A great number of unsaved folks in church remain so, not so much because the Word of Truth was not “rightly divided” to them, but partly because sermons were preached without fire or the convicting power of the Holy Ghost to reprove, to quicken and to convert the sinner from his way.
This situation is sharply contrasted by the result we see in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Acts of the Apostles. Hardened sinners were converted ( Acts 16:30) and “a great company of the Priests were obedient to the faith” after ministrations inspired by the Holy Spirit.
In our text, the Lord Jesus Christ had just finished preaching and teaching His disciples things concerning the Kingdom of God and the Power that causes it to grow. He now seems to take His listeners to witness the practical demonstration of that power.
In an instance, by the power of his spoken word, a demoniac was healed and the whole community received Jesus; a woman with 12 years issue of blood miraculously healed and Jesus was published in all that land while a little girl was raised from the dead to the effect that an entire household turned their lives to the Lord.
Surely then, the kingdom of God expands by the power of the Holy Ghost. This power comes upon His ministers, thus:
firstly, is the power of son ship (John 1:12).
Secondly, the power of the purified life (Mark 6:20) and
thirdly, power through the baptism and gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 1:8).
Ministers of the word will experience Holy Ghost Power to accomplish much in ministry if they genuinely consecrate to receive the three distinct Christian experiences.
Similarly, if anyone hears His word and believes them and turns his or her life to Christ the same can exercise faith in the word and receive healing, deliverance divine empowerment and above all, eternal life. You hold your destiny in your hands, believe and turn your life to Jesus.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
His word is alive and full of power.
Bread for today (31.03.2014): The Awesome God.
Bible-Text=Gen15.5: Vs5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
So, dear Friends, when we seem to have nothing, certainly nothing visible, to protect us, what a blessing it is to know that we are nevertheless completely guarded by the Omnipotent though invisible God!
The visible is necessarily the limited and finite, but the invisible God is Infinite and there is no searching of His understanding, or resistance to His power. You are infinitely safe if you really trust the living God — your beginning and ending, your waking and sleeping, your resting and journeying, your work and suffering, your honor or your reproach, your poverty or wealth, your success or failure, your life or death — your all forever and ever is most secure when the Lord is your Keeper and your Shield upon your right hand.
Be it ours in truest wisdom and sincerest trust to
give up our hearts to the repose of simple faith in Him!
Come, sing with me that verse of the beloved singer Toplady—
“Inquirer and Hearer of prayer,
You Shepherd and Guardian of Thine,
My all to Your Covenant care,
I sleeping and waking resign!
If You are my shield and my sun,
The night is no darkness to me—
And fast as the moments roll on,
They bring me but nearer to Thee!”
We are invulnerable and invincible if God is with us! We may be in the very midst of cruel adversaries, but no weapon that is formed against us can prosper if God is our Shield. Our Lord did not say to Abram, and does not say to us, “I will shield you,” but that I, that am the Almighty, I am your Shield: it is not alone My power, My wisdom, My love which will protect you, but I, Myself, will be your Shield!
Then Abram may have thought, “I shall be protected, but shall I not spend my life in vain?” He might have feared for his success. He led the life of a gypsy, roaming through a land in which he owned no foot of ground. Therefore the Lord added, “I am your Reward.” Do you see? He does not say, “I will reward you,” but “I am your Reward.”
If we who work for Christ see souls saved, how we rejoice, for they are a kind of reward to us — but nevertheless we will not rejoice so much but rather rejoice that our names are written in Heaven! I have in these words quoted an old text, first spoken to chosen men who had healed the sick and cast out devils in Christ’s name.
And if many receive our word it is a joy to us, but still we may be disappointed even in professed conversions and, at best, our success will not equal our desires. The only reward that a Christian can fully rejoice in — and without any reservation — is this assurance of his Master and Lord, “I am your Reward.”
Did not the father in the parable say to the elder son, when he growled and grumbled at the reception given to his brother, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours”? That was reward enough, was it not? It is wealth enough to a Believer to possess his God, honor enough to please his God, happiness enough to enjoy his God. My heart’s best treasure lies here — “This God is our God forever and ever: He will be ours Amen
Bread for today (01.04.2014): Divine Invitation
Bible-Text=John 7:37: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.”
Patience had her perfect work in the Lord Jesus, and until the last day of the feast He pleaded with the Jews, even as on this last day of the year He pleads with us, and waits to be gracious to us.
Admirable indeed is the longsuffering of the Saviour in bearing with some of us year after year, notwithstanding our provocations, rebellions, and resistance of His Holy Spirit. Wonder of wonders that we are still in the land of mercy! Pity expressed herself most plainly, for Jesus cried, which implies not only the loudness of His voice, but the tenderness of His tones.
He entreats us to be reconciled. “We pray you,” says the Apostle, “as though God did beseech you by us.” What earnest, pathetic terms are these! How deep must be the love which makes the Lord weep over sinners, and like a mother woo His children to His bosom! Surely at the call of such a cry our willing hearts will come.
Provision is made most plenteously; all is provided that man can need to quench his soul’s thirst. To his conscience the atonement brings peace; to his understanding the gospel brings the richest instruction; to his heart the person of Jesus is the noblest object of affection; to the whole man the truth as it is in Jesus supplies the purest nutriment. Thirst is terrible, but Jesus can remove it. Though the soul were utterly famished, Jesus could restore it.
Proclamation is made most freely, that every thirsty one is welcome. No other distinction is made but that of thirst. Whether it be the thirst of avarice, ambition, pleasure, knowledge, or rest, he who suffers from it is invited. The thirst may be bad in itself, and be no sign of grace, but rather a mark of inordinate sin longing to be gratified with deeper draughts of lust; but it is not goodness in the creature which brings him the invitation, the Lord Jesus sends it freely, and without respect of persons.
Personality is declared most fully. The sinner must come to Jesus, not to works, ordinances, or doctrines, but to a personal Redeemer, who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree. The bleeding, dying, rising Saviour, is the only star of hope to a sinner. Come now and drink, ere the sun sets upon the year’s last day!
No waiting or preparation is so much as hinted at. Drinking represents a
reception for which no fitness is required. A fool, a thief, a harlot can
drink; and so sinfulness of character is no bar to the invitation to believe in
Jesus. We want no golden cup, no bejewelled chalice, in which to convey
the water to the thirsty; the mouth of poverty is welcome to stoop down
and quaff the flowing flood. Blistered, leprous, filthy lips may touch the
stream of divine love; they cannot pollute it, but shall themselves be
purified. Jesus is the fount of hope. Dear reader, hear the dear Redeemer’s
loving voice as He cries to each of us,
“IF ANY MAN THIRST,
COME UNTO ME
Bread for today (02.04.2014): The almost Christian
Bible-Text=Hosea 7:8: “Ephraim is a cake not turned.”
A cake not turned is uncooked on one side; and so Ephraim was, in many respects, untouched by divine grace: though there was some partial obedience, there was very much rebellion left.
My soul, I charge you, see whether this be your case. Are you thorough in the things of God? Has grace gone through the very centre of your being so as to be felt in its divine operations in all your powers, your actions, your words, and your thoughts?
To be sanctified, spirit, soul, and body, should be your aim and prayer; It must be universal in its action; there must not be the appearance of holiness in one place and reigning sin in another, else you, too, will be a cake not turned.
A cake not turned is soon burnt on the side nearest the fire, and although no man can have too much religion, there are some who seem burnt black with bigoted zeal for that part of truth which they have received, or are charred to a cinder with a vainglorious Pharisaic ostentation of those religious performances which suit their humour.
The assumed appearance of superior sanctity frequently accompanies a total absence of all vital godliness. The saint in public is a devil in private. He deals in flour by day and in soot by night. The cake which is burned on one side, is dough on the other.
If it be so with me, O Lord, turn me! Turn my unsanctified nature to the fire of your love and let it feel the sacred glow, and let my burnt side cool a little while I learn my own weakness and want of heat when I am removed from your heavenly flame. Let me not be found a double-minded man, but one entirely under the powerful influence of reigning grace; for well I know if I am left like a cake unturned, and am not on both sides the subject of your grace, I must be consumed for ever amid everlasting burnings.
Bread for today (03.04.2014): The adoptive children of God
Bible-Text=Romans 8:23: “Waiting for the adoption.”
Even in this world saints are God’s children, but men cannot discover them to be so, except by certain moral characteristics. The adoption is not manifested, the children are not yet openly declared. Among the Romans a man might adopt a child, and keep it private for a long time: but there was a second adoption in public; when the child was brought before the constituted authorities its former garments were taken off, and the father who took it to be his child gave it raiment suitable to its new condition of life.
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be.” We are not yet arrayed in the apparel which befits the royal family of heaven; we are wearing in this flesh and blood just what we wore as the sons of Adam; but we know that “when He shall appear” who is the “first-born among many brethren,” we shall be like Him, we shall see Him as He is.
Just think about it as a child taken from the lowest ranks of society, and adopted by a Roman senator, would say to himself, “I long for the day when I shall be publicly adopted. Then I shall leave off these plebeian garments, and be robed as becomes my senatorial rank”?
Happy in what he has received, for that very reason he groans to get the fulness of what is promised him. So it is with us today. We are waiting till we shall put on our proper garments, and shall be manifested as the children of God. We are young nobles, and have not yet worn our coronets. We are young brides, and the marriage day is not yet come, and by the love our Spouse bears us, we are led to long and sigh for the bridal morning.
Our very happiness makes us groan after more; our joy, like a swollen spring, longs to well up like an Iceland geyser, leaping to the skies, and it heaves and groans within our spirit for want of space and room by which to manifest itself to men.
Bread for today (04.04.2014): The blessing in keeping the word of God
Bible-Text=Luke 11:27, 28: “A certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto Him, Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But He said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”
It is fondly imagined by some that it must have involved very special privileges to have been the mother of our Lord, because they supposed that she had the benefit of looking into His very heart in a way in which we cannot hope to do. There may be an appearance of plausibility in the supposition, but not much.
We do not know that Mary knew more than others; what she did know she did well to lay up in her heart; but she does not appear from anything we read in the Evangelists to have been a better-instructed believer than any other of Christ’s disciples. All that she knew we also may discover. Do you wonder that we should say so? Here is a text to prove it: “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.”
Remember the Master’s words — ”Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” So blessedly does this Divine Revealer of secrets tell us His heart, that He keeps back nothing which is profitable to us; His own assurance is, “If it were not so, I would have told you.”
Does He not this day manifest Himself unto us as He does not unto the world? It is even so; and therefore we will not ignorantly cry out, “Blessed is the womb that bare thee,” but we will intelligently bless God that, having heard the Word and kept it, we have first of all as true a communion with the Saviour as the Virgin had, and in the second place as true an acquaintance with the secrets of His heart as she can be supposed to have obtained. Happy soul to be thus privileged!
Bread for today (05.04.2014): Unshakeable Steadfastness
Bible-Text=Daniel 3:16, 18: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said... Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods.”
The narrative of the manly courage and marvellous deliverance of the three holy children, or rather champions, is well calculated to excite in the minds of believers firmness and steadfastness in upholding the truth in the teeth of tyranny and in the very jaws of death.
Let young Christians especially learn from their example, both in matters of faith in religion, and matters of uprightness in business, never to sacrifice their consciences. Lose all rather than lose your integrity, and when all else is gone, still hold fast a clear conscience as the rarest jewel which can adorn the bosom of a mortal.
Be not guided by the will-o’-the-wisp of policy, but by the pole-star of divine authority. Follow the right at all hazards. When you see no present advantage, walk by faith and not by sight. Do God the honour to trust Him when it comes to matters of loss for the sake of principle.
See whether He will be your debtor! See if He does not even in this life prove His word that “Godliness, with contentment, is great gain,” and that they who “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, shall have all these things added unto them.” Should it happen that, in the providence of God, you are a loser by conscience, you shall find that if the Lord pays you not back in the silver of earthly prosperity, He will discharge His promise in the gold of spiritual joy.
Remember that a man’s life consists not in the abundance of that which he possesses. To wear a guileless spirit, to have a heart void of offence, to have the favour and smile of God, is greater riches than the mines of Ophir could yield, or the traffic of Tyre could win. “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and inward contention therewith.” An ounce of heart’s-ease is worth a ton of gold.
Bread for today (06.04.2014): A steady way to the higher ground
Bible-Text=Isaiah 40:9: “Get thee up into the high mountain.”
Our knowledge of Christ is somewhat like climbing one of our Welsh mountains. When you are at the base you see but little: the mountain itself appears to be but one-half as high as it really is. Confined in a little valley, you discover scarcely anything but the rippling brooks as they descend into the stream at the foot of the mountain.
Climb the first rising knoll, and the valley lengthens and widens beneath your feet. Go higher, and you see the country for four or five miles round, and you are delighted with the widening prospect. Mount still, and the scene enlarges; till at last, when you are on the summit, and look east, west, north, and south, you see almost all England lying before you.
Yonder is a forest in some distant county, perhaps two hundred miles away, and here the sea, and there a shining river and the smoking chimneys of a manufacturing town, or the masts of the ships in a busy port. All these things please and delight you, and you say, “I could not have imagined that so much could be seen at this elevation.”
Now, the Christian life is of the same order. When we first believe in Christ we see but little of Him. The higher we climb the more we discover of His beauties. But who has ever gained the summit? Who has known all the heights and depths of the love of Christ which passes knowledge?
Paul, when grown old, sitting grey-haired, shivering in a dungeon in Rome, could say with greater emphasis than we can, “I know whom I have believed,” for each experience had been like the climbing of a hill, each trial had been like ascending another summit, and his death seemed like gaining the top of the mountain, from which he could see the whole of the faithfulness and the love of Him to whom he had committed his soul. Get thee up, dear friend, into the high mountain.
Bread for today (07.04.2014): Are you real?
Bible-Text=Isaiah 14:10: “Art thou become like unto us?”
What must be the apostate professor’s doom when his naked soul appears before God? How will he bear that voice, “Depart, ye cursed; you have rejected me, and I reject you; you have played the harlot, and departed from Me: I also have banished you for ever from my presence, and will not have mercy upon you.”
What will be this wretch’s shame at the last great day when, before assembled multitudes, the apostate shall be unmasked? See the profane, and sinners who never professed religion, lifting themselves up from their beds of fire to point at him. “There he is,” says one, “will he preach the gospel in hell?”
“There he is,” says another, “he rebuked me for cursing, and was a hypocrite himself!” “Aha!” says another, “here comes a psalm-singing Methodist — one who was always at his meeting; he is the man who boasted of his being sure of everlasting life; and here he is!” No greater eagerness will ever be seen among Satanic tormentors, than in that day when devils drag the hypocrite’s soul down to perdition.
Bunyan pictures this with massive but awful grandeur of poetry when he speaks of the back-way to hell. Seven devils bound the wretch with nine cords, and dragged him from the road to heaven, in which he had professed to walk, and thrust him through the back-door into hell. Mind that back-way to hell, professors! “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith.” Look well to your state; see whether you be in Christ or not.
It is the easiest thing in the world to give a lenient verdict when oneself is to be tried; but O, be just and true here. Be just to all, but be rigorous to yourself. Remember if it be not a rock on which you build, when the house shall fall, great will be the fall of it. O may the Lord give you sincerity, constancy, and firmness; and in no day, however evil, may you be led to turn aside.
Bread for today (08.04.2014): The total escape
Bible-Text=2 Peter 1:4: “Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
Vanish for ever all thought of indulging the flesh if you would live in the power of your risen Lord. It were ill that a man who is alive in Christ should dwell in the corruption of sin. “Why seek ye the living among the dead?” said the angel to Magdalene. Should the living dwell in the sepulchre? Should divine life be immured in the charnel house of fleshly lust?
How can we partake of the cup of the Lord and yet drink the cup of Belial? Surely, believer, from open lusts and sins you are delivered: have you also escaped from the more secret and delusive lime-twigs of the Satanic fowler? Have you come forth from the lust of pride? Have you escaped from slothfulness? Have you clean escaped from carnal security?
Are you seeking day by day to live above worldliness, the pride of life, and the ensnaring vice of avarice? Remember, it is for this that you have been enriched with the treasures of God. If you be indeed the chosen of God, and beloved by Him, do not suffer all the lavish treasure of grace to be wasted upon you.
Follow after holiness; it is the Christian’s crown and glory. An unholy church! it is useless to the world, and of no esteem among men. It is an abomination, hell’s laughter, heaven’s abhorrence. The worst evils which have ever come upon the world have been brought upon her by an unholy church. O Christian, the vows of God are upon you. You are God’s priest: act as such.
You are God’s king: reign over your lusts.
You are God’s chosen: do not associate with Belial. Heaven is your
portion: live like a heavenly spirit, so shall you prove that you have true
faith in Jesus, for there cannot be faith in the heart unless there be holiness
in the life.
“Lord, I desire to live as one
Who bears a blood-bought name,
As one who fears but grieving Thee,
And knows no other shame.”
Bread for today (09.04.2014): Total separation
Bible-Text=Exodus 8:28: “Only ye shall not go very far away.”
This is a crafty word from the lip of the arch-tyrant Pharaoh. If the poor bondaged Israelites must needs go out of Egypt, then he bargains with them that it shall not be very far away; not too far for them to escape the terror of his arms, and the observation of his spies.
After the same fashion, the world loves not the non-conformity of nonconformity, or the dissidence of dissent, it would have us be more charitable and not carry matters with too severe a hand. Death to the world, and burial with Christ, are experiences which carnal minds treat with ridicule, and hence the ordinance which sets them forth is almost universally neglected, and even contemned.
Worldly wisdom recommends the path of compromise, and talks of “moderation.” According to this carnal policy, purity is admitted to be very desirable, but we are warned against being too precise; truth is of course to be followed, but error is not to be severely denounced. “Yes,” says the world, “be spiritually minded by all means, but do not deny yourself a little gay society, an occasional ball, and a Christmas visit to a theatre.
What’s the good of crying down a thing when it is so fashionable, and everybody does it?” Multitudes of professors yield to this cunning advice, to their own eternal ruin. If we would follow the Lord wholly, we must go right away into the wilderness of separation, and leave the Egypt of the carnal world behind us. We must leave its maxims, its pleasures, and its religion too, and go far away to the place where the Lord calls His sanctified ones.
When the town is on fire, our house cannot be too far from the flames. When the plague is abroad, a man cannot be too far from its haunts. The further from a viper the better, and the further from worldly conformity the better. To all true believers let the trumpet-call be sounded, “Come ye out from among them, be ye separate.”
Bread for today (10.04.2014): Faithfulness in all things
Bible-Text=1 Corinthians 7:20: “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.”
Some persons have the foolish notion that the only way in which they can live for God is by becoming ministers, missionaries, or Bible women. Alas! how many would be shut out from any opportunity of magnifying the Most High if this were the case.
Beloved, it is not office, it is earnestness; it is not position, it is grace which will enable us to glorify God. God is most surely glorified in that cobbler’s stall, where the godly worker, as he plies the awl, sings of the Saviour’s love, ay, glorified far more than in many a prebendal stall where official religiousness performs its scanty duties.
The name of Jesus is glorified by the poor unlearned carter as he drives his horse, and blesses his God, or speaks to his fellow labourer by the roadside, as much as by the popular divine who, throughout the country, like Boanerges, is thundering out the gospel.
God is glorified by our serving Him in our proper vocations. Take care, dear reader, that you do not forsake the path of duty by leaving your occupation, and take care you do not dishonour your profession while in it. Think little of yourselves, but do not think too little of your callings.
Every lawful trade may be sanctified by the gospel to noblest ends. Turn to the Bible, and you will find the most menial forms of labour connected either with most daring deeds of faith, or with persons whose lives have been illustrious for holiness. Therefore be not discontented with your calling.
Whatever God has made your position, or your work, abide in that, unless you are quite sure that he calls you to something else. Let your first care be to glorify God to the utmost of your power where you are. Fill your present sphere to His praise, and if He needs you in another He will show it you. Today lay aside vexatious ambition, and embrace peaceful content.
Bread for today (11.04.2014): Looking unto Jesus
Bible-Text=Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus.”
It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.
He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of His children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.” All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within.
But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: He tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.” Remember, therefore, it is not your hold of Christ that saves you — it is Christ; it is not your joy in Christ that saves you — it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument — it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you are grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but to Jesus, the source of your hope; look not to your faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.
We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “looking unto Jesus.”
Keep your eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His
merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh upon your mind; when you
wake in the morning look to Him; when you lie down at night look to
Him. Oh! let not your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow
hard after Him, and He will never fail you.
“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesu’s blood and righteousness:
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesu’s name.”
Bread for today (12.04.2014): Hope of eternal life
Bible-Text=1 Thessalonians 4:14: “Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.”
Let us not imagine that the soul sleeps in insensibility. “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise,” is the whisper of Christ to every dying saint. They “sleep in Jesus,” but their souls are before the throne of God, praising Him day and night in His temple, singing hallelujahs to Him who washed them from their sins in His blood.
The body sleeps in its lonely bed of earth, beneath the coverlet of grass. But what is this sleep? The idea connected with sleep is “rest,” and that is the thought which the Spirit of God would convey to us. Sleep makes each night a Sabbath for the day. Sleep shuts fast the door of the soul, and bids all intruders tarry for a while, that the life within may enter its summer garden of ease.
The toil-worn believer quietly sleeps, as does the weary child when it slumbers on its mother’s breast. Oh! happy are those, who die in the Lord; they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them. Their quiet repose shall never be broken until God shall rouse them to give them their full reward.
Guarded by angel watchers, curtained by eternal mysteries, they sleep on, the heritors of glory, till the fulness of time shall bring the fulness of redemption. What an awaking shall be theirs! They were laid in their last resting place, weary and worn, but as such they shall not rise. They went to their rest with the furrowed brow, and the wasted features, but they wake up in beauty and glory.
The shrivelled seed, so destitute of form and comeliness, rises from the dust a beauteous flower. The winter of the grave gives way to the spring of redemption and the summer of glory. Blessed is death, since it, through the divine power, disrobes us of this work day garment, to clothe us with the wedding garment of incorruption. Blessed are those who “sleep in Jesus.”
Bread for today (13.04.2014): The glory of Christ
Bible-Text= John 17:22: “And the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them.”
Behold the superlative liberality of the Lord Jesus, for He has given us His all. Although a tithe of His possessions would have made a universe of angels rich beyond all thought, yet he was not content until He had given us all that He had. It would have been surprising grace if He had allowed us to eat the crumbs of His bounty beneath the table of His mercy; but He will do nothing by halves, He makes us sit with Him and share the feast.
Had He given us some small pension from His royal coffers, we should have had cause to love Him eternally; but no, He will have His bride as rich as Himself, and He will not have a glory or a grace in which she shall not share. He has not been content with less than making us joint-heirs with Himself, so that we might have equal possessions.
He has emptied all His estate into the coffers of the Church, and has all things common with His redeemed. There is not one room in His house the key of which He will withhold from His people. He gives them full liberty to take all that He has to be their own; He loves them to make free with His treasure, and appropriate as much as they can possibly carry.
The boundless fulness of His all-sufficiency is as free to the believer as the air he breathes. Christ has put the flagon of His love and grace to the believer’s lip, and bidden him drink on for ever; for could he drain it, he is welcome to do so, and as he cannot exhaust it, he is bidden to drink abundantly, for it is all his own.
What truer proof of fellowship can heaven or earth afford?
“When I stand before the throne
Dressed in beauty not my own;
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart;
Then, Lord, shall I fully know —
Not till then — how much I owe.”
Bread for today (14.04.2014): Nothing is too hard for the Lord
Bible-Text=Jeremiah 32:17: “Ah Lord God, behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee.”
At the very time when the Chaldeans surrounded Jerusalem, and when the sword, famine and pestilence had desolated the land, Jeremiah was commanded by God to purchase a field, and have the deed of transfer legally sealed and witnessed.
This was a strange purchase for a rational man to make. Prudence could not justify it, for it was buying with scarcely a probability that the person purchasing could ever enjoy the possession. But it was enough for Jeremiah that his God had bidden him, for well he knew that God will be justified of all His children.
He reasoned thus: “Ah, Lord God! You can make this plot of ground of use to me; You can rid this land of these oppressors; You can make me yet sit under my vine and my fig-tree in the heritage which I have bought; for You did make the heavens and the earth, and there is nothing too hard for You.”
This gave a majesty to the early saints, that they dared to do at God’s command things which carnal reason would condemn. Whether it be a Noah who is to build a ship on dry land, an Abraham who is to offer up his only son, or a Moses who is to despise the treasures of Egypt, or a Joshua who is to besiege Jericho seven days, using no weapons but the blasts of rams’ horns, they all act upon God’s command, contrary to the dictates of carnal reason; and the Lord gives them a rich reward as the result of their obedient faith.
Would to God we had in the religion of these modern times a more potent infusion of this heroic faith in God. If we would venture more upon the naked promise of God, we should enter a world of wonders to which as yet we are strangers. Let Jeremiah’s place of confidence be ours — nothing is too hard for the God that created the heavens and the earth.
Bread for today (15.04.2014): Divine intimacy
Bible-Text=Genesis 3:8: “The voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”
My soul, now at this cool of the day, retire awhile and hearken to the voice of your God. He is always ready to speak with you when you are prepared to hear. If there be any slowness to commune it is not on His part, but altogether on your own, for He stands at the door and knocks, and if His people will but open He rejoices to enter.
But in what state is my heart, which is my Lord’s garden? May I venture to hope that it is well trimmed and watered, and is bringing forth fruit fit for Him? If not, He will have much to reprove, but still I pray Him to come unto me, for nothing can so certainly bring my heart into a right condition as the presence of the Sun of Righteousness, who brings healing in His wings.
Come, therefore, O Lord, my God, my soul invites you earnestly, and waits for you eagerly. Come to me, O Jesus, my well-beloved, and plant fresh flowers in my garden, such as I see blooming in such perfection in your matchless character! Come, O my Father, who are the Husbandman, and deal with me in your tenderness and prudence! Come, O Holy Spirit, and bedew my whole nature, as the herbs are now moistened with the evening dews.
O that God would speak to me. Speak, Lord, for your servant hears! O that He would walk with me; I am ready to give up my whole heart and mind to Him, and every other thought is hushed. I am only asking what He delights to give. I am sure that He will condescend to have fellowship with me, for He has given me His Holy Spirit to abide with me for ever.
Sweet is the cool twilight, when every star seems like the eye of heaven, and the cool wind is as the breath of celestial love. My Father, my elder Brother, my sweet Comforter, speak now in lovingkindness, for you have opened mine ear and I am not rebellious.
Bread for today (16.04.2014): The joyful heart
Bible-Text=Psalm 33:21: “Our heart shall rejoice in Him.”
Blessed is the fact that Christians can rejoice even in the deepest distress; although trouble may surround them, they still sing; and, like many birds, they sing best in their cages. The waves may roll over them, but their souls soon rise to the surface and see the light of God’s countenance; they have a buoyancy about them which keeps their head always above the water, and helps them to sing amid the tempest, “God is with me still.”
To whom shall the glory be given? Oh! to Jesus — it is all by Jesus. Trouble does not necessarily bring consolation with it to the believer, but the presence of the Son of God in the fiery furnace with him fills his heart with joy. He is sick and suffering, but Jesus visits him and makes his bed for him.
He is dying, and the cold chilly waters of Jordan are gathering about him up to the neck, but Jesus puts His arms around him, and cries, “Fear not, beloved; to die is to be blessed; the waters of death have their fountain-head in heaven; they are not bitter, they are sweet as nectar, for they flow from the throne of God.”
As the departing saint wades through the stream, and the billows gather around him, and heart and flesh fail him, the same voice sounds in his ears, “Fear not; I am with you; be not dismayed; I am your God.” As he nears the borders of the infinite unknown, and is almost affrighted to enter the realm of shades, Jesus says, “Fear not, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
strengthened and consoled, the believer is not afraid to die; nay, he is even
willing to depart, for since he has seen Jesus as the morning star, he longs
to gaze upon Him as the sun in his strength. Truly, the presence of Jesus
is all the heaven we desire. He is at once
“The glory of our brightest days;
The comfort of our nights.”
Bread for today (17.04.2014): Unfailing help
Bible-Text=Psalm 28:1: “Unto Thee will I cry, O Lord my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.”
A cry is the natural expression of sorrow, and a suitable utterance when all other modes of appeal fail us; but the cry must be alone directed to the Lord, for to cry to man is to waste our entreaties upon the air. When we consider the readiness of the Lord to hear, and His ability to aid, we shall see good reason for directing all our appeals at once to the God of our salvation.
It will be in vain to call to the rocks in the day of judgment, but our Rock attends to our cries. “Be not silent to me.” Mere formalists may be content without answers to their prayers, but genuine suppliants cannot; they are not satisfied with the results of prayer itself in calming the mind and subduing the will — they must go further, and obtain actual replies from heaven, or they cannot rest; and those replies they long to receive at once, they dread even a little of God’s silence.
God’s voice is often so terrible that it shakes the wilderness; but His silence is equally full of awe to an eager suppliant. When God seems to close His ear, we must not therefore close our mouths, but rather cry with more earnestness; for when our note grows shrill with eagerness and grief, He will not long deny us a hearing.
What a dreadful case should we be in if the Lord should become for ever silent to our prayers? “Lest, if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.” Deprived of the God who answers prayer, we should be in a more pitiable plight than the dead in the grave, and should soon sink to the same level as the lost in hell.
We must have answers to prayer: ours is an urgent case of dire necessity; surely the Lord will speak peace to our agitated minds, for He never can find it in His heart to permit His own elect to perish.
Bread for today (18.04.2014): Travailing for Christ
Bible-Text=2 Timothy 2:12: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.”
We must not imagine that we are suffering for Christ, and with Christ, if we are not in Christ. Beloved friend, are you trusting to Jesus only? If not, whatever you may have to mourn over on earth, you are not “suffering with Christ,” land have no hope of reigning with Him in heaven. Neither are we to conclude that all a Christian’s sufferings are sufferings with Christ, for it is essential that he be called by God to suffer.
If we are rash and imprudent, and run into positions for which neither providence nor grace has fitted us, we ought to question whether we are not rather sinning than communing with Jesus. If we let passion take the place of judgment, and self-will reign instead of Scriptural authority, we shall fight the Lord’s battles with the devil’s weapons, and if we cut our own fingers we must not be surprised.
Again, in troubles which come upon us as the result of sin, we must not dream that we are suffering with Christ. When Miriam spoke evil of Moses, and the leprosy polluted her, she was not suffering for God. Moreover, suffering which God accepts must have God’s glory as its end.
If I suffer that I may earn a name, or win applause, I shall get no other reward than that of the Pharisee. It is requisite also that love to Jesus, and love to His elect, be ever the mainspring of all our patience. We must manifest the Spirit of Christ in meekness, gentleness, and forgiveness.
Let us search and see if we truly suffer with Jesus. And if we do thus suffer, what is our “light affliction” compared with reigning with Him? Oh it is so blessed to be in the furnace with Christ, and such an honour to stand in the pillory with Him, that if there were no future reward, we might count ourselves happy in present honour; but when the recompense is so eternal, so infinitely more than we had any right to expect, shall we not take up the cross with alacrity, and go on our way rejoicing?
Bread for today (19.04.2014): Sanctification by the word
Bible-Text=John 17:17: “Sanctify them through Thy truth.”
Sanctification begins in regeneration. The Spirit of God infuses into man that new living principle by which he becomes “a new creature” in Christ Jesus. This work, which begins in the new birth, is carried on in two ways — mortification, whereby the lusts of the flesh are subdued and kept under; and vivification, by which the life which God has put within us is made to be a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.
This is carried on every day in what is called “perseverance,” by which the Christian is preserved and continued in a gracious state, and is made to abound in good works unto the praise and glory of God; and it culminates or comes to perfection, in “glory,” when the soul, being thoroughly purged, is caught up to dwell with holy beings at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
But while the Spirit of God is thus the author of sanctification, yet there is a visible agency employed which must not be forgotten. “Sanctify them,” said Jesus, “through thy truth: thy word is truth.” The passages of Scripture which prove that the instrument of our sanctification is the Word of God are very many.
The Spirit of God brings to our minds the precepts and doctrines of truth, and applies them with power. These are heard in the ear, and being received in the heart, they work in us to will and to do of God’s good pleasure. The truth is the sanctifier, and if we do not hear or read the truth, we shall not grow in sanctification. We only progress in sound living as we progress in sound understanding.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Do not say of any error, “It is a mere matter of opinion.” No man indulges an error of judgment, without sooner or later tolerating an error in practice. Hold fast the truth, for by so holding the truth shall you be sanctified by the Spirit of God.
Bread for today (20.04.2014): A clean hand and a pure heart
Bible-Text=Psalm 24:4: “He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.”
Outward practical holiness is a very precious mark of grace. It is to be feared that many professors have perverted the doctrine of justification by faith in such a way as to treat good works with contempt; if so, they will receive everlasting contempt at the last great day.
If our hands are not clean, let us wash them in Jesus’ precious blood, and so let us lift up pure hands unto God. But “clean hands” will not suffice, unless they are connected with “a pure heart.”
True religion is heart-work. We may wash the outside of the cup and the platter as long as we please, but if the inward parts be filthy, we are filthy altogether in the sight of God, for our hearts are more truly ourselves than our hands are; the very life of our being lies in the inner nature, and hence the imperative need of purity within.
The pure in heart shall see God, all others are but blind bats. The man who is born for heaven “has not lifted up his soul unto vanity.” All men have their joys, by which their souls are lifted up; the worldling lifts up his soul in carnal delights, which are mere empty vanities; but the saint loves more substantial things; like Jehoshaphat, he is lifted up in the ways of the Lord.
He who is content with husks, will be reckoned with the swine. Does the world satisfy you? Then you have your reward and portion in this life; make much of it, for you shall know no other joy.
“Nor sworn deceitfully.” The saints are still men of honour. The Christian man’s word is his only oath; but that is as good as twenty oaths of other men. False speaking will shut any man out of heaven, for a liar shall not enter into God’s house, whatever may be his professions or doings. Reader, does the text before us condemn you, or do you hope to ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Bread for today (21.04.2014):Remember your calling
Bible-Text=Romans 1:7: “Called to be saints.”
We are very apt to regard the apostolic saints as if they were “saints” in a more especial manner than the other children of God. All are “saints” whom God has called by His grace, and sanctified by His Spirit; but we are apt to look upon the apostles as extraordinary beings, scarcely subject to the same weaknesses and temptations as ourselves.
Yet in so doing we are forgetful of this truth, that the nearer a man lives to God the more intensely has he to mourn over his own evil heart; and the more his Master honours him in His service, the more also does the evil of the flesh vex and tease him day by day.
The fact is, if we had seen the apostle Paul, we should have thought him remarkably like the rest of the chosen family: and if we had talked with him, we should have said, “We find that his experience and ours are much the same. He is more faithful, more holy, and more deeply taught than we are, but he has the selfsame trials to endure.
Nay, in some respects he is more sorely tried than ourselves.” Do not, then, look upon the ancient saints as being exempt either from infirmities or sins; and do not regard them with that mystic reverence which will almost make us idolators.
Their holiness is attainable even by us. We are “called to be saints” by that same voice which constrained them to their high vocation. It is a Christian’s duty to force his way into the inner circle of saintship; and if these saints were superior to us in their attainments, as they certainly were, let us follow them; let us emulate their ardour and holiness.
We have the same light that they had, the same grace is accessible to us, and why should we rest satisfied until we have equalled them in heavenly character? They lived with Jesus, they lived for Jesus, therefore they grew like Jesus. Let us live by the same Spirit as they did, “looking unto Jesus,” and our saintship will soon be apparent.
Bread for today (22.04.2014): Our everlasting strength
Bible-Text=Isaiah 26:4: “Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”
Seeing that we have such a God to trust to, let us rest upon Him with all our weight; let us resolutely drive out all unbelief, and endeavour to get rid of doubts and fears, which so much mar our comfort; since there is no excuse for fear where God is the foundation of our trust.
A loving parent would be sorely grieved if his child could not trust him; and how ungenerous, how unkind is our conduct when we put so little confidence in our heavenly Father who has never failed us, and who never will.
It were well if doubting were banished from the household of God; but it is to be feared that old Unbelief is as nimble nowadays as when the psalmist asked, “Is His mercy clean gone for ever? Will He be favourable no more?”
David had not made any very lengthy trial of the mighty sword of the giant Goliath, and yet he said, “There is none like it.” He had tried it once in the hour of his youthful victory, and it had proved itself to be of the right metal, and therefore he praised it ever afterwards; even so should we speak well of our God, there is none like unto Him in the heaven above or the earth beneath; “To whom then will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.”
There is no rock like unto the rock of Jacob, our enemies themselves being judges. So far from suffering doubts to live in our hearts, we will take the whole detestable crew, as Elijah did the prophets of Baal, and slay them over the brook; and for a stream to kill them at, we will select the sacred torrent which wells forth from our Saviour’s wounded side.
We have been in many trials, but we have never yet been cast where we could not find in our God all that we needed. Let us then be encouraged to trust in the Lord for ever, assured that His ever lasting strength will be, as it has been, our succour and stay.
Bread for today (23.04.2014): Perfect security
Bible-Text=Proverbs 1:33: “Whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.”
Divine love is rendered conspicuous when it shines in the midst of judgments. Fair is that lone star which smiles through the rifts of the thunder clouds; bright is the oasis which blooms in the wilderness of sand; so fair and so bright is love in the midst of wrath. When the Israelites provoked the Most High by their continued idolatry, He punished them by withholding both dew and rain, so that their land was visited by a sore famine; but while He did this, He took care that His own chosen ones should be secure.
If all other brooks are dry, yet shall there be one reserved for Elijah; and when that fails, God shall still preserve for him a place of sustenance; nay, not only so, the Lord had not simply one “Elijah,” but He had a remnant according to the election of grace, who were hidden by fifties in a cave, and though the whole land was subject to famine, yet these fifties in the cave were fed, and fed from Ahab’s table too by His faithful, God-fearing steward, Obadiah.
Let us from this draw the inference, that come what may, God’s people are safe. Let convulsions shake the solid earth, let the skies themselves be rent in twain, yet amid the wreck of worlds the believer shall be as secure as in the calmest hour of rest.
If God cannot save His people under heaven, He will save them in heaven. If the world becomes too hot to hold them, then heaven shall be the place of their reception and their safety. Be ye then confident, when ye hear of wars, and rumours of wars. Let no agitation distress you, but be quiet from fear of evil.
Whatsoever comes upon the earth, you, beneath the broad wings of Jehovah, shall be secure. Stay yourself upon His promise; rest in His faithfulness, and bid defiance to the blackest future, for there is nothing in it direful for you. Your sole concern should be to show forth to the world the blessedness of hearkening to the voice of wisdom.
Bread for today (24.04.2014): Brethren, pray for us
Bible-Text=1 Thessalonians 5:25: “Brethren, pray for us.”
This one morning in the year we reserved to refresh the reader’s memory upon the subject of prayer for ministers, and we do most earnestly implore every Christian household to grant the fervent request of the text first uttered by an apostle and now repeated by us.
Brethren, our work is Solemnly momentous, involving weal or woe to thousands; we treat with souls for God on eternal business, and our word is either a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death.
A very heavy responsibility rests upon us, and it will be no small mercy if at the last we be found clear of the blood of all men. As officers in Christ’s army, we are the especial mark of the enmity of men and devils; they watch for our halting, and labour to take us by the heels.
Our sacred calling involves us in temptations from which you are exempt, above all it too often draws us away from our personal enjoyment of truth into a ministerial and official consideration of it. We meet with many knotty cases, and our wits are at a non plus; we observe very sad backslidings, and our hearts are wounded; we see millions perishing, and our spirits sink.
We wish to profit you by our preaching; we desire to be blest to your children; we long to be useful both to saints and sinners; therefore, dear friends, intercede for us with our God. We are miserable men if we miss the aid of your prayers, but we shall be happy if we live in your supplications.
You do not look to us but to our
Master for spiritual blessings, and yet how many times has He given those
blessings through His ministers; ask then, again and again, that we may be
the earthen vessels into which the Lord may put the treasure of the gospel.
We, the whole company of missionaries, ministers, city missionaries, and
students, do in the name of Jesus beseech you
“BRETHREN, PRAY FOR US.”
Bread for today (25.04.2014): You shall live
Bible-Text=Ezekiel 16:6: “When I passed by thee, I said unto thee, Live.”
Saved one, consider gratefully this mandate (of mercy. Note that this fiat of God is majestic. In our text, we perceive a sinner with nothing in him but sin, expecting nothing but wrath; but the eternal Lord passes by in His glory; He looks. He pauses, and He pronounces the solitary but royal word, “Live.”
There speaks a God. Who but He could venture thus to deal with life and dispense it with a single syllable? Again, this fiat is manifold. When He says “Live,” it includes many things. Here is judicial life. The sinner is ready to be condemned, but the mighty One says, “Live,” and he rises pardoned and absolved.
It is spiritual life. We knew not Jesus — our eyes could not see Christ, our ears could not hear His voice — Jehovah said “Live,” and we were quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.
Moreover, it includes glory-life, which is the perfection of spiritual life. “I said unto thee, Live:” and that word rolls on through all the years of time till death comes, and in the midst of the shadows of death, the Lord’s voice is still heard, “Live!” In the morning of the resurrection it is that self-same voice which is echoed by the arch-angel, “Live,” and as Holy Spirits rise to heaven to be blest for ever in the glory of their God, it is in the power of this same word, “Live.”
Note again, that it is an irresistible mandate. Saul of Tarsus is on the road to Damascus to arrest the saints of the living God. A voice is heard from heaven and a light is seen above the brightness of the sun, and Saul is crying out, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” This mandate is a mandate of free grace. When sinners are saved, it is only and solely because God will do it to magnify His free, unpurchased, unsought grace.
Christians, see your position, debtors to grace; show your gratitude by earnest, Christlike lives, and as God has bidden you live, see to it that you live in earnest.
Bread for today (26.04.2014): The secret of your strength
Bible-Text=Judges 16:6: “Tell me I pray thee wherein thy great strength lieth.”
Where lies the secret strength of faith? It lies in the food it feeds on; for faith studies what the promise is — an emanation of divine grace, an overflowing of the great heart of God; and faith says, “My God could not have given this promise, except from love and grace; therefore it is quite certain His Word will be fulfilled.”
Then faith thinks, “Who gave this promise?” It considers not so much its greatness, as, “Who is the author of it?” She remembers that it is God who cannot lie — God omnipotent, God immutable; and therefore concludes that the promise must be fulfilled; and forward she advances in this firm conviction. She remembers, why the promise was given, — namely, for God’s glory, and she feels perfectly sure that God’s glory is safe, that He will never stain His own escutcheon, nor mar the lustre of His own crown; and therefore the promise must and will stand.
Then faith also considers the amazing work of Christ as being a clear proof of the Father’s intention to fulfil His word. “He that spared not His own Son, but freely delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Moreover faith looks back upon the past, for her battles have strengthened her, and her victories have given her courage.
She remembers that God never has failed her; nay, that He never did once fail any of His children. She recollects times of great peril, when deliverance came; hours of awful need, when as her day her strength was found, and she cries, “No, I never will be led to think that He can change and leave His servant now. Hitherto the Lord has helped me, and He will help me still.”
Thus faith views each promise in its connection with the promise-giver, and, because she does so, can with assurance say, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!”
Bread for today (27.04.2014): Perfect leading
Bible-Text=Psalm 25:5: “Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day.”
When the believer has begun with trembling feet to walk in the way of the Lord, he asks to be still led onward like a little child upheld by its parent’s helping hand, and he craves to be further instructed in the alphabet of truth.
Experimental teaching is the burden of this prayer. David knew much, but he felt his ignorance, and desired to be still in the Lord’s school: four times over in two verses he applies for a scholarship in the college of grace. It were well for many professors if instead of following their own devices, and cutting out new paths of thought for themselves, they would enquire for the good old ways of God’s own truth, and beseech the Holy Ghost to give them sanctified understandings and teachable spirits.
“For thou art the God of my salvation.” The Three-One Jehovah is the Author and Perfecter of salvation to His people. Reader, is He the God of your salvation? Do you find in the Father’s election, in the Son’s atonement, and in the Spirit’s quickening, all the grounds of your eternal hopes? If so, you may use this as an argument for obtaining further blessings; if the Lord has ordained to save you, surely He will not refuse to instruct you in His ways.
It is a happy thing when we can address the Lord with the confidence which David here manifests, it gives us great power in prayer, and comfort in trial. “On Thee do I wait all the day.” Patience is the fair handmaid and daughter of faith; we cheerfully wait when we are certain that we shall not wait in vain.
It is our duty and our privilege to wait upon the Lord in service, in worship, in expectancy, in trust all the days of our life. Our faith will be tried faith, and if it be of the true kind, it will bear continued trial without yielding. We shall not grow weary of waiting upon God if we remember how long and how graciously He once waited for us.
Bread for today (28.04.2014): Giving thanks to the Lord
Bible-Text=Psalm 103:2: “Forget not all His benefits.”
It is a delightful and profitable occupation to mark the hand of God in the lives of ancient saints, and to observe His goodness in delivering them, His mercy in pardoning them, and His faithfulness in keeping His covenant with them.
But would it not be even more interesting and profitable for us to remark the hand of God in our own lives? Ought we not to look upon our own history as being at least as full of God, as full of His goodness and of His truth, as much a proof of His faithfulness and veracity, as the lives of any of the saints who have gone before?
We do our Lord an injustice when we suppose that He wrought all His mighty acts, and showed Himself strong for those in the early time, but does not perform wonders or lay bare His arm for the saints who are now upon the earth. Let us review our own lives.
Surely in these we may discover some happy incidents, refreshing to ourselves and glorifying to our God. Have you had no deliverances? Have you passed through no rivers, supported by the divine presence? Have you walked through no fires unharmed? Have you had no manifestations? Have you had no choice favours?
The God who gave Solomon the desire of his heart, has He never listened to you and answered your requests? That God of lavish bounty of whom David sang, “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things,” has He never satiated you with fatness? Have you never been made to lie down in green pastures? Have you never been led by the still waters?
Surely the goodness of God has been the same to us as to the saints of old. Let us, then, weave His mercies into a song. Let us take the pure gold of thankfulness, and the jewels of praise and make them into another crown for the head of Jesus. Let our souls give forth music as sweet and as exhilarating as came from David’s harp, while we praise the Lord whose mercy endures for ever.
Bread for today (29.04.2014): Light carrier
Bible-Text=Genesis 1:4: “And God divided the light from the darkness.”
A believer has two principles at work within him. In his natural estate he was subject to one principle only, which was darkness; now light has entered, and the two principles disagree.
Mark the apostle Paul’s words in the seventh chapter of Romans: “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members.”
How is this state of things occasioned? “The Lord divided the light from the darkness.” Darkness, by itself, is quiet and undisturbed, but when the Lord sends in light, there is a conflict, for the one is in opposition to the other: a conflict which will never cease till the believer is altogether light in the Lord.
If there be a division within the individual Christian, there is certain to be a division without. So soon as the Lord gives to any man light, he proceeds to separate himself from the darkness around; he secedes from a merely worldly religion of outward ceremonial, for nothing short of the gospel of Christ will now satisfy him, and he withdraws himself from worldly society and frivolous amusements, and seeks the company of the saints, for “We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.”
The light gathers to itself, and the darkness to itself. What God has divided, let us never try to unite, but as Christ went without the camp, bearing His reproach, so let us come out from the ungodly, and be a peculiar people. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners; and, as He was, so we are to be nonconformists to the world, dissenting from all sin, and distinguished from the rest of mankind by our likeness to our Master.
Bread for today (30.04.2014): Citizen of heaven
Bible-Text=Ephesians 2:19: “Fellow citizens with the saints.”
What is meant by our being citizens in heaven? It means that we are under heaven’s government. Christ the king of heaven reigns in our hearts; our daily prayer is, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The proclamations issued from the throne of glory are freely received by us: we cheerfully obey the decrees of the Great King.
Then as citizens of the New Jerusalem, we share heaven’s honours. The glory which belongs to beatified saints belongs to us, for we are already sons of God, already princes of the blood imperial; already we wear the spotless robe of Jesu’s righteousness; already we have angels for our servitors, saints for our companions, Christ for our Brother, God for our Father, and a crown of immortality for our reward.
We share the honours of citizenship, for we have come to the general assembly and Church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven. As citizens, we have common rights to all the property of heaven. Ours are its gates of pearl and walls of chrysolite; ours the azure light of the city that needs no candle nor light of the sun; ours the river of the water of life, and the twelve manner of fruits which grow on the trees planted on the banks thereof; there is nought in heaven that belongs not to us.
“Things present, or things to come,” all are ours. Also as citizens of heaven we enjoy its delights. Do they rejoice there over sinners that repent — prodigals that have returned? So do we. Do they chant the glories of triumphant grace? We do the same. Do they cast their crowns at Jesu’s feet? Such honours as we have we cast there too. Are they charmed with His smile? It is not less sweet to us who dwell below. Do they look forward, waiting for His second advent? We also look and long for His appearing. If, then, we are thus citizens of heaven, let our walk and actions be consistent with our high dignity.
Bread for today (01.05.2014): The pathway to stability
Bible-Text=1 Peter 5:10: “After that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
You have seen the arch of heaven as it spans the plain: glorious are its colours, and rare its hues. It is beautiful, but, alas, it passes away, and lo, it is not. The fair colours give way to the fleecy clouds, and the sky is no longer brilliant with the tints of heaven.
It is not established. How can it be? A glorious show made up of transitory sun-beams and passing rain-drops, how can it abide? The graces of the Christian character must not resemble the rainbow in its transitory beauty, but, on the contrary, must be stablished, settled, abiding.
Seek, O believer, that every good thing you have may be an abiding thing. May your character not be a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock! May your faith be no “baseless fabric of a vision,” but may it be builded of material able to endure that awful fire which shall consume the wood, hay, and stubble of the hypocrite.
May you be rooted and grounded in love. May your convictions be deep, your love real, your desires earnest. May your whole life be so settled and established, that all the blasts of hell, and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you. But notice how this blessing of being “stablished in the faith” is gained. The apostle’s words point us to suffering as the means employed — “After that ye have suffered awhile.” It is of no use to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us.
Those old gnarlings on the root of the oak tree, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. So the Christian is made strong, and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life. Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough discipline God is fulfilling this benediction to you.
Bread for today (02.05.2014): Full Sanctification
Bible-Text=#: “Sanctified by God the Father.” — Jude 1 “Sanctified in Christ Jesus.” — 1 Corinthians 1:2 “Through sanctification of the Spirit.” — 1 Peter 1:2
Mark the union of the Three Divine Persons in all their gracious acts. How unwisely do those believers talk who make preferences in the Persons of the Trinity; who think of Jesus as if He were the embodiment of everything lovely and gracious, while the Father they regard as severely just, but destitute of kindness.
Equally wrong are those who magnify the decree of the Father, and the atonement of the Son, so as to depreciate the work of the Spirit. In deeds of grace none of the Persons of the Trinity act apart from the rest. They are as united in their deeds as in their essence. In their love towards the chosen they are one, and in the actions which flow from that great central source they are still undivided.
Specially notice this in the matter of sanctification. While we may without mistake speak of sanctification as the work of the Spirit, yet we must take heed that we do not view it as if the Father and the Son had no part therein. It is correct to speak of sanctification as the work of the Father, of the Son, and of the Spirit.
Still does Jehovah say, “Let us make man in our own image after our likeness,” and thus we are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” See the value which God sets upon real holiness, since the Three Persons in the Trinity are represented as co-working to produce a Church without “spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.”
And you, believer, as the follower of Christ, must also set a high value on holiness — upon purity of life and godliness of conversation. Value the blood of Christ as the foundation of your hope, but never speak disparagingly of the work of the Spirit which is your meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. This day let us so live as to manifest the work of the Triune God in us.
Bread for today (03.05.2014): The kingdom of heaven
Bible-Text=2 Timothy 4:18: “His heavenly kingdom.”
Yonder city of the great King is a place of active service. Ransomed spirits serve Him day and night in His temple. They never cease to fulfil the good pleasure of their King. They always “rest,” so far as ease and freedom from care is concerned; and never “rest,” in the sense of indolence or inactivity.
Jerusalem the golden is the place of communion with all the people of God. We shall sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in eternal fellowship. We shall hold high converse with the noble host of the elect, all reigning with Him who by His love and His potent arm has brought them safely home. We shall not sing solos, but in chorus shall we praise our King.
Heaven is a place of victory realized. Whenever, Christian, you have achieved a victory over your lusts — whenever after hard struggling, you have laid a temptation dead at your feet — you have in that hour a foretaste of the joy that awaits you when the Lord shall shortly tread Satan under your feet, and you shall find yourself more than conqueror through Him who has loved you.
Paradise is a place of security. When you enjoy the full assurance of faith, you have the pledge of that glorious security which shall be yours when you are a perfect citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem. O my sweet home, Jerusalem, happy harbour of my soul! Thanks, even now, to Him whose love has taught me to long for you; but louder thanks in eternity, when I shall possess you.
“My soul has tasted of the grapes,
And now it longs to go
Where my dear Lord His vineyard keeps
And all the clusters grow.
“Upon the true and living vine,
My famish’d soul would feast,
And banquet on the fruit divine,
An everlasting guest.”
Bread for today (04.05.2014): Anger
Bible-Text=Jonah 4:9: “God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry?”
Anger is not always or necessarily sinful, but it has such a tendency to run wild that whenever it displays itself, we should be quick to question its character, with this enquiry, “Doest thou well to be angry?” It may be that we can answer, “YES.”
Very frequently anger is the madman’s firebrand, but sometimes it is Elijah’s fire from heaven. We do well when we are angry with sin, because of the wrong which it commits against our good and gracious God; or with ourselves because we remain so foolish after so much divine instruction; or with others when the sole cause of anger is the evil which they do.
He who is not angry at transgression becomes a partaker in it. Sin is a loathsome and hateful thing, and no renewed heart can patiently endure it. God himself is angry with the wicked every day, and it is written in His Word, “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil.” Far more frequently it is to be feared that our anger in not commendable or even justifiable, and then we must answer, “NO.”
Why should we be fretful with children, passionate with servants, and wrathful with companions? Is such anger honourable to our Christian profession, or glorifying to God? Is it not the old evil heart seeking to gain dominion, and should we not resist it with all the might of our newborn nature.
Many professors give way to temper as though it were useless to attempt resistance; but let the believer remember that he must be a conqueror in every point, or else he cannot be crowned. If we cannot control our tempers, what has grace done for us? Some one told Mr. Jay that grace was often grafted on a crab-stump. “Yes,” said he, “but the fruit will not be crabs.” We must not make natural infirmity an excuse for sin, but we must fly to the cross and pray the Lord to crucify our tempers, and renew us in gentleness and meekness after His own image.
Bread for today (05.05.2014): God is for you
Bible-Text=Psalm 56:9: “When I cry unto Thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.”
It is impossible for any human speech to express the full meaning of this delightful phrase, “God is for me.” He was “for us” before the worlds were made; He was “for us,” or He would not have given His well-beloved son; He was “for us” when He smote the Only-begotten, and laid the full weight of His wrath upon Him — He was “for us,” though He was against Him; He was “for us,” when we were ruined in the fall — He loved us notwithstanding all; He was “for us,” when we were rebels against Him, and with a high hand were bidding Him defiance; He was “for us,” or He would not have brought us humbly to seek His face.
He has been “for us” in many struggles; we have been summoned to encounter hosts of dangers; we have been assailed by temptations from without and within — how could we have remained unharmed to this hour if He had not been “for us”? He is “for us,” with all the infinity of His being; with all the omnipotence of His love; with all the infallibility of His wisdom; arrayed in all His divine attributes, He is “for us,” — eternally and immutably “for us”; “for us” when yon blue skies shall be rolled up like a worn out vesture; “for us” throughout eternity.
And because He is “for us,” the voice of prayer will always ensure His help. “When I cry unto Thee, then shall mine enemies be turned back.” This is no uncertain hope, but a well grounded assurance — “this I know.” I will direct my prayer unto you, and will look up for the answer, assured that it will come, and that my enemies shall be defeated, “for God is for me.”
O believer, how happy are you with the King of kings on your side! How safe with such a Protector! How sure your cause pleaded by such an Advocate! If God be for you, who can be against you?
Bread for today (05.02.2014): Seeking the Lord
Bible-Text=Matthew 28:1: “As it began to dawn, came Magdalene, to see the sepulchre.” —
Let us learn from Mary Magdalene how to obtain fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Notice how she sought. She sought the Saviour very early in the morning. If you can wait for Christ, and be patient in the hope of having fellowship with Him at some distant season, you will never have fellowship at all; for the heart that is fitted for communion is a hungering and a thirsting heart.
She sought Him also with very great boldness. Other disciples fled from the sepulchre, for they trembled and were amazed; butm Mary, it is said, “stood” at the sepulchre. If you would have Christ with you, seek Him boldly. Let nothing hold you back. Defy the world. Press on where others flee.
She sought Christ faithfully — she stood at the sepulchre. Some find it hard to stand by a living Saviour, but she stood by a dead one. Let us seek Christ after this mode, cleaving to the very least thing that has to do with Him, remaining faithful though all others should forsake Him.
Note further, she sought Jesus earnestly — she stood “weeping.” Those tear-droppings were as spells that led the Saviour captive, and made Him come forth and show Himself to her. If you desire Jesus’ presence, weep after it! If you cannot be happy unless He come and say to you, “You are my beloved,” you will soon hear His voice.
Lastly, she sought the Saviour only. What cared she for angels, she turned herself back from them; her search was only for her Lord. If Christ be your one and only love, if your heart has cast out all rivals, you will not long lack the comfort of His presence.
Mary Magdalene sought thus because she loved much. Let us arouse ourselves to the same intensity of affection; let our heart, like Mary’s, be full of Christ, and our love, like hers, will be satisfied with nothing short of Himself. O Lord, reveal yourself to us today!
Bread for today (04.05.2011): The Creating ability of God.