FEB 23 – UNBROKEN FELLOWSHIP ESSENTIAL
lf ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (John 15:7) Of necessity we must be in Christ to live unto Him, and we must abide in Him to be able to claim the largesse of this promise from Him. To abide in Jesus is never to quit Him for another love or another object, but to remain in living, loving, conscious, willing union with Him. The branch is not only ever near the stem but ever receiving life and fruitfulness horn it. All true believers abide in Christ in a sense; but there is a higher meaning, and this we must know before we can gain unlimited power at the throne. “Ask what ye will” is for Enochs who walk with God, for Johns who lie in the Lord’s bosom, for those whose union with Christ leads to constant communion. The heart must remain in love, the mind must be rooted in faith, the hope must be cemented to the Word, the whole man must be joined unto the Lord, or else it would be dangerous to trust us with power in prayer. The carte blanche can only be given to one whose very life is, “Not I, but Christ liveth in me.” O you who break your fellowship, what power you lose! If you would be mighty in your pleadings, the Lord Himself must abide in you, and you in Him.
FEB 22 – PAST DELIVERANCE BEGETS FAITH
David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:37) This is not a promise if we consider only the words, but it is truly so as to its sense; for David spoke a word which the Lord endorsed by making it true. He argued from past deliverances that he should receive help in a new danger. In Jesus all the promises are “Yea” and “Amen” to the glory of God by us, and so the Lord’s former dealings with His believing people will be repeated. Come, then, let us recall the Lord’s former lovingkindness. We could not have hoped to be delivered aforetime by our own strength; yet the Lord delivered us. Will He not again save us? We are sure He will. As David ran to meet his foe, so will we. The Lord has been with us, He is with us, and He has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” Why do we tremble? Was the past a dream? Think of the dead bear and lion. Who is this Philistine? True, he is not quite the same, and is neither bear nor lion; but then God is the same, and His honor is as much concerned in the one case as in the other. He did not save us from the beasts of the forest to let a giant kill us. Let us be of good courage.
FEB 21 – BLESSING ON LITTLENESS
He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great. (Psalm 115:13) This is a word of cheer to those who are of humble station and mean estate. Our God has a very gracious consideration for those of small property, small talent, small influence, small weight. God careth for the small things in creation and even regards sparrows in their lighting upon the ground. Nothing is small to God, for He makes use of insignificant agents for the accomplishment of His purposes. Let the least among men seek of God a blessing upon his littleness, and he shall find his contracted sphere to be a happy one. Among those who fear the Lord there are little and great. Some are babes, and others are giants. But these are all blessed. Little faith is blessed faith. Trembling hope is blessed hope. Every grace of the Holy Spirit, even though it be only in the bud, bears a blessing within it. Moreover, the Lord Jesus bought both the small and the great with the same precious blood, and He has engaged to preserve the lambs as well as the full-grown sheep. No mother overlooks her child because it is little; nay, the smaller it is, the more tenderly does she nurse it. If there be any preference with the Lord, He does not arrange them as “great and small” but as “small and great.”
FEB 20 – CONTINUAL GUIDANCE
The Lord shall guide thee continually. (Isaiah 58:11) What aileth thee? Hast thou lost thy way? Art thou entangled in a dark wood and canst thou not find thy paths? Stand still, and see the salvation of God. He knows the way, and He will direct thee in it if thou cry unto Him. Every day brings its own perplexity. How sweet to feel that the guidance of the Lord is continual! If we choose our own way or consult with flesh and blood we cast ok the Lord’s guidance; but if we abstain from self-will, then He will direct every step of our road, every hour of the day, and every day of the year, and every year of our life. If we will but be guided, we shall be guided. If we will commit our way unto the Lord, He will direct our course so that we shall not lose ourselves. But note to whom this promise is made. Read the previous verse: “If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry.” We must feel for others and give them, not a few dry crusts, but such things as we ourselves would wish to receive. If we show a tender care for our fellow-creatures in the hour of their need, then will the Lord attend to our necessities and make Himself our continual Guide. Jesus is the Leader, not of misers, nor of those who oppress the poor, but of the kind and tenderhearted. Such persons are pilgrims who shall never miss their way.
FEB 19 – BETTER FARTHER ON
Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more. (Nahum 1:12) There is a limit to affliction. God sends it, and God removes it. Do you sigh and say, “When will the end be?” Remember that our griefs will surely and finally end when this poor earthly life is over, Let us quietly wait and patiently endure the will of the Lord till He cometh. Meanwhile, our Father in heaven takes away the rod when His design in using it is fully served. When He has whipped away our folly, there will be no more strokes. Or, if the affliction is sent for testing us, that our graces may glorify God, it will end when the Lord has made us bear witness to His praise. We would not wish the affliction to depart till God has gotten out of us all the honor which we can possibly yield Him. There may today be “a great calm.” Who knows how soon those raging billows will give place to a sea of glass, and the sea birds sit on the gentle waves? After long tribulation the Rail is hung up, and the wheat rests in the garner. We may, before many hours are past, be just as happy as now we are sorrowful. It is not hard for the Lord to turn night into day. He that sends the clouds can as easily clear the skies. Let us be of good cheer. It is better on before. Let us sing hallelujah by anticipation.
FEB 18 – GOD WILL ANSWER
He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. (Psalm 145:19) His own Spirit has wrought this desire in us, and therefore He will answer it. It is His own life within which prompts the cry, and therefore He will hear it. Those who fear Him are men under the holiest influence, and, therefore, their desire is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Like Daniel, they are men of desires, and the Lord will cause them to realize their aspirations. Holy desires are grace in the blade, and the heavenly Husbandman will cultivate them till they come to the full corn in the ear. God-fearing men desire to be holy, to be useful, to be a blessing to others, and so to honor their Lord. They desire supplies for their need, help under burdens, guidance in perplexity, deliverance in distress; and sometimes this desire is so strong and their case so pressing that they cry out in agony like little children in pain, and then the Lord works most comprehensively and does all that is needful according to this Word—”and will save them.” Yes, if we fear God, we have nothing else to fear; if we cry to the Lord, our salvation is certain. Let the reader lay this text on his tongue and keep it in his mouth all the day, and it will be to him as “a wafer made with honey.”
FEB 17 – GOD CAN MAKE YOU STRONG Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded. (2 Chronicles 15:7) God had done great things for King Asa and Judah, but yet they were a feeble folk. Their feet were very tottering in the ways of the Lord, and their hearts very hesitating, so that they had to be warned that the Lord would be with them while they were with Him, but that if they forsook Him He would leave them. They were also reminded of the sister kingdom, how ill it fared in its rebellion and how the Lord was gracious to it when repentance was shown. The Lord’s design was to confirm them in His way and make them strong in righteousness. So ought it to be with us. God deserves to be served with all the energy of which we are capable. If the service of God is worth anything, it is worth everything. We shall find our best reward in the Lord’s work if we do it with determined diligence. Our labor is not in vain in the Lord, and we know it. Halfhearted work will bring no reward; but when we throw our whole soul into the cause, we shall see prosperity. This text was sent to the author of these notes in a day of terrible storm, and it suggested to him to put on all steam, with the assurance of reaching port in safety with a glorious freight.
FEB 16 – YOU DEAL WITH GOD
I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man. (Hosea 11:9) The Lord thus makes known His sparing mercies. It may be that the reader is now under heavy displeasure, and everything threatens his speedy doom. Let the text hold him up from despair. The Lord now invites you to consider your ways and confess your sins. If He had been man, He would long ago have cut you off. If He were now to act after the manner of men, it would be a word and a blow and then there would be an end of you: but it is not so, for “as high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are his ways above your ways.” You rightly judge that He is angry, but He keepeth not His anger forever: if you turn from sin to Jesus, God will turn from wrath. Because God is God, and not man, there is still forgiveness for you, even though you may be steeped up to your throat in iniquity. You have a God to deal with and not a hard man, or even a merely just man. No human being could have patience with you. You would have wearied out an angel, as you have wearied your sorrowing Father; but God is longsuffering. Come and try Him at once. Confess, believe, and turn from your evil way, and you shall be saved.
FEB 15 – EVER MINDFUL
The Lord hath been mindful of us: he will bless us. (Psalm 115:12) I can set my seal to that first sentence. Cannot you? Yes, Jehovah has thought of us, provided for us, comforted us, delivered us, and guided us. In all the movements of His providence He has been mindful of us, never overlooking our mean affairs. His mind has been full of us—that is the other form of the word mindful. This has been the case all along and without a single break. At special times, however, we have more distinctly seen this mindfulness, and we would recall them at this hour with overflowing gratitude. Yes, yes, “the Lord hath been mindful of us.” The next sentence is a logical inference from the former one. Since God is unchangeable, He will continue to be mindful of us in the future as He has been in the past; and His mindfulness is tantamount to blessing us. But we have here not only the conclusion of reason but the declaration of inspiration; we have it on the Holy Ghost’s authority—”He will bless us.” This means great things and unsearchable. The very indistinctness of the promise indicates its infinite reach. He will bless us after His own divine manner, and that forever and ever, Therefore, let us each say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul!”
FEB 14 – MERCY TO THE UNDESERVING
He that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. (Psalm 32:10) O fair reward of trust! My Lord, grant it me to the full! The truster above all men feels himself to be a sinner; and lo, mercy is prepared for him: he knows himself to have no deservings, but mercy comes in and keeps house for him on a liberal scale. O Lord, give me this mercy, even as I trust in Thee! Observe, my soul, what a bodyguard thou hast! As a prince is compassed about with soldiery, so art thou compassed about with mercy. Before and behind, and on all sides, ride these mounted guards of grace. We dwell in the center of the system of mercy, for we dwell in Christ Jesus. O my soul, what an atmosphere dost thou breathe! As the air surrounds thee, even so does the mercy of thy Lord. To the wicked there are many sorrows, but to thee there are so many mercies that thy sorrows are not worth mentioning. David says, “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous; and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” In obedience to this precept my heart shall triumph in God, and I will tell out my gladness. As Thou hast compassed me with mercy, I will also compass Thine altars, O my God, with songs of thanksgiving!