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.

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.

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.

How We Are Loved

C. H. Spurgeon

Today’s Morning Meditation

“I will love them freely.” Hosea 14:4

This sentence is a body of divinity in miniature. He who understands its meaning, is a theologian; and he who can dive into its fullness, is a true spiritual master. It is a summary of the glorious message of salvation, which was delivered to us in Christ Jesus our Redeemer.

The meaning hinges upon the word “freely.” This is the glorious, the suitable, the divine way by which love streams from heaven to earth—a spontaneous love flowing forth to those who neither deserved it, purchased it, nor sought after it. It is, indeed, the only way in which God can love such as we are.

The text is a death-blow to all sorts of fitness, “I will love them freely.” Now, if there were any fitness necessary in us—then He would not love us freely, at least, this would be a mitigation and a drawback to the freeness of it. But it stands, “I will love you freely.”

We complain, “Lord, my heart is so hard.” “I will love you freely.”

“But I do not feel my need of Christ as I could wish.” “I will not love you because you feel your need—I will love you freely.”

“But I do not feel that softening of spirit which I could desire.” Remember, the softening of spirit is not a condition, for there are no conditions; the covenant of grace has no conditionality whatever; so that we without any fitness may venture upon the promise of God which was made to us in Christ Jesus, when He said, “He who believes on Him is not condemned.”

It is blessed to know that the grace of God is free to us at all times, without preparation, without fitness, without money, and without price!

“I will love them freely.” These words invite backsliders to return—indeed, the text was specially written for such, “I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely.” Backslider! surely the generosity of the promise will at once break your heart, and you will return, and seek your injured Father’s face!

Buddy – Answered Prayer for Closure

A week ago at this time I was sitting where I am sitting this morning. At that time I was waiting for nine o’clock to arrive when I would be able to call our veterinarian about taking Buddy in for surgery. The events that followed on that day are recorded here:  My Times Are in Your Hands

During the past week I have struggled without success to find closure on the death of this companion who I often referred to as Mr. Bud.  I have been praying throughout the days for something, exactly what I did not know, but something that would allow me to experience one final burst of emotion followed by a confident peace. Continue reading “Buddy – Answered Prayer for Closure”

A Love Like No Other

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“Your marvelous loving-kindness.” Psalm 17:7

When we give our hearts with our alms—we give well—but we must often plead to a failure in this respect. Not so our Master and our Lord. His favors are always performed with the love of His heart. He does not send to us the cold meat and the broken pieces from the table of His luxury—but He dips our morsel in His own dish, and seasons our provisions with the spices of His fragrant affections. When He puts the golden tokens of His grace into our palms, He accompanies the gift with such a warm pressure of our hand, that the manner of His giving is as precious as the blessing itself. He will come into our houses upon His errands of kindness, and He will not act as some austere visitors do in the poor man’s cottage—but He sits by our side, not despising our poverty, nor blaming our weakness.

Beloved, with what smiles does He speak! What golden sentences drop from His gracious lips! What embraces of affection does He bestow upon us! If He had but given us pennies, the manner of His giving would have gilded them; but as it is, the costly alms are set in a golden basket by His pleasant manner of giving. It is impossible to doubt the sincerity of His charity, for there is a bleeding heart stamped upon the face of all His blessings. He gives liberally and upbraids not. Not one hint that we are burdensome to Him; not one cold look for His poor pensioners; but He rejoices to show mercy to us—and presses us to His bosom—while He is pouring out His life for us. There is a fragrance in His spikenard, which nothing but His heart could produce; there is a sweetness in His honeycomb, which could not be in it unless the very essence of His soul’s affection had been mingled with it. Oh! the rare communion which such singular heartiness effects! May we continually taste and know the blessedness of His marvelous loving-kindness!

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.

Our Keeper

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Portion

“He will keep the feet of his saints.” –1 Samuel 2:9

The Lord sees his poor scattered pilgrims traveling through a valley of tears, journeying through a waste howling wilderness, a path beset with baits, traps, and snares in every direction. How can they escape? Why, the Lord keeps their feet, carries them through every rough place, as a tender parent carries a little child; when about to fall, graciously lays the everlasting arms underneath them, and when tottering and stumbling, and their feet ready to slip, mercifully upholds them from falling altogether. Thus the Lord keeps the feet of his saints.

But do you think that he has not different ways for different feet? The God of creation has not made two flowers, nor two leaves upon a tree alike; and will he cause all his people to walk in precisely the same path? No; we have each our path, each our troubles, each our trials, each peculiar traps and snares laid for our feet. And the wisdom of the all-wise and only-wise God is shown by his eyes being in every place, marking the footsteps of every pilgrim, suiting his remedies to meet their individual case and necessity, appearing for them when nobody else could do them any good; watching so tenderly over them, as though the eyes of his affection were bent on one individual; and carefully noting the goings of each, as though all the powers of the Godhead were concentrated on that one person to keep him from harm.

Our Spiritual Betrothal

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers

“Thus says the Lord; I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your espousals, when you went after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.” Jeremiah 2:2

Salvation is a gift, the choicest and richest gift which the hands of a Triune God, whose name is Love, can bestow. It is a portion, an inheritance, an estate, a treasure, an eternal reality. The full possession, the entire enjoyment, the complete acquisition of this predestinated weight of glory, is indeed reserved until a future state; but the pledges, the first fruits, the early ripe clusters, the first dew-drops of this eternal inheritance, are given to the elect while upon earth.

The everlasting enjoyment of the presence and glory of Christ is often compared in Scripture to a wedding. Thus we read (Rev. 19:7) of “the Lamb’s wife,” and of “the marriage of the Lamb.” So the Church is said to be “brought unto the King in clothing of needlework,” as the bride, in Eastern countries, was brought by the father to the bridegroom. But we read of “espousals” also, which always preceded the celebration of the marriage. “I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your espousals.” “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” So Joseph was “espoused to the virgin Mary, before they came together,” that is, before they became man and wife. Now this espousal was a necessary prelude to marriage, though it was not the same thing. And, therefore, a betrothed virgin was punished as an adulteress by the Levitical law, if she was unfaithful to her espoused husband. To be betrothed had the nature of marriage in it, though it was not the same thing as marriage. The parties did not live together, and were not put in possession of each other.

Thus, it is in this life that the spiritual betrothment takes place, and the spiritual marriage in the life to come. “I will betroth you unto me in righteousness and in judgment, and in loving-kindness and in mercies; I will even betroth you unto me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord” (Hosea 2:19, 20).