Daily Word of God

The Spirit like a Dove

He saw … the Spirit like a dove desending upon him.

~ Mark 1:10

Even Christ with all His divine power needed the anointing of the Holy Spirit to set Him apart for His life-work, and to make Him ready for it. How much more do we, His disciples, need the same anointing before we are truly set apart for work and qualified for it.

There is rich suggestion also in the form in which the Spirit descended. A great many tender thoughts cluster around the dove. It was the dove that the very poor were permitted to bring to the altar as an offering, as a substitute for a more costly animal. The appearance of the dove was one of the harbingers or prophecies of coming spring. The dove was always remembered by the Jews in connection with the abatement of the waters of the deluge, when it returned to the ark bearing the olive-leaf; and it has become among all Christian nations, as well as the olive-branch, an emblem of peace. The dove was also referred to by Christ as a symbol of gentleness and harmlessness. All these associations made the dove a most fitting emblematic form for the Holy Ghost to assume when descending upon Jesus. For Jesus came to be a sacrifice for all, even the poorest. He came as the spring comes, bringing life to a dead world. He came bringing a message of peace from heaven to every one who will open to Him. And He is like the dove in gentleness and harmlessness.

It is this same holy dove that must descend upon us if the kingdom of heaven is truly to begin in our hearts. Until the Holy Spirit has been given to us and received by us there is no life in our souls and no power in us for work. But this divine anointing is promised to all who truly consecrate themselves to Christ and believe on Him. No vision of cloven heavens and descending dove appears to human eyes, but above every scene of holy devotement to Christ this blessed reality hangs.

Daily Word of God

I indeed baptize you with water  … He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

~ Luke 3:16

Baptism with water is right. It is one of God’s appointments, and He would require nothing that is useless. Some people think that there is no necessity for being baptized; but they make themselves wiser than Christ in saying this of that which He commanded to be done. Baptism has a meaning, and must never be despised. It teaches by picture, showing us, first, that we are unclean and need washing, and then depicting the deep work of grace by which the heart is cleansed.

We should not lightly esteem a rite which has such solemn divine sanction. But while baptism with water is proper and should not be omitted, it cannot wash away sin nor save our souls. We must not think that because we have been baptized we are necessarily Christians. There must be a change within us. We must be converted, “born again.” And no amount of washing with water will produce this change. Christ must baptize us with the Holy Ghost.

There is danger that many are satisfied with the baptismal water, and do not look for the regenerating grace. It is the peril of all forms of service that people trust in them and do not realize their need of Christ. A few drops of water on the brow make no impression on the life, and it is only when the baptism symbolized by water is received by faith that real blessing comes upon the one who is baptized.

When Jesus was being baptized He prayed, and the heavens were opened and abode upon Him. Like blessing descends from heaven upon every one receiving the symbol who also by prayer seeks the heavenly baptism. The same is true of the Lord’s Supper and other divine ordinances. When the ordinance is received in faith and with prayer, God gives the grace of which the emblem is but the image.

Daily Word of God

The Coming of the Lord

Prepare ye the way of the Lord.

~ Mark 3:3

The Lord is always coming to us, or is always ready to come to us, if the way is open for him. Yet no doubt we are continually losing heavenly visitations because the road is blocked up. If we would receive the visitations we must keep the way always open. Sins clung to, unconfessed, unrepented of, unforsaken, block up the path, and Christ cannot come to us until we get them out of the way,. Then there is another sense in which we need to prepare the way of the Lord. He may come any moment in death to call us away from all our busy work. Is there no preparation needed now in our hearts for this coming of the Lord? Are we ready for him any moment? Are our lamps trimmed and burning? Are our loins girded, and have we our shoes on our feet and our staves in our hands? If he came this hour how would he find us? Peter gives us good counsel when, speaking of Christ’s coming again, he says, “Be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” Would he find us thus if he came to day? Are we in peace with God, in peace with ourselves, in peace with all the world? Would he find us without spot? Have we kept our hands clean and our hearts pure, and ourselves unspotted from the world? Would he find us living blameless lives, so sincere, so true, so without blemish that the world can find no cause of reproach in us, and that he himself will approve us?

It will be well for us to think of these things, and if the way for his coming is not prepared, to hasten to have it ready, for he may come any moment. The Jews were taught to prepare a way for the coming of the Lord by repenting of their sins and turning their hearts to God. That is just what every one must do who desires Christ to come to him with blessing, every sin must be swept out.

Daily Word of God

Paths of Peace

To guide our feet into the way of peace. 

~ Luke 1:79

First, Jesus made the way of peace for us. Sin had destroyed the road to heaven, leaving only a rough and thorny way for human feet to go upon. There never would have been a path of peace had not Jesus Himself made it. All ways in life, save that one which He has opened for us, are full of pain and trouble, and lead only to sorrow, despair, and death. But Christ prepared a highway that is beautiful and blessed, and that leads to eternal joy and glory.

It was not easy work building this road. In the construction of some of this world’s great thoroughfares thousands of human lives were sacrificed. We forget sometimes, as we move on in the highway of redemption, amid peaceful scenes, with soft music in our ears, and rich comforts in our hearts, and heavenly hopes to woo us forward, what it cost our blessed Lord, what toil and tears and blood, to prepare the way for us, to bridge over the chasms and level down the mountains. But now the way is open, and from beginning to end it is a way of peace.

A great many people think that the Christian life is hard and unpleasant, that it is a rough and steep road; but truly it is a way of pleasantness and peace. The only really happy people in this world are those who are following Christ along the way of redemption. They have their share of troubles, disappointments, sorrows; but all the time in the midst of these they have a secret peace of which the world knows nothing. There are paths in the low valleys, among the great mountains, which are sweet pictures of the Christian’s way of peace. High up among the peaks and crags the storms sweep in wild fury, but on these valley-paths no breath of tempest ever blows. Flowers bloom and springs of water gurgle along the wayside, and trees cast their grateful shadow, and bird-songs fill the air. Such is Christ’s “way of peace” in this world.

Daily Word of God

Divine Thirst

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.

~ John 19:28

Here we have our Lord’s fifth word on the cross. It was just before the end. All things belonging to His work as Redeemer were now finished. He had suffered from thirst all the terrible six hours that He hung on the cross, but He restrained His anguish until His task was done. Now He gave expression to His desire for drink, the only word on the cross that referred to His physical sufferings. Some one reached up to Him on a stem of hyssop a sponge which had been moistened in the sour vinegar that stood there. It was an act of kindness and pity, and was the only mark of human tenderness shown to Jesus in those hours. We cannot but be thankful for this slight ministry which must have given momentary relief to the holy Sufferer.

Earlier in the day, at the moment of crucifixion, He was offered drink which He refused. That was a stupefying potion, a deadening wine mingled with myrrh or wormwood. It was offered with the intention of dulling His senses, that He might not be conscious of His sore suffering. He refused it because He wised to preserve the clearness of His mind in the hours when He was making atonement for the world. This potion, offered now by the soldier, was not medicated wine, and was not stupefying in its effects. He needed refreshment to strengthen Him for the great final act — the giving of His soul up to God.

All the experiences of Jesus Christ which reveal human need and suffering bring Him very near to us. Since He suffered hunger and thirst, and pain and weariness and sorrow, He is able to sympathize with us in all our human experiences. He knows what we feel, for He has not forgotten even in heaven what He Himself endured in His incarnation.

Daily Word of God

The True Vine

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman 

~ John 15:1

This is a wonderful Vine. It grew up at first like “a root out of a dry ground, with no form nor comeliness.” The soil in which it was planted seemed too poor to produce anything good. But its origin was heavenly, and it grew into luxuriant beauty. By-and-by it seemed that men in their rage had altogether destroyed this Vine, which had in it so much blessing for the earth; however, it was not destroyed, but was only lifted away from earth and transplanted to heaven. There in the garden of God its roots were fixed, and the Vine itself dropped down to earth again, and began to send out branches in all directions. Every poor little human life which attaches itself to this Vine is grafted on it and becomes a branch in it, drawing life from the Vine’s fullness, and sharing its fruitfulness.

These branches are not left to grow wild and untended, but have wise and skilful care. It ought to be a great comfort to us to know that as branches we are under the culture of a husbandman who is none other than our heavenly Father: “Your Father is the husbandman.” We are very sure that His care will be both wise and tender. If an ignorant, inexperienced, unskillful man were to enter a beautiful vineyard and begin cutting away at the vines, he would soon destroy them. He does not know what he ought to prune off, or what he ought to leave on the vine.

But if the man who comes to tend the vineyard understands vines, and has had long experience and is skilful, there is no danger that he will do harm in his pruning. Sometimes, indeed, He may seem to be cutting the vine to death; but we know that He understands what He is doing, and that all His prunings are for the good of the branches. By-and-by we shall see increased fruitfulness as the result of His unsparing work.

Daily Word of God

The Heavenly Feast

I not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

~ Matt 26:29

The Lord’s Supper points forward as well as back. It keeps the past in remembrance; we are to think of what happened nineteen hundred years ago. The Supper is a memorial. But it is also a prophecy. Christ wrote the white lines as a blessed hope amid the mementoes of sorrow. He lifted the veil and gave a glimpse of a fulfillment very glorious beyond earth’s shadows. Even the Holy Supper, precious as it is, is but a faint picture of something far better.

The disciples would not have Jesus with them at the table any more. This was their “last supper” together. Henceforth on earth His place would be vacant. But in telling them this He gave them sweet comfort in the assurance that He would sit down with them again, by-and-by, not here, but in another kingdom. These words are full of luminous brightness. They tell us of a supper in glory, of which the Lord’s Supper on earth is but the shadow. In the Revelation it is called “the marriage supper of the Lamb.” So it will be a memorial, too, of Christ’s death and love.

That night when the Master and His disciples sat down together in the upper room, a great sorrow hung over their hearts and His: for Him it was the shadow of His cross, with all its mystery of woe; for them it was the shadow of sore loss and separation. But the other side of the cloud was very bright. Out of Christ’s death came blessed and glorious salvation; now in heaven Jesus sees of the travail of His soul, and is satisfied. Out of the brief separation there came to the disciples an abiding presence of Christ which filled their hearts full. Jesus went away from them for a little time that He might be with them for ever. So out of these sad memories came great joys.

Daily Word of God

Behold the Lamb of God

We would see Jesus. 

~  John 12:21

These men had heard of Jesus, but they wanted to see Him for themselves. It does not do for us to see Jesus only through other people’s eyes. No matter how vividly they may portray His beauty before us, this is not the seeing that blesses us and prints His image on our souls. We must behold Him for ourselves. In those terrible days in the ancient camp when the people were bitten and the brazen image of a serpent was set up, a mother could not look for her child, nor a friend for a friend. It is so in beholding Christ. No one can behold Him for another.

It is through seeing Christ that all spiritual blessings come to us. When we are burdened with sin, we are pointed to the Lamb of God that taketh away sin. When we seek to grow better, we are exhorted to behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, and thus be transformed into His image. When we ask for a model for our life, we are told to look unto Jesus. Many a fleeing slave, by simply keeping his eye fixed on a star, was led away from bondage to liberty. Keeping our eye on Christ will lead us from chains to glory.

These Greeks came to a disciple and asked him to introduce them to Jesus. What nobler service can we render in this world than that of introducing people to Jesus? To do this we must know Him well ourselves. But let no one think that he really needs any one to introduce him to Jesus. A little child was dying, and she said she was not afraid to die; but she wished her mamma could go with her to introduce her to Jesus. “For you know, mamma,” said the little one, “I was always afraid of strangers.” But no one will find Jesus a stranger; He loves to be sought, and to have people want to see Him, and He is always glad to reveal Himself to every seeker. He is not hard to find; He is near all the while, and we really need no one to take us to Him.

Daily Word of God

Life in Christ

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

John 11:25-26

Martha believed in the resurrection at the last day; but that seemed far away, while her heart craved a present comfort. It was to this feeling, which many another mourner besides Martha has experienced, that our Lord spoke these wonderful words. His answer shows that He Himself is the bridge of life that unites the shores of eternity and time, filling up the dark chasm, and bringing the resurrection and life eternal close to earth’s death.

The resurrection is not far away, for it is all in Christ’s hands. When His believing ones die they but sleep in Him. They are not really dead; indeed, those believing on Him never die at all. What we call dying is only passing through the gate into the immediate presence of Christ. Christ has abolished death. To Him death was real and full of terrors. But because it was so terrible to Him, it is only an entrance of glory for His people. He absorbed the blackness and the gloom in His own soul, as He passed through the valley, and left it a vale of brightness for His followers.

If we could all get into our hearts the truth of the immortal life as revealed in the gospel, it would take away all the gloom from the graves of our dead. Those who live here are in Christ, and those who have passed over are with Christ; thus in Him we are still united. There is but one family in Christ, — part gone over, and part crossing now, soon all to be together..

This truth of the endless life is one of marvelous power when we have, even in the least measure, realized it. Death is not the end of anything but of mortality, imperfection, and sin. Life goes on fuller, richer, nobler, with enlarged capacities, beyond the incident which we call death. We shall never die.

Daily Word of God

Silence Not Denial

But he answered her not a word.

~ Matt 15:23

There is something very remarkable in this silence of Christ. Usually He was quick to hear every request made to Him by a sufferer. Scarcely ever had any one to ask twice for a favour. His heart was sensitive, as is a mother’s heart to her child’s cries, and instantly responded to every petition for help. Yet now He stood and listened to this woman’s piteous pleading and answered her not a word. Like a miser with hoards of gold, at whose gates the poor and suffering knock, but who, hearing their cries of need and distress, keeps his gates locked and is deaf to every entreaty, so Jesus stood unmoved by this woman’s cries, though He had all power in His hands.

Why was He thus silent? It was not because He could not help her, for His arm was never weak. The best of us have our weak hours, our days of emptiness, when we have nothing wherewith to help; but His fullness was never exhausted. It was not because He was so engrossed in His own approaching sorrows that He could think of no other one’s sorrow, for even on the cross He forgot Himself to show kindness to others. Evidently the reason for silence was to try this mother’s faith, and to draw it out into still greater strength. He was preparing her to receive in the end a better blessing than she could have received at the beginning.

Our Lord sometimes yet seems to be silent to His people when they cry to Him. To all their earnest supplications He answers not a word. Is His silence a refusal? By no means. Ofttimes, at least, it is meant only to make the suppliants more earnest, and to prepare their hearts to receive richer and greater blessings. So when Christ is silent to our prayers, it is that we may be brought down in deeper humility at His feet, and that our hearts may be made more fit to receive heaven’s gifts and blessings.