9th December

Written by Steven Black on 09/12/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“When thou passest through the waters,
I will be with thee.”
Isaiah 43:2

How many of the dear saints of God, when they have been brought into tribulation and sorrow, have found the fulfilment of this most gracious promise! And is there not one of these waters through which all must go—that deep and rapid Jordan which every one must pass through? How dark and gloomy those waters have appeared to the eyes of many a child of God, in whom is continually fulfilled the experience of the words, “Who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” But how often have these waters only been terrible in prospect, in anticipation. How different has been the reality. When he comes down to the river’s bank and his feet dip in these waters, and it appears as though they would rise higher and higher, the Lord suddenly appears in his power and presence, and then the water sinks. He speaks a word of peace to his soul upon a dying bed—reveals Christ in his love and grace and blood—removes those doubts, fears, and disturbing thoughts which have perplexed him for years, and brings into his heart a holy calm, a sweet peace, assuring him that all is well with him, both for time and eternity. Has he not then the fulfilment of the promise, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee?”

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

8th December

Written by Steven Black on 08/12/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“But where sin abounded,
grace did much more abound.”
Romans 5:20

In order to know what grace is in its reign over sin, and in its superaboundings over the aboundings of iniquity, we must be led experimentally into the depths of the fall. We must be led by God himself into the secrets of our own heart; we must be brought down into distress of mind on account of our sin and the idolatry of our fallen nature. And when, do what we will, sin will still work, reign, and abound, and we are brought to soul poverty, helplessness, destitution, and misery, and cast ourselves down at the footstool of his mercy— then we begin to see and feel the reign of grace, in quickening our souls, in delivering us from the wrath to come, and in preserving us from the dominion of evil. We begin to see then that grace superabounds over all the aboundings of sin in our evil hearts, and as it flows through the channel of the Saviour’s sufferings, that it will never leave its favoured objects till it brings them into the enjoyment of eternal life! And if this does not melt and move the soul, and make a man praise and bless God, nothing will, nothing can!

But until we have entered into the depths of our own iniquities, until we are led into the chambers of imagery, and brought to sigh, groan, grieve, and cry under the burden of guilt on the conscience and the workings of secret sin in the heart—it cannot be really known. And to learn it thus, is a very different thing from learning it from books, or ministers. To learn it in the depths of a troubled heart, by God’s own teaching, is a very different thing from learning it from the words of a minister or even from the word of God itself. We can never know these things savingly and effectually, till God himself is pleased to apply them with his own blessed power, and communicate an unctuous savour of them to our hearts, that we may know the truth, and find to our soul’s consolation, that the truth makes us free!

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

7th December

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

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us
unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus,
after that ye have suffered a while,
make you perfect, stablish,
strengthen, settle you.”
1 Peter 5:10

If “the God of all grace” has indeed “called you unto his eternal glory,”—if he has indeed touched your heart with his blessed finger,—remember you will have to walk, from beginning to end, in a path of suffering; for the whole path, more or less, is a path of tribulation. And, while walking in this path, and suffering from sin, Satan, the world, and the evil of your own heart, it is only to lead you up more unto “the God of all grace;” it is only that God may, in his own time, “make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle you.” And when your soul has passed through these trials, you will see God’s hand in all, praise him for all, and will perceive how good it was for you to have been afflicted, and to have walked in this painful path; that having suffered with Christ Jesus, you might sit down with him in his eternal glory!

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

6th December

Written by Steven Black on 06/12/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“That the trial of your faith, being much
more precious than of gold that perisheth,
though it be tried with fire, might be found
unto praise and honour and glory
at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 1:7

Trials and temptations are the means which God employs to manifest to the soul the reality and strength of the faith which he bestows upon it; for there is in every trial and temptation opposition made to the faith that is in the heart; and every trial and temptation, so to speak, threaten the life of faith. And they threaten it in this way. Under the trial God for the most part hides himself. He puts forth, indeed, a secret power whereby the soul is held up, or otherwise it would sink into utter despair, and be overcome and swallowed up by the power of unbelief. Hence comes the conflict between the trial that fights against the faith and the faith which fights against or rather under the trial.

Now, when in this trial, in this sharp conflict, in this hot furnace, faith does not give way, is not burned up, is not destroyed, but keeps its firm hold upon the promise and the faithfulness of him who has given it, this trial of faith becomes very precious. It is precious to the soul when God again smiles upon it, and becomes thus manifest as genuine. It is precious in the sight of God’s people, who see it and derive strength and comfort from what they witness in the experience of a saint thus tried and blessed; and it is precious also in the sight of God himself, who crowns it with his own manifest approbation, and puts upon it the attesting seal of his own approving smile. But above all things, it will be found precious at the appearing of Jesus Christ, and that not only in his various appearings in grace, but in his final appearance in glory, for of that the Apostle mainly speaks when he says that “it may be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

5th December

Written by Steven Black on 05/12/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“What will ye see in the Shulamite?
As it were the company of two armies.”
Song of Solomon 6:13

Are you not often a mystery to yourself? Warm one moment, cold the next; abasing yourself one half-hour, exalting yourself the following; loving the world, full of it, steeped up to your lips in it to-day; crying, groaning, and sighing for a sweet manifestation of the love of God tomorrow; brought down to nothingness, covered with shame and confusion, on your knees before you leave your room; filled with pride and self-importance before you have got down stairs; despising the world, and willing to give it all up for one taste of the love of Jesus when in solitude; trying to grasp it with both hands when in business.

What a mystery are you! Touched by love, and stung with enmity; possessing a little wisdom, and a great deal of folly; earthly-minded, and yet having the affections in heaven; pressing forward, and lagging behind; full of sloth, and yet taking the kingdom with violence!

And thus the Spirit, by a process which we may feel but cannot adequately describe, leads us into the mystery of the two natures, that “company of two armies,” perpetually struggling and striving against each other in the same bosom. So that one man cannot more differ from another than the same man differs from himself.

But do not nature, sense, and reason contradict this? Do not the wise and prudent deny this? “There must be a progressive advance,” they say, “in holiness; there must be a gradual amendment of our nature until at length all sin is rooted out, and we become as perfect as Christ.” But the mystery of the kingdom of heaven is this, that our carnal mind undergoes no alteration, but maintains a perpetual war with grace: and thus, the deeper we sink in self-abasement under a sense of our vileness, the higher we rise in a knowledge of Christ; and the blacker we are in our own view, the more comely does Jesus appear.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

4th December

Written by Steven Black on 04/12/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4

“Man shall not live by bread alone.” There is heavenly food to support his soul, as well as natural food to support his body. If a man is supported spiritually by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, if this be the only food the Lord’s people enjoy, how little they have! If you and I have no more religion than that which comes from what God has spoken into our soul; if that be the bread we are to live upon; if that be the strength of our heart; if that be our living portion and our dying sufficiency;—how it narrows up our religion into so small a compass, that sometimes we seem to require a microscope to see whether we have any or not.

But thus we learn this lesson, “that man liveth not by bread alone.” He cannot live by doctrines in the head. He cannot live by bodily gestures. He cannot live by rites and forms and ceremonies. He cannot live by anything that springs from the creature. His life is first given by God, and his life is maintained by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. What the Lord teaches, he knows; what the Lord works, he feels; what the Lord gives, he possesses; what the Lord speaks to his heart, he has in his soul, as from the lips of the sovereign Majesty himself.

But what a narrow path is this! How it cuts up all creature righteousness! How it lays the creature low in the dust of abasement! With all your religion, you have none but what God gives, nor can you procure a grain; for you have to live, not by bread alone, as in your natural life, but on every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. How then are you spiritually to live, except from time to time the Lord speak a word to your soul?

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

3rd December

Written by Steven Black on 03/12/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“The eternal God is thy refuge.”
Deuteronomy 33:27

There is, to my mind, much sweetness in the contrast betwixt the eternal God being the refuge of his people, and the lying refuges that most hide their heads in. God’s people want an eternal refuge. They have a never-dying soul; and unless they have a never-dying refuge, it is not sufficient for a never-dying soul. Works! these are for time; the never-dying soul wants something to stand when works and wonders cease. Doctrines, opinions, sentiments, ordinances, the good opinion of men, the applause and flattery of the creature—these are of the earth, earthy; they fail when a man gives up the ghost.

But a child of God wants a refuge, not merely that his soul may anchor in it in time, but that when time is ended, when the angel proclaims, “There shall be time no longer,” and his liberated soul escapes its prison-house, and is wafted into the presence of the eternal God, it may find in Him at that solemn moment a refuge. Nay, all through eternity, in the rolling circle of its never-ending ages, the soul will still want a refuge. For could it even in eternity exist for a moment out of Christ—in a word, were the refuge of the elect anything but eternal, the moment the limited time of their shelter closed, the frowns of God would hurl them into perdition; so that nothing but an eternal God can ever be a refuge for a never-dying soul.

It does not say, “His grace is thy refuge.” No; because grace will end in glory. Nor does it say, “His mercy is thy refuge,” for his mercy will end in blessing and praise. Nor does it say, “His attributes or his perfections are a refuge.” It drops the gifts and leads the soul up to the Giver, as though God’s own gifts and mercies were not sufficient, but that the immortal soul must have the immortal God, and the never-dying spirit is only safe in the bosom of an eternal Jehovah.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

2nd December

Written by Steven Black on 02/12/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn,
and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.”
Isaiah 51:1

It is as though the Lord would here by the pen of his prophet turn our eyes to our native origin. And what is that? The same quarry out of which the other stones come. If you and I, by God’s grace, are “living stones,” we come out of the same quarry with the dead, unbelieving, unregenerate world; there is no difference in that respect. Nay, we are perhaps sunk lower in the quarry than some of those in whom God never has and never will put his grace. It is not the upper stratum, what is called “the capstone,” of the quarry, which is to be taken to be hewn into a pillar; they go down deep into the pit to get at the marble which is to be chiselled into the ornamental column.

So with God’s saints. They do not lie at the top of the quarry; but the Lord has to go down very low, that he may bring up these stones out of the depths of the fall, and lift them, as it were, out of deeper degradation than those which lie nearer the surface. I remember reading once an expression which a Portland quarryman used when he was asked a question with respect to the hard labour of getting out the stone. He said, “It is enough to heave our hearts out.” The stone lay so deep, and required such severe bodily exertion, that the labourer was forced to throw not only all his weight, sinews, and muscles into the work, but his very heart also.

So it is with the elect of God. They are sunk so low, in such awful depths of degradation, at such an infinite distance from God, so hidden and buried from everything good and godlike, that, so to speak, it required all the strength and power of Jehovah to lift them out of the pit. In raising them out of the quarry of nature, he spent, as it were, upon them all his heart; for wherein was the heart of God so manifested as in the incarnation of his only-begotten Son, and in the work, righteousness, sufferings, blood, and death of the Lord Jesus Christ?

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

1st December

Written by Steven Black on 01/12/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion;
and unto thee shall the vow be performed.”
Psalm 65:1

What a sweet thing it is to bless and praise God! There is no feeling upon earth equal to it. But how often are we in that state when we can neither pray nor praise, when sullenness, frowardness, and peevishness seem to take such complete possession, that, so far from praising God, there is no power even to seek his face; and so far from blessing him, there are even dreadful things working up in the heart against him, which awfully manifest the enmity of the carnal mind. Those who are painfully exercised with such feelings are certain, therefore, that it is God’s work to enable them to praise and bless his holy name.

And does not the heaven-taught soul come sometimes into this spot, “O that the Lord would give me something to praise him for, would bring me out of this trial, break this wretched snare, remove this awful temptation, lift me out of this providential difficulty, bless and water my soul, comfort my heart, strengthen my spirit, give me some sweet testimony of his covenant love!” “O,” says the soul, “how I would then bless and praise him! I would spend all my breath in exalting his holy name.”

But when the Lord withholds from the soul the blessings it so eagerly covets, it can only look at them at a great distance, view them wishfully, and long to experience them. But it says, “Until they come with power, until they are brought in with sweetness, until they are sealed upon my very heart, so as to take full possession of my breast, I cannot, I dare not, bless and praise God’s holy name.”

O what a dependent creature a heaven-taught soul is! How it hangs upon the Spirit of God to work in it that which is well-pleasing in his sight; how convinced it is that it cannot feel sin nor confess it, that it cannot breathe forth prayer nor praise unless the “God of all grace” create by his own powerful hand these blessed fruits of the lips (Isaiah 57:19). Are you so helpless in your feelings as this? Are you such complete dependents upon sovereign grace? Then you are spiritually taught of God; for it is God’s teaching in the soul which brings a man to an experimental knowledge of his own complete helplessness before him.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

30th November

Written by Steven Black on 30/11/2018. Posted in Devotionals

“Wherefore he is able also to save them
to the uttermost that come unto God by him,
seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
Hebrews 7:25

If the gracious Lord did not live to make intercession for us, he could hardly be said to save us to the uttermost. But as he ever lives at God’s right hand and is ever interceding, ever presenting the perfume of his acceptable mediation, this gives us a certain pledge of his love, his pity, and his power. Is not this very encouraging to all who come unto God by him? and may we not say, “Such are we, O Lord; we do come, we daily come to thee by Jesus Christ?” And do we not need all the encouragement that God may give us out of it? for we often sink very low through temptation and trial and the manifold afflictions of the way.

How blessed, then, it is if you can only trace this mark of grace in your soul when others seem almost lost out of sight. If you know anything of internal work, you know this— whether you have come, whether you are coming to God by Jesus Christ. It is very simple, yet very expressive. Have you come as an outcast? Have you come as ready to perish? for these are expressly spoken of as coming in that day when the great trumpet is blown, the great and glorious trumpet of the gospel, for its jubilee notes are sounded specially for them. Have you come in faith? have you come in hope? have you come in love? and have you found any measure of acceptance and approbation in your own bosom? “Yes,” say some, “with all my doubts, fears, and questioning, I can answer your question with an honest heart and a firm front, that I have come to God by Jesus Christ, and have felt the blessedness of so doing.”

Then you have known something or will know something about the uttermost; and the more you know about the uttermost, the more you will prize salvation by grace, the more you will cleave to the Son of God, the more you will hang upon his finished work, and the more you will look unto him who has so kindly said, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.”

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869