What we consider God’s punishment is really education… Hebrews 12:7

“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”

The Message version renders this passage, “God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children.”

C.H. Spurgeon preached a message May 24, 1888 entitled “The (Blessed) Discipline of the Lord.”  Here are some excerpts, and the points; the whole message is linked below.

“Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O Lord, and whom You teach out of Your law; that You may grant him relief from the days of adversity, until a pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not abandon His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance. For judgment will again be righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it. Ps. 94:12-15”

“I. First, I will ask you to notice that GOD’S CHILDREN ARE BEING TRAINED. For instance, we have learned from discipline the evil of sin.

“’Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.’ There are some sorrows that obviously come as the result of our own folly. We have to reap the harvest of the seed that we sow; and by this process we are made to see that it is a very evil and bitter thing to sin against God. This is an important lesson; I wish that more of God’s people had carefully learned it. I wish that some who profess to be Christians had some basic concept of the extreme sinfulness of sin; but I believe that instruction on this point often comes from the disciplining hand of God.

“The discipline we receive from God teaches us the unsatisfactory nature of worldly things. Don’t we also learn by affliction our own frailty, and our own impatience? Don’t we then learn also the value of prayer?

“If you read through the text, dear friends, you will notice that the rod is not without the Word. We look to the Bible for comfort when we are disciplined. The Word of God is not only used at such times for comfort, but also for direction. During times of discipline we have also proved, dear friends, the power of the Word of God.

“That leads me to say next, that, according to our text, God himself is our teacher.

“II. Now let me say a little on our second point, and only a little. We have seen God’s children being trained; now let us look at GOD’S CHILDREN EDUCATED. First, we learn to rest in the will of God. If we struggle against God’s will, we only increase our sorrow. Our self-will usually lies at the root of our greatest griefs. Give way, and you have won; yield to God, and you have obtained the blessing you desire. The bitterness will be removed from your grief when you consent to be grieved if God will have it to be so. We make advances in our spiritual education when we learn to rest after our afflictions.

“III. I must now move on to my third point, which is, that GOD’S CHILDREN ARE STILL DEAR TO HIM. First, then, the Lord will not reject his people. Then, further, the Lord will never forsake his people, for it is added, ‘he will never forsake his inheritance.’ Sometimes you are thrown into the furnace; yes, it may be true, but in the furnace you are not rejected. Metal put into the furnace is not thrown away; had it been worthless, it might have been thrown on the scrap pile; but it is put into the furnace because it is of value. When you are put into the furnace, and into the greatest heat that can be attained, it is that the Lord may take away your impurities, and thus purify you for his service.

“IV. I will now close with this fourth point, GOD’S PEOPLE WILL BE RIGHTED IN THE END: ‘Judgment will again be founded on righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.’ Right now, judgment seems to be held back. Don’t be in a hurry, child of God; the Lord has timed his absence. And what then? Judgment will be welcomed by the godly. I will finish by simply reminding you that he is damned to hell who has never felt the disciplining hand of God, or sat at his feet to learn from him; but he is indeed blessed who yields himself entirely up to be the disciple of the Lord. May it be with every one of you, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.”

Here is the link to the whole sermon, Blessed Discipline.

A surgeon may have to remove a limb to save our life; our Father may have to remove from our lives what we consider to be irreplaceable things to save our lives.

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Love and discipline go hand in hand, Hebrews 12:6

“For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”

Have you heard the phrase, perhaps from a parental figure, “This will hurt me more than it will hurt you” and you thought, “yeah, sure?”  Or, “I’m doing this because I love you.”

It’s unlikely any of us reading this have experienced an actual scourging (The Oxford describes the instrument as “a whip used as an instrument of punishment,” and the act as “whip (someone) as a punishment.” The root is from Latin, “to whip thoroughly.”  Paul is quoting here from Proverbs 3:12:  “For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.”

Setting aside physical discipline by earthly fathers, what is this “scourging” that we are promised to receive from our heavenly Father?

A recruit in the armed forces goes through something called “boot camp.” It’s a planned series of exercises and training routines, designed to make an effective soldier out of someone who is not.  The Navy recently went against the trend in our culture when they increased the level of difficulty in their training base at Great Lakes, Illinois, as noted in the Navy Times.

“The key now is to hike a recruit’s ‘resiliency’ — learning to take a hit and then get back into the fight without shutting down…that’s a lesson that works in battle or in life,” says Capt. Erik Thors, Recruit Training Command’s skipper.

“‘We do not want sailors to buckle,’ he said. ‘When the ship takes a missile and shrapnel flies or maybe their shipmate doesn’t make it and they find themselves in a compartment that’s flooding. Are they clutch enough to make a decision on their own and be the one to close the hatch? And sailors know what that means — the difficult decision to save the ship, to keep fighting the ship.’”

Often new Christians (or those being encouraged to accept Christ) are led to believe that they now will be on a bed of roses, that they will have no more trials or tribulations. We are being disingenuous to present the Christian life as free from troubles. From the eternal perspective, the Christian is immediately a citizen of Heaven with all the vast eternal benefits secured by the sprinkled blood of Christ.  But whether we are a new Christian or seasoned by decades of following Christ, we are all still together in boot camp. Our loving Father will not leave us in a place of immaturity in our faith, and orders our circumstances and situations, however unpleasant, to direct us into lives pleasing to Him and fit for eternity.

Many of us have years of secular thinking and wrong behavior to overcome ­– through discipline. And even for those of us raised in a Christian environment, we are constantly assailed by things that draw us away – the “encumbrances and sins which so easily entangle us.”

The Hebrews being addressed here were experiencing persecution; Charles Swindoll points out, “The message of the superiority of Jesus would have been particularly important to Jewish Christians in Rome, who were struggling under Nero’s persecution and were considering moving back toward the Mosaic Law… [it] showed these Jewish Christian believers that, though they were faced with suffering, they were indeed following a better way . . . and they should persevere.”

God loves us too much to let us stay the way we are… we are called to be warriors in the Faith, and He is training us to fulfill our calling.

Fathers are not necessarily failures… Hebrews 12:10

“For they (our earthly fathers) disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.…”

Over decades of Christian living and church-going we’ve listened to and read dozens of messages on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. For the most part, sermons on Mother’s Day have tended to be flowery and full of praise for those who rise to the extremely challenging task of mothering. There’s usually a couple of shining examples (Susanna Wesley often being one), and some from contemporary times.

The sermons towards fathers have often been a bit (and sometimes extremely) towards the critical side. They’ve been more focused on the methods to become a good father than to praise successful fatherhood.  And that’s generally appropriate and needed, at least to some extent. The Bible does not have a lot of good examples of successful fatherhood.  Samuel and Eli, the last two judges of Israel, both had sons that strayed away from their father’s righteous ways, and the Bible clearly pins blame on Eli for contributing to his sons’ evil actions.

However, fathers in our day and age have more challenges presented by current culture than many fathers have had in the past. Philosophies of parenting and gender roles in the twenty-first century have put enormous pressures on Christian parents; many Biblically derived methods of child raising and discipline are considered by the secular child raising “experts” to be abusive. And some of those methods have indeed been abused in their misapplication, but the Bible, in its intended guidance, balanced in the whole of the Book, is never wrong.

Biblical instruction is more valuable than ever in our humanistic, hedonistic, relativistic culture.  Just a fraction of Christian bible college students have a Biblical worldview; many have not even considered what defines a worldview. (Everyone has a worldview, whether or not they know what it is.)  And God intends that His instruction and discipline will enable us to share His holiness, and His Worldview.

Here in the tenth verse Paul is contrasting our discipline as fathers with the discipline of our heavenly Father.  We earthly fathers disciplined “as seemed best.” Being fallen creatures, steeped in sin, fathers (and mothers) at their best are going to fail in some aspect of parenting. Paul implies that our Father God, however, has the capacity to even take that inadequate parenting and discipline and use it for our good, since he says “all things work together for good” for those called by Christ.

“Our best” of our efforts as parents is only a faint reflection of God’s ability to wisely arrange circumstances in lives to induce holiness. We can guarantee our share of failures, but we can trust that we are “shown mercy because [we] acted ignorantly…”

Spurgeon says it this way, regarding God’s testing: “See, then, the happy fortune of a Christian! He has his best things last, and he therefore in this world receives his worst things first. But even his worst things are afterward, good things, with harsh tilling yielding joyful harvests. Even now he grows rich by his losses, he rises by his falls, he lives by dying, and becomes full by being emptied; if, then, his serious afflictions yield him so much peaceable fruit in this life, what shall be the full vintage of joy afterwards in heaven? If his dark nights are as bright as the world’s days, what shall his days be? If even his starlight is more splendid than the sun, what must his sunlight be? If he can sing in a dungeon, how melodiously will he sing in heaven! If he can praise the Lord in the fires, how much more will he exalt him before the eternal throne!”

 

 

 

The role of discipline in our lives… Hebrews 12:5

“…and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “MY son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him;’

There is a concept in our current religious mindset that anything negative that happens to us proceeds from either the devil or a kind of fate independent from God’s intervention.  This passage quotes from Proverbs 3: “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof, for whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.”

We would have little respect for our military forces — and they would not be worthy of respect — if their commanders did not impose incredible amounts of training and discipline in their development. Why do we think that our Father, who desires to train us to reign and rule for all eternity would not utilize circumstances and situations to discipline and train us?

C.H. Spurgeon puts it this way:  ”God’s people will have their trials. It was never designed by God, when he chose his people, that they should be an untested people. They were chosen in the furnace of affliction; they were never chosen to worldly peace and earthly joy. Freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality was never promised them; but when their Lord drew up the charter of privileges, he included discipline and trials among the things to which they should inevitably be heirs. Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestined for us in Christ’s last legacy. So surely as the stars and planets are fashioned by his hands, and their orbits established by him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: he has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us. Good people must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them.”

Some trials are simply the implementation to the Biblical principle of sowing and reaping as stated in Galatians 6: If we plant seed in spiritual endeavors, we will likely be rewarded with spiritual blessing, and if we sow to our own desires, we will experience corruption.  We get what we paid for; we are “reaping what we sowed.”

But some trials — even extreme ones — are purposed for our development. It been said that whatever doesn’t kill us will make us stronger (not exactly true in the natural order of things) but the trials that God puts us through are designed to strengthen us.

This section of Hebrews 12 speaks at length to the subject of discipline, but this introduction to the issue flows from the previous verse, encouraging us not to discount the circumstances and situations testing us, and to remain strong in the face of those wearisome trials.  They may not seem fair; they may not BE fair. No one ever promised us fairness, but we are guaranteed justice.  Our trials are not to be discounted as “fate” or cause us to faint; they have a divine purpose.

What Price Have We Paid?… Hebrews 12:4

“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin…”

Jesus did not shed blood like we do when we give a small portion at a doctor’s appointment or at a blood drive. He shed nearly every single drop of his blood leading up to and upon the Cross. Isaiah tells us, “So His appearance was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men.” The torture He went through was likely unprecedented in human history, with the beatings, the scourging, the crown of thorns, His beard being plucked from His face.

We see in chapter 10 that the Hebrews had endured public humiliation, but they had not even endured even what some of the early martyrs such as Stephen and James had, giving up their very life blood for their Lord.

When we live in a culture where bad traffic is some of the most difficult circumstances we face from day to day, Paul’s rebuke here is sobering. In the best of circumstances, the recipients of this message had nothing like the creature comforts we have today.  We even have a term, “comfort food.” And we would be hard pressed to meet anyone who has been imprisoned for their faith, much less shed blood.

Jesus said (in Matt. 16), “Take up your cross and follow me.” This is imagery that has become disquietingly familiar to us in the Church, but to His listeners they knew first hand that taking up a cross meant not only public humiliation but painful execution.

Paul was addressing in the previous passage “growing weary and losing heart.”  The other part mentioned in the context of “taking up the cross” was denying ourselves. Self-denial for higher causes is unfamiliar to secular society. The self-focused tone of our culture was emphasized in 1979 when the magazine “Self” was started.  Here was “self” deified.  In our culture we have whole institutions focused on ourselves that never existed just a few generations ago. In researching gyms and fitness centers there are over 30 within 5 miles of my home (I quit counting at 30; there are many more.)  We have myriads of drugs and multiple types of therapy and surgery designed to enhance our self, our appearance, and our well-being.

Some commentators look at the “mark of the beast” (666) noted in the book of Revelation as symbolic of man (noted by the number six, the day in creation mankind was created) lifting him/herself to the place of God (three sixes, symbolic of the triune nature of God).  Sadly, there is little in our general culture that expects, much less encourages, self-sacrifice.

We have an example, however, of what true sacrifice is, in what Jesus did in His ultimate sacrifice.  We have a picture of true Love, in paying the ultimate price. And we have a picture of what Jesus calls us to do in following Him.

 

 

Weighing Our Circumstances, Hebrews 12:3

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary  and lose heart.

Let’s imagine:  The talk show psychotherapist Phil welcomes a new guest, Jesus.

After a few casual comments, Phil tells Jesus, “So, before we get to what brings you here, let’s explore a bit of your past.  What was your childhood like?”

“Well, my parents were called away to a government audit while my mother was pregnant with me.  All the hotels were full and so my parents had to camp out, and I was born in a campground. Soon after I was born there was a government directive to kill all newborn children, so my parents fled with me to another country where we lived as refugees for years; finally, the government in my home country changed and we could move back.

“I should mention that my biological father was out of the picture, so my stepfather and mother raised me. My stepfather died at an early age leaving me to support my mother by doing carpentry work.”

Phil replied, “That sounds like your early life was quite terrible. What came next?”

“When I turned 30 I began a ministry, which my father had encouraged me to do years earlier. I went from town to town, and often had a good reception to my preaching, but also experienced a lot of opposition from the establishment religion.  They accused me of being a drunkard and immoral for my associations with ‘sinful’ people in ‘sinful’ places, just because I went to talk to them in the bars and the other places they hung out.  These religious people called me a bastard, called my mother a whore, and accused me of being insane.

“They were constantly trying to kill me. One time they incited the crowd to throw me off a cliff; another time they picked us stones to throw at me, but those times I escaped.”

“A good part of this time my followers and I had no place to stay, often sleeping alongside the road.”

“Wow, that’s a lot to start with, a lot of horrible life experiences,” offered Phil.  “I can see why you’re here, with all these awful things happening to you. You must have a broken heart having experienced all this. Where do we start? What brought you on the show?”

“Well,” Jesus replied, “Here’s my problem. Everything that happened to me was part of the plan my Father had to free my followers from sin. And so, I have no regrets or any hard feelings to those who did those things to me. However, of my millions of followers, most of them spend most of their time being concerned with everything but what I taught and showed them. They obsess over the smallest insults, the most minor of inconveniences, and they wear themselves out trying to make their life perfect. I want them to consider what has been done for them, the sacrifices that have been made, and not grow weary and lose heart.”

The recipients of the book of Hebrews had suffered persecution and the loss of their homes and possessions. In this verse to them, Paul refers to the race we run, and begins to show us how we can avoid discouragement. Do you think you have it bad? Consider Him…

Focusing on Jesus, Hebrews 12:2

Hebrews 12:2  Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the  author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Our divinely created human senses have amazing abilities to assimilate and process much that is around us. If you have the opportunity, listen and pay attention to a conversation in a noisy crowd, and if you have the opportunity, turn on a recorder while doing so. Even with a dozen voices going on around us, we can discern content that we focus our attention on.   If you listen to that recording later, however, you then hear the racket and clamor of all the other sounds, most of which you did not notice when you were focusing on the conversation.

Our vision works in a similar manner. Have you spotted a bird, or an animal or object in the distance, and tried to point it out to someone who just could not pick it out? They are seeing the same landscape as you are with eyes just as capable, but do not have the object focused in their vision. And have you looked away, and not be able to reacquire your focus? Our spiritual vision operates much the same way.

We live in a culture with more distractions that ever before in history.  And nearly every single distraction is aimed at challenging our focus. A soldier in the field of battle needs to focus on his mission and not on the clamor of war all about him; likewise, we need to maintain our attention on our mission, which is knowing and following Jesus.

While it is good to take a broad view of those who have gone before us, as we do when looking at Hebrews 11, here we see where our eyes need to be constantly focused. It’s a good thing to study people of faith, but how much better it is to fix your attention on the Originator of all faith. And He is the one who will complete the work of faith within you.

We should keep our eyes upon Jesus; He certainly has His eye upon us. Everything He did, everything He endured on the cross, the torture, the humiliation, was with us in His mind’s eye. The “joy set before Him” is that we might be members in His family. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:11)

This race we run, with Jesus in the lead, has every step set out for us. The Master of the universe has reassumed His place at the right hand of His Father and has accomplished for us everything we need. When we lose focus (and we will) He has not lost his focus on us.  To succeed in the mission He has set before us, we must always fix our eyes on Jesus.

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.    But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22,23)

Preparing for Our Race, Hebrews 12:1

Hebrews 12:1  Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…

Health agencies came up with a way of determining health by classifying what weight class individuals are in:  Normal, Overweight, and Obese. The index is called the Body Mass Index (BMI), and whether or not it is perfectly accurate, it gives us a guideline for our health.

If you want to get an idea of “encumbrance” as Paul calls it here, calculate your BMI, split the difference between your top normal weight and the top of the overweight scale, and arrange to carry that weight around for a half-day or so. If you’re overweight, and the weight you must carry happens to be close to the amount you’re overweight, you’ll get a good idea of how much of a drag your excess weight is.

Being overweight isn’t always, or even usually, a sin.  But it does hamper us in daily life. And the encumbrances Paul refers to here hamper our spiritual life. We have an overabundance of encumbrances in our culture, amenities which become weights when we overindulge in them.  They can be as simple as … food. There is a tendency to perhaps “live to eat,” rather than eat to live. That encumbrance can affect our spiritual impact in both the social and financial realm. We even have a term for unnecessary food: “Comfort Food.”

We may be encumbered by a desire to shop. Whether or not we buy anything, we may spend hours pursuing items on Amazon or other online shopping services. We may be encumbered by a fascination with social media. We may be encumbered by television, or bingeing on series on one of the seemingly dozens of entertainment outlets.

There is no need to expand this nearly inexhaustible list of things in this world that can encumber us. Remember that even the most innocuous encumbrance divorces us from one of our greatest assets:  Time.  Psalm 90 speaks of the finite amount of years given to us and tells us to ask the Lord to “teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”

Many parts of the country have some sort of bramble, such as the blackberry bushes of the Pacific Northwest. Imagine now, you are backpacking with your pack full, perhaps with a few necessities, but mostly weighed down with items unnecessary to your sustenance or survival. And you stumble off the path into a patch of blackberry bushes.  The thorns entangle with your pack, your clothes, even your hair and skin.

And so, along with these encumbrances, we have the entanglement of sin.   Many of the encumbrances we carry eventually become idols, when they supplant our focus on Jesus. Here, the test of Time comes into play. How much time do we spend on our encumbrances (and sins) compared to the time we focus on our relationship with Jesus?  How much of our spiritual calling do we waste fighting through the brambles of sin, weighed down by the useless attachments to worthless things and habits?

Paul does not want this to be our spiritual experience.  He is encouraging us to run a race with endurance, which is only possible if we shed those things that make it impossible to run.

Considering the Examples of Our Heritage, Hebrews 12:1 (a)

Those who have followed me are familiar with my edited version of Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, which I finished up mid-year in 2018. After a few months off I decided to again begin writing – this time something I had been thinking about for quite a while (and which I set aside to do the Spurgeon project.)

A couple years ago I began a focus on a single chapter of the Bible – Hebrews 12 – to the point of committing it to memory. I decided to use that text as the basis for a 30-day devotional. I will be quoting the New American Standard except where noted, and assuming the authorship of the Apostle Paul. I am not a Greek scholar; I will be using the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (the Little Kittel) in the few instances I refer to the Greek texts, as well as various commentaries such as those from Adam Clarke and Calvin.

Following Jesus, Hebrews 12:1 (a)

Hebrews 12:1a Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us…

Before serious consideration of Hebrews 12 let’s consider the context: “Therefore” points back at one of the most famous of New Testament chapters, the “faith” chapter, Hebrews 11.  Paul looks back to the past testimony of the faith-filled, forward-looking Old Testament believers – “so great a cloud of witnesses” – and shows us in the 12th chapter the implementation of such faith in our lives.

At first reading it can be taken that the “witnesses” are witnessing our performance from their place in heaven – a bit of a daunting concept – but the English translation betrays us somewhat here. The Greek word “μάρτυς” transliterated “mártys,” is where we get the English word “martyr.” This carries the sense of giving testimony in a court of law, or before an opposing crowd, even perhaps to the point of the cost of the witnesses’ life – a “testimony written in blood,” so to speak.

A variation of the Greek word is used in Hebrews 11:2 as “gained approval,” “For by [faith] the men of old gained approval.”  Other places in Hebrews it is translated as “testifying,” “witnessed,” and “attested.”

So, while in one sense the faithful in Hebrews 11 are “all these veterans cheering us on,” (the Message version) the greater application is that their lives and deaths are the lexicon by which we interpret the verses to follow in Hebrews 12, those lives “that every one should be prepared to imitate,” as John Calvin says.

There is not the space to address the wealth of truth present in the “Faith Chapter,” but the “testimony,” or “witness,” points to the extent God may call us as believers.

We may be called to abandon our homeland and striking out with directions not yet revealed to us. We may be relegated to giving up homes and living in temporary shelters.

We should be joining the Hebrews 11 witnesses in their attitude “that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”  We should be ready to defy leaders that demand the killing of children, as Moses’ parents did. We should be “choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,” as Moses did. We will not experience all the trials listed here: mocking, scourging, imprisonment, mistreatment, poverty, and even martyrdom, but all these witnesses “gained approval through their faith,” that same faith that looked forward to the freedom and redemption that Jesus Christ has provided for us.

As we press forward in our Christian walk (and our study of Hebrews 12) let us keep in mind these “Heroes of the Faith” in Hebrews 11.  A close reading of that chapter will bear many benefits. It will also benefit us to remember that around the world, many believers today are experiencing the same trials as the heroes of Hebrews 11.

As Spurgeon says in his January 4 morning devotional, “Grow in that root grace, faith. Believe the promises more firmly than you have done. Let faith increase in fullness, steadfastness, simplicity.”

 

What is Truth?

“What is truth?” — Pontius Pilate

“Once we’ve made sense of our world
We wanna go [screw] up everybody else’s
Because his or her truth doesn’t match mine
But this is the problem
Truth is individual calculation
Which means because we all have different perspectives
There isn’t one singular truth, is there?” — Steven Wilson, spoken introduction to his song To the Bone

“What may be truth to one person might not be truth to another.” — Statement made in a conversation about truth.

“I don’t believe in absolute truth.”
“Well, then do you absolutely believe that?” — Another conversation about truth.

“In accordance with fact or reality.” — Oxford English Dictionary definition.

We live in a news culture in America where it seems the terms “fake news” and “fact-checking” are embedded in every headline or story. Be as it may, there is a vast difference in the understanding of truth.

If we don’t understand that “truth” is self-defining, like “existence” and “being,” we lose grasp of all reality.

As we approach an election, we want to talk about truth. For generations—even centuries, and millennia—truth was defined as something absolute and written into law. Both American and British law drew heavily from a book that was considered to be the epitome of truth. Our classifications for the degrees of murder are drawn directly from that book. Many civil ordinances are drawn from that book.

And a key passage (quoted in part below) from that book was on schoolroom walls and taught — rightly — as truthful:

“Do not murder.
“Do not commit adultery.
“Do not steal.
“Do not give false evidence against your neighbor.
“Do not be envious of your neighbor’s house; do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

In 1962 the Supreme Court begin its process of stripping all references to the Bible and Christianity from our schools and our culture, with the ban of the posting of the Ten Commandments coming in 1980. And the long-promoted philosophy of moral relativism proposed by “progressives” took its place.

Relativism has taken such a hold that ridiculous statements like the ones at the beginning of this article are broadly accepted in our nation. And ridiculous results abound … and deadly ones. Let’s address just one of those deadly areas.

What happens when we abandon absolute moral truth? The largest study of its kind on mass shootings (as of its date of publication —2007) is “Mass Murder in the United States: A History,” by Grant Duwe, director of research and evaluation at the Minnesota Department of Corrections. Here’s a breakdown per decade of Duwe’s data (my notes in italics):

Mass Public Shootings per Decade
1900s: 0
1910s: 2
1920s: 2
1930s: 9
1940s: 8
1950s: 1
1960s: 6       Prayer banned in schools, 1962; Bible reading banned in 1963
1970s: 13
1980s: 32      Posting of the Ten Commandments banned, 1980
1990s: 42
2000s: 28
2010s (three years): 14

See any time correlation between the actions against Biblical morality (and actions promoting moral relativity)? Outside of the spike in the ‘30s and ‘40s (likely, mobster killings) it’s flat until the 60s when the Supreme Court effectively threw the Bible out of schools. This is what has happened in our culture — not because of gun laws — but because of the effects of moral relativism. We can differ in opinion — and we often do — but that does not change what truth is by its very nature.

And all those increases in violence happened with the most restrictive gun control laws in the history of the country going into effect in 1968 (before then you could buy a gun via mail order). Real assault weapons (capable of fully automatic fire) were legal for citizens with no felony conviction until 1986, but none were ever used in a mass murder. There are still reportedly over 120,000 pre-cutoff machine guns in legal ownership nationwide. None have ever been reported having been used in a mass shooting. Legally-owned fully-automatic guns have only been used in three crimes since 1934. One was by a policeman.

Within the recent time frame of the above study, the worst year for public shootings was in 1991, when eight incidents took place, he said. With seven incidents, 2012 ranks second, along with 1999 – when the assault weapon ban was in effect (ban was in effect 1994-2004).

Should we even be surprised that restaurants, churches, schools and synagogues are getting shot up by people with no moral compass, some who actually believe they are doing the right thing, the true thing? After all, “we all have different perspectives; There isn’t one singular truth, is there?”
“Do not murder.” — God

Arguments often used:
“We have too many guns, we need to ban and confiscate guns.”

• We have 400 million civilian firearms in the United States; think we’ll get them all? Think those morally relativistic criminals out there will turn all theirs in?

• If we could snap our fingers and turn every gun into … flowers? … we would all be safe then? We have a culture where people on the street get knocked out as a game for the assailants, with many victims permanently injured or killed. And joggers getting beaten to death or stabbed. And people being run over by cars (as of this writing, FIVE children in 3 days have been killed waiting for school buses). And people being set on fire. Our country, without a spiritual anchor, is drifting farther from truth and closer to anarchy.

“Why does anyone need a gun?”

• Just days ago, an armed man eating with his children in a McDonalds in Birmingham shot and killed a masked gunman who opened fire in the restaurant. He and his son were wounded, but not seriously. Police responding the call were expecting a mass killing, which it likely would have been.

• There’s a reason mass killers don’t target police stations. Or gun shows. Or why robbers avoid homes where it’s likely the homeowner is armed.

• Unfortunately, until people’s hearts change, more and more armed security will be necessary in schools, synagogues, and churches.

It is just at easy to point out other absurd changes in our society post Biblical morality, but time won’t allow to discuss “Gender Fluidity,” “Selective Abortion,” “Toxic Masculinity,” and others…

One final thought: Some reading this are thinking, “this doesn’t seem like Jesus… Where is the grace?” Jesus said he was “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He said, “I did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” It’s only by His grace that we can receive Him, and have a higher law written on our hearts that fulfills the Ten Commandments and more.

Some will say, “But Jesus was a pacifist.”

As He was facing his crucifixion, one of the last things he told His disciples was this: “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.” (Luke 22:35-38)

The swords weren’t for His protection; when He answered the Priests arresting Him with, “It is I,” they drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:6) And He said he could command a legion of angels if necessary. (Matt. 26:53) The swords weren’t for offense (He rebuked Peter for that use); so why did Jesus tell his disciples to buy swords? Was it to deter the priests from taking them as prisoners also? I don’t know, but He told them to carry swords.

If I lived alone, I would probably not even think about personal defense; I have a family to think of, so I pay attention to it.

Some other random observations (not mine):

The origin of our Constitution:

At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the father of our Constitution, James Madison, proposed the plan to divide the central government into three branches. He discovered this model of government from the Perfect Governor, as he read Isaiah 33:22:
“For the LORD is our judge, [judicial]
the LORD is our lawgiver, [legislative]
the LORD is our king; [executive]
He will save us.”

The population crisis (too few children born):

“Do we realize what is happening to the western world that used to be called Christendom? What is happening in Europe? The nations of Europe are on a suicide march. The Dutch, the English, the Germans, the Italians, the Russians. Why? Because they are refusing to multiply; and by refusing to multiply, they are disobeying the dominion mandate. Civil governments are failing to carry
out their divine mandate, to protect and foster the family in order for the dominion mandate to be carried out. Instead, repealing laws prohibiting sexual behavior outside of the godly marriage, those governments are contributing to the ultimate destruction of their economies.” — Herbert W. Titus, Liberty University Law Review

A Year With Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

In 2017, for my personal devotions, I began reading my copy of Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening,  and the referenced verse’s Bible chapter. The old English and grammar was quite a challenge; I  wanted to post some of the devotionals though I hesitated because some phrases and terms just didn’t make sense. I decided to slightly edit one to make it more understandable.  Then I did the next one, and another, and started posting them to my blog.  I would read my print version which was slightly updated (and the Bible chapter referenced in the NASB, the Bible version I read) ; then I would read the public domain version, copy it to my blog with clarifying edits included, and post it. I converted the King James to the NASB whenever possible. Some days I could make a post in as little as 15 minutes; some days I had to spend many, many minutes in my Oxford English Dictionary puzzling out meanings (the edition is over 20,000 pages in 20 volumes. Did you know the word “knit” takes up a full dictionary page, and meant “pollinate” in one usage? Spurgeon: “The proposal is a blossom which has not been knit, and therefore no fruit comes of it.”)

Here’s a comment I made on June 28th of last year:

Notes on my editing:  I have a decent vocabulary but many of the terms Spurgeon used centuries ago have fallen into disuse.  As I read his devotions, challenged oft am I (I mean, I am often challenged) by some of the archaic words and the sentence structure. Some may find my editing a travesty, but hopefully some will find it clarifies the message he brings to us after so many years.

Here is a Google analysis of of some of the words with their frequency since 1800   — “emblem,” “foes,” “carnal,” “perdition,” and “charnel.”  Even if I recognized the word, if usage has fallen to nearly nothing I may have edited it. 

ngram

And here’s a section showing some of the edits I did from Evening, September 24:

“Paradoxes abound in Christian experience, and here is one–the spouse was asleep, and yet she was awake. One only can read the believer’s riddle who has ploughed with the heifer of his experience can only understand this riddle who has labored in the same realm of experience. The two points in this evening’s text are a mournful sleepiness, and a hopeful wakefulness. I sleep. Through sin that dwelleth dwells in us we may become lax negligent in holy duties responsibilities, slothful in religious exercises training, dull in spiritual joys, and altogether generally, supine and careless carelessly flat on our back. This is a shameful state for one in whom the quickening life-giving Spirit dwells; and it is dangerous to the highest degree. Even wise virgins sometimes slumber, but it is high time for all to shake off the bands of sloth slothfulness. It is to be rightly should be feared that many believers may lose their strength as Samson lost his locks, while sleeping on the lap of carnal worldly security. With a perishing world around us, to sleep is cruel heartless; with eternity so near at hand, it is madness. Yet we are none of us so none of us are as much awake as we should be; a few thunderclaps would do us all good, and it may be, unless we soon bestir stir up ourselves, we shall have them in the form of war, or pestilence, or personal bereavements and losses. O, that we may leave forever the couch of fleshly human ease, and go forth with flaming torches to meet the coming Bridegroom! My heart waketh wakes. This is a happy sign. Life is not extinct extinguished, though sadly, smothered. When our renewed heart struggles against our natural heaviness, we should be grateful to sovereign grace for keeping a little vitality within the body of this death. Jesus will hear our hearts, will help our hearts, will visit our hearts; for the voice of the wakeful heart is really the voice of our Beloved, saying, “Open to me.” Holy zeal will surely unbar the door.”

I figure I have a minimum 150 hours of time invested in this project, which is now mostly complete. You can put the date and time of the devotion you wish to read into the search field (ie:, September 24 Evening) to find that day’s entry.

I much prefer a print version when I am reading, whether it is my Bible or another book; I am pondering putting together a crowd funding effort to fund printing paper copies of this version.  I have had over 1000 readers from 22 countries this last year; I’m going to be reposting the devotions to match up with the morning in the far east for the next year.

Feel free to message me if you have an interest in a print version of these devotions…

Evening, June 20

Evening, June 20, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” — Mark 1:18

When they heard the call of Jesus, Simon and Andrew obeyed at once without protest. If we would always—promptly and with unwavering passion—put in practice what we hear upon the spot or at first possible occasion, our participation in the hearing of the word, other methods of grace, and our reading of good books could not fail to enrich us spiritually. He will not lose his food who has taken care at once to eat it, neither can he be deprived of the benefit of the doctrine when he has already acted upon it. Most readers and hearers become moved so far as to plan to make changes, but, alas, the proposal is a blossom which has not been pollinated, and therefore no fruit comes of it; they wait, they waver, and then they forget and freeze like the ponds in nights of frost; when the sun shines by day, they are only thawed in time to be frozen again. That fatal tomorrow is red with the blood of the murders of good resolutions; it is the slaughterhouse of the innocents. We are very concerned that our little book of “Evening Readings” would not be fruitless, and therefore we pray that readers may not be readers only, but doers of the word. The practice of truth is the most profitable reading of it. Should the reader be impressed with any task while reading carefully these pages, let him hasten to fulfil it before the holy heat has departed from his soul, and let him leave his nets—and all that he has—before he is found rebellious to the Master’s call. Do not give place to the devil by delay! Hasten while opportunity and enlivening are in happy union. Do not be caught in your own nets, but break the meshes of worldliness, and fly away where glory calls you. Happy is the writer who shall meet with readers resolved to carry out his teachings: his harvest shall be a hundredfold, and his Master shall have great honor. I wish to God that such might be our reward upon these brief meditations and hurried hints. Grant it, O Lord, to your servant!

Morning, June 20

Morning, June 20, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“For behold, I am commanding, and I will shake the house of Israel among all nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, but not a kernel will fall to the ground.” — Amos 9:9

Every sifting comes by divine command and permission. Satan must ask permission before he can lay a finger upon Job. Even more, in some sense our sifting is directly the work of heaven, for the text says, “I will sift the house of Israel.” Satan, like a menial worker, may hold the sieve, hoping to destroy the corn; but the overruling hand of the Master is accomplishing the purity of the grain by the very process which the enemy intended to be destructive. So you precious, but greatly sifted corn of the Lord’s floor, be comforted by the fortunate fact that the Lord directs both flail and sieve to his own glory, and to your eternal profit.

The Lord Jesus will surely use the fan which is in his hand, and will divide the precious from the vile. All are not Israel that are of Israel; the heap on the barn floor is not clean feed, and for this reason the winnowing process must be performed. In the sieve true weight alone has power. Husks and chaff, being devoid of substance must fly before the wind, and only solid corn will remain.

Observe the complete safety of the Lord’s wheat; even the least grain has a promise of preservation. God himself sifts, and therefore it is severe and terrible work; he sifts them in all places, “among all nations”; he sifts them in the most effective manner, “like corn is sifted in a sieve;” and yet for all this, not the smallest, lightest, or most shriveled grain is permitted to fall to the ground. Every individual believer is precious in the sight of the Lord: a shepherd would not lose one sheep, nor a jeweler one diamond, nor a mother one child, nor a man one limb of his body, nor will the Lord lose one of his redeemed people. However little we may be, if we are the Lord’s, we may rejoice that we are preserved in Christ Jesus.

Evening, June 19

Evening, June 19, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“My beloved is mine, and I am his; he pastures his flock among the lilies. Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of Bether.” — Song of Solomon 2:16-17

Surely if there is a happy verse in the Bible it is this—”My Beloved is mine, and I am his.” It is so peaceful, so full of assurance, so overflowing with happiness and contentment, that it might well have been written by the same hand which penned the twenty-third Psalm. Yet though the prospect is surpassingly fair and lovely—earth cannot show us anything superior—it is not entirely a sunlit landscape. There is a cloud in the sky which casts a shadow over the scene. Listen, “Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away.”

There is a word, too, about the “mountains of Bether,” or, “the mountains of division,” and to our love, anything akin to division is bitterness. Beloved, this may be your present state of mind; you do not doubt your salvation; you know that Christ is yours, but you are not feasting with him. You understand your vital interest in him, so that you have no shadow of a doubt of your being his, and of his being yours, but still his left hand is not under your head, nor does his right hand embrace you. A shade of sadness is cast over your heart, perhaps by affliction, certainly by the temporary absence of your Lord, so even while exclaiming, “I am his,” you are forced to take to your knees, and to pray, “Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved.”

“Where is he?” asks the soul. And the answer comes, “he pastures his flock among the lilies.” If we would find Christ, we must get into communion with his people, we must come to the observances with his saints. Oh, for an evening glimpse of him! Oh, to dine with him tonight!

 

Morning, June 19

Morning, June 19, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” — Acts 2:4

We would be richly blessed this day if all of us were filled with the Holy Spirit. The consequences of this sacred filling of the soul it would be impossible to overestimate. Life, comfort, light, purity, power, peace, and many other precious blessings are inseparable from the Spirit’s benevolent presence. As sacred oil, he anoints the head of the believer, sets him apart to the priesthood of saints, and gives him grace to execute his office perfectly. As the only truly purifying water he cleanses us from the power of sin and sanctifies us to holiness, working in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure. As the light, he manifested to us at first our lost condition, and now he reveals the Lord Jesus to us and in us, and guides us in the way of righteousness. Illuminated by his pure celestial light, we are no longer full of darkness but filled with light in the Lord. As fire, he both purges us from dross, and sets our consecrated nature ablaze. He is the sacrificial flame by which we are enabled to offer our whole souls as a living sacrifice to God. As heavenly dew, he removes our barrenness and fertilizes our lives. O that he would drop from above upon us at this early hour! Such morning dew would be a sweet beginning for the day. Like a dove, with wings of peaceful love he broods over his Church and over the souls of believers, and as a Comforter he dispels the cares and doubts which mar the peace of his beloved. He descends upon the chosen as he did upon the ark of the Lord in Jordan, and bears witness to their sonship by birthing in them a familial spirit by which they cry Abba, Father. As the wind, he brings the breath of life to men; blowing where he wishes he performs the enlivening operations by which the spiritual creation is animated and sustained. Would to God, that we might feel his presence this day and every day.

Evening, June 18, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Evening, June 18, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“I am come into my garden, my sister, my bride.” — Song of Solomon 5:1

The heart of the believer is Christ’s garden. He bought it with his precious blood, and he enters it and claims it as his own. A garden implies separation. It is not an open common; it is not a wilderness; it is walled around, hedged or fenced in. Oh, that we could see the wall of separation between the church and the world made broader and stronger. It makes one sad to hear Christians saying, “Well, there is no harm in this; there is no harm in that,” thus getting as near to the world as possible. Grace is at a low ebb in that soul which can even raise the question of how far it may go in worldly conformity. A garden is a place of beauty, it far surpasses the wild uncultivated lands. The genuine Christian must seek to be more excellent in his life than the best moralist, because Christ’s garden ought to produce the best flowers in all the world. Even the best is poor compared with what Christ is deserving; let us not put him off with withering and dwarf plants. The rarest, richest, choicest lilies and roses ought to bloom in the place which Jesus calls his own. The garden is a place of growth. The saints are not to remain undeveloped, staying mere buds and blossoms. We should grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Growth should be rapid where Jesus is the Gardener, and the Holy Spirit is the dew from above. A garden is a place of retreat. So, the Lord Jesus Christ would have us reserve our souls as a place in which he can manifest himself, a special manifestation as he does not to the world. O that Christians were more withdrawn, that they kept their hearts more closely shut up for Christ! We often worry and trouble ourselves, like Martha, with much serving, so that we have no room for Christ that Mary had, and do not sit at his feet as we should. May the Lord grant the sweet showers of his grace to water his garden this day.

 

Morning, June 18, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Morning, June 18, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Your Redeemer.” — Isaiah 54:5

Jesus, the Redeemer, is altogether ours and ours forever. All the offices of Christ are held on our behalf. He is king for us, priest for us, and prophet for us. Whenever we read a new title of the Redeemer, let us appropriate him as ours under that name as much as under any other. The shepherd’s staff, the father’s rod, the captain’s sword, the priest’s miter, the prince’s scepter, the prophet’s mantle, all are ours. Jesus has no dignity which he will not employ for our exaltation, and no prerogative which he will not exercise for our defense. His fulness of Godhead is our unfailing, inexhaustible treasure-house.

His humanity also, which he took upon him for us, is ours in all its perfection. Our gracious Lord communicates to us the spotless virtue of a stainless character; to us he gives the exemplary effectiveness of a devoted life; on us he bestows the reward procured by obedient submission and ceaseless service. He makes the unblemished garment of his life our covering beauty; the glittering virtues of his character our ornaments and jewels; and the superhuman meekness of his death our boast and glory. He bequeaths us his manger, from which to learn how God came down to man; and his Cross to teach us how man may go up to God. All his thoughts, emotions, actions, declarations, miracles, and intercessions, were for us. He trod the road of sorrow on our behalf, and gave to us as his heavenly legacy the full results of all the labors of his life. He is now as much ours as before now; and he does not blush to acknowledge himself as “our Lord Jesus Christ,” though he is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Christ everywhere and every way is our Christ, forever and ever most richly to enjoy. O my soul, by the power of the Holy Spirit call him this morning, “your Redeemer!”

Evening, June 17, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Evening, June 17, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Then Israel sang this song: Spring up, O well! Sing to it.” — Numbers 21:17

The well of Beer was famous in the wilderness, because it was the subject of a promise: “That is the well where the LORD said to Moses, “Assemble the people, that I may give them water.” The people needed water, and it was promised by their gracious God. We need fresh supplies of heavenly grace, and in the covenant the Lord has pledged himself to give all we require. Next, the well became the cause of a song. Before the water gushed forth, cheerful faith prompted the people to sing; and as they saw the crystal fountain bubbling up, the music grew even more joyous. In like manner, we who believe the promise of God should rejoice in the prospect of divine revivals in our souls, and as we experience them our holy joy should overflow. Are we thirsty? Let us not complain, but sing. Spiritual thirst is bitter to bear, but we need not bear it—the promise of God indicates a well; let us be of good heart, and look for it. Moreover, the well was the center of prayer. “Spring up, O well.” What God has appointed to give, we must search after, or we display that we have neither desire nor faith. This evening let us ask that the Scripture we have read, and our devotional exercises, may not be an empty formality, but a channel of grace to our souls. O that God the Holy Spirit would work in us with all his mighty power, filling us with all the fulness of God. Lastly, the well was the object of effort. “The nobles of the people digged it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves.” The Lord would have us active in obtaining grace. Our staves are ill adapted for digging in the sand, but we must use them to the utmost of our ability. Prayer must not be neglected; the assembling of ourselves together must not be forsaken; commandments must not be slighted. The Lord will give us his peace in plenty, but not in a way of idleness. Let us, then, bestir ourselves to seek him in whom are all our fresh springs.

Morning, June 17, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Morning, June 17, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Help, Lord.” — Psalm 12:1

The prayer itself is remarkable, for it is short, but seasonable, significant, and suggestive. David mourned the few numbers of faithful men, and therefore lifted up his heart in supplication—when the creature failed, he ran to the Creator. He evidently felt his own weakness, or he would not have cried for help; but at the same time he honestly intended to apply himself to the cause of truth, for the word “help” is inapplicable where we ourselves do nothing. There is much directness, clearness of perception, and clarity of communication in this petition of two words; much more, indeed, than in the long rambling outpourings of certain professors. The Psalmist runs straight to to his God, with a well-considered prayer; he knows what he is seeking, and where to seek it. Lord, teach us to pray in the same blessed manner.

The occasions for the use of this prayer are frequent. How suitable it is for tried believers who find all helpers failing them, when facing God-given afflictions. Students, in doctrinal difficulties, may often obtain aid by lifting up this cry of “Help, Lord,” to the Holy Spirit, the great Teacher. Spiritual warriors in inward conflict may send to the throne for reinforcements, and this will be a model for their request. Workers in spiritual labor may in this way obtain grace in time of need. Seeking sinners, in doubt and alarm, may offer up the same significant petition; in fact, in all these cases, times, and places, this will be of the greatest use to needy souls. “Help, Lord,” will suit us living and dying, suffering or laboring, rejoicing or sorrowing. In him our help is found; let us not be slack to cry to him.

The answer to the prayer is certain, if it is sincerely offered through Jesus. The Lord’s character assures us that he will not leave his people; his relationship as Father and Husband guarantee us his aid; his gift of Jesus is a pledge of every good thing; and his sure promise stands, “Fear not, I will help you.”

Evening, June 16, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Evening, June 16, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?” — Psalm 27:1

“The Lord is my light and my salvation.” This is of personal interest — “my light,” “my salvation” — when the soul is assured of it, it therefore declares it boldly. At the new birth divine light is poured into the soul as the precursor of salvation, for where there is not enough light to reveal our own darkness and to make us long for the Lord Jesus, there is no evidence of salvation. After conversion our God is our joy, comfort, guide, teacher, and in every sense our light: he is light within, light around, light reflected from us, and light to be revealed to us. Note, it is not said merely that the Lord gives light, but that he is light; nor that he gives salvation, but that he is salvation; he, then, who by faith has laid hold upon God, has all covenant blessings in his possession. Since this is declared as a sure fact, the argument drawn from it is put in the form of a question, “Whom shall I fear?” It is a question which is its own answer. The powers of darkness are not to be feared, for the Lord, our light, destroys them; and the damnation of hell is not to be dreaded by us, for the Lord is our salvation. This is a very different challenge from that of boastful Goliath, for it rests, not upon the conceited vigor of an arm of flesh, but upon the real power of the omnipotent I AM. “The Lord is the defense of my life.” Here is a third glowing description, to show that the writer’s hope was fastened with a threefold cord which could not be broken. We do well to accumulate terms of praise where the Lord lavishes deeds of grace. Our life derives all its strength from God; and if he deigns to make us strong, we cannot be weakened by all the scheming of the adversary. “Whom shall I dread?” The bold question looks into the future as well as the present. “If God is for us,” who can be against us, either now or in the time to come?

Morning, June 16, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Morning, June 16, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish.” — John 10:28

The Christian should never think or speak lightly of unbelief. It must be greatly displeasing to God for one of his children to mistrust his love, his truth, his faithfulness. Why would we ever grieve him by doubting his sustaining grace? Christian! It is contrary to every promise of God’s precious Word that you should ever be forgotten or left to perish. If it could be so, how could he be true who has said, “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” What was the value of that promise—”For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken, says the Lord who has compassion on you.” Where was the truth of Christ’s words—”I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Where was the doctrine of grace? It would be disproved if one child of God should perish. Where was the veracity of God, his honor, his power, his grace, his covenant, his oath, if any of those for whom Christ has died, and who have put their trust in him, should nonetheless be cast away? Banish those unbelieving fears which so dishonor God. Arise, shake yourself from the dust, and put on your beautiful garments. Remember it is sinful to doubt his Word in which he has promised you that you shall never perish. Let the eternal life within you express itself in confident rejoicing.

“The gospel bears my spirit up:

A faithful and unchanging God

Lays the foundation for my hope,

In oaths, and promises, and blood.”

Evening, June 15, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Evening, June 15, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Who opens and no one will shut.” — Revelation 3:7

Jesus is the keeper of the gates of paradise and he sets an open door before every believing soul, which no man or devil shall be able to close against it. What joy it will be to find that faith in him is the golden key to the everlasting doors. My soul, do you carry this key in your heart, or are you trusting to some deceitful lockpick, which will fail you at last? Hear this parable of the preacher, and remember it. The great King has made a banquet, and he has proclaimed to all the world that none shall enter but those who bring with them the fairest flower that blooms. The spirits of men advance to the gate by thousands, and they bring each one the flower which he esteems the queen of the garden; but in crowds they are driven from the royal presence, and fail to enter into the festive halls. Some bear in their hand the deadly nightshade of superstition, or the flaunting poppies of dead religion, or the hemlock of self-righteousness, but these are not dear to the King; the bearers of such are shut out of the pearly gates. My soul, have you gathered the rose of Sharon? Do you wear the lily of the valley in your heart constantly? If so, when you come up to the gates of heaven you will know its value, for you have only to show this, the choicest of flowers, and the Porter will open: he will not deny you admission even for a moment, for the Porter always opens to that rose. With the rose of Sharon in your hand you shall find your way up to the throne of God himself, for heaven itself possesses nothing that excels its radiant beauty, and of all the flowers that bloom in paradise there is none that can rival the lily of the valley. My soul, get Calvary’s blood-red rose into your hand by faith, by love wear it, by communion preserve it, by daily watchfulness make it yours all in all, and you shall be blessed beyond all ecstasy, happy beyond a dream. Jesus, be mine forever, my God, my heaven, my all.

Morning, June 15, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Morning, June 15, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” — Genesis 21:6

It was far beyond the power of nature, and even contrary to its laws, that Sarah in old age should be honored with a son; and even so it is beyond all ordinary rules that I, a poor, helpless, undone sinner, should find grace to bear about in my soul the indwelling Spirit of the Lord Jesus. I, who once despaired, as well I might, of my nature — dry, withered, and barren, and accursed as a howling wilderness — even I have been made to birth fruit to holiness. Fittingly may my mouth be filled with joyous laughter, because of the extraordinary, surprising grace which I have received of the Lord, for I have found Jesus, the promised seed, and he is mine forever. This day I will lift up psalms of triumph to the Lord who has remembered my abject poverty, for “my heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord, my mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.”

I would have all those laugh for joy with me that hear of my great deliverance from hell, and my most blessed visitation from on high; I would surprise my family with my abundant peace; I would delight my friends with my ever-increasing happiness; I would edify the Church with my grateful confessions; and even impress the world with the cheerfulness of my daily conversation. Bunyan tells us that Mercy laughed in her sleep, and no wonder, when she dreamed of Jesus; my joy shall not stop short of hers while my Beloved is the theme of my daily thoughts. The Lord Jesus is a deep sea of joy: my soul shall dive into it, shall be swallowed up in the delights of his companionship. Sarah looked on her Isaac, and laughed with a surplus of delight, and all her friends laughed with her; and you, my soul, look on your Jesus, and call heaven and earth to unite in your unspeakable joy.

Evening, June 14, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Evening, June 14, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Open shame belongs to us, O Lord … because we have sinned against You.” — Daniel 9:8

A deep sense and clear vision of sin, its wickedness, and the punishment which it deserves, should make us lie low before the throne. We have sinned as Christians. It is sad to say that it it should be so. Favored as we have been, we have yet been ungrateful: privileged beyond most, we have not brought forth fruit in proportion. Who is there—although he may have been engaged in the Christian warfare many years—that will not blush when he looks back upon the past? As for our days before we were born again, may they be forgiven and forgotten; but since then, though we have not sinned as before, yet we have sinned against light and against love—light which has truly penetrated our minds, and love in which we have rejoiced. Oh, the atrocity of the sin of a pardoned soul! An unpardoned sinner sins cheaply compared with the sin of one of God’s own elect ones, who has had communion with Christ and leaned his head into Jesus’ embrace. Look at David! Many will talk of his sin, but I entreat you to look at his repentance, and hear his broken bones, as each one of them moans out its sorrowful confession! Mark his tears, as they fall upon the ground, and the deep sighs with which he accompanies the softened music of his harp! We have erred: let us, therefore, seek the spirit of repentance. Look, again, at Peter! We speak much of Peter’s denying his Master. Remember, it is written, “He wept bitterly.” Have we no denials of our Lord to be lamented with tears? Alas! These sins of ours, before and after conversion, would consign us to the place of inextinguishable fire if it were not for the sovereign mercy which has made us different, snatching us like brands from the fire. My soul, bow down under a sense of your natural sinfulness, and worship your God. Admire the grace which saves you—the mercy which spares you—the love which pardons you!

Morning, June 14, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Morning, June 14, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Delight yourself in the Lord.” — Psalm 37:4

This teaching must seem very surprising to those who are strangers to a vital godliness, but to the sincere believer it is only the inculcation of a recognized truth. The life of the believer is described here as a delight in God, and we are therefore confirmed of the great fact that true religion overflows with happiness and joy. Ungodly persons and mere professors never look upon religion as a joyful thing; to them it is service, duty, or necessity, but never pleasure or delight. If they attend to religion at all, it is either that they may gain by it, or else because they dare not do otherwise. The thought a delightful religion is so strange to most men, that no two words in their language stand further apart than “holiness” and “delight.” But believers who know Christ understand that delight and faith are so blessedly united, that the gates of hell cannot prevail to separate them. They who love God with all their hearts find that his ways are pleasant, and all his paths are peace. Such joys, such overflowing delights, such abundant blessings, do the saints discover in their Lord, that—far from serving him from custom—they would follow him even though all the world cast out his name as evil. We do not fear God because of any compulsion; our faith is no fetter, our profession is no bondage, we are not dragged to holiness, nor driven to duty. No, our piety is our pleasure, our hope is our happiness, our duty is our delight.

Delight and true religion are as allied as root and flower; as indivisible as truth and certainty; they are, in fact, two precious jewels glittering side by side in a setting of gold.

“‘Tis when we taste thy love,

Our joys divinely grow,

Unspeakable like those above,

And heaven begins below.”

Evening, June 13, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Evening, June 13, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Keep deception and lies far from me.” — Proverbs 30:8   “O my God, do not be far from me!”— Psalm 38:21

Here we have two great lessons—what to denounce and what to pray for. The happiest state of a Christian is the holiest state. As there is the most heat nearest to the sun, so there is the most happiness nearest to Christ. No Christian enjoys comfort when his eyes are fixed on vain things—he finds no satisfaction unless his soul is enlivened in the ways of God. The world may win happiness elsewhere, but the Christian cannot. I do not blame ungodly men for rushing to their pleasures. Why should I? Let them have their fill. That is all they have to enjoy. A converted wife who despaired of her husband was always very kind to him, for she said, “I fear that this is the only world in which he will be happy, and therefore I have made up my mind to make him as happy as I can in it.” Christians must seek their delights in a higher sphere than the insipid frivolities or sinful enjoyments of the world. Vain pursuits are dangerous to renewed souls. We have heard of a philosopher who, while he looked up to the stars, fell into a pit; but how deeply do they fall who look down. Their fall is fatal. No Christian is safe when his soul is apathetic, and his God is far from him. Every Christian is always safe as to the great matter of his standing in Christ, but he is not safe as regarding his experience in holiness, and communion with Jesus in this life. Satan does not often attack a Christian who is living near to God. It is when the Christian departs from his God, becomes spiritually starved, and endeavors to feed on the trivial, that the devil discovers his hour of opportunity. He may sometimes stand foot to foot with the child of God who is active in his Master’s service, but the battle is generally short: he who slips as he goes down into the Valley of Humiliation, every time he takes a false step invites Apollyon to assail him. O for grace to walk humbly with our God!

Morning, June 13, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Morning, June 13, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost (freely, KJV).” — Revelation 22:17

Jesus says, “take freely.” He wants no payment or preparation. He seeks no recommendation from any of your virtuous emotions. If you lack good feelings, if you are only willing, you are invited; therefore come! If you have no belief and no repentance—come to him— he will give them to you. Come just as you are, and take “Freely,” without money and without price. He gives himself to needy ones. The drinking fountains in our parks and buildings are valuable institutions; and we can hardly imagine any one so foolish as to feel for his wallet, when he stands before one of them, and to cry, “I cannot drink because I have no cash in my pocket.” However poor the man is, there is the fountain, and just as he is, he may drink of it. Thirsty travelers, as they go by, whether they are dressed in course wool or in silk, do not look for any permit for drinking; its being there is their permit for taking its water freely. The kindness of some good friends has put the refreshing crystal drink there and we take it and ask no questions. Perhaps the only persons who need go thirsty through the street where there is a drinking fountain, are the fine ladies and gentlemen who are in their fine automobiles. They are very thirsty but cannot think of being so unrefined as to get out to drink. It would demean them, they think, to drink at a common drinking fountain: so they ride by with parched lips. Oh, how many there are who are rich in their own good works and cannot therefore come to Christ! “I will not be saved,” they say, “in the same way as the harlot or the blasphemer. What! Go to heaven in the same way as a janitor? Is there no pathway to glory but the path which led the thief there? I will not be saved that way.” Such proud boasters must remain without the living water; but, “Whosoever wills, let him TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY.”

Evening, June 12

Evening, June 12, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Who saved us and called us to a holy calling.” — 2 Timothy 1:9

The apostle uses the perfect tense and says, “Who saved us.” Believers in Christ Jesus are saved. They are not looked upon as persons who are in a hopeful state, and may ultimately be saved, but they are already saved. Salvation is not a blessing to be enjoyed upon the death bed, and to be sung of in a future state above, but a matter to be obtained, received, promised, and enjoyed now. The Christian is perfectly saved in God’s purpose; God has ordained him to salvation, and that purpose is complete. He is saved also accordingly as to the price which has been paid for him: “It is finished” was the cry of the Savior before he died. The believer is also perfectly saved through his covenant with his Head, for as he fell in Adam, so he lives in Christ. This complete salvation is accompanied by a holy calling. Those whom the Savior saved upon the cross are in due time successfully called by the power of God the Holy Spirit to holiness: they leave their sins; they endeavor to be like Christ; they choose holiness, not out of any compulsion, but from the conforming to a new nature, which leads them to rejoice in holiness just as naturally as in times past they delighted in sin. God neither chose them nor called them because they were holy, but he called them that they might be holy, and holiness is the beauty produced by his workmanship in them. The excellent characteristics which we see in a believer are as much the work of God as the atonement itself. In this manner the fulness of the grace of God is brought out very beautifully. Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord is the author of it: and what motive but grace could move him to save the guilty? Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord works in such a manner that our righteousness is forever excluded. Such is the believer’s privilege—a present salvation; such is the evidence that he is called to it—a holy life.

Morning, June 12

Morning, June 12, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.” — Daniel 5:27

It is wise to frequently weigh ourselves in the scale of God’s Word. You will find it a holy exercise to read some psalm of David, and, as you meditate upon each verse, to ask yourself, “Can I say this? Have I felt as David felt? Has my heart ever been broken on account of my sin, as his was when he penned his psalms of repentance? Has my soul been full of sure confidence in the hour of difficulty, as his was when he sang of God’s mercies in the cave of Adullam, or in the holds of Engedi? Do I take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord?” Then turn to the life of Christ, and as you read, ask yourselves how far you are conformed to his likeness. Endeavour to discover whether you have the meekness, the humility, the lovely spirit which he constantly instilled and displayed. Take then Paul’s epistles, and see whether you can go along with the apostle in what he said of his experience. Have you ever cried out as he did—”Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Have you ever felt his self-abasement? Have you considered yourself the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints? Have you known anything of his devotion? Could you join with him and say, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain?” If we accordingly read God’s Word as a test of our spiritual condition, we shall have good reason to stop many a time and say, “Lord, I feel I have never yet been here, O bring me here! Give me true repentance, such as this I read of. Give me real faith; give me warmer zeal; inflame me with more fervent love; grant me the grace of meekness; make me more like Jesus. Let me no longer be found wanting, when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, lest I be found wanting in the scales of judgment.” Remember, “But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.”

Evening, June 11

Evening, June 11, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“There he broke the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.” — Psalm 76:3

Our Redeemer’s glorious cry of “It is finished,” was the death-knell of all the adversaries of his people, the breaking of “the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.” Behold the hero of Golgotha using his cross as an anvil, and his woes as a hammer, dashing to splinters bundle after bundle of our sins, those poisoned “arrows of the bow;” trampling on every indictment, and destroying every accusation. What glorious blows the mighty Breaker gives with a hammer far more extraordinary than the fabled weapon of Thor! How the diabolical darts fly into fragments, and the infernal shields are broken like potters’ vessels! Behold, he draws from its sheath of hellish workmanship the dread sword of Satanic power! He snaps it across his knee, as a man breaks the dry wood of a stick, and casts it into the fire. Beloved, no sin of a believer can now be an arrow to wound him mortally, no condemnation can now be a sword to kill him, for the punishment of our sin was borne by Christ; a full atonement was made for all our iniquities by our blessed Substitute and Surety. Who now accuses? Who now condemns? Christ has died, yes, rather, has risen again. Jesus has emptied the quivers of hell, has quenched every fiery dart, and broken off the head of every arrow of wrath; the ground is strewn with the splinters and relics of the weapons of hell’s warfare, which are only visible to us to remind us of our former danger, and of our great deliverance. Sin has no more dominion over us. Jesus has made an end of it and put it away forever. O enemy, your destructive forces are come to a perpetual end. You who make mention of his name, talk of all the wondrous works of the Lord: do not be silent, neither by day, nor when the sun goes to his rest. Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Morning, June 11

Morning, June 11, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“We love because he first loved us.” — 1 John 4:19

There is no natural light on the planet except that which proceeds from the sun; and there is no true love to Jesus in the heart but that which comes from the Lord Jesus himself. From this overflowing fountain of the infinite love of God, all our love to God must spring. This must always be a great and absolute truth, that we love him for no other reason than because he first loved us. Our love to him is the pleasant offspring of his love to us. Anyone may have cold admiration, when studying the works of God, but the warmth of love can only be kindled in the heart by God’s Spirit. How great a wonder it is that we should ever have been brought to love Jesus at all! How marvelous it is that when we had rebelled against him, he should, by a display of such amazing love, seek to draw us back. Indeed, we never would have had a grain of love towards God unless it had been sown in us by the precious seed of his love to us. Love, then, has for its parent the love of God shed abroad in the heart: but after it is accordingly divinely born, it must be divinely nourished. Love is an exotic flower; it is not a plant which will flourish naturally in human soil, it must be watered from above. Love to Jesus is a flower of a delicate nature, and it would soon wither if it received no nourishment except that which could be drawn from the rock of our hearts. As love comes from heaven, so it must feed on heavenly bread. It cannot exist in the wilderness unless it be fed by manna from on high. Love must feed on love. The very soul and life of our love to God is his love to us.

“I love thee, Lord, but with no love of mine,

For I have none to give;

I love thee, Lord; but all the love is thine,

For by thy love I live.

I am as nothing, and rejoice to be

Emptied, and lost, and swallowed up in thee.”

Evening, June 10

Evening, June 10, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“It is these that testify about Me.” — John 5:39

Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of the Bible. He is the constant theme of its sacred pages; from first to last they testify of him. At the creation we immediately discern him as one of the sacred Trinity; we catch a glimpse of him in the promise of the woman’s offspring; we see him modeled in the ark of Noah; we walk with Abraham, as he foresees Messiah’s day; we dwell in the tents of Isaac and Jacob, feeding upon the gracious promise; we hear the venerable Israel talking of Shiloh; and in the numerous types of the law, we find the Redeemer abundantly foreshadowed. Prophets and kings, priests and preachers, all look one way—they all stand as the cherubs did over the ark, desiring to look within, and to read the mystery of God’s great propitiation. Even more manifestly in the New Testament we find our Lord the one pervading subject. It is not an nugget here and there, or dust of gold thinly scattered, but here you stand upon a solid floor of gold; for the whole substance of the New Testament is Jesus crucified, and even its closing sentence is bejeweled with the Redeemer’s name. We should always read Scripture in this light; we should consider the word to be as a mirror into which Christ looks down from heaven; and then we, looking into it, see his face reflected as in a glass—darkly, it is true, but still in such a way as to be a blessed preparation for seeing him as we shall soon see him face to face. This volume contains Jesus Christ’s letters to us, perfumed by his love. These pages are the garments of our King, and they all smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia. Scripture is the royal chariot in which Jesus rides, and it is paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem. The Scriptures are the swaddling clothes of the holy child Jesus; unroll them and you find your Savior. The quintessence of the word of God is Christ.

Editor’s note:  Propitiation: appeasement; or atonement; or, substitutionary sacrifice.

Morning, June 10

Morning, June 10, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

We live for the Lord.” — Romans 14:8

If God had willed it, each of us might have entered heaven at the moment of conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should remain here. It is possible for a man to be taken to heaven, and to be found suitable to be a participant of the inheritance of the saints in light, though he has but just believed in Jesus. It is true that our sanctification is a long and continued process, and we shall not be perfected till we lay aside our bodies and enter within the veil; but nevertheless, had the Lord so willed it, he might have changed us from imperfection to perfection, and have taken us to heaven at once. Why then are we here? Would God keep his children out of paradise a single moment longer than was necessary? Why is the army of the living God still on the battlefield when one charge might give them the victory? Why are his children still wandering back and forth through a maze, when a solitary word from his lips would bring them into the center of their hopes in heaven? The answer is—they are here that they may “live for the Lord,” and may bring others to know his love. We remain on earth as sowers to scatter good seed; as plowmen to break up the fallow ground; as heralds publishing salvation. We are here as the “salt of the earth,” to be a blessing to the world. We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life. We are here as workers for him, and as “workers together with him.” Let us see that our life answers its end. Let us live earnest, useful, holy lives, to “the praise of the glory of his grace.” Meanwhile we long to be with him, and daily sing–

“My heart is with him on his throne,

And ill can brook delay;

Each moment listening for the voice,

Rise up, and come away.'”

Evening, June 9

Evening, June 9, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Search the Scriptures.” — John 5:39

The Greek word here rendered search signifies a strict, close, diligent, curious search, such as men make when they are seeking gold, or hunters when they are in earnest pursuing after game. We must not rest content with having given a superficial reading to a chapter or two, but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the hidden meaning of the word. Holy Scripture requires searching—much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babes, but also meat for strong men. The rabbis wisely say that a mountain of matter hangs upon every word, yes, even upon every title of Scripture. Tertullian exclaims, “I adore the fulness of the Scriptures.” No man who merely skims the book of God can profit in so doing; we must dig and mine until we obtain the hidden treasure. The door of the word only opens to the key of diligence. The Scriptures demand searching. They are the writings of God, bearing the divine stamp and endorsement—who shall dare to treat them with levity? He who despises them despises the God who wrote them. God forbid that any of us should let our Bibles become swift witnesses against us in the great day of account. The word of God will repay searching. God does not call us to sift a mountain of chaff with here and there a grain of wheat in it, but the Bible is winnowed wheat—we have only but to open the granary door and find it. Scripture grows upon the student. It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye it glows with splendor of revelation, like a vast temple paved with wrought gold, and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of gems. No merchandise is like the merchandise of Scriptural truth. Lastly, the Scriptures reveal Jesus: “It is these that testify about Me.” No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this: he who finds Jesus finds life, heaven, and all things. Happy is he who, searching his Bible, discovers his Savior.

Morning, June 9

Morning, June 9, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.” — Psalm 126:3

Some Christians, sadly, are prone to look on the dark side of everything, and to dwell more upon what they have gone through than upon what God has done for them. Ask for their impression of the Christian life, and they will describe their continual conflicts, their deep afflictions, their sad adversities, and the sinfulness of their hearts, yet with scarcely any reference to the mercy and help which God has bestowed them. But a Christian whose soul is in a healthy state will come forward joyously, and say, “I will speak, not about myself, but to the honor of my God. He has brought me up out of an horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my paths: and he has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God. The Lord has done great things for me, whereof I am glad.” Such a summary of experience as this is the very best that any child of God can present. It is true that we endure trials, but it is just as true that we are delivered out of them. It is true that we have our corruptions, and mournfully do we know this, but it is quite as true that we have an all-sufficient Savior, who overcomes these corruptions, and delivers us from their dominion. In looking back, it would be wrong to deny that we have been in the Slough of Despond, and have crept along the Valley of Humiliation, but it would be equally wicked to forget that we have been through them safely and profitably; we have not remained in them, thanks to our Almighty Helper and Leader, who has brought us “out into a wealthy place.” The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through all, and preserved us until now. Our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise, we reckon them to be the bassline of our life’s song, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.”

Evening, June 8, Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Evening, June 8, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.” — Numbers 11:23

God had made a positive promise to Moses that for the space of a whole month he would feed the vast multitude in the wilderness with meat. Moses, being overtaken by a fit of unbelief, looks to the outward methods, and is at a loss to know how the promise can be fulfilled. He looked to the creature instead of the Creator. But does the Creator expect the creature to fulfil his promise for him? No—he who makes the promise always fulfils it by his own unaided omnipotence. If he speaks, it is done—done by himself. His promises do not depend for their fulfilment upon the cooperation of the puny strength of man. We can at once perceive the mistake which Moses made. And yet how commonly we do the same! God has promised to supply our needs, and we look to the creature to do what God has promised to do; and then, because we perceive the creature to be weak and ineffective, we indulge in unbelief. Why look we to that quarter at all? Will you look to the north pole to gather fruits ripened in the sun? Truly, this is no more foolish than when you look to the weak for strength, and to the creature to do the Creator’s work. Let us, then, put the question on the right footing. The grounds for faith are not the sufficiency of the visible means for the performance of the promise, but the all-sufficiency of the invisible God, who will most surely do as he has said. If after clearly seeing that the onus lies with the Lord and not with the creature, we still dare to indulge in mistrust, the question of God comes home mightily to us: “Is the LORD’S power limited?” May it happen that in his mercy, the question there may be answered in our souls with that blessed declaration, “Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.”

Morning, June 8, Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Morning, June 8, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“For many fell slain, because the war was of God.”— Chronicles 5:22

Observe this verse with holy joy, you warrior fighting under the banner of the Lord Jesus, for it is now as it was in the days of old; if the war is of God the victory is sure. The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh could barely muster forty-five thousand fighting men, and yet in their war with the Hagarites, they slew a hundred thousand men, “for they cried out to God in the battle, and He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him.” The Lord saves not by many nor by few; it is our duty to go forth in Jehovah’s name even if we are only a handful of men, for the Lord of Hosts is with us for our Captain. They did not neglect shield, and sword, and bow, neither did they place their trust in these weapons; we must use all appropriate means, but our confidence must rest in the Lord alone, for he is the sword and the shield of his people. The great reason of their extraordinary success lay in the fact that “the war was of God.” Beloved, in fighting with sin without and within, with error doctrinal or practical, with spiritual wickedness in high places or low places, with devils and the devil’s allies, you are waging Jehovah’s war, and unless he himself can be bested, you need not fear defeat. Do not quail before superior numbers, do not shrink from difficulties or impossibilities, do not flinch at wounds or death; strike with the two-edged sword of the Spirit, and the slain shall lie in heaps. The battle is the Lord’s and he will deliver his enemies into our hands. With steadfast foot, strong hand, dauntless heart, and flaming zeal, rush to the conflict, and the hosts of evil shall fly like chaff before the gale.

Stand up! stand up for Jesus! The strife will not be long;

This day the noise of battle, The next the victor’s song:

To him that overcometh, A crown of life shall be;

He with the King of glory Shall reign eternally.

Evening, June 7, Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Evening, June 7, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Be zealous.” — Revelation 3:19

If you wish to see souls converted, if you desire to hear the cry that “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ;” if you would place crowns upon the head of the Savior, and see his throne lifted high, then be filled with zeal. For, under God, the way of the world’s conversion must be by the zeal of the church. Every form of grace shall achieve exploits, but this one shall be first; prudence, knowledge, patience, and courage will follow in their places, but zeal must lead at the forefront. It is not the extent of your knowledge, though that is useful; it is not the extent of your talent, though that is not to be despised; it is your zeal that shall achieve exploits. This zeal is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: it draws its vital force from the continued operations of the Holy Spirit in the soul. If our inner life dwindles, if our heart beats slowly before God, we shall not experience zeal; but if all is strong and vigorous within us, then we cannot help but feel a loving anxiety to see the kingdom of Christ come, and his will done on earth, even as it is in heaven. A deep sense of gratitude will nourish Christian zeal. Looking to the hole of the pit from where we were dug, we find abundant reason why we should spend and be spent for God. And zeal is also stimulated by the thought of the eternal future. It looks with tearful eyes down to the flames of hell, and it cannot slumber: it looks up with anxious gaze to the glories of heaven, and it cannot help but rouse itself. It feels that time is short compared with the work to be done, and therefore it devotes all that it has to the cause of its Lord. And it is forever strengthened by the remembrance of Christ’s example. He was clothed with zeal as with a cloak. How swift the chariot wheels of duty went with him! He knew no loitering along the way. Let us prove that we are his disciples by manifesting the same spirit of zeal.

Morning, June 7, Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

Morning, June 7, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Hate evil, you who love the Lord.” — Psalm 97:10

You have good reason to “hate evil;” only consider what harm it has already brought you. Oh, what a world of mischief sin has brought into your heart! Sin blinded you so that you could not see the beauty of the Savior; it made you deaf so that you could not hear the Redeemer’s tender invitations. Sin turned your feet into the path of death and poured poison into the very fountain of your being; it tainted your heart, and made it “more deceitful than all else and desperately sick.” Oh, what a creature you were when evil had done its utmost with you, before divine grace intervened! You were an heir of wrath even as others; you “followed the masses in doing evil.” Such were all of us; but Paul reminds us, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” We have good reason, indeed, for hating evil when we look back and trace its deadly workings. Such mischief did evil do to us, so much so that our souls would have been lost had not omnipotent love intervened to redeem us. Even now it is an active enemy, always watching to do us harm, and to drag us to perdition. Therefore “hate evil,” O Christians, unless you desire trouble. If you would strew your path with thorns, and plant thistles in your deathbed’s pillow, then neglect to “hate evil:” but if you would live a happy life, and die a peaceful death, then walk in all the ways of holiness, hating evil, even to the end. If you truly love your Savior, and would honor him, then “hate evil.” We know of no cure for the love of evil in a Christian like abundant interaction with the Lord Jesus. Dwell often with him, and it is impossible for you to be at peace with sin.

“Order my footsteps by thy Word,

And make my heart sincere;

Let sin have no dominion, Lord,

But keep my conscience clear.”

Evening, June 6

Evening, June 6, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Are they Israelites? So am I.” — 2 Corinthians 11:22

We have here a personal claim, and one that demands proof. The apostle knew that his claim was indisputable, but there are many persons who claim to belong to the Israel of God yet have no right to the title. If we are declaring with confidence, “So am I also an Israelite,” let us only say it after having searched our heart as in the presence of God. But if we can give proof that we are following Jesus, if we can from the heart say, “I trust him wholly, trust him only, trust him simply, trust him now, and trust him always,” then the position which the saints of God hold belongs to us—all their enjoyments are our possessions; we may be the very least in Israel, “the very least of all saints,” yet since the mercies of God belong to the saints as humble saints, and not as advanced saints, or well-taught saints, we may put in our appeal, and say, “Are they Israelites? so am I; therefore the promises are mine, grace is mine, glory will be mine.” The claim, rightfully made, is one which will yield tremendous comfort. When God’s people are rejoicing that they are his, what joy they have if they can say, “So am I!” When they speak of being pardoned, and justified, and accepted in the Beloved, how joyful to respond, “Through the grace of God, so am I.” But this claim not only has its enjoyments and privileges, but also its conditions and duties. We must share with God’s people in storm and shadow as well as in sunshine. When we hear them spoken of with contempt and ridicule for being Christians, we must come boldly forward and say, “So am I.” When we see them working for Christ, giving their time, their talent, their whole heart to Jesus, we must be able to say, “So do I.” O, let us prove our gratitude by our devotion, and live as those who, having claimed a privilege, are willing to take the responsibility connected with it.

Morning, June 6

Morning, June 6, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Behold, I am vile.” (KJV) — Job 40:4

One encouraging word for you, poor lost sinner! You think you cannot come to God because you are vile. Now, there is not a saint living on earth that has not felt that he is vile. If Job, and Isaiah, and Paul were all obliged to say, “I am vile,” oh, poor sinner, will you be ashamed to join in the same confession? If divine grace does not eradicate all sin from the believer, how do you hope to do it yourself? And if God loves his people while they are still vile, do you think your vileness will prevent his loving you? Believe on Jesus, you outcast of the world’s society! Jesus calls you, and just as you are.

“Not the righteous, not the righteous;

Sinners, Jesus came to call.”

Even now say, “You have died for sinners; I am a sinner, Lord Jesus, sprinkle your blood on me;” if you will confess your sin you shall find pardon. If, now, with all your heart, you will say, “I am vile, wash me,” you shalt be washed now. If the Holy Spirit shall enable you from your heart to cry,

“Just as I am, without one plea

But that thy blood was shed for me,

And that thou bidd’st me come to thee,

O Lamb of God, I come,”

you shall rise from reading this morning’s portion with all your sins pardoned; and though you woke this morning with every sin that man has ever committed on your head, you shall rest tonight accepted in the Beloved; though once degraded with the rags of sin, you shalt be adorned with a robe of righteousness, and appear white as the angels are. For “now,” mark it, “Now is the accepted time.” If you “believe on him who justifies the ungodly you are saved.” Oh! May the Holy Spirit give you saving faith in him who receives the vilest.

Evening, June 5

Evening, June 5, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“The one who does not love does not know God.” — 1 John 4:8

The distinguishing mark of a Christian is his confidence in the love of Christ, and the yielding of his affection to Christ in return. First, faith sets her seal upon the man by enabling the soul to say with the apostle, “Christ loved me and gave himself for me.” Then love gives the countersign, and stamps gratitude and love to Jesus upon the heart  in return. “We love him because he first loved us.” In the early church age, which is the heroic period of the Christian religion, this double mark was clearly to be seen in all believers in Jesus; they were men who knew the love of Christ, and rested upon it as a man leans upon a staff whose reliability he has tested. The love which they felt towards the Lord was not a quiet emotion which they hid within themselves in the secret chamber of their souls. It was not love only spoken of in their private assemblies when they met on the first day of the week, and when they sang hymns in honor of Christ Jesus the crucified; it was a passion with them of such a vehement and all-consuming energy that it was visible in all their actions, spoken in their everyday talk, and looked out of their eyes even in their common glances. Love to Jesus was a flame which fed upon the core and heart of their being; and, therefore, from its own force it burned its way into the outer man and shone there. Zeal for the glory of King Jesus was the seal and mark of all genuine Christians. Because of their dependence upon Christ’s love they risked much, and because of their love to Christ they did much, and it is the same now. The children of God are ruled in their inmost dominions by love—the love of Christ controls them; they rejoice that divine love is set upon them, they feel it being shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given to them, and then by force of gratitude they love the Savior with a pure heart, passionately. My reader, do you love him? Before you sleep give an honest answer to a weighty question!

Morning, June 5

Morning, June 5, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“The Lord closed it [the door of the ark] behind him.” — Genesis 7:16

Noah was shut in away from all the world by God’s hand of divine love. The door of divine purpose interposes itself between us and the world, which lies in the grip of the wicked one. We are not of the world even as our Lord Jesus was not of the world. Into the sin, the partying, the pursuits of the multitude we cannot enter; we cannot play in the streets of Vanity Fair with the children of darkness, for our heavenly Father has shut us in. Noah was shut in with his God. “Enter the ark,” was the Lord’s invitation, and he clearly showed that he himself intended to dwell in the ark with his servant and his family. Therefore, all the chosen dwell in God and God in them. They are happy people to be enclosed in the same circle which contains God in the Trinity of his persons, Father, Son, and Spirit. Let us never be inattentive to that gracious call, “Come, my people, enter into your rooms and close your doors behind you; hide for a little while until indignation runs its course.” Noah was so shut in that no evil could reach him. Floods did nothing but lift him heavenward, and winds did nothing but waft him on his way. Outside of the ark all was ruin, but inside all was rest and peace. Without Christ we perish, but in Christ Jesus there is perfect safety. Noah was so shut in that he could not even desire to come out, and those who are in Christ Jesus are in him forever. They shall go no more out forever, for eternal faithfulness has shut them in, and hellish malice cannot drag them out. The Prince of the house of David shuts and no man opens; and when in the last days, as Master of the house he shall rise up and shut the door, it will be useless for those who profess Christ in word only to knock, and cry Lord, Lord open to us; for that same door which shuts in the wise virgins will shut out the foolish forever. Lord, shut me in by your grace.

Evening, June 4

Evening, June 4, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Taken up in glory.” — 1 Timothy 3:16

We have seen our cherished Lord in the days of his humanity, humiliated and sorely tormented; for he was “despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” He wore the sackcloth of sorrow as his daily dress, he whose brightness is as the morning: shame was his cloak, and reproach was his clothing. Yet now, in so much as he has triumphed over all the powers of darkness upon the bloody tree, our faith beholds our King returning with dyed garments from Edom, robed in the splendor of victory. How glorious must he have been in the eyes of seraphim, when a cloud received him out of mortal sight, and he ascended up to heaven! Now he wears the glory which he had with God before the earth began, and yet another glory above all—that one which he has well earned in the fight against sin, death, and hell. As victor he wears the illustrious crown. Hear how the song raises high! It is a new and pleasing song: “Worthy are You who was slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation!” He wears the glory of an Intercessor who can never fail, of a Prince who can never be defeated, of a Conqueror who has vanquished every foe, of a Lord who has the heart’s allegiance of every subject. Jesus wears all the glory which the splendor of heaven can bestow upon him, which ten thousand times ten thousand angels can minister to him. You cannot conceive of his surpassing greatness with your utmost stretch of imagination; yet there will be a further revelation of it when he shall descend from heaven in great power, with all the holy angels; “Then He will sit on His glorious throne.” Oh, the splendor of that glory! It will overwhelm his people’s hearts. Nor is this the conclusion, for eternity shall sound his praise, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever!” Reader, if you would rejoice in Christ’s glory for all time, he must be glorious in your sight now. Is he so?

Morning, June 4

Morning, June 4, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“The kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind.” — Titus 3:4

How wonderful it is to witness the Savior communing with his own beloved people! There can be nothing more delightful than, by the Divine Spirit, to be led into this fertile field of delight. Let the mind for an instant consider the history of the Redeemer’s love, and a thousand captivating acts of affection will suggest themselves, all of which have for their design the weaving of the heart into Christ, and the intertwisting of the thoughts and emotions of the renewed soul with the mind of Jesus. When we meditate upon this amazing love and behold the all-glorious Kinsman of the Church endowing her with all his ancient wealth, our souls may well faint for joy. Who is he that can endure such a weight of love? The Holy Spirit is sometimes pleased to afford a partial sense of it, which is more than the soul can contain; how thrilling must be a complete view of it! When the soul shall have understanding to discern all the Savior’s gifts, wisdom by which to estimate them, and time in which to meditate upon them—such as the world to come will afford us—we shall then commune with Jesus in a nearer manner than at present. But who can imagine the wonder of such fellowship? It must be one of the things “which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.” Oh, to see the doors of our Joseph’s storehouses burst open and see the abundance which he has stored up for us! This will overwhelm us with love. By faith we see now the reflected image of his unbounded treasures, as in a glass dimly, but when we shall actually see the heavenly things themselves, with our own eyes, how deep will be the stream of fellowship in which our soul shall bathe itself! Until then our loudest praise shall be reserved for our loving benefactor, Jesus Christ our Lord, whose love to us is wonderful, passing the love of women.

Evening, June 3

Evening, June 3, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“He humbled himself.” — Philippians 2:8

Jesus is the great teacher of meekness of heart. We need to learn from him daily. See the Master taking a towel and washing his disciples’ feet! Follower of Christ, will you not humble yourself? See him as the Servant of servants, and surely you cannot be proud! Is not this the summary of his biography: “He humbled himself?” On earth was he not always stripping off first one robe of honor and then another, until, naked, he was fastened to the cross, and when there did he not empty out his inmost self, pouring out his life-blood, giving up for all of us, until they laid him penniless in a borrowed grave? How low was our dear Redeemer brought! How then can we be proud? Stand at the foot of the cross, and count the purple drops by which you have been cleansed; see the crown of thorns; note his scourged shoulders, still gushing with crimson streams; see his hands and feet given up to the rough iron, and his whole being to mockery and scorn; see the bitterness, and the pangs, and the throes of inward grief, showing themselves in his outward frame; hear the terrible shriek, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And if you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it: if you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus, you do not know him. You were so lost that nothing could save you but the sacrifice of God’s only begotten son. Think of that, and as Jesus stooped for you, bow yourself in humility at his feet. A sense of Christ’s amazing love to us has a greater tendency to humble us than even a consciousness of our own guilt. May the Lord bring us in contemplation to Calvary; then our position will no longer be that of the self-important man of pride, but we shall take the humble place of one who loves much because much has been forgiven him. Pride cannot live beneath the cross. Let us sit there and learn our lesson, and then rise and carry it into practice.

Morning, June 3

Morning, June 3, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“These were the potters and the inhabitants of Netaim and Gederah; they lived there with the king for his work.” — 1 Chronicles 4:23

Potters were not the very highest grade of workers, but “the king” needed potters, and therefore they were in royal service, although the material upon which they worked was nothing but clay. We, too, may be engaged in the most menial part of the Lord’s work, but it is a great privilege to do anything for “the king;” and therefore we will work and rest in our calling, hoping that, “when you lie down among the sheepfolds (pots, KJV), you are like the wings of a dove covered with silver, And its pinions with glistening gold.” These were laborers who dwelt among plants and hedges, having rough, rustic hedging and ditching work to do. They may have desired to live in the city, amid its life, society, and refinement, but they kept their appointed places, for they also were doing the king’s work. The place of our habitation is fixed, and we are not to depart from it out of whim and impulse, but seek to serve the Lord in it, by being a blessing to those among whom we reside. These potters and gardeners had royal company, for they dwelt “with the king” and although among hedges and plants, they dwelt with the king there. No lawful place, or gracious occupation, however lowly, can exclude us from communion with our divine Lord. In visiting shacks, crowded lodging-houses, bunkhouses, or jails, we may go with the king. In all works of faith we may count upon Jesus’ fellowship. It is when we are in his work that we may be sure of  his smile. You unknown workers who are occupied for your Lord amid the dirt and wretchedness of the lowest of the low, be of good cheer, for jewels have been found upon dunghills before now, earthen pots have been filled with heavenly treasure, and foul weeds have been transformed into precious flowers. Dwell with the King for his work, and when he writes his chronicles your name shall be recorded.

Evening, June 2

Evening, June 2, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“Good Master. “(KJV) — Matthew 19:16

If the young man in the gospel used this title in speaking to our Lord, how much more fittingly may I therefore address him! He is indeed my Master in both senses, a ruling Master and a teaching Master. I delight to run to do his errands, and to sit at his feet. I am both his servant and his disciple and count it my highest honor to own the double character. If he should ask me why I call him “good,” I should have a ready answer. It is true that “there is none good but one, that is, God,” but then he is God, and all the goodness of Deity shines forth in him. In my experience, I have found him good, so good, indeed, that all the good I have has come to me through him. He was good to me when I was dead in sin, for he raised me by his Spirit’s power; he has been good to me in all my needs, trials, struggles, and sorrows. There could never be a better Master, for his service is freedom, his rule is love: I wish I were one thousandth part as good a servant. When he teaches me as my Rabbi, he is unspeakably good, his doctrine is divine, his manner is down to my level, his spirit is gentleness itself. No error mingles with his instruction— the golden truth which he brings forth is pure, and all his teachings lead to goodness, sanctifying as well as edifying the disciple. Angels find him a good Master and delight to pay their homage at his footstool. The ancient saints proved him to be a good Master, and each of them rejoiced to sing, “I am your servant, O Lord!” My own humble testimony must certainly be to the same effect. I will bear this witness before my friends and neighbors, for possibly they may be led by my testimony to seek my Lord Jesus as their Master. O that they would do so! They would never regret so wise a deed. If they would only take his easy yoke, they would find themselves in such royal a service that they would enlist in it forever.

Morning, June 2

Morning, June 2, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” — Galatians 5:17

In every believer’s heart there is a constant struggle between the old nature and the new. The old nature is very active, and loses no opportunity of exercising all the weapons of its deadly armory against newborn grace; while on the other hand, the new nature is ever on the watch to resist and destroy its enemy. Grace within us will employ prayer, and faith, and hope, and love, to cast out the evil; it uses with it the “whole armor of God,” and wrestles earnestly. These two opposing natures will never cease to struggle so long as we are in this world. The battle of “Christian” with “Apollyon” in Pilgrim’s Progress lasted three hours, but the battle of Christian with himself lasted all the way from the Wicket Gate to the river Jordan. The enemy is so securely entrenched within us that he can never be driven out while we are in this body: but although we are directly assailed, and often in difficult conflict, we have an Almighty helper, even Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, who is always with us, and who assures us that we shall eventually succeed as more than conquerors through Him. With such assistance the newborn nature is more than a match for its foes. Are you fighting with the adversary today? Are Satan, the world, and the flesh, all against you? Do not be discouraged nor dismayed. Fight on! For God Himself is with you; Jehovah Nissi is your banner, and Jehovah Rophi is the healer of your wounds. Fear not, you shall overcome, for who can defeat Omnipotence? Fight on, “looking to Jesus;” and though the conflict will be long and stern, the victory will be sweet, and the promised reward glorious.

“From strength to strength go on;

Wrestle, and fight, and pray,

Tread all the powers of darkness down,

And win the well-fought day.”

Evening, June 1

Evening, June 1, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening

“And her wilderness He will make like Eden.” — Isaiah 51:3

I envision a howling wind in a wilderness, a great and terrible desert, likened to the Sahara. I perceive nothing in it to relieve the eye; all around I am wearied with a vision of hot and arid sand, strewn with ten thousand bleaching skeletons of wretched men who have expired in anguish, having lost their way in the unforgiving wasteland. What an appalling sight! How horrible! A sea of sand without bounds, and without an oasis, a cheerless graveyard for a forlorn race ! But behold and wonder! Springing up suddenly from the scorching sand I see a plant of distinction; and as it grows it buds, the bud expands—it is a rose, and at its side a lily bows its modest head; and, miracle of miracles, as the fragrance of those flowers is diffused the wilderness is transformed into a fruitful field! Everything around it blossoms extraordinarily, the glory of Lebanon is given to it, and the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. Do not call it Sahara, call it Paradise. Do not speak of it any longer as the valley of death and shadows, for where before the skeletons lay bleaching in the sun, now behold a resurrection is proclaimed, and up spring the dead, a mighty army, full of immortal life. Jesus is that plant of distinction, and his presence makes all things new. Nor is the wonder less in each individual’s salvation. Far away, dear reader, I behold you cast out, an infant, uncovered, unwashed, defiled with your own blood, left to be food for beasts of prey. But look, a jewel has been thrown into your being by a divine hand, and for its sake you have been pitied and tended by divine providence; you are washed and cleansed from your defilement, you are adopted into heaven’s family, the fair seal of love is upon your forehead, and the ring of faithfulness is on your hand—you are now a prince of God, though you were once cast away, an orphan. O exceedingly prize the matchless power and grace which changes deserts into gardens and makes the barren heart to sing for joy!