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In Green Pastures
November



 

 


 

November 1

God Needs Our Faithfulness

God's providence is always good—but he needs our faithfulness, our truest and best work always, to give full expression and result to the good that he plans. It is possible for us to mar the good which God intends, and to turn his work into disaster which he never intended. God never does his work unfaithfully, and we dare not charge to his providence, the preventable accidents of life, those which come through men's carelessness or dishonesty or greed of gain or fault of any sort. We must remember that even the providence of God cannot work completely or perfectly, without our little work, each and everyone's little work—well done.

November 2

The Radiant Ideal

We may become like angels! What debasement, then, to let our lives, with all their glorious possibilities, be dragged down into the dust of shame and dishonor! Rather, let us seek continually the glory for which we were made and redeemed. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure." 1 John 3:1-3

"Wonderful the whiteness of your glory!
Can we truly that perfection share?
Yes; our lives are pages of your story,
We your shape and superscription bear.

Tarnished forms—torn leaves—but you can mend them;
You very own completeness can unfold
From our imperfections; and will end them—
Dross consuming, turning dust to gold."

November 3

Amusement as a Means of Grace

Amusement must never become an end in life; it must always be a means, a help on the way, just as sleep is, just as rest is. An hours amusement should be to you just what a night's sleeping is, or what a day's resting is—it should make you stronger, clearer-headed, calmer-souled, braver, more hopeful, more earnest, more enthusiastic, inspiring you for godly living. Anything which leaves a taint of impurity upon the life, or starts a thought of impurity in the mind, anything which degrades or debases the soul—is unfit and unworthy amusement for a Christian. Christian amusements must be such, as do not harm spiritual life; they must be means of grace. "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do—do everything for God's glory!" 1 Corinthians 10:31

November 4

Silences Which are Sinful

In every life, there are times when to be silent, is to fail in duty. We are to speak out, on all occasions when the glory of Christ demands it. We should never fear to speak the word of warning to one in danger. We should never hesitate to speak boldly in confession of Christ in the presence of his enemies. To be ashamed of him is a grievous wrong to him. Many of us sin, too, by our silence toward hearts that are hungry for love. On our tongues lie the words that would give blessing—but we hold our tongues—and let the sad hearts break. Many of us talk too much, no doubt—"speech is silver and silence is golden"—but let us remember also that "there is a time to speak."

November 5

Cost of Helping Others

It is only when you have passed through the fierceness of temptation, wrestling with evil, sorely beset—and victorious only through the grace of Christ—that you are ready to be a helper of others in their temptation. It is only when you have known sorrow in some form yourself, and when you have been comforted by divine grace and helped to endure—that you are fitted to be a comforter of others in their sorrow. You must learn before you can teach, and the learning costs. At no small price can we become true helpers of others in this world. Lessons which cost us nothing—are worth but little. Virtue went out of Jesus to heal others; virtue must go out of us to become life and blessing to other souls.

November 6

The Heart of Prayers

Mere words do not make prayer. The repeating of forms of petition, however beautiful they may be or however eloquently uttered, is not praying. There must be fire—the fire of love glowing upon the golden altar of the heart. There must be sincere worship of soul, there must be fervency of spirit there must be warm, earnest desire. The prayer must be kindled in the heart by the love of God shed abroad by the Holy Spirit. Unless our very heart goes into our forms of words, borne on faith's wings and pressing to God's feet—we do not really pray.

November 7

The Transforming Look

Keeping the heart upon Christ--transfigures the life. The old monks intently gazed upon the crucifix, thinking that the print of the nails would come in their hands and feet, and the thorn-scars in their brow, as they gazed. It was but an utter fiction—yet in the fiction there is a spiritual truth. Gazing by faith upon Christ, the lines of his beauty indeed print themselves on our hearts! That is the meaning of Paul's words—"We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord—are transformed into the same image!" The gospel is the mirror. There we see the image of Christ. If we earnestly, continuously, and lovingly behold it--the effect will be the changing of our own lives into His likeness. The transformation is wrought by the Holy Spirit, and we are only to behold, to continue beholding, the blessed beauty! As we sit before Christ--His image is imprinted on our soul.

November 8

Empty Conversations

Christian conversation should not be a mere jargon of empty, idle words. There are many people who talk incessantly—and never say anything worth repeating or remembering. They never give any comfort to those who are in trouble. They never incite those who hear them to anything noble or good. Their words if gathered up would be millions of blossoms—and not one handful of fruit; tons of sand—and not one shining sparkle of gold. Surely such conversation is not worthy of immortal beings, children of God and heirs of glory, on their way home to glory! "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6

November 9

Let the Blessings Flow Out

While you are to brighten first the place nearest to you—you are also to throw the little beams of your lamp as far as they will reach. It will not make your own home any less bright if, on a dark night, you open the shutters of your windows and let some of the brilliancy and the cheer pour out upon the street. Then others, too, may be blessed by the light that fills your home. If you have a beautiful flower garden—why should you build a high wall around it to hide it from the eyes of passers-by? Would it not be a more Christ-like thing—to tear down your stone wall and let all who move along the street be blessed and cheered by the beauty?

November 10

On Looking for Slights

We must look to ourselves and take heed how we receive the acts, the words, and the manners of others. If we are proud, and are always on the watch for slights, and unfriendly hints, and little hurts—we can find plenty of them. We need, therefore, to cultivate the spirit of humility in all our interactions with others. We need to learn patience, forbearance, longsuffering, meekness, and forgiveness. In a word, love—love which thinks no evil. Then we shall never be suspicious, never be exacting, never demand our "rights." We shall endure even intended wrongs—patiently, sweetly, with true meekness.

November 11

The Winsomeness of Love

"God loves you—and I love you," says Mr. McAil to the poor people he would lift up. There is little use in telling people the first part of this message—if we cannot tell them also the second part, or at least make them see it in our face, in our words and acts, in our true, tireless interest in them. The love of Christ must throb in our own hearts, and shine in our eyes, and speak in our words, and offer itself again on the cross in our lives, in our efforts to save others—if we would win souls for heaven. We must love the people we would win. We must have some conception of the infinite value of the lives we try to save—in order that we may love them. Without this we cannot deeply and truly care for those whom sin has stripped of beauty. But if we understand their real worth and the possibilities there are in their lives—it will not be hard for us to love even the farthest away from God.

November 12

Keep the Ideal Undimmed

If we are true believers in Christ, we each have in our soul—a vision of spiritual loveliness into which we are striving to fashion our lives. This vision is our conception of the character of Christ. "That is what I am going to be some day!" we say. Far away beyond our present attainment as this vision may shine—yet we are ever striving to reach it. This is the ideal which we carry in our heart amid all our toiling and struggling. This ideal we must keep free from all marring or stain. We must save it—though we lose our very life in guarding it. We should be willing to die—rather than give it up to be destroyed. We should preserve the image of Christ—bright, radiant, unsoiled, in our soul— until it transforms our dull, sinful, earthly life—into its own transfigured beauty!

November 13

Do Not Worry

We have nothing to do with tomorrow—until we get to it. When the day comes with its cares—then we may meet them, and then God will provide for them. The present duty alone, is ours—the faithful, diligent doing of God's will day by day. The rest is God's—and anxious care is unbelief. Our Father will surely take care of us—if we are only faithful to him. Away, then, with anxiety. Do your work, your duty, the bit of God's will for the day—and let God care for you. Then the peace of God shall keep your heart and mind.

November 14

Promotion by Faithfulness

We are always on trial in this world. God's promotions are all in the line of fidelity. When we do well with one talent—he puts two into our hand. When we show ourselves faithful and capable with two—he adds two more. This is true not only of ordinary business capacities and fidelities—but also of spiritual privileges. When we do anything well, God increases our responsibilities, puts new trusts into our charge. But failure in any testing, brings the loss of the trusts already in our hands. If we would grow into great usefulness—we must be ever watchful that we fail in no duty or trial.

November 15

Looking for Blessings

Do we take the blessings that the common days bring to us? Do we extract the honey from every flower which grows by our path? Do not angels come to us unawares in homely or unattractive disguise, walk with us, talk with us, and then only become known to us when they have flown away—when their places are empty? Shall we not learn to see the goodness and the beauty in the gifts which God sends to us? Their very commonness veils their blessedness. Let us seek for the good in everything. Then, though we see it not, let us never doubt that a blessing lies hidden in every gift of God to us. Every moment brings us some blessing—even the rough hand of trial holds in its clasp, some treasure we love.

November 16

Uncommon Christians

Be not satisfied with a mere feeble measure of spiritual life. Strive to have the abundant life and to be full-rounded Christians. Seek to have every power of your life developed to its utmost possibility of beauty and usefulness. Find out whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, and strive to have every mark and line of beauty in your own life. Grow toward God in all upward, heavenward reaching. Grow toward men in all unselfishness and loving service. Grow in your own soul into the fullness of the stature of Christ. And all this you will gain by becoming filled more and more with Christ himself. It was the daily prayer of one saintly man, "O God, make me an uncommon Christian."

November 17

Self-Sacrifice

The path of ministry is a shining ladder, which is steep and hard to climb—but it leads to God's feet. Whoever would be chief, let him serve. The world is trying to scramble up another way. It thinks the path of unselfish service leads downward. But we have Christ's word, that he is greatest who serves most self-forgetfully. Forget yourself. Consecrate your life to Christ. There is no other way to immortal success. Your life will seem to sink away and be lost—but it will be like the rain-drops which fall and disappear, only to come again in living beauty. No life of self-sacrifice for Christ, shall fail of eternal honor.

November 18

What Makes Heaven?

What makes heaven? Not its jeweled walls, and pearl gates, and streets of golden, and sea of glass, and river of crystal—but its blessed obedience, its sweet holiness, its universal and unbroken accord with the divine will, and its spirit of love. Heaven never can be entered by any in whose hearts the spirit of heaven is not first found. Heaven must be in us, or we can never enter its gates. We are prepared for heaven, made fit for the inheritance of the saints; therefore, just in the measure in which we have learned to do God's will here on earth as it is done by angels and saints in that home of divine glory.

November 19

Misery of Borrowing Trouble

Many people are always dreading coming troubles. They are well enough now, and well enough off—but they may get sick, or they may become poor, or some other trouble may befall them. A large part of human unhappiness is caused by needless forebodings—dreading ills which never happen. It is a miserable way to live, this looking out into the future and filling it with imaginary shapes of evil. No doubt there are real troubles lying concealed in the future for all of us—but let us not dread to go on in quiet faith, since over us, the rainbow of God's eternal goodness bends!

November 20

Why Always People's faults

We are all very much alike in this world—as it regards faults and failings. We all have plenty of them. Each one of us has at least enough of his own faults—to make him very modest in pointing out those of his neighbor. The trouble is, however, that most of us have eyes so constructed or so adjusted—as to see the faults of others much more clearly than our own. It is not hard to get almost anybody started at criticizing others and pointing out their infirmities. What a pity it is that we have not eyes for the beautiful things in others! What a relief it would be to hear everybody you meet speaking in commendation of his neighbors and praising their virtues! Would it not be worth while to try to turn the tides of talk into this new channel for a time?

November 21

Doing Impossible Things

When God calls us to any service or task or duty whatever, no supposed personal incapacity, incompetency, or insufficiency may ever be urged as a reason for not obeying. God never really bids us do a thing we cannot do—and do well, with his help. He would not mock us with an unreasonable requirement. The achieving of impossible commands, of course, is not our business at all. We have nothing whatever to do with the impossible part; that belongs to God. But we have everything to do with the obeying of the command that comes to us. It is not ours to reason, to demur, to urge inability; it is ours promptly, unquestioningly to obey—and then as we go forward God will divide the water or cleave the mountain or roll away the stone. As we approach the obstacle, going in holy obedience—we shall find the way open for our feet.

November 22

Beautiful Living

We do not know, when we are working for immortality, by what act or word of ours we shall be remembered. It may be the obscurest thing of our life that shall shine in the most radiant glory. Let us, then, seek to make everything we do beautiful enough to be our epitaph. If our hearts are always full of love—our lives will be full of gentle deeds that will please God and bless the world. Then we shall write our names where no floods of years, no abrasion of events, no wasting tooth of decay, no hungry waves of time, eating away the bank whereon we stand, can ever destroy the record. To neglect the least duty may be to spoil our own immortality. One opportunity missed, may be the marring of our whole life.

November 23

Rejected Blessings

No wonder many of us are so poor in spiritual things. To our doors evermore come the heavenly messengers, their hands laden with rich blessings which they wish to give to us. But we are so intent on our petty earthly ambitions, that we do not see them nor open our doors to them; and waiting long in vain, they at last turn sadly away, leaving us unblessed in our poverty. If we would but train ourselves to take whatever gift God sends to us—we should soon become rich. God's blessings are ever at our doors. He is the giving God. The trouble with us is that we do not always recognize the blessings when they are offered to us. Some of the richest of them come in forms of pain or struggle or sorrow. Let us learn to accept God's gifts, whether they shine in joy, or are veiled in shadows.

November 24

Character-Quarries

Every individual life has its quarries, where are hewn the blocks that are afterward built into character; where the thoughts are shaped which take form in acts and heroisms and noble works. There are two parts in every life—the heart-quarry, which the world does not see, and the life as it takes form in the eyes of men. Men must have a good heart-life, before they can have a good character and make a worthy record. Men must be silent thinkers, before their words or deeds can have either great beauty or wide influence. Much talk is of little value. Easy thinking never leads to very high living.

November 25

The Radiance of God's Will

There are many Christians who grieve when they cannot serve their Lord in some form of active labor for Christ. When sickness shuts them in, and they can go forth no longer to their accustomed work, they mourn that they must be so useless. They forget that that is God's will, and that the doing of God's will is always the finest thing possible in this world for any one. We worry about not carrying out our plans—the large plans we make for our own lives. But it really matters very little what comes of our plans—if only we do what God marks out for us. A successful life in the end, is one which has done that for which God created it.

November 26

The Chastening of Love

"Whom the Lord loves he chastens." Chastening is a mark of God's love, and also a seal of sonship, for he "scourges every son that he receives." No true father permits a child to grow up undisciplined, having its own way all the while, its life running unchecked into waywardness, wilfulness, and self-indulgence. The true father chastens. Mark, it is not punishment which God inflicts—but chastening. It is not anger or hatred which makes him at times severe, denying the child's requests. It is love which leads him to chasten. If we were not his children—he would not trouble to chasten us. It is the fruitful branch which the farmer prunes, to make it more fruitful; the unfruitful branch he cuts off and burns. It is the Father's child that he chastens.

November 27

Remembering Past Blessings

We should remember past mercies and blessings. If we do, our past will shine down upon us like a clear sky full of stars. Such remembering will keep the gratitude ever fresh in our hearts, and the incense of praise ever burning on the altar. Such a house of memory, becomes a refuge to which we may flee in trouble. When sorrows gather thickly, when trials come, when the sun goes down and every star is quenched, and there seems nothing left to our hearts in all the present—then the memory of a past full of goodness, a past in which God has never once failed us, becomes a holy refuge for our souls—a refuge gemmed and lighted by the lamps of other and brighter days.

November 28

Our Place in the Temple

The great Master-builder, in whose quarries we are now as stones that are being made ready for the temple, has a plan for his building. Every life has its own particular place in that plan. God knows what he wants you to be—how large or how small a place he wants you to fill. We must submit our lives to the hammer and the chisel and to the divine measurement, that we may be prepared for the place God is preparing for us. We must not wince under the sharp cutting of disappointment and sorrow.

November 29

The Blessing of a Book

Books are not altogether impersonal things. Somebody wrote them. Somebody's lifeblood is in them. Somebody lived, suffered—wept, struggled, and toiled—to put into the book, that which pleases and helps us. Should we not think of this as we read the sentences which delight us or which inspire and quicken us? Do we often, indeed, give thought to the writer whose written words bring to us their messages? Do we not forget ofttimes that it is somebody's heart-blood which runs in the sentences we are reading, somebody's very life, if the words are truly helpful? Do we then owe nothing to the author? Be sure the lessons he is teaching have cost him pain and tears. He had to live deeply to write helpfully. Some recognition of the help we have gotten from him, we certainly owe to him. Should we not write to him our thanks for the gift he has put into our life?

November 30

The Ministry of Waiting

Each one of us does his own little part in carrying out God's great plan. If our part is to stand and wait, it is no less honorable than his who comes after us and takes up what fell from our hands and carries it on to completion. Said the blind Milton, "They also serve, who only stand and wait." "The world comes to him who can wait," says the proverb; and victory comes, and rest comes, and God comes, and glory comes—to him who can wait.

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