Daily Word of God

Two Roads and Two Gates

Enter ye in at the strait gate.

~ Matt 7:13

All truly valuable things cost much. Such a glorious privilege as the Christian’s, therefore, cannot be gotten without effort. To open the way, and to purchase for us the privilege of becoming children of God, the Son of God had to come from heaven in condescending love and give His own life. Jesus said, too, that any who would reach the glory of His kingdom must go by the same way of the cross by which He went. He said that he who “will save his life”  that is, keep it from self-denial and sacrifice  shall loose it;” and that only he who “will lose his life for my sake,”  gives it out in devotion to God and to duty,  “shall save it.”

In one of His parables Jesus speaks of salvation as a treasure hid in a field, and a man who learns of the treasure and its hiding-place sells all that he has and goes and buys the field. In another parable our Lord presents the same truth under the figure of a merchant seeking goodly pearls, who, finding one pearl of great price, sells all he has and buys it. We must, in a very deep sense, give up all we have to get Christ and the blessings that come with Him.

Here the truth is put in another way. There are two roads through this world, and two gates into the future world. One of these ways is broad and easy, with descending grade, leading to a wide gate. It is not hard to go on this way. The other road is strait, and leads to a narrow gate. To go this way one has to leave the crowd and go almost alone, and leave the broad, easy way, and go on a hard, rugged path, and enter by a gate too small to admit any bundles of worldliness, or self-righteousness, or any of the fashionable trappings of the old life. If we would get to heaven, we must make up our minds it can be only by this narrow way of self-denial. all the world is not flowing into heaven; the crowds are going somewhere else.

Daily Word of God

Promises and Prophecies

Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 

– Matt 5:18

Christ referred here primarily to the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament. There are thousands of blossoms on the trees in the spring-time that never become fruits; but there are no lost blossoms on the Old Testament tree. The exact fulfillment of prophecy is an irrefutable evidence of Christianity. But the assurance of these words refers also to every promise of the Scripture. Not the smallest of these shall ever fail any one who trusts them. “No word He hath spoken shall ever be broken.” Every pledge God has made He will surely keep. Whenever we find a divine word we may lay hold of it with perfect confidence, and know that we are clinging to a rock that never can be shaken. “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.”

This is true also of the divine threatenings against sin. Not one of these shall fail to be accomplished upon those who reject God’s words of grace and mercy. Christ said, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life;” and that word will prove true to every one who receives it. But He said also in the same sentence, “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him;” and this word shall just as surely be fulfilled as the other.

In these days, when so many people hold loose views of God’s Word, it is well that we fix it deeply in our minds that whatever God says in the Holy Scriptures He says with authority, that His promises are sure as His own eternity, and that every sentence of His is absolutely irrepealable. “Only words,” we sometimes say, as if words were unreal and unsubstantial; but the words of God are more real and substantial than even earth’s great mountains.

Daily Word of God

Immediately Made Whole

Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole.

~ John 5:8-9

The man might have said, “Why, I cannot rise. That is the very thing which I have not been able for thirty-eight years. Take up my bed! Why, I could not lift a feather; and as for walking, I could as easily fly. I cannot do these things until I am cured.”

We have all heard people talk thus about starting in the Christian life. They plead their helplessness as reason for their delay. There is a fine lesson for such in this man’s obedience. The moment he heard the command he made the effort to rise, and as he made the effort the strength was given. New life came with his simple obedience. Christ never commands an impossibility. When He bids us rise out of our sin and helplessness and begin the Christian walk, He means to give grace and strength to enable us to do it.

The same is true of all that Christ requires of us in His service. People think it “humility” to be timid about duty and about accepting responsibility at Christ’s call; but it is not humility at all, it is unbelief and sin. We lie on our poor rugs and say, “I have no strength for this, no wisdom for that,” while if we simply arose to obey every call of Christ, He would use us for noble service.

This man showed his faith by immediately exerting himself to do what Christ had bidden him do. Had he not done this he would not have been healed. There are many who lie spiritually paralyzed, year after year, just because they are waiting to be healed before they try to rise and walk. There are many who never do any worthy service for Christ, and lie in a condition of uselessness through years, because they think themselves unequal to the duties to which they are called. It is time we learned to step forward instantly, to do whatever Christ bids us do. When we begin to do this we shall find ourselves strong.

Daily Word of God

While they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near…

~ Luke 24:15

The Walk to Emmaus

These two friends, as they walked along with heavy hearts, had only one theme: they were talking of their sore loss and of Him whom they had lost. They were so intensely absorbed in their sorrow as they talked of it that they were not aware of the near approach of a stranger until He had drawn up to them and joined them. Jesus always draws near when His friends are talking of Him. In an Old Testament book it was said that when the Lord’s people come together and speak of sacred things, the Lord listens, and keeps a book of remembrance.

Here is something more. Two of Christ’s friends talk of Him, and He comes and joins them. How much those Christian people miss who meet and pass hours together, and have no theme of conversation but the silly gossip of society, filled with backbitings and bits of malicious criticism and mischievous scandal, but without one single word about Christ! Does any one suppose that the Lord hearkens to such conversation, or puts it down in His book of remembrance? Of course He hears every word of the talk, and every word goes down in a book of remembrance, and we must give account for every idle word. But He does not listen and record the conversation in the sense the prophet meant, with loving pleasure. Does any one think Christ will draw near and become one of any such party of Christians as often gather in parlours, deliciously feeding on every bit of fresh gossip, but with never a word about their Redeemer?

What a blessing every hour of conversation would bring if we would only talk together of Christ and His kingdom! He would then draw near and join us, adding the joy of His presence to our hearts. Shall we not talk together more of our Lord?

Word of God

The Traitor

Judas also … knew the place … Judas then, having received a band of men cometh thither.

~ John 18:2,2

Every new line in the story of the betrayal shows new blackness in the heart of Judas. Going out from the supper-table he hastened to the priests, and was quickly under way with his band of soldiers. He probably first hurried back to the upper room, where he had left Jesus; not finding Him there, he knew well where the Master had gone, and hastened to the sacred place of prayer. Then the manner in which he let the officers know which of the company was Jesus shows the deepest blackness of all: he went up to Him as to a dear friend and kissed Him — kissed Him over and over, and with feigned warmth and affection.

Let us remember how the treason grew in the heart of Judas, beginning in greed for money, growing into theft and falseness of life, ending at last in the blackest crime the world ever saw. The lesson is, that we should watch the beginnings of evil in our hearts.

A picture in the royal gallery of Brussels represents Judas wandering about on the night after the betrayal. He comes by chance upon the workmen who have been making the cross on which Christ shall be crucified to-morrow. A fire near by throws its light full on the faces of the workmen, who are sleeping peacefully while resting from their labour. Judas’s face is somewhat in the shade; but it is wonderfully expressive of awful remorse and agony as he catches sight of the cross and the tools used in making it, — the cross which his treachery had made possible. But still, though in the very torments of hell, as it appears, he clutches his money-bag, and seems to hurry on into the night. That picture tells the story of the fruit of Judas’s victory — the money-bag with the thirty pieces of silver in it (and even that he could not long keep), carried off into the night of fiendish despair: that was all.

Word of God

Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them.

~ Matt 18:2

The child preached the sermon. It said to those ambitious disciples, “Shame on all you quarrelling about prominence and high places. Look at me. I am much higher up in the kingdom of heaven than you. You must get clear of all your proud thoughts and become lowly and simple-minded and childlike, or in the new kingdom you will have no place at all, much less a high place.” Little children are all preaching sermons to us, if only we have ears to hear. Children, in their innocence, their simplicity, their naturalness, their sweetness of soul, wherever they go exert an influence upon other lives which no words can describe. They are at once the greatest preachers and themselves the most eloquent sermons.

This picture of Jesus with the little one in His arms is very beautiful. In all the Bible there is scarcely another which so well represents the attitude both of the soul and of the Saviour in salvation and in all Christian life. Jesus takes the child in His arms: there is love, tenderness, protection. The bosom is the place of warmth, of affection, of intimacy, of confidence. The encircling arms imply safety, support, shelter. He lifted up the child and held it in His arms; so He carries His people through this world: He does not merely tell them how to go, but He takes them on His shoulders, carrying not their burdens only, but themselves. Thus He bears them on through life and through death.

Then look at the picture the other way — the child in the Saviour’s arms. Its attitude speaks of trust, confidence, repose, peace, love, joy, — just the feelings which belong to the true Christian. What a place the bosom of Christ is in danger, in storm, in sorrow, in death! Shall we not learn just to nestle in our Saviour’s arms in all our experiences?

Daily Word

Failures

I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him

~ Matt 17:16

There are a great many teachers in our Sunday schools who have had similar experiences. Children have been brought to them possessed by evil spirits, and they have failed to cast out the demons. They have tried every device, gentle and severe; they have prayed and laboured, they have talked and wept; but the evil spirits in their scholars have defied all efforts to dislodge them. Teachers of such incorrigible scholars may learn some lessons here.

It may be a little encouragement, first of all, to know that even Christ’s apostles met at least one case that they could not do anything with; no wonder if common people like us fail now and then. It is failures like this in the apostles that bring them down to our level. When we see them victorious and successful at every point, we are discouraged. But when we find them baffled and defeated, we see that they were human, just like us, and could do nothing by themselves. We get far more real help from St. Paul’s experience with his “thorn” than we get from his “third heaven” exaltation. In this latter he is so far beyond us that we cannot follow him; in the former we are on familiar ground.

It may be instructive also to study the reasons of the apostles’ failure. For one, the Master was absent; the disciple cannot do anything without His Lord. This is a lesson we should deeply impress on our own minds. Unless we have Christ with us, all our Christian work will utterly fail. Of ourselves we can never change a heart. Another reason was want of faith in the disciples; unbelief makes any one weak. Though absent, Christ’s power would have been theirs, had not their faith failed. Still another reason was the hardness of the case: all cases are not alike difficult, some requiring more faith and spiritual power than others.