19th July

Written by Steven Black on 19/07/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“The poor have the gospel preached to them.”
Matthew 11:5

What is the gospel? Is not the gospel a proclamation of pure mercy, of super-abounding grace? Does it not declare the loving-kindness of God in sending his only-begotten Son to bleed and die, and, by his obedience, blood, and merit, to bring in a salvation without money and without price? Is not this the gospel? Not clogged by conditions, nor crippled by anything that the creature has to perform; but flowing freely forth as the air in the skies? The poor to whom the gospel is preached, value it; it is suitable to them; it is sweet and precious when the heart is brought down. But if I stand up in religious pride, if I rest upon my own righteousness, if I am not stripped of everything in the creature, what is the gospel to me? I have no heart to receive it; there is no place in my soul for a gospel without money and without price.

But when I sink into the depth of creature poverty, when I am nothing and have nothing but a mass of sin and guilt, then the blessed gospel, pardoning my sins, covering my naked soul, shedding abroad the love of God, guiding me into everything good, and leading me up into enjoyment with a Three-One God, becomes prized. When such a pure, such a blessed gospel comes into my heart and conscience, has not my previous poverty of spirit prepared me for it? Has not my previous beggary and necessity made a way for it, made it suitable to me, and when it comes, makes it precious to me? We must, then, sink into poverty of spirit, that painful place, in order to feel the preciousness, and drink into the sweetness and blessedness of the gospel of the grace of God.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

18th July

Written by Steven Black on 18/07/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“Who art thou, O great mountain?
before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain:
and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof
with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.”
Zechariah 4:7

If the literal temple had been built up without any trouble whatever; if all had gone on smooth and easy, there would not have been any shouting of “Grace, grace,” when it was finished. But when it was seen how the Lord had brought a few feeble exiles from Babylon; how he had supported them amid and carried them through all their troubles; and how he that laid the foundation had brought forth the head-stone, all that stood by could say, “Grace, grace unto it.” It was these very perplexities and trials that made them join so cheerily in the shout, and made the heart and soul to leap with the lips, when they burst forth with “Grace, grace unto it.” And who will shout the loudest hereafter?

He that has known and felt the most of the aboundings of sin to sink his soul down into grief and sorrow, and most of the super-aboundings of grace over sin to make him triumph and rejoice. Who will have most reason to sing, “Grace, grace?” The lost and ruined wretch, who has feared that he would go to hell a thousand times over, and yet has been delivered thence by sovereign grace, and brought to the glory and joy of heaven. No other person is fit to join in that song; and I am sure no other will join in it but he who has known painfully and experimentally the bitterness of sin and the evil of a depraved heart; and yet has seen and felt that grace has triumphed over all, in spite of the devil, in spite of the world, and in spite of himself, and brought him to that blessed place where many times he was afraid he would never come.

J C Philpot 1802-1869

17th July

Written by Steven Black on 17/07/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience
by the things which he suffered.”
Hebrews 5:8

Our gracious Lord had to learn obedience to the will of God by a personal experience of suffering, and especially by an implicit submission to his heavenly Father’s will. And what was this will? That he should take upon himself the huge debt which his bride had incurred by original and actual transgression; that he should offer himself as a ransom price to discharge and put it away; that he should bear our sins in his own body on the tree, with everything which was involved in being made a curse for us; that he should by death overcome Satan, who had the power of death, and deliver them who all their life, through fear of death, were subject to bondage; and that, whatever sorrows and sufferings should lie in his path, he should bear them all, and learn, in and by them, implicit submission to the will of God. This was the will of God, for he was determined that his law should be magnified, his justice glorified, his infinite purity and holiness revealed and established; and yet, amid all and through all his displeasure against sin, that his infinite wisdom, tender pity, everlasting love, and sovereign grace might shine and reign in the happiness of millions through a glorious eternity. This, also, was the joy that was set before Christ, for which he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

J C Philpot 1802-1869

16th July

Written by Steven Black on 16/07/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“For there is one God,
and one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus.”
1 Timothy 2:5

That he is God, is the very foundation of his salvation; for it is his eternal Godhead that gives virtue, efficacy, and dignity to all that as man he did and suffered for his chosen people. If he were not God, God and man in one glorious Person, what hope would there be for our guilty souls? Could his blood atone for our sins, unless Deity gave it efficacy? Could his righteousness justify our persons, unless Deity imparted merit and value to all the doings and sufferings of his humanity? Could his loving heart sympathize with and deliver us, unless “as God over all,” he saw and knew all that passes within us, and had all power, as well as all compassion, to exert on our behalf?

We are continually in circumstances where no man can do us the least good, and where we cannot help or deliver ourselves; we are in snares, and cannot break them; we are in temptations, and cannot deliver ourselves out of them; we are in trouble, and cannot comfort ourselves; are wandering sheep, and cannot find the way back to the fold; we are continually roving after idols, and hewing out “broken cisterns,” and cannot return to “the fountain of living waters.” How suitable, then, and sweet it is, to those who are thus exercised, to see that there is a gracious Immanuel at the right hand of the Father, whose heart is filled with love, and whose affections move with compassion; who has shed his own precious blood that they might live; who has wrought out a glorious righteousness, and “is able to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by him.”

J C Philpot 1802-1869

15th July

Written by Steven Black on 15/07/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“But we see Jesus.”
Hebrews 2:9

Did your eyes ever see him? Do look into conscience–did your eyes ever see Jesus? I do not mean your natural, your bodily eyes; but the eye of faith, the eye of the soul. I will tell you what you have felt, if you ever saw Jesus. Your heart was softened and melted, your affections drawn heavenward, your soul penetrated with thankfulness and praise, your conscience sprinkled with atoning blood, your mind lifted up above all earthly things to dwell and center in the bosom of the blessed Immanuel. Do you think, then, you have seen Jesus by the eye of faith? Then you have seen the perfection of beauty, the consummation of pure loveliness; you have seen the image of the invisible God; you have seen all the perfections and glorious character of the Godhead shining forth in him who was nailed to Calvary’s tree.

I am sure such a sight as that must melt the most obdurate heart, and draw tears from the most flinty eyes; such a sight by faith of the beauty and glory of the only-begotten Son of God must kindle the warmest, holiest stream of tender affection. It might not have lasted long. These feelings are often very transitory. The world, sin, temptation, and unbelief soon work; infidelity soon assails all; the things of time and sense soon draw aside; but while it lasted, such, in a greater or lesser degree, were the sensations produced.

Now, if you have ever seen Jesus by the eye of faith, and ever had a tender affection going out toward him, you will see him in glory. But you will never see him in glory, if you have not seen him in grace; you will never see him eye to eye in the open vision of eternal bliss, unless you have seen him now upon earth by the faith of God’s elect in your heart.

J C Philpot 1802-1869

14th July

Written by Steven Black on 14/07/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“Look unto me, and be ye saved,
all the ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is none else.”
Isaiah 45:22

Till in soul feeling, we are at “the ends of the earth,” we have no eyes to see, no ears to hear, no hearts to feel what a glorious Mediator there is at the right hand of the Father. And the more we feel to be at “the ends of the earth,” the deeper is our need of him; and as the Spirit unfolds the mystery of the glorious Person of Christ, and reveals his beauty, the more does he become the object of the soul’s admiration and adoration. And O what a Mediator is held out in the word of truth to living faith! What a subject for spiritual faith to look to, for a lively hope to anchor in, and for divine love to embrace! That the Son of God, who lay in the bosom of the Father from all eternity, equal with the Father and the Holy Ghost, the second Person in the glorious Trinity, should condescend to take upon him our nature, that he might groan, suffer, bleed, and die for guilty wretches, who, if permitted, would have ruined their souls a thousand times a day—what a wonder of wonders!

But we cannot enter into, nor feel the power of this mystery till we are reduced to such circumstances, that none but such a Saviour can save our souls. Can we do anything to save ourselves? Then we want not help from that mighty One on whom God has laid help; and we secretly reject him. Can we heal ourselves? Then we want not the good Physician. But when our eyes are opened to see our own thorough ruin and helplessness, and to view the glorious Person of the Son of God, faith is drawn out to flee to and rest upon that glorious Object.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

13th July

Written by Steven Black on 13/07/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“And I will make thy windows of agates,
and thy gates of carbuncles,
and all thy borders of pleasant stones.”
Isaiah 54:12

Upon Zion in her time-state “the Sun of righteousness” does not shine in all his brightness; the “windows of agate,” whilst she is in the flesh, temper his rays. Her prospects, too, are not fully bright and clear; as the Apostle speaks, “We see through” (or in) “a glass darkly;” we have not those clear views which the saints have in glory, where they see Jesus face to face. We have prospects sometimes, I hope, in our souls, of God, and Christ, and heavenly glory; but still these views are but semi-transparent, streaked and clouded like a window of agate, not bright and clear as a pane of plate glass. But as Daniel opened his windows toward Jerusalem, that he might see by faith what he could not see by sight, so should we aim to look towards the heavenly Jerusalem, that by faith we may there “see him who is invisible.”

But the Lord speaks of Zion’s “gates.” “And thy gales of carbuncles.” The carbuncle is of a blood-red colour; and why should the Lord have chosen that Zion’s gates should be of this peculiar hue? May we not, without wresting the figure too closely, believe that there is some mystic allusion here to the blood of the Lamb? As scarlet wool was taken by Moses, when he sprinkled the people, and as Rahab’s house was marked by a scarlet thread, may there not be something here significant in the colour of the gates?

But “gates,” or doors, not only give exit, but admission. How does God hear prayer, and answer it too? Only through the “gate of carbuncle.” Prayer ascends through Jesus, and answers descend through Jesus; groans through Jesus enter the ears of the God of Sabaoth, and through the same bleeding gate of mercy do answers drop into the soul. Our poor self-righteous hearts can hardly comprehend this; we think we must have a good frame, or bring a good deed, or something good in ourselves, to make our prayers acceptable to God. Perish the thought! It is nothing but the spawn of self-righteousness. The “gates of carbuncle,” the open wounds of the Lamb, through these every prayer ascends, through these every answer comes down; and if we set up anything else, or make a gate of human merit, we do despite to the Spirit of God, and pour contempt upon the grace and blood of the Lamb.

“And all thy borders of pleasant stones.” God’s providential dealings, which often form the outer setting of his inward mercies, are of pleasant stones. North, south, east, west, all Zion’s borders are of precious materials. The daily events of life, the circumstances of family, station, employment, success, or the contrary, the ties of domestic affection, with all those varied circumstances which seem rather the borders and outer courts than the inner sanctuary of gracious experience—yet all these are of divine material and workmanship. Viewed by faith, every event and circumstance of life, however apparently grievous, is a pleasant stone; for Zion is a king’s daughter, and the meanest of all her courts is made of pleasant stones. For of wisdom, that is, vital godliness, we read, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

12th July

Written by Steven Black on 12/07/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“I will lay thy foundations with sapphires.”
Isaiah 54:11

Before we can stand firmly in the things of God we must have a good foundation, something solid for our faith, our hope, our love, our all, to rest upon. This God promises to lay for his afflicted Zion: “I will lay thy foundations with sapphires.” “A gift,” we read, “is a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it.” Every testimony, then, that God gives to the soul, every promise brought into the heart, every manifestation of mercy, every visit of love, or application of truth, we may call, in a spiritual sense, a sapphire; for it is indeed a precious stone, radiant with heaven’s own hue. When God thus lays his sapphires in the soul, they afford a solid foundation for faith. And as they are laid by the hand of God himself, they must be firm; as they are sapphires, they must be indestructible.

These sapphires, it is true, may every one of them be buried in the dust of carnality and worldlymindedness; the filth and sewage, the mud and slush, of our fallen nature may roll over them flood after flood. But are they injured thereby? is their nature changed, their value impaired, their hue tarnished, their lustre faded and gone? They may be hidden from view, their setting be obscured, and their faces for a while be dimmed, but one ray from the Sun of righteousness will bring them again to light; one touch of the Polisher’s hand will restore all their beauty. Grace has no more communion with sin than a diamond with a dunghill.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

11th July

Written by Steven Black on 11/07/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours.”
Isaiah 54:11

By these “stones,” which the Lord has promised to “lay with fair colours,” I think we may understand the blessed truths of the gospel which are laid into the soul by the hand of God. The fair colours are deeply ingrained and embedded in the very substance of the stone, not artificially laid on. They are like beautiful marbles, in which every bright hue and vein penetrate into the deepest substance of the material. Such are the truths of God, beautiful throughout, penetrated with grace and glory into their inmost depths.

But these colours are hidden from view till brought out and laid into the soul by the hand of God. However fair or beautiful any word of God be in itself, it only experimentally becomes so as inlaid by his own divine hand into the soul. This brings out the fair colours. How often we read the word of God without seeing the least beauty in it! But let the very same portion come home with sweetness and power to the soul, then beauty, inexpressible beauty, is seen in it immediately; it becomes “a stone of fair colours.” Salvation full and free, the pardoning love of God, the precious blood of the Lamb, justification by Christ’s imputed righteousness, “wine and milk without money and without price,” superabounding grace, eternal mercy, everlasting life—these are some of the precious stones with fair colours which God the Spirit with his own hand lays into the conscience.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

10th July

Written by Steven Black on 10/07/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted.”
Isaiah 54:11

The Lord here compares his suffering Church to a ship at sea, under bare poles, labouring in a heavy storm, driven out of her course by contrary winds, as was Paul’s case in the Adriatic, and doubtful whether she will ever reach the harbour; as the hymn says, “Half a wreck by tempests driv’n.”

What a picture of a tempest-tossed soul! Sun and stars beclouded, compass lost, chart useless, pilot absent, and breakers ahead! Many, very many of the Lord’s dear family are thus “tossed with tempest;” some with a tempest of doubts and fears; others with a tempest of lust and corruptions; some with a tempest of rebellion and fretfulness; others with a storm of guilt and despondency, or with gloomy forebodings and dismal apprehensions. Thus they are driven from their course, their sun and stars all obscured; no clear evidences, no bright manifestations; darkness above, and a raging sea beneath; no harbour in sight, and hope of reaching the desired haven almost gone.

But it is further said of Zion, that she is “not comforted;” that is, not comforted by, nor capable of comfort from, any other than God. This I look upon as a very decisive mark of a work of grace upon the soul. When a man is so distressed in his feelings, so cast down in his mind, and so troubled in his conscience, that none but God can comfort him, we seem to be at once on the footsteps of the Spirit. We do not find hypocrites on this ground. False professors can easily take comfort; they can steal what God does not give, and appropriate what he does not apply. But Zion’s special mark is that she is “not comforted,” that her wounds are too deep for human balsams, her sickness too sore for creature medicines. God has reserved her comfort in his own hands; from his lips alone can consolation be spoken into her soul.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869