Monthly Archives: September 2012

THE TALE OF THE YEARS

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.”– Psa_90:9.

THIS PSALM 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 generation.
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.

PRAYER
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.

“For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.”– Psa_90:9.

THIS PSALM 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 generation.
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.

PRAYER
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.

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OBEDIENCE

OBEDIENCE
“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness.”– Joh_12:46.

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 holier life.
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. The judgment always becomes just, and the vision clear, when we deny ourselves to follow whatsoever things are lovely, true, pure, just, and of good report.
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. 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!’” 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,” so you will know the Light, and become light in the Lord.

PRAYER
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 great. AMEN.

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MODERN MIRACLES

MODERN MIRACLES
“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.”– Joh_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.”

PRAYER
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.

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BEAUTIFUL GARMENTS

BEAUTIFUL GARMENTS
“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 light.”– Rom_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. 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?”
Put on beautiful garments. The emblem of the life of the Christian soul is that of the bridegroom or the bride 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; 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. The beauty of the Lord our God must be upon us.
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.” Let us wake up out of sleep, put off the works of darkness, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the armour of Light.

PRAYER
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.

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THE FILE LEADER

THE FILE LEADER
“Behold, I have given him for a Witness to the people; a Leader and Commander to the people.”– Isa_55:4.

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 Act_3:15; Act_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 right 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.

PRAYER
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.

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BREAD WINNING!

BREAD WINNING!
“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.”– Mat_4:4; Mat_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 land, and verily thou shalt be fed.”

PRAYER
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.

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THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT

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.”– Mar_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, breathe 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 Jesus.
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_8:10-12).

PRAYER
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.

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THE GRACE OF CHRISTIAN SPEECH

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.” — Col_4:6.

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 our voice.
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 (Luk_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.

PRAYER
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.

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GOD’S RESOURCES

GOD’S RESOURCES
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”— Gen_18:14.
“Ye 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” (Pro_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 Mat_25:40.
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.

PRAYER
Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, World without end. AMEN.

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OUR SHEET ANCHOR!

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_4:14-15.
“‘Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”– 1Jo_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 (Rom_8:29).
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.

PRAYER
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 mind. AMEN.

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