Food for the Soul

James Smith, 1867

The soul needs food as well as the body not only in set seasons, or in public ordinances but frequently and privately. Here then, is spiritual food in small portions with which the soul may be fed, and the time not be missed.

Every portion leads to Jesus or brings something from Jesus; for the author has leaned in the school of experience, that Jesus alone will satisfy and sanctify the believer's heart. The more we have to do with Jesus the better for us, and the more glorifying to God.

Gracious Lord, honor this little book by making it the means of honoring your beloved Son, and feeding the souls of your beloved people.

Oh, to exalt the Lord Jesus more and more! Oh, to be made more like Jesus from day to day! Sacred Spirit, use this little book to so great and glorious a purpose!


"Your heavenly Father knows!" Matthew 6:32

Yes, believer, your heavenly Father knows . . .
  the thoughts that trouble you,
  the needs that oppress you,
  the sins that grieve you,
  the enemies that oppose you,
  the domestic trials that distress you,
  the financial troubles that bewilder you,
  the shattered nerves which alarm you, and
  the complicated sorrows that cast you down.

He knows for He is God.
Knowing, He sympathizes with you for He is your Father.
Being full of paternal sympathy, He will . . .
  strengthen you,
  comfort you, and
  ultimately deliver you!



"When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold!" Job 23:10

The Lord puts all of His people into His furnace! Some are long in melting and refining and with others the work is quick. But long or short, the Lord will keep His people in the fire until they are purified! A genuine Christian loses nothing in the furnace, but his dross. He comes forth bettered, purified, refined. He is more humble, his faith is more simple, and his life more spiritual. He shines like molten gold, and reflects the image of the great Refiner.

"He will sit as a Refiner and Purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver." Malachi 3:3



"We are the children of God!" Romans 8:16

Never let us forget or lose sight of this but let us live, walk, and act under the impression that,
"I am God's child!"

He knows me and knows all about me.

He loves me and loves me with the same love with which He loves His only-begotten Son.

He cares for me and so cares for me that I ought not to be anxious about anything.

He is with me and will never for one moment trust me out of His sight, or out of the reach of His hand.

He appoints my daily lot and will overrule everything for my eternal welfare!



"I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28

Jesus here speaks . . .
  of His sheep,
  of those whom the Father had given Him,
  of those whom the Father drew unto Him,
  of those for whom He died,
  of those who sit at His feet to learn of Him.

Jesus loves His sheep.
Jesus laid down His life for His sheep.
Jesus lives to take care of His sheep.
Jesus will never, on any account, part with His sheep.
He can guard them, and He will surely keep them.
Whoever may perish they never shall.
His Father will not permit it.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit will prevent it.
The love, power, and honor of Jesus combine to render it impossible!



"Men ought always to pray!" Luke 18:1

We have always something to pray for. We may always gain something by praying. The Lord loves to hear us pray and Satan tries to prevent us. The flesh is a great hindrance unto us.

Yet the throne of grace is always open unto us. In any place, in any frame, under any circumstances we may pray, we ought to pray. Importunity in prayer pleases God, and prevails with God. Then let us not faint, let us not be weary, let us not give up praying. If God is not weary of listening to us then we ought not to be weary of asking of Him!



"You shall be free indeed!" John 8:36

That is really, truly, perfectly free!

Yes, Jesus will free me from the power, guilt, and indwelling of sin.
He will deliver me from this present evil world.
He will raise me above the craft, subtlety, and designs of Satan.

He will . . .
introduce me to His Father,
free me from every fetter, and
I shall serve Him day and night in Heaven!

What a blessed freedom, will freedom from sin be! What a glorious freedom will freedom to serve God without weariness, and without imperfection or interruption be! As Jesus is free so shall I soon be!



"He determined to go to Jerusalem!" Luke 9:53

And Jesus well knew the sufferings which would befall Him there! But such was His zeal for God, and such His love to us that He was willing to go anywhere, suffer anything, or do anything that would honor God or do us good.

He went to Jerusalem that we might not go to Hell.
He was condemned that we might be justified.
He was punished that we might go free.
He died that we might have eternal life.

Precious Lord Jesus, may I ever be willing . . .
  to go anywhere for You,
  to do anything for You, or
  to suffer anything in Your cause.



"He shall never see death!" John 8:51

Believer, you have nothing to do with death for you can never die! For you, Jesus has abolished death, by dying for you, and in your stead. You are in Him, and in Him you may fall asleep but you shall never die! Death can have no dominion over you.

As to  . . .
you shall physically die,
  where you shall die,
  or how you shall die
you have no more to do, than you had with when, where, and how you would be born!

Life is your business not death!
Your only concerns are . . .
  living on Christ;
  living for Christ;
  living like Christ; and then,
  living forever with Christ!



"Abide with us!" Luke 24:29

So said the disciples when Jesus was about to leave them and so shall we say, if we know the sweetness of His presence. When Jesus comes and manifests Himself, when He draws out our souls into sweet communion with Himself then . . .
  we enjoy a Heaven on earth,
  our hearts glow with gratitude and burn with love,
  we are filled with joy, and
  dread nothing so much as His leaving us!
Then we cry, "Abide with us!"

Precious Lord Jesus . . .
  come and visit my soul,
  reveal Your glory,
  shed abroad Your love in my heart, and
  draw me into the closest, sweetest communion with Yourself!



"My eyes have seen your salvation!" Luke 2:30

So said Simeon when he saw the child Jesus. Yes, Jesus is God's salvation, and everything necessary to save a sinner is to be found in Him!
His blood atones for our sins.
His righteousness justifies our persons.
His Spirit sanctifies our natures.
His precepts direct our steps.
His promises comfort our hearts.
His peace keeps our minds.
His intercession secures our lives.
His power subdues our foes.
His providence supplies our needs.
His beauty feasts our souls.

Jesus is enough. Jesus is all. Happy sinner, wait on the Lord until you see God's salvation Jesus!



"Now he is comforted!" Luke 16:25

Poor suffering Lazarus had little comfort on earth but he has plenty in Heaven. The discomfort he suffered here must make his comfort there tenfold more sweet!

As it was with him, so will it be with us we shall not lack comfort for long. We have much to comfort us now, even in our worst seasons but the best is yet to come! The God of all comfort, who sends down drops of comfort now will soon call us up to enter into the torrents of the fullness of His joy forever! Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. Soon our sufferings and sorrows will be forever ended!

"God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain!" Revelation 21:4



"He has opened my eyes!" John 9:30

When Jesus opened my eyes . . .
  I saw what a vile sinner I was;
  I saw what fearful danger I was in; and
  I saw what a glorious Savior He was!

When I first saw His beauty I thought I would never take my eyes off Him!
When I first tasted that He was gracious I imagined I should never lose the relish!
When I first felt Him to be precious to my soul it appeared to me that I would never value anything else!

Blessed Jesus, you have opened my eyes or they would have been forever closed to my danger, your loveliness, and Your salvation!



"We have no bread!" Mark 8:16

Can we be worse off than the disciples were? They had no bread but then they had Jesus with them, and He would supply all their needs.

Well, Jesus is as really with us as He was with them; and He loves and cares for us as much as He did for them. His hand is not shortened at all neither is His ear closed! Not one of His disciples died from need and neither shall we!

He brings us into trials, troubles and afflictions to try us to see whether we act in faith, and to whom we turn.

Every one of our needs say, "God and tell Jesus! He will hear you! He will supply you!"



"All things work together for good!" Romans 8:28

What! Shall all my severe trials and troubles work together for my good? Yes but they are not good alone but only in connection with other things.
Outward and inward,
painful and pleasant,
joyous and grievous,
gains and losses,
victories and defeats
all work together, and God superintends the working so as to secure our good and prevent our injury! God aims at our real and lasting good in all that He does and in all that He permits. He does nothing, nor allows anything to be done which affects us but what we shall bless and praise Him for, when we see the entire whole in the light of glory!



"Should it be according to your mind?" Job 34:33

Thus the infinitely wise God appeals to us His poor foolish creatures.

We want our own way.
We wish to carve for ourselves.
But God loves us too well, to allow us to do so!

He has drawn the plan of our lives.
He has marked out the paths we are to tread.
He has fixed the bounds of our habitation.
Yes, He has numbered the very hairs of our head!

He has arranged to prevent evil, and to secure our spiritual and eternal good. This He has told us in His Word and yet we are not satisfied. But, "Should it be according to your mind?"



"The Lord searches all hearts!" 1 Chronicles 28:9

Then the Lord searches my heart! Yes, He is searching my heart at this moment. Then He knows every motive, every thought, every purpose. Then He knows the very worst of me.

Then it is impossible to deceive or conceal anything from him. Ought I not then to be very careful not to set up any idol in my heart, or encourage any thought or motive that I know to be displeasing to him? Ought I not to be very frank and full in my confessions of sin, especially of the sins of my heart? O Lord, cleanse my heart with the blood of your Son.



"O God, strengthen my hands!" Nehemiah 6:9

A sense of weakness is often a great blessing. As painful as it is, it has prevented many a fall, and procured many a blessing. We never pray so feelingly, so earnestly, or so successfully as when we feel our weakness to be extreme.
When we have much work to do and no strength to do it;
when we have many and great difficulties to overcome and no strength to overcome them;
when we have many foes to subdue and no strength to subdue them
  then we cry out in good earnest, "O God, strengthen my hands!"



"He shall save the humble person." Job 22:29

That is, God shall save the person who . . .
  has low views of himself,
  thinks himself to be unworthy of the least of the Lord's mercies,
  and is willing to be, or to do, or to suffer, anything the Lord pleases.

We cannot be too low in our own eyes, or lay too low before the Lord's throne. Pride is our bane! Nothing makes us so unfruitful, so unhappy, or so disagreeable to others as pride! If the Lord humbles us then He will save us; yes, our humility is a part of our salvation. He will save the humble . . .
  from every overwhelming trouble,
  from every insulting foe, and
  from eternal death!



"Happy is the man whom God corrects!" James 5:17

Happy, not that he needs correction but that God so loves him as to correct him. Correction comes from a father punishment from a judge. When we are corrected, God deals with us as with sons; for what son is he whom his father chastens not?

How much correction we need! How often our Father has to use the rod! Sometimes He lays it on the body, sometimes on the soul, sometimes on the family, and sometimes on the property. What we prize most He frequently smites first. But He never smites us without a reason.



"My grace is sufficient for you!" 2 Corinthians 12:9

Is your property gone?
Does your health decline?
Is old-age creeping on?
Are your friends proving fickle and false?
Does everything tend to depress, trouble, and cast you down?

Still, do not fear, for . . .
  though Satan buffets you,
  though the world frowns upon you,
  though wealth flees from you,
  though heart and flesh appear to fail you,
Jesus says, "My grace is sufficient for you!"

His grace is sufficient . . .
  for every believer,
  at all times, and
  under all circumstances.
Sufficient to support,
sufficient to comfort,
sufficient to supply,
sufficient to deliver, and
sufficient to make you more than a conqueror!



"You shall know hereafter!" John 13:7

The Lord often seems to carry on His work in the dark. In providence and grace He works but we cannot fathom His design.
Reason is baffled,
all our schemes are confounded,
and our faith seems to stagger.

The Lord says,
"Trust me and you will find my Word true.
Wait my time and you shall see that all is right.
Rely upon me for I will never fail you.
Leave the matter to me for I am wiser than you.
The matter shall be made plain, and you shall know, not only what I do but why I do it, and shall praise and bless me for it!"



"I have called you friends!" John 15:15

If Jesus calls us 'friends' He will treat us as such. We may, therefore, look to Him for information, correction, and consolation.

If Jesus calls us friends, He wishes us to treat Him as a friend, and as such, we should . . .
consult him,
confide in him,
be familiar with him,
and strive to please him.

If Jesus is my friend then whom shall I fear?
If Jesus is my friend then what good can I lack?
If Jesus is my friend then why should I doubt?

To have Him who is God over all for my friend; to know that He possesses all things, and does as just as He desires ought to make me happy and content!



"My soul thirsts for God!" Psalm 42:2

A sanctified soul centers in God; and have what it may, without God it cannot be happy. Health, wealth, or honor are insufficient to satisfy it. There is still a thirsting for God. To realize His presence, to enjoy a sense of His favor, and to live in close fellowship and communion with him, will satisfy but nothing else. Nor shall we enjoy perfect satisfaction until free from sin, and filled with holiness we gaze on His glories, walk in His light, and drink of the river of His pleasures! My soul, let nothing satisfy you but God!



"Do you love Me?" John 21:17

My soul, Jesus asks you, "Do you love Me?"

Do you love Me . . .
  more than sin,
  more than the world,
  more than self,
  more than money,
  more than pleasure,
  more than everything?

Let my conduct reply to the question. Not my conduct judged by too partial self but judged by the impartial, all-knowing, unerring God!

Does love to Jesus . . .
  regulate my desires,
  guide my choices,
  direct my actions?

Love to Jesus is always "influential". It led the New Testament Christians to give up all things for Jesus. It led the martyrs to give their bodies to be burned for Jesus.



"The election of grace!" Romans 11:5

God had His elect people. In the exercise of His sovereign favor, God chose His people, appointed them to holiness here and to happiness in Heaven.

He gave them to Jesus,
He calls them by His Spirit,
He guides them by His counsel, and
afterwards He receives them to glory.

All our present happiness and all our future prospects, are founded in God's election, and flow from it. God elected me to be His child; and when He gives me grace, then I elect Him to be my God.

If He had not chosen me I never would have chosen Him!



"The gospel of the grace of God!" Acts 20:34

God's grace, is His gracious disposition and readiness to confer great and invaluable blessings upon vile and unworthy creatures. The grace of God is revealed in the gospel, and appears in . . .
  our election to eternal life,
  our redemption from eternal death,
  our regeneration by the Holy Spirit,
  our justification in the righteousness of Christ,
  and in our preservation to eternal glory!

All the difference between what we once were and now are, as also of what we shall be is to be ascribed to the sovereign grace of God!



"Cleave unto the Lord!" Acts 11:23

You should cleave unto the Lord. You will be tempted to draw back, or become lukewarm, or indifferent, or cold. Beware of this. Jesus is worthy of your strongest confidence. Jesus deserves your warmest love. Think of what He did and suffered for you; of what He is now doing in Heaven; and what He intends to do for you when He comes again.

If you would be happy in your soul,
if you would adorn your profession,
if you would conquer Satan,
if you would overcome the world,
if you would be happy in death
  then cleave unto the Lord.



"Are you asleep?" Mark 14:37

Those who are the most ready to promise are often the first to fail. From those whom we expect the most we often receive the least. Who were so forward to promise what he would do as Peter? And yet Peter falls asleep! After all that the Lord had done for him, after all the loving cautions He had given him Peter could not watch with his Master for one hour!

Can we cast a stone at Peter? Are we better than he? Have we not slept when we ought to have watched, or to have been working for Jesus? Perhaps even now we are in that frame of mind that the Master may well ask, "Are you asleep?"



"Rooted in Him!" Colossians 2:7

Christ is the believer's all. Separate him from Christ and he is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. What the soil is to the plant Jesus is to the soul. We must abide in him, draw all our nourishment from him, be rooted in Him or we shall neither be ornamental nor fruitful.

Every day, and all day long, we must be drawing our supplies from Christ. There is enough in Him to meet all our needs, and there will always be enough in him. Let us, then, look to Christ for all and expect to derive our life, strength, peace, comfort, and holiness, from Christ.



"Why do you not believe Me?" John 8:46

O my soul, Jesus asks you, "Why do you not believe me?" Is He not worthy of your confidence? Is not His Word true? Has He ever been found unfaithful? Is He not the ever-living, ever-loving, ever-faithful Savior?

Do you say, "I do believe him!" From whence, then, those doubts and fears? Why that dissatisfaction, and those complaints? Has He not promised to be ever with you, to manage all your affairs for you, and make all things work together for good to you? Oh, trust in him, and cast all your cares on him!



"I will cry unto God Most High!" Psalm 57:2

David was in deep trouble, in great danger, and full of fears but this was His purpose, "I will cry unto God Most High!" We cannot do better than imitate him.

Our God is at hand,
He is able to deliver,
He is disposed to deliver,
He is ready to help.

We may cry unto Him for He permits us.
We should cry unto Him for He bids us.
We must cry unto Him for no one else can deliver us.
Let us cry in simplicity as a child to its father;
let us cry in faith as a believer to his God;
let us cry with fervency as one who expects divine intervention.



"I have found a ransom!" Job 33:24

It is God himself who speaks in this verse and tells us that He has found a ransom for guilty man! That ransom price was the heart's blood of His dear Son! What a price to pay for the sinner's release! What a price to pay for the sinner's salvation!

I am the Lord's. Why? Because He bought me with the blood of His Son! Jesus has made the atonement, and now God and we are one. We are reconciled. We are at peace. God would have us for himself cost whatever it may. God would have us reconciled unto him; and by the blood of His Son, and by the operation of His Spirit He has effected it to the praise of His grace!



"My father's house!" John 14:2

What a sweet view of Heaven! Who could have given such a representation, but Jesus? He has gone there himself. He is employed there in preparing places for His people. He is waiting there to receive His people as death leads them to him. I suppose a moment never passes, but Jesus receives the spirit of some loved one, who has escaped from the toils and troubles of earth. Soon, perhaps very, soon He will receive me! How shall I feel when I enter "my Father's house?" What shall I see in the house of God, the family mansion of the saints, the dwelling-place of Jesus?



"He knows the way that I take!" Job 23:10

While the believer wishes to stand well with his fellow-men, his principal desire is to stand well with God. To be accepted by God in Christ, and to be approved by God in his conduct are his special objects. And it is often a great comfort to him to reflect, that while men may mistake him and misjudge him the Lord knows his motives, his aims, and his course. Yes, blessed be God, we can appeal to him, as knowing the way we take, and why we take it; and if He approves it is more than the approbation of all the world!



"O God, strengthen my hands!" Nehemiah 6:9

A sense of weakness is often a great blessing. As painful as it is, it has prevented many a fall, and procured many a blessing. We never pray so feelingly, so earnestly, or so successfully as when we feel our weakness to be extreme.
When we have much work to do and no strength to do it;
when we have many and great difficulties to overcome and no strength to overcome them;
when we have many foes to subdue and no strength to subdue them
  then we cry out in good earnest, "O God, strengthen my hands!"



"You killed the prince of life!" Acts 3:15

What a glorious title the "Prince of life!"

What a horrid deed to kill the Prince of life!

The Jews did this, and so did I. This was the greatest sin I ever committed. All my other sins are as nothing to this. Oh, the hardness of my heart to do such a deed! Oh, the cruelty of my disposition to put to death, and such a cruel death the lovely Lamb of God! O my God, lay not this sin to my charge but let the blood shed, wash out the guilt I contracted in shedding it. Precious Lord Jesus, you forgive and love me!



"God comforts those who are cast down!" 2 Corinthians 7:6

By the works of His providence,
by the truths of His Word, and
by His Spirit's work in the heart
God comforts His sorrowful people.

He has made full provision for our comfort in His Son. The way to be happy is . . .
to look to Jesus for all that we need,
to look to Jesus away from all that we fear, and
to look to Jesus as taking a deep, intense, and constant interest in us.

My soul, whenever you are cast down look to Jesus, and ask your God to comfort you. As the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort He comforts those who are cast down.



"For to me, to live is Christ!" Philippians 1:21

Christ was the object, aim, and end of Paul's life. He lived . . .
to know Christ,
to enjoy Christ,
to preach Christ,
to suffer for Christ, and
in every possible way to glorify Christ.

He began his Christian course with Christ,
he went on with Christ, and
he died with Christ.
He never once turned aside out of the way, or took his eye off the mark.

My soul, is Jesus your life? Are you living . . .
to learn him,
to love him,
to enjoy him,
to publish His fame,
to suffer for him, and
in every way to glorify him?



"The Spirit of God dwells in you!" 1 Corinthians 3:16

The Spirit's home is the believer's heart. He dwells in us . . .
as a light revealing our true state and condition;
as a spring of living water producing holy desires, earnest prayers, and ardent longings to be like Christ, and with Christ forever;
as our true friend helping our infirmities, teaching us to pray, and administering choice consolation.

A prince in a peasant's hovel is not a fit comparison to represent the humility of the Spirit as dwelling in a believer's heart. As sure as the Spirit dwells in us we shall dwell with Christ.



"Overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21

This is a difficult lesson for a proud heart! Pride always stands upon its rights, and resents everything that calls for the exercise of patience, forbearance, and love. The leading grace of Christianity is LOVE. Love is all-subduing. Love is a fire which . . .
  melts but never burns;
  subdues but never injures;
  overcomes but never boasts.

I know of nothing that is so much needed in God's Church and among God's people, as Love. This will bring together, and then keep together, the scattered members of Christ's flock. O for all-subduing love!



"He was a good man!" Acts 11:24

Then he was a godly man -devoted to God, bearing the image of God, and breathing the spirit of God.

Then he was a Christ-like man having the temper and disposition of Christ, and imitating the example of Christ, who went about doing good.

A good man is not only just but generous;
he is not only honest but kind;
he is not only faithful but gentle;
he is not only truthful but merciful.

A good man has a good temper or daily mourns over a bad one;
he does good or grieves that he does not;
he wishes to make all good and prays for their everlasting welfare!



"Philip preached Jesus unto him." Acts 8:35

Jesus must be preached . . .
to sinners, that they may be saved;
to seekers, that they may be made happy; and
to believers, that they may be sanctified and devoted to God.

Preaching Jesus is God's ordinance for the saving of souls, and it is the instrument by which the Spirit works in our consolation, dedication, and sanctification. No matter what we preach, if we do not preach Jesus, God will not work by it; sinners will not be made happy, nor will saints be made useful and holy. Christ should be preached by all who know him.



"Full of grace and truth!" John 1:14

Jesus is full of grace, and the grace He has He has for His people. My soul, Jesus has grace for you! Go to Him this day, and seek grace from Him . . .
to subdue your corruptions;
to spiritualize your affections;
to govern your temper;
to rule your tongue;
to enable you in all things to copy His bright and beautiful example.

Jesus is full of truth. All the shadows of the law find their substance in him. All the promises of the Bible are confirmed in him. All the grand truths of the gospel center in him, and in Him alone.



"Create in me a clean heart, O God!" Psalm 51:10

Love to holiness, and hatred to sin prove that the Holy Spirit dwells in us, for no person ever did so by nature. When our prayers are the echo of God's promises it is evident that we are like-minded with God. Now, as God promises a new heart and a right spirit, if we heartily desire, and earnestly pray for them it is because we are taught of God and such prayers are sure to be answered. If you long and pray for a clean heart you shall have one. But in cleansing it do not be surprised if God shows you more of its filthiness than you have ever seen as yet.



"Good tidings!" Isaiah 40:9

Who send these good tidings? Our heavenly Father!
What are they? He is pacified towards us, and at peace with us, for He has laid on His beloved Son the iniquity of us all.

Jesus has forever put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself. God has justly forgiven us all trespasses. He is now all love towards His redeemed people pure, perfect, eternal love. He loves us with all the strength of His infinite nature! Everything that He does is in love; and all that He permits is the effect of His love. He watches over us, listens to us, and is ever ready to do us good. At this moment His loving heart is set upon us!



"Jesus wept!" John 11:35

Weeping is not uncommon on earth yet these were uncommon tears. They were the tears of a sinless One the tears of the Son of God. Jesus wept for others. Jesus wept in company with others. His tears bespeak the depth of His sympathy, and the tenderness of His love. He wept because His friends suffered, and yet He knew that their sufferings were for their good. Jesus is the same now as He was then. His love is as tender and His sympathy is as deep. He loves you, believer, as He did Mary and Martha. He sympathizes with you as He did with them.



"You are my hiding-place!" Psalm 32:7

If God undertakes to hide then who shall find? But all who fly for refuge to Him are hidden by him; and so hidden, as to be safe from . . .
the officers of justice,
the claims of the violated law, and
all the penal consequences of sin.
God never refuses to receive the soul that flees to him, or to screen and shelter the soul that trusts in him. Jesus is the hiding-place of the sinner. To him, therefore, will I flee . . .
from all my own imperfect works,
from all my foes and fears,
from all within and all without me  
assured that He will receive me, and hide me!