A Covenant He Remembers
He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant. (Psalm 111:5)Those who fear God need not fear want. Through all these long years the Lord has always found meat for His own children, whether they have been in the wilderness, or by the brook Cherith, or in captivity, or in the midst of famine. Hitherto the Lord has given us day by day our daily bread, and we doubt not that He will continue to feed us till we want no more.
As to the higher and greater blessings of the covenant of grace, He will never cease to supply them as our case demands. He is mindful that He made the covenant and never acts as if He regretted it. He is mindful of it when we provoke Him to destroy us. He is mindful to love us, keep us, and comfort us, even as He engaged to do. He is mindful of every jot and tittle of His engagements, never suffering one of His words to fall to the ground.
We are sadly unmindful of our God, but He is graciously mindful of us. He cannot forget His Son who is the surety of the covenant, nor His Holy Spirit who actively carries out the covenant, nor His own honor, which is bound up with the covenant. Hence the foundation of God standeth sure, and no believer shall lose his divine inheritance, which is his by a covenant of salt.
Comfort En Route Home
And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (Genesis 50:24)Joseph had been an incarnate providence to his brethren. All our Josephs die, and a thousand comforts die with them. Egypt was never the same to Israel after Joseph was dead, nor can the world again be to some of us what it was when our beloved ones were alive.
But see how the pain of that sad death was alleviated! They had a promise that the living God would visit them. A visit from Jehovah! What a favor! What a consolation! What a heaven below! O Lord, visit us this day; though indeed we are not worthy that Thou shouldest come under our roof.
But more was promised: the Lord would bring them out. They would find in Egypt a cold welcome when Joseph was dead; nay, it would become to them a house of bondage. But it was not to be so forever; they would come out of it by a divine deliverance and march to the land of promise. We shall not weep here forever. We shall be called home to the gloryland to join our dear ones. Wherefore, "comfort one another with these words."
Reflections of the Lord's Beauty
As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. (Psalm 17:15)The portion of other men fills their bodies and enriches their children, but the portion of the believer is of another sort. Men of the world have their treasure in this world, but men of the world to come look higher and further.
Our possession is twofold. We have God's presence here and His like-ness hereaften Here we behold the face of the Lord in righteousness, for we are justified in Christ Jesus. Oh, the joy of beholding the face of a reconciled God! The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ yields us heaven below, and it will be to us the heaven of heaven above.
But seeing does not end it: we are to be changed into that which we gaze upon. We shall sleep a while and then wake up to find ourselves as mirrors which reflect the beauties of our Lord. Faith sees God with a transforming look. The heart receives the image of Jesus into its own depths, till the character of Jesus is imprinted on the soul. This is satisfaction. To see God and to be like Him-what more can I desire? David's assured confidence is here by the Holy Ghost made to be the Lord's promise. I believe it. I expect it. Lord, vouchsafe it. Amen.
The Mighty Magnet
And I, if l be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. (John 12:32)Come, ye workers, be encouraged. You fear that you cannot draw a congregation. Try the preaching of a crucified, risen, and ascended Savior; for this is the greatest "draw" that was ever yet manifested among men. What drew you to Christ but Christ? What draws you to Him now but His own blessed self? If you have been drawn to religion by anything else, you will soon be drawn away from it; but Jesus has held you and will hold you even to the end. Why, then, doubt His power to draw other? Go with the name of Jesus to those who have hitherto been stubborn and see if it does not draw them.
No sort of man is beyond this drawing power. Old and young, rich and poor, ignorant and leaned, depraved or amiable--all men shall feel the attractive force. Jesus is the one magnet. Let us not think of any other. Music will not draw to Jesus, neither will eloquence, logic, ceremonial, or noise. Jesus Himself must draw men to Himself; and Jesus is quite equal to the work in every case. Be not tempted by the quackeries of the day; but as workers for the Lord work in His own way, and draw with the Lord's own cords. Draw to Christ, and draw by Christ, for then Christ will draw by you.
At God's Bidding
And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men. (Micah 5:7)If this be true of the literal Israel, much more is it true of the spiritual Israel, the believing people of God. When saints are what they should be, they are an incalculable blessing to those among whom they are scattered.
They are as the dew; for in a quiet, unobtrusive manner they refresh those around them. Silently but effectually they minister to the life, growth, and joy of those who dwell with them. Coming fresh from heaven, glistening like diamonds in the sun, gracious men and women attend to the feeble and insignificant till each blade of grass has its own drop of dew. Little as individuals, they are, when united, all-sufficient for the purposes of love which the Lord fulfills through them. Dew drops accomplish the refreshing of broad acres. Lord, make us like the dew!
Godly people are as showers which come at God's bidding without man's leave and license. They work for God whether men desire it or not; they no more ask human permission than the rain does. Lord, make us thus boldly prompt and free in Thy service wherever our lot is cast.
The Leadership of Our Guide
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. (John 16:13)Truth is like a vast cavern into which we desire to enter, but we are not able to traverse it alone. At the entrance it is clear and bright; but if we would go further and explore its innermost recesses, we must have a guide, or we shall lose ourselves. The Holy Spirit, who knows all truth perfectly, is the appointed guide of all true believers, and He conducts them as they are able to bear it, from one inner chamber to another, so that they behold the deep things of God, and His secret is made plain to them.
What a promise is this for the humbly inquiring mind! We desire to know the truth and to enter into it. We are conscious of our own aptness to err, and we feel the urgent need of a guide. We rejoice that the Holy Spirit is come and abides among us. He condescends to act as a guide to us, and we gladly accept His leadership. "All truth" we wish to learn, that we may not be one-sided and out of balance. We would not be willingly ignorant of any part of revelation lest thereby we should miss blessing or incur sin. The Spirit of God has come that He may guide us into all truth: let us with obedient hearts hearken to His words and follow His lead.
Always First in Fellowship
He goeth before you into Gailee; there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. (Mark 16:7)Where He appointed to meet His disciples, there He would be in due time. Jesus keeps His trust. If He promises to meet us at the mercy seat, or in public worship, or in the ordinances, we may depend upon it that He will be there. We may wickedly stay away from the appointed meeting place, but He never does. He says, "Where two or three are met together in my name, there am I"; He says not, "There will I be," but, "I am there already."
Jesus is always first in fellowship: "He goeth before you." His heart is with His people, His delight is in them, He is never slow to meet them. In all fellowship He goeth before us.
But He reveals Himself to those who come after Him: "There shall ye see him." Joyful sight! We care not to see the greatest of mere men, but to see Him is to be filled with joy and peace. And we shall see Him, for He promises Himself to them. Rest assured that it will be so, for He does everything according to His word of promise: "As he said unto you. Catch at those last words, and be assured that to the end He will do for you "as he said unto you."
Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken. (Isaiah 62:4)"Forsaken" is a dreary word. It sounds like a knell. It is the record of I sharpest sorrows and the prophecy of direst ills. An abyss of misery yawns in that word forsaken. Forsaken by one who pledges his honor! Forsaken by a friend so long tried and trusted! Forsaken by a dear relative! Forsaken by father and mother! Forsaken by all! This is woe indeed, and yet it may be patiently born if the Lord will take us up.
But what must it be to feel forsaken of God? Think of that bitterest of cries, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Have we ever in any degree tasted the wormwood and the gall of "forsaken" in that sense? If so, let us beseech our Lord to save us from any repetition of so unspeakable a sorrow. Oh, that such darkness may never return! Men in malice said of a saint, "God hath forsaken him; persecute and take him." But it was always false. The Lord's loving favor shall compel our cruel foes to eat their own words or, at least, to hold their tongues.
The reverse of all this is that superlative word Hephzibah "the Lord delighteth in thee." This turns weeping into dancing. Let those who dreamed that they were forsaken hear the Lord say, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."
What Sanctifies Our Offerings?
And the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord. (Leviticus 4:7)The altar of incense is the place where saints present their prayers and praises; and it is delightful to think of it as sprinkled with the blood of the great sacrifice. This it is which makes all our worship acceptable with Jehovah: He sees the blood of His own Son and therefore accepts our homage.
It is well for us to fix our eyes upon the blood of the one offering for sin. Sin mingles even with our holy things, and our best repentance, faith, prayer, and thanksgiving could not be received of God were it not for the merit of the atoning sacrifice. Many sneer at "the blood"; but to us it is the foundation of comfort and hope. That which is on the horns of the altar is meant to be prominently before our eyes when we draw near to God. The blood gives strength to prayer, and hence it is on the altar's horns. It is "before the Lord," and therefore it ought to be before us. It is on the altar before we bring the incense; it is there to sanctify our offerings and gifts.
Come, let us pray with confidence, since the Victim is offered, the merit has been pleaded, the blood is within the veil, and the prayers of believers must be sweet unto the Lord.
Open Door of Communion
I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it. (Revelation 3:8)Saints who remain faithful to the truth of God have an open door before them. My soul, thou hast resolved to live and die by that which the Lord has revealed in His Word, and therefore before thee stands this open door.
I will enter in by the open door of communion with God. Who shall say me nay? Jesus has removed my sin and given me His righteousness; therefore I may freely enter. Lord, I do so by Thy grace.
I have also before me an open door into the mysteries of the Word. I may enter into the deep things of God. Election, union to Christ, the Second advent-all these are before me, and I may enjoy them. No promise and no doctrine are now locked up against me.
An open door of access is before me in private and an open door of usefulness in public. God will hear me; God will use me. A door is opened for my onward march to the church above, and for my daily fellowship with saints below. Some may try to shut me up or shut me out, but all in vain.
Soon shall I see an open door into heaven: the pearl gate will be my way of entrance, and then I shall go in unto my Lord and King and be with God eternally shut in.
Free to Travel
And I will strengthen them in the Lord: and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the Lord. (Zechariah 10:12)A solace for sick saints. They have grown faint, and they fear that they shall never rise from the bed of doubt and fear; but the Great Physician can both remove the disease and take away the weakness which has come of it. He will strengthen the feeble. This He will do in the best possible way, for it shall be "in Jehovah. " Our strength is far better in God than in self. In the Lord it causes fellowship, in ourselves it would create pride. In ourselves it would be sadly limited, but in God it knows no bound.
When strength is given, the believer uses it. He walks up and down in the name of the Lord. What an enjoyment it is to walk abroad after illness, and what a delight to be strong in the Lord after a season of prostration! The Lord gives His people liberty to walk up and down and an inward leisure to exercise that liberty. He makes gentlemen of us: we are not slaves who know no rest and see no sights, but we are free to travel at our ease throughout Immanuel's land.
Come, my heart, be thou no more sick and sorry; Jesus bids thee be strong and walk with God in holy contemplation. Obey His word of love.
Mark of Covenant Grace
And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul that thou mayest live. (Deuteronomy 30:6)Here we read of the true circumcision. Note the author of it: "The Lord thy God." He alone can deal effectually with our heart and take away its carnality and pollution. To make us love God with all our heart and soul is a miracle of grace which only the Holy Ghost can work. We must look to the Lord alone for this and never be satisfied with anything short of it.
Note where this circumcision is wrought. It is not of the flesh but of the Spirit. It is the essential mark of the covenant of grace. Love to God is the indelible token of the chosen seed; by this secret seal the election of grace is certified to the believer. We must see to it that we trust in no outward ritual but are sealed in heart by the operation of the Holy Ghost.
Note what the result is-"that thou mayest live." To be carnally minded is death. In the overcoming of the flesh, we find life and peace. If we mind the things of the Spirit, we shall live. Oh, that Jehovah, our God, may complete His gracious work upon our inner natures, that in the fullest and highest sense we may live unto the Lord.
If, and a Triple Promise
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)Called by the name of the Lord, we are nevertheless erring men and women. What a mercy it is that our God is ready to forgive! Whenever we sin let us hasten to the mercy seat of our God, seeking pardon.
We are to humble ourselves. Should we not be humbled by the fact that after receiving so much love we yet transgress? O Lord, we bow before Thee in the dust and own our grievous ingratitude. Oh, the infamy of sin! Oh, the sevenfold infamy of it in persons so favored as we have been!
Next, we are to pray for mercy, for cleansing, for deliverance from the power of sin. O Lord, hear us even now, and shut not out our cry.
In this prayer we are to seek the Lord's face. He has left us because of our faults, and we must entreat Him to return. O Lord, look on us in Thy Son Jesus, and smile upon Thy servants.
With this must go our own turning from evil; God cannot turn to us unless we turn from sin.
Then comes the triple promise of hearing, pardon, and healing. Our Father, grant us these at once, for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake.
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32)Gracious promise! It is a great joy to me to confess my Lord. Whatever my faults may be, I am not ashamed of Jesus, nor do I fear to declare the doctrines of His cross. O Lord, I have not hid Thy righteousness within my heart.
Sweet is the prospect which the text sets before me! Friends forsake and enemies exult, but the Lord does not disown His servant. Doubtless my Lord will own me even here and give me new tokens of His favorable regard. But there comes a day when I must stand before the great Father. What bliss to think that Jesus will confess me then! He will say, "This man truly trusted Me and was willing to be reproached for My name's sake; and therefore I acknowledge him as Mine." The other day a great man was made a knight, and the Queen handed him a jeweled garter; but what of that? It will be an honor beyond all honors for the Lord Jesus to confess us in the presence of the divine Majesty in the heavens. Never let me be ashamed to own my Lord. Never let me indulge a cowardly silence or allow a fainthearted compromise. Shall I blush to own Him who promises to own me?
Sustained by Feeding
As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. (John 6:57)We live by virtue of our union with the Son of God. As God-man Mediator, the Lord Jesus lives by the self-existent Father who has sent Him, and in the same manner we live by the Savior who has quickened us. He who is the source of our life is also the sustenance of it. Living is sustained by feeding. We must support the spiritual life by spiritual food, and that spiritual food is the Lord Jesus. Not His life, or death, or offices, or work, or word alone, but Himself, as including all these. On Jesus Himself we feed.
This is set forth to us in the Lord's Supper, but it is actually enjoyed by us when we meditate upon our Lord, believe in Him with appropriating faith, take Him into ourselves by love, and assimilate Him by the power of the inner life. We know what it is to feed on Jesus, but we cannot speak it or write it. Our wisest course is to practice it and to do so more and more. We are entreated to eat abundantly, and it will be to our infinite profit to do so when Jesus is our meat and our drink.
Lord, I thank Thee that this, which is a necessity of my new life, is also its greatest delight. So, I do at this hour feed on Thee.
One with Christ Jesus
Because I live, ye shall live also. (John 14:19)Jesus has made the life of believers in Him as certain as His own. As sure as the Head lives the members live also. If Jesus has not risen from the dead, then are we dead in our sins; but since He has risen, all believers are risen in Him. His death has put away our transgressions and loosed the bonds which held us under the death sentence. His resurrection proves our justification: we are absolved, and mercy saith, "The Lord hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not die."
Jesus has made the life of His people as eternal as His own. How can they die as long as He lives, seeing they are one with Him? Because He dieth no more, and death hath no more dominion over Him, so they shall no more return to the graves of their old sins but shall live unto the Lord in newness of life. O believer, when, under great temptation, thou fearest that thou shalt one day fall by the hand of the enemy, let this reassure thee. Thou shalt never lose thy spiritual life, for it is hid with Christ in God. Thou dost not doubt the immortality of thy Lord; therefore, do not think that He will let thee die, since thou art one with Him. The argument for thy life is His life, and of that thou canst have no fear; wherefore rest in thy living Lord.
He that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded. (Proverbs 13:13)Holy awe of God's Word is at a great discount. Men think themselves wiser than the Word of the Lord and sit in judgment upon it. "So did not I, because of the fear of God." We accept the inspired Book as infallible and prove our esteem by our obedience. We have no terror of the Word, but we have a filial awe of it. We are not in fear of its penalties because we have a fear of its commands.
This holy fear of the commandment produces the restfulness of humility, which is far sweeter than the recklessness of pride. It becomes a guide to us in our movements: a drag when we are going downhill and a stimulus when we are climbing it. Preserved from evil and led into righteousness by our reverence of the command, we gain a quiet conscience, which is a well of wine; a sense of freedom from responsibility, which is as life from the dead; and a confidence of pleasing God, which is heaven below. The ungodly may ridicule our deep reverence for the Word of the Lord; but what of that?. The prize of our high calling is a sufficient consolation for us. The rewards of obedience make us scorn the scorning of the scorner.
Tears, Then Joyful Harvest
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. (Psalm 126:5)Weeping times are suitable for sowing: we do not want the ground to be too dry. Seed steeped in the tears of earnest anxiety will come up all the sooner. The salt of prayerful tears will give the good seed a flavor which will preserve it from the worm: truth spoken in awful earnestness has a double life about it. Instead of stopping our sowing because of our weeping, let us redouble our efforts because the season is so propitious.
Our heavenly seed could not fitly be sown laughing. Deep sorrow and concern for the souls of others are a far more fit accompaniment of godly teaching than anything like levity. We have heard of men who went to war with a light heart, but they were beaten; and it is mostly so with those who sow in the same style.
Come, then, my heart, sow on in thy weeping, for thou has the promise of a joyful harvest. Thou shalt reap. Thou, thyself, shalt see some results of thy labor. This shall come to thee in so large a measure as to give thee joy, which a poor, withered, and scanty harvest would not do. When thine eyes are dim with silver tears, think of the golden corn. Bear cheerfully the present toil and disappointment; for the harvest day will fully recompense thee.
I will correct thee in measure. (Jeremiah 30:11)To be left uncorrected would be a fatal sign: it would prove that the Lord had said, "He is given unto idols, let him alone." God grant that such may never be our portion! Uninterrupted prosperity is a thing to cause fear and trembling. As many as God tenderly loves He rebukes and chastens: those for whom He has no esteem He allows to fatten themselves without fear, like bullocks for the slaughter. It is in love that our heavenly Father uses the rod upon His children.
Yet see, the correction is in measure": He gives us love without measure but chastisement "in measure." As under the old law no Israelite could receive more than the "forty stripes save one," which ensured careful counting and limited suffering; so is it with each afflicted member of the household of faith-every stroke is counted. It is the measure of wisdom, the measure of sympathy, the measure of love, by which our chastisement is regulated. Far be it from us to rebel against appointments so divine. Lord, if Thou standest by to measure the bitter drops into my cup, it is for me cheerfully to take that cup from Thy hand and drink according to Thy directions, saying, "Thy will be done."
From Every Sin
He shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)Lord, save me from my sins. By the name of Jesus I am encouraged thus to pray. Save me from my past sins, that the habit of them may not hold me captive. Save me from my constitutional sins, that I may not be the slave of my own weaknesses. Save me from the sins which are continually under my eye that I may not lose my horror of them. Save me from secret sins; sins unperceived by me from my want of light. Save me from sudden and surprising sins: let me not be carried off my feet by a rush of temptation. Save me, Lord, from every sin. Let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
Thou alone canst do this. I cannot snap my own chains or slay my own enemies. Thou knowest temptation, for Thou wast tempted. Thou knowest sin, for Thou didst bear the weight of it. Thou knowest how to succor me in my hour of conflict; Thou canst save me from sinning and save me when I have sinned. It is promised in Thy very name that Thou wilt do this, and I pray Thee let me this day verify the prophecy. Let me not give way to temper, or pride, or despondency, or any form of evil; but do Thou save me unto holiness of life, that the name of Jesus may be glorified in me abundantly.
God's Multiplication Table
A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time. (Isaiah 60:22)Works for the Lord often begin on a small scale, and they are none the worse for this. Feebleness educates faith, brings God near, and wins glory for His name. Prize promises of increase! Mustard seed is the smallest among seeds, and yet it becomes a treelike plant, with branches which lodge the birds of heaven. We may begin with one, and that "a little one," and yet it will "become a thousand." The Lord is great at the multiplication table. How often did He say to His lone servant, "I will multiply thee!" Trust in the Lord, ye ones and twos; for He will be in the midst of you if you are gathered in His name.
"A small one." What can be more despicable in the eyes of those who count heads and weigh forces! Yet this is the nucleus of a great nation. Only one star shines out at first in the evening, but soon the sky is crowded with countless lights.
Nor need we think the prospect of increase to be remote, for the promise is, "I Jehovah will hasten it in his time." There will be no premature haste, like that which we see at excited meetings; it will be all in due time, but yet there will be no delay. When the Lord hastens, His speed is glorious.
Plead His Own Promise
Thou, O Lord God, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever. (2 Samuel 7:29)This is a promise pleaded, and so it yields double instruction to us. Anything which the Lord God has spoken we should receive as surely true and then plead it at the throne.
Oh, how sweet to quote what our own God has spoken! How precious to use a "therefore," which the promise suggests, as David does in this verse!
We do not pray because we doubt but because we believe. To pray unbelievingly is unbecoming in the Lord's children. No, Lord, we cannot doubt Thee: we are persuaded that every word of Thine is a sure foundation for the boldest expectation. We come to Thee and say, "Do as Thou hast said." Bless Thy servant's house. Heal our sick; save our hesitating ones; restore those who wander; confirm those who live in Thy fear. Lord, give us food and raiment according to Thy Word. Prosper our undertakings; especially succeed our endeavors to make known Thy gospel in our neighborhood. Make our servants Thy servants, our children Thy children. Let the blessing flow on to future generations, and as long as any of our race remains on earth may they remain true to Thee. O Lord God, "let the house of thy servant be blessed."
Harvest of Light, Gladness
Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. (Psalm 97:11)Righteousness is often costly to the man who keeps to it at all hazards, but in the end it will bear its own expenses and return an infinite profit. A holy life is like sowing seed: much is going out, and apparently it is buried in the soil, never to be gathered up again. We are mistaken when we look for an immediate harvest; but the error is very natural, for it seems impossible to bury light. Yet light is "sown," says the text. It lies latent: none can see it; it is sown. We are quite sure that it must one day manifest itself.
Full sure are we that the Lord has set a harvest for the sower of light, and they shall reap it, each man for himself. Then shall come their gladness. Sheaves of joy for seeds of light. Their heart was upright before the Lord, though men gave them no credit for it, but even censured them: they were righteous, though those about them denounced them as censorious. They had to wait, as husbandmen wait for the precious fruits of the earth: but the light was sown for them, and gladness was being prepared on their behalf by the Lord of the harvest.
Courage, brothers! We need not he in a hurry. Let us in patience possess our souls, for soon shall our souls possess light and gladness.
And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brazen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the Lord. (Jeremiah 15:20)Stability in the fear and faith of God will make a man like a wall of brass, which no one can batter down or break. Only the Lord can make such; but we need such men in the church, and in the world, but specially in the pulpit.
Against uncompromising men of truth this age of shams will fight tooth and nail. Nothing seems to offend Satan and his seed like decision. They attack holy firmness even as the Assyrians besieged fenced cities. The joy is that they cannot prevail against those whom God has made strong in His strength. Carried about with every wind of doctrine, others only need to be blown upon and away they go; but those who love the doctrines of grace, because they possess the grace of the doctrines, stand like rocks in the midst of raging seas.
Whence this stability? "I am with thee, saith the Lord": that is the true answer. Jehovah will save and deliver faithful souls from all the assaults of the adversary. Hosts are against us, but the Lord of hosts is with us. We dare not budge an inch; for the Lord Himself holds us in our place, and there we will abide forever.
God First, Then Extras
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)See how the Bible opens: "In the beginning God." Let your life open in the same way. Seek with your whole soul, first and foremost, the kingdom of God, as the place of your citizenship, and His righteousness as the character of your life. As for the rest, it will come from the Lord Himself without your being anxious concerning it. All that is needful for this life and godliness "shall be added unto you."
What a promise this is! Food, raiment, home, and so forth, God undertakes to add to you while you seek Him. You mind His business, and He will mind yours. If you want paper and string, you get them given in when you buy more important goods; and just so all that we need of earthly things we shall have thrown in with the kingdom. He who is an heir of salvation shall not die of starvation; and he who clothes his soul with the righteousness of God cannot be left of the Lord with a naked body. Away with carking care. Set all your mind upon seeking the Lord. Covetousness is poverty, and anxiety is misery: trust in God is an estate, and likeness of God is a heavenly inheritance. Lord, I seek Thee; be found of me.
Because of Us
For the elect's sale those days be shortened. (Matthew 24:22)For the sake of His elect the Lord withholds many judgments and shortens others. In great tribulations the fire would devour all were it not that Out of regard to His elect the Lord damps the flame. Thus, while He saves His elect for the sake of Jesus, He also preserves the race for the sake of His chosen.
What an honor is thus put upon saints! How diligently they ought to use their influence with their Lord! He will hear their prayers for sinners and bless their efforts for their salvation. He blesses believers that they may be a blessing to those who are in unbelief. Many a sinner lives because of the prayers of a mother, or wife, or daughter to whom the Lord has respect.
Have we used aright the singular power with which the Lord entrusts us? Do we pray for our country, for other lands, and for the age? Do we, in times of war, famine, pestilence, stand out as intercessors, pleading that the days may be shortened? Do we lament before God the outbursts of infidelity, error, and licentiousness? Do we beseech our Lord Jesus to shorten the reign of sin by hastening His own glorious appearing? Let us get to our knees and never rest till Christ appeareth.
His Service, Face, Name
His servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their forehead. (Revelation 22:3-4)Three choice blessings will be ours in the gloryland.
"His servants shall serve him." No other lords shall oppress us, no other service shall distress us. We shall serve Jesus always, perfectly, without weariness, and without error. This is heaven to a saint: in all things to serve the Lord Christ and to be owned by Him as His servant is our soul's high ambition for eternity.
"And they shall see his face." This makes the service delightful: indeed, it is the present reward of service. We shall know our Lord, for we shall see Him as He is. To see the face of Jesus is the utmost favor that the most faithful servant of the Lord can ask. What more could Moses ask than-"Let me see thy face?"
"And his name shall be in their foreheads." They gaze upon their Lord till His name is photographed upon their brows. They are acknowledged by Him, and they acknowledge Him. The secret mark of inward grace develops into the public sign-manual of confessed relationship.
O Lord, give us these three things in their beginnings here that we may possess them in their fullness in Thine own abode of bliss!
Sins of Ignorance
And it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance. (Numbers 15:25)Because of our ignorance we are not fully aware of our sins of ignorance. Yet we may be sure they are many, in the form both of commission and omission. We may be doing in all sincerity, as a service to God, that which He has never commanded and can never accept.
The Lord knows these sins of ignorance every one. This may well alarm us, since in justice He will require these trespasses at our hand; but on the other hand, faith spies comfort in this fact, for the Lord will see to it that stains unseen by us shall yet be washed away. He sees the sin that He may cease to see it by casting it behind His back.
Our great comfort is that Jesus, the true priest, has made atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel. That atonement secures the pardon of unknown sins. His precious blood cleanses us from all sin. Whether our eyes have seen it and wept over it or not, God has seen it, Christ has atoned for it, the Spirit bears witness to the pardon of it, and so we have a threefold peace.
O my Father, I praise Thy divine knowledge, which not only perceives my iniquities but provides an atonement which delivers me from the guilt of them, even before I know that I am guilty.
Maintain the Difference
And I will put a division between my people and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be. (Exodus8:23)Pharaoh has a people, and the Lord has a people. These may dwell together and seem to fare alike, but there is a division between them, and the Lord will make it apparent. Not forever shall one event happen alike to all, but there shall be great difference between the men of the world and the people of Jehovah's choice.
This may happen in the time of judgments, when the Lord becomes the sanctuary of His saints. It is very conspicuous in the conversion of believers when their sin is put away, while unbelievers remain under condemnation. From that moment they become a distinct race, come under a new discipline, and enjoy new blessings. Their homes, henceforth, are free from the grievous swarms of evils which defile and torment the Egyptians. They are kept from the pollution of lust, the bite of care, the corruption of falsehood, and the cruel torment of hatred, which devour many families.
Rest assured, tried believer, that though you have your troubles you are saved from swarms of worse ones, which infest the homes and hearts of the servants of the world's prince. The Lord has put a division; see to it that you keep up the division in Spirit, aim, character, and company.
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. (Ezekiel 36:25)What an exceeding joy is this! He who has purified us with the blood of Jesus will also cleanse us by the water of the Holy Spirit. God hath said it, and so it must be, "Ye shall be clean." Lord, we feel and mourn our uncleanness, and it is cheering to be assured by Thine own mouth that we shall be clean. Oh, that Thou wouldst make a speedy work of it!
He will deliver us from our worst sins. The uprisings of unbelief and the deceitful lusts which war against the soul, the vile thoughts of pride, and the suggestions of Satan to blaspheme the sacred name-all these shall be so purged away as never to return.
He will also cleanse us from all our idols, whether of gold or of clay: our impure loves and our excessive love of that which in itself is pure. That which we have idolized shall either be broken from us or we shall be broken off from it.
It is God who speaks of what He Himself will do. Therefore is this word established and sure, and we may boldly look for that which it guarantees to us. Cleansing is a covenant blessing, and the covenant is ordered in all things and sure.
Immortal Till Work Done
I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. (Psalm 118:17)A fair assurance this! It was no doubt based upon a promise, inwardly whispered in the psalmist's heart, which he seized upon and enjoyed. Is my case like that of David? Am I depressed because the enemy affronts me? Are there multitudes against me and few on my side? Does unbelief bid me lie down and die in despair-a defeated, dishonored man? Do my enemies begin to dig my grave?
What then? Shall I yield to the whisper of fear, and give up the battle, and with it give up all hope? Far from it. There is life in me yet: "I shall not die." Vigor will return and remove my weakness: "I shall live." The Lord lives, and I shall live also. My mouth shall again be opened: "I shall declare the works of Jehovah." Yes, and I shall speak of the present trouble as another instance of the wonder-working faithfulness and love of the Lord my God. Those who would gladly measure me for my coffin had better wait a bit, for "the Lord hath chastened me sore, but he hath not given me over unto death." Glory be to His name forever! I am immortal till my work is done. Till the Lord wills it, no vault can close upon me.