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.

Daily Word of God

One Thing Needful

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life

~ John 6:27

We should call a man very foolish who, in building a great and costly house, should look only after the outside, spending large amounts of money in exterior decoration, while he left the interior in a rough, unfinished state, the walls unplastered, the rooms filled with rubbish and without furniture or decorations of any kind. No one can get comfort from a beautiful exterior in his home and from fine grounds, if within all is bare and rude. The wise man will think more of the inside than of the outside of the house in which he is to live. He will provide beauty, warmth, and comfort, and thus make a true home for himself, in which he may dwell in peace and in real enjoyment.

Still more foolish is the man who thinks only of the needs of his physical nature, and gives no thought to the needs of his immortal soul. He is looking after the outside, and neglecting the inner life. He is providing for his body, which will soon perish, and giving no care to his soul, which will endure for ever. He is planning only for the present, and neglecting the interests that are eternal. How pitiable is such a life, deliberately turning away from all the best, holiest, most beautiful, and most enduring things, and seeking only the poor, miserable, worthless things that are only loads, impediments, not enriching him who has them!

Our Lord’s counsel is, that we should look first after our spiritual necessities. It is a fearful mistake to toil all one’s days for bread and raiment, or for wealth and honour, and never do anything for the inner life. At the end there will be nothing left to show for all the toil and pain and sacrifice. If we look after the interests of our souls, then when this life is ended we shall find ourselves in possession of eternal life. A good motto for life is, “Live for the immortal things.”

Daily Word of God

He  … took the five loaves.
~ Matt 14:9

We are not surprised that a disciple asked, of the five loaves and two fishes, “What are these among so many?” What a little way they will go in feeding such a multitude! Why bring out this poor, paltry store at all? Surely Christ can feed the hungry people without these poor little black loaves.

Still, Jesus bade the disciples bring the loaves to Him, and He used them. Is it not strange that the mighty Christ should need us and our little barley-loaves to feed people’s hunger? Yet He does: He wants our gifts; and then He wants our ministry in dispensing the gifts. He passed the bread to the multitude through the hands of the disciples: He passes salvation through His saved ones to the unsaved.

Only one talent small,  
  Scarce worth to be named:  
Truly he hath no need of this,  
  O soul, art thus ashamed?  
He gave that talent first:  
  Then use it in his strength;  
  
Thereby—thou know’st not—he may work  
  A miracle at length a miracle at length.

Many the starving souls,  
  Now waiting to be fed,  
Needing, though knowing not their need  
  Of Christ, the living Bread.  
Oh! hast thou known his love? 
  To others make it known;  
Receiving blessings, others bless!  
  No seed abides alone.

And when thine eyes shall see,  
  The holy, ransomed throng  
In heavenly fields, by living streams,  
  By Jesus led along,  
Unspeakable thy joy shall be,  
  And glorious thy reward, reward  
If by thy barley-loaves one soul,  
 Has been brought home to God.

Daily Word of God

Daily Word of God

Herodia’s Revenge

The daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.

 ~ Matt 14:6

It was deemed disgraceful even in that country and in those days for a woman to show herself at all in a hall of revelry and carousal. Then to perform such a dance in such a place for the entertainment of the revellers was regarded as a most debasing and shameful act. The dance was indecent, and only those who had lost all sense of modesty and womanly propriety would so debase themselves. That a mother should send her own daughter into such a scene to perform such a part, seems almost incredible. The act reveals the kind of home life and the ideas of womanly purity that prevailed in the court of Herod; also the strength of Herodians’s passion for revenge upon John. She would even send her own daughter to play this shameful part, in order to accomplish her purpose.

While this picture is before them, young girls should learn hat they cannot be too careful of their behaviour and bearing in public. A young woman’s reputation is a precious jewel, which she should prize above all wealth or pleasure. If she lose it, neither wealth nor pleasure will be of much avail to her afterward. Her name once sullied, never can be altogether white again.

Sometimes young girls think their parents unreasonable in the restraints which they put upon them with regard to appearance or conduct in public; but some day they will see how wise and loving is such restraint. It may very fairly be questioned whether young ladies can take part in certain fashionable dances of to-day, and not pass beyond the bounds of pure womanly delicacy and propriety. At least, heart-purity is so holy a thing, and so easily tarnished, and the harm when done is so irreparable, that one had better deny one’s self many a fascinating pleasure rather than risk the loss of anything so precious.

Daily Word of God

What are the Thorns

Some fell among thorns, and thorns grew up , and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

~ Mark 4:7

The thorns had been chopped off, but their roots were still in the ground. Then as the seed began to grow, so did the thorns; and growing faster and more rankly than the wheat, they soon choked it out, so that it came to nothing in the end. What are these thorns? Our Lord says they are “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches.” “Cares” are anxieties, distractions, worries. Martha was in danger of having the good seed in her heart choked out by her distracting thoughts about her household affairs. Many a promising Christian life has been dwarfed and stunted from the same cause. “The deceitfulness of riches:” thousands of spiritual lives have been starved into ghostly leanness by the desire for riches. “The lust of other things entering in, choke the word.” We have all seen people who began well; but as cares multiplied or riches increased, their zeal waned. We need, however, to look to our own hearts, and we shall probably have enough to do if we keep out all the thorns and weeds in the one little garden committed to us.

Jesus did not say these people are not Christians, but that they “bring no fruit to perfection.” The distractions of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, the lusts of others things, entering in, choke the spiritual life, stunting its graces. They lose the sweet comforts of a healthy faith. The fruits of the Spirit in them are shrivelled. They may go on working in the church, preaching, teaching, praying; but the life is wanting. What is the lesson? This: we need to watch without ceasing these hearts of ours, and let no weed or brier grown there for a day. Sometimes God himself does the weeding. He lifts out of the bosom the earthly object that is absorbing all the heart’s love. The process is sore, but the results are full of blessing.

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.