February AM

* 02/01/AM

"They shall sing in the ways of the Lord."
                                                   --Psalm 138:5

   The time when Christians begin to sing in the ways of the 
Lord is when they first lose their burden at the foot of the
Cross. Not even the songs of the angels seem so sweet as the
first song of rapture which gushes from the inmost soul of the
forgiven child of God. You know how John Bunyan describes it. He
says when poor Pilgrim lost his burden at the Cross, he gave
three great leaps, and went on his way singing--

        "Blest Cross! blest Sepulchre! blest rather be
        The Man that there was put to shame for me!"

Believer, do you recollect the day when _your_ fetters fell off?
Do you remember the place when Jesus met you, and said, "I have
loved thee with an everlasting love; I have blotted out as a
cloud thy transgressions, and as a thick cloud thy sins; they
shall not be mentioned against thee any more for ever." Oh! what
a sweet season is that when Jesus takes away the pain of sin.
When the Lord first pardoned my sin, I was so joyous that I
could scarce refrain from dancing. I thought on my road home
from the house where I had been set at liberty, that I must tell
the stones in the street the story of my deliverance. So full
was my soul of joy, that I wanted to tell every snow-flake that
was falling from heaven of the wondrous love of Jesus, who had
blotted out the sins of one of the chief of rebels. But it is
not only at the commencement of the Christian life that
believers have reason for song; as long as they live they
discover cause to sing in the ways of the Lord, and their
experience of His constant lovingkindness leads them to say, "I
will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually
be in my mouth." See to it, brother, that thou magnifiest the
Lord _this day_.

             "Long as we tread this desert land,
             New mercies shall new songs demand."

* 02/02/AM

"Without the shedding of blood is no remission."
                                                  --Hebrews 9:22

   This is the voice of unalterable truth. In none of the Jewish 
ceremonies were sins, even typically, removed without blood-
shedding. In no case, by no means can sin be pardoned without
atonement. It is clear, then, that there is no hope for me out
of Christ; for there is no other blood-shedding which is worth a
thought as an atonement for sin. Am I, then, believing in Him?
Is the blood of His atonement truly applied to my soul? All men
are on a level as to their need of Him. If we be never so moral,
generous, amiable, or patriotic, the rule will not be altered to
make an exception for us. Sin will yield to nothing less potent
than the blood of Him whom God hath set forth as a propitiation.
What a blessing that there is the one way of pardon! Why should
we seek another?

   Persons of merely formal religion cannot understand how we 
can rejoice that all our sins are forgiven us for Christ's sake.
Their works, and prayers, and ceremonies, give them very poor
comfort; and well may they be uneasy, for they are neglecting
the one great salvation, and endeavouring to get remission
without blood. My soul, sit down, and behold the justice of God
as bound to punish sin; see that punishment all executed upon
thy Lord Jesus, and fall down in humble joy, and kiss the dear
feet of Him whose blood has made atonement for thee. It is in
vain when conscience is aroused to fly to feelings and evidences
for comfort: this is a habit which we learned in the Egypt of
our legal bondage. The only restorative for a guilty conscience
is a sight of Jesus suffering on the cross. "The blood is the
life thereof," says the Levitical law, and let us rest assured
that it is the life of faith and joy and every other holy grace.

              "Oh! how sweet to view the flowing
              Of my Saviour's precious blood;
              With divine assurance knowing
              He has made my peace with God."

* 02/03/AM

"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors."
                                                   --Romans 8:12

   As God's creatures, we are all debtors to Him: to obey Him 
with all our body, and soul, and strength. Having broken His
commandments, as we all have, we are debtors to His justice, and
we owe to Him a vast amount which we are not able to pay. But of
the _Christian_ it can be said that he does not owe God's
_justice_ anything, for Christ has paid the debt His people
owed; for this reason the believer owes the more to _love_. I am
a debtor to God's grace and forgiving mercy; but I am no debtor
to His justice, for He will never accuse me of a debt already
paid. Christ said, "It is finished!" and by that He meant, that
whatever His people owed was wiped away for ever from the book
of remembrance. Christ, to the uttermost, has satisfied divine
justice; the account is settled; the handwriting is nailed to
the cross; the receipt is given, and we are debtors to God's
justice no longer. But then, because we are not debtors to our
Lord in that sense, we become ten times more debtors to God than
we should have been otherwise. Christian, pause and ponder for a
moment. What a debtor thou art to divine _sovereignty_! How
much thou owest to His disinterested love, for He gave His own
Son that He might die for thee. Consider how much you owe to His
forgiving _grace_, that after ten thousand affronts He loves you
as infinitely as ever. Consider what you owe to His _power_; how
He has raised you from your death in sin; how He has preserved
your spiritual life; how He has kept you from falling; and how,
though a thousand enemies have beset your path, you have been
able to hold on your way. Consider what you owe to His
_immutability_. Though you have changed a thousand times, He
has not changed once. Thou art as deep in debt as thou canst be
to every attribute of God. To God thou owest thyself, and all
thou hast--yield thyself as a living sacrifice, it is but thy
reasonable service.

* 02/04/AM

"The love of the Lord."
                                                     --Hosea 3:1

   Believer, _look back_ through all thine experience, and
think of the way whereby the Lord thy God has led thee in the
wilderness, and how He hath fed and clothed thee every day--how
He hath borne with thine ill manners--how He hath put up with
all thy murmurings, and all thy longings after the flesh-pots of
Egypt--how He has opened the rock to supply thee, and fed thee
with manna that came down from heaven. Think of how His grace
has been sufficient for thee in all thy troubles--how His blood
has been a pardon to thee in all thy sins--how His rod and His
staff have comforted thee. When thou hast thus looked back upon
the love of the Lord, then let faith survey His love _in the
future_, for remember that Christ's covenant and blood have
something more in them than the _past_. He who has loved thee
and pardoned thee, shall never cease to love and pardon. He is
Alpha, and He shall be Omega also: He is first, and He shall be
_last_. Therefore, bethink thee, when thou shalt pass through
the valley of the shadow of death, thou needest fear no evil,
for He is with thee. When thou shalt stand in the cold floods of
Jordan, thou needest not fear, for death cannot separate thee
from His love; and when thou shalt come into the mysteries of
eternity thou needest not tremble, "For I am persuaded, that
neither death; nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor
powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor
depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from
the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Now, soul,
is not thy love refreshed? Does not this make thee love Jesus?
Doth not a flight through illimitable plains of the ether of
love inflame thy heart and compel thee to delight thyself in the
Lord thy God? Surely as we meditate on "the love of the Lord,"
our hearts burn within us, and we long to love Him more.

* 02/05/AM

"The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world."
                                                   --1 John 4:14

   It is a sweet thought that Jesus Christ did not come forth 
without His Father's permission, authority, consent, and
assistance. He was sent of the Father, that He might be the
Saviour of men. We are too apt to forget that, while there are
distinctions as to the _persons_ in the Trinity, there are no
distinctions of _honour_. We too frequently ascribe the honour
of our salvation, or at least the depths of its benevolence,
more to Jesus Christ than we do the Father. This is a very great
mistake. What if Jesus came? Did not His Father send Him? If He
spake wondrously, did not His Father pour grace into His lips,
that He might be an able minister of the new covenant? He who
knoweth the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost as he should
know them, never setteth one before another in his love; he sees
them at Bethlehem, at Gethsemane, and on Calvary, all equally
engaged in the work of salvation. O Christian, hast thou put
thy confidence in the Man Christ Jesus? Hast thou placed thy
reliance solely on Him? And art thou united with Him? Then
believe that thou art united unto the God of heaven. Since to
the Man Christ Jesus thou art brother, and holdest closest
fellowship, thou art linked thereby with God the Eternal, and
"the Ancient of days" is thy Father and thy friend. Didst thou
ever consider the depth of love in the heart of Jehovah, when
God the Father equipped His Son for the great enterprise of
mercy? If not, be this thy day's meditation. The _Father_ sent
Him! Contemplate that subject. Think how Jesus works what the
_Father_ wills. In the wounds of the dying Saviour see the love
of the great I AM. Let every thought of Jesus be also connected
with the Eternal, ever-blessed God, for "It pleased the Lord to
bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief."

* 02/06/AM

"Praying always."
                                                --Ephesians 6:18

   What multitudes of prayers we have put up from the first 
moment when we learned to pray. Our first prayer was a prayer
for ourselves; we asked that God would have mercy upon us, and
blot out our sin. He heard us. But when He had blotted out our
sins like a cloud, then we had more prayers for ourselves. We
have had to pray for sanctifying grace, for constraining and
restraining grace; we have been led to crave for a fresh
assurance of faith, for the comfortable application of the
promise, for deliverance in the hour of temptation, for help in
the time of duty, and for succour in the day of trial. We have
been compelled to go to God for our souls, as constant beggars
asking for everything. Bear witness, children of God, you have
never been able to get anything for your souls elsewhere. All
the bread your soul has eaten has come down from heaven, and all
the water of which it has drank has flowed from the living
rock--Christ Jesus the Lord. Your soul has never grown rich in
itself; it has always been a pensioner upon the daily bounty of
God; and hence your prayers have ascended to heaven for a range
of spiritual mercies all but infinite. Your wants were
innumerable, and therefore the supplies have been infinitely
great, and your prayers have been as varied as the mercies have
been countless. Then have you not cause to say, "I love the
Lord, because He hath heard the voice of my supplication"? For
as your prayers have been many, so also have been God's answers
to them. He has heard you in the day of trouble, has
strengthened you, and helped you, even when you dishonoured Him
by trembling and doubting at the mercy-seat. Remember this, and
let it fill your heart with gratitude to God, who has thus
graciously heard your poor weak prayers. "Bless the Lord, O my
soul, and forget not all His benefits."

* 02/07/AM

"Arise, and depart."
                                                    --Micah 2:10

   The hour is approaching when the message will come to us, as 
it comes to all--"Arise, and go forth from the home in which
thou hast dwelt, from the city in which thou hast done thy
business, from thy family, from thy friends. Arise, and take thy
last journey." And what know we of the journey? And what know we
of the country to which we are bound? A little we have read
thereof, and somewhat has been revealed to us by the Spirit; but
how little do we know of the realms of the future! We know that
there is a black and stormy river called "Death." God bids us
cross it, promising to be with us. And, after death, what
cometh? What wonder-world will open upon our astonished sight?
What scene of glory will be unfolded to our view? No traveller
has ever returned to tell. But we know enough of the heavenly
land to make us welcome our summons thither with joy and
gladness. The journey of death may be dark, but we may go forth
on it fearlessly, knowing that God is with us as we walk through
the gloomy valley, and therefore we need fear no evil. We shall
be departing from all we have known and loved here, but we shall
be going to our Father's house--to our Father's home, where
Jesus is--to that royal "city which hath foundations, whose
builder and maker is God." This shall be our last removal, to
dwell for ever with Him we love, in the midst of His people, in
the presence of God. Christian, meditate much on heaven, it will
help thee to press on, and to forget the toil of the way. This
vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country: this
world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss.

             "Prepare us, Lord, by grace divine,
             For Thy bright courts on high;
             Then bid our spirits rise, and join
             The chorus of the sky."

* 02/08/AM

"Thou shalt call his name Jesus."
                                                  --Matthew 1:21

   When a person is dear, everything connected with him becomes 
dear for his sake. Thus, so precious is the person of the Lord
Jesus in the estimation of all true believers, that everything
about Him they consider to be inestimable beyond all price. "All
Thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia," said David,
as if the very vestments of the Saviour were so sweetened by His
person that he could not but love them. Certain it is, that
there is not a spot where that hallowed foot hath trodden--there
is not a word which those blessed lips have uttered--nor a
thought which His loving Word has revealed--which is not to us
precious beyond all price. And this is true of the _names_ of
Christ--they are all sweet in the believer's ear. Whether He be
called the Husband of the Church, her Bridegroom, her Friend;
whether He be styled the Lamb slain from the foundation of the
world--the King, the Prophet, or the Priest--every title of our
Master--Shiloh, Emmanuel, Wonderful, the Mighty Counsellor--
every name is like the honeycomb dropping with honey, and
luscious are the drops that distil from it. But if there be one
name sweeter than another in the believer's ear, it is the name
of _Jesus_. Jesus! it is the name which moves the harps of
heaven to melody. Jesus! the life of all our joys. If there be
one name more charming, more precious than another, it is this
name. It is woven into the very warp and woof of our psalmody.
Many of our hymns begin with it, and scarcely any, that are good
for anything, end without it. It is the sum total of all
delights. It is the music with which the bells of heaven ring; a
song in a word; an ocean for comprehension, although a drop for
brevity; a matchless oratorio in two syllables; a gathering up
of the hallelujahs of eternity in five letters.

              "Jesus, I love Thy charming name,
              'Tis music to mine ear."

* 02/09/AM

"And David enquired of the Lord."
                                                 --2 Samuel 5:23

   When David made this enquiry he had just fought the 
Philistines, and gained a signal victory. The Philistines came
up in great hosts, but, by the help of God, David had easily put
them to flight. Note, however, that when they came a second
time, David did not go up to fight them without enquiring of the
Lord. Once he had been victorious, and he might have said, as
many have in other cases, "I shall be victorious again; I may
rest quite sure that if I have conquered once I shall triumph
yet again. Wherefore should I tarry to seek at the Lord's
hands?" Not so, David. He had gained one battle by the strength
of the Lord; he would not venture upon another until he had
ensured the same. He enquired, "Shall I go up against them?" He
waited until God's sign was given. Learn from David to take no
step without God. Christian, if thou wouldst know the path of
duty, take God for thy compass; if thou wouldst steer thy ship
through the dark billows, put the tiller into the hand of the
Almighty. Many a rock might be escaped, if we would let our
Father take the helm; many a shoal or quicksand we might well
avoid, if we would leave to His sovereign will to choose and to
command. The Puritan said, "As sure as ever a Christian carves
for himself, he'll cut his own fingers;" this is a great truth.
Said another old divine, "He that goes before the cloud of God's
providence goes on a fool's errand;" and so he does. We must
mark God's providence leading us; and if providence tarries,
tarry till providence comes. He who goes before providence, will
be very glad to run back again. "I will instruct thee and teach
thee in the way which thou shalt go," is God's promise to His
people. Let us, then, take all our perplexities to Him, and say,
"Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Leave not thy chamber this
morning without enquiring of the Lord.

* 02/10/AM

"I know how to abound."
                                              --Philippians 4:12

   There are many who know "how to be abased" who have not
learned "how to abound." When they are set upon the top of a
pinnacle their heads grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall. The
Christian far oftener disgraces his profession in prosperity
than in adversity. It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous. The
crucible of adversity is a less severe trial to the Christian
than the fining-pot of prosperity. Oh, what leanness of soul and
neglect of spiritual things have been brought on through the
very mercies and bounties of God! Yet this is not a matter of
necessity, for the apostle tells us that he knew how to abound.
When he had much he knew how to use it. Abundant grace enabled
him to bear abundant prosperity. When he had a full sail he was
loaded with much ballast, and so floated safely. It needs more
than human skill to carry the brimming cup of mortal joy with a
steady hand, yet Paul had learned that skill, for he declares,
"In all things I am instructed both to be full and to be
hungry." It is a divine lesson to know how to be full, for the
Israelites were full once, but while the flesh was yet in their
mouth, the wrath of God came upon them. Many have asked for
mercies that they might satisfy their own hearts' lust. Fulness
of bread has often made fulness of blood, and that has brought
on wantonness of spirit. When we have much of God's providential
mercies, it often happens that we have but little of God's
grace, and little gratitude for the bounties we have received.
We are full and we forget God: satisfied with earth, we are
content to do without heaven. Rest assured it is harder to know
how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry--so desperate
is the tendency of human nature to pride and forgetfulness of
God. Take care that you ask in your prayers that God would teach
you "how to be full."

            " Let not the gifts Thy love bestows
            Estrange our hearts from Thee."

* 02/11/AM

"And they took knowledge of them, that they had been with
                                                     --Acts 4:13

   A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ. 
You have read lives of Christ, beautifully and eloquently
written, but the best life of Christ is His living biography,
written out in the words and actions of His people. If we were
what we profess to be, and what we should be, we should be
pictures of Christ; yea, such striking likenesses of Him, that
the world would not have to hold us up by the hour together, and
say, "Well, it seems somewhat of a likeness;" but they would,
when they once beheld us, exclaim, "He has been with Jesus; he
has been taught of Him; he is like Him; he has caught the very
idea of the holy Man of Nazareth, and he works it out in his
life and every-day actions." A Christian should be like Christ
in his _boldness_. Never blush to own your religion; your
profession will never disgrace you: take care you never disgrace
_that_. Be like Jesus, very valiant for your God. Imitate Him in
your _loving_ spirit; think kindly, speak kindly, and do kindly,
that men may say of you, "He has been with Jesus." Imitate Jesus
in His _holiness_. Was He zealous for His Master? So be you;
ever go about doing good. Let not time be wasted: it is too
precious. Was He self-denying, never looking to His own
interest? Be the same. Was He devout? Be you fervent in your
prayers. Had He deference to His Father's will? So submit
yourselves to Him. Was He patient? So learn to endure. And best
of all, as the highest portraiture of Jesus, try to forgive your
enemies, as He did; and let those sublime words of your Master,
"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do," always
ring in your ears. Forgive, as you hope to be forgiven. Heap
coals of fire on the head of your foe by your kindness to him.
Good for evil, recollect, is godlike. Be godlike, then; and in
all ways and by all means, so live that all may say of you, "He
has been with Jesus."

* 02/12/AM

"For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our
consolation also aboundeth by Christ."
                                             --2 Corinthians 1:5

   There is a blessed proportion. The Ruler of Providence bears 
a pair of scales--in this side He puts His people's trials, and
in that He puts their consolations. When the scale of trial is
nearly empty, you will always find the scale of consolation in
nearly the same condition; and when the scale of trials is full,
you will find the scale of consolation just as heavy. When the
black clouds gather most, the light is the more brightly
revealed to us. When the night lowers and the tempest is coming
on, the Heavenly Captain is always closest to His crew. It is a
blessed thing, that when we are most cast down, then it is that
we are most lifted up by the consolations of the Spirit. One
reason is, because _trials make more room for consolation_.
Great hearts can only be made by great troubles. The spade of
trouble digs the reservoir of comfort deeper, and makes more
room for consolation. God comes into our heart--He finds it
full--He begins to break our comforts and to make it empty; then
there is more room for grace. The humbler a man lies, the more
comfort he will always have, because he will be more fitted to
receive it. Another reason why we are often most happy in our
troubles, is this--_then we have the closest dealings with God_.
When the barn is full, man can live without God: when the purse
is bursting with gold, we try to do without so much prayer. But
once take our _gourds_ away, and we want our _God_; once cleanse
the idols out of the house, then we are compelled to honour
Jehovah. "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord."
There is no cry so good as that which comes from the bottom of
the mountains; no prayer half so hearty as that which comes up
from the depths of the soul, through deep trials and
afflictions. Hence they bring us to God, and we are happier; for
nearness to God is happiness. Come, troubled believer, fret not
over your heavy troubles, for they are the heralds of weighty

* 02/13/AM

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,
that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world
knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the
sons of God."
                                                  --1 John 3:1,2

   "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon 
us. Consider who we were, and what we feel ourselves to be even
now when corruption is powerful in us, and you will wonder at
our adoption. Yet we are called "_the sons of God_." What a high
relationship is that of a son, and what privileges it brings!
What care and tenderness the son expects from his father, and
what love the father feels towards the son! But all _that_, and
more than that, we now have through Christ. As for the temporary
drawback of suffering with the elder brother, this we accept as
an honour: "Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew
Him not." We are content to be unknown with Him in His
humiliation, for we are to be exalted with Him. "_Beloved, now
are we the sons of God_." That is easy to read, but it is not so
easy to feel. How is it with your heart this morning? Are you in
the lowest depths of sorrow? Does corruption rise within your
spirit, and grace seem like a poor spark trampled under foot?
Does your faith almost fail you? Fear not, it is neither your
graces nor feelings on which you are to live: you must live
simply by faith on Christ. With all these things against us,
now--in the very depths of our sorrow, wherever we may be--
_now_, as much in the valley as on the mountain, "Beloved, _now_
are we the sons of God." "Ah, but," you say, "see how I am
arrayed! my graces are not bright; my righteousness does not
shine with apparent glory." But read the next: _"It doth not yet
appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear,
we shall be like Him_." The Holy Spirit shall purify our minds,
and divine power shall refine our bodies, then shall _we see Him
as He is_.

* 02/14/AM

"And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the
king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life."
                                                 --2 Kings 25:30

   Jehoiachin was not sent away from the king's palace with a 
store to last him for months, but his provision was given him as
a daily pension. Herein he well pictures the happy position of
all the Lord's people. A daily portion is _all that a man really
wants_. We do not need tomorrow's supplies; that day has not
yet dawned, and its wants are as yet unborn. The thirst which we
may suffer in the month of June does not need to be quenched in
February, for we do not feel it yet; if we have enough for each
day as the days arrive we shall never know want. Sufficient for
the day is _all that we can enjoy_. We cannot eat or drink or
wear more than the day's supply of food and raiment; the surplus
gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching
against a thief. One staff aids a traveller, but a bundle of
staves is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast,
but is all that the veriest glutton can truly enjoy. This is
_all that we should expect_; a craving for more than this is
ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more, we should be
content with his daily allowance. Jehoiachin's case is ours, we
have a sure portion, a portion _given us of the king_, a
_gracious_ portion, and a _perpetual portion_. Here is surely
ground for thankfulness.

   Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace _you need a
daily supply_. You have no store of strength. Day by day must
you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that _a
daily portion is provided for you_. In the word, through the
ministry, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God you
shall receive renewed strength. In Jesus all needful things are
laid up for you. Then _enjoy your continual allowance_. Never go
hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy.

* 02/15/AM

"To Him be glory both now and forever."
                                                  --2 Peter 3:18

   Heaven will be full of the ceaseless praises of Jesus. 
Eternity! thine unnumbered years shall speed their everlasting
course, but forever and for ever, "to Him be glory." Is He not a
"Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek"? "To Him be
glory." Is He not king for ever?--King of kings and Lord of
lords, the everlasting Father? "To Him be glory _for ever_."
Never shall His praises cease. That which was bought with blood
deserves to last while immortality endures. The glory of the
cross must never be eclipsed; the lustre of the grave and of the
resurrection must never be dimmed. O Jesus! thou shalt be
praised for ever. Long as immortal spirits live--long as the
Father's throne endures--for ever, for ever, unto Thee shall be
glory. Believer, you are anticipating the time when you shall
join the saints above in ascribing all glory to Jesus; but are
you glorifying Him _now_? The apostle's words are, "To Him be
glory both now and for ever." Will you not this day make it your
prayer? "Lord, help me to glorify Thee; I am poor, help me to
glorify Thee by contentment; I am sick, help me to give Thee
honour by patience; I have talents, help me to extol Thee by
spending them for Thee; I have time, Lord, help me to redeem it,
that I may serve thee; I have a heart to feel, Lord, let that
heart feel no love but Thine, and glow with no flame but
affection for Thee; I have a head to think, Lord, help me to
think _of_ Thee and _for_ Thee; Thou hast put me in this world
for something, Lord, show me what that is, and help me to work
out my life-purpose: I cannot do much, but as the widow put in
her two mites, which were all her living, so, Lord, I cast my
time and eternity too into Thy treasury; I am all Thine; take
me, and enable me to glorify Thee _now_, in all that I say, in
all that I do, and with all that I have."

* 02/16/AM

"I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be
                                              --Philippians 4:11

   These words show us that contentment is not a natural 
propensity of man. "Ill weeds grow apace." Covetousness,
discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to
the soil. We need not sow thistles and brambles; they come up
naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth: and so,
we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough
without any education. But the precious things of the earth must
be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough and sow;
if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the
gardener's care. Now, contentment is one of the flowers of
heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will
not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can
produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and
watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has
sown in us. Paul says, "I have _learned_ . . . to be content;"
as much as to say, he did not know how at one time. It cost him
some pains to attain to the mystery of that great truth. No
doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down.
And when at last he had attained unto it, and could say, "I have
learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content," he
was an old, grey-headed man, upon the borders of the grave--a
poor prisoner shut up in Nero's dungeon at Rome. We might well
be willing to endure Paul's infirmities, and share the cold
dungeon with him, if we too might by any means attain unto his
good degree. Do not indulge the notion that you can be
contented with _learning_, or learn without discipline. It is
not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science to be
acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother, hush
that murmur, natural though it be, and continue a diligent pupil
in the College of Content.

* 02/17/AM

"Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi."
                                                 --Genesis 25:11

   Hagar had once found deliverance there and Ishmael had drank 
from the water so graciously revealed by the God who liveth and
seeth the sons of men; but this was a merely casual visit, such
as worldlings pay to the Lord in times of need, when it serves
their turn. They cry to Him in trouble, but forsake Him in
prosperity. Isaac _dwelt_ there, and made the well of the living
and all-seeing God his constant source of supply. The usual
tenor of a man's life, the _dwelling_ of his soul, is the true
test of his state. Perhaps the providential visitation
experienced by Hagar struck Isaac's mind, and led him to revere
the place; its mystical name endeared it to him; his frequent
musings by its brim at eventide made him familiar with the well;
his meeting Rebecca there had made his spirit feel at home near
the spot; but best of all, the fact that he there enjoyed
fellowship with the living God, had made him select that
hallowed ground for his dwelling. Let us learn to live in the
presence of the living God; let us pray the Holy Spirit that
this day, and every other day, we may feel, "Thou God seest me."
May the Lord Jehovah be as a well to us, delightful, comforting,
unfailing, springing up unto eternal life. The bottle of the
creature cracks and dries up, but the well of the Creator never
fails; happy is he who dwells at the well, and so has abundant
and constant supplies near at hand. The Lord has been a sure
helper to others: His name is Shaddai, God All-sufficient; our
hearts have often had most delightful intercourse with Him;
through Him our soul has found her glorious Husband, the Lord
Jesus; and in Him this day we live, and move, and have our
being; let us, then, dwell in closest fellowship with Him.
Glorious Lord, constrain us that we may never leave Thee, but
dwell by the well of the living God.

* 02/18/AM

"Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me."
                                                      --Job 10:2

   Perhaps, O tried soul, the Lord is doing this to develop thy 
graces. There are some of thy graces which would never be
_discovered_ if it were not for thy trials. Dost thou not know
that thy faith never looks so grand in summer weather as it does
in winter? Love is too often like a glow-worm, showing but
little light except it be in the midst of surrounding darkness.
Hope itself is like a star--not to be seen in the sunshine of
prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.
Afflictions are often the black foils in which God doth set the
jewels of His children's graces, to make them shine the better.
It was but a little while ago that on thy knees thou wast
saying, "Lord, I fear I have no faith: let me know that I have
faith." Was not this really, though perhaps unconsciously,
praying for trials?--for how canst thou know that thou hast
faith until thy faith is exercised? Depend upon it, God often
sends us trials that our graces may be discovered, and that we
may be certified of their existence. Besides, it is not merely
discovery, _real growth_ in grace is the result of sanctified
trials. God often takes away our comforts and our privileges in
order to make us better Christians. He trains His soldiers, not
in tents of ease and luxury, but by turning them out and using
them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford
through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains,
and walk many a long mile with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on
their backs. Well, Christian, may not this account for the
troubles through which thou art passing? Is not the Lord
bringing out your graces, and making them grow? Is not this the
reason why He is contending with you?

               "Trials make the promise sweet;
               Trials give new life to prayer;
               Trials bring me to His feet,
               Lay me low, and keep me there."

* 02/19/AM

"Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of by
the house of Israel, to do it for them."
                                                 --Ezekiel 36:37

   Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, 
and you will find that scarcely ever did a great mercy come to
this world unheralded by supplication. You have found this true
in your own personal experience. God has given you many an
unsolicited favour, but still great prayer has always been the
prelude of great mercy with you. When you first found peace
through the blood of the cross, you had been praying much, and
earnestly interceding with God that He would remove your doubts,
and deliver you from your distresses. Your assurance was the
result of prayer. When at any time you have had high and
rapturous joys, you have been obliged to look upon them as
answers to your prayers. When you have had great deliverances
out of sore troubles, and mighty helps in great dangers, you
have been able to say, "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and
delivered me from all my fears." Prayer is always the preface to
blessing. It goes before the blessing _as the blessing's
shadow_. When the sunlight of God's mercies rises upon our
necessities, it casts the shadow of prayer far down upon the
plain. Or, to use another illustration, when God piles up a hill
of mercies, He Himself shines behind them, and He casts on our
spirits the shadow of prayer, so that we may rest certain, if we
are much in prayer, our pleadings are the shadows of mercy.
Prayer is thus connected with the blessing _to show us the value
of it_. If we had the blessings without asking for them, we
should think them common things; but prayer makes our mercies
more precious than diamonds. The things we ask for are precious,
but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought
for them earnestly.

          "Prayer makes the darken'd cloud withdraw;
          Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;
          Gives exercise to faith and love;
          Brings every blessing from above."

* 02/20/AM

"God, that comforteth those that are cast down."
                                             --2 Corinthians 7:6

   And who comforteth like Him? Go to some poor, melancholy,
distressed child of God; tell him sweet promises, and whisper in
his ear choice words of comfort; he is like the deaf adder, he
listens not to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so
wisely. He is drinking gall and wormwood, and comfort him as you
may, it will be only a note or two of mournful resignation that
you will get from him; you will bring forth no psalms of praise,
no hallelujahs, no joyful sonnets. But let _God_ come to His
child, let Him lift up his countenance, and the mourner's eyes
glisten with hope. Do you not hear him sing--

              "'Tis paradise, if thou art here;
              If thou depart, 'tis hell?"

You could not have cheered him: but the Lord has done it; "He is
the God of all comfort." There is no balm in Gilead, but there
is balm in God. There is no physician among the creatures, but
the Creator is Jehovah-rophi. It is marvellous how one sweet
word of God will make whole songs for Christians. One word of
God is like a piece of gold, and the Christian is the
goldbeater, and can hammer that promise out for whole weeks. So,
then, poor Christian, thou needest not sit down in despair. Go
to the Comforter, and ask Him to give thee consolation. Thou art
a poor dry well. You have heard it said, that when a pump is
dry, you must pour water down it first of all, and then you will
get water, and so, Christian, when thou art dry, go to God, ask
Him to shed abroad His joy in thy heart, and then thy joy shall
be full. Do not go to earthly acquaintances, for you will find
them Job's comforters after all; but go first and foremost to
thy "God, that comforteth those that are cast down," and you
will soon say, "In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy
comforts delight my soul."

* 02/21/AM

"He hath said."
                                                  --Hebrews 13:5

   If we can only grasp these words by faith, we have an 
all-conquering weapon in our hand. What doubt will not be slain
by this two-edged sword? What fear is there which shall not fall
smitten with a deadly wound before this arrow from the bow of
God's covenant? Will not the distresses of life and the pangs of
death; will not the corruptions within, and the snares without;
will not the trials from above, and the temptations from
beneath, all seem but light afflictions, when we can hide
ourselves beneath the bulwark of "He hath said"? Yes; whether
for delight in our quietude, or for strength in our conflict,
"He hath said" must be our daily resort. And this may teach us
the extreme value of _searching_ the Scriptures. There may be a
promise in the Word which would exactly fit your case, but you
may not know of it, and therefore you miss its comfort. You are
like prisoners in a dungeon, and there may be one key in the
bunch which would unlock the door, and you might be free; but if
you will not look for it, you may remain a prisoner still,
though liberty is so near at hand. There may be a potent
medicine in the great pharmacopoeia of Scripture, and you may
yet continue sick unless you will examine and search the
Scriptures to discover what "He hath said." Should you not,
besides reading the Bible, store your memories richly with the
promises of God? You can recollect the sayings of great men; you
treasure up the verses of renowned poets; ought you not to be
profound in your knowledge of the words of God, so that you may
be able to quote them readily when you would solve a difficulty,
or overthrow a doubt? Since "He hath said" is the source of all
wisdom, and the fountain of all comfort, let it dwell in you
richly, as "A well of water, springing up unto everlasting
life." So shall you grow healthy, strong, and happy in the
divine life.

* 02/22/AM

"His bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made
strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob."
                                                 --Genesis 49:24

   That strength which God gives to His Josephs is _real_ 
strength; it is not a boasted valour, a fiction, a thing of
which men talk, but which ends in smoke; it is true--_divine
strength_. Why does Joseph stand against temptation? Because God
gives him aid. There is nought that we can do without the power
of God. All true strength comes from "the mighty God of Jacob."
Notice in what a _blessedly familiar way_ God gives this
strength to Joseph--"The arms of his hands were made strong by
the hands of the mighty God of Jacob." Thus God is represented
as putting His hands on Joseph's hands, placing His arms on
Joseph's arms. Like as a father teaches his children, so the
Lord teaches them that fear Him. He puts His arms upon them.
Marvellous condescension! God Almighty, Eternal, Omnipotent,
stoops from His throne and lays His hand upon the child's hand,
stretching His arm upon the arm of Joseph, that he may be made
strong! This strength was also covenant strength, for it is
ascribed to "the mighty _God of Jacob_." Now, wherever you read
of the God of Jacob in the Bible, you should remember the
covenant with Jacob. Christians love to think of God's
covenant. All the power, all the grace, all the blessings, all
the mercies, all the comforts, all the things we have, flow to
us from the well-head, through the covenant. If there were no
covenant, then we should fail indeed; for all grace proceeds
from it, as light and heat from the sun. No angels ascend or
descend, save upon that ladder which Jacob saw, at the top of
which stood a covenant God. Christian, it may be that the
archers have sorely grieved you, and shot at you, and wounded
you, but still your bow abides in strength; be sure, then, to
ascribe all the glory to Jacob's God.

* 02/23/AM

"I will never leave thee."
                                                  --Hebrews 13:5

   No promise is of private interpretation. Whatever God has 
said to any one saint, He has said to all. When He opens a well
for one, it is that all may drink. When He openeth a granary-
door to give out food, there may be some one starving man who is
the occasion of its being opened, but all hungry saints may come
and feed too. Whether He gave the word to Abraham or to Moses,
matters not, O believer; He has given it to thee as one of the
covenanted seed. There is not a high blessing too lofty for
thee, nor a wide mercy too extensive for thee. Lift up now
thine eyes to the north and to the south, to the east and to the
west, for all this is thine. Climb to Pisgah's top, and view the
utmost limit of the divine promise, for the land is all thine
own. There is not a brook of living water of which thou mayst
not drink. If the land floweth with milk and honey, eat the
honey and drink the milk, for both are thine. Be thou bold to
believe, for He hath said, "I will never leave _thee_, nor
forsake _thee_."In this promise, God gives to His people
everything. "_I_ will never leave thee." Then no attribute of
God can cease to be engaged for us. Is He mighty? He will show
Himself strong on the behalf of them that trust Him. Is He love?
Then with lovingkindness will He have mercy upon us. Whatever
attributes may compose the character of Deity, every one of them
to its fullest extent shall be engaged on our side. To put
everything in one, there is nothing you can want, there is
nothing you can ask for, there is nothing you can need in time
or in eternity, there is nothing living, nothing dying, there is
nothing in this world, nothing in the next world, there is
nothing now, nothing at the resurrection-morning, nothing in
heaven which is not contained in this text--"I will never leave
thee, nor forsake thee."

* 02/24/AM

"I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall
be showers of blessing."
                                                 --Ezekiel 34:26

   Here is _sovereign mercy_--"I will give them the shower in 
its season." Is it not sovereign, _divine_ mercy?--for who can
say, "I will give them showers," except God? There is only one
voice which can speak to the clouds, and bid them beget the
rain. Who sendeth down the rain upon the earth? Who scattereth
the showers upon the green herb? Do not I, the Lord? So grace is
the gift of God, and is not to be created by man. It is also
_needed_ grace. What would the ground do without showers? You
may break the clods, you may sow your seeds, but what can you do
without the rain? As absolutely needful is the divine blessing.
In vain you labour, until God the plenteous shower bestows, and
sends salvation down. Then, it is _plenteous grace_. "I will
send them showers." It does not say, "I will send them drops,"
but "showers." So it is with grace. If God gives a blessing, He
usually gives it in such a measure that there is not room enough
to receive it. Plenteous grace! Ah! we want plenteous grace to
keep us humble, to make us prayerful, to make us holy; plenteous
grace to make us zealous, to preserve us through this life, and
at last to land us in heaven. We cannot do without saturating
showers of grace. Again, it is _seasonable grace_. "I will cause
the shower to come down _in his season_." What is thy season
this morning? Is it the season of drought? Then that is the
season for showers. Is it a season of great heaviness and black
clouds? Then that is the season for showers. "As thy days so
shall thy strength be." And here is a _varied_ blessing. "I will
give thee _showers_ of blessing." The word is in the plural. All
kinds of blessings God will send. All God's blessings go
together, like links in a golden chain. If He gives converting
grace, He will also give comforting grace. He will send
"showers of blessing." Look up to-day, O parched plant, and open
thy leaves and flowers for a heavenly watering.

* 02/25/AM

"The wrath to come."
                                                   --Matthew 3:7

   It is pleasant to pass over a country after a storm has spent 
itself; to smell the freshness of the herbs after the rain has
passed away, and to note the drops while they glisten like
purest diamonds in the sunlight. That is the position of a
Christian. He is going through a land where the storm has spent
itself upon His Saviour's head, and if there be a few drops of
sorrow falling, they distil from clouds of mercy, and Jesus
cheers him by the assurance that they are not for his
destruction. But how terrible is it to witness the approach of a
tempest: to note the forewarnings of the storm; to mark the
birds of heaven as they droop their wings; to see the cattle as
they lay their heads low in terror; to discern the face of the
sky as it groweth black, and look to the sun which shineth not,
and the heavens which are angry and frowning! How terrible to
await the dread advance of a hurricane--such as occurs,
sometimes, in the tropics--to wait in terrible apprehension till
the wind shall rush forth in fury, tearing up trees from their
roots, forcing rocks from their pedestals, and hurling down all
the dwelling-places of man! And yet, sinner, this is your
present position. No hot drops have as yet fallen, but a shower
of fire is coming. No terrible winds howl around you, but God's
tempest is gathering its dread artillery. As yet the
water-floods are dammed up by mercy, but the flood-gates shall
soon be opened: the thunderbolts of God are yet in His
storehouse, but lo! the tempest hastens, and how awful shall
that moment be when God, robed in vengeance, shall march forth
in fury! Where, where, where, O sinner, wilt thou hide thy head,
or whither wilt thou flee? O that the hand of mercy may now lead
you to Christ! He is freely set before you in the gospel: His
riven side is the rock of shelter. Thou knowest thy need of Him;
believe in Him, cast thyself upon Him, and then the fury shall
be overpast for ever.

* 02/26/AM

"Salvation is of the Lord."
                                                     --Jonah 2:9

   Salvation is the work of God. It is He alone who quickens the 
soul "dead in trespasses and sins," and it is He also who
maintains the soul in its spiritual life. He is both "Alpha and
Omega." "Salvation is of the Lord." If I am prayerful, God makes
me prayerful; if I have graces, they are God's gifts to me; if I
hold on in a consistent life, it is because He upholds me with
His hand. I do nothing whatever towards my own preservation,
except what God Himself first does in me. Whatever I have, all
my goodness is of the Lord alone. Wherein I sin, that is my own;
but wherein I act rightly, that is of God, wholly and
completely. If I have repulsed a spiritual enemy, the Lord's
strength nerved my arm. Do I live before men a consecrated life?
It is not I, but Christ who liveth in me. Am I sanctified? I
did not cleanse myself: God's Holy Spirit sanctifies me. Am I
weaned from the world? I am weaned by _God's_ chastisements
sanctified to my good. Do I grow in knowledge? The great
Instructor teaches me. All my jewels were fashioned by heavenly
art. I find in God all that I want; but I find in myself nothing
but sin and misery. "He only is my rock and my salvation." Do I
feed on the Word? That Word would be no food for me unless the
Lord made it food for my soul, and helped me to feed upon it. Do
I live on the manna which comes down from heaven? What is that
manna but Jesus Christ himself incarnate, whose body and whose
blood I eat and drink? Am I continually receiving fresh increase
of strength? Where do I gather my might? My help cometh from
heaven's hills: without Jesus I can do nothing. As a branch
cannot bring forth fruit except it abide in the vine, no more
can I, except I abide in Him. What Jonah learned in the great
deep, let me learn this morning in my closet: "Salvation is of
the Lord."

* 02/27/AM

"Thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most
High, thy habitation."
                                                    --Psalm 91:9

   The Israelites in the wilderness _were continually exposed to 
change_. Whenever the pillar stayed its motion, the tents were
pitched; but tomorrow, ere the morning sun had risen, the
trumpet sounded, the ark was in motion, and the fiery, cloudy
pillar was leading the way through the narrow defiles of the
mountain, up the hillside, or along the arid waste of the
wilderness. They had scarcely time to rest a little before they
heard the sound of "Away! this is not your rest; you must still
be onward journeying towards Canaan!" They were never long in
one place. Even wells and palm trees could not detain them. Yet
they had an abiding home in their God, His cloudy pillar was
their roof-tree, and its flame by night their household fire.
They must go onward from place to place, continually changing,
never having time to settle, and to say, "Now we are secure; in
this place we shall dwell." "Yet," says Moses, "though we are
always changing, Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place
throughout all generations." The Christian knows no change with
regard to God. He may be rich to-day and poor to-morrow; he may
be sickly to-day and well to-morrow; he may be in happiness
to-day, to-morrow he may be distressed--but there is no change
with regard to his relationship to God. If He loved me
yesterday, He loves me to-day. My unmoving mansion of rest is my
blessed Lord. Let prospects be blighted; let hopes be blasted;
let joy be withered; let mildews destroy everything; I have lost
nothing of what I have in God. He is "my strong habitation
whereunto I can continually resort." I am a pilgrim in the
world, but at home in my God. In the earth I wander, but in God
I dwell in a quiet habitation.

* 02/28/AM

"My expectation is from Him."
                                                    --Psalm 62:5

   It is the believer's privilege to use this language. If he is 
looking for aught from the world, it is a poor "expectation"
indeed. But if he looks to God for the supply of his wants,
whether in temporal or spiritual blessings, his expectation"
will not be a vain one. Constantly he may draw from the bank of
faith, and get his need supplied out of the riches of God's
lovingkindness. This I know, I had rather have God for my
banker than all the Rothschilds. My Lord never fails to honour
His promises; and when we bring them to His throne, He never
sends them back unanswered. Therefore I will wait only at His
door, for He ever opens it with the hand of munificent grace. At
this hour I will try Him anew. But we have "expectations" beyond
this life. We shall die soon; and then our "expectation is from
Him." Do we not expect that when we lie upon the bed of sickness
He will send angels to carry us to His bosom? We believe that
when the pulse is faint, and the heart heaves heavily, some
angelic messenger shall stand and look with loving eyes upon us,
and whisper, "Sister spirit, come away!" As we approach the
heavenly gate, we expect to hear the welcome invitation, "Come,
ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world." We are expecting harps of
gold and crowns of glory; we are hoping soon to be amongst the
multitude of shining ones before the throne; we are looking
forward and longing for the time when we shall be like our
glorious Lord--for "We shall see Him as He is." Then if these be
thine "expectations," O my soul, live for God; live with the
desire and resolve to glorify Him from whom cometh all thy
supplies, and of whose grace in thy election, redemption, and
calling, it is that thou hast any "expectation" of coming glory.

* 02/29/AM

"With lovingkindness have I drawn thee."
                                                 --Jeremiah 31:3

   The thunders of the law and the terrors of judgment are all 
used to bring us to Christ; but the final victory is effected by
lovingkindness. The prodigal set out to his father's house from
a sense of need; but his father saw him a great way off, and ran
to meet him; so that the last steps he took towards his father's
house were with the kiss still warm upon his cheek, and the
welcome still musical in his ears.

               "Law and terrors do but harden
               All the while they work alone;
               But a sense of blood-bought pardon
               Will dissolve a heart of stone."

The Master came one night to the door, and knocked with the iron
hand of the law; the door shook and trembled upon its hinges;
but the man piled every piece of furniture which he could find
against the door, for he said, "I will not admit the man." The
Master turned away, but by-and-bye He came back, and with His
own soft hand, using most that part where the nail had
penetrated, He knocked again--oh, so softly and tenderly. This
time the door did not shake, but, strange to say, it opened, and
there upon his knees the once unwilling host was found rejoicing
to receive his guest. "Come in, come in; thou hast so knocked
that my bowels are moved for thee. I could not think of thy
pierced hand leaving its blood-mark on my door, and of thy going
away houseless, 'Thy head filled with dew, and thy locks with
the drops of the night.' I yield, I yield, Thy love has won my
heart." So in every case: lovingkindness wins the day. What
Moses with the tablets of stone could never do, Christ does with
His pierced hand. Such is the doctrine of effectual calling. Do
I understand it experimentally? Can I say, "He drew me, and I
followed on, glad to confess the voice divine?" If so, may He
continue to draw me, till at last I shall sit down at the
marriage supper of the Lamb.

This document (last modified September 30, 1995) from Believerscafe.com