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In Green Pastures



May 1

The Law of Ministry

God sets before us work, conflict, self-denial, cross-bearing. The central law of Christian life, is ministry, serving. You quote, "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." Yes—but there is no way of glorifying God, except by living to bless the world in Christ's name, to bless men by serving them, loving them, helping them, doing them good. We are debtors, therefore, to every man we meet. We owe him love; we owe him service. We are not to set ourselves up on little thrones—and demand homage and service from others; rather we are to do the serving. Christ came "not to be ministered unto—but to minister," and we should be as our Lord.

May 2

Unspoken Prayers

Every thought which flies through your brain—is heard in heaven. God hears wishes, heart-longings, aspirations, soul-hungerings and thirstings. Do not grieve, then, if you cannot find words in which to tell God what you want, if you cannot put into well-defined thoughts, the hopes and hungers of your heart. When words and even thoughts fail, pray in silent yearnings, in unutterable longings, and God will understand just as well, as if you spoke in common language. Much of our best praying is done—when we sit at God's feet and do not speak at all—but only let our hearts talk.

"Rather, as friends sit sometimes, hand in hand,
Nor mar with words the sweet speech of their eyes,
So in soft silence let us oftener bow,
Nor try with words to make God understand.
Longing is prayer; upon its wings we rise
To where the breath of heaven beats upon our brow."

May 3

Christian Love

The spirit of Christian love, if allowed to work deeply and thoroughly in all hearts and lives—will prevent variance and alienation among Christians. It will lead us to forget ourselves and think of others, not pushing our own interests unduly, nor demanding the first place—but in honor preferring one another. It will make us willing to serve, to minister, even to stoop down to unloose a brother's shoes. It will make us thoughtful, too—in all our acts, in our manners, in our words. It will make us gentle, kindly, patient, teaching us to be all that Christ would be—if he were in our place.

May 4

The Life That Wins

We can win others to Christ—only by being Christ to them, by showing them Christ in ourselves, by living so that they may be attracted to Christ, and may learn to admire and to love him by what they see of him in us. One of the most effective ways of winning souls—is through beautiful, gentle, Christlike living. Eloquence of persuasion in a preacher is powerful with the unsaved—only in so far as the preacher's life is consistent. Preaching without love in the life—is only empty clatter. But where deep, true love, the love of Christ, is—the plainest, humblest words become eloquent and mighty.

May 5

Recognition in Heaven

Heaven is the Father's house. A father's house is a home; and can you think for one moment of a home in which the members of the household do not know each other? The sweetest best, happiest, and most perfect earthly home—is but a dim picture of the love and gladness of the home in heaven. Heaven is like a holy home—only infinitely sweeter, truer, and better. Home has been called "heaven's fallen sister." If in the imperfect homes of this world, we find so much gladness in the ties which bind heart to heart, and knit life to life, may we not be confident that in the perfect home of our heavenly Father, all this gladness will be infinitely deepened and enriched? Love will not be different in heaven; it will be wondrously purified and exalted—but earthly love will live on through death into eternity.

May 6

Obedience in Heaven

Obedience makes heaven. All the life of heaven, is simply perfect obedience. A little of heaven comes into our life on earth, when we learn to obey the will of God. Obedience is the mark of royalty. Wherever God finds a soul that is ready to yield always to his will, to do his commandments without question, to submit to his providences without murmuring, there is a life that he is ready to crown. We get to be like Christ—just as much as we learn to obey and do God's will. Heaven comes down into our heart—just as much as we yield our lives to God.

May 7

Why So Wary of Kindness

We let our friends go through life without many marks of appreciation. We are wary of compliments. We hide our tender interests, and our kindly feelings. We are afraid to give each other the word of praise or of encouragement, lest we should seem to flatter, lest we should puff others up. Even in many of our homes, there is a strange dearth of good, wholehearted, cheering words. Let us not be afraid to say appreciative and complimentary words—when they are deserved and are sincere. Let us lose no opportunity—to show kindnesses, to manifest sympathy, to give encouragement. Silence in the presence of needs that words would fill—is sin

May 8

Room in a Humble Sphere

When you are tempted to chafe and repine at the narrowness of your circumstances and the limitations of your sphere, remember that Jesus, with all his rich life and all his great powers, for thirty years found room in a humble peasant home for worthy living and for service, not unfitted to his exalted character. If you can do nothing but live a true Christian life—patient, gentle, kindly, pure—in your home, in society, at your daily duty—you will perform in the end a service of great value and leave many blessings in the world. Such a life is a little gospel, telling in sermons without words, the wonderful story of the cross of Christ.

May 9

Love's Supreme Moments

Love in its supreme moments, does not stop at a little. It does not weigh and measure and calculate; and restrain its impulses and check its floods. They know nothing of love—who think strange of Mary's costly deed, who try to explain why she acted so prodigally, so lavishly, so wastefully, when she put upon her Lord the highest honor she could bestow upon him. If our love for Christ were only stronger, deeper, richer—we would not need to have Mary's deed explained; we would not calculate so closely—how much we can afford to give or do.

May 10

The Peril of Failure

Myriads of lives with magnificent possibilities, have been utter failures because men and women have not gone promptly to duty at the divine call. They were intended to fill certain places. God made them for these places and qualified them for them; but when they were summoned to their work, they excused themselves on one plea or another, and buried their talents in the earth. Let us train ourselves to obey every call of God, lest in our hesitancy, distrust, or disobedience we fail of the mission for which we were made, and meet the doom of the useless in God's universe.

May 11

If We Knew

We should learn to look at the faults of others, only through love's eyes—with charity, patience, and compassion. We do not know the secret history of the lives of others around us. We do not know what piercing sorrows have produced the scars which we see in people's souls. We do not know the pains and trials which make life hard to many, with whom we are tempted to be impatient. If we knew all the secret burdens and the heart-wounds which many carry hidden beneath their smiling faces—we would be patient and gentle with all people.

May 12

The Secret of Peace

Perfect loyalty to Christ, brings perfect peace into the heart. The secret of Christ's own peace, was his absolute devotion to his Father's will. We can find peace in no other way. Any resistance to God's will, any disobedience of his law, any wrenching of our lives out of his hand—must break the peace of our hearts. No lesson that he gives ever mars our peace—if we receive it with willing, teachable spirit, and strive to learn it just as he has written it out for us. If we take the lessons just as our Master gives them to us—we shall make our life all music, and we shall find peace.

May 13

Prayer in Sorrow

"Being in an agony—he prayed," is the record of our Savior's Gethsemane experience. The lesson stands for all time. Like a bright lamp, the little sentence shines amid the olive trees of the garden. It shows us the path to comfort in our time of sorrow. Never before or since, was there such grief as the Redeemer's, that night—but in his prayer he found comfort. As we watch him the hour through, we see the agony changing as he prayed, until at last its bitterness was all gone—and sweet, blessed peace took its place. The gate of prayer is always the gate to comfort. There is no other place to go. We may learn also from our Lord's Gethsemane, how to pray in our Gethsemanes. God will never blame us for asking to have the cup removed, nor for the intensity of our supplication; but we must always pray with submission. It is when we say, in our deepest intensity, "Not my will—but may your will be done," that comfort comes, that peace comes.

May 14

God's Strange Schools

No books, no universities, can teach us the divine art of sympathy. We must be sorely tempted ourselves, before we can understand what others suffer in their temptations. We must have sorrow ourselves in some form, before we can be real and true comforters of others in their times of sorrow. We must walk through the deep valley ourselves, before we can be guides to others in the same shadowy valleys. We must feel the strain and carry the burden and endure the struggle ourselves, and only then we can be touched with the feeling of sympathy or can give help to others in life's sore stress and poignant need. So we see one compensation of suffering—it fits us for being in a larger sense, helpers of others.

May 15

The Largeness of Duty

Duty is always too great for earnest souls. No one can do all that he knows he ought to do, or that he wants to do. When we have done our duty, however, day by day, faithfully and earnestly, according to the light and the wisdom given to us at the time, it ought not to cause us regret afterward if it appear that we might have done it with more wisdom or with greater skill. We cannot get the benefits of experience, until we have had the experience. We cannot have manhood's ripe wisdom in the days of our youth. We can always see when a day is done—how we might have lived it better. We should bring to every hour's work—our finest skill, our best wisdom, our purest strength, and then feel no regret—even if it does not seem well done. Perfection is ever an unreached goal in this life. Duty is always too large, for us to do more than a fragment of it.

May 16

The Test of Amusements

Is the love of pleasure growing upon you, gaining the power and the ascendency over you? Is it dulling the keenness of your zest for spiritual pleasures? Is it making Bible-study, prayer, communion with Christ, meditation upon holy themes—less sweet enjoyments than before? Is it making your hunger for righteousness, for God—less intense? Is it interfering with the comfort and blessing you used to find in church services, in Christian work? If so, there is only one thing to do—to hasten to return to God, cut off the pleasure which is imperiling the soul, and find in Christ the joy which the world cannot give, and which ever enhances the life. We must test all our pleasures by this rule—Are they helping us to grow into the noblest spiritual beauty?

May 17

Living to Serve

True life, wherever it is found, is ministry. Men think that they rise in life—as they get away from serving; but it is the reverse. "Not to be ministered unto—but to minister," our Lord gave as the central aim and desire of his life. These words give us also the ideal for all Christian life. The whole of Christ's wonderful biography is focused and printed here. He himself holds up the picture as the pattern on which every disciple's life is to be fashioned. No one really begins to live at all, in any worthy sense—until selfishness dies in him and he begins to serve. We should ourselves ask concerning others—not how we can use them to advance our own interests and welfare—but how we can do them good, serve them, become in some way blessings to them.

May 18

Making and Keeping Friends

It is worth while to make friends—if they are worthy. It costs to do it—we can have friends only by giving our life for them and to them. Selfishness never wins a friend. We can make others love us—only by truly loving them. The largest service, if we do not love, wins us no real friends. Then, the friends we have made—we should strive keep forever. No friendship should be formed, which is not beautiful enough for heaven. God will never be jealous of the pure human friendships which we will have in glory. Even the brightness of Christ's radiance, will not eclipse for our eyes the faces of the earthly friends we shall meet on the golden streets. Loving God supremely, will not drive out of our hearts, the love of dear ones knit to us along the years of fellowship, in joy and sorrow. The better we love Christ—the deeper, purer, tenderer, and stronger will be our love for Christly human friends.

May 19

Weaving our Soul's Garments

We are all busy weavers. Forever are we pushing the shuttle back and forth—each moment leaving one new thread in the web of our life which shall stay there forever. Every thought, every feeling, every motion, every imagination which plays but for a moment in the soul—become a thread which is instantly a permanent part of the life we are living. Our words and acts are threads which are clean and beautiful—or stained and blemished, according to their moral character. Thus we are forever weaving, and the web that we make—our souls must wear in eternity. How important it is that we put into this fabric—only threads of immortal beauty! If we do God's will always, and train ourselves to meditate on God's thoughts, and to receive into our heart the influences of God's love and grace, and to yield ever and only to God's Spirit—we shall weave for our souls a robe of righteousness, which shall appear radiant and lovely when all earth's garments have faded and crumbled to dust!

May 20

Life's Real Problem

The problem of sailing—is not to keep the boat out of the water—but to keep the water out of the boat. In like manner, the problem of true Christian living—is not to keep ourselves out of life's cares, trials, and temptations—but to keep the cares, trials, and temptations out of us. As the sea is the normal element for ship-sailing, so care is the normal element of life in this world. But we must keep the sea out of our heart. Some people make the mistake of letting their cares and worries creep into their souls. The result is that they grow discontented, fretful, unhappy. The secret of peace—is to keep the heart free from care and anxiety, even in the midst of the sorest trials. This secret we can have only by opening our hearts to Christ.

May 21

Not in Vain in the Lord

In testing the failure or success of life—we must not measure by an earthly standard. There are lives which the world crowns as successful—but which God rates as failures. Then there are others over which men drop a tear of pity—but which in God's sight are put down as noble successes. All earnest Christians do many things which they hope will prove blessings to others, which yet in the end seem to fail altogether of good result. But we do not know what good may yet come out of our true work, which has appeared to fail. "Your labor is not in vain in the Lord." It may not show any result at once—but somewhere, sometime, there will be blessing from everything that is done truly for Christ.

The old water-wheel runs around and around outside the mill. It seems to be accomplishing nothing—but the shaft goes through the wall and turns machinery inside, making flour to feed the hunger of many; or driving spindles and weaving beautiful fabrics. Our lives may seem, with all their activities, to be leaving no result—but they reach into the unseen; and who knows what blessings they become, what impressions they leave on other lives and in eternity?

May 22

Doing God's Will

Doing God's will builds up character in us. Doing God's will builds up in us—that which shall never need to be torn down. "He who does the will of God abides forever." Every obedience of our lives adds a new touch of beauty on our soul. Every true thing we do in Christ's name, though it leaves no mark anywhere else in God's universe, leaves an imperishable mark on our own life. Every deed of kindness or unselfishness that we perform, with love in our hearts for Christ, though it blesses no other soul in all the wide world, leaves its blessing on ourselves. We are sure, therefore, of getting a blessing in our own life when we are obedient, even though we impart no good to any other.

May 23

Giving to Beggars

To the blind man begging by the wayside, to the poor wretch that comes to our door for alms, to the crippled old woman who sits muffled up on a doorstep and holds out a wrinkled hand—we owe something if we are Christians. We may not give money—usually we had better not give money—but we ought to give something. We represent Christ in this world, and we ought to treat every such case of need and misfortune, as our Master would do if he were precisely in our place. We ought to give at least a patient answer, a kindly look, and sympathetic attention.

This from Turgeneff's 'Poems in Prose': "I was walking in the street; a beggar stopped me—a frail old man. His tearful eyes, blue lips, rough rags, disgusting sores—oh, how horribly poverty had disfigured the unhappy creature! He stretched out to me his swollen, filthy hand; he groaned and whimpered for alms. I felt in all my pockets. No purse, watch, or handkerchief did I find. I had left them all at home. The beggar waited, and his outstretched hand twitched and trembled slightly. Embarrassed and confused, I seized his dirty hand and pressed it: 'Don't be vexed with me, brother! I have nothing with me, brother.' The beggar raised his bloodshot eyes to mine, his blue lips smiled, and he returned the pressure of my chilled fingers. 'Never mind, brother,' stammered he; 'I thank you for this; this too was a gift, brother.' I felt that I too had received a gift from my brother." The brotherly word—was holiest alms.

May 24

How to Know Christ

To some, Christ is a creed and a pattern of life—but not a personal friend. There are many who know well the "historic Christ," but to whom he is only a person who lived nearly two thousand years ago. They read his biography, as they read that of Paul or John—with admiration and wonder.

They think of his sweet life as but a vanished dream; or, if they realize his resurrection, he is to them an absent friend, like a dear one journeying in another land—real, loving, true, trusted—but far away. But all such miss the sweetest blessedness of knowing Christ. He does not belong to the past—nor to the far away—but is a friend who would come into the actual daily life of each of his believing ones. No mother was ever so much to her child—as Jesus would be to us—if we would let him into our life. How can we get this blessing of personal knowledge of Christ, and conscious personal friendship with him? Trust him and obey him, and you will learn to know him and love him.

May 25

Nothing Good Comes Easy

Unselfishness, even in its smallest acts and manifestations, costs some sacrifice. Work for others which costs us nothing—is scarcely worth doing. It takes heart's blood to heal hearts. It is those who sow in tears—who shall reap in joy. Take easy work if you will—work which costs you nothing; give only what you will not miss—spare yourself from self-denial and waste and sacrifice; but do not be surprised if your hands are empty in the harvest-time. We must give—if we are to receive; we must sow—if we would reap.

May 26

God's Storehouse

Each step in the life of faith, is toward richer blessing. Are you God's child? There is nothing before you in the unopened future, but goodness. Every new experience, whether of joy or sorrow, will be a new storehouse of goodness for you. Even in the midst of disaster, you will still find goodness enfolded. Even your disappointments will disclose truer, richer blessings—than if your own hopes had been realized. Here is a lens through which every true Christian may see his own path clear to the end—from goodness to richer goodness, from glory to glory, the last step through the opening door of heaven into the presence of the King.

May 27

Bruised Reeds

Christ is building his kingdom with earth's broken things. In building their kingdoms, men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unbroken. But God is the God of the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filling with earth's broken lives, and there is no bruised reed which Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take the life crushed by pain or sorrow—and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth's saddest failure—up to heaven's glory!

May 28

Opposition a Means of Grace

Spiritual life needs opposition to bring out its best development. It flourishes most luxuriantly in adverse circumstances. The very temptations which make our life one unceasing warfare—train us into true soldiers of Christ. The hardnesses of our experiences, which seem to us to be more than we can possibly endure, make the very school of life for us, in which we learn our best lessons and grow into whatever beauty and Christ-likeness of character we attain.

May 29

Life's Possibilities

Think of all the magnificent powers God has put into these lives of ours. He has given us minds to think, to reason, to imagine, to roam amid the stars, to wander into the very borders of infinity, to climb the golden stairs of faith even into the midst of heaven's brightness. He has given us hearts to feel, to suffer, to rejoice, to love. He has put into our beings the possibilities of the noblest achievements and the loftiest attainments. Oh, what a shame it is for one born to live in immortal glory, called to be a child of God, to become like the Son of God—yet to be content with a poor earthly life and to live without reaching up toward God and heaven!

May 30

Our Soldiers' Graves

We do not always remember, as we enjoy our national blessings and comforts, what they cost those who won them for us. We strew flowers on the graves of our soldiers who fell, and tell in song and speech of their heroic deeds. This is well. We should never let the gratitude die out of our hearts as we think of the blood which was shed in saving our country. But gratitude is not enough. This country is a sacred trust in our hands. We are now the conservators of its glory. We have more to do than sing the praises of its dead heroes and soldiers. There are battles yet to fight—battles for national honor, for righteousness, for truth, for purity, for religion. We must hold up the old flag in the face of all enemies. While we honor the memory of those who died in patriotic war, let us ourselves be worthy soldiers in the great moral war that never ceases, and patriots loving country more than party, and truth and righteousness more than political preferment and reward.

May 31

Mastering Misfortune

An English prisoner, suffering from persecution, was cheered for one hour each day by a little spot of sunshine on his dungeon-wall. Through a grating high up—the sun's rays streamed down into his cell for this little time. He found on his floor an old nail and a stone, and with these crude implements he cut upon the wall while the sunlight lay there—a rough image of the Christ upon his cross. Thus he mastered his misfortune, getting blessing out of it.

The incident has its lesson for us all. Whatever the calamity or the disaster which builds its dungeon-walls about you, never let despair lay its chilly hand upon you. Never yield to the gloom. Never let the darkness into your soul. There is no dungeon so deep and dark, but down into its chilling gloom, the rays of God's love stream. In the light of these, fashion some new beauty on your soul. Carve on the wall of your heart—the image of the Christ. Master your misfortune, and make it yield blessing to you. Conquered calamity becomes your helper—and leaves beauty on your soul. But if you let your trouble master you—it leaves an ineffaceable scar upon your life.


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