April 21: Those Who Are Sick

And Jesus answering said unto them, Those who are whole need not a physician; but those who are sick. Luke 5:31

THAT Physician is He who spoke these words. The power of the Son of God over the moral and physical diseases of men, prove Him to be just the Physician which our circumstances require. Want skill? He possesses it. Sympathy? He has it. Patience, tenderness, perseverance? all belong to Jesus. Wonderful Physician! No disease can baffle You, for You are Divine. No suffering can fail to move You, for You are human.

Are your deep anxieties awakened, my reader, on behalf of some loved object, now pining in sickness, perhaps, to all appearance, in circumstances of extreme danger? In simple faith call in the aid of this Physician. Let the prayer of Moses for Miriam be yours, presented with the faith and urged with the importunity of the Syrophenician mother, “Heal her now, O Lord, I beseech You.” “I will come and heal her,” will be His reply. Deem not the case beyond His skill. Thus reasoned the sister of Lazarus: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother had not died. But I know that even now, whatever You will ask of God, God will give it You.” Go in prayer and faith, and lay your sick one at His feet.

Jesus is with you. One word from Him, and the disease shall vanish; one touch of His hand, and health shall be restored. He who raised Lazarus from the grave, can bring back from its brink the dear one around whose fast-waning life the veins of your heart are entwined. Ask believingly, ask submissively, ask importunately, and then leave the result with Him.

When human power has come to its end—when skill and affection can do no more—when man retires, and hope is extinguished, and the loved one is despairingly abandoned to death—then to see the Lord step forward and take the case in His hands, arresting the disease, rebuking the distemper, bringing back the glow of health to the cheek, vigor to the frame, elasticity to the limb, and brilliance to the eye, raising as from the very grave itself—oh how glorious does He appear in that chamber of sickness! Who bowed down His ear to the whisper that faintly cried for help and support? Who heard the fervent agonizing prayer that that precious life might be spared, which in another room broke from the lips of some anxious, holy wrestler—a parent, a brother, a sister, a friend, it may be? It was the Son of God! and oh how is He glorified in the recovery!

Or, if that sickness terminates in death’s slumber, is He less glorified? Ask the spirit just emerged from its shattered tenement, and soaring away to its home on high—ask it as it enters the portals of heaven, the blaze of eternal glory bursting upon its view—ask it as it finds itself before the throne of God, once an earthly, polluted creature, now whiter and brighter than an unfallen angel—ask it as it rests in the bosom of its redeeming Savior, blissfully conscious of its final and eternal safety, and reposing in expectation of its complete glorification, when its reunion with the spiritual body shall take place on the morning of the first resurrection—ask, and it will testify how great was the glory brought to the Son of God, by the termination of a sickness which, while it left kindred and friends weeping around the death-bed below, demonstrated His life, and power, and love, “who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

April 17: Comfort For The Downcast

God, that comforts those that are cast down. 2 Cor. 7:6

IF there is much to cast down the child of God, there is more to lift him up. If in his path to glory there are many causes of soul-despondency, of heart-sorrow, and mental disquietude, yet in that single truth—God comforts the disconsolate—he has an infinite counterbalance of consolation, joy, and hope. That “God comforts those that are cast down,” His own truth declares. It is in His heart to comfort them, and it is in His power to comfort them. He blends the desire, deep and yearning, with the ability, infinite and boundless. Not so with the fondest, tenderest creature. The sorrow is often too deep and too sacred for human sympathy to reach. But what is fathomless to man is a shallow to God.

I have said, that it is in the heart of God to comfort His people. Everything that He has done to promote their comfort proves it. He has commanded His ministers to “speak comfortably” to them. He has sent forth His word to comfort them. He has laid up all comfort and consolation for them, in the Son of His love. And in addition to all this, He has given them His own Spirit, to lead them to the Divine sources of “all consolation” which He has provided. Who could comfort the disconsolate but God? Who could effectually undertake their case but Himself? He only knows their sorrow, and He only could meet it.

There is not a moment in which God is not bent upon the comfort of “those that are cast clown.” All His dealings with them tend to this—even those that appear adverse and contrary. Does He wound?—it is to heal. Does He cause deep sorrow?—it is to turn that sorrow into a deeper joy. Does He empty?—it is to fill. Does He cast down?—it is to lift up again. Such is the love that moves Him, such is the wisdom that guides Him, and such too is the end that is secured in the Lord’s disciplinary conduct with His people. Dear reader, it is in God’s loving heart to speak comfortably to your sorrowful heart. Let but the Holy Spirit enable you to receive this truth in simple faith, and your grief, be its cause and its degree what they may, is more than half assuaged.

Not a word may yet be spoken by the “God of all comfort,” not a cloud may be dispersed, nor a difficulty be removed; yet to be assured by the Divine Comforter that the heart of God yearns over you, and that consolation is sparkling up from its infinite depths, waiting only the command to pour its tide of joyousness into your sorrow-stricken bosom, and it is enough. Yes, I repeat it—for every reiteration of so precious a truth must still be but a faint expression of its magnitude—it is in the loving heart of God to lift up your disconsolate soul from the dust. Listen to His words—there is melody in them such as David’s harp spoke not when its soft and mellow strains soothed the perturbed spirit of Saul—”I, even I, am He that comforts you.” Mark with what earnestness He makes this declaration. How solicitous does he appear to impress this truth upon the heart—that to comfort His own tried saints is His sole prerogative, and His infinite delight. “I, even I, am He that comforts you.”

January 28: Our God Of All Comfort

The God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation. 2 Cor. 1:3- 4.

GOD’S family is a sorrowing family, “I have chosen you,” He says, “in the furnace of affliction.” “I will leave in the midst of you a poor and an afflicted people.” The history of the Church finds its fittest emblem in the burning yet unconsumed bush which Moses saw. Man is “born to sorrows;” but the believer is “appointed thereunto.” It would seem to be a condition inseparable from his high calling. If he is a “chosen vessel,” it is, as we have just seen, “in the furnace of affliction.”

If he is an adopted child, “chastening” is the mark. If he is journeying to the heavenly kingdom, his path lies through “much tribulation.” If he is a follower of Jesus, it is to “go unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” But, if his sufferings abound, much more so do his consolations. To be comforted by God may well reconcile us to any sorrow with which it may please our heavenly Father to invest us.

God comforts His sorrowful ones with the characteristic love of a mother. See the tenderness with which that mother alleviates the suffering and soothes the sorrow of her mourning one. So does God comfort His mourners. Oh, there is a tenderness and a delicacy of feeling in God’s comforts which distances all expression. There is no harsh reproof—no unkind upbraiding—no unveiling of the circumstances of our calamity to the curious and unfeeling eye—no artless exposure of our case to an ungodly and censorious world; but with all the tender feeling of a mother, God, even our Father, comforts the sorrowful ones of His people. He comforts in all the varied and solitary griefs of their hearts.

God meets our case in every sorrow. To Him, in prayer, we may uncover our entire hearts; to His confidence we may entrust our profoundest secrets; upon His love repose our most delicate sorrows; to His ear confess our deepest departures; before His eye spread out our greatest sins. Go, then, and breathe your sorrows into God’s heart, and He will comfort you. Blessed sorrow! if in the time of your bereavement, your grief, and your solitude, you are led to Jesus, making Him your Savior, your Friend, your Counselor, and your Shield.

Blessed loss! if it be compensated by a knowledge of God, if you find in Him a Father now, to whom you will transfer your ardent affections—upon whom you will repose your bleeding heart. But let your heart be true with Him. Love Him, obey Him, confide in Him, serve Him, live for Him; and in all the unknown, untrodden, unveiled future of your history, a voice shall gently whisper in your ear—”As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you.”

November 23: The Saints Comfort

“Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself; and God, even our Father, which has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17

Upon the subject of comfort great stress is laid in the sacred word. It is clearly God’s revealed will that His people should be comforted. The fullness of Christ, the exceeding great and precious promises of the word, the covenant of grace, and all the dealings of God, bear upon this one point, the comfort and consolation of the saints.

A brief reference to the Divine word will convince us of this. This is the very character He Himself bears, and this is the blessed work He accomplishes. Thus, “Blessed be God, even the, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4. Kindred to this, are those striking words in Isaiah 40:1: “Comfort you, comfort you my people, says your God.”

This was God’s command to the prophet. It was His declared will that His people should be comforted, even though they dwelt in Jerusalem, the city which was to witness the crucifixion of the Lord of life and glory. What an unfolding does this give us of Him who is the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, and that, too, in every place!

To comfort the saints is one important end of the Scriptures: “Whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4. And thus the exhortation runs—”Comfort the feeble-minded.” “Why comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also you do.” “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Why comfort one another with these words.” Thus has the Holy Spirit testified to this subject, and thus is it clear that it is the will, and it is in the heart, of God, that His people should be comforted.

The Spirit comforts the believer by unfolding to his eye the near prospect of the coming glory. Heaven is near at hand. It is but a step out of a poor, sinful, sorrow-stricken world, into the rest that remains for the people of God. It is but a moment, the twinkling of an eye, and we are absent from the body, and are present with the Lord. Then will the days of our mourning be ended, then sin will grieve no more—affliction will wound no more—sorrow will depress no more, and God will hide Himself no more.

There will be the absence of all evil, and the presence of all good; and they who have come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, shall take their stand before the throne of God, and shall “serve Him day and sight in His temple: and He that sits on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Why, beloved in the Lord, let us comfort one another with these words, and with this prospect.

November 11: Make Your Calling And Election Sure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 21: Do Not Be Afraid

“It is I; do not be afraid.” John 6:20.

Imagine yourself threading your way along a most difficult and perilous path, every step of which is attended with pain and jeopardy, and is taken with hesitancy and doubt. Unknown to you and unseen, there is one hovering each moment around you, checking each false step, and guiding each doubtful one; soothing each sorrow, and supplying each need. All is calm and silent. Not a sound is heard, not a movement is seen; and yet, to your amazement, just at the critical moment the needed support comes- you know not from where, you know not from whom. This is no picture of fancy.

Are you a child of God, retracing your steps back to Paradise by an intricate and a perilous way? Jesus is near to you at each moment, unseen and often unknown. You have at times stood speechless with awe at the strange interposition, on your behalf, of providence and of grace. No visible sign betokened the source of your help. There was no echo of footfall at your side, nor flitting of shadow across your path. No law of nature was altered or suspended, the sun did not stand still, nor did the heavens open; and yet deliverance, strange and effectual deliverance, came at a moment most unexpected, yet most needed. It was Jesus, your Redeemer, your Brother, your Shepherd, and your Guide.

He it was who, hovering round you, unknown and unobserved, kept you as the apple of His eye, and sheltered you in the hollow of His hand. It was He who armed you with courage for the fight, who poured strength into your spirit, and grace into your heart, when the full weight of calamity pressed upon them. Thus has He always been to His saints. The incident of the disciples in the storm presents a striking instance of this. Behold Him standing upon the shore, eyeing, with riveted gaze, the little boat as it struggled amid the sea. They were often invisible to human eye, but not a moment were they lost to His. Not even when in the mount alone in prayer, were they forgotten or unobserved.

IHe beheld from thence their peril, He knew their fears, and He hastened to their support. Stepping from the shore, He approached them. Oh how majestic did His form now appear- walking like a man; and upon the water, like a God! They did not realize that it was Jesus, and were afraid. But their knowledge of Him was not necessary to their safety. It was enough that He knew them.

And just as the storm was at its height, and their fears rose with their peril, He drew near and said, in His own gentle, soothing tone, unto them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

October 11

“Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” Isaiah 50:10

HOW prone is the believer to attach an undue importance to the mere article of comfort! to give place to the feeling that when comfort vanishes, all other good vanishes with it—thus, in fact, making the real standing of the soul to depend upon an ever-fluctuating emotion. But let it be remembered that the comfort of grace may be suspended, and yet the existence of grace may remain; that the glory of faith may be beclouded, and yet the principle of faith continue. Contemplate, as affording an illustrious example of this, our adorable Lord upon the cross. Was there ever sorrow like His sorrow? Was there ever desertion like His desertion? Every spring of consolation was dried up. Every beam of light was beclouded. All sensible joy was withdrawn. His human soul was now passing through its strange, its total eclipse. And still His faith hung upon God. Hear Him exclaim, “My God! my God!” My strong One! my strong One! His soul was in the storm—and oh, what a storm was that!—but it was securely anchored upon His Father. There was in His case the absence of all consolation, the suspension of every stream of comfort; and yet in this, the darkest cloud that ever enshrouded the soul, and the deepest sorrow that ever broke the heart, He stayed His soul upon God.

And why should the believer, the follower of Christ, when sensible comfort is withdrawn, “cast away his confidence, which has great recompense of reward”? Of what use is the anchor but to keep the vessel in the tempest? What folly were it in the mariner to weigh his anchor, or to slip his cable, when the clouds gather blackness and the waves swell high! Then it is he most needs them both. It is true he has cast his anchor into the deep, and the depth hides it from his view; but though he cannot discern it through the foaming waves, still he knows that it is firmly fastened, and will keep his storm-tossed vessel from stranding upon a lee shore. And why should the believer, when “trouble is near,” and sensible comfort is withdrawn, resign his heart a prey to unbelieving fears, and cherish in his bosom the dark suspicion of God? Were not this to part with the anchor of his hope at the very moment that he the most needed it? I may not be able to pierce the clouds and look within the veil with an eye beaming with an undimmed and assured joy, but I know that the Forerunner is there; that the Priest is upon His throne; that Jesus is alive, and is at the right hand of God—then all is safe: faith demands, hope expects, and love desires no more.