Year’s End Reflection on Going Home

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Morning Thought

“Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:1, 2

GOING home! what a soothing reflection! what an ecstatic prospect! The heart throbs quicker—the eye beams brighter—the spirit grows elastic—the whole soul uplifts its soaring pinion, eager for its flight, at the very thought of heaven. “I go to prepare a place for you,” was one of the last and sweetest assurances that breathed from the lips of the departing Savior; and though uttered eighteen hundred years ago, those words come stealing upon the memory like the echoes of by-gone music, thrilling the heart with holy and indescribable transport.

Yes! He has passed within the veil as our Forerunner; He has prepared heaven for us, and by His gentle, wise, and loving discipline He is preparing us for heaven. Amid the perpetually changing scenes of earth, it is refreshing to think of heaven as our certain home.

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.”

This is no quicksand basis for faith—no mirage of hope. Heaven is a promised “rest”—exquisitely expressive image! And that promise is the word of Him who cannot lie. Nothing can surpass, nothing can compare with this! Human confidences—the strong and beautiful—have bent and broken beneath us. Hopes, bright and winning, we too fondly fed, have, like evening clouds of summer, faded away, draping the landscape they had painted with a thousand variegated hues in the somber pall of night. But heaven is true! God has promised it—Christ has secured it—the Holy Spirit is its earnest—and the joys we now feel are its pledges and “first-fruits.”

The home to which we aspire, and for which we pant, is not only a promised, it is also a perfect and permanent home. The mixed character of those seasons we now call repose, and the shifting places and changing dwellings we here call home, should perpetually remind us that we are not, as yet, come to the perfect rest and the permanent home of heaven. Most true indeed, God is the believer’s present home, and Jesus his present rest. Beneath the shadow of the cross, by the side of the mercy-seat, within the pavilion of a Father’s love, there is true mental repose, a real heart’s ease, a peace that passes all understanding, found even here, where all things else are fleeting as a cloud, and unsubstantial as a dream.

“Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

But it is to heaven we look for the soul’s perfect and changeless happiness. With what imagery shall I portray it? How shall I describe it?

Think of all the ills of your present condition—not one exists in heaven! Bereaved one! death enters not, slays not, sunders not there. Sick one! disease pales not, enfeebles not, wastes not there. Afflicted one! sorrow chafes not, saddens not, shades not there. Oppressed one! cruelty injures not, wounds not, crushes not there. Forsaken one! inconstancy disappoints not, chills not, mocks not there. Weeping one! tears spring not, scald not, dim not there.

“The former things are passed away.”

There rests not upon that smooth brow, there lingers not upon those serene features, a furrow or line or shade of former sadness, languor, or suffering—not a trace of wishes unfulfilled, of fond hopes blighted. The desert is passed, the ocean is crossed, the home is reached, and the soul finds itself in heaven, where all is the perfection of purity and the plenitude of bliss. Ages move on in endless succession, and still all is bright, new and eternal. Oh, who would not live to win and enjoy a heaven so fair, so holy, and so changeless as this? He who has Christ in his heart enshrines there the inextinguishable, deathless hope of glory.

Enough that God is my Father, my Sun, and Shield; that He will give grace and glory, and will withhold no good and needed thing. Enough that Christ is my Portion, my Advocate, my Friend, and that, whatever else may pass away, His sympathy will not cease, His sufficiency will not fail, nor His love die. Enough that the everlasting covenant is mine, and that that covenant, made with me, is ordered in all things, and sure. Enough that heaven is my rest, that towards it I am journeying, and that I am one year nearer its blessed and endless enjoyment.

*Regarding the next to last sentence in the final paragraph, I differ in how I understand the eternal covenant, and would say it this way:  It is a covenant made before the creation between the persons of the Godhead to secure the salvation of the elect. I don’t see it as being made, “with us”, but, “for us and for our sake.” – Larry


A Beautiful Prayer

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Morning Thought

“You shall guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” Psalm 73:24

LORD, give me more clearly to see Your love in all Your dealings. Anoint my eye of faith afresh, that, piercing the dark cloud, it may observe beneath it Your heart, all beating with an infinite and a deathless affection towards me. The cup which my Father has prepared and given me, shall I not drink in deep submission to His holy will? O Lord, I dare not ask that it may pass my lips untasted: I may find a token of Your love concealed beneath the bitter draught. Your will be done. Nearer would I be to You. And since You, my blessed Lord, were a sufferer—Your sufferings now are all passed—I would have fellowship with You in Your sufferings, and thus be made conformable to Your death.

Grant me grace, that patience may have her perfect work, wanting nothing. Calm this perturbed mind. Tranquillize this ruffled spirit. Bind up this bruised and broken heart. Say to these troubled waters in which I wade, “Peace, be still.” Jesus, I throw myself upon Your gentle bosom. To whom can I, to whom would I, tell my grief, to whom unveil my sorrow, but to You? Lord! it is too tender for any eye, too deep for any hand, but Your.

I bless You that I am shut up to You, my God. “Whom have I in heaven but You? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside You.” You did hear my prayer, and have answered me, “though as by fire.” I asked for health of soul, and You gave sickness of body. I asked You to possess my entire heart, and You broke my idol. I asked that I might more deeply drink of the fountain of Your love, and You did break my cistern. I asked to sit beneath Your shadow with greater delight, and You smote my gourd. I asked for deeper heart-holiness, and You did open to me more widely the chambers of imagery. But it is well; it is all well. Though You do slay me, yet will I trust in You. Divine and holy Comforter, lead me to Jesus, my comfort.

Witness to my spirit that I am a child of God, though an erring and a chastened one. Lord! I come to You! My soul would sincerely expand her wings, and fly to its home. Let me go, for the day breaks. Come to me, or let me come to You. Ever with You, Lord, oh! that will be heaven indeed. Why do Your chariot wheels so long tarry? Hasten, blessed Savior, and dissolve my chain, and let me spring into glory, and see Your unclouded face, and drink of the river of Your love, and drink—forever.

Our Immeasurable Riches In Christ

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“Though He was rich—yet for your sakes He became poor.” 2 Corinthians 8:9

The Lord Jesus Christ was eternally rich, glorious, and exalted; but “though He was rich—yet for your sakes He became poor.” As the rich saint cannot be true in his communion with his poor brethren—unless of his substance he ministers to their necessities; so (the same rule holding with the head as between the members), it is impossible that our Divine Lord could have had fellowship with us—unless He had imparted to us of His own abounding wealth, and had become poor—to make us rich. Had He remained upon His throne of glory, and had we continued in the ruins of the fall without receiving His salvation, communion would have been impossible on both sides.

Our position by the fall, apart from the covenant of grace, made it as impossible for fallen man to communicate with God—as it is for Belial to be in concord with Christ. In order, therefore, that communion might be compassed, it was necessary that the rich Kinsman should bestow his estate upon his poor relatives; that the righteous Savior should give to His sinning brethren of His own perfection; and that we, the poor and guilty—should receive of His fullness grace for grace; that thus in giving and receiving, the One might descend from the heights, and the other ascend from the depths, and so be able to embrace each other in true and hearty fellowship.

Poverty must be enriched by Him in whom are infinite treasures—before it can venture to commune; and guilt must lose itself in imputed and imparted righteousness, before the soul can walk in fellowship with purity. Jesus must clothe His people in His own garments—or He cannot admit them into His palace of glory! And He must wash them in His own blood—or else they will be too defiled for the embrace of His fellowship. O believer, herein is love! For your sake the Lord Jesus “became poor” that He might lift you up into communion with Himself!

Our Sufferings

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Morning Thought

“For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21

BUT imperfectly, perhaps, beloved reader, are you aware of the high privilege to which you are admitted, and of the great glory conferred upon you, in being identified with Jesus in His life of humiliation. This is one of the numerous evidences by which your adoption into the family of God is authenticated, and by which your union with Christ is confirmed. It may be you are the subject of deep poverty—your circumstances are straitened, your resources are limited, your necessities are many and pressing.

Perhaps you are the “man that has known affliction;” sorrow has been your constant and intimate companion; you have become “acquainted with grief.” The Lord has been leading you along a path of painful humiliation. You have been “emptied from vessel to vessel.” He has brought you down, and laid you low; step by step, and yet, oh, how wisely and how gently, He has been leading you deeper and yet deeper into the valley!

But why all this leading about? why this emptying? why this descending? Even to bring you into a union and communion with Jesus in His life of humiliation! Is there a step in your abasement that Jesus has not trodden with you—ah! and trodden before you? Is there a sin that He has not carried, a cross that He has not borne, a sorrow that has not affected Him, and infirmity that has not touched Him? Even so will He cause you to reciprocate this sympathy, and have fellowship with Him in His sufferings.

As the Head did sympathize with the body, so must the body sympathize with the Head. Yes, the very same humiliation which you are now enduring the Son of God has before endured. And that you might learn something what that love and grace and power were which enabled Him to pass through it all, He pours a little drop in your cup, places a small part of the cross upon your shoulder, and throws a slight shadow on your soul!

Yes, the very sufferings you are now enduring are, in a faint and limited degree, the sufferings of Christ. “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you,” says the apostle, “and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for His body’s sake, which is the Church.”

There is a two-fold sense in which Jesus may be viewed as a sufferer. He suffered in His own person as the Mediator of His Church; those sufferings were vicarious and complete, and in that sense He can suffer no morel “for by one offering He has perfected forever them that are sanctified.” The other now presents Him as suffering in His members: in this sense Christ is still a sufferer; and although not suffering to the same degree, or for the same end, as He once did, nevertheless He who said, “Saul, Saul, why persecute you me?” is identified with the Church in all its sufferings; in all her afflictions, He being afflicted. The apostle therefore terms the believer’s present sufferings the “afflictions of Christ.”

The Laborers’ Wages

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“Call your laborers, and give them their pay.” Matthew 20:8

God is a good paymaster. He pays His servants while at work—as well as when they have done it. One of His payments is this—a clear conscience. If you have spoken faithfully of Jesus to one person, when you go to bed at night you feel happy in thinking, “This day I have discharged my conscience of that man’s blood.” There is a great comfort in doing something for Jesus. Oh, what a happiness to place jewels in His crown, and give Him to see of the travail of His soul!

There is also very great reward in watching the first buddings of conviction in a soul! To say of that girl in the class, “She is tender of heart, I do hope that there is the Lord’s work within.” To go home and pray over that boy, who said something in the afternoon which made you think he must know more of divine truth than you had imagined! Oh, the joy of hope!

But as for the joy of success! it is unspeakable. This joy, overwhelming as it is, is a hungry thing—you pine for more of it. To be a soul-winner is the happiest thing in the world. With every soul you bring to Christ—you get a new heaven upon earth. But who can conceive the bliss which awaits us above! Oh, how sweet is that sentence, “Enter into the joy of your Lord!”

Do you know what the joy of Christ is, over a saved sinner? This is the very joy which we are to possess in heaven. Yes, when He mounts the throne, you shall mount with Him. When the heavens ring with “Well done, well done!” you shall partake in the reward! You have toiled with Him, you have suffered with Him, you shall now reign with Him! You have sown with Him, you shall reap with Him! Your face was covered with sweat like His, and your soul was grieved for the sins of men as His soul was—now shall your face be bright with heaven’s splendor as is His countenance, and now shall your soul be filled with beatific joys even as His soul is!

Counting the Cost

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung to Naomi.” Ruth 1:14

Both of them had an affection for Naomi, and therefore set out with her upon her return to the land of Judah. But the hour of test came; Naomi most unselfishly set before each of them the trials which awaited them, and bade them if they cared for ease and comfort—to return to their Moabitish friends. At first both of them declared that they would cast in their lot with the Lord’s people; but upon still further consideration, Orpah with much grief and a respectful kiss, left her mother in law, and her people, and her God, and went back to her idolatrous friends; while Ruth with all her heart gave herself up to the God of her mother in law.

It is one thing to love the ways of the Lord when all is fair—and quite another to cleave to them under all discouragements and difficulties. The kiss of outward profession is very cheap and easy—but the practical cleaving to the Lord, which must show itself in holy decision for truth and holiness—is not so small a matter.

How does the case stand with us—is our heart fixed upon Jesus? Is the sacrifice bound with cords to the horns of the altar? Have we counted the cost, and are we solemnly ready to suffer all worldly loss for the Master’s sake? The after gain will be an abundant recompense, for Egypt’s treasures are not to be compared with the glory to be revealed.

Orpah is heard of no more; in glorious ease and idolatrous pleasure, her life melts into the gloom of death. But Ruth lives in history and in heaven, for grace has placed her in the noble line from whence sprung the King of kings. Blessed among women shall those be—who for Christ’s sake can renounce all; but forgotten and worse than forgotten shall those be—who in the hour of temptation do violence to conscience and turn back unto the world. O that we may not be content with the form of devotion, which may be no better than Orpah’s kiss! But may the Holy Spirit work in us a cleaving of our whole heart to our Lord Jesus!

Our Increasing Strength

C. H. Spurgeon

This  Morning’s Meditation

“They go from strength to strength.” Psalm 84:7

There are various renderings of these words—but all of them contain the idea of progress. “They go from strength to strength.” That is, they grow stronger and stronger. Usually, if we are walking, we go from strength to weakness; we start fresh and in good order for our journey—but by-and-by the road is rough, and the sun is hot; we sit down by the wayside, and then again painfully pursue our weary way. But the Christian pilgrim having obtained fresh supplies of grace, is as vigorous after years of toilsome travel and struggle—as when he first set out! He may not be quite so elated and buoyant, nor perhaps quite so hot and hasty in his zeal as he once was—but he is much stronger in all that constitutes real power, and travels, if more slowly—far more surely.

Some gray-haired veterans have been as firm in their grasp of truth, and as zealous in diffusing it, as they were in their younger days; but, alas, it must be confessed it is often otherwise, for the love of many waxes cold and iniquity abounds—but this is their own sin and not the fault of the promise, which still holds good, “The youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall—but those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint!”

Fretful spirits sit down and trouble themselves about the future. “Alas!” say they, “we go from affliction to affliction.” Very true, O you of little faith—but then you go from strength to strength also. You shall never find a bundle of affliction which has not bound up in the midst of it sufficient grace. God will give the strength of ripe manhood—with the burden allotted to full-grown shoulders.

The Trial of our Faith

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Portion

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:7

Trials and temptations are the means which God employs to manifest to the soul the reality and strength of the faith which he bestows upon it; for there is in every trial and temptation opposition made to the faith that is in the heart; and every trial and temptation, so to speak, threaten the life of faith. And they threaten it in this way–Under the trial God for the most part hides himself. He puts forth, indeed, a secret power whereby the soul is held up, or otherwise it would sink into utter despair, and be overcome and swallowed up by the power of unbelief. Hence comes the conflict between the trial that fights against the faith and the faith which fights against or rather under the trial.

Now, when in this trial, in this sharp conflict, in this hot furnace, faith does not give way, is not burned up, is not destroyed, but keeps its firm hold upon the promise and the faithfulness of him who has given it, this trial of faith becomes very precious. It is precious to the soul when God again smiles upon it, and becomes thus manifest as genuine. It is precious in the sight of God’s people, who see it and derive strength and comfort from what they witness in the experience of a saint thus tried and blessed; and it is precious also in the sight of God himself, who crowns it with his own manifest approbation, and puts upon it the attesting seal of his own approving smile. But above all things, it will be found precious at the appearing of Jesus Christ, and that not only in his various appearings in grace, but in his final appearance in glory, for of that the Apostle mainly speaks when he says that “it may be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

Our Two Natures

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Portion

“What will you see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.” Song of Solomon 6:13

Are you not often a mystery to yourself? Warm one moment, cold the next; abasing yourself one hour, exalting yourself the following; loving the world, full of it, steeped up to your lips in it today; crying, groaning, and sighing for a sweet manifestation of the love of God tomorrow; brought down to nothingness, covered with shame and confusion, on your knees before you leave your room; filled with pride and self-importance before you have got down stairs; despising the world, and willing to give it all up for one taste of the love of Jesus when in solitude; trying to grasp it with both hands when in business.

What a mystery are you! Touched by love, and stung with enmity; possessing a little wisdom, and a great deal of folly; earthly-minded, and yet having the affections in heaven; pressing forward, and lagging behind; full of sloth, and yet taking the kingdom with violence!

And thus the Spirit, by a process which we may feel but cannot adequately describe, leads us into the mystery of the two natures, that “company of two armies,” perpetually struggling and striving against each other in the same bosom. So that one man cannot more differ from another than the same man differs from himself.

But do not nature, sense, and reason contradict this? Do not the wise and prudent deny this? “There must be a progressive advance,” they say, “in holiness; there must be a gradual amendment of our nature until at length all sin is rooted out, and we become as perfect as Christ.” But the mystery of the kingdom of heaven is this–that our carnal mind undergoes no alteration, but maintains a perpetual war with grace–and thus, the deeper we sink in self-abasement under a sense of our vileness, the higher we rise in a knowledge of Christ; and the blacker we are in our own view, the more lovely does Jesus appear.

How Christ Loves His Church

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“You are absolutely beautiful, My beloved! There is no spot in you!” Song of Solomon 4:7

Having pronounced His Church positively full of beauty—our Lord confirms His praise by a precious negative, “There is no spot in you!” As if the thought occurred to the Bridegroom that the carping world would insinuate that He had only mentioned her lovely parts—and had purposely omitted those features which were deformed or defiled—He sums up all by declaring her universally and entirely lovely, and utterly devoid of stain.

A spot may soon be removed, and is the very least thing that can disfigure beauty—but even from this little blemish, the believer is delivered in his Lord’s sight. If He had said there is no hideous scar, no horrible deformity, no repulsive ulcer—we might even then have marveled. But when He testifies that she is free from the slightest spot—all these other forms of defilement are included, and the height of wonder is increased.

If He had but promised to remove all spots in heaven, we would have had eternal reason for joy. But when He speaks of it as already done—who can restrain the most intense emotions of satisfaction and delight! O my soul, here is marrow and fatness for you; eat your full, and be satisfied with royal dainties!

Christ Jesus has no quarrel with His spouse. She often wanders from Him, and grieves Him—but He does not allow her faults to affect His love. He sometimes chides—but it is always in the tenderest manner, with the kindest intentions—it is “My love” even then. There is no remembrance of our follies. He does not cherish ill thoughts of us—but He pardons and loves as well after the offence—as before it! It is well for us that it is so, for if Jesus were as mindful of injuries as we are—how could He commune with us? Our precious Husband knows our silly hearts too well—to take any offence at our follies and faults.