Monthly Archives: May 2012

THE SECRET OF THE QUIET HEART

THE SECRET OF THE QUIET HEART
“Be still, and know that I am God.”– Psa_46:10.
“Sit still, my daughter, for the man will not rest, until he have finished the thing this day.”– Rth_3:18.

PARADISE HAS vanished from our world, as the picture of a landscape vanishes when swept by storm. And our race stands in much the same plight as did Naomi and Ruth in this old-world story. We have lost our inheritance, and the one barrier which stands between us and despair is the Person and Work of our Lord Jesus Christ. But, thank God, we need have no doubt as to the sequel. For as Boaz claimed back the estate for Ruth, so may we be confident that Jesus Christ will never be at rest till this sin-stained and distracted world is restored to her primitive order and beauty, as when the morning-stars sang for joy.
Jesus is our near Kinsman by His assumption of our nature. He is the nearest and dearest Friend of our race, who stooped to die for our redemption. And the fact that He carried our nature in Himself to heaven, and wears it there, is an indissoluble bond between us. Sit still! do not fret! He will never fail, as He will certainly never forsake!
Let us seek the quiet heart in our prayers. Prayer must arise within us as a fountain from unknown depths. But we must leave it to God to answer in His own wisest way. We are so impatient, and think that God does not answer. A child asked God for fine weather on her birthday, and it rained! Some one said, “God didn’t answer your prayer.” “Oh yes,” she replied, “He did, God always answers, but He said No!” God always answers! He never fails! Be still! If we abide in Him, and He abides in us, we ask what we will, and it is done. As a sound may dislodge an avalanche, so the prayer of faith sets in motion the power of God.
In times of difficulty–be still! Thine enemies are plotting thine overthrow! They laugh at thy strong confidence! But hast thou not heard His voice saying: “This is the way, walk ye in it”? Then leave Him to deal with thy foes from whatever quarter they come. He is thy Rock, and rocks do not shake. He is thy High Tower, and a high tower cannot be flooded. Thou needest mercy, and to Him belongeth mercy. Do not run hither and thither in panic! Just quietly wait, hushing thy soul, as He did the fears of His friends on the eve of Gethsemane and Calvary. “Rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him.” “Be still, for He will not rest, until He hath finished the thing this day.”

PRAYER
If this day I should get lost amid the perplexities of life and the rush of many duties, do Thou search me out, gracious Lord, and bring me back into the quiet of Thy presence. AMEN.

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THE SILVER LINING IN THE DARK CLOUD

THE SILVER LINING IN THE DARK CLOUD
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”– Psa_42:5, Psa_42:11; Psa_43:5.

THESE TWO Psalms are evidently one. See how the same refrain rings through them both! They are generally allocated to that sad time in David’s history, when the rebellion of his favourite son, Absalom, drove him as an exile beyond the Jordan (2Sa_15:14). But amid the great sorrows that rolled over his soul, there was one glad ingredient. Thrice over the Psalmist encourages himself to Hope! For many a sorrowful soul, this is a true emblem. Amid all the disappointment and despair of life, there is always one chord of Hope–God! We may stand amid the wreck of our earthly hopes. Through misconduct or mistake, as the result of folly or sin, we may have reduced ourselves and those dear to us to the last degree of misery; but the soul may always turn from its low estate to God, sure that He will have mercy, will abundantly pardon, and will turn again the adverse pressure of the tide.
See how the broken-hearted may still speak of God! This man had grievously sinned. He seemed to have forfeited all claim on God’s recognition and care. He had brought shame and disgrace on the cause of religion. All down the years the story of his wrong-doing would give the enemies of truth abundant reason to blaspheme. And yet see how he dares to speak of God! He describes Him as the God of his life, as his Rock, as the Health of his countenance, the God of his strength, and the Gladness of his joy. This is a great lesson! We may change, but God changes never. We may turn our face from Him, or allow some evil thing to loom between ourselves and the clear shining of His face. But he shines on, and when we confess our sins, and put them away, we find ourselves afresh in the clear shaft of His illuminating rays. You may have lost all hope in yourself, your friends, your circumstances, but you must never lose your hope in God.
The past, which can only be viewed with repentance, is forgiven; the present, in which God is willing to be All-in-all; the future, when again the soul shall praise Him with joyful lips. Hope looks into the future. “I shall yet praise Him.”

PRAYER
Our Father, forgive, we pray Thee, our murmuring and discontent, our perverseness and waywardness. Teach us to discern the silver edge of the lowering clouds, and to trust Thy love, which is leading us safely and by a right way to our home. AMEN.

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A SONG OF THE SANCTUARY

A SONG OF THE SANCTUARY
“Lord, I love the habitation of Thy House, and the place where Thy glory dwelleth.”– Psa_26:8.

PROBABLY WE never value the House of God so much as when we are severed from it. The author of this Psalm was evidently in exile.
He envied the very birds that nested in the holy places where he had been wont to worship. The pilgrims who were on their way thither, and the door-keepers who stood on the threshold, seemed to his ardent longing in better case than himself. Robinson Crusoe missed the sound of the church bell when no longer able to obey its call. There is a strange fascination in the sound of worship for those who for years have been deprived of its privilege. Let us be thankful for “the means of grace” and reverently make good use of them whilst they are at our disposal.
In order to find God’s Tabernacles “lovely,” we must love the Lord of Hosts as our King and God. Put God in His right place in your heart and life, and you will love His Palaces. When God is worshipped as King, we shall be reverent, we shall be punctual, we shall come with prepared and expectant heart. Any detraction in the manner of the minister, the singing of the choir, the atmosphere of the place, will not affect the soul which is occupied with God.
It is blessed when the high ways to Zion have a place in a man’s heart–when he is set on them, dreams of them, and loves them because of the goal to which they lead. On our earthly pilgrimage we have our valleys of depression and weeping, as well as our transfiguration heights. Thank God that life is not one long dull monotony. Let us not find fault with the road, but make the best of it. Every phase of our experience has its compensations. Look out for them. If you take the valley you will find the water-spring; if you take the hill, you will get the horizon. But be it valley or hill, either brings you to your desired goal.
This Psalm makes it clear that God is the Shield of His people. In the night He is our Sun; in the day, when the sunbeams strike us like swords, He is our Shield (Psa_121:5-6). Whatever your lot God will be its make-weight and equivalent. When the soul has incurred disaster and pursuit, what a comfort it is to hide in God as our Shield. what an iron-plated door is in the rush of fire along the corridor, that God is to the soul that escapes to Him. He besets us behind, as well as before.

PRAYER
Give us grace, we beseech Thee, not to miss, by our apathy or unbelief, aught which Thou waitest to bestow. Teach us how to appropriate what Thou dost offer, and to receive what Thou wouldst impart. AMEN.

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What Jesus Learned at His Trade

What Jesus Learned at His Trade
Is not this the carpenter?— Mar_6:3
We Learn from Our Trades
Every man learns certain lessons from the trade in which he is engaged. Nobody is unaffected by his business. The farmer is very different from the sailor, because the one is a farmer and the other is a sailor. Each has his own outlook upon things; each dwells in his own universe. As you can often tell a man’s profession by certain indications in his body, so also by indications in his soul. Now we are faced with the great fact that our blessed Savior was a carpenter. Through His youth, and on to the age of thirty, Jesus was the Carpenter of Nazareth. And we may be certain, from all we know of life, that these years of carpentering would leave their mark on the public ministry of after days. They would suggest much; they would give Him certain insights; they would impress certain truths upon His mind. It was not alone in the house and in the field that He was gathering material for His teaching. He was learning things, just as we all learn them, in the quiet discharge of daily duty, which were to help Him when everything was changed. Never forget that Jesus was a poet, just as His life was God’s most perfect poem. Every common task at which He wrought would flash out into diamonds of significance. The village shop was not only full of logs; for Him it was also full of parables, as was His mother’s kitchen, and the garden, and the fields.
As a Carpenter the Lord Learned from a Log. How Much There Can Be Hidden
One truth I reverently think that He would learn was how much may lie hidden in a thing. Picture the waggoner delivering a tree that had been ordered by the Carpenter of Nazareth. The Carpenter would begin to work it up; He would lop off the branches and the twigs; He would saw it into planks and blocks; He would use it for the orders He was executing. And by and by, round His little workshop, would be ranged the various things that He had made—a plough, a chair, a wooden bowl or platter. What! a plough hidden in that tree— that rough, gnarled creature of the forest? And platters and bowls (to feed the children with) hidden in that swaying tree? Then the Poet-Carpenter would halt a moment, and dream, and say quietly to Himself, “Ah, how much may lie hidden in a thing.” Did He forget that when carpentering days were over? Was not that one glorious secret of His hopefulness? He saw the Kingdom in a mustard seed. He saw the citizen of heaven in a child. He saw, as no one else has ever seen, how much lay hidden in the human heart, and in the lives and characters of common men.
It Takes Pains and Time to Transform a Thing
Another truth I believe that He would learn is what pains it takes just to transform a thing. That would be deeply graven on His heart. Picture a farmer coming to the shop and asking the Carpenter to make a plough. An Eastern plough was a very simple thing. The farmer would sit there till it was made. “Friend,” the Carpenter would say to him, “my ploughs are not manufactured while you wait. It is a long and weary business making ploughs! See that tree? I have got to transform that tree. I have got to change that tree into your plough. Who can tell what faults and flaws are in it? Leave Me alone. I have to wrestle with it.” With such material, so rude and so intractable, one thing the Carpenter would learn was this: that pains and patience go to all transforming. Was that forgotten when carpentering days were over? Think of the first disciples. Not in one hour did Simon become Peter. John was not made an apostle “while you wait.” There is nothing more wonderful in history than the long, patient, and persistent way in which the Lord transformed these followers of Galilee. In a single instant He could heal the leper. In a single instant He could raise the dead. It took many a thousand weary instants to transform Simon into Peter. And what more beautiful training for that ministry than to be sent of God until the age of thirty to toil as the lowly Carpenter of Nazareth. Perhaps one day, when things were very difficult, and the disciples were like wayward children, Jesus espied a plough that He had made, and remembered all the pains that it had cost Him. And then He would thank His Father that He had been a carpenter, for if it took all these pains to make a plough, how infinitely more to make a Peter. We are all in the hands of One who was a carpenter. That is a fact we never should forget. He is a thorough workman. He never spares Himself. He is eager for perfection in His workmanship. And some day, when His work on us is over, and we are perfected in His own perfect way, we shall say, “Is not this the Carpenter?”
The Finest Things Are Made of Hardest Wood
Then, lastly, might He not learn in carpentering that the finest things are made of hardest wood? It was cedar-wood that was demanded for the paneling of palace or of temple. Did He smile, I wonder, when He noticed that? Did he recognize the deeper meaning of it? And was He recalling the old days in Nazareth when He deliberately selected Paul? Hard as cedar, injurious, a persecutor, the bitter and savage foe of every Christian—but finest things may be made from hardest wood. Do you know anyone who is what is called a hard case—anyone who has resisted every pleading—some member of your flock, or some wild lad you try to teach on Sundays? Have faith. Someday he will be won. The cedar will adorn the temple yet. And then you will say, quietly and adoringly, “Is not this the Carpenter?”

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A PSALM OF LIFE

A PSALM OF LIFE
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”– Psa_23:1-6.

THIS IS “the Nightingale” among the Psalmist choristers! The first that we learn in infancy, the last we whisper with dying lips. It implies consecration, for God is this only to the soul which is wholly surrendered to Him. You cannot have all of God, or God in all, until you are willing to surrender your all. Do you want to put “My,” the pronoun of possession, before the Name of God? Well, then, you must be willing to answer His voice, and follow where He leads. “My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me, but a stranger will they not follow.”
Morning! The Shepherd’s leading. When He puts forth His sheep from the fold, in the dewy morning, He goes before them over the grass or up the mountain-track towards the pastures. It would never do for the flock to precede him. Whatever roughness you find on your path, remember that the Shepherd has gone before. “He leadeth me.” Remember also that His name and character are involved in bringing you through “for His Name’s sake.”
Noon: The alleviations of rest. In all lives there are times when He makes us to lie down, or leads us by the waters of rest. Sometimes it is a period of convalescence after an illness. Sometimes a holiday, an interval between the pressure of engagements, a respite when the stress and strain of toil is over–these are our quiet pasture-lands. At other times, in the midst of life’s rush and turmoil, our soul is kept at rest in God’s peace. The heart rests for part of a second between its beats. “He maketh me to lie down!”
Night: the oil and the cup. The flock has reached the fold where it is to shelter. At the doorway stands the Shepherd, watching each one as it passes. This one has grazed and torn its head in getting through a hedge, and for it there is the anointing oil. Near His hand is the food and water, from which He fills the bowl, to wash the face, or give refreshment; and as it overflows, there is evidently enough and to spare!
Goodness and Mercy follow the flock, as the Shepherd precedes. “The House of the Lord” is the Fold from which we shall go out no more, and the Lamb shall be our Shepherd and abiding joy for ever.

PRAYER
O Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, the busy work is hushed and the fever of life over and our work is done; then, Lord, in Thy mercy grant us safe lodging, a holy rest and peace at the last, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

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The Exceedingly Abundant Ability of God

The Exceedingly Abundant Ability of God
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)”
In light of God being our sufficiency for the development of godly characteristics, this benedictory prayer in Ephesians 3 becomes an appropriate and instructive response.

It begins with the most critical issue for living the Christian life, the ability of God: “Now to Him who is able.” Natural religious thinking would set forth the ability of man as the most vital matter in developing a godly life. Such an approach would leave us striving vainly under the law, attempting to live up to God’s perfect standards by our own inadequate resources. Praise be to God, there is a heavenly, effective option: relying upon God’s ability.

Think of the immeasurable ability of the Lord. “Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You” (Jeremiah 32:17). He created the entire universe. Certainly, by His power He is able to strengthen us. “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). Our Lord rules over all of humanity. Surely, He is able to manage our lives. Actually, our God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Everything we could ask concerning His will, He is able to do far beyond that. Whatever we might contemplate but hesitate to ask, He is able to surpass that.

One amazing aspect of God exercising His ability on our behalf is the imparting of His power within our lives: “according to the power that works in us.” This is how the Lord wants to develop godliness in our lives. He Himself desires to work by the power of His grace deep within our hearts. “For it is good that the heart be established by grace” (Hebrews 13:9). Again, the Christian life is not affected from the outside in, hoping to modify our behavior by external religious pressures. Rather, it involves a true change of character within, affected by God Himself. This is how God is ultimately glorified in the lives of His people: “to Him be glory in the church.” He works a genuine transformation of life in and through us. Then, we give Him the glory for His exceedingly abundant ability.
“Lord God of exceeding abundance, I worship You as the one who is able to do all things well. Forgive me for repeatedly turning to my ability. Lord, as I seek You in Your word, build my faith. Unleash the powerful life of Your Son within my heart, making me what You want me to be, through Christ I pray, Amen.”

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GOD’S GOVERNMENT

GOD’S GOVERNMENT
“Thy Kingdom come.”– Luk_11:2.

IN ONE of those sublime flights with which the Epistles of St. Paul abound, he tells us that the time is coming when the Son shall deriver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father, when He shall abolish all rule, and authority, and power. From this we are at liberty to infer that the Kingdom was originally the Father’s; that by man’s sin and fall it has been alienated from His control.
The Lord Jesus became incarnate for the purpose of regaining the Kingdom by His agony, blood, and tears; though it is not as yet His, it is being acquired. When, therefore, we pray: “Father, Thy Kingdom come,” we are asking that the complete victory of Jesus Christ may be hastened; that He may speedily triumph over all obstacles and enemies; that truth may reign in government, art, and science; that trade may be free from chicanery and fraud; that tyranny may be extinguished, corruption exposed; that He may send forth His Angels to gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity, destroying that last enemy, death, and bringing in the golden age when all men shall know and love the Father, and become His obedient children.
There are many explanations of the Kingdom of Heaven. Perhaps as a rough and ready way of interpreting the phrase, we may say Divine Kingship. When we grasp that idea, it becomes the dominant note of life. It is the master-key which opens every lock. Just to believe, deep down in your soul, that the Father of Jesus—our Father–is King. That the God who is moved by the fall of a little bird from its nest, who is described in the parables of the lost sheep and the lost son, is King of the world and all its forces, and of everything in human life. To know and believe this is to get something which is worth everything else.
Will you not, here and now, place yourself under the government of the King? Let Him govern your heart, that you may love only within the limits which His pure and holy Spirit can permit. Let Him govern your mind, that no unholy thought be allowed to lodge and strike root within you. Let Him govern the books you read, the companionships and friendships you form, the methods of your business, the investment of your money, the way in which you spend your leisure–all must be under the government of His Kingdom, for He will not be King at all unless He is King in all.

PRAYER
Hasten, O God the coming of Thy Kingdom, and the consummation of Thy redeeming work. May the Kingdom of Christ come in us and through as; His voice speaking through our lips; His power working through our touch; His love beating in our heart. AMEN.

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HONOURING GOD

HONOURING GOD
“Hallowed be Thy Name.”– Luk_11:2.

GOD’S NAME is His Nature—His attributes, the various qualities that go to make Him what He is. When we ask for it to be hallowed, we ask that all which obscures it should be swept away as mists before the dawn. We thank God for all that is known of His wonderful Being, for the message of Nature, for revelation given to seers and prophets, for the Word who came from Him, and for the Holy Spirit who reveals Him. But there are still vast unexplored tracks in God’s Being of which we know nothing, and there are myriads that know still less than we do. By their sinful ignorance and superstition, men have misunderstood and misrepresented the character of God; therefore we need to pray that in this world, and in all other worlds, His glorious personality should be understood, appreciated, and loved.
When we pray “Hallowed be thy Name” it is to remind ourselves of the greatness and glory of God our Father. Before you utter petitions for yourself, be still! Compel the intruding crowd of daily needs and desires to remain outside the fence which surrounds the mountain foot. Go up to meet with God, desiring to look at the needs of the world and of your own little life, as subordinate to your own great desire that God should be loved, honoured, and obeyed. Put God’s interests above your own. Enthrone Him in thought and petition.
In a world that neither knew nor hallowed God’s Name, Jesus set Himself to reveal and unfold all its wonderful depths. Let us try every day to know more of that Name, and to make it known. It is through ignorance of God that men turn from Him. They have distorted views, obtained from the lives and words of professedly religious people which are often a sad travesty and misrepresentation of God. If only men really knew God, surely the love with which He has loved them would enter and fill their hearts.
It is said that the passion of the French soldiers for Napoleon was so great, that even when mortally wounded they would raise themselves as he came riding past on his charger, and cry: “Long live the Emperor!” It is when we have become wholly absorbed in bringing glory to God in the highest, that we shall know peace in our hearts, and become the channels of goodwill to men, as men of good-will, i.e., the doers of God’s Will.

PRAYER
Heavenly Father, unveil to me, I humbly ask, the sweet mystery and beauty of Thy Name–Abba Father. AMEN.

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Keep yourselves from idols.

Keep yourselves from idols.

My son, give me thine heart.–Set your affection on things
above, not on things on the earth.

Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart,
and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face:
should I be enquired of at all by them?–Mortify . . . your
members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness,
inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness,
which is idolatry.–They that will be rich fall into temptation
and a snare, and [into] many foolish and hurtful lusts, which
drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is
the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have
erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many
sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things.

If riches increase, set not your heart [upon them].–My fruit
[is] better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than
choice silver.

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.–The
LORD looketh on the heart.

1Jo 5:21 Pr 23:26 Col 3:2 Eze 14:3 Col 3:5 1Ti 6:9-11
Ps 62:10 Pr 8:19 Mt 6:21 1Sa 16:7

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THE SCHOOL OF PRAYER

THE SCHOOL OF PRAYER
“Lord, teach us to pray.”– Luk_11:1.

THERE IS no other such Teacher as Christ. He was the Master in the art of prayer, and has taught all the greatest intercessors among the sons of men. His own example has been their incentive. It was because they saw Him praying that one of the disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray–an example of the power of unconscious influence. If a boy kneels in prayer in the school bedroom, he will be almost sure to start others praying.
Be natural in prayer. Do not repeat prayers the face of which has become worn away by constant usage. Find out approximately what your needs will be; and ask for the needed grace, as a child of a father.
Intercede for others. Do not use exclusively “I,” “me,” and “my,” but “we,” “our,” and “us.” Remember how Christ interwove intercession with every petition of the prayer He taught His disciples.
Be sure to receive as well as ask. No beggar is content with asking. He plies his errand until he receives. Alas, that we are so often content to ask with no thought of receiving. Before we rise from our knees, having pleaded for something that is contained in the Divine promises, we should dare to believe that we do receive the petitions that we have desired. “Have Faith in God” really means reckon on God’s faithfulness to you. Do not look at your faith. He who is ever considering his health will become an invalid; he who always looks down at his faith will cut the very roots from which faith grows, will shut out the beam by which faith lives. Look away to the character of God–the faithful God, who keepeth covenant and mercy for ever.
Leave the ultimate answers to your prayer to His infinite wisdom. Not unfrequently, to reverse our Lord’s words, children ask for stones and not bread; entreat for scorpions and not fish. Under such circumstances it is wise and good of God to say No to our requests, and to give us what we would ask if we knew all as He does. When we get to heaven we shall have to thank Him as much for the unanswered as for the answered prayers.
Be sure to give the Master time to teach you how to pray. It is necessary to wait for Him, when we feel less earnest, as when the fire burns most vehemently. He likes the regular hours for His pupils, and that they should not hurry impetuously away from His gracious words.

PRAYER
Teach me to pray, O Lord, as Thou didst teach Thy disciples of old, and winnow my prayers that I may desire and ask only those things that are according to Thy will. AMEN.

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