Monthly Archives: October 2012

GIVING GOD PLEASURE

GIVING GOD PLEASURE
“The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him.”– Psa_147:11.

GOD TAKES pleasure in our faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him”; but surely the alternative is true, that our faith is precious in His sight, though it be only as the touch of the hem of His garment.
God works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. The Apostle says that we ought to walk so as to please God. How can we walk thus? It is not within our power. But how blessed to know that if only we will work out what He works in, and abandon ourselves to Him, He will perfect us in every good work to do His will (Heb_13:21).
There are many ways in which we may please God. Generosity is a sacrifice well-pleasing and acceptable unto God; obedience is well-pleasing unto the Lord; a holy and humble walk with God, like Enoch’s, will elicit this testimony, that it has pleased God. Let us not disappoint Him, but “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing.”

PRAYER
O God, we pray that Thou wouldst make us what Thou wouldst have us become, that we may perfectly please Thee, and worthily magnify Thy Holy Name. AMEN.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

GIRD AND SERVE

GIRD AND SERVE
“Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve Me… and afterward thou shalt eat and drink.”– Luk_17:8.

THERE ARE TWO aspects of rural industry–agricultural, ploughing; pastoral, keeping the sheep. Between them they also cover our service to men for Christ’s sake. Some of us are engaged in ploughing. In the short wintry days, when the last leaves are failing from the trees, and the skies are covered by dense and dripping clouds, we go forth with our plough, or bearing precious seed. In loneliness, depression, and fear, we tread athwart the furrows, and return crying: “Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Or we are called to keep the flock, seeking the straying, defending the attacked, tenderly nursing the sick and weak. In either of these avocations we often become weary, and in that condition “come in from the field.”
When the spell of hard work is finished, how apt are we to relax! Surely, we think, we may give ourselves to the indulgence of natural and innocent appetite! But that is exactly what our Master does not intend, because He knows the subtle temptation of hours of ease. When we return from our labour, He does not say, “Go and sit down to meat,” but He meets us on the threshold, saying, “Make ready and serve Me, till I have eaten and drunken, and afterward thou shalt eat and drink.”
From this parable we are surely to infer that our Lord says in effect: “You have been working for Me, but I have missed you. You have been so engaged in guiding the plough through the heavy clay, or watching against the lion and bear, that you have forgotten Me, and have allowed the hours to pass without speaking to Me a single word, or listening for My voice.”
When Christ’s work is done, let us turn to our Lord Himself and minister to Him; prepare for Him a feast of faith and love and joy; of heart-melody and voice-music. After this we may eat and drink. He will even gird Himself, and come forth to serve us (Joh_13:4-14).

PRAYER
We desire, dear Lord, that Thou shouldest be more to us than Thy work. It is not enough for us to plough Thy fields or keep Thy sheep, we want to serve Thee most of all. Help us to keep Thee in view all day, and whatsoever our hands find to do, may we do it in love to Thyself. AMEN.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

SPRING IN THE HEART

SPRING IN THE HEART
“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”– Isa_35:1.

THERE ARE three things that make Springtide in the soul. The sense of God’s Presence. We know that He is near, though the woods are bare, the frost holds the earth in its iron grip, and the wind gathers together the dead leaves; but we feel Him nearer when every hedgerow is clothed with flowers, every bush burns with fire, every tree claps its leafy hands, and every avenue is filled with sweet choristers. The optimism of an illimitable hope. Spring is the minstrel of Hope. She takes her lyre and sings of the fair Summer, which is on her way, Life pours through a myriad channels, and shows itself stronger than death for Spring is victorious over Winter, as good shall prove to be over evil. The exuberance of Love. Spring is the time of love. The whole creation is attracted by a natural affinity, and love rules in forest and field.
These three elements met in the hearts of the returning exiles, and made the world seem young and fair again. The heart views the outer world in lines borrowed from itself. When life is young and gay, all the echoes ring with joy notes; but when the joy of life is fled, what mockery comes back on us from even the tenderest outward scenes!
For us, the lesson is clear. Cherish the sense of the Presence of God; cultivate an illimitable Hope; be conscious of a Love flowing towards you and from you. Dwell on the loving-kindness and tender mercy that have preceded and followed you all the days of your life, and for you, too, the wilderness and solitary place will be glad. After all, life is not altogether what circumstances make it. They may be everything that heart can wish, and yet the Frost-King may reign within and ease its icy mantle over all; whereas there are men and women who have everything adverse in their circumstances, but because they have Spring in their hearts, they find flowers and songs everywhere.
The thirsty land shall become springs of water. You know what thirst means–for human affection, for appreciation, for a word of cheer, for success! Yea, that thirsty land! But when your heart is full of God you will find it musical with streams, and in the places where dragons lay there will be a greenery of rushes.

PRAYER
Lord Jesus, bring us back from our captivity. Fill our hearts with the sense of Thy presence that they may be transformed and renewed, and filled with the spirit of Heaven. AMEN.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

THE BLAMELESS LIFE

THE BLAMELESS LIFE
“I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”– 1Th_5:23-24.

HE WILL do it. There is a tone of confidence in these words which bespeaks the unwavering faith of the Apostle in the faithfulness and power of God to do for these early Christian folk what indeed is needed by all of us; first, to be sanctified wholly, and secondly, to be preserved without blame until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We can hardly realise how much this meant for men and women reared amid the excesses and evils of those days, when religion was another name for unbridled indulgence. Blamelessness of life, the stainless habit of the soul, self-restraint–these were the attributes of the few whose natures seemed cast in a special mould. And yet how strong the assertion of the Apostle that, in the face of the insurmountable difficulties, the God of Peace would do even as much for them.
We must distinguish between blamelessness and faultlessness. The latter can only be ours when we have passed into the presence of His glory, and are presented faultless before Him with exceeding joy (Jud_1:24). The former, however, is within the reach of each of us, because God has said that He will do it. The Agent of the blameless life is God Himself. None beside could accomplish so marvellous a result, and He does it by condescending to indwell the soul. As His glory filled Solomon’s Temple, so He waits to infill the spirit, soul, and body of those who trust Him.
He will do it as the God of Peace. The mightiest forces are the stillest. Who ever heard the day break, or detected the footfall of Spring? Who thinks of listening for the throb of gravitation, or the thud of the forces that redden the grape, golden the corn, and cover the peaches with bloom? So God works in the hearts of those who belong to Him. When we think we are making no progress, He is most at work. The presence of ozone in the air can only be detected by a faint colour on a piece of litmus-paper, and God’s work in the soul is only apparent as the bloom of perfect love is shown in the life.

PRAYER
Almighty God, who lovest us, and to whom are known our yearnings for this blessed life; work Thou within us, quietly, gently, mightily, ridding us of the love of sin, and producing within us that blamelessness of soul which in Thy sight is of priceless value. AMEN.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

CHRIST THE GOOD SHEPHERD

CHRIST THE GOOD SHEPHERD
“I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine.”– Joh_10:14.

GOD DOES not mean merely benevolent and kind, but genuine and true. It is contrasted with the robber and the hireling. Up to a certain point the latter may do his work creditably. He will not desert the flock for trifling considerations; he will earn his pay! But when it comes to the supreme test of sacrificing his life, the hireling breaks down and leaves his flock to the peril of the wild beast. There are such shepherds who have taken up the pastoral office as a livelihood.
How different is our Lord–the Good Shepherd–who gave His life for the sheep. Why did He love us so? It will always be a mystery! He seeks those who belong to His fold, but have wandered off into the dark paths of sin. Jesus goes after the one which is lost until He finds it! That is the way of the Chief Shepherd.
The R.V. rendering brings out the intimate knowledge of Christ of His flock: “I know Mine own, and Mine own know Me; even as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father.” None knoweth the Father save the Son, and none the Son save the Father. But in this same intimacy and certainty the Lord Jesus knows each of us. He knows our down-sitting and our uprising; our motives, sometimes misunderstood; the anxieties which overcast our joys; our fears and hopes. He assuages, as no stranger, can, our heart’s bitterness. It is good to be known thus, for we need enter into no laboured explanation of ourselves.
Christ seeks those who do not belong to a fold (Joh_10:16). Probably there will always be many folds, for by the constitution of their minds men are ever disposed to view Truth from different angles. Some do not see this, and hold that if we do not believe just as they do, we have no right to assume that we belong to the flock. They forget that there may be many folds, yet one flock (R.V.). Whatever may be your special fold, the one great question to answer is: Do you hear and obey the Shepherd’s voice? If so, you certainly belong to the one flock, and no one shall snatch you out of the Shepherd’s hand (Joh_10:27-28, R.V.).

PRAYER
O Lamb of God! Who art in the midst of the Throne, but wilt be our Good Shepherd and tread the rough pathway of this world with each trembling heart. May we be abundantly satisfied with Thy provision and follow in Thy footsteps. AMEN.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”– Act_2:17.

IN HIS sermon, on the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter quoted the latter part of this prediction by the Prophet (Joe_2:28). Not much is known of this prophet, who probably lived in Judah during the reign of Uzziah. But evidently his anticipation of the outpouring of the Divine Spirit had its fulfilment in those memorable scenes in which the Christian Church was born.
Before the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit had descended only upon the elect souls of the Hebrew race—upon Abraham and Moses, upon Samuel and Elijah, upon Isaiah and others of the prophets. This supreme gift of God was reserved in those days for the spiritual aristocracy of Israel, for the men who were called to eminent office and responsibility, as kings, prophets, or leaders. But Joel said that the time would come when the Holy Spirit who had been reserved for the few, was to be poured out upon the many–the young men and maidens would prophesy; even the slaves and the most despised classes of the community would partake of the Divine experience.
Whatever Pentecost means–it is open to the reception and enjoyment of us all, “Every one of you,” said St. Peter, “shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” To you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call (Act_2:38-39). Let us take this to heart.
Some years ago, electricity was the perquisite of the few, but now the poorest girl or lad may utilize it and be carded along in the electric car; and it is the boast of our scientists and inventors that they are able to bring the benefits of their discoveries within the reach of the most needy amongst us. And Pentecost resembles this, in that the forces and gifts of the Eternal Spirit are now within the grasp of the feeblest hand which is stretched out to appropriate them. But there must be first the putting away of evil, the emptying of our hearts, the hunger and thirst of the soul for righteousness, before God can give us our share in the Gift which was made once for all to the Church, but must be claimed by each successive believer.

PRAYER
Let Thy Holy Spirit dwell in me continually, and make me Thy temple and sanctuary. AMEN.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

THE FAR COUNTRY

THE FAR COUNTRY
“When he came to himself, he said… I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned…”– Luk_15:17-19.

WE NEED not travel far to reach the far country–the thought of sin, the wings of passionate evil desire, the lightning flash of a look, may land us as far from God as the east is from the west. The essence of the far country is selfishness. Notice the stress of the prodigal’s emphasis upon himself–”give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.’” It is not wrong to make use of and enjoy all the good and perfect gifts with which God strews our life, so long as they are held in thankful recognition of and fellowship with Himself. But when we depart from God, there is waste, for we lack the one object which gathers up all our activities for a worthy focus; riot, because in the absence of God there is no sufficient corrective or antidote for strong and masterful passion; want, because the soul was made for God, and can never be satisfied till it rests in Him.
How foolish it is for a man to disjoin himself from God, and to join himself to a citizen in the land of forgetfulness! The citizens of this world have nothing to give to the starving soul of man, save to send it forth to feed the swine, which stand for the lower desires of our nature. This is the alternative which too many wiseacres suggest: “See life, take your fill of pleasure; fill the passing hours with revelry, amusement, dissipation.” But the hunger of the soul cannot be appeased thus. Though husks are good for swine, they wilt not suffice for the sons of men. Like the wise man of old, we cry, “He hath put eternity in my heart–vanity of vanities, all is vanity!” We cannot rest in that which contents others. From the putrid swine-troughs we long for the food which the servants enjoy in our Father’s home; from the stagnant pools we thirst for the crystal water.
It is under such circumstances that we come back to ourselves–that we come back to our Father. Let us believe in the love of God our Father, which yearns after us in our absence from Him, which sees us while we are yet a great way off, and will run to welcome us, as we return, with forgiveness and restoration.

PRAYER
Thou knowest, O Lord, what most I require; help me, and out of the treasury of Thy goodness, succour Thou my needy soul. AMEN.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

MAKING A COVENANT WITH GOD

MAKING A COVENANT WITH GOD
“We make a sure covenant, and write it.”– Neh_9:38.
“He is the Mediator of a better covenant.”– Heb_8:6.

IT IS good for a soul to make a covenant with God. On his twenty-third birthday Milton wrote these memorable words:

“Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure even
To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me and the will of Heaven.
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great Taskmaster’s eye.”

This was his covenant with God; and through all the years, now in his prime under Cromwell, and again in his lovely old age under Charles II, he never swerved from the path he had selected.
Who can forget those magnificent lines of Wordsworth, which tell how he was returning from a village merry-making, which had lasted through the night, and lo, the glory of a summer-dawn was breaking over the hills! He describes its beauty, and adds:

“Vows were made for me,
That I should be, else sinning greatly,
A dedicated spirit.”

There are certain principles outlined in these chapters in Nehemiah, which may well be included in our covenant with God:
(1) Never to allow anything in private or business life which is not in keeping with the high ideals of the Bible.
(2) To set aside a certain proportion of our income and time for the maintenance of the Work and House of God.
(3) To observe the Rest-Day.
But a covenant is between two. No resolution of ours is strong enough to keep us true. The most fervent protestations and vows may fail us in the day of trial, and our covenants are permanent only so far as God is party to them. But if Jesus is our Co-Signatory, there will be a safe-guard and certainty which all the powers of evil will not be able to overthrow.
Livingstone’s covenant with God was that he might heal the open plague-spot of the Arab slave-trade. A covenant like this, in some cases, has been signed with blood. This was D. L. Moody’s prayer, as a young man: “Great God, let the world learn, through my life, what Thou canst do by a man wholly devoted to Thee!”

PRAYER
We present to Thee, O God, ourselves to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, our reasonable service. Fulfil through us the good pleasure of Thy goodness, and the work of faith with power. AMEN.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

BURDEN-BEARING

BURDEN-BEARING
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”– Gal_6:2.

IN THESE words the Apostle is evidently thinking more especially of the trespasses and sins into which men and women fall. We are not to rejoice over their failure, nor talk about it to others, but to consider ourselves, remembering our own liability to fall in the event of temptation. We are to be tender, gentle, and compassionate, helping to bear the burden of temptation, remorse, and shame. There is great comfort for us all in these words, for surely, if our Lord expects us to forgive and restore our brother, we may count on Him to do as much for us!
But sin is not the only burden we are to bear with our brethren. The young man or girl who fails to make good; the business man who meets with sudden reverse; those who suffer bitter disappointment; when faces are averted, and tongues are busily engaged in criticism–let us seek out the one who has consciously disappointed everybody, and help by our strong and tender sympathy. It is like the coming of the good Ananias into Saul’s darkness, with the greeting: “Brother Saul!”
We may help to bear the burden of bereavement–when the husband is suddenly stricken down, or the mother is taken away and there is no one to care for the children, then we may show our practical sympathy and helpfulness. All through His life on earth our Lord sought to carry the burdens of the people, and we are to follow in His steps. Sympathy means suffering with; and as we endeavour to enter into the griefs and sorrows of those around us, in proportion to the burden of grief that we carry do we succeed in lightening another’s load. You cannot bear a burden without feeling its pressure; and in bearing the burdens of others, we must be prepared to suffer with them.
This was the law of Christ, the principle of His life, and the precept which He enjoined on His followers to fulfil. Let us remember, also, that in carrying the burdens of others, we often lose our own.

PRAYER
For friends above; for friends still left below;
For the rare links invisible between.
For sweet hearts tuned to noblest charity;
For great hearts toiling in the outer dark;
For friendly hands stretched out in time of need,
For every gracious thought and word and deed;
We thank Thee Lord! AMEN.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

GOD’S LARGESSE AND BOUNTY

GOD’S LARGESSE AND BOUNTY
“Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, He smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; Can He give bread also? They did eat, and were well filled.”– Psa_78:19, Psa_78:20, Psa_78:29.

THIS IS always the cry of unbelief, Can God? whilst the triumphant assertion of faith is: God can. What a difference is wrought by the collocation of words! Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? God can spread a table, even in the wilderness, and in the presence of our enemies our cup can overflow. Can He give bread also? He can satisfy the desire of every living thing, by the opening of His hand. Canst Thou do anything for us, our child is grievously possessed of the devil? If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
The wanderings of the Israelites for forty years were due to the fact that they looked at their difficulties and questioned if God could overcome them. Amongst the people, only Caleb and Joshua looked away from the Canaanites and their fortified cities to Him who had brought them where they were, and was pledged to extricate them. Some people speak of Giants with a capital G, and forget to magnify the power of God. what wonder that they account themselves as grass-hoppers, and lose heart! Let us not forget that we are sons and daughters of God, “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” (Compare Num_13:33 and Rom_8:17.)
Look back on the past; see what God has done for you; remember He is pledged to finish what He has begun. If He gave water, He can certainly give bread.
“They did eat, and were well filled.” When we are poor and needy, we are inclined to humble prayer. But if suddenly our lot is changed, and there is abundance instead of poverty, how often there is a change in our demeanour. We are apt to become self-indulgent, and forgetful of the needs of the world. Instead of remembering that we are still God’s pensioners, we magnify ourselves as though we were exclusive owners. Probably this is why God keeps some of us in poverty, for no greater temptation could befall us than to find ourselves with riches. In this way He answers our daily prayer, “Lead us not into temptation!”

PRAYER
We thank Thee our heavenly Father, for the new mercies of each returning day, for all that Thou hast given to us, and not less for that which Thou dost withhold. May we be receptive of all things that pertain to life and godliness. AMEN.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized