November AM

* 11/01/AM

"The Church in thy house."
                                                    --Philemon 2

   Is there a Church in this house? Are parents, children, 
friends, servants, all members of it? or are some still
unconverted? Let us pause here and let the question go
round--_Am I a member of the Church in this house_? How would
father's heart leap for joy, and mother's eyes fill with holy
tears if from the eldest to the youngest all were saved! Let us
pray for this great mercy until the Lord shall grant it to us.
Probably it had been the dearest object of Philemon's desires to
have all his household saved; but it was not at first granted
him in its fulness. He had a wicked servant, Onesimus, who,
having wronged him, ran away from his service. His master's
prayers followed him, and at last, as God would have it,
Onesimus was led to hear Paul preach; his heart was touched, and
he returned to Philemon, not only to be a faithful servant, but
a brother beloved, adding another member to the Church in
Philemon's house. Is there an unconverted servant or child
absent this morning? Make special supplication that such may, on
their return to their home, gladden all hearts with good news of
what grace has done! Is there one present? Let him partake in
the same earnest entreaty.

   If there be such a Church in our house, let us order it well, 
and let all act as in the sight of God. Let us move in the
common affairs of life with studied holiness, diligence,
kindness, and integrity. More is expected of a Church than of an
ordinary household; family worship must, in such a case, be more
devout and hearty; internal love must be more warm and unbroken,
and external conduct must be more sanctified and Christlike. We
need not fear that the smallness of our number will put us out
of the list of Churches, for the Holy Spirit has here enrolled a
family-church in the inspired book of remembrance. As a Church
let us now draw nigh to the great head of the one Church
universal, and let us beseech Him to give us grace to shine
before men to the glory of His name.

* 11/02/AM

"I am the Lord, I change not."
                                                   --Malachi 3:6

   It is well for us that, amidst all the variableness of 
life, there is One whom change cannot affect; One whose heart
can never alter, and on whose brow mutability can make no
furrows. All things else have changed--all things are changing.
The sun itself grows dim with age; the world is waxing old; the
folding up of the worn-out vesture has commenced; the heavens
and earth must soon pass away; they shall perish, they shall wax
old as doth a garment; but there is One who only hath
immortality, of whose years there is no end, and in whose person
there is no change. The delight which the mariner feels, when,
after having been tossed about for many a day, he steps again
upon the solid shore, is the satisfaction of a Christian when,
amidst all the changes of this troublous life, he rests the foot
of his faith upon this truth--"_I am the Lord, I change not_."

   The stability which the anchor gives the ship when it has at 
last obtained a hold-fast, is like that which the Christian's
hope affords him when it fixes itself upon this glorious truth.
With God "is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." What
ever His attributes were of old, they are now; His power, His
wisdom, His justice, His truth, are alike unchanged. He has ever
been the refuge of His people, their stronghold in the day of
trouble, and He is their sure Helper still. He is unchanged in
His love. He has loved His people with "an everlasting love";
He loves them now as much as ever He did, and when all earthly
things shall have melted in the last conflagration, His love
will still wear the dew of its youth. Precious is the assurance
that He changes not! The wheel of providence revolves, but its
axle is eternal love.

                 "Death and change are busy ever,
                 Man decays, and ages move;
                 But His mercy waneth never;
                 God is wisdom, God is love."

* 11/03/AM

"Behold, he prayeth."
                                                     --Acts 9:11

   Prayers are instantly noticed in heaven. The moment Saul 
began to pray the Lord heard him. Here is comfort for the
distressed but praying soul. Oftentimes a poor broken-hearted
one bends his knee, but can only utter his wailing in the
language of sighs and tears; yet that groan has made all the
harps of heaven thrill with music; that tear has been caught by
God and treasured in the lachrymatory of heaven. "Thou puttest
my tears into thy bottle," implies that they are caught as they
flow. The suppliant, whose fears prevent his words, will be
well understood by the Most High. He may only look up with misty
eye; but "prayer is the falling of a tear." Tears are the
diamonds of heaven; sighs are a part of the music of Jehovah's
court, and are numbered with "the sublimest strains that reach
the majesty on high." Think not that your prayer, however weak
or trembling, will be unregarded. Jacob's ladder is lofty, but
our prayers shall lean upon the Angel of the covenant and so
climb its starry rounds. Our God not only _hears_ prayer but
also _loves_ to hear it. "He forgetteth not the cry of the
humble." True, He regards not high looks and lofty words; He
cares not for the pomp and pageantry of kings; He listens not to
the swell of martial music; He regards not the triumph and pride
of man; but wherever there is a heart big with sorrow, or a lip
quivering with agony, or a deep groan, or a penitential sigh,
the heart of Jehovah is open; He marks it down in the registry
of His memory; He puts our prayers, like rose leaves, between
the pages of His book of remembrance, and when the volume is
opened at last, there shall be a precious fragrance springing up

            "Faith asks no signal from the skies,
            To show that prayers accepted rise,
            Our Priest is in His holy place,
            And answers from the throne of grace."

* 11/04/AM

"For my strength is made perfect in weakness."
                                            --2 Corinthians 12:9

   A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of 
success, and for doing God's work well and triumphantly, is a
sense of our own weakness. When God's warrior marches forth to
battle, strong in his own might, when he boasts, "I know that I
shall conquer, my own right arm and my conquering sword shall
get unto me the victory," defeat is not far distant. God will
not go forth with that man who marches in his own strength. He
who reckoneth on victory thus has reckoned wrongly, for "it is
not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of
hosts." They who go forth to fight, boasting of their prowess,
shall return with their gay banners trailed in the dust, and
their armour stained with disgrace. Those who serve God must
serve Him in His own way, and in His strength, or He will never
accept their service. That which man doth, unaided by divine
strength, God can never own. The mere fruits of the earth He
casteth away; He will only reap that corn, the seed of which was
sown from heaven, watered by grace, and ripened by the sun of
divine love. God will empty out all that thou hast before He
will put His own into thee; He will first clean out thy
granaries before He will fill them with the finest of the wheat.
The river of God is full of water; but not one drop of it flows
from earthly springs. God will have no strength used in His
battles but the strength which He Himself imparts. Are you
mourning over your own weakness? Take courage, for there must be
a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give thee
victory. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being
filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your
lifting up.

            "When I am weak then am I strong,
            Grace is my shield and Christ my song."

* 11/05/AM

"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper."
                                                  --Isaiah 54:17

   This day is notable in English history for two great 
deliverances wrought by God for us. On this day the plot of the
Papists to destroy our Houses of Parliament was discovered,

            "While for our princes they prepare
            In caverns deep a burning snare,
            He shot from heaven a piercing ray,
            And the dark treachery brought to day."

And secondly--to-day is the anniversary of the landing of King
William III, at Torbay, by which the hope of Popish ascendancy
was quashed, and religious liberty was secured, 1688.

   This day ought to be celebrated, not by the saturnalia of 
striplings, but by the songs of saints. Our Puritan forefathers
most devoutly made it a special time of thanksgiving. There is
extant a record of the annual sermons preached by Matthew Henry
on this day. Our Protestant feeling, and our love of liberty,
should make us regard its anniversary with holy gratitude. Let
our hearts and lips exclaim, "We have heard with our ears, and
our fathers have told us the wondrous things which Thou didst in
their day, and in the old time before them." Thou hast made this
nation the home of the gospel; and when the foe has risen
against her, Thou hast shielded her. Help us to offer repeated
songs for repeated deliverances. Grant us more and more a hatred
of Antichrist, and hasten on the day of her entire extinction.
Till then and ever, we believe the promise, "No weapon that is
formed against thee shall prosper." Should it not be laid upon
the heart of every lover of the gospel of Jesus on this day to
plead for the overturning of false doctrines and the extension
of divine truth? Would it not be well to search our own hearts,
and turn out any of the Popish lumber of self-righteousness
which may lie concealed therein?

* 11/06/AM

"I will pour water upon him that is thirsty."
                                                   --Isaiah 44:3

   When a believer has fallen into a low, sad state of feeling, 
he often tries to lift himself out of it by chastening himself
with dark and doleful fears. Such is not the way to rise from
the dust, but to continue in it. As well chain the eagle's wing
to make it mount, as doubt in order to increase our grace. It is
not the law, but the gospel which saves the seeking soul at
first; and it is not a legal bondage, but gospel liberty which
can restore the fainting believer afterwards. Slavish fear
brings not back the backslider to God, but the sweet wooings of
love allure him to Jesus' bosom. Are you this morning thirsting
for the living God, and unhappy because you cannot find him to
the delight of your heart? Have you lost the joy of religion,
and is this your prayer, "Restore unto me the joy of Thy
salvation"? Are you conscious also that you are barren, like the
dry ground; that you are not bringing forth the fruit unto God
which He has a right to expect of you; that you are not so
useful in the Church, or in the world, as your heart desires to
be? Then here is exactly the promise which you need, "I will
pour water upon him that is thirsty." You shall receive the
grace you so much require, and you shall have it to the utmost
reach of your needs. Water refreshes the thirsty: you shall be
refreshed; your desires shall be gratified. Water quickens
sleeping vegetable life: your life shall be quickened by fresh
grace. Water swells the buds and makes the fruits ripen; you
shall have fructifying grace: you shall be made fruitful in the
ways of God. Whatever good quality there is in divine grace, you
shall enjoy it to the full. All the riches of divine grace you
shall receive in plenty; you shall be as it were drenched with
it: and as sometimes the meadows become flooded by the bursting
rivers, and the fields are turned into pools, so shall you
be--the thirsty land shall be springs of water.

* 11/07/AM

"Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands."
                                                  --Isaiah 49:16

   No doubt a part of the wonder which is concentrated in the
word "_Behold_," is excited by the unbelieving lamentation of
the preceding sentence. Zion said, "The Lord hath forsaken me,
and my God hath forgotten me." How amazed the divine mind seems
to be at this wicked unbelief! What can be more astounding than
the unfounded doubts and fears of God's favoured people? The
Lord's loving word of rebuke should make us blush; He cries,
"How can I have forgotten thee, when I have graven thee upon the
palms of my hands? How darest thou doubt my constant
remembrance, when the memorial is set upon my very flesh?" O
unbelief, how strange a marvel thou art! We know not which most
to wonder at, the faithfulness of God or the unbelief of His
people. He keeps His promise a thousand times, and yet the next
trial makes us doubt Him. He never faileth; He is never a dry
well; He is never as a setting sun, a passing meteor, or a
melting vapour; and yet we are as continually vexed with
anxieties, molested with suspicions, and disturbed with fears,
as if our God were the mirage of the desert. "Behold," _is a
word intended to excite admiration_. Here, indeed, we have a
theme for marvelling. Heaven and earth may well be astonished
that rebels should obtain so great a nearness to the heart of
infinite love as to be written upon the palms of His hands. "I
have graven _thee_."It does not say, "Thy name." The name is
there, but that is not all: "I have graven _thee_." See the
fulness of this! I have graven thy person, thine image, thy
case, thy circumstances, thy sins, thy temptations, thy
weaknesses, thy wants, thy works; I have graven thee, everything
about thee, all that concerns thee; I have put thee altogether
there. Wilt thou ever say again that thy God hath forsaken thee
when He has graven thee _upon_ His own palms?

* 11/08/AM

"As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord."
                                                --Colossians 2:6

   The life of faith is represented as _receiving-- an act which 
implies the very opposite of anything like merit_. It is simply
the acceptance of a gift. As the earth drinks in the rain, as
the sea receives the streams, as night accepts light from the
stars, so we, giving nothing, partake freely of the grace of
God. The saints are not, by nature, wells, or streams, they are
but cisterns into which the living water flows; they are empty
vessels into which God pours His salvation. The idea of
receiving implies _a sense of realization_, making the matter a
_reality_. One cannot very well receive a shadow; we receive
that which is substantial: so is it in the life of faith, Christ
becomes real to us. While we are without faith, Jesus is a mere
name to us--a person who lived a long while ago, so long ago
that His life is only a history to us now! By an act of faith
Jesus becomes a real person in the consciousness of our heart.
But receiving also means _grasping or getting possession of_.
The thing which I receive becomes my own: I appropriate to
myself that which is given. When I receive Jesus, He becomes my
Saviour, so mine that neither life nor death shall be able to
rob me of Him. All this is to receive Christ--to take Him as
God's free gift; to realize Him in my heart, and to appropriate
Him as mine.

   Salvation may be described as the blind receiving sight, the
deaf receiving hearing, the dead receiving life; but we have not
only received these blessings, we have received CHRIST JESUS
Himself. It is true that He gave us life from the dead. He gave
us pardon of sin; He gave us imputed righteousness. These are
all precious things, but we are not content with them; we have
received _Christ Himself_. The Son of God has been poured into
us, and we have received Him, and appropriated Him. What a
heartful Jesus must be, for heaven itself cannot contain Him!

* 11/09/AM

"So walk ye in Him."
                                                --Colossians 2:6

   If we have received Christ Himself in our inmost hearts, our 
new life will manifest its intimate acquaintance with Him by _a
walk of faith in Him_. Walking implies _action_. Our religion is
not to be confined to our closet; we must carry out into
practical effect that which we believe. If a man walks in
Christ, then he so acts as Christ would act; for Christ being in
him, his hope, his love, his joy, his life, he is the reflex of
the image of Jesus; and men say of that man, "He is like his
Master; he lives like Jesus Christ." Walking signifies
_progress_. "So walk ye in Him"; proceed from grace to grace,
run forward until you reach the uttermost degree of knowledge
that a man can attain concerning our Beloved. Walking implies
_continuance_. There must be a perpetual abiding in Christ. How
many Christians think that in the morning and evening they ought
to come into the company of Jesus, and may then give their
hearts to the world all the day: but this is poor living; we
should always be with Him, treading in His steps and doing His
will. Walking also implies _habit_. When we speak of a man's
walk and conversation, we mean his habits, the constant tenour
of his life. Now, if we sometimes enjoy Christ, and then forget
Him; sometimes call Him ours, and anon lose our hold, that is
not a habit; we do not _walk_ in Him. We must keep to Him, cling
to Him, never let Him go, but live and have our being in Him.
"As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him";
persevere in the same way in which ye have begun, and, as at the
first Christ Jesus was the trust of your faith, the source of
your life, the principle of your action, and the joy of your
spirit, so let Him be the same till life's end; the same when
you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and enter
into the joy and the rest which remain for the people of God. O
Holy Spirit, enable us to obey this heavenly precept.

* 11/10/AM

"The eternal God is thy refuge."
                                             --Deuteronomy 33:27

   The word refuge may be translated "mansion," or "abiding- 
place," which gives the thought that _God is our abode, our
home_. There is a fulness and sweetness in the metaphor, for
dear to our hearts is our home, although it be the humblest
cottage, or the scantiest garret; and dearer far is our blessed
God, in whom we live, and move, and have our being. It is at
home that we _feel safe_: we shut the world out and dwell in
quiet security. So when we are with our God we "fear no evil."
He is our shelter and retreat, our abiding refuge. At home, _we
take our rest_; it is there we find repose after the fatigue and
toil of the day. And so our hearts find rest in God, when,
wearied with life's conflict, we turn to Him, and our soul
dwells at ease. At home, also, we _let our hearts loose_; we are
not afraid of being misunderstood, nor of our words being
misconstrued. So when we are with God we can commune freely with
Him, laying open all our hidden desires; for if the "secret of
the Lord is with them that fear Him," the secrets of them that
fear Him ought to be, and must be, with their Lord. Home, too,
is the place of our _truest and purest happiness_: and it is in
God that our hearts find their deepest delight. We have joy in
Him which far surpasses all other joy. _It is also for home that
we work and labour_. The thought of it gives strength to bear
the daily burden, and quickens the fingers to perform the task;
and in this sense we may also say that God is our home. Love to
Him strengthens us. We think of Him in the person of His dear
Son; and a glimpse of the suffering face of the Redeemer
constrains us to labour in His cause. We feel that we must work,
for we have brethren yet to be saved, and we have our Father's
heart to make glad by bringing home His wandering sons; we would
fill with holy mirth the sacred family among whom we dwell.
Happy are those who have thus the God of Jacob for their refuge!

* 11/11/AM

"Underneath are the everlasting arms."
                                             --Deuteronomy 33:27

   God--the eternal God--is Himself our support at all times, 
and especially when we are sinking in deep trouble. There are
seasons when the Christian _sinks very low in humiliation_.
Under a deep sense of his great sinfulness, he is humbled before
God till he scarcely knows how to pray, because he appears, in
his own sight, so worthless. Well, child of God, remember that
when thou art at thy worst and lowest, yet "underneath" thee
"are everlasting arms." Sin may drag thee ever so low, but
Christ's great atonement is still under all. You may have
descended into the deeps, but you cannot have fallen so low as
"the uttermost"; and to the uttermost He saves. Again, the
Christian sometimes sinks very deeply in _sore trial from
without_. Every earthly prop is cut away. What then? Still
underneath him are "the everlasting arms." He cannot fall so
deep in distress and affliction but what the covenant grace of
an ever-faithful God will still encircle him. The Christian may
be sinking under _trouble from within through_ fierce conflict,
but even then he cannot be brought so low as to be beyond the
reach of the "everlasting arms"--they are underneath him; and,
while thus sustained, all Satan's efforts to harm him avail

   This assurance of support is a comfort to any _weary but 
earnest worker_ in the service of God. It implies a promise of
strength for each day, grace for each need, and power for each
duty. And, further, _when death comes_, the promise shall still
hold good. When we stand in the midst of Jordan, we shall be
able to say with David, "I will fear no evil, for Thou art with
me." We shall descend into the grave, but we shall go no lower,
for the eternal arms prevent our further fall. All through life,
and at its close, we shall be upheld by the "everlasting
arms"--arms that neither flag nor lose their strength, for "the
everlasting God fainteth not, neither is weary."

* 11/12/AM

"The trial of your faith."
                                                   --1 Peter 1:7

   Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little 
faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is
without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things
are against her: tempests are her trainers, and lightnings are
her illuminators. When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the
sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbour; for on a
slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling
forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the
vessel may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her
mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail,
it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No
flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of
the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which
glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which
springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as
that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings
experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had
you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would
never have known God's strength had you not been supported amid
the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and
intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is
precious, and its trial is precious too.

   Let not this, however, discourage those who are young in 
faith. You will have trials enough without seeking them: the
full portion will be measured out to you in due season.
Meanwhile, if you cannot yet claim the result of long
experience, thank God for what grace you have; praise Him for
that degree of holy confidence whereunto you have attained: walk
according to that rule, and you shall yet have more and more of
the blessing of God, till your faith shall remove mountains and
conquer impossibilities.

* 11/13/AM

"The branch cannot bear fruit of itself."
                                                     --John 15:4

   How did you begin to bear fruit? It was when you came to 
Jesus and cast yourselves on His great atonement, and rested on
His finished righteousness. Ah! what fruit you had then! Do you
remember those early days? Then indeed the vine flourished, the
tender grape appeared, the pomegranates budded forth, and the
beds of spices gave forth their smell. Have you declined since
then? If you have, we charge you to remember that time of love,
and repent, and do thy first works. _Be most in those
engagements which you have experimentally proved to draw you
nearest to Christ_, because it is from Him that all your fruits
proceed. Any holy exercise which will bring you to Him will help
you to bear fruit. The sun is, no doubt, a great worker in
fruit-creating among the trees of the orchard: and Jesus is
still more so among the trees of His garden of grace. When have
you been the most fruitless? Has not it been when you have
lived farthest from the Lord Jesus Christ, when you have
slackened in prayer, when you have departed from the simplicity
of your faith, when your graces have engrossed your attention
instead of your Lord, when you have said, "My mountain standeth
firm, I shall never be moved"; and have forgotten where your
strength dwells--has not it been _then_ that your fruit has
ceased? Some of us have been taught that we have nothing out of
Christ, by terrible abasements of heart before the Lord; and
when we have seen the utter barrenness and death of all creature
power, we have cried in anguish, "From Him all my fruit must be
found, for no fruit can ever come from me." We are taught, by
past experience, that the more simply we depend upon the grace
of God in Christ, and wait upon the Holy Spirit, the more we
shall bring forth fruit unto God. Oh! to trust Jesus for fruit
as well as for life.

* 11/14/AM

"I will cut off them that worship and that swear by the Lord,
and that swear by Malcham."
                                                 --Zephaniah 1:5

   Such persons thought themselves safe because they were with 
both parties: they went with the followers of Jehovah, and bowed
at the same time to Malcham. But duplicity is abominable with
God, and hypocrisy His soul hateth. The idolater who distinctly
gives himself to his false god, has one sin less than he who
brings his polluted and detestable sacrifice unto the temple of
the Lord, while his heart is with the world and the sins
thereof. To hold with the hare and run with the hounds, is a
dastard's policy. In the common matters of daily life, a double-
minded man is despised, but in religion he is loathsome to the
last degree. The penalty pronounced in the verse before us is
terrible, but it is well deserved; for how should divine justice
spare the sinner, who knows the right, approves it, and
professes to follow it, and all the while loves the evil, and
gives it dominion in his heart?

   My soul, search thyself this morning, and see whether thou 
art guilty of double-dealing. Thou professest to be a follower
of Jesus--dost thou truly love Him? Is thy heart right with God?
Art thou of the family of old Father Honest, or art thou a
relative of Mr. By-ends? A name to live is of little value if I
be indeed dead in trespasses and sins. To have one foot on the
land of truth, and another on the sea of falsehood, will involve
a terrible fall and a total ruin. Christ will be all or
nothing. God fills the whole universe, and hence there is no
room for another god; if, then, He reigns in my heart, there
will be no space for another reigning power. Do I rest alone on
Jesus crucified, and live alone for Him? Is it my desire to do
so? Is my heart set upon so doing? If so, blessed be the mighty
grace which has led me to salvation; and if not so, O Lord,
pardon my sad offence, and unite my heart to fear Thy name.

* 11/15/AM

"The Lord's portion is His people."
                                              --Deuteronomy 32:9

   How are they His? By His own sovereign _choice_. He chose
them, and set His love upon them. This He did altogether apart
from any goodness in them at the time, or any goodness which He
foresaw in them. He had mercy on whom He would have mercy, and
ordained a chosen company unto eternal life; thus, therefore,
are they His by His unconstrained election.

   They are not only His by choice, but by _purchase_. He has 
bought and paid for them to the utmost farthing, hence about His
title there can be no dispute. Not with corruptible things, as
with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of the Lord
Jesus Christ, the Lord's portion has been fully redeemed. There
is no mortgage on His estate; no suits can be raised by opposing
claimants, the price was paid in open court, and the Church is
the Lord's freehold for ever. See the blood-mark upon all the
chosen, invisible to human eye, but known to Christ, for "the
Lord knoweth them that are His"; He forgetteth none of those
whom He has redeemed from among men; He counts the sheep for
whom He laid down His life, and remembers well the Church for
which He gave Himself.

   They are also His by _conquest_. What a battle He had in us 
before we would be won! How long He laid siege to our hearts!
How often He sent us terms of capitulation! but we barred our
gates, and fenced our walls against Him. Do we not remember
that glorious hour when He carried our hearts by storm? When He
placed His cross against the wall, and scaled our ramparts,
planting on our strongholds the blood-red flag of His omnipotent
mercy? Yes, we are, indeed, the conquered captives of His
omnipotent love. Thus chosen, purchased, and subdued, the rights
of our divine possessor are inalienable: we rejoice that we
never can be our own; and we desire, day by day, to do _His_
will, and to show forth _His_ glory.

* 11/16/AM

"The Lord is my portion, saith my soul."
                                             --Lamentations 3:24

   It is not "The Lord is _partly_ my portion," nor "The Lord is 
_in_ my portion"; but He Himself makes up the sum total of my
soul's inheritance. Within the circumference of that circle lies
all that we possess or desire. The _Lord_ is my portion. Not His
grace merely, nor His love, nor His covenant, but Jehovah
Himself. He has chosen us for His portion, and we have chosen
Him for ours. It is true that the Lord must first choose our
inheritance for us, or else we shall never choose it for
ourselves; but if we are really called according to the purpose
of electing love, we can sing--

                 "Lov'd of my God for Him again
                 With love intense I burn;
                 Chosen of Him ere time began,
                 I choose Him in return."

The Lord is our _all-sufficient_ portion. God fills Himself; and
if God is all-sufficient in Himself, He must be all-sufficient
for us. It is not easy to satisfy man's desires. When he dreams
that he is satisfied, anon he wakes to the perception that there
is somewhat yet beyond, and straightway the horse-leech in his
heart cries, "Give, give." But all that we can wish for is to be
found in our divine portion, so that we ask, "Whom have I in
heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire
beside Thee." Well may we "delight ourselves in the Lord" who
makes us to drink of the river of His pleasures. Our faith
stretches her wings and mounts like an eagle into the heaven of
divine love as to her proper dwelling-place. "The lines have
fallen to us in pleasant places; yea, we have a goodly
heritage." Let us rejoice in the Lord always; let us show to the
world that we are a happy and a blessed people, and thus induce
them to exclaim, "We will go with you, for we have heard that
God is with you."

* 11/17/AM

"To whom be glory for ever. Amen"
                                                  --Romans 11:36

  "To whom be glory for ever." This should be _the single_ 
desire of the Christian. All other wishes must be subservient
and tributary to this one. The Christian may wish for prosperity
in his business, but only so far as it may help him to promote
this--"To Him be glory for ever." He may desire to attain more
gifts and more graces, but it should only be that "To Him may be
glory for ever." You are not acting as you ought to do when you
are moved by any other motive than a single eye to your Lord's
glory. As a Christian, you are "of God, and through God," then
live "to God." Let nothing ever set your heart beating so
mightily as love to Him. Let this ambition fire your soul; be
this the foundation of every enterprise upon which you enter,
and this your sustaining motive whenever your zeal would grow
chill; make God your only object. Depend upon it, where self
begins sorrow begins; but if God be my supreme delight and only

          "To me 'tis equal whether love ordain
          My life or death--appoint me ease or pain."

Let your desire for God's glory be a _growing_ desire. You
blessed Him in your youth, do not be content with such praises
as you gave Him then. Has God prospered you in business? Give
Him more as He has given you more. Has God given you experience?
Praise Him by stronger faith than you exercised at first. Does
your knowledge grow? Then sing more sweetly. Do you enjoy
happier times than you once had? Have you been restored from
sickness, and has your sorrow been turned into peace and joy?
Then give Him more music; put more coals and more sweet
frankincense into the censer of your praise. Practically in your
life give Him honour, putting the "Amen" to this doxology to
your great and gracious Lord, by your own individual service and
increasing holiness.

* 11/18/AM

"A spring shut up, a fountain sealed."
                                          --Song of Solomon 4:12

   In this metaphor, which has reference to the inner life of a 
believer, we have very plainly the idea of _secrecy_. It is a
spring _shut up_: just as there were springs in the East, over
which an edifice was built, so that none could reach them save
those who knew the secret entrance; so is the heart of a
believer when it is renewed by grace: there is a mysterious life
within which no human skill can touch. It is a secret which no
other man knoweth; nay, which the very man who is the possessor
of it cannot tell to his neighbour. The text includes not only
secrecy, but _separation_. It is not the common spring, of which
every passer-by may drink, it is one kept and preserved from all
others; it is a fountain bearing a particular mark--a king's
royal seal, so that all can perceive that it is not a common
fountain, but a fountain owned by a proprietor, and placed
specially by itself alone. So is it with the spiritual life. The
chosen of God were separated in the eternal decree; they were
separated by God in the day of redemption; and they are
separated by the possession of a life which others have not; and
it is impossible for them to feel at home with the world, or to
delight in its pleasures. There is also the idea of
_sacredness_. The spring shut up is preserved for the use of
some special person: and such is the Christian's heart. It is a
spring kept for Jesus. Every Christian should feel that he has
God's seal upon him--and he should be able to say with Paul,
"From henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body
the marks of the Lord Jesus." Another idea is prominent--it is
that of _security_. Oh! how sure and safe is the inner life of
the believer! If all the powers of earth and hell could combine
against it, that immortal principle must still exist, for He who
gave it pledged His life for its preservation. And who "is He
that shall harm you," when God is your protector?

* 11/19/AM

"Avoid foolish questions."
                                                     --Titus 3:9

   Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good, 
than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor
importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their
incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and
our Churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points
and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that
can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the
discussion no more promotes knowledge than love, and it is
foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points
wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which belong to God
alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere
modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise
men avoid them. Our business is neither to ask nor answer
foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we
observe the apostle's precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to
maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much
occupied with profitable business to take much interest in
unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings.

   There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of 
foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly meet,
such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I
renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the
flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my
conversation adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking
for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should do
who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus? Such
enquiries as these urgently demand our attention; and if we have
been at all given to cavilling, let us now turn our critical
abilities to a service so much more profitable. Let us be
peace-makers, and endeavour to lead others both by our precept
and example, to "avoid foolish questions."

* 11/20/AM

"0 Lord, Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul."
                                             --Lamentations 3:58

   Observe how _positively_ the prophet speaks. He doth not say, 
"I hope, I trust, I sometimes think, that God hath pleaded the
causes of my soul"; but he speaks of it as a matter of fact not
to be disputed. "Thou _hast_ pleaded the causes of my soul." Let
us, by the aid of the gracious Comforter, shake off those doubts
and fears which so much mar our peace and comfort. Be this our
prayer, that we may have done with the harsh croaking voice of
surmise and suspicion, and may be able to speak with the clear,
melodious voice of full assurance. Notice how _gratefully_ the
prophet speaks, ascribing all the glory to God alone! You
perceive there is not a word concerning himself or his own
pleadings. He doth not ascribe his deliverance in any measure to
any man, much less to his own merit; but it is "_thou_"--"O
Lord, Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; _Thou_ hast
redeemed my life." A grateful spirit should ever be cultivated
by the Christian; and especially after deliverances we should
prepare a song for our God. Earth should be a temple filled with
the songs of grateful saints, and every day should be a censor
smoking with the sweet incense of thanksgiving. How _joyful_
Jeremiah seems to be while he records the Lord's mercy. How
triumphantly he lifts up the strain! He has been in the low
dungeon, and is even now no other than the weeping prophet; and
yet in the very book which is called "Lamentations," clear as
the song of Miriam when she dashed her fingers against the
tabor, shrill as the note of Deborah when she met Barak with
shouts of victory, we hear the voice of Jeremy going up to
heaven--"Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast
redeemed my life." O children of God, seek after a vital
experience of the Lord's lovingkindness, and when you have it,
speak positively of it; sing gratefully; shout triumphantly.

* 11/21/AM

"Grieve not the Holy Spirit."
                                                --Ephesians 4:30

   All that the believer has must come from Christ, but it comes 
solely through the channel of the Spirit of grace. Moreover, as
all blessings thus flow to you through the Holy Spirit, so also
no good thing can come out of you in holy thought, devout
worship, or gracious act, apart from the sanctifying operation
of the same Spirit. Even if the good seed be sown in you, yet it
lies dormant except He worketh in you to will and to do of His
own good pleasure. Do you desire to speak for Jesus--how can you
unless the Holy Ghost touch your tongue? Do you desire to pray?
Alas! what dull work it is unless the Spirit maketh intercession
for you! Do you desire to subdue sin? Would you be holy? Would
you imitate your Master? Do you desire to rise to superlative
heights of spirituality? Are you wanting to be made like the
angels of God, full of zeal and ardour for the Master's cause?
You cannot without the Spirit--"Without me ye can do nothing." O
branch of the vine, thou canst have no fruit without the sap! O
child of God, thou hast no life within thee apart from the life
which God gives thee through His Spirit! Then let us not grieve
Him or provoke Him to anger by our sin. Let us not quench Him
in one of His faintest motions in our soul; let us foster every
suggestion, and be ready to obey every prompting. If the Holy
Spirit be indeed so mighty, let us attempt nothing without Him;
let us begin no project, and carry on no enterprise, and
conclude no transaction, without imploring His blessing. Let us
do Him the due homage of feeling our entire weakness apart from
Him, and then depending alone upon Him, having this for our
prayer, "Open Thou my heart and my whole being to Thine
incoming, and uphold me with Thy free Spirit when I shall have
received that Spirit in my inward parts."

* 11/22/AM

"Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep."
                                                   --Hosea 12:12

   Jacob, while expostulating with Laban, thus
describes his own toil, "This twenty years
have I been with thee. That which was torn
of beasts I brought not unto thee: I bare the
loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it,
whether stolen by day, or stolen by night.
Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the
frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes." Even
more toilsome than this was the life of our Saviour here
below. He watched over all His sheep till He gave in as
His last account, "Of all those whom Thou hast given me
I have lost none." His hair was wet with dew, and His locks
with the drops of the night. Sleep departed from His eyes,
for all night He was in prayer wrestling for His people.
One night Peter must be pleaded for; anon, another claims
His tearful intercession. No shepherd sitting beneath the
cold skies, looking up to the stars, could ever utter such
complaints because of the hardness of his toil as Jesus Christ
might have brought, if He had chosen to do so, because
of the sternness of His service in order to procure His

             "Cold mountains and the midnight air,
             Witnessed the fervour of His prayer;
             The desert His temptations knew,
             His conflict and His victory too."

It is sweet to dwell upon the spiritual parallel of Laban having
required all the sheep at Jacob's hand. If they were torn of
beasts, Jacob must make it good; if any of them died, he must
stand as surety for the whole. Was not the toil of Jesus for His
Church the toil of one who was under suretiship obligations to
bring every believing one safe to the hand of Him who had
committed them to His charge? Look upon toiling Jacob, and you
see a representation of Him of whom we read, "He shall feed His
flock like a shepherd."

* 11/23/AM

"Fellowship with Him."
                                                    --1 John 1:6

   When we were united by faith to Christ, we were brought into 
such complete fellowship with Him, that we were made one with
Him, and His interests and ours became mutual and identical. We
have fellowship with Christ in His _love_. What He loves we
love. He loves the saints--so do we. He loves sinners--so do we.
He loves the poor perishing race of man, and pants to see
earth's deserts transformed into the garden of the Lord--so do
we. We have fellowship with Him in His _desires_. He desires
the glory of God--we also labour for the same. He desires that
the saints may be with Him where He is--we desire to be with Him
there too. He desires to drive out sin--behold we fight under
His banner. He desires that His Father's name may be loved and
adored by all His creatures--we pray daily, "Let Thy kingdom
come and Thy will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven." We
have fellowship with Christ in His _sufferings_. We are not
nailed to the cross, nor do we die a cruel death, but when He is
reproached, we are reproached; and a very sweet thing it is to
be blamed for His sake, to be despised for following the Master,
to have the world against us. The disciple should not be above
His Lord. In our measure we commune with Him in His _labours_,
ministering to men by the word of truth and by deeds of love.
Our meat and our drink, like His, is to do the will of Him who
hath sent us and to finish His work. We have also fellowship
with Christ in His _joys_. We are happy in His happiness, we
rejoice in His exaltation. Have you ever tasted that joy,
believer? There is no purer or more thrilling delight to be
known this side heaven than that of having Christ's joy
fulfilled in us, that our joy may be full. His _glory_ awaits us
to complete our fellowship, for His Church shall sit with him
upon His throne, as His well-beloved bride and queen.

* 11/24/AM

"The glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and
                                                  --Isaiah 33:21

   Broad rivers and streams produce fertility, and abundance in 
the land. Places near broad rivers are remarkable for the
variety of their plants and their plentiful harvests. God is all
this to His Church. Having God she has _abundance_. What can she
ask for that He will not give her? What want can she mention
which He will not supply? "In this mountain shall the Lord of
Hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things." Want ye the
bread of life? It drops like manna from the sky. Want ye
refreshing streams? The rock follows you, and that Rock is
Christ. If you suffer any want it is your own fault; if you are
straitened you are not straitened in Him, but in your own
bowels. Broad rivers and streams also point to _commerce_. Our
glorious Lord is to us a place of heavenly merchandize. Through
our Redeemer we have commerce with the past; the wealth of
Calvary, the treasures of the covenant, the riches of the
ancient days of election, the stores of eternity, all come to us
down the broad stream of our gracious Lord. We have commerce,
too, with the future. What galleys, laden to the water's edge,
come to us from the millennium! What visions we have of the days
of heaven upon earth! Through our glorious Lord we have commerce
with angels; communion with the bright spirits washed in blood,
who sing before the throne; nay, better still, we have
fellowship with the Infinite One. Broad rivers and streams are
specially intended to set forth the idea of _security_. Rivers
were of old a defence. Oh! beloved, what a defence is God to His
Church! The devil cannot cross this broad river of God. How he
wishes he could turn the current, but fear not, for God abideth
immutably the same. Satan may worry, but he cannot destroy us;
no galley with oars shall invade our river, neither shall
gallant ship pass thereby.

* 11/25/AM

"To preach deliverance to the captives."
                                                     --Luke 4.18

   None but Jesus can give deliverance to captives. Real liberty 
cometh from Him only. It is a liberty _righteously bestowed_;
for the Son, who is Heir of all things, has a right to make men
free. The saints honour the justice of God, which now secures
their salvation. It is a liberty which has been _dearly
purchased_. Christ speaks it by His power, but He bought it by
His blood. He makes thee free, but it is by His own bonds. Thou
goest clear, because He bare thy burden for thee: thou art set
at liberty, because He has suffered in thy stead. But, though
dearly purchased, _He freely gives it_. Jesus asks nothing of us
as a preparation for this liberty. He finds us sitting in
sackcloth and ashes, and bids us put on the beautiful array of
freedom; He saves us just as we are, and all without our help or
merit. When Jesus sets free, the liberty is _perpetually
entailed_; no chains can bind again. Let the Master say to me,
"Captive, I have delivered thee," and it is done for ever. Satan
may plot to enslave us, but if the Lord be on our side, whom
shall we fear? The world, with its temptations, may seek to
ensnare us, but mightier is He who is for us than all they who
be against us. The machinations of our own deceitful hearts may
harass and annoy us, but He who hath begun the good work in us
will carry it on and perfect it to the end. The foes of God and
the enemies of man may gather their hosts together, and come
with concentrated fury against us, but if God acquitteth, who is
he that condemneth? Not more free is the eagle which mounts to
his rocky eyrie, and afterwards outsoars the clouds, than the
soul which Christ hath delivered. If we are no more under the
law, but free from its curse, let our liberty be _practically
exhibited_ in our serving God with gratitude and delight. "I am
Thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: Thou hast loosed my
bonds." "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?"

* 11/26/AM

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
                                             --Ecclesiastes 9:10

   "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do," refers to works that are 
_possible_. There are many things which our heart findeth to do
which we never shall do. It is well it is in our heart; but if
we would be eminently useful, we must not be content with
forming schemes in our heart, and talking of them; we must
practically carry out "_whatsoever our hand findeth to do_." One
good deed is more worth than a thousand brilliant theories. Let
us not wait for large opportunities, or for a different kind of
work, but do just the things we "find to do" day by day. We have
no other time in which to live. The past is gone; the future has
not arrived; we never shall have any time but time present. Then
do not wait until your experience has ripened into maturity
before you attempt to serve God. Endeavour now to bring forth
fruit. Serve God now, but be careful as to the way in which you
perform what you find to do--"_do it with thy might_." Do it
_promptly_; do not fritter away your life in thinking of what
you intend to do to-morrow as if that could recompense for the
idleness of to-day. No man ever served God by doing things
to-morrow. If we honour Christ and are blessed, it is by the
things which we do _to-day_. Whatever you do for Christ throw
your whole soul into it. Do not give Christ a little slurred
labour, done as a matter of course now and then; but when you do
serve Him, do it with heart, and soul, and strength.

   But where is the might of a Christian? It is not in himself,
for he is perfect weakness. His might lieth in the Lord of
Hosts. Then let us seek His help; let us proceed with prayer and
faith, and when we have done what our "hand findeth to do," let
us wait upon the Lord for His blessing. What we do thus will be
well done, and will not fail in its effect.

* 11/27/AM

"Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord."
                                                 --Zechariah 3:1

   In Joshua _the high priest_ we see a picture of each and 
every child of God, who has been made nigh by the blood of
Christ, and has been taught to minister in holy things, and
enter into that which is within the veil. Jesus has made us
priests and kings unto God, and even here upon earth we exercise
the priesthood of consecrated living and hallowed service. But
this high priest is said to be "_standing_ before the angel of
the Lord," that is, standing to minister. This should be the
perpetual position of every true believer. Every place is now
God's temple, and His people can as truly serve Him in their
daily employments as in His house. They are to be always
"ministering," offering the spiritual sacrifice of prayer and
praise, and presenting themselves a "living sacrifice." But
notice where it is that Joshua stands to minister, it is _before
the angel_ of Jehovah. It is only through a mediator that we
poor defiled ones can ever become priests unto God. I present
what I have before the messenger, the angel of the covenant, the
Lord Jesus; and through Him my prayers find acceptance wrapped
up in His prayers; my praises become sweet as they are bound up
with bundles of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia from Christ's own
garden. If I can bring Him nothing but my tears, He will put
them with His own tears in His own bottle for He once wept; if I
can bring Him nothing but my groans and sighs, He will accept
these as an acceptable sacrifice, for He once was broken in
heart, and sighed heavily in spirit. I myself, standing in Him,
am accepted in the Beloved; and all my polluted works, though in
themselves only objects of divine abhorrence, are so received,
that God smelleth a sweet savour. He is content and I am
blessed. See, then, the position of the Christian--"a priest--
standing--before the angel of the Lord."

* 11/28/AM

"For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of
the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth."
                                                      --3 John 3

   The truth was in Gaius, and Gaius walked in the truth. If 
the first had not been the case, the second could never have
occurred; and if the second could not be said of him the first
would have been a mere pretence. Truth must enter into the soul,
penetrate and saturate it, or else it is of no value. Doctrines
held as a matter of creed are like bread in the hand, which
ministers no nourishment to the frame; but doctrine accepted by
the heart, is as food digested, which, by assimilation, sustains
and builds up the body. In us truth must be a living force, an
active energy, an indwelling reality, a part of the woof and
warp of our being. If it be _in us_, we cannot henceforth part
with it. A man may lose his garments or his limbs, but his
inward parts are vital, and cannot be torn away without absolute
loss of life. A Christian can die, but he cannot deny the truth.
Now it is a rule of nature that the inward affects the outward,
as light shines from the centre of the lantern through the
glass: when, therefore, the truth is kindled within, its
brightness soon beams forth in the outward life and
conversation. It is said that the food of certain worms colours
the cocoons of silk which they spin: and just so the nutriment
upon which a man's inward nature lives gives a tinge to every
word and deed proceeding from him. To walk in the truth, imports
a life of integrity, holiness, faithfulness, and simplicity--the
natural product of those principles of truth which the gospel
teaches, and which the Spirit of God enables us to receive. We
may judge of the secrets of the soul by their manifestation in
the man's conversation. Be it ours to-day, O gracious Spirit, to
be ruled and governed by Thy divine authority, so that nothing
false or sinful may reign in our hearts, lest it extend its
malignant influence to our daily walk among men.

* 11/29/AM

"Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people
. . . Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not
suffer sin upon him."
                                           --Leviticus 19:16, 17

   Tale-bearing emits a threefold poison; for it injures the 
teller, the hearer, and the person concerning whom the tale is
told. Whether the report be true or false, we are by this
precept of God's Word forbidden to spread it. The reputations of
the Lord's people should be very precious in our sight, and we
should count it shame to help the devil to dishonour the Church
and the name of the Lord. Some tongues need a bridle rather than
a spur. Many glory in pulling down their brethren, as if thereby
they raised themselves. Noah's wise sons cast a mantle over
their father, and he who exposed him earned a fearful curse. We
may ourselves one of these dark days need forbearance and
silence from our brethren, let us render it cheerfully to those
who require it now. Be this our family rule, and our personal

   The Holy Spirit, however, permits us to censure sin, and 
prescribes the way in which we are to do it. It must be done by
rebuking our brother to his face, not by railing behind his
back. This course is manly, brotherly, Christlike, and under
God's blessing will be useful. Does the flesh shrink from it?
Then we must lay the greater stress upon our conscience, and
keep ourselves to the work, lest by suffering sin upon our
friend we become ourselves partakers of it. Hundreds have been
saved from gross sins by the timely, wise, affectionate warnings
of faithful ministers and brethren. Our Lord Jesus has set us a
gracious example of how to deal with erring friends in His
warning given to Peter, the prayer with which He preceded it,
and the gentle way in which He bore with Peter's boastful denial
that he needed such a caution.

* 11/30/AM

"And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for
the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel?
And the man of God answered, The Lord is able to give thee much
more than this."
                                             --2 Chronicles 25:9

   A very important question this seemed to be to the king of 
Judah, and possibly it is of even more weight with the tried and
tempted O Christian. To lose money is at no times pleasant, and
when principle involves it, the flesh is not always ready to
make the sacrifice. "Why lose that which may be so usefully
employed? May not the truth itself be bought too dear? What
shall we do without it? Remember the children, and our small
income!" All these things and a thousand more would tempt the
Christian to put forth his hand to unrighteous gain, or stay
himself from carrying out his conscientious convictions, when
they involve serious loss. All men cannot view these matters in
the light of faith; and even with the followers of Jesus, the
doctrine of "we must live" has quite sufficient weight.

   _The Lord is able to give thee much more than this_ is a very 
satisfactory answer to the anxious question. Our Father holds
the purse-strings, and what we lose for His sake He can repay a
thousand-fold. It is ours to obey His will, and we may rest
assured that He will provide for us. The Lord will be no man's
debtor at the last. Saints know that a grain of heart's-ease is
of more value than a ton of gold. He who wraps a threadbare coat
about a good conscience has gained a spiritual wealth far more
desirable than any he has lost. God's smile and a dungeon are
enough for a true heart; His frown and a palace would be hell to
a gracious spirit. Let the worst come to the worst, let all the
talents go, we have not lost our treasure, for that is above,
where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Meanwhile, even
now, the Lord maketh the meek to inherit the earth, and no good
thing doth He withhold from them that walk uprightly.

This document (last modified November 29, 1995) from