Daily Word of God

The Prodigal’s Return

He was yet a great way off, his father saw him.~  Luke 15:20

The boy had, in the far-away country, a vision of his old home. As he sat there and thought of his dishonour and his ruin, there flashed before him a picture which made him very home-sick. The vision brought back the old home in all its beauty and blessedness. There was plenty there, while here the once happy, favoured son was perishing with hunger.

It was a blessed moment for the prodigal. It was God’s message to him, inviting him to return home. When a child is stolen away from a lovely and tender household, it may be kept among wandering gypsies or savage Indians even to old age, but there are always broken fragments of sweet memories that hang over the soul like trailing clouds in the sky — dim, shadowy memories of something very lovely, very pure, reminiscences of that long-lost, long-forgotten past, when the child lay on the mother’s arms, and was surrounded by beauty and tenderness. So there is something in the heart of every one who has wandered from God that ever floats about him, even in sin’s revels — a fair, ethereal vision, dim and far away mayhap, but splendid as the drapery of the sunset. It is the memory of lost innocence, of the Father’s love, the vision of a heavenly beauty possible of restoration to the worst.

When the prodigal reached home he found his vision realized. His father was watching for him — had long been watching for him. It is a picture of the heavenly Father’s loving welcome of every lost child of His that comes back home. Thus He receives the worst who comes penitently. Our sweetest dreams of God’s love are a thousand times too poor and dim for the reality. A great way off God sees the returning prodigal, and runs to meet him. No matter how far we have wandered, there is a welcome waiting for us at home.

Daily Word of God

The Beggar’s Escort

The beggar died, and, was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.

~ Luke 16:22

Nothing is said about his funeral — of course it was only a pauper’s. Earth had no honour for the beggar, no splendid coffin, no flowers; but the angels came, and were his bearers and escort to glory. Notice also that nothing is said about what became of his body; but little matter, for the man himself was no longer in that old, worn-out, battered frame. He was soon far away in a realm of brightness. While the body was dropped, the beggar, the real man, was carried away to heaven; and we see him there, a beggar no longer, enjoying blessedness.

There is still another thought here. We dread death. It seems the end of existence. But really to the Christian it is only an incident in his life. It is just a moment’s passage through an experience we never can understand; and then — glory. One minute this poor beggar lies at the gate, despised, suffering, hungry; the next, a strange sensation passes over him, and all is confusion; then he awakes flying through the air with angel-escort, and in a little time is inside the gate of pearl, and lives on. There is no break in his life.

Death came also to the rich man. His riches could not save him from that. No doubt he had a splendid funeral. There would be a long procession, many mourners, great waste of perfumes, every show of honour. But who would not rather have the beggar’s escort after death than the finest funeral earth ever gave to mortal? There have been funerals of rich men at which there was genuine sorrow, where those who had been blessed by their benevolence came and wept by their coffins. But in this case there were no sincere mourners, for the man had allowed the needy to lie hungry at his gates. He had lived for himself only and no one really missed him when he was gone.

Daily Word of God

The Home of Bethany

A certain man was sick … Lazarus, of Bethany.

~ John 11:1

This home at Bethany was wondrously favoured. The family seems to have been wealthy. It was a loving home, the three members named being bound together by very close and tender ties. This we know from the fact that Jesus found it such a congenial home for Himself. He surely would not have chosen a quarrelsome household for His own abiding-place. He could not have found a refuge there if it had been anything but a home filled with love’s sweetness.

We know that it was an affectionate household, also, from the sorrow of the sisters when their brother was dead. As we read the matchless story we are sure it was no ordinary tie that bound the family together. In too many homes brothers and sisters are not to each other what they might be. Ofttimes there is at least a lack in the showing of the love. Brothers and sisters should not only love one another, but they should be kindly and affectionate in their intercourse together.

Then it was a favoured home, also, because it was the one which Jesus chose to be the resting-place for His heart in the still evenings after the fierce strifes with His enemies in the temple. It was His love for the members of this family, and the honour He put upon their home, by which the little town of Bethany was immortalized.

Yet, highly favoured as was this home in these ways, sickness came into it. We get some lessons. No home can be made which will shut sickness out of its chambers. Wealth cannot keep it away, love cannot. Yet we learn, also, that sickness in our home is no proof that Christ does not love us. Into the households that are dearest to Him pain and sorrow come; but we shall see that in the end blessing to the family and glory to God come from the trial. These thoughts should comfort us when sickness comes into our households.

Daily Word of God

The Good Shepherd

He calleth his own sheep by name.

~ John 10:3

There is a great difference between the care which the owner gives and that which a servant or hireling gives. There is a difference between the way a true mother looks after her child and the way a hired nurse does it. This is seen especially when the child is sick or in danger. The nurse serves for pay; the mother serves for love. Christ the Good Shepherd is the owner of His sheep.

There is something very sweet in the thought that Christians are Christ’s own. It suggests how dear they are to Him. “Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” The thought also brings with it the assurance of love and care. His will is that “his own,” shall be with Him in heaven forever. The thought suggests also much about our duty to Christ. If we are of “his own,” He has the entire right to the disposal of our lives and our services.

There is something very wonderful in the thought that Christ calls His sheep by their individual names. There are some pastors who do not know their people by name when they have but a few hundred to know. Christ has millions scattered over all the world; it is hard for us to realize that every one of these He knows personally by name. The Bible tells us that He calleth the stars by their names, but then the stars are so big that it does not seem so strange. But here is a poor widow, one of “his own,” living in a desolate garret in the heart of a great city, amid thronging thousands. Does He know her name? Here is a little orphan child, one of “his own,” left with no human friend to protect. Does He know this little one? Certainly He does. This ought to be a very precious truth to everyone who loves Christ and belongs to Him. He knows if any of “his own” are suffering or in need, or if they are in danger; and He will never neglect even the least of “his own.”

Daily Word of God

Passing By

By chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

~ John 8:34

We must not suppose that all priests were thus cold and heartless. Ministers are generally warm-hearted men; they ought all to be so; they ought to set the people the example of kindness and sympathy; they ought to be like Christ — and He was always ready to help anybody in trouble. No doubt many of the Jewish priests were kind and generous; but here was one who was not. This shows us that being a priest or a minister does not make any one tender-hearted; one may occupy a very sacred place, and yet have a cold and hard heart. But it is very sad when it is so.

This priest did not even stop to look at the sufferer, or to ask him how he came to be injured, or to inquire what he could do for him. He kept as far to the other side of the road as he could get; perhaps he even pretended not to see the wounded man. No doubt he had excuses ready in his own mind. He was in a great hurry, or he was very tired, or he could not do anything for the poor man if he should stop, or he was very tender-hearted and could not bear to look on blood.

No matter about his motives; it is more to our purpose to avoid repeating his fault. Do we never pass by human wants that we know well we ought to stop to relieve? Do we never keep out of the way of those whose needs strongly appeal to us? Do we never have trouble hunting up excuses to satisfy our own clamorous consciences because we have passed by some one we ought to have helped? Some people look the other way when they are passing a blind man on the wayside. Ministers have refused to go to see sick people because they were weary. Persons have stayed away from church because there was to be an appeal for money for a needy cause. This verse is an ugly mirror, isn‘t it? It shows us blemishes that we didn‘t know we had.

Daily Word of God

Christ Walking on the Sea

When they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out.

~ Mark 6:49

It seems strange to us that the disciples should ever have been afraid of their own Master. They had been in great distress all the night because He was not with them. There was nothing they had desired so much all those long dark hours as that He would come to them. Yet now, when He came, they were in terror at the sight of Him. It was because they did not know it was He that His presence so affrighted them.

It is ofttimes just so with us. We are in some need or danger, and Jesus does not come to us. We call upon Him, and most earnestly desire His coming; yet He comes not. At length He comes, but it is not as we expected, in lovely visage and gentle mien, but in the form of terror. It is in some great trial that He comes. Death enters our door and carries away a loved one. We experience some loss or some misfortune, at least it seems to us loss or misfortune. We cry out in terror. We do not know it is the Christ, veiled in the dark robe, that has come. We do not know that this is the answer to our prayer for His presence and His help. We are affrighted at the form that moves over the waters in the dark night. We think it is new danger, when really it is the very divine love and divine help for which we have been longing and pleading.

We ought to learn that Jesus is in every providence that comes to us. He does not come in the sunshine only; quite as frequently it is in the shadow that He draws nigh. It is our duty as Christians to train ourselves to see Christ in each event. Then, whether it be sorrow or joy that knocks at our door, we shall give it like loving welcome, knowing that Jesus himself is veiled in whatever form it is that enters. Then we shall find that when we welcome Him in the sombre garments of pain, He has always a rich blessing for our lives.

Daily Word of God

Quiet Resting-Places

He said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while

~ Mark 6:31

How thoughtful Jesus is for the comfort of His disciples! He never wants to overwork them. He provides seasons and places of rest for them all along the way. One of these “quiet resting-places” is the night, coming after each day of toil. Then our emptied life-fountains are refilled. Another resting-place is the Sabbath, after the week of anxious battle and strife. Then it is that we should seek the renewal of our spiritual life by communing with God, by lying on our Lord’s bosom. The Lord’s Supper is another resting-place. The Master leads us into the upper room to sit with Him at His table, to feast our souls on the provisions of His love and grace.

Then there are many other quiet places to which our Lord invites us to come apart with Him to rest a while, — the sweet hours of prayer, alone, or in the house of God, the communings with friends, the sacred hours we spend in home joys. Sometimes the Master calls us to rest a while in a sick-room, away from the noise and struggle of the busy world. It may be in pain or in suffering, and there may be no bodily rest; but our souls are resting, and we are learning lessons we never could have learned in the midst of life’s exciting toil.

One thing about all these “rests” to which Jesus invites us, is that we are to rest with Him. He never says, “go ye apart and rest,” but ever His word is, “Come ye apart.” The resting is always to be with Him. It is His loving presence that makes the blessedness of the rest. There is no true soul-refreshing for us anywhere, even in the most sacred ordinances, if we do not find Christ there. It is lying on His bosom when we are tired or sorrowing or penitent that rests us. Rest apart from Christ brings no refreshing. So we must be sure that we go apart with the Master.

Daily Word of God

Joy in the Lord

Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?.

~ Mark 2:19

This was our Lord’s answer to those who thought His religion was too sunny and joyous — that it had not fast-days enough in it. They thought that religion was genuine only when it made people sad, and that its quality was just in proportion to its gloom. But Christ’s reply showed that mournful faces are no essential indicators of heart-piety. Should His disciples be mournful and sad when He was with men, filling their lives with the gladness of His presence? Should Christians profess to be heavy-hearted, wearing the symbols of grief, when they are really filled with joy, and when there is no occasion for sorrow? Why should one who has been saved by the Lord Jesus, and who is rejoicing in full assurance to hope, go about in sackcloth and ashes? Is there any piety in a sad face? Does God love to see his children always in mourning? Is human joy displeasing to our Father?

All these questions are answered here in our Lord’s words. He does not wish His disciples to go mourning and fasting when they have no occasion for such exercises. His words are a defence of Christian joyfulness. Christ wants His friends to be glad. There is an utter incongruity in a sad and mournful Christian life. But its very nature true religion is joyous. Our sins are forgiven. We are adopted into God’s family. We are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. The covenant of love arches its shelter over us all the while. All things in this world work together for our good, and then glory waits for us beyond death’s gate. With all this blessed heritage, why should we be mournful and sad? While we enjoy the smile of Christ, the consciousness of his love, the assurance of his forgiveness, and the hope of heaven and eternal life, what should make us sad? We should have radiant faces.

Daily Word of God

A Broken Spirit

Stood at his feet behind him weeping.~ Luke 7:38

Those who are familiar with the story of Paradise and the Peri¹ will remember how the banished Peri sought to gain admittance at the closed gate of Paradise. The angel told the nymph that there was one hope — that the Peri might yet be forgiven who would bring to the eternal gate the gift that was most dear to Heaven.

The Peri wandered everywhere, sweeping all the lands with her swift wings, searching for some rare and precious thing to carry up to the barred gate. Amid scenes of carnage she found a hero dying for liberty; and

Swiftly descending on a ray  
Of morning light, she caught the last,  
Last glorious drop his heart had shed,  
Before its free-born spirit fled.  

With this she flew up to the gate; but, precious as was the boon, the crystal bar moved not. Next in her quest the Peri came upon a dying lover, over whom his betrothed hung; and stealing the farewell sigh of that vanishing soul, again she sought the gate of bliss: but even to this precious boon the bar swung not.

Again she wandered far, and came at last upon a wretched criminal, stained by countless deeds of shame and blood, but now weeping in bitter penitence. The Peri with job caught up the holy tear of contrition as it fell, and swiftly bore it away to heaven; and the door flew open, admitting her to the blessedness within.

This beautiful Oriental legend is not untrue to heavenly fact. The Bible tells us the same thing. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” No offerings we can bring are so precious as contrite tears. No song on earth rings with such music up in heaven as the penitential cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner!”

“The Paradise and the Peri” is one the stories from a larger and very popular work of fiction by Thomas Moore titled “Lalla Rookh” based on Persian mythology. The story is about a beautiful spirit who travels the world seeking a gift that will allow her to enter Heaven.

Daily Word of God

Lessons from the Flowers

Why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies … Even Solomon … was not arrayed like one of these.~ Matt 6:28,9

Without any toiling or spinning on their own part, God clothes the flowers in loveliness far surpassing any adornment which the most skilful human arts can provide. Flowers bloom but a day and fade. We are better than flowers. If our Father lavishes so much beauty on perishing plants, is there any danger that He will not provide raiment for His own?

Of course it is not implied that like the lilies we need neither toil nor spin. It is all right for lilies just to stand still and grow. That is their mission; that is the way God made them to grow. But He gave us hands, feet, brains, tongue, energy, and will; and if we would be cared for as are the flowers, we must put forth our energies to produce the results of comfort. Yet Jesus tells us to consider the lilies, how they grow. We ought to study the beautiful things in nature and learn lessons from them. Here it is a lesson of contentment we are to learn. Who ever heard a lily complaining about its circumstances? It accepts the conditions in which it finds itself, and makes the best of them. It drinks in heaven‘s sweet light, air, dew, and rain, and unfolds its own loveliness in quietness and peace.

The lily grows from within. So ought we to grow, having within us the divine life, to be developed in our character and spirit. The lily is an emblem of beauty; our spiritual life should unfold likewise in all lovely ways. It is a picture of perfect peace. Who ever saw wrinkles of anxiety in a lily’s face? God wants us to grow into peace. The lily is fragrant; so should our lives be. The lily sometimes grows in the black bog, but it remains unspotted. Thus should we live in this world, keeping ourselves unspotted amid its evil. These are a few of the lessons from the lily.