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In Green Pastures
September



 

 


September 1

Life's Great Lessons

We all fail in the life-lessons which our great Teacher sets for us. The hardest school-tasks are easily mastered—in comparison with the lessons of patience, sweet temper, forgiveness, unselfishness, humility, gentleness, purity, contentment. Even at best—we can learn these lessons but slowly. And though but little seems to come from our yearnings and strugglings after Christ-likeness—yet God honors the yearning and the striving. While we sit in the shadows of weariness, disheartened with our failures—he carries on the work within us, and with his own hands produces the divine beauty in our souls. "Learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart." Matthew 11:29

 
September 2

Devotion and Service

He who neglects love's duties of service, in Christ's name, to those who need the ministry of love—cannot long enjoy the raptures of worship within the sanctuary. Devotion is not the end of Christian life; we wait upon God—that we may renew our strength for noble service. In our eagerness to press within the temple to look upon the face of God—we must not pass unheeding by the suffering ones who lie with soliciting glance and voice, outside the temple-gate. Visions of God which lead to no active service, will soon die out.


September 3

Why Are we so Weak

Every Christian ought to be an apostle of Christ, and ought to leave a shining record of blessed ministry all along his path. But how is it with many of us? Is there always power in our lives? Are we always victorious in temptation? Does life flow out from our lives in perpetual blessings to others whom we touch or on whom our shadow rests? Is it not true of us that we continually fail to be, in the largest and best sense, blessings to others? Do we not come to Christ at the close of many of our days—to lament our failures and to ask him why we could not do the things we ought to do? Do we not all know what the answer is?—"Because of your little faith."


September 4

The Sin of Thoughtlessness

We try to excuse crude things or careless things we do that hurt others by saying, "I didn't mean any unkindness." Certainly we did not—it was not in our heart to be crude or brusque, or to give pain in any way. It was only "lack of thought." Yes—but "lack of thought" is "lack of heart"—lack of a gentle heart; for a gentle heart should always be thoughtful—love should never be thoughtless. We have no right to forget our relations to others, and the duties of love we owe to them. Nothing can ever excuse a Christian for not being kindly, gentle, thoughtful, considerate.


September 5

God's Plan—Life's Ideal

People sometimes sentimentalize over the constant changes and thwartings of plans and the disappointments of life. They grow morbid over them, and sigh, "Vanity of vanities!" Or they ask, "Why is the Lord dealing so sorely with me?" The success or non-success of our earthly plans, is of very little consequence in comparison with the building up of Christ-likeness in our souls. Do not be surprised if you fail to have your own way at many a point. God would teach you that true success lies in the doing of his will—not your own—and the realizing of his plan for your life, not your plan.


September 6

What We Owe to Friendship

We do not know how much we owe to our true and pure friends—how much they add to our joy, what they do toward the formation and the adornment and enrichment of our character. We know not what touches, delicate and beautiful, on the canvas of our soul there will be forever—which the fingers of a friend have left there. There will be a silver thread in every life-web when finished, woven into the fabric by the pure friendship of many days. How important that only the true, the worthy, those with clean hands and good lives—be taken as friends! For an evil companionship will put stained and soiled threads into the web.


September 7

God's Love, Changeless

Most of us have times when we can say, "Oh, I know that God loves me now;" but the feeling is transient, and soon passes away. Tomorrow we are doubting and fearing as before, and the joy has gone out of our heart. Does God's love, then, change? Did he love me yesterday, and does he not love me today? Has the divine heart unclasped its hold upon me? No! The love of God is changeless and eternal. Heaven and earth may pass away—but the kindness of the Lord shall never depart from any of his children! Let us try to grasp this truth. Then, come what may—joy or sorrow, prosperity or adversity—we shall know always that the love of God abides unchanging—that we are held in its clasp with a hold that never can be torn loose.


September 8

Brotherly Love

There is no true love to Christ—which does not also kindle in our hearts a corresponding love to men. He who loves not his brother whom he has seen—cannot love God whom he has not seen. Brotherly love is the very proof and badge of Christian discipleship. This love is not in name merely—but is real. It is a love that protects and helps; a love which keeps sacred watch over the good name of a brother, and by a strong arm averts the descending blow; a love which seeks every opportunity to bless and cheer and comfort; a love which serves and forgets self in loyal devotion even to death for a brother. In a word, it is, "as I have loved you." And how does Christ love us? To answer this—is to tell how he would have us love the brethren. We can thus read the meaning of the lesson, in the blessed life of our Lord.


September 9

Besetting Sins

The best things of life come to us wrapped up in difficulties, obstacles, seeming hindrances and oppositions. Unless we meet them heroically and victoriously, we shall miss God's richest and best gifts and treasures. It is hard, for example, to have a besetting sin, one specially weak point, one temptation which comes perpetually up to us, stalking like a Goliath before us. Some of us know what it is to have sins which we do not overcome, which we do not even wrestle with—but which we allow to overcome us again and again. But do we not know that these very besetting sins are enemies, which can be made friends to help us heavenward?

 
September 10

Silent Work

All the greatest work of this world goes on noiselessly. Only little workers clatter. God, both in nature and in grace, works silently. The angels go about noiselessly on their blessed ministries. So the best work any of us do, is what we do without noise. Our words give forth sound—but it is not the sounds which do good, which brighten people's sad faces, which change tears to laughter, which stimulate hope, which put courage into fainting hearts; it is not the noise of our words—but the thoughts which the words carry. The best part of any good man's life is his influence—that strange, impalpable something, which goes out evermore from his character like fragrance from a flower, like light from a star; andinfluence works always in silence, without words


September 11

Taking Thought

There is one thing for which we are to take thought—not anxious thought—but very deep and earnest thought. We are to take thought about our duty, about our work, about doing God's will, and filling our place in God's world, and taking our part in advancing the heavenly kingdom. Too many people worry far more about their food and clothing, lest they shall be left to poverty; than they do about doing their whole duty. That is, they are more anxious about God's part in their lives than about their own part. They fear that God may not take care of them—but they do not seem to have any fear that they themselves may fail in duty, or in fidelity to him.


September 12

The Beautiful Vision

"We know that when He appears—we will be like Him!" 1 John 3:2. As the beauty of Christ's character glows before us in the light of the Gospels—we should say, "That is what I am to be some day! I am now very far from it—but I am to reach it. That is my assured destiny!" Such a hope cherished in the heart, has a wondrous uplifting power.

Since we are so soon to be like Christ—we should seek to grow continually in grace and virtue. We should daily be getting a little more like Christ in character, in temper, in disposition, in affection. Our aim should be to bring every thought, and every emotion, and every desire—into sweet subjection to Christ. We should not only cherish the blessed vision —but should seek daily to grow into its divine beauty!


September 13

Our Father's house

We are in the Father's house in this world—though not in the best room of it—because sin has marred everything here. Still we are in the Father's house. His care is over us continually. His love pours its brightness all about us. His hand provides for our needs. Let us not think basely of earth—for it is part of our Father's house. How near it brings heaven to us—to think of it as but another room in our Father's house! The life in heaven, is not a new life—but is simply the life we begin here—which is continued there, with sintaken out—and imperfection and all pain and suffering left forever behind.


September 14

Saying Good-Byes

Since any good-bye may be for years or may be forever—should we not always part from our friends tenderly, kindly, lovingly? We should never separate in any angry mood, with bitterness in our hearts, with unforgiveness or misunderstanding, as we may never again have an opportunity to set things right. We should never say good-bye carelessly or coldly—but with thoughtful love. We should strive to make our every briefest good-bye, as sweet and kindly enough for a last good-bye, should it prove to be the last—as it may be.


September 15

Religion for All Days

Intense aspirations for holiness, sometimes seem to unfit people for living in this world. Christ never meant it to be so, however, and such religion is lacking somewhere. You do not need a religion, which will lift you up out of the weekday world—into a seventh heaven of rapture, making you forget your duties to those about you. You need a religion which will bring God down to walk with you in all the hard paths of toil and service, making even drudgery—divine, and routine and commonplace toil—a joy. That is what Christ wants to be to us.


September 16

God's Thought for Us

God has a plan for our life—for each individual life. There is something that he made us for; he has a thought in his mind for us, something he wants us to be and to do. Now we can never be what God wants us to be—except by doing his will day by day. Disobedience or lack of submission at any point, will mar the perfectness of his plan for us. We know that whatever he wills for us—is for us the highest possible good. God's will for us, is always blessing. It will lead us at every step—in the best way home. It will fashion in us each day—a little more fully the image of Christ.


September 17

The Safest Place

The safest place in all this world—is ever the place of duty. God's wings are over it. God's peace guards it. It is said that at the center of the cyclone, that there is a spot where there is almost perfect calm. A leaf there is scarcely stirred, and a baby could lie there unharmed. So at the center of every great peril in life, is a spot of holy calm where even the feeblest would not be harmed. It is the place of duty, of obedience, of the doing of God's will. He who stays there amid peril and trial—is perfectly safe. No storm smites him, no plague comes near his dwelling. The way of duty, is always a place of absolute safety. But he who departs from this charmed center, soon finds himself caught in the wild swirl and in peril. None of sin's ways are safe.


September 18

Dying Grace

Many people worry because they do not seem to have "dying grace." They still fear death, and shrink from it. But God has never promised dying grace, when one's duty is to live. Grace for duty, for toil, for love, for honesty, for earnest service in every good cause, for brave struggle, for unselfish ministry, for holy influence; grace for noble and beautiful living, and for loyal devotion to Christ while the heart's pulses are steady, and while God wants us still in this world—but not yet grace for dying, since death is far away. Then—grace for dying when the life's work is done, its duty finished, and the call comes to leave this world and go home. Will not that be soon enough for dying grace to be bestowed?

 
September 19

The Touch of Christ

"Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man." Mark 1:41. No one can read the gospel story without being impressed with the marvelous power of Christ's touch. Wherever it was felt—blessing came. We find ourselves sometimes mourning the loss of this touch, and wishing that we could feel it and get its blessing. But really we have not lost it. Christ has indeed passed out of our sight into the heavens—but his hand is stretched out still. It is laid just as of old upon sufferers, and has lost none of its power to comfort, to heal, to open blind eyes. Christ lays his hand upon our heads every time we bow at his feet in prayer. When we are in trouble—he comes and comforts us with his warm touch of sympathy. When we are sick or in pain—he is by our bed, and his hand is laid on our fevered brow to give rest and peace.


September 20

Serving Christ for Himself

We are ready for usefulness—just in the measure in which we have learned the lesson of self-forgetfulness. SELF stands in the way of many glorious possibilities of good. Men drag their own personal interests into the cause they are serving. They stickle for honor and place, and demand recognition, appreciation, and reward. Appreciation and gratitude are very sweet. Who does not love to receive words of commendation? But if such words do not come—if, instead, wrong and injustice come—our zeal for Christ should be no less intense. Let us so sink ourselves in the cause of Christ—that our loyalty, devotion, and fidelity shall in no way be affected either by honor or neglect, by praise or blame.


September 21

To Make Men Better

Our mission as Christians in this world—is to do good to the worst people—to comfort, to help, to bless, to save. We are debtors to all men. We owe to everyone we meet, some blessing. We have an errand to everyone. Where we can see no beauty—we are to seek to put the beauty of holiness; where we find only enmity and rage and wrong—we are to seek by patient love, to overcome the evil with good. So, always forgetting ourselves and our rights—we are to strive to save others for heaven. If we go among men with this motive in our hearts—we shall have great joy in doing good, even to the lowliest.


September 22

Peace Before Ministry

We are in no condition for good work of any kind—when we are fretted and anxious in our minds. It is only when the peace of God is in our heart, that we are ready for true and helpful ministry. A feverish heart makes a worried face, and a worried face casts shadows wherever the person goes. A troubled spirit mars the temper and the disposition. It makes the whole life less beautiful. It unfits one for giving cheer and inspiration, for touching other lives with good and helpful impulses. Peace must come before ministry. It was when Jesus had touched the sufferer's hand and the fever had left her—that she arose and ministered unto her friends.

 
September 23

Beyond Pain's Valley

Many of the richest possibilities of prayer, lie beyond valleys of pain and sorrow. The best things of life cannot be gotten, except at great cost. When we pray for more holiness, we do not know what we are asking for; at least we do not know the price we must pay to get that which we ask. Our "Nearer, my God, to you," must be conditioned by, and often can come only through, "even though it be a cross, that raises me." Not only are the spiritual things the best things—but many times the spiritual things can be grasped only by letting go and losing out of our hands, the earthly things we would love to keep. God loves us too much to answer prayers for comfort and relief, even when we make them, if he can do it only at spiritual loss to us. He would rather let it be hard for us to live—if there is blessing in the hardness, than make it easy for us, at the cost of the blessing.

 
September 24

God's Dark Room

The noblest, richest, purest, and most fruitful lives in this world—have always been lives of sufferers. There are elements of loveliness in the depths of every human soul which the fires of pain alone, can bring out. The photographer carries his picture into a darkened room to develop it. God often takes his children into the chamber of pain, and draws the curtains, while he brings out the features of his own image, which before had been there in but dim and shadowy outlines.


September 25

The Human Not Enough

Sometimes we are in danger of putting our trust in our human friends rather than in the divine Friend. God comes to us still in human forms. He reveals his sympathy and love through human hearts. He speaks to us through human lips. He guides us by human hands. But if the human is all we get, if we do not learn to cling to God, and lean upon the divine arm beneath the human arm, and look to God for the blessings we need—dark for us will be the hour when the human falls away—and we are left alone in the darkness. Wherever, in whatever form and by whoever you are led first to know God—be sure that it is God whom you know and trust.


September 26

Misrepresentation

Life is full of misinterpretations. Many of us have wrong opinions of others. We think they do not care for us—when they really do. We imagine they are angry at us—when there is not a shade of unkind feeling in their heart. We misinterpret their acts. Many a time things which offend us, if we but understood the motive which prompted them and the true love which is in them, would appear really beautiful in our eyes. We ought to guard continually against these misinterpretations. They do wrong to others. They rob our own hearts of peace. "Love thinks no evil." Let us be sure always that we see an act in its proper light.


September 27

Little White Lies

People talk about "little white lies"—little deceptions, concealments, false appearances, subterfuges—as if they were not particularly wrong. But he who would be true—must be true through and through, in the innermost depths of his being and in the smallest affairs—as well as the largest. He must simply be true. Let your soul of truth be as pure and unstained as the snowflakes when they fall from the cloud. There really are no "little white lies;" all lies are black. Falsehood is from the devil—no matter whether it is merely a look or a silence which deceives—or whether it is an uttered untruth. Let us learn to be true for God's eye.


September 28

Such As We Have

We can do a great deal of the wisest, truest good among men—without giving money. A strong hand reached out to help a fallen one rise again—is better than money. New hope and fresh courage put into a discouraged heart—are better than money. True comfort, enabling one in sorrow to pass through it sustained and victorious—is better than money. Let no one say he cannot do anything for others, unless he has money to give. Use what you have! Heart-coins and life-coins, are better than coins from the mint. The things we do for men's souls—are far more important to them—than the things we do merely for their bodies. Besides, all God asks us to give to others—is of such as we have.


September 29

God Guiding Our Steps

"Direct my footsteps according to Your Word; let no sin rule over me." Psalm 119:133. This is a prayer which should always be on our lips. We should get our direction from God, not once in our life only, when we first give ourselves to Him; not at the opening of each day only, as we go forth to the day's task; not merely at the beginning of each new piece of work or of each fresh task—but every moment, for each step. That is what "walking with God" means.

We may make this so real, that we shall look up into God's face continually, asking, "What next, dear Lord? What shall I do now? Which course shall I take today? How shall I do this duty?" If we can but have God's guidance and help for the little short steps—we need not fear for the long miles—the great stretches of road. If each step is of His directing—the long miles will be paths of His choosing. "Direct my footsteps according to Your Word; let no sin rule over me." Psalm 119:133


September 30

Empty Hands

"Full hands" at the end of a life—do not always tell of true success. Earthly failure is ofttimes higher success in God's eyes—than what men regard as "success". Scars of wounds gotten in conflict and strife with sin—are more splendid marks of honor, when the hands are held up before God—than diamonds and gold and crowns gained by yielding in life's conflicts. Strive to get your hands filled with the invisible things of God's heavenly kingdom. Fight the battles of life heroically, and never mind the scars. Better have wounded and empty hands which are clean—than hands which are full, and yet are stained with sin.

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