Days of Heaven Upon Earth
A Year Book of Scripture Texts
And Living Truths
Rev. A. B. Simpson
Christian Alliance Pub. Co.
3611 Fourteenth Avenue,
Brooklyn, N. Y.
Copyright, December, 1897
The Days Of Heaven January 1. January 2. January 3. January 4. January 5. January 6. January 7. January 8. January 9. January 10. January 11. January 12. January 13. January 14. January 15. January 16. January 17. January 18. January 19. January 20. January 21. January 22. January 23. January 24. January 25. January 26. January 27. January 28. January 29. January 30. January 31. February 1. February 2. February 3. February 4. February 5. February 6. February 7. February 8. February 9. February 10. February 11. February 12. February 13. February 14. February 15. February 16. February 17. February 18. February 19. February 20. February 21. February 22. February 23. February 24. February 25. February 26. February 27. February 28. March 1. March 2. March 3. March 4. March 5. March 6. March 7. March 8. March 9. March 10. March 11. March 12. March 13. March 14. March 15. March 16. March 17. March 18. March 19. March 20. March 21. March 22. March 23. March 24. March 25. March 26. March 27. March 28. March 29. March 30. March 31. April 1. April 2. April 3. April 4. April 5. April 6. April 7. April 8. April 9. April 10. April 11. April 12. April 13. April 14. April 15. April 16. April 17. April 18. April 19. April 20. April 21. April 22. April 23. April 24. April 25. April 26. April 27. April 28. April 29. April 30. May 1. May 2. May 3. May 4. May 5. May 6. May 7. May 8. May 9. May 10. May 11. May 12. May 13. May 14. May 15. May 16. May 17. May 18. May 19. May 20. May 21. May 22. May 23. May 24. May 25. May 26. May 27. May 28. May 29. May 30. May 31. June 1. June 2. June 3. June 4. June 5. June 6. June 7. June 8. June 9. June 10. June 11. June 12. June 13. June 14. June 15. June 16. June 17. June 18. June 19. June 20. June 21. June 22. June 23. June 24. June 25. June 26. June 27. June 28. June 29. June 30. July 1. July 2. July 3. July 4. July 5. July 6. July 7. July 8. July 9. July 10. July 11. July 12. July 13. July 14. July 15. July 16. July 17. July 18. July 19. July 20. July 21. July 22. July 23. July 24. July 25. July 26. July 27. July 28. July 29. July 30. July 31. August 1. August 2. August 3. August 4. August 5. August 6. August 7. August 8. August 9. August 10. August 11. August 12. August 13. August 14. August 15. August 16. August 17. August 18. August 19. August 20. August 21. August 22. August 23. August 24. August 25. August 26. August 27. August 28. August 29. August 30. August 31. September 1. September 2. September 3. September 4. September 5. September 6. September 7. September 8. September 9. September 10. September 11. September 12. September 13. September 14. September 15. September 16. September 17. September 18. September 19. September 20. September 21. September 22. September 23. September 24. September 25. September 26. September 27. September 28. September 29. September 30. October 1. October 2. October 3. October 4. October 5. October 6. October 7. October 8. October 9. October 10. October 11. October 12. October 13. October 14. October 15. October 16. October 17. October 18. October 19. October 20. October 21. October 22. October 23. October 24. October 25. October 26. October 27. October 28. October 29. October 30. October 31. November 1. November 2. November 3. November 4. November 5. November 6. November 7. November 8. November 9. November 10. November 11. November 12. November 13. November 14. November 15. November 16. November 17. November 18. November 19. November 20. November 21. November 22. November 23. November 24. November 25. November 26. November 27. November 28. November 29. November 30. December 1. December 2. December 3. December 4. December 5. December 6. December 7. December 8. December 9. December 10. December 11. December 12. December 13. December 14. December 15. December 16. December 17. December 18. December 19. December 20. December 21. December 22. December 23. December 24. December 25. December 26. December 27. December 28. December 29. December 30. December 31.
THE DAYS OF HEAVEN
The days of heaven are peaceful days, Still as yon glassy sea; So calm, so still in God, our days, As the days of heaven would be.
The days of heaven are holy days, From sin forever free; So cleansed and kept our days, O Lord, As the days of heaven would be.
The days of heaven are happy days. Sorrow they never see; So full of gladness all our days, As the days of heaven would be.
The days of heaven are healthful days, They feed on life's fair tree; So feeding on Thy strength, O Christ, Our days as heaven may be.
Walk with us, Lord, thro' all the days, And let us walk with Thee; Till as Thy will is done in heaven, On earth so shall it be.
"Redeeming the time" (Eph. v. 16).
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" (Eze. xxxvi. 27).
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.
"Watch and pray" (Matt. xxvi. 41).
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.
"Blessed is the man that walketh not" (Ps. i. 1).
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.
"I know him that he will do the law" (Gen. xviii. 19).
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.
"The body is not one member, but many" (I. Cor. xii. 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.
"Now unto Him that is able to keep you from stumbling" (Jude 24).
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.
"It is I, be not afraid" (Mark vi. 50).
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.
"Not as I will, but as Thou wilt" (Matt. xxvi. 39).
"To will and do of His good pleasure" (Phil. ii. 13).
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.
"Charity doth not behave itself unseemly" (I. Cor. xiii. 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 I. 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.
"Hold fast till I come" (Rev. ii. 25).
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.
"Ask and it shall be given you" (Matt. vii. 7).
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 fulness, With all His glorious grace, For He says it is mine by taking, And I take just what He says.
"Thou shalt be to him instead of God" (Ex. iv. 16).
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.
"Unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. iv. 13).
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.
"As ye have received Christ Jesus so walk in Him" (Col. ii. 6).
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.
"Prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. xii. 2).
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.
"It is God which worketh in you" (Phil. ii. 13).
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 fulfil 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.
"That take and give for Me and thee" (Matt. xvii. 27).
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."
"Prove me now herewith" (Mal. iii. 10).
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.
"Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of" (Luke ix. 55).
Some one 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."
"Pray without ceasing" (I. Thess. v. 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.
"His wife hath made herself ready" (Rev. xix. 7).
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.
"I know a man in Christ" (II. Cor. xii. 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.
"Freely ye have received, freely give" (Matt. x. 8).
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.
"Hold fast that which is good" (I. Thess. v. 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."
"I called him alone and blessed him" (Isa. li. 2).
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."
"This one thing I do" (Phil. iii. 13).
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."
"That my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John xv. 11).
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.
"Send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared" (Neh. viii. 10).
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.
"Cast down but not destroyed" (II. Cor. iv. 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.
"Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (I. Cor. i. 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.
"A well of water springing up" (John iv. 14).
In the life overflowing in service for others, we find the deep fountain of life running over the spring and finding vent in rivers of living water that go out to bless and save the world around us. It is beautiful to notice that as the blessing grows unselfish it grows larger. The water in the heart is only a well, but when reaching out to the needs of others it is not only a river, but a delta of many rivers overflowing in majestic blessing. This overflowing love is connected with the Person and work of the Holy Spirit which was to be poured out upon the disciples after Jesus was glorified.
This is the true secret of power for service, the heart filled and satisfied with Jesus, and so baptized with the Holy Ghost that it is impelled by the fulness of its joy and love to impart to others what it has so abundantly received; and yet each new ministry only makes room for a new filling and a deeper receiving of the life which grows by giving.
Letting go is twice possessing, Would you double every blessing, Pass it on.
"And whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" (Matt. xx. 26, 27).
Slave is the literal meaning of the word, doulos.
The first word used for service is diakanos, which means a minister to others in any usual way or work: but the word doulos means a bond slave, and the Lord here plainly teaches us that the highest service is that of a bond slave.
He Himself made Himself the servant of all, and he who would come nearest to Him and stand closest to Him at last, must likewise learn the spirit of the ministry that has utterly renounced selfish rights and claims forever.
It is quite possible to be entirely loyal to the Lord Jesus, and yet for Jesus' sake, a servant ourselves, and under the authority of those who are over us in the Lord.
The doulos spirit is the spirit of self-renunciation and glad submission to proper authority, service utterly disinterested, yielding our own preferences and interests unreservedly for the glory of the Master and the sake of our brethren. Lord, clothe us with humility and make us wholly Thine.
"He went out, not knowing whither He went" (Heb. xi. 8).
It is faith without sight. When we can see, it is not faith but reasoning. In crossing the Atlantic we observed this very principle of faith. We saw no path upon the sea nor sign of the shore. And yet day by day we were marking our path upon the chart as exactly as if there had followed us a great chalk line upon the sea; and when we came within twenty miles of land we knew where we were as exactly as if we had seen it all three thousand miles ahead.
How had we measured and marked our course? Day by day our captain had taken his instruments, and looking up to the sky had fixed his course by the sun. He was sailing by the heavenly, not the earthly lights. So faith looks up and sails on, by God's great Sun, not seeing one shore line or earthly lighthouse or path upon the way. Often its steps seem to lead into utter uncertainty, and even darkness and disaster. But He opens the way, and often makes such midnight hours the very gates of day. Let us go forth this day, not knowing but trusting.
"Lo, I am with you alway" (Matt. xxviii. 20).
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 claymore 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 alway, 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.
"Rest in the Lord" (Ps. xxxvii.).
In the old creation the week began with work and ended with Sabbath rest. The resurrection week begins with the first day—first rest, then labor.
So we must first cease from our own works as God did from His, and enter into His rest, and then we will work, with rested hearts, His works with effectual power.
But why "labor to enter into rest"? See that ship—how restfully she sails over the waters, her sails swelling with the gale; and borne without an effort! And yet, look at that man at the helm. See how firmly he holds the rudder, bearing against the wind, and holding her steady to her position. Let him for a moment relax his steady hold and the ship will fall listlessly along the wind. The sails will flap, the waves will toss the vessel at their will, and all rest and power will have gone. It is the fixed helm that brings the steadying power of the wind. And so He has said, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee." The steady will and stayed heart are ours. The keeping is the Lord's. So let us labor to enter and abide in His rest.
"Praying always for all saints" (Eph. vi. 18).
One good counsel will suffice just now. Stop praying so much for yourself; begin to ask unselfish things, and see if God won't give you faith. See how much easier it will be to believe for another than for your own petty self. Try the effect of praying for the world, for definite things, for difficult things, for glorious things, for things that will honor Christ and save mankind, and after you have received a few wonderful answers to prayer in this direction, see if you won't feel stronger to touch your own little burden with a Divine faith, and then go back again to the high place of unselfish prayer for others.
Have you ever learned the beautiful art of letting God take care of you, and giving all your thought and strength to pray for others and for the kingdom of God? It will relieve you of a thousand cares. It will lift you up into a noble and lofty sphere, and teach you to live and love like God. Lord save us from our selfish prayers and give us the faith that worketh by love, and the heart of Christ for a perishing world.
"Faithful in that which is least" (Luke xvi. 10).
The man that missed his opportunity and met the doom of the faithless servant was not the man with five talents, or the man with two, but the man who had only one. The people who are in danger of missing life's great meaning are the people of ordinary capacity and opportunity, and who say to themselves, "There is so little I can do that I will not try to do anything." One of the finest windows in Europe was made from the remnants an apprentice boy collected from the cuttings of his master's great work. The sweepings of the British mint are worth millions. The little pivots on which the works of your watch turn are so important that they are actually made of jewels. And so God places a solemn value and responsibility on the humble workers, the people that try to hide behind their insignificance the trifling opportunities and the single talents; and our littleness will not excuse us in the reckoning day.
"Talk not of talents, what hast thou to do? Thou hast sufficient, whether five or two. Talk not of talents; is thy duty done? This brings the blessing whether ten or one."
"We are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves" (II. Cor. iii. 5).
Insufficient, "All sufficient." These two words form the complement of each other and together give the key to an efficient Christian life. The discovery and full conviction of our utter helplessness is the constant condition of spiritual supply. The aim of the Old Testament, therefore, is ever to show man's failure; that of the New, to reveal Christ's sufficiency. He has all things for us, but we cannot receive them till we know that we have nothing.
The very essence, therefore, of Christian perfection is the constant renunciation of our own perfection, and the continual acceptance of Christ's righteousness. And as we receive deeper views of our nothingness and evil, it is but a call to claim more of His rich grace. But it is possible fully to know our insufficiency and yet not take firmly hold of His "all things." This, too, must be done with a faith that will not accept less than ALL. The prophet was angry because the king of Israel had only smitten thrice upon the ground. He should have done it five or six times. He might have had all. So let us meet His greatness and grace.
"None of these things move me" (Acts xx. 24).
The best evidence of God's presence is the devil's growl. So wrote good Mr. Spurgeon once in "The Sword and the Trowel," and that little sentence has helped many a tried and tired child Of God to stand fast and even rejoice under the fiercest attacks of the foe.
We read in the book of Samuel that the moment that David was crowned at Hebron, "All the Philistines came up to seek David." And the moment we get anything from the Lord worth contending for, then the devil comes to seek us.
When the enemy meets us at the threshold of any great work for God let us accept it as "a token of salvation," and claim double blessing, victory and power. Power is developed by resistance. The cannon carries twice as far because the exploding power has to find its way through resistance. The way electricity is produced in the power-house yonder is by the sharp friction of the revolving wheels. And so we shall find some day that even Satan has been one of God's agencies of blessing.
"I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live" (Gal. ii. 20).
Christ life is in harmony with our nature. A lady asked me the other day—a thoughtful, intelligent woman who was not a Christian, but who had the deepest hunger for that which is right: "How can this be so, and we not lose our individuality! This will destroy our personality, and it violates our responsibility as individuals."
I said: "Dear sister, your personality is only half without Christ. Christ was made for you, and you were made for Christ, and until you meet you are not complete, and He needs you as you need Him." I said: "Suppose that gas-jet should say, 'If I take this fire in, the gas will lose its individuality.' Oh, no; it is only when the fire comes in that the gas fulfils its very purpose of being. Suppose the snowflake should say, 'What shall I do? If I drop on the ground I shall lose my individuality.' But it falls and is absorbed by the soil, and the snowflakes are seen by-and-by in the primroses and daisies. Let us lose ourselves and rise to a new life in Christ."
"Strengthened with all might unto all patience" (Col. i. 11).
The apostle prays for the Colossians, that they may be "strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness." It is one thing to endure and show the strain on every muscle of your face, and seem to say with every wrinkle, "Why does not somebody sympathize with me?" It is another to endure the cross, "despising the shame" for the joy set before us.
There are some trees in the garden of the Lord which "shall not see when heat cometh"; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, nor cease from yielding fruit. Let us set our faces toward the sunrising and use the clouds that come, to make rainbows. Not much longer shall we have the glorious opportunity to rejoice in tribulation, and learn patience. In heaven we shall have nothing to teach long-suffering. If we do not learn it here, we shall be without our brightest crown forever, and wish ourselves back for a little while, in the very circumstances of which we are now trying so hard to get rid.
"But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. vi. 33).
For every heart that is seeking anything from the Lord this is a good watchword. That very thing, or the desire for it, may unconsciously separate you from the Lord, or at least from the singleness of your purpose unto Him. The thing we desire may be a right thing, but we may desire it in a distrusting and selfish spirit. Let us commit it to Him, and not cease to believe for it, but let us, at the same time, keep our purpose fixed on His will and glory, and claim even His promised blessings, not for themselves or ourselves, but for Him. Then shall it be true, "Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." All other things but Himself God will "add." But they must be ever added, never first.
Then shall we be able to believe for them without doubt, when we claim them for Him and not for ourselves. It is only when "we are Christ's" that "all things are ours."
Lord, help me this day to seek Thee first, and be more desirous to please Thee and have Thy will than to possess any other blessing.
"Thy prayers are come up for a memorial before God" (Acts x. 4).
What a beautiful expression the angel used to Cornelius, "Thy prayers are come up for a memorial." It would almost seem as if supplications of years had accumulated before the Throne, and at last the answer broke in blessings on the head of Cornelius, even as the accumulated evaporation of months at last bursts in floods of rain upon the parched ground. So God is represented as treasuring the prayers of His saints in vials; they are described as sweet odors. They are placed like fragrant flowers in the chambers of the King. And kept in sweet remembrance before Him. And later they are represented as poured out upon the earth; and lo, there are voices and thunderings and great providential movements fulfilling God's purposes for His kingdom. We are called "the Lord's remembrancers," and are commanded to give Him no rest, day nor night, but crowd the heavens with our petitions and in due time the answer will come with its accumulated blessings.
No breath of true prayer is lost. The longer it waits, the larger it becomes.
"He shall baptize you with fire" (Matt. iii. 11).
Fire is strangely intense and intrinsic. It goes into the very substance of things. It somehow blends with every particle of the thing it touches.
There are the severe trials that come to minds more sensitive, to the minds that have more points of contact with what hurts; so that the higher the nature the higher the joy, and the greater the avenues of pain that come.
And then there are deeper trials that come as we pass into the hands of God, as we pass from the physical and intellectual into the spiritual nature.
When they first come, we shrink back from their unnatural and fearful breath, and we say: "Oh, this cannot be from the hand of a loving Father! This cannot be necessary to me."
And then come the pains and sufferings from God's own hand, when He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver, when He lets it burn, until it seems that we must be burned to ashes, and we are, indeed, at last burned to ashes.
But we must get the victory through faith. The moment you cease to fear it, that moment it ceases to harm you. He says, "The flames shall not kindle upon you."
"Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (II. Tim. ii. 1).
How to enjoy this day. This will never come by trying to be happy and yet we are responsible for the conditions of real joy.
1. Be right with God; for "Gladness is sown for the upright in heart." "It is His joy that remains in us that makes our joy to be full."
2. Forget yourself and live for others; for "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
3. When you cannot rejoice in feelings, circumstances and states, "rejoice in the Lord," and "count it all joy, when ye fall into divers temptations."
Finally, obey the Lord and be faithful to your trust; and again and again will His blessed Spirit whisper to your heart, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord."
"Not enjoyment and not sorrow Is our destined end or way, But to act that each to-morrow Finds us farther than to-day.
"Let us then be up and doing With a heart for any fate, Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait."
"We will give ourselves continually to prayer" (Acts vi. 4).
In the consecrated believer the Holy Spirit is pre-eminently a Spirit of prayer. If our whole being is committed to Him, and our thoughts are at His bidding, He will occupy every moment in communion and we shall bring every thing to Him as it comes, and pray it out in our spiritual consciousness before we act it out in our lives. We shall, therefore, find ourselves taking up the burdens of life and praying them out in a wordless prayer which we ourselves often cannot understand, but which is simply the unfolding of His thought and will within us, and which will be followed by the unfolding of His providence concerning us.
Want of faithfulness and obedience to the faintest whisper of His will will often hinder some blessing which He meant for us until after a while we may get so dull and negligent that He will not be able to trust us with His whispers and we shall thus stumble on in the darkness and miss His highest thoughts.
Lord, teach us to pray in the Spirit, to pray without ceasing and to lose nothing of Thy will.
"Your life is hid" (Col. iii. 3).
Some Christians loom up in larger proportion than is becoming. They can tell, and others can tell, how many souls they bring to Christ. Their labor seems to crystallize and become its own memorial. Others again seem to blend so wholly with other workers that their own individuality can scarcely be traced. And yet, after all, this is the most Christ-like ministry of all, for the Master Himself does not even appear in the work of the church except as her hidden Life and ascended Head, and even the Holy Spirit is lost in the vessels that He uses. The vine does not bear the fruit, and even the sap is unseen in its ceaseless flow, and it is the little branches which bear all the clusters and seem to have all the honor of the vintage. And so the nearer we come to Christ the more we are willing to be lost sight of in our fruit, and let others be more prominent, while we are the glad and willing witnesses of our testimony and hold up their hands by the silent ministry of love and prayer. Lord, let me be like the veiled seraphim before the throne, who cover their faces and their feet, and hide themselves and their service while they fly to obey Thee.
"Christ in you" (Col. i. 27).
How great the difference between the old and the new way of deliverance! One touch of Christ is worth a lifetime of struggling. A sufferer in one of our hospitals was in danger of losing his sight from a small piece of broken needle that had entered his eye.
Operation after operation had only irritated it, and driven the foreign substance farther still into the delicate nerves of the sensitive organ. At length a skilful young physician thought of a new expedient. He came one day without lancet and probes, and holding in his hand a small but powerful magnet, which he kept before the wounded eye, as close as it could bear. Immediately the piece of steel began to move toward the powerful attraction, and soon flew up to meet it and left the suffering eye completely relieved, without an effort or a laceration. It was as simple as it was wonderful. By a single touch of power the organ was saved and a dangerous trouble completely cured.
It is thus that God delivers us, by the simple attraction of Christ's life and power.
"As much as in me is I am ready" (Rom. i. 15).
Be earnest. Intense earnestness, a whole heart for Christ, the passion sign of the cross, the enthusiasm of our whole being for our Master and humanity—this is what the Lord expects, this is what His cross deserves, this is what the world needs, this is what the age has a right to look for. Everything around us is intensely alive. Life is earnest, death is earnest, sin is earnest, men are earnest, business is earnest, knowledge is earnest, the age is earnest; God forgive us if we alone are trifling in the white heat of this crisis time. Oh, for the baptism of fire! Oh, for the living coal upon the burning lips of love! Oh, for men God-possessed and self-surrendered grasping God's great idea and pressing forward "for the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
All the world for Jesus My prayer shall be, And my watchword ever, Himself for me.
All the world for Jesus, Lord, quickly come, Bring Thy promised kingdom, And take us home.
"Fear thou not, for I am with thee" (Isa. xli. 10).
Satan is always trying to weaken our faith by fear. He is a great metaphysician and knows the paralyzing effect of fear, that it is the great enemy of faith, and that faith is the great secret of help. If he can get us fearing he will stop our trusting and hinder the very blessing we need. Job found the peril of fear and gives us the sorrowful testimony, "I feared a fear and it came upon me."
Fear is born of Satan, and if we would only take time to think a moment we would see that everything Satan says is founded upon a falsehood. He is the father of lies. Even his fears are falsehoods and his terrors ought rather be to us encouragements.
When Satan tells you, therefore, that some ill is going to come, you may quietly look in his face and tell him he is a liar, that instead of ill, goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life, and then turn to your blessed Lord and say, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee." Every fear is distrust and trust is the remedy for fear. "What time I am afraid I will trust in thee."
"Be not dismayed, for I am thy God" (Isa. xli. 10).
How tenderly God is always comforting our fears! How sweetly He says in Isaiah xli. 10, "Fear not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness." And yet again with still tenderer thoughtfulness, "I, the Lord thy God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not, I will help thee." Not only does He say it once, but He keeps holding our right hand and repeating such promises.
The blessed Lord has condensed it all into one sweet monogram of eternal comfort in His message to the disciples on the sea of Galilee, "It is I; be not afraid." He does not say, "It is over," or "It is morning," or "It is fine weather," or "It is smooth water," but He says, "It is I, be not afraid." He is the antidote to fear; He is the remedy for trouble; He is the substance and the sum of deliverance. Therefore, we should rise above fear. Let us keep our eyes fastened upon Him; let us abide continually in Him; let us be content with Him; let us cling closely to Him and cry, "We will not fear though the earth be removed, though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea."
"He that hath entered into His rest hath ceased from his own works even as God did from His" (Heb. iv. 10).
What a rest it would be to many of us if we could but exchange burdens with Christ, and so utterly and forever transfer to Him all our cares and needs that we would not feel henceforth responsible for our burdens, but know that He has undertaken all the care, and that our faith is simply to carry His burdens, and that He prays, labors, and suffers only for us and our interests. This is what He truly invites us to do. "Come unto Me," He says, "all ye that labor and are heavy-laden and I will rest you," and then He adds, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me." He takes our yoke and we take His and we find it a thousand times easier to carry one of His burdens than to carry our own. How much more delightful it is to spend an hour in supplication for another than five minutes in pleading for ourselves. Are we not weary of carrying our wretched loads?
'Twas for this His mercy sought you, And to all His fulness brought you, By the precious blood that bought you, Pass it on.
"For me to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Phil. i. 21).
The secret of a sound body is a sound heart, and the prayer of the Holy Ghost for us is, that we "may be in health and prosper even as our soul prospers."
We find Paul in the Epistles to the Philippians expressing a sublime and holy indifference to the question of life or death. Indeed he is in a real strait, whether he would prefer "to depart and be with Christ," or to remain still in the flesh.
The former would indeed be his sweetest preference, but the latter would be at the same time a joyful service. His only object in wanting to live is to be a blessing. "To abide in the flesh is more needful to you."
Having reached this state of heart, it is beautiful to notice how quickly he rises to the victorious faith necessary to claim perfect strength and health. Because it is more needful to you that I abide in the flesh, he adds, "I know that I shall continue with you all, for your furtherance and joy of faith." Lord, help me to-day to "count not my life dear unto myself that I may finish my course with joy and the ministry that I have received of Jesus."
"Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace" (Rom. vi. 14).
The secret of Moses' failures was this: "The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did." And this was why his life work also came short of full realization. He saw but entered not the Promised Land. The founder of the law had to be its victim, and his life and death might demonstrate the inability of the law to lead any man into the Promised Land. The very fact, that it was for so slight a fault that Moses lost his inheritance, makes all the more emphatic the solemn sentence of the law. "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the Book of the Law to do them."
But to the glory of the grace of God we can add that what the law could not do for Moses the Gospel did; and he who could not pass over the Jordan under the old dispensation is seen on the very heights of Hermon with the Son of Man, sharing His Transfiguration glory, and talking of that death on Calvary to which be owed his glorious destiny.
That grace we have inherited under the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"I am the vine, ye are the branches" (John xv. 5).
How can I take Christ as my Sanctifier, or Healer? is a question that we are constantly asked. It is necessary first of all that we get into the posture of faith. This has to be done by a definite and voluntary act, and then maintained by a uniform habit. It is just the same as the planting of a tree. You must put it in the soil by a definite act, and then you must let it stay put and remain settled in the ground until the little roots have time to fix themselves and begin to draw the sustenance from the soil. There are two stages, the definite planting and then the habitual absorbing of moisture and nourishment from the ground. The root fibers must rest until they reach out their spongy pores and drink in the nutriment of the earth. After the habit is established, then by a certain uniform law, the plant draws its life from the ground without an effort, and it is just as natural for it to grow as it is for us to breathe.
Lord, help me this day to abide in Thee, and to grow into the habit of drawing all my life from Thine so that it shall be true for me, "In Him I live and move and have my being."
"Make you perfect in every good work" (Heb. xiii. 21).
In that beautiful prayer at the close of the Epistle to the Hebrews, "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will," the phrase, "make you perfect in every good work," literally means, it is said, "adjust you in every good work." It is a great thing to be adjusted, adjusted to our surroundings and circumstances rather than trying to have them adjusted to us, adjusted to the people we are thrown with, adjusted to the work God has for us, and not trying to get God to help us to do our work; adjusted to do the very will and plan of God for us in our whole life. This is the secret of rest, power and freedom in our life-work.
"Oh, fill me with Thy fulness, Lord. Until my very heart o'erflow In kindling thought and glowing word, Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.
Oh, use me, Lord, use even me, Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where; Until Thy blessed face I see, Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share."
"Stablish, strengthen, settle you" (I. Peter v. 10).
In taking Christ in any new relationship, we must first have sufficient intellectual light to satisfy our mind that we are entitled to stand in this relationship. The shadow of a question here will wreck our confidence. Then, having seen this, we must make the venture, the committal, the choice, and take the place just as definitely as the tree is planted in the soil, or the bride gives herself away at the marriage altar. It must be once for all, without reserve, without recall.
Then there is a season of establishing, settling and testing, during which we must stay put until the new relationship gets so fixed as to become a permanent habit. It is just the same as when the surgeon sets the broken arm. He puts it in splints to keep it from vibration. So God has His spiritual splints that He wants to put upon His children and keep them quiet and unmoved until they pass the first stage of faith.
It is not always easy work for us, "but the God of all grace who hath called you unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus after you have suffered awhile, stablish, strengthen, settle you."
"Count it all joy" (James i. 2).
We do not always feel joyful, but we are to count it all joy. The word "reckon" is one of the key-words of Scripture. It is the same word used about our being dead. We do not feel dead. We are painfully conscious of something that would gladly return to life. But we are to treat ourselves as dead, and neither fear nor obey the old nature.
So we are to reckon the thing that comes as a blessing. We are determined to rejoice, to say, "My heart is fixed, O God, I will sing and give praise." This rejoicing, by faith, will soon become a habit, and will ever bring speedily the spirit of gladness and the spontaneous overflow of praise.
Then, "although the fig-tree may wither and no fruit appear in the vines, the labor of the olive fail and the fields yield no increase, the herd be cut off from the stall, and the cattle from the field, yet we will rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of our salvation."
"Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round, On Jesus' bosom naught but calm is found; Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown, Jesus we know, and He is on the throne."
"Wait on the Lord" (Ps. xxvii. 14).
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 fulness; I am sitting at His feet; I am hearkening to the whispers of His word.
"That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost" (II. Tim. i. 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 Ghost; and when any thought or suggestion of evil arises in our breast, the quick conscience can instantly call upon the Holy Ghost 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 Ghost 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 fulness of God.
"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous but grievous; nevertheless afterward" (Heb. xii. 11).
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 any one.
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.
"They were all filled with the Holy Ghost" (Acts ii. 4).
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 Ghost 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 Ghost, 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 fulness, Bring me to Thy Promised Rest, Holy Ghost, I bid Thee welcome, Come and be my Holy Guest.
"I have overcome the world" (John xvi. 33).
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."
"Lean not unto thine own understanding" (Prov. iii. 5).
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.
"It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts xx. 35).
How shall we know the difference between the earthly and the heavenly love? The one terminates on ourselves and is partly ourself 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.
"Pray Ye therefore" (Luke x. 2).
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 pray'rs like incense rise.
"How ye ought to walk and please God" (I. Thess. iv. 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.
"The peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds" (Phil. iv. 7).
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.
"But ye are a chosen generation, a peculiar people" (I. Peter ii. 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.
"They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way" (Ps. cvii. 4).
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!
"Keep yourselves in the love of God" (Jude 21).
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."
"We are His workmanship" (Eph. ii. 10).
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.