God's Promise Keeps
Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. (Ecclesiastes 11:1)We must not expect to see an immediate reward for all the good we do; nor must we always confine our efforts to places and persons which seem likely to yield us a recompense for our labors. The Egyptian casts his seed upon the waters of the Nile, where it might seem a sheer waste of corn. But in due time the flood subsides, the rice or other grain sinks into the fertile mud, and rapidly a harvest is produced. Let us today do good to the unthankful and the evil. Let us teach the careless and the obstinate. Unlikely waters may cover hopeful soil. Nowhere shall our labor be in vain in the Lord.
It is ours to cast our bread upon the waters; it remains with God to fulfill the promise "Thou shalt find it." He will not let His promise fail. His good word which we have spoken shall live, shall be found, shall be found by us, Perhaps not just yet, but some day we shall reap what we have sown. We must exercise our patience, or perhaps the Lord may exercise it. "After many days," says the Scripture, and in many instances those days run into months and years, and yet the Word stands true. God's promise will keep; let us mind that we keep the precept and keep it this day.
For nom will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder. (Nahum 1:13)The Assyrian was allowed for a season to oppress the Lord's people, but there came a time for his power to be broken. So, many a heart is held in bondage by Satan and frets sorely under the yoke. Oh, that to such prisoners of hope the word of the Lord may come at once, according to the text, "Now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder!"
See! The Lord promises a present deliverance. "Now will I break his yoke from off thee." Believe for immediate freedom, and according to thy faith so shall it be unto thee at this very hour. When God saith "now," let no man say "tomorrow."
See how complete the rescue is to be; for the yoke is not to be removed but broken; and the bonds are not to be untied but burst asunder. Here is a display of divine force which guarantees that the oppressor shall not return. His yoke is broken, we cannot again be bowed down by its weight. His bonds, are burst asunder, they can no longer hold us. Oh, to believe in Jesus for complete and everlasting emancipation! "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." Come, Lord, and set free Thy captives, according to Thy Word.
The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hind's feet, and he will mate me to walk upon mine high places. (Habakkuk 3:19)This confidence of the man of God is tantamount to a promise, for that which faith is persuaded of is the purpose of God. The prophet had to traverse the deep places of poverty and famine, but he went down hill without slipping, for the Lord gave him standing. By and by he was called to the high places of the hills of conflict; and he was no more afraid to go up than to go down.
See! The Lord lent him strength. Nay, Jehovah Himself was his strength. Think of that: the almighty God Himself becomes our strength!
Note that the Lord also gave him surefootedness. The hinds leap over rock and crag, never missing their footholds. Our Lord will give us grace to follow the most difficult paths of duty without a stumble. He can fit our foot for the crags so that we shall be at home where apart from God we should perish.
One of these days we shall be called to higher places still. Up yonder we shall climb, even to the mount of God, the high places where the shining ones are gathered. Oh, what feet are the feet of faith, by which, following the hind of the morning, we shall ascend into the hill of the Lord!
They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts in that day cube l make up my jewels. (Malachi 3:17)A day is coming in which the crown jewels of our great King shall be counted, that it may be seen whether they answer to the inventory which His Father gave Him. My soul, wilt thou be among the precious things of Jesus? Thou art precious to Him if He is precious to thee, and thou shalt be His "in that day," if He is thine in this day.
In the days of Malachi, the chosen of the Lord were accustomed so to converse with each other that their God Himself listened to their talk. He liked it so well that He took notes of it; yes, and made a book of it, which He lodged in His record office. Pleased with their conversation, He was also pleased with them. Pause, my soul, and ask thyself: If Jesus lucre to listen to thy talk would He be pleased with it? Is it to His glory and to the edification of the brotherhood? Say, my soul, and be sure thou sayest the truth.
But what will the honor be for us poor creatures to be reckoned by the Lord to be His crown jewels! This honor have all the saints. Jesus not only says, "They are mine," but, "They shall be mine." He bought us, sought us, brought us in, and has so far wrought us to His image that we shall be fought for by Him with all His might.
Is There a Difference?
But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. (Exodus 11:7)What! Has God power over the tongues of dogs! Can he keep ours from barking? Yes, it is even so. He can prevent an Egyptian dog from worrying one of the lambs of Israel's flock. Doth God silence dogs, and doggish ones among men, and the great dog at hell's gate? Then let us move on our way without fear.
If He lets dogs move their tongues, yet He can stop their teeth. They may make a dreadful noise and still do us no real harm. Yet, how sweet is quiet! How delightful to move about among enemies and perceive that God maketh them to be at peace with us! Like Daniel in the den of lions we are unhurt amid destroyers.
Oh, that today this word of the Lord to Israel might be true to me! Does the dog worry me? I will tell my Lord about him. Lord, he does not care for my pleadings; do Thou speak the word of power, and he must lie down. Give me peace, O my God, and let me see Thy hand so distinctly in it that I may most clearly perceive the difference which Thy grace has made between me and the ungodly!
He Always Listens
The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my payer. (Psalm 6:9)The experience here recorded is mine. I can set to my seal that God is true. In very wonderful ways He has answered the prayers of His servant many and many a time. Yes, and He is hearing my present supplication, and He is not turning away His ear from me. Blessed be His holy name!
What then? Why, for certain the promise which lies sleeping in the psalmist's believing confidence is also mine. Let me grasp it by the hand of faith: "The Lord will receive my prayer." He will accept it, think of it, and grant it in the way and time which His loving wisdom judges to be best. I bring my poor prayer in my hand to the great King, and He gives me audience and graciously receives my petition. My enemies will not listen to me, but my Lord will. They ridicule my tearful prayers, but my Lord does not; He receives my prayer into His ear and His heart.
What a reception this is for a poor sinner! We receive Jesus, and then the Lord receives us and our prayers for His Son's sake. Blessed be that dear name which franks our prayers so that they freely pass even within the golden gates. Lord, teach me to pray, since Thou hearest my prayers.
The Safest PlaceAnd I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:28)
We believe in the eternal security of the saints. First, because they are Christ's, and He will never lose the sheep which He has bought with His blood and received of His Father.
Next, because He gives them eternal life, and if it be eternal, well then, it is eternal, and there can be no end to hell, and heaven, and God. If spiritual life can die out, it is manifestly not eternal life, and that effectually shuts out the possibility of an end.
Observe, further, that the Lord expressly says, "They shall never perish." As long as words have a meaning, this secures believers from perishing. The most obstinate unbelief cannot force this meaning out of this sentence.
Then, to make the matter complete, He declares that His people are in His hand, and He defies all their enemies to pluck them out of it. Surely it is a thing impossible even for the fiend of hell. We must be safe in the grasp of an almighty Savior. Be it ours to dismiss carnal fear as well as carnal confidence and rest peacefully in the hollow of the Redeemer's hand.
Wisdom for the Asking
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)If any of you lack wisdom. There is no "if" in the matter, for I am sure I lack it. What do I know? How can I guide my own way? How can I direct others? Lord, I am a mass of folly, and wisdom I have none.
Thou sayest, "Let him ask of God." Lord, I now ask. Here at Thy footstool I ask to be furnished with heavenly wisdom for this day's perplexities, ay, and for this day's simplicities; for I know I may do very stupid things, even in plain matters, unless Thou dost keep me out of mischief.
I thank Thee that all I have to do is to ask. What grace is this on Thy part, that I have only to pray in faith and Thou wilt give me wisdom'. Thou dost here promise me a liberal education, and that, too, without an angry tutor or a scolding usher. This, too, Thou wilt bestow without a fee -- bestow it on a fool who lacks wisdom. O Lord, I thank Thee for that positive and expressive word "It shall be given him." I believe it. Thou wilt this day make Thy babe to know the hidden wisdom which the carnally prudent never learn. Thou wilt guide me with Thy counsel and afterwards receive me to glory.
A Trustworthy Name
I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. (Zephaniah 3:12)When true religion is ready to die out among the wealthy it finds a home among the poor of this world, rich in faith. The Lord has even now His faithful remnant. Am I one of them?
Perhaps it is because men are afflicted and poor that they learn to trust in the name of the Lord. He that hath no money must try what he can do on trust. He whose own name is good for nothing in his own esteem, acts wisely to rest in another name, even that best of names, the name of Jehovah. God wilt always have a trusting people, and these will be an afflicted and poor people. Little as the world thinks of them, their being left in the midst of a nation is the channel of untold blessings to it. Here we have the conserving salt which keeps in check the corruption which is in the world through lust.
Again the question comes home to each one of us. Am I one of them? Am I afflicted by the sin within me and around me? Am I poor in spirit, poor spiritually in my own judgment? Do I trust in the Lord? This is the main business. Jesus reveals the name, the character, the person of God; am I trusting in Him? If so, I am left in this world for a purpose. Lord, help me to fulfill it.
A Shepherd Secures Them
They shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid. (Zephaniah 3:13)Yesterday we thought of the afflicted and poor people whom the Lord left to be a living seed in a dead world. The prophet says of such that they shall not work iniquity nor speak lies. So that while they had neither rank nor riches to guard them, they were also quite unable to use those weapons in which the wicked place so much reliance: they could neither defend themselves by sin nor by subtlety.
What then? Would they be destroyed? By no means! They should both feed and rest and be not merely free from danger but even quiet from fear of evil. Sheep are very feeble creatures, and wolves are terrible enemies; yet at this hour sheep are more numerous than wolves, and the cause of the sheep is always winning, while the cause of the wolves is always declining. One day flocks of sheep will cover the plains, and not a wolf will be left. The fact is that sheep have a Shepherd, and this gives them provender, protection, and peace. "None" -- which means not one, whether in human or diabolical form -- "shall make them afraid." Who shall terrify the Lord's Rock when He is near? We lie down in green pastures, for Jesus Himself is food and rest to our souls.
No Cause to Blush
Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed. (Isaiah 54.4)We shall not be ashamed of our faith. Carping critics may assail the Scriptures upon which we ground our belief, but every year the Lord will make it more and more clear that in His Book there is no error, no excess, and no omission. It is no discredit to be a simple believer; the faith which looks alone to Jesus is a crown of honor on any man's head and better than a star on his breast.
We shall not be ashamed of our hope. It shall be even as the Lord has said. We shall be fed, led, blest, and rested. Our Lord will come, and then the days of our mourning shall be ended. How we shall glory in the Lord who first gave us lively hope and then gave us that which we hoped for!
We shall not be ashamed of our love. Jesus is to us the altogether lovely, and never, never, shall we have to blush because we have yielded our hearts to Him. The sight of our glorious Well-beloved will justify the most enthusiastic attachment to Him. None will blame the martyrs for dying for Him. When the enemies of Christ are clothed with everlasting contempt, the lovers of Jesus shall find themselves honored by all holy beings, because they chose the reproach of Christ rather than the treasures of Egypt.
Dwelling Safely Apart
Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew, (Deuteronomy 33:28)The more we dwell alone, the more safe shall we be. God would have His people separate from sinners, His call to them is, "Come ye out from among them."...A worldly Christian is spiritually diseased. Those who compromise with Christ's enemies may be reckoned with them.
Our safety lies, not in making terms with the enemy, but in dwelling alone with our Best Friend. If we do this, we shall dwell in safety despite the sarcasms, the slanders, and the sneers of the world. We shall be safe from the baleful influence of its unbelief, its pride, its vanity, its filthiness.
God also will make us dwell in safety alone in that day when sin shall be visited on the nations by wars and famines. The Lord brought Abram from Ur of the Chaldees, but Abram stopped halfway. He had no blessing till, having set out to go to the land of Canaan, to the land of Canaan he came, He was safe alone even in the midst of foes. Lot was not safe in Sodom though in a circle of friends. Our safety is in dwelling apart with God.
I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: Lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day. (Isaiah 27:3)When the Lord Himself speaks in His own proper person rather than through a prophet, the word has a peculiar weight to believing minds. It is Jehovah Himself who is the keeper of His own vineyard; He does not trust it to any other, but He makes it His own personal care. Are they not well kept whom God Himself keeps?
We are to receive gracious watering, not only every day and every hour "but every moment." How we ought to grow! How fresh and fruitful every plant should be! What rich clusters the vines should bear!
But disturbers come; little foxes and the boar. Therefore, the Lord Himself is our Guardian, and that at all hours, both "night and day." What, then, can harm us? Why are we afraid! He tends, He waters, He guards; what more do we need?
Twice in this verse the Lord says, "I will." What truth, what power, what love, what immutability we find in the great "I will" of Jehovah! Who can resist His will? If He says "I will," what room is there for doubt? With an "I will" of God we can face all the hosts of sin, death, and hell. O Lord, since Thou sayest, "I will keep thee," I reply, "I will praise Thee!"
He Constantly Abides
For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake; because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people. (1 Samuel 12:22)God's choice of His people is the reason for His abiding by them and not forsaking them. He chose them for His love, and He loves them for His choice. His own good pleasure is the source of their election, and His election is the reason for the continuance of His pleasure in them. It would dishonor His great name for Him to forsake them, since it would either show that He made an error in His choice or that He was fickle in His love. God's love has this glory, that it never changes, and this glory He will never tarnish.
By all the memories of the Lord's former lovingkindnesses let us rest assured that He will not forsake us. He who has gone so far as to make us His people will not undo the creation of His grace. He has not wrought such wonders for us that He might leave us after all. His Son Jesus has died for us, and we may be sure that He has not died in vain. Can He forsake those for whom He shed His blood? Because He has hitherto taken pleasure in choosing and in saving us, it will be His pleasure still to bless us. Our Lord Jesus is no changeable lover. Having loved His own, He loves them to the end.
Home Blessings ExtendedThe Lord shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. (Psalm 128:5)
This is a promise to the God-fearing man who walks in the ways of holiness with earnest heed. He shall have domestic blessedness; his wife and children shall be a source of great home happiness. But then as a member of the church he desires to see the cause prosper, for he is as much concerned for the Lord's house as for his own. When the Lord builds our house, it is but fitting that we should desire to see the Lord's house builded. Our goods are not truly good unless we promote by them the good of the Lord's chosen church.
Yes, you shall get a blessing when you go up to the assemblies of Zion; you shall be instructed, enlivened, and comforted, where prayer and praise ascend and testimony is borne to the great Sacrifice. "The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion."
Nor shall you alone be profited; the church itself shall prosper; believers shall be multiplied, and their holy work shall be crowned with success. Certain gracious men have this promise fulfilled to them as long as they live. Alas! when they die the cause often flags. Let us be among those who bring good things to Jerusalem all their days. Lord, of Thy mercy make us such! Amen.
Possess, Not Only Profess
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance. (Matthew 13:12)When the Lord has given to a man much grace, He will give him more. A little faith is a nest egg; more faith will come to it. But then it must not be seeming faith, but real and true. What a necessity is laid upon us to make sure work in religion and not to profess much, and possess nothing! For one of these days the very profession will be taken from us, if that be all we have. The threatening is as true as the promise.
Blessed be the Lord, it is His way when He has once made a beginning to go on bestowing the graces of His Spirit, till He who had but little, and yet truly had that little, is made to have abundance. Oh, for that abundance! Abundance of grace is a thing to be coveted, It would be well to know much but better to love much. It would be delightful to have abundance of skill to serve God but better still to have abundance of faith to trust in the Lord for skill and everything.
Lord, since Thou hast given me a sense of sin, deepen my hatred of evil. Since Thou hast caused me to trust Jesus, raise my faith to full assurance. Since Thou hast made me to love Thee, cause me to be carried away with vehement affection for Thee!
Our Field of Battle
For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. (Deuteronomy 20:4)We have no enemies but the enemies of God. Our fights are not against men but against spiritual wickednesses. We war with the devil and the blasphemy and error and despair which he brings into the field of battle. We fight with all the armies of sin -- impurity, drunkenness, oppression, infidelity, and ungodliness. With these we contend earnestly, but not with sword or spear; the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.
Jehovah, our God, abhors everything which is evil, and, therefore, He goeth with us to fight for us in this crusade. He will save us, and He will give us grace to war a good warfare and win the victory. We may depend upon it that if we are on God's side God is on our side. With such an august ally the conflict is never in the least degree doubtful. It is not that truth is mighty and must prevail but that might lies with the Father who is almighty, with Jesus who has all power in heaven and in earth, and with the Holy Spirit who worketh His will among men.
Soldiers of Christ, gird on your armor. Strike home in the name of the God of holiness, and by faith grasp His salvation. Let not this day pass without striking a blow for Jesus and holiness.
God Himself Shall Work
Now will I rise, saith the Lord; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself. (Isaiah 33:10)When the spoilers had made the land as waste as if devoured by locusts, and the warriors who had defended the country sat down and wept like women, then the Lord came to the rescue. When travelers ceased from the roads to Zion, and Bashan and Carmel were as vineyards from which the fruit has failed, then the Lord arose. God is exalted in the midst of an afflicted people, for they seek His face and trust Him. He is still more exalted when in answer to their cries He lifts up Himself to deliver them and overthrow their enemies.
Is it a day of sorrow with us? Let us expect to see the Lord glorified in our deliverance. Are we drawn out in fervent prayer? Do we cry day and night unto Him? Then the set time for His grace is near. God will lift up Himself at the right season. He will arise when it will be most for the display of His glory. We wish for His glory more than we long for our own deliverance. Let the Lord be exalted, and our chief desire is obtained.
Lord, help us in such a way that we may see that Thou Thyself art working. May we magnify Thee in our inmost souls. Make all around us to see how good and great a God Thou art.
A Sound Heart
Let my heart be sound in thy statues: that I be not ashamed. (Psalm 119:80)We may regard this inspired prayer as containing within itself the assurance that those who keep close to the Word of God shall never have cause to be ashamed of doing so.
See, the prayer is for soundness of heart. A sound creed is good, a sound judgment concerning it is better, but a sound heart toward the truth is best of all. We must love the truth, feel the truth, and obey the truth, otherwise we are not truly sound in God's statutes. Are there many in these evil days who are sound? Oh, that the writer and the reader may be two of this sort!
Many will be ashamed in the last great day, when all disputes will be decided. Then they will see the folly of their inventions and be filled with remorse because of their proud infidelity and willful defiance of the Lord; but he who believed what the Lord taught and did what the Lord commanded will stand forth justified in what he did. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun. Men much slandered and abused shall find their shame turned into glory in that day.
Let us pray the prayer of our text, and we may be sure that its promise will be fulfilled to us. If the Lord makes us sound, He will keep us safe.
The Lard Our Companion
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)Sweet are these words in describing a deathbed assurance. How many have repeated them in their last hours with intense delight!
But the verse is equally applicable to agonies of spirit in the midst of life. Some of us, like Paul, die daily through a tendency to gloom of soul. Bunyan puts the Valley of the Shadow of Death far earlier in the pilgrimage than the river which rolls at the foot of the celestial hills. We have some of us traversed the dark and dreadful defile of "the shadow of death" several times, and we can bear witness that the Lord alone enabled us to bear up amid its wild thought, its mysterious horrors, its terrible depressions. The Lord has sustained us and kept us above all real fear of evil, even when our spirit has been overwhelmed. We have been pressed and oppressed, but yet we have lived, for we have felt the presence of the Great Shepherd and have been confident that His crook would prevent the foe from giving us any deadly wound.
Should the present time be one darkened by the raven wings of a great sorrow, let us glorify God by a peaceful trust in Him.
A Woman's War
The Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. (Judges 4:9)Rather an unusual text, but there may be souls in the world that may have faith enough to grasp it. Barak, the man, though called to the war, had little stomach for the fight unless Deborah would go with him, and so the Lord determined to make it a woman's war. By this means He rebuked the slackness of the man, gained for Himself the more renown, and cast the more shame upon the enemies of His people.
The Lord can still use feeble instrumentalities. Why not me? He may use persons who are not commonly called to great public engagements. Why not you? The woman who slew the enemy of Israel was no Amazon but a wife who tarried in her tent. She was no orator but a woman who milked the cows and made butter. May not the Lord use any one of us to accomplish His purpose? Somebody may come to the house today, even as Sisera came to Jael's tent. Be it ours not to slay him, but to save him. Let us receive him with great kindness and then bring forth the blessed truth of salvation by the Lord Jesus, our great Substitute, and press home the command "Believe and live." Who knoweth but some stout-hearted sinner may be slain by the gospel today!
He with Us; We with Him
The fear of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened. (Proverbs 10:27)There is no doubt about it. The fear of the Lord leads to virtuous habits, and these prevent that waste of life which comes of sin and vice. The holy rest which springs out of faith in the Lord Jesus also greatly helps a man when he is ill. Every physician rejoices to have a patient whose mind is fully at ease. Worry kills, but confidence in God is like healing medicine.
We have therefore all the arrangements for long life, and if it be really for our good, we shall see a good old age and come to our graves as shocks of corn in their season. Let us not be overcome with sudden expectation of death the moment we have a finger-ache, but let us rather expect that we may have to work on through a considerable length of days.
And what if we should soon be called to the higher sphere? Certainly there would be nothing to deplore in such a summons but everything to rejoice in. Living or dying we are the Lord's. If we live, Jesus will be with us; if we die, we shall be with Jesus.
The truest lengthening of life is to live while we live, wasting no time but using every hour for the highest ends. So be it this day.
The Enemy Frustrated
Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. (2 Kings 19:32)Neither did Sennacherib molest the city. He had boasted loudly, but he could not carry out his threats. The Lord is able to stop the enemies of His people in the very act. When the lion has the lamb between his jaws, the great Shepherd of the sheep can rob him of his prey. Our extremity only provides an opportunity for a grander display of divine power and wisdom.
In the case before us, the terrible foe did not put in an appearance before the city which he thirsted to destroy. No annoying arrow could he shoot over the walls, and no besieging engines could- he put to work to batter down the castles, and no banks could he cast up to shut in the inhabitants. Perhaps in our case also the Lord will prevent our adversaries from doing us the least harm. Certainly He can alter their intentions or render their designs so abortive that they will gladly forego them. Let us trust in the Lord and keep His way, and He will take care of us. Yea, He will fill us with wondering praise as we see the perfection of His deliverance.
Let us not fear the enemy till he actually comes, and then let us trust in the Lord.
The Lord's "Much More"
And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The Lord is able to give thee much more than this. (2 Chronicles 25:9)If you have made a mistake, bear the loss of it; but do not act contrary to the will of the Lord. The Lord can give you much more than you are likely to lose; and if He does not, will you begin bargaining and chaffering with God. The king of Judah had hired an army from idolatrous Israel, and he was commanded to send home the fighting men because the Lord was not with them. He was willing to send away the host, only he grudged paying the hundred talents for nothing. Oh, for shame! If the Lord will give the victory without the hirelings, surely it was a good bargain to pay their wages and to be rid of them.
Be willing to lose money for conscience' sake, for peace's sake, for Christ's sake. Rest assured that losses for the Lord are not losses. Even in this life they are more than recompensed: in some cases the Lord prevents any loss from happening. As to our immortal life, what we lose for Jesus is invested in heaven. Fret not at apparent disaster but listen to the whisper, "The Lord is able to give thee much more than this."
A Staircase to Heaven
And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. (John 1:51)Yes, to our faith this sight is plain even at this day. We do see heaven opened. Jesus Himself has opened that kingdom to all believers. We gaze into the place of mystery and glory, for He has revealed it to us. We shall enter it soon, for He is the way.
Now we see the explanation of Jacob's ladder. Between earth and heaven there is a holy commerce; prayer ascends, and answers come down by the way of Jesus, the Mediator. We see this ladder when we see our Lord. In Him a stairway of light now furnishes a clear passage to the throne of the Most High. Let us use it and send up by it the messengers of our prayers. We shall live the angelic life ourselves if we run up to heaven in intercession, lay hold upon the blessings of the covenant, and then descend again to scatter those gifts among the sons of men.
This choice sight which Jacob only saw in a dream will turn into a bright reality. This very day we will be up and down the ladder each hour: climbing in communion and coming down in labor to save our fellowmen. This is Thy promise, O Lord Jesus; let us joyfully see it fulfilled.
It Will Not Be Long
Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. (James 5:8)The last word in the Canticle of love is, "Make haste, my beloved," and among the last words of the Apocalypse we read, "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come"; to which the heavenly Bridegroom answers, "Surely I come quickly." Love longs for the glorious appearing of the Lord and enjoys this sweet promise - "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh." This stays our minds as to the future. We look out with hope through this window.
This sacred "window of agate" lets in a flood of light upon the present and puts us into fine condition for immediate work or suffering. Are we tired? Then the nearness of our joy whispers patience. Are we growing weary because we do not see the harvest of our seed-sowing? Again this glorious truth cries to us, "Be patient." Do our multiplied temptations cause us in the least to waver? Then the assurance that before long the Lord will be here preaches to us from this text, "Stablish your hearts." Be firm, be stable, be constant, "stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord." Soon will you hear the silver trumpet which announces the coming of your King. Be not in the least afraid. Hold the fort, for He is coming; yea, He may appear this very day.
Thank Him; Dwell Acceptably
Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence. (Psalm 140:13)Oh, that my heart may be upright, that I may always be able to bless the name of the Lord! He is so good to those that be good, that I would fain be among them and feel myself full of thankfulness every day. Perhaps, for a moment, the righteous are staggered when their integrity results in severe trial; but assuredly the day shall come when they shall bless their God that they did not yield to evil suggestions and adopt a shifty policy. In the long run true men will thank the God of the right for leading them by a right way. Oh, that I may be among them!
What a promise is implied in this second clause, "The upright shall dwell in thy presence!" They shall stand accepted where others appear only to be condemned. They shall be the courtiers of the great King, indulged with audience whensoever they desire it. They shall be favored ones upon whom Jehovah smiles and with whom He graciously communes. Lord, I covet this high honor, this precious privilege. It will be heaven on earth to me to enjoy it. Make me in all things upright, that I may today and tomorrow and every day stand in Thy heavenly presence. Then will I give thanks unto Thy name evermore. Amen.
One Look from the Lord!
And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? (Judges 6:14)What a look was that which the Lord gave to Gideon! He looked him out of his discouragement into a holy bravery. If our look to the Lord saves us, what will not His look at us do? Lord, look on me this day and nerve me for its duties and conflicts.
What a word was this which Jehovah spoke to Gideon! "Go." He must not hesitate. He might have answered, "What, go in all this weakness?" But the Lord put that word out of court by saying, "Go in this thy might." The Lord had looked might into him, and he had now nothing to do but to use it and save Israel by smiting the Midianites. It may be that the Lord has more to do by me than I ever dreamed of. If He has looked upon me, He has made me strong. Let me by faith exercise the power with which He has entrusted me. He never bids me "idle away my time in this my might." Far from it. I must "go" because He strengthens me. What a question is that which the Lord puts to me even as He put it to Gideon! "Have not I sent thee!" Yes, Lord, Thou hast sent me, and I will go in Thy strength. At Thy command I go, and, going, I am assured that Thou wilt conquer by me.
Invitation to Pray
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. (Jeremiah 33:3)God encourages us to pray. They tell us that prayer is a pious exercise which has no influence except upon the mind engaged in it. We know better. Our experience gives the lie a thousand times over to this infidel assertion. Here Jehovah, the living God, distinctly promises to answer the prayer of His servant. Let us call upon Him again and admit no doubt upon the question of His hearing us and answering us. He that made the ear, shall He not hear? He that gave parents a love to their children, will He not listen to the cries of His own sons and daughters!
God will answer His pleading people in their anguish. He has wonders in store for them. What they have never seen, heard of, or dreamed of, He will do for them. He will invent new blessings if needful. He will ransack sea and land to feed them: He will send every angel out of heaven to succor them if their distress requires it. He will astound us with His grace and make us feel that it was never before done in this fashion. All He asks of us is that we will call upon Him. He cannot ask less of us. Let us cheerfully render Him our prayers at once.
Back, Then Forward
Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. (Ezekiel 16:60)Notwithstanding our sins, the Lord is still faithful in His love to us. He looks back. See how He remembers those early days of ours when He took us into covenant with Himself, and we gave ourselves over to Him. Happy days those! The Lord does not twit us with them and charge us with being insincere. No, He looks rather to His covenant with us than to our covenant with Him. There was no hypocrisy in that sacred compact, on His part, at any rate. How gracious is the Lord thus to look back in love!
He looks forward also. He is resolved that the covenant shall not fail. If me do not stand to it, He does. He solemnly declares, "I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant." He has no mind to draw back from His promises. Blessed be His name, He sees the sacred seal, "the blood of the everlasting covenant," and He remembers our Surety, in whom He ratified that covenant, even His own dear Son; and therefore He rests in His covenant engagements. "He abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself."
O Lord, lay this precious word upon my heart and help me to feed upon it all this day!