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Bread for today (22.02.2014): 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.”

Thus 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 (23.02.2014): 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 (24.02.2014): 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 (25.02.2014): 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 (26.02.2014): 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 (27.02.2014):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 (28.02.2014): 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 (01.03.2014): 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 (02.03.2014): 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 (03.03.2014): 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 (26.01.2014): 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 (27.01.2014): 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 (28.01.2014): 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 (01.03.2014): 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 (02.03.2014): 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 (03.03.2014): 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 (04.03.2014): 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 (05.03.2014): 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 (06.03.2014): 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 (07.03.2014): 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 (08.03.2014): 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 (09.03.2014): The Four Kings.

Bible-Text=Gen14.9: Vs9  With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five.

With Chedorlaomer king of Elam,.... Who is here mentioned first, being the principal in the war, and against whom the kings of Sodom, &c. had rebelled: and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; who were his allies, confederates, and auxiliaries:

four kings with five; those four last mentioned, with the other five before spoken of, that is, they fought with them; or rather four kings against five, as in the the Vulgate Latin and Tigurine versions, and some others.

Bread for today (10.03.2014): The Defeat

Bible-Text=Gen14.10: Vs10 And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.

And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits,.. Or "wells" or "fountains of slime" or bitumen (s). This was a liquid of a pitchy nature, cast out of fountains, and which was used for a cement in buildings. One could see such fountains near Babylon. This ultimate make this place naturally prepared for what it was designed to be, a bituminous lake, which when turned into one, it was called the lake Asphaltites, from this slime or bitumen, called by the Greeks "asphaltos".

Brocardus (t) says, these pits or wells of bitumen are at this day on the shore of the lake, each of them having pyramids erect, which he saw with his own eyes; and such pits casting out bitumen, as fountains do water, have been found in other countries, as in Greece. Now this vale being full of such pits, the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah chose it to fight in. They drew there a line of battle, with the hope that the enemy, not aware of them, would fall into them and perish, thereby expecting their ranks to be broken and be confused. As it often is, that the pit men dig and contrive for others they themselves fall into it, so it was in this case. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled: the battle going hard against them, and they were not able to stand before their enemies.

The kings of sodom and Gomorrah fell there, or "into them"; the slimepits, or fountains of bitumen, into which they precipitately fell, and many perished. Maybe they did it of their own accord, throwing themselves into them for their own safety, as some think. In another sense, it could be that there was a great slaughter made of them there, as the word is frequently used, see 1 Samuel 4:10. However, this is to be understood that the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah were not victims of this incident, for it is certain that they were preserved alive, at least the king of Sodom, for we hear of him afterwards, Genesis 14:17; but of their soldiers.

And they that remained fled to the mountain: or mountains nearby, where Lot after went when Sodom was destroyed, Genesis 19:30; Many fled there who had escaped the sword of the enemy, or not perished in the slimepits, judging it more safe to be there, than to be in their cities, which would fall into the hands of their enemies, and be plundered by them, and consequently be in danger of losing their lives.

Bread for today (11.03.2014): The Lost of Goods

Bible-Text=Gen14.11: Vs11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.

The provisions and other movable property of the vanquished are carried away from Sodom and Amorah. For רפשׁ rekush, "goods," the Septuagint has here and in the 21st verse τὴν ἵππσν tēn hippon, "the cavalry." This implies the reading רכב rekeb, which is not supported by other authorities, nor suitable to the context. Among the prisoners is Lot, the son of Abram's brother. This designation prepares us for what is to follow.

It is added that he was "dwelling in Sodom," to explain why he was among the captives. "They went away." The invaders were now laden with booty. Their first concern was to transfer this to their native country, and deposit it in a place of safety. It was not prudent to delay while they were encumbered with so much valuable property. The terms on which the conquered tribes were to "serve" them could be settled by negotiation. If these terms were not accepted, they would be quite ready for another predatory incursion.

This great foray is only incidentally introduced into our narrative, on account of the capture of Lot. It was not the first visit probably of these marauders to the same lands. It is interesting to the historian, as a sample of the mode in which conquest was made. It opens up to the view one of the ancient scenes of human activity. It teaches us that the wave of war often flowed over the lands of the ancient world, and left more or less lasting marks of its disturbing power.

Tribes were not unfrequently moved from place to place, intermingled with one another, and enslaved by other tribes. The actual state of things in the land of Abram's pilgrimage is suddenly presented to us under a new light.

The Rephaim, including the Zuzim and the Emim, occupy the east of the Jordan, and had once a place on the west. The Perizzites also dwell side by side with the Kenaanites in the western district. The Horites are found in Mount Seir. As none of these were Kenaan's descendants, we have the undeniable traces of a Shemitic population before and along with the Kenaanites. The language of Heber, therefore, was in the country before the latter arrived.

Bread for today (12.03.2014): The Capture of Lot

Bible-Text=Gen14.12: Vs12 And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son,.... The son of Haran, his elder brother, who was now, as the Jews say (x), fifty years of age: who dwelt in Sodom, or near it, in the country adjacent to it, see Genesis 13:12; and so being a neighbour of the men of Sodom, and a sojourner among them, he partakes of their punishment; and this was a just correction of him for choosing to dwell among such a people.

They took his goods, and depart. He and his family were also taken, so all his substance, his cattle, wealth, and riches of every sort, and they went off with it:
Eupolemus (y), an Heathen writer, makes mention of this circumstance in his relation of this war, and says, that the Armenians, as he calls the four kings, baring conquered the Phoenicians, carried away captive the brother's son of Abram. (x) Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 77. 1.((y) Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 9. c. 17. p. 418.

Bread for today (13.03.2014): The one that escaped.

Bible-Text=Gen14.13: Vs13  And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.

The escaped party inform Abram when one of their number does so. "The Hebrew." This designation is given to Abram plainly for the purpose of connecting him with Lot. The Septuagint translates the word by περα της peratees, one who passes. This has been explained by transfluvialis, one who has come across the river; namely, the Frat.

This no doubt applies to Lot as well as Abram; but it also applies to every other tribe in the country, inasmuch as all had originally migrated across the Euphrates. Besides, the word is nowhere else used in this sense, but always as a patronymic. And, moreover, Abram is here distinguished as the Hebrew, just as his confederate Mamre is distinguished as the Amorite.

The object of these designations is to mark, not only their relation to each other, but also their connection with those who were carried off as prisoners of war. The term "Hebrew" does not come into the narrative by haphazard. "The sons of Heber" are distinctly mentioned in the table of nations among the descendants of Shem. Its introduction here intimates that there were other descendants of Heber besides Abram already in the land. They could not but be a widespread race.

One branch of them, the Joctanites, were the first stock of Arabia's inhabitants, and the Palgites may have been the earliest settlers in the adjacent Palestine. How many of the non-Kenaanites belong to them we cannot tell; but we learn from the statement now before us that the Hebrew was at this time a known patronymic. The way between Mesopotamia and Palestine has been often trodden. Abram was dwelling by the oaks of Mamre, near Hebron, therefore not far from the scene of war. He was also in league with Mamre and his brothers Eshkol and Aner. This league was, it is evident from the result, for mutual defense.

Bread for today (14.03.2014): Abram went to war.

Bible-Text=Gen14.14: Vs14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.

His brother. - This is a customary extension of the term, whether we regard Lot as his brother's son, or at the same time his brother-in-law. "His trained men." Abram had now a company of three hundred and eighteen trained men, born in his own house; which implies a following of more than one thousand men, women, and children. His flocks and herds must have corresponded in extent to such an establishment.

"Unto Dan." This name is found in the Hebrew, Samaritan, Septuagint, and Onkelos. It might naturally be supposed that the sacred reviser of the text had inserted it here, if we have not had grounds for a contrary supposition.

The custom of the reviser was to add the other name without altering the original; of which we have several examples in this very chapter Genesis 14:2-3, Genesis 14:7-8, Genesis 14:17.

We are, therefore, led to regard Dan as in use at the time of Abram. Held at that remote period perhaps by some Hebrew, it fell at length into the hands of the Sidonians Judges 18, who named it Laish (lion) and Leshem (ligure).

Names of places in that eastern land vary, from a slight resemblance in sound (paronomasia), a resemblance in sense (synonyms), a change of masters, or some other cause. Laish and Leshem are significant names, partly alike in sound, and applied to the same town. They took the place of Dan when the town changed masters.

The recollection of its ancient name and story may have attracted the Danites to the place, who burned Laish and built a new city which they again called Dan. This town was situated at the source of the lesser Jordan, with which some have connected its name.

Its site is now occupied by Tell el-Kady, the hill of "the judge." This is a case of resemblance in sense between varying names. Others, however, distinguish the present Dan from the Laish Dan, and identify it with Danjaan or jaar, "Dan in the wood" 2 Samuel 24:6.

The former is not on the road to Damascus, while the latter was north of Gilead, and may have been near the route either by the south of the sea of Kinnereth, or of the waters of Merom. This is possible, and deserves consideration. But there may have been a third way to Damascus, passing Tell el-Kady; this place itself is on the east side of the main stream of the Jordan, and the expression רען דנה dānâh ya'an is confessedly obscure.

Bread for today (15.03.2014): Abram's Victory

Bible-Text=Gen14.15: Vs15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.

Abram and his confederates found the enemy secure and at their ease, not expecting pursuit. They attack them on two quarters; Abram, probably, on the one, and his allies on the other; by night, defeat and pursue them unto Hobah.

"On the left hand of Damascus." Hobah was on the north of Damascus. An Eastern, in fixing the points of the heavens, faces the rising sun, in which position the east is before him, the west behind, the south at the right hand, and the north at the left. Hobah is referred by the Jews to Jobar, a place northeast of Damascus. J. L. Porter suggests a place due north, called Burzeh, where there is a Muslim wely or saint's tomb, called Makam Ibrahim, the sanctuary of Abraham (Handbook, p. 492). This route, by the north of Damascus, illustrates the necessity of advancing far north to get round the desert intervening between Shinar and the cities of the plain.

Damascus, Dimishk, esh-Sham, is a very ancient city of Aram. The choice of the site was probably determined by the Abana (Barada) and Pharpar (Awaj), flowing, the one from Anti-Libanus, and the other from Mount Hermon, and fertilizing a circuit of thirty miles. Within this area arose a city which, amidst all the changes of dynasty that have come over it, has maintained its prosperity to the present day, when it has one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants. It was originally occupied by the descendants of Aram, and may have been built, as Josephus informs us, by Uz his son.

Abram, with his allies, succeeded in defeating the enemy and recovering the property, with the prisoners, male and female, that had been carried away, and, among the rest, Lot, the object of his generous and gallant adventure.

Bread for today (16.03.2014): The Success of Abram.

Bible-Text=Gen14.16: Vs16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.

We have here an account of the only military action we ever find Abram engaged in, and this he was prompted to, not by his avarice or ambition, but purely by a principle of charity; it was not to enrich himself, but to help his friend. Never was any military expedition undertaken, prosecuted, and finished, more honourably than this of Abram's. Here we have,

I. The tidings brought him of his kinsman's distress.

Providence so ordered it that he now sojourned not far off, that he might be a very present help.
1. He is here called Abram the Hebrew, that is, the son and follower of Heber, in whose family the profession of the true religion was kept up in that degenerate age. Abram herein acted like a Hebrew-in a manner not unworthy of the name and character of a religious professor.
2. The tidings were brought by one that had escaped with his life for a prey. Probably he was a Sodomite, and as bad as the worst of them; yet knowing Abram's relation to Lot, and concern for him, he implores his help, and hopes to speed for Lot's sake. Note, The worst of men, in the day of their trouble, will be glad to claim acquaintance with those that are wise and good, and so get an interest in them. The rich man in hell called Abram Father; and the foolish virgins made court to the wise for a share of their oil.

II. The preparations he made for this expedition.

The cause was plainly good, his call to engage in it was clear, and therefore, with all speed, he armed his trained servants, born in his house, to the number of three hundred and eighteen-a great family, but a small army, about as many as Gideon's that routed the Midianites, Jdg. 7:7. He drew out his trained servants, or his catechised servants, not only instructed in the art of war, which was then far short of the perfection which later and worse ages have improved it to, but instructed in the principles of religion; for Abram commanded his household to keep the way of the Lord.

This shows that Abram was,
1. A great man, who had so many servants depending upon him, and employed by him, which was not only his strength and honour, but gave him a great opportunity of doing good, which is all that is truly valuable and desirable in great places and great estates.
2. A good man, who not only served God himself, but instructed all about him in the service of God. Note, Those that have great families have not only many bodies, but many souls besides their own, to take care of and provide for. Those that would be found the followers of Abram must see that their servants be catechised servants.
3. A wise man for, though he was a man of peace, yet he disciplined his servants for war, not knowing what occasion he might have, some time or other, so to employ them. Note, Though our holy religion teaches us to be for peace, yet it does not forbid us to provide for war.

III. His allies and confederates in this expedition.

He prevailed with his neighbours, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre (with whom he kept up a fair correspondence) to go along with him. It was his prudence thus to strengthen his own troops with their auxiliary forces; and probably they saw themselves concerned, in interest, to act, as they could, against this formidable power, lest their own turn should be next. Note,
1. It is our wisdom and duty to behave ourselves so respectfully and obligingly towards all men as that, whenever there is occasion, they may be willing and ready to do us a kindness.
2. Those who depend on God's help, yet, in times of distress, ought to make use of men's help, as Providence offers it; else they tempt God.

IV. His courage and conduct were very remarkable.

1. There was a great deal of bravery in the enterprise itself, considering the disadvantages he lay under. What could one family of husbandmen and shepherds do against the armies of four princes, who now came fresh from blood and victory? It was not a vanquished, but a victorious army, that he was to pursue; nor was he constrained by necessity to this daring attempt, but moved to it by generosity; so that, all things considered, it was, for aught I know, as great an instance of true courage as ever Alexander or Caesar was celebrated for. Note, Religion tends to make men, not cowardly, but truly valiant. The righteous is bold as a lion. The true Christian is the true hero.

2. There was a great deal of policy in the management of it. Abram was no stranger to the stratagems of war: He divided himself, as Gideon did his little army (Jdg. 7:16), that he might come upon the enemy from several quarters at once, and so make his few seem a great many; he made his attack by night, that he might surprise them. Note, Honest policy is a good friend both to our safety and to our usefulness. The serpent's head (provided it be nothing akin to the old serpent) may well become a good Christian's body, especially if it have a dove's eye in it, Mt. 10:16.

V. His success was very considerable, v. 15, 16.

He defeated his enemies, and rescued his friends; and we do not find that he sustained any loss. Note, Those that venture in a good cause, with a good heart, are under the special protection of a good God, and have reason to hope for a good issue. Again, It is all one with the Lord to save by many or by few, 1 Sa. 14:6. Observe,

1. He rescued his kinsman; twice here he is called his brother Lot. The remembrance of the relation that was between them, both by nature and grace, made him forget the little quarrel that had been between them, in which Lot had by no means acted well towards Abram. Justly might Abram have upbraided Lot with his folly in quarrelling with him and removing from him, and have told him that he was well enough served, he might have known when he was well off; but, in the charitable breast of pious Abram, it is all forgiven and forgotten, and he takes this opportunity to give a real proof of the sincerity of his reconciliation. Note,
(1.) We ought to be ready, whenever it is in the power of our hands, to succour and relieve those that are in distress, especially our relations and friends. A brother is born for adversity, Prov. 17:17. A friend in need is a friend indeed.
(2.) Though others have been wanting in their duty to us, yet we must not therefore deny our duty to them. Some have said that they can more easily forgive their enemies than their friends; but we shall see ourselves obliged to forgive both if we consider, not only that our God, when we were enemies, reconciled us, but also that he passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage, Mic. 7:18.

2. He rescued the rest of the captives, for Lot's sake, though they were strangers to him and such as he was under no obligation to at all; nay, though they were Sodomites, sinners before the Lord exceedingly, and though, probably, he might have recovered Lot alone by ransom, yet he brought back all the women, and the people, and their goods, v. 16. Note, As we have opportunity we must do good to all men. Our charity must be extensive, as opportunity offers itself. Wherever God gives life, we must not grudge the help we can give to support it. God does good to the just and unjust, and so must we, Mt. 5:45. This victory which Abram obtained over the kings the prophet seems to refer to, Isa. 41:2, Who raised up the righteous man from the east, and made him rule over kings? And some suggest that, as before he had a title to this land by grant, so now by conquest.

Bread for today (17.03.2014): The royal welcome for Abram

Bible-Text=Gen14.17: Vs17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale.

And the king of Sodom went out to meet him,.... While Abram was in pursuit of the four kings, the king of Sodom came down from the mountain where he and those that escaped with him fled. He came to Sodom and from there he went out, not alone, but accompanied with his officers, to meet Abram and to congratulate him upon the victory he had obtained over enemy.

He met him at the valley of Shaveh; a most plain and even valley, as the word signifies, clear of trees and everything that obstructs sight or passage, as Jarchi observes, and so a proper place to have an interview in. It was called the king's dale; some say King Melchizedek's, but one should rather think it was the king of Sodom's. The Targum of Jonathan calls it the place of the king's exercise, where he had his diversions in riding, walking, &c. it can hardly be that in 2 Samuel 18:18; though some are of this opinion, being near to Jerusalem, which they suppose to be the same with Salem in Genesis 14:18.

Bread for today (18.03.2014): The spiritual welcome for Abram

Bible-Text=Gen14.18: Vs18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

An incident of the deepest interest here takes us by surprise. The connecting link in the narrative is obviously the place where the king of Sodom meets with Abram. The King's dale is plainly adjacent to the royal residence of Melkizedec, who therefore comes forth to greet and entertain the returning victor.

This prince is the king of Shalem. This is apparently an ancient name of Jerusalem, which is so designated in Psalm 76:8. The other Shalem, which lay in the vicinity of Shekem (Genesis 33:18, if this be a proper name) is far away from the King's dale and the town of Sodom. Jerusalem is convenient to these localities, and contains the element Shalem in its composition, as the name signifies the foundation of peace (Shalom).

The king of Shalem, by name king of righteousness, and by office king of peace, "brought forth bread and wine." These are the standing elements of a simple repast for the refreshment of the body. Later they were by divine appointment placed on the table of the presence in the tabernacle Exodus 25:29-30. They were the accompaniments of the Paschal lamb Matthew 26:26-27, and they were adopted by the Messiah as the sacred symbols of that heavenly fare, of which, if a man partake, he shall live forever John 6:48-58.

The Author of revelation has made all nature intrinsically good and pure. He has realized in it a harmony of the laws of intelligence and design; everything meets and matches all that comes into contact with it; and all together form a cosmos, a system of things, a unity of types and antitypes. His word cannot but correspond to His work. Bread and wine are common things, familiar to the eye, the touch, and the taste of men. The Great Teacher takes them up out of the hands of man as emblems of grace, mercy, and peace, through an accepted ransom, of the lowliest as well as the loftiest boon of an everlasting salvation, and they have never lost their significance or appropriateness.

"And he was priest to the most high God." From this we are assured that the bread and wine refreshed not only the body, but the soul of Abram. In close connection with the preceding sentence, it seems to intimate that the bringing forth of bread and wine was a priestly act, and, accordingly, the crowning part of a sacred feast. The כהן kohen, or priest, who is here mentioned for the first time in Scripture, was one who acted in sacred things on the part of others. He was a mediator between God and man, representing God holding out the hand of mercy, and man reaching forth the hand of faith.

The necessity of such an orifice grew out of the distance between God and man produced by sin. The business of the priest was to offer sacrifice and to intercede; in the former making amends to the law, in the latter appealing to the mercy of God. We do not learn by express statement what was the mode of intervention on the part of Melkizedec. But we know that sacrifice was as early as Habel, and that calling on the name of the Lord was commenced in the time of Enosh. These were early forms of approach to God. The offices of king and priest were combined in Melkizedec - a condition of things often exemplified in later times.

"The most high God." Here we meet with a new name of God, El, the Lasting, the Mighty, cognate with Elohim, and previously occurring in the compound proper names Mebujael, Mahalalel, and Bethel. We have also an epithet of God, "Elion the most high," now appearing for the first time. Hence, we perceive that the unity, the omnipotence, and the absolute pre-eminence of God were still living in the memory and conscience of a section at least of the inhabitants of this land.

Still more, the worship of God was not a mere domestic custom, in which the father or head of the family officiated, but a public ordinance conducted by a stated functionary. And, lastly, the mode of worship was of such a nature as to represent the doctrine and acknowledge the necessity of an atonement, since it was performed by means of a priest.

Bread for today (19.03.2014): Blessings for Abraham

Bible-Text=Gen14.19: Vs19  And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

And he blessed him. - Here it comes out clearly that Melkizedec acts not only in a civil but in a sacred capacity. He blesses Abram. In the form of benediction employed we have two parts: the former of which is strictly a blessing or asking of good things for the person in question. "Blessed be Abram." It is the part of the father to bless the child, of the patriarch or superior to bless the subject or inferior, and of the priest to bless the people Hebrews 7:7. Here, accordingly, Melkizedec assumes and Abram concedes to him the superiority.

The Most High God is here further designated as the Founder of heaven and earth, the great Architect or Builder, and, therefore, Possessor of all things. There is here no indistinct allusion to the creation of "heaven and earth," mentioned in the opening of the Book of God. This is a manifest identification of the God of Melkizedec with the one Creator and Upholder of all things. We have here no mere local or national deity, with limited power and province, but the sole and supreme God of the universe and of man.

And he blessed him,.... Melchizedek blessed Abram, which was one part of his office as a priest, to wish and pray for a blessing on others, see Numbers 6:23, &c. and herein typified Christ, who really blesses or confers blessings on all his people, even spiritual blessings, such as redemption, remission of sins, and justifying righteousness, adoption, and eternal life: and said, blessed be Abram of the most high God; that is, may he be blessed by him who is the most high God, with all kind of blessings, both temporal and spiritual; or he declares him to be blessed of him, as he undoubtedly was, or foretells that he would be, as was certainly his case: and another epithet of God is added, which abundantly shows he was able to bless him, since he is the possessor of heaven and earth; is the Maker of both, and has a right to dispose of all things in them, both heavenly and earthly.

Bread for today (20.03.2014): The thanksgiving to God

Bible-Text=Gen14.20: Vs20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all

The second part of this benedictory prayer is a thanksgiving to the common God of Melkizedec and Abram for the victory which had been vouchsafed to the latter. "Thy foes." Here Abram is personally addressed. Melkizedec as a priest first appeals to God on behalf of Abram, and then addresses Abram on behalf of God. Thus, he performs the part of a mediator.

"And he gave him a tithe of all". This is a very significant act. In presenting the tenth of all the spoils of victory, Abram makes a practical acknowledgment of the absolute and exclusive supremacy of the God whom Melkizedec worshipped, and of the authority and validity of the priesthood which he exercised. We have here all the indications of a stated order of sacred rites, in which a costly service, with a fixed official, is maintained at the public expense, according to a definite rate of contribution.

The gift in the present case is the tenth of the spoils of war. This act of Abram, though recorded last, may have taken place at the commencement of the interview. At all events, it renders it extremely probable that a sacrifice had been offered to God, through the intervention of Melkizedec, before he brought forth the bread and wine of the accepted feast.

It is obvious that here we stand on broader ground than the special promise made to Abram. Melkizedec was not a partner in the call of Abram, and yet the latter acknowledges him as a priest of the Most High God. Hence, we must fall back on the covenant made with Noah - the representative of the whole race after the deluge - as the broad basis of authority on which Melkizedec acted.

That covenant, then, was not a dead letter. It still lived in the heart and will of a part of the nations. Its hallowing and exalting truths had produced at least one center of pure and spiritual worship on the earth. Even Abram, the called of God, acknowledges its constituted head. And the Most High God, Founder and Upholder of heaven and earth, thereby guarantees its validity for all who in every place call on his name in sincerity and truth.

And his special call to Abram is given with a view to the final removal of all obstacles to the acceptance and application of this his everlasting covenant. We are thankful for this glimpse into the comprehensive grandeur of the divine purpose concerning man, which is for some time forward cast into the shade, until it begins to break forth again in the anticipations of the prophets, and at length shines forth with imperishable splendor in the revelations of the New Testament.

The genealogy of Melkizedec seems designedly veiled in impenetrable obscurity. To lift this veil entirely is therefore hopeless. Yet we may venture to hint the possibility that here we have another Shemite chieftain in the land of Kenaan. The indefinite statement of Josephus, that he was a potentate of the Kenaanites, is no proof to the contrary, even if it were of much value. The address of Ezekiel to Jerusalem: "Thy origin and thy birth are of the land of Kenaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite" Ezekiel 16:3, may refer to the period immediately before the entrance of Israel into the land.

At and after that time the Amorite and the Jebusite seem to have been in possession of the city Joshua 10:5; Judges 1:21. But in the time of Abram, more than four hundred years before, it may have been different. We have discovered other tribes in this land that were not of the race of Kenaan. It is not likely that Kenaan would furnish a priest of the most high God. It is evident that Melkizedec was not in the confederacy of the Pentapolis with the king of Sodom. He comes out separately and suddenly to meet Abram, who was one of "the children of Heber," of whom Shem was the father.

And he is the acknowledged head of the worshippers of the most high God, who is "the Lord, the God of Shem." But be this as it may, it is only a secondary question here. The matter of primary importance, as has been already noted, is the existence of a community of pure worshippers of the true God in the land of Kenaan, antecedent to Abram. If this community be descendants of Kenaan, it only renders the discovery the more striking and impressive.

The knowledge of the true God, the confession of the one everlasting supreme Creator of heaven and earth, the existence of a stated form of worship by means of a priest and a ritual attested by Abram the elect of God, in a community belonging to the Gentiles, form at once a remarkable vindication of the justice and mercy of God in having made known to all mankind the mode of acceptable approach to himself, and a singular evidence that such a revelation had been made to Noah, from whom alone it could have descended to the whole race, and consequently to this particular branch of it.

We have reason to believe that this was not the sole line in which this precious tradition was still preserved in comparative purity and power. Job and his companions belong to one other known line in which the knowledge of the one God was still vital. The fundamental principles of divine truth planted in the human breast by this and antecedent revelations were never afterward wholly eradicated; and from the hereditary germs of a primitive theology, cherished by contact with the Sidonians and other Phoenicians, were Homer, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and other sages of the East and West, enabled to rise to the exalted conceptions which they occasionally formed of the unity, purity, spirituality, and supremacy of the Divine Being.

The idea of God, conveyed into a soul of any power and freedom, is wonderfully prolific. It bursts the bonds of the animal nature, and expands and elevates the rational to some shadowy semblance of its primeval glory. Where it has become altogether extinct, the human has sunk down under the debasing bondage of the brutal.

During the four centuries that elapsed from the arrival of Abram to the conquest of the country by his descendants, this interesting relic of a pure Gentile worship seems to have disappeared. But the traces of such a purifying and elevating knowledge of God were not even then effaced from the memories, the customs, and the phrases of the people.

Bread for today (21.03.2014): The concession of King of Sodom

Bible-Text=Gen14.21: Vs21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.

The king of Sodom concedes to Abram, according to custom, the spoils of conquest as his right, and claims for himself only his subjects who had been rescued from the foe. Abram however declines any personal advantage from the enterprise, or material recompense for his services. To this he was led partly by the present disposition of his mind, in which the spiritual prevailed over the carnal, and partly by the character of the one with whom he had to deal; since the Sodomites were notorious for their wickedness.

On other occasions he accepted unmerited gifts Genesis 12:16; Genesis 20:14, Genesis 20:16. On the present occasion, he, no doubt, felt himself amply rewarded by the recovery of his own kinsman, and the blessing of Melkizedec. Disinterestedness has had another victory in Abram. And, accordingly, the minister of God meets him on the field of a common humanity, and pronounces on him a blessing. The unselfish, unsectarian heart of the heir of special promise, bows in acknowledgment of the representative of the universal and anterior covenant of God with Noah.

And the king of Sodom said unto Abram,.... After the conversation between him and Melchizedek was over: "give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself". The persons are to be understood meaning "persons" or "souls", as in the original, his own subjects that had been taken and carried away by the four kings, and were now brought back by Abram. The goods means also those of his own and his subjects, which their conquerors had taken away from them but were now recovered, and which he was very willing to give to Abram as his right, according to the laws of war, and as a reward of his labours.

The king of Sodom also very modestly asks for the other, which Abram did not deny but might claim as the fruits of his victory. This shows, that the king of Sodom, though a Heathen prince, and perhaps a wicked man, yet had more regard to the persons of his subjects than to his own or their goods: the word for "goods" includes all the substance and possession of a man, gold, silver, cattle, and all movables.
(w) R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 21. 2.

Bread for today (22.03.2014): The consistence of Abram

Bible-Text=Gen14.22: Vs22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,

I have lift up mine hand to the Lord that I will not take anything. We could see the titles he gives to God, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth. This was the same title that Melchizedek had just used. It is good to learn of others how to order our speech concerning God, and to imitate those who speak well in divine things.

Consider the ceremony used in this oath "I have lift up my hand". In religious swearing we appeal to God's knowledge of our truth and sincerity, and imprecate his wrath if we swear falsely; and the lifting up of the hands is expressive of both.

Lest thou shouldst say, I have made Abram rich came out of Abram's perception who the king of sodom was. Probably, Abram knew the king of Sodom to be a proud and scornful man, and one that would be apt to turn such a thing as this to his reproach afterwards, and when we have to do with such men, we have need to act with particular caution.

We have here an account of what passed between Abram and the king of Sodom, who succeeded him that fell in the battle (v. 10), and thought himself obliged to do this honour to Abram, in return for the good services he had done him.

I. The king of Sodom's grateful offer to Abram (v. 21):

Give me the soul, and take thou the substance; so the Hebrew reads it. Here he fairly begs the persons, but as freely bestows the goods on Abram. Note,
1. Where a right is dubious and divided, it is wisdom to compound the matter by mutual concessions rather than to contend. The king of Sodom had an original right both to the persons and to the goods, and it would bear a debate whether Abram's acquired right by rescue would supersede his title and extinguish it; but, to prevent all quarrels, the king of Sodom makes this fair proposal.

2. Gratitude teaches us to recompense to the utmost of our power those that have undergone fatigues, run hazards, and been at expense for our service and benefit. Who goes a warfare at his own charges? 1 Co. 9:7. Soldiers purchase their pay dearer than any labourers, and are well worthy of it, because they expose their lives.

II. Abram's generous refusal of this offer.

He not only resigned the persons to him, who, being delivered out of the hand of their enemies, ought to have served Abram, but he restored all the goods too. He would not take from a thread to a shoe-latchet, not the least thing that had ever belonged to the king of Sodom or any of his. Note, A lively faith enables a man to look upon the wealth of this world with a holy contempt, 1 Jn. 5:4. What are all the ornaments and delights of sense to one that has God and heaven ever in his eye? He resolves even to a thread and a shoe-latchet; for a tender conscience fears offending in a small matter.

Now, 1. Abram ratifies this resolution with a solemn oath: I have lifted up my hand to the Lord that I will not take any thing, v. 22. Here observe,
(1.) The titles he gives to God, The most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, the same that Melchizedek had just now used, v. 19. Note, It is good to learn of others how to order our speech concerning God, and to imitate those who speak well in divine things. This improvement we are to make of the conversation of devout good men, we must learn to speak after them.

(2.) The ceremony used in this oath: I have lifted up my hand. In religious swearing we appeal to God's knowledge of our truth and sincerity and imprecate his wrath if we swear falsely, and the lifting up of the hand is very significant and expressive of both.

(3.) The matter of the oath, namely, that he would not take any reward from the king of Sodom, was lawful, but what he was not antecedently obliged to.
[1.] Probably Abram vowed, before he went to the battle, that, if God would give him success, he would, for the glory of God and the credit of his profession, so far deny himself and his own right as to take nothing of the spoils to himself. Note, the vows we have made when we are in pursuit of a mercy must be carefully and conscientiously kept when we have obtained the mercy, though they were made against our interest. A citizen of Zion, if he has sworn, whether it be to God or man, though it prove to his own hurt, yet he changeth not, Ps. 15:4. Or,

[2.] Perhaps Abram, now when he saw cause to refuse the offer made him, at the same time confirmed his refusal with this oath, to prevent further importunity. Note, First, There may be good reason sometimes why we should debar ourselves of that which is our undoubted right, as St. Paul, 1 Co. 8:13; 9:12. Secondly, That strong resolutions are of good use to put by the force of temptations.

2. He backs his refusal with a good reason: Lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich, which would reflect reproach, (1.) Upon the promise and covenant of God, as if they would not have enriched Abram without the spoils of Sodom. And,
(2.) Upon the piety and charity of Abram, as if all he had in his eye, when he undertook that hazardous expedition, was to enrich himself. Note,
[1.] We must be very careful that we give no occasion to others to say things which they ought not.
[2.] The people of God must, for their credit's sake, take heed of doing any thing that looks mean or mercenary, or that savours of covetousness and self-seeking. Probably Abram knew the king of Sodom to be a proud and scornful man, and one that would be apt to turn such a thing as this to his reproach afterwards, though most unreasonably. When we have to do with such men, we have need to act with particular caution.

3. He limits his refusal with a double proviso, v. 24. In making vows, we ought carefully to insert the necessary exceptions, that we may not afterwards say before the angel, It was an error, Eccl. 5:6. Abram here excepts,
(1.) The food of his soldiers; they were worthy of their meat while they trod out the corn. This would give no colour to the king of Sodom to say that he had enriched Abram.

(2.) The shares of his allies and confederates: Let them take their portion. Note, Those who are strict in restraining their own liberty yet ought not to impose those restraints upon the liberties of others, nor to judge of them accordingly. We must not make ourselves the standard to measure others by. A good man will deny himself that liberty which he will not deny another, contrary to the practice of the Pharisees, Mt. 23:4.

There was not the same reason why Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, should quit their right, that there was why Abram should. They did not make the profession that he made, nor were they, as he was, under the obligation of a vow. They had not the hopes that Abram had of a portion in the other world, and therefore, by all means, let them take their portion of this.

Bread for today (23.03.2014): The self denial of Abram

Bible-Text=Gen14.23: Vs23  That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:

From a thread even to a shoelatchet - This was certainly a proverbial mode of expression, the full meaning of which is perhaps not known. Among the rabbinical writers חוט chut, or חוטי chuti, signifies a fillet worn by young women to tie up their hair; taken in this sense it will give a good meaning here. As Abram had rescued both the men and women carried off by the confederate kings, and the king of Sodom had offered him all the goods, claiming only the persons, he answers by protesting against the accepting any of their property: "I have vowed unto the Lord, the proprietor of heaven and earth, that I will not receive the smallest portion of the property either of the women or men, from a girl's fillet to a man's shoe-tie."

That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet,.... That is, from a thread used in sewing garments to, a shoelatchet, or the string which fastens the shoes to the foot, the least belonging to that; or from the hair lace of the head, to the shoelatchet of the foot; that is, he would take nothing of his from head to foot: the meaning is, that he would not take that which was of the least value and importance that could be conceived of, and which is more clearly expressed by what follows: and that I will not take anything that is thine; the least thing that belonged to him, or to any of his subjects, for this reason: lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich; lest he should upbraid him with it afterwards, and say, that all his riches were owing to him; whereas God had promised to bless him, and make him rich and great, as he had begun to do, and still would more and more; and in whom his trusted, and to whom he was desirous all the glory of his greatness and riches should be ascribed.

Bread for today (24.03.2014): The faith of Abram

Bible-Text=Gen14.24: Vs24 Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

While Abram refrains from accepting any part of the spoils beyond what had been consumed in supplying the necessities of his followers in the expedition, he expressly excepts the portion to which his confederates, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, became entitled by their share in the recovery of the property. This is sufficient to prove that the transaction regarding the spoil was not an offer of generosity on the part of the king of Sodom, but an act of disinterestedness on the part of Abram.

The Faith of Abram

1. דבר dābār, "a word, a thing;" the word being the sign of the thing.
2. אדני 'ǎdonāy, "Adonai, the Lord;" related: "bring down, lay down."

This is the name usually read in place of Yahweh; but when, as in the present case, יהוה yehovâh and אדני 'ǎdonāy are in apposition, אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym is read instead of the former. The Jews from a feeling of reverence avoided the utterance of this sacred name except on the most solemn occasions.

This is said to have arisen from a stringent interpretation of Leviticus 24:16. According to some, this name was pronounced only once a year by the high priest, on the day of atonement, in the Holy of Holies, and according to others only in the solemn benedictions pronounced by the priests.

At an earlier period, however, the name must have been freely used by the people, since it enters into the composition of proper names. Adon אדן 'ǎdôn in the singular and plural is used as a common name. משׁק mesheq, "possession," בן־משׁק ben-mesheq, "possessor." This forms a paronomasia with דמשׂק dameśeq, which is for דמשׂקי damaśqı̂y. אליעזר ‛elı̂y'ezer, "Eliezer, God of help, or mighty to help."

קיני qēynı̂y, Kenite, patronymic of קין qayı̂n, Kain. קנזי qenı̂zı̂y, Kenizzite, patronymic of קנז qenaz, Kenaz, "hunter." קדמני qademonı̂y, Kadmonite, "eastern, old." The events recorded in the preceding chapter manifest the sway of the new nature in Abram, and meet the approval of the Lord. This approval is exhibited in a heavenly visit to the patriarch, in which the Lord solemnly reiterates the promise of the seed and the land. Abram believes in the Lord, who thereupon enters into covenant with him.

Save only that which the young men have eaten - His own servants had partaken of the victuals which the confederate kings had carried away; see Genesis 14:11. This was unavoidable, and this is all he claims; but as he had no right to prescribe the same liberal conduct to his assistants, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, he left them to claim the share that by right of conquest belonged to them of the recaptured booty. Whether they were as generous as Abram we are not told.

We have already seen the danger to which Lot exposed himself in preferring a fertile region, though peopled with the workers of iniquity. His sorrows commence in the captivity of himself and family, and the loss of all his property, though by the good providence of God he and they were rescued.

2. Long observation has proved that the company a man keeps is not an indifferent thing; it will either be the means of his salvation or destruction.

3. A generous man cannot be contented with mere personal safety while others are in danger, nor with his own prosperity while others are in distress. Abram, hearing of the captivity of his nephew, determines to attempt his rescue; he puts himself at the head of his own servants, three hundred and eighteen in number, and the few assistants with which his neighbors, Mamre, Aner, and Eshcol, could furnish him; and, trusting in God and the goodness of his cause, marches off to attack four confederate kings!

4. Though it is not very likely that the armies of those petty kings could have amounted to many thousands, yet they were numerous enough to subdue almost the whole land of Canaan; and consequently, humanly speaking, Abram must know that by numbers he could not prevail, and that in this case particularly the battle was the Lord's.

5. While depending on the Divine blessing and succor he knew he must use the means he had in his power; he therefore divided his troops skilfully that he might attack the enemy at different points at the same time, and he chooses the night season to commence his attack, that the smallness of his force might not be discovered.

God requires a man to use all the faculties he has given him in every lawful enterprise, and only in the conscientious use of them can he expect the Divine blessing; when this is done the event may be safely trusted in the hands of God.

6. Here is a war undertaken by Abram on motives the most honorable and conscientious; it was to repel aggression, and to rescue the innocent from the heaviest of sufferings and the worst of slavery, not for the purpose of plunder nor the extension of his territories; therefore he takes no spoils, and returns peaceably to his own possessions. How happy would the world be were every sovereign actuated by the same spirit!

7. We have already noticed the appearance, person, office, etc., of Melchizedek; and, without indulging in the wild theories of either ancient or modern visionaries, have considered him as the Scriptures do, a type of Christ. All that has been already spoken on this head may be recapitulated in a few words.

1. The Redeemer of the world is the King of righteousness; he creates it, maintains it, and rules by it.

2. His empire is the empire of peace; this he proclaims to them who are afar off, and to them that are nigh; to the Jew and to the Gentile.

3. He is Priest of the most high God, and has laid down his life for the sin of the world; and through this sacrifice the blessing of God is derived on them that believe. Reader, take him for thy King as well as thy Priest; he saves those only who submit to his authority and take his Spirit for the regulator of their heart, and his word for the director of their conduct.

How many do we find, among those who would be sorry to be rated so low as to rank only with nominal Christians, talking of Christ as their Prophet, Priest, and King, who are not taught by his word and Spirit, who apply not for redemption in his blood, and who submit not to his authority! Reader, learn this deep and important truth: "Where I am there also shall my servant be; and he that serveth me, him shall my Father honor."

Bread for today (25.03.2014): ABRAHAM’S GREAT REWARD.

Bible-Text=Gen15.1: Vs1 “Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward.”

You have probably heard a great many sermons on the first part of the text, “I am your shield,” so, on this occasion, I am going to leave that portion in order to more fully consider the second part—“I am your exceeding great reward.”

Notice, first, the circumstances under which these words were spoken to Abraham. It must have been in his memory that not very long before, he had parted from his nephew, Lot, and had given him his choice as to which way he would go with his flocks and his herds. And Lot, regardless of the character of the people among whom he was going to dwell, chose the well-watered plain of Jericho or Jordan in which were the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

He thought only of temporal advantages and now he had lost everything in the battle of the four kings against five. Abraham had an eye to the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, so he had not lost anything. In fact, he was able to restore to Lot all that he had lost.

And now the Lord appears to him and seems to say to him, “Your nephew Lot trusted in what he could see. He followed the leading of his own judgment and chose that which seemed to be for his own immediate advantage, and now he has lost all. But, fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward. You shall not lose.

You have chosen the good part which shall not be taken from you. You have no share of the well-watered plain of Jordan to lose. You need not fret, for you shall never lose your portion.” The Patriarch might also have said, on his own account, “The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore will I trust in Him.”

You, Beloved, have probably seen others suffering the loss of all things and brought to deep despair as the result. But do not be alarmed at whatever happens to you. You have made God to be your refuge and you shall find a most secure abode in Him. You may have losses and afflictions— these are a part of your lot—but they shall not overwhelm you.

You shall be no real losers in the end, but you shall be kept by the power of God and shall be delivered out of every trial and affliction. He shall also be to you your shield and your exceeding great reward.

Bread for today (26.03.2014): ABRAHAM’S GREAT REWARD.

Bible-Text=Gen15.1: Vs1 “Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward.”

You have probably heard a great many sermons on the first part of the text, “I am your shield,” so, on this occasion, I am going to leave that portion in order to more fully consider the second part—“I am your exceeding great reward.”

Notice, first, the circumstances under which these words were spoken to Abraham. It must have been in his memory that not very long before, he had parted from his nephew, Lot, and had given him his choice as to which way he would go with his flocks and his herds. And Lot, regardless of the character of the people among whom he was going to dwell, chose the well-watered plain of Jericho or Jordan in which were the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

He thought only of temporal advantages and now he had lost everything in the battle of the four kings against five. Abraham had an eye to the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, so he had not lost anything. In fact, he was able to restore to Lot all that he had lost.

And now the Lord appears to him and seems to say to him, “Your nephew Lot trusted in what he could see. He followed the leading of his own judgment and chose that which seemed to be for his own immediate advantage, and now he has lost all. But, fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward. You shall not lose.

You have chosen the good part which shall not be taken from you. You have no share of the well-watered plain of Jordan to lose. You need not fret, for you shall never lose your portion.” The Patriarch might also have said, on his own account, “The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore will I trust in Him.”

You, Beloved, have probably seen others suffering the loss of all things and brought to deep despair as the result. But do not be alarmed at whatever happens to you. You have made God to be your refuge and you shall find a most secure abode in Him. You may have losses and afflictions— these are a part of your lot—but they shall not overwhelm you.

You shall be no real losers in the end, but you shall be kept by the power of God and shall be delivered out of every trial and affliction. He shall also be to you your shield and your exceeding great reward.

Bread for today (27.03.2014): The desire of Abraham.

Bible-Text=Gen15:2 Vs2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?

Again, Abraham had just at that time refused the gifts of the king of Sodom. They were his rightful spoil and he might very properly have taken them, yet he would not do so, lest, in later days the king of Sodom should say, “It was not Abraham’s God that enriched him.

It is no use for him to talk about living by faith, for it was my gifts, or the spoils of war that enriched him.” “No,” says Abraham, “you shall never be able to say that! Whatever I have shall be God’s gift to me, not the king of Sodom’s gift.

I will be independent of men. I will be dependent only upon the living God.” The Lord admires this spirit, so He comes and says to His servant, “Fear not, Abram. Whatever you may have given up for My sake, for My Glory’s sake, for the sake of My honor, you shall not be a loser in any respect, for I will be your shield, and your exceeding great reward.”

Have you, dear Friend, made any sacrifices for Christ? Have you lately been called to imperil your own interests by pursuing a right course? Have you been steadfast even though you lost friendships? Have you been so firm in your adherence to principle that you have been judged to be obstinate?

Well, if so, you shall be no loser through your faithfulness! As certainly as God is in Heaven, you shall prove, in some way or other, that in keeping His commandments there is great reward.

It is always a pity when any of the children of God begin to think that they can be enriched by the king of Sodom, or try to find their portion, in any measure, among the ungodly sons of men. God’s command to His people is, “Come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.” And His promise to those who do is, “I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

We must also remember that at the time the Lord spoke to Abraham, the Patriarch was not the possessor of a single foot of the land which had been promised to him. The whole of it was to belong to his posterity and, in God’s promise, Abraham held the title-deeds to the freehold.

Those who were in possession were but leaseholders and their lease would soon run out, but, at that time, Abraham had not even a foot of ground that he could call his own. And when he needed a sepulcher, he had to buy the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron, in the presence of the children of Heth.

So, in our text, the Lord seems to say to him, “Abraham, you have no possession in this land. You are a stranger and a foreigner in it, but ‘fear not,’ I am your portion and your heritage, your exceeding great reward.’

Although others look upon you as a mere Bedouin wandering about with your flocks and herds, and pitching your tents here, today, and there, tomorrow, with no settled resting place, be not troubled because of that.

It is the same with us, Beloved, for the Lord has been the dwelling place of His people in all generations, even as He was the dwelling place of Abraham! And He would have Abraham know that it was so and feel that he was not penniless, or landless, for the Lord was his “exceeding great reward.”

One other circumstance is worth remembering. Abraham had just been paying tithes to Melchizedek, so now was just the time for the Lord to give him a blessing.

Bread for today (28.03.2014): The desire of Abram

Bible-Text=Gen15.3: Vs3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

The most important is a spiritual reward. There are some people who will not value it because of this very excellence. And this may be a test between the regenerate and the unregenerate. The ungodly say, “If God will but give us our barns full of wheat and our winepress bursting with new wine. If He will only fill our purses with gold and our houses with all manner of earthly delights, that will be enough for us.”

But you, Believer, are of another mind, for you have seen through the emptiness and vanity of all material things. You say, “What is the mere pleasure of eating and drinking but that with which a beast is my associate? What if I have honor among my fellow mortals? What is it but so much breath from other men’s nostrils, so much clapping of the hands of fools?

That is all it really is.” What is there beneath the sun, that, to a man who is born of God, is worth his stooping down to pick it up? But when he gets his God, the new-born spirit within him, which hungers with an infinite hunger for the highest good, he says, “Here I have all that I need! Father, Son and Spirit—blessed Trinity, You are mine!

My awakened spirit feels that this is a sea in which I can swim forever. This is the element in which I can truly live.” To possess God is a great spiritual blessing, so the declaration of the text is true—“I am your exceeding great reward.”

Notice, next, that this is an eternal reward, for he who has God as his own shall never lose Him since God changes not. And he shall never exhaust Him, for who would even think that he can drain dry the infinite all-sufficiency of Jehovah?

If God is yours, you have all for today, tomorrow, for time, for eternity, forever! All emergencies and circumstance of life—all for the tremendous terrors of the Day of Judgment, all for the ages of ages that shall never end! What more can you need? To have God is, also, most ennobling.

I do not know that there is anything in a great deal of wealth to make a man noble. Many men seem to get more greedy, the more money they have. Their soul cleaves to their dust. But he who gets God as his own, oh, what a privileged man is he! Talk of princes—here is a prince, indeed!

You may put as many emperors and great ones of the earth as you please in a barrel, but, if they are not saved by the Grace of God, they are not worthy, in the sight of God, of being compared with the poorest, weakest, most despised of all His people, to whom He is an “exceeding great reward!” O you great ones of the earth, you might well be content to become beggars if you might but have God to be your everlasting portion!

And what a soul-satisfying portion and reward this is! If you have God as yours, my Soul, sit down and see if you can think of anything else— you cannot do it! Try and let your desires ramble over other fields. Untie them and give them liberty.

But what can they ask for, seek for, wish for beyond God Himself? There are, alas, some Christians who do not seem to realize the truth of this and they get dissatisfied with God. You have been serving the Master, my Brother or Sister, for some months. Perhaps it is in the Sunday school that you have been working, but nobody has taken much notice of you. The superintendent has not praised you, so you are discouraged. But remember that when you serve God, He is your reward!

Bread for today (29.03.2014): Has God forgotten Abram?

Bible-Text=Gen15.3: Vs3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

His reward is a spiritual reward. There are some people who will not value it because of this very excellence. And this may be a test between the regenerate and the unregenerate. The ungodly say, “If God will but give us our barns full of wheat and our winepress bursting with new wine. If He will only fill our purses with gold and our houses with all manner of earthly delights, that will be enough for us.”

But you, Believer, are of another mind, for you have seen through the emptiness and vanity of all material things. You say, “What is the mere pleasure of eating and drinking but that with which a beast is my associate? What if I have honor among my fellow mortals? What is it but so much breath from other men’s nostrils, so much clapping of the hands of fools? That is all it really is.”

What is there beneath the sun, that, to a man who is born of God, is worth his stooping down to pick it up? But when he gets his God, the new-born spirit within him, which hungers with an infinite hunger for the highest good, he says, “Here I have all that I need! Father, Son and Spirit—blessed Trinity, You are mine! My awakened spirit feels that this is a sea in which I can swim forever. This is the element in which I can truly live.” To possess God is a great spiritual blessing, so the declaration of the text is true—“I am your exceeding great reward.”

Notice, next, that this is an eternal reward, for he who has God as his own shall never lose Him since God changes not. And he shall never exhaust Him, for who would even think that he can drain dry the infinite all-sufficiency of Jehovah? If God is yours, you have all for today, tomorrow, for time, for eternity, forever!

All emergencies and circumstance of life — all for the tremendous terrors of the Day of Judgment, all for the ages of ages that shall never end! What more can you need? To have God is, also, most ennobling. I do not know that there is anything in a great deal of wealth to make a man noble. Many men seem to get more greedy, the more money they have. Their soul cleaves to their dust. But he who gets God as his own, oh, what a privileged man is he!

Talk of princes — here is a prince, indeed! You may put as many emperors and great ones of the earth as you please in a barrel, but, if they are not saved by the Grace of God, they are not worthy, in the sight of God, of being compared with the poorest, weakest, most despised of all His people, to whom He is an “exceeding great reward!” O you great ones of the earth, you might well be content to become beggars if you might but have God to be your everlasting portion!

And what a soul-satisfying portion and reward this is! If you have God as yours, my Soul, sit down and see if you can think of anything else— you cannot do it! Try and let your desires ramble over other fields. Untie them and give them liberty. But what can they ask for, seek for, wish for beyond God Himself? There are, alas, some Christians who do not seem to realize the truth of this and they get dissatisfied with God. You have been serving the Master, my Brother or Sister, for some months. Perhaps it is in the Sunday school that you have been working, but nobody has taken much notice of you. The superintendent has not praised you, so you are discouraged. But remember that when you serve God, He is your reward!

Bread for today (30.03.2014): The Assuarance of Hope

Bible-Text=Gen15.4: Vs4  And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.

“Fear not, Abram.” No more necessary or practical word could be spoken to the great Father of the Faithful than this. Fear, alas, is a malaria which haunts all the marshlands of earth! It can beset the king on his throne, the peasant in his cottage, the statesman in his lofty office and the poor old mother who dreads the pauper’s lot and fare.

It is the shadow that follows us when the sun is shining brightly before — how to escape it is the problem that perplexes thousands of the saints of God. We might be sure that it was so, when so mighty a Believer as Abram was in great peril of it!

Does he need a, “fear not,” from Jehovah’s lips? Then we may be sure that we shall require it, too. I am afraid that wherever there is faith there will also be a measure of fear, though the less of it, the better. How tenderly the Lord quiets the fears of His children and lulls their forebodings to rest! “Fear not, Abram.” As much as if He had said “You are all alone, but fear not, for I am with you.

You are in much labor, needing great strength, but fear not, I will help you. You have no portion, but are a stranger and sojourner in this land, but fear not, for I am your God. Do not fear concerning the past, nor the present, nor the future. Fear neither the fury of foes, nor the worse trial — the failure of friends.

Be brave, calm, trustful, hopeful, joyful. Fear not, Abram.” “You have just been fighting the kings — you desired to be a man of peace and were not, indeed, accustomed to the deadly strife. But I have given the marauders and plunderers like driven stubble to your bow — and you have brought back Lot and all his train of servants that were taken prisoners.

You need not fear even for your relatives! I will bless and keep them for your sake. Besides, since you have borne yourself in a right royal fashion and not touched a thread or a shoe lace of the king of Sodom’s goods, do not fear to enjoy your success, for you shall be safe from all attacks and shall command the respect of the great ones around you.” This blessed “fear not” was a quietus to every form of alarm and misgiving which might come near and threaten this man of God!

Is not this our Lord’s own message to His children everywhere today? He has scattered His, “fear nots,” all over His blessed Word as some riverbanks are all spread with sweet forget-me-nots! And these “fear nots,” cover every emergency of our life and answer to them with the assurance that His love will never forget or fail us! And if we will but remember this, we shall have no cause whatever to fear.

But the Lord appears to teach Abram that after his conflict and signal victory he might begin to sink. Such is often the case with the bravest men. The natural reaction, unless special Divine Grace is given, is very great. It was so with Elijah, the Prophet of Fire. Men have little time or space to dread while the fierce conflict is raging — their spirit of dash and enterprise is awakened and equal to the struggle and the danger! But when all is over and strained body and brain and nerves begin to assert themselves, then they greatly need the Lord’s reviving and fortifying, “fear not.”

Beloved, have you never felt yourself strangely supported under the direst afflictions, so that they seemed not afflictions at all? And yet when pressure has been removed you have been ready to faint like Samson after he had slain the Philistines! Fear is a strange contradiction, a grim inconsistency, for it is apt to be greatest when the reason for it is least and smallest.

We are often quiet in a storm and distracted in a calm. We are mysteries to ourselves and riddles to our neighbors. Our constitutions and dispositions sometimes appear to be made up of odds and ends and gatherings from all manner of beasts, and birds, and fishes — and none can understand us but the Lord who made us! But, blessed be His name, He knows us altogether and therefore He can and does bring forth at the right moment the exact consolation and the precise heartening that we need, saying, “Fear not,” in the instant wherein we are most likely to fear!

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,
LET HIM
COME UNTO ME
AND DRINK.”

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.

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Bread for today (04.05.2014): The Creating ability of God.

Bible-Text=Gen10.6-14: Vs

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