April 2: What A Friend We Have In Jesus

“There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 28:24.

The power of human sympathy is amazing, if it leads the heart to Christ. It is paralyzed, if it leads only to ourselves. Oh, how feeble and inadequate are we to administer to a diseased mind, to heal a  broken heart, to strengthen the feeble hand, and to confirm the trembling knees! Our mute sympathy, our prayerful silence, is often the best exponent of our affection, and the most effectual expression of our aid.

But if, taking the object of our solicitude by the hand, we gently lead him to God- if we conduct him to Jesus, portraying to his view the depth of His love, the perfection of His atoning work, the sufficiency of His grace, His readiness to pardon, and His power to save, the exquisite sensibility of His nature, and thus His perfect sympathy with every human sorrow; we have then most truly and most effectually soothed the sorrow, stanched the wound, and strengthened the hand in God.
There is no sympathy- even as there is no love, no gentleness, no tenderness, no patience- like Christ’s.

Oh how sweet, how encouraging, to know, that in all my afflictions He is afflicted; that in all my temptations He is tempted; that in all my assaults He is assailed; that in all my joys He rejoices- that He weeps when I weep, sighs when I sigh, suffers when I suffer, rejoices when I rejoice. May this truth endear Him to our souls! May it constrain us to unveil our whole heart to Him, in the fullest confidence of the closest, most sacred, and precious friendship. May it urge us to do those things always which are most pleasing in His sight.

Beloved, never forget- and let these words linger upon your ear, as the echoes of music that never die- in all your sorrows, in all your trials, in all your needs, in all your assaults, in all your conscious wanderings, in life, in death, and at the day of judgment- you possess a friend that sticks closer than a brother! That friend is- Jesus!

 

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.”

February 9: Sickbed Mercies

“This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” John 11:4

The season of sickness is the schooling of the soul. More of God is unfolded then, and more of his truth is learned, than perhaps in any other circumstances. Oh, how the character, and the perfections, and the government of God become unfolded to his mind by the teachings of the Spirit of truth! His dim views are cleared, his crude ideas are ripened, his erroneous ideas are rectified; he contemplates God in another light, and truth through another medium. But the sweetest effect of all is the personal appropriation of God to his own soul. He can now say, “This God is my God, and is my Father, and is my portion forever,”- words of assurance hitherto strange to his lips.

The promises of God were never realized as so precious, the doctrines of grace were never felt to be so establishing, and the precepts were never seen to be so obligatory and so sanctifying as now; blessed results of a hallowed possession of the season of sickness! And what a pruning of this living branch has taken place! What weanedness from the engrossing claims of the earthly calling, from an undue attachment to created good, from the creature, from the world, and what is the greatest weanedness of all, from the wedded idol, self! What humility of mind, what meekness of spirit, and self-renunciation follow!

He entered that chamber as a proud man; he leaves it as a little child. He went into it with much of the spirit of a grasping, covetous, worldly-minded professor; he emerges from it with the world under his feet: “Consecration to Christ and Holiness to God”, written upon his substance, and engraved upon his brow. He has been near to eternity! He has been looking within the veil! He has been reading his own heart! He has been dealing with Christ! He has seen and felt how solemn a thing it was to approach the gate of death, to enter the presence of God- and from that dreadful point of vision, he has contemplated the world, and life, and human responsibility, as they are; and he has come back like a spirit from another sphere, clothed with all the solemnities of eternity- to live now as one soon in reality to be there. Truly, his sickness was “for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be gloried thereby.”

 

December 12

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

A SPIRITUAL and continued contemplation of the Redeemer’s humiliation supplies a powerful check to sin. What is every sin committed, but opening afresh the wounds, and reacting anew the humiliation, of Jesus? Oh, how hateful must that sin appear in our serious moments, which shut out the sun of God’s countenance from the soul of Christ, and sank Him to such inconceivable depths of humiliation! We need every view of divine truth calculated to sanctify. At present, the deepest sanctification of the believer is imperfect; his loftiest soarings towards holiness never reaching the goal. And yet to be ever thirsting, panting, wrestling, and aiming after it, should be classed among our highest mercies.

We too much forget this truth, that the thirsting for holiness is as much the Holy Spirit’s creation, as it is His work to quench that thirst. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness;” or, blessed are they who have the desire for Divine conformity, who long to know Christ, and to resemble Christ more perfectly. They may never reach the mark, yet ever pressing towards it—they may never attain to their standard, yet ever aiming for it, they are truly blessed. Here, then, is one powerful means of attaining to holiness—the spiritual eye brought in close and frequent contact with the lowly life of God’s dear Son.

But for our sins, His mind had never been shaded with clouds, His heart had never been wrung with sorrow, His eye had never been bedewed with tears, He had never suffered and died, had never known the wrath of an offended God. How fraught with soothing and consolation is this subject to the bereaved and tried believer! It tells you, weeping mourner, that having drained His wrath, and poured it on the head of your Surety, nothing is reserved for you in the heart of God but the deep fountain of tender mercy and loving-kindness. Then where springs your present trial, but from the loving heart of your Father? In the life of Jesus all was humiliation; in the life of the believer all is glory; and all this glory springs from the headship of Christ. In every step that He trod, he is one with Him—the only difference being that Jesus changes positions with the believer, and thus what was bitter to Him becomes sweet to us; what was dark to Him appears light to us; and what was His ignominy and shame becomes our highest honor and glory.

Humbling as may be the way God is now leading you, forget not that the great end is to bring you into a fellowship with Christ’s humiliation—into a more realizing oneness with your tried head. How contracted were the believer’s view of, and how limited his sympathy with, the abasement of God’s dear Son, but for the humiliation of His life, but for the way the Lord leads him about in order to humble him! To be brought into sympathy with you in all the gloomy stages of your journey, “He humbled Himself;” and that this feeling might be reciprocal, bringing you into a sympathy with the dark stages of His life, He humbles you. But deep as your present humiliation may be, you cannot sink so low but you will find He sunk yet lower, and is therefore able to sustain and bear you up. “I was brought low, and He helped me.” Never can Christians sink beneath the everlasting arms; they will always be underneath you. You may be sorely tried—painfully bereaved—fearfully tempted—deeply wounded. Saints and sinners, the Church and the world, may each contribute some bitter ingredient to your cup; nevertheless, the heart of Jesus is a pavilion within whose sacred enclosure you may repose until these calamities be overpast. Your greatest extremity can never exceed His power or sympathy, because He has gone before His people, and has endured what they never shall endure. Behold what glory thus springs from the humiliation and sufferings of our adorable Redeemer!

October 28

“Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” John 21:17

DEAR reader, this is His own solemn declaration of Himself—”I, the Lord, search the heart.” Can you open all your heart to Him? Can you admit Him within its most secret places? are you willing to have no concealments? Are you willing that He should search and prove it? Oh, be honest with God!—keep nothing back—tell Him all that you detect within you. He loves the full, honest disclosure: He delights in this confiding surrender of the whole heart. Are you honest in your desires that He might sanctify your heart, and subdue all its iniquity?—then confess all to Him—tell Him all. You would not conceal from your physician a single symptom of your disease—you would not hide any part of the wound; but you would, if anxious for a complete cure, disclose to him all. Be you as honest with the Great Physician—the Physician of your soul. It is true, He knows your case; it is true, He anticipates every want; yet He will have, and delights in having, His child approach Him with a full and honest disclosure. Let David’s example encourage you: “I acknowledged my sin unto You, and mine iniquity have I not hid; I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” And while the heart is thus pouring itself out in a full and minute confession, let the eye of faith be fixed on Christ. It is only in this posture that the soul shall be kept from despondency.

Faith must rest itself upon the atoning blood. And oh, in this posture, fully and freely, beloved reader, may you pour out your heart to God! Disclosures you dare not make to your tenderest friend, you may make to Him: sins you would not confess, corruption your would not acknowledge as existing within you, you are privileged thus, “looking unto Jesus,” to pour into the ear of your Father and God. And oh, how the heart will become unburdened, and the conscience purified, and peace and joy flow into the soul, by this opening of the heart to God!

Try it, dear reader: let no consciousness of guilt keep you back; let no unbelieving suggestion of Satan, that such confessions are inappropriate for the ear of God, restrain you. Come at once—come now—to your Father’s feet, and bringing in your hands the precious blood of Christ make a full and free disclosure. Thus from the attribute of Christ’s omniscience may a humble believer extract much consolation at all times permitted to appeal to it, and say with Peter, “Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You.”

October 21

“I do not frustrate the grace of God.” Galatians 2:21

THERE is much spurious humility among many saints of God, and this is one of its common forms. It is not pride gratefully to acknowledge what great things the Lord has done for us—it is pride that refuses to acknowledge them; it is not true humility to doubt and underrate, until it becomes easy to deny altogether, the work of the Holy Spirit within us—it is true humility and lowliness to confess His work, bear testimony to His operation, and ascribe to Him all the power, praise, and glory. See then, dear reader, that you cherish not this false humility, which is but another name for deep unmortified pride of heart; remember that as Satan may transform himself into an angel of light, so may his agencies assume the disguise of the most holy and lovely graces; thus pride, one of his master-agents of evil in the heart, may appear in the shape of the profoundest humility. And I would have you bear in mind, too, that though the work of the Spirit in your heart may, to your imperfect knowledge and dim eye, be feeble—the outline scarcely visible amid so much indwelling sin—the spark almost hid amid so much abounding corruption, yet, to the Spirit’s eye, that work appears in all its distinctness and glory. “The Lord knows those who are His.” This declaration will apply with equal truth to the knowledge which the Holy Spirit has of His own work in the believer. His eye is upon the gentlest buddings of indwelling grace; the faintest spark of love, the softest whisper of holy desire, the most feeble yearnings of the heart towards Jesus—all, all is known to, and loved by, the Spirit; it is His own work, and strange should He not recognize it. Suffer this consideration to have its proper weight in hushing those murmurings, soothing those fears, and neutralizing those doubts that so deeply grieve the Holy Spirit of God: yield yourself up unto Him; humbly acknowledge what He has done in you; follow the little light He has given you, call into constant and active exercise the small degree of grace and faith which He has imparted, and seek, “with all prayer and supplication,” an enlarged degree of His holy, anointing, sanctifying, and sealing influence.