March 27: Our Intercessor

Who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Romans 8:34

THE exaltation of Jesus in heaven is associated with the dearest interests of His people on earth. Joseph was forgotten when Pharaoh lifted up the head of the chief butler. But our Lord, amid the honors and splendors to which God has highly exalted him, still remembers his brethren in bonds, and makes intercession for them. How expressive is the type of our Lord’s present engagement on behalf of His people. “And he (Aaron) shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from of the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil: and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy-seat that is upon the testimony.”

The passing of Aaron into the holy of holies was the shadowing forth of our Lord’s entrance into heaven. The blood sprinkled at the mercy-seat was the presentation of the great Atonement within the veil. And the incense overshadowing with its fragrant cloud the mercy-seat, thus touched with blood, was the figure of the ceaseless intercession of our great High Priest in the holiest. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true: but into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us.”

It is an individual, an anticipative, and a present intercession. It embraces all the personal needs of each believer, it precedes each temptation and each trial, and at the moment that the sympathy and the prayers of the Savior are the most called for, and are felt to be the most soothing, it bears the saint and his sorrow on its bosom before the throne. Just at a crisis of his history, at a juncture, perhaps, the most critical in his history, the heart, oppressed with its emotions, cannot breathe a prayer—Jesus is remembering him, sympathizing with him, and interceding for him. Oh, who can fully describe the blessings that flow through the intercession of the Son of God? The love, the sympathy, the forethought, the carefulness, the minute interest in all our concerns, are blessings beyond description.

Tried, tempted believer! Jesus makes intercession for you, Your case is not unknown to Him. Your sorrow is not hidden from Him. Your name is on His heart; your burden is on His shoulder; and because He not only has prayed for you, but prays for you now, your faith shall not fail. Your great accuser may stand at your right hand to condemn you, but your great Advocate is at the right hand of God to plead for you. And greater is He that is for you, than all that are against you.

The mediatorial work of Christ shuts every mouth, meets every accusation, and ignores every indictment that can be brought against those for whom He died, rose again, ascended up on high, and makes intercession.

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February 13: For Those Suffering

Why let those who suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator. 1 Peter 4:19

THE God who is now dealing with you is love, all love—a God in Christ—your covenant God—your reconciled Father. All His thoughts towards you, peace; all His feelings, love; and all His dealings, mercy.

Soon will you be in His heavenly presence, and behold His unveiled glory as it beams forth from the eternal throne. Soon will you be with Jesus, shall see Him, be like Him, and dwell with Him forever. Darkness, and conflict, and sickness, and death shall cease, because sin shall cease. Then, in your blessed experience, will be realized the beatific vision—”And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.”

Let this prospect reconcile you patiently to wait all the days of your appointed time, until your change come. God is faithful. Christ, in whom you believe, is able to keep that which you have committed unto Him against that glorious day. He will perfect that which concerns you. Nothing shall be consumed in your present fiery trial, but the tin and dross. The precious and imperishable gold shall be “found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

Not more safe were Noah and his family, when they sailed in the ark through the storm, than is that soul who is shut up in Christ. If you have come out of yourself, have left all, and have fled to Jesus, this is your encouragement—not a soul ever perished whom the Father gave in covenant to his Son—whom the Son redeemed—whom the Spirit has regenerated, and in whom He dwells. A threefold cord keeps that precious saint—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. “Kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation.”

Oh, precious declaration! Press it with a stronger faith to your heart; for if God be for you, who can be against you? In your present state of suffering you find it difficult to think or to pray. But He, who formed you, knows your frame, “He remembers that we are dust.” There is One who thinks and prays for you. It is Jesus, your Elder Brother; the “brother born for adversity;” the great High Priest, wearing your nature, who has passed within the veil, “now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Jesus intercedes for you moment by moment.

Your faith shall not fail, your grace shall not decline, your hope shall not make ashamed; for He who came down to earth, and was wounded for your transgression, and was bruised for your iniquities, rose again from the dead, and ascended on high, now to appear in the presence of God for you. Christ prays for you, and that, when by reason of confusion of mind and weakness of body you cannot pray for yourself. Precious Jesus! You are that gentle Shepherd, who over-drives not Your little ones. When they cannot run, You do permit them to walk; and when, through feebleness, they cannot walk, You do carry them. You are He of whom it is said, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom.”

January 5: The Merit Of Christ

And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. Rev. 8:3-4

THIS angel is none other than the Angel of the Covenant, Jesus, our great High Priest, who stands before the golden altar in heaven, presenting the sweet incense of His divine merits and sacrificial death; the cloud of which ascends before God “with the prayers of the saints.”

Oh, it is the merit of our Immanuel, “who gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet—smelling savor,” that imparts virtue, prevalence, and acceptableness to the incense of prayer ascending from the heart of the child of God. Each petition, each desire, each groan, each sigh, each glance, comes up before God with the “smoke of the incense” which ascends from the cross of Jesus, and from the “golden altar which is before the throne.” All the imperfection and impurity which mingles with our devotions here is separated from each petition by the atonement of our Mediator, who presents that as sweet incense to God.

See your Great High Priest before the throne! See Him waving the golden censer to and fro! See how the cloud of incense rises and envelopes the throne! See how heaven is filled with its fragrance and its glory! Believer in Jesus, upon the heart of that officiating High Priest your name is written; in the smoke of the incense which has gone up from that waving censer your prayers are presented. Jesus’ blood cleanses them, Immanuel’s merit perfumes them, and our glorious High Priest thus presents both our person and our sacrifice to his Father and our Father, to His God and our God. Oh wonderful encouragement to prayer! Who, with such an assurance that his weak, broken, and defiled, but sincere petitions shall find acceptance with God, would not breathe them at the throne of grace.

Go, in the name of Jesus; go, casting yourself upon the merit which fills heaven with its fragrance; go, and pour out your grief, unveil your sorrow, confess your sin, sue out your pardon, make known your needs, with your eye of faith upon the Angel who stands at the “golden altar which is before the throne,” and the incense which breathes from your oppressed and stricken heart will ascend up before God out of the Angel’s hand, as a cloud, rich, fragrant, and accepted.

July 14: Christ Our Righteousness

“And if any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1

The work of our Lord as Priest was two-fold, atonement and intercession. The one He accomplished upon the cross, the other He now transacts upon the throne. “When He had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” The high priest, under the law, after that he had slain the sacrifice, took the blood, and, passing within the veil, sprinkled it on the mercy-seat, so making intercession for the people. “The Holy Spirit this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.” “But, Christ being come, an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

And what is He now doing? Presenting His own blood each moment before the mercy-seat on behalf of His redeemed people! “He ever lives to make intercession for us.” Oh, do not forget this, dear saint of God! This is spoken for the comfort of the mourners in Zion–for those who, knowing the plague of their own hearts, and deploring its constant tendency to outbreak, are humbled in the dust with deep godly sorrow.

Look up! Does sin plead loudly against you? the blood of Jesus pleads louder for you. Do your backslidings, and rebellions, and iniquities, committed against so much light and love, call for vengeance? the blood of Jesus “speaks better things.” Does Satan stand at your right hand to accuse you? your Advocate stands at God’s right hand to plead for you.

All hail! you mourning souls! you that smite on the breast, you broken-hearted, you contrite ones! “who is he that condemns! It is Christ who died, yes rather, who is risen again; who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”

Jesus is a glorious and a successful Advocate. He has never lost a cause entrusted to His advocacy, and never will. He pleads powerfully, He pleads eloquently, He pleads prevalently, because He pleads in behalf of a people unspeakably dear to His heart, for whom He “loved not His own life unto the death,” and presses His suit, on the ground of His own most precious blood and accepted person, and with His father and their Father, His God and their God.

June 3: He Has Gone Before You

“I have prayed for you that your faith fail not.” Luke 22:32

The Lord as its Shepherd goes before His flock. He precedes it every step, not only to map its path, but also to provide for all the circumstances, the most trivial and minute, of its history. To Him nothing can be unforeseen, from Him nothing can be concealed. No event can surprise Him, no contingency can thwart Him, no difficulty can embarrass Him. The entire history of the individual saint of God, from his earliest to his latest breath, is written in His book, when as yet it had no existence, as minutely and as accurately as though it were a record of the past.

In anticipation of each developed circumstance, of each temptation and trial, difficulty and need, Jesus prays for His people “I have prayed.” It would seem as if the sorrow had reached His heart before it touched our own; as if the assault had fallen upon Him before it fell upon us; and that, knowing what would transpire, seeing in what critical and painful circumstances His child would be placed, He anticipates his case by especial intercession on his behalf: “I have prayed for you.”

Can the mind of the tried believer repose upon a truth more sustaining and soothing than this? It had been a glorious unfolding of the love of Jesus, to know that when the sifting came, when faith was actually tried, that then Jesus prayed for the sufferer. But to be assured that before a dart was winged, or a shock was felt, or even a suspicion was awakened that the tempter was approaching, and that danger was near, Jesus, robed in His priestly garments, and bearing the golden censer in His hand, had entered within the veil to make especial intercession for that trial of faith- oh, it is a view of His love, which to the mind of the tempted believer would seem to overtop and outshine all others!

And for what does Jesus pray? That the temptation might not come? that faith may not be tried? Oh no! He does not ask the Father in behalf of His people, for their entire exemption from temptation and trial. Full well does He know that if conformed to Him, their Head, they must through much tribulation enter the kingdom. Pure and sinless though He was, needing no sifting and no refining, He yet passed through each process as if there were in Him the chaff to scatter, and the alloy to consume. How much more needful does Jesus see that His people, in whom there is such an admixture of the precious with the vile, so much indwelling sin, so much powerful corruption perpetually seeking to destroy indwelling grace, should not be exempted from the process which, painful though it be, is absolutely needful and eternally good!

But Jesus prays that in the actual trial of faith it might not fail. Now, why, is it, O believing soul, that your tried faith has not failed? Why, have you passed through the sifting with not one precious grain fallen to the ground? Because your great High Priest prayed for you before the trial, and prayed for you in the trial, and has not ceased to pray for you since the trial. All upholding grace, all restraining grace, all restoring grace, all establishing grace, has been meted out to you through the channel of your Lord’s perpetual and ever-prevalent intercession.

Oh, how should this truth endear the Savior to your heart! With what holy contrition should it fill your spirit, and with what sweet affection should it constrain your soul to a simple and an unreserved surrender to God!

June 2: He Prays For You

“I have prayed for YOU”. Luke 22:32

We must not overlook the individuality of our Lord’s intercession. As if forgetting for that moment the whole Church, and regarding Peter as representing in his person each tempted believer, Jesus makes him the especial object of His prayer. How much comfort do we lose in overlooking this truth- in not more distinctly recognizing the personal interest which each believer has in the love of Christ! “My grace is sufficient for you;” “I have prayed for you,” are the gracious words with which Jesus would meet each individual case.

Think not then, O believer, that you are alone, unloved, uncared for, unthought of- Jesus bears you upon His heart; and if loved, and cared for, and remembered by Him, you can afford to part with some creature stream, however loved and valued that stream may be. Keep your eye intently fixed upon your Lord’s intercession.

We too much lose ourselves in the crowd, and merge ourselves in the mass. We forget alike our individual interest in the covenant, and our personal obligation to glorify God in our different walks of life. But it is the especial privilege of the believer to concentrate upon himself, as in focal power, every thought and affection of God, just as the eye of a well-executed portrait may be said to fasten itself exclusively upon each individual in the room. “I have prayed for you.” O cheering declaration!

Christian reader, lose not sight of it. Come and lay your hand of faith upon the covenant of grace, and say, “the fulness of the covenant is mine.” Lay your hand upon the covenant of God, and say, “the God of the covenant is mine; Jesus, its Mediator, is my Savior. He obeyed, suffered, bled, and expired, all for me. ‘He has loved me, and has given Himself for me.’

Lord! do you think of me? does my case come up before Your notice? do You bear my burden upon Your arm, my sorrow upon Your heart, my name upon Your lips; and do You pray for my poor, assaulted, and trembling faith?

Yes, Lord, You do. I believe it, because You have said it, and press the precious truth, so rich in consolation, to my trembling, grateful heart.”

May 22: The Sweet Of Bearing A Brother’s Burden

“Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

Thank God for an errand to Him. It may be you have felt no heart to pray for yourself- you have been sensible of no peculiar drawings to the throne for your own soul, but you halt going in behalf of another; the burden, the trial, the affliction, or the immediate need of some member of God’s family has pressed upon you, and you have taken his case to the Lord: you have borne him in your arms to the throne of grace, and, while interceding for your brother, the Lord has met you, and blessed your own soul.

Perhaps you halt gone and prayed for the Church, for the peace of Jerusalem, for the prosperity of Zion, that the Lord would build up her waste places, and make her a joy and a praise in the whole earth- perhaps it has been to pray for your minister, that the Lord would teach him more deeply and experimentally, and anoint him more plenteously with the rich anointing and unction of the Holy Spirit- perhaps it has been to pray for Christian missions, and for laborious and self-denying missionaries, that the Lord would make them eminently successful in diffusing the knowledge of a precious Savior, and in calling in His people: and thus, while for others you have been besieging the throne of grace, and pouring out your heart before the Lord, the Lord Himself has drawn near to your own soul, and you have been made to experience the blessing that is ever the attendant and the reward of intercessory prayer.

Then let every event, every circumstance, every providence be a voice urging you to prayer. If you have no needs, others have- take them to the Lord. If you are borne down by no cross, smitten by no affliction, or suffering from no need, others are- for them go and plead with your heavenly Father, and the petitions you send up to the mercy-seat on their behalf may return into your own bosom freighted with rich covenant blessings.

The falls, the weaknesses, the declensions of others make them grounds for prayer. Thus, and thus only, can you expect to grow in grace, and grace to grow in you.

November 5

“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Hebrews 9:24

IS it a privilege to be borne upon the affectionate and believing prayers of a Christian friend? Ah, yes! precious channels of heavenly blessing are the intercessions of the Lord’s people on our behalf. But there is a Friend still closer to the Fountain of mercy, still nearer and dearer to the Father, than your dearest earthly friend; it is Jesus, “who ever lives to make intercession for them who come unto God by Him.” Oh, how precious is that declaration upon which in any assault, or trial, or perplexity, you may calmly and confidently repose: “I have prayed for you”! Yes, when from confusion of thought, or pain of body, or burning fever, you can not pray for yourself, and no friend is near to be your mouth to God, then there is one, the Friend of friends, the ever-skillful Advocate and never-weary Intercessor—no invocating saint, nor interceding angel—but the Son of God himself, who appears in the presence of God moment by moment for you.

Oh, keep, then, the eye of your faith immovably fixed upon Christ’s intercession; He intercedes for weak faith, for tried faith, for tempted faith—yes, for him who thinks he has no faith. There is not a believer who is not borne upon His heart, and whose prayers and needs are not presented in His ceaseless intercession. When you deem yourself neglected and forgotten, a praying Savior in heaven is thinking of you. When you are tried and cast down, tempted and stumble, the interceding High Priest at that moment enters within the holiest, to ask on your behalf strength, consolation, and upholding grace. And when sin has wounded, when guilt distresses, and unbelief beclouds, who is it that stands in the breach, that makes intercession, that removes the darkness, and brings back the smile of a forgiving Father?—the Lord Jesus, the interceding Savior.

Oh, look up, tried and assaulted believer! you have a Friend at court, an Advocate in the chancery of heaven, an Intercessor curtained within the holiest of holies, transacting all your concerns, and through whom you may have access to God with boldness.