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In Green Pastures
January



 

 


 

January 1

The Lord will Provide

Write deep in your heart this New-Year's day, this word of sublime confidence, JEHOVAH-JIREH. It tells you that you can trust God always; that no promise of his ever fails; that he does all things well; that out of all seeming loss and destruction of human hopes—he brings blessing. You have not passed this way before. There will be sorrows and joys, failures and successes, this year, just as there were last year. You cannot forecast individual experiences. You cannot see a step before your feet. Yet Jehovah-Jireh calls you to enter the new year with calm trust. It bids you put away all anxieties and forebodings—"The Lord will provide."

Christ Our Biographer

We need not trouble to keep diaries of our good deeds or sacrifices, or to write autobiographies with pages of record for the good things we have done. We may safely let our life write its own record, or let Christ be our biographer. He will never forget anything we do, and the judgment-day will reveal everything. The lowliest services and the obscurest deeds will then be manifested.

January 2

True Living

Life means far more than many of us ever dream of. It is not merely passing through the world with a fair measure of comforts, with enough bread for our hunger, with enough clothing to keep us warm. Life means growth into the image of Christ himself, into strength of virtue, into well-rounded character, into disciplined manhood and womanhood, into the blessed peace of God. The peace into which he guides us—is victory over all the trials, a quietness and confidence which no external circumstances can break.

January 3

Scripture Truth

Character never can be strong, noble, and beautiful; nor can conduct be worthy of intelligent beings bearing God's image—if Scripture truth is not wrought into the very soul by personal search and meditation. Let us not stay forever in the primer of religious knowledge, amid the easy things that we learned at our mother's knee. There are glorious things beyond these—let us go on to learn them. The word of Christ can get into your heart to dwell in you and transform you—only through intelligent meditation and pondering of Scriptural truth.

January 4

Finding our Mission

We need never be anxious about our mission. We need never perplex ourselves in the least in trying to know what God wants us to do—what place he wants us to fill. Our whole duty is to do well, the work of the present hour. There are some people who waste entire years wondering what God would have them do—and expecting to have their life-work pointed out to them. But that is not the divine way. If you want to know God's plan for you—do God's will each day; that is God's plan for you today. If he has a wider sphere—a larger place for you—he will bring you to it at the right time, and then that will be God's plan for you and your mission.

"Our lives we cut on a curious plan,
Shaping them, as it were, for man;
But God, with better art than we,
Shapes them for eternity."

January 5

Prayer in Busy Days

It is in prayer that God shows his face to his children, that they have visions of his beauty and glory, that the sweet things of his love come down as gifts into their hearts, and that they are transformed into his likeness. If you would be blessed, get many seasons of prayer into your busy, harassed, tempted, struggling life. It is in these quiet moments, that you really grow. Somewhere in every vexed, feverish day—get a little "silent time" for prayer. It will bring heaven down into your heart, and make you strong for service.

January 6

The Sympathy of Christ

Unless words mean nothing, unless the Scriptures cheat us with poetical images and illusions, Christ feels our every grief and every struggle, and sympathizes with us in each one. Remember how his heart responded when he was on earth to all human need. Sorrow stirred his compassion. Every cry of distress went to the depths of his soul. That heart is still the same. When angels are thronging about him, and a poor weary sufferer in some lowly home on earth, or a stricken penitent crouching in some darkness, reaches out a trembling finger-tip of faith and touches the hem of his garment—he turns about with loving look and asks, "Who touched me?"

January 7

Yes and No

There is tremendous power in the little monosyllable "No!" when it is spoken resolutely and courageously. It has often been like a giant rock by the sea as it has encountered and hurled back the mighty waves of temptation. It is a majestic power the power to say "No" to everything that is not right. But it is just as important to learn to say "Yes." There come to us offers and solicitations we must not reject, and opportunities we must not thrust away. Life is not all resistance and defense. Whatever is wrong we must meet with a firm, strong uncompromising "No!" but whatever is right we should welcome into our life with a hearty, cheerful "Yes!"

January 8

The Discipline of Drudgery

There is nothing like life's drudgery to make men and women of us. You chafe under it. You sigh for leisure, to be freed from bondage to hours, to duties, to tasks, to appointments, to rules, to the treadmill round. Yet this is God's school for you. It may be a cross. Yes—but all true blessing comes to us hidden under the ruggedness and the heaviness of a cross. We do not grow most in the easiest life. Accept your treadmill round, your plodding, your dull task-work, and do all well—do always your best—and you will grow into strong, noble character.

January 9

God's Giving

God does not dole out help by little grains. He pours out blessings until there is no more room to receive. He gives until our emptiness is altogether filled. He is never done giving when you cease receiving—he could give far more. Nothing limits the supplies we get from God—but our capacity to take. He would give infinitely if we had room to receive infinitely, and the only reason we are not supplied in this glorious way, according to God's riches, is because we will not take all that God would give. The only thing which stands in the way of our being blessed to the full—is the smallness of our faith.

January 10

Our Clumsy Hands

Most of us are awkward in doing even our most loving deeds. We must learn to be patient, therefore, with people's awkwardness and clumsiness. Their hearts may be gentler than their hands. Do not misinterpret their actions, finding enmity where purest love is; or indifference where affection is warmest; or slights where honor was meant. Away with your petty suspicions! Be patient even with people's faults. Let us train ourselves to find the best we can in every act of others, to believe the best always of people and their actions, and to find some beauty in everything.

January 11

God's Better Answers

God many times answers our prayers—not by bringing down his will to ours—but by lifting us up to himself. We grow strong, so as to need no longer to cry for relief. We can bear the heavy load without asking to have it lightened. We can keep the sorrow now and endure it. We can go on in quiet peace without the new blessing which we thought so necessary. We have not been saved from the battle we shrank so from entering—but we have fought it through and have gained the victory. Is not victoriousness in conflict, better than being freed from the conflict? Is not peace in the midst of the storm and the strife—better than to be lifted altogether over the strife?

January 12

Touching Others

There are some good people who seem to want to be your friends and to do you good—but they stay at a distance, and never come near you. Then there are others who draw close to you, and look into your eyes and touch you with their hands. You know the difference between these two ways of helping. The former people give you only cold help, with no part of themselves, no tender sympathy; the latter may give you really less of material help—but they pour a portion of their own warm life into your soul. Christ never withheld his touch; he always gave part of himself. We should be the touch of Christ to others. His love should tingle in our very fingers when they touch others.

January 13

Fidelity to Duty

Too often we want to know how duty is going to come out, before we are ready to accept it and do it. But that is wrong, for we have nothing whatever to do with the cost or with the outcome of duty; we have to know only that it is duty—and then go right on and do it. The true way to live—is to bring to each duty that comes to our hand—our wisest thought and our best skill, doing what appears to us at the time to be the right thing to do, and then leaving it, never regretting nor fretting about results. God has promised to guide us, and if we are living in true relations to him, we may expect guidance moment by moment as we go on.

January 14

Having - Giving

It is not having which makes men great. A man may have the largest abundance of God's gifts—of money, of mental acquirements, of power, of heart-possessions and qualities—yet if he only holds and hoards what he has for himself, he is not great. Men are great, only in the measure in which they use what they have to bless others. We are God's stewards, and the gifts that come to us are his, not ours—and are to be used for him as he would use them. When we come to Christ's feet in consecration, we lay all we have before him. He accepts our gifts; and then putting them back into our hands he says, "Go now and use them in my name among the people."

January 15

An Eye for Motes

We ought not to expend all our keen-sightedness in discovering our neighbor's little faults. By some strange perverseness in human nature, we have far keener eyes for flaws and blemishes in others—than for the lovely things that are in them. Few of us go about talking to everyone we meet about our neighbor's good points, and praising the lovely things in him. Many of us, however, can tell of the faults in our neighbors. Would it not be well to change this, and begin gossiping about the good and beautiful things in others?

January 16

Silence That is Not Golden

Is any miserliness so base, as that which holds loving and gentle words in the heart unspoken, when dear lives are starving close beside us which our words would save and feed? Use your gift of speech to give comfort, joy, cheer, and hope to all about you. Use it to encourage the weary and disheartened, to warn those who are treading in paths of danger, to inspire the lethargic and indolent with high and holy motives, to kindle the fires of heavenly aspiration on cold heart-altars.

January 17

Christ in Us

We should not be satisfied with any small measures of attainment. If Christ dwells in each Christian, we should all be new incarnations. Christ himself was the incarnation of God. He said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." If we are Christians, we are new incarnations of Christ. We should be able to say to men: "Look at me, and see what Christ is like." The beauties of Christ should be seen in us. This will become true just in the measure in which the Christ in us is allowed to rule us and transform our lives. It should be our aim and prayer, that the divine abiding in us may be without hindrance, and that no part of our life shall remain unfilled.

January 18

Practical Kindness

Kindness must be practical, not merely emotional and sentimental. It should not be satisfied with good wishes, sympathetic words, or even with prayers; it should put itself into some form which will do good. There are times when even prayer is a mockery. It is sometimes our duty to answer our own requests, to be ourselves the messengers, which we ask God to send to help others. We are God's angels when we find ourselves in the presence of human needs and sorrows which we can supply or comfort. Expressions of pity or sympathy are mockeries—when we do nothing to relieve the distress.

January 19

Being—Doing

There is a silent personal influence, like a shadow, which goes out from everyone, and this influence is always leaving results and impressions wherever it touches. You cannot live a day—and not touch some other life. Wherever you go your shadow falls on others, and they are either better or worse for your presence. Our influence depends upon what we are—more than upon what we do. It is by living a beautiful life that we bless the world. I do not under-estimate holy activities. Good deeds must characterize every true life. Our hands must do mighty works. But if the life itself is noble, beautiful, holy, Christ-like, one that is itself a blessing, an inspiration, the worth of the influence is many times multiplied.

January 20

Preaching by Shining

Every Christian can preach sermons every day, at home and among neighbors and friends—by the beauty of holiness in his own common life. Wherever a true Christian goes, his life ought to be an inspiration. Our silent influence ought to touch other lives with blessing. People ought to feel stronger, happier, more earnest after meeting us. Our very faces ought to shed light, shining like holy lamps into sad and weary hearts. Our lives ought to be blessings to human sorrow and need all about us.

January 21

Too Late After-Thoughts

There is a time for the doing of the duties which are assigned to us. If we will do them in their own time, there will be a blessing in them. If, however, we do not perform them at the right moment, we need scarcely trouble ourselves to do them at all. The time to show interest and affection to any sufferer—is while the suffering is being endured, not next day, when it is all over, when the person is well again or—dead. Oh, there are so many of us whose best and truest thoughts are always after-thoughts, too late to be of any use! We see when all is over, what noble things we might have done—if we had only thought.

January 22

Serving in Love

Work in Christ's vineyard, gifts to missions, charities dispensed to the poor, money given to good causes, ministries among the sick and the needy—these things please Christ, only when there is in them all—love for him, when they are done truly for him, in his name. We need to look honestly into our hearts while we crowd our days with Christian activity, to know what the spirit is which prompts it all. "Do you love me?" is the Master's question as each piece of service is rendered, as each piece of work is done. There is no other true motive.

January 23

The Hiding Away of Self

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." Matthew 6:1. No grace shines more brightly in a Christian, than humility. Wherever SELF comes in—it mars the beauty of the work we are doing. Seek to do your work noiselessly. Do not try to draw attention to yourself, to make men know that you did this beautiful thing. Be content to pour your rich life into other wasted, weary lives, and see them blessed and made more beautiful, and then hide away and let Christ have the honor. Work for God's eye—and even then, do not think much about reward. Seek to be a blessing, and never think of self-advancement. Do not worry about credit for your work, or about monuments; be content to do good in Christ's name. "Then Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:4

January 24

Not as I Will

We may pray earnestly, pressing our very heart into the heavens—but it is for the doing of our own will that we ask, not for the doing of God's will. Is it the true child-like spirit for us—to insist on having our way with God, to press our will without regard to his? Are we not God's children? Is it not ours to learn obedience and submission in all things to him? No prayer is acceptable to God which, after all its intensity and importunity, is not still referred to God, and left to his superior wisdom. Who but he—knows what is best for us?

January 25

Spiritual Greatness

Spiritual greatness—sanctified character, beauty of soul, the likeness of God upon the life, heart-qualities — shall endure forever. Into this true spiritual greatness, God wants to train every one of us. Many Christians grow sadly disheartened, because they seem never to become any better. Year after year the struggle goes on with the old tempers and ugly dispositions, the old selfishness, pride, and hatefulness, and they appear never to be growing victorious. Yet Christ is a most patient teacher. He never wearies of our slowness and dullness as scholars. He will teach the same lesson over and over until we have learned it. If we only persevere, he will never tire of us, and his gentleness will make us great.

January 26

Patient Love

"As I have loved you" means love that is sweet, fragrant, and gentle to those who have many rudenesses and crudenesses, who are selfish and faulty, with sharp corners and but partially sanctified lives and very vexing ways. If all Christian people were angelic, and you were too—it would not be hard to love all. But as many other people are not yet angelic—you will still have need of patience, even if you are angelic yourself, which probably you are not.

January 27

Control of Temper

The worst-tempered people may be made gentle and loving in all speech, actions, and disposition—by the renewing and transforming power of divine grace. God can take the jangled keys and put them in tune—if we will but put them into his hand. But we must strive ourselves to be sweet-tempered. We must watch the rising anger and quickly choke it back. We must keep down the ugly dispositions. We must learn to control ourselves, our tempers, our feelings, our passions, our tongues. We must seek to develop the gentle things—and crowd out the nettles. The discipline is not easy—but the lesson can be mastered.

January 28

"As we forgive others"

In the model prayer which Christ gave to his disciples, he linked together the divine and the human forgiveness. While we pray to God to forgive our countless and enormous sins—we are taught to extend to others who harm us in little ways—the same forgiveness which we ask for ourselves. Let us keep no bitterness in our hearts for a moment. Let us put away all grudges and all ill-feelings. Let us remember the good things others do to us—and forget the evil things. Then we can pray sincerely, "Forgive us—as we forgive others." If we cannot do this, I do not know how we are going to pray at all for forgiveness.

January 29

The Test of Love

There is a great difference between love for people you never saw and never shall see—and for those with whom you mingle in close relations. There are some people whose souls glow with compassionate affection for the Chinese, the Hindus, the Japanese, who yet utterly fail in loving their nearest neighbors, those who jostle against them every day in business, in pew, in church-aisle, in society. The test of Christian love, is that it does not fail even when brought into closest contact, and into the severest frictions of actual living.

January 30

Winning Souls

We must love those whom we seek to save—but we must love Christ more; we must love them because we love Christ, because he loves them, because he gave himself for them. We must strive to win souls, not for ourselves—but for Christ. It is not enough to get people to love us; we must get them to love our Savior, to trust in him, and to commit their lives to him. We must hide ourselves away out of sight. He who is thinking of his own honor as he engages in any Christian service, is not a vessel ready to be used by Christ. We need to take care that no shadows of ourselves, of our pride, our ambition, our self-seeking, fall upon our work for Christ.

January 31

Blessings of Tribulation

When you have passed through a season of suffering and stand beyond it—there ought to be a new light in your eye, a new glow in your face, a new gentleness in your touch, a new sweetness in your voice, a new hope in your heart, and a new consecration in your life. You ought not to stay in the shadows of the sorrow—but to come again out of them, radiant with the light of victory and peace, into the place of service and duty. The comfort which God gives, puts deep new joy into the heart, and anoints the mourner or the sufferer with a new baptism of love and power.

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