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 Spiritual Maturity

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Portion

“That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:17

What perfection does the Holy Spirit speak of here? Certainly not perfection in the flesh; that is but a wild dream of free-will and Arminianism. But perfection here and elsewhere means a being well-established and grounded in the faith, as we find the Apostle speaking (Heb. 5:14), “Strong food belongs to those who are of full age” (literally, as we read in the margin, “perfect”), “even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Christian perfection does not then consist in perfection in the flesh, but in having arrived at maturity in the divine life, in being what I may call a Christian adult, or what the Apostle terms “a MAN in Christ.”

When Paul therefore says, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect,” he means “being no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine,” but favored with a measure of Christian wisdom and strength. It is this Christian maturity which is called in Scripture, “perfection,” and it is only obtained by suffering. It is only in the furnace that the tin and dross of pharisaic righteousness is purged away; and the soul comes out of the furnace “a vessel unto honor, sanctified and fit for the Master’s use.”

The Lord of life and glory was made “perfect by suffering;” and there is no other way whereby his followers are made spiritually perfect. Until a man is led into suffering, he does not know the truth in its sweetness. We are full of free-will, pride, presumption, and self-righteousness. But when the soul is baptized into suffering, it is in a measure established in the truth, strengthened in the things of God, and conformed to the image of Christ.

Our Necessary Perspective During Time of Trial

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Morning Thought

“Every branch that bears fruit he prunes, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

John 15:2

The Lord empties before He fills. He makes room for Himself, for His love, and for His grace. He dethrones the rival, casts down the idol, and seeks to occupy the temple, filled and radiant with His own ineffable glory. Thus does He bring the soul into great straits, lay it low, but to school and discipline it for richer mercies, higher service, and greater glory. Be sure of this, that, when the Lord is about to bless you with some great and peculiar blessing, He may prepare you for it by some great and peculiar trial.

If He is about to advance you to some honor, He may first lay you low that He may exalt you. If He is about to place you in a sphere of great and distinguished usefulness, He may first place you in His school of adversity, that you may know how to teach others. If He is about to bring forth your righteousness as the noon-day, He may cause it to pass under a cloud, that, emerging from its momentary obscuration, it may shine with richer and more enduring luster. Thus does He deal with all His people. Thus He dealt with Joseph. Intending to elevate him to great distinction and influence, He first casts him into a dungeon, and that, too, in the very land in which he was so soon to be the gaze and the astonishment of all men. Thus, too, He dealt with David, and Job, and Nebuchadnezzar; and thus did God deal with His own Son, whom He advanced to His own right hand from the lowest state of humiliation and suffering.

Regard the present suffering as but preparatory to future glory. This will greatly mitigate the sorrow, reconcile the heart to the trial, and tend materially to secure the important end for which it was sent. The life of a believer is but a disciplining for heaven. All the covenant dealings of His God and Father are but to make him a partaker of His holiness here, and thus to fit him for a partaker of His glory hereafter. Here, he is but schooling for a high station in heaven. He is but preparing for a more holy, and, for anything we know, a more active and essential service in the upper world. And every infirmity overcome, every sin subdued, every weight laid aside, every step advanced in holiness, does but strengthen and mature the life of grace below, until it is fitted for, and terminates in, the life of glory above.

Let the suffering believer, then, see that he emerges from every trial of the furnace with some dross consumed, some iniquity purged, and with a deeper impress of the blessed Spirit’s seal of love, holiness, and adoption, on his heart. Let him see that he has made some advance towards the state of the glorified; that He is more perfected in love and sanctification- the two great elements of heaven; and that therefore he is fitting for the inheritance of the saints in light. Blessed and holy tendency of all the afflictive dispensations of a covenant God and Father towards a dear and covenant child!

Christ’s Presence in Our Toils

J.R. Miller, “Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ” 1890

“He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.” Mark 6:48

Jesus always sees our toils and distresses in this world. We do not see Him — and sometimes we think that He has forgotten us; but that is never true. He never forgets us, nor is He indifferent for a moment.

On the heights, while the battle was in progress, stood a group of men watching the struggling armies on the plain below. In this group was the American general Sheridan, who watched the mighty strife with the keen eye of a soldier. King William was also there; but his interest was different from Sheridan’s. His son was in the thick of the fight — and he watched the battle with the eye of a father, as well as of a king.

Just so, Christ looks down upon our struggles in this world. He sees us straining and toiling; He beholds all our battles and strifes. He sees us in the waves and in the storm. He sees us, not merely with the eye of the calm spectator — but with the eye of tenderest love!

This is a great thought! If we can only get it into our hearts — it will give us wondrous courage in the hour of toil, sorrow, or struggle. Jesus knows . . .
when the battle is hard,
when the night is dark,
when the temptation is more than we can bear.

The winds were against His disciples — even though Christ sent them out to sea. We learn here, that even when we are doing the things God which has bidden us do — we may encounter great opposition and difficulty. We may even be beaten back, and find the trial too great for our strength. Many of the Lord’s disciples have to make their voyage over very stormy seas — on their way to glory. For some, duty is often very hard. Indeed, a true, noble, courageous, holy life — must always exist in the face of opposition and contrary winds.

Chastening – Our Path to Partaking in God’s Holiness

A. W. Tozer: “We must hide our unholiness in the wounds of Christ as Moses hid himself in the cleft of the rock while the glory of God passed by. We must take refuge from God in God. Above all we must believe that God sees us perfect in His Son while He disciplines and chastens and purges us that we may be partakers of His holiness” (The Knowledge of the Holy, 107).


J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers

“Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous–nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto those who are exercised thereby.” Hebrews 12:11

It may be said of spiritual exercises as the Apostle speaks of chastening generally, of which indeed they form a component part, that “for the present they are not joyous, but grievous; but afterward they yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto those who are exercised thereby.” Why the Lord allows so many of his people to be so long and so deeply tried about their saving interest in Christ, why he does not more speedily and fully manifest his pardoning love to their souls, is a mystery which we cannot fathom. But I have observed that, where the first work was not attended with deep and powerful convictions of sin, it is usually the case, as if what was lacking in depth has to be made up in length, and a slow, continuous work compensates, as it were, for a shorter and more intense one.

I consider it, however, a great mercy where there are these exercises, for I am well convinced that exercise is as much needed for the health of the soul as of the body. Without movement the air becomes pestilential, and water putrescent. Motion is the life of the natural, and equally so of the supernatural, creation; and what are exercises, doubts, and fears, accompanied as they always are by desires and prayers, but means by which the soul is kept alive and healthy? As Hezekiah said, “O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit.”

But if you cannot see what good exercises have done you, can you not see what evil they have kept you from? They mainly kept you from being entangled in a worldly system; they have preserved you from resting in the form without the power, and kept you from that notional dead-letter faith which has ruined so many thousands. (This extract was taken from a letter to a friend.) Without exercises you could do without a revealed Christ, without manifested pardon of sin, without the love of God being shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit.

And here most are, who are not exercised–resting in “a name to live,” and in the doctrine without the experience. But, being sick, you need a physician; being guilty, you need mercy; and being a sinner, you need salvation; and all this, not in word and name, but in reality, and divine revelation and application. Your exercises give you errands to the throne of mercy, and make you see in Christ and his precious gospel what otherwise would neither be seen nor cared for.

At the same time, it would be wrong to rest in exercises as marks and evidences of grace. Thirst is good as preparatory for water; hunger is good as antecedent to food; but who can rest in thirst or hunger? Without them, water and food are not desired; so, without exercises, Christ, the Water and Bread of life, is not desired nor longed for. But these exercises are meant to quicken longing desires after Christ, and eventually make him very precious.

 

Our Path of Sorrow

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Words for Zion’s Wayfarers

“And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation.” 2 Corinthians 1:7

The Lord has appointed the path of sorrow for the redeemed to walk in. Why? One purpose is to wean them from the world; another purpose is to show them the weakness of the creature; a third purpose is to make them feel the liberty and vitality of genuine godliness made manifest in their soul’s experience. What am I, and what are you when we have no trials? Light, frothy, worldly-minded, carnal, frivolous. We may talk of the things of God, but they are at a distance; there are no solemn feelings, no melting sensations, no real brokenness, no genuine contrition, no weeping at the divine feet, no embracing of Christ in the arms of affection.

But when affliction, be it in providence or be it in grace, brings a man down; when it empties him of all his high thoughts, lays him low in his own eyes, brings trouble into his heart, I assure you he needs something more than mere external religion. He needs power; he needs to experience in his soul the operations of the blessed Spirit; he wants to have a precious Jesus manifesting himself to his soul in love and blood; he needs to see his lovely countenance beaming upon him in ravishing smiles; he needs to hear the sweet whispers of dying love speaking inward peace; he needs to have the blessed Lord come into his soul, manifesting himself to him as he does not manifest himself to the world.

What brings a man here? A few dry notions floating to and fro in his brain, like a few drops of oil in a pail of water? That will never bring the life and power of vital godliness into a man’s heart. It must be by being experimentally acquainted with trouble. When he is led into the path of tribulation, he then begins to long after, and, in God’s own time and way, he begins to drink into, the sweetness of vital godliness, made manifest in his heart by the power of God.

Our Necessary Chastening

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Evening Thought

I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto you, O Lord, will I sing. Psalm 101:1

How shall we enumerate all the blessings which result from the chastening of love? We might tell how prayer is quickened, how pride is abased, how weanedness [detachment from worldly things] is attained, how charity is increased, how character is formed, how meditation and solitude are sweetened, how Christ is endeared, and how God is glorified.

It will be recollected, that in the ark of the covenant there was “Aaron’s rod that budded.” Our glorious covenant of grace has, too, its rod—its budding, its blossoming rod—and precious is the nature and rich the variety of the fruit which it bears. But in that ancient ark there was also the “pot of manna.” “Mercy and judgment,” bitter and sweet, light and shade, are blended in the covenant dealings of God with His people. The rod and the pot of manna go together. If the one is bitter, the other is sweet. God will never send the rod unaccompanied with the manna. Jesus, exhibited in the word, and unfolded by the Spirit, in the sweet sympathy of His nature, in the tenderness of His heart, as the “Brother born for adversity,” is the manna—sustaining and strengthening the believer, passing under the covenant-rod of God. Thus, if afflictions be grievous, the fruit they bear is gracious.

In the history of the Jewish Church there is yet another type, beautifully illustrative of God’s dealings with the chastened Christian. I allude to the pillar, which guided the pilgrimage of the Church in the wilderness. By night it was a pillar of fire, and by day it was a pillar of cloud. The darkest night of weeping that can possibly enshroud the child of God has its bright light—its alleviation, its promise, its guiding. And in the most prosperous period in the Christian’s experience, it is ordered by unerring wisdom and infinite love that there should be some counter-dispensation of trial, to preserve the just balance of the soul. It has been well remarked, that “Things never go so well with God’s children, but they have still something to groan under; nor so ill, but they have still some comfort to be thankful for.”

I would have you, then, my reader, not overlook the truth, that the covenant of grace has made provision for everything in the life of a child of God, especially for the life of suffering. It strews the richest blessings and the most profusely upon the chequered path—the path inlaid with stones of various colors, and yet each one most needful and most precious. “Oh you afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold I will lay your stones with fair colors, and lay your foundations with sapphires.” It is true that the covenant has anticipated as much the perilous season of prosperity, as the dark hour of adversity; but it always supposes the way to glory to be one of trial and of danger.

A heavenly-minded man will learn to look upon the earthly distinction and wealth which the world, so lavish sometimes of its favors, may confer upon him, as a trial and a snare, to one desirous of bearing the cross daily after his crucified Lord; and yet for this specific form of danger the covenant of grace amply provides. Be satisfied, my reader, with any station your God may assign you; believing that for every station in which He places His child, there is the grace peculiar to its exigencies treasured up for him in the everlasting covenant.

The Throne of Grace

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Morning Thought

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16.

The throne of grace is for the needy. It is always a time of need with a child of God. “Without me,” says Jesus, “you can do nothing.” There is not a moment, but, if he knows his real state, he is in need of something. What a blessing, then, is the throne of grace! It is for the needy. It is for those who are in need- upon whom all other doors are closed, with whom all other resources have failed, who have nowhere else to look, nowhere else to fly. To such is the throne of grace always open.

Is it a time of trial with you? then it is a time of need. Take your trial, whatever it be, simply to God. Do not brood over it. Do not cherish it. This will not make it sweeter, or more easy to be borne. But taking it to Jesus will. The very act of taking it will lighten it, and casting it upon His tenderness and sympathy will make it sweet. Is it a time of spiritual darkness with you? then it is a time of need. Take your darkness to the throne of grace, and “in His light” who sits upon it you “shall see light.” Is it a time of adverse providences? then it is a time of need. And where can you go for guidance, for direction, for counsel, for light upon the intricacies of the way, but to the God of grace? Is it a time of temporal distress with you? then it is a time of need. Take your temporal cares and necessities to the Lord, for He who is the God of grace is also the God of providence.

Thank the Lord for every errand that takes you to the throne of grace. Whatever it is that sends you to prayer, count it one of your choice blessings. It may be a heavy cross, a painful trial, a pressing need; it may be a broken cistern, a cold look, an unkind expression; yet, if it leads you to prayer, regard it as a mercy sent from God to your soul. Thank God for an errand to Him.

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.