Evening, July 9th

“And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”— Genesis 1:4

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.

Morning, July 9th

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:”— Psalm 103:2

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 doth 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, hath 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,” hath 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 endureth forever.

Evening, July 8th

“Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”— Psalm 25:5

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.

Morning, July 8th

“And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.”— Judges 16:6

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 thinketh, “Who gave this promise?” It considereth 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 concludeth that the promise must be fulfilled; and forward she advances in this firm conviction.

She remembereth, 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 considereth 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 recollecteth 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 hath 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!”

Evening, July 7th

“And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.”— Ezekiel 16:6

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 saith “Live,” it includes many things. Here is judicial life. The sinner is ready to be condemned, but the mighty One saith, “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 forever 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.

Morning, July 7th

“Brethren, pray for us.”— 1 Thessalonians 5:25

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.

Miserable men are we if we miss the aid of your prayers, but happy are we 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.”

Evening, July 6th

“How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.”— Job 13:23

Have you ever really weighed and considered how great the sin of God’s people is?

Think how heinous is your own transgression, and you will find that not only does a sin here and there tower up like an alp, but that your iniquities are heaped upon each other, as in the old fable of the giants who piled Pelion upon Ossa, mountain upon mountain.

What an aggregate of sin there is in the life of one of the most sanctified of God’s children! Attempt to multiply this, the sin of one only, by the multitude of the redeemed, “a number which no man can number,” and you will have some conception of the great mass of the guilt of the people for whom Jesus shed his blood.

But we arrive at a more adequate idea of the magnitude of sin by the greatness of the remedy provided. It is the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s only and well-beloved Son. God’s Son! Angels cast their crowns before him! All the choral symphonies of heaven surround his glorious throne.

“God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” And yet he takes upon himself the form of a servant, and is scourged and pierced, bruised and torn, and at last slain; since nothing but the blood of the incarnate Son of God could make atonement for our offences.

No human mind can adequately estimate the infinite value of the divine sacrifice, for great as is the sin of God’s people, the atonement which takes it away is immeasurably greater.

Therefore, the believer, even when sin rolls like a black flood, and the remembrance of the past is bitter, can yet stand before the blazing throne of the great and holy God, and cry, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea rather, that hath risen again.”

While the recollection of his sin fills him with shame and sorrow, he at the same time makes it a foil to show the brightness of mercy—guilt is the dark night in which the fair star of divine love shines with serene splendour.

Morning, July 6th

“But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.”— Proverbs 1:33

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 cometh 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.

Evening, July 5th

“Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:”— Isaiah 26:4

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 forever? 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 forever, assured that his ever lasting strength will be, as it has been, our succour and stay.

Morning, July 5th

“To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”— Romans 1:7

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 doth 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 idolaters. 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.

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