Phineas F. Bresee (1838-1915) is best known as the founder of the Nazarene Church. Aside from the church, one of the best things that he left for posterity was the year-long devotional Soul Food for Today (which even this was compiled and published posthumously). Following is a week’s worth of devotions from his book.
If this week proves to be good for you, a copy of this devotional can be purchased here.
Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. —Revelation 3:8
An open door is a possibility, an opportunity, a hope. The great thing sought in the counsels of God, by the incarnation and by the ministry of the Holy Ghost, is a new opportunity for man. The great climax reached is that man has a new chance, an open door of new possibility. It is a door of hope. Sin has caused the awful blight and curse, but right where the curse falls the blood flows, the Lamb of God dies to take away the sin of the world. The Son of God has made the darkest place of human history the most luminous place in the universe. There is no place so dark as the place of human guilt. Right in that place the Cross has been set up. Every thing in this universe is dim beside the Cross of Christ. It is the great, infinite, eternal, crowning glory of God. A door of hope is opened for man. There is a way out of sin. There is light for darkness. There is purity for our impurity. The opportunity, the open door, is set before us, which leads to regeneration, sanctification, glorification.
The happy gates of gospel grace
Stand open night and day:
Lord, we are come to seek supplies,
And drive our wants away.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. —Hebrews 12:14
God is holy; and He commands men to be holy. He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. He has paid the infinite price of the blood of the slain Lamb that men might be holy. It is this of which Isaiah spoke when he said, “An highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it;…but the redeemed shall walk there.” The heavenly kingdom knows no other way; its streets are pure gold; its rivers are clear as crystal; its walls are of jasper and its gates of pearl; its throne is of celestial whiteness. They that follow the Lamb are clothed in white robes. There is no way of salvation but the way of holiness. Jesus has come to make an end of sin. Holiness is the wedding garment that every guest at the marriage feast is to wear. It would seem to me that there would be but one inquiry, and that would be for the cleansing fountain. Holiness comes to you as the gift of God.
I want Thy life, Thy purity,
Thy righteousness, brought in;
I ask, desire, and trust in Thee
To be redeemed from sin.
‘Tis done! Thou dost this moment save,
With full salvation bless;
Redemption through Thy blood I have,
And spotless love and peace.
I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: and I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God. —Exodus 6:6–7
The soul cry of a hopeless perishing world comes up to God. “When Jesus saw the multitude, he had compassion on them.” Man’s soul cry, his burdened, despairing cry, is one of the secrets of Calvary. Jesus is the deliverer. The same I AM, joined to that name written in blood on Calvary, thy Redeemer, is the deliverer. Moses was armed with a rod. We are armed with divine truth and the power of the Holy Ghost. We have cast the Word down in the presence of the world. It has not only revealed itself as the living Word of God, but it has swallowed up every tradition. What is the power of godliness but that present Divine Personality that accomplishes His will in us? The spirit of the world says, “Do not go out of the land, sacrifice to your God in the land.” There could be no real testimony without a coming out, a separation. We do not know what the Lord will want, but one thing is sure, it is all at His disposal, all His.
My heart was distressed ‘neath Jehovah’s dread frown,
And low in the pit where my sins dragged me down;
I cried to the Lord from the deep, miry clay,
Who tenderly brought me out to golden day.
He gave me a song, ‘twas a new song of praise,
By day and by night its sweet notes I will raise;
My heart’s overflowing, I’m happy and free;
I’ll praise my Redeemer, who has rescued me.
—H. J. Zelley
The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one. —Matthew 13:38
There is an incomprehensible fact of life in everything that will reproduce. That fact is God, or God-given. It does not come from organization or conditions. No one can tell what this life is. It escapes the most powerful microscope and the analysis of the chemist. It is so all the way up to the highest life, which is the spiritual, John says of the child of God that, “His seed remaineth in him.” Every power is inadequate to create and bring forth souls new born to God, but divine life. God has ordained that the people of His kingdom shall be born into it. This is the reason that the Holy Ghost is given. The good seed are the children of the kingdom. Wherever there is a Christ-baptized soul there will be life movement. No community can be the same with a tree of life planted in it. In this multiplying life by the power of God there is victory for His saints.
Fountain of life, to all below
Let thy salvation roll;
Water, replenish, and o’erflow
Every believing soul.
The well of life to us Thou art,
Of joy, the swelling flood;
Wafted by Thee, with willing heart,
We swift return to God.
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. —Psalm 46:10
The greatest question of all ages, in every department of human thought, is the question of God. The deepest longings of the human heart and all the great problems of life are involved in it. The necessities of our being reach out to know Him. We are Christians, we are born into the light of a divine revelation. From the time we opened our eyes in this world, we have been taught of God, infinite in holiness, power, love and mercy. We have been taught of his incarnation, of His redeeming grace. And yet all this teaching does not satisfy us. We cry out with St. Augustine, “Thou O God hast made us for Thyself and the heart is restless till it rests in Thee.” The great need of men is God, and while sin cannot desire God, yet human need is such that under the helpful illuminating power of the Holy Spirit sinners would see how He only can meet their needs. At any rate hearts set on holiness long to know Him, and it is to such that He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Thou very-present aid
In suffering and distress,
The mind which still on Thee is stayed,
Is kept in perfect peace.
Jesus, to whom I fly,
Doth all my wishes fill;
What though created streams are dry?
I have the fountain still.
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. —Hebrews 11:8–10
We have here in this text a heroic character; one that shines with clear and effulgent light, and in whose light we rejoice. The call of God came to Abraham. I am impressed with the kind of men whom God can call. The more perfect the elements of manhood, the more clearly the call of God is apprehended, and the more readily is it acted upon. One of the essential elements is loyalty to known truth. Abraham was open to the light and loyal to the truth that came to him. Abraham sojourned in a new land. So it was with us; a land of mercy, forgiveness, and fellowship with Jesus. But as there came to Abraham so there comes to us the second call. It is like the first, but more searching, more definite. God now led Abraham direct to the promised land. He came out from his present dwelling place and separated himself from his father’s house, and started, divinely led, for the promised land. So with us, forsaking all for Jesus, and giving ourselves up to the guidance and power of the Holy Ghost, we are very soon brought directly into Canaan.
What is our calling’s glorious hope,
But inward holiness?
For this to Jesus I look up;
I calmly wait for this.
And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain. —Isaiah 4:6
The great drift in the world is to sin. It arose in the beginning and has swept every thing before it. Men have tried in vain to stay it. They have lifted before it government, education, philosophy, and systems of religion, but all in vain. Christ lifted up Himself. He lifts His nature above it. He alone is the Sinless One. The drifting sands of iniquity were all about Him, but He lifted His soul above it all, untainted, unspotted, and undefiled. He rose up encumbered with our frailty, surrounded by all temptation, but, where all others have risen to fall, He arose to stand. Sin could never be the same, after the sinless Christ; after the banner of His sinless manhood was lifted up. Life on the heaven side of Calvary is far different from life on the hell side of it.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.
—A. M. Toplady