Daily Wisdom

“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace.”

~ Rom 14:19

What a sweetness is contained in the word “peace.” Bunyan well represents this in his Pilgrim’s Progress, where he speaks of Christian, after having been entertained in the “house Beautiful,” going to sleep in the chamber called “Peace.” And what blessed sensations are couched in that word “Peace!” It was the legacy that Jesus left to his Church. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world gives, give I unto you;” and the Apostle says of it that it “passes all understanding.”

Now many even of the Lord’s people seem as if they wanted and were expecting raptures. There is, I believe, a vast deal of enthusiasm in the natural mind of man, as is evident from what I may call its religious history in all ages; and this leads many who, in other points, seem rightly taught to look for wonderful visions, ecstasies, and raptures, things which nature can imitate, or Satan, as an “angel of light,” counterfeit to delude souls.

But I believe Satan cannot speak gospel peace to the conscience; he cannot bring a holy calm into the soul. He could lash the waters of Gennesaret into a storm; but there was only One who could say to them, “Peace, be still.” Satan may raise up a storm in our carnal mind, but he cannot allay it; he cannot pour oil upon the waves; nor calm the troubled breast, and enable it to rest upon God. Of all spiritual blessings, none seem preferable to peace; and I believe that it is what a child of God covets more than anything. For, O how much is implied in the word “peace!” Is not man by nature an enemy to God? Then to be saved he must be reconciled; and that implies peace. Is not his heart often troubled, as the Lord said, “Let not your heart be troubled?” Then he needs peace. And is not his mind often agitated and tossed up and down by conflicting emotions? Then he needs peace to calm it. And when he has to lie upon his dying bed, O, if he can but lie there in peace, peace with God through Jesus Christ, and a holy calm comes over his soul, flowing out of manifested mercy and felt reconciliation, it will beat all the raptures in the world!

To be blessed with peace, through the blood of sprinkling, before the soul glides out of its earthly tabernacle to enter into the haven of peace above—this indeed will make a death-bed happy, this will extract every thorn from the dying pillow, and enable the departing believer to say, with holy Simeon, “Lord, now let you your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation.”

Daily Wisdom

“And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.”

~ Ps 107:7

“He led them forth.” Forth out of the world—forth out of sin—forth out of a mere profession—forth out of a name to live—forth out of everything hateful to his holy and pure eyes.

“To go to a city of habitation.” They had no city to dwell in here below; but they were journeying to a city of habitation above, whose walls and bulwarks are salvation, and whose gates are praise; where there are eternal realities to be enjoyed by the soul; where there is something stable and eternal; something to satisfy all the needs of a capacious and immortal spirit, and give it that rest which it never could find while wandering here below. If we have a city here in this earth, we desire no city above; and if we have a city above, we desire no city here.

This then must be our state and case; either to be pilgrims, journeying onwards, through troubles, to things above, or taking up our abode below; seeking heaven here, or heaven hereafter; resting upon the world, or resting upon the Lord; panting after the things of time, or panting after the things of eternity; satisfied in self, or satisfied only in Christ. One of the two must be our state and case. The Lord decide it clearly in the hearts of his people that they are on his side; and give us to know and feel that our very restlessness and inability to find food and shelter in the things of time and sense, are leading us more earnestly and believingly to seek after the things that have reality in them; that finding no city to dwell in here below, we may press forward to be manifestly enjoying testimonies of being citizens of that city which is above, “which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God!”

Daily Wisdom

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

~ Rom 8:32

I have thought sometimes of the sweet figure of Solomon, as a type of Christ, in his royal liberality to the queen of Sheba. We read of him that he “gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty.” So our Royal Benefactor gives more to the sons of men than is in their heart to ask for. And what he gives, he gives freely, out of his royal bounty. As freely as the rain drops from the sky; as freely as the sun casts forth his glorious beams and ripens the fruits of the field; as freely as the wind courses over the earth; as freely as the dew drops upon the morning grass; so free are the gifts of God to his Church and people.

Indeed, in giving Christ, God gave everything. The Apostle declares, he “has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” We must never look upon spiritual blessings as broken fragments of the love of God, mere shreds and patches, scattered crumbs, waifs and strays, like floating pieces of some shipwrecked vessel; but we must look on the blessings of the gospel as all stored up in Christ our covenant Head. Whatever is given, is given out of Christ, in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell; and it is by virtue of union to him, and out of his fullness, that all these blessings are received.

How can we lift up our thoughts, how raise up our hearts, adequately to conceive of the gift of God’s only begotten Son, his eternal Son, the Son of the Father in truth and love, given out of the bosom of God that he might become incarnate, suffer, bleed, and die; and by a suffering life and meritorious death offer a sacrifice acceptable to God, a sacrifice whereby the sins of God’s people were forever put away?

The grand source of all the admiration and adoration and the eternal blessedness of the saints, will be the holy enjoyment of the ‘mystery of an incarnate God’. The incarnation of the second Person in the glorious Trinity the eternal Son of the eternal Father his taking human nature into union with his own divine Person will be the mystery that will ravish the hearts and fill the lips of God’s saints with an endless theme of admiration and joy through the countless ages of eternity.

Daily Wisdom

“He raises up the poor out of the dust, and lifts up the beggar from the ash-heap, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory.”

~ 2 Sam 2:8

A man can never reach heaven unless he travels heavenwards, Zionwards, in the way that God has marked out for his people to walk in. It is a delusion to think that we are going to heaven unless we know something of divine teaching in the soul. But if we know anything of divine teaching, we know what it is to be poor and needy, we know what it is, more or less, to have our mouth in the dust. But many people do so mistake the way to heaven. The ordinary way is to set up a ladder to reach from earth to heaven, and progressively clambering up the different rungs, at last to climb up into the abode of God. But that is not the way of God’s people. They have to go down, down, down, that they may be raised up. It is not with them first “up, up, up,” to scale the battlements of heaven. Every such step upwards in SELF is in reality only a step downwards; but, on the other hand, every step downwards in self, downwards into the depths of poverty, downwards into felt misery, downwards into soul-trouble and the real groanings of a broken heart—every such step downwards in self is, in fact, a step upwards in Christ.

Until we get to the very bottom there is no promise. “He raises up the poor out of the dust.” But how? He does it in a moment. The Lord does not raise up his people rung by rung, enabling them to clamber and crawl with their hands and feet to him. But, when he lifts up the poor out of the dust, he gives them a smile which reaches, so to speak, to the very bottom of their hearts; and that smile has such a miraculous power, such a drawing efficacy, that it lifts them in a moment out of the dust into the very bosom of God. When, therefore, the Lord raises up the poor out of the dust, he does not lift them up by a gradual process, step by step as they went down. They were, perhaps, many years going down; but they are raised up in a moment. The God of all grace, by one word, or by one smile, lifts them up in a moment out of the lowest depths of felt degradation, “sets them among princes, and makes them inherit the throne of glory.”

Daily Wisdom

“I will cry unto God most High; unto God who performs all things for me.”

Ps 57:2

In the word “most High,” there is something to my mind very expressive. It is to “God most High” that prayers go up from broken hearts, in all parts of the world where the Lord has a quickened people. “Unto God most High” every eye is pointed, every heart is fixed, and every breath of living prayer flows. Jesus sits in glory as “God most High,” hearing the sighs and cries of his broken-hearted family, where they dwell in the utmost corners of the earth; and he is not only sitting on high to hear their cries, but also to bestow upon them the blessings which he sees suitable to their case and state.

Now when shall we thus come “unto God most High?” When we are pleased and satisfied in SELF? when the world smiles? when all things are easy without and within? when we are in circumstances for which our own wisdom, strength, and righteousness are amply sufficient? We may, under such circumstances, appease our conscience by prayer, or rather its form; but there is no “CRY unto God most High.” Before there is a real, spiritual cry raised up, we must be brought to that spot, “Refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul” (Psalm 142:4). Here all the saints of old were brought; Job upon his ash-heap, Hezekiah upon his sick bed, Hannah by the temple gate. All were hopeless, helpless, houseless, refugeless, before they cried “unto God most High.” And we must be equally refugeless and houseless before we can utter the same cry, or our prayers find entrance into the ears of the Lord Almighty.

“Unto God who performs all things for me.” If God did not perform something for us; no more, if God did not perform all things for us, it would be a mockery, a delusion to pray to him at all. “The Hope of Israel” would then be to us a dumb idol, like Ashtaroth or Baal, who could not hear the cries of his lancet-cutting worshipers, because he was hunting or asleep, and needed to be awakened. But the God of Israel is not like these dumb idols, these ash-heap gods, the work of men’s hands, the figments of superstition and ignorance; but the eternal Jehovah, who ever lives to hear and answer the prayers that his people offer up.

Daily Wisdom

“For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he sees their every step.”

~ Job 34:21

The Christian has to prove that nothing escapes the eye of a just and holy God; that he lays bare every secret thought, searches every hidden purpose, and scrutinizes every desire and every movement of the mind. He thus discovers and brings to light all the secret sins of the heart. Men in general take no notice of heart sins; if they can keep from overt sins in life, from open acts of immorality, they are satisfied. What passes in the secret chambers of imagery they neither see nor feel. Not so with the child of grace; he knows the experience described in Psalm 139. He carries about with him the secret conviction that the eye of God reads every thought. Every inward movement of pride and self-righteousness, rebellion, discontent, peevishness, fretfulness, lust, and extravagance, he inwardly feels that the eye of God reads all, marks all, condemns by his righteous law all, and because he is so intrinsically pure, hates and abhors all.

Thus he proves, among the “all things” which are weighed up and measured in the inward court of conscience by the unerring standard of the word of truth, the light of the Spirit’s teaching, and the workings of godly fear, that he is a sinner before God, and that of a deeper dye and more crimson hue than any other transgressor, for he sees and knows his own heart, which nobody else can see or know. He is indeed aware that many may have sinned more deeply and grossly as regards outward acts; but he feels that no one can have sinned inwardly more foully and continually than he; and this makes him say with Job, “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye sees you; wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5, 6).

Daily Wisdom

“Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.”

~ Ps 107:10

God’s people are here represented not as sitting in death; were they sitting there, they would be dead altogether; but they are sitting in the shadow of death. Observe, death has lost its reality to them; it now can only cast a shadow, often a gloomy shadow, over their souls; but there is no substance in it. The quickening of the Spirit of God in them has destroyed the substance of death spiritually; and the death and resurrection of Jesus have destroyed the substance of death physically.

Yet, though the gloomy monster—deadness of soul; and that ghastly king of terrors—the death of the body; have been disarmed and destroyed by “Immanuel, God with us;” yet each of them casts at times a gloomy, darkling shadow over the souls of those who fear God. Is not your soul, poor child of God, exercised from time to time with this inward death? Deadness in prayer, deadness in reading the word, deadness in hearing the truth, deadness in desires after the Lord, deadness to everything holy, spiritual, heavenly, and divine? How it benumbs and paralyzes every breathing of our soul Godwards! Yet it is but a shadow. Write not bitter things against yourself, poor, tempted, exercised child of God, because you feel such deathliness and coldness from time to time in your heart. It will not destroy you; no, it is life in your soul that makes it felt; and the more the life of God has been felt in your conscience, the more painfully the deathliness of your carnal mind is experienced.

Do you expect that your ‘carnal mind’ will ever be lively in the things of God? What is it but a lump of death, a huge mass of ungodliness, which, like some Behemoth, upheaves its broad flanks continually in the heart? Yet the people of God are very often troubled in their minds by the gloomy shadow that this death casts over their souls. But this trouble is a mark of life. If I were dead, could I feel it? The worst symptom of those dead in sin is, that they do not feel it. But, while we feel it, while we sigh on account of it, while we hate it, and hate ourselves on account of it, though it may pain and grieve, it never can destroy. It has lost its substance, though it casts its gloomy shadow.

Daily Wisdom

“Exercise yourself unto godliness.” ~ 1 Tim 4:7

“The Lord tries the righteous” (Ps. 11:5). In fact, a righteous life is for the most part a tried life. There is not a child of God, whose graces are lively and active, that is not tried in his soul. I have no more belief that the soul can live without exercise than that the body can. The more the soul is exercised, the healthier it will be. Trial is one main source of exercise. If you are tried as to your standing; tried as to your state; tried as to the reality of the work of grace upon your soul; tried as to your experience; tried as to your manifestations, deliverances, and evidences; tried by your sins; tried by Satan; tried by professors; tried by profane; and above all tried by your own heart, and that continually—it will keep your soul in exercise. And this is “exercise unto godliness.”

If these exercises are unto godliness, they lead to godliness, they take you on your way to godliness, they bring you near to godliness, they bring you into godliness; and, above all things, they bring godliness into your soul. And thus, there is an exercise of the soul unto godliness. Does not your heart at times seem without a grain of it? You see what godliness is in its nature, in its branches, in its fruits, in its graces, in what a Christian should be, practically, experimentally, and really—outwardly and inwardly—in the church, and in the world. You say, “I a Christian! I a godly man or woman! Let me compare myself with godliness.

Am I godly? Is there grace in my heart? Do I live? do I speak? do I think? do I act? do I walk? do I suffer as becomes a Christian? Is my life, my profession, my conduct—in the family, in the world—in the business, in the church—at home, abroad—openly, secretly—privately, publicly—is it such that I can take it and lay it down, step by step, with vital, real, experimental, scriptural godliness? “O,” say you, “I shrink back from the test. There are many things in me, inwardly and outwardly, which will not bear to be weighed up with godliness as revealed in the Scriptures of truth.”

Well, your mind is exercised, I suppose, when you have these workings. Now, what is the result? It is an “exercise unto godliness.” You want it; you strive for it; you cry for it; you press after it; you know that none but the Lord can work it in your soul; you feel needy, naked, and destitute; you know that without it you can neither happily live nor die; yet have it you must, or perish body and soul forever.

Daily Wisdom

“I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight.”

– Isa 42:16

What is the mind of man—of any man—of your mind, my mind, under affliction? Let him be tried with pain of body, poverty of circumstances, sickness in his family, guilt of conscience, hard bondage in his own soul, without any beam of divine light upon his path, and what is he? A murmuring, rebellious wretch, without a grain of resignation, without a particle of contentment or submission to the will of God.

But let the glory of the Lord be revealed; let him have a view by faith of a suffering Jesus; let some ray of light shine upon his path; let there be some breaking in of the exceeding weight of glory that is to be manifested at Christ’s appearing; where are all his crooked things now? All made straight. But how? By his crooked will—crooked because it did not lie level with the Lord’s—being made to harmonize with the promise and precept, the footsteps and example of the blessed Jesus. The crook is not taken out of the lot, but straightened in the lot; the cross is not removed from the shoulder, but strength—that strength which is “made perfect in weakness”—is given to bear it. So it was with Christ himself in the garden and on the cross; so it is with the believing followers of the crucified One.

Daily Wisdom

“O Lord, by these things men live; and in all these things is the life of my spirit.”

~ Isa 38:16

When Hezekiah said, “By these things men live,” he meant that by these trials and deliverances, by these sinkings and risings, strippings and clothings, emptyings and fillings, “by these things men,” that is, spiritual men, “live.” It is a mystery, but a great truth, that just in proportion as we die to the world, to self, to sense, to nature, and to false religion, the more the life of God is strengthened in our conscience. The Lord, perhaps, has taught some of you this truth through great afflictions. But when these trials came upon you at the first, it seemed as though they would entirely overwhelm you; they took away your standing, and it appeared as though they had destroyed your faith and hope.

But though these floods of temptation passed over the soul, they swept away nothing but rubbish, which until then was mistaken for the inward teachings of God the Spirit. So far then from these afflictions overwhelming your faith, you found that faith was secretly strengthened by the very flood that threatened at first to drown it. True faith is no more destroyed by sharp trials, than the oak is destroyed by cutting away the ivy, or by a storm blowing down some of its rotten branches. And thus, as the oak, the more the winds blow upon it, takes a firmer root in the soil; so the storms and tempests that blow upon the soul, only cause it to take a firmer hold of the truth, and to strike its fibers more deeply into the Person, love, work, and blood of Jesus. So that, “by these things men live,” for through them, the life of God is maintained and kept up in the soul, the Holy Spirit secretly strengthening it by the very things that seemed to threaten it with destruction.