For a Joyful Resurrection

The Morning Watches— John MacDuff, 1852

“In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3

“Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust.” — Isa. 26:19

Gracious God, You have again dispersed the darkness of another natural night. Every rising earthly sun is bringing me nearer the gladdening day-break of immortality. O grant that, when the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised, I may be ready to listen undismayed to the summons, “Behold, the Bridegroom comes, go out to meet Him.”

My prayer is, that I may now be made partaker of the blessedness of the first resurrection from a death of sin. As one “alive from the dead,” may I rise and walk with a living Savior in “newness of life,” that thus I may at last share also in the more glorious resurrection of His ransomed saints, when His “dead men shall live,” and together with His body “they shall arise,” obeying the joyous mandate of their risen Head, “Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust.”

Blessed Jesus, I do rejoice to think of Your own triumphant rising from the tomb. I rejoice to be able to visit in thought Your vacant sepulcher, and to hear the glad tidings, “He is not here, He is risen!” “The Lord is risen!” — it is the blessed pledge and earnest of my own redemption from the power of the grave — that “because Christ lives, I shall live also.” O may “my life be now hidden with Christ in God, so that when Christ, who is my life, shall appear, I may also appear with him in glory.” Keep me ever in the frame I should wish to be found in when my Lord comes. May the lamp of faith and love be brightly burning. May it never be mine to be awakened, by the midnight cry, to the dreadful consciousness, “My lamp has gone out.” May I rather be among the number of “waiting servants,” who, when their Lord comes and knocks,” are ready to open to Him immediately.”

Impart to all near and dear to me this day the same spiritual and eternal blessings I ask for myself. May they, too, be united to Jesus — “planted in the likeness of His death,” that they may be found also “in the likeness of His resurrection.” May we all seek to bear an increasingly holy resemblance in love one to another, and to our great living Head, in whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named; and if for a little while separated by death, may we, on the great day of His appearing, be reunited in bonds that shall know no dissolution.

Hasten that blessed time when our world, so long groaning and travailing in pain, shall put on her resurrection attire, and exult in the glorious liberty of Your children. “Come, Lord Jesus; come quickly.” “Why delay the wheels of Your chariot?”

Lord, I commend myself to You. Prepare me for living, prepare me for dying. Let me live near You in grace now, that I may live with You in glory everlasting. Let me be reconciled submissively to endure all that Your sovereign wisdom and love seem fit to appoint — looking forward, through the tears and sorrows of a weeping world, to that better day-spring, when “I shall behold Your face in righteousness,” and be “satisfied, when I awake in Your likeness.” And all I ask is for the Redeemer’s sake. Amen.

“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8

For Preparation For Death

The Morning Watches— John MacDuff, 1852

“In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3

“Prepare to meet your God.” — Amos 4:12

O eternal, everlasting God — Author of my being — my continual, unwearied Benefactor — I desire to come anew this morning into Your presence, thanking You for Your sparing mercies. Instead of making my last night’s pillow a pillow of death, I am again among the living to praise You. Oh that I were enabled to live every day, and to rise every morning, as if it were to be my last, as if my next waking were to be in the morning of immortality!

Lord, how little am I influenced and impressed by the solemn records of death all around me! Friend after friend is departing — the circle of acquaintance is narrowed. The proclamation is ever sounding with fresh emphasis in my ears, “You also be ready;” and yet how prone to disregard the solemn admonitions! how apt to peril my preparation on the peradventures of a dying hour! Blessed God, my prayer is, that I may have my loins girded and my lamp burning. Let me not wait to have my vessel replenished until the voice of the Bridegroom is heard and I am summoned to meet Him. May I now so repose my every confidence in Jesus, that the hour which to the unwary and unwatchful is one of darkness and terror, may be to me the eve of the blessed Sabbath of eternity — the threshold and the portal of a world of endless joy.

Lord, let me feel that “the sting of death is sin” — that, not until I get the blessed sense of all my sins cancelled and forgiven in the blood of the Surety, can I be ready for my departure. “To me to live, may it be Christ,” that so “to die” may be great and eternal “gain.” Let me be enabled, by faith in death’s great Conqueror, to cultivate that holy familiarity with a dying hour, that I may be enabled, when it comes, to fall sweetly “asleep in Jesus,” and to hear His voice of love saying, “It is I, don’t be afraid.”

Look in mercy on the multitudes who are content to live on, unfit and unprepared for their great change. Awaken them to a sense of their guilt and peril. Show them their affecting need of Jesus — that time is wasting and eternity is hastening — that, “as the tree falls, so must it lie.”

I pray for the heathen who are perishing for lack of knowledge. Countenance and bless all the efforts of Your Church to disseminate among them the gospel of the grace of God. May Your missionary servants, who have gone with their lives in their hands to the dark places of the earth, experience a peace which the world knows not of. May they have many souls as their glory and joy and crown at the day of Christ’s appearing.

Oh give us all grace, in our varied stations and relations in life, to do something for You. Let us not bury or hide our talents; but as members of a ransomed priesthood, may we lay our time, our opportunities, our substance, on Your altar, and seek to “show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” And all I ask is for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8

For a Pilgrim Spirit

The Morning Watches— John MacDuff, 1852

“In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3

“And confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” — Heb. 11:13

O God, again, in the multitude of Your mercies, You are permitting me to approach the footstool of Your throne. I am another day nearer death — oh, may I be a day nearer You! With a new morning’s dawn may I hear the pilgrim summons — “Arise, for this is not your rest.” Before I mingle with the world, give me to feel I am not of it, but born from above, and for above; and cherishing more of a pilgrim spirit, may my prayer and watchword be — “I desire a better country.”

Lord, I bless You for the rich provision You have made for the wilderness journey — for all Your mercies, temporal, providential, and spiritual. Forbid that the many gifts of Your love should draw me away from Yourself, the bountiful Giver, or obliterate the solemn impression — “I am a stranger with You and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.” May I “use the world without abusing it.” By the varied discipline of Your providence, may I be led to feel that all my well-springs are in You. May the world’s fascinations be becoming more powerless — sin more hated — holiness more loved — heaven more realized — God more “the exceeding joy” of my soul. Driven from all creature supports and earthly refuges, may Jesus be the prop and staff of my pilgrimage. When the world is bright, may I rest upon Him, and seek that He sanctify my prosperity. When the wilderness is dreary, and the way dark, may He hallow adversity. When friends are removed, may I feel that I have One left more faithful than the best of all earthly friends; and when death comes, and the pilgrim warfare ceases, leaning confidingly on that same arm, may I enter the pilgrim’s rest.

O adorable Savior! — You who were once Yourself a pilgrim — the lonely, weary, homeless, afflicted One — who had often no arm to lean upon, and no voice to cheer You — an outcast wanderer and sojourner in Your own creation — I rejoice to think that You have trodden all this wilderness-world before me — that You know its dreariest paths. I take comfort in the assurance that there is at the right hand of the Majesty on high, a fellow-Sufferer, who has drunk of every “brook in the way” — shed every tear of earthly sorrow — heaved every sigh of earthly suffering — and who, being Himself the “tried and tempted One,” is able and willing to support every pilgrim who is tried and tempted too.

I beseech You this day to look down in great kindness on all my beloved friends. Seal to them a saving interest in Your great salvation. Wash them all in Your blood — sanctify them all by Your Spirit. May not one be missing on “the day when You make up Your jewels.”

Pity a fallen world. Your Church is slumbering — the enemy is all vigilant — souls are perishing. Arise, Lord, and plead Your own cause. Promote greater unity and love and concord among Your own people. Let us be nearer Jesus, and then we shall be nearer one another. Give us all more of the single eye to Your glory. Make us more self-sacrificing — more heavenly-minded — more Savior-like. And all I ask is for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8

For Restoration to Favor

The Morning Watches— John MacDuff, 1852

“In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.” — Psalm 51:12

O God, another morning has dawned upon me. “Better Sun of righteousness” — with the brightness of Your rising may all the shadows of guilt and sin be dispersed. I come, weak and weary, guilty and heavy-laden, to You, beseeching You to bend Your pitying eye upon me — to deal not with me as I have deserved, nor reward me according to my iniquity. Blessed Jesus, look upon me. In You may I be pitied, pardoned, and forgiven!

I have erred and strayed from Your way as a lost sheep. I have wandered from the home of my God. I have been seeking my happiness in what is shadowy and unreal. The world and its delusive hopes have been preferred to You. My heart, which ought ever to be a little altar and sanctuary of praise, has burned with false incense. Your love and glory have not maintained their paramount place in my affections. I have righteously forfeited “the joys of Your salvation.” My only marvel is, that, as a wandering star, You have not left me to drift onwards to the blackness of darkness forever. O leave me not to perish! I mourn my wanderings. In leaving You, I feel I have left my Best Friend. I have caused an aching void in this heart, which the world, with all its joys and riches and pleasures, can never fill. I cannot have one hour of happiness, if mingled with the thought that I am estranged from You, my God. Blissful hours of Your favor I once enjoyed, come sorrowfully to my remembrance; and, though the cup of earthly happiness be full to the brim, I have still to breathe the prayer — “Oh that it were with me as in months past, when the candle of the Lord did shine!”

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.” Leave me not in this state of distance and alienation. “O Lord, I beseech You, deliver my soul.” Snap these chains of earthliness that are still binding me to the dust, that, on the wings of faith, I may soar upwards, and find rest and quietude where alone it can be found — in Your renewed love and favor. May past backslidings drive me more to Your grace. Nothing in myself, may I find and feel that my all in all is in You. Reveal to me my own emptiness, and the overflowing fullness of Jesus. May I every day see more of His matchless excellencies — His incomparable loveliness — the sweets of His service — that I may never feel tempted to wander from His fold, and carefully avoid all that would risk the forfeiture of that favor in which indeed is “life.”

Lord, let me know this day something of this happiness. Let me not be content with the name to live. Let religion be with me a real thing — let it be everything — life-influencing, sin-subduing, self-renouncing. Let me diffuse all around me the happy glow of a spirit that feels at peace with God.

And now, Lord, what do I wait for? “My hope” for myself, my friends, and all for whom I ought to pray, “is in You.” Listen to these my supplications; and all I ask is for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8

For Filial Nearness

The Morning Watches— John MacDuff, 1852

“In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3

“Abba, Father.” — Rom. 8:15

Most blessed God, I rejoice that I can look up to You, the mightiest of all beings, and call You by that name, which may well dispel all misgivings, and hush all disquietudes — “My Father who is in heaven.”

Father, I have sinned against heaven and in Your sight. The kindest of earthly parents could not so long have borne with ingratitude and waywardness like mine. Long before now You might righteously have driven me an exile and a castaway from Your presence. But the voice of parental mercy is not silenced. The hand of parental patience and love is “stretched out still.” In the midst of deserved wrath, this is Your own gracious declaration, “I will be a Father to you!”

I mourn my grievous departures — my repeated declensions — my heinous ingratitude. Oh, let me no longer live in this state of guilty estrangement — forfeiting all the joys of a Father’s tenderness, the sunshine of a Father’s smile. May I know what it is for the soul, orphaned, and portionless, and friendless by nature, to repose in the security of Your covenant-love. May I be enabled to enjoy more and more, every day, holy filial nearness to the mercy-seat — there unburdening into Your ear all my needs and trials — my sorrows and perplexities — my backslidings and sins. Give me grace to bow with childlike submission to a Father’s will — to bear without a murmur a Father’s rod — to hear in every dealing, joyous or sorrowful, a Father’s voice — and when death comes, to have every fear dispelled by listening to a Father’s summons — “Today you shall be with me in paradise.”

Jesus, blessed Elder Brother! “in whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,” may I be enabled to imitate Your example of holy resignation to Your Father’s will. May the cup of bitterest earthly sorrow be taken into my hands with Your own breathing of devout submission — “This cup which You give me to drink, shall I not drink it? Even so, Father, for so it seems good in Your sight.” It is my comfort, blessed Lord, to know, that while the best of earthly parents may err, You, the unerring God, never can. In Your most mysterious dealings there is wisdom. In Your roughest voice there is mercy.

Adorable Redeemer, all these filial blessings and adoption-privileges I owe to You. It is Your precious blood-shedding which has “set me among the children” — it is that which still keeps me there. Anew this day would I repair to Your cross — anew would I supplicate that the Holy Spirit, the Divine Comforter, would be sent forth into my heart, enabling me to cry, “Abba, Father.” May the thought of this blessed trust in You, support me amid life’s fitful changes and transient friendships, and may I be enabled to dwell with holy delight on that glorious time, when, no longer an exiled pilgrim in a strange land, I shall be received at the gates of glory with a Father’s welcome — “Son, you are ever with me, and all that I have is yours.”

I commend myself and all near and dear to me, this day, to Your fatherly care and keeping. And all I ask is for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8