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In Green Pastures
February



 

 


February 1

Contentment—Not Satisfaction

We must distinguish between contentment and satisfaction. We are to strive to be content in any state; we are never to be satisfied in this world, whether our circumstances are prosperous or adverse. Satisfaction can come only when we awake in Christ's likeness, in the world of eternal blessedness. We are not to seek contentment by restraining or crushing the infinite cravings and longings of our souls. Yet we are meant as Christians, to live amid all circumstances, in quiet calmness and unbroken peace, in sweet restfulness of soul, wholly independent of the strifes and storms about us, and undisturbed by them. Content in whatever state—yet never satisfied—that is the ideal life for every Christian.

February 2

Serving Christ at Home

Many people think that work for Christ must be something outside, something great or public. They imagine that to minister to Christ, they must teach a Sunday-school class or join a missionary society, or go out to visit sick people, or go into hospitals or prisons on missions of mercy. These are all beautiful and important ministries, and Christ wants some of you to do just these things too; but the very first place you are to serve him is in your own home. Let the blessed light of your life, first be shed abroad in that most sacred of all spots. Brightening that little place, you will be the more ready to be a blessing outside. Those who are the best Christians at home—are the best everywhere else.

February 3

Keeping our Promises

Many people promise anything you ask of them—but make a small matter of keeping their promises. They enter into engagements with you to do this or that, to meet you or call on you at a certain time or to do some favor for you—but utterly fail to fulfill their engagements. This is a very serious matter—this lack of fidelity to promises and engagements. Surely we ought to keep sedulous watch over ourselves in this regard. We ought to be faithful to the promises we make—cost what it may. It is a noble thing when we find one whose promises we are as sure of, as of the rising of the sun; whose simplest word is as good as his oath; who does just what he says he will do—at the moment he says he will do it. That is the kind of faithfulness God wants.

February 4

Love—as Well as Service

We may carry too far, our idea that all our service of Christ, our acts of love for him, must be also in some way acts of practical beneficence and help to our fellow-men. We may not call all deeds and gifts wasted, which do not feed the hungry or clothe the naked. In secret we may pour our broken heart's love upon Christ, bathing his feet with penitential tears, even though we do nothing in these acts for any human life. In our worship we may adore him and love him, though we comfort no sad heart and help no weary one. Nothing is so grateful to the heart of Christ, as love; and surely we ought sometimes just to love Christ, forgetting every other being in the ecstasy of our heart's adoring.

February 5

God's Plan for our Lives

God does not merely make souls and send them into this world to take bodies and grow up amid crowds of other souls with bodies, to take their chances and make what they can of their destinies. He plans specifically for each life. He deals with us as individuals. He knows us by name, and loves us each one with a love as distinct and personal, as if each was the only child he had on this earth. He has a definite plan for each life. It is always a beautiful plan too, for he never designs marring and ruin for a life. He never made a human soul for the express purpose of being lost. God's design for each life is that it shall reach a holy character, do good work in the world, fill a worthy place, however humble, and fill it well, so as to honor God and bless the world.

February 6

The Habit of Sympathy

The gentle ministries of love, which you take time to perform as you hurry from task to task in your busy days, will give you the sweetest joy as you remember them in the after-days. What these ministries are to those who receive them—you never can know until your own heart is sad and lonely and one comes to you in turn with the true comfort of love. Train yourself to the habit of sympathy. Be ready any hour to speak the full rich word of love which shall lighten the burden of the one you meet. Everywhere are hearts that need and hunger for what you have to give—and God has given love to you, for the very purpose of blessing those whom he sends to you day by day.

February 7

Use Your One Talent

Use your one talent for God's glory, and he will give you more to use. Do the little duties faithfully, and you will grow in skill and ability and be able for greater. No duties are small or unimportant. There are many who grow discouraged, because they are kept all their life at little tasks. Men praise grand and heroic deeds, and little notice is taken of the common heroisms of daily duty. But you remember what one said—that if God sent two angels to earth, one to rule an empire and the other to clean a street, they would each regard their employment as equally distinguished. True faithfulness regards nothing as small or unimportant.

February 8

The Cost of Being Good

We can never bless the world by merely having a good time in it. We must suffer, give, and sacrifice, if we would do good to others. It costs, even to be good. Some of us know what self-repression, what self-restraint, what self-crucifixion, and what long, severe discipline lie behind calmness, peacefulness, sweetness of disposition, good-temper, kindly feelings, and habitual thoughtfulness. Most of us have lived long enough, to know that these qualities do not come naturally. We have to learn to be good-tempered, thoughtful, gentle, even to be courteous, and the learning is always hard. Indeed we attain nothing good or beautiful in spiritual life—without cost.

February 9

As I have Loved You

"Love one another—as I have loved you." How did Christ love his disciples? How did he manifest his love to them? Was it not, among other ways—in wondrous patience with them, with their faults, their ignorance, their unfaithfulness? Was it not in considerate kindness, in ever-watchful thoughtfulness, in compassionate gentleness? Was it not in ministering to them in all possible ways? What is it, then, to love one another—as he loves us? Is it not to take his example for our pattern? But how slowly we learn it! How hard it is to be gentle; patient, kindly, thoughtful, even perfectly true and just, one to another! Still, there the lesson stands and waits for us, and we must never falter in learning it.

February 10

Soul-Hunger

A religion which is satisfied with any ordinary attainments—indeed, that is ever satisfied at all—is not a living religion. The Master's blessing is upon those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. It is the longing soul which grows. There are better things before you, than what you have attained. Strive to reach them. It is not easy to rise Christward, heavenward, to advance in the Christian life, to grow godly. It is hard, costly, and painful. Many people are discouraged because they do not appear to themselves, to be any better, to be any more like Christ today, than they were yesterday. But even true longing is growth. It is the soul's reaching Godward.

"The thing we long for--that we are,
 For one transcendent moment."

February 11

God and Nature

We talk about laws of nature, and we say they are fixed and unchanging. Yes—but God is behind the laws of nature. They are merely his ways of working. They do not work and grind, like a great heartless machine; there is a heart of love, a Father's heart, at the center of all this vast mechanism which we call nature. All things work together for good—to everyone who loves God. You are the center of the universe, in a sense that is wondrously true. All things revolve around you; all things minister to your good. If only you keep your trust fixed upon God, and are obedient and submissive, even nature's tremendous energies will never harm your true life.

February 12

The Splendor of Common Duty

Every common walk of life, is glorious with God's presence—if we could but see the glory. We are always under commission from Christ. We have sealed orders from him every morning, which are opened as the day's events come. Every opportunity for duty or for heroism, is a divine call. Be loyal to duty, no matter where you may hear its call, nor to what service it may bid you. Duty is duty, however humble it may be; and duty is always noble, because it is what God himself allots. The work which the day brings to us is always his will—and the sweetest thing in all this world to a loving loyal heart, always is God's will. The service of angels in heaven's brightness is no more radiant than the faithful duty-doing of the lowliest saint on earth.

February 13

The Losing that is Saving

The way to make nothing of our life, is to be very careful of it, to hold it back from perilous duty, from costly service, to save it from the waste of self-denial and sacrifice. The way make our life an eternal success, is to do with it what Jesus did with his—present it a living sacrifice to God, to be used wholly for him. Men said he threw his life away, and so it certainly seemed—up to the morning of his resurrection. But no one would say that now of Christ. His was the throwing away of life which led to its glorifying. In no other way can we make anything worthy and eternal of our life. Saving is losing. It is losing it in devotion to Christ and his service—which saves a life for heavenly honor and glory.

February 14

The Value of the Reserve

There is a wide difference between worrying about a possible future of trial—and being ready for it, if it should come. The former we should never be; the latter we should always seek to be. It is he who is always prepared for emergencies, for the hard pinches, the steep climbing, the sore struggle—who gets through life victoriously. In moral and spiritual things, it is the same. It is the reserve which saves us in all final tests—the strength which lies behind what we need in ordinary experiences. Those who daily commune with God, breathing his life into their souls, become strong with that secret, hidden strength, which preserves them from falling in the day of trial. They have a "vessel" from which to refill the lamp, when its little cup of oil is exhausted.

February 15

Finding Your Mission

To find your mission, you have but to be faithful wherever God puts you for the present. The humbler things he gives in the earlier years are for your training, that you may be ready at length for the larger and particular service for which you were born. Do these smaller, humbler things well, and they will prove steps in the stairs up to the loftier height where your "mission" waits. To spurn these plainer duties and tasks, and to neglect them, is to miss your mission itself in the end, for there is no way to get to it, but by these ladder-rounds of commonplace things which you disdain. You must build your own ladder day by day, in the common fidelities.

February 16

Sorrow's Compensation

Beyond the river of sorrow, there is a promised land. No grief for the present seems joyous—yet afterward it leads to blessing. There is a rich possible good, beyond every pain and trial. There are green fields beyond sorrow's Jordans. God never means harm to our lives, when he sends afflictions to us. Our disappointments are God's appointments, and bring rich compensation. Our losses are designed to become gains to us—as God plans for us. There is nothing really evil in the experiences of a Christian, if only God is allowed to work out the outcome. Our Father sends us nothing—but good. No matter about the drapery, be it somber or mirthful—it enfolds a gift of love.

February 17

A Time to be Deaf

In gossip or slander, the listener is almost, if not quite, as bad as the speaker. The only true thing is to shut your ears, the moment you begin to hear from anyone an evil report of another. The person has no right to tell it to you—and you have no right to hear it. If you refuse to listen, he will not be able to go on with his narration. Ears are made to hear with—but on occasion it is well to be deaf. We all aim at courtesy, and courtesy requires that we be patient listeners, even to dull and prosy talkers; but even courtesy may not require us to listen to evil reports about a neighbor. Ear-gate should be trained to shut instinctively, when the breath of aspersion touches it, just as eye-gate shuts at slightest approach of harm.

February 18

Personal Influence

Every human life, is a force in this world. On every side—our influence pours perpetually. If our lives are true and good, this influence is a blessing to other lives. Let us never set agoing, any influence which we shall ever want to have gathered up and buried with us. When we think of our personal influence, unconscious, perpetual, pervading, and immortal, can we but cry out, "Who is sufficient for these things?" How can we command this outflow from our lives—that it shall always be blessed? Let us be faithful in all duties, in all obligations and responsibilities, in all obediences, in act, word, and disposition, all the days, in whatever makes influence. In no other way can we meet the responsibility of living.

February 19

The Human Part

Work of seeking, winning, and gathering perishing souls, Christ has committed to his disciples. The redemption is divine—but the mediation of it is human. So far as we know, no lost sinner is brought to repentance and faith—but through one who already believes. It is the Holy Spirit who draws souls to Christ—yet the Spirit works through believers on unbelievers. We see thus a hint of our responsibility for the saving of lost souls. There are those who will never be saved, unless we do our part to save them. Our responsibility is commensurate with our opportunity. Christ wants daily to pour his grace through us to other lives, and we are ready for this most sacred of all ministries, only when we are content to be nothing that Christ may be all in all; vessels emptied that he may fill them; channels through which his grace may flow.

February 20

The True Ministry of Pain

There is a Christian art of enduring pain, which we should seek to learn. The real goal is not just to endure the suffering which falls into our life, to bear it bravely, without wincing, to pass through it patiently, even rejoicingly. Pain has a higher mission to us, than to teach us heroism. We should endure it in such a way as to get something of blessing out of it. It brings to us some message from God, which we should not fail to hear. It lifts for us the veil which hides God's face, and we should get some new glimpses of his beauty, every time we are called to suffer. Pain is furnace-fire, and we should come out of it always with the gold of our character gleaming a little more brightly. Every experience of suffering ought in some way to lift us nearer God, to make us more gentle and loving, and to leave the image of Christ shining a little clearer in our lives.

February 21

Fault-Finding

It is strange how oblivious we can be of our own faults and of the blemishes in our own character—and how clearly we can see the faults and blemishes of other people. Finding so much wrong in others, is not a flattering indication of what our hearts contain. We ought to be very quiet and modest in criticizing others, for in most cases we are just telling the world what our own faults are. Before we turn our microscopes on others, to search out the unlovely things in them—we had better look in our mirrors to see whether or not we are free ourselves from the blemishes we would reprove in our neighbor. There is a wise bit of Scripture which bids us get clear of the beams in our own eyes, that we may see well to pick the motes out of the eyes of others.

February 22

Making Sweet Memories

We are all making memories in our todays for our tomorrows. The back log in the old-fashioned fireplace sings as it burns, and one with poetic fancy says that the music is the bird-songs of past years—that when the tree was growing in the forest the birds sang in its branches, and the music sank into the tree and was held there, until now in the winter fire it is set free. This is only a beautiful imagination—but there is an analogy in life which is actual. Along the days of childhood and youth, the bird-notes of gladness sing about us. They sink away into the heart and hide there. In the busy days of toil and care which follow, they ofttimes seem to be lost and forgotten. Then, in still later days, the fires of trial come and kindle about the life, and in the flames the long-imprisoned music is set free and flows out. Many an old age is brightened and sweetened, by the memories of early years. They are wise who in their happy youth-time fill their hearts with pure, pleasant things; they are laying up blessings for old age.

February 23

In All Your Ways

Do we make much of God in our lives? Is God really much to us in conscious personal experience? Do we not go on making plans and carrying them out, without once consulting him? We talk to him about our souls and about our spiritual affairs; but we do not speak to him about our daily work, our trials, our perplexities, our week-day, work-day life. We are to shut God out of no part of our life. We must have his assistance, if we would be ready for all that lies before us. We must get our little lives so attached to God's life, that we can draw from his fullness in every time of need.

February 24

The Blessing of Temptation

We sometimes wish there were no temptation, no sore trial in life, nothing to make it hard to be good, to be true, to be noble, to be pure. But did you ever think that these great qualities can never be gotten easily, without struggle, without self-denial, without toil? Every promised land in life lies beyond a deep, turbulent river, which must be crossed before the beautiful land can be entered. Not to be able to cross the stream is not to enter the blessed country. Every temptation is therefore a path which leads to something noble and good. If we endure the temptation and are victorious, we shall find ourselves within the gates of a new paradise. "Blessed is the man who endures temptation: for when he has been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love him."

February 25

Fidelity in Trifles

There will be eternal honors for those who have filled important places of trust and responsibility in this world and have proved faithful in great things. There will be crowns of glory for the martyrs who, along the ages, have died rather than deny Christ. But there will be rewards just as brilliant and diadems just as splendid for those who, in lives of lowly service and self-denial and in patient endurance and humble devotion, have been faithful in the things that are least. God does not overlook the lowly, nor does he forget the little things. If only we are faithful in the place to which he assigns us and in the duties he gives us—we shall have our reward, whether the world praises, or whether our lives and our deeds are unknown and unpraised among men. Faithful! that is the approval which brings glory.

February 26

Power and responsibility

Power makes responsibility. You are not responsible merely for what you are trying to do—but for what God has given you power to do. Wake up those slumbering possibilities in your soul; you are responsible for all these. Stir up the unused, inactive gifts that are in you; you are responsible for these. The things you can do, or can learn to do, are the things which Christ is calling you to do, and the things he will require at your hand when he comes again. It is time we were understanding life's meaning. God gives us seeds—but he will require more than seeds at our hand; he will require all the harvest of beauty and blessing that the best tillage can bring out of the seeds.

February 27

The Ministry of Sympathy

No ministry in this world is more beautiful or more helpful, than that of those who have become familiar with life's paths, and have learned life's secrets in the school of experience, and then go about inspiring, strengthening, and guiding younger souls who come after them. Nothing in Christ is more precious than this knowledge of life's ways, gained by his own actual experience in human paths. He has not forgotten what life was to him. He remembers how he felt when he was hungry, or weary, or in struggle with the tempter, or forsaken by his friends. And it is because he passed through all these experiences, that now in heaven he can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and can give us sympathy, help, and guidance.

February 28

Growing Through Habits

One whose daily life is careless, is always weak; but one who habitually walks in the paths of uprightness and obedience, grows strong in character. Exercise develops all the powers of his being. Doing good, continually adds to one's capacity for doing good. Victoriousness in trial or trouble, puts ever new strength into the heart. The habit of faith in the darkness, prepares for stronger faith. Habits of obedience make one immovable in one's loyalty to duty. We can never over-estimate the importance of life's habits; they lead our growth of character in whatever way they tend.

February 29

Your Will be Done

God's will for us leads on earth to the noblest, truest, most Christ-like character, and then beyond this world to glory and eternal life. For you, whatever your experiences, however hard and painful life may seem to you—God's will is the very hand of divine love to lead you on toward all that is good and beautiful and blessed. Never doubt it, even in the darkest hour, or when the pain is sorest, or when the cross is heaviest. God's will holds you ever close to God, and leads you ever toward and into God's sweetest rest. It brings peace to the heart—a peace that never can come in any way of our own choosing—to be able always to say, "Your will be done."

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