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).

Assurance of Faith

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Evening Thought

But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. Galatians 6:4

“OH that I were quite sure that I was more than a mere professor!” But why be in doubt? Never was so momentous a matter more easily and speedily settled. “He that believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself.” Thus from yourself you need not travel in order to ascertain your true spiritual condition. No one can be a substitute in this great matter for yourself: It is a thing which has too close and personal a relation to you as an individual, to admit of a transfer of its obligations to another. You must feel for yourself—you must experience for yourself—and you must decide for yourself alone. Thus may you come to a right and safe decision in a question involving interests as solemn and as deathless as eternity. Seek the inward witness of the Spirit. Witnessing to what? that your heart has been convinced of sin—that you have renounced your own righteousness—that you have fled to the Lord Jesus Christ—and that your soul is breathing after personal holiness. Do not, I beseech you, rest short of this. Do not be concerned about others; let your first and chief concern be about yourself.

Give all diligence in the use of the means of grace, if you desire a flourishing state of soul. They are the Divinely appointed channels of conveyance from the Fountain. They are the tributary streams from the great Ocean. You cannot possibly maintain a healthy, vigorous state of the inner life without them. You cannot neglect with impunity private prayer, meditation, and self examination—or public ordinances—the ministry of the word, the services of the sanctuary, the assemblies of the saints. A slight thrown upon these must entail a severe loss to your soul. It is in the way of diligent, prayerful waiting upon the means, that the Christian “goes from strength to strength, until he appears before God.” Search, oh search, for this living grace. No man shall wait upon the Lord in vain. “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” They who plough deeply the fallow ground, and in its furrows sow the precious seed, shall not lack the Holy Spirit’s descending influence, in silent dew by night, and in copious showers by day, to quicken and to fructify it. Only honor the God of grace in all the means of grace, and God will honor you by imparting to you grace through the means. “The diligent soul shall be made fat.”

Reader, examine yourself, prove your own self, and ascertain truly if you have “Christ in you the hope of glory.” Satisfy not yourself with external ceremonies, with the observance of days, of matins and vespers, and frequent communions—with alms-giving and charities. Is Christ dwelling in your heart by his Spirit? This, this is the great and momentous question which, in the near prospect of death, and of the judgment that follows death, it behooves you to decide. “He that has the Son has life, and he that has not the Son of God has not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

To Run Without Weariness

C. H. Spurgeon

This Evening’s Meditation

“Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi.”
2 Samuel 18:23

Running is not everything, there is much in the way which we select: a swift foot over hill and down dale will not keep pace with a slower traveller upon level ground. How is it with my spiritual journey, am I labouring up the hill of my own works and down into the ravines of my own humiliations and resolutions, or do I run by the plain way of “Believe and live”?

How blessed is it to wait upon the Lord by faith! The soul runs without weariness, and walks without fainting, in the way of believing. Christ Jesus is the way of life, and he is a plain way, a pleasant way, a way suitable for the tottering feet and feeble knees of trembling sinners: am I found in this way, or am I hunting after another track such as priestcraft or metaphysics may promise me?

I read of the way of holiness, that the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein: have I been delivered from proud reason and been brought as a little child to rest in Jesus’ love and blood? If so, by God’s grace I shall outrun the strongest runner who chooses any other path. This truth I may remember to my profit in my daily cares and needs. It will be my wisest course to go at once to my God, and not to wander in a roundabout manner to this friend and that. He knows my wants and can relieve them, to whom should I repair but to himself by the direct appeal of prayer, and the plain argument of the promise. “Straightforward makes the best runner.” I will not parlay with the servants, but hasten to their master.

In reading this passage, it strikes me that if men vie with each other in common matters, and one outruns the other, I ought to be in solemn earnestness so to run that I may obtain. Lord, help me to gird up the loins of my mind, and may I press forward towards the mark for the prize of my high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Our Race Run Well

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers

“Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

None can run this race but the saints of God, for the ground itself is holy ground, of which we read that “no unclean beast is to be found therein.” None but the redeemed walk there; and none have ever won the prize but those who have run this heavenly race–as redeemed by precious blood.

Now no sooner do we see by faith the race set before us than we begin to run; and, like Christian in the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” we run from the City of Destruction, our steps being winged with fear and apprehension. All this, especially in the outset, implies energy, movement, activity, pressing forward; running, as it were, for our life; escaping, as Lot, to the mountain; fleeing, as the prophet speaks, “like as you fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah” (Zech. 14:5); or as the manslayer fled to the city of refuge from the avenger of blood.

As, then, the runner stretches forward hands, and feet, and head, intent only on being first to reach the goal, so in the spiritual race there is a stretching forth of the faculties of the new-born soul to win the heavenly prize. There is a stretching forth of the spiritual understanding to become possessed of clear views of heavenly truth. There is a stretching forth of the desires of the heart to experience the love of God; to feel acceptance with him through the blood of sprinkling; to know the way of salvation for ourselves, and to have clear evidences that our feet are in it; to receive tokens for good, and manifestations of the pardoning love of God; to walk in his fear, live to his praise, and enjoy union and communion with the blessed Lord. And there is a stretching forth of the affections of the heart after Jesus and the truth as it is in Jesus, with many longings, breathings, earnest cries, and fervent wrestlings at the throne of grace, that we may know the truth and by the truth be sanctified and made free.

So that when you look at the word “race” as emblematic of a Christian’s path, you see that it is not any movement of the body, what the Apostle calls “bodily exercise,” that is intended, but an inward movement of the soul, or rather of the grace that God has lodged in your bosom, and to which are communicated spiritual faculties, whereby it moves forward in the ways of God, under the influences of the blessed Spirit.

Faith’s Hand

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Word for Zion’s Wayfarers

“Lay hold on eternal life.” 1 Timothy 6:12

The main office of the hand is to take hold of and grasp an object. The human hand is a masterpiece of anatomy, the fingers and the strong matching thumb being expressly constructed by their Divine Craftsman to seize and retain objects; and therefore every muscle, artery, vein, and nerve conspire together to fulfill this destined office.

Is there not in the office of faith something analogous to and corresponding with this? What says the Lord? “Let him take hold of my strength that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me.” There is a taking hold, then, of God’s strength. Is not this by faith? Is there any other grace of the Spirit which takes hold of the Lord, as Jacob took hold of the wrestling angel, or as sinking Peter laid hold of the hand of Jesus? “Lay hold on eternal life,” is Paul’s charge to Timothy. But how is eternal life, and especially Jesus, “the Life,” laid hold of, except by faith? “He that believes on me,” says Jesus, “has everlasting life.” He has it by laying hold of it.

So we read also of “fleeing for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Heb. 6:18). As the manslayer fled for refuge to the appointed city, and when his hand grasped the gates was safe, so guilty sinners flee for refuge to the Lord Jesus, and by faith lay hold upon the hope set before them in the gospel of the grace of God.

C. H. Spurgeon

This Evening’s Meditation

“What think ye of Christ?”
Matthew 22:42

The great test of your soul’s health is, What think you of Christ? Is he to you “fairer than the children of men”–“the chief among ten thousand”–the “altogether lovely”? Wherever Christ is thus esteemed, all the faculties of the spiritual man exercise themselves with energy.

I will judge of your piety by this barometer: does Christ stand high or low with you? If you have thought little of Christ, if you have been content to live without his presence, if you have cared little for his honour, if you have been neglectful of his laws, then I know that your soul is sick–God grant that it may not be sick unto death!

But if the first thought of your spirit has been, how can I honour Jesus? If the daily desire of your soul has been, “O that I knew where I might find him!” I tell you that you may have a thousand infirmities, and even scarcely know whether you are a child of God at all, and yet I am persuaded, beyond a doubt, that you are safe, since Jesus is great in your esteem.

I care not for thy rags, what thinkest thou of his royal apparel? I care not for thy wounds, though they bleed in torrents, what thinkest thou of his wounds? are they like glittering rubies in thine esteem?

I think none the less of thee, though thou liest like Lazarus on the dunghill, and the dogs do lick thee–I judge thee not by thy poverty: what thinkest thou of the King in his beauty? Has he a glorious high throne in thy heart? Wouldest thou set him higher if thou couldest? Wouldest thou be willing to die if thou couldest but add another trumpet to the strain which proclaims his praise? Ah! then it is well with thee. Whatever thou mayest think of thyself, if Christ be great to thee, thou shalt be with him ere long.

“Though all the world my choice deride,

Yet Jesus shall my portion be;

For I am pleased with none beside,

The fairest of the fair is he”