"The land whither ye go to possess it is a land of hills and
valleys and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: a land which
the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord are always
upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the
year" (Deut. 11:11-12).
Today dear friends, we stand upon the verge of the unknown.
There lies before us the new year and we are going forth to
possess it. Who can tell what we shall find? What new
experiences, what changes shall come, what new needs shall
arise? But here is the cheering, comforting, gladdening message
from our Heavenly Father, "The Lord thy God careth for it." "His
eyes are upon it away to the ending of the year."
All our supply is to come from the Lord. Here are springs that
shall never dry; here are fountains and streams that shall never
be cut off. Here, anxious one, is the gracious pledge of the
Heavenly Father. If He be the Source of our mercies they can
never fail us. No heat, no drought can parch that river, "the
streams whereof make glad the city of God."
The land is a land of hills and valleys. It is not all smooth
nor all down hill. If life were all one dead level the dull
sameness would oppress us; we want the hills and the valleys.
The hills collect the rain for a hundred fruitful valleys. Ah,
so it is with us! It is the hill difficulty that drives us to
the throne of grace and brings down the shower of blessing; the
hills, the bleak hills of life that we wonder at and perhaps
grumble at, bring down the showers. How many have perished in
the wilderness, buried under its golden sands, who would have
lived and thriven in the hill-country; how many would have been
killed by the frost, blighted with winds, swept desolate of tree
and fruit but for the hill-stern, hard, rugged, so steep to
climb. God's hills are a gracious protection for His people
against their foes!
We cannot tell what loss and sorrow and trial are doing. Trust
only. The Father comes near to take our hand and lead us on our
way today. It shall be a good, a blessed new year!
He leads us on by paths we did not know;
Upward He leads us, though our steps be slow,
Though oft we faint and falter on the way,
Though storms and darkness oft obscure the day;
Yet when the clouds are gone,
We know He leads us on.
He leads us on through all the unquiet years;
Past all our dreamland hopes, and doubts and fears,
He guides our steps, through all the tangled maze
Of losses, sorrows, and o'erclouded days;
We know His will is done;
And still He leads us on.
"And there was an enlarging, and a winding about still upward to
the side chambers: for the. winding about of the house went
still upward round about the house: therefore the breadth of the
house was still upward and so increased from the lowest chamber
to the highest by the midst" (Ezek. 41:7).
"Still upward be thine onward course:
For this I pray today;
Still upward as the years go by,
And seasons pass away.
"Still upward in this coming year,
Thy path is all untried;
Still upward may'st thou journey on,
Close by thy Savior's side.
"Still upward e'en though sorrow come,
And trials crush thine heart;
Still upward may they draw thy soul,
With Christ to walk apart.
"Still upward till the day shall break,
And shadows all have flown;
Still upward till in Heaven you wake,
And stand before the throne."
We ought not to rest content in the mists of the valley when the
summit of Tabor awaits us. How pure are the dews of the hills,
how fresh is the mountain air, how rich the fare of the dwellers
aloft, whose windows look into the New Jerusalem!
Many saints are content to live like men in coal mines, who see
not the sun. Tears mar their faces when they might anoint them
with celestial oil. Satisfied I am that many a believer pines in
a dungeon when he might walk on the palace roof, and view the
goodly land and Lebanon. Rouse thee, O believer, from thy low
condition! Cast away thy sloth, thy lethargy, thy coldness, or
whatever interferes with thy chaste and pure love to Christ.
Make Him the source, the center, and the circumference of all
thy soul's range of delight. Rest no longer satisfied with thy
dwarfish attainments. Aspire to a higher, a nobler, a fuller
life. Upward to heaven! Nearer to God!
"I want to scale the utmost height,
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I'll pray, till heaven I've found,
Lord, lead me on to higher ground!"
Not many of us are living at our best. We linger in the lowlands
because we are afraid to climb the mountains. The steepness and
ruggedness dismay us, and so we stay in the misty valleys and do
not learn the mystery of the hills. We do not know what we lose
in our self-indulgence, what glory awaits us if only we had
courage for the mountain climb, what blessing we should find if
only we would move to the uplands of God. --J. R. M
"Too low they build who build beneath the stars."
"I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth
before me and the children be able to endure" (Gen. 33:14).
What a beautiful picture of Jacob's thoughtfulness for the
cattle and the children! He would not allow them to be
overdriven even for one day. He would not lead on according to
what a strong man like Esau could do and expected them to do,
but only according to what they were able to endure. He knew
exactly how far they could go in a day; and he made that his
only consideration in arranging the marches. He had gone the
same wilderness journey years before, and knew all about its
roughness and heat and length, by personal experience. And so he
said, "I will lead on softly." "For ye have not passed this way
We have not passed this way heretofore, but the Lord Jesus has.
It is all untrodden and unknown ground to us, but He knows it
all by personal experience. The steep bits that take away our
breath, the stony bits that make our feet ache so, the hot
shadeless stretches that make us feel so exhausted, the rushing
rivers that we have to pass through--Jesus has gone through it
all before us. "He was wearied with his journey." Not some, but
all the many waters went over Him, and yet did not quench His
love. He was made a perfect Leader by the things which He
suffered. "He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are
dust." Think of that when you are tempted to question the
gentleness of His leading. He is remembering all the time; and
not one step will He make you take beyond what your foot is able
to endure. Never mind if you think it will not be able for the
step that seems to come next; either He will so strengthen it
that it shall be able, or He will call a sudden halt, and you
shall not have to take it at all. --Frances Ridley Havergal
In "pastures green"? Not always; sometimes He
Who knowest best, in kindness leadeth me
In weary ways, where heavy shadows be.
So, whether on the hill-tops high and fair
I dwell, or in the sunless valleys, where
The shadows lie, what matter? He is there.
"Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man
believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went
his way" (John 4:50).
"When ye pray, believe" (Mark 11:24).
When there is a matter that requires definite prayer, pray till
you believe God, until with unfeigned lips you can thank Him for
the answer. If the answer still tarries outwardly, do not pray
for it in such a way that it is evident that you are not
definitely believing for it. Such a prayer in place of being a
help will be a hindrance; and when you are finished praying, you
will find that your faith has weakened or has entirely gone. The
urgency that you felt to offer this kind of prayer is clearly
from self and Satan. It may not be wrong to mention the matter
in question to the Lord again, if He is keeping you waiting, but
be sure you do so in such a way that it implies faith. Do not
pray yourself out of faith. You may tell Him that you are
waiting and that you are still believing Him and therefore
praise Him for the answer. There is nothing that so fully
clinches faith as to be so sure of the answer that you can thank
God for it. Prayers that pray us out of faith deny both God's
promise in His Word and also His whisper "Yes," that He gave us
in our hearts. Such prayers are but the expression of the unrest
of one's heart, and unrest implies unbelief in reference to the
answer to prayer. "For we which have believed do enter into
rest" (Heb. 4:3). This prayer that prays ourselves out of faith
frequently arises from centering our thoughts on the difficulty
rather than on God's promise. Abraham "considered not his own
body," "he staggered not at the promise of God" (Rom. 4:19, 20).
May we watch and pray that we enter not into temptation of
praying ourselves out of faith. --C. H. P.
Faith is not a sense, nor sight, nor reason, but a taking God at
His Word. --Evans
The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning
of true faith is the end of anxiety. --George Mueller
You will never learn faith in comfortable surroundings. God
gives us the promises in a quiet hour; God seals our covenants
with great and gracious words, then He steps back and waits to
see how much we believe; then He lets the tempter come, and the
test seems to contradict all that He has spoken. It is then that
faith wins its crown. That is the time to look up through the
storm, and among the trembling, frightened seamen cry, "I
believe God that it shall be even as it was told me."
"Believe and trust; through stars and suns,
Through life and death, through soul and sense,
His wise, paternal purpose runs;
The darkness of His Providence
Is starlit with Divine intents."
None to Help But God
"Lord, there is none beside thee to help." (2 Chron. 14:11, RV).
Remind God of His entire responsibility. "There is none beside
thee to help." The odds against Asa were enormous. There was a
million of men in arms against him, besides three hundred
chariots. It seemed impossible to hold his own against that vast
multitude. There were no allies who would come to his help; his
only hope, therefore, was in God. It may be that your
difficulties have been allowed to come to so alarming a pitch
that you may be compelled to renounce all creature aid, to which
in lesser trials you have had recourse, and cast yourself back
on your Almighty Friend.
Put God between yourself and the foe. To Asa's faith, Jehovah
seemed to stand between the might of Zerah and himself, as one
who had no strength. Nor was he mistaken. We are told that the
Ethiopians were destroyed before the Lord and before His host,
as though celestial combatants flung themselves against the foe
in Israel's behalf, and put the large host to rout, so that
Israel had only to follow up and gather the spoil. Our God is
Jehovah of hosts, who can summon unexpected reinforcements at
any moment to aid His people. Believe that He is there between
you and your difficulty, and what baffles you will flee before
Him, as clouds before the gale. --F. B. Meyer
"When nothing whereon to lean remains,
When strongholds crumble to dust;
When nothing is sure but that God still reigns,
That is just the time to trust.
"'Tis better to walk by faith than sight,
In this path of yours and mine;
And the pitch-black night, when there's no outer light
Is the time for faith to shine."
Abraham believed God, and said to sight, "Stand back!" and to
the laws of nature, "Hold your peace!" and to a misgiving heart,
"Silence, thou lying tempter!" He believed God. --Joseph Parker
"When thou passest through the waters...they shall not overflow
thee" (Isa. 43:2).
God does not open paths for us in advance of our coming. He does
not promise help before help is needed. He does not remove
obstacles out of our way before we reach them. Yet when we are
on the edge of our need, God's hand is stretched out.
Many people forget this, and are forever worrying about
difficulties which they foresee in the future. They expect that
God is going to make the way plain and open before them, miles
and miles ahead; whereas He has promised to do it only step by
step as they may need. You must get to the waters and into their
floods before you can claim the promise. Many people dread
death, and lament that they have not "dying grace." Of course,
they will not have dying grace when they are in good health, in
the midst of life's duties, with death far in advance. Why
should they have it then? Grace for duty is what they need then,
living grace; then dying grace when they come to die. --J. R. M.
"When thou passest through the waters"
Deep the waves may be and cold,
But Jehovah is our refuge,
And His promise is our hold;
For the Lord Himself hath said it,
He, the faithful God and true:
"When thou comest to the waters
Thou shalt not go down, BUT THROUGH."
Seas of sorrow, seas of trial,
Bitterest anguish, fiercest pain,
Rolling surges of temptation
Sweeping over heart and brain
They shall never overflow us
For we know His word is true;
All His waves and all His billows
He will lead us safely through.
Threatening breakers of destruction,
Doubt's insidious undertow,
Shall not sink us, shall not drag us
Out to ocean depths of woe;
For His promise shall sustain us,
Praise the Lord, whose Word is true!
We shall not go down, or under,
For He saith, "Thou passest THROUGH."
--Annie Johnson Flint
"I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be
content" (Phil. 4:11).
Paul, denied of every comfort, wrote the above words in his
dungeon. A story is told of a king who went into his garden one
morning, and found everything withered and dying. He asked the
oak that stood near the gate what the trouble was. He found it
was sick of life and determined to die because it was not tall
and beautiful like the pine. The pine was all out of heart
because it could not bear grapes, like the vine. The vine was
going to throw its life away because it could not stand erect
and have as fine fruit as the peach tree. The geranium was
fretting because it was not tall and fragrant like the lilac;
and so on all through the garden. Coming to a heart's-ease, he
found its bright face lifted as cheery as ever. "Well,
heart's-ease, I'm glad, amidst all this discouragement, to find
one brave little flower. You do not seem to be the least
disheartened." "No, I am not of much account, but I thought that
if you wanted an oak, or a pine, or a peach tree, or a lilac,
you would have planted one; but as I knew you wanted a
heart's-ease, I am determined to be the best little heart's-ease
that I can."
"Others may do a greater work,
But you have your part to do;
And no one in all God's heritage
Can do it so well as you."
They who are God's without reserve, are in every state content;
for they will only what He wills, and desire to do for Him
whatever He desires them to do; they strip themselves of
everything, and in this nakedness find all things restored an
Showers and Sunshine
"I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall
be showers of blessing"
What is thy season this morning? Is it a season of drought? Then
that is the season for showers. Is it a season of great
heaviness and black clouds? Then that is the season for showers.
"As thy day so shall thy strength be." "I will give thee showers
of blessing." The word is in the plural. All kinds of blessings
God will send. All God's blessings go together, like links in a
golden chain. If He gives converting grace, He will also give
comforting grace. He will send "showers of blessings." Look up
today, O parched plant, and open thy leaves and flowers for a
heavenly watering. --Spurgeon
"Let but thy heart become a valley low,
And God will rain on it till it will overflow."
Thou, O Lord, canst transform my thorn into a flower. And I want
my thorn transformed into a flower. Job got the sunshine after
the rain, but has the rain been all waste? Job wants to know, I
want to know, if the shower had nothing to do with the shining.
And Thou canst tell me Thy Cross can tell me. Thou hast crowned
Thy sorrow. Be this my crown, O Lord. I only triumph in Thee
when I have learned the radiance of the rain. --George Matheson
The fruitful life seeks showers as well as sunshine.
"The landscape, brown and sere beneath the sun,
Needs but the cloud to lift it into life;
The dews may damp the leaves of tree and flower,
But it requires the cloud-distilled shower
To bring rich verdure to the lifeless life.
"Ah, how like this, the landscape of a life:
Dews of trial fall like incense, rich and sweet;
But bearing little in the crystal tray
Like nymphs of night, dews lift at break of day
And transient impress leave, like lips that meet.
"But clouds of trials, bearing burdens rare,
Leave in the soul, a moisture settled deep:
Life kindles by the magic law of God;
And where before the thirsty camel trod,
There richest beauties to life's landscape leap.
"Then read thou in each cloud that comes to thee
The words of Paul, in letters large and clear:
So shall those clouds thy soul with blessing feed,
And with a constant trust as thou dost read,
All things together work for good. Fret not, nor fear!"
Made Perfect Through Suffering
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not
worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in
us" (Rom. 8:18).
I kept for nearly a year the flask-shaped cocoon of an emperor
moth. It is very peculiar in its construction. A narrow opening
is left in the neck of the flask, through which the perfect
insect forces its way, so that a forsaken cocoon is as entire as
one still tenanted, no rupture of the interlacing fibers having
taken place. The great disproportion between the means of egress
and the size of the imprisoned insect makes one wonder how the
exit is ever accomplished at all--and it never is without great
labor and difficulty. It is supposed that the pressure to which
the moth's body is subjected in passing through such a narrow
opening is a provision of nature for forcing the juices into the
vessels of the wings, these being less developed at the period
of emerging from the chrysalis than they are in other insects.
I happened to witness the first efforts of my prisoned moth to
escape from its long confinement. During a whole forenoon, from
time to time, I watched it patiently striving and struggling to
get out. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and
at last my patience was exhausted. Very probably the confining
fibers were drier and less elastic than if the cocoon had been
left all winter on its native heather, as nature meant it to be.
At all events I thought I was wiser and more compassionate than
its Maker, and I resolved to give it a helping hand. With the
point of my scissors I snipped the confining threads to make the
exit just a very little easier, and lo! immediately, and with
perfect case, out crawled my moth dragging a huge swollen body
and little shrivelled wings. In vain I watched to see that
marvelous process of expansion in which these silently and
swiftly develop before one's eyes; and as I traced the exquisite
spots and markings of divers colors which were all there in
miniature, I longed to see these assume their due proportions
and the creature to appear in all its perfect beauty, as it is,
in truth, one of the loveliest of its kind. But I looked in
vain. My false tenderness had proved its ruin. It never was
anything but a stunted abortion, crawling painfully through that
brief life which it should have spent flying through the air on
rainbow wings. I have thought of it often, often, when watching
with pitiful eyes those who were struggling with sorrow,
suffering, and distress; and I would fain cut short the
discipline and give deliverance. Short-sighted man! How know I
that one of these pangs or groans could be spared? The
far-sighted, perfect love that seeks the perfection of its
object does not weakly shrink from present, transient suffering.
Our Father's love is too true to be weak. Because He loves His
children, He chastises them that they may be partakers of His
holiness. With this glorious end in view, He spares not for
their crying. Made perfect through sufferings, as the Elder
Brother was, the sons of God are trained up to obedience and
brought to glory through much tribulation. --Tract.
"They were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the Word in
Asia" (Acts 16:6).
It is interesting to study the methods of His guidance as it was
extended towards these early heralds of the Cross. It consisted
largely in prohibitions, when they attempted to take another
course than the right. When they would turn to the left, to
Asia, He stayed them. When they sought to turn to the right, to
Bithynia, again He stayed them. In after years Paul would do
some of the greatest work of his life in that very region; but
just now the door was closed against him by the Holy Spirit. The
time was not yet ripe for the attack on these apparently
impregnable bastions of the kingdom of Satan. Apollos must come
there for pioneer work. Paul and Barnabas are needed yet more
urgently elsewhere, and must receive further training before
undertaking this responsible task.
Beloved, whenever you are doubtful as to your course, submit
your judgment absolutely to the Spirit of God, and ask Him to
shut against you every door but the right one. Say,
"Blessed Spirit, I cast on Thee the entire responsibility of
closing against my steps any and every course which is not of
God. Let me hear Thy voice behind me whenever I turn to the
right hand or the left."
In the meanwhile, continue along the path which you have been
already treading. Abide in the calling in which you are called,
unless you are clearly told to do something else. The Spirit of
Jesus waits to be to you, O pilgrim, what He was to Paul. Only
be careful to obey His least prohibition; and where, after
believing prayer, there are no apparent hindrances, go forward
with enlarged heart. Do not be surprised if the answer comes in
closed doors. But when doors are shut right and left, an open
road is sure to lead to Troas. There Luke awaits, and visions
will point the way, where vast opportunities stand open, and
faithful friends are waiting. --Paul, by Meyer
Is there some problem in your life to solve,
Some passage seeming full of mystery?
God knows, who brings the hidden things to light.
He keeps the key.
Is there some door closed by the Father's hand
Which widely opened you had hoped to see?
Trust God and wait--for when He shuts the door
He keeps the key.
Is there some earnest prayer unanswered yet,
Or answered NOT as you had thought 'twould be?
God will make clear His purpose by-and-by.
He keeps the key.
Have patience with your God, your patient God,
All wise, all knowing, no long tarrier He,
And of the door of all thy future life
He keeps the key.
Unfailing comfort, sweet and blessed rest,
To know of EVERY door He keeps the key.
That He at last when just HE sees 'tis best,
Will give it THEE.
Trained to Comfort
"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God" (Isa. 40:1).
Store up comfort. This was the prophet's mission. The world is
full of comfortless hearts, and ere thou art sufficient for this
lofty ministry, thou must be trained. And thy training is costly
in the extreme; for, to render it perfect, thou too must pass
through the same afflictions as are wringing countless hearts of
tears and blood. Thus thy own life becomes the hospital ward
where thou art taught the Divine art of comfort. Thou art
wounded, that in the binding up of thy wounds by the Great
Physician, thou mayest learn how to render first aid to the
wounded everywhere. Dost thou wonder why thou art passing
through some special sorrow? Wait till ten years are passed, and
thou wilt find many others afflicted as thou art. Thou wilt tell
them how thou hast suffered and hast been comforted; then as the
tale is unfolded, and the anodynes applied which once thy God
wrapped around thee, in the eager look and the gleam of hope
that shall chase the shadow of despair across the soul, thou
shalt know why thou wast afflicted, and bless God for the
discipline that stored thy life with such a fund of experience
and helpfulness. --Selected
God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us
comforters. --Dr. Jowett
"They tell me I must bruise
The rose's leaf,
Ere I can keep and use
Its fragrance brief.
"They tell me I must break
The skylark's heart,
Ere her cage song will make
The silence start.
"They tell me love must bleed,
And friendship weep,
Ere in my deepest need
I touch that deep.
"Must it be always so
With precious things?
Must they be bruised and go
With beaten wings?
"Ah, yes! by crushing days,
By caging nights, by scar
Of thorn and stony ways,
These blessings are!"
"Reckon it nothing but joy...whenever you find yourself hedged
in by the various trials, be assured that the testing of your
faith leads to power of endurance" (James 1:2-3) Weymouth
God hedges in His own that He may preserve them, but oftentimes
they only see the wrong side of the hedge, and so misunderstand
His dealings. It was so with Job (Job 3:23). Ah, but Satan knew
the value of that hedge! See his testimony in chapter 1:10.
Through the leaves of every trial there are chinks of light to
shine through. Thorns do not prick you unless you lean against
them, and not one touches without His knowledge. The words that
hurt you, the letter which gave you pain, the cruel wound of
your dearest friend, shortness of money--are all known to Him,
who sympathizes as none else can and watches to see, if, through
all, you will dare to trust Him wholly.
"The hawthorn hedge that keeps us from intruding,
Looks very fierce and bare
When stripped by winter, every branch protruding
Its thorns that would wound and tear.
"But spring-time comes; and like the rod that budded,
Each twig breaks out in green;
And cushions soft of tender leaves are studded,
Where spines alone were seen,
"The sorrows, that to us seem so perplexing,
Are mercies kindly sent
To guard our wayward souls from sadder vexing,
And greater ills prevent.
"To save us from the pit, no screen of roses
Would serve for our defense,
The hindrance that completely interposes
Stings back like thorny fence.
"At first when smarting from the shock, complaining
Of wounds that freely bleed,
God's hedges of severity us paining,
May seem severe indeed.
"But afterwards, God's blessed spring-time cometh,
And bitter murmurs cease;
The sharp severity that pierced us bloometh,
And yields the fruits of peace.
"Then let us sing, our guarded way thus wending
Life's hidden snares among,
Of mercy and of judgment sweetly blending;
Earth's sad, but lovely song."
Hardship Makes Character
"In all these things we are more than conquerors through him
that loved us" (Romans 8:37).
This is more than victory. This is a triumph so complete that we
have not only escaped defeat and destruction, but we have
destroyed our enemies and won a spoil so rich and valuable that
we can thank God that the battle ever came. How can we be "more
than conquerors"? We can get out of the conflict a spiritual
discipline that will greatly strengthen our faith and establish
our spiritual character. Temptation is necessary to settle and
confirm us in the spiritual life. It is like the fire which
burns in the colors of mineral painting, or like winds that
cause the mighty cedars of the mountain to strike more deeply
into the soil. Our spiritual conflicts are among our choicest
blessings, and our great adversary is used to train us for his
ultimate defeat. The ancient Phrygians had a legend that every
time they conquered an enemy the victor absorbed the physical
strength of his victim and added so much more to his own
strength and valor. So temptation victoriously met doubles our
spiritual strength and equipment. It is possible thus not only
to defeat our enemy, but to capture him and make him fight in
our ranks. The prophet Isaiah speaks of flying on the shoulders
of the Philistines (Isa. 11:14). These Philistines were their
deadly foes, but the figure suggested that they would be enabled
not only to conquer the Philistines, but to use them to carry
the victors on their shoulders for further triumphs. Just as the
wise sailor can use a head wind to carry him forward by tacking
and taking advantage of its impelling force; so it is possible
for us in our spiritual life through the victorious grace of God
to turn to account the things that seem most unfriendly and
unfavorable, and to be able to say continually, "The things that
were against me have happened to the furtherance of the Gospel."
--Life More Abundantly
A noted scientist observing that "early voyagers fancied that
the coral-building animals instinctively built up the great
circles of the Atoll Islands to afford themselves protection in
the inner parts," has disproved this fancy by showing that the
insect builders can only live and thrive fronting the open
ocean, and in the highly aerated foam of its resistless billows.
So it has been commonly thought that protected ease is the most
favorable condition of life, whereas all the noblest and
strongest lives prove on the contrary that the endurance of
hardship is the making of the men, and the factor that
distinguishes between existence and vigorous vitality. Hardship
makes character. --Selected
"Now thanks be unto God Who always leads us forth to triumph
with the Anointed One, and Who diffuses by us the fragrance of
the knowledge of Him in every place" (2 Cor. 2:14, literal
"He putteth forth his own sheep" (John10:4).
Oh, this is bitter work for Him and us--bitter for us to go, but
equally bitter for Him to cause us pain; yet it must be done. It
would not be conducive to our true welfare to stay always in one
happy and comfortable lot. He therefore puts us forth. The fold
is deserted, that the sheep may wander over the bracing mountain
slope. The laborers must be thrust out into the harvest, else
the golden grain would spoil.
Take heart! it could not be better to stay when He determines
otherwise; and if the loving hand of our Lord puts us forth, it
must be well. On, in His name, to green pastures and still
waters and mountain heights! He goeth before thee. Whatever
awaits us is encountered first by Him. Faith's eye can always
discern His majestic presence in front; and when that cannot be
seen, it is dangerous to move forward. Bind this comfort to your
heart, that the Savior has tried for Himself all the experiences
through which He asks you to pass; and He would not ask you to
pass through them unless He was sure that they were not too
difficult for your feet, or too trying for your strength.
This is the Blessed Life--not anxious to see far in front, nor
careful about the next step, not eager to choose the path, nor
weighted with the heavy responsibilities of the future, but
quietly following behind the Shepherd, one step at a time.
Dark is the sky! and veiled the unknown morrowl
Dark is life's way, for night is not yet o'er;
The longed-for glimpse I may not meanwhile borrow;
But, this I know, HE GOETH ON BEFORE.
Dangers are nigh! and fears my mind are shaking;
Heart seems to dread what life may hold in store;
But I am His--He knows the way I'm taking,
More blessed still--HE GOETH ON BEFORE.
Doubts cast their weird, unwelcome shadows o'er me,
Doubts that life's best--life's choicest things are o'er;
What but His Word can strengthen, can restore me,
And this blest fact; that still HE GOES BEFORE.
HE GOES BEFORE! Be this my consolation!
He goes before! On this my heart would dwell!
He goes before! This guarantees salvation!
HE GOES BEFORE! And therefore all is well.
--J. D. Smith
The Oriental shepherd was always ahead of his sheep. He was down
in front. Any attack upon them had to take him into account. Now
God is down in front. He is in the tomorrows. It is tomorrow
that fills men with dread. God is there already. All the
tomorrows of our life have to pass Him before they can get to
us. --F. B. M.
"God is in every tomorrow,
Therefore I live for today,
Certain of finding at sunrise,
Guidance and strength for the way;
Power for each moment of weakness,
Hope for each moment of pain,
Comfort for every sorrow,
Sunshine and joy after rain."
"And the Lord appeared unto Isaac the same night" (Gen. 26:24).
"Appeared the same night," the night on which he went to Beer-sheba.
Do you think this revelation was an accident? Do you think the
time of it was an accident? Do you think it could have happened
on any other night as well as this? If so, you are grievously
mistaken. Why did it come to Isaac in the night on which he
reached Beer-sheba? Because that was the night on which he
reached rest. In his old locality, he had been tormented. There
had been a whole series of petty quarrels about the possession
of paltry wells. There are no worries like little worries,
particularly if there is an accumulation of them. Isaac felt
this. Even after the strife was past, the place retained a
disagreeable association. He determined to leave. He sought
change of scene. He pitched his tent away from the place of
former strife. That very night the revelation came. God spoke
when there was no inward storm. He could not speak when the mind
was fretted; His voice demands the silence of the soul. Only in
the hush of the spirit could Isaac hear the garments of his God
sweep by. His still night was his starry night.
My soul, hast thou pondered these words, "Be still, and know"?
In the hour of perturbation, thou canst not hear the answer to
thy prayers. How often has the answer seemed to come long after
the heart got no response in the moment of its crying--in its
thunder, its earthquake, and its fire. But when the crying
ceased, when the stillness fell, when thy hand desisted from
knocking on the iron gate, when the interest of other lives
broke the tragedy of thine own, then appeared the long-delayed
reply. Thou must rest, O soul, if thou wouldst have thy heart's
desire. Still the beating of thy pulse of personal care. Hide
thy tempest of individual trouble behind the altar of a common
tribulation and, that same night, the Lord shall appear to thee.
The rainbow shall span the place of the subsiding flood, and in
thy stillness thou shalt hear the everlasting music. --George
Tread in solitude thy pathway,
Quiet heart and undismayed.
Thou shalt know things strange, mysterious,
Which to thee no voice has said.
While the crowd of petty hustlers
Grasps at vain and paltry things,
Thou wilt see a great world rising
Where soft mystic music rings.
Leave the dusty road to others,
Spotless keep thy soul and bright,
As the radiant ocean's surface
When the sun is taking flight.
--(From the German of V. Schoffel) H. F.
The Breaking of the Storm
"And there arose a great storm" (Mark 4:37).
Some of the storms of life come suddenly: a great sorrow, a
bitter disappointment, a crushing defeat. Some come slowly. They
appear upon the ragged edges of the horizon no larger than a
man's hand, but, trouble that seems so insignificant spreads
until it covers the sky and overwhelms us.
Yet it is in the storm that God equips us for service. When God
wants an oak He plants it on the moor where the storms will
shake it and the rains will beat down upon it, and it is in the
midnight battle with elements that the oak wins its rugged fibre
and becomes the king of the forest.
When God wants to make a man He puts him into some storm. The
history of manhood is always rough and rugged. No man is made
until he has been out into the surge of the storm and found the
sublime fulfillment of the prayer: "O God, take me, break me,
A Frenchman has painted a picture of universal genius. There
stand orators, philosophers and martyrs, all who have achieved
pre-eminence in any phase of life; the remarkable fact about the
picture is this: Every man who is pre-eminent for his ability
was first pre-eminent for suffering. In the foreground stands
that figure of the man who was denied the promised land, Moses.
Beside him is another, feeling his way--blind Homer. Milton is
there, blind and heart-broken. Now comes the form of one who
towers above them all. What is His characteristic? His Face is
marred more than any man's. The artist might have written under
that great picture, "The Storm."
The beauties of nature come after the storm. The rugged beauty
of the mountain is born in a storm, and the heroes of life are
the storm-swept and the battle-scarred.
You have been in the storms and swept by the blasts. Have they
left you broken, weary, beaten in the valley, or have they
lifted you to the sunlit summits of a richer, deeper, more
abiding manhood and womanhood? Have they left you with more
sympathy with the storm-swept and the battle-scarred? --Selected
The wind that blows can never kill
The tree God plants;
It bloweth east, it bloweth west,
The tender leaves have little rest,
But any wind that blows is best.
The tree that God plants
Strikes deeper root, grows higher still,
Spreads greater boughs, for God's good will
Meets all its wants.
There is no storm hath power to blast
The tree God knows;
No thunderbolt, nor beating rain,
Nor lightning flash, nor hurricane;
When they are spent, it doth remain,
The tree God knows,
Through every tempest standeth fast,
And from its first day to its last
Still fairer grows. --Selected
The Living God
"O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God whom thou
servest continually, able to deliver thee" (Dan. 6:20).
How many times we find this expression in the Scriptures, and
yet it is just this very thing that we are so prone to lose
sight of. We know it is written "the living God"; but in our
daily life there is scarcely anything we practically so much
lose sight of as the fact that God is the living God; that He is
now whatever He was three or four thousand years since; that He
has the same sovereign power, the same saving love towards those
who love and serve Him as ever He had and that He will do for
them now what He did for others two, three, four thousand years
ago, simply because He is the living God, the unchanging One.
Oh, how therefore we should confide in Him, and in our darkest
moments never lose sight of the fact that He is still and ever
will be the living God!
Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help
from Him, He will never fail you. An older brother who has known
the Lord for forty-four years, who writes this, says to you for
your encouragement that He has never failed him. In the greatest
difficulties, in the heaviest trials, in the deepest poverty and
necessities, He has never failed me; but because I was enabled
by His grace to trust Him He has always appeared for my help. I
delight in speaking well of His name. --George Mueller
Luther was once found at a moment of peril and fear, when he had
need to grasp unseen strength, sitting in an abstracted mood
tracing on the table with his finger the words, "Vivit! vivit!"
("He lives! He lives!"). It is our hope for ourselves, and for
His truth, and for mankind. Men come and go; leaders, teachers,
thinkers speak and work for a season, and then fall silent and
impotent. He abides. They die, but He lives. They are lights
kindled, and, therefore, sooner or later quenched; but He is the
true light from which they draw all their brightness, and He
shines for evermore. --Alexander Maclaren
"One day I came to know Dr. John Douglas Adam," writes C. G.
Trumbull. "I learned from him that what he counted his greatest
spiritual asset was his unvarying consciousness of the actual
presence of Jesus. Nothing bore him up so, he said, as the
realization that Jesus was always with him in actual presence;
and that this was so independent of his own feelings,
independent of his deserts, and independent of his own notions
as to how Jesus would manifest His presence.
"Moreover, he said that Christ was the home of his thoughts.
Whenever his mind was free from other matters it would turn to
Christ; and he would talk aloud to Christ when he was alone--on
the street, anywhere--as easily and naturally as to a human
friend. So real to him was Jesus' actual presence.
The Fiery Furnace
"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in
Christ" (2 Cor. 2:14).
God gets His greatest victories out of apparent defeats. Very
often the enemy seems to triumph for a little, and God lets it
be so; but then He comes in and upsets all the work of the
enemy, overthrows the apparent victory, and as the Bible says,
"turns the way of the wicked upside down." Thus He gives a great
deal larger victory than we would have known if He had not
allowed the enemy, seemingly, to triumph in the first place.
The story of the three Hebrew children being cast into the fiery
furnace is a familiar one. Here was an apparent victory for the
enemy. It looked as if the servants of the living God were going
to have a terrible defeat. We have all been in places where it
seemed as though we were defeated, and the enemy rejoiced. We
can imagine what a complete defeat this looked to be. They fell
down into the flames, and their enemies watched them to see them
burn up in that awful fire, but were greatly astonished to see
them walking around in the fire enjoying themselves.
Nebuchadnezzar told them to "come forth out of the midst of the
fire." Not even a hair was singed, nor was the smell of fire on
their garments, "because there is no other god that can deliver
after this sort."
This apparent defeat resulted in a marvelous victory.
Suppose that these three men had lost their faith and courage,
and had complained, saying, "Why did not God keep us out of the
furnace!" They would have been burned, and God would not have
been glorified. If there is a great trial in your life today, do
not own it as a defeat, but continue, by faith, to claim the
victory through Him who is able to make you more than conqueror,
and a glorious victory will soon be apparent. Let us learn that
in all the hard places God brings us into, He is making
opportunities for us to exercise such faith in Him as will bring
about blessed results and greatly glorify His name. --Life of
"Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind,
The boughs drink in new beauty, and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come
To stretch out spaces in the heart for joy."
"Men ought always to pray and not to faint" (Luke18:1).
"Go to the ant." Tammerlane used to relate to his friends an
anecdote of his early life. "I once" he said, "was forced to
take shelter from my enemies in a ruined building, where I sat
alone many hours. Desiring to divert my mind from my hopeless
condition, I fixed my eyes on an ant that was carrying a grain
of corn larger than itself up a high wall. I numbered the
efforts it made to accomplish this object. The grain fell
sixty-nine times to the ground; but the insect persevered, and
the seventieth time it reached the top. This sight gave me
courage at the moment, and I never forgot the lesson." --The
Prayer which takes the fact that past prayers have not been
answered as a reason for languor, has already ceased to be the
prayer of faith. To the prayer of faith the fact that prayers
remain unanswered is only evidence that the moment of the answer
is so much nearer. From first to last, the lessons and examples
of our Lord all tell us that prayer which cannot persevere and
urge its plea importunately, and renew, and renew itself again,
and gather strength from every past petition, is not the prayer
that will prevail. --William Arthur
Rubenstein, the great musician, once said, "If I omit practice
one day, I notice it; if two days, my friends notice it; if
three days, the public notice it." It is the old doctrine,
"Practice makes perfect." We must continue believing, continue
praying, continue doing His will. Suppose along any line of art,
one should cease practicing, we know what the result would be.
If we would only use the same quality of common sense in our
religion that we use in our everyday life, we should go on to
The motto of David Livingstone was in these words, "I determined
never to stop until I had come to the end and achieved my
purpose." By unfaltering persistence and faith in God he
Sorrow, God's Plowshare
"Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the
countenance the heart is made better" (Eccles. 7:3).
When sorrow comes under the power of Divine grace, it works out
a manifold ministry in our lives. Sorrow reveals unknown depths
in the soul, and unknown capabilities of experience and service.
Gay, trifling people are always shallow, and never suspect the
little meannesses in their nature. Sorrow is God's plowshare
that turns up and subsoils the depths of the soul, that it may
yield richer harvests. If we had never fallen, or were in a
glorified state, then the strong torrents of Divine joy would be
the normal force to open up all our souls' capacities; but in a
fallen world, sorrow, with despair taken out of it, is the
chosen power to reveal ourselves to ourselves. Hence it is
sorrow that makes us think deeply, long, and soberly.
Sorrow makes us go slower and more considerately, and introspect
our motives and dispositions. It is sorrow that opens up within
us the capacities of the heavenly life, and it is sorrow that
makes us willing to launch our capacities on a boundless sea of
service for God and our fellows.
We may suppose a class of indolent people living at the base of
a great mountain range, who had never ventured to explore the
valleys and canyons back in the mountains; and some day, when a
great thunderstorm goes careening through the mountains, it
turns the hidden glens into echoing trumpets, and reveals the
inner recesses of the valley, like the convolutions of a monster
shell, and then the dwellers at the foot of the hills are
astonished at the labyrinths and unexplored recesses of a region
so near by, and yet so little known. So it is with many souls
who indolently live on the outer edge of their own natures until
great thunderstorms of sorrow reveal hidden depths within that
were never hitherto suspected.
God never uses anybody to a large degree, until after He breaks
that one all to pieces. Joseph had more sorrow than all the
other sons of Jacob, and it led him out into a ministry of bread
for all nations. For this reason, the Holy Spirit said of him,
"Joseph is a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over
the wall" (Gen. 49:22). It takes sorrow to widen the soul. --The
The dark brown mould's upturned
By the sharp-pointed plow;
And I've a lesson learned.
My life is but a field,
Stretched out beneath God's sky,
Some harvest rich to yield.
Where grows the golden grain?
Where faith? Where sympathy?
In a furrow cut by pain.
--Afaltbie D. Babcock
Every person and every nation must take lessons in God's school
of adversity. "We can say, 'Blessed is night, for it reveals to
us the stars.' In the same way we can say, 'Blessed is sorrow,
for it reveals God's comfort.' The floods washed away home and
mill, all the poor man had in the world. But as he stood on the
scene of his loss, after the water had subsided, broken-hearted
and discouraged, he saw something shining in the bank which the
waters had washed bare. 'It looks like gold,' he said. It was
gold. The flood which had beggared him made him rich. So it is
ofttimes in life." --H. C. Trumbull
He Has Overcome the World
"None of these things move me" (Acts20:24).
We read in the book of Samuel that the moment that David was
crowned at Hebron, "All the Philistines came up to seek David."
And the moment we get anything from the Lord worth contending
for, then the devil comes to seek us.
When the enemy meets us at the threshold of any great work for
God, let us accept it as "a token of salvation," and claim
double blessing, victory, and power. Power is developed by
resistance. The cannon carries twice as far because the
exploding power has to find its way through resistance. The way
electricity is produced in the powerhouse yonder is by the sharp
friction of the revolving wheels. And so we shall find some day
that even Satan has been one of God's agencies of blessing.
--Days of Heaven upon Earth
A hero is not fed on sweets,
Daily his own heart he eats;
Chambers of the great are jails,
And head winds right for royal sails.
Tribulation is the way to triumph. The valley-way opens into the
highway. Tribulation's imprint is on all great things. Crowns
are cast in crucibles. Chains of character that wind about the
feet of God are forged in earthly flames. No man is greatest
victor till he has trodden the winepress of woe. With seams of
anguish deep in His brow, the "Man of Sorrows" said, "In the
world ye shall have tribulation"--but after this sob comes the
psalm of promise, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
The footprints are traceable everywhere. Bloodmarks stain the
steps that lead to thrones. Sears are the price of scepters. Our
crowns will be wrested from the giants we conquer. Grief has
always been the lot of greatness. It is an open secret.
"The mark of rank in nature.
Is capacity for pain;
And the anguish of the singer
Makes the sweetest of the strain."
Tribulation has always marked the trail of the true reformer. It
is the story of Paul, Luther, Savonarola, Knox, Wesley, and all
the rest of the mighty army. They came through great tribulation
to their place of power.
Every great book has been written with the author's blood.
"These are they that have come out of great tribulation." Who
was the peerless poet of the Greeks? Homer. But that illustrious
singer was blind. Who wrote the fadeless dream of "Pilgrim's
Progress"? A prince in royal purple upon a couch of ease? Nay!
The trailing splendor of that vision gilded the dingy walls of
old Bedford jail while John Bunyan, a princely prisoner, a
glorious genius, made a faithful transcript of the scene.
Great is the facile conqueror;
Yet haply, he, who, wounded sore,
Breathless, all covered o'er with blood and sweat,
Sinks fainting, but fighting evermore
Is greater yet.
Music and the Rest
"Into a desert place apart" (Matt. 14:13).
"There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music
in it." In our whole life-melody the music is broken off here
and there by "rests," and we foolishly think we have come to the
end of the tune. God sends a time of forced leisure, sickness,
disappointed plans, frustrated efforts, and makes a sudden pause
in the choral hymn of our lives; and we lament that our voices
must be silent, and our part missing in the music which ever
goes up to the ear of the Creator. How does the musician read
the "rest"? See him beat the time with unvarying count, and
catch up the next note true and steady, as if no breaking place
had come between.
Not without design does God write the music of our lives. Be it
ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the "rests." They
are not to be slurred over, not to be omitted, not to destroy
the melody, not to change the keynote. If we look up, God
Himself will beat the time for us. With the eye on Him, we shall
strike the next note full and clear. If we sadly say to
ourselves, "There is no music in a 'rest,'" let us not forget
"there is the making of music in it." The making of music is
often a slow and painful process in this life. How patiently God
works to teach us! How long He waits for us to learn the lesson!
From the glad working of thy busy life,
From the world's ceaseless stir of care and strife,
Into the shade and stillness by thy Heavenly Guide
For a brief space thou hast been called aside.
Perhaps into a desert garden dim;
And yet not alone, when thou hast been with Him,
And heard His voice in sweetest accents say:
'Child, wilt thou not with Me this still hour stay?'
In hidden paths with Christ thy Lord to tread,
Deeper to drink at the sweet Fountainhead,
Closer in fellowship with Him to roam,
Nearer, perchance, to feel thy Heavenly Home.
Oh, knowledge deeper grows with Him alone;
In secret of His deeper love is shown,
And learnt in many an hour of dark distress
Some rare, sweet lesson of His tenderness.
We thank thee for the stillness and the shade;
We thank Thee for the hidden paths Thy love hath made,
And, so that we have wept and watched with Thee,
We thank Thee for our dark Gethsemane.
Oh, restful thought--He doeth all things well;
Oh, blessed sense, with Christ alone to dwell;
So in the shadow of Thy cross to hide,
We thank Thee, Lord, to have been called aside."
A Very Present Help
"Why standest thou afar off, O Lord?" (Psalm 10:1.)
God is "a very present help in trouble." But He permits trouble
to pursue us, as though He were indifferent to its overwhelming
pressure, that we may be brought to the end of ourselves, and
led to discover the treasure of darkness, the unmeasurable gains
of tribulation. We may be sure that He who permits the suffering
is with us in it. It may be that we shall see Him only when the
trial is passing; but we must dare to believe that He never
leaves the crucible. Our eyes are holden; and we cannot behold
Him whom our soul loveth. It is dark--the bandages blind us so
that we cannot see the form of our High Priest; but He is there,
deeply touched. Let us not rely on feeling, but on faith in His
unswerving fidelity; and though we see Him not, let us talk to
Him. Directly we begin to speak to Jesus, as being literally
present, though His presence is veiled, there comes an answering
voice which shows that He is in the shadow, keeping watch upon
His own. Your Father is as near when you journey through the
dark tunnel as when under the open heaven! --Daily Devotional
"What though the path be all unknown?
What though the way be drear?
Its shades I traverse not alone
When steps of Thine are near."
Evidence of His Love
"But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she
returned unto him...And the dove came in to him in the evening;
and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf" (Gen. 8:9-11).
God knows just when to withhold from us any visible sign of
encouragement, and when to grant us such a sign. How good it is
that we may trust Him anyway! When all visible evidences that He
is remembering us are withheld, that is best; He wants us to
realize that His Word, His promise of remembrance, is more
substantial and dependable than any evidence of our senses. When
He sends the visible evidence, that is well also; we appreciate
it all the more after we have trusted Him without it. Those who
are readiest to trust God without other evidence than His Word
always receive the greatest number of visible evidences of His
love. --C. G. Trumbull
"Believing Him; if storm-clouds gather darkly 'round,
And even if the heaven seem brass, without a sound?
He hears each prayer and even notes the sparrow's fall.
"And praising Him; when sorrow, grief, and pain are near,
And even when we lose the thing that seems most dear?
Our loss is gain. Praise Him; in Him we have our All.
"Our hand in His; e'en though the path seems long and drear
We scarcely see a step ahead, and almost fear?
He guides aright. He has it thus to keep us near.
"And satisfied; when every path is blocked and bare,
And worldly things are gone and dead which were so fair?
Believe and rest and trust in Him, He comes to stay."
Delays are not refusals; many a prayer is registered, and
underneath it the words: "My time is not yet come." God has a
set time as well as a set purpose, and He who orders the bounds
of our habitation orders also the time of our deliverance.
Thy Rod and Thy Staff
"Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me" (Ps. 23:4).
At my father's house in the country there is a little closet in
the chimney corner where are kept the canes and walking-sticks
of several generations of our family. In my visits to the old
house, when my father and I are going out for a walk, we often
go to the cane closet, and pick out our sticks to suit the fancy
of the occasion. In this I have frequently been reminded that
the Word of God is a staff.
During the war, when the season of discouragement and impending
danger was upon us, the verse, "He shall not be afraid of evil
tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord," was a staff
to walk with many dark days.
When death took away our child and left us almost heartbroken, I
found another staff in the promise that "weeping may endure for
the night, but joy cometh in the morning."
When in impaired health, I was exiled for a year, not knowing
whether I should be permitted to return to my home and work
again, I took with me this staff which never failed, "He knoweth
the thoughts that he thinketh toward me, thoughts of peace and
not of evil."
In times of special danger or doubt, when human judgment has
seemed to be set at naught, I have found it easy to go forward
with this staff, "In quietness and confidence shall be your
strength." And in emergencies, when there has seemed to be no
adequate time for deliberation or for action, I have never found
that this staff has failed me, "He that believeth shall not make
haste." --Benjamin Vaughan Abbott, in The Outlook
"I had never known," said Martin Luther's wife, "what such and
such things meant, in such and such psalms, such complaints and
workings of spirit; I had never understood the practice of
Christian duties, had not God brought me under some affliction."
It is very true that God's rod is as the schoolmaster's pointer
to the child, pointing out the letter, that he may the better
take notice of it; thus He pointeth out to us many good lessons
which we should never otherwise have learned. --Selected
"God always sends His staff with His rod."
"Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall
thy strength be" (Deut.33:25).
Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He
will provide us with strong shoes, and He will not send us out
on any journey for which He does not equip us well. --Maclaren
Waiting and Over-Waiting
"I have begun to give;?begin to possess" (Deut. 2:31).
A great deal is said in the Bible about waiting for God. The
lesson cannot be too strongly enforced. We easily grow impatient
of God's delays. Much of our trouble in life comes out of our
restless, sometimes reckless, haste. We cannot wait for the
fruit to ripen, but insist on plucking it while it is green. We
cannot wait for the answers to our prayers, although the things
we ask for may require long years in their preparation for us.
We are exhorted to walk with God; but ofttimes God walks very
slowly. But there is another phase of the lesson. God often
waits for us.
We fail many times to receive the blessing He has ready for us,
because we do not go forward with Him. While we miss much good
through not waiting for God, we also miss much through
over-waiting. There are times when our strength is to sit still,
but there are also times when we are to go forward with a firm
There are many Divine promises which are conditioned upon the
beginning of some action on our part. When we begin to obey, God
will begin to bless us. Great things were promised to Abraham,
but not one of them could have been obtained by waiting in
Chaldea. He must leave home, friends, and country, and go out
into unknown paths and press on in unfaltering obedience in
order to receive the promises. The ten lepers were told to show
themselves to the priest, and "as they went they were cleansed."
If they had waited to see the cleansing come in their flesh
before they would start, they would never have seen it. God was
waiting to cleanse them; and the moment their faith began to
work, the blessing came.
When the Israelites were shut in by a pursuing army at the Red
Sea, they were commanded to "Go forward." Their duty was no
longer one of waiting, but of rising up from bended knees and
going forward in the way of heroic faith. They were commanded to
show their faith at another time by beginning their march over
the Jordan while the river ran to its widest banks. The key to
unlock the gate into the Land of Promise they held in their own
hands, and the gate would not turn on its hinges until they had
approached it and unlocked it. That key was faith. We are set to
fight certain battles. We say we can never be victorious; that
we never can conquer these enemies; but, as we enter the
conflict, One comes and fights by our side, and through Him we
are more than conquerors. If we had waited, trembling and
fearing, for our Helper to come before we would join the battle,
we should have waited in vain. This would have been the
over-waiting of unbelief. God is waiting to pour richest
blessings upon you. Press forward with bold confidence and take
what is yours. "I have begun to give, begin to possess." --J. R.
Steady in Our Walk
"Stablish, strengthen, settle you" (1 Peter 5:10).
In taking Christ in any new relationship, we must first have
sufficient intellectual light to satisfy our mind that we are
entitled to stand in this relationship. The shadow of a question
here will wreck our confidence. Then, having seen this, we must
make the venture, the committal, the choice, and take the place
just as definitely as the tree is planted in the soil, or the
bride gives herself away at the marriage altar. It must be once
for all, without reserve, without recall.
Then there is a season of establishing, settling and testing,
during which we must "stay put" until the new relationship gets
so fixed as to become a permanent habit. It is just the same as
when the surgeon sets the broken arm. He puts it in splints to
keep it from vibration. So God has His spiritual splints that He
wants to put upon His children and keep them quiet and unmoved
until they pass the first stage of faith. It is not always easy
work for us, "but the God of all grace, who hath called us unto
his eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after that ye have suffered
awhile, stablish, strengthen, settle you." --A. B. Simpson
There is a natural law in sin and sickness; and if we just let
ourselves go and sink into the trend of circumstances, we shall
go down and sink under the power of the tempter. But there is
another law of spiritual life and of physical life in Christ
Jesus to which we can rise, and through which we can
counterpoise and overcome the other law that bears us down.
But to do this requires real spiritual energy and fixed purpose
and a settled posture and habit of faith. It is just the same as
when we use the power in our factory. We must turn on the belt
and keep it on. The power is there, but we must keep the
connection; and while we do so, the higher power will work and
all the machinery will be in operation.
There is a spiritual law of choosing, believing, abiding, and
holding steady in our walk with God, which is essential to the
working of the Holy Ghost either in our sanctification or
healing. --Days of Heaven upon Earth
"I am jealous over you with God's own jealousy" (2 Cor. 11:2)
How an old harper dotes on his harp! How he fondles and caresses
it, as a child resting on his bosom! His life is bound up in it.
But, see him tuning it. He grasps it firmly, strikes a chord
with a sharp, quick blow; and while it quivers as if in pain, he
leans over intently to catch the first note that rises. The
note, as he feared, is false and harsh. He strains the chord
with the torturing thumb-screw; and though it seems ready to
snap with the tension, he strikes it again, bending down to
listen softly as before, till at length you see a smile on his
face as the first true tone trembles upward.
So it may be that God is dealing with you. Loving you better
than any harper loves his harp, He finds you a mass of jarring
discords. He wrings your heartstrings with some torturing
anguish; He bends over you tenderly, striking and listening;
and, hearing only a harsh murmur, strikes you again, while His
heart bleeds for you, anxiously waiting for that strain--"Not my
will, but thine be done"--which is melody sweet to His ear as
angels' songs. Nor will He cease to strike until your chastened
soul shall blend with all the pure and infinite harmonies of His
own being. --Selected.
"Oh, the sweetness that dwells in a harp of many strings,
While each, all vocal with love in a tuneful harmony rings!
But, oh, the wail and the discord, when one and another is rent,
Tensionless, broken and lost, from the cherished instrument.
"For rapture of love is linked with the pain or fear of loss,
And the hand that takes the crown, must ache with many a cross;
Yet he who hath never a conflict, hath never a victor's palm,
And only the toilers know the sweetness of rest and calm.
"Only between the storms can the Alpine traveller know
Transcendent glory of clearness, marvels of gleam and glow;
Had he the brightness unbroken of cloudless summer days,
This had been dimmed by the dust and the veil of a brooding
"Who would dare the choice, neither or both to know,
The finest quiver of joy or the agony thrill of woe!
Never the exquisite pain, then never the exquisite bliss,
For the heart that is dull to that can never be strung to this."
Unshaken in Christ
"God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall
help her, and that right early"
(Ps. 46:2, 3, 5)
"Shall not be moved"--what an inspiring declaration! Can it be
possible that we, who are so easily moved by the things of
earth, can arrive at a place where nothing can upset us or
disturb our calm? Yes, it is possible; and the Apostle Paul knew
it. When he was on his way to Jerusalem where he foresaw that
"bonds and afflictions" awaited him, he could say triumphantly,
"But none of these things move me." Everything in Paul's life
and experience that could be shaken had been shaken, and he no
longer counted his life, or any of life's possessions, dear to
him. And we, if we will but let God have His way with us, may
come to the same place, so that neither the fret and tear of
little things of life, nor the great and heavy trials, can have
power to move us from the peace that passeth understanding,
which is declared to be the portion of those who have learned to
rest only on God.
"Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my
God; and he shall go no more out." To be as immovable as a
pillar in the house of our God, is an end for which one would
gladly endure all the shakings that may be necessary to bring us
there! --Hannah Whitall Smith
When God is in the midst of a kingdom or city He makes it as
firm as Mount Zion, that cannot be removed. When He is in the
midst of a soul, though calamities throng about it on all hands,
and roar like the billows of the sea, yet there is a constant
calm within, such a peace as the world can neither give nor take
away. What is it but want of lodging God in the soul, and that
in His stead the world is in men's hearts, that makes them shake
like leaves at every blast of danger?
"They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which
cannot be removed, but abideth forever." There is a quaint old
Scottish version that puts iron into our blood:
"Who sticketh to God in stable trust
As Zion's mount he stands full just,
Which moveth no whit, nor yet doth reel,
But standeth forever as stiff as steel!"
"I will be as the dew unto Israel" (Hosea 14:5).
The dew is a source of freshness. It is nature's provision for
renewing the face of the earth. It falls at night, and without
it the vegetation would die. It is this great value of the dew
which is so often recognized in the Scriptures. It is used as
the symbol of spiritual refreshing. Just as nature is bathed in
dew, so the Lord renews His people. In Titus 3:5 the same
thought of spiritual refreshing is connected with the ministry
of the Holy Ghost--"renewing of the Holy Ghost."
Many Christian workers do not recognize the importance of the
heavenly dew in their lives, and as a result they lack freshness
and vigor. Their spirits are drooping for lack of dew.
Beloved fellow-worker, you recognize the folly of a laboring man
attempting to do his day's work without eating. Do you recognize
the folly of a servant of God attempting to minister without
eating of the heavenly manna? Nor will it suffice to have
spiritual nourishment occasionally. Every day you must receive
the renewing of the Holy Ghost. You know when your whole being
is pulsating with the vigor and freshness of Divine life and
when you feel jaded and worn. Quietness and absorption bring the
dew. At night when the leaf and blade are still, the vegetable
pores are open to receive the refreshing and invigorating bath;
so spiritual dew comes from quiet lingering in the Master's
presence. Get still before Him. Haste will prevent your
receiving the dew. Wait before God until you feel saturated with
His presence; then go forth to your next duty with the conscious
freshness and vigor of Christ. --Dr. Pardington
Dew will never gather while there is either heat or wind. The
temperature must fall, and the wind cease, and the air come to a
point of coolness and rest--absolute rest, so to speak--before
it can yield up its invisible particles of moisture to bedew
either herb or flower. So the grace of God does not come forth
to rest the soul of man until the still point is fairly and
"Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease:
Take from our souls the strain and stress;
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
"Breathe through the pulses of desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, its beats expire:
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm!"
"He giveth quietness." (Job 34:29).
Quietness amid the dash of the storm. We sail the lake with Him
still; and as we reach its middle waters, far from land, under
midnight skies, suddenly a great storm sweeps down. Earth and
hell seem arrayed against us, and each billow threatens to
overwhelm. Then He arises from His sleep, and rebukes the winds
and the waves; His hand waves benediction and repose over the
rage of the tempestuous elements. His voice is heard above the
scream of the wind in the cordage and the conflict of the
billows, "Peace, be still!" Can you not hear it? And there is
instantly a great calm. "He giveth quietness." Quietness amid
the loss of inward consolations. He sometimes withdraws these,
because we make too much of them. We are tempted to look at our
joy, our ecstasies, our transports, or our visions, with too
great complacency. Then love for love's sake, withdraws them.
But, by His grace, He leads us to distinguish between them and
Himself. He draws nigh, and whispers the assurance of His
presence. Thus an infinite calm comes to keep our heart and
mind. "He giveth quietness."
"He giveth quietness." O Elder Brother,
Whose homeless feet have pressed our path of pain,
Whose hands have borne the burden of our sorrow,
That in our losses we might find our gain.
"Of all Thy gifts and infinite consolings,
I ask but this: in every troubled hour
To hear Thy voice through all the tumults stealing,
And rest serene beneath its tranquil power.
"Cares cannot fret me if my soul be dwelling
In the still air of faith's untroubled day;
Grief cannot shake me if I walk beside thee,
My hand in Thine along the darkening way.
"Content to know there comes a radiant morning
When from all shadows I shall find release,
Serene to wait the rapture of its dawning--
Who can make trouble when Thou sendest peace?"