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DAYS OF HEAVEN
An Illustrated 365 Day Devotional
REV. A. B. SIMPSON
Christian Alliance Pub. Co.
Copyright, December, 1897
Rev. A. B. Simpson
Hope. Inspiration. Trust.
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“Redeeming the time” (Eph. 5:16).
Two little words are found in the Greek version here. They are translated “ton kairon” in the revised version, “Buying up for yourselves the opportunity.” The two words ton kairon mean, literally, the opportunity.
They do not refer to time in general, but to a special point of time, a juncture, a crisis, a moment full of possibilities and quickly passing by, which we must seize and make the best of before it has passed away.
It is intimated that there are not many such moments of opportunity, because the days are evil; like a barren desert, in which, here and there, you find a flower, pluck it while you can; like a business opportunity which comes a few times in a life-time; buy it up while you have the chance. Be spiritually alert; be not unwise, but understanding what the will of God is. “Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, buying up for yourselves the opportunity.”
Sometimes it is a moment of time to be saved; sometimes a soul to be led to Christ; sometimes it is an occasion for love; sometimes for patience; sometimes for victory over temptation and sin. Let us redeem it.
“I will cause you to walk in My statutes” (Eze. 36:27).
The highest spiritual condition is one where life is spontaneous and flows without effort, like the deep floods of Ezekiel’s river, where the struggles of the swimmer ceased, and he was borne by the current’s resistless force.
So God leads us into spiritual conditions and habits which become the spontaneous impulses of our being, and we live and move in the fulness of the divine life.
But these spiritual habits are not the outcome of some transitory impulse, but are often slowly acquired and established. They begin, like every true habit, in a definite act of will, and they are confirmed by the repetition of that act until it becomes a habit. The first stages always involve effort and choice. We have to take a stand and hold it steadily, and after we have done so a certain time, it becomes second nature, and carries us by its own force.
The Holy Spirit is willing to form such habits in every direction of our Christian life, and if we will but obey Him in the first steppings of faith, we will soon become established in the attitude of obedience, and duty will be delight.
“Watch and pray” (Matt. 26:41).
We need to watch for prayers as well as for the answers to our prayers. It needs as much wisdom to pray rightly as it does faith to receive the answers to our prayers.
We met a friend the other day, who had been in years of darkness because God had failed to answer certain prayers, and the result had been a state bordering on infidelity.
A very few moments were sufficient to convince this friend that these prayers had been entirely unauthorized, and that God had never promised to answer such prayers, and they were for things which this friend should have accomplished himself, in the exercise of ordinary wisdom.
The result was deliverance from a cloud of unbelief which was almost wrecking a Christian life. There are some things about which we do not need to pray, as much as to take the light which God has already given.
Many persons are asking God to give them peculiar signs, tokens and supernatural intimations of His will. Our business is to use the light He has given, and then He will give whatever more we need.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not” (Ps. 1:1).
Three things are notable about this man:
1. His company. “He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”
2. His reading and thinking. “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night.”
3. His fruitfulness. “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
The river is the Holy Ghost; the planting, the deep, abiding life in which, not occasionally, but habitually, we absorb the Holy Spirit; and the fruit is not occasional, but continual, and appropriate to each changing season.
His life is also prosperous, and his spirit fresh, like the unfading leaf. Such a life must be happy. Indeed, happiness is a matter of spiritual conditions. Put a sunbeam in a cellar and it must be bright. Put a nightingale in the darkest midnight, and it must sing.
“I know him that he will do the law” (Gen. 18:19).
God wants people that He can depend upon. He could say of Abraham, “I know him, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham all that He hath spoken.” God can be depended upon; He wants us to be just as decided, as reliable, as stable. This is just what faith means. God is looking for men on whom He can put the weight of all His love, and power, and faithful promises. When God finds such a soul there is nothing He will not do for him. God’s engines are strong enough to draw any weight we attach to them. Unfortunately the cable which we fasten to the engine is often too weak to hold the weight of our prayer, therefore God is drilling us, disciplining us, and training us to stability and certainty in the life of faith. Let us learn our lessons, and let us stand fast
God has His best things for the few
Who dare to stand the test;
God has his second choice for those
Who will not have His best.
Give me, O Lord, Thy highest choice,
Let others take the rest.
Their good things have no charm for me,
For I have got Thy best.
“The body is not one member, but many” (1 Cor. 12:14).
We have a friend who has a phonograph for his correspondence. It consists of two parts. One is a simple and wonderful apparatus, whose sensitive cylinders receive the tones and then give them out again, word for word, through the hearing tube. The other part is a common little box that stands under the table, and does nothing but supply the power through connecting wires.
Now, the little box might insist upon being the phonograph, and doing the talking; but if it should, it would not only waste its own life but destroy the life of its partner.
Its sole business is to supply power to the phonograph, while the latter is to do the talking. So some of us are called to be voices to speak for God to our fellow-men; others are forces to sustain them, by our holy sympathy and silent prayer. Some of us are little dynamos under the table, while others are phonographs that speak aloud the messages of heaven.
Let each of us be true to our God-given ministry, and when the day comes our work will be weighed and the rewards distributed.
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from stumbling” (Jude 24).
This is a most precious promise. The revised translation is both accurate and suggestive. It is not merely from falling that He wants to keep us, but from even the slightest stumbling.
We are told of Abraham that he staggered not at the promise. God wants us to walk so steadily that there will not even be a quiver in the line of His regiments as they face the foe. It is the little stumblings of life that most discourage and hinder us, and most of these stumblings are over trifles. Satan would much rather knock us down with a feather than with an Armstrong gun. It is much more to his honor and keen delight to defeat a child of God by some flimsy trifle than by some great temptation.
Beloved, let us watch, in these days, against the orange peels that trip us on our pathway, the little foxes that destroy the vines, and the dead flies that mar, sometimes, a whole vessel of precious ointment. “Trifles make perfection,” and as we get farther on, in our Christian life, God will hold us much more closely to obedience in things that seem insignificant.
“It is I, be not afraid” (Mark 6:50).
Someone tells of a little child with some big story of sorrow upon its little heart, flying to its mother’s arms for comfort, and intending to tell her the story of its trouble; but as that mother presses it to her bosom and pours out her love, it soon becomes so occupied with her and the sweetness of her affection that it forgets to tell its story, and in a little while even the memory of the trouble is forgotten. It has just been loved away, and she has taken its place in the heart of the little one.
This is the way God comforts us Himself. “It is I, be not afraid,” is His reassuring word. The circumstances are not altered, but He Himself comes in their place, and satisfies every need of our being, and we forget all things in His sweet presence, as He becomes our all in all.
I am breathing out my sorrow
On Thy kind and loving breast;
Breathing in Thy joy and comfort,
Breathing in Thy peace and rest.
I am breathing out my longings
In Thy listening, loving ear;
I am breathing in Thy answer,
Stilling every doubt and fear.
“Not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).
“To will and do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).
There are two attitudes in which our will should be given to God.
First. We should have the surrendered will. This is where we must all begin, by yielding up to God our natural will, and having Him possess it.
But next, He wants us to have the victorious will. As soon as He receives our will in honest surrender, He wants to put His will into it and make it stronger than ever for Him. It is henceforth no longer our will, but His will. And having yielded to His choice and placed itself under His direction, He wants to put into it all the strength and intensity of His own great will and make us positive, forceful, victorious and unmovable, even as Himself. “Not My will, but Thine be done.” That is the first step. “Father, I will that they whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me.” That is the second attitude. Both are divine; both are right; both are necessary to our right living and successful working for God.
“Charity doth not behave itself unseemly” (1 Cor. 13:5).
In the dress of a Hindu woman, her graceful robe is fastened upon her person entirely by means of a single knot. The long strip of cloth is wound around her person so as to fall in graceful folds like a made garment, and the end is fastened by a little knot, and the whole thing hangs by that single fastening. If that were loosed the robe would fall. And so in the spiritual life, our habits of grace are likened unto garments; and it is also true that the garment of love, which is the beautiful adorning of the child of God, is entirely fastened by little nots.
If you will read with care the thirteenth chapter of 1. Corinthians, you will find that most of the qualities of love are purely negative. “Love envieth not, love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave herself rudely, seeketh not her own, is not provoked, thinketh no evil.” Here are “nots” enough to hold on our spiritual wardrobe. Here are reasons enough to explain the failure of so many, and the reason why they walk naked, or with rent garments, and others see their shame. Let us look after the nots.
“Hold fast till I come” (Rev. 2:25).
The other day we asked a Hebrew friend how it was that his countrymen were so successful in acquiring wealth. “Ah,” said he, “we do not make more money that other people, but we keep more.” Beloved, let us look out this day for spiritual pickpockets and spiritual leakage. Let us “lose nothing of what we have wrought, but receive a full reward”; and, as each day comes and goes, let us put away in the savings bank of eternity its treasures of grace and victory, and so be conscious from day to day that something real and everlasting is being added to our eternal fortune.
It may be but a little, but if we only economize all that God gives us, and pass it on to His keeping, when the close shall come we shall be amazed to see how much the accumulated treasures of a well spent life have laid up on high, and how much more He has added to them by His glorious investment of the life committed to His keeping.
Oh, how the days are telling! Oh, how precious these golden hours will seem sometime! God help us to make the most of them now.
“Ask and it shall be given you” (Matt. 7:7).
We must receive, as well as ask. We must take the place of believing, and recognize ourselves as in it. A friend was saying, “I want to get into the will of God,” and this was the answer: “Will you step into the will of God? And now, are you in the will of God?” The question aroused a thought that had not come before.
The gentleman saw that he had been straining after, but not receiving the blessing he sought.
Jesus has said, “Ask and ye shall receive.” The very strain keeps back the blessing. The intense tension of all your spiritual nature so binds you that you are not open to the blessing which God is waiting to give you. “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
He tells me there is cleansing
From every secret sin,
And a great and full salvation
To keep the heart within.
And I take Him in His fulness,
With all His glorious grace,
For He says it is mine by taking,
And I take just what He says.
“Thou shalt be to him instead of God” (Ex. 4:16).
Such was God’s promise to Moses, and such the high character that Moses was to assume toward Aaron, his brother. May it not suggest a high and glorious place that each of us may occupy toward all whom we meet, instead of God?
What a dignity and glory it would give our lives, could we uniformly realize this high calling! How it would lead us to act toward our fellow-men! God can always be depended upon. God is without variableness or shadow of turning. God’s word is unchangeable, and we can trust Him without reserve or question. Oh, that we might so live that men can trust us, even as God!
Again, God has no needs or wants to be supplied. He is always giving. “Rich unto all that call upon Him.” The glory of His nature is love, unselfish love, and beneficence toward all His creatures. The Divine life is a self-forgetting life, a life that has nothing to do but love and bless.
Let us so live, representing our Master here, while He represents us before the Throne on high.
“Unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).
God loves us so well that He will not suffer us to take less than His highest will. Some day we shall bless our faithful teacher, who kept the standard inflexibly rigid, and then gave us the strength and grace to reach it, and would not excuse us until we had accomplished all His glorious will.
Let us be inexorable with ourselves. Let us mean exactly what God means, and have no discounts upon His promises or commandments. Let us keep the standard up, and never rest until we reach it. “Let God be true and every man a liar.” If we fail a hundred times don’t let us accommodate God’s ideal to our realization, but like the brave ensign who stood in front of his company waving the banner, and when the soldiers called him back he only waved it higher, and cried, “Don’t bring the standard back to the regiment, but bring the regiment up to the colors.”
Forward, forward, leave the past behind thee,
Reaching forth unto the things before;
All the Land of Promise lies before thee,
God has greater blessings yet in store.
“As ye have received Christ Jesus so walk in Him” (Col. 2:6).
It is much easier to keep the fire burning than to rekindle it after it has gone out. Let us abide in Him. Let us not have to remove the cinders and ashes from our hearthstones every day and kindle a new flame; but let us keep it burning and never let it expire. Among the ancient Greeks the sacred fire was never allowed to go out; so, in a higher sense, let us keep the heavenly flame aglow upon the altar of the heart.
It takes very much less effort to maintain a good habit than to form it. A true spiritual habit once formed becomes a spontaneous tendency of our being, and we grow into delightful freedom in following it. “Let us not be ever laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, but let us go on unto perfection; and whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same things.”
Every spiritual habit begins with difficulty and effort and watchfulness, but if we will only let it get thoroughly established, it will become a channel along which currents of life will flow with divine spontaneousness and freedom.
“Prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2).
There are three conditions in which the water in that engine may be. First, the boiler may be full and the water clean and clear; or, secondly, the boiler may not only be full but the water may be hot, very hot, hot enough to scald you, almost boiling; thirdly, it may be just one degree hotter and at the boiling point, giving forth its vapor in clouds of steam, pressing through the valves and driving the mighty piston which turns the wheels and propels the train of cars across the country.
So there are three kinds of Christians. The first we will call cold water Christians, or, perhaps better, clean water Christians.
Secondly, there are hot water Christians. They are almost at the boiling point.
One degree more, we come to the third class of Christians, the boiling water Christians. The difference is a very slight one; it simply takes one reservation out, drops one “if,” eliminates a single touch, and yet it is all the difference in the world. That one degree changes that engine into a motive power, not now a thing to be looked at, but a thing to go.
“It is God which worketh in you” (Phil. 2:13).
God has not two ways for any of us; but one; not two things for us to do which we may choose between; but one best and highest choice. It is a blessed thing to find and fill the perfect will of God. It is a blessed thing to have our life laid out and our Christian work adjusted to God’s plan. Much strength is lost by working at a venture. Much spiritual force is expended in wasted effort, and scattered, indefinite and inconstant attempts at doing good. There is spiritual force and financial strength enough in the hands and hearts of the consecrated Christians of to-day to bring the coming of Christ, to bring about the evangelization of the world in a generation, if it were only wisely directed and utilized according to God’s plan.
Christ has laid down a definite plan of work for His Church, and He expects us to understand it, and to work up to it; and as we catch His thought, and obediently, loyally fulfil it, we shall work to purpose, and please Him far better than by our thoughtless, reckless, and indiscriminate attempts to carry out our ideas, and compel God to bless our work.
“That take and give for Me and thee” (Matt. 17:27).
There is a beautiful touch of loving thoughtfulness in the account of Christ’s miracle at Capernaum in providing the tribute money. After the reference to Peter’s interview with the tax collector, it is added, “When he came into the house Jesus prevented him,” that is, anticipated him, as the old Saxon word means, by arranging for the need before Peter needed to speak about it at all, and He sent Peter down to the sea to find the piece of gold in the mouth of the fish.
So our dear Lord is always thinking in advance of our needs, and He loves to save us from embarrassment, and anticipate our anxieties and cares by laying up His loving acts and providing before the emergency comes. Then with exquisite tenderness the Master adds: “That take and give for Me and thee.” He puts Himself first in the embarrassing need and bears the heavy end of the burden for His distressed and suffering child. He makes our cares His cares, our sorrows His sorrows, our shame His shame, and “He is able to be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”
“Prove me now herewith” (Mal. 3:10).
We once heard a simple old colored man say something that we have never forgotten. “When God tests you it is a good time for you to test Him by putting His promises to the proof, and claiming from Him just as much as your trials have rendered necessary.”
There are two ways of getting out of a trial. One is to simply try to get rid of the trial, and be thankful when it is over. The other is to recognize the trial as a challenge from God to claim a larger blessing than we have ever had, and to hail it with delight as an opportunity of obtaining a larger measure of Divine grace.
Thus even the adversary becomes an auxiliary, and the things that seem to be against us turn out to be for the furtherance of our way. Surely, this is to be more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Blessed Rose of Sharon
Breathe upon our heart,
Fill us with Thy fragrance,
Keep us as Thou art.
Then Thy life will make us
Holy and complete;
In Thy grace triumphant,
In Thy sweetness, sweet.
“Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of” (Luke 9:55).
Some one has said that the most spiritual people are the easiest to get along with. When one has a little of the Holy Ghost it is like “a little learning, a dangerous thing”; but a full baptism of the Holy Spirit, and a really disciplined, stablished and tested spiritual life, makes one simple, tender, tolerant, considerate of others, and like a little child.
James and John, in their early zeal, wanted to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans. But John, the aged, allowed Demetrius to exclude him from the church, and suffered Patmos for the kingdom and with the patience of Jesus. And aged Paul was willing to take back even Mark, whom he had refused as a companion in his early ministry, and to acknowledge that he was profitable to him for the ministry.
I want the love that cannot help but love;
Loving, like God, for very sake of love.
A spring so full that it must overflow,
A fountain flowing from the throne above.
“Now abideth faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love.”
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).
An important help in the life of prayer is the habit of bringing everything to God, moment by moment, as it comes to us in life. This may be established as a habit on the principle on which all habits are formed, of repeated and constant attention, moment by moment, until that which is at first an act of will, becomes spontaneous and second nature.
If we will watch our lives we shall find that God meets the things that we commit to Him in prayer with special blessing, and often allows the best things that we have not committed to Him to be ineffectual, simply to remind us of our dependence upon Him for everything. It is very gracious and mindful of Him thus gently to compel us to remember Him and to hold us so close to Him that we cannot get away even the length of a single minute from His all-sustaining arm. “In everything … let our requests be made known unto God.”
Let us bring our least petitions,
Like the incense beaten small,
All our cares, complaints, conditions
Jesus loves to bear them all.
“His wife hath made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).
There is danger of becoming morbid even in preparing for the Lord’s coming. We remember a time in our life when we had devoted ourselves to spend a month in waiting upon the Lord for a baptism of the Holy Ghost, and before the end of the month, the Lord shook us out of our seclusion and compelled us to go out and carry His message to others; and as we went, He met us in the service.
There is a musty, monkish way of seeking a blessing, and there is a wholesome, practical holiness which finds us in the company of the Lord Himself not only in the closet and on the mountain-top of prayer, but among publicans and sinners, and in the practical duties of life.
It seems to us that the practical preparation for the Lord’s coming consists, first, of a very full entering into fellowship with Him in our own spiritual life, and letting Him not only cleanse us, but perfect us in all the finer touches of the Spirit’s deeper work, and then, secondly, getting out of ourselves and living for the help of others and the preparation of the world for His appearing.
“I know a man in Christ” (2 Cor. 12:2).
It is a great deliverance to lose one’s self. There is no heavier millstone that one can be compelled to carry than self-consciousness. It is so easy to get introverted and coiled round one’s self in our spiritual consciousness. There is nothing that is so easy to fasten on as our misery; there is nothing that is more apt to produce self-consciousness than suffering, until it becomes almost a settled habit to hold on to our burden, and pray it unceasingly into the very face of God, until our very prayer saturates us with our own misery, instead of asking for power to drop ourselves altogether, and leave ourselves in His loving hands and know that we are free, and then rise into the blessed liberty of His higher thoughts and will, and His love and care for others.
The very act of letting go of ourselves really lifts us into a higher plane, and relieves us from the thing that is hurting. This habit of prayer for others, and especially for the world, brings its own recompense, and leaves upon our hearts a blessing like the fertility which the Nile deposits upon the soil of Egypt, as it flows through to its distant goal.
“Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8).
When God does anything marked and special for our souls, or bodies, He intends it as a sacred trust for us to communicate to others. “Freely ye have received, freely give.”
It has pleased the Master in these closing days of the dispensation to reveal Himself in peculiar blessing to the hearts of His chosen disciples in all parts of the Christian Church; but this is intended to be communicated to a still wider circle, and every one of us who has been brought into these intimate relations with God, becomes a trustee, or witness for these higher truths to every one we can influence.
If God has revealed Himself to us as our Sanctifier, it is that we may help others to know Him as a Sanctifier.
If He has become our Healer, it is because there are sick and suffering lives to whom we can bring some blessing.
In like manner, if the hope of the Lord’s coming has become precious to us, it would be worse than ingratitude for us to hide our testimony to this truth, and hold it only for our own personal comfort.
“Hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).
It is a great thing to be able to receive new truth and blessing without sacrificing the truths already proved, and abandoning foundations already laid.
Some persons are always laying the foundations, and they present at last, the appearance of a lot of abandoned sites and half constructed buildings, and nothing is ever brought to completion.
The fact that you are abandoning to-day for some new truth the things that a year ago you counted most precious and believed to be divinely true, should be sufficient evidence that you will probably a year from to-day abandon your present convictions for the next new light that comes to you.
God is ever wanting to add to us, to develop us, to enlarge us, to teach us more and more, but it is ever in the line of things which He has already taught us, and in which we have been established.
While we are to “prove all things,” let us “hold fast that which is good,” and “whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”
“I called him alone and blessed him” (Isa. 51:2).
When we were in the East we noticed the beautiful process of raising rice. The rice is sown on a morass of mud and water, ploughed up by great buffaloes, and after a few weeks it springs up and appears above the water with its beautiful pale green shoots. The seed has been sown very thickly and the plants are clustered together in great numbers, so that you can pull up a score at a single handful. But now comes the process of transplanting. He first plants us and lets us grow very close to some of His children, and in great clusters in the nursery or the hothouse, but when we reach a certain stage we must be transplanted, or come to nothing. He calls us out by His Spirit and Providence into situations where we have to lean directly on Him, where He puts upon us a weight of responsibility and service so great that we have an opportunity of developing and are thrown upon the great resources of His grace.
“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is; for he shall be like a tree planted by the waters and that spreadeth out her roots by the rivers.”
“This one thing I do” (Phil. 3:13).
One of Satan’s favorite employees is the switchman. He likes nothing better than to side-track one of God’s express trains, sent on some blessed mission and filled with the fire of a holy purpose.
Something will come up in the pathway of the earnest soul, to attract its attention and occupy its strength and thought. Sometimes it is a little irritation and provocation. Sometimes it is some petty grievance we stop to pursue or adjust. Sometimes it is somebody else’s business in which we become interested, and which we feel bound to rectify, and before we know, we are absorbed in a lot of distracting cares and interests that quite turn us aside from the great purpose of our life.
Perhaps we do not do much harm, but we have missed our connection. We have got off the main line.
Let all these things alone. Let grievances come and go, but press forward steadily and irresistibly, crying, as you haste to the goal, “This one thing I do.”
“That my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11).
There is a joy that springs spontaneously in the heart without any external or even rational cause. It is an artesian fountain. It rejoices because it cannot help it. It is the glory of God; it is the heart of Christ, it is the joy divine of which He says, “These things have I spoken unto you that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” And your joy no man taketh from you. He who possesses this fountain is not discouraged by surrounding circumstances, but is often surprised at the deep, sweet gladness that comes without any apparent cause, and even comes most strongly when everything in our condition and circumstances is fitted to fill us with sorrow and depression.
It is the nightingale in the heart, which sings at night, and sings because it is its nature to sing.
It is the glorified and incorruptible joy which belongs to heaven, and anticipates already the everlasting song. Lord, give me Thy joy under all circumstances this day, and let my full heart overflow in blessing to others.
“Send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared” (Neh. 8:10).
That was a fine picture in the days of Nehemiah, when they were celebrating their glorious Feast of Tabernacles. “Neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions to them for whom nothing is prepared.”
How many there are on every side for whom nothing is prepared! Let us find out some sad and needy heart for whom there is no one else to think or care. Let us pray for some one that has none to pray for him. Let us be like Him who, one Christmas Day, gave His life and His all, and came to those who would not appreciate His holy gift, but rejected His blessed Babe, and murdered His only Son.
Let us not be afraid to know something even of the love that is unrequited and is thrown away on the unworthy. That is the love of Christ, and God has for such love a rich recompense.
How Christ must almost weep over the selfishness that meets Him from those for whom He died.
“Cast down but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:9).
How did God bring about the miracle of the Red Sea? By shutting His people in on every side, so that there was no way out but the divine way. The Egyptians were behind them, the sea was in front of them, the mountains were on every side of them. There was no escape but from above.
Some one has said that the devil can wall us in, but he cannot roof us over. We can always get out at the top. Our difficulties are but God’s challenges, and He makes them so hard, often, that we must go under or get above them.
In such an hour, if there is a divine element, it brings out the highest possibilities of faith and we are pushed by the very emergency into God’s best.
Beloved, this is God’s hour. If you will rise to meet it you will get such a hold upon Him that you will never be in extremities again, or if you are, you will learn to call them not extremities, but opportunities, and like Jacob, you will go forth from that night at Peniel, no longer Jacob, but victorious Israel. Let us bring to Him our need and prove Him true.
“Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).
More and more we are coming to see the supreme importance of getting the right conception of sanctification, not as a blessing, but as a personal union with the personal Saviour and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Thousands of people get stranded after they have embarked on the great voyage of holiness.
They find themselves failing and falling and are astonished and perplexed, and they conclude that they must have been mistaken in their experience, and so they make a new attempt at the same thing and again fall, until at last, worn out with the experiment, they conclude that the experience is a delusion, or at least, that it was never intended for them, and so they fall back into the old way, and their last state is worse than their first.
What people need to-day to satisfy their deep hunger and to give them a permanent and Divine experience is to know, not sanctification as a state, but Christ as a living Person, who is waiting to enter the heart that is willing to receive Him.
“A well of water springing up” (John 4:14).
In the life overflowing in service for others, we find the deep fountain of life running over the spring and finding vent in rivers of living water that go out to bless and save the world around us. It is beautiful to notice that as the blessing grows unselfish it grows larger. The water in the heart is only a well, but when reaching out to the needs of others it is not only a river, but a delta of many rivers overflowing in majestic blessing. This overflowing love is connected with the Person and work of the Holy Spirit which was to be poured out upon the disciples after Jesus was glorified.
This is the true secret of power for service, the heart filled and satisfied with Jesus, and so baptized with the Holy Ghost that it is impelled by the fulness of its joy and love to impart to others what it has so abundantly received; and yet each new ministry only makes room for a new filling and a deeper receiving of the life which grows by giving.
Letting go is twice possessing,
Would you double every blessing,
Pass it on.
“And whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matt. 20:26, 27).
Slave is the literal meaning of the word, doulos.
The first word used for service is diakanos, which means a minister to others in any usual way or work; but the word doulos means a bond slave, and the Lord here plainly teaches us that the highest service is that of a bond slave.
He Himself made Himself the servant of all, and he who would come nearest to Him and stand closest to Him at last, must likewise learn the spirit of the ministry that has utterly renounced selfish rights and claims forever.
It is quite possible to be entirely loyal to the Lord Jesus, and yet for Jesus’ sake, a servant ourselves, and under the authority of those who are over us in the Lord.
The doulos spirit is the spirit of self-renunciation and glad submission to proper authority, service utterly disinterested, yielding our own preferences and interests unreservedly for the glory of the Master and the sake of our brethren. Lord, clothe us with humility and make us wholly Thine.
“He went out, not knowing whither He went” (Heb. 11:8).
It is faith without sight. When we can see, it is not faith but reasoning. In crossing the Atlantic we observed this very principle of faith. We saw no path upon the sea nor sign of the shore. And yet day by day we were marking our path upon the chart as exactly as if there had followed us a great chalk line upon the sea; and when we came within twenty miles of land we knew where we were as exactly as if we had seen it all three thousand miles ahead.
How had we measured and marked our course? Day by day our captain had taken his instruments, and looking up to the sky had fixed his course by the sun. He was sailing by the heavenly, not the earthly lights. So faith looks up and sails on, by God’s great Sun, not seeing one shore line or earthly lighthouse on path upon the way. Often its steps seem to lead into utter uncertainty, and even darkness and disaster. But He opens the way, and often makes such midnight hours the very gates of day. Let us go forth this day, not knowing, but trusting.
“Lo, I am with you alway” (Matt. 28:20).
This living Christ is not the person that was, but the person that still is, your living Lord. At Preston Pans, near Edinburgh, I looked on the field where in the olden days armies were engaged in contest. In the crisis of the battle the chieftain fell wounded. His men were about to shrink away from the field when they saw their leader’s form go down; their strong hands held the claymore with trembling grip, and they faltered for a moment. Then the old chieftain rallied strength enough to rise on his elbow and cry: “I am not dead, my children, I am only watching you—to see my clansmen do their duty.” And so from the other side of Calvary He is speaking; we cannot see Him, but He says, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world”; and He puts it, “I am”—an uninterrupted and continuous presence. Not “I will be,” but the unbroken presence still is with us forevermore.
Soon the conflict shall be done,
Soon the battle shall be won;
Soon shall wave the victor’s palm,
Soon shall sing the eternal Psalm;
Then our joyful song shall be,
I have overcome through Thee.
“Rest in the Lord” (Ps. 37).
In the old creation the week began with work and ended with Sabbath rest. The resurrection week begins with the first day—first rest, then labor.
So we must first cease from our own works as God did from His, and enter into His rest, and then we will work, with rested hearts, His works with effectual power.
But why “labor to enter into rest”? See that ship—how restfully she sails over the waters, her sails swelling with the gale; and borne without an effort! And yet, look at that man at the helm. See how firmly he holds the rudder, bearing against the wind, and holding her steady to her position. Let him for a moment relax his steady hold and the ship will fall listlessly along the wind. The sails will flap, the waves will toss the vessel at their will, and all rest and power will have gone. It is the fixed helm that brings the steadying power of the wind. And so He has said, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee.” The steady will and stayed heart are ours. The keeping is the Lord’s. So let us labor to enter and abide in His rest.
“Praying always for all saints” (Eph. 6:18).
One good counsel will suffice just now. Stop praying so much for yourself; begin to ask unselfish things, and see if God won’t give you faith. See how much easier it will be to believe for another than for your own petty self. Try the effect of praying for the world, for definite things, for difficult things, for glorious things, for things that will honor Christ and save mankind, and after you have received a few wonderful answers to prayer in this direction, see if you won’t feel stronger to touch your own little burden with a Divine faith, and then go back again to the high place of unselfish prayer for others.
Have you ever learned the beautiful art of letting God take care of you, and giving all your thought and strength to pray for others and for the kingdom of God? It will relieve you of a thousand cares. It will lift you up into a noble and lofty sphere, and teach you to live and love like God. Lord save us from our selfish prayers and give us the faith that worketh by love, and the heart of Christ for a perishing world.
“Faithful in that which is least” (Luke 16:10).
The man that missed his opportunity and met the doom of the faithless servant was not the man with five talents, or the man with two, but the man who had only one. The people who are in danger of missing life’s great meaning are the people of ordinary capacity and opportunity, and who say to themselves, “There is so little I can do that I will not try to do anything.” One of the finest windows in Europe was made from the remnants an apprentice boy collected from the cuttings of his master’s great work. The sweepings of the British mint are worth millions. The little pivots on which the works of your watch turn are so important that they are actually made of jewels. And so God places a solemn value and responsibility on the humble workers, the people that try to hide behind their insignificance the trifling opportunities and the single talents; and our littleness will not excuse us in the reckoning day.
“Talk not of talents, what hast thou to do?
Thou hast sufficient, whether five or two.
Talk not of talents; is thy duty done?
This brings the blessing whether ten or one.”
“We are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves” (2 Cor. 3:5).
Insufficient, “All sufficient.” These two words form the complement of each other and together give the key to an efficient Christian life. The discovery and full conviction of our utter helplessness is the constant condition of spiritual supply. The aim of the Old Testament, therefore, is ever to show man’s failure; that of the New, to reveal Christ’s sufficiency. He has all things for us, but we cannot receive them till we know that we have nothing.