Our Good Shepherd

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“Abel was a keeper of sheep.” Genesis 4:2

As a shepherd, Abel sanctified his work to the glory of God, and offered a sacrifice of blood upon his altar, and the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering. This early type of our Lord is exceedingly clear and distinct. Like the first streak of light which tinges the east at sunrise—it does not reveal everything—but it clearly manifests the great fact that the sun is coming.

As we see Abel, a shepherd and yet a priest, offering a sacrifice of sweet smell unto God—we discern our Lord, who brings before His Father a sacrifice to which Jehovah ever has respect. Abel was hated by his brother—hated without a cause; and even so was the Savior. The natural and carnal man hated the accepted man in whom the Spirit of grace was found, and rested not until his blood had been shed. Abel fell, and sprinkled his altar and sacrifice with his own blood, and therein sets forth the Lord Jesus slain by the enmity of man while serving as a priest before the Lord.

“The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” Let us weep over Him as we view Him slain by the hatred of mankind, staining the horns of His altar with His own blood. Abel’s blood speaks. “The Lord said unto Cain—The voice of your brother’s blood cries unto Me from the ground.” The blood of Jesus has a mighty tongue, and the import of its prevailing cry is not vengeance—but mercy. It is precious beyond all preciousness to stand at the altar of our good Shepherd! to see Him bleeding there as the slaughtered priest, and then to hear His blood speaking peace to all His flock, peace in our conscience, peace between man and his offended Maker, peace all down the ages of eternity for blood-washed men. Abel is the first shepherd in order of time—but our hearts shall ever place Jesus first in order of excellence. Great Keeper of the sheep, we the people of Your pasture bless You with our whole hearts—when we see You slain for us!

Our Mighty Saviour

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Morning Thought

“Mighty to save.” Isaiah 63:1.

Let us glance at the authoritative manner with which He executes His mighty acts of grace. Mark His deportment. Was there anything that betrayed the consciousness of an inferior, the submission of a dependant, the weakness of a mortal, or the imperfection of a sinner?

Did not the God shine through the man with majestic awe, when to the leper He said, “I will, be clean;”- to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch forth your hand;”- to the blind man, “Receive your sight;”- to the dead man, “I say unto you, Arise;”- and to the tumultuous waves, “Peace, he still”?

Dear reader, are you an experimental believer in Jesus? Then this omnipotent Christ is wedded to your best interests. He is omnipotent to save- omnipotent to protect- omnipotent to deliver- omnipotent to subdue all your iniquities, to make you humble, holy, and obedient. All power resides in Him. “It pleased the Father that in Him”- in Him as the Mediator of His Church- “all fullness should dwell.” Not a corruption, but He is omnipotent to subdue it: not a temptation, but He is omnipotent to overcome it: not a foe, but He is omnipotent to conquer it: not a fear, but He is omnipotent to quell it. “All power,” is His own consoling language, “all power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.”

Our Peace

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers

“The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:26

When we offend a person, his face is not toward us as at other times. It was so with Laban towards Jacob; and if we have in any way incurred a friend’s or superior’s displeasure, we watch instinctively his countenance. Is it down or up? Does it wear a frown or a smile? Is it looking upon us with the eye of affection, or are the eyes averted? We can tell in a moment if we know the countenance. Thus is the blessing asked, “The Lord lift up his countenance upon you,” as a kind and affectionate parent upon an obedient child, as a fond husband upon a loving, devoted wife; for such is God to his children–Father and Husband.

And do we not, as children, often provoke him to look upon us with frowning brow, or rather, not to look upon us at all, to “hide his face,” as we read, “that we cannot see him?” The prayer then is, “The Lord lift up his countenance upon you,” with a smile upon it; free, open, forgiving, merciful, and mild, that you may advance to him. When a disobedient child comes home and sees its father’s face not towards it as before, it shrinks away; there is no pressing forward to get upon the knee, no throwing the little arms round the neck and snatching a kiss, but a shrinking away through guilt and shame. So it is in the things of God. When conscience tells us how in this and that instance we have disobeyed, been inconsistent, transgressed, and done amiss, when we go into God’s presence there is a hanging back, a shrinking away, through fear of an ill reception.

But oh, the change in the child when the frown disappears and the smile comes; when the little one is taken once more into the arms and the tears are kissed away! How much more so in the things of God when he kisses away the tears of the disobedient child, as in the case of the returning prodigal! There are no kisses like those kisses of forgiveness, of mercy, and of restoring grace.

“And give you peace.” Oh, what a blessing! As Deer says, “I’ll lay me down and sweetly sleep, for I have peace with God.” It is this that makes the pillow easy in life, and will alone make that pillow easy in death–peace with God through Jesus Christ, peace through the reconciliation, peace through the blood of sprinkling, “the peace of God which passes all understanding.” Many covet great things, high things. But what said the Lord to Baruch? “Do you seek you great things for yourself? seek them not.” Ministers often seek great gifts, great eloquence, great knowledge of mysteries, great congregations, great popularity and influence. They are wrong in seeking these so-called great things. Let them rather seek real things, gracious things, things that will make their souls blessed here and hereafter.

The blessing that the gracious soul most earnestly covets is peace; for this is the sweetest honey-drop in God’s cup. It is true that it does not make the heart overflow like joy, nor to dance with exultation like the first beaming in of the rays of hope, nor melt it down like the visits of love; but it is in some respects sweeter than all, because it so settles down the soul into sweet assurance; it is the realization of the Savior himself, for “he is our peace,” and may thus be called the crowning blessing.

Our Rising Prayers

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Morning Thoughts

Let my prayer be set forth before you as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:2

This passage presents the Christian to our view in his holiest and most solemn posture—drawing near to God, and presenting before the altar of His grace the incense of prayer. The typical reference to this is strikingly beautiful. “You shall make an altar to burn incense upon . . . . . And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning; when he dresses the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.” That this incense was typical of prayer would appear from Luke 1:10, “And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.” And David, though dwelling in the more shadowy age of the church, thus correctly and beautifully interprets this type: “Let my prayer be set before you as incense.”

But from where arises the incense of prayer ascending to the throne of the Eternal? Oh, it is from the heart. The believer’s renewed, sanctified heart is the censer from where the fragrant cloud ascends. True prayer is the incense of a heart broken for sin, humbled for its iniquity, mourning over its plague, and touched, and healed, and comforted with the atoning blood of God’s great sacrifice. This is the true censer; this it is at which God looks. “For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Precious censer! molded, fashioned, beautified by God. There exists not upon earth a more vile and unlovely thing, in the self-searching view of the true believer, than his own heart. And yet —oh wondrous grace!—God, by his renewing Spirit, has made of that heart a beautiful, costly, and precious censer, the cloud of whose incense ascends and fills all heaven with its fragrance. With all its indwelling evil and self-loathing, God sees its struggles, watches its conflict, and marks its sincerity. Not a feeling thrills it, not an emotion agitates it, not a sorrow shades it, not a sin wounds it, not a thought passes through it, of which He is not cognizant.

Believer! Jesus loves that heart of your. He purchased it with his own heart’s blood, agonies, and tears—and He loves it. It is His temple, His home, His censer, and never can it approach Him in prayer, but He is prepared to accept both the censer and incense with a complacency and delight which finds its best expression in the language of His own word, “I will accept you with your sweet savor.” And what shall we say of the fragrance of this incense? Oh, how much have we yet to learn of the intrinsic sweetness of real prayer! We can but imperfectly conceive the fragrance there must be to God in the breathing of the Divine Spirit in the heart of a poor sinner. It is perhaps but a groan—a sigh—a tear—a look—but it is the utterance of the heart; and God can hear the voice of our weeping, and interpret the language of our desires, when the lips utter not a word; so fragrant to Him is the incense of prayer. “Lord, all my desire is before You, and my groaning is not hid from You.”