THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE CLEANSED SOUL

THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE CLEANSED SOUL
“Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”– Psa_51:2.
“Blessed are they that wash their robes.”– Rev_22:14 (R.V.)

IN THE last chapter of the Book of Revelation there is a very interesting change from the Authorized to the Revised Version, which accentuates a line of thought which cannot be too often emphasized. The A.V. reads: “Blessed are they that keep His commandments, that they may have the right to the Tree of Life.” The R.V. reads: “Blessed are they that wash their robes.” May we not be thankful that this is the condition, rather than the absolute keeping of His commandments, which might induce legalism and Pharisaism into our character and experience. We are very conscious of our sin day by day, but as we wash our robes and make them white through the Blood of the Lamb, we may approach the Tree of Life and eat of its fruit.
There are two other references to the Tree of Life in this wonderful chapter. In Rev_22:2, we are told that it yields each month the food appropriate for the month; in Rev_22:19, we learn that each of us has a distinct and individual part in that tree. Its leaves are for our healing, and its fruit is suited to every phase of human experience. The Tree of Life was originally planted in Paradise together with the Tree of Knowledge (Gen_2:9). As the latter fed the soul-life of our first parents, with knowledge of good and evil, so the former stood for the life of the spirit nurtured and fed by the Spirit of God.
When we learn of its monthly yield, are we not reminded that whatever each passing experience of human life may require, it will be met out of the fullness of the Divine supplies. January days with their new resolves and hopes! February days with storms and frosts! May days with the flowers of Hope! June days with warmth and light. September days of fruition! December days of sickness or old age! But whatever month or day there is always a supply of adequate and suitable grace to be obtained from the fellowship of our dear Lord. He is the completement of every need, and perhaps we are led through these varying experiences in order to give the opportunity of learning phases and utilizing resources in our Saviour, of which, otherwise, we should have known nothing.

PRAYER
Give us grace, O Lord, to come to Thee for daily cleansing, and for all our needs in the various circumstances through which we are called to pass, that by our holy living we may glorify Thee in our daily life. AMEN.

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THE LORD IS AT HAND

THE LORD IS AT HAND
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Mat_28:20.

THERE IS an added beauty and meaning in these words when we translate the Greek into literal English: “I am with you all the days.”
How fresh and vital and inspiring they are! Though familiar as household words, they refresh us like the breath of a spring morning laden with the ozone of the sea.
We shrink back from the mysteries of life, and dread its pain, less for ourselves than for those who are so closely twined into our life. We need wisdom, strength, guidance, a brother’s love, a Saviour’s intercession–but all is here, if only we can appreciate and receive the benediction of the wonderful fact of the perpetual presence of Christ.
There are conditions which we must fulfil. Obedience. If a man keep My words… I will manifest Myself unto him. The path of your life is marked out by the Providence of God, either in the levels of ordinary existence, or in some special mission and calling. As you bravely tread it, you become aware of a glorious Presence coming to meet you, and walking by your side.
Purity; “the pure in heart see God.” This is the finding of the Holy Grail, of which Tennyson sang! A quiet heart. I do not say a quiet life—that may be impossible, but a heart free from care, from feverish passion, from the intrusion of unworthy ambition, pride or vanity. The habit of meditating on God’s Word helps to induce the quiet heart and devout spirit which realizes the Lord’s presence. The Bible is like the garden in which the Lord God walked in the cool of the day; read it much and prayerfully, and you will meet Him in its glades.
Recollection. There will be times when the sense of His presence will be wafted into your soul. At other times, it is a great secret to say: “Thou art here, O Lord! I do not feel or enjoy Thee. My heart is desolate, but Thou art beside me!” Faith, not feeling, is the realizing faculty. Without it, you would not have perceived His presence, though you had been beside St. John on Patmos; with it we may find Him as near in London to-day as in Palestine, long years ago!

PRAYER
Lord Jesus, Thou art with us all the days. Give us eyes to see Thee and ears to hear Thy voice, that Thou mayest become more real than the dearest and closest of our friends. AMEN.

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RESOLVE AND DEFEAT

RESOLVE AND DEFEAT
“Peter said unto Him, Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for Thy sake.”– Joh_13:37.

PETER’S IMPULSIVE spirit could ill brook delay–”Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now?” Easier far is it to rush into the battle, where excitement and passion may be trusted to render us oblivious to pain and discomfort, than to stand at our post through the long cold nights on sentry duty.
He made the mistake of miscalculating the might and power of the Adversary. It was the hour of the power of darkness. The moment was at hand in which the prince of this world would make the supreme effort to hold his own, and refuse to be cast out.
He miscalculated his own strength, and relied upon the fervour of his emotion. He had no conception of how much need there was for something more than the strong fervour of passionate affection.
He miscalculated the weapon by which to overcome. He had a literal sword, and thought that it would be sufficient to draw it and smite with all his might, as he did cutting off the ear of Malchus. He expected that with his fervent passion for Christ on the one hand, and cold steel on the other, he would be able to follow wherever Jesus led. But it is not possible for human enthusiasm to sustain the soul, when it comes to close grips with the great Adversary of the Kingdom of God.
He miscalculated the help that comes through prayer. So confident was he that he slept instead of praying. Thrice the Lord came to remind him of the urgent need for watching against the hour of trial, but His words were unheeded, because the advice seemed needless. Why should he pray, when he had already made up his mind!
Then the crash came, and he went out a broken-hearted man! We too have failed in like manner. We have brandished the cold steel of strong resolve. But the disillusioning process has set in, and we have sorrowfully proved that it is not by flesh and blood that we can enter the Kingdom. Let us not forget our Lord’s comforting words to Peter: “Thou shalt follow Me afterwards.”

PRAYER
Lord, we would follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest, but we are weak and helpless, and our own strength will fail in the final test. May we not trust in our own resolutions or vows, but in the saving strength of Thy right hand. AMEN.

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THE MODEL PRAYER

THE MODEL PRAYER
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.”– Mat_6:9.

THE LORD’S PRAYER is a temple reared by Christ Himself–the embodiment of His ideal, and as we repeat these simple and wonderful sentences, we cannot but think of the myriads who have been moulded by them, and have poured into these petitions their hearts’ desires.
Our Lord was not always insisting on prayer, but was constantly praying to His Father Himself. His disciples knew His habit of getting away for secret prayer, and they had on more than one occasion seen the transfiguring glory reflected on His face. Happy would it be for us if the glory of fellowship and communion with God were so apparent that men would come to us saying, “Teach us to pray” (Exo_34:35).
Prayer must be simple, The Jewish proverb said, “Everyone who multiplies prayer is heard,” but our Lord forbade senseless repetition by His teaching of the simple, direct, and intelligible petitions of this prayer.
Prayer must be reverent. The tenderest words, the simplest confidences, the closest intimacy will be welcomed and reciprocated by our Father in Heaven. But we must remember that He is the great King, and His Name is Holy. Angels veil their faces in His Presence. Let us remember that “God is in Heaven, and thou upon earth; be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God.”
Prayer must be unselfish. Our Lord so wove intercession into the structure of this Prayer that none can use it without pleading for others. Sorrow or sin may isolate us and make us feel our loneliness and solitude, but in prayer we realize that we are members of the one Body of Christ, units in that great multitude which no man can number.
Prayer must deal with real needs. Daily bread stands for every kind of need, and the fact that Jesus taught us to pray for it, suggests that we may be sure that it is God’s will to give.
Prayer must be in faith. We cannot but believe that we are as certain to prevail with God, as the good man of the house with his friend; and if among men to ask is to get, how much more with Him who loves us with more than a father’s love (Luk_11:9-13).

PRAYER
O God our Father, help us to live in the spirit of prayer to-day. Breathe Thy Spirit into us as we kneel before Thee, subduing the selfishness that makes discord, and uniting our hearts in the fear of Thy Name. AMEN.

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A FAITHFUL CREATOR

A FAITHFUL CREATOR
“Wherefore, let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a Faithful Creator.”– 1Pe_4:19.

THE MORE one ponders these words, the more wonderful they appear! That God is faithful is as clear as noonday. He is faithful in the return of the seasons and the orbit-order of the stars; faithful in holding back the flood, that it should not overflow the world and destroy the homes of men; faithful to every living creature that He has made, providing for its exact sustenance. Even the odd sparrow, which Christ must have seen thrown in by the dealer, when His Mother bought four others, does not fall to the ground without His notice. God is the Faithful Creator in the heavens above and in the earth beneath. We are not surprised, therefore, to find His faithfulness the theme of Holy Writ; but why does Peter lay emphasis on His faithfulness as Creator, when ministering to the special circumstances of suffering believers? Is not this the reason? We are apt to concentrate our thoughts on the Birth, the Cross, the Grave, the Intercession of our Lord, and to forget that behind all these, deep in the nature of God–the Almighty Creator–there are ever-welling fountains of faithfulness, love, and tenderness. We are summoned to go back beyond the story of Redemption to the infinite silence of Eternity, when each of us was a distinct thought in the mind of God. In His book, all our members were written, when as yet there was none of them.
Whether we have realised that eternal purpose is open to serious questioning, but everyone of us has a right to look into the face of God, and say” “Thine hands have made me, and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn Thy commandments.” We may not question God’s dealings with us. They are immutably wise and right. But we may claim that in some way He should make good our deficiencies, so that though sorrowful, we should be always rejoicing; though poor we should make many rich; though having nothing, we should scatter our wealth, as though possessing all things. There is no reason why our life should be a failure, no reason why we should not minister richly to others, no reason why, by His grace, we should not be more than conquerors! We may humbly make this claim on the Almighty Creator, and He will not allow His faithfulness to fail!

PRAYER
Help us to commit ourselves to Thee in well-doing, O God, our Faithful Creator. May we find a solace for our own griefs and disappointments, in sympathy and ministry to others. AMEN.

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PRACTISING THE PRESENCE OF GOD

PRACTISING THE PRESENCE OF GOD
“The Lord is at hand. In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.”– Phi_4:5-6.

THE WORD anxiety comes from the same root as anger, and suggests the idea of choking. Worry chokes the life of faith. It does not help us to overcome our difficulties, but unfits us for dealing with them. No weapon that is formed against us shall prosper; every tongue that shall rise against us shall be condemned; our bread shall be given, and our water sure. God will perfect that which concerneth us, and His goodness and mercy shall never cease. Roll thyself and thy burden on the Lord, and leave them there. Too many take them back again!
In the darkening autumn evenings, we light our lamps earlier, or turn on the switch, and lo! there is a burst of light which had been waiting to be called upon. So let us keep a smile upon our faces. As we put off our heavy and rain-soaked clothes in the vestibule, so let us leave our anxieties with God, until we have to resume our destined path.
The Lord is at hand! Let us often repeat these words, amid the commonplaces of life, as well as when anticipating His near Advent! Say it when Euodia and Syntyche are giving you trouble! Say it when you are irritated and think that there is no reason why you should accept rebuffs and slights so meekly! Say it when you are worried and anxious! Say it, till you come again into that Presence, which is as the light of the morning when the sun riseth. Practise the Presence of God! Hold fellowship with Him! Even in business, or in the midst of daily toil, often lift your heart for a moment into the atmosphere of His presence! There is a great difference between faith and its intellectual expression. We must rise above the intellectual into spiritual fellowship with God. It is not for us to excite a transient feeling of love towards God. This will soon evanesce. Our business is the absolute surrender of the heart to Him. Not the rapture of the mystic, but the consciousness of the spirit, which is aware of an unimpeded union with the life of the Infinite. To be ever, tranquilly, joyously, and strenuously, at one with the blessed Will of God–that is the Heavenly Paradise, and each of us, by His grace, may walk with Him in happy fellowship, as Enoch did of old, and then we can make known our requests!

PRAYER
We ask not, O Father, for health or life. We make an offering to Thee of all our days. Thou hast counted them. We would know nothing more. All we ask is to die rather than live unfaithful to Thee. Living or dying we would be Thine. AMEN.

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THE EXALTED LORD

THE EXALTED LORD
“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.”– Isa_6:1.

WE LIVE in troubled times, but always in human history, when outward events seem most distracting and distressing. God’s servants are drawn in to the secret place of the Most High, and are shown the reassuring vision of God’s overruling Providence, and the ordered regularity of His eternal reign. When the land was passing through dark distress, and revolution was imminent, Isaiah beheld the stability of God’s Throne.
“It was high and lifted up,” far above all other authority, power, or dominion in heaven, on earth, or under the earth! It was crowned with Love—”above it stood the Seraphim.” Seraph is derived from fire, and the Seraphim stand for radiant love. If the Throne stands for stability, for judgment, and for power, then above all these attributes, and over-arching Him who sits there, is Love. This is the loftiest conception possible to mortals–Love supreme. The Lamb that was slain is in the midst of the Throne.
The one man who was chosen out of all Israel to see was Isaiah. In all humility he ascended the Temple-steps, hustled by the crowds that went there as a mere religious form. Any of them appeared to need a revealing vision more than he did, but it was the man who had seen, who now saw the Lord; it was the one saint in all Israel who appeared to be most in touch with God, who was brought into still closer touch. The rest saw only the Temple, the high altar, and the ritual, but he saw the “skirts of glory” filling every cranny of the holy place.
Let us not be satisfied with the outward and sensuous, with ritual however splendid, with sermons however magnificent! Those who are humble and persistent in their quest for God will hear notes which other ears cannot catch, will detect a Presence that evades ordinary sight, will enter the realm of the spirit which is closed to the outward observer.
The world may be full of tumult; the floods have lifted up their voice, but the Lord on High is mighty, and He shall overcome, for through Death, Resurrection, and Ascension He is Lord of lords and King of kings!

PRAYER
We cannot understand the meaning of the darkness and tumult around us, but we know that Thou art Love, and that Thou dost reign. May we see Thee raised above principality and power, might and dominion. Glory and blessing, honour and power be unto Thee, O Son of God, who art the Man amid the sapphire Throne, AMEN.

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THE REFINER’S FIRE

THE REFINER’S FIRE
“He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver.”– Mal_3:3.
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”– 1Pe_1:7.

NOTHING IS harder to bear than the apparent aimlessness of suffering.
They say that what breaks a convict’s heart in gaol is to set him to say carry stones from one side of the prison to the other, and then back again! But we must never look upon the trials of life as punishments, because all penalty was borne by our Lord Himself. They are intended to destroy the weeds and rubbish of our natures, as the bonfires do in the gardens. Christ regards us in the light of our eternal interests, of which He alone can judge. If you and I knew what sphere we were to fulfil in the other world, we should understand the significance of His dealings with us, as now we cannot do. The Refiner has a purpose in view, of which those who stand beside Him are ignorant, and, therefore, they are unable to judge the process which He is employing.
Dare to believe that Christ is working to a plan in your life. He loves you, so be patient! He would not take so much trouble unless He knew that it was worth while. “We do not prune brambles, or cast common stones into the crucible or plough sea-sands!” You must be capable of some special service, which can only be done by a carefully-prepared instrument, and so Christ sits beside you as the Refiner, year after year, that you may miss nothing.
Whilst the Fire is hot keep conversing with the Refiner. Ponder these words: “He shall sit as a Refiner and Purifier of silver.” The thought is specially suitable for those who cannot make long prayers, but they can talk to Christ as He sits beside them. Nicholas Hermann tells us that, as he could not concentrate his mind on prolonged prayer, he gave up set times of prayer and sought constant conversations with Christ. Speak to Him, then, in the midst of your daily toil. He hears the unspoken prayer, and catches your whispers. Talk to Christ about your trials, sorrows, and anxieties! Make Him your Confidant in your joy and happiness! Nothing makes Him so real as to talk to Him aloud about everything!

PRAYER
Let the Fire of Thy Love consume in me all sinful desires of the flesh and of the mind, that I may henceforth continually abide in Jesus Christ my Lord, and seek the things where He sits at Thy right hand. AMEN.

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THE LOVE OF CHRIST FOR US!

THE LOVE OF CHRIST FOR US!
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Who made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”– Phi_2:5-7.

THE LORD JESUS stripped Himself of everything save Love, that He might more readily meet each human soul on its own level. Being in the form of God, and equal with God, He emptied Himself, humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross, for our sakes. He stripped Himself of all that He might give to us fair clothing instead of the fading fig-leaves of apologies and excuse. He descended so low as to put the Everlasting Arms beneath the most hapless and hopeless. He desired to get so low, that none could get lower. He was set on proclaiming His Gospel so that even the dying thief might enter Paradise, and that not one prodigal in all the human family should think that he had sunk too low or gone so far as to be excluded from the hope of salvation. “He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.”
Surely it is inexcusable that any soul of man should evade the love of God, when the Son of His Love has made so great an effort to acquaint us, not only with its height and breadth and length, but with its depth. Why are we so cold, so unmoved, so inert? The Apostle speaks of the love of Christ constraining him, of the love of God shed abroad within us and flooding our heart. How is it that, with God’s love so near, so close, so easily within our reach, we are so apathetic and irresponsive?
The cure is, in part, the consciousness that God’s Love is all around us, which we cultivate by meditation. “Thy Omnipotence,” says St. Augustine, “is not remote from us even when we are remote from Thee”; and we may say as much of His Love. Even when we feel cold and distant, we are beset by God’s love behind and before, and His grace is overshadowing us with infinite tenderness. Do not try to kindle love by thinking of the Cross as far away back in the past, but by musing and meditating on Christ’s love as being as tender and real as when He said to His Mother, ” Behold thy son,” and to John, ” Behold thy Mother.”
Jesus knows the need of our heart, and is even now close at hand to lead us by the Holy Spirit into the realisation of His Love. Let us open our nature to the Blessed Comforter, and He will not be slack in His response. “The fruit of the Spirit is Love.”

PRAYER
May the Holy Spirit so fill my heart with the consciousness of the love of Christ my Lord, that there may be no room in my life for anything inconsistent with His love. AMEN.

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CHANGING OUR STRENGTH

CHANGING OUR STRENGTH
“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”– Isa_40:31.

IT IS more than probable that these lines will be read by some who have lost heart. They are fainting beneath the long and arduous strain of life, and ready to give up in despair. It seems as though God had forgotten to be gracious, and in anger had shut up His tender mercies. To all such, Isaiah says: God is not tired: you think He is because you are. Wait upon the Lord, and change your strength (see margin).
The question is not as to altering your environment, but altering your courage, your power of endurance, your assurance of victory; then, notwithstanding every hindrance and difficulty, you will mount up on wings like eagles, you will run without being weary, you will walk without being faint.
The inevitable order. Mounting up–running–walking! We should have supposed that it should have been walking in the beginnings of religious experience; then the walk breaking into the run; and finally the runner leaping on wings into the azure, like the eagle a black speck against the blue! But experience confirms the prophetic order. Isaiah is right! We mount, we run, we walk!
Let us claim the promise–”They that wait on the Lord shall change their strength.” Too often in the past we have depended on the stimulus of services, sermons, conventions which have made the embers glow again on the heart’s altar. We have gone back to our homes, to our daily calling, with a new zeal and impulse that has lasted for weeks or months. Then we have found ourselves flagging again; we have run and got weary; we have walked and become faint.
To all such comes the word; if you would once more mount up and run and walk, you must change your strength. Time tells on us! Moods influence us! Circumstances impede us! Satan blows cold blasts on our heart-fires and cools them! Sins pile up their debris between us and God! From all these let us turn once more to Jesus and wait on Him. “My soul, wait thou only upon the Lord, for my expectation is from Him.” Look not back, but forward! Not down, but up! Not in, but out! Never to your own heart, but keep looking to Jesus, made near and living by the grace of the Holy Spirit. So shall you change your strength, as you wait upon the Lord.

PRAYER
Thou knowest, Lord, how often I am sorely let and hindered in running the race which is set before me. May Thy bountiful grace and mercy come to my help, that I may finish my course with joy, and receive the crown of life. AMEN.

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