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Streams in the Desert
May



 

 


May 1

The Prayer of Faith

"God that cannot lie promised" (Titus 1:2).

Faith is not working up by will power a sort of certainty that something is coming to pass, but it is seeing as an actual fact that God has said that this thing shall come to pass, and that it is true, and then rejoicing to know that it is true, and just resting because God has said it.

Faith turns the promise into a prophecy. While it is merely a promise it is contingent upon our cooperation. But when faith claims it, it becomes a prophecy, and we go forth feeling that it is something that must be done because God cannot lie.
--Days of Heaven upon Earth

I hear men praying everywhere for more faith, but when I listen to them carefully, and get at the real heart of their prayer, very often it is not more faith at all that they are wanting, but a change from faith to sight.

Faith says not, "I see that it is good for me, so God must have sent it," but, "God sent it, and so it must be good for me."

Faith, walking in the dark with God, only prays Him to clasp its hand more closely.
--Phillips Brooks

"The Shepherd does not ask of thee
Faith in thy faith, but only faith in Him;
And this He meant in saying, 'Come to me.'
In light or darkness seek to do His will,
And leave the. work of faith to Jesus still."


May 2

The Key to the Wind

"The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all" (Ps. 103:19).

Some time since, in the early spring, I was going out at my door when round the corner came a blast of east wind--defiant and pitiless, fierce and withering--sending a cloud of dust before it.

I was just taking the latchkey from the door as I said, half impatiently, "I wish the wind would"--I was going to say change; but the word was checked, and the sentence was never finished.

As I went on my way, the incident became a parable to me. There came an angel holding out a key; and he said:

"My Master sends thee His love, and bids me give you this."

"What is it?" I asked, wondering. "The key of the winds," said the angel, and disappeared.

Now indeed should I be happy. I hurried away up into the heights whence the winds came, and stood amongst the caves. "I will have done with the east wind at any rate--and that shall plague us no more," I cried; and calling in that friendless wind, I closed the door, and heard the echoes ringing in the hollow places. I turned the key triumphantly. "There," I said, now we have done with that."

"What shall I choose in its place?" I asked myself, looking about me. "The south wind is pleasant"; and I thought of the lambs, and the young life on every hand, and the flowers that had begun to deck the hedgerows. But as I set the key within the door, it began to burn my hand.

"What am I doing?" I cried; "who knows what mischief I may bring about? How do I know what the fields want! Ten thousand things of ill may come of this foolish wish of mine."

Bewildered and ashamed, I looked up and prayed that the Lord would send His angel yet again to take the key; and for my part I promised that I would never want to have it any more.

But lo, the Lord Himself stood by me. He reached His hand to take the key; and as I laid it down, I saw that it rested against the sacred wound-print.

It hurt me indeed that I could ever have murmured against anything wrought by Him who bare such sacred tokens of His love. Then He took the key and hung it on His girdle.

"Dost THOU keep the key of the winds?" I asked.

"I do, my child," He answered graciously.

And lo, I looked again and there hung all the keys of all my life. He saw my look of amazement, and asked, "Didst thou not know, my child, that my kingdom ruleth over all?"

"Over all, my Lord!" I answered; "then it is not safe for me to murmur at anything?" Then did He lay His hand upon me tenderly. "My child," He said, "thy only safety is, in everything, to love and trust and praise."
--Mark Guy Pearse


May 3

Call Upon the Lord

"And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered"
--(Joel 2:32).

Why do not I call on His name? Why do I run to this neighbor and that when God is so near and will hear my faintest call? Why do I sit down and devise schemes and invent plans? Why not at once roll myself and my burden upon the Lord?

Straightforward is the best runner--why do not I run at once to the living God? In vain shall I look for "deliverance anywhere else; but with God I shall find it; for here I have His royal shall to make it sure.

I need not ask whether I may call on Him or not, for that word "Whosoever" is a very wide and comprehensive one. Whosoever means me, for it means anybody and everybody who calls upon God. I will therefore follow the leading of the text, and at once call upon the glorious Lord who has made so large a promise.

My case is urgent, and I do not see how I am to be delivered; but this is no business of mine. He who makes the promise will find ways and means of keeping it. It is mine to obey His commands; it is not mine to direct His counsels. I am His servant, not His solicitor. I call upon Him, and He will deliver.
--C. H. Spurgeon


May 4

The Mountain After the Quake

"He maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth and his hands make whole" (Job 5:18).

The ministry of a great sorrow.

As we pass beneath the hills which have been shaken by the earthquake and torn by convulsion, we find that periods of perfect repose succeed those of destruction. The pools of calm water lie clear beneath their fallen rocks, the water lilies gleam, and the reeds whisper among the shadows; the village rises again over the forgotten graves, and its church tower, white through the storm twilight, proclaims a renewed appeal to His protection "in whose hand are all the corners of the earth, and the strength of the hills is his also." --Ruskin

God ploughed one day with an earthquake,
And drove His furrows deep!
The huddling plains upstarted,
The hills were all aleap!

But that is the mountains' secret,
Age-hidden in their breast;
"God's peace is everlasting,"
Are the dream-words of their rest.

He made them the haunts of beauty,
The home elect of His grace;
He spreadeth His mornings upon them,
His sunsets light their face.

His winds bring messages to them
Wild storm-news from the main;
They sing it down the valleys
In the love-song of the rain.

They are nurseries for young rivers,
Nests for His flying cloud,
Homesteads for new-born races,
Masterful, free, and proud.

The people of tired cities
Come up to their shrines and pray;
God freshens again within them,
As He passes by all day.

And lo, I have caught their secret!
The beauty deeper than all!
This faith--that life's hard moments,
When the jarring sorrows befall,

Are but God ploughing His mountains;
And those mountains yet shall be
The source of His grace and freshness,
And His peace everlasting to me.
--William C. Gannett


May 5

Sing Praise to the Lord!

"When they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushments...and they were smitten" (2 Chron. 20:22).

Oh, that we could reason less about our troubles, and sing and praise more! There are thousands of things that we wear as shackles which we might use as instruments with music in them, if we only knew how.

Those men that ponder, and meditate, and weigh the affairs of life, and study the mysterious developments of God's providence, and wonder why they should be burdened and thwarted and hampered--how different and how much more joyful would be their lives, if, instead of forever indulging in self-revolving and inward thinking, they would take their experiences, day by day, and lift them up, and praise God for them.

We can sing our cares away easier than we can reason them away. Sing in the morning. The birds are the earliest to sing, and birds are more without care than anything else that I know of.

Sing at evening. Singing is the last thing that robins do. When they have done their daily work; when they have flown their last flight, and picked up their last morsel of food, then on a topmost twig, they sing one song of praise.

Oh, that we might sing morning and evening, and let song touch song all the way through. --Selected

"Don't let the song go out of your life
Though it chance sometimes to flow
In a minor strain; it will blend again
With the major tone you know.

"What though shadows rise to obscure life's skies,
And hide for a time the sun,
The sooner they'll lift and reveal the rift,
If you let the melody run.

"Don't let the song go out of your life;
Though the voice may have lost its trill,
Though the tremulous note may die in your throat,
Let it sing in your spirit still.

"Don't let the song go out of your life;
Let it ring in the soul while here;
And when you go hence, 'twill follow you thence,
And live on in another sphere."


May 6

The Secrets of Providence

"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him" (Ps. 25:14).

There are secrets of Providence which God's dear children may learn. His dealings with them often seem, to the outward eye, dark and terrible. Faith looks deeper and says, "This is God's secret. You look only on the outside; I can look deeper and see the hidden meaning."

Sometimes diamonds are done up in rough packages, so that their value cannot be seen. When the Tabernacle was built in the wilderness there was nothing rich in its outside appearance. The costly things were all within, and its outward covering of rough badger skin gave no hint of the valuable things which it contained.

God may send you, dear friends, some costly packages. Do not worry if they are done up in rough wrappings. You may be sure there are treasures of love, and kindness, and wisdom hidden within. If we take what He sends, and trust Him for the goodness in it, even in the dark, we shall learn the meaning of the secrets of Providence.
--A. B. Simpson

"Not until each loom is silent,
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the pattern
And explain the reason why
The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
For the pattern which He planned."

He that is mastered by Christ is the master of every circumstance. Does the circumstance press hard against you? Do not push it away. It is the Potter's hand. Your mastery will come, not by arresting its progress, but by enduring its discipline, for it is not only shaping you into a vessel of beauty and honor, but it is making your resources available.


May 7

Beginning Without Finishing

"He spoke a parable unto them?that men ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Luke 18:1).

No temptation in the life of intercession is more common than this of failure to persevere. We begin to pray for a certain thing; we put up our petitions for a day, a week, a month; and then, receiving as yet no definite answer, straightway we faint, and cease altogether from prayer concerning it.

This is a deadly fault. It is simply the snare of many beginnings with no completions. It is ruinous in all spheres of life.

The man who forms the habit of beginning without finishing has simply formed the habit of failure. The man who begins to pray about a thing and does not pray it through to a successful issue of answer has formed the same habit in prayer.

To faint is to fail; then defeat begets disheartenment, and unfaith in the reality of prayer, which is fatal to all success.

But someone says, "How long shall we pray? Do we not come to a place where we may cease from our petitions and rest the matter in God's hands?"

There is but one answer. Pray until the thing you pray for has actually been granted, or until you have the assurance in your heart that it will be.

Only at one of these two places dare we stay our importunity, for prayer is not only a calling upon God, but also a conflict with Satan. And inasmuch as God is using our intercession as a mighty factor of victory in that conflict, He alone, and not we, must decide when we dare cease from our petitioning. So we dare not stay our prayer until the answer itself has come, or until we receive the assurance that it will come.

In the first case we stop because we see. In the other, we stop because we believe, and the faith of our heart is just as sure as the sight of our eyes; for it is faith from, yes, the faith of God, within us.

More and more, as we live the prayer life, shall we come to experience and recognize this God-given assurance, and know when to rest quietly in it, or when to continue our petitioning until we receive it. --The Practice of Prayer

Tarry at the promise till God meets you there. He always returns by way of His promises. --Selected


May 8

The Road Uphill

"Walking in the midst of the fire" (Daniel 3:25).

The fire did not arrest their motion; they walked in the midst of it. It was one of the streets through which they moved to their destiny. The comfort of Christ's revelation is not that it teaches emancipation from sorrow, but emancipation through sorrow.

O my God, teach me, when the shadows have gathered, that I am only in a tunnel. It is enough for me to know that it will be all right some day.

They tell me that I shall stand upon the peaks of Olivet, the heights of resurrection glory. But I want more, O my Father; I want Calvary to lead up to it. I want to know that the shadows of this world are the shades of an avenue the avenue to the house of my Father. Tell me I am only forced to climb because Thy house is on the hill! I shall receive no hurt from sorrow if I shall walk in the midst of the fire. --George Matheson

"'The road is too rough,' I said;
'It is uphill all the way;
No flowers, but thorns instead;
And the skies over head are grey.'
But One took my hand at the entrance dim,
And sweet is the road that I walk with Him.

"The cross is too great,' I cried--
'More than the back can bear,
So rough and heavy and wide,
And nobody by to care.'
And One stooped softly and touched my hand:
'I know. I care. And I understand.'

"Then why do we fret and sigh;
Cross-bearers all we go:
But the road ends by-and-by
In the dearest place we know,
And every step in the journey we
May take in the Lord's own company."


May 9

The Friend of God

"Abraham stood yet before the Lord" (Gen. 18:22).

The friend of God can plead with Him for others. Perhaps Abraham's height of faith and friendship seems beyond our little possibilities. Do not be discouraged, Abraham grew; so may we. He went step by step, not by great leaps.

The man whose faith has been deeply tested and who has come off victorious, is the man to whom supreme tests must come.

The finest jewels are most carefully cut and polished; the hottest fires try the most precious metal. Abraham would never have been called the Father of the Faithful if he had not been proved to the uttermost. Read Genesis, twenty-second chapter:

"Take thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest." See him going with a chastened, wistful, yet humbly obedient heart up Moriah's height, with the idol of his heart beside him about to be sacrificed at the command of God whom he had faithfully loved and served!

What a rebuke to our questionings of God's dealings with us! Away with all doubting explanations of this stupendous scene! It was an object lesson for the ages. Angels were looking.

Shall this man's faith stand forever for the strength and help of all God's people? Shall it be known through him that unfaltering faith will always prove the faithfulness of God?

Yes; and when faith has borne victoriously its uttermost test, the angel of the Lord--who? The Lord Jesus, Jehovah, He in whom "all the promises of God are yea and amen"--spoke to him, saying, "Now I know that thou fearest God." Thou hast trusted me to the uttermost. I will also trust thee; thou shalt ever be My friend, and I will bless thee, and make thee a blessing.

It is always so, and always will be. "They that are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." --Selected

It is no small thing to be on terms of friendship with God.


May 10

Lie Still and Trust

"I had fainted unless?!(Ps. 27:13).

"FAINT NOT!"

How great is the temptation at this point! How the soul sinks, the heart grows sick, and the faith staggers under the keen trials and testings which come into our lives in times of special bereavement and suffering.

"I cannot bear up any longer, I am fainting under this providence. What shall I do? God tells me not to faint. But what can one do when he is fainting?"

What do you do when you are about to faint physically? You cannot do anything. You cease from your own doings. In your faintness, you fall upon the shoulder of some strong loved one. You lean hard. You rest. You lie still and trust.

It is so when we are tempted to faint under affliction. God's message to us is not, "Be strong and of good courage," for He knows our strength and courage have fled away. But it is that sweet word, "Be still, and know that I am God."

Hudson Taylor was so feeble in the closing months of his life that he wrote a dear friend: "I am so weak I cannot write; I cannot read my Bible; I cannot even pray. I can only lie still in God's arms like a little child, and trust."

This wondrous man of God with all his spiritual power came to a place of physical suffering and weakness where he could only lie still and trust.

And that is all God asks of you, His dear child, when you grow faint in the fierce fires of affliction. Do not try to be strong. Just be still and know that He is God, and will sustain you, and bring you through.

"God keeps His choicest cordials for our deepest faintings."


"Stay firm and let thine heart take courage" (Psa. 27:14, --After Osterwald).

Stay firm, He has not failed thee
In all the past,
And will He go and leave thee
To sink at last?
Nay, He said He will hide thee
Beneath His wing;
And sweetly there in safety
Thou mayest sing.
?Selected


May 11

Sailing Through the Tempest

"We went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place" (Ps. 66:12).

Paradoxical though it be, only that man is at rest who attains it through conflict. This peace, born of conflict, is not like the deadly hush preceding the tempest, but the serene and pure-aired quiet that follows it.

It is not generally the prosperous one, who has never sorrowed, who is strong and at rest. His quality has never been tried, and he knows not how he can stand even a gentle shock. He is not the safest sailor who never saw a tempest; he will do for fair-weather service, but when the storm is rising, place at the important post the man who has fought out a gale, who has tested the ship, who knows her hulk sound, her rigging strong, and her anchor-flukes able to grasp and hold by the ribs of the world.

When first affliction comes upon us, how everything gives way! Our clinging, tendril hopes are snapped, and our heart lies prostrate like a vine that the storm has torn from its trellis; but when the first shock is past, and we are able to look up, and say, "It is the Lord," faith lifts the shattered hopes once more, and binds them fast to the feet of God. Thus the end is confidence, safety, and peace. --Selected

The adverse winds blew against my life;
My little ship with grief was tossed;
My plans were gone--heart full of strife,
And all my hope seemed to be lost--
"Then He arose"--one word of peace.
"There was a calm"--a sweet release.

A tempest great of doubt and fear
Possessed my mind; no light was there
To guide, or make my vision clear.
Dark night! 'twas more than I could bear--

"Then He arose," I saw His face--
"There was a calm" filled with His grace.

My heart was sinking 'neath the wave
Of deepening test and raging grief;
All seemed as lost, and none could save,
And nothing could bring me relief--
"Then He arose"--and spoke one word,
"There was a calm!" IT IS THE LORD..
--L. S. P.


May 12

The Discipline of Faith

"All things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23).

The "all things" do not always come simply for the asking, for the reason that God is ever seeking to teach us the way of faith, and in our training in the faith life there must be room for the trial of faith, the discipline of faith, the patience of faith, the courage of faith, and often many stages are passed before we really realize what is the end of faith, namely, the victory of faith.

Real moral fibre is developed through discipline of faith. You have made your request of God, but the answer does not come. What are you to do?

Keep on believing God's Word; never be moved away from it by what you see or feel, and thus as you stand steady, enlarged power and experience is being developed. The fact of looking at the apparent contradiction as to God's Word and being unmoved from your position of faith make you stronger on every other line.

Often God delays purposely, and the delay is just as much an answer to your prayer as is the fulfillment when it comes.

In the lives of all the great Bible characters, God worked thus. Abraham, Moses and Elijah were not great in the beginning, but were made great through the discipline of their faith, and only thus were they fitted for the positions to which God had called them.

For example, in the case of Joseph whom the Lord was training for the throne of Egypt, we read in the Psalms:

"The word of the Lord tried him." It was not the prison life with its hard beds or poor food that tried him, but it was the word God had spoken into his heart in the early years concerning elevation and honor which were greater than his brethren were to receive; it was this which was ever before him, when every step in his career made it seem more and more impossible of fulfillment, until he was there imprisoned, and all in innocency, while others who were perhaps justly incarcerated, were released, and he was left to languish alone.

These were hours that tried his soul, but hours of spiritual growth and development, that, "when his word came" the word of release., found him fitted for the delicate task of dealing with his wayward brethren, with a love and patience only surpassed by God Himself.

No amount of persecution tries like such experiences as these. When God has spoken of His purpose to do, and yet the days go on and He does not do it, that is truly hard; but it is a discipline of faith that will bring us into a knowledge of God which would otherwise be impossible.


May 13

Can Thine Heart Endure

"We know not what we should pray for as we ought" (Rom. 8:26).

Much that perplexes us in our Christian experience is but the answer to our prayers. We pray for patience, and our Father sends those who tax us to the utmost; for "tribulation worketh patience."

We pray for submission, and God sends sufferings; for "we learn obedience by the things we suffer."

We pray for unselfishness, and God gives us opportunities to sacrifice ourselves by thinking on the things of others, and by laying down our lives for the brethren.

We pray for strength and humility, and some messenger of Satan torments us until we lie in the dust crying for its removal.

We pray, "Lord, increase our faith," and money takes wings; or the children are alarmingly ill; or a servant comes who is careless, extravagant, untidy or slow, or some hitherto unknown trial calls for an increase of faith along a line where we have not needed to exercise much faith before.

We pray for the Lamb-life, and are given a portion of lowly service, or we are injured and must seek no redress; for "he was led as a lamb to the slaughter and?opened not his mouth."

We pray for gentleness, and there comes a perfect storm of temptation to harshness and irritability. We pray for quietness, and every nerve is strung to the utmost tension, so that looking to Him we may learn that when He giveth quietness, no one can make trouble.

We pray for love, and God sends peculiar suffering and puts us with apparently unlovely people, and lets them say things which rasp the nerves and lacerate the heart; for love suffereth long and is kind, love is not impolite, love is not provoked. LOVE BEARETH ALL THINGS, believeth, hopeth and endureth, love never faileth. We pray for likeness to Jesus, and the answer is, "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." "Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong?" "Are ye able?"

The way to peace and victory is to accept every circumstance, every trial, straight from the hand of a loving Father; and to live up in the heavenly places, above the clouds, in the very presence of the Throne, and to look down from the Glory upon our environment as lovingly and divinely appointed. --Selected

I prayed for strength, and then I lost awhile
All sense of nearness, human and divine;
The love I leaned on failed and pierced my heart,
The hands I clung to loosed themselves from mine;
But while I swayed, weak, trembling, and alone,
The everlasting arms upheld my own.

I prayed for light; the sun went down in clouds,
The moon was darkened by a misty doubt,
The stars of heaven were dimmed by earthly fears,
And all my little candle flames burned out;
But while I sat in shadow, wrapped in night,
The face of Christ made all the darkness bright.

I prayed for peace, and dreamed of restful ease,
A slumber drugged from pain, a hushed repose;
Above my head the skies were black with storm,
And fiercer grew the onslaught of my foes;
But while the battle raged, and wild winds blew,
I heard His voice and Perfect peace I knew.

I thank Thee, Lord, Thou wert too wise to heed
My feeble prayers, and answer as I sought,
Since these rich gifts Thy bounty has bestowed
Have brought me more than all I asked or thought;
Giver of good, so answer each request
With Thine own giving, better than my best.
--Annie Johnson Flint


May 14

Instant Obedience

"In the selfsame day, as God had said unto him" (Gen. 17:23).

Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience. Every time God calls us to any duty, He is offering to make a covenant with us; doing the duty is our part, and He will do His part in special blessing.

The only way we can obey is to obey "in the selfsame day," as Abraham did. To be sure, we often postpone a duty and then later on do it as fully as we can. It is better to do this than not to do it at all. But it is then, at the best, only a crippled, disfigured, half-way sort of duty-doing; and a postponed duty never can bring the full blessing that God intended, and that it would have brought if done at the earliest possible moment.

It is a pity to rob ourselves, along with robbing God and others, by procrastination. "In the selfsame day" is the Genesis way of saying, "Do it now." --Messages for the Morning Watch

Luther says that "a true believer will crucify the question, 'Why?' He will obey without questioning." I will not be one of those who, except they see signs and wonders, will in no wise believe. I will obey without questioning.

"Ours not to make reply,
Ours not to reason why,
Ours but to do and die."

Obedience is the fruit of faith; patience, the bloom on the fruit. --Christina Rossetti


May 15

Above the Clouds

"Men see not the bright light which is in the clouds" (Job 37:21).

The world owes much of its beauty to cloudland. The unchanging blue of the Italian sky hardly compensates for the changefulness and glory of the clouds. Earth would become a wilderness apart from their ministry. There are clouds in human life, shadowing, refreshing, and sometimes draping it in blackness of night; but there is never a cloud without its bright light. "I do set my bow in the cloud!"

If we could see the clouds from the other side where they lie in billowy glory, bathed in the light they intercept, like heaped ranges of Alps, we should be amazed at their splendid magnificence.

We look at their under side; but who shall describe the bright light that bathes their summits and searches their valleys and is reflected from every pinnacle of their expanse? Is not every drop drinking in health-giving qualities, which it will carry to the earth?

O child of God! If you could see your sorrows and troubles from the other side; if instead of looking up at them from earth, you would look down on them from the heavenly places where you sit with Christ; if you knew how they are reflecting in prismatic beauty before the gaze of Heaven, the bright light of Christ's face, you would be content that they should cast their deep shadows over the mountain slopes of existence. Only remember that clouds are always moving and passing before God's cleansing wind. --Selected

"I cannot know why suddenly the storm
Should rage so fiercely round me in its wrath;
But this I know--God watches all my path,
And I can trust.

"I may not draw aside the mystic veil
That hides the unknown future from my sight,
Nor know if for me waits the dark or light;
But I can trust.

"I have no power to look across the tide,
To see while here the land beyond the river;
But this I , know--I shall be Gods forever;
So I can trust."


May 16

We Wrestle Not Against Flesh and Blood

"Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days" (Dan. 10:12, 13).

We have wonderful teaching here on prayer, and we are shown the direct hindrance from Satan.

Daniel had fasted and prayed twenty-one days, and had a very hard time in prayer. As far as we read the narrative, it was not because Daniel was not a good man, nor because his prayer was not right; but it was because of a special attack of Satan.

The Lord started a messenger to tell Daniel that his prayer was answered the moment Daniel began to pray; but an evil angel met the good angel and wrestled with him, hindering him. There was a conflict in the heavens; and Daniel seemed to go through an agony on earth the same as that which was going on in the heavens.

"We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers? against wicked spirits in high places" (Eph. 6:12), margin..

Satan delayed the answer three full weeks. Daniel nearly succumbed, and Satan would have been glad to kill him; but God will not suffer anything to come above that we "are able to bear."

Many a Christian's prayer is hindered by Satan; but you need not fear when your prayers and faith pile up; for after a while they will be like a flood, and will not only sweep the answer through, but will also bring some new accompanying blessing. --Sermon

Hell does its worst with the saints. The rarest souls have been tested with high pressures and temperatures, but Heaven will not desert them. --W. L. Watkinson


May 17

Season of Waiting

"And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness?an angel of the Lord...saying....now come, I will send thee into Egypt" (Acts 7:30-34).

Often the Lord calls us aside from our work for a season, and bids us be still and learn ere we go forth again to minister. There is no time lost in such waiting hours.

Fleeing from his enemies, the ancient knight found that his horse needed to be re-shod. Prudence seemed to urge him on without delay, but higher wisdom taught him to halt a few minutes at the blacksmith's forge by the way, to have the shoe replaced; and although he heard the feet of his pursuers galloping hard behind, yet he waited those minutes until his charger was refitted for his flight. And then, leaping into his saddle just as they appeared a hundred yards away, he dashed away from them with the fleetness of the wind, and knew that his halting had hastened his escape.

So often God bids us tarry ere we go, and fully recover ourselves for the next stage of the journey and work. --Days of Heaven upon Earth

Waiting! Yes, patiently waiting!
Till next steps made plain shall be;
To hear, with the inner hearing,
The Voice that will call for me.

Waiting! Yes, hopefully waiting!
With hope that need not grow dim;
The Master is pledged to guide me,
And my eyes are unto Him.

Waiting! Expectantly waiting!
Perhaps it may be today
The Master will quickly open
The gate to my future way.

Waiting! Yes, waiting! still waiting!
I know, though I've waited long,
That, while He withholds His purpose,
His waiting cannot be wrong.

Waiting! Yes, waiting! still waiting!
The Master will not be late:
He knoweth that I am waiting
For Him to unlatch the gate.
--J. D. Smith


May 18

Pressing Forward

"I was crushed...so much so that I despaired even of life, but that was to make me rely not on myself, but on the God who raises the dead" (2 Cor. 1:8, 9).

"Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length;
Pressed so intensely it seems, beyond strength;
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul,
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll.
Pressure by foes, and a pressure from friends.
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.

"Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living a life in the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured."

The pressure of hard places makes us value life. Every time our life is given back to us from such a trial, it is like a new beginning, and we learn better how much it is worth, and make more of it for God and man. The pressure helps us to understand the trials of others, and fits us to help and sympathize with them.

There is a shallow, superficial nature, that gets hold of a theory or a promise lightly, and talks very glibly about the distrust of those who shrink from every trial; but the man or woman who has suffered much never does this, but is very tender and gentle, and knows what suffering really means. This is what Paul meant when he said, "Death worketh in you."

Trials and hard places are needed to press us forward, even as the furnace fires in the hold of that mighty ship give force that moves the piston, drives the engine, and propels that great vessel across the sea in the face of the winds and waves. --A. B. Simpson

"Out of the presses of pain,
Cometh the soul's best wine;
And the eyes that have shed no rain,
Can shed but little shine."


May 19

Attitude of Trust

"And it came to pass, before he had done speaking...and he said, Blessed be Jehovah?who hath not forsaken his lovingkindness and his truth" (Gen. 24:15, 27).

Every right prayer is answered before the prayer itself is finished--before we have "done speaking." This is because God has pledged His Word to us that whatsoever we ask in Christ's name that is, in oneness with Christ and His will. and in faith, shall be done.

As God's Word cannot fail, whenever we meet those simple conditions in prayer, the answer to our prayer has been granted and completed in Heaven as we pray, even though its showing forth on earth may not occur until long afterward.

So it is well to close every prayer with praise to God for the answer that He has already granted; He who never forsakes His loving-kindness and His truth. (See Daniel 9:20-27 and 10:12). --Messages for the Morning Watch

When we believe for a blessing, we must take the attitude of faith, and begin to act and pray as if we had the blessing. We must treat God as if He had given us our request. We must lean our weight over upon Him for the thing that we have claimed, and just take it for granted that He gives it, and is going to continue to give it. This is the attitude of trust.

When the wife is married, she at once falls into a new attitude, and acts in accordance with the fact; and so when we take Christ as our Savior, as our Sanctifier, as our Healer, or as our Deliverer, He expects us to fall into the attitude of recognizing Him in the capacity that we have claimed, and expect Him to be to us all that we have trusted Him for. --Selected

"The thing I ask when God doth bid me pray,
Begins in that same act to come my way."


May 20

Receive the Cup of Sorrow

"Shall I refuse to drink the cup of sorrow which the Father has given me to drink?" (John 18:11, Weymouth).

God takes a thousand times more pains with us than the artist with his picture, by many touches of sorrow, and by many colors of circumstance, to bring us into the form which is the highest and noblest in His sight, if only we receive His gifts of myrrh in the right spirit.

But when the cup is put away, and these feelings are stifled or unheeded, a greater injury is done to the soul that can ever be amended. For no heart can conceive in what surpassing love God giveth us this myrrh; yet this which we ought to receive to our souls' good we suffer to pass by us in our sleepy indifference, and nothing comes of it.

Then we come and complain: "Alas, Lord! I am so dry, and it is so dark within me!" I tell thee, dear child, open thy heart to the pain, and it will do thee more good than if thou wert full of feeling and devoutness. --Tauler

"The cry of man's anguish went up to God,
'Lord take away pain:
The shadow that darkens the world Thou hast made,
The close-coiling chain
That strangles the heart, the burden that weighs
On the wings that would soar,
Lord, take away pain from the world Thou hast made,
That it love Thee the more.'

"Then answered the Lord to the cry of His world:
'Shall I take away pain,
And with it the power of the soul to endure,
Made strong by the strain?
Shall I take away pity, that knits heart to heart
And sacrifice high?
Will ye lose all your heroes that lift from the fire
White brows to the sky?
Shall I take away love that redeems with a price
And smiles at its loss?
Can ye spare from your lives that would climb unto Me
The Christ on His cross?"


May 21

Remember My Song in the Night

"I call to remembrance my song in the night" (Psalm 77:6).

I have read somewhere of a little bird that will never sing the melody his master wishes while his cage is full of light. He learns a snatch of this, a bar of that, but never an entire song of its own until the cage is covered and the morning beams shut out.

A good many people never learn to sing until the darkling shadows fall. The fabled nightingale carols with his breast against a thorn. It was in the night that the song of the angels was heard. It was at midnight that the cry came, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him."

Indeed it is extremely doubtful if a soul can really know the love of God in its richness and in its comforting, satisfying completeness until the skies are black and lowering.

Light comes out of darkness, morning out of the womb of the night.

James Creelman, in one of his letters, describes his trip through the Balkan States in search of Natalie, the exiled Queen of Serbia.

"In that memorable journey," he says, "I learned for the first time that the world's supply of attar of roses comes from the Balkan Mountains. And the thing that interested me most," he goes on, "is that the roses must be gathered in the darkest hours. The pickers start out at one o'clock and finish picking them at two.

"At first it seemed to me a relic of superstition; but I investigated the picturesque mystery, and learned that actual scientific tests had proven that fully forty per cent of the fragrance of roses disappeared in the light of day."

And in human life and human culture that is not a playful, fanciful conceit; it is a real veritable fact. -Malcolm J. McLeod


May 22

He Worketh

"He worketh" (Ps. 37:5).

The translation that we find in Young of "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass," reads: "Roll upon Jehovah thy way; trust upon him: and he worketh."

It calls our attention to the immediate action of God when we truly commit, or roll out of our hands into His, the burden of whatever kind it may be; a way of sorrow, of difficulty, of physical need, or of anxiety for the conversion of some dear one.

"He worketh." When? Now. We are so in danger of postponing our expectation of His acceptance of the trust, and His undertaking to accomplish what we ask Him to do, instead of saying as we commit, "He worketh." "He worketh" even now; and praise Him that it is so.

The very expectancy enables the Holy Spirit to do the very thing we have rolled upon Him. It is out of our reach. We are not trying to do it any more. "He worketh!"

Let us take the comfort out of it and not put our hands on it again. Oh, what a relief it brings! He is really working on the difficulty.

But someone may say, "I see no results." Never mind. "He worketh," if you have rolled it over and are looking to Jesus to do it. Faith may be tested, but "He worketh"; the Word is sure! --V. H. F.

"I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me" (Ps. 57:2).

The beautiful old translation says, "He shall perform the cause which I have in hand." Does not that make it very real to us today? Just the very thing that "I have in hand"--my own particular bit of work today, this cause that I cannot manage, this thing that I undertook in miscalculation of my own powers--this is what I may ask Him to do "for me," and rest assured that He will perform it. "The wise and their works are in the hands of God." --Havergal

The Lord will go through with His covenant engagements. Whatever He takes in hand He will accomplish; hence past mercies are guarantees for the future and admirable reasons for continuing to cry unto Him. --C. H. Spurgeon


May 23

At Wit's End

"At their wit's end, they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out" (Ps. 107:27, 28).

Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner,"
Christian, with troubled brow?
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember--at "Wit's End Corner"
Is just where God's power is shown.

Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner,"
Blinded with wearying pain,
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy, and dazed, and numb?
Remember--at "Wit's End Corner"
Is where Jesus loves to come.

Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner"?
Your work before you spread,
All lying begun, unfinished,
And pressing on heart and head,
Longing for strength to do it,
Stretching out trembling hands?
Remember--at. "Wit's End Corner"
The Burden-bearer stands.

Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner"?
Then you're just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who faileth not:
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at "Wit's End Corner"
Is the "God who is able" proved.
--Antoinette Wilson

Do not get discouraged; it may be the last key in the bunch that opens the door. Stansifer


May 24

Wait on God's Time

"Sarah bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him" (Gen. 21:2).

The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations" (Psalm 33:11). But we must be prepared to wait God's time. God has His set times. It is not for us to know them; indeed, we cannot know them; we must wait for them.

If God had told Abraham in Haran that he must wait for thirty years until he pressed the promised child to his bosom, his heart would have failed him. So, in gracious love, the length of the weary years was hidden, and only as they were nearly spent, and there were only a few more months to wait, God told him that "according to the time of life, Sarah shall have a son." (Gen. 18:14).

The set time came at last; and then the laughter that filled the patriarch's home made the aged pair forget the long and weary vigil.

Take heart, waiting one, thou waitest for One who cannot disappoint thee; and who will not be five minutes behind the appointed moment: ere long "your sorrow shall be turned into joy."

Ah, happy soul, when God makes thee laugh! Then sorrow and crying shall flee away forever, as darkness before the dawn. --Selected

It is not for us who are passengers, to meddle with the chart and with the compass. Let that all-skilled Pilot alone with His own work. --Hall

"Some things cannot be done in a day. God does not make a sunset glory in a moment, but for days may be massing the mist out of which He builds His palaces beautiful in the west."

"Some glorious morn--but when? Ah, who shall say?
The steepest mountain will become a plain,
And the parched land be satisfied with rain.
The gates of brass all broken; iron bars,
Transfigured, form a ladder to the stars.
Rough places plain, and crooked ways all straight,
For him who with a patient heart can wait.
These things shall be on God's appointed day:
It may not be tomorrow--yet it may."


May 25

Eternal Glory Struggles

"I endure all things for the sake of God's own people; so that they also may obtain salvation...and with it eternal glory" (2 Tim. 2:10, Weymouth).

If Job could have known as he sat there in the ashes, bruising his heart on this problem of Providence--that in the trouble that had come upon him he was doing what one man may do to work out the problem for the world, he might again have taken courage. No man lives to himself. Job's life is but your life and mine written in larger text....So, then, though we may not know what trials wait on any of us, we can believe that, as the days in which Job wrestled with his dark maladies are the only days that make him worth remembrance, and but for which his name had never been written in the book of life, so the days through which we struggle, finding no way, but never losing the light, will be the most significant we are called to live. --Robert Collyer

Who does not know that our most sorrowful days have been amongst our best? When the face is wreathed in smiles and we trip lightly over meadows bespangled with spring flowers, the heart is often running to waste.

The soul which is always blithe and gay misses the deepest life. It has its reward, and it is satisfied to its measure, though that measure is a very scanty one. But the heart is dwarfed; and the nature, which is capable of the highest heights, the deepest depths, is undeveloped; and life presently burns down to its socket without having known the resonance of the deepest chords of joy.

"Blessed are they that mourn." Stars shine brightest in the long dark night of winter. The gentians show their fairest bloom amid almost inaccessible heights of snow and ice.

God's promises seem to wait for the pressure of pain to trample out their richest juice as in a wine-press. Only those who have sorrowed know how tender is the "Man of Sorrows." --Selected

Thou hast but little sunshine, but thy long glooms are wisely appointed thee; for perhaps a stretch of summer weather would have made thee as a parched land and barren wilderness. Thy Lord knows best, and He has the clouds and the sun at His disposal. --Selected

"It is a gray day." "Yes, but dinna ye see the patch of blue?" --Scotch Shoemaker


May 26

Praise in Advance

"Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it" (Num. 21:17).

This was a strange song and a strange well. They had been traveling over the desert's barren sands, no water was in sight and they were famishing with thirst. Then God spake to Moses and said:

"Gather the people together, and I will give them water," and this is how it came.

They gathered in circles on the sands. They took their staves and dug deep down into the burning earth and as they dug, they sang,

"Spring up, O well, sing ye unto it," and lo, there came a gurgling sound, a rush of water and a flowing stream which filled the well and ran along the ground.

When they dug this well in the desert, they touched the stream that was running beneath, and reached the flowing tides that had long been out of sight.

How beautiful the picture given, telling us of the river of blessing that flows all through our lives, and we have only to reach by faith and praise to find our wants supplied in the most barren desert.

How did they reach the waters of this well? It was by praise. They sang upon the sand their song of faith, while with their staff of promise they dug the well.

Our praise will still open fountains in the desert, when murmuring will only bring us judgment, and even prayer may fail to reach the fountains of blessing.

There is nothing that pleases the Lord so much as praise. There is no test of faith so true as the grace of thanksgiving. Are you praising God enough? Are you thanking Him for your actual blessings that are more than can be numbered, and are you daring to praise Him even for those trials which are but blessings in disguise? Have you learned to praise Him in advance for the things that have not yet come? --Selected

"Thou waitest for deliverance!
O soul, thou waitest long!
Believe that now deliverance
Doth wait for thee in song!

"Sigh not until deliverance
Thy fettered feet doth free:
With songs of glad deliverance
God now doth compass thee."


May 27

He Satisfies Our Soul

"Bring them hither to me" (Matt. 14:18)..

Are you encompassed with needs at this very moment, and almost overwhelmed with difficulties, trials, and emergencies? These are all divinely provided vessels for the Holy Spirit to fill, and if you but rightly understood their meaning, they would become opportunities for receiving new blessings and deliverances which you can get in no other way.

Bring these vessels to God. Hold them steadily before Him in faith and prayer. Keep still, and stop your own restless working until He begins to work. Do nothing that He does not Himself command you to do. Give Him a chance to work, and He will surely do so; and the very trials that threatened to overcome you with discouragement and disaster, will become God's opportunity for the revelation of His grace and glory in your life, as you have never known Him before. "Bring them all needs. to me." --A. B. Simpson

"My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19).

What a source--"God!" What a supply--"His riches in glory!" What a channel--"Christ Jesus!" It is your sweet privilege to place all your need over against His riches, and lose sight of the former in the presence of the latter. His exhaustless treasury is thrown open to you, in all the love of His heart; go and draw upon it, in the artless simplicity of faith, and you will never have occasion to look to a creature-stream, or lean on a creature-prop. --C. H. M.

"MY CUP RUNNETH OVER"

There is always something over,
When we trust our gracious Lord;
Every cup He fills o'erfloweth,
His great rivers all are broad.
Nothing narrow, nothing stinted,
Ever issues from His store;
To His own He gives full measure,
Running over, evermore.

There is always something over,
When we, from the Father's hand,
Take our portion with thanksgiving,
Praising for the path He planned.
Satisfaction, full and deepening,
Fills the soul, and lights the eye,
When the heart has trusted Jesus
All its need to satisfy.

There is always something over,
When we tell of all His love;
Unplumbed depths still lie beneath us,
Unsealed heights rise far above:
Human lips can never utter
All His wondrous tenderness,
We can only praise and wonder,
And His name forever bless.
--Margaret E. Barber

"How can He but, in giving Him, lavish on us all things" (Rom. 8:32).


May 28

Cling to God in Faith

"I will not let thee go, except thou bless me ... and he blessed him there." (Gen. 32:26, 29).

Jacob got the victory and the blessing not by wrestling, but by clinging. His limb was out of joint and he could struggle no longer, but he would not let go. Unable to wrestle, he wound his arms around the neck of his mysterious antagonist and hung all his helpless weight upon him, until at last he conquered.

We will not get victory in prayer until we too cease our struggling, giving up our own will and throw our arms about our Father's neck in clinging faith.

What can puny human strength take by force out of the hand of Omnipotence? Can we wrest blessing by force from God? It is never the violence of wilfulness that prevails with God. It is the might of clinging faith, that gets the blessing and the victories. It is not when we press and urge our own will, but when humility and trust unite in saying, "Not my will, but Thine." We are strong with God only in the degree that self is conquered and is dead. Not by wrestling, but by clinging can we get the blessing. --J. R. Miller

An incident from the prayer life of Charles H. Usher illustrating "soul-cling" as a hindrance to prevailing prayer.: "My little boy was very ill. The doctors held out little hope of his recovery. I had used all the knowledge of prayer which I possessed on his behalf, but he got worse and worse. This went on for several weeks.

"One day I stood watching him as he lay in his cot, and I saw that he could not live long unless he had a turn for the better. I said to God, 'O God, I have given much time in prayer for my boy and he gets no better; I must now leave him to Thee, and I will give myself to prayer for others. If it is Thy will to take him, I choose Thy will--I surrender him entirely to Thee.'

"I called in my dear wife, and told her what I had done. She shed some tears, but handed him over to God. Two days afterwards a man of God came to see us. He had been very interested in our boy Frank, and had been much in prayer for him.

"He said, 'God has given me faith to believe that he will recover--have you faith?'

"I said, 'I have surrendered him to God, but I will go again to God regarding him.' I did; and in prayer I discovered that I had faith for his recovery. From that time he began to get better. It was the 'soul-cling' in my prayers which had hindered God answering; and if I had continued to cling and had been unwilling to surrender him, I doubt if my boy would be with me today.

"Child of God! If you want God to answer your prayers, you must be prepared to follow the footsteps of 'our father Abraham,' even to the Mount of Sacrifice." See (Rom. 4:12).


May 29

Secret Prayer

"I have called you friends" (John 15:15).

Years ago there was an old German professor whose beautiful life was a marvel to his students. Some of them resolved to know the secret of it; so one of their number hid in the study where the old professor spent his evenings.

It was late when the teacher came in. He was very tired, but he sat down and spent an hour with his Bible. Then he bowed his head in secret prayer; and finally closing the Book of books, he said,

"Well, Lord Jesus, we're on the same old terms."

To know Him is life's highest attainment; and at all costs, every Christian should strive to be "on the same old terms with Him."

The reality of Jesus comes as a result of secret prayer, and a personal study of the Bible that is devotional and sympathetic. Christ becomes more real to the one who persists in the cultivation of His presence.

Speak thou to Him for He heareth,
And spirit with spirit will meet!
Nearer is He than breathing,
Nearer than hands and feet.
--Maltbie D. Babcock


May 30

School of Sorrow

"And no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth" (Rev. 14:3).

There are songs which can only be learned in the valley. No art can teach them; no rules of voice can make them perfectly sung. Their music is in the heart. They are songs of memory, of personal experience. They bring out their burden from the shadow of the past; they mount on the wings of yesterday.

St. John says that even in Heaven there will be a song that can only be fully sung by the sons of earth--the strain of redemption. Doubtless it is a song of triumph, a hymn of victory to the Christ who made us free. But the sense of triumph must come from the memory of the chain.

No angel, no archangel can sing it so sweetly as I can. To sing it as I sing it, they must pass through my exile, and this they cannot do. None can learn it but the children of the Cross.

And so, my soul, thou art receiving a music lesson from thy Father. Thou art being educated for the choir invisible. There are parts of the symphony that none can take but thee.

There are chords too minor for the angels. There may be heights in the symphony which are beyond the scale--heights which angels alone can reach; but there are depths which belong to thee, and can only be touched by thee.

Thy Father is training thee for the part the angels cannot sing; and the school is sorrow. I have heard many say that He sends sorrow to prove thee; nay, He sends sorrow to educate thee, to train thee for the choir invisible.

In the night He is preparing thy song. In the valley He is tuning thy voice. In the cloud He is deepening thy chords. In the rain He is sweetening thy melody. In the cold He is moulding thy expression. In the transition from hope to fear He is perfecting thy lights.

Despise not thy school of sorrow, O my soul; it will give thee a unique part in the universal song. --George Matheson

"Is the midnight closing round you?
Are the shadows dark and long?
Ask Him to come close beside you,
And He'll give you a new, sweet song.
He'll give it and sing it with you;
And when weakness lets it down,
He'll take up the broken cadence,
And blend it with His own.

"And many a rapturous minstrel
Among those sons of light,
Will say of His sweetest music
'I learned it in the night.'
And many a rolling anthem,
That fills the Father's home,
Sobbed out its first rehearsal,
In the shade of a darkened room."


May 31

Character with Age

"Like a shock of corn fully ripe" (Job 5:26).

A gentleman, writing about the breaking up of old ships, recently said that it is not the age alone which improves the quality of the fiber in the wood of an old vessel, but the straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and of many kinds of cargoes.

Some planks and veneers made from an oak beam which had been part of a ship eighty years old were exhibited a few years ago at a fashionable furniture store on Broadway, New York, and attracted general notice for the exquisite coloring and beautiful grain.

Equally striking were some beams of mahogany taken from a bark which sailed the seas sixty years ago. The years and the traffic had contracted the pores and deepened the color, until it looked as superb in its chromatic intensity as an antique Chinese vase. It was made into a cabinet, and has today a place of honor in the drawing-room of a wealthy New York family.

So there is a vast difference between the quality of old people who have lived flabby, self-indulgent, useless lives, and the fiber of those who have sailed all seas and carried all cargoes as the servants of God and the helpers of their fellow men.

Not only the wrenching and straining of life, but also something of the sweetness of the cargoes carried get into the very pores and fiber of character. --Louis Albert Banks

When the sun goes below the horizon he is not set; the heavens glow for a full hour after his departure. And when a great and good man sets, the sky of this world is luminous long after he is out of sight. Such a man cannot die out of this world. When he goes he leaves behind him much of himself. Being dead, he speaks. --Beecher

When Victor Hugo was past eighty years of age he gave expression to his religious faith in these sublime sentences: "I feel in myself the future life. I am like a forest which has been more than once cut down. The new shoots are livelier than ever. I am rising toward the sky. The sunshine is on my head. The earth gives me its generous sap, but Heaven lights me with its unknown worlds.

"You say the soul is nothing but the resultant of the bodily powers. Why, then, is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail? Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. I breathe at this hour the fragrance of the lilacs, the violets, and the roses as at twenty years. The nearer I approach the end the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous, yet simple."
 

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