Daily Blessings

“For your Maker is your husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.”

~ Isa 54:5

As in the marriage union man and wife become one flesh, and, God having joined them together, no man may put them asunder, so when the Lord Jesus Christ, in “the everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure,” betrothed the Church unto himself, they became before the face of heaven, one in indissoluble ties. As he undertook in “the fullness of time” to be “made of a woman,” she became one with him in body by virtue of a common nature; and becomes one with him in spirit when, as each individual member comes forth into a time state, the blessed Spirit unites it to him by regenerating grace. Such is the testimony of the word of truth. “We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones;” “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” Her union, therefore, with his flesh ensures to her body conformity in the resurrection morn to the glorified body of Jesus; and her union with his spirit ensures to her soul an eternity of bliss in the perfection of knowledge, holiness, and love. Thus the union of the Church with Christ commenced in the councils of eternal wisdom and love, is made known upon earth by regenerating grace, and is perfected in heaven in the fullness of glory.

The Church, it is true, fell in Adam from that state of innocence and purity in which she was originally created. But how the Adamic fall, in all its miserable consequences, instead of canceling the bond and disannulling the everlasting covenant, only served more fully and gloriously to reveal and make known the love of Christ to his chosen bride in all its breadth and length and depth and height! She fell, it is true, into unspeakable, unfathomable depths of sin and misery, guilt and crime; but she never fell out of his heart or out of his arms.

Yet what without the fall would have been known of dying love or of the mystery of the cross! Where would have been the song of the redeemed, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood?” Where the victory over death and hell, or the triumphs of super-abounding grace over the aboundings of sin, guilt, and despair? Where would have been the “leading captivity captive,” the “spoiling principalities and powers, and making a show of them openly, triumphing over them in himself?” What would have been known of that most precious attribute of God, mercy? What of his forbearance and long-suffering; what of his pitiful compassion to the poor, lost children of men?

As then the Church’s head and husband could not and would not dissolve the union, break the covenant, or alter the thing that had gone out of his lips, and yet could not take her openly unto himself in all her filth, and guilt, and shame, he had to redeem her with his own heart’s blood, with agonies and sufferings such as earth or heaven never before witnessed, with those dolorous cries under the hidings of his Father’s face, which made the earth to quake, the rocks to rend, and the sun to withdraw its light. But his love was strong as death, and he endured the cross, despising the shame, bearing her sins in his own body on the tree, and thus suffering the penalty due to her crimes, reconciled her unto God “in the body of his flesh, through death, to present her holy; and unblameable, and unreproveable in his sight.”

Having thus reconciled her unto God, as she comes forth from the womb of time, he visits member after member of his mystical body with his regenerating grace, that “he may sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” and thus eventually “present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.”

Daily Blessings

“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

~ 1 Pet 2:5

God’s people require many severe afflictions, harassing temptations, and many powerful trials to hew them into any good shape, to chisel them into any conformity to Christ’s image. For they are not like the passive marble under the hands of the sculptor, which will submit without murmuring, and indeed without feeling, to have this corner chipped off, and that jutting angle rounded by the chisel; but God’s people are living stones, and, therefore, they feel every stroke. We are so tender-skinned that we cannot bear a thread of trouble to lie upon us, we shrink from even the touch of the chisel. To be hewed, then, and squared, and chiseled by the hand of God into such shapes and forms as please him, O what painful work it is!

But if the stone could know—if could it tell what the sculptor was doing, would it not see that not a single stroke was made in vain? The sculptor, we know, must not make a single hair’s breadth too little or too much in some parts of the marble, or he will spoil the statue. He knows perfectly well where to place the chisel, and in what direction, and with what force to strike it with the mallet. And does not God, who fixes the spiritual pillars each in its destined spot, that they may be “like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace.” (Ps. 144:12), know where to inflict the stroke, what ‘carnal jutting angle’ to chip off, and how to chisel the whole column, from the base to the top, so that it shall wear the very shape and the very same proportion which he designs that it should wear?

If the Lord, then, is at work upon our souls, we have not had, we are not now having, we shall never have, one stroke too much, one stroke too little, one stroke in the wrong direction, but there shall be just sufficient to work in us that which is pleasing in God’s sight, and to make us that which he would have us to be. What a great deal of trouble would we be spared if we could only patiently submit to the Lord’s afflicting stroke and know no will but his.

Daily Wisdom

“Accepted in the Beloved.”

~  Eph 1:6

We are ever looking for something in SELF to make ourselves acceptable to God, and are often sadly cast down and discouraged when we cannot find that holiness, that obedience, that calm submission to the will of God, that serenity of soul, that spirituality and heavenly-mindedness which we believe to be acceptable in his sight. Our crooked tempers, fretful peevish minds, rebellious thoughts, coldness, barrenness and death, our alienation from good, and headlong proneness to evil, with the daily feeling that we get no better but rather worse, make us think that God views us just as we view ourselves. And this brings on great darkness of mind and bondage of spirit, until we seem to lose sight of our acceptance in Christ, and get into the miserable dregs of SELF, almost ready to quarrel with God because we are so vile, and only get worse as we get older.

Now the more we get into these dregs of SELF, and the more we keep looking at the dreadful scenes of wreck and ruin which our heart presents to daily view, the farther do we get from the grace of the gospel, and the more do we lose sight of the only ground of our acceptance with God. It is “in the Beloved” alone, that we are accepted, and not for any good words, or good works, good thoughts, good hearts, or good intentions of our own.

And a saving knowledge of our acceptance “in the Beloved,” independent of everything in us either good or bad, is a firm foundation for our faith and hope, and will keep us from sinking altogether into despair.

Daily Blessings

“A time to weep.”

~ Eccl 3:4

Does a man only WEEP once in his life? Does not the time of weeping run, more or less, through a Christian’s whole life? Does not mourning run parallel with his existence in this tabernacle of clay? for “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards.” Then “a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up” must run parallel with a Christian’s life, just as much as “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Living souls will know many times to weep; they will have often to sigh and cry over their base hearts; to mourn with tears of godly sorrow their backslidings from God; to weep over their broken idols, faded hopes, and marred prospects; to weep at having so grieved the Spirit of God by their disobedience, carnality, and worldliness; to be melted into contrition at the feet of a dying Lord, so as in some measure to be led into the path in which Jesus walked as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” They will have to bewail the falling off of those friends whom once they looked upon as bidding fairer for the kingdom of God than themselves; to weep at the cruel arrows of calumny which are shot against them by professors; to mourn over the low state of Zion, how few there are who really serve the Lord acceptably with reverence and godly fear, and adorn the doctrine in all things.

But above all things will they have to weep over the inward idolatries of their filthy nature; to weep that they ever should have treated with such insult that God whom they desire to love and adore; that they should so neglect and turn their backs upon that Savior who crowns them with loving-kindness and tender mercies; and that they bear so little in mind the instruction that has been communicated to them by the Holy Spirit.

There is many a weeping time for God’s children; and if there be one frame of mind in soul experience more to be coveted than another, it is to be weeping at Jesus’ feet. We have two sweet instances of the Lord’s manifesting himself to those who were weeping—one to “the woman who was an immoral sinner,” who stood behind him, and washed his feet with her tears; the other was to Mary Magdalene, who “stood outside the sepulcher weeping.”

Oh, how different is the weeping, chastened spirit of a living soul from the hardened, seared presumption of a proud professor! How different are the feelings of a broken-hearted child of God from the lightness, the frivolity, the emptiness, and the worldliness of hundreds who stand in a profession of religion! How different is a mourning saint, weeping in his solitary corner over his base backslidings, from a reckless professor who justifies himself in every action, who thinks sin a light thing, and who, however inconsistently he acts, never feels conscience wounded thereby! “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Daily Blessings

“The entrance of your words gives light.”

~ Ps 119:130

The blessed Spirit is pleased sometimes to give some testimony concerning Jesus, to open up some passage of Scripture which speaks of Jesus, to cast a divine light before the astonished eyes, and to throw some of the blessed beams of gospel truth into our souls, whereby we see Jesus. We are brought sometimes in soul feeling to the desires of those Greeks who came up to worship at the feast, and went to Philip, saying, “Sir, we would see Jesus;” and from some apprehension of his beauty and loveliness, we pour out our soul before God, and say, “We would see Jesus.” We want to feel his love, to have our eyes anointed to behold his glory, to look upon him as crucified for us and bearing our sins in his own body on the tree, that we may have a sweet and blessed fellowship with him as our suffering Surety, and thus, by faith, enter into the length and breadth and depth and height of that love of his “that passes knowledge.”

Wherever there is a work of grace upon the soul, there will be this pining after Christ. The soul that is really taught of God can never rest satisfied short of Jesus. “There remains a rest to the people of God,” and they can never be satisfied short of that rest, which consists in an experimental knowledge of the Son of God, as revealed by the Holy Spirit to their souls. But before the enjoyment of this spiritual rest, there is often long delay; clouds of darkness for months and years together often envelope the mercy-seat; the cross of Christ cannot be seen; the Holy Spirit does not fulfill his covenanted office in taking of the things of Christ, and showing them to the soul; and in the absence of these heavenly manifestations, we cannot realize our saving interest in the things of salvation, nor can we feel our hearts sweetly composed and settled down in the blessed assurance, that when this life shall come to a close, we shall inhabit mansions prepared for us before the foundation of the world. When “with clouds he covers the light, and commands it not to shine by the cloud that comes between,” there are many doubts and fears, suspicions, surmises, and jealousies whether we are not deceived and deluded altogether. At such seasons, everything seems to be against us, and to stamp us as being nothing but nominal professors.

It is in such dark and gloomy seasons as these that “the entrance of God’s words gives light.” For instance, some such promise as this is made sweet to the soul—“Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” As that promise is brought home with power to the heart, and is shed abroad with some sweetness in the soul, it draws forth and strengthens faith, and the toiling pilgrim comes to the Lord, feeling himself “weary and heavy laden,” and as he comes, he is indulged sometimes with a few sweet moments of rest. He is enabled to look out of fallen self, with all its miseries, and to look upon Jesus in his grace and beauty. He is favored to cast himself simply, as he is, upon Jesus, and some sense of his atoning blood, dying love, and complete atoning sacrifice for sin is opened up to his heart. Faith springs up to lay hold of and embrace it, and he begins to taste the savor and sweetness and healing efficacy of a Savior’s blood and love.

Thus “the entrance of God’s words gives light,” and he feels by the divine coming in of what God has externally revealed, that inward light is shed abroad in the recesses of his soul, and he can, in some measure, realize the power of the cross of Jesus in his heart.

Daily Blessings

“And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

~ Phil 3:9

Here are the two righteousnesses clearly laid down—in one or the other of which we must all stand before God—the righteousness which is of the law, and the righteousness which is of God by faith in Christ. But bear this in mind, that a righteousness to be available before God must be a perfect righteousness. This righteousness no man ever did or could produce by his own obedience to the law, for no man ever yet loved God “with all his heart and soul and mind and strength, and his neighbor as himself;” and if a man does not thus love God and thus love his neighbor, he is accursed and condemned already by that righteous law which curses “every one who continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”

Now the Apostle felt that as this righteousness could not be yielded by himself as a fallen sinner, he must necessarily fall under the condemnation and curse attached to that holy law. Trembling, therefore, in his conscience, as feeling that the wrath of God was revealed against him, and all unjustified sinners in a broken law, and knowing that he must sink for ever under the terrible indignation of the Almighty, if he had no covering for his needy, naked soul but his own righteousness, he fled out of it to find justification and acceptance, mercy and peace in the righteousness of Christ. Thenceforth he “was determined to know nothing, save Jesus Christ and him crucified,” and Jesus became to him his “all in all.” When once he had been favored with a view of the righteousness of the Son of God, he wanted no other for time or eternity. He saw by faith the words and works of the God-man, and he beheld Deity stamped upon every thought, word, and action of that pure humanity with which it was in union, and thus investing them with a merit beyond all conception or expression of men or angels. He saw him by faith bearing his sins in his own body on the tree, and by his active and passive obedience working out a righteousness acceptable to God, and such as he and all the redeemed could stand in before the great white throne without spot or blemish.

As a traveler overtaken by a violent thunderstorm gladly flies to a house by the wayside wherein he may find shelter from the lightning-stroke and the sweeping rain; or as a ship threatened with a hurricane bends every sail to reach the harbor of refuge in time, so does the soul terrified by the thunders and lightnings of God’s righteous law, seek for shelter in the wounded side of Jesus, and hide itself beneath his justifying obedience. This righteousness is here called “the righteousness of God;” for God the Father contrived it, God the Son performed it, and God the Holy Spirit applies it; and it is said to be “by faith” and “through the faith of Christ” because faith views it, believes in it, receives it, and gives the soul a manifested saving interest in it.

Daily Blessings

“KAt that time Jesus answered and said, I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto babes.”

~ Matt 11:25

Whatever religious knowledge, whatever carnal wisdom, or whatever worldly prudence a man may be possessed of, if he is devoid of the life of God in his soul, he is destitute of the workings of godly fear, he has no solemn awe or reverence for Jehovah, he has never seen his sins in the light of God’s countenance, he has never trembled at “the wrath to come,” he has never prostrated himself with a reverential spirit before the eyes of a heart-searching Jehovah, who sees into the secret recesses of his bosom.

But all his knowledge, and all his wisdom, and all his prudence leave him just where they found him—unconverted carnal, sensual, worldly, “dead in trespasses and sins.” All his wisdom never reached beyond the surface; it never broke up the crust of unbelief, so as to enter through that seared crust into the conscience, and produce living effects in it, as made tender by the touch of God’s finger. But his knowledge, his wisdom, his prudence are all floating in his mere judgment, and never descend into the depths of his heart.

God hides then the workings of spiritual fear from those who are “wise and prudent.” He does not condescend to manifest himself to them; he does not show them light in his light; he does not reveal himself to their consciences; he does not come with power into their hearts; he does not take the veil of unbelief and blindness from their carnal minds, and show them himself; he takes them not where he took Moses, into the cleft of the rock, “where his glory passed by;” he deals not with them as he dealt with Isaiah, when he manifested to him the glory of the Lord in the temple; he discovers himself not to them as he did to Job, when “he abhorred himself in dust and ashes.” All their knowledge of God, therefore, is an external, intellectual knowledge, a mere exercise of the faculties of the mind, without any spiritual teaching, or any special revelation of the presence, power, glory, and majesty of God to their consciences.

But the babe, the living babe in Zion has “the fear of the Lord,” in his soul, “as the beginning of wisdom.” And therefore, having this fountain of life within, he has it springing up in spiritual exercises. As the Apostle speaks, he “serves God acceptably with reverence and godly fear;” he dare not rush with presumption into his holy presence. When he comes into his sanctuary a solemn dread from time to time falls upon his spirit. He has the feelings of Isaiah when he cried—“I am a man of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts;” the feelings of Jacob when he was afraid, and said, “How dreadful is this place!” the feelings of Moses, when he stood by the burning bush, and put his shoes from off his feet, for the spot whereon he stood was holy ground; the feelings of the high priest in the temple, on that mysterious day of atonement, when he entered alone, “not without blood,” into the sanctuary, the holy of holies, and beheld the Shechinah, the Divine presence as a cloud resting on the mercy-seat.

The babe, then, has these exercises of godly fear, which carnal, unhumbled, worldly-wise professors know nothing of. And though the babe, at times, seems to have no religion which he can really call spiritual or which satisfies himself, yet he has that tenderness, awe, and reverence which the carnal professor, however high in doctrine, however soaring in vain confidence, is utterly unacquainted with.

Daily Blessings

“Where the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.”

~ Heb 6:20

How blessedly did the Lord comfort his sorrowing disciples when he said to them, “In my Father’s house are many mansions—if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” He has gone to take possession beforehand of his and their everlasting home; for he is ascended to his Father and their Father, to his God and their God. He has, as it were, filled heaven with new beauty, new happiness, new glory. In him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. His glorious Person as Immanuel has become the object of heaven’s praise and adoration. The elect angels adore him as God-man; and the spirits of just men made perfect worship him in company with the angelic host. What a view had holy John of heaven’s glorious worship, when he saw the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fall down before the Lamb; when he heard their new song and the voice of many angels round about the throne, and all saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain—to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing” (Rev. 5:12).

Heaven itself is waiting for the completion of the great mystery of godliness, when the whole Church shall be assembled around the throne; when the marriage supper of the Lamb shall come; when the headstone shall be brought forth by the hands of the spiritual Zerubbabel, with shoutings of Grace, grace unto it. Earth itself is groaning under the weight of sin and sorrow; and the souls of those under the altar who were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held, are crying with a loud voice, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, do you not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” No, the very signs of the times themselves are all proclaiming as with one voice that it cannot be long before the Lord will come a second time without sin unto salvation.

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.