Daily Blessings

“Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous—nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto those who are exercised thereby.”
~ Heb 12:11
It may be said of spiritual exercises as the Apostle speaks of chastening generally, of which indeed they form a component part, that “for the present they are not joyous, but grievous; but afterward they yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto those who are exercised thereby.” Why the Lord allows so many of his people to be so long and so deeply tried about their saving interest in Christ, why he does not more speedily and fully manifest his pardoning love to their souls, is a mystery which we cannot fathom. But I have observed that, where the first work was not attended with deep and powerful convictions of sin, it is usually the case, as if what was lacking in depth has to be made up in length, and a slow, continuous work compensates, as it were, for a shorter and more intense one.I consider it, however, a great mercy where there are these exercises, for I am well convinced that exercise is as much needed for the health of the soul as of the body. Without movement the air becomes pestilential, and water putrescent. Motion is the life of the natural, and equally so of the supernatural, creation; and what are exercises, doubts, and fears, accompanied as they always are by desires and prayers, but means by which the soul is kept alive and healthy? As Hezekiah said, “O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit.”

But if you cannot see what good exercises have done you, can you not see what evil they have kept you from? They mainly kept you from being entangled in a worldly system; they have preserved you from resting in the form without the power, and kept you from that notional dead-letter faith which has ruined so many thousands. (This extract was taken from a letter to a friend.) Without exercises you could do without a revealed Christ, without manifested pardon of sin, without the love of God being shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit.

And here most are, who are not exercised—resting in “a name to live,” and in the doctrine without the experience. But, being sick, you need a physician; being guilty, you need mercy; and being a sinner, you need salvation; and all this, not in word and name, but in reality, and divine revelation and application. Your exercises give you errands to the throne of mercy, and make you see in Christ and his precious gospel what otherwise would neither be seen nor cared for.

At the same time, it would be wrong to rest in exercises as marks and evidences of grace. Thirst is good as preparatory for water; hunger is good as antecedent to food; but who can rest in thirst or hunger? Without them, water and food are not desired; so, without exercises, Christ, the Water and Bread of life, is not desired nor longed for. But these exercises are meant to quicken longing desires after Christ, and eventually make him very precious.

Evening Prayer

MAKE DISCIPLES 
Matthew 28:18-20

In Jesus’ Name, I Pray God’s Will for You

I pray that you will never forsake the wonderful privilege given to you by our Lord Jesus Christ – the privilege of spreading the gospel. May you be confident that under His authority, we have been commissioned to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. I pray for a passion to burn in your heart to see people become disciples of Christ. May you boldly teach them everything Jesus has commanded you. I pray that you will be assured that He will be with you always, as you share the knowledge of His glory.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Daily Blessings

“He led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.”
~ Deut 32:10

“He led them about.” This was true literally. What a circuitous, tangled, backward and forward route was that of the children of Israel in the wilderness! Yet every step was under God’s direction; they never moved until the cloudy pillar led the way.

But how does the Lord lead about in grace? By leading his Israel into a path of which they do not see the end. One turn of the road hides the next. I have read that you may make a road with a curve at every quarter of a mile, and yet in a hundred miles the distance will not be so much as a mile more than a perfectly straight line. So in grace. The length of the road swallows up the turnings.

But these turnings make the road seem more round about than it really is. All before us is hidden. For instance, when the Lord begins a work of grace, he brings convictions of sin, opens up the spirituality of the law, makes the soul feel guilty, guilty, guilty in every thought, word, and deed. But does a man in that condition know what the Lord is doing? Can he clearly trace out the work of God upon his soul? Is he able to say, “This, this is the work of God upon my heart?” For the most part, he knows not what is the matter with him; why he is so distressed; why he can take no rest; why the things of eternity keep rolling in upon his soul; why he stands in continual dread of the wrath to come; why his mind is so exercised with thoughts upon God; why he feels condemnation, bondage, and misery.

Nor even when the Lord is pleased to raise him up to some hope, to apply some sweet promise to his soul, to encourage him in various ways under the ministry of the word, can he often take the full comfort of it. He may for a time, but it is soon gone, and he can scarcely believe it to be real. Unbelief suggests that it did not come exactly in the right way, or did not last long enough, or did not go deep enough, or was not just such as he has heard others speak of; and so he is filled with doubts, fears, and anxieties whether it was really from the Lord. But when God leads him on a step further; opens up the gospel, reveals Christ, drops into his heart some sweet testimony, gives him some blessed discovery of his saving interest in the Lord Jesus, and seals it with a divine witness in his heart, this banishes all his doubts and fears, and fills his soul with joy and peace. Yet even after this, when the sweet feeling is gone, he may sink again very low, and may question the reality of the revelation he has enjoyed. All this is “leading about;” for one turn of the road hides the other.

Daily Blessings

“Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
~ Ps 119:105

O what a change takes place in the soul’s feelings toward the word of God when God is pleased to quicken it into divine life! Nor, indeed, need we wonder why there is such a marked revolution in our feelings toward it; for it is by the power of God’s word upon the heart that this wondrous change is effected. “Of his own will he begat us with the word of truth” (James 1:18). Other books may instruct or amuse; they may feed the intellect, charm the imagination, and cultivate the mind. But what more can they do? I do not mean by this to despise or set aside every other book but the Bible, for without books society itself, as at present constituted, could not exist; and to burn every book would be to throw us back into the barbarism of the Middle Ages. Let, then, books have their place as regards this life; but what can they do for us as regards the life to come? What can our renowned authors, our choice classics, our learned historians, our great dramatists, or our eloquent poets do for the soul in seasons of affliction and distress? How powerless all human writings are in these circumstances. Is it not as Deer well says:

“What balm could wretches ever find

In wit, to heal affliction?

Or who can cure a troubled mind

With all the pomp of diction?”

Now here is the blessedness of the word of God, that when everything else fails, that comes to our aid under all circumstances, so that we can never sink so low as to get beyond the reach of some promise in the word of truth. We may come, and most probably shall come, to a spot where everything else will fail and give way but the word of God which forever is settled in heaven. Then the word of grace and truth which reaches down to the lowest case, the word of promise upon which the Lord causes the soul to hope, will still turn towards us a friendly smile, and still encourage us under all circumstances to call upon the name of the Lord, and to hang upon his faithfulness who has said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

Thus, under circumstances the most trying to flesh and blood, where nature stands aghast and reason fails, there the word of God will come in as a counselor to drop in friendly advice, as a companion to cheer and support the mind by its tender sympathy; and as a friend to speak to the heart with a loving, affectionate voice. We need not wonder, then, how the word of God has been prized in all ages by the family of God; for it is written with such infinite wisdom, that it meets every case, suits every circumstance, fills up every aching void, and is adapted to every condition of life and every state both of body and soul.

Daily Blessings

“Thus says the Lord; I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your espousals, when you went after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.”
~ Jer 2:2

If we look at salvation, we shall see that it consists of three parts; salvation past, salvation present, and salvation future. Salvation past consists in having our names written in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world. Salvation present consists in the manifestation of Jesus to the soul, whereby he betroths it to himself. And salvation future consists in the eternal enjoyment of Christ, when the elect shall sit down to the marriage-supper of the Lamb, and be forever with the Lord. Now, as none will ever enjoy salvation future who have no saving interest in salvation past; in other words, as none will ever be with Christ in eternal glory whose names were not written in the book of life from all eternity; so none will enjoy salvation future, who live and die without enjoying salvation present. In other words, none will live forever with Christ in glory who are not betrothed to him in this life by the manifestations of himself to their soul.

According to the Jewish custom, the man, at the time of betrothing, gave the bride a piece of silver before witnesses, saying to her, “Receive this piece of silver as a pledge that at such a time you shall become my spouse.” And the parties then exchanged rings. This meeting of the espoused parties together, who then saw each other for the first time, is a sweet type of the first meeting of the soul with Jesus. The damsel had heard of the youth, but until then had never seen him; as seeking souls hear of Jesus by the hearing of the ear, before their eyes see him. The veil was upon her face (Gen. 24:65), as the veil is upon the heart (2 Cor.3:15), until Jesus rends it in twain from the top to the bottom. The bridegroom gave his betrothed a piece of silver, as a pledge that all he had was hers. And thus Christ gives to the soul, whom he betroths to himself by his own manifestations, a pledge, a token, a testimony, which, in itself, is the first-fruits and assurance of eternal glory. The parties exchanged rings, as pledges of mutual affection and eternal faithfulness. And thus, when Christ reveals himself to the soul in his dying love, mutual engagements, mutual promises, mutual assurances and pledges of faithfulness and love pass between the soul and him. “One shall say, I am the Lord’s, and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob, and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord.” At these seasons, “in the day of the King’s espousals,” the language of the soul is, “I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste; he brought me to the banqueting-house, and his banner over me was love.”

Daily Blessings

“And I appoint unto you a kingdom, just as my Father has appointed unto me.”
~ Luke 22:29

For whom is this kingdom appointed? For the presumptuous, the proud, the hypocritical, and the self-righteous? No; not for these. “I appoint unto you,” you that “have continued with me in my temptations;” you that are tempted and exercised; you that walk in the paths of tribulation; you that follow in the print of the footsteps of a suffering Jesus; you that know the painful exercises of temptation, and yet are strengthened with strength in your inner man, to “resist even unto blood, striving against sin,” so as not to be carried away or overwhelmed by it. What kingdom is this? It is the same kingdom that the Father has given to Jesus. “I appoint unto you a kingdom, just as my Father has appointed unto me.”

Now what is the kingdom which God the Father appointed unto his dear Son? Is it to sit upon a throne like an earthly monarch? To wear a diadem, and carry a scepter? “My kingdom,” said Jesus, “is not of this world” (John 18:36). The kingdom of the Lord of life and glory was to make an end of sin, to abolish death, and “destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” to reign spiritually in the hearts of his chosen; to be King and Lord in Zion, and to rule over the willing affections of his subjects; a kingdom of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit; a kingdom of grace set up by the blessed Spirit in the heart; a spiritual kingdom which none can see or enter into but those who are born of the Spirit.

His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, and consists in having a people to see him as he is, a people to glorify him, a people to love him, and a people for him to love. A kingdom cannot be the same to sovereign and subject, when it is of an earthly and temporal nature. Were the earthly monarch to impart his kingdom to his subjects, it would cease to be a kingdom, and become a republic. But not so with a spiritual kingdom. Jesus does not diminish his own grace by imparting it to his people, nor lessen his own joy by shedding it abroad in their hearts, nor sully his own glory by communicating of it to them. The sun has lost no light nor warmth by the countless millions of rays that have issued from it since it was first created. Nor does the glorious Sun of righteousness lose the fullness that is in him by communicating of his grace and glory. In him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, unexhausted and inexhaustible. Then this kingdom which he appoints to his tried and tempted disciples is the kingdom of grace in the heart; the kingdom of God in the soul; the presence of Jesus within; the manifestation of that kingdom which is spoken of in Daniel 2:44, as set up on the ruins of all the other kingdoms, when it has broken them in pieces.

Daily Blessings

“For to be carnally-minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
~ Rom 8:6

One of the most blessed marks of regenerating grace and the sure fruit of the love of God shed abroad in the heart, is that spiritual-mindedness of which Paul declares, it is “life and peace.” “To be spiritually-minded,” to live and walk under the blessed power and influence of the Holy Spirit, to have the heart and affections drawn up from this poor, vain scene, to where Jesus sits at the right hand of God, this is “life,” the life of God in the soul, with all its present blessedness and all its future glory, and “peace,” for peace and rest are alone to be found in this path of union and communion with a glorified Redeemer.

In this sweet spirituality of mind, in these heavenly affections, and in this communion with the Lord at his own throne of grace, the life and power of godliness much consist. We trust we know, from what we have felt in our own bosom, what this sweet spiritual-mindedness is, and what are its blessed effects. It is a key to unlock the Scriptures, for then we read them under the same sacred influence, and by the same divine teaching by which they were written; it is a door of prayer, for under these calm and peaceful emotions the soul, as if instinctively and necessarily, seeks holy communion with God; it is the fruitful parent of sweet meditation, for the truth of God is then thought over, fed upon, and is found to be bread from heaven; it is the secret of all life and power in preaching, for unless the heart be engaged in, and melted and softened by the truth delivered, there will be a hardness in its delivery which will make itself sensibly felt by the living hearer; and it is the power of all spiritual conversation, for how can we talk with any unction or profit unless we are spiritually-minded, and in that frame of soul wherein the things of God are our chief element, the language of our lips, because the delight of our soul?

But to be otherwise—to be carnally-minded on our knees, with the Bible open before our eyes, in the house of prayer, at the Lord’s table, in the company of the family of God—what a burden to our spirit, what a condemnation to our conscience, what a parent of doubt and fear whether matters can be right between God and our own soul, when there is such a distance between him and us!

It is true that the most eminent saints and servants of God have their dead and dark seasons, when the life of God seems sunk to so low an ebb as to be hardly visible, so hidden is the stream by the mud-banks of their fallen nature. Still it glides onward, round them, if not through them; and sometimes a beam of light falls upon it from above, as it threads its way toward the ocean of eternal love, which manifests not only its existence but its course, and that it gives back to heaven the ray it receives from heaven.

No, by these very dark and dead seasons, the saints and servants of God are instructed. They see and feel what the flesh really is, how alienated from the life of God; they learn in whom all their strength and sufficiency lie; they are taught that in them, that is, in their flesh, dwells no good thing; that no exertions of their own can maintain in strength and vigor the life of God; and that all they are and have, all they believe, know, feel, and enjoy, with all their ability, usefulness, gifts, and grace, flow from the pure, sovereign grace, the rich, free, undeserved, yet unceasing goodness and mercy of God. They learn in this hard school of painful experience their emptiness and nothingness, and that without Christ indeed they can do nothing. They thus become clothed with humility, that lovely, becoming garb; cease from their own strength and wisdom, and learn experimentally that Christ is, and ever must be, all in all to them, and all in all in them.

Daily Blessings

“Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”
~ John 15:3

What God does, he does by the word of his grace and the influences which accompany that word; forever bear in mind that God does nothing but by his word. The sanctifying, cleansing effects therefore which attend the word of his grace under the operations of the Spirit are spoken of as “the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26). “The word” is the written Scripture; the “water” is the power of the Holy Spirit; the “washing” is the cleansing effect of the application of the word. Let me ask you this question, if you doubt my words, How are we to get the burden and guilt of our sins off our conscience, the defilement of mind which sin produces, the bondage of spirit which sin creates, the fears and alarm of the soul which sin works? You will say, “By believing in Jesus Christ, for being justified by faith we have peace with God.” That is true; but how can we believe in Jesus Christ, so as to find this peace? By the word of his grace, accompanied by the special influence, unction, and dew of the Holy Spirit revealing and making known pardon and acceptance with God, which is therefore spoken of as “the washing of water by the word.” For as water washes the body, so the word of truth washes the soul, by washing away the guilt and filth and defilement of sin. As the blessed Lord said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” And again, “He that is washed needs not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.” Thus as water when applied cleanses the body from natural filth, so does the word of promise, the word of truth, the word of salvation revealing and making known the Savior’s precious blood, cleanse the conscience from the guilt, filth, and defilement of sin.

Daily Blessings

“Fools die for lack of wisdom.”

~ Prov 10:21

There is such a connection between true wisdom, which is “a knowledge of the holy” (Prov. 30:3), and the fear of the Lord; and such a connection between ignorance of the Lord and sin, that saved saints are called “wise,” and lost sinners are called “fools,” not only in the Old Testament, as continually in the Proverbs, but in the New. Many of the Lord’s people look with suspicion upon knowledge, from not seeing clearly the vast distinction between the spiritual, experimental knowledge for which we are now contending, and what is called “head knowledge.” They see that a man may have a well-furnished head and a graceless heart, that he may understand “all mysteries and all knowledge,” and yet be “nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2); and as some of these all-knowing professors are the basest characters that can infest the churches of truth, those who really fear the Lord stand not only in doubt of them, but of all the knowledge possessed by them. But put it in a different form; ask the people of God whether there is not such a divine reality, such a heavenly blessing, as being “taught of God” (John 6:45); having “an unction from the Holy One, whereby we know all things” (1 John 2:20)—knowing the truth for oneself, and finding it makes free (John 8:32); whether there is not a “counting of all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord,” and a stretching forth of the desires of the soul to “know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings;” whether there is not “a knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins” (Luke 1:77); “a knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6); a being “filled with the knowledge of his will” (Col. 1:9); an “increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10); “a growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18);—ask the living family of God whether there be not such a knowledge as this, and if this knowledge is not the very pith and marrow, the very sum and substance of vital godliness, and they will with one voice say, “It is!”

Daily Blessings

“And the servant abides not in the house forever—but the son abides forever.” 
~ John 8:35

It is the irreversible blessing of a son, that he is never to be turned out of the house, that the union between the Parent and the child can never be broken, but that he is to reign with Christ through the ages of one everlasting day. This is a sweet consolation to God’s family that “the son abides forever.” How often is a child of God exercised, whether he shall abide forever, whether he may not draw back to perdition, whether some temptation may not overtake him whereby it shall be made manifest that he is nothing but a deceiver and deceived! But the Lord himself says, “the son abides forever;” let him be but a babe, let him have but the first beginning of spiritual life in his soul, he “abides forever;” he has the same interest in the affections of the Father, is a fellow-heir with Christ, and has a title to the same inheritance as those who are of longer standing, and those who are his elders in age.

But sometimes the son may get tired of the restraint of his Father’s house. God is a wise Parent as well as a kind one. He will treat his children with the most tender kindness and intimacy, but he will never allow them to be guilty of disrespect towards him. Sometimes, then, the sons get weary of their Father’s house; they are like the younger son in the parable, when he asked his father to give him his portion, and when he had gotten it, he went away into a far country, away from his father’s house, from under his father’s roof, and wasted it in riotous living. This is where many of God’s children get. There is a restraint in God’s house, where the soul is not really blessed with the personal and present enjoyment of gospel truth, and restraint being ever irksome, the vain, idolatrous heart thinks it can derive some pleasure from the world which is not to be found under the roof of the Father. And, therefore, he gradually withdraws his steps from his Father’s house, seeks to derive some pleasure from the things of time and sense, erects some idol, and falls down to worship it.

But notwithstanding all this, “the son abides forever.” The Father of all his people in Christ does not disinherit his dear children; and though earthly parents may disinherit theirs, God’s family are never cast out of the inheritance. The true-born Israelite who had waxed poor and sold himself unto the stranger was to obtain his freedom in the year of jubilee (Leviticus 25:47, 54), and to return to his own house and his own estate. So the son who has departed from his Father’s house, and sold himself under sin, and become a slave to that cruel taskmaster, when the year of jubilee comes, the year of restoration, and the silver trumpet is blown, shakes off his shackles and fetters, casts aside the livery of servitude, returns to his Father’s house, and is received with joy beneath his Father’s roof. O what a meeting! The forgiving Parent, and the disobedient child! The Father dissolved in tears of affection; the child dissolved in tears of contrition!

Whatever, then, be our wanderings of heart, alienation of affection, and backsliding of soul; however we may depart from God, so far as we are sons, we shall “abide in the house forever,” and possess an “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for those that are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” And it will be our mercy to abide in the house below as members of the family, without departing from it, until reunited to the family above, “the general assembly and church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.”