“As we have many members in one body, so we being many are one body in Christ”
Sometimes our communion with God is cut off, or interrupted because of something wrong with a brother, or some lack of unity in the body of Christ. We try to get at the Lord, but we cannot, because we are separated from some member of the Lord's body, or because there is not the freedom of His love flowing through every organic part.
It does not need a blow upon the head to paralyze the brain; a blow upon some nerve may do it; or a wound in some artery at the extremities may be fatal to the heart.Therefore we must stand right with all His children, and meet in the body of Christ in the sweetest, fullest fellowship, if we would keep our perfect communion with Christ Himself.
Sometimes we will find that an altered attitude to one Christian will bring us into the flood-tides of the Holy Ghost. It seems impossible to have faith without love, or to have Christ alone without the fulness of fellowship with all His dear saints; and if one member suffer, all suffer together, and if one rejoice, all are blessed in common.
“Many shall be purified and made white and tried”
This is the promise for the Lord's coming. It is more than purity. It is to be made white, lustrous, or bright. To be purified is to have the sin burned out; to be made white is to have the glory of the Lord burned in. The one is cleansing, the other is illumination and glorification. The Lord has both for us, but in order for us to have both, we must be put into the fire to be tried, and to be led into difficult and peculiar places where Christ shall be more to us because of the very extremity of the situation. We are approaching these days. Indeed, they are already around us, and they are the precursors of the Lord's coming.
Blessed is he that keepeth his garments lest he walk naked.
There are voices in the air, filling men with hope and fear;
There are signals everywhere that the end is drawing near,
There are warnings to prepare, for the King will soon be here;
O it must be the coming of the Lord!
“Resist the devil and he will flee”
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. This is a promise, and God will keep it to us. If we resist the adversary, He will compel him to flee, and will give us the victory. We can, at all times, fearlessly stand up in defiance, in resistance to the enemy, and claim the protection of our heavenly King just as a citizen would claim the protection of the government against an outrage or injustice on the part of violent men. At the same time we are not to stand on the adversary's ground anywhere by any attitude or disobedience, or we give him a terrible power over us, which, while God will restrain in great mercy and kindness, He will not fully remove until we get fully on holy ground. Therefore, we must be armed with the breastplate of righteousness, as well as the shield of faith, if we would successfully resist the prince of darkness and the principalities in heavenly places.
Your full redemption rights
With holy boldness claim,
And to the utmost fullness prove
The power of Jesus' name.
“My expectation is from Him”
When we believe for a blessing, we must take the attitude of faith, and begin to act and pray as if we had our blessing. We must treat God as if He had given us our request. We must lean our weight over upon Him for the thing that we have claimed, and just take it for granted that He gives it, and is going to continue to give it. This is the attitude of trust. When the wife is married, she at once falls into a new attitude, and acts in accordance with the fact, and so when we take Christ as a Saviour, as a Sanctifier, as a Healer, or as a Deliverer, He expects us to fall into the attitude of recognizing Him in the capacity that we have claimed, and expect Him to be to us all that we have trusted Him for.
You may bring Him ev'ry care and burden,
You may tell Him ev'ry need in pray'r,
You may trust Him for the darkest moment,
He is caring, wherefore need you care?
Faith can never reach its consummation,
'Til the victor's thankful song we raise:
In the glorious city of salvation,
God has told us all the gates are praise.
“He shall dwell on high”
It is easier for a consecrated Christian to live an out and out life for God than to live a mixed life. A soul redeemed and sanctified by Christ is too large for the shoals and sands of a selfish, worldly, sinful life. The great steamship, St. Paul, could sail in deep water without an effort, but she could make no progress in the shallow pool, or on the Long Branch sands; the smallest tugboat is worth a dozen of her there; but out in mid-ocean she could distance them in an hour.
Beloved, your life is too large, too glorious, too divine for the small place that you are trying to live in. Your purpose is too petty; arise and dwell on high in the resurrection life of Jesus, and the inspiring hope of His blessed coming.
Rise with thy risen Lord,
Ascend with Christ above,
And in the heavenlies walk with Him,
Whom seeing not, you love.
Walk as a heavenly race,
Princes of royal blood;
Walk as the children of the light,
The sons and heirs of God.
“Vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory”
Our Father is fitting us for eternity. A vessel fitted for the kitchen will find itself in the kitchen. A vessel for the art gallery or the reception room will generally find itself there at last.
What are you getting fitted for? To be a slop-pail to hold all the stuff that people pour into your ears, or a vase to hold sweet fragrance and flowers for the King's palace and a harp of many strings that sounds the melodies and harmonies of His love and praise? Each one of us is going to his own place. Let us get fitted now.
The days of heaven are Christly days,
The Light of Heaven is He;
So walking at His side, our days
As the days of heaven would be.
The days of heaven are endless days—
Days of eternity;
So may our lives and works endure
While the days of heaven shall be.
Walk with us, Lord, through all the days,
And let us walk with Thee;
'Til as Thy will is done in heaven,
On earth so shall it be.
What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them
Faith is not working up by will power a sort of certainty that something is coming to pass, but it is seeing as an actual fact that God has said that this thing shall come to pass, and that it is true, and then rejoicing to know that it is true, and just resting and entering into it because God has said it. Faith turns the promise into a prophecy. While it is merely a promise it is contingent upon our co-operation; it may or may not be. But when faith claims it, it becomes a prophecy and we go forth feeling that it is something that must be done because God cannot lie.
Faith is the answer from the throne saying, “It is done.” Faith is the echo of God's voice. Let us catch it from on high. Let us repeat it, and go out to triumph in its glorious power.
Hear the answer from the throne,
Claim the promise, doubting one,
God hath spoken, “It is done.”
Faith hath answered, “It is done”;
Prayer is over, praise begun,
Hallelujah! It is done.
I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health even as thy soul prospereth
3 John 1:2
In the way of righteousness is life and in the pathway thereof is no death. That is the secret of healing. Be right with God. Keep so. Live in the consciousness of it, and nothing can hurt you. Off from the breastplate of righteousness will glance all of the fiery darts of the devil, and faith be stronger for every fierce assault. How true it is, “Who is he that shall harm you if ye be followers of that which is good?” And how true also, “Holding faith and a good conscience, which some having put away, concerning faith, have made shipwreck.”
And yet again, “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt keep all His statutes and commandments, I will put none of these diseases upon thee that I have brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord that healeth thee.”
There's a question God is asking
Every conscience in His sight,
Let it search thine inmost being,
Is it right with God, all right?
He will keep the feet of His saints
1 Samuel 2:9
Perils as well as privileges attend the higher Christian life. The nearer we come to God, the thicker the hosts of darkness in heavenly places. The safe place lies in obedience to God's Word, singleness of heart, and holy vigilance.
When Christians speak of standing in a place where they do not need to watch, they are in great danger. Let us walk in sweet and holy confidence, and yet with holy, humble watchfulness, and “He will keep the feet of His saints.” And “now unto Him who is able to keep us from stumbling, and present us faultless before the presence of His glory, to the only wise God, our Savior, be glory, and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.”
What to do we often wonder,
As we seek some watchword true,
Lo, the answer God has given,
What would Jesus do?
When the shafts of fierce temptation,
With their fiery darts pursue,
This will be your heavenly armor,
What would Jesus do?
The fruit of the Spirit is all goodness
Goodness is a fruit of the Spirit. Goodness is just “Godness.” It is to be like God. And God-like goodness has special reference to the active benevolence of God. The apostle gives us the difference between goodness and righteousness in this passage in Romans, “Scarcely for a righteous man would one die, yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.” The righteous man is the man of stiff, inflexible uprightness; but he may be as hard as a granite mountain side. The good man is that mountain side all covered with velvet moss and flowers, and flowing with cascades and springs. Goodness respects “whatsoever things are lovely.” It is kindness, affectionateness, benevolence, sympathy, rejoicing with them that do rejoice, and weeping with them that weep. Lord, fill us with Thyself, and let us be God-men and good men, and so represent Thy goodness.
There are lonely hearts to cherish,
While the days are going by;
There are weary souls who perish,
While the days are going by.
What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee
We shall never forget a remark Mr. George Mueller once made in answer to a gentleman who asked him the best way to have strong faith. “The only way,” replied the patriarch of faith, “to learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.” This is very true. The time to trust is when all else fails. Dear one, if you scarcely realize the value of your present opportunity, if you are passing through great afflictions, you are in the very soul of the strongest faith, and if you will only let go, He will teach you in these hours the mightiest hold upon this throne which you can ever know. “Be not afraid, only believe”; and if you are afraid, just look up and say, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee,” and you will yet thank God for the school of sorrow which was to you the school of faith.
O brother, give heed to the warning,
And obey His voice to-day.
The Spirit to thee is calling,
O do not grieve Him away.
Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith
Add to your faith—do not add to yourself. This is where we make the mistake. We must not only enter by faith, but we must advance by faith each step of the way. At every new stage we shall find ourselves as incompetent and unequal for the pressure as before, and we must take the grace and the victory simply by faith. Is it courage? We shall find ourselves lacking in the needed courage; we must claim it by faith. Is it love? Our own love will be inadequate; but we must take His love, and we shall find it given. Is it faith itself? We must have the faith of God, and Christ in us will be the spirit of faith, as well as the blessing that faith claims. So our whole life from beginning to end, is but Christ in us—in the exceeding riches of His grace; and our everlasting song will be: Not I; but Christ who liveth in me.
'Tis so sweet to walk with Jesus,
Step by step and day by day;
Stepping in His very footprints,
Walking with Him all the way.
The beauty of holiness
Someone remarked once that he did not know more disagreeable people than sanctified Christians. He probably meant people that only profess sanctification. There is an angular, hard, unlovely type of Christian character that is not true holiness; at least, not the highest type of it. It is the skeleton without the flesh covering; it is the naked rock without the vines and foliage that cushion its rugged sides. Jesus was not only virtuous and pure, but He was also beautiful and full of the sweet attractiveness of love.
We read of two kinds of graces: First, “Whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely and of good report.” There are a thousand little graces in Christian life that we cannot afford to ignore. In fact, the last stages in any work of art are always the finishing touches; and so let us not wonder if God shall spend a great deal of time in teaching us the little things that many might consider trifles.
God would have His Bride without a spot or even a wrinkle.
And again I say, rejoice
It is a good thing to rejoice in the Lord. Perhaps you found the first dose ineffectual. Keep on with your medicine, and when you cannot feel any joy, when there is no spring, and no seeming comfort and encouragement, still rejoice, and count it all joy. Even when you fall into divers temptations, reckon it joy, and delight, and God will make your reckoning good. Do you suppose your Father will let you carry the banner of His victory and His gladness on to the front of the battle, and then coolly stand back and see you captured or beaten back by the enemy? Never! the Holy Spirit will sustain you in your bold advance, and fill your heart with gladness and praise, and you will find your heart all exhilarated and refreshed by the fullness of the heart within.
Lord, teach me to rejoice in Thee, and to rejoice evermore.
The joy of the Lord is the strength of His people.
The sunshine that scatters their sadness and gloom;
The fountain that bursts in the desert of sorrow,
And sheds o'er the wilderness, gladness and bloom.
He is a new creature
2 Corinthians 5:17
Resurrected, not raised. There is so much in this distinction. The teaching of human philosophy is that we are to raise humanity to a higher plane. This is not the Gospel. On the contrary, the teaching of the cross is that humanity must die and sink out of sight and then be resurrected, not raised. Resurrection is not improvement. It is not elevation, but it is a new supernatural life lifting us from nothingness into God and making us partakers of the Divine nature. It is a new creation. It is an infinite elevation above the highest plane. Let us not take less than resurrection life.
I am crucified with Jesus,
And the cross has set me free;
I have ris'n again with Jesus,
And He lives and reigns in me.
This the story of the Master,
Through the cross He reached the throne,
And like Him our path to glory,
Ever leads through death alone.
Lord, teach me the death-born life. Lord, let me live in the power of Thy resurrection!
Hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end
The attitude of faith is simple trust. It is Elijah saying to Ahab, “There is a sound of abundance of rain.” But then there comes usually a deeper experience in which the prayer is in-wrought; it is Elijah on the mount, with his face between his knees, travailing, as it were, in birth for the promised blessing. He has believed for it—and now he must take. The first is Joash shooting the arrow out of the windows, but the second is Joash smiting on the ground and following up his faith by perseverance and victorious testing.
It is in this latter place that many of us come short. We ask much from God, and when God proceeds to give it to us we are not found equal to His expectation. We are made partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, and trust Him through it all.
Fainting soldier of the Lord,
Hear His sweet inspiring word,
“I have conquered all thy foes.
I have suffered all thy woes;
Struggling soldier, trust in Me,
I have overcome for thee.”
Casting all your care upon Him
1 Peter 5:7
Some things there are that God will not tolerate in us. We must leave them. Nehemiah would not talk with Sanballat about his charges and fears, but simply refused to have anything to do with the matter—even to go into the temple and pray about it. How very few things we really have to do with in life. If we would only drop all the needless things and simply do the things that absolutely touch and require our attention from morning till night, we would find what a small slender thread life was; but we string upon it a thousand imaginary beads that never come, and burden ourselves with cares and flurries that if we had trusted more, would never have needed to preoccupy our attention. Wise indeed was the testimony of the dear old saint who said, in review of her past life, “I have had a great many troubles in my life, especially those that never came.”
Trust and rest with heart abiding,
Like a birdling in its nest,
Underneath His feathers hiding,
Fold thy wings and trust and rest.
Trust and rest, trust and rest,
God is working for the best.
They which receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life
Precious souls sometimes fight tremendous battles in order to attain to righteousness in trying places. Perhaps the heart has become wrong in some matter where temptation has been allowed to overcome, or at least to turn it aside from its singleness unto God; and the conflict is a terrible one as it seeks to adjust itself and be right with God, and finds itself baffled by its own spiritual foes, and its own helplessness, perplexity and perversity. How dark and dreary the struggle, and how helpless and ineffectual it often seems at such times! It is almost sure to strive in the spirit of the law, and the result always is, and must ever be, condemnation and failure. Every disobedience is met by a blow of wrath, and discouragement, and it well nigh sinks to despair. Oh, if the tempted and struggling one could only understand or remember what perhaps he has learned before, that Christ is our righteousness, and that it is not by law but by grace alone, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” That is the secret of the whole battle.
Launch out into the deep
Many difficulties and perplexities in connection with our Christian life might be best settled by a simple and bold decision of our will to go forward with the light we have and leave the speculations and theories that we cannot decide for further settlement. What we need is to act, and to act with the best light we have, and as we step out into the present duty and full obedience, many things will be made plain which it is no use waiting to decide.
Beloved, cut the Gordian knot, like Alexander, with the sword of decision. Launch out into the deep with a bold plunge, and Christ will settle for you all the questions that you are now debating, and more probably show you their insignificance, and let you see that the only way to settle them is to overleap them. They are Satan's petty snares to waste your time and keep you halting when you should be marching on.
The mercy of God is an ocean divine,
A boundless and fathomless flood;
Launch out in the deep, cut away the shore line,
And be lost in the fullness of God.
Neither shall any plague come near thy dwelling
We know what it is to be fireproof, to be waterproof: but it is a greater thing to be proof against sin. It is possible to be so filled with the Spirit and presence of Jesus that all the shafts of the enemy glance off our heavenly armor; that all the burrs and thistles which grow on the wayside fail to stick to our heavenly robes; that all the noxious vapors of the pit disappear before the warm breath of the Holy Ghost, and we walk with a charmed life even through the valley of the shadow of death. The red hot iron repels the water that touches it, and the fingers that would trifle with it: and, if we are on fire with the Holy Ghost, Satan will keep his fingers off us, and the cold water that he pours over us will roll off and leave us unharmed: “for He that was begotten of God keepeth us, and that wicked one toucheth us not.”
It is said that before going into a malarious region, it is well to fortify the system with nourishing food. So we should be fed and filled by the life of Christ in such a way that the evil does not really touch our life.
He hath remembered His covenant forever
So long as you struggle under law, that is by your own effort, sin shall have dominion over you: but the moment you step from under the shadow of Sinai, throw yourself upon the simple grace of Christ and His free and absolute gift of righteousness, and take Him to be to you what He has pledged Himself to be, your righteousness of thought and feeling, and to keep you in spite of everything, that ever can be against you, in His perfect will and peace, the struggle is practically over. Beloved, do you really know and believe that this is the very promise of the Gospel, the very essence of the new covenant, that Christ pledges Himself to put His law in your heart, and to cause you to walk in His statutes, and to keep His judgments and do them? Do you know that this is the oath which He swear unto Abraham, that He would grant unto us. “That we being delivered from the hands of our enemies, and from all that hate us, might serve Him without fear, in righteousness and holiness before Him all the days of our life.” He has sworn to do this for you, and He is faithful, that promised. Trust Him ever.
The Lord will give grace and glory
The Lord will give grace and glory. This word glory is very difficult to translate, define and explain; but there is something in the spiritual consciousness of the quickened Christian that interprets it. It is the overflow of grace; it is the wine of life; it is the foretaste of heaven; it is a flash from the Throne and an inspiration from the heart of God which we may have and in which we may live. “The glory which Thou hast given Me I have given them,” the Master prayed for us. Let us take it and live in it. David used to say, “Wake up my glory.” Ask God to wake up your glory and enable you to mount up with wings as eagles, to dwell on high and sit with Christ in the heavenly places.
Mounting up with wings as eagles,
Waiting on the Lord we rise,
Strength exchanging, life renewing,
How our spirit heavenward flies.
Then our springing feet returning,
Tread the pathway of the saint,
We shall run and not be weary,
We shall walk and never faint.
Continue ye in My love
Many atmospheres there are in which we may live. Some people live in an atmosphere of thought. Their faces are thoughtful, minds intellectual. They live in their ideas, their conceptions of truth, their tastes, and esthetic nature. Some people, again, live in their animal nature, in the lusts of the flesh and eye, the coarse, low atmosphere of a sensuous life, or something worse. Some, again, live in a world of duty. The predominating feature of their life is conscience, and it carries with it a certain shadowy fear that takes away the simple freedom and gladness of life, but there is a rectitude, and uprightness, a strictness of purpose, and of conduct which cannot be gainsaid or questioned.
But Christ bids us live in an atmosphere of love. “As My Father has loved Me, so have I loved you; continue ye in My love.” In the original it is, “Live in My love.” Love is the atmosphere that He would have us ever live in, that is, believing that He ever loves us, and claiming His sweet approval and tender regard. This is a life of love.
We are His workmanship
Christ sends us to serve Him, not in our own strength, but in His resources and might. “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath prepared that we should walk in them.” We do not have to prepare them; but to wear them as garments, made to order for every occasion of our life.
We must receive them by faith and go forth in His work, believing that He is with us, and in us, as our all sufficiency for wisdom, faith, love, prayer, power, and every grace and gift that our work requires. In this work of faith we shall have to feel weak and helpless, and even have little consciousness of power.
But if we believe and go forward, He will be the power and send the fruits.
The most useful services we render are those which, like the sweet fruits of the wilderness, spring from hours of barrenness. “I will bring her into the wilderness and I will give her vineyards from thence.” Let us learn to work by faith as well as walk by faith, then we shall receive even the end of our faith, the salvation of precious souls, and our lives will bear fruit which shall be manifest throughout all eternity.
Keep yourselves in the love of God
Some time ago, we were enjoying a surpassingly beautiful sunset. The western skies seemed like a great archipelago of golden islands, the masses in the distance rising up into vast mountains of glory. The hue of the sky was so gorgeous that it seemed to reflect itself upon the whole atmosphere, as we looked back from the west to the eastern horizon. The whole earth was radiant with glory. The fields had changed to strange, red richness, and the earth seemed bathed with the dews of heaven.
And so it is, when the love of God shines through all our celestial sky, it covers everything below, and life becomes radiant with its light. Things that were hard become easy. Things that were sharp become sweet. Labor loses its burden, and sorrow becomes silver-lined with hope and gladness.
There are two ways of living in His love. One is constant trust, and the other is constant obedience, and His own Word gives the message for both. “If ye keep My commandments ye shall live in My love, even as I keep My Father's, and live in His love.”
They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way
All who fight the Lord's battles must be content to die to all the favorable opinions of men and all the flattery of human praise. You cannot make an exception in favor of the good opinions of the children of God. It is very easy for the insidious adversary to make this also all appeal to the flesh. It is all right when God sends us the approval of our fellow men, but we must never make it a motive in our life, but be content with the “solitary way” and the lonely “wilderness.”
All such motives are poison and a taking away from you of the strength with which you are to give glory to God. It is not the fact that all that see the face of the Lord do see each other.
The man of God must walk alone with God. He must be contented that the Lord knoweth that God knows. It is such a relief to the natural man within us to fall back upon human countenances and human thoughts and sympathy, that we often deceive ourselves and think it “brotherly love,” when we are just resting in the earthly sympathy of some fellow worm!
But ye are a chosen generation, a peculiar people
1 Peter 2:9
We have been thinking lately very much of the strange way in which God is calling a people out of a people already called. The word ecclesia, or church, means called out, but God is calling out a still more select body from the church to be His bride—the specially prepared ones for His coming.
We see a fine type of this in the story of Gideon. When first he sounded the trumpet of Abiezer there resorted to him more than thirty thousand men; but these had to be picked, so a first test was applied, appealing to their courage, and all but ten thousand went back; but there must be an election out of the election, and so a second test was applied, appealing to their prudence, caution and singleness of purpose, and all but three hundred were refused; and, with this little picked band, he raised the standard against the Midianites, and through the power of God won his glorious victory. So, again, in our days, the Master is choosing His three hundred, and by them He will yet win the world for Himself. Let us be sure that we belong to the “out and out” people.
The peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds
It is not peace with God, but the peace of God. “The peace that passes all understanding” is the very breath of God in the soul. He alone is able to keep it, and He can so keep it that “nothing shall offend us.” Beloved, are you there?
God's rest did not come till after His work was over, and ours will not. We begin our Christian life by working, trying and struggling in the energy of the flesh to save ourselves. At last, when we are able to cease from our own work, God comes in with His blessed rest, and works His own Divine works in us.
Oh! have you heard the glorious word
Of hope and holy cheer;
From heav'n above its tones of love
Are lingering on my ear;
The blessed Comforter has come,
And Christ will soon be here.
Oh, hearts that sigh there's succor nigh,
The Comforter is near;
He comes to bring us to our King,
And fit us to appear.
I'm glad the Comforter has come,
And Christ will soon be here.
How ye ought to walk and please God
1 Thessalonians 4:1
How many dear Christians are in the place that the Lord has appointed them, and yet the devil is harassing their lives with a vague sense of not quite pleasing the Lord. Could they just settle down in the place that God has assigned them and fill it sweetly and lovingly for Him there would be more joy in their hearts and more power in their lives. God wants us all in various places, and the secret of accomplishing the most for Him is to recognize our places from Him and our service in it as pleasing Him. In the great factory and machine there is a place for the smallest screw and rivet as well as the great driving wheel and piston, and so God has His little screws whose business is simply to stay where He puts them and to believe that He wants them there and is making the most of their lives in the little spaces that they fill for Him.
There is something all can do,
Tho' you're neither wise nor strong;
You can be a helper true,
You can stand when friends are few,
Some lone heart has need of you,
You can help along.
Pray Ye therefore
Prayer is the mighty engine that is to move the missionary work. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.”
We are asking God to touch the hearts of men every day by the Holy Ghost, so that they shall be compelled to go abroad and preach the Gospel. We are asking Him to wake them up at night with the solemn conviction that the heathen are perishing, and that their blood will be upon their souls, and God is answering the prayer by sending persons to us every day who “feel that the King's business requireth haste.”
Beloved, pray, pray, pray; and as the incense rises to the heavens, “there will be silence in heaven” by the space of more than half an hour, and the coals of fire will be emptied out upon the earth, and the coming of the Lord will begin to draw nearer. Pray till the Lord of the harvest shall thrust forth laborers into His harvest.
Send the coals of heavenly fire,
From the altar of the skies;
Fill our hearts with strong desire,
Till our prayers like incense rise.
It is more blessed to give than to receive
How shall we know the difference between the earthly and the heavenly love? The one terminates on ourselves and is partly our self seeking its own gratification. The other reaches out to God and others, and finds its joy in glorifying Him and blessing them. Love is unselfishness, and the love that is not unselfish is not divine. How much do we pray for others, and how much for ourselves? What is the center of our being? Ourselves, or our Lord and His people and work? The Lord help us to know more fully the meaning of that great truth, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” “He that saveth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for My sake and the Gospel, shall keep it unto life eternal.”
Have you found some precious treasure,
Pass it on.
Have You found some holy pleasure,
Pass it on.
Giving out is twice possessing,
Love will double every blessing,
On to higher service pressing,
Pass it on.
Lean not unto thine own understanding
Faith is hindered by reliance upon human wisdom, whether our own or the wisdom of others. The devil's first bait to Eve was an offer of wisdom, and for this she sold her faith. “Ye shall be as gods,” he said, “knowing good and evil,” and from the hour she began to know she ceased to trust. It was the spies that lost the Land of Promise to Israel of old. It was their foolish proposition to search out the land, and find out by investigation whether God had told the truth or not, that led to the awful outbreak of unbelief that shut the doors of Canaan to a whole generation. It is very significant that the names of these spies are nearly all suggestive of human wisdom, greatness and fame.
So in the days of Christ, it was the bondage of the Jews to the traditions of their fathers and the opinions of men, that kept them back from receiving Him. “How can ye believe,” He asked, “which receive honor from men, and seek not that which cometh from God only?”
Let us trust Him with all our heart and lean not to our own understanding.
I have overcome the world
Christ has overcome for us every one of our four terrible foes—Sin, Sickness, Sorrow, Satan. He has borne our Sin, and we may lay all, even down to our sinfulness itself, on Him. “I have overcome for thee.” He has borne our sickness, and we may detach ourselves from our old infirmities and rise into His glorious life and strength. He has borne our sorrows, and we must not even carry a care, but rejoice evermore, and even glory in tribulations also. And He has conquered Satan for us, too, and left him nailed to the cross, spoiled and dishonored and but a shadow of himself. And now we have but to claim His full atonement and assert our victory, and so “overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.”
Beloved, are we overcoming sin? Are we overcoming sickness? Are we overcoming sorrow? Are we overcoming Satan?
Fear not, though the strife be long;
Faint not, though the foe be strong;
Trust thy glorious Captain's power;
Watch with Him one little hour,
Hear Him calling, “Follow me.
“I have overcome for thee.”
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit
Blessed secret of spiritual purity, victory and joy, of physical life and healing, and all power for service. Filled with the Spirit there is no room for self or sin, for fret or care. Filled with the Spirit we repel the elements of disease that are in the air as the red-hot iron repels the water that touches it. Filled with the Spirit we are always ready for service, and Satan turns away when he finds the Holy Spirit enrobing us in His garments of holy flame. Not half-filled, but filled with the Spirit is the place of victory and power.
This is not only a privilege; it is a command, and He who gave it will enable us to fulfill it if we bring it to Him with an empty, honest, trusting heart, and claim our privilege in the name of Jesus and for the glory of God.
Holy Spirit, I bid Thee welcome;
Come and be my Holy Guest;
Heavenly Dove within my bosom,
Make Thy home and build Thy nest;
Lead me on to all Thy fullness,
Bring me to Thy Promised Rest,
Holy Spirit, I bid Thee welcome,
Come and be my Holy Guest.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous but grievous; nevertheless afterward
God seems to love to work by paradoxes and contraries. In the transformations of grace, the bitter is the base of the sweet, night is the mother of day, and death is the gate of life.
Many people are wanting power. Now, how is power produced? The other day we passed the great works where the trolley engines are supplied with electricity. We heard the hum and roar of countless wheels, and we asked our friend, “How do they make the power?” “Why,” he said, “just by the revolution of those wheels and the friction they produce. The rubbing creates the electric current.”
It is very simple, and a trifling experiment will prove it to anyone.
And so when God wants to bring more power into your life, He brings more pressure. He is generating spiritual force by hard rubbing. Some of us don't like it. Some of us don't understand, and we try to run away from the pressure, instead of getting the power and using it to rise above the painful cause.
That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Spirit
2 Timothy 2:14
God gives to us a power within which will hold our hearts in victory and purity. “That good thing which was committed unto thee, keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.” It is the Holy Spirit; and when any thought or suggestion of evil arises in our breast, the quick conscience can instantly call upon the Holy Spirit to drive it out, and He will expel it at the command of faith or prayer, and keep us as pure as we are willing to be kept. But when the will surrenders and consents to evil, the Holy Spirit will not expel it. God, then, requires us to stand in holy vigilance, and He will do exceeding abundantly for us as we hold fast that which is good, and He will also be in us a spirit of vigilance, showing us the evil and enabling us to detect it, and to bring it to Him for expulsion and destruction.
“O Spirit of Jesus fill us until we shall have room only for Thee!”
O, come as the heart-searching fire,
O, come as the sin-cleansing flood;
Consume us with holy desire,
And fill with the fullness of God.
Wait on the Lord
How often this is said in the Bible, how little understood! It is what the old monk calls the “practice of the presence of God.” It is the habit of prayer. It is the continued communion that not only asks, but receives. People often ask us to pray for them and we have to say, “Why, God has answered our prayer for you, and you must now take the answer. It is awaiting you, and you must take it by waiting on the Lord.”
This it is that renews the strength, until we mount up with wings as eagles, run and are not weary, walk and are not faint. Our hearts are too vast to take in His fulness at a single breath. We must live in the atmosphere of His presence till we absorb His very life. This is the secret of spiritual depth and rest, of power and fulness, of love and prayer, of hope and holy usefulness. “Wait, I say, on the Lord.”
I am waiting in communion at the blessed mercy seat,
I am waiting, sweetly waiting, on the Lord;
I am drinking, of His fullness; I am sitting at His feet;
I am hearkening to the whispers of His word.
Real Estate in Heaven
This is well. Our substance here is very unsubstantial; there is no substance in it. But God has given us a promise of real estate in the gloryland, and that promise comes to our hearts with such full assurance of its certainty that we know in ourselves that we have an enduring substance there. Yes, "we have" it even now. They say, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," but we have our bird in the bush and in the hand, too. Heaven is even now our own. We have the title deed of it, we have the earnest of it, we have the firstfruits of it. We have heaven in price, in promise, and in principle; this we know not only by the hearing of the ear but "in ourselves."
Should not the thought of the better substance on the other side of Jordan reconcile us to present losses? Our spending money we may lose, but our treasure is safe. We have lost the shadows, but the substance remains, for our Savior lives, and the place which He has prepared for us abides. There is a better land, a better substance, a better promise; and all this comes to us by a better covenant; wherefore, let us be in better spirits, and say unto the LORD, "Every day will I bless thee; and praise thy name for ever and ever."
Suspense is dreadful. When we have no news from home, we are apt to grow anxious, and we cannot be persuaded that "no news is good news." Faith is the cure for this condition of sadness; the LORD by His Spirit settles the mind in holy serenity, and all fear is gone as to the future as well as the present.
The fixedness of heart spoken of by the psalmist is to be diligently sought after. It is not believing this or that promise of the LORD, but the general condition of unstaggering trustfulness in our God, the confidence which we have in Him that He will neither do us ill Himself nor suffer anyone else to harm us. This constant confidence meets the unknown as well as the known of life. Let the morrow be what it may, our God is the God of tomorrow. Whatever events may have happened, which to us are unknown, our Jehovah is God of the unknown as well as of the known. We are determined to trust the LORD, come what may. If the very worst should happen, our God is still the greatest and best. Therefore will we not fear though the postman's knock should startle us or a telegram wake us at midnight. The LORD liveth, and what can His children fears.
Truth wears well. Time tests it, but it right well endures the trial. R; then, I have spoken the truth and have for the present to suffer for it, I must be content to wait. If also I believe the truth of God and endeavor to declare it, I may meet with much opposition, but I need not fear, for ultimately the truth must prevail.
What a poor thing is the temporary triumph of falsehood! "A lying lip is but for a moment!" It is a mere gourd which comes up in a night and perishes in a night; and the greater its development the more manifest its decay. On the other hand, how worthy of an immortal being is the avowal and defense of that truth which can never change; the everlasting gospel, which is established in the immutable truth of an unchanging God! An old proverb saith, "He that speaks truth shames the devil." Assuredly he that speaks the truth of God will put to shame all the devils in hell and confound all the seed of the serpent which now hiss out their falsehoods.
O my heart, take care that thou be in all things on the side of truth, both in small things and great; but specially, on the side of Him by whom grace and truth have come among men!
This literal promise to Israel belongs spiritually to the seed after the Spirit, namely, to all believers. If we live up to our privileges, we shall live unto God so clearly and distinctly that men shall see that we are set apart for holy service and shall name us the priests of the LORD. We may work or trade as others do, and yet we may be solely and wholly the ministering servants of God. Our one occupation shall be to present the perpetual sacrifice of prayer, and praise, and testimony, and self-consecration to the living God by Jesus Christ.
This being our one aim, we may leave distracting concerns to those who have no higher calling. "Let the dead bury their dead." It is written, "Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vine-dressers," They may manage politics, puzzle out financial problems, discuss science, and settle the last new quibbles of criticism; but we will give ourselves unto such service as becomes those who, like the LORD Jesus, are ordained to a perpetual priesthood.
Accepting this honorable promise as involving a sacred duty, let us put on the vestments of holiness and minister before the LORD all day long.
Hear So as to Be Heard
Note well that we must hear Jesus speak if we expect Him to hear us speak. If we have no ear for Christ, He will have no ear for us. In proportion as we hear we shall be heard.
Moreover, what is heard must remain, must live in us, and must abide in our character as a force and a power. We must receive the truths which Jesus taught, the precepts which He issued, and the movements of His Spirit within us; or we shall have no power at the Mercy Seat.
Suppose our LORD's words to be received and to abide in us, what a boundless field of privilege is opened up to us! We are to have our will in prayer, because we have already surrendered our will to the LORD's command. Thus are Elijahs trained to handle the keys of heaven and lock or loose the clouds. One such man is worth a thousand common Christians. Do we humbly desire to be intercessors for the church and the world, and like Luther to be able to have what we will of the LORD? Then we must bow our ear to the voice of the Well-beloved, treasure up His words, and carefully obey them. He has need to "hearken diligently" who would pray effectually.
Unbroken Fellowship Essential
Of necessity we must be in Christ to live unto Him, and we must abide in Him to be able to claim the largesse of this promise from Him. To abide in Jesus is never to quit Him for another love or another object, but to remain in living, loving, conscious, willing union with Him. The branch is not only ever near the stem but ever receiving life and fruitfulness horn it. All true believers abide in Christ in a sense; but there is a higher meaning, and this we must know before we can gain unlimited power at the throne. "Ask what ye will" is for Enochs who walk with God, for Johns who lie in the LORD's bosom, for those whose union with Christ leads to constant communion.
The heart must remain in love, the mind must be rooted in faith, the hope must be cemented to the Word, the whole man must be joined unto the LORD, or else it would be dangerous to trust us with power in prayer. The carte blanche can only be given to one whose very life is, "Not I, but Christ liveth in me." O you who break your fellowship, what power you lose! If you would be mighty in your pleadings, the LORD Himself must abide in you, and you in Him.
Past Deliverance Begets Faith
1 Samuel 17:37
This is not a promise if we consider only the words, but it is truly so as to its sense; for David spoke a word which the LORD endorsed by making it true. He argued from past deliverance's that he should receive help in a new danger. In Jesus all the promises are "Yea" and "Amen" to the glory of God by us, and so the LORD's former dealings with His believing people will be repeated.
Come, then, let us recall the LORD's former lovingkindness. We could not have hoped to be delivered aforetime by our own strength; yet the LORD delivered us. Will He not again save us? We are sure He will. As David ran to meet his foe, so will we. The LORD has been with us, He is with us, and He has said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," Why do we tremble? Was the past a dream? Think of the dead bear and lion. Who is this Philistine? True, he is not quite the same, and is neither bear nor lion; but then God is the same, and His honor is as much concerned in the one case as in the other. He did not save us from the beasts of the forest to let a giant kill us. Let us be of good courage.
Blessing on Littleness
This is a word of cheer to those who are of humble station and mean estate. Our God has a very gracious consideration for those of small property, small talent, small influence, small weight. God careth for the small things in creation and even regards sparrows in their lighting upon the ground. Nothing is small to God, for He makes use of insignificant agents for the accomplishment of His purposes. Let the least among men seek of God a blessing upon his littleness, and he shall find his contracted sphere to be a happy one.
Among those who fear the LORD there are little and great. Some are babes, and others are giants. But these are all blessed. Little faith is blessed faith. Trembling hope is blessed hope. Every grace of the Holy Spirit, even though it be only in the bud, bears a blessing within it. Moreover, the LORD Jesus bought both the small and the great with the same precious blood, and He has engaged to preserve the lambs as well as the full-grown sheep. No mother overlooks her child because it is little; nay, the smaller it is, the more tenderly does she nurse it. If there be any preference with the LORD, He does not arrange them as "great and small" but as "small and great."
What aileth thee? Hast thou lost thy way? Art thou entangled in a dark wood and canst thou not find thy paths? Stand still, and see the salvation of God. He knows the way, and He will direct thee in it if thou cry unto Him.
Every day brings its own perplexity. How sweet to feel that the guidance of the LORD is continual! If we choose our own way or consult with flesh and blood we cast ok the LORD's guidance; but if we abstain from self-will, then He will direct every step of our road, every hour of the day, and every day of the year, and every year of our life. If we will but be guided, we shall be guided. If we will commit our way unto the LORD, He will direct our course so that we shall not lose ourselves.
But note to whom this promise is made. Read the previous verse: "If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry." We must feel for others and give them, not a few dry crusts, but such things as we ourselves would wish to receive. If we show a tender care for our fellow-creatures in the hour of their need, then will the LORD attend to our necessities and make Himself our continual Guide. Jesus is the Leader, not of misers, nor of those who oppress the poor, but of the kind and tenderhearted. Such persons are pilgrims who shall never miss their way.
Better Farther On
There is a limit to affliction. God sends it, and God removes it. Do you sigh and say, "When will the end be?" Remember that our griefs will surely and finally end when this poor earthly life is over, Let us quietly wait and patiently endure the will of the LORD till He cometh.
Meanwhile, our Father in heaven takes away the rod when His design in using it is fully served. When He has whipped away our folly, there will be no more strokes. Or, if the affliction is sent for testing us, that our graces may glorify God, it will end when the LORD has made us bear witness to His praise. We would not wish the affliction to depart till God has gotten out of us all the honor which we can possibly yield Him.
There may today be "a great calm." Who knows how soon those raging billows will give place to a sea of glass, and the sea birds sit on the gentle waves? After long tribulation the Rail is hung up, and the wheat rests in the garner. We may, before many hours are past, be just as happy as now we are sorrowful. It is not hard for the LORD to turn night into day. He that sends the clouds can as easily clear the skies. Let us be of good cheer. It is better on before. Let us sing hallelujah by anticipation.
God Will Answer
His own Spirit has wrought this desire in us, and therefore He will answer it. It is His own life within which prompts the cry, and therefore He will hear it. Those who fear Him are men under the holiest influence, and, therefore, their desire is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Like Daniel, they are men of desires, and the LORD will cause them to realize their aspirations.
Holy desires are grace in the blade, and the heavenly Husbandman will cultivate them till they come to the full corn in the ear. God-fearing men desire to be holy, to be useful, to be a blessing to others, and so to honor their LORD. They desire supplies for their need, help under burdens, guidance in perplexity, deliverance in distress; and sometimes this desire is so strong and their case so pressing that they cry out in agony like little children in pain, and then the LORD works most comprehensively and does all that is needful according to this Word -- "and will save them."
Yes, if we fear God, we have nothing else to fear; if we cry to the LORD, our salvation is certain.
Let the reader lay this text on his tongue and keep it in his mouth all the day, and it will be to him as "a wafer made with honey."
God Can Make You Strong
2 Chronicles 15:7
God had done great things for King Asa and Judah, but yet they were a feeble folk. Their feet were very tottering in the ways of the LORD, and their hearts very hesitating, so that they had to be warned that the LORD would be with them while they were with Him, but that if they forsook Him He would leave them. They were also reminded of the sister kingdom, how ill it fared in its rebellion and how the LORD was gracious to it when repentance was shown. The LORD's design was to confirm them in His way and make them strong in righteousness. So ought it to be with us. God deserves to be served with all the energy of which we are capable.
If the service of God is worth anything, it is worth everything. We shall find our best reward in the LORD's work if we do it with determined diligence. Our labor is not in vain in the LORD, and we know it. Halfhearted work will bring no reward; but when we throw our whole soul into the cause, we shall see prosperity. This text was sent to the author of these notes in a day of terrible storm, and it suggested to him to put on all steam, with the assurance of reaching port in safety with a glorious freight.
You Deal with God
The LORD thus makes known His sparing mercies. It may be that the reader is now under heavy displeasure, and everything threatens his speedy doom. Let the text hold him up from despair. The LORD now invites you to consider your ways and confess your sins. If He had been man, He would long ago have cut you off. If He were now to act after the manner of men, it would be a word and a blow and then there would be an end of you: but it is not so, for "as high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are his ways above your ways."
You rightly judge that He is angry, but He keepeth not His anger forever: if you turn from sin to Jesus, God will turn from wrath. Because God is God, and not man, there is still forgiveness for you, even though you may be steeped up to your throat in iniquity. You have a God to deal with and not a hard man, or even a merely just man. No human being could have patience with you. You would have wearied out an angel, as you have wearied your sorrowing Father; but God is longsuffering. Come and try Him at once. Confess, believe, and turn from your evil way, and you shall be saved.
I can set my seal to that first sentence. Cannot you? Yes, Jehovah has thought of us, provided for us, comforted us, delivered us, and guided us. In all the movements of His providence He has been mindful of us, never overlooking our mean affairs. His mind has been full of us -- that is the other form of the word mindfull. This has been the case all along and without a single break. At special times, however, we have more distinctly seen this mindfulness, and we would recall them at this hour with overflowing gratitude. Yes, yes, "the LORD hath been mindful of us."
The next sentence is a logical inference from the former one. Since God is unchangeable, He will continue to be mindful of us in the future as He has been in the past; and His mindfulness is tantamount to blessing us. But we have here not only the conclusion of reason but the declaration of inspiration; we have it on the Holy Ghost's authority -- "He will bless us." This means great things and unsearchable. The very indistinctness of the promise indicates its infinite reach. He will bless us after His own divine manner, and that forever and ever, Therefore, let us each say, "Bless the LORD, O my soul!"
Mercy to the Undeserving
O fair reward of trust! My LORD, grant it me to the full! The truster above all men feels himself to be a sinner; and lo, mercy is prepared for him: he knows himself to have no deservings, but mercy comes in and keeps house for him on a liberal scale. O LORD, give me this mercy, even as I trust in Thee!
Observe, my soul, what a bodyguard thou hast! As a prince is compassed about with soldiery, so art thou compassed about with mercy. Before and behind, and on all sides, ride these mounted guards of grace. We dwell in the center of the system of mercy, for we dwell in Christ Jesus.
O my soul, what an atmosphere dost thou breathe! As the air surrounds thee, even so does the mercy of thy LORD. To the wicked there are many sorrows, but to thee there are so many mercies that thy sorrows are not worth mentioning. David says, "Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous; and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart." In obedience to this precept my heart shall triumph in God, and I will tell out my gladness. As Thou hast compassed me with mercy, I will also compass Thine altars, O my God, with songs of thanksgiving!
Blessed in the Field
So was Isaac blessed when he walked therein at eventide to meditate. How often has the LORD met us when we have been alone! The hedges and the trees can bear witness to our joy. We look for such blessedness again.
So was Boaz blessed when he reaped his harvest, and his workmen met him with benedictions. May the LORD prosper all who drive the plow! Every farmer may urge this promise with God, if indeed he obeys the voice of the LORD God.
We go to the field to labor as father Adam did; and since the curse fell on the soil through the sin of Adam the first, it is a great comfort to find a blessing through Adam the second,
We go to the field for exercise, and we are happy in the belief that the LORD will bless that exercise and give us health, which we will use to His glory.
We go to the field to study nature, and there is nothing in a knowledge of the visible creation which may not be sanctified to the highest uses by the divine benediction.
God Delights to Give
A special blessing for a memorable occasion. Abram had settled a family dispute. He had said, "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between thee and me, for we be brethren"; and hence he received the blessing which belongs to peacemakers. The LORD and giver of peace delights to manifest His grace to those who seek peace and pursue it. If we desire closer communion with God, we must keep closer to the ways of peace.
Abram had behaved very generously to his kinsman, giving him his choice of the land. If we deny ourselves for peace's sake, the LORD will more than make it up to us. As far as the patriarch can see, he can claim, and we may do the like by faith. Abram had to wait for the actual possession, but the LORD entailed the land upon him and his posterity. Boundless blessings belong to us by covenant gift. All things are ours. When we please the LORD, He makes us to look everywhere and see all things our own, whether things present or things to come, all are ours, and we are Christ's, and Christ is God's.
Are the Children In?
Our dear children have not the Spirit of God by nature, as we plainly see. We see much in them which makes us fear as to their future, and this drives us to agonizing prayer. When a son becomes specially perverse, we cry with Abraham, "Oh, that Ishmael might live before thee!" We would sooner see our daughters Hannahs than empresses. This verse should greatly encourage us. It follows upon the words, "Fear not, O Jacob, my servant," and it may well banish our fears.
The LORD will give His Spirit; will give it plentifully, pouring it out; will give it effectually, so that it shall be a real and eternal blessing. Under this divine outpouring our children shall come forward, and "one shall say, I am the LORD's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob."
This is one of those promises concerning which the LORD will be inquired of. Should we not, at set times, in a distinct manner, pray for our offspring? We cannot give them new hearts, but the Holy Spirit can; and He is easily to be entreated of. The great Father takes pleasure in the prayers of fathers and mothers. Have we any dear ones outside of the ark? Let us not rest till they are shut in with us by the LORD's own hand.
A Constant Witness
Paul was chosen to see and hear the LORD speaking to him out of heaven. This divine election was a high privilege for himself; but it was not intended to end with him; it was meant to have an influence upon others, yea, upon all men. It is to Paul that Europe owes the gospel at this hour.
It is ours in our measure to be witnesses of that which the LORD has revealed to us, and it is at our peril that we hide the precious revelation. First, we must see and hear, or we shall have nothing to tell; but when we have done so, we must be eager to bear our testimony. It must be personal: "Thou shalt be." It must be for Christ: "Thou shalt be his witness." It must be constant and all absorbing; we are to be this above all other things and to the exclusion of many other matters. Our witness must not be to a select few who will cheerfully receive us but to "all men" -- to all whom we can reach, young or old, rich or poor, good or bad. We must never be silent like those who are possessed by a dumb spirit; for the text before us is a command, and a promise, and we must not miss it -- "Thou shalt be his witness." "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD."
The Dross Purged
Grace transmutes us into precious metal, and then the fire and the furnace follows as a necessary consequence. Do we start at this? Would we sooner be accounted worthless, that we might enjoy repose, like the stones of the field! This would be to choose the viler part -- like Esau, to take the pottage and give up the covenant portion. No, LORD; we will gladly be cast into the furnace rather than be cast out from Thy presence!
The fire only refines; it does not destroy. We are to be brought through the fire, not left in it. The LORD values His people as silver, and therefore He is at pains to purge away their dross. If we are wise, we shall rather welcome the refining process than decline it. Our prayer will be that our alloy may be taken from us rather than that we should be withdrawn from the crucible.
O LORD, Thou triest us indeed! We are ready to melt under the fierceness of the flame. Still, this is Thy way, and Thy way is the best. Sustain us under the trial and complete the process of our purifying, and we will be Thine forever and ever.
have a very special support. Here we have it. God's right hand is a grand thing to lean upon. Mind, it is not only His hand, though it keepeth heaven and earth in their places, but His right hand: His power united with skill, His power where it is most dexterous. Nay, this is not all; it is written, "I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." That hand which He uses to maintain His holiness and to execute His royal sentences -- this shall be stretched out to hold up His trusting ones. Fearful is our danger, but joyful is our security. The man whom God upholds, devils cannot throw down.
Weak may be our feet, but almighty is God's right hand. Rough may be the road, but Omnipotence is our upholding. We may boldly go forward. We shall not fall. Let us lean continually where all things lean. God will not withdraw His strength, for His righteousness is there as well. He will be faithful to His promise, and faithful to His Son, and therefore faithful to us. How happy we ought to be! Are we not so?
Return from Backsliding
Eliphaz, in this utterance, spoke a great truth, which is the summary of many an inspired Scripture. Reader, has sin pulled you down? Have you become like a ruin? Has the hand of the LORD gone out against you so that in estate you are impoverished and in spirit you are broken down? Was it your own folly which brought upon you all this dilapidation? Then the first thing to be done is to return to the LORD. With deep repentance and sincere faith find your way back from your backsliding. It is you" duty, for you have turned away from Him whom you professed to serve. It is your wisdom, for you cannot strive against Him and prosper. It is your immediate necessity, for what He has done is nothing compared to what He may do in the way of chastisement, since He is Almighty to punish.
See what a promise invites you! You shall be "built up." None but the Almighty can set up the fallen pillars and restore the tottering walls of your condition; but He can and He will do it if you return to Him. Do not delay. Your crushed mind may quite fail you if you go on to rebel; but hearty confession will ease you, and humble faith will console you. Do this, and all will be well.
Blessing in the City
The city is full of care, and he who has to go there from day to day finds it to be a place of great wear and tear. It is full of noise, and stir, and bustle, and sore travail; many are its temptations, losses, and worries. But to go there with the divine blessing takes off the edge of its difficulty; to remain there with that blessing is to find pleasure in its duties and strength equal to its demands.
A blessing in the city may not make us great, but it will keep us good; it may not make us rich, but it will preserve us honest. Whether we are porters, or clerks, or managers, or merchants, or magistrates, the city will afford us opportunities for usefulness. It is good fishing where there are shoals of fish, and it is hopeful to work for our LORD amid the thronging crowds. We might prefer the quiet of a country life; but if called to town, we may certainly prefer it because there is room for our energies.
Today let us expect good things because of this promise, and let our care be to have an open ear to the voice of the LORD and a ready hand to execute His bidding. Obedience brings the blessing. "In keeping his commandments there is great reward."
My own sight of the precious blood is for my comfort; but it is the LORD's sight of it which secures my safety. Even when I am unable to behold it, the LORD looks at it and passes over me because of it. If I am not so much at ease as I ought to be, because my faith is dim, yet I am equally safe because the LORD's eye is not dim, and He sees the blood of the great Sacrifice with steady gaze. What a joy is this!
The LORD sees the deep inner meaning, the infinite fullness of all that is meant by the death of His dear Son. He sees it with restful memory of justice satisfied and all His matchless attributes glorified. He beheld creation in its progress and said, "It is very good"; but what does He say of redemption in its completeness? What does He say of the obedience even unto death of His well-beloved Son? None can tell His delight in Jesus, His rest in the sweet savor which Jesus presented when He offered Himself without spot unto God.
Now rest we in calm security. We have God's sacrifice and God's Word to create in us a sense of perfect security. He will, He must, pass over us, because He spared not our glorious Substitute. Justice joins hands with love to provide everlasting salvation for all the blood-besprinkled.
He Will Return
He left us, and yet we are not left orphans. He is our comfort, and He is gone; but we are not comfortless. Our comfort is that He will come to us, and this is consolation enough to sustain us through His prolonged absence. Jesus is already on His way: He says, "I come quickly": He rides posthaste toward us. He says, "I will come": and none can prevent His coming, or put it back for a quarter of an hour. He specially says, "I will come to you"; and so He will. His coming is specially to and for His own people. This is meant to be their present comfort while they mourn that the Bridegroom doth not yet appear.
When we lose the joyful sense of His presence we mourn, but we may not sorrow as if there were no hope. Our LORD in a little wrath has hid Himself from us for a moment, but He will return in full favor. He leaves us in a sense, but only in a sense. When He withdraws, He leaves a pledge behind that He will return. O LORD, come quickly! There is no life in this earthly existence if Thou be gone. We sigh for the return of Thy sweet smile. When wilt Thou come unto us? We are sure Thou wilt appear; but be Thou like a roe, or a young hart. Make no tarrying, O our God!
He Freely Gives
If this is not a promise in form, it is in fact. Indeed, it is more than one promise, it is a conglomerate of promises. It is a mass of rubies, and emeralds, and diamonds, with a nugget of gold for their setting. It is a question which can never be answered so as to cause us any anxiety of heart. What can the LORD deny us after giving us Jesus? If we need all things in heaven and earth, He will grant them to us: for if there had been a limit anywhere, He would have kept back His own Son.
What do I want today? I have only to ask for it. I may seek earnestly, but not as if I had to use pressure and extort an unwilling gift from the LORD's hand; for He will give freely. Of His own He gave us His own Son. Certainly no one would have proposed such a gift to Him. No one would have ventured to ask for it. It would have been too presumptuous. He freely gave His Only-begotten, and, O my soul, canst thou not trust thy heavenly Father to give thee anything, to give thee everything? Thy poor prayer would have no force with Omnipotence if force were needed; but His love, like a spring, rises of itself and overflows for the supply of all thy needs.
Yes, when the sun shines, the sick quit their chambers and walk abroad to breathe the fresh air. When the sun brings spring and summer, the cattle quit their stalls and seek pasture on the higher Alps. Even thus, when we have conscious fellowship with our LORD, we leave the stall of despondency and walk abroad in the fields of holy confidence. We ascend to the mountains of joy and feed on sweet pasturage which grows nearer heaven than the provender of carnal men.
To "go forth" and to "grow up" is a double promise. O my soul, be thou eager to enjoy both blessings! Why shouldst thou be a prisoner? Arise, and walk at liberty. Jesus saith that His sheep shall go in and out and find pasture; go forth, then, and feed in the rich meadows of boundless love.
Why remain a babe in grace? Grow up. Young calves grow fast, especially if they are stall fed; and thou hast the choice care of thy Redeemer. Grow, then, in grace and in knowledge of thy LORD and Savior, Be neither straitened nor stunted. The Sun of Righteousness has risen upon thee Answer to His beams as the buds to the natural sun. Open thine heart; expand and grow up into Him in all things.
Fulfilled once in the first advent of our glorious LORD, and yet to have a fuller accomplishment in His second advent, this gracious word is also for daily use. Is it dark with the reader? Does the night deepen into a denser blackness? Still let us not despair: the sun will yet rise. When the night is darkest, dawn is nearest.
The sun which will arise is of no common sort. It is the Sun -- the Sun of Righteousness, whose every ray is holiness. He who comes to cheer us, comes in the way of justice as well as of mercy, comes to violate no law even to save us. Jesus as much displays the holiness of God as His love. Our deliverance, when it comes, will be safe because righteous.
Our one point of inquiry should be -- "Do we fear the name of the LORD? Do we reverence the living God and walk in His ways?" Then for us the night must be short; and when the morning cometh, all the sickness and sorrow of our soul will be over forever. Light, warmth, joy, and clearness of vision will come, and healing of every disease and distress will follow after.
Has Jesus risen upon us? Let us sit in the sun. Has He hidden His face? Let us wait for His rising. He will shine forth as surely as the sun.
“Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption”
1 Corinthians 1:30
More and more we are coming to see the supreme importance of getting the right conception of sanctification, not as a blessing, but as a personal union with the personal Saviour and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Thousands of people get stranded after they have embarked on the great voyage of holiness.
They find themselves failing and falling, and are astonished and perplexed, and they conclude that they must have been mistaken in their experience, and so they make a new attempt at the same thing and again fall, until at last, worn out with the experiment, they conclude that the experience is a delusion, or, at least, that it was never intended for them, and so they fall back into the old way, and their last state is worse than their first.
What people need to-day to satisfy their deep hunger and to give them a permanent and Divine experience is to know, not sanctification as a state, but Christ as a living Person, who is waiting to enter the heart that is willing to receive Him.
“Cast down but not destroyed”
2 Corinthians 4:9
How did God bring about the miracle of the Red Sea? By shutting His people in on every side, so that there was no way out but the divine way. The Egyptians were behind them, the sea was in front of them, the mountains were on every side of them. There was no escape but from above.
Some one has said that the devil can wall us in, but he cannot roof us over. We can always get out at the top. Our difficulties are but God's challenges, and He makes them so hard, often, that we must go under or get above them.
In such an hour, if there is a divine element, it brings out the highest possibilities of faith and we are pushed by the very emergency into God's best.
Beloved, this is God's hour. If you will rise to meet it you will get such a hold upon Him that you will never be in extremities again, or if you are, you will learn to call them not extremities, but opportunities, and like Jacob, you will go forth from that night at Peniel, no longer Jacob, but victorious Israel. Let us bring to Him our need and prove Him true.
“Send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared”
That was a fine picture in the days of Nehemiah, when they were celebrating their glorious Feast of Tabernacles. “Neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions to them for whom nothing is prepared.”
How many there are on every side for whom nothing is prepared! Let us find out some sad and needy heart for whom there is no one else to think or care. Let us pray for some one that has none to pray for him. Let us be like Him who, one Christmas Day, gave His life and His all, and came to those who would not appreciate His holy gift, but rejected His blessed Babe, and murdered His only Son.
Let us not be afraid to know something even of the love that is unrequited and is thrown away on the unworthy. That is the love of Christ, and God has for such love a rich recompense.
How Christ must almost weep over the selfishness that meets Him from those for whom He died.
“That my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full”
There is a joy that springs spontaneously in the heart without external or even rational cause. It is an artesian fountain. It rejoices because it cannot help it. It is the glory of God; it is the heart of Christ, it is the joy divine of which He says, “These things have I spoken unto you that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” And your joy no man taketh from you. He who possesses this fountain is not discouraged by surrounding circumstances, but is often surprised at the deep, sweet gladness that comes without any apparent cause, and even comes most strongly when everything in our condition and circumstances is fitted to fill us with sorrow and depression.
It is the nightingale in the heart, which sings at night, and sings because it is its nature to sing.
It is the glorified and incorruptible joy which belongs to heaven, and anticipates already the everlasting song. Lord, give me Thy joy under all circumstances this day, and let my full heart overflow in blessing to others.
“This one thing I do”
One of Satan's favorite employees is the switchman. He likes nothing better than to side-track one of God's express trains, sent on some blessed mission and filled with the fire of a holy purpose.
Something will come up in the pathway of the earnest soul, to attract its attention and occupy its strength and thought. Sometimes it is a little irritation and provocation. Sometimes it is some petty grievance we stop to pursue or adjust. Sometimes it is somebody else's business in which we become interested, and which we feel bound to rectify, and before we know, we are absorbed in a lot of distracting cares and interests that quite turn us aside from the great purpose of our life.
Perhaps we do not do much harm, but we have missed our connection. We have got off the main line.
Let all these things alone. Let grievances come and go, but press forward steadily and irresistibly, crying, as you haste to the goal, “This one thing I do.”
“I called him alone and blessed him”
When we were in the East we noticed the beautiful process of raising rice. The rice is sown on a morass of mud and water, ploughed up by great buffaloes, and after a few weeks it springs up and appears above the water with its beautiful pale green shoots. The seed has been sown very thickly and the plants are clustered together in great numbers, so that you can pull up a score at a single handful. But now comes the process of transplanting. He first plants us and lets us grow very close to some of His children, and in great clusters in the nursery or the hothouse, but when we reach a certain stage we must be transplanted, or come to nothing. He calls us out by His Spirit and Providence into situations where we have to lean directly on Him, where He puts upon us a weight of responsibility and service so great that we have an opportunity of developing and are thrown upon the great resources of His grace.
“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is; for he shall be like a tree planted by the waters and that spreadeth out her roots by the rivers.”
“Hold fast that which is good”
1 Thessalonians 5:21
It is a great thing to be able to receive new truth and blessing without sacrificing the truths already proved, and abandoning foundations already laid.
Some persons are always laying the foundations, and they present at last, the appearance of a lot of abandoned sites and half constructed buildings, and nothing is ever brought to completion.
The fact that you are abandoning to-day for some new truth the things that a year ago you counted most precious and believed to be divinely true, should be sufficient evidence that you will probably a year from to-day abandon your present convictions for the next new light that comes to you.
God is ever wanting to add to us, to develop us, to enlarge us, to teach us more and more, but it is ever in the line of things which He has already taught us, and in which we have been established.
While we are to “prove all things,” let us “hold fast that which is good,” and “whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”
“Freely ye have received, freely give”
When God does anything marked and special for our souls, or bodies, He intends it as a sacred trust for us to communicate to others. “Freely ye have received, freely give.”
It has pleased the Master in these closing days of the dispensation to reveal Himself in peculiar blessing to the hearts of His chosen disciples in all parts of the Christian Church; but this is intended to be communicated to a still wider circle, and every one of us who has been brought into these intimate relations with God, becomes a trustee, or witness for these higher truths to every one we can influence.
If God has revealed Himself to us as our Sanctifier, it is that we may help others to know Him as a Sanctifier.
If He has become our Healer, it is because there are sick and suffering lives to whom we can bring some blessing.
In like manner, if the hope of the Lord's coming has become precious to us, it would be worse than ingratitude for us to hide our testimony to this truth, and hold it only for our own personal comfort.
“I know a man in Christ”
2 Corinthians 12:2
It is a great deliverance to lose one's self. There is no heavier millstone that one can be compelled to carry than self-consciousness. It is so easy to get introverted and coiled round one's self in our spiritual consciousness. There is nothing that is so easy to fasten on as our misery; there is nothing that is more apt to produce self-consciousness than suffering, until it becomes almost a settled habit to hold on to our burden, and pray it unceasingly into the very face of God, until our very prayer saturates us with our own misery, instead of asking for power to drop ourselves altogether, and leave ourselves in His loving hands and know that we are free, and then rise into the blessed liberty of His higher thoughts and will, and His love and care for others.
The very act of letting go of ourselves really lifts us into a higher plane, and relieves us from the thing that is hurting. This habit of prayer for others, and especially for the world, brings its own recompense, and leaves upon our hearts a blessing like the fertility which the Nile deposits upon the soil of Egypt, as it flows through to its distant goal.
“His wife hath made herself ready”
There is danger in becoming morbid even in preparing for the Lord's coming. We remember a time in our life when we had devoted ourselves to spend a month in waiting upon the Lord for a baptism of the Holy Ghost, and before the end of the month, the Lord shook us out of our seclusion and compelled us to go out and carry His message to others; and as we went, He met us in the service.
There is a musty, monkish way of seeking a blessing, and there is a wholesome, practical holiness which finds us in the company of the Lord Himself not only in the closet and on the mountain-top of prayer, but among publicans and sinners, and in the practical duties of life.
It seems to us that the practical preparation for the Lord's coming consists, first, of a very full entering into fellowship with Him in our own spiritual life, and letting Him not only cleanse us, but perfect us in all the finer touches of the Spirit's deeper work, and then, secondly, getting out of ourselves and living for the help of others and the preparation of the world for His appearing.
“Pray without ceasing”
1 Thessalonians 5:17
An important help in the life of prayer is the habit of bringing everything to God, moment by moment, as it comes to us in life. This may be established as a habit on the principle on which all habits are formed, of repeated and constant attention, moment by moment, until that which is at first an act of will, becomes spontaneous and second nature.
If we will watch our lives we shall find that God meets the things that we commit to Him in prayer with special blessing, and often allows the best things that we have not committed to Him to be ineffectual, simply to remind us of our dependence upon Him for everything. It is very gracious and mindful of Him
thus gently to compel us to remember Him and to hold us so close to Him that we cannot get away even the length of a single minute from His all-sustaining arm. “In everything … let our requests be made known unto God.”
Let us bring our least petitions,
Like the incense beaten small,
All our cares, complaints, conditions
Jesus loves to bear them all.
“Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of”
Someone has said that the most spiritual people are the easiest to get along with. When one has a little of the Holy Ghost it is like “a little learning, a dangerous thing”; but a full baptism of the Holy Spirit, and a really disciplined, stablished and tested spiritual life, makes one simple, tender, tolerant, considerate of others, and like a little child.
James and John, in their early zeal, wanted to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans. But John, the aged, allowed Demetrius to exclude him from the church, and suffered in Patmos for the kingdom and with the patience of Jesus. And aged Paul was willing to take back even Mark, whom he had refused as a companion in his early ministry, and to acknowledge that he was profitable to him for the ministry.
I want the love that cannot help but love;
Loving, like God, for very sake of love.
A spring so full that it must overflow,
A fountain flowing from the throne above.
“Now abideth faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love.”
“Prove me now herewith”
We once heard a simple old colored man say something that we have never forgotten. “When God tests You it is a good time for you to test Him by putting His promises to the proof, and claiming from Him just as much as your trials have rendered necessary.”
There are two ways of getting out of a trial. One is to simply try to get rid of the trial, and be thankful when it is over. The other is to recognize the trial as a challenge from God to claim a larger blessing than we have ever had, and to hail it with delight as an opportunity of obtaining a larger measure of Divine grace.
Thus even the adversary becomes an auxiliary, and the things that seem to be against us turn out to be for the furtherance of our way. Surely, this is to be more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Blessed Rose of Sharon
Breathe upon our heart,
Fill us with Thy fragrance,
Keep us as Thou art.
Then Thy life will make us
Holy and complete;
In Thy grace triumphant,
In Thy sweetness, sweet.
“That take and give for Me and thee”
There is a beautiful touch of loving thoughtfulness in the account of Christ’s miracle at Capernaum in providing the tribute money. After the reference to Peter’s interview with the tax collector, it is added, “When he came into the house Jesus prevented him,” that is, anticipated him, as the old Saxon word means, by arranging for the need before Peter needed to speak about it at all, and He sent Peter down to the sea to find the piece of gold in the mouth of the fish.
So our dear Lord is always thinking in advance of our needs, and He loves to save us from embarrassment, and anticipate our anxieties and cares by laying up His loving acts and providing before the emergency comes. Then with exquisite tenderness the Master adds: “That take and give for Me and thee.” He puts Himself first in the embarrassing need and bears the heavy end of the burden for His distressed and suffering child. He makes our cares His cares, our sorrows His sorrows, our shame His shame, and “He is able to be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”
“It is God which worketh in you”
God has not two ways for any of us; but one; not two things for us to do which we may choose between; but one best and highest choice. It is a blessed thing to find and fill the perfect will of God. It is a blessed thing to have our life laid out and our Christian work adjusted to God’s plan. Much strength is lost by working at a venture. Much spiritual force is expended in wasted effort, and scattered, indefinite and inconstant attempts at doing good. There is spiritual force and financial strength enough in the hands and hearts of the consecrated Christians of to-day to bring the coming of Christ, to bring about the evangelization of the world in a generation, if it were only wisely directed and utilized according to God’s plan.
Christ has laid down a definite plan of work for His Church, and He expects us to understand it, and to work up to it; and as we catch His thought, and obediently, loyally fulfill it, we shall work to purpose, and please Him far better than by our thoughtless, reckless, and indiscriminate attempts to carry out our ideas, and compel God to bless our work.
“Prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God”
There are three conditions in which the water in that engine may be. First, the boiler may be full and the water clean and clear; or, secondly, the boiler may not only be full but the water may be hot, very hot, hot enough to scald you, almost boiling; thirdly, it may be just one degree hotter and at the boiling point, giving forth its vapor in clouds of steam, pressing through the valves and driving the mighty piston which turns the wheels and propels the train of cars across the country.
So there are three kinds of Christians. The first we will call cold water Christians, or, perhaps better, clean water Christians.
Secondly, there are hot water Christians. They are almost at the boiling point.
One degree more, we come to the third class of Christians, the boiling water Christians. The difference is a very slight one; it simply takes one reservation out, drops one “if,” eliminates a single touch, and yet it is all the difference in the world. That one degree changes that engine into a motive power, not now a thing to be looked at, but a thing to go.
“As ye have received Christ Jesus so walk in Him”
It is much easier to keep the fire burning than to rekindle it after it has gone out. Let us abide in Him. Let us not have to remove the cinders and ashes from our hearthstones every day and kindle a new flame; but let us keep it burning and never let it expire. Among the ancient Greeks the sacred fire was never allowed to go out; so, in a higher sense, let us keep the heavenly flame aglow upon the altar of the heart.
It takes very much less effort to maintain a good habit than to form it. A true spiritual habit once formed becomes a spontaneous tendency of our being, and we grow into delightful freedom in following it. “Let us not be ever laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, but let us go on unto perfection; and whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same things.”
Every spiritual habit begins with difficulty and effort and watchfulness, but if we will only let it get thoroughly established, it will become a channel along which currents of life will flow with divine spontaneousness and freedom.
“Unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”
God loves us so well that He will not suffer us to take less than His highest will. Some day we shall bless our faithful teacher, who kept the standard inflexibly rigid, and then gave us the strength and grace to reach it, and would not excuse us until we had accomplished all His glorious will.
Let us be inexorable with ourselves. Let us mean exactly what God means, and have no discounts upon His promises or commandments. Let us keep the standard up, and never rest until we reach it. “Let God be true and every man a liar.” If we fail a hundred times don’t let us accommodate God’s ideal to our realization, but like the brave ensign who stood in front of his company waving the banner, and when the soldiers called him back he only waved it higher, and cried, “Don’t bring the standard back to the regiment, but bring the regiment up to the colors.”
Forward, forward, leave the past behind thee,
Reaching forth unto the things before;
All the Land of Promise lies before thee,
God has greater blessings yet in store.
“Thou shalt be to him instead of God”
Such was God’s promise to Moses, and such the high character that Moses was to assume toward Aaron, his brother. May it not suggest a high and glorious place that each of us may occupy toward all whom we meet, instead of God?
What a dignity and glory it would give our lives, could we uniformly realize this high calling! How it would lead us to act toward our fellow-men! God can always be depended upon. God is without variableness or shadow of turning. God’s word is unchangeable, and we can trust Him without reserve or question. Oh, that we might so live that men can trust us, even as God!
Again, God has no needs or wants to be supplied. He is always giving. “Rich unto all that call upon Him.” The glory of His nature is love, unselfish love, and beneficence toward all His creatures. The Divine life is a self-forgetting life, a life that has nothing to do but love and bless.
Let us so live, representing our Master here, while He represents us before the Throne on high.
“Ask and it shall be given you”
We must receive, as well as ask. We must take the place of believing, and recognize ourselves as in it. A friend was saying, “I want to get into the will of God,” and this was the answer: “Will you step into the will of God? And now, are you in the will of God?” The question aroused a thought that had not come before.
The gentleman saw that he had been straining after, but not receiving the blessing he sought.
Jesus has said, “Ask and ye shall receive.” The very strain keeps back the blessing. The intense tension of all your spiritual nature so binds you that you are not open to the blessing which God is waiting to give you. “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
He tells me there is cleansing
From every secret sin,
And a great and full salvation
To keep the heart within.
And I take Him in His fullness,
With all His glorious grace,
For He says it is mine by taking,
And I take just what He says.
“Hold fast till I come”
The other day we asked a Hebrew friend how it was that his countrymen were so successful in acquiring wealth. “Ah,” said he, “we do not make more money than other people, but we keep more.” Beloved, let us look out this day for spiritual pickpockets and spiritual leakage. Let us “lose nothing of what we have wrought, but receive a full reward”; and, as each day comes and goes, let us put away in the savings bank of eternity its treasures of grace and victory, and so be conscious from day to day that something real and everlasting is being added to our eternal fortune.
It may be but a little, but if we only economize all that God gives us, and pass it on to His keeping, when the close shall come we shall be amazed to see how much the accumulated treasures of a well spent life have laid up on high, and how much more He has added to them by His glorious investment of the life committed to His keeping.
Oh, how the days are telling! Oh, how precious these golden hours will seem sometime! God help us to make the most of them now.
“Charity doth not behave itself unseemly”
1 Corinthians 13:5
In the dress of a Hindu woman, her graceful robe is fastened upon her person entirely by means of a single knot. The long strip of cloth is wound around her person so as to fall in graceful folds like a made garment, and the end is fastened by a little knot, and the whole thing hangs by that single fastening. If that were loosed the robe would fall. And so in the spiritual life, our habits of grace are likened unto garments; and it is also true that the garment of love, which is the beautiful adorning of the child of God, is entirely fastened by little nots.
If you will read with care the thirteenth chapter of 1st Corinthians, you will find that most of the qualities of love are purely negative. “Love envieth not, love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave herself rudely, seeketh not her own, is not provoked, thinketh no evil.” Here are “nots” enough to hold on our spiritual wardrobe. Here are reasons enough to explain the failure of so many, and the reason why they walk naked, or with rent garments, and others see their shame. Let us look after the nots.
“Not as I will, but as Thou wilt” “To will and do of His good pleasure”
There are two attitudes in which our will should be given to God.
First. We should have the surrendered will. This is where we must all begin, by yielding up to God our natural will, and having Him possess it.
But next, He wants us to have the victorious will. As soon as He receives our will in honest surrender, He wants to put His will into it and make it stronger than ever for Him. It is henceforth no longer our will, but His will. And having yielded to His choice and placed itself under His direction, He wants to put into it all the strength and intensity of His own great will and make us positive, forceful, victorious and unmovable, even as Himself. “Not My will, but Thine be done.” That is the first step. “Father, I will that they whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me.” That is the second attitude. Both are divine; both are right; both are necessary to our right living and successful working for God.
“It is I, be not afraid”
Someone tells of a little child with some big story of sorrow upon its little heart, flying to its mother’s arms for comfort, and intending to tell her the story of its trouble; but as that mother presses it to her bosom and pours out her love, it soon becomes so occupied with her and the sweetness of her affection that it forgets to tell its story, and in a little while even the memory of the trouble is forgotten. It has just been loved away, and she has taken its place in the heart of the little one.
This is the way God comforts us Himself. “It is I, be not afraid,” is His reassuring word. The circumstances are not altered, but He Himself comes in their place, and satisfies every need of our being, and we forget all things in His sweet presence, as He becomes our all in all.
I am breathing out my sorrow
On Thy kind and loving breast;
Breathing in Thy joy and comfort,
Breathing in Thy peace and rest.
I am breathing out my longings
In Thy listening, loving ear;
I am breathing in Thy answer,
Stilling every doubt and fear.
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from stumbling”
This is a most precious promise. The revised translation is both accurate and suggestive. It is not merely from falling that He wants to keep us, but from even the slightest stumbling.
We are told of Abraham that he staggered not at the promise. God wants us to walk so steadily that there will not even be a quiver in the line of His regiments as they face the foe. It is the little stumblings of life that most discourage and hinder us, and most of these stumblings are over trifles. Satan would much rather knock us down with a feather than with an Armstrong gun. It is much more to his honor and keen delight to defeat a child of God by some flimsy trifle than by some great temptation.
Beloved, let us watch, in these days, against the orange peels that trip us on our pathway, the little foxes that destroy the vines, and the dead flies that mar, sometimes, a whole vessel of precious ointment. Trifles make perfection,” and as we get farther on, in our Christian life, God will hold us much more closely to obedience in things that seem insignificant.
“The body is not one member, but many”
1 Corinthians 12:14
We have a friend who has a phonograph for his correspondence. It consists of two parts. One is a simple and wonderful apparatus, whose sensitive cylinders receive the tones and then give them out again, word for word, through the hearing tube. The other part is a common little box that stands under the table, and does nothing but supply the power through connecting wires.
Now, the little box might insist upon being the phonograph, and doing the talking; but if it should, it would not only waste its own life but destroy the life of its partner.
Its sole business is to supply power to the phonograph, while the latter is to do the talking. So some of us are called to be voices to speak for God to our fellow-men, others are forces to sustain them, by our holy sympathy and silent prayer. (Some of us are little dynamos under the table, while others are phonographs that speak aloud the messages of heaven.)
Let each of us be true to our God-given ministry, and when the day comes our work will be weighed and the rewards distributed.
“I know him that he will do the law”
God wants people that He can depend upon. He could say of Abraham, “I know him, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham all that He hath spoken.” God can be depended upon; He wants us to be just as decided, as reliable, as stable. This is just what faith means. God is looking for men on whom He can put the weight of all His love, and power, and faithful promises. When God finds such a soul there is nothing He will not do for him. God’s engines are strong enough to draw any weight we attach to them. Unfortunately the cable which we fasten to the engine is often too weak to hold the weight of our prayer, therefore God is drilling us, disciplining us, and training us to stability and certainty in the life of faith. Let us learn our lessons, and let us stand fast.
God has His best things for the few
Who dare to stand the test;
God has his second choice for those
Who will not have His best.
Give me, O Lord, Thy highest choice,
Let others take the rest.
Their good things have no charm for me,
For I have got Thy best.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not”
Three things are notable about this man:
1. His company. “He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”
2. His reading and thinking. “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night.”
3. His fruitfulness. “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
The river is the Holy Ghost; the planting, the deep, abiding life in which, not occasionally, but habitually, we absorb the Holy Spirit; and the fruit is not occasional, but continual, and appropriate to each changing season.
His life is also prosperous, and his spirit fresh, like the unfading leaf. Such a life must be happy. Indeed, happiness is a matter of spiritual conditions. Put a sunbeam in a cellar and it must be bright. Put a nightingale in the darkest midnight, and it must sing.
Lo, I Am With You Always
This living Christ is not the person that was, but the person that still is, your living Lord. At Preston Pans, near Edinburgh, I looked on the field where in the olden days armies were engaged in contest. In the crisis of the battle the chieftain fell wounded. His men were about to shrink away from the field when they saw their leader’s form go down; their strong hands held the clay more with trembling grip, and they faltered for a moment. Then the old chieftain rallied strength enough to rise on his elbow and cry: “I am not dead, my children, I am only watching you—to see my clansmen do their duty.” And so from the other side of Calvary He is speaking; we cannot see Him, but He says, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world”; and He puts it, “I am”—an uninterrupted and continuous presence. Not “I will be,” but the unbroken presence still is with us forevermore.
Soon the conflict shall be done,
Soon the battle shall be won;
Soon shall wave the victor’s palm,
Soon shall sing the eternal Psalm;
Then our joyful song shall be,
I have overcome through Thee.
Where is Abel Thy Brother?
The first question God puts to the soul is, “Adam, where art thou?” The next, “Where is Abel thy brother?” We are our brothers’ keepers. Each within our reach, all who need our help, all related to us by the ties of the family, have a claim on us. We must not take an advantage over them; their weakness and need are strong claims on our resources of every kind; we are bound to keep them so far as we can; we may at any moment be called to give an account of their whereabouts. To dispute this is to betray the spirit of Cain, who was a murderer.
God keeps an inventory of his saints.—In his book their names are written. Their names, abode, and circumstances; their fathers, mothers, and brothers; their occupation, whether they keep the sheep or till the land: all are known to Him, because fixed by his providence. Whatever touches them is, therefore, instantly known to Him. It is as though they were part of his very being, and a stab of pain to them thrills his heart.
God calls us to help Him in keeping one another.—We are to watch for each other’s souls; to consider one another to provoke to good works; to bear one another’s burdens; to exhort each other, to convert the wanderer from the path of the destroyer, and to wash stains from his feet. The cure of souls is the work of all the saints. But this is only possible to those who have been baptized into the Spirit of Christ. Remember that you have just as much love towards God, as you are willing to show towards the brother whom you have seen. “This commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
Watch and Pray
We need to watch for prayers as well as for the answers to our prayers. It needs as much wisdom to pray rightly as it does faith to receive the answers to our prayers.
We met a friend the other day, who had been in years of darkness because God had failed to answer certain prayers, and the result had been a state bordering on infidelity.
A very few moments were sufficient to convince this friend that these prayers had been entirely unauthorized, and that God had never promised to answer such prayers, and they were for things which this friend should have accomplished himself, in the exercise of ordinary wisdom.
The result was deliverance from a cloud of unbelief which was almost wrecking a Christian life. There are some things about which we do not need to pray, as much as to take the light which God has already given.
Many persons are asking God to give them peculiar signs, tokens and supernatural intimations of His will. Our business is to use the light He has given, and then He will give whatever more we need.
Redeeming the Time
Two little words are found in the Greek version here. They are translated “ton kairon” in the revised version, “Buying up for yourselves the opportunity.” The two words ton kairon mean, literally, the opportunity.
They do not refer to time in general, but to a special point of time, a juncture, a crisis, a moment full of possibilities and quickly passing by, which we must seize and make the best of before it has passed away.
It is intimated that there are not many such moments of opportunity, because the days are evil; like a barren desert, in which, here and there, you find a flower, pluck it while you can; like a business opportunity which comes a few times in a life-time; buy it up while you have the chance. Be spiritually alert; be not unwise, but understanding what the will of God is. “Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, buying up for yourselves the opportunity.”
Sometimes it is a moment of time to be saved; sometimes a soul to be led to Christ; sometimes it is an occasion for love; sometimes for patience: sometimes for victory over temptation and sin. Let us redeem it.
I Will Cause You to Walk in My Statutes
The highest spiritual condition is one where life is spontaneous and flows without effort, like the deep floods of Ezekiel's river, where the struggles of the swimmer ceased, and he was borne by the current's resistless force.
So God leads us into spiritual conditions and habits which become the spontaneous impulses of our being, and we live and move in the fulness of the divine life.
But these spiritual habits are not the outcome of some transitory impulse, but are often slowly acquired and established. They begin, like every true habit, in a definite act of will, and they are confirmed by the repetition of that act until it becomes a habit. The first stages always involve effort and choice. We have to take a stand and hold it steadily, and after we have done so a certain time, it becomes second nature, and carries us by its own force.
The Holy Spirit is willing to form such habits in every direction of our Christian life, and if we will but obey Him in the first steppings of faith, we will soon become established in the attitude of obedience, and duty will be delight.