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In Green Pastures
August

1. Christianity a Life 16. Working By Faith
2. The Hidden Life 17.  Receiving Correction Patiently
3. Life's Sensitivity 18.  Blessing of Conflict
4. A Casket of Sweet Thoughts 19.  Blessing of Darkness
5. The Moral Power of "Yes" 20. Christian Conversation
6. Spiritual Poverty 21. Our Personal Creed
7.  Unseen Brethren 22. No Strange Mystery There
8. Grief Ofttimes an Excuse 23. Loving Unlovely People
9. Testing Christ's Words 24. Misrepresenting Christ
10. Christ in Sunshine 25.  The Well in the Heart
11. Are There Little Sins? 26. The Blessing of Trust
12.  Imagining Christ's Beauty 27. The One Perfect Life
13. Forgiving Injuries 28. Not in the Easy Paths
14. God's Goodness in All 29. Uselessness of Worry
15. What Grace Does Not Do 30. Trust Better Than Questions
  31. The Greatest Work
 


August 1

Christianity a Life

It would be easier to get all the sunbeams out of grasses and flowers and plants in the bright summer days—than to get the life of Christ out of the world. It has wrought itself into everything along these Christian centuries, not only into the individual lives of Christ's followers—but also into laws and systems and institutions, into thought and literature and music and art. Christianity is not a mere creed. There is that in it—which can never be wrapped up in forms, in liturgies, in confessions. Nor is Christianity a mere code of ethics; it is a life, a throbbing, pulsing, immortal life. It enters into men as the sunshine enters into the plant or the flowers. It becomes their very heart's blood, their breath, their spirit. It inspires their thought, their feeling, their words, their acts.


August 2

The Hidden Life

We are all conscious that we are living in this world, even at our best—far below our best. We are conscious, too, of possibilities of character hidden within us undeveloped, and of powers of helpfulness in our life which we have barely begun to exercise—but which might be drawn out into activity. We see hints and gleams, and we have glimpses now and then, of far more glorious life than we have yet reached. The highest attainments here—are but the beginnings of sanctified life. The peace, joy, love, unselfishness, service, purity, holiness, reached in the ripest experiences of earthly sainthood—are only dim intimations of what we may become—ay, of what we shall become! Our life is hid, concealed, with Christ in God


August 3

Life's Sensitivity

You go through a day of varying experiences, and everything that touches your life—the words you hear, the pictures you see, the books you read, the companions you meet and with whom you associate, the friendship that warms your heart—everything that touches you, leaves its mark on your character. And it is not a mere passing, transient impression that these things and these lives and experiences leave on your life; it is permanent work that they do. Not the great stones in the massive building are so wrought into the fabric—as these impressions are wrought into the character. Our lives are temples, and everyone who touches us, is a builder. So it is also with the influences we throw off on other lives. They make their record there, and it is ineffaceable.


August 4

A Casket of Sweet Thoughts

"We cry, Abba, Father." Romans 8:15 When we learn to look up to God out of our weakness and sorrow, and say, "Abba, Father," what a revelation does the name disclose! What a treasure of precious love-thoughts does it unlock! For one thing, there is love in this divine Fatherhood—love which never falters, which never wearies, which stops at no sacrifice. There is also watchfulness which never sleeps, which looks down with compassionate eye from above the silent stars, and keeps vigil day and night. There is compassion, also, which peers into the depths of all our want and woe. There is shelter too, forever does our Father stand between us and danger. There is guidance, a divine Hand clasping ours and leading us along through every difficult and dark way. No casket of earth's jewels holds so rich a cluster—as does this heavenly casket, this name "Father," contain of the jewels of divine grace.


August 5

The Moral Power of "Yes"

It is important that we learn to say "Yes"—when "Yes" is the true answer. To all invitations upward to truer, deeper, richer, nobler life—we should instantly answer "Yes." All calls to duty, to holy service, to noble deeds, to heroic battle—we should meet with glad "Yes." While we instantly shut our hearts against all that is impure and unholy, all thoughts that would tarnish or stain or blight—we should open them just as quickly to all thoughts which are pure and true and honest and just and lovely. One of the old Bible answers which we hear so often from the lips of saintly men, when called of God, is, "Here am I!" It meant readiness for instant, unquestioning obedience. We need to get the same answer into our heart's vocabulary, that when God calls we may always respond with our prompt, ringing "Here am I!"


August 6

Spiritual Poverty

We are greedy after this world's things—and never can get enough of them. But of the real things, the things which will last through eternity—we are satisfied with very small portions. "What do you seek?" asks the Master. His hands filled with precious blessings; and we ask for some little thing, some trifle, when we might have glorious fullness of blessing. How very strange it must seem to the angels to see us poor mortals giving our life, our very soul, to get some paltry thing of earth, which will perish tomorrow; and then not taking the precious spiritual blessings that we might have for the mere asking!


August 7

Unseen Brethren

While we pour our kindness in perpetual blessings upon those whose lives touch ours in our daily walks—we must not forget that we have brethren whom we have never seen. Says the old proverb, "There are people who live beyond the hill." We must think of these in our planning for ourselves. We are in danger of living in a very small world, thinking of only a few people; but wherever there is a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is one of our brothers. He may be in India or China or Africa, or in some island of the sea; still he is our brother, and we ought to have some kindly thought for him.


August 8

Grief Ofttimes an Excuse

There are sorrows which wear no black, and close no shutters, and drop no tears that men can see, and can get no sympathy—but that of Christ and perhaps a closest human brother. If you knew the inner life of many of the people you work with, and do business with, and meet socially in the common days—you would be very gentle with them; you would excuse their peculiarities, their absentmindedness, their seeming thoughtlessness at times. Grief makes life hard for very many people. It is a wonder they can be as cordial and loving as they are—in view of the burdens which crush them.


August 9

Testing Christ's Words

Every word of Christ comes to us with the challenge, "Put me to the test. Try me. Prove me." True religion is not a matter of theory—but a matter of life. We are to prove it—by living it. Take every word which Christ speaks, and begin at once to obey it—if it is a command; or trust it and lean on it—if it is a promise. It does not matter if you do not understand it, nor see why the command is good—still do it. Let God lead you—only be sure that you obey and trust him. You will not know—any faster than you will do. Only keep on following Christ, and the way will open to you and become plain as you go on step by step.


August 10

Christ in Sunshine

We are in danger of using our religion only in our dark hours, when we are in some trouble. But we need Christ just as much in our bright, prosperous, blessed hours—as in the days of darkness, adversity, and depression. His religion is just as much for our hours of joy—as for our days of grief. There are just as many stars in the sky at noon as at midnight, although we cannot see them in the sun's glare. And there are just as many comforts and promises and divine encouragements and blessings above us when we are in our noons of human gladness and earthly success—as when we are in pain and darkness.


August 11

Are There Little Sins?

We talk about little sins—but when we remember that every sin is committed against the infinite God, and that all sins are eternal in their influences and consequences—the smallest sin grows into stupendous importance. Indeed, there is nothing little in moral life. How do we know what is small or what is great in God's eye—or as measured by its results through future ages? True faithfulness is not careless in little things. It is harder always to be faithful in small, obscure, unpraised things—than in things which are brilliant and conspicuous. More people fail in doing the little things, the common ho-hum things, of everyday life—than in doing the greater and more prominent things. Hence it is here that we need to keep double watch upon ourselves. All fraying out of character, begins with one little thread left loose.


August 12

Imagining Christ's Beauty

Go and speak of Christ to others; tell them of his holiness, his purity, his mercy, his patience, his great love, his infinite gentleness; speak of his gracious beauty until your face glows and your eyes shine with the luster of his radiancy as you see it in his face. But do not fail to show them in your own character, in your disposition, in your love—patience, gentleness, sympathy, unselfishness, kindness, purity—some gleams, some radiant hints, of the beauty of Christ. Let people see in you—at least a dim reflection of the beauty you praise.


August 13

Forgiving Injuries

Even those to whom we are the truest friends, and for whom we do the most, will sometimes treat us unjustly and do us hurtful injury. We cannot but feel the pain of such wrongs; but if meekly borne—they will be turned to good for us, by that divine love which transmutes everything into blessing, for the life of faith. It is only when we cherish resentment and hold grudge in our hearts—that the injuries done to us by others really harm us. Forgiveness robs them of their power to hurt us. Let us forgive generously. Too much of our forgiveness is with reservation: "I forgive you; but . . ." The fuller our forgiveness, the richer blessing do we take from the injurious treatment.


August 14

God's Goodness in All

It is not hard to believe in the divine goodness—when all things are joyous. The hard thing is to believe in it just as firmly and quietly—when all things seem against us. The goodness of God is just as surely and as richly revealed in the dark things of providence, as in the bright things. God comes to us in many forms; but always his name is Love, always is he our Father. We keep two lists, and write some things as " prosperous and some as "adverse." God writes "goodness" over all.


August 15

What Grace Does Not Do

Grace does not take trouble out of human life. It does not make all the world feel kindly toward you. It does not hush the tongue of reproach and scorn. It does not quell the contentions of life. It does not soften human harshness, nor destroy selfishness. It does not hush the sharp voices of criticism, fault-finding, and frivolous talk. It does not command a truce to jealous rivalries and envyings, to personal abuse and silly strife. It does not say to the adverse winds, "Blow not on my home." Christ makes no charmed circle about us where we shall never more feel the blast of the storm; but he gives a peace that will keep the heart calm and tranquil, in the midst of the angriest strifes and storms.


August 16

Working By Faith

Faith links a man to Christ, so that he is no more a mere common man, with only his own poor feeble strength—but is more than a man—a man whom Christ is using, behind whom Christ's omnipotent energy is working. We must yield ourselves altogether to God and let him use us. Then his power, his wisdom, his skill, his thoughts, his love shall flow through our souls, our brains, our hearts, and our fingers. That is working by faith. It is simply putting our life into God's hand to be used, as one uses a pen to write, or a brush to paint, or a chisel to carve the statue.


August 17

Receiving Correction Patiently

Very many people are glad to correct others, and think it very strange they will not take the correction or criticism patiently, while if anyone tries the same with them—they quickly resent it. What is good for another sinner ought to be good for us too. Let us seek for grace to take correction from those who love us. If a friend tells us of a fault, let us not get angry, even if he does it awkwardly so as to give us pain. Let us thank him, and set about to cure the fault. Even from the lips of an enemy in anger—we may yet get lessons which will do us good to learn.


August 18

Blessing of Conflict

We enter a world of antagonism and opposition—the moment we resolve at Christ's feet to be Christians, to be true men and women, to obey God, to forsake sin, to do our Christian duty. There never comes an hour when we can live nobly without effort, without making resistance to wrong influences, without struggle against the power of temptation. It never gets easy to be a worthy and faithful Christian. Sometimes we are almost ready to give it all up and to cease our struggling; but we should remember that the spiritual nobleness and beauty after which we are striving—can become ours only through this very struggling.


August 19

Blessing of Darkness

We shall learn in the end—that the best treasures of life and character, come out of the dark, painful hours. In days and nights of pain—we learn endurance. In the struggles with doubt and fear—we find at last bright blessed faith. In the darkness of sorrow—we learn the song of joy. In weary suffering—we acquire sweet pity for others. Meet every hard thing, every obstacle, every trial, every disappointment, every sorrow—with faith. Be more than conqueror over it, through Him who loved you, and it will leave blessing, treasure, and enrichment, in your life.


August 20

Christian Conversation

"Your speech should always be gracious." Colossians 4:6. We are to talk about the bright, beautiful, joyful things around us. The Christian must not be sanctimonious. Religion suffers from nothing more than from pious cant. Our talk on business, on science, on pleasure, on whatever theme, should be fragrant with the perfume of grace. An old proverb says: "The heart and the tongue are only a span apart." If a man's heart is touched by the grace of God, his lips will speak ever words of beauty, truth, and gentle love on whatever theme he may speak.


August 21

Our Personal Creed

How many of us have taken our Bibles—and put the doctrines of our creed to the proof? Our creeds might be shorter if we did this; yet if we only believed two or three great doctrines, and believed them after personal inquiry, and were able to tell why we believed them—it would be better than if we believed thirty-nine or forty or any number of doctrines merely because our church teaches them. It is time we should begin to think earnestly about these things. Every Christian ought to be able to give an intelligent reason for the faith that is in him. Our personal creeds ought to grow out of our daily searching of the Word and our daily living.


August 22

No Strange Mystery There

"We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28. There are depths in the love of God, which are as vast and fathomless as the ocean—but we are only on the shore. Then there are inscrutable things in God's providential dealings with each one of us. Heaven will solve a thousand mysteries for us in a moment. We will then see the reason for every trial, every pain, every loss, every disappointment. There will not be a trace of mystery left hanging about any providence. Love will glow everywhere. Then we shall see clearly, what now we know only by faith—"that all things work together for the good of those who love God—to those who are called according to His purpose."


August 23

Loving Unlovely People

"Above all, love each other deeply—because love covers over a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8. There are some people whom it is very easy to love. They are congenial to our tastes. They have amiable qualities or charming manners, or they have befriended us, or they are our social companions. But there are others who are not congenial—not amiable—not to our taste. They have unlovely and disagreeable traits. Faults mar the beauty of their character. Yet if we are Christians—we should not fail to show brotherly love toward any. We must seek that love, which hides the multitude of sins and faults.


August 24

Misrepresenting Christ

If we are sour, peevish, easily provoked, surly, resentful, jealous, envious, bad-tempered in any way—what sort of impression of Christ do we give to those who know nothing of him—but what they learn from our lives? Surely if we love Christ truly—we will not allow ourselves to continue to dishonor him—by living a life so unworthy of his dear name. Whatever we may do for Christ, in gifts to his cause or work in his service—if we fail to live out his life of sweet patience and kindness—we fail of an essential part of our duty as Christians. "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:1-2


August 25

The Well in the Heart

All noble life must be an inspiration from within—a well of water springing up—the spontaneous outflow of a full heart. We must seek to be filled with the divine Spirit. Then self will die. Then our life will breathe blessings and drop blessings everywhere. Our very look will be full of kindness. We shall radiate light wherever we move, chasing away the darkness of others' sorrow. Then, sharing our loaf with the hungry, our joy with the joyless, our strength with the fainting—Christ will give us more and more of comfort, joy, strength, and helpful power, and at last will share with us his own crown and glory. For the well in the heart—springs up into everlasting life.


August 26

The Blessing of Trust

You cannot take into the innermost circle of your own heart's friends, one who does not fully trust you. Doubt builds walls between hearts. Distrust hinders close fellowship. The same is true in friendship with Jesus. There must be perfect trust—if we would get near to him. He knows those who trust in him. He feels the touch of every hand that rests in faith upon his arm. He feels the gentle pressure of every head that is laid upon his bosom. He hears every sweet breathing of confidence that goes up from our lips. Oh for that trust that, in every experience of sorrow and joy, remains calm and unbroken!


August 27

The One Perfect Life

Where do we find the truest, noblest life? There is no smallest fragment of our humanity, which retains the absolute perfection and beauty that were in human life as it came first from the Creator's hand. If we would see life in its wholeness, unmarred, undebased—the highest, purest, truest life—we must look at Jesus. We are to become like Christ. We should never, therefore, lose sight of him. Keeping the ideal always before our eyes will, unconsciously yet powerfully, draw us toward it. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus!" Hebrews 12:2. "And we, who with unveiled faces all contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory!" 2 Corinthians 3:18


August 28

Not in the Easy Paths

We are strongly tempted, in these luxurious days—to seek out the easy ways in life. Naturally we are not fond of bearing heavy burdens, of performing hard tasks, of making self-denials. We prefer to be indolent. Not many people die of overwork; more die of laziness. Souls are withered, too, by self-indulgence. It is a false idea that God has sown his blessings thickest. amid the flowers of earth's gardens; nay, they lie thickest on the bare fields of hardship and toil. In shrinking from self-denials called for in the path of duty—we are missing the best things God has to give us. "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." Luke 9:23-24


August 29

Uselessness of Worry

Worrying about your hard work, does not make the work any easier—and it only makes you less strong and courageous for doing it. Worrying about some misfortune which you cannot help—makes the misfortune no less, and only renders its endurance harder. Thus far even common-sense goes. Then true religion goes farther, and assures us that even the hard things, the obstacles and the hindrances, become blessings if we meet them in faith. They become stepping-stones upward, disciplinary experiences in which we may grow ever into nobler, stronger life.


August 30

Trust Better Than Questions

We ought not to ask questions about our Father's ways—why he does this—why he does that. Surely it is better to trust our Father—than to weary our brain with efforts to solve the mysteries of his providence. Questions indicate fear or doubt. Perfect trust asks no questions, does not seek to understand the mysteriousness of God's ways. It says, "Even so, Father—for so it seems good in your sight," and rests there in perfect peace. Of course we cannot expect always to understand God's ways—he would not be God if we could; but we know that God's love is the key to them all, and that in time, all shall be made clear even to us.


August 31

The Greatest Work

We cultivate benevolence, charity, philanthropy, patriotism. We feed the hungry, and visit the sick, and minister to the poor, and provide for the widow and the orphan, and practice generosity. We emphasize personal character and service. We try to do good to men's bodies. We educate their minds. We seek their best interests in all physical and intellectual ways. All this is well so far as it goes; but we have not yet reached the greatest of all earthly things, the most important of all the work which a Christian can do. Are we striving to win souls? Are we seeking the lost to bring them to Christ? Saving souls is earth's greatest work!

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"I am the light of the world" John 8:12