July 14: Glory In Our Trubulation

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience.” Romans 5:3

By a patient endurance of suffering for His sake, the Redeemer is greatly glorified in His saints. The apostle—and few drank of the bitter cup more deeply than he—presents suffering for Christ in the soothing light of a Christian privilege. “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” “But if you be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you;” for thereby Christ is glorified in you. Believer, suffering for Christ, rejoice, yes, rejoice that you are counted worthy to suffer shame for His sake. What distinction is awarded you! What honor is put upon you! What a favored opportunity have you now of bringing glory to His name; for illustrating His sustaining grace, and upholding strength, and Almighty power, and infinite wisdom, and comforting love! By the firm yet mild maintenance of your principles, by the dignified yet gentle spirit of forbearance, by the uncompromising yet kind resistance to allurement, let the Redeemer be glorified in you! In all that you suffer for righteousness’ sake, let your eye be immovably fixed on Jesus. In Him you have a bright example. “Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your mind.” Remember how, for your redemption, He “endured the cross, despising the shame,” and, for your continual support, “is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Remember, too, that it is one peculiar exercise and precious privilege of faith, to “wait patiently for the Lord.” The divine exhortation is, “Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.” “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” This patience of the soul is the rest of faith on a faithful God; it is a standing still to see His salvation. And the divine encouragement is, that in this posture will be found the secret of your real power. “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” Be watchful against everything that would mar the simplicity of your faith, and so dim the glory of Jesus; especially guard against the adoption of unlawful or doubtful measures, with a view to disentanglement from present difficulties. Endure the pressure, submit to the wrong, bear the suffering, rather than sin against God, by seeking to forestall His mind, or to antedate His purpose, or by transferring your interests from His hands to your own.

Oh, the glory that is brought to Jesus by a life of faith! Who can fully estimate it? Taking to Him the corruption, as it is discovered—the guilt, as it rises, the grief, as it is felt—the cross, as it is experienced—the wound, as it is received; yes, simply following the example of John’s disciples, who, when their master was slain, took up his headless body, and buried it, and then went and poured their mournful intelligence in Jesus’ ear, and laid their deep sorrow on His heart; this is to glorify Christ! Truly is this “precious faith,” and truly is the “trial of our faith precious,” for it renders more precious to the heart “His precious blood,” who, in His person, is unutterably “precious to those who believe.”

November 11: Make Your Calling And Election Sure

“Rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:10, 11

The doctrine of an assured belief of the pardon of sin, of acceptance in Christ, and of adoption into the family of God, has been, and yet is, regarded by many as an attainment never to be expected in the present life; and when it is expressed, it is viewed with a suspicion unfavorable to the character of the work. But this is contrary to the Divine word, and to the concurrent experience of millions who have lived and died in the full assurance of hope.

The doctrine of assurance is a doctrine of undoubted revelation, implied and expressed. That it is enforced as a state of mind essential to the salvation of the believer, we cannot admit; but that it is insisted upon as essential to his comfortable and holy walk, and as greatly involving the glory of God, we must strenuously maintain. Else why these marked references to the doctrine?

In Col. 2:1, 2, Paul expresses “great conflict” for the saints, that their “hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding.” In the Epistle to the Hebrews, 7:11, he says, ” We desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end.” In chap. 10:22, he exhorts them, “Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith.” And to crown all, the apostle Peter thus earnestly exhorts, “Why the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” We trust no further proof from the sacred word is required to authenticate the doctrine. It is written as with a sunbeam, “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”

It is the duty and the privilege of every believer diligently and prayerfully to seek the sealing of the Spirit. He rests short of his great privilege, if he slights or undervalues this blessing. Do not be satisfied with the faint impression, which you received in conversion. In other words, rest not content with a past experience. Many are satisfied with a mere hope that they once passed from death unto life, and with this feeble and, in many cases, doubtful evidence, they are content to pass all their days, and to go down to the grave.

Ah, reader, if you are really converted, and your soul is in a healthy, growing, spiritual state, you will want more than this. And especially, too, if you are led into deeper self-knowledge—a more intimate acquaintance with the roughness of the rough way, the straitness of the strait path, you will want a present Christ to lean upon, and to live upon. Past experience will not do for you, save only as it confirms your soul in the faithfulness of God. “Forgetting those things that are behind,” you will seek a present pardon, a present sense of acceptance; and the daily question, as you near your eternal home, will be, “how do I now stand with God?—is Jesus precious to my soul now?—is He my daily food?—what do I experience of daily visits from and to Him?—do I more and more see my own vileness, emptiness, and poverty, and His righteousness, grace, and fullness?—and should the summons now come, am I ready to depart and to be with Christ?”

PAs you value a happy and a holy walk—as you would be jealous for the honor and glory of the Lord—as you wish to be the “salt of the earth,” the “light of the world”—to be a savor of Christ in every place—oh, seek the sealing of the Spirit. Rest not short of it—reach after it—press towards it: it is your duty—oh that the duty may be your privilege; then shall you exclaim with an unfaltering tongue, “Abba; Father,” “my Lord my God!”

June 8: To Walk By Faith

“Now the just shall live by faith.” Hebrews 10:38

We cannot too frequently nor too deeply study the profound meaning of these words. God will have his child perpetually looking to, leaning upon, and receiving from Him. At present we are but in an immature state. We are not, therefore, in a condition to be trusted with grace for the future.

Improvident and careless, we would soon squander and exhaust our resources; and when the emergency came, we should find our selves unprepared to meet it. The Lord, in wisdom and love, keeps all our grace in His own hands, and deals it out just as our circumstances demand.

Oh, who that knows his own heart, and the heart of Christ, would not desire that all his supply should be in God, and not in himself? Who, so to speak, would wish to be his own spiritual treasurer? Who that knows the blessedness of a life of faith, the sweetness of going to God in everything, and for everything, would wish to transfer his mercies from Christ’s keeping to his own, or wish to hold in the present the supply of the future?

Be satisfied, dear reader, to walk by faith, and not by sight. You have a full Christ to draw from, and a faithful God to look to. You have a “covenant ordered in all things and sure,” and the precious promise, “As your days, so shall your strength be,” to lean confidently upon all your journey through. Be content, then, to be poor and dependent. Be willing to travel on empty-handed, seeing God’s heart opened, and Christ’s hand outstretched to supply your daily bread.

Oh! it is sweet to be a dependent creature upon God- to hang upon a loving Father- to live as a poor, needy sinner, day by day, moment by moment, upon Jesus- to trace God in ten thousand ways- to mark His wisdom here, His condescension there- now His love, and then His faithfulness, all combining and exerted for our good- truly it is the most holy and blessed life upon earth.

Why should we, then, shrink from any trial, or flee from any duty, or turn aside from any cross, since for that trial, and for that duty, and for that cross, Jesus has provided its required and appropriate grace? You are perhaps exclaiming, “Trouble is near!” Well, be it so.

So also Divine grace is near- and strength is near – and counsel is near- and deliverance is near- and Jesus is near- and God is near- and a throne of grace is near; therefore, why must you fear, though trouble be near? “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

May 28: The New Has Come

“Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

A believer’s experience of the truth of God is no mere fancy. However severely experimental godliness may have been stigmatized by an unrenewed world, as the offspring of a morbid imagination, the product of an enthusiastic mind, “he that believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself,” that he has yielded the consent of his judgment and his affections to no “cunningly-devised fable.”

A sense of sin- brokenness and contrition before God- faith in the atoning blood of Christ- a sweet consciousness of pardon, acceptance, adoption, and joy in the Holy Spirit, are no mere hallucinations of a disordered mind. To read one’s pardon, fully, fairly written out- to look up to God as one accepted, adopted, to feel the spirit going out to Him in filial love and confidence, breathing its tender and endearing epithet, “Abba, Father,”- to refer every trial, cross, and dispensation of His providence to His tender and unchangeable love- to have one’s will, naturally so rebellious and perverse, completely absorbed in His- to be as a weaned child, simply and unreservedly yielded up to His disposal, and to live in the patient waiting for the glory that is to be revealed- oh, this is reality, sweet, blessed, solemn reality!

Holy and happy is that man whose heart is not a stranger to these truths.

April 5: Who Can Be Against Us?

“If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31.

With such a Father, such a Friend, and such a Comforter, who can wage a successful hostility against the saints of God? God Himself cannot be against us, even when the clouds of His providence appear the most lowering, and His strokes are felt to be the most severe. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” The law cannot be against us; for the Law-fulfiller has, by His obedience, magnified and made it honorable. Divine justice cannot be against us; for Jesus has, in our stead, met its demands, and His resurrection is a full discharge of all its claims. Nor sin, nor Satan, nor men, nor suffering, nor death, can be really or successfully against us, since the condemnation of sin is removed, and Satan is vanquished, and the ungodly are restrained, and suffering works for good, and the sting of death is taken away. “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

With such a Being on our side, whom shall we fear? We will fear nothing but the disobedience that grieves, and the sin that offends Him. Fearing this, we need fear nothing else. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear.”

Listen once more to His wondrous words: “Fear not; for I am with you: do not be dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.”
Would we always have God for us? Then let us aim to be for God. God deals with us His creatures by an equitable rule. “The ways of the Lord are equal.” “If you walk contrary unto me, their will I walk contrary unto you.” Is not God for you? Has He not always, since He manifested Himself to you as your covenant God, been on your side? Has He ever been a wilderness to you, a land of darkness? Has He, in any instance, been unkind, unfriendly, unfaithful? Never.

Then be for God- decidedly, wholly, uncompromisingly for God. Your heart for God, your talents for God, your rank for God, your property for God, your influence for God, your all for God; a holy unreserved consecration to Him, all whose love, all whose grace, all whose perfections, all whose heaven of glory is for you.

Trembling Christian! God is on your side; and “if God be for us, who can be against us?”

March 29: The Rod Of Love

“I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right, and that you in faithfulness have afflicted me.” Psalm 119:75.

The mark of a vigorous love to God is when the soul justifies God in all His wise and gracious dealings with it; rebels not, murmurs not, repines not, but meekly and silently acquiesces in the dispensation, be it ever so trying. Divine love in the heart, deepening and expanding towards that God from where it springs, will, in the hour of trial, exclaim, “My God has smitten me, but He is my God still, faithful and loving. My Father has chastened me sorely, but He is my Father still, tender and kind.

This trying dispensation originated in love, it speaks with the voice of love, it bears with it the message of love, and is sent to draw my heart closer and yet closer to the God of love, from whom it came.” Dear reader, are you one of the Lord’s afflicted ones? Happy are you if this is the holy and blessed result of His dealings with you. Happy if you hear the voice of love in the rod, winning your lonely and sorrowful heart to the God from whom it came.

But when love to God has declined, the reverse of this is the state of a tried and afflicted believer; and hard thoughts of God in His dispensations may be regarded as an undeniable symptom of such declension.

March 3: The Heavenward Mind

“If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Col. 3:1-2

To win heaven, the mind must become heavenly; and to be heavenly, it must habituate itself to heavenly things and heavenly pursuits. It is a law of our mental constitution, that the mind assimilates in its tone and habits of thought with the subject which most engrosses its study. Hence it is that we sometimes become men of one idea.

Now the contemplation of divine and spiritual themes has a powerful tendency to spiritualize and sanctify the mind. It seems impossible to breathe a heavenly atmosphere, and not be heavenly; to study holy things, and not be holy; to admire the image of Christ, and not resemble Christ; to have frequent communion with Jesus upon the throne, and not catch some stray beam of His glory. And apart from Christ nothing is really pleasant and satisfying to the heavenly mind. Without Him, what a dreary, lonesome wilderness would this be! But with Christ in the heart, and the heart resting in Christ- He in the center of our souls, and our affections and desires centering on Him- the desert loses its solitude and its desolateness.

To have the eye resting on Jesus- all our heart-springs in Him- the spirit in frequent excursions where He dwells in light and glory- to lean upon Him and converse with Him as though He were actually walking by our side, sitting at our table, associating with us in our callings- this, this is heavenly-mindedness. Such is the counter-attraction to the “things on the earth,”- the secularizing pursuits, the low-thoughted cares, the carnal enjoyments- which we so deeply need. And this powerful counteracting influence which we possess is a realization of our resurrection with Christ, and His enthronement in glory.

 

February 25: Waiting Upon The Lord

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:7.

It is just this simple, patient waiting upon God in all our straits that certainly and effectually issues in our deliverance. In all circumstances of faith’s trial, of prayer’s delay, of hope deferred, the most proper and graceful posture of the soul- that which insures the largest revenue of blessing to us and of glory to God- is a patient waiting on the Lord.

Although our impatience will not cause God to break His covenant, nor violate His oath, yet a patient waiting will bring down larger and richer blessings. The moral discipline of patience is most costly. It keeps the soul humble, believing, prayerful. The mercy in which it results is all the more prized and precious from the long season of hopeful expectation. It is possible to receive a return too speedily. In our eagerness to grasp the mercy with one hand, we may lose our hold on faith and prayer and God with the other.

A patient waiting of the Lord’s time and mode of appearing in our behalf will tend to check all unworthy and unwise expedients and attempts at self-rescue. An immediate deliverance may be purchased at a price too costly. Its present taste may be sweet, but afterwards it may be bitter- God embittering the blessing that was not sought with a single eye to His glory. God’s time, though it tarry, and God’s deliverance, though delayed, when it comes proves always to have been the best: ” My soul, wait only upon God, for my expectation is from him.”

January 26

“My times are in your hand.” Psalm 31:15.

Let this precious truth divest your mind of all needless, anxious care for the present or the future. Exercising simple faith in God, “Do not be anxious about anything.” Learn to be content with your present lot, with God’s dealings with, and His disposal of, you. You are just where His providence has, in its inscrutable but all-wise and righteous decision, placed you. It may be a position painful, irksome, trying, but it is right. Oh, yes! it is right. Only aim to glorify Him in it. Wherever you are placed, God has a work for you to do, a purpose through you to be accomplished, in which He blends your happiness with His glory. And, when you have learned the lessons of His love, He will transfer you to another and a wider sphere, for whose nobler duties and higher responsibilities the present is, perhaps, but disciplining and preparing you. Covet, then, to live a life of daily dependence upon God. Oh, it is a sweet and holy life! It saves from many a desponding feeling, from many a corroding care, from many an anxious thought, from many a sleepless night, from many a tearful eye, and from many an imprudent and sinful scheme. Repairing to the “covenant ordered in all things and sure,” you may confide children, friends, calling, yourself, to the Lord’s care, in the fullest assurance that all their ‘times’ and yours are in His hand.

November 21

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24

IF, then, the first implantation of the divine life in the soul is sudden; the advance of that work is in most cases gradual. Let this be an encouragement to any who are writing hard and bitter things against themselves in consequence of their little progress. The growth of divine knowledge in the soul is often slow—the work of much time and of protracted discipline. Look at the eleven disciples—what slow, tardy scholars were they, even though taught immediately from the lips of Jesus; and “who teaches like Him?” They drank their knowledge from the very Fountain. They received their light directly from the Sun itself. And yet, with all these superior advantages—the personal ministry, instructions, miracles, and example of our dear Lord—how slow of understanding were they to comprehend, and how “slow of heart to believe,” all that He so laboriously, clearly, and patiently taught them! Yes, the advance of the soul in the divine life, its knowledge of sin, of the hidden evil, the heart’s deep treachery and intricate windings, Satan’s subtlety, the glory of the gospel, the preciousness of Christ, and its own interest in the great salvation, is not the work of a day, nor of a year, but of many days, yes, many years of deep ploughing, long and often painful discipline, of “windy storm and tempest.”

But this life in the soul is not less real, nor less divine, because its growth is slow and gradual: it may be small and feeble in its degree, yet, in its nature, it is the life that never dies. How many of the Lord’s beloved ones, the children of godly parents, brought up in the ways of God, are at a loss, in reviewing the map of their pilgrimage, to remember the starting-point of their spiritual life. They well know that they left the city of destruction—that by a strong and a mighty arm they were brought out of Egypt; but so gently, so imperceptibly, so softly, and so gradually were they led—“first a thought, then a desire, then a prayer”—that they could no more discover when the first dawning of divine life took place in their soul, than they could tell the instant when natural light first broke upon chaos. Still it is real. It is no fancy that he has inherited an evil principle in the heart; it is no fancy that that principle grace has subdued. It is no fancy that he was once a child of darkness; it is no fancy that he is now a child of light. He may mourn in secret over his little advance, his tardy progress, his weak faith, his small grace, his strong corruption, his many infirmities, his startings aside like “a broken bow,” yet he can say, “Though I am the ‘chief of sinners,’ and the ‘least of all saints’—though I see within so much to abase me, and without so much to mourn over, yet this ‘one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.’ I see that which I never saw before—a hatefulness in sin, and a beauty in holiness; I see a vileness and emptiness in myself, and a preciousness and fullness in Jesus.” Do not forget, then, dear reader, that feeble grace is yet real grace. If it but “hungers and thirsts,” if it “touches but the hem,” it shall be saved.