Daily Blessings

“Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace.”

~ Rom 4:16

Of faith we read expressly that “it is the gift of God.” This is the grand master-grace of the soul; it is the grand wheel which moves every other wheel in the heart; it is the eye, the ear, the hand of the new man of grace. Only so far as we have faith, and the Lord draws out this faith in exercise, have we any true spiritual feeling. But what makes me prize the gift of faith? It is knowing so much and so painfully the indwelling and inworking of unbelief. Is not this the case naturally? What makes me prize health? It is having a poor, weakly body. What makes me prize rest? Fatigue. What makes me prize ease? It is pain. What makes me prize food? It is hunger. What makes me prize the cup of cold water? It is thirst. By these feelings, I not only know the reality by the lack of it, but also enjoy the blessing when communicated. It is just so spiritually, as naturally. What can I know of faith, except I am exercised (and exercised I am more or less daily) by the workings of unbelief, infidelity, questionings of the reasoning mind, and all the spawn of an unbelieving heart? As the soul is tossed up and down, (and often, it is tossed up and down on this sea of unbelief,) it learns to prize the harbor of faith. And when the Lord mercifully communicates a little faith to the soul, and faith begins to realize, feel, experience, and feed upon the truth as it is in Jesus, then we know what faith is by the possession of it.

What a mercy it is that the Lord has the gift of faith to bestow! Here are poor souls toiling, troubling, laboring, groaning, sighing, oppressed with unbelief—that great giant in the heart, who has slain his thousands and tens of thousands. How our souls sometimes sink down under this wretched unbelief! But how we prize the faith all the more when it comes! How all the sinkings make the risings higher, and all the sadness makes the change more blessed! As the tossings to and fro of the sailor upon the sea, with all the perils and sufferings of the voyage, make the calm harbor so pleasant; so all the tossings up and down of unbelief endears the holy calm of living faith to the soul.

Daily Blessings

“It is a faithful saying—For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him—if we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”

~ 2 Tim 2:11-12

To be partakers of Christ’s crown, we must be partakers of Christ’s cross. Union with him in suffering must precede union with him in glory. This is the express testimony of the Holy Spirit—“If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” The flesh and the world are to be crucified to us, and we to them; and this can only be by virtue of a living union with a crucified Lord. This made the Apostle say, “I am crucified with Christ—nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me—and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” And again, “But God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.”

An experimental knowledge of crucifixion with his crucified Lord made Paul preach the cross, not only in its power to save, but in its power to sanctify. Through the cross, that is, through union and communion with him who suffered upon it, not only is there a fountain opened for all sin, but for all uncleanness (Zech. 13:1). Blood and water gushed from the side of Jesus when pierced by the Roman spear.

“This fountain so dear, he’ll freely impart;

Unlocked by the spear, it gushed from his heart,

With blood and with water; the first to atone,

To cleanse us the latter; the fountain’s but one.”

“All my springs are in you,” said the man after God’s own heart; and well may we echo his words. All our springs, not only of pardon and peace, acceptance and justification, but of happiness and holiness, of wisdom and strength, of victory over the world, of mortification of a body of sin and death; of every fresh revival and renewal of hope and confidence; of all prayer and praise; of every new budding forth of the soul, as of Aaron’s rod, in blossom and fruit; of every gracious feeling, spiritual desire, warm supplication, honest confession, melting contrition, and godly sorrow for sin—all these springs from that life which is hidden with Christ in God, are in a crucified Lord. Thus Christ crucified is, “to them who are saved, the power of God.” And as he “of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,” at the cross alone can we be made wise unto salvation, become righteous by a free justification, receive of his Spirit to make us holy, and be redeemed and delivered by blood and power from sin, Satan, death, and hell.

Daily Blessings

“And there I will meet with you, and I will commune with you from above the mercy seat.”

~ Exod 25:22

After a child of God has enjoyed something of the goodness and mercy of God revealed in the face of his dear Son, he may wander from his mercies, stray away from these choice gospel pastures, and get into a waste-howling wilderness, where there is neither food nor water; and yet, though half-starved for poverty, has in himself no power to return. But what has brought him for the most part into this state? Forgetfulness of the mercy seat; and as the Lord meets his people only there, a gradual estrangement from him.

But in due time the Lord seeks out this wandering sheep, and the first place he brings him to is the mercy seat, confessing his sins and seeking mercy. Faithful to his own word, once more the Lord meets him there; and O what a meeting! A penitent backslider and a forgiving God! O what a meeting! A guilty wretch drowned in tears, and a loving Father falling upon his neck and kissing him! O what a meeting for a poor, self-condemned wretch, who can never mourn too deeply over his sins, and yet finds grace super-abounding over all its aboundings, and the love of God bursting through the cloud, like the sun upon an April day, and melting his heart into contrition and love!

But this is not all. The Lord is pleased sometimes to show his dear people the evils of their heart, to remove by his Spirit and grace that veil of pride and self-righteousness which hides so much of sinful SELF from our eyes, and to discover what is really in us—the deep corruptions which lurk in our depraved nature, the filth and folly which is part and parcel of ourselves, the unutterable baseness and vileness so involved in our very being. Now this in itself would drive us from the throne of grace. “Can God dwell here?” is the sinner’s feeling. “Can I be possessed of the fear of God when such thoughts and feelings overflow my mind, and seem to fill me as if with the very dregs of hell?” Yet still he is drawn from time to time to the throne of grace to confess these sins before the mercy seat, for he cannot, dare not, stay away from it; and again God is true to his word—“There will I meet with you.” There once more he reveals a sense of his mercy and goodness, and once more shows that, whatever the sinner be in himself, he is faithful to his own promise.

Daily Blessings

“For upon all the glory shall be a defense.”

~ Isa 4:5

The glory of the Lord is his presence in the soul, for that is represented by the cloud, as it was when his glory filled the house of God, which Solomon built. Now this glory of the Lord in the cloud and smoke by day, and in the shining of a flaming fire by night, is to be a defense, both upon every dwelling-place of mount Zion and upon her assemblies. A defense against what? Chiefly against four things.

1. First, it is a defense against ERROR. No person can embrace error who knows anything of the presence and power of God in his soul, or has ever seen anything of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; for all error is opposed not only to God’s truth, as revealed in the word, but to God’s presence, as revealed in the heart. And this is true both as regards individuals and churches. God will never sanction error as held by either. He will never bless with his manifested presence any erroneous man, be he minister or private individual, for he never honors or blesses anything but his own truth, and those only who believe and hold it. “Those who honor me I will honor.” This is a very important point, for you will often hear erroneous men speak as if they knew spiritual things by divine teaching and by divine testimony, and will often boast confidently of their comforts and enjoyments, as if they had gotten their views from God himself, though they turn the truth of God into a lie.

But be not deceived by these men or their false pretensions. They have only kindled a fire to compass themselves about with sparks, that they may walk in the light of their fire, and in the sparks which they have kindled. The Spirit of truth guides into all truth, and cannot and will not countenance or bless error. The Lord’s own prayer to his heavenly Father for his disciples was, “Sanctify them through your truth—your word is truth.” The soul never was divinely sanctified by a lie, nor the heart truly comforted by error.

2. But this glory will also be a defense against all EVIL; for nothing makes sin so to be seen and abhorred as sin as the presence of the Lord. He is known and felt at such moments to be infinitely pure and holy, and a holy God must needs hate sin. If, then, his presence be felt in the soul as a cloud in which he manifests his glory in the face of Jesus Christ, it will be a defense against all the sins in which you might be entangled, when there is no such sensible presence to make you revere and adore his great and glorious Majesty.

3. It is, therefore, also a defense against all TEMPTATIONS, which would lead us into anything contrary to God and godliness.

4. And it will be a defense too against all ENEMIES. You may have many enemies, both without and within; but all their attempts to injure you will be unsuccessful if you have the cloud of the Lord’s presence in your soul, and his glory in your midst. No enemy can hurt you if the Lord is your defense. He will watch very jealously over what he himself has communicated by his Spirit and grace to your heart, and his presence will be your best defense against every foe and against every fear.

Daily Blessings

“The fire shall test every man’s work of what sort it is.”

~ 1 Cor 3:13

How careful and anxious we should be to have two points well secured in our hearts. First, to be right as concerns the foundation. “Do I believe in the Son of God? Have I clear views of the Sonship, the Deity, and the pure humanity of Christ? Have I drunk in no secret error? Am I hiding in my bosom no corrupt doctrine? Is my creed sound? Is the word of God received by me, as God has revealed it, into a believing heart?” How many are wrong as to the foundation itself.

Then comes, “Am I upon the foundation? Did God himself put me there? Did I see its suitability to my lost and undone soul? Did the blessed Spirit take of the things of Christ and reveal them to me in the hour of need? Was the Son of God made precious to my soul by an act of faith? Am I looking to him, cleaving to him, longing for him, hanging upon him, and trusting wholly to his Person and work? How stands the foundation? Am I on it?”

The next important question is, “How stands the superstructure? Has the Holy Spirit wrought anything with a divine power in my soul? The faith I profess, is it of God? The hope I enjoy, do I believe it came from the Lord himself to support my soul in the trying storm? My repentance, is it genuine? My profession, is it sincere? My walk, is it consistent? My conscience, is it tender? My desires, are they spiritual? My prayers, are they fervent? My heart, is it honest? My soul, is it right before God? What am I looking to as the foundation, and what am I looking to as the superstructure? Do I hang all my hopes upon Christ as the Rock, and all my religion upon the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart?”

If you can answer these questions as in the sight of God, “Yes, yes, ten times yes;” then you are right, you are right. If you stand upon the foundation that God has laid in Zion, you are right; you are right if God the Spirit has wrought a living faith in your heart. But you are wrong, you are wrong if you stand not upon God’s foundation; you are wrong, you are wrong, and that for eternity, unless the Holy Spirit is at work upon your conscience.

Daily Blessings

“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.”

~ 2 Cor 4:10

The two aspects, if I may use the expression, of our gracious Lord, in which are wrapped up all our faith, and hope, and love, are a dying Jesus and a risen Jesus—Christ in his sufferings and death, Christ in his resurrection and life. This is the Christ of God, this is the Son of God in whom we believe unto life eternal, as he is presented to our view in the Scriptures of truth, and by the inward teaching and testimony of the Holy Spirit. If, then, you do not believe in a dying Christ and in a risen Christ, your faith is not the faith of a Christian. Now just see how this bears upon our text.

WHY do we bear about the dying of the Lord Jesus? It is that the life of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. As then we bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus; as we suffer with Christ, die with Christ, and enter by faith into the mystery of his crucifixion so as to be mystically and spiritually crucified with him, we rise, so to speak, out of this death into union with the risen, living Christ, so as to derive life and strength, grace and power out of his glorious fullness. For he is risen from the dead—he is no more in the tomb, into which he sank in all the weakness of death; but is risen again, and was thus “declared to be the Son of God with power.” Yes, he has gone up on high, and now sits at the right hand of God in the highest heavens. He is gone within the veil, to be the High Priest over the house of God; there, also, he rules and reigns as King in Zion; and there he ever lives as our glorified and risen Head. As, then, we bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, as crucified with him and conformed to his death, so as “risen with him,” there is even now in our body a manifestation of his risen life.

Daily Blessings

“And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.”

~ Zech 3:1

It is the object of Satan to keep those secure who are safe in his hands; nor does God see fit to disturb their quiet. But on the other hand, where Satan perceives a work of grace going on, where he sees the eyes sometimes filled with tears, where he hears the sobs heaving from the contrite heart, where he observes the knees often bent in secret prayer, where his listening ear often hears the poor penitent confess his sins, weaknesses, and backslidings before God, (for by these observations we have reason to believe Satan gains his intelligence,) wherever he sees this secret work going on in the soul, mad with wrath and filled with malice, he vents his hellish spleen against the objects of God’s love. Sometimes he tries to ensnare them into sin, sometimes to harass them with temptation, sometimes to stir up their wicked heart into desperate rebellion, sometimes to work upon their natural infidelity, and sometimes to plague them with many groundless doubts and fears as to their reality and sincerity before a heart-searching God.

So that while those who have no work of grace upon their hearts at all, are left secure, and free from doubt and fear, those in whom God is at work are exercised and troubled in their minds, and often cannot really believe that they are the people in whom God takes delight. The depths of human hypocrisy, the dreadful lengths to which profession may go, the deceit of the carnal heart, the snares spread for the unwary feet, the fearful danger of being deceived at the last—these traps and pitfalls are not objects of anxiety to those dead in sin. As long as they can pacify natural conscience, and do something to soothe any transient conviction, they are glad to be deceived.

But, on the other hand, he that has a conscience tender in God’s fear knows what a dreadful thing it is to be a hypocrite before God, to have “a lie in his right hand,” and be deluded by the prince of darkness; and therefore, until God himself with his own blessed lips speaks with power to his conscience, and establishes him in a blessed assurance of his saving interest in Christ by “shedding abroad his love in his heart,” he must be tried and exercised in his mind, he must have these various tossings to and fro, for this simple reason—because he cannot rest satisfied except in the personal manifestations of the mercy of God.