearts as ours! How priceless a gift is His perfect righteousness! And how bright the hope of perfect holiness hereafter!
Even now, though sin dwells in us, its power is broken. It has no dominion. It is a broken-backed snake! We are in bitter conflict with it—but it is with a vanquished foe—that we have to deal. In but a little while—we shall enter victoriously into the city where nothing defiles!
October 28 — Morning
"I have chosen you out of the world." John 15:19
Here is distinguishing grace and discriminating regard—for some are made the special objects of divine affection. Do not be afraid to dwell upon this Scriptural doctrine of election. When your mind is most heavy and depressed, you will find it to be a bottle of the richest cordial. Those who doubt the doctrines of grace, or who cast them into the background—miss the richest clusters of Eshcol; they lose the wines on the lees well refined, the fat things full of marrow. There is no balm in Gilead comparable to it! If Jonathan's honey, when but touched enlightened the eyes—this is honey which will enlighten your heart to love and learn the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Eat, and fear not any excess; live upon this choice dainty, and fear not that it will be too delicate a diet. Food from the King's table will hurt none of His courtiers.
Desire to have your mind enlarged, that you may comprehend more and more—the eternal, everlasting, sovereign love of God. When you have mounted as high as election, tarry on its sister mount, the covenant of grace. Covenant engagements are the munitions of stupendous rock behind which we lie entrenched! Covenant engagements with the surety, Christ Jesus, are the quiet resting-places of trembling spirits.
"His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the raging flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
This still is all my strength and stay."
If Jesus undertook to bring me to glory, and if the Father promised that He would give me to the Son to be a part of the infinite reward of the travail of His soul—then, my soul, until God Himself shall be unfaithful, until Jesus shall cease to be the truth—you are safe! When David danced before the ark, he told Michal that election made him do so. Come, my soul, exult before the God of grace and leap for joy of heart!
October 28 — Evening
"His head is as the most fine gold, His locks are bushy, and black as a raven." Song of Solomon 5:11
All comparisons fail to set forth the beauty of Jesus—but the spouse uses the best within her reach.
By the 'head' of Jesus we may understand His deity—and the ingot of purest gold is the best conceivable metaphor—but all too poor to describe one so precious, so pure, so dear, so glorious. Jesus is not a grain of gold—but a vast globe of it—a priceless mass of treasure such as earth and heaven cannot excel. The creatures are mere iron and clay—they all shall perish like wood, hay, and stubble—but the ever-living Head of the creation, shall shine on for ever and ever! In Him is no mixture, nor smallest taint of alloy. He is for ever infinitely holy and altogether divine.
The 'bushy locks' depict His manly vigor. There is nothing effeminate in our Beloved. He is the manliest of men. Bold as a lion, laborious as an ox, swift as an eagle. Every conceivable and inconceivable beauty, are to be found in Him—though once He was despised and rejected by men. His 'bushy locks', the glory of His head, are not shorn away, He is eternally crowned with peerless majesty.
The 'black' hair indicates youthful freshness, for Jesus has the dew of His youth upon Him. Others grow languid and grey with age—but He is forever a Priest as was Melchizedek. Others come and go—but He abides as God upon His throne, world without end. We will behold Him tonight and adore Him. Angels are gazing upon Him—His redeemed must not turn away their eyes from Him. Where else is there such a Beloved? O for an hour's fellowship with Him! Away, you intruding cares! Jesus draws me—and I run after Him!
October 29 — Morning
"This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, etc." Matthew 6:9
This prayer begins where all true prayer must commence, with the spirit of adoption, "Our Father." There is no acceptable prayer until we can say, "I will arise, and go unto my Father." This child-like spirit soon perceives the grandeur of the Father "in heaven," and ascends to devout adoration, "Hallowed be Your name." The child lisping, "Abba, Father," grows into the cherub crying, "Holy, Holy, Holy!"
There is but a step from rapturous worship—to the glowing missionary spirit, which is a sure outgrowth of filial love and reverent adoration, "may Your kingdom come, may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Next follows the heartfelt expression of dependence upon God, "Give us this day our daily bread."
Being further illuminated by the Spirit, he discovers that he is not only dependent—but sinful, hence he entreats for mercy, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."
And being pardoned, having the righteousness of Christ imputed, and knowing his acceptance with God, he humbly supplicates for holy perseverance, "Lead us not into temptation." The man who is really forgiven, is anxious not to offend again; the possession of justification leads to an anxious desire for sanctification. "Forgive us our debts," that is justification; "Lead us not into temptation—but deliver us from evil," that is sanctification in its negative and positive forms.
As the result of all this, there follows a triumphant ascription of praise, "Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen." We rejoice that our King reigns in providence and shall reign in grace, even unto the ends of the earth, and of His dominion there shall be no end.
Thus from a sense of adoption, up to fellowship with our reigning Lord, this short model of prayer conducts the soul. Lord, teach us thus to pray!
October 29 — Evening
"But they did not know who He was." Luke 24:16
The disciples ought to have recognized Jesus, they had heard His voice so often, and gazed upon that marred face so frequently, that it is amazing that they did not know Him. Yet is it not so with you also? Have you seen Jesus lately? You have been to His table, and you have not met Him there. You are in a dark trouble this evening, and though He plainly says, "It is I, do not be afraid," yet you cannot recognize Him. Alas! our eyes are blinded! We know His voice; we have looked into His face; we have leaned our head upon His bosom—and yet, though Christ is very near us, we are saying, "O that I knew where I might find Him!"
We should know Jesus, for we have the Scriptures to reflect His image, and yet how possible it is for us to open that precious book—and have no glimpse of the Well-beloved! Dear child of God, are you in that state? Jesus feeds among the lilies of the Word, and you walk among those lilies—and yet you you do not see Him! He always walks through the glades of Scripture, and desires to commune with His people, as the Father did with Adam in the cool of the day; and yet you are in the garden of Scripture—but cannot see Him, though He is always there!
Why do we not see Him? It must be ascribed in our case, as in the disciples', to unbelief. They evidently did not expect to see Jesus—and therefore they did not recognize Him. To a great extent in spiritual things—we get what we expect of the Lord. Faith alone can bring us to see Jesus. Make it your prayer, "Lord, open my eyes—that I may see my Savior present with me!" It is a blessed thing to want to see Him. But oh! it is better far to gaze upon Him! To those who seek Him—He is kind; but to those who find Him—He is beyond expression dear!
October 30 — Morning
"I will praise You, O Lord." Psalm 9:1
Praise should always follow answered prayer; as the mist of earth's gratitude rises when the sun of heaven's love warms the ground. Has the Lord been gracious to you, and inclined His ear to the voice of your supplication? Then praise Him as long as you live. Let the ripe fruit drop upon the fertile soil from which it drew its life. Do not deny a song—to Him who has answered your prayer and given you the desire of your heart. To be silent over God's mercies—is to incur the guilt of ingratitude; it is to act as basely as the nine lepers, who after they had been cured of their leprosy—did not return to give thanks unto the healing Lord.
To forget to praise God—is to refuse to benefit ourselves; for praise, like prayer, is one great means of promoting the growth of the spiritual life. It helps to remove our burdens, to excite our hope, to increase our faith. It is a healthful and invigorating exercise which quickens the pulse of the believer, and nerves him for fresh enterprises in his Master's service.
To bless God for mercies received, is also the way to benefit our fellow-men; "the humble shall hear thereof and be glad." Others who have been in like circumstances shall take comfort if we can say, "Oh! magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together; this poor man cried, and the Lord heard him!" Weak hearts will be strengthened, and drooping saints will be revived as they listen to our "songs of deliverance." Their doubts and fears will be rebuked, as we teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. They too shall "sing in the ways of the Lord," when they hear us magnify His holy name.
Praise is the most heavenly of Christian duties. The angels do not pray—but they cease not to praise both day and night; and the redeemed, clothed in white robes, with palm-branches in their hands, are never weary of singing the new song, "Worthy is the Lamb!"
October 30 — Evening
"You who dwell in the gardens, the companions hearken to Your voice—cause me to hear it." Song of Solomon 8:13
My sweet Lord Jesus remembers well the garden of Gethsemane, and although He has left that garden—He now dwells in the garden of His church—there He unbosoms Himself to those who keep His blessed company. That voice of love with which He speaks to His beloved, is more musical than the harps of heaven. There is a depth of melodious love within it, which leaves all human music far behind. Ten of thousands on earth, and millions above—are indulged with its harmonious accents. Some whom I well know, and whom I greatly envy, are at this moment hearkening to that beloved voice! O that I were a partaker of their joys! It is true, that some of these are poor, others bedridden, and some near the gates of death—but O my Lord, I would cheerfully starve with them, pine with them, or die with them—if I might but hear Your voice!
Once I did hear it often—but I have grieved Your Spirit. Return unto me in compassion, and once again say unto me, "I am your salvation!" No other voice can content me; I know Your voice, and cannot be deceived by another, let me hear it, I beg you. I know not what You will say, neither do I make any condition, but O my Beloved, do but let me hear You speak, and if it be a rebuke—I will bless You for it. Perhaps to cleanse my dull ear—may need an operation very grievous to the flesh—but let it cost what it may—I still have the one consuming desire, cause me to hear Your voice! Bore my ear afresh; pierce my ear with Your harshest notes, only do not permit me to continue deaf to Your calls. Tonight, Lord, grant Your unworthy one his desire, for I am Yours—and You have bought me with Your blood. You have opened my eye to see You, and the sight has saved me. Lord, open You my ear! I have read Your heart, now let me hear Your lips!
October 31 — Morning
"Renew a right spirit within me." Psalm 51:10
A backslider, if there is a spark of spiritual life left in him—will groan after restoration. In this renewal, the same exercise of grace is required—as at our conversion. We needed repentance then; we certainly need it now. We needed faith that we might come to Christ at first; only the like faith can bring us to Jesus now. We needed a word from the Most High, a word from the lip of the loving One, to end our fears then; we shall soon discover, when under a sense of present sin, that we need it now. No man can be renewed without as real and true a manifestation of the Holy Spirit's energy—just as he felt at first, because the work is as great, and flesh and blood are as much in the way now—as ever they were.
Let your personal weakness, O Christian, be an argument to make you pray earnestly to your God for help. Remember, David when he felt himself to be powerless, did not fold his arms or close his lips—but he hastened to the mercy-seat with, "renew a right spirit within me." Let not the doctrine that you, unaided, can do nothing, make you sleep; but let it be a goad in your side to drive you with a solemn earnestness to Israel's strong Helper. O that you may have grace to plead with God, as though you pleaded for your very life, "Lord, renew a right spirit within me!" He who sincerely prays to God to do this—will prove his honesty by using the means through which God works. Be much in prayer; live much upon the Word of God; kill the lusts which have driven your Lord from you; be careful to watch over the future uprisings of sin. The Lord has His own appointed ways; sit by the wayside and you will be ready when He passes by. Continue in all those blessed ordinances which will foster and nourish your dying graces; and, knowing that all the power must proceed from Him, cease not to cry, "Renew a right spirit within me!"
October 31 — Evening
"I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought." Hosea 13:5
Yes, Lord, You did indeed know me in my fallen sinful state, and You did even then, choose me for Yourself. When I was loathsome and self-abhorred, You received me as Your child, and You satisfied my craving needs. Blessed forever be Your name—for this free, rich, abounding mercy!
Since then, my inward experience has often been a wilderness; but You have owned me still as Your beloved, and poured streams of Your love and grace into me to gladden me, and make me fruitful. Yes, when my outward circumstances have been at the worst, and I have wandered in a land of drought, Your sweet presence has solaced me. You have known my soul in adversities, for no affliction dims the luster of Your love.
Most gracious Lord, I magnify You for all Your faithfulness to me in trying circumstances; and I deplore that I should at any time have forgotten You and been exalted in heart—when I have owed all to Your gentleness and love. Have mercy upon Your servant in this thing!
My soul, if Jesus thus acknowledged you in your low estate, be sure that you own both Himself and His cause, now that you are in your prosperity. Do not be lifted up by your worldly successes—so as to be ashamed of the truth or of the poor church with which you have been associated. Follow Jesus into the wilderness—bear the cross with Him when the heat of persecution grows hot. He owned you, O my soul, in your poverty and shame—never be so treacherous as to be ashamed of Him! O for more shame at the thought of being ashamed of my best Beloved! Jesus, my soul cleaves to You!