Monthly Archives: March, 2018

Evening, March 26th

“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”— Mark 8:38

If we have been partakers with Jesus in his shame, we shall be sharers with him in the lustre which shall surround him when he appears again in glory.

Art thou, beloved one, with Christ Jesus? Does a vital union knit thee to him? Then thou art today with him in his shame; thou hast taken up his cross, and gone with him without the camp bearing his reproach; thou shalt doubtless be with him when the cross is exchanged for the crown.

But judge thyself this evening; for if thou art not with him in the regeneration, neither shalt thou be with him when he shall come in his glory. If thou start back from the black side of communion, thou shalt not understand its bright, its happy period, when the King shall come, and all his holy angels with him.

What! are angels with him? And yet he took not up angels–he took up the seed of Abraham. Are the holy angels with him?

Come, my soul, if thou art indeed his own beloved, thou canst not be far from him. If his friends and his neighbours are called together to see his glory, what thinkest thou if thou art married to him?

Shalt thou be distant? Though it be a day of judgment, yet thou canst not be far from that heart which, having admitted angels into intimacy, has admitted thee into union. Has he not said to thee, O my soul, “I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness?”

Have not his own lips said it, “I am married unto thee, and my delight is in thee?” If the angels, who are but friends and neighbours, shall be with him, it is abundantly certain that his own beloved Hephzibah, in whom is all his delight, shall be near to him, and sit at his right hand.

Here is a morning star of hope for thee, of such exceeding brilliance, that it may well light up the darkest and most desolate experience.

Morning, March 26th

“Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:”— John 18:8

Mark, my soul, the care which Jesus manifested even in his hour of trial, towards the sheep of his hand! The ruling passion is strong in death.

He resigns himself to the enemy, but he interposes a word of power to set his disciples free. As to himself, like a sheep before her shearers he is dumb and opened not his mouth, but for his disciples’ sake he speaks with almighty energy.

Herein is love, constant, self-forgetting, faithful love. But is there not far more here than is to be found upon the surface?

Have we not the very soul and spirit of the atonement in these words? The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, and pleads that they must therefore go free. The Surety is bound, and justice demands that those for whom he stands a substitute should go their way.

In the midst of Egypt’s bondage, that voice rings as a word of power, “Let these go their way.” Out of slavery of sin and Satan the redeemed must come. In every cell of the dungeons of Despair, the sound is echoed, “Let these go their way,” and forth come Despondency and Much-afraid.

Satan hears the well-known voice, and lifts his foot from the neck of the fallen; and Death hears it, and the grave opens her gates to let the dead arise.

Their way is one of progress, holiness, triumph, glory, and none shall dare to stay them in it. No lion shall be on their way, neither shall any ravenous beast go up thereon.

“The hind of the morning” has drawn the cruel hunters upon himself, and now the most timid roes and hinds of the field may graze at perfect peace among the lilies of his loves. The thunder-cloud has burst over the Cross of Calvary, and the pilgrims of Zion shall never be smitten by the bolts of vengeance.

Come, my heart, rejoice in the immunity which thy Redeemer has secured thee, and bless his name all the day, and every day.

Evening, March 25th

“And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”— John 3:13

How constantly our Master used the title, the “Son of man!” If he had chosen, he might always have spoken of himself as the Son of God, the Everlasting Father, the Wonderful, the Counsellor, the Prince of Peace; but behold the lowliness of Jesus!

He prefers to call himself the Son of man. Let us learn a lesson of humility from our Saviour; let us never court great titles nor proud degrees.

There is here, however, a far sweeter thought. Jesus loved manhood so much, that he delighted to honour it; and since it is a high honour, and indeed, the greatest dignity of manhood, that Jesus is the Son of man, he is wont to display this name, that he may as it were hang royal stars upon the breast of manhood, and show forth the love of God to Abraham’s seed.

Son of man–whenever he said that word, he shed a halo round the head of Adam’s children. Yet there is perhaps a more precious thought still. Jesus Christ called himself the Son of man to express his oneness and sympathy with his people.

He thus reminds us that he is the one whom we may approach without fear. As a man, we may take to him all our griefs and troubles, for he knows them by experience; in that he himself hath suffered as the “Son of man,” he is able to succour and comfort us.

All hail, thou blessed Jesus! inasmuch as thou art evermore using the sweet name which acknowledges that thou art a brother and a near kinsman, it is to us a dear token of thy grace, thy humility, thy love.

    “Oh see how Jesus trusts himself
       Unto our childish love,
     As though by his free ways with us
       Our earnestness to prove!
     His sacred name a common word
       On earth he loves to hear;
     There is no majesty in him
       Which love may not come near.”

Morning, March 25th

“But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?”— Luke 22:48

“The kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Let me be on my guard when the world puts on a loving face, for it will, if possible, betray me as it did my Master, with a kiss.

Whenever a man is about to stab religion, he usually professes very great reverence for it. Let me beware of the sleek-faced hypocrisy which is armour-bearer to heresy and infidelity.

Knowing the deceivableness of unrighteousness, let me be wise as a serpent to detect and avoid the designs of the enemy. The young man, void of understanding, was led astray by the kiss of the strange woman: may my soul be so graciously instructed all this day, that “the much fair speech” of the world may have no effect upon me. Holy Spirit, let me not, a poor frail son of man, be betrayed with a kiss!

But what if I should be guilty of the same accursed sin as Judas, that son of perdition? I have been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus; I am a member of his visible Church; I sit at the communion table: all these are so many kisses of my lips. Am I sincere in them? If not, I am a base traitor.

Do I live in the world as carelessly as others do, and yet make a profession of being a follower of Jesus? Then I must expose religion to ridicule, and lead men to speak evil of the holy name by which I am called.

Surely if I act thus inconsistently I am a Judas, and it were better for me that I had never been born.

Dare I hope that I am clear in this matter? Then, O Lord, keep me so. O Lord, make me sincere and true. Preserve me from every false way. Never let me betray my Saviour.

I do love thee, Jesus, and though I often grieve thee, yet I would desire to abide faithful even unto death. O God, forbid that I should be a high-soaring professor, and then fall at last into the lake of fire, because I betrayed my Master with a kiss.

Evening, March 24th

“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.”— Luke 10:21

The Saviour was “a man of sorrows,” but every thoughtful mind has discovered the fact that down deep in his innermost soul he carried an inexhaustible treasury of refined and heavenly joy.

Of all the human race, there was never a man who had a deeper, purer, or more abiding peace than our Lord Jesus Christ.

“He was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows.”

His vast benevolence must, from the very nature of things, have afforded him the deepest possible delight, for benevolence is joy. There were a few remarkable seasons when this joy manifested itself.

“At that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth.”

Christ had his songs, though it was night with him; though his face was marred, and his countenance had lost the lustre of earthly happiness, yet sometimes it was lit up with a matchless splendour of unparalleled satisfaction, as he thought upon the recompense of the reward, and in the midst of the congregation sang his praise unto God.

In this, the Lord Jesus is a blessed picture of his church on earth. At this hour the church expects to walk in sympathy with her Lord along a thorny road; through much tribulation she is forcing her way to the crown. To bear the cross is her office, and to be scorned and counted an alien by her mother’s children is her lot; and yet the church has a deep well of joy, of which none can drink but her own children.

There are stores of wine, and oil, and corn, hidden in the midst of our Jerusalem, upon which the saints of God are evermore sustained and nurtured; and sometimes, as in our Saviour’s case, we have our seasons of intense delight, for “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of our God.”

Exiles though we be, we rejoice in our King; yea, in him we exceedingly rejoice, while in his name we set up our banners.

Morning, March 24th

“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;”— Hebrews 5:7

Did this fear arise from the infernal suggestion that he was utterly forsaken. There may be sterner trials than this, but surely it is one of the worst to be utterly forsaken?

“See,” said Satan, “thou hast a friend nowhere! Thy Father hath shut up the bowels of his compassion against thee. Not an angel in his courts will stretch out his hand to help thee. All heaven is alienated from thee; thou art left alone. See the companions with whom thou hast taken sweet counsel, what are they worth? Son of Mary, see there thy brother James, see there thy loved disciple John, and thy bold apostle Peter, how the cowards sleep when thou art in thy sufferings! Lo! Thou hast no friend left in heaven or earth. All hell is against thee. I have stirred up mine infernal den. I have sent my missives throughout all regions summoning every prince of darkness to set upon thee this night, and we will spare no arrows, we will use all our infernal might to overwhelm thee: and what wilt thou do, thou solitary one?”

It may be, this was the temptation; we think it was, because the appearance of an angel unto him strengthening him removed that fear. He was heard in that he feared; he was no more alone, but heaven was with him. It may be that this is the reason of his coming three times to his disciples–as Hart puts it–

   “Backwards and forwards thrice he ran,
      As if he sought some help from man.”

He would see for himself whether it were really true that all men had forsaken him; he found them all asleep; but perhaps he gained some faint comfort from the thought that they were sleeping, not from treachery, but from sorrow, the spirit indeed was willing, but the flesh was weak.

At any rate, he was heard in that he feared. Jesus was heard in his deepest woe; my soul, thou shalt be heard also.

Evening, March 23rd

“And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”— Luke 19:40

But could the stones cry out? Assuredly they could if he who opens the mouth of the dumb should bid them lift up their voice. Certainly if they were to speak, they would have much to testify in praise of him who created them by the word of his power; they could extol the wisdom and power of their Maker who called them into being.

Shall not we speak well of him who made us anew, and out of stones raised up children unto Abraham? The old rocks could tell of chaos and order, and the handiwork of God in successive stages of creation’s drama; and cannot we talk of God’s decrees, of God’s great work in ancient times, in all that he did for his church in the days of old?

If the stones were to speak, they could tell of their breaker, how he took them from the quarry, and made them fit for the temple, and cannot we tell of our glorious Breaker, who broke our hearts with the hammer of his word, that he might build us into his temple?

If the stones should cry out they would magnify their builder, who polished them and fashioned them after the similitude of a palace; and shall not we talk of our Architect and Builder, who has put us in our place in the temple of the living God?

If the stones could cry out, they might have a long, long story to tell by way of memorial, for many a time hath a great stone been rolled as a memorial before the Lord; and we too can testify of Ebenezers, stones of help, pillars of remembrance.

The broken stones of the law cry out against us, but Christ himself, who has rolled away the stone from the door of the sepulchre, speaks for us. Stones might well cry out, but we will not let them: we will hush their noise with ours; we will break forth into sacred song, and bless the majesty of the Most High, all our days glorifying him who is called by Jacob the Shepherd and Stone of Israel.

Morning, March 23rd

“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”— Luke 22:44

The mental pressure arising from our Lord’s struggle with temptation, so forced his frame to an unnatural excitement, that his pores sent forth great drops of blood which fell down to the ground.

This proves how tremendous must have been the weight of sin when it was able to crush the Saviour so that he distilled great drops of blood! This demonstrates the mighty power of his love.

It is a very pretty observation of old Isaac Ambrose that the gum which exudes from the tree without cutting is always the best. This precious camphire-tree yielded most sweet spices when it was wounded under the knotty whips, and when it was pierced by the nails on the cross; but see, it giveth forth its best spice when there is no whip, no nail, no wound.

This sets forth the voluntariness of Christ’s sufferings, since without a lance the blood flowed freely. No need to put on the leech, or apply the knife; it flows spontaneously. No need for the rulers to cry, “Spring up, O well;” of itself it flows in crimson torrents.

If men suffer great pain of mind apparently the blood rushes to the heart. The cheeks are pale; a fainting fit comes on; the blood has gone inward as if to nourish the inner man while passing through its trial.

But see our Saviour in his agony; he is so utterly oblivious of self, that instead of his agony driving his blood to the heart to nourish himself, it drives it outward to bedew the earth. The agony of Christ, inasmuch as it pours him out upon the ground, pictures the fulness of the offering which he made for men.

Do we not perceive how intense must have been the wrestling through which he passed, and will we not hear its voice to us? “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”

Behold the great Apostle and High Priest of our profession, and sweat even to blood rather than yield to the great tempter of your souls.

Evening, March 22nd

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”— John 17:24

O death! why dost thou touch the tree beneath whose spreading branches weariness hath rest? Why dost thou snatch away the excellent of the earth, in whom is all our delight?

If thou must use thine axe, use it upon the trees which yield no fruit; thou mightest be thanked then. But why wilt thou fell the goodly cedars of Lebanon? O stay thine axe, and spare the righteous.

But no, it must not be; death smites the goodliest of our friends; the most generous, the most prayerful, the most holy, the most devoted must die. And why? It is through Jesus’ prevailing prayer–“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.”

It is that which bears them on eagle’s wings to heaven. Every time a believer mounts from this earth to paradise, it is an answer to Christ’s prayer.

A good old divine remarks, “Many times Jesus and his people pull against one another in prayer. You bend your knee in prayer and say Father, I will that thy saints be with me where I am;’ Christ says, Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.'”

Thus the disciple is at cross-purposes with his Lord. The soul cannot be in both places: the beloved one cannot be with Christ and with you too. Now, which pleader shall win the day? If you had your choice; if the King should step from his throne, and say, “Here are two supplicants praying in opposition to one another, which shall be answered?” Oh! I am sure, though it were agony, you would start from your feet, and say, “Jesus, not my will, but thine be done.”

You would give up your prayer for your loved one’s life, if you could realize the thoughts that Christ is praying in the opposite direction–“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.”

Lord, thou shalt have them. By faith we let them go.

Morning, March 22nd

“And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”— Matthew 26:39

There are several instructive features in our Saviour’s prayer in his hour of trial. It was lonely prayer. He withdrew even from his three favoured disciples. Believer, be much in solitary prayer, especially in times of trial. Family prayer, social prayer, prayer in the Church, will not suffice, these are very precious, but the best beaten spice will smoke in your censer in your private devotions, where no ear hears but God’s.

It was humble prayer. Luke says he knelt, but another evangelist says he “fell on his face.” Where, then, must be thy place, thou humble servant of the great Master? What dust and ashes should cover thy head! Humility gives us good foot-hold in prayer. There is no hope of prevalence with God unless we abase ourselves that he may exalt us in due time.

It was filial prayer. “Abba, Father.” You will find it a stronghold in the day of trial to plead your adoption. You have no rights as a subject, you have forfeited them by your treason; but nothing can forfeit a child’s right to a father’s protection. Be not afraid to say, “My Father, hear my cry.”

Observe that it was persevering prayer. He prayed three times. Cease not until you prevail. Be as the importunate widow, whose continual coming earned what her first supplication could not win. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.

Lastly, it was the prayer of resignation. “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Yield, and God yields. Let it be as God wills, and God will determine for the best. Be thou content to leave thy prayer in his hands, who knows when to give, and how to give, and what to give, and what to withhold. So pleading, earnestly, importunately, yet with humility and resignation, thou shalt surely prevail.

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