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 Prayer Answering God

C. H. Spurgeon

Today’s Evening Meditation

“Seven times Elijah told him to go and look—and seven times he went.” 1 Kings 18:43

Success is certain when the Lord has promised it. Although you may have pleaded month after month without evidence of answer, it is not possible that the Lord should be deaf when His people are earnest in a matter which concerns His glory. The prophet on the top of Carmel continued to wrestle with God, and never for a moment gave way to a fear that he should not be received in Jehovah’s courts. Six times the servant returned—but on each occasion no word was spoken but “Go again.” We must not dream of unbelief—but hold to our faith even to seventy times seven. Faith sends expectant hope to look from Carmel’s brow, and if nothing is beheld, she sends again and again.

So far from being crushed by repeated disappointment, faith is animated to plead more fervently with her God. She is humbled—but not abashed—her groans are deeper, and her sighings more vehement—but she never relaxes her hold or stays her hand. It would be more agreeable to flesh and blood to have a speedy answer—but believing souls have learned to be submissive, and to find it good to wait for as well as upon the Lord.

Delayed answers often set the heart searching itself, and so lead to contrition and spiritual reformation—deadly blows are thus struck at our corruption, and the chambers of imagery are cleansed. The great danger is lest men should faint—and miss the blessing. Reader, do not fall into that sin—but continue in prayer and watching.

At last the little cloud was seen—the sure forerunner of torrents of rain, and even so with you, the token for good shall surely be given, and you shall rise as a prevailing prince to enjoy the mercy you have sought. Elijah was a man of like passions with us—his power with God did not lie in his own merits. If his believing prayer availed so much, why not yours? Plead the precious blood with unceasing importunity, and it shall be with you according to your desire!

Courage!

C. H. Spurgeon

Today’s Morning Meditation

“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings.” Psalm 112:7

Christian, you ought not to dread the arrival of evil tidings; because if you are distressed by them—how are you different than men of the world? Other men have not your God to fly to; they have never proved His faithfulness as you have done, and it is no wonder if they are bowed down with alarm and cowed with fear. But you profess to be of another spirit; you have been begotten again unto a lively hope, and your heart lives in heaven and not on earthly things; now, if you are seen to be as anxious as other men—what is the value of that grace which you profess to have received? Where is the dignity of that new nature which you claim to possess?

Again, if you should be filled with alarm, as others are, you would, doubtless, be led into the sins so common to others under trying circumstances. The ungodly, when they are overtaken by evil tidings, rebel against God; they murmur, and think that God deals harshly with them. Will you fall into that same sin? Will you provoke the Lord as they do? Moreover, unconverted men often run to wrong means in order to escape from difficulties, and you will be sure to do the same if your mind yields to the present pressure.

Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Your wisest course is to do as Moses did at the Red Sea, “Stand still and see the salvation of God!” For if you give way to fear when you hear of evil tidings, you will be unable to meet the trouble with that calm composure which nerves for duty, and sustains under adversity. How can you glorify God—if you play the coward? Saints have often sung God’s high praises in the fires—but will your doubting and desponding, as if you had none to help you, magnify the Most High? Then take courage, and relying in sure confidence upon the faithfulness of your covenant God, “let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Live!

C. H. Spurgeon

This Evening’s Meditation

“When I passed by you, I said unto you—LIVE!” Ezekiel 16:6

Saved one, consider gratefully, this mandate of mercy.

Note that this fiat of God is majestic. In our text, we perceive a sinner with nothing in him but sin, expecting nothing but wrath; but the eternal Lord passes by in His glory; He looks. He pauses, and He pronounces the solitary but royal word, “LIVE!” There speaks a God! Who but He could venture thus to deal with life, and dispense it with a single syllable?

Again, this fiat is manifold. When He says “Live!” it includes many things. Here is judicial life. The sinner is ready to be condemned—but the mighty One says, “Live,” and he rises pardoned and absolved. It is spiritual life. We knew not Jesus—our eyes could not see Christ, our ears could not hear His voice—Jehovah said “Live!” and we who were dead in trespasses and sins—were quickened. Moreover, it includes glory life, which is the perfection of spiritual life. “I said unto you, Live!” and that word rolls on through all the years of time, until death comes, and in the midst of the shadows of death, the Lord’s voice is still heard, “Live!” In the morning of the resurrection it is that self-same voice which is echoed by the arch-angel, “Live!” and as holy spirits rise to heaven to be blessed forever in the glory of their God, it is in the power of this same word, “Live!”

Note again, that it is an irresistible mandate. Saul of Tarsus is on the road to Damascus to arrest the saints of the living God. A voice is heard from heaven and a light is seen above the brightness of the sun, and Saul is crying out, “Lord, what will you have me to do?”

This mandate is a mandate of free grace. When sinners are saved, it is only and solely because God will do it to magnify His free, unpurchased, unsought grace. Christians, see your position, debtors to grace; show your gratitude by earnest, Christlike lives, and as God has bidden you live—see to it that you live in earnest!

Hold Fast to God’s Testimony

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers

“I hold fast to your testimonies–O Lord, put me not to shame.” Psalm 119:31

In whatever state or stage of experience you are, it will be your wisdom and your mercy to hold fast to God’s testimony. Has the Lord just begun a work of grace in your heart? Is he showing to you what you are by nature, and bringing before your eyes the sins of your youth, and plunging you in deep convictions? It will be your wisdom, and it will be your mercy, to hold fast to that testimony; not to be driven from your standing into despair, nor pushed forward into fleshly confidence; but to hold fast to that testimony which God himself has implanted.

Has God made you to sigh and cry from the depths of a broken heart–to fall down before his truth? Hold fast to that testimony; he will not put you to shame. Again, if the Lord has done a little more for you, shown you the least glimpse of mercy and favor, and given you some little testimony of your saving interest in the blood of the Lamb, it will be your wisdom, and it will be your mercy, to hold fast to that testimony too. You will find those who would push you presumptuously forward; you will find those who would drive you despairingly backward; you will find those who would pull you down into those doubts and fears that their own minds are exercised with, and you will find those who would draw you aside into the vain confidence in which they themselves are standing. It will be your wisdom and mercy to abide by the testimony which God himself has revealed; and he can work in your soul that faith whereby you can and will hold fast to his testimony.

But some may say, “How do I know that I am holding fast to God’s testimonies?” I would ask, what are the feelings of your hearts towards them? Is there godly fear? Is there holy reverence? Is there trembling awe? Is there any exercise of soul? any pouring out of the heart before God? any realizing of his presence? any trembling lest you should offend him? any desire after him? any solemn feelings whereby your soul is exercised upon his perfections? Then there is reason to believe there is some testimony of God in your conscience, and that you are holding fast to it.

But if your religion be such as leads to vain confidence, to self-righteousness, to presumption, to false security, and to a careless, light, trifling spirit, depend upon it–you are not holding fast to God’s testimony, or else you have no testimony from God to hold fast unto. But if the Lord is bringing into your soul some sense of his displeasure; if you have trifled with him, and brought guilt into your soul and trouble into your mind, it will be your wisdom, and it will be your mercy to do, as the Lord speaks in Leviticus 26:41, “accept the punishment of your iniquity;” to put your mouth in the dust, and confess that you are vile; not to turn aside to presumptuous confidence as though you would blunt the edge of God’s sword in your soul, but to receive it in your heart, embrace it in your conscience, and to cleave to it as the testimony of God himself. “I have held fast unto your testimonies.” To cleave to everything which God makes known in the conscience, be it judgment, be it mercy, be it a smile, be it a frown, be it a testimony for, be it a testimony against, whatever it be that comes with power, and is brought to the soul by the application of the Spirit–to cleave to it, keeps the soul in a safe and blessed spot.

While We Were Yet Sinners,

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Morning Thought

“Those who are whole have no need of the physician, but those who are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Mark 2:17

The Spirit glorifies Christ by revealing what Christ is to an emptied, lowly, penitent soul. And this He does by unfolding the great truth of the Bible- that Jesus died for sinners. Not for the righteous, not for the worthy, but for sinners, as sinners; for the unrighteous, for the unworthy, for the guilty, for the lost. Precious moment, when the Eternal Spirit, the great Glorifier of Jesus, brings this truth with power to the heart!

“I had believed,” exclaims the transported soul, “that Jesus died only for those who were worthy of so rich a sacrifice, of such immense love. I thought to bring some price of merit in my hands, some self-preparation, some previous fitness, something to render my case worthy of His notice, and to propitiate His kind regard. But now I see His salvation is for the vile, the poor, the penniless. I read that ‘when we were without strength, Christ died for the ungodly,’ that ‘while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,’  that ‘when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son,’ that ‘it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,’  that it is ‘without money and without price,’ that it is ‘by grace we are saved,’ and that it is ‘of faith, that it might be by grace.'”

This good news, these joyful tidings, this glorious message of free mercy for the vilest of the vile, believed, received, welcomed, in a moment the clouds all vanish, the fogs all disappear, the face of God beams in mild and softened luster, and, amid light and joy, gladness and praise, the jubilee of the soul is ushered in. Oh, what glory now encircles the Redeemer! That soul venturing upon Him with but the faith of reliance, traveling to Him in all weakness, and in the face of all opposition, brings more glory to His name than all the hallelujahs of the heavenly minstrelsy ever brought.

Precious Faith

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Morning Thought

“Precious faith.” 2 Peter 1:1

Truly is faith the crowning grace of all, and a most costly and precious fruit of the renewed mind. From it springs every other grace of a gracious soul. It has been designated the ‘queen’ grace, because a royal train ever attends it. Faith comes not alone, nor dwells alone, nor works alone.

Where faith in Jesus is, there also are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, patience, godly sorrow, and every kindred perfection of the Christian character, all blending in the sweetest harmony, all uniting to celebrate the glory of God’s grace, and to crown Jesus Lord of all. Is it, then, surprising that this should be distinguished from all the others by the term “precious faith”? No! that must needs be precious which unfolds the preciousness of everything else. It makes the real gold more precious, and it transmutes everything else into gold. It looks to a “precious Christ” It leads to His “precious blood.” It relies upon the “precious promises.” And its very trial, though it be by fire, is “precious.” It so changes the nature of the painful, the humiliating, and the afflictive, as to turn a Father’s frown, rebuke, and correction, into some of the costliest mercies of life.

Precious grace, that bids me look upon God in Christ as reconciled; and which, in the absence of all evidence of sight, invites me to rest upon the veracity of God! which takes me in my deepest poverty to Jesus, my true Joseph, having in His hands and at His disposal all the treasures of grace and glory! These are some of the characteristics of this royal grace.

“Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” By faith I can not only say that Jesus died for sinners, but that He died for me. Faith makes the great atonement mine. Faith appropriates to itself all that is in Christ. It lays its hand upon the covenant of grace, and exclaims, “All things are mine.” Oh, to see one bowed to the dust under a sense of sin, yet by faith traveling to the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus for salvation, and finding it too- to mark the power of this grace in sustaining the soul in deep waters, holding it up in perilous paths- is a spectacle on which God Himself must look down with ineffable delight.

Our Divine Leading

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“And David inquired of the Lord.”
2 Samuel 5:23

When David made this inquiry he had just fought the Philistines, and gained a signal victory. The Philistines came up in great hosts, but, by the help of God, David had easily put them to flight. Note, however, that when they came a second time, David did not go up to fight them without inquiring of the Lord. Once he had been victorious, and he might have said, as many have in other cases, “I shall be victorious again; I may rest quite sure that if I have conquered once I shall triumph yet again. Wherefore should I tarry to seek at the Lord’s hands?” Not so, David. He had gained one battle by the strength of the Lord; he would not venture upon another until he had ensured the same. He inquired, “Shall I go up against them?” He waited until God’s sign was given.

Learn from David to take no step without God. Christian, if thou wouldst know the path of duty, take God for thy compass; if thou wouldst steer thy ship through the dark billows, put the tiller into the hand of the Almighty. Many a rock might be escaped, if we would let our Father take the helm; many a shoal or quicksand we might well avoid, if we would leave to his sovereign will to choose and to command.

The Puritan said, “As sure as ever a Christian carves for himself, he’ll cut his own fingers;” this is a great truth. Said another old divine, “He that goes before the cloud of God’s providence goes on a fool’s errand;” and so he does. We must mark God’s providence leading us; and if providence tarries, tarry till providence comes. He who goes before providence, will be very glad to run back again. “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go,” is God’s promise to his people. Let us, then, take all our perplexities to him, and say, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Leave not thy chamber this morning without inquiring of the Lord.

Upon Hearing His Voice

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
John 5:24-29

Our Lord declared his authority and character, as the Messiah. The time was come when the dead should hear his voice, as the Son of God, and live. Our Lord first refers to his raising those who were dead in sin, to newness of life, by the power of the Spirit, and then to his raising the dead in their graves. The office of Judge of all men, can only be exercised by one who has all knowledge, and almighty power. May we believe His testimony; thus our faith and hope will be in God, and we shall not come into condemnation. And may His voice reach the hearts of those dead in sin; that they may do works meet for repentance, and prepare for the solemn day.

Our Light in the Darkness

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers

“And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night.” Isaiah 4:5

There is an allusion here to the cloudy pillar which rested upon the tabernacle. It was as a cloud by day, but as a pillar of fire by night. The reason of this is evident. By day, the cloud and the smoke were sufficiently visible; but not so in the night season. In the night, therefore, it was a pillar of fire, that the presence of the Lord might be distinctly seen. Spiritually viewed, this night may signify dark seasons in the soul; for there is night as well as day in the experience of God’s saints. Now when they are in these dark seasons, they need clearer and brighter manifestations of the Lord’s presence than when they are walking in the light of day. Thus this “shining of a flaming fire by night” may represent the shining in of the Lord’s clearer, fuller, and more manifested presence, the livelier and more powerful application of his word to the heart; the brighter evidences and clearer marks that he gives of his favor, which, compared with the cloud, are as the shining of a flaming fire. It is the same presence of God, and the same glory, as was the case with the cloudy pillar; but that presence and that glory are seen in a more conspicuous manner as giving light in seasons of darkness.

The shining of a flaming fire by night may also represent the shining light of the word of truth which is spoken of as “a light that shines in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). How often when the mind is dark, and evidences obscured, there is little else seen but the clear shining of the word of truth to which the soul turns its eyes as its only guiding light. “Your word,” says David, “is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” We often get into spots where we have to look outside of ourselves to the clear shining of truth in the word of God; for there is darkness everywhere else; and to that light we have to look and wait, and sometimes at a great distance and for a long season, until that word comes near and begins to shine into the heart.

But with that shining light, as it draws near and gives forth its comforting rays and beams, comes in due time the presence and glory of God. So to fix our heart upon the word of promise, and wait for its fulfillment, is to walk by faith and not by sight. Thus to Abraham the word of promise was by day a cloud; but when “a horror of great darkness fell upon him,” the same word of promise, as the word of a covenant God, was as a burning lamp that passed between the pieces of the offered sacrifices (Gen. 15:17).