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In Green Pastures
December



 

 


 

December 1

Climbing to Sainthood

Men do not fly up mountains; they go up slowly, step by step. True Christian life is always mountain-climbing. Heaven is above us, and ever keeps above us. It never gets easy to go heavenward. It is a slow and painful process to grow godly. No one leaps to sainthood at a bound. Nobody gets the victory once for all over his faults and sins. It is a struggle of years, and every day must have its victories, if we are ever to be final and complete overcomers. Yet while we cannot expect to reach the radiant mountain-summit at one bound—we certainly ought to be climbing at least step by step. We ought not to sit on the same little terrace, part way up the mountain, day after day. Higher and higher should be our unresting aim.

December 2

A Stone's-Cast Further

Jesus took his chosen friends with him into Gethsemane. Likewise, those who love us most truly, must share our sorrow with us. But it is noteworthy, also, that Jesus himself went deeper into the shadows of the garden than he asked his friends to go. Is not this fact most suggestive? We need not fear that in any grief of ours we shall ever be alone, without companionship. We shall never find ourselves in shadows too deep for the sympathy and help of the Christ. However far into the garden of sorrow we may ever be led, if we lift up our eyes—we shall see that Jesus is on before us, a stone's-cast further than he has asked us to go.

December 3

Certainty of Reward

We need give ourselves no trouble about the reward of our life. Be it ours only to do our duty faithfully, sweetly, lovingly, all the days; then God will see that we do not miss the reward of fidelity. Our Lord suggests that the righteous will be surprised at the Judgment to learn of the glory and greatness of the services of love they have rendered to needy ones. Supposing only that they were showing kindness to the poor, they will learn that they were serving the King himself! Thus the smallest and obscurest ministry will flash out in splendid radiancy in the day of final revealing. No true service done in this world in Christ's name—will fail of blessing and reward. Even the acts which seem to have been of no avail, will leave a blessing somewhere. If your kind word or deed blesses no other, the doing of it will bless your own heart. Though your effort does no good to the one you meant to help—it may touch another life. Our wayside seed-sowing is not lost.

December 4

Honoring by Taking

We honor God most—we make the fittest requital to him for his benefits, not by giving to him—but by receiving from him. Love wants no return for what it gives or does. God does not show favors in order to receive as much again. He gives because his heart is full of love, because he yearns to bless us. The only requital he wants—is the glad acceptance of what he offers. He wants only love in return. Consecration? Yes—but the consecration of love, and not as recompense or repayment. The Psalmist asks —

"What shall I render unto the Lord
For all his benefits toward me?"
And then he answers—
"I will take the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord."

December 5

How Unbelief Robs Us

Christ never compels anyone to take the gifts and blessings which he has to bestow. We complain of our sparse blessedness. We wonder why God does not manifest himself to us as he has done to others. We wonder why we cannot have such power in prayer, as some Christians have—why so little seems to come from our work for Christ. It is not from any lack of power in Christ, for his strength never fails nor wastes; it is because we will not receive what he brings. Unbelief shuts up Christ's hand that it cannot give to us the things of his grace, or cannot work deliverances for us. Thus our unbelief keeps us impoverished. It hides God's face, and robs us of the deep, rich joys which faith would bring. Shall we not pray for simple faith, that we may receive large things?

December 6

Frozen Love

There is a great deal of love, which lacks affectionateness. Someone speaks of beautiful cathedrals with all their splendid architecture as "frozen music." There is a great deal of frozen love in this world. It is stately, strong, and beautiful—but it lacks tender expression. It lies cold and crystal in the heart, and never flows out in tenderness of word or act. There are hundreds of homes in our land in which there is love which would die for its dear ones if there were need; while yet in those very homes hearts are starving for love's daily bread.

December 7

The Blessing of Friendship

"Partners in cares" the old Romans called true friends. True friendship implies mutual helpfulness. It is not all on one side; where such friendship is, there are always two shoulders under every burden. Friendship knows no limit in serving; it gives all, life itself, if need be. Its yearning is not to receive—but to give; not to be ministered unto—but to minister. The cynic sneers at the thought of friendship—but there are holy human friendships whose beauty and splendor remind us, amid the world's selfishness and hardness, that man was made in the image of God, that fragments of that image yet exist even in fallen lives, and that it is possible at last, through God's grace, to restore the heavenly luster.

December 8

The Mission of a Disciple

Christ no longer goes about in person among men, laying his hands on the sick, the lame, the blind, the children. This work he has entrusted to his disciples. He wants us to represent him. He wants us to be to the sick, the sorrowing, the stricken, the fallen—what he would be to them if he were here again on the earth. It is not hard for us to know, therefore, what it is to be a true Christian. We have but to study the story of our Lord's life, watching how he helped and blessed others, to get the key to all Christian duty. His miracles we cannot repeat—but his sympathy, his gentleness, his thoughtfulness, his unselfishness, are patterns for our human imitation. If we catch his inner spirit "the mind that was in Christ" we will become great blessings wherever we go in his name. Then our touch will soothe, our words will comfort, strengthen, and inspire, and our deeds of love will leave blessings on every life.

December 9

Receiving to Give

As we receive each new lesson in life, each new piece of knowledge, each new experience, each fresh inspiration —our attitude should be one of reverent and humble unselfishness. We should say, "This is a gift from God to me, and I am his servant. It is not mine to keep all to myself, for my own enjoyment. God gave it to me to make me more a blessing. I must not keep this light burning in the narrow chamber of my own life merely; I must place it so that it will throw its beam upon some other life."

December 10

Unchrist-like Forgiveness

There are some people whose forgiveness is little better than their malice. They never let you forget that they have forgiven you. Indeed, you sometimes almost wish they had not forgiven you at all, so miserable and so aggravating is their charity. Let us learn to forgive generously, richly, making our forgiveness complete, sweeping forever away—all grudge and bitterness.

December 11

Victory by Waiting

Must life be a failure for one compelled to stand still in forced inaction and see the great throbbing tides of life go by? No; victory is then to be gotten by standing still, by quiet waiting. It is a thousand times harder to do this—than it was in the active days to rush on in stirring life. It requires a grander heroism to stand and wait and not lose heart and not lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up work and honors to others, to be quiet, confident, and rejoicing, while the happy, busy multitude goes on and away. It is the grandest life "having done all, to stand."

December 12

A Sure Harvest

While God may not give us the exact result which we hope to realize in the things we do for him, he will give some other result which will prove even better. No work for Christ will fail; no effort put forth for him will be in vain. Says Charles Kingsley —

"Not all who seem to fail have failed indeed;
What though the seed be cast by the wayside,
And the birds take it? yet the birds are fed."

Even if there is no result here in this world, there will be a result in the world to come. Many people die and see yet no harvest from their life's sowing. But if they have been faithful, their eyes will open, when they enter heaven, on a blessed vision of ripened harvest in glory from their sowing on earth.

December 13

Promise and Prayer

There is really no true praying, which is not based on a divine promise. We may never pray acceptably unless there is a promise for the thing we want. But when God has promised anything to us—we can go to him with boldness and ask him to do as he has said. But why ask—if he has promised? Asking shows faith. Asking is the acceptance on our part of what God offers. Ask—and you shall receive; ask not—and you shall not receive. Find a promise for what you want, and then bring it boldly to God. If you have no plain promise, ask humbly, submissively, and modestly, leaving altogether to his wise love, the things about which you are uncertain.

December 14

Master I am Ready

"I am ready." That is what consecration means. It is doing what Christ commands. It is going where Christ sends you. It is not a mere devout sentiment—warmth of heart, good feeling; it is being good and doing good. Oh, be earnest. Be faithful. Be true. Be strong. Believe in Christ. Cleave to him. Do your work for him. Lift up your face toward your beloved Master's face, and say to him, "Master, I am ready. I know not what you have for me to do—to work or to suffer, to live or to die—but I am ready. I am ready to speak for you, to endure persecution for you, to live for you. I am ready; I am ready."

December 15

His Changeless Love

You have felt the warmth of Christ's love pouring like sunshine upon your life. You believe that he loves you today. Yet sometimes you fear for the future. "Will his love always last?" you ask with trembling. "May he never weary of me?" Nay; he loves unto the end. Other things about you will fade and die; other joys will perish out of your heart; other loves will grow cold; but the love of Christ which throbs about you now, will never change.

December 16

Keep the Door of My Lips

No prayer should be oftener spoken by us, than that of David in one of his psalms: "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." There is nothing in all our life to which most of us give less heed, than to our words. We let them fly from our lips as the leaves fly from the trees when the autumn winds blow. Many people seem to think that words scarcely have a moral character. They watch their acts, their conduct, and then give full license to their tongues. This is not right. A true Christian should have a Christian tongue. Words have terrific power for harm—if they are wrong words, and blessed, immortal power for good—if they are holy words. We need to pray continually that God would keep the door of our lips, and set a watch before our mouth. Only love should be permitted to interpret itself in speech. Bitterness and all evil should be restrained.

December 17

Remembering Kindnesses

At the time when help, deliverance, or favor comes to us—our hearts are very warm with grateful feeling. "We will never forget this kindness," we say. But do we never forget it? We remember injuries done to us. We all know how hard it is to forget a wrong that another has inflicted upon us. Sometimes we say, with martyr-like air, "I forgive him—but I can never forget the injury." Slights and cutting words and unkindnesses and neglects—how well we remember these. But have we as good memories for favors, kindnesses, blessings? Ought we not to have? Shall we not train ourselves rather, to forget the hurts we receive as the lake forgets the ploughing of the keel through its waters, and to remember with faithful gratitude every smallest kindness done to us?

December 18

The Expression of Love

There are friendships which are true enough—but which are not hallowed by those graceful attentions and tokens of thoughtfulness, which cost so little and yet are worth so much. The kindly feeling in the heart ought to find some way to utter itself—a way in keeping, too, with the delicacy and beauty of the sentiment. The affection ought to exhibit itself in amiability, in gentleness, in thoughtfulness. We ought not to be so dilatory of our kind words.

December 19

Our Message to Souls

When you go out to seek the lost, tell them that God in heaven loves them. Tell them that his heart yearns for them as a mother yearns for her absent wandering child. No matter how sunken in sin, how depraved, how completely the divine image has been blotted from the soul, how ruined the life may be—still bend over the wreck of manhood or womanhood and whisper the blessed message, "God loves you." Tell it so earnestly that it cannot fail to be listened to, understood, and believed. This is the message of life and hope.

December 20

Forgetting Promises

A promise made to a child or to the lowliest, most unworthy person should be kept, no matter how hard it may be to keep it "I entirely forgot my promise," one says, as if forgetting it were much less a sin than deliberately breaking it. We have no right to forget any promise we make to another. If we cannot trust our memory—we should make note of our promises and engagements on paper, and then keep them scrupulously, on the very minute. To break even the slightest promise, is grievously to wrong and hurt another life.

December 21

Not Fainting Under Trial

There are some people who give up and lose all their courage and faith, the moment any trouble comes. They cannot endure trial. Sorrow utterly crushes them. They think they cannot go on again. There have been lives broken down by affliction, which have never risen again out of the dust. There have been mothers, happy and faithful before, who have lost one child out of their home, and have never cared for life again, letting their home grow dreary and desolate and their other children go uncared for, as they sat with folded hands in the abandonment of their uncomforted grief. There have been men with bright hopes who have suffered one defeat or loss, and have never risen again out of the dust. But God's Word teaches that we should never faint under any trial. God chastens us, not to crush us—but for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. To faint, therefore, under chastening, is disloyalty to God. We should accept the affliction with reverence, and turn the whole energy of our life into the channels of obedience and service.

December 22

What Shall We Be

We have in us, a life that when fully manifested, will be altogether like Christ's. Christ's glory will shine in our faces; his beauty will glow in our souls. No matter how imperfect, how faulty, how full of blemishes we may be now—we are to be "like him" when the divine life in our souls bursts out into all its richness and fullness of manifestation. With such a hope in our hearts, should we not keep ourselves from everything unworthy of such dignity and holiness, and strive to reach "whatever things are lovely"?

December 23

Make the Last Day Beautiful

The last day a friend was with us, is always sacred in memory. The last walk we had together, the last talk, the last book we read, the last letter, the last good-bye—we never forget. We all want to leave sweet memories behind us in the hearts of our friends when we are gone from earth. We want our names to be fragrant in the homes on whose thresholds, in whose halls, our footfalls are accustomed to be heard. We can make sure of this, only by so living always that any day would be a suitable and beautiful last day, leaving only tender recollections. We must make no bitterness for another life any day, because that day may be our last, and that memory the one that will stay in the heart when we are gone.

December 24

O Christ, Forgive!

Oh, blessed ministry of true Christian speech! May God forgive us for the abuse or misuse of the glorious gift! If a word of ours has ever hurt a tender spirit, or tarnished a white soul, or turned any away from the right path—O Christ, forgive us and help us to undo the wrong! Give us grace and wisdom, that we may use the gift of speech to honor you and bless the world.

December 25

On Christ's Birthday

It is Christ's birthday. In among all our festivities, should come sweet thoughts of the love of God. The gifts we may receive should make us think of the greatest gift of all—when God gave his Son. Let us all try to make our Christmas very full of memories of Christ. Let the blessed love of Christ make a glad Christmas in our hearts, helping us to be like Christ himself in love, unselfishness, and forgiveness.

Echoing Christmas Songs

What Christ is to us we ought, in our human measure, to be to others. Christmas means love. Christ came to our world to pour divine kindness on weary, needy, perishing human lives. The Christmas spirit in our hearts should send us out on the same errand. There is need everywhere for love's ministry. We should learn the true Christmas lesson of gentle, thoughtful kindness to those we love and to all we meet in life's busy ways.

December 26

Christmas Lessons

Christmas should teach us to be Christ to others all about us, that from our very garments may flow the virtue that shall heal and bless all who touch us. There are few people whom God calls to do great things for him—but the best thing that we can do in this world—is to live out a real, simple, beautiful, strong Christian life in our allotted place. Thus in our little measure, we shall repeat the life of the Master himself, showing men some feeble reflection of his sweet and loving face, and doing in our imperfect way, a few of the lovely things he would do if he were here himself in our place.

December 27

Darkened Rooms

God carries many of his children into the darkened rooms of affliction, and when they come forth again, there is more of the beauty of Christ in their souls. We get many of the best things of our lives out of suffering and pain. It may be the easiest—but it surely is not the best life, and the most blessed, that is free from trial. The crown is not given to untried lives.

December 28

Power of Faith

Shall we not try to learn the secret of power in Christian life and Christian work? We can do a great deal more for Christ and to bless the world, than most of us are doing. It is more faith that we need. Faith links us to Christ, so that wherever we go in his name he goes with us, and whatever we do for him his power rests upon us. Every Christian life ought to be a force among men, a witness for Christ, an influence for blessing and good. Let us get nearer to Christ, that he can use us for doing the greater things.

December 29

Consecration of Will

The highest reach of faith is loving, intelligent consecration of all our life, to the will of God. We are to have desires—but they should be held in subordination to God's desires and thoughts for us. We are to have plans—but they should be laid down at God's feet, that he may either let us work them out for him, or show us his plan for us instead of our own. Complete consecration of our will to God's—that is the standard of Christian living at which we are to aim. We must voluntarily yield ourselves to God. That is consecration.

December 30

Hidden Blessing

Every hard duty which lies in your path, that you would rather not do, that it will cost you pain or struggle or sore effort to do—has a blessing in it. Not to do it, at whatever cost, is to miss the blessing. Every hard piece of road on which you see the Master's foot-prints, and along which he bids you follow him, surely leads to a blessing, which you cannot get if you cannot go over the steep, thorny path. Every point of battle to which you come, where you must draw your sword and fight with the enemy, has in it a possible victory which will prove a rich blessing to your life. Every heavy load that you are called to lift, hides in itself some strange secret of strength.

December 31

The Blessing of Penitence

The memory of transgression will always give pain. Penitence is not the best thing; innocence is far better. But, having sinned, penitence is infinitely better than despair. And even out of the sin, the shame, and the sorrow—God can bring blessing for ourselves and for others. While we cannot undo our wrong deeds, God can keep them from undoing us, and can even bring good out of them in some strange way, if we commit the whole matter to him.

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