Days of Heaven Upon Earth

Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.

[1 Pet 4:12 NET]

Most persons after a step of faith are looking for sunny skies and unruffled seas, and when they meet a storm and tempest they are filled with astonishment and perplexity. But this is just what we must expect to meet if we have received anything of the Lord. The best token of His presence is the adversary’s defiance, and the more real our blessing, the more certainly it will be challenged. It is a good thing to go out looking for the worst, and if it comes we are not surprised; while if our path be smooth and our way be unopposed, it is all the more delightful, because it comes as a glad surprise.

But let us quite understand what we mean by temptation. You, especially, who have stepped out with the assurance that you have died to self and sin, may be greatly amazed to find yourself assailed with a tempest of thoughts and feelings that seem to come wholly from within and you will be impelled to say, Why, I thought I was dead, but I seem to be alive. This, beloved, is the time to remember that temptation, the instigation, is not sin, but only of the evil one.

Days of Heaven Upon Earth

And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

[John 20:22 NET]

The beautiful figure suggested by this passage is full of simple instruction. It is as easy to receive the Holy Ghost as it is to breathe. It almost seems as if the Lord had given them the very impression of breathing, and had said, Now, this is the way to receive the Holy Ghost.

It is not necessary for you to go to a smallpox hospital to have your lungs contaminated with impure air. It is enough for you to keep in your lungs the air you inhaled a minute ago and it will kill you. All the pure elements have been absorbed from it, and there is nothing left but carbon and other deadly gases and fluids.

Therefore, if you are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you must first get emptied not only of your old sinful life, but of your old spiritual life. You must get a new breath every moment, or you will die. God wants you to empty out all your being into Him, and then you will take Him in, without needing to try too hard. A vacuum always gets filled, an empty pair of lungs unavoidably breathes in the pure air. If you are only in the true attitude, there will be no trouble about receiving the Holy Ghost.

Days of Heaven Upon Earth

Then Samuel said, “Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he does in obedience? Certainly, obedience is better than sacrifice; paying attention is better than the fat of rams.

[1 Sam 15:22 NET]

Our healing is thus represented as a special recompense for obedience. If, therefore, we would please the Lord and have the reward of those who please Him, there is no service so acceptable to Him as our praise.

Let us ever meet Him with a glad and thankful heart and He will reflect it back in the health of our countenance and the buoyant life and springing health, which is but the echo of a joyful heart.

Further, thankfulness is the best preparation for faith. Trust grows spontaneously in the praiseful heart. Thankfulness takes the sunny side of the street and looks at the bright side of God, and it is only thus that we can ever trust Him. Unbelief looks at our troubles and, of course, they seem like mountains, and faith is discouraged by the prospect. A thankful disposition will always find some cause for cheer, and gloomy one will find a cloud in the brightest sky and a fly in the sweetest ointment. Let us cultivate a spirit of cheerfulness, and we shall find so much in God and in our lives to encourage us that we shall have no room for doubt or fear.

Days of Heaven Upon Earth

Dark clouds surround him; equity and justice are the foundation of his throne.

[Ps 97:2 NET]

The presence of clouds upon your sky, and trials in your path, is the very best evidence that you are following the pillar of cloud, and walking in the presence of God. They had to enter the cloud before they could behold the glory of the transfiguration, and a little later that same cloud became the chariot to receive the ascending Lord, and it is still waiting as the chariot that will bring His glorious appearing.

Still it is true that white clouds and darkness are round about His throne, mercy and truth are ever in their midst, and shall go before His face.

Perhaps the most beautiful and gracious use of the cloud was to shelter them from the fiery sun. Like a great umbrella, that majestic pillar spread its canopy above the camp, and became a shielding shadow from the burning heat in the treeless desert. No one who has never felt an Oriental sun can fully appreciate how much this means a shadow from the heat.

So the Holy Spirit comes between us and the fiery, scorching rays of sorrow and temptation.

Days of Heaven Upon Earth

You are altogether beautiful, my darling! There is no blemish in you!

[Song 4:7 NET]

The blessed Holy Spirit who possesses the consecrated heart is intensely concerned for our highest life, and watches us with a sensitive, and even a jealous love. Very beautiful is the true translation of that ordinary passage in the Epistle of James, The Spirit that dwelleth in us loveth us to jealousy.

The heart of the Holy Ghost is intensely concerned in preserving us from every stain and blemish, and bringing us into the very highest possibilities of the will of God.

The Heavenly Bridegroom would have His Church not only free from every spot, but also from every wrinkle, or any such thing. The spot is the mark of sin, but the wrinkle is the sign of weakness, age, and decay, and He wants no such defacing touch upon the holy features of His Beloved; and so the Holy Ghost, who is the Executor of His will, and the Divine Messenger whom He sends to call, separate, and bring home His Bride, is jealously concerned in fulfilling in us all the Master’s will.

Lord, take from me every blemish and mark of weakness and decay, and make me Thy spotless Bride.

Days of Heaven Upon Earth

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.

[Rom 8:14 NET]

The blessed Holy Spirit is our Guide, our Leader, and our Resting–place. There are times when He presses us forward into prayer, into service, into suffering, into new experiences, new duties, new claims of faith, and hope, and love, but there are times when He arrests us in our activity, and rests us under His overshadowing wing, and quiets us in the secret place of the Most High, teaching us some new lessons, breathing into us some deeper strength or fulness, and then leading us on again, at His bidding alone. He is the true Guide of the saint, and the true Leader of the Church, our wonderful Counsellor, our unerring Friend; and he who would deny the personal guidance of the Holy Ghost in order that he might honor the Word of God as our only guide, must dishonor that other word of promise, that His sheep shall know His voice, and that His hearkening and obedient children shall hear a voice behind them saying, This is the way, walk ye in it.

Days of Heaven Upon Earth

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Yet not my will but yours be done.”

[Luke 22:42 NET]

He who once suffered in Gethsemane will be our strength and our victory, too. We may fear, we may also sink, but let us not be dismayed, and we shall yet praise Him, and look back from a finished course, and say, Not one word hath failed of all that the Lord hath spoken.

But in order to do this, we must, like Him, meet the conflict, not with a defiant, but with a submissive spirit. He had to say, Not My will, but Thine be done but in saying it, He gained the very thing He surrendered. So the submission of Gethsemane is not a blind and dead submission of a heart that abandons all its hope; but it is the free submission that bows the head, in order to get double strength through the faith and prayer.

We let go, in order that we may take a firmer hold. We give up, in order that we may more fully receive. We lay our Isaac on Mount Moriah, and we ask him back, no longer our Isaac, but God’s Isaac, and infinitely more secure, because given back in the resurrection life.