Monthly Archives: March 2012

THE SOUL’S AMEN

THE SOUL’S AMEN
“Then answered I, and said, Amen, O Lord.”– Jer_11:5 (R.V.).

JEREMIAH WAS conscious of the special current of Divine energy which was passing into and through his soul. The word had come to him “from the Lord,” and he felt it as a burning fire which he could not contain. He must needs give vent to it, but when it has passed his lips, and he has time carefully to consider it, he answers the Divine message by saying–”So be it, O Lord!”
The soul’s affirmation. Let us guard against mistake. It is not always possible to say “Amen”–Yes–to God, in tones of triumph and ecstasy. Sometimes our response is choked with sobs that cannot be stifled, and soaked with tears that cannot be repressed. It was probably so with Abraham, when he tore himself from Ur of the Chaldees; when he waited weary years for his son; when he climbed the steep of Moriah. These words may be read by some who suffer year after year constant pain, by those whose earthly life is tossed upon the sea of anxiety, over which billows of care and turmoil perpetually roll. It is not improbable that these will protest as to the possibility of saying “Amen” to God’s providential dealings, or they will ask: Of what avail is it to utter with the lips a word against which the whole heart stands in revolt?
In reply, let all such remember that our blessed Lord, in the garden, was content to put His will upon the side of God. He knew it was enough if, in the lower parts of the earth to which His human nature had descended, He was able, unflinchingly to affirm, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
Dare to say “Amen” to God’s providential dealings. Say it, though heart and flesh fail, and you will find that if the will doth acquiesce, the heart comes ultimately to choose; and as the days pass, some incident, some turn in the road, some concurrence of unforeseen circumstances, will suddenly flash the conviction on the mind and reason that God’s way was right, the wisest, and the best. “What thou knowest not now, thou shalt know hereafter,” is the assurance of our Guide. Dare to trust Him, and in the strength of that trust to say, “Amen, O Lord.”

PRAYER
For all things beautiful, and good, and true;
For all things that seemed not good yet turned to good;
For all the sweet compulsions of Thy Will
That chased, and tried, and wrought us to Thy shape–
We thank Thee, Lord.

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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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THE MEANING OF THE CROSS

THE MEANING OF THE CROSS
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”– Phi_2:5.

FAITH IS not simply an intellectual experience of a statement of fact, but it is our personal trust and confidence in Him of whom the fact is true. We are not saved merely because we believe that Jesus Christ died for us on the Cross, but because we trust in Him who died. It is the personal touch between Christ and ourselves that causes His life to pass into our nature, making us sound and healthy, as well as secure and safe.
What does the Cross mean to you and me? Does it not mean that there our Lord gave Himself absolutely to the Father’s will? Never in any way did He make Himself the origin and fountain of His action, but was ever the empty channel through which God poured Himself. “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” It seemed as if He went down lower and lower, on rung after rung of the ladder until He reached Hades, giving up everything only to follow the Will of God; but out of the lowest depths God raised Him to the Eternal Throne.
In each one of us there is strong self-will. You say, “I am resolved to be a good man or woman, to live a noble life, to give up bad habits–I will.” But it can never be accomplished in that way. It is only when we are willing to see ourselves, our own energy, our good self as well as our bad self brought to an end on the Cross of Jesus, that we shall be able to enter into and live His eternal life.
At this moment I would summon you to stand beneath the Cross and to see there One who entirely yielded up His own will. More than that, I want you to see your self-life nailed there, and turn from it to God in adoration, saying that you are prepared to be weak and helpless so far as your own energies are concerned, that He may put forth in your life the mighty energy of that power which raised Christ from the dead. It is only when we are weak that we are really strong; it is only when we surrender ourselves to the power of the Cross, so that we realize that we have been crucified with Christ, that we are able to share in His eternal victory over the devil and the power of evil.

PRAYER
O God, Thou hast revealed Thyself to us in Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. We love Him, because He endured the Cross, and despised the shame in order to save us. May we follow Him by the way of the Cross, bearing His reproach, sharing His griefs, obedient even unto death, that we may also live and reign with Him here, and more perfectly at last. AMEN.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”– Phi_2:5.

FAITH IS not simply an intellectual experience of a statement of fact, but it is our personal trust and confidence in Him of whom the fact is true. We are not saved merely because we believe that Jesus Christ died for us on the Cross, but because we trust in Him who died. It is the personal touch between Christ and ourselves that causes His life to pass into our nature, making us sound and healthy, as well as secure and safe.
What does the Cross mean to you and me? Does it not mean that there our Lord gave Himself absolutely to the Father’s will? Never in any way did He make Himself the origin and fountain of His action, but was ever the empty channel through which God poured Himself. “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” It seemed as if He went down lower and lower, on rung after rung of the ladder until He reached Hades, giving up everything only to follow the Will of God; but out of the lowest depths God raised Him to the Eternal Throne.
In each one of us there is strong self-will. You say, “I am resolved to be a good man or woman, to live a noble life, to give up bad habits–I will.” But it can never be accomplished in that way. It is only when we are willing to see ourselves, our own energy, our good self as well as our bad self brought to an end on the Cross of Jesus, that we shall be able to enter into and live His eternal life.
At this moment I would summon you to stand beneath the Cross and to see there One who entirely yielded up His own will. More than that, I want you to see your self-life nailed there, and turn from it to God in adoration, saying that you are prepared to be weak and helpless so far as your own energies are concerned, that He may put forth in your life the mighty energy of that power which raised Christ from the dead. It is only when we are weak that we are really strong; it is only when we surrender ourselves to the power of the Cross, so that we realize that we have been crucified with Christ, that we are able to share in His eternal victory over the devil and the power of evil.

PRAYER
O God, Thou hast revealed Thyself to us in Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. We love Him, because He endured the Cross, and despised the shame in order to save us. May we follow Him by the way of the Cross, bearing His reproach, sharing His griefs, obedient even unto death, that we may also live and reign with Him here, and more perfectly at last. AMEN.

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A NEW BEATITUDE

A NEW BEATITUDE
“And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me.”– Mat_11:6.

OUR LORD put within the reach of His noble Forerunner the blessedness of those who have not seen and yet have believed; of those who trust Him though they are slain; of those who wait the Lord’s pleasure; and of those who cannot understand His dealings, but rest in what they know of His heart. This is the beatitude of the unoffended, of those who do not stumble over the mystery of God’s dealings with their life.
This Blessedness is within our reach also. There are times when we are overpowered with the mystery of life and nature. The world is so full of pain and sorrow, strong hearts seem breaking under an intolerable load. God’s children are sometimes the most bitterly tried. For them the fires are heated seven times; they suffer, not only at the hand of man, but the heavens seem as brass to their cries and tears. The enemy of souls has reason to challenge them with the taunt, “Where is now your God?”
You and I have perhaps been in this plight. We have said, “Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?” We are tempted to stumble; we are prone to fall over the mysteries of God’s dealings with us. But it is then that we have the chance of inheriting this new beatitude. If we refuse to bend under the mighty hand of God–questioning, chafing, murmuring at His appointments–we miss the door which would admit us into rich and unalloyed happiness; we fumble about the latch, but it is not lifted. But if we will quiet our souls like a weaned child, anointing our heads and washing our faces, then light will break in on us from the eternal morning. The peace of God will keep our hearts and minds, and we shall enter upon this blessedness of which our Lord speaks.

PRAYER
Forgive our sins, our faithless tears, and our repining murmurs. Lift us on the tide of Thy love into fuller, richer, deeper experiences. May we know what it is to have Christ in us, the Hope of Glory. AMEN.

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STOOPING TO RISE

STOOPING TO RISE
“Being found in fashion as a Man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him.”– Phi_2:8-9.

WE WAKE up from the unconsciousness of infancy to find ourselves in a world of revolt, and learn that so far as the memory of man reaches back into the past, this conflict has been recognized as existing between man and himself, man and his fellow, man and God. Is there no help? Will not God some day bring peace and good will into these troubled scenes? Yes, indeed! This paragraph tells us that the time will come when every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Christ is Lord, and that God will be glorified. And this is being effected by Christ through means that we did not expect.
When our Lord stooped to live visibly amongst men, He refused to avail Himself of the homage due to His original nature. He had been in the form of God, but was content to veil His glory, to assume the form of a servant, to be made in the likeness of men. In the cradle of Bethlehem, in the home of Nazareth, in the voluntary limitations of His earthly ministry, in His obedience to the death of the cross, there was the hiding of His power. He refused to use the attributes of His intrinsic Deity, that He might manifest the Love of God, that He might bear away the guilt of the world, and work out and bring in an eternal righteousness. Therefore He is exalted and bears evermore the name of Jesus—the Saviour of the world.
The Apostle says, let this same mind be in you; think these-thoughts; follow in the steps of Jesus. We must show a holy emulation as to who shall stoop the lowest, and follow the master the closest. The most urgent matter for each of us to consider is not whether we are orthodox in our creed (though that is not unimportant), but whether at any cost we have the mind which was in Christ, whether at any cost to ourselves we are manifesting the love of God to those around us.

PRAYER
Our Heavenly Father, Give us the patience, the tender pity, the humility of Jesus our Lord; who, though He was rich, for our sakes became poor. Make us obedient even to the death of the cross. Help us not to save ourselves, that we may save others. AMEN.

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RISEN WITH CHRIST

RISEN WITH CHRIST
“If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.”– Col_3:1 (R.V.).

IF SOME one will say, “Ha, there’s the rub! I’m afraid that is not true of me; my life is sinful and sorrowful; there are no Easter chimes in my soul, no glad fellowship with the Risen Lord; no victory over dark and hostile powers.” But if you are Christ’s disciple, you may affirm that you are risen in Him! With Christ you lay in the grave, and with Christ you have gone forth, according to the thought and purpose of God, if not in your feelings and experience. This is distinctly taught in Eph_2:1-10 and Rom. 6. The whole Church (including all who believe in our Lord Jesus) has passed into the light of the Easter dawn; and the one thing for you and me, and all of us, is to begin from this moment to act as if it were a conscious experience, and as we dare to do so we shall have the experience.
Notice how the Apostle insists on this: “You died, you were raised with Christ, your life is hid with Christ. Give yourself time to think about it and realize it.”
The Cross of Jesus stands between you and the constant appeal of the world, as when the neighbours of Christian tried to induce him to return to the City of Destruction. This does not mean that we are to be indifferent to all that is fair and lovely in the life which God has given us, but that the Cross is to separate us from all that is selfish, sensual, and savouring of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1Jo_2:15-17).
Set your mind on things above (Col_3:2). “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” With many of us there is little attempt to guard our thoughts. The door of our heart stands open, with none to control the ingress or egress of the tumultuous throng of thoughts that wander in and out. If only we would ask the Holy Spirit to control our thoughts, so that we might think only the things that are true and of good report, a wonderful change would pass over our life (Phi_4:7-8).
Realize that Christ is your life–He is in you! See to it that nothing hinders the output of His glorious indwelling. Never mind if the world of men misunderstand you. Some day your motives and reasons will be manifested (Col_3:4).

PRAYER
Grant, most gracious God, that we may love and seek Thee always and everywhere, and may at length find Thee and for ever hold Thee fast in the life to come. AMEN.

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CONSECRATION

CONSECRATION
“Know ye not that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.”– 1Co_6:19-20 (R.V. marg.).

THE FACT that we have been bought with a price, not with corruptible things, as silver or gold, but with the precious Blood of Christ, lies at the foundation of all consecration (1Pe_1:18). In consecration we do not make ourselves Christ’s but recognize that we are His by an unalienable right. In the slave market human beings were sold like cattle; but this institution is set forth as the first step in our devotion to the service and person of Jesus Christ, the Lord who bought us. Slaves pass from one master to another. Among the Hebrews an Israelite would sometimes sell himself into slavery until the year of Jubilee, or until one of his kinsmen redeemed him (Lev_25:47-50). So our Kinsman, Christ, bought us back from sin and guilt and condemnation; He says, as He buys us: “Ye shall be for Me, ye shall not be for another.”
Our Lord’s claim upon us is built on His own supreme sacrifice. “He gave Himself for us,” says the Apostle Paul, “that He might redeem us from all iniquity” (Tit_2:14). He gave Himself up to the Death of the Cross, that we might reckon ourselves to be dead unto sin. The Apostles constantly speak of themselves as “the slaves of Jesus Christ.” Oh, that we might all live like this, counting nothing as our exclusive possession, but believing that all we have has been given to us to use in trust for our Lord and Master. He assigns to us each and all the work that we can do best. Some are called to work for Him in the high places of the Church, and others to toil in lowly obscurity, but everything is important in the great House of the Master, and all He requires is faithful service. I shall never forget when I first entered into the realization of the Ownership of my Lord; that I was His chattel, and had no longer any option or choice for one’s enjoyment or emolument. The life which was commenced then has been one of perfect freedom, for this is the enigma of His service, that Christ’s slaves are alone free; and that the more absolutely they obey Him, the more completely do they drink of the sweet cup of liberty!

PRAYER
O Lord, I give myself to Thee. I am born to serve Thee, to be Thine, to be Thy instrument. I ask not to see–I ask not to know–I ask simply to be used. AMEN.

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GOD WRESTLING WITH MAN

GOD WRESTLING WITH MAN
“Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”– Gen_32:28.

THIS STORY of the angel wrestling with Jacob is an instance of God’s earnest desire to take from us all that hinders our best and highest life, whilst we resist with might and main. There was much evil in Jacob that needed to be laid aside, and so the love of God drew near to him in the form of an angel to wrestle with him. At first he held his own, but whatever it is that enables a soul whom God designs to bless to stand out against Him, God will touch. It may be as natural as a sinew, but if it robs us of spiritual blessing, God will touch it; it may be as small as a sinew, but its evil influence will compel the Almighty Lover of our souls to take notice of it, to cause our scheming to miscarry, and the sinew of our strength to dry up.
Then Jacob abandoned the posture of defence and resistance, and clung to his Adversary. It is good when we come to this attitude, for there is nothing which God will not do for the soul that clings to Him in absolute weakness (2Co_12:7-9).
Three things happened: The changed name, which indicated a changed character. Israel means “prince with God.” The supplanter, cheat, and weak vacillator became royal! There is only one road to royalty, it is the path of self-surrender and faith. Power: as a prince hast thou power with God, and with men thou shalt prevail. (R.V. marg.) He who would have power and authority with his fellows must first secure it by yielding to God. The Beatific Vision: “I have seen God face to face.” Our moments of vision come after the night of wrestling. The price is high, but the vision more than compensates. Our sufferings are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed. Such is life! As the dawn of heaven breaks we see the Angel of Love, and as Christ meets us we awake to the royalty of the sons of God.

PRAYER
We thank Thee, O God, that our backslidings and transgressions, our failures and inconsistencies, cannot turn aside Thy compassionate love. We would yield ourselves to Thee. Make us as rock to the seducing influences of the world and of the flesh, but soft as clay to the least touch of Thy hand. Strive mightily in us by Thy Holy Spirit, and perfect that which concerneth us. AMEN.

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THE POSSIBILITY OF THE IMPOSSIBLE

THE POSSIBILITY OF THE IMPOSSIBLE
“Lord, increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye would say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou rooted up, and be thou planted in the sea; and it would have obeyed you.”– Luk_17:5-6 (R.V.).

YOU ARE asking me to perform the impossible; I am sure that I can never become a great tree, said a tiny mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds, as it lay on the soft mould where it had dropped.
Suddenly it was caught up with a spadeful of earth, and buffed, it seemed, fathoms deep; in reality but a few inches! There it lay in darkness and neglect. After some weeks, a tiny green shoot appeared above the ground, and looked up to where the great parent-tree was growing; it whispered softly to itself, “Perhaps I shall be able to do it after all.” “Do what?” “Perhaps I shall become a great tree in which the birds may shelter.” “But a few weeks ago you said it was impossible . then I had no idea that Mother Nature would work in me as she has done; if she goes on pouring herself into me as she has been doing of late, there is nothing that I cannot do; yet not I, but her life which dwelleth and worketh in me.”
There is no need to explain or enforce the meaning of the allegory. Our Lord had bidden His disciples forgive “until seventy times seven,” and they had replied that such a thing would be impossible, without a great increase of faith. “No,” said the Master, “you do not need quantity but quality.”
All God’s fullness will flow through the tiniest channel that faith opens out on His Almighty power. Faith is the open heart towards Him, and through the channel of faith Christ lives in and through us. Hudson Taylor heard God say: “I am going to evangelize inland China, and if you will walk with Me, I will do it through you.” D.L. Moody said that the beginning of his marvellous ministry was the remark made in his hearing: “The world has yet to learn what God can do through a man wholly yielded to Him.” It is not what we do, but what God does through us, that counts; and His mighty power, passing through the tiniest aperture of faith, keeps hollowing it wider.

PRAYER
Most Gracious Lord, Thou didst truly say, “Without Me ye can do nothing.’” We know that this is so by our past failures, when we have wrought in our own strength. Help us to use the little faith we have that it may become the channel for Thy wondrous power. AMEN.

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BROKEN CISTERNS

BROKEN CISTERNS
“They have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”– Jer_2:13.
“If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.”– Joh_7:37.

WHAT AN infinite mistake to miss the fountain freely flowing to quench our thirst, and to hew out broken cisterns, in which is disappointment and despair. Many such may read these words—each with soul-thirst craving satisfaction; each within reach of God, whose nature is as rock-water for those that are athirst, but they are attempting the impossible task of satisfying the craving for the infinite and Divine, with men and the things of sense.
There is the cistern of Pleasure, engraved with fruits and flowers, wrought at the cost of health and peace; the cistern of Wealth, gilded and inlaid with costly gems; the cistern of Human love, which, however fair and beautiful, can never satisfy the soul that rests in it alone—all these, erected at infinite cost of time and strength, are treacherous and disappointing.
At our feet the fountain of God’s love is flowing through the channel of Jesus Christ, the Divine Man. He says to each of us: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.’” We must descend to the level of the stream, if its waters are to flow over our parched lips to slake our thirst. We must come back to Calvary, take our stand at the foot of the Cross, hear again the words of Him who died there for us, saying “I thirst,” that He might be able to give the Water of Life freely to all who come to Him.
You who are weary of your toil, drop your tools, and come back to God. Forsake the alliances, the friendships, the idolatries, the sins which have alienated you from your best Friend. Open your heart, that He may create in you the fountain of living water, leaping up to eternal life. “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come! And let him that heareth say, Come! And let him that is athirst, Come! And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

“I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that Life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.”

PRAYER
Teach us, O Lord, the art of so living in fellowship with Thyself that every act may be a Psalm, every meal a sacrament, every room a sanctuary, every thought a prayer. AMEN.

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