"Keep (guard) thy heart above
all that thou guardest: For out of it are the issues of life."--
in depth discussion
SAID PETER to our Lord, "Spare
Thyself this death of which Thou speakest--this bitter suffering and
anguish shall never be Thine!"
These words are continually spoken
still, and many are the voices that bid us spare ourselves--the voices of
our friends who love us; the voices of prudence and worldly wisdom; the
voices of our own wayward hearts.
Do not spare your judgment of
yourself. Never permit yourself to do things which you would be the first
to condemn in others. Never suppose that there are reasons for you to do a
wrong, which, under no circumstances would you tolerate in your neighbor.
Do not spare yourself in confessing
your sins and mistakes. Confession is one of the tests of nobility. Not a
few are willing to confess to God, who never attempt to confess to men. It
is a serious question whether that sorrow for sin is genuine and deep
enough which does not lead the offender to ask his fellow-man for pardon,
even as he asks his God. Nothing could be clearer than Christ's words,
that whenever we remember that our brother has aught against us, we are to
leave our gift at the altar, and go first to seek reconciliation with him,
before we offer our sacrifice to God.
The supreme test of goodness is not
in the greater but in the smaller incidents of our character and practice;
not what we are when standing in the searchlight of public scrutiny, but
when we reach the firelight flicker of our homes; not what we are when
some clarion-call rings through the air, summoning us to fight for life
and liberty, but our attitude when we are called to sentry-duty in the
grey morning, when the watch-fire is burning low. It is impossible to be
our best at the supreme moment if character is corroded and eaten into by
dally inconsistency, unfaithfulness, and besetting sin.
You cannot really help people
without expending yourself. The only work that tells must cost you
something. Gold, silver, and precious stones can never be built into the
new Jerusalem unless you are willing to part with them from the stores of
your own life.
Most loving Father, may love fill
and rule my heart. For then there will spring up and be cherished between
Thee and me a likeness of character, and union of will, so that I may
choose and refuse what Thou dost. AMEN.
WATCHING FOR SOULS
"Christ in you, the hope of glory;
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all
wisdom."-- Col 1:27, 28.
"Watch, and remember, I ceased not
to warn every one night and day with tears."--
THE MINISTRY of warning should be a recognized part
of the work of the Church and of each individual member. The foghorn warns
the ship from the deadly rocks; the red light warns the train of imminent
danger; in the days of the plague people were warned from infected areas:
how much more should we, who know the wrath of God which abides on those
who refuse Christ, raise our voice in warning. We should do it
deliberately, earnestly, patiently, and in reliance upon the Spirit of God
to make our words, however much they may be resented, the means of
arresting the wicked from the error of his ways, and those who are taking
their first steps in forbidden paths from pursuing them (Ezek 33:7, 8, 9).
How wonderful it is that God does
not commission angels to carry His warnings and appeals; instead of this,
the work that angels might love to do is entrusted to men. It is at our
peril that we neglect our opportunities in this direction. If the
signalman is placed at a point where many lines of rail cross or diverge,
and he sleeps at his post, or neglects his duty, he may be tried for
manslaughter; and if we know of people in the immediate circle of our
influence who are in danger of ruining their physical, moral, and
spiritual well-being, we are bound to raise a warning voice. If we saw,
upon the upper reaches of a river, a boat full of people hastening towards
the rapids unheeding the danger, surely we might be guilty of being an
accessory in their destruction, if we failed to do something to warn them
of their peril.
Accompanying our words of warning,
there should be the clear reiteration of the Love of God. He does not
desire the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his
wickedness and live. It is not enough to try and prevent men from taking
the wrong path, we must urge and allure them to take the pleasant ways of
righteousness and peace. All are included in the love of God. Even sin
cannot turn away His love, which is like that described in the parable of
the Prodigal Son, or
O God, we have left undone many
things that we ought to have done. Hands have been reached out for help
which we have not given; hearts have turned to us for sympathy which we
have not blessed. Forgive us, we pray Thee, and at whatever cost may we
follow Christ in His redemptive purpose. AMEN.
THE FOLLY OF BEING UNPREPARED
"While they went to buy, the
Bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with Him to the
marriage: and the door was shut." --
THE FOOLISH virgins made five great
(1)They made no provision for the
continuance of their light. It is not enough merely to have the lamp; it
must be lit and maintained, because there is something for the fire to
feed on. How many there are who are on fire and in earnest during the
first stage of their religious life, but they have made no provision for
maintaining the flame which has been kindled by the grace of God. They
have lamps, but have neglected to take oil. The oil stands for fellowship
with the Lord Jesus, for the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the daily study
of the Bible, for the kindling communion of worship with
(2)They slept. There was a
difference between the sleep of the foolish and that of the wise. There
are two kinds of sleep. The one arises from a sense of security and trust.
Every preparation has been made; all has been done that could be done, and
we resign ourselves deliberately to the care of God. So Peter slept in the
prison, before the angel came to deliver him. But there is another kind of
sleep. The sleep of the sentry, when the foe is stealing up the pass; of
the pilot, when the ship is making for the serried teeth of the rocks; of
the nurse, when the patient's life is quivering in the balance. These
foolish ones had no right to sleep, when they were so utterly unready to
meet the Bridegroom. We must not take things for granted, or say "Peace,
peace, when there is no peace!"
(3) They thought they could procure
oil from the wise. But the appeal was in vain. Each must bear his own
burden of responsibility in the sight of God. We may "buy without money
and without price," but each must appropriate the living grace and power
of Jesus for himself.
(4)They thought they could get in;
"Lord, Lord, open to us!" But the door was irrevocably closed! "How shall
we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"
(5)They thought that the Bridegroom
would recognize them. But He said: "I know you not." Let each ask himself:
"Does Jesus know me? Will he recognize me at last?" The only way to be
sure, is to kneel at the foot of His Cross until He seals us with the Holy
Spirit, and says: "Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee
by thy name, thou art Mine."
O Lord, we pray that our lives may
be lamps to which Thou shalt supply oil. Help us to be burning and shining
lights for this dark world. AMEN.
WHEAT AND TARES
"But while he slept, his enemy came
and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way."--
HOW CLEARLY our Lord taught the
personality of Satan! In His explanation of this parable, He said
distinctly, "The enemy that sowed them is the devil." He knew that in
every heart--in the Church as well as in the world--the great enemy of
God's Kingdom, and of human happiness, is always at work, sowing tares.
The seed may be very small, but in a single night irreparable injury may
Notice that we become as the seed we
receive--those who receive the wheat-seed become wheat; those who receive
the tare-seed become tares. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
How careful we should be over the books we read, the companionship and
friendship that we form, the recreations that we take part in. Such are
some of the processes by which our characters are being made. If we are
thoughtless and careless, we expose ourselves to the reception of
tare-seed, which germinates into weeds and rubbish. Of course, if our
necessary duties take us into scenes where evil is rife, we may claim the
keeping power of Christ, and hide ourselves in Him. As the doctor or nurse
will saturate themselves with disinfectant when called to a house where
plague or fever is incurred, so the Holy Spirit, in whom we may bathe our
souls, will be as the antiseptic, and deliver us from the microbes of
temptation (Gal 5:16, 17).
There is not much difference, it is
said, between wheat and tares, in the earlier stages of growth; it is only
when the harvest comes that the distinction is dearly defined. So in the
Church and the world, there are many counterfeits, people who seem to be
good and true, but they are not what they seem, and in the day of
reckoning they will be rooted up and cast forth as rubbish. The two
classes that will be rejected at last are "All that cause stumbling, and
them that do iniquity" (Mt 13:41,
R.V.). It may be that you are not amongst those that do iniquity, in any
of its glaring forms, but are you causing others to stumble by your
inconsistent behaviour or worldliness? Let each of us carefully examine
ourselves, and open our hearts to receive from the hand of the Lord Jesus
the incorruptible seed which He waits to implant by His Word.
Give us a pure judgment and a true
understanding of Thy Word, O Lord, that we may not be deceived and carried
away by any error; but grant that we may grow in grace and in the
knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. AMEN.
"That ye may be blameless and
harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and
perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as lights in the world,
holding forth the word of life."--
Php 2:15, 16 (R.V.).
THE SPIRIT of man, says the wise man, is the candle
of the Lord (Pr 20:27).
By nature we are like so many unlit lamps and candles. As the wick is
adapted for the flame, but stands dark and cold until it is ignited, so we
are unable to shed forth any light until our nature is kindled from the
Eternal Nature of Him who "is Light, and in whom is no darkness at all."
Has the candle of your life been lit by contact with Christ, the Sun of
Our Lord says: "Let your light shine
before men." He shows how absurd it is to light a lamp, and then obscure
its rays by placing it under a bushel. The purpose of ignition is
frustrated if the light is covered. Ah! how many of us place bushels on
the light of our testimony for God--the bushel of uncharitable speech! Of
ill-temper! Of a discontented and querulous spirit! These as well as more
conspicuous failings will prevent us from shining forth as light in a dark
world. It is not for us to ignite the flame or supply the oil. All we have
to do is to keep our lamps clean and bright, to guard against anything
that may obstruct the out-shining of the Love and Life of God through the
soul. If we are careful to see that anything which might hinder the effect
of our testimony and mar our influence is put away, Christ will see to it
that our light shall effect the full measure of His purpose.
In contrast to the bushel is the
stand or candlestick. The Master of the House may place you in a very
small dark corner, and on a very humble stand, but some day, as He passes
by, you shall light His footsteps as He goes forth to seek and save that
which is lost. What is your stand?--your place in society, your position
in the home, your situation in some business house, factory, or
school--wherever it be, it doesn't matter, so long as your light is
shining forth, steady and clear, warning and directing men and women in
the path of life.
O Christ, may the fire of Thy Divine
Love burn up our bushels; help us to shine forth as lights in this dark
THE CURE FOR SHORT SIGHT
"If these things are yours and
abound, they make you to be not idle or unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he that lacketh these things is blind, seeing
only what is near."--
2Pe 1:8,9 (R.V.).
THE CHRISTIAN graces which we have to supply present
themselves to the Apostle's mind as the golden links of a chain or
necklace, which begins with Faith, and ends with Love, so that Faith and
Love clasp in the centre (2Pe 1:5, 6, 7).
The idea of lavish expenditure is
here associated with the word translated "Supply" (2Pe 1:5,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).
Among the ancient customs of Greece, was the expression of goodwill to
society on the part of leading citizens by the provision of public
entertainments, in honour of benefactors, or generals returning victorious
from war. Rich men craved permission to bear the cost, as in modem days
men will endow hospitals and libraries.
So the Apostle says, See to it that
you spare no cost in the glorious provision of "these things"; spare
neither thought nor pains, if only these Christian graces are in you and
abound. Then, for you also, there will be a profuse expenditure of
Heavenly welcome. You will not enter the Heavenly City unnoticed and
alone. A choral and processional greeting will be yours. You will not
enter the port like some water-logged vessel, but with colours flying and
all sails set! (2Pe 1:11.)
Notice the order of these graces.
Each is in the other like those Chinese boxes, each of which contains a
number of smaller ones which fit inside. Opening the one marked Faith,
manly courage should be discovered; opening courage, knowledge should
present itself; from knowledge, we should come on self-control; within
self-control should be patience; inside patience we have towards men
should be godliness towards God; then we find brotherly love; and finally
we come on Love!
The Apostle says that those who lack
"these things" are short-sighted--they see only the things of this world,
not the real things of eternity. The tenth verse warns us that the careful
culture of these things in the heart will prevent stumbling in the outward
life (Jude 1:20-24).
So many people wait to feel good before they act goodness. The Divine
method is to step out on the path of obedience to Christ, believing that
He will supply the needed grace.
Accept, O Most Merciful Father, of
this renewed dedication which we make of ourselves, our bodies, souls, and
spirits unto Thee. Grant that we may be like Jesus, pure and undefiled,
meek and gentle, peaceable, patient, contented and thankful.
STAND AT THE BOW!
"Forgetting the things which are
behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on
toward the goal."--
Php 3:13, 14
ALWAYS STAND at the bow! Leave the
stern with its backward look and make for the bow. To spend time in sad
review of past sins and failures is not to put them to the best account.
Confess them, and believe that for Christ's dear sake they are absolutely
forgiven! Failure often provides the material for success, and our dead
selves may become the stepping-stones to better things. Did not our Lord
say to His disciples: "Sleep on now and take your rest"--the past is
irreparable, but immediately added: "Arise, let us be going!"--the future
is available. Therefore, leave the stern with its backward look, and make
for the bow.
True, the sky before us may be dark
with storm-clouds. The weather-prophets say that the world is shedding its
old sanctions without replacing them with better ones; that seven
civilizations have already passed, and we are to see the death of the
eighth. Be it so, but they forget that God holds the stormy waters in the
hollow of His hand; that Jesus walked the threatening billows to succour
His friends. They forget that when the earth was without form and void,
the Spirit of God brooded in the chaos and darkness, creating the heavens
and earth. They cannot detect the voice of the Creator saying, "Behold, I
make all things new!" Out of chaos is born the cosmos. Each age ends in
travail, out of which a new age is born.
Look out to the vast circle of the
horizon, and prepare for the new lands to be explored, the wonderful
discoveries that await us, the great missions hidden in the future which
are waiting to be fulfilled. Never doubt that the clouds will break. Never
dream that wrong will triumph. Never count yourself God-forsaken or
forgotten. The Master may seem to be asleep on His pillow, oblivious and
uncaring, but His hand is on the helm. He guides your course. He rules the
waves and they obey Him.
He maketh the storm a calm, so that
the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; So
He bringeth them in the haven of their desire. Oh that men would praise
the Lord for His goodness! AMEN.
THE DEVOTIONAL USE OF SCRIPTURE
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,
and a light unto my path." --
IN EACH verse of Ps. 119, the
Psalmist mentions the Scriptures, with one exception, and the constant
quotation of the Old Testament by our Lord and His Apostles yields
abundant evidence of loving and reverent fellowship with the holy men of
past ages, who wrote and spoke as moved by the Holy Spirit. It is
specially remarkable that the Lord Jesus in His Temptation, in all His
teaching, and in the agony of the Cross bore constant witness to the
unique authority of the Word of God spoken through the Old Testament
We may know God, says the Psalmist,
through a threefold revelation. Though they have no audible voice or
language, the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament of
space, studded with myriads of stars, shows His handiwork. Though
speechless, their words witness for Him to the uttermost parts of the
The closing stanza of this great
Psalm unfolds God's handiwork in the construction and direction of our
moral nature. Between these golden clasps the Psalmist extols the
Scriptures under ten striking similitudes, and that disposition must be
indeed extraordinary that does not come within the scope of one of them.
The soul that needs restoring; the simple who would become wise; the sad
heart who would rejoice; the eyes that would be enlightened; the soul that
longs for the gold of truth; the desire for sincerity and reality; the
search for understanding and righteousness--all such needs and many more
are met from a devout reading of Holy Scripture.
All great ministries which have
remained fresh and fragrant through long courses of years have proved the
wealth of inexhaustible teaching and inspiration which lies hidden in the
Bible. Let us each one resolve to soak ourselves in the Scripture before
turning to prayer, as water poured in to moisten the sucker will help to
draw water up.
Teach us, O Blessed Spirit of
Inspiration, so to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest Thy words, that
we may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works, and be enabled to lead
others into a true understanding of and love for its hidden treasures.
"Blessed is the man that walketh not
in the counsel of the ungodly .... But his delight is in the law of the
Ps 1:1, 2.
THE THEME of this first Psalm is the
Blessedness of keeping "the Law," which is the transcript, of the mind and
will of God. David was never weary in its praise-- How I love Thy law; it
is my meditation all the day!"
What we all need to-day is a
passionate love for the will and commands of God. Docility to learn, and
faith to fulfil are the two qualities by which our heart may be kept pure
and childlike, and through which we shall come to understand the Bible,
nature, and human life. Well may the Psalter, which enshrines obedience to
God's Law, begin with Blessed and end with Hallelujah!
Here are, first, the negations of
the loyal and true soul. If we refuse to walk in the counsel of the
wicked, we shall never sit in the seat of the scornful. But these
negatives are chiefly valuable as contributing to the positive, as the
wall protects the plant that grows behind it. Our religious life must be
fed from hidden springs, as the rootlets of the tree creep under the soil
to drink of the stream (Psa 1:3).
Such a life becomes fruitful and beautiful. It is also prosperous, because
it abides in the will of God. It cannot be really injured by evil, and in
the deepest sense it realizes the purpose for which God commissioned it.
Any life which refuses reverence and
obedience to God's will must resemble the rootless, fruitless, and
lifeless chaff, which is scattered by the winnowing wind.
Which type does your life resemble?
Are you the deeply-rooted tree, yielding beauty and fruit and shelter to
many, or is your life being frittered away like the worthless chaff?
Open to me, I pray Thee, O Spirit of
Truth, the treasures of Thy Word, that my soul may be continually
enriched, and that I may abound in every good word and work, to Thy honour
and glory. AMEN.
THE ATTRACTION OF CHRIST'S HUMANITY
"Great multitudes followed Him."--
"All men seek for Thee!"--
A SENTENCE which was once uttered in
a Roman theatre, and welcomed with thunderous plaudits was abundantly true
of the Son of Man--"I am a Man, and nothing that touches humanity is
foreign to Me." This was true during His earthly life, and it is true
always, and of this we have ample illustration in the Gospel story.
Our Lord blesses man and wife as
they live in holy wedlock; He takes their children in His arms; inspires
young men and women with the loftiest ideals; warns men against the evil
use of wealth and power; promises to those who are willing to pass through
this life, denying themselves the joys of home-life, parents, and children
for His sake, that they shall be infinitely compensated.
There is no phase of human life
which Jesus is not willing to share, and through all relationships and
circumstances He waits to breathe the fragrance of perfect love. Is not
that a boon which we all need, but which so many miss? Why do so many
marriages turn out ill? Is it not often because each seeks rather to get
than to give, to be ministered to rather than to minister? If each were
inspired by a love that made the other the centre of thought and care and
tenderness, the wedding-bells would ring on through all the passing years.
Christ's love is so attractive that
when He is rightly presented boys and girls will turn to Him as flowers
turn to the sun. Alas! that by our evil example and failure we so often
forbid them. How poor is our appreciation and response to His love! We are
willing to keep the commandments of a moral and respectable life because
it suits and pleases us, but when it comes to following Him and renouncing
wealth, position, and self-pleasing for His dear sake, we turn back! We
admire His ideals and teaching, but so often go sorrowfully away because
we really love ourselves more than we love Him!
Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea.
Lord, Thy love at last hath
Grant me now my soul's petition,
None of self, and all of Thee. AMEN.
THE DIVIDING LINE
"Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered,
or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not
minister unto Thee?"--
WE CAN no longer serve our Lord as they did in the
days of His flesh, when they ministered to Him of their substance. But He
has left behind His representatives, and whatever we do for them He takes
as to Himself. Therefore we are debtors to all men; to every unit of the
human family we must pay back a proportion of our infinite debt to the Son
of Man from. Mt 1:14).
The dividing line hereafter will not
be a Credal one--not "How much do you believe?" Nor even a Devotional
one--"How much did you pray?" But a Practical one--"What did you do?" The
Apostle James shows that our faith is evidenced by our works (Jam 2:14-20).
It is not enough to say "Lord, Lord!" We must show the same spirit as our
Master in love for our fellows, or we shall be rejected at the last.
The Lord's brethren are spread
widely through the world. Whenever we meet the hungry and thirsty, the
stranger and the homeless, the sick or imprisoned soul, we encounter one
whom He calls "Brother" or "'Sister," and to help any such is to send a
thrill of joy through the soul of our Redeemer. We must have the quick
eyes of love to penetrate the many disguises that our Lord assumes. It is
said that when St. Francis was riding across a plain, he saw a leper
standing by the roadside, asking for alms. Dismounting, he not only gave
to him, but kissed him on the cheek. As he was riding away, he looked
back, and saw Christ Himself standing where the beggar had been, and he
knew that he had been permitted to kiss his Lord.
Notice that the saints do not
generally realize that they have done anything directly for Christ: "Lord,
when saw we Thee?" The beauty of goodness is its modesty and
unobtrusiveness, as the charm of childhood is its unconsciousness. Notice,
also, that in Christ's eyes, it is a crime not to do. Moses says that it
is wrong to do wrong; Jesus that it is wrong not to do fight. Some were
cast away, as men reject weeds, not because they had violated the Ten
Commandments, but because they failed to fulfil the Law of Love.
Let us consecrate ourselves to the
service of men, women, and children for the sake of Him who loved us and
gave Himself for us.
Help us, dear Lord, to minister to
the needs of others, to care for the poor and needy, the destitute and
outcast, to show our love to Thee by our sympathy and help to the least of
Thy brethren. AMEN.
"Jesus beholding him loved him, and
said: One thing thou lackest .. sell whatever thou hast, and give to the
poor .... Come, take up thy cross, and follow Me. And he was sad, and went
away grieved: for he had great possessions."--
Mk 10:21, 22.
HOW MANY there are who know in their
hearts what their duty is, but fail to do it because they are hiding some
forbidden thing; they refuse to launch on the current sweeping past them,
because they are secretly anchored to a sandbank; they go from one teacher
to another, with an appearance of earnest inquiry after eternal life,
which never comes to anything, because they are unwilling to renounce
their secret idol.
In the ease of this young man, it
was the love of money. "He had great possessions." There is no harm in
money It is one of God's gifts to men, but it is hard to own it without
coming to look upon it as one's own, instead of realizing that we are
stewards only. It was for this reason that our Lord proposed this supreme
test. St. Francis of Assisi thought that these words applied universally,
and founded the Order of the Franciscans, pledged to poverty. But it seems
more in harmony with the spirit of the Gospel to believe that it was a
special test put to this seeker after truth, to reveal him to himself.
The law of love is not negative only
but positive. The most essential condition for each of us is to be
willing, like another young man who was living at that time, "to count all
things but loss, in order to win Christ and to be found in Him" (Php 3:8).
If you would follow Christ and are prepared for Love's sake to surrender
all, you will probably be entrusted with manifold more, because Christ
knows that He can make you His almoner with no fear of gold dust adhering
to your palm in its transmission.
Let us guard against the idol of
money or possessions. Riches which open most doors, will not furnish a
pass-key to Heaven. Let us see to it that we always act as stewards of
God's property, but this is not possible unless we are living perpetually
in fellowship with our Master, who though He was rich, yet for our sakes
became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich, and who says
to us also, "Come, take up the cross, and follow Me."
The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be, Help me to tear it from Thy throne, And worship
only Thee. AMEN
FISHERS OF MEN
"Jesus saw two brethren, casting a
net into the sea: for they were fishers. And He saith unto them, Follow
Me, and I will make you fishers of men."--
Mt 4:18, 19.
IT IS thus that Christ adapts Himself to the
understanding and the heart. He caught these fishermen with bait suited to
them. Notice the undoubting certainty of His promise to make these two
brothers fishers of men, casting their drag-net not into the waters of the
sea of Galilee, but into the great ocean of humanity. How impossible it
would have been to convince Peter then that within four years he would
make the great haul of three thousand souls (Acts 2:41).
He, we never know what awaits us when we leave all to follow in obedience
to the Master's Call!
"Follow Me!" Our Lord is always
making this challenge (Jn 21:19,
20, 21, 22).
It means bearing the cross, but we must be willing to follow Christ until,
like Him, we fall into the ground and die--die to our own ambitions, our
love of power and influence, our own strength and gifts, that we may make
way for God to work through us. We must learn not to obtrude ourselves,
but to lie hidden. The first, the second, and the third condition of
successful fishing is to be hidden from sight. The best line and bait for
catching men are those where the human element is out of sight, and our
one aim is to serve Christ's purpose, and to glorify Him.
There must be a leaving of our nets
and boats, and even those who are nearest and dearest (Mt 4:20,
It must have been something of a wrench for these brothers to leave their
nets and fishing to follow Christ. But the attraction of His Personality
prevailed. There is no difficulty in persuading men to surrender the lower
and inferior article, if you can unfold to them the immense value of the
Pearl of great price. Then they will gladly sell all that they have to buy
Jesus calls us: by Thy mercies,
Saviour, make us hear Thy call.
Give our hearts to Thine obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all.
"Go out into the highways and
hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled."--
WE CAN never estimate the yearning
love of God for the souls of men. He sees us absorbed with farming and
industry; business and pleasure; with our homes and family-life, and knows
that these will all pass away, as a dream before the first touch of
eternity. With intense passion He desires that we shall be really
satisfied with abiding joys.
The Feast that He spreads is
abundant and ready (Isa 25:6; Isa 55:1,
A banquet is a happy-making time. As the guests sit together, there is the
brilliant flow of conversation, the sparkle of laughter, the enjoyment of
the good things provided, the interchange of friendship and fellowship.
Everything that a feast stands for God is waiting to give us. "He gives us
richly all things to enjoy." How strange it is that men, mocked by the
Evil One, are cajoled into forfeiting their places at the banqueting
table, which God has spread for them!
The Jewish people were first bidden,
but they were too much occupied with material things to respond to the
gracious invitation. The excuses offered were shallow and stupid; the real
reason lies much deeper, in the disinclination of the soul to arouse
itself to lay hold of the life which is life indeed! But God's purpose of
Love cannot be defeated (Luk 13:28,
29, 30; Acts 13:45, 46, 47, 48).
"Go out into the highways and
hedges.'" Here is our work as His servants! The high-roads, along which
the streams of commerce and pleasure, weddings and funerals, statesmen and
business men, young men and women, housewives and children--are constantly
passing! The hedgerows are the quiet sequestered lanes of the
country-side, now covered with spring flowers, and again with autumn
tints. The up-to-date motor car, or the slow-jogging country wagon are
symbols of different modes of life, but the souls that use them alike need
the message of Good News. Let us go forth and constrain them to come in
that our Master's House may be filled!
Blessed Lord, have mercy upon those
who reject the invitation of Thy Love! Take from us all ignorance,
hardness of heart, and contempt of Thy Word; and so fetch us home, dear
Lord, to Thy flock, that we may be saved, and become one flock under the
Great Shepherd of souls. AMEN.
WHERE THERE'S A WILL THERE'S A WAY!
"And when they could not find by
what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon
the housetop, and let him down through the tiling, with his couch, into
the midst before Jesus."--
WHAT A lovely human story this is!
The crowds that gathered around our Lord, as He taught them, were so great
that they filled not only the house where He was staying, with the
Pharisees and learned men sitting by, but overflowed into a vast multitude
in the fore-court. The Master may have stood on the balcony of a
double-storied house, so as to be able to reach the crowds within and
As He was teaching, presently four
men approached, carrying on a hammock slung between them a paralysed man.
We are not told in so many words that they were young men, but their
earnestness and ingenuity incline one to this idea. Perhaps they had been
school-chums together, and as they grew up they may have entered upon evil
ways--"sown their wild oats" together, and one of their number may have
been suffering from the consequences, for our Lord very distinctly set the
pardon of his sins before the healing of his body. His four companions had
probably heard Christ preach and had become His followers, for it was
"seeing their faith" that He performed this miracle of salvation and
healing. They agreed that by hook or by crook they would bring their
friend into Christ's gracious presence. Unable to make their way through
the throng, they were not daunted, but climbed up on to the roof, and the
record says, "let him down through the tiling." Lowered by strong hands,
with its four ropes, the hammock swung to the feet of the Master, and the
expectant imploring eyes of this poor fellow could not make a more
eloquent appeal for help than did the evident faith of his bearers.
The words with which our Lord
saluted him were very tender and gracious: "Man, thy sins are forgiven
thee!" One of the sure means of physical health is to be assured of
spiritual cleansing and forgiveness (Jas 5:14,
Would that we were all equally anxious to bring our friends to Christ. If
four would agree about a fifth, and never rest until he or she was brought
to Jesus, what a revival would break out (Jn 4:28, 29, 30).
Enlarge our souls with a Divine
Love, that we may hope all things, endure all things, and become
messengers of Thy healing mercy to the grievances and infirmities of men.
"Thou shalt remember all the way
which the Lord thy God hath led thee these forty years."--
THE KEYNOTE of this chapter is
"Remember!" Faith begins without certain evidence of an external and
positive kind, but as life advances, one day after another adds the weight
of its indisputable testimony. If we step out on the supposition that
there is an eternal and spiritual world enwrapping us on all sides, we
shall come to so clear and distinct an assurance of it, that it would be
easier to doubt our existence. It is a good thing to look back and see the
way; it is as certain as possible that the thread of Divine purpose is
stringing together the many-coloured links of our life.
Notice the alliteration of
"Who led thee"; "Who fed thee." Where God leads, He feeds! Look back on
the past, and see that just as sure as the guidance of God, has been His
care. There is no lack to those who allow Him to lead them in His own
Look back on the past!--Its sins and
backslidings--leave them behind for ever, and rise to newness of life. Its
discipline--intended to chasten and strengthen us. Its trials--meant to
reveal God's power to deliver in the hour of trouble that we may glorify
Him. The terrible wilderness of loneliness, the fiery serpents of
temptation, the manna which has never failed to fail, the water which the
Rock has ever yielded.
teach us the lesson of humility. If, for some reason, you have been put
into a position of wealth, honour, or influence, do not be proud, or think
that your talents or abilities are to receive the praise. Thank God, and
remember that it is He who gives the power to get wealth or honour, and He
does it with a very definite purpose! Will you not pledge yourself to
serve and worship Him? As you climb the crest of the hill, and begin to
descend into the plain, not knowing what lies before, veiled in the mist,
fear not, tighten your girdle, put your hand in His, and walk with Him to
be His instrument to bless the world of men.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet;
Lest we forget--lest we forget!
THE ROYAL TRIUMPH
"Behold Thy King cometh unto thee,
meek, and sitting upon an ass. And the multitudes cried, saying, Hosanna
to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord:
Hosanna in the highest!"--
Mt 21:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, cp fulfillment of Messianic prophecy = Zech 9:9.
KING of Glory (Ps
24:7, 8, 9, 10-note) approached the
Holy City, seated not on the richly-draped war-horse, or followed by a
glittering band of soldiers, but riding on a lowly donkey, and attended by a
vast crowd of rustic pilgrims! He was welcomed, not by the Governor
Pilate, or Caiaphas the High Priest, but by the children, the poorer folk,
the blind and the lame whom He had healed. His lodging-place was the bare
ground on the mount of Olives, and on one occasion, at least, He was
hungry enough to seek fruit from the fig-leaf.
Yet there was a mystic power about
Him before which the rabble, that filled the courts of the Temple with
noise and filth, were driven forth, and which the chief priests and
scribes had to acknowledge when they challenged Him as to His authority
(Mt 21:23, cp Mt 7:28, 29-note). His authority was that of Truth and Purity and God. It was a stray
beam of His intrinsic Majesty. One who knew Him intimately said: "We
beheld His glory, as of the Only-Begotten of the Father (Jn 1:18, 3:16,
18, 1Jn 4:9), full of grace and
truth" (Jn 1:14, cp Jn 1:16, 2Co 12:9-note,
the last verse in the Bible!).
Soul of man, to thee, also, thy King
cometh! Let the gates of thy heart lift up their portals and admit Him! At
first you may dread the revolution which His coming suggests, but be quick
to give to Emmanuel, the Prince, all the keys of Mansoul. Enthrone Him in
thine heart! He is the King and Heir, and He will make thee a joint-heir
with Himself (Ro 8:17-note). Let the kingdom of your life become the kingdom of God
(Jn 3:3) and
of His Christ. Let every thought be brought into subjection to Him (2Cor
10:3, 4, 5-note). But
if, on the other hand, you are content to build the house of life apart
from Him (Mt 7:24, 25-note
contrasted with Mt 7:26, 27-note), be very sure that you are rejecting the one Chief Corner-stone
Isa 8:14, 15, 28:16, Mt 21:42, Ac 4:11, Ep 2:20-note,
See study on Christ our Rock),
which can alone give the necessary stability and beauty to its structure.
To forfeit that will involve the absolute destruction of the edifice on
which your whole life-energy may have been expended (Mt 7:27-note).
(Some Scriptures added)
But chiefest in our cleansed breast,
Eternal, bid Thy Spirit rest;
And make our secret soul to be
A temple pure and worthy Thee.
Hosanna in the highest! AMEN.
THE PRACTICE OF GOD'S PRESENCE
"Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit?
or whither shall I flee from Thy Presence? If I take the wings of the
morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall Thy
hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me."--
Ps 139:7, 9, 10-note.
THE STORY of the monk who constantly
used this phrase is well known to most people. It was in the sixteenth
century, one winter's day, as Brother Lawrence was walking in the forest,
he found himself standing beneath a tree stripped of its foliage. The
thought suddenly flashed on him that before very long that same tree would
be covered with the leaves and glory of spring. "Then God must be here,"
said he to himself, and his whole being became awed and filled with the
thought of God. That impression remained with him for the rest of his
life, and he said that he was more deeply impressed with the actual sense
of God's Presence in the kitchen, when he was preparing the food for his
brother monks, than when he was kneeling before the Sacrament.
It is a blessed experience when the
soul lives in this awareness of God; when we live, and move, and have our
being in Him; whether we take the wings of the morning, and go with the
sun in its passage to the western sea, or descend into the valley of the
shadow of death. Let us read this Psalm (Ps 139:1-23) again, remembering that our Lord
said, "Lo, I am with you all the days, even to the end of the age."
The habit of practicing God's
Presence is specially acquired when we accustom ourselves to draw on the
Divine resources. We can recall two outstanding illustrations -- one given
by Abraham's faithful servant, and the other by Nehemiah. In the one case,
the traveler lifted up his heart to God for direction as to the choice of
a wife for his master's son; and the other tells us that between the
king's question as to the reason for his sadness, and his reply, he
flashed a cry to God for a suitable answer, and it was given him. Why do
not we, in every moment of uncertainty and perplexity, when the tempter
draws near, instantly claim the equivalent of God's gracious help?
Gracious Spirit, wilt Thou so enable
us by Thy grace, that we may live in the fear of God all the day long; may
the difficulties and temptations of our daily experience have the effect
of leading us to take each step in the consciousness of the Presence of
EARTH CRAMMED WITH HEAVEN
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of
hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory."--
THE PROSPERITY of King Uzziah's
reign seems to have weakened the national character; a deep-seated
degeneracy was eating out its vitals. The unbroken summer of fifty years
of prosperity and wealth had induced a moral decay which filled the heart
of the prophet with dismay. It was in this depressed frame of mind that
Isaiah entered the Temple, where the ceremonial of the priests and
Levites, the offering of the sacrifice, the antiphonal chanting of the
choirs, appear to have further moved his spirit.
The Vision (Is
6:1, 2, 3, 4).
The limitation of the earthly fabric faded from his sight, and he became
aware of the worship of the Seraphim, their faces veiled before the Divine
Majesty, their persons clothed with humility, and their remaining wings
prepared for immediate obedience. They sang antiphonally, inciting each
other to lowlier reverence and more ecstatic praise.
What a lesson is present to
ourselves! What a contrast is here to our lethargic worship and often
tardy obedience! This great God is our Father through our Lord Jesus
Christ but do we blend sufficient reverence with our childlike trust? Are
we not too often glib in our prayers? Do we realize the need of pure
hearts and clean hands as we kneel before Him?
The Call (Is 6:5, 6, 7, 8).
The humble confession of sin must be ours also. The Seraphim knew that
there was only one answer. The altar coals had absorbed the blood of the
sacrifice and were now glowing with white heat. They would serve for
cleansing and inspiration, and when this was completed, there was nothing
left to delay the call to service.
The Commission (Is 6:9, 10, 11, 12,
The prophet was not to be disappointed. He was to persist in his message,
even though there were only gleams of light through the darkness.
Great and Holy God, cleanse us in
heart and speech and action, with the Blood shed on Calvary and the Fire
of Thy Spirit, that we may be fitted for Thy Holy service. Cleanse, Call,
and Commission us! AMEN.
OUR SHEET ANCHOR!
"That we be no more children, tossed
to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine; but speaking
the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things."-- Eph 4:14,
"'Every man that hath this hope in
him purifieth himself, even as He is pure."-- 1Jn 3:3.
OUR DESTINY is the highest possible--"We shall be
like Him." For this we were created, redeemed, and sanctified, that we
should be conformed to the image of God's Son, that He might be the First
Born among many brethren (Ro
The Apostle says that those who have
this Hope will purify themselves. A young friend of mine once asked me if
I would try to see her lover, as my train stopped at a wayside station in
a far-distant western State. It was a dark night when we arrived, and a
hurried conversation took place on the steps of the great Pullman car. I
found that amid the many temptations of a rancher's life, this young
fellow was holding on to purity and truth. He said that he had very
infrequent opportunities of attending any religious services, but that the
letters which came from the old country had been his sheet anchor. I
understood what he meant. He realized the strong drift of circumstances,
but to be loved by a sweet pure girl, who made him the object of her
incessant prayer, and to receive her inspiring letters, kept him from
yielding to the evil which enveloped him as an atmosphere; the thought
that before long he might claim her as his bride helped to purify and
steady his life. So the expectation of being with, and like Christ, should
be to us as a sheet-anchor, who bear His Name.
To see Christ face to face, to be
with Him in unbroken fellowship, and to be like Him--this is the threefold
destiny of every Christian soul. But how little can we imagine our future
life! We strive to penetrate the dense veil of mist in vain--what the
resurrection body will be like; what the converse with holy beings will
amount to; what ministry may be assigned to us--we know not what we shall
be, but "we know that we shall be like Him"--and it is enough! All that we
have ever dreamed and hoped for will find its flower and fruitage in that
glad summer time.
O God, it is my earnest desire that
I may not only live, but grow: grow in grace, and in the knowledge of my
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. May I grow in patience and fortitude of
soul, in humility and zeal, in spirituality and a heavenly disposition of
"Is anything too hard for the
Lord?"--- Ge 18:14.
"He Lord God! behold, Thou hast made
the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched out arm, and
there is nothing too hard for Thee."-- Jer 32:17.
THERE IS no doubt as to the identification of these
three guests that suddenly appeared before the tent-door of Abraham. We
are expressly told that "Jehovah appeared unto him." It was thus that our
Lord anticipated His Incarnation. He came incognito, and "His delights
were with the sons of men" (Pr 8:31). During His earthly life, He
loved the homes of men, lodged with Peter and Zacchaeus, and in the dear
home where Mary loved and Martha served. After His resurrection, He
tarried with two of them in the village inn. So He will come to thy heart
and mine. Though He is the High and lofty One, who inhabits Eternity, yet
He will plead for admission to sup with us and we with Him (Rev 3:20).
But He often comes disguised as a wayfaring man, hungry and athirst. Let
us "run to meet Him," remembering
God is no man's debtor; He always
pays for His lodging, hence His promise to Sarah! She laughed with
incredulity, but is anything too hard for the Lord? That is one of God's
unanswered questions. It has accosted the human conscience all down the
ages. Let us look away from the difficulties imposed by nature, to Him who
holds the oceans in the hollow of His Almighty hand. Then we can stand
with Him on the mountainside, and plead for Sodom; then God Himself will
draw us on to ask for more and yet more, till, when our faith gives out,
He will do something far in advance of all that we asked or thought.
Now unto Him that is able to do
exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the
power that worketh in as. Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus,
throughout all ages, World without end. AMEN.
THE GRACE OF CHRISTIAN SPEECH
"He that will love life, and see
good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they
speak no guile."-- 1Pe 3:10.
"Let your speech be alway with
grace, seasoned with salt." --
THE IDEAL of Christian speech is
given in the Apostle's words to the Colossians. Our speech should be
always gracious; and grace stands for mercifulness, charity, the
willingness to put the best constructions upon the words and actions of
another. It is a great help in dealing with envy, jealousy, or unkind
feeling to compel our lips to speak as Christ would have them. If you are
jealous of another, the temptation is to say unkind or depreciating
things, but if we live in the power of the Holy Spirit, He will enable us
to check such words and replace them by those that suggest kindly
consideration on the part of ourselves and others. Endeavour to say all
the good that can be said, and none of the evil. It is remarkable that
when we make the effort to speak kindly on behalf of those against whom we
feel exasperated, the whole inward temper changes and takes on the tone of
There should be salt in our
speech--purity, antiseptic, and sparkling like the Book of Proverbs. A
playful wit, a bright repartee, are not inconsistent with the Apostle's
standard, but whenever we mix in conversation with people, they should be
aware of an element in us which makes it impossible for them to indulge in
ill-natured gossip or coarse jokes.
We must continue in prayer that God
would open to us doors of utterance, so that we may speak of the hidden
beauty and glory of our Saviour. Sometimes, also, when we are hard pressed
to know how to answer difficult questions, it is given to us in that same
hour how we ought to speak, and we find that the Holy Spirit has found an
utterance by our lips (Lk 12:12; 1Pe 3:15).
It is recorded of our Lord that
during His trial He spoke not a word to Pilate or Herod, but as soon as He
reached the Cross, He poured out His heart as their Intercessor, saying:
"Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do!" Speak more to God
than to men who may be reviling and threatening you. It is blessed to
realize that He is able to guard the door of our lips, for probably there
is no part of our nature that stands more in need of His keeping power.
Live in us, Blessed Lord, by Thy
Holy Spirit, that our lives may be gospels of helpfulness and blessedness.
May all foolish talking and covetousness, bitterness, wrath, and anger be
put away from us, with all malice. AMEN.
THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT
"Come ye yourselves apart, and rest
awhile: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so
much as to eat."-- Mk 6:31.
THERE IS something in our blood
which cries out at certain times for |rest and change. We may love our
home, our work, and chance of doing our share in the toil of this
work-a-day world, but when the summer comes we long to escape from the
crowded city, the arduous toil, and pine for respite and rest. The love of
Nature is a sacred heritage from the love of God, and it is His voice that
calls to us: "Come, My children, Be glad with Me, breath the scented air
which I have flavoured in its passage through clover-fields, gorse, and
heather; rejoice in the woods and flowers, golden sunsets and purple
mountains; the glory of the ocean and the sea-shore."
But we must be unselfish, if we
would really enjoy our holiday. It is difficult to resist the temptation
to obtain the best possible return for our money, and a little over, even
at the expense of others. Always think of some one else--the short
Zacchaeus who cannot see over your shoulder! The child who loves to look
out of the carriage window; the invalid who cannot stand the draught! the
tired mother with the restless children! Look out for daily opportunities
for showing the gentleness, sweetness, and unselfishness of the Lord
Make time to be alone sometimes. It
is a mistake always to be in the presence of another. The soul must be
still and quiet. There are accents in the voice of God so deep and still,
that the breathing of a companion may make them inaudible. But it is
delightful to have a choice friend and companion with whom you can hold
sweet fellowship, and "there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a
brother." He will draw near and walk with you, and as He talks with you by
the way, your hearts will bum within you.
Remember those who are in poverty,
in sickness, and in need, and amidst your own gladness and joy, send a
portion unto them for whom nothing is prepared (Neh 8:10, 11, 12).
What shall I render unto the Lord
for all His benefits to me?
I will praise, and bless, and give
thee Thanks, all the days of my life. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive
glory, and honour, and power. AMEN.
"He answered: It is written, Man
shall not live by bread alone," "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his
righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."--
Mt 4:4; Mt 6:33.
THE QUESTION which Satan put to our
Lord, has to be settled in every life. Where does bread and bread-getting
come in? Is it to be our first consideration or the last? According to
Satan's way of looking at life, the bread question is paramount; according
to Christ, secondary. Have you ever seriously considered which policy is
yours, and what you would do if you had to choose in any supreme crisis?
This temptation which came to our Lord occurs to us all; sooner or later,
whether on the lone mountain-side, or in the crowded thoroughfares of
life, the Devil comes to us with the suggestion that we must live, and in
the last resort we must make or get our bread, leaving considerations of
purity, truth, honour of God and Eternity to come in second best!
At every important turning-point in
the history of the inner life these two methods are suggested: Satan says:
"Make these stones into bread"; Christ says: "Man shall not live by bread
alone, but by the word of God." We must choose between God and mammon. We
are liable to attacks of hunger in various parts of our nature--for food,
Satan bids us snatch it; for love, we are tempted to gratify it apart from
God; for knowledge, we are apt to seek it in ways that are not illumined
by the light of eternal truth.
God, who gave us these strong
appetites and desires, knows that we need food. The body is more than
meat, and if He gave the one, He is responsible for meeting the other. The
blessed angels of His help are even now on their way to you, and have been
commissioned to bring with them supplies for every need in your life. Do
not take your life out of God's hands and act at the dictate of passion!
Throw all the responsibility on Him; they cannot be ashamed that wait for
Him. Remember the angel that prepared the meal for Elijah in the desert,
and the breakfast that our Lord Himself prepared for His tired and hungry
friends. If you will dare to trust and wait for Him even though there be
but a step between you and death, He will supply all your need, according
to His riches in glory. "Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou
dwell in the laud, and verily thou shalt be fed."
Give us grace to seek first Thy
kingdom and its righteousness, in the sure and certain faith that all else
shall be added unto us. AMEN.
THE FILE LEADER
"Behold, I have given him for a
Witness to the people; a Leader and Commander to the people."--
FOUR TIMES in the New Testament our
Lord is called Leader or Prince.
Originally the word means the First
of a file of men, and therefore their Captain or Commanding Officer (see
Acts 3:15; Acts 5:31; Heb 2:10; Heb 12:2).
Christ leads from death into Life.
Probably Joshua was the first to pass over the dried bed of the Jordan, as
the priests stood by bearing the Ark of the Covenant; but this, at least
is true, that our Saviour has preceded us through the waters of death, and
will hold them back until each of the ransomed has passed "clean over" (Jos 3:17).
Christ leads His followers into
victory. When our Lord was exalted to the fight hand of power, He opened
up a path to be trodden throughout the ages by a company which no man can
number. As He overcame, we may overcome; as He reigns over all
principality and power, so we believe that He will bruise Satan under our
feet, and make us more than conquerors.
Christ leads those who suffer to
perfection. Though He was the Son of God, He learned obedience by the
things that He suffered, and transformed suffering, showing that it was an
elembic, a purifying furnace, a means of discipline, strength, and
ennoblement. If we are thrust into the fiery furnace we shall find the Son
of God walking at our side, and shall emerge without our bonds, and with
no smell of fire upon us. Jesus is the Leader of a long procession of
martyrs and sufferers. He leads through no darker rooms than He went
through before; He knows exactly how much we can bear, and will not test
us beyond our strength. He is with us "all the days," and will help us to
learn obedience, faith, and hope, as we follow in His footsteps.
O Lord, whose way is perfect, help
us always to trust in Thy goodness: that walking with Thee and following
Thee in all simplicity, we may possess quiet and contented minds; and may
cast all our care on Thee, for Thou carest for us. AMEN.
"Awake, awake; put on thy strength;
put on thy beautiful garments."-- Isa 52:1.
"It is high time to awake out of
sleep: let us cast off the works of darkness; let us put on the armour of
Ro 13:11, 12.
PUT ON strength. We have not to
purchase it, or generate it by prayers and resolutions, but simply to put
it on. As we awake in the early morning hour, and have to pass out into
the arena of life, which has so often witnessed failure and defeat, let us
put on the strength and might of the living Christ. He waits to strengthen
us with all power , according to the riches of His glory (Eph 3:16). Do not simply
pray to be kept and helped, but put on the whole armour of God. "The Lord
is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?" (Ps 27:1)
Put on beautiful garments.
The emblem of the life of the Christian soul is that of the bridegroom or
the bride (Rev19:7) decked with jewels; or a garden filled with beautiful
flowers (Isa 61:10, 11). We are not only to do right things, but we must
do them beautifully; not only to speak the truth, but to speak it in love
(Eph 4:15); not only to give to those who need our help, but to do it
graciously and joyously. We must cultivate the bloom of the soul, which is
made up of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, generosity (Col 3:12). The beauty of the Lord our God must be
We cannot weave these beautiful
robes, or fashion them out of our own nature, but they are all prepared
for us in Christ, who is "made unto us Wisdom, and Righteousness,
Sanctification, and Redemption." (1Cor 1:30) Let us wake up out of
sleep (Eph 5:12), put off the works of darkness (Ro 13:13), and put on the
Lord Jesus Christ, who is the armor of Light. (Ro 13:14)
Lord of Power and Love! I come,
trusting in Thine almighty strength, and Thine infinite goodness, to beg
from Thee what is wanting in myself; even that grace which shall help me
such to be, and such to do, as Thou wouldst have me. I will trust Thee, in
Whom is everlasting strength. Be Thou my Helper, to carry me on beyond my
own strength, and to make all that I think, and speak, and do, acceptable
in Thy sight, through Jesus Christ. AMEN.
"Many resorted unto Him, and said,
John did no miracle: but all things John spake of this Man were true. And
many believed on Him there."--
Jn 10:41, 42.
THE PEOPLE were inclined to
disparage the life of John the Baptist because he performed no miracle.
But surely his whole life was a miracle; from first to last it vibrated
with Divine power. This is still the mistake of men. They allege that the
age of miracles has passed. If they admit that such prodigies may possibly
have happened once, they insist that the world has outgrown them, and that
in its maturity mankind has put them away as childish things!
No miracles! But last summer God
made the handfuls of grain, which the farmers cast on the fields,
sufficient to feed all the populations of the world as easily as He made
five barley loaves suffice for more than five thousand persons! No
miracles! But last autumn He changed the dews of night and the showers of
morning into the fruits that rejoice the heart of man, as once in Cana He
turned the water drawn from the stone jars into the blushing wine! No
miracles! but next spring, from tiny seeds and dead-looking bulbs, He will
clothe the world with beauty and colour and perfume.
Many who will read these lines seem
powerless to work miracles. For them the monotony of the commonplace, the
grey sky of uneventful routine seems the predestined lot. But let all such
take heart! The real greatness of life is within their reach, if they will
only claim it by the grace of God. Do not try to do a great thing, or you
may waste all your life waiting for the opportunity which may never come.
But since little things are always claiming your attention, do them as
they come from a great motive, for the glory of God and to do good to men.
No such action, however trivial, goes without the swift recognition and
the ultimate recompense of Christ. All life is so interesting, but we need
eyes to see and hearts to understand! Dare to be yourself--a simple,
humble, sincere follower of Jesus, and it may be said also of you: "He or
she did no miracle, but by life and word spoke true things about Jesus
Christ, which we have tested for ourselves. Indeed, they led us to believe
in Christ for ourselves."
Teach me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything,
To do it as for Thee.
A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine!
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
Makes that and th'action fine. AMEN.
"I am come a light into the world,
that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness."--
Jn 12:46. (cp Ps 119:130, Jn 1:9,
1:4, 3:19, 20, 21, 8:12, 9:5, 2Ti1:10 Isa 9:2, Mal 4:2)
THE LIGHT of Christ is always
distinguishable because it means the deepest impression of what is right,
the clearest conviction of the will of God. Everywhere men are asking how
they may come to know Christ, and there is but one answer: believe that He
loves you, that He died on the Cross to save you, that He is prompting you
by His Spirit to follow every perception and longing for a better and
How different is this teaching from
that of the world around! There we are bidden to know before we dare
entrust our lives to any leader, whatever be his fair speeches and
promises; but Christ bids us obey the first glimmer of light breaking on
us, and He undertakes that if we do, we shall not walk in darkness.
Disobedience, like scales, veils Christ from us; whilst obedience leads us
into His very presence (cp Jn 7:17, 1Sa 15:22, 23). The judgment always becomes just, and the vision
clear, when we deny ourselves (Mk 8:34, Lk 9:23 adds "daily"!) to follow whatsoever things are lovely,
true, pure, just, and of good report (Php 4:8-note).
It may be that as you read these
lines there is some duty you shirk, some cross you refuse to lift, some
act from which you flinch. Though you may not have directly associated it
with Christ, yet you cannot doubt that it is His will for you, and that in
the doing He will be pleased (2Co 5:9-note). It is useless to try to know Him until that
nearest act of obedience is wrought. Men can never know what the mighty
forces of Nature will do for them until they set themselves to obey, in
the minutest detail, its laws. And it is so in relation to Christ and the
laws of the spiritual realm. That was a true word which the mother of our
Lord spoke to the servants at Cana, when she said: "Whatsoever He saith
unto you, do it!'" (Jn 2:5) She had probably learnt that lesson in those long,
quiet, blessed years at Nazareth. She knew that there was no such way of
understanding Him, as by rendering Him literal obedience, and she passed
on the results of her experience to us all.
"Walk while ye have the light,"
(Jn 12:35) so
you will know the Light, and become light in the Lord. (Eph 5:8-note)
My son, forsake thyself, and thou
shalt find Me Lord, how often shall I resign myself, and wherein shall I
forsake myself? Always, yea, every hour, as well in small things as in
THE TALE OF THE YEARS
"For all our days are passed away in
thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told."--
THIS PSALM (Ps 90) is almost without
parallel for sublimity, a worthy monument of the inspired genius of Moses,
"the man of God." It reflects the wanderings and experiences of the
wilderness march; the watch in the night against the intrusion of the
Bedouin thief, or the prowl of the wild beast; the rush of the flood,
caused by torrential rain, but disappearing as quickly as on the sandy
soil; the morning grass, scorched by the sirocco; the tales borne by the
camp spies so soon ended; the disappointment of the springs of Marah; the
inevitable leaving of Elim! the long weary days of marching, the mother
and babe, the aged and little children, the weakling on the desert trail;
the constant pitching and removal of tents--all these emblems of
transitories, depicting the hard experiences of life's toil and trial.
Secret sins and iniquities; the averted face of God because of
transgression; the death of the old at eighty, and of the young child cut
down as a frail flower. Yes! But in spite of all this, God as the
dwelling-place and home of the individual soul, as of the succeeding
Shall we not make the concluding
petitions of this Psalm our own? For we, too, are pilgrims over the
desert-waste to the eternal Home. We need to be more careful of our days,
watching their decreasing number, with careful anxiety to make the most of
those that are left. We need to be satisfied and replenished each morning
with God's mercy, that we may have perennial springs of rejoicing and
gladness. We long to help in the overthrowing of the power of evil, and as
we grow older, we pray that the beauty of the Lord our God may be upon us,
and may we feel that He has given permanence to the work of our hands.
HOW shall we thank Thee
sufficiently, dear Lord, that Thou hast demolished Death, and brought Life
and Immortality to light. Give us grace to follow Thee all the days of our
life, and when the Call comes to us to pass over may the waters of the
River be at the lowest ebb. AMEN.
THE TALISMAN OF VICTORY
"In all these things we are more
than conquerors, through Him that loved us."--
CAN ANYTHING separate me from the
love of Christ? was the only question that St. Paul felt worth
consideration. In this paragraph he takes the extreme conditions of being,
and carefully investigates them, knowing that they include all between.
First, he interrogates Existence--"death and life"; next, created
Intelligences--"Angels, principalities, and powers"; next, the extremes of
Time--"things present, things to come"; next, of Space---"height and
depth"; lastly, the created Universe --"any other creature." Each of these
extremes is passed in review. He is like a man proving every link of the
chain in which he is going to swing out over the abyss. Carefully and
fervently he has tested all, and is satisfied that none of them can cut
him off from the love of God.
We strangely misjudge and mistrust
the Love of God our Father, and think that our distresses and sufferings,
our sins and failures, may make Him love us less. But in the home, it is
not the troop of sturdy children that engross the mother's care so much as
the puny feeble life, that lies in the cot, unable to help itself and
reciprocate her love. And in the world, death and pain, disease and
sorrow, sin and failure, so far from separating us from God's love, bind
Oh blessed Love! that comes down to
us from the heart of Jesus, the essence of the eternal love of
God--nothing can ever staunch, exhaust, intercept it. It is not our love
to Him, but His to us, and since nothing can separate us from the love of
God, He will go on loving us for ever, and pouring into us the entire
fullness of His life and glory. Whatever our difficulties, whatever our
weakness and infirmity, we shall he kept steadfast, unmovable, always
abounding in the work of the Lord; gaining by our losses, succeeding by
our failures, triumphing in our defeats, and ever more than conquerors
through Him that loved us.
Yea thro' life, thro' sorrow and
thro' sinning He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed: Christ is the
end, for Christ was the beginning, Christ is the beginning, for the end is