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WALKING IN THE SPIRIT
"Walk in the Spirit, and ye
shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."-- Gal 5:16.
WHEN WE walk in the spirit
we shall be led by Him. In the early stages of life we are apt to
be headstrong and impulsive, as Moses when he felled the Egyptian.
But as we grow in Christian experience, we wait for the leadings
of the Spirit, moving us by His suggestion, impressing on us His
will, working within us what afterwards we work out in character
and deed. We do not go in front, but follow behind. We are led by
The man or woman who walks
in the Spirit has no desire to fulfil the lust of the flesh. The
desire for the gratification of natural appetite may be latent in
the soul, and may flash through the thoughts, but he does not
fulfil it. The desire cannot be prevented, but its fulfilment can
certainly be withheld.
When we walk in the Spirit
He produces in us the fruit of a holy character. The contrast
between the works of the fleshly--i.e., the selfish life.--and the
fruit of the Spirit, which is the natural product of His
influence, is very marked. In works there is effort, the clatter
of machinery, the deafening noise of the factory. But fruit is
found in the calm, still, regular process of Nature, which is ever
producing in her secret laboratory the kindly fruits of the earth.
How quiet it all is! There is no voice nor language. It is almost
impossible to realise what is being effected by a long summer day
of sunshine. The growing of autumn arrives with noiseless
footsteps. So it is with the soul that daily walks in the Spirit.
There are probably no startling experiences, no marked
transitions, nothing special to record in the diary, but every
year those who live in close proximity witness a ripening wealth
of fruit in the manifestation of love, joy, peace, long suffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.
Gracious Lord! May Thy Holy
Spirit keep me ever walking in the light of Thy countenance. May
He fill my heart with the sense of Thy nearness and loving
fellowship. Order my steps in Thy way, and walk with me, that I
may do the thing that pleases Thee. AMEN.
THE MESSAGE OF PENTECOST
"And they were all filled
with the Holy Spirit. Be filled with the Spirit."-- Acts 2:4; Eph 5:18.
IT IS good to know that
there is just as much of the Holy Spirit's presence to-day,
wherever two or three are gathered in Christ's Name, as there was
in the upper room at Jerusalem. The difference is that we have not
the same receptive attitude. We cannot say of God, who is
infinite, that there is more of Him in this place than in that, or
at one moment more than another. He is always equally everywhere.
But where hearts are prepared, as were those of the disciples, can
there be other than Pentecost! We may have the counterpart of all
these wonderful experiences that came to them. The Spirit of God
may inspire us, the fire of Divine love may kindle in our hearts,
and we may obtain a new and marvellous power in speaking to men of
the wonderful works of God.
They were all filled with
the Spirit, and this is the command laid on us also. Let us ask
whether this is our abiding experience, which is not intended for
apostles and prophets only, but for the mother with her children,
the business-man in his store, the young men and women in office
The result of this baptism
of spiritual power was very remarkable. Thousands were converted
and baptized, and they continued stedfastly. Such converts are a
gain to any church, and it becomes invested with a Divine
attractiveness and adhesiveness.
The teaching of doctrine,
breaking of bread, and fellowship in prayer were the beginning of
Our Church-ordinances. When young converts are given to any
Church, provision should be made for services in which they may
take part. The principle of having all things in common seems to
have been abandoned by mutual consent. It seemed necessary at the
outset that the new converts might be trained in Christian living,
but it was evidently liable to abuse, and might have allured into
the ranks of the Church lazy and undesirable impostors. It is
probably a much wiser principle to administer our property for God
than to give it away. (See Mt 25:20, 21; Lk 12:42, 43, 44.)
Notice their exuberant joy (Acts 2:46, 47).
It is characteristic of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the
life, and the result is love, joy, peace, etc., which is
We ask of Thee, Heavenly
Father, and claim of Thee by faith, this best of all good gifts,
Thy Holy Spirit, that He may abide with us for ever, and that the
fruits of the Spirit may abound in us. AMEN.
THE INDWELLING SPIRIT
"I will pray the Father, and
He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you
for ever."-- Jn 14:16.
THE GIFT of the Holy Spirit
was due to the intercession of our Lord, and St. Peter refers to
it when he says: "Having received of the Father the promise of the
Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:33). In 1Jo 2:1 (R.V.) marg. the
word Comforter is translated Advocate--"One who makes us strong by
His presence, as Helper, Guide, and Instructor." Think what this
means, to have always beside us, not a vague influence, but a
Divine Person, who waits to be our strength in weakness, our peace
in trouble, our wisdom in perplexity, our conqueror in
temptations, our consoler in sorrow. The Lord meant that the Holy
Spirit should be to us all that He Himself had been. This is the
meaning of Another. There are two Advocates, or two Paracletes.
When the One ascended to the glory, the Other descended into the
hearts of His disciples. "He abideth with you, and shall be in
"I will not leave you
comfortless: I will come to you." Christ had been speaking of
sending Another; now He says, I am coming Myself, so that we learn
that He is so indissoluble One with the Holy Spirit, Whom He
sends, that the coming of the Spirit is His own coming. Do not
look for the Spirit apart from Jesus. As the sun comes in the
light, so does Jesus come in the Spirit. When we are filled with
the Spirit, we shall not think of Him, but of Jesus to whom He
bears witness, and when our hearts are taken up with the Lord, we
may know that we have received Him, who is the Gift of gifts.
Open your whole nature to
the entrance of the Holy Spirit. Unlock every door, uncurtain
every window, that entering He may fill you with the glorious
indwelling of the Father and the Son. "I will prepare a "mansion,"
Jesus said; and, "We will make the holy soul Our Mansion."
"'He shall teach you all
things." His lesson-book is the life and words of our blessed
Lord. We may think that we are fully informed of all that He has
said, but as we study the Bible, the Holy Spirit brings us back to
them again and again, always revealing new light, and undreamt of
depths. Never let a day pass without reading some of the words of
Jesus under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Thou hast not left us
comfortless, O God. May life be renewed in its springs, by the
gracious operation of Thy Holy Spirit dwelling within us, and
leading us from grace to grace. AMEN.
THE LEADING OF THE SPIRIT
"Teach me to do Thy Will;
for Thou art my God: Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of
uprightness."-- Ps 143:10.
TEACH ME to do Thy Will,
i.e. throw the responsibility of your life back on God. The one
important thing for you to be absolutely sure about is that you
desire, at all costs, to do God's Will. If you do not so desire,
at least you must be willing to be made willing. Cast on God this
burden of making you willing, and believe that He undertakes it.
His people shall be made willing in the day of His power. When
this point is settled, then God by His Holy Spirit will sooner or
later teach you what He wants to be done, and enable you to do it.
Like Samuel, if you say: Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth, you
will hear the Voice behind you saying, This is the way, walk in
it; this must be said, say it; this needs to be done, do it; and
as you endeavour to obey the gentle promptings of the Spirit, you
will discover that adequate strength and grace are being poured
into your soul.
"Thy Spirit is good." There
is our only hope. If it were not for the infinite goodness, the
patient gentleness, the loving forbearance of the Holy Spirit, we
could have no chance, for nothing but infinite Goodness could bear
with our frailties and backslidings, our lapses into coldness and
indifference, our perverseness and obstinacy. But because God's
Spirit is good, we may reckon on Him pervading us with His holy
influence till our evil nature is overcome by His goodness, and we
also in our measure become good. It is said of Barnabas that he
was a "good man," because he was full of the Holy Ghost and of
"Lead me." The Psalmist's
prayer is--Teach me, lead me, quicken me. Let us make this prayer
our own. What better guarantee of being led aright than for us to
yield ourselves to our gentle gracious Guide. We are like little
children that require to be led, as the mother or nurse takes the
child by the hand and leads him to the school-house, and fetches
him again. Some of us are blind, and need a kindly hand to guide
us as we grope in the dark. Let us walk in the Spirit, be led by
the Spirit, and be very sensitive to the Spirit. Then we shall
instinctively know God's Will, and do it.
I need a hand to lead me
through the darkness,
For I am weak and helpless as a
And if alone I have to take my
My feet will stumble on the
WITNESS-BEARING FOR CHRIST
"Ye shall receive power,
when the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses
both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the
uttermost part of the earth."--
ALL MACHINERY needs driving-power. A
motor-car may be bright and new, the wheels tired with rubber, and
it may contain the latest contrivances for speed and comfort, but
it will not move an inch until the driving-power is applied. So it
is with the Gospel message. Christ died and rose again, and the
work of redemption was finished. His disciples were appointed to
carry the tidings of salvation to the world of men, but they could
do nothing until they received the power of the Holy Spirit. It is
a serious question for each of us--Have I received the Holy
Spirit, to be in me the source of power? (Acts 19:2).
If not, is it to be wondered at that we are weak, and our
testimony for Christ faltering?
Notice the circles of our
life: witnesses in Jerusalem, our home; in Judea--the society in
which we mingle and work; in Samaria--the city or town or village
in which we live; the uttermost part of the earth, which
represents the claim of the heathen world upon us all. For each of
these we have some responsibility. Let us begin at Jerusalem, in
our home, and God will lead us on step by step to the great world
beyond. Alas, there are many who are eager enough for the
"uttermost parts," while they neglect Jerusalem, and ignore the
claims of Judaea!
God wants witnesses. A
witness is not expected to reason or argue, but simply to state
what he saw or heard, and to give facts. We are required to tell
people what we have found Jesus to be to ourselves--to say what we
have known and tasted and handled of the Word of Life (1Jn 1:1,
Our witness-box may be the shop in which we are employed, or the
position in life where we are daily called to rub shoulders with
those who know not Christ. Men cannot see Him, unless they see Him
in us. As the moon reflects the sun during the dark hours of the
night, so the Church of Christ bears witness to her unseen Lord.
In every emergency, let us lift our hearts to Christ, and ask that
His Holy Spirit may enable us to be true witnesses for His glory.
My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim
And spread through all the
The honours of Thy Name. AMEN.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT--LOVE!
"But now abideth Faith,
Hope, Love, these three, and the greatest of these is Love."--
LET US lay the emphasis on
the word fruit, as contrasted with the works of the law. In work
there is effort, strain, the sweat of the brow, and straining of
the muscles; but fruit comes easily and naturally by the overflow
of the sap rising from the root to bough and bud'. So our
Christian life should be the exuberance of the heart in which
Christ dwells. The Apostle Paul prayed that Christ might dwell in
the heart of his converts, that they might be rooted and grounded
in love. It is only when the Holy Spirit fills us to the overflow
that we shall abound in love to all men.
We must distinguish between
love and the emotion of love. The former is always possible,
though not always and immediately the latter. Our Lord repeating
the ancient words of the Pentateuch, taught us that we may love
God with our mind and strength, as well as with our hearts. We all
know that the mind and strength are governed not by our emotions,
but by our wills. We can love, therefore, by determining to put
our thought and energies at the service of another for the sake of
God; and we shall find our emotions kindle into a sacred glow of
In the chapter from which
our text is taken, St. Paul distinguishes between the Gifts of the
Church and Love. After passing them in review he comes to the
conclusion that all of them, without Love as their heart and
inspiration, are worth nothing.
The greatest word in the
world is the unfathomable phrase, "God is Love." You can no more
define the essence of love than you can define the essence of God,
but you can describe its effects and fruits. I give Dr. Weymouth's
translation: "Love is patient and kind, knows neither envy nor
jealousy; is not forward and self-assertive, nor boastful and
conceited. She does not behave unbecomingly, nor seek to
aggrandize herself, nor blaze out in passionate anger, nor brood
over wrongs. She finds no pleasure in injustice done to others,
but joyfully sides with the truth. She knows how to be silent; she
is full of trust, full of hope, full of patient endurance."
We ought to take each of
these clauses, and ponder whether our lives are realizing these
high ideals. God send us a baptism of such love!
O Lord, my love is like some
feebly glimmering spark; I would that it were as a hot flame.
Kindle it by the breath of Thy Holy Spirit, till Thy love
constraineth me. AMEN.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT--JOY
"These things have I spoken
unto you, that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be
JOY IS a spontaneous thing.
The joy of a little child, like the carol of the lark, arises
naturally and easily when certain conditions are fulfilled, so if
we would experience the joy of Christ we must realize the
conditions He lays down. If we are grafted into the true Vine,
there is nothing to check the inflow of His love to us, if we do
as He tells us, and forbear doing what He forbids--then Joy will
come to us as a flood.
"'Abide in Me"--it is
inferred, of course, that we are in Christ. It was not always so.
Once we were outside, separate from Christ, "aliens from the
commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise,
having no hope, and without God in the world." (Ep 2:19-note) We were shoots in
the wild vine, partaking of its nature, involved in its curse,
threatened by the axe which lay at its roots. But all this is
altered now. The Father, who is the Husbandman, of His abundant
grace and mercy, has taken us out of the wild vine, and grafted us
into the true, and we have become one with Christ. When,
therefore, we are told to abide or remain, it is only necessary
that we should stay where He placed us. You are in a lift until
you step out of it; you are on a certain road until you take a
turning to the right or left, although you may be too engrossed in
converse with a friend to think of the road; so amid the pressure
of duties and care, you remain in Christ unless you consciously,
by sin or unbelief, thrust yourself away from the light of His
face into the darkness. (see
in Christ Jesus
in Christ) When, therefore, the temptation arises to
leave the words of Christ for the maxims of the world, resist it
and you will still remain in Him. Whenever you are tempted to
leave the narrow way of His commandments to follow the desires of
your own heart, reckon yourself dead to them (Ro 6:11-note), and you will remain;
whenever you are tempted to forsake Christ's love for jealousy,
envy, hatred, resist these impulses and say, "I elect to remain in
the love of God."
Thus abiding in Him you will
learn to know His mind, and will naturally ask those things which
His love is only too willing to grant. "Ye shall ask what ye
will." (Jn 15:7) We must remove any hindrances from the indwelling of
Christ (He 12:1-note), then His love will break out into song, and we shall share
in His joy. It will remain in us, and our capacity for joy will be
fulfilled (Jn 16:24, 17:13).
O Thou who art the True
Vine, I desire to abide in Thee, that I may bear abundant fruit
for Thy glory, and my life be full of Thy joy. AMEN.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT PEACE
"Peace I leave with you; my
peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful."--
BEING JUSTIFIED by faith in
His blood we have peace! what peace can there be so long as our
guilty conscience dreads each footstep, lest it be for its arrest.
Though some rich evil-doer is surrounded by the trappings of
wealth and state, what is their value, when at any moment he fears
that the story of his crime may get out. The first condition of
peace is to see your sin borne by Christ in His own Body-on the
The second condition is to
keep His words, His commandments. See in every pressing duty your
Master's call. Do everything in His name and for His glory. This
is the way that Jesus lived. He came down, not to do His own will,
but the Father's; and in every incident, as it offered, He felt
that God's bell was ringing to some new opportunity of service.
Sometimes you must just bear His will, at others you must fulfil
it. Say to Him each day: "I delight to do Thy will, O my God." The
rule of duty is changed into the service of love, that counts no
sacrifice too great, no alabaster box too costly.
Peace for the troubled
heart! Jesus is not unmindful of your human affections and
anxieties. Does He expect you to be absorbed with His interests,
and will He not look after yours? He knows where your loved ones
are, their names, their needs, their sorrows. He will do exceeding
abundantly for them. Did not David have the lame Mephibosheth to
his table, because he was Jonathan's son; did not the Lord heal
Peter's wife's mother out of love for Peter? Hand over to Christ
all that makes you anxious, both for yourself and others. Transmit
and commit! Hand over, and then hands off! Let the peace of Christ
keep heart and mind as a sentry, and rule within as the sole judge
and arbiter of thought and action. if any thought would intrude,
which would break in upon our peace, let it be arrested on the
threshold; if any passion would arise that threatens the harmony
of our inner household, let the solution be the Peace of Christ.
"My peace," He said, i.e., the peace that kept and ruled Him. He
calls us to share it, not hereafter only, but here and now. It is
His legacy guaranteed to us, by His blood, and by the gift of the
O Lord, may I not be
satisfied with refraining from sin; but as I abide in Thee, may I
bear the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, and peace, to
Thy honour and glory. AMEN.
THE FRUIT OF THE
"If a man suffer as a
Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this
name. Insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings,
1Pe 4:13, 14, 15, 16.
THE LONG-SUFFERING silence
of our Lord was the marvel of His foes.
"As a lamb that is led to
the slaughter and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb," He
opened not His mouth. Before the high priests, He held His peace.
To Pilate He gave no answer. Amid the challenge and reproach of
the Cross, He answered nothing, save in benediction and prayer.
"When He was reviled He did not answer with reviling; when He
suffered, He uttered no threats, but left His wrongs in the hands
of the righteous Judge."
Surely this has been His
habit through the centuries. In every child suffering through
drunken parents, in every martyr burnt at the stake, in every
innocent sufferer before high-handed oppression, He has been led
as a lamb to the slaughter, but how silent He is! Man may murder
His servants and blaspheme His name, but He says never a word!
This is the purport of one of those strange announcements which
make the Book of Revelation so remarkable. "When He had opened the
seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of
half-an-hour." The songs of heaven are hushed; the multitude which
cannot be numbered listens to the groans and appeals of their
unhelped brethren; the angels stay their anthems, and seem intent
on the tragedies about to be described (Rev 8:1).
But there does not appear to be any help.
But remember that silence
does not imply indifference. At the very time that our Lord was
silent before His judges, He was bearing the sin of the world.
When the silence is proclaimed in Heaven, we find that the prayers
of the saints are being presented on the throne---prayers of
intercession, mingled with much incense of Christ's merit.
It is in this spirit that we
are to suffer. We are to conceal our anguish as stoics. No
suffering rightly borne is in vain, but in some little way, which
you may not understand, you are helping Christ in His redemptive
work. Be calm, and quiet, and glad! Pray for those who
despitefully use you, and ask that your sufferings, rightly borne,
may lead to their conversion, as Stephen's did in the case of
Heavenly Father, of Thine
infinite mercy, give me such assurance of Thy protection amid the
troubles and tumults of this mortal life, that I may be preserved
in quietness of spirit and in inward peace. AMEN.
THE FRUIT OF THE
"The Lord's servant must not
strive, but be gentle towards all... forbearing."--
IT IS not easy to cultivate
this fruit of the Spirit because it has many counterfeits. Some
people are naturally easy-going, devoid of energy and ambition, at
heart cowardly, or in spirit mean. Many of us are characterized by
a moral weakness and decrepitude that make it easy for us to yield
rather than contest in the physical or intellectual arena.
But in gentleness there must
be the consciousness of a considerable reserve of force. The
gentleness of God is combined with omnipotence. The movements of
creation, in which there is neither voice nor language, prove the
infinite forces which are at work. When a boy is trying to lift or
carry a heavy beam, as likely as not there will be a great crash
when he reaches the end of his task, and puts it on the ground.
His strength is so nearly exhausted that he is only too glad to
get rid of his burden, anyhow, and at any cost. But if a strong
man shoulders the same burden, and carries it for the same
distance, he puts it down gently, because he has not taxed his
strength and has plenty left.
It is the prerogative of
great strength to be gentle. Always remember that you are linked
with the Infinite God, and that all things are possible to you.
There must also be infinite pity. We must be tolerant and pitiful
to those who abuse us, or have been embittered by disappointment,
or have been ill-used. It must be our aim to make allowances for
such, and always to be sweetly reasonable towards any brusqueness,
rudeness and bad manners of their behaviour. Let us be willing to
admit that much is due to congenital moroseness. Therefore, we
bear gently with the erring, and with those who are out of the
way, because we also are encompassed with infirmity.
It is necessary also that
there should be a deep humility. Thomas a Kempis says: "If thou
wilt be borne with, bear also with another. Endeavour to be
patient in bearing with the defects and infirmities of others,
what sort soever they be: for that thyself also hast many failings
which must be borne by others." Our resentment against others
should be always tempered by our remembrance of our own sins. So
shall we be God's own gentlefolk.
O God, our behaviour has not
manifested all the fruits of the Spirit, or been full of the
graciousness and gentleness of Christ. Forgive us, and enable us
so to live that His beauty may be on our faces, the tone of His
voice in our speech, the gentleness of His tread in our steps, the
unselfishness of His deeds in our hands. AMEN.
THE FRUIT OF THE
"He was a good man, and full
of the Holy Ghost, and of faith."--
GOODNESS IS the radiance or
out-shining of a pure and happy Christian soul. It is quick to see
and magnify whatever is good in others, as Barnabas was: It is
incapable of jealousy or envy, else he would never have gone to
Tarsus to seek Saul. The goodness of this man was evinced in his
generous donation of the proceeds of his patrimony, and in the
ministry of consolation which he exercised among the disciples.
Such goodness is not natural
to us. It is the fruit of our union with the true Vine, whose sap
may be compared to the Holy Spirit. Before we can be the good man,
for whom some would even dare to die, we must become grafted into
Christ, that His goodness may make its way through our sour
The most difficult thing of
all is to continue to manifest this goodness when our lives are
united, as Abigail's was, to that of a churl (1Sa 25:3).
She was a beautiful woman, of good understanding, and full of
tact. Her speech, which arrested David when about to avenge
himself on Nabal, is a model of good sense. He heartily thanked
her for it, as having saved him from a hasty deed, which would
have filled his after-life with regret. Nabal was a churl, evil in
his doings, and as his servants said, "'such a son of Belial, that
none could speak to him"--a man who did not know what it was to be
merry. Nabal was his name and his nature! What a constant pain it
must have been to this noble woman to be united to such a churl!
That is a test of real goodness; it is a triumph of God's grace.
Guard against stinginess and
niggardliness. Give liberally and generously to every good cause.
Be very careful of going back on your first intentions, which in
the matter of giving are probably more trustworthy than the
proverbial after-thoughts. Be always careful to dwell on and extol
whatever you find admirable and noble in the character of others.
It was said
of Charles Kingsley:
"No fatigue was too great to make him forget the courtesy of less
wearied moments, no business too engrossing to deprive him of his
readiness to show kindness and sympathy. To school himself to this
code of unfaltering high and noble living was truly one of the
great works of his life."
Teach us to exert a
wholesome gracious influence on those with whom we come in
contact, diffusing in every look and gesture the sweet savour of
Christ, and shedding in every act the genial light caught from His
face. May the world be really better because we are living in it
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT--FAITH
"Let us hold fast the
profession of our Faith without wavering; for He is faithful that
FAITH IS an attribute of the
heart, rather than of the head. It is largely intuitive in its
first promptings. It is impossible to argue men into faith. Do not
think, discuss, or reason too much about Faith, or you will miss
it. It is like Love in this, that when you turn the dissecting
knife on it for the purpose of analysis, its spirit and life
vanish, leaving only the faded relics of what was once a thing of
beauty and a joy for ever. If, however, turning from Faith to any
object which is worthy of it, you concentrate heart and mind
there, almost unconsciously Faith will have arisen and thriven to
Faith has two kinds of
objective, first a person, and secondly a statement. When we are
drawn powerfully towards a person, so as to feel able to entrust
our soul, our destiny, our most precious possessions to His care,
with an inward feeling of tranquillity and certainty that all is
safe with Him, and that He will do better for us than we could do
for ourselves, that is faith.
We may be attracted by a
statement, which appeals to our moral sense; it is consistent with
the decisions of our conscience; or perhaps, as the utterance of
One in whom we repose utter confidence, it commends itself to us
for His sake. We accept that statement; we rest on it. We believe
that what it attests as fact either did happen or will happen. We
are as sure of it as though we have been able to attest it by our
senses of sight, hearing, or touch. That also is faith.
a well grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a
conviction of the reality of the unseen" (Heb 11:1.
We must indicate a
difference between this faith and "the faith once delivered to the
saints." The former is the heart that accepts, and the hand that
reaches out to obtain; the latter is the body of Truth to be
Out of faith comes
faithfulness. Faith is your trust in another; faithfulness is your
worthiness to be trusted. A faithful soul, one that can be
absolutely relied upon, is of great price. Nothing so quickens our
faith as to meditate on God's absolute trustworthiness. "Blessed
is the man that trusteth in Him."
Give us faith in Thy love
that never wearies or faints. Whatever else we doubt, may we never
question the perfectness of Thy lovingkindness. Fulfil in US the
good pleasure of Thy will, and the work o f faith with power.
THE FRUIT OF THE
"Walk worthy of the vocation
wherewith ye are called with all lowliness and meekness, with
long-suffering, forbearing one another in love."--
Eph 4:1, 2.
THE MEEK man, according to
Luther, is the sweet-tempered man.
Meekness and lowliness are
the two aspects of the same disposition, the one toward man, the
other toward God. "Blessed are the meek," said our Lord, "for they
shall inherit the earth." It is profoundly true, because to the
meek and chastened, the sweet and tender spirit, there is an
unfolding of the hidden beauty of the world which is withheld from
the arrogant and proud. Here is a millionaire who has just
purchased a beautiful and valuable picture, which he exhibits to
all his friends, taking great care to tell them the price he has
paid. To him it is written all over the canvas, "This picture cost
me ten thousand pounds!" Does he really possess or inherit its
beauty? In his employ is a girl with culture and keen artistic
sense. Whenever she gets the chance she enters the room in order
to absorb the inspiration of the picture into her soul. Does not
she really own it? So it is that the meek inherit all that is good
and beautiful. All is theirs, since they are God's.
One of the most exquisite
gems in the Psalter is that beginning "Lord, my heart is not
haughty, nor mine eyes lofty" (Ps 131:1).
The writer describes himself as a weaned child, which at first
works itself into a passion because of the change in its diet; but
afterwards becomes soothed and quieted. This is the symbol of the
meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great
To acquire this meekness of
spirit, ask the Holy Spirit that He would keep your proud and
vainglorious nature nailed to the Cross. Next, we must believe
that the meek and lowly Jesus is in our hearts, and we must ask
Him to live, think, and speak through us. Lastly, look to the Holy
Spirit for His sacred fire to bum out all that is covetous,
envious, proud, angry and malicious within our hearts, for these
are the five elements of hell. Let us always take the low seat,
confessing that we are not worthy to loose the shoe-latchet of our
Enable us, we beseech Thee,
O God, to walk as Thy dear children. May all uncleanness, foolish
talking, covetousness, bitterness, wrath and anger be put away
from us, with all malice Make us meek, as our Saviour was. Deliver
us from the spirit of retaliation. May we make peace, healing the
strife and allaying the irritation of men, for Thy Name's sake.
THE FRUIT OF THE
"Every man that strives for
the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a
corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.--
IN HIS early life Paul must
have been keen on sport! He uses the phrases for the gymnast, the
boxer, and the racer. He had probably stood, many times, watching
the great games, which were held in various parts of the
Greek-speaking world. He knew the long and arduous training
through which competitors had to pass.
Paul was running a race for
an imperishable wreath. He had no doubt as to his goal, and
therefore did not run uncertainly. He went straight as an arrow to
its mark, and his mark was to win souls for Christ. To gain some,
to save some, was his passion (1Co 9:22).
He needed to discipline himself, putting aside much that was
innocent in itself, and which others could enjoy without reproach
(Ro 14:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21).
The Apostle was also engaged in a boxing-match, his own body being
the antagonist. He knew that spiritual power existed for his
appropriation in Christ, but to have it he must be a spiritual
man, and to be that necessitated the subdual of his fleshly
We must exercise
"self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control." It is best to hand
over the whole of our nature to the Master, and ask Him to direct,
control, suggest each day whatever we think, or do, or say. It is
infinitely happier to be Christ-controlled than self-controlled.
Happy are they who from the earliest are able to subordinate the
delights of sense, however innocent, to some high quest of the
spirit. The soldier has to forfeit many things which are
legitimate for the civilian, because he must be able to march
rapidly from place to place. He has to forego the use of many
comforts, but he is compensated if his name is placed on the
honours list. The husbandman has to submit to hardships of
weather, and to encounter difficulties and discomforts which do
not occur in the lives of others; but there is no other way if he
is to procure the fruits of his toil. These deny themselves for
lower considerations, but we have an infinitely higher object in
view; but by so much the more should we lay aside every weight.
Never forget Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, your great
Exemplar and Life-giver--the source of all spiritual power.
Heavenly Father, engraft Thy
Son, Jesus Christ my Lord, inwardly in my heart, that I may bring
forth the fruit of holy living, to the honour and praise of Thy
JESUS, THE LIFE-GIVING SPIRIT
"The first Adam became a
living soul; the last Adam became a Life-Giving Spirit."--
ARE YOU, my friend, in the
first Adam or the second? It is a vital question, and it would
well repay you to put aside all else in order to give a considered
answer to this question. You ask for the fundamental difference
between the first Adam and the second. The Apostle states it
clearly in this chapter from which our text is taken. The contrast
between the two is the soul-life of the first and the Spirit-life
of the second. This is the distinction which Jesus made at the
beginning of His ministry, and it pervades the New Testament. The
sphere of Christianity is the realm of the spirit. Its object is
to lift man from the soul-level to the spirit-level.
The soul is the centre of
our personality. It is you, or I, or any other person! From it we
look on two worlds. To the material world we are related by the
organs of touch, sight, smell, taste and hearing. To the eternal
world we are related by the organs of the spirit, which are
probably identical with the lower. We have the option of
descending by the spiral staircase downward to materialism, or of
ascending upward to fellowship with God. Alas, that too often we
descend to the lure of the savoury pottage, instead of climbing
the ladder which reaches to Heaven.
It is clear that we must die
to the self-life, to the promptings, suggestions and solicitations
of the ego, which is entrenched in the soul. Self is the root of
our alienation from the Life of God. All the evils of fallen
angels and man have their birth in the pride of self. On the other
hand, all the blessedness of the heavenly life is within our
reach, when the self-life is nailed to the Cross of Jesus.
How is this self-life to be
brought to death? Only by our identification with the Cross on
which Jesus died. We were nailed there in the purpose of God, and
we must accept that position and extract its help by a living
faith. It was by the Eternal Spirit that Jesus offered Himself
unto God, and it is by that same Spirit that we, too, may say: "I
have been crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I,
but Christ liveth in me." There must be an exchange of lives, from
the self-life to the life of the Crucified and Ascended Saviour,
communicated by the Holy Spirit.
Behold, O Lord, I am Thy
servant, prepared for all things; for I desire not to live unto
myself, but unto Thee; and Oh, that I could do it worthily and
"For the good that I would I
do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Who shall
deliver me...? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."--
20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25.
THIS SEVENTH chapter of
Romans reflects, as in a mirror, the inward conflict of the
Christian soul, who has not yet learned to appropriate the full
power of the Holy Spirit. It will be noticed that the personal
pronoun "I" occurs frequently, while there is no word of the Holy
Spirit who lusts or strives against the flesh. It is the endeavour
of a man to keep pure and holy in the energy of his own
resolutions, and by the putting forth of his own power and will.
But as Satan cannot cast out Satan, so the will of man is unable
to exercise its own evil.
We turn, thankfully,
therefore to the eighth chapter, which is as full of the power of
the Holy Spirit to overcome evil, as the seventh is full of human
endeavour. It is only when we learn to hand over our inner self to
the Spirit of God that we can become more than conquerors through
Him that loved us. As long as the conflict is in our own strength,
there is nothing for it but to experience the up and down, fickle
and faulty rife, which the Apostle describes so graphically.
How is it that the soul of
man is so full of evil, and that it is unable to deliver itself by
its resolutions which lack the necessary dynamic force, we cannot
tell. But we find this "law of sin and death warring in our
members and bringing us into captivity." It is a wretched
experience, indeed, when we find the current running so swiftly
against us, and carrying us down in spite of our strenuous desire
to stem and conquer it. Who has not, again and again, experienced
failure after the most earnest desire to do right? The bitterness
of our origin overcomes the better choice, of which in our noblest
moments we are conscious.
It is a great comfort to
know that the Spirit of God is prepared to renew our inward man
day by day (2Co 4:16),
and to make us free from the law of sin and death. It is the daily
renewal that we need. Day by day, and hour by hour, it is
necessary to seek by faith a fresh infusion of the power of the
Holy Spirit, that we may be overcomers.
O God, may we live very near
to Thee to-day, not in the energy of our own resolution, but by
the anointing and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who shall teach
us to abide in Christ. If our wayward hearts tend to stray, recall
us before we have gone too far. AMEN.
THE SECRET OF THE INNER WAY
"Walk, in the Way of good
men, and keep the paths of the righteous."--
THIS CHAPTER abounds in
references to the Way and Path. Walk occurs three times, paths
seven, and ways five. Here we read of the way or path by which
good and righteous men have preceded us. The old Christian mystics
were fond of talking of the inward way and its various stages.
They said that God was alone the centre and satisfaction of the
human soul, that we must advance along the pathway traversed by
holy souls before us until we have realised the motto of Monica:
"Life in God and union there."
True knowledge of God and
union with Him are only to be attained by those who will not
shrink before the perils and steepness of the strait gate and
narrow way. It is not necessary to leave the body to reach the
inner secret of God. The path may be trodden on this side of the
grave. Stony and steep it may be, but when it climbs the crest,
and the whole glory of the heavens is in view, the soul is
satisfied. In the attainment of true wisdom God is willing, yea,
eager to give, but we must be sincere and earnest in our desire to
obtain (Pr 2:1,
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
Notice the many words that are employed to stir up our search.
Receive! Hide! Incline the ear and apply the heart! The treasures
of God, like those of the mine, do not lie on the surface, but no
labour is more profitable. Our Heavenly Father not only gives good
things to them that ask Him, but He becomes our Shield and
Buckler, our Protector and Guide (Pr 2:7, 8).
These are the stages of the
inner Way, which the saints have trodden before us: Detachment
from the ambitions, passions and sins of nature; Attachment, i.e.,
the attitude of fellowship with Christ; Illumination, which
reveals to the soul its unworthiness; Union with God. This is the
experience of few, but they who have described it remind us that
eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, what God's Spirit reveals to
those who love and wait for Him. But you must be prepared to
sacrifice all. He who seeks diamonds, or gold, will face hardships
and relinquish much that other men hold dear, that he may
prosecute his quest. Not otherwise must it be with those who would
understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
Make us more conscious, O
Lord, we beseech Thee, of the indwelling of Thy Holy Spirit: may
He witness within us that in spite of our sin we are still Thy
children: may He enable us to mortify the deeds of the body, and
to reckon ourselves dead to the solicitations of the flesh. AMEN.
ABOUNDING IN THIS GRACE ALSO
"If there be a willing mind,
it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to
that he hath not."--
IF ST. PAUL were living
to-day he would surely be in great request to preach the special
sermons for the gathering of funds to maintain religious and
charitable work. Judging by this chapter, he must have been
inimitable in extracting gifts for all purposes from God's people.
He stirs the Corinthians up by reminding them of the liberality of
the churches in Macedonia, notwithstanding their deep poverty. He
reminds them that as they abound in so many gifts and graces, they
must see to it that they are not lacking "in this grace also" (2Co 8:7).
He quotes the example of our blessed Lord, and reminds them that
they owe everything to His condescension. He suggests that the one
thing God wants is willingness to give, and that He accepts the
desire of the poor man to give all with as much delight as the
vast possessions of the millionaire (Mk 12:41, 42, 43, 44).
What a wonderful text is the
ninth verse! George Herbert, in one of his poems, depicts our Lord
stripping Himself as He descended from the Throne to the
manger-bed of Bethlehem. He put off His tiara, and its jewels
became the milky way; He laid aside His sceptre, and it became the
lightning flash; He put off His girdle, and it became the rainbow;
He doffed the robes of His royalty, and they became the sunset
clouds! But how wonderful it is to think that the Lord of Glory
became so poor that He had no where to lay His head, that He was
often without food and always dependent upon charity.
But because He was poor, we
are made rich; because He was homeless He has opened to us the
"many mansions"; because He was stripped of all we may wear the
white robes, and sit with Him in heavenly places. He calls to each
one of us to minister to Himself in caring for the least of His
brethren. We can only really help people when we impoverish
ourselves, but in the end we are not losers. God will be in no
man's debt. What we keep we lose; what we give is like scattered
seed that comes back in bountiful harvests. Lay your heart against
the heart of Christ, until you become filled with His love and
spirit, and are content to call nothing your own. Be the steward
of everything you possess for His glory and the help of others.
O God, we have nothing worth
our giving, or Thy receiving; our best was given to us by Thee.
Graciously accept us and all that we have. Whatever Thou hast
given, enable us to count it a stewardship for others. AMEN.
BEARING THE CROSS
"He that taketh not his
cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me."--
HOW WONDERFUL it is that in
the thirty-seventh verse of this chapter, our Lord faces the whole
race of men, and claims their supreme love, asking that they
should love Him more than their dearest from whom they have
derived, or to whom they have given life. He does not attempt to
justify His demand, and the only consideration that makes His
claim reasonable is that He is the Son of God, who died for us on
the Cross, and that each one of us has a separate place in His
Divine-human love. What a rebuke lies in the word: "is not worthy
of Me." Surely in this sense there is no one of us worthy of our
Christ asks for the
surrender not of the heart only, but of the life. Self-denial for
His sake is the badge of the disciple. It is a strange procession
of cross-hearers, following the Crucified. Each man has his own
special form of serf-denial, which is required of him, and it must
be undertaken willingly.
Of course, it must be
understood that the confession to which Christ summons us does not
consist in a single utterance of the lips; it is the constant
acknowledgment of Him by voice and life, maintained to the end,
and the context makes it clear that this will have to be
maintained in the face of opposition, and that often in its
bitterest form--the opposition of the home. Many of us would find
it easier to face outward persecution and the tyrant's frown, than
to stand against the light banter, the sneers and suspicions, the
cruel words of those who live within the home. In every age there
have been those who have had to stand absolutely alone for Christ,
not hating their dear ones, but being hated by them because of
their allegiance to Christ, and destined to find the most dutiful
love and care repaid by stony indifference or active persecution.
Nothing is harder to bear, and there is no other course for us but
to silence the enemy and the avenger by patient continuance in
well-doing, always believing that God is faithful, and that He
will not allow us to be tempted above that we are able to bear.
Be the corrective, the
complement, of every trouble and need through which we may be
called to pass; if we suffer for Christ, may we not threaten; if
we are spoken against, may we answer with blessing; if we are
tried by the fiery trial, may we rejoice; if we are lonely and
desolate, may the Holy Spirit make Jesus real to us. AMEN.
STILLING LIFE'S STORMS
"He maketh the storm a calm,
so that the waters thereof are still. Then they are glad because
they be quiet; so He bringeth them unto their desired haven."--
Ps 107:29, 30.
THIS PSALM contains five
wonderful pictures of life.
First, we see the travelers who have
lost their way (Ps 107:4,
5, 6, 7, 8, 9);
next, prisoners and captives who sit in darkness (Ps 107:10, 11,
12, 13, 14, 15, 16);
then we see a sick-room (Ps 107:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22); next, a terrific
storm at sea (Ps 107:23-32); and finally, the lovely
picture of a desert land being turned into a fertile landscape (Ps 107:33,
34, 35, 36, 37, 38).
The refrain, calling upon men to praise the Lord for His goodness,
is repeated four times, and the Psalm closes with the fervent
thought that all who are wise will give heed to the various
dealings of God, as shown in these Acts of His loving-kindness.
In all lives there are
periods of tumult and storm. We are whirled about by angry
billows, and it seems as though we shall never reach the harbour
of peace and rest. Some give themselves up to such experiences as
a fate which they cannot avoid, or attempt to drown their fears
and dull their senses to suffering and danger. But faith cleaves
its way through the murky mists and driving cloud-wrack, and
establishes a sure connection with the throne of the Eternal
Father. This is what the New Testament calls the anchorage of the
soul, and however severe the storm that sweeps over the earth, the
soul that shelters there is safe. "Then they cried unto the Lord
in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses."
At this moment you may be
passing through a storm of outward trouble. Wave after wave beats
upon you, as one calamity is followed by another, until it seems
as though the tittle (a very small part of a) barque (boat, small
sailing vessel) of your life must he overwhelmed. Look
up to God and cry to Him. He sees you, and will not allow you to
Or you may be experiencing
inward sorrow. Your affections have been misplaced; the one you
love has deceived and failed you, and the sky is now dark and
stormy. The one resort of the soul when it is hard driven, is to
look up to Him who holds the winds in His fist, the waters in the
hollow of His hand, and who cannot forget or forsake those who cry
O God, we will praise Thy
Name for Thy goodness to us, and for Thy wonderful works to the
children of men. May Thy gentle voice hush our fears, and still
life's storms into a great calm. AMEN.
"But Mary stood without at
the tomb weeping Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself,
and saith unto Him, Rabboni, which is to say, Master."--
Jn 20:11, 12,
13, 14, 15, 16.
WHEN THE disciples had
returned to their home, Mary stood at the door of the sepulchre,
weeping. Then she took one more look at the place where He had
lain. Thus still we look down into the grave of ordinances, of
past emotions, of old and sacred memories, seeking for the
Redeemer. The angel-guards sought in vain to comfort her; but what
could they do for her, who longed to hear His Voice only?
The sense of a Presence
behind, or perhaps, as St. Chrysostom finely suggests, because of
an expression of love and awe that passed over the angels'
faces--led her to turn herself, and she saw One standing there
whom she supposed to be the gardener. Then He called her by the
old familiar name, with the same intonation of voice, and she knew
that it was her Lord. The knowledge that He was there, to Whom she
owed all, thrilled her and she answered in the country tongue they
both knew so well, "Rabboni!"
Does not this suggest that
in that new life, which lies beyond, we shall hear again the
voices speak with which we have been familiar? "'As we have borne
the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the
heavenly, and shall have fellowship again with those whom we have
"Rabboni" is "my Master." We
must take the Risen Lord not only as our Saviour, but our Master.
Too many look to Him only for what He shall do for them in the way
of salvation and deliverance from sin, but we shall never realise
the fullness of either until we fall at His feet and own Him
Master and Lord.
It must be a personal
act--"My Master." It is not enough that He should be Lord of
others, or of His Church. He must be thine. Give your all for His
all. Begin to live as if there were none but He and you in this
world. He is ever appealing to us: "Son! Daughter! Give Me thine
heart, thy love."
When He is Master, we obey
His bidding. It is useless to call Him "Lord, Lord," and not do
the things which He says. Ours must be the alert ear, the swift
foot. "Go, tell!" So He speaks still.
Open our eyes to see the
Face of Christ looking down upon as amid household duty or daily
business. Give us a quick ear for Thy Voice, and may we go on
doing good, as Thou shalt give us opportunity. AMEN.
THE GOD OF PATIENCE AND COMFORT
"Now the God of patience and
of comfort grant you to be of the same mind one with another
according to Jesus Christ."--
WE ALL need Patience and
Comfort, especially in times of stress and difficulty. Patience
under long-drawn-out trial; Comfort, when the heart is at
breaking-point; and God is the source of each! The God of
Patience! "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined unto
me, and heard my cry." The God of Comfort! "As one whom his mother
comforteth, so will I comfort you." Let us hush all other voices
of consolation, that we may listen to the still small voice of the
Comforter, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
But notice that He speaks
through the patience and comfort of Holy Scripture. "Whatsoever
things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that
through patience and comfort of the Scriptures we might have
hope." What the Bible has been to the martyrs, to the sufferers on
the rack, and to the harried Covenanters of the Scottish moors; to
the myriads of unknown souls who have been persecuted, to lonely
exiles and bereaved hearts, can never be told.
If we were condemned to
banishment, and could take only one Book of the Bible with us to
Patmos, or to prison, we should find it extremely difficult which
to choose. Some would select the Psalter, some the Fourth Gospel,
some would probably decide on that wonderful anonymous writing,
the Epistle to the Hebrews. And in each they would have matter
enough to explore for a lifetime. Always His Spirit will be
teaching and enabling us. Always His Shepherd rod and staff will
lead us to living fountains of water. He is always realising more
deeply in us the Divine ideal, and increasing our capacity for
Is not this comforting! The
minister, to whom you owe your conversion, or who has helped your
Christian growth, may die or be removed; the friend on whom you
depended for help and guidance may have to leave you, but our
Saviour will continue His care of us, His nurture of our growth.
His unfailing intercession, when the sun has ceased to shine, and
the universe is wrapped up as a worn-out garment. His ministry is
unchangeable. The God of Patience and Comfort will never fail us!
Comforter of the
comfortless, bind my soul with Thine in intercession! Wherever
there are broken hearts, bind them: captives, release them. Bless
especially my loved ones. Visit us with Thy salvation, and suit
Thy gifts to our several needs. AMEN.
THE GOD OF HOPE
"Now the God of Hope fill
you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in
Hope, in the power of the Holy Ghost."--
WE ALL need to abound in
Hope. Hope is the artist of the soul.
Faith fills us with joy and
peace, which brim over in Hope. When Faith brings from God's Word
the materials of anticipation and expectation, Hope transfers the
fair colours to her palette, and with a few deft dashes of her
brush delineates the soul's immortal and unfading hope. Faith thus
excites Hope to do her fairest work, until presently the wails of
our soul become radiant with frescoes. Our faith rests on God's
Word, and hope rests on faith, and such hope cannot be ashamed. It
is the anchor of the soul, which enters that which is within the
veil, and links us to the shores of eternity (Heb 6:18-19).
Faith rests on the promises
of God. She does not calculate on feeling, is indifferent to
emotion, but with both hands clings to some word of promise, and
looking into God's face, says; "Thou canst not be unfaithful."
When God has promised aught to thee, it is as certain as if thou had it in hand. Faith not only takes the Word of God, and rests
her weight on it, but often when hard-pressed goes beyond the
Bible back to God Himself, and argues that God is faithful and
cannot deny Himself. Because God is God, He must ever act worthily
It was thus that Moses
argued, when he was with Him in the Holy Mount, that to do thus
(not keep His oath - see Nu 14:13,
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20), would
not be worthy of Himself!.
We may be assailed with a hundred questions of doubt in the day,
but must no more notice them than a barking cur. A business man
once said that when he is convinced of the rightness of a certain
course, he is sometimes assailed by doubts which arise like the
cloud-mist of the valley, or the marsh gas from the swamp; but
when thus tempted, he turns to the promises of God, often reading
three or four chapters of the Old Testament. This brings him in
touch with the eternal world, filling him with joy and peace and
abounding hope in believing, through the power of the Holy Ghost
They shall not be ashamed that hope in Him! (cp Ps 119:116)
Make me, O Lord, to know the
Hope of Thy calling, the riches of the glory of Thine inheritance
in the saints, and the exceeding greatness of Thy power towards
them that believe (Ep 1:18, 19). Above all, grant me the spirit of wisdom and
revelation in the knowledge of Thyself (Ep 1:17) AMEN.
THE GOD OF PEACE
"Now the God of Peace be
with you all."--
"Having made peace through
the blood of His Cross."--
WE ALL need Peace! There are
sources of Peace which are common to all men. The peace of a happy
home; of an increasing business and enlarging influence; of the
respect and love of our fellows. As a man is conscious of these,
he is inclined to say with Job, "I shall die in my nest." We can
all understand a peace like that; but there is a "peace that
passeth understanding." It is too deep for words. It is like the
pillowed depths of the ocean, which are undisturbed by the passing
storm. Here is a sufferer, almost always in acute pain, and
needing constant attention, and yet so happy. Joy and Peace, like
guardian angels, sit by that bedside; and Hope, not blindfolded,
touches all the strings of the lyre, and sheds sunshine,--how do
you account for it? Let the skeptic and the scoffer answer! Here
is a peace that passes understanding which comes from the God of
For the Christian soul there
is a silver lining in every cloud; a blue patch in the darkest
sky; a turn in the longest lane; a mountain view which shall
compensate the steepest ascent. Wait on the Lord, and keep His
way, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land. The thing
impossible shall be; because all things are possible to God.
The peace of God is the
peace of the Divine Nature---the very tranquillity which prevails
in the heart of the God of Peace. It was of this that Jesus spoke
when He said, "My peace I give unto you"; for His own being was
filled and blessed with it during His earthly career. "The Lord of
Peace Himself give you peace always."
There are three things
against which we must ever be on our guard lest they rob us of our
peace. First, unconfessed sin; second, worry; third, the
permission of an unrebuked selfish principle. The Apostle says,
"Let the Peace of God rule in your hearts." The Greek word means
arbitrate. Let God's Peace act as umpire.
We shall not escape life's
discipline. We may expect to abound here, and to be abased there.
But amid all, God's Peace, like a white-winged sentinel angel,
shall come down to garrison our heart with its affections, and our
mind with its thoughts.
I humbly ask, O God, that
Thy Peace may be the garrison of my heart and mind; that it may
ever rule within me, asserting itself over the tumultuous passions
that arise within. And out of this Peace may I arise to serve
HOW THE SONG OF THE LORD BEGAN
"When the burnt offering
began, the Song of the Lord began."--
"They sing as it were a new
Song before the Throne." --
HEZEKIAH, AT the age of
twenty-five, came to the throne, and set himself to reverse his
father's evil policy. The doors of the Temple were re-opened, and
under his direction the Levites were commissioned to cleanse the
desecrated courts of the rubbish and filth that had been allowed
to accumulate. After eight days of strenuous labour, they were
able to report that their work was successfully accomplished; that
the altar of burnt-offering and the table of shewbread were ready
for the renewal of their wonted service. It was good news, and in
the early morning of a memorable day, the king, accompanied by his
princes and officers of state, took part in a solemn service of
re-dedication. Amid the tense expectancy of the vast congregation
which had assembled, Hezekiah commanded that the burnt sacrifice
should be offered; and "when the burnt-offering began, the song of
the Lord began also."
These ancient sacrifices
have passed for ever. "Sacrifice and offering Thou dost not
desire; mine ears hast Thou pierced (nailing me to Thy Cross);
burnt-offering and sin-offering hast Thou not required. Then said
I, Lo, I come, I delight to do Thy will, O my God!" To yield up
one's life to the Saviour, to surrender our lives for others for
His sake, to maintain the steadfast resolve of
self-sacrifice,--this surely fulfils the conception of the
burnt-offering, which the king ordered that morning as the symbol
of national devotion to the Will of God. Can we wonder that the
Song of the Lord began also? Does not that same Song arise in
every heart when the sacrifice of love and obedience begins?
It is the self-contained
life that has made itself snug within its four walls, sound-proof,
sorrow-proof, as it thinks, and love-proof, which is song-less and
Our Lord said: "'Whosoever
shall lose his life for My sake shall find it." That finding is
the correlative and source of the "Song of the Lord.'" Unite
thyself with Jesus on the Cross, and one day thou wilt find
thyself sharing with Him the New Song of accomplished Redemption!
Give us loving and thankful
hearts. May Thy mercies bind us like cords to the horns of the
Altar. Let our whole nature be consecrated for Thine indwelling,
and as the burnt-offering begins, may the Song of the Lord begin
also in our hearts. AMEN.
THE GRACE OF GRATITUDE
"What shall I render unto
the Lord for all His benefits toward me?"--
GOD'S BENEFITS are here
compared to a cup or chalice brimming with salvation. It seems
natural to speak of man's lot, either of sorrow or joy, as the cup
of which he drinks. The cup or lot of our life brims with
instances of God's saving help---"my cup runneth over," and we
ask, how may we thank Him enough? What shall we render unto Him,
for all His gracious help?
There are many answers, and
the first is, that we will Take. In other words, as one has truly
said, Taking from God is the best giving to God, for God loves to
give. St. James says: "He is the giving God, who gives not only
liberally, but with no thought of personal advantage, and for the
mere joy of giving?' What, then, will gratify Him more than to be
trusted, to find recipients for His gifts, to know that we are
prepared to be His poor debtors, owing Him ten thousand talents,
with nothing to pay, but still receiving and receiving from His
great heart of Love. Nothing hurts God more than that we should
not take what He offers--"God so loved that He gave," and when we
refuse to appropriate His greatest gift, we inflict the deepest
indignity and dishonour of which we are capable.
Then, we must call upon His
Name (Ps 116:13,
14, 15, 16, 17).
Take the Name of the Lord as a test. Friendships, plans, profits,
amusements, studies---all these cups should be tested by this one
We must be sure to pay our
vows (Ps 116:14,
15, 16, 17, 18; Eccl 5:4, 5).
We make vows in our trouble, which we sometimes forget when it is
past. Surely, it is the height of ingratitude not to redeem our
promissory notes. All devoted things, which are laid on God's
altar, are absolutely His, and the giver forfeits all rights to
Our gratitude demands the
gift of ourselves (Ps 116:16).
When Robinson Crusoe freed the poor captive, the man knelt before
his deliverer, and put his foot upon his neck, in token of his
desire to be his slave, and the love of Christ, who loosed us from
our bonds, constrains us to live not to ourselves but unto Him (Re 1:5). Loosed from the cords of sin, we become bound to the
service of love.
Father, we would thank Thee
for all the benefits that we have received from Thy goodness. The
best thanksgiving we can offer to Thee is to live according to Thy
holy will; grant us every day to offer it more perfectly, and to
grow in the knowledge of Thy will and the love thereof AMEN.
THE GARDEN OF OUR SOUL
"A pleasant vineyard, sing
ye of it. I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment:
lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day."--
Isa 27:2, 3,
(See R.V. marg.).
THE VINEYARD and its Divine
Keeper. God's redeemed children are here compared to a Vineyard.
We remember also our Lord's references to the Vineyard in
Mt 21:33, 34,
35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41
and John 15. God our Father is the Husbandman or Keeper, watching,
watering, and guarding always. There is no anger in His heart
against us, but against our sins, and He is ever battling with
these, as the gardener digs up the weeds and burns them in the
God's moment-by-moment care
of us is our one hope. The dry winds of this world are always
parching the tender verdure of our inner life making the soil hard
and impenetrable. We shrivel and wither beneath the sun of
prosperity, but God is ever seeking to water us with His grace.
Sometimes it is by the
mist--"There went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole
face of the ground" (Ge 2:6).
Thus it was in Eden, and so it is in our experience. The mystery
of life, its uncertainty, our sense of impotence and ignorance,
the withdrawal of our beloved ones within the envelopment of the
unseen, the strange sense of incomprehensible enigma--these are
some of the mists that help to soften our character.
Sometimes by the dew--"I
will be as the dew unto Israel." On clear nights the air deposits
its moisture in dewdrops. How beautiful it is in the spring
morning! In the tropics it is profuse, so that Gideon was able to
wring a bowlful of water from the fleece which he had spread out!
Yet how gently it distils, not a flower stalk, however fragile, is
broken. So the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit gather on
our souls and refresh us. We know not whence or how, but we are
sweeter, gentler, tenderer for His beneficent care. The sun does
not scorch us, the heat does not exhaust.
Let us enter into a holy
fellowship with God in His antagonism to whatever is unworthy and
evil in our lives, taking hold of His strength, and being at peace
with Him, Then shall we be blossom and bud, and become His
pleasant vineyard; and fill the world with refreshing fruit. "Thou
shalt be like a watered garden." "By their fruits ye shall know
Forbid, O Heavenly Father,
that we should lose the freshness, fertility and beauty which Thou
canst maintain in hearts which are open to Thee. May we be like a
watered garden. AMEN.
"All Scripture is given by
inspiration of God, and is profitable. ... That the man of God may
be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."--
2Ti 3:16, 17.
"I am the living bread which
came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live
IT IS the artifice of many
advertisers of the present day to secure customers for patent
foods by associating the figure of some person in perfect health
and strength with the article of diet they desire to recommend. It
is certain that spiritual health and power can only be produced
when the spirit is dieted on the Word of God.
From his earliest boyhood,
the young Timothy had been instructed in the Holy Scriptures. When
the Apostle first met him there was a rich subsoil of knowledge of
the Old Testament, in which the seed of the Gospel message readily
germinated. Perhaps the reason for the instability of some of our
young people is that Eunice and Lois in our Christian homes fail
to do for the children what mothers and grandmothers did for
It is not necessary to
discuss all that is involved in Inspiration, as the Apostle uses
that term; nor is it necessary to be profoundly familiar with
books of theology before we are able to pronounce on it.
Inspiration is a quality which is apprehended by the spiritual
taste, just as the tongue can detect sweetness or briny saltness
of flavour. The Bible is the Word of God, and the whole of it is
profitable for one of the four uses mentioned in
We should read the Bible
daily, and it is helpful to use the references and discover the
parallel passages. It is good sometimes to kneel down and turn
what we read into prayer. We must get beyond the outside husk to
the inner kernel, as we "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest."
Ask the Spirit of God to give you some message directly for
There are some kinds of food
which are destitute of the properties that sustain life. But
Christ is all we want, and every faculty of our nature can be
satisfied in Him. He is the Living Bread, on Whom we must feed if
we would have eternal life. It is not the Bible only, but the
Christ of whom it speaks who is the true spiritual food of the
soul. "He that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that
believeth on Me shall never thirst."
O Lord, open Thou mine eyes,
that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law. Thy Word is a
lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. AMEN.
THE MESSAGE OF THE SERAPHIM
"Then flew one of the
Seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand.., and said, lo
this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and
thy sin purged."--
Isa 6:6, 7.
EACH SERAPH had six wings.
"With twain he covered his face." Here was Reverence, which is one
of the noblest traits in character, whether angelic or human. The
statesman who beneath human movements set himself to understand
the Divine purpose. The artist, whether in music, poetry or
painting, who discovers a Presence which fills him with elevated
and pure ideals. The scientist who compares himself to a child
gathering pebbles on the shores of a boundless ocean. These
resemble the Seraphim with their veiled faces.
"With twain they covered
their feet"--Self-effacement and Humility. If we begin to think
and talk of ourselves, we prove that we are second-rate. We may be
attractive and useful, but we have not attained the first and
best. The angels forgot themselves in their absorbing love for
God. When shall we forget ourselves in His constraining love, so
as not to live to ourselves, but to Him who died for us and rose
"With twain they did
fly"--Obedient Service. The third part of our energy should be
spent thus. Two-thirds of communion and worship must work
themselves out in service, else we become dreamy mystics. Such
life becomes contagious--"One cried to another." There is always a
cry going forth from the eager soul which is right with God, and
this awakens response in others and stirs them to service. One
bird in the woodlands singing at dawn will wake the whole
forest-glade to music. The Seraphim declared that the whole earth
was full of God's glory!
The prophet saw his need of
cleansing: "Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips." We do not need
to agonize with God for cleansing, but to open our hearts in
confession. Immediately one of the Seraphim will fly to meet our
need. Nay, the Lord Himself--Lo, this live coal, saturated with
blood and steeped in flame, which combines Calvary and Pentecost,
hath cleansed our iniquity and purged our sin! Then we shall cry:
"Here am I; send me." Redeemed, forgiven, and cleansed sinners
make the best evangelists!
Give us, O Lord, more than
an angel's love, for Thou hast redeemed us. Give us the swiftness
of an angel's obedience; may we do Thy commandments, and hearken
to the voice of Thy word. Cleanse us from all iniquity and purge
us from sin, and use us in Thy service. AMEN.
OUR HERITAGE AND OUR GOAL
"Ye are come unto the City
of the living God ... to God the Judge o fall, and to the spirits
of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the New
Heb 12:22, 23, 24.
WE ARE far from being
perfect. When in our deepest moments, we ascend into the Holiest,
on the wings of faith and prayer, we pass through a vast host of
sympathetic spirits, all of whom are devoted to the same Lord and
Master, and are joining in the same act of worship. Many of them
have known and helped us in our earthly life, and they have been
sent forth to minister to us, and to help us on our way. "Ye are
come to the spirits of just men made perfect." (He 12:23)
We are also come unto God,
the Judge of all. When Moses stood before God on the Mount, he
said: "I exceedingly fear and quake." But we may come with
boldness to the footstool of the Eternal Throne, though our God is
a consuming fire, for in Christ Jesus we stand accepted. He is the
Mediator of the New Covenant, and His Blood speaks better things
than that of Abel. That blood cried against Cain. But the Blood of
Jesus cries on our behalf; it has opened the way into the Holiest;
has cleansed us from our sins; has ratified the New Covenant, and
is the Pledge of our redemption.
Therefore, although we
realize our sinfulness and imperfection, let us arise into the
unseen, and join with the One Church of the Redeemed in heaven and
on earth. We are come to it in the purpose of God, and by the
all-sufficing work of Christ our Lord, but let us see to it that
we come also in our spiritual realization, communion, and
We are members of the Church
Universal, citizens of the Heavenly City. Heirs of that precious
Redemption, which has severed us from things that are seen, and
made us part of that blessed throng that no man can number--"the
general Assembly and Church of the First-born, which are written
in heaven." Neither life, nor death, nor rite, nor church-order,
can divide those who are for ever one with each other because they
are one with Christ. Nothing but sin and obtuseness of soul can
exclude us from living fellowship with saints of all communions
and sects, denominations and ages.
Accept our thanks, O God,
for this foretaste of the bliss of Paradise. To Thee we would pour
forth our tribute of adoring love, and join with angels and the
spirits of the Redeemed in worship. Unto Him that sitteth upon the
Throne, and unto the Lamb, be blessing and honour, glory and
dominion, for ever. AMEN.